Creatine – How to use it to get the best results?

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30 Jul

Creatine is a substance naturally produced by our body as a source of energy for our muscles. It is produced by the liver, but also by the pancreas and kidneys. It is transported by blood to muscle cells where it is converted to creatine phosphate.

Creatine is formed in the body from the amino acids Arginine, Methionine and Glycine. Creatine produces a chemical energy called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The average person’s body produces about 2 grams a day. Creatine that is instantly synthesized into the body thus maintaining a positive balance. By ingesting more creatine, it is synthesized which gives the body more power and energy.

In addition, creatine successfully absorbs water up to 400% of its weight, which means that it is more in muscle tissue – it is thicker and larger and has more power. Most creatine in nature is found in meat and fish. Vegetarians usually have a lack of creatine in the body. Studies have shown that creatine also helps stimulate protein synthesis and prevent the body from using protein from muscle mass as energy (protein brakedown).

How to use creatine to get the best results and the most muscle mass without much loss after you stop taking it?

The truth is that we are not all the same and the results are always different from person to person. However, it is good to take creatine in cycles because the results are better and longer lasting; the body is not accustomed to creatine, which is good because otherwise it would just stop producing it, the muscles do not lose as much after stopping it and the maximum effect that creatine can provide is achieved.

The best way to use creatine is one teaspoon (about 5 grams) of creatine in a glass of juice or some high-carb beverage. Why not plain water? It can of course also with water, but carbohydrates increase the amount of insulin in the body which again helps the muscles absorb creatine better and faster, which of course results in the maximum utilization of creatine and thus more muscle mass.

At the very beginning of creatine ingestion we have loading phase or charge phase. We take 6 servings a day for 5 gr. creatine (30 gr in total). After 7 days, we enter the second phase when we take 2-3 servings of 5 grams (10-15 grams daily in total) for the next 3 weeks. One of the meals should definitely be taken immediately after the workout, because then the metabolism is accelerated, and the supplies of creatine are consumed in the body, then it is the right time for creatine in one of the beverages.

Then, after these three weeks, it is mandatory to take a week of rest, because the body has reached its maximum within a month and no longer responds as well to creatine as it did at the beginning, and there is also a danger that the body will stop producing its own creatine, which means results they are no longer so noticeable.

After a week of rest (or 7-10 days), we start again with the loading phase of one week and then 3 weeks as before, so we can do three cycles after which we take a 20-30 day break, and then we can do it all again. It is normal that the results will not be the same in the second and third cycles as in the first, but we will not lose a lot of muscle mass and will constantly, at least for a little while, gain new.

This is a proven way to make the most of expensive paid creatine and the hours and days of hard workout. Take full advantage of the great creatine product and show yourself in the best light this summer.

Check out our Creatine supply at our online shop

Nutritional Supplements: Capsules or Powder, which is better?

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30 Jul

The nutritional supplements industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Manufacturers are rapidly expanding their offerings, and it’s hard to imagine what we can’t find as a dietary supplement. At the same time, everything on offer comes in several forms, tablets, capsules, powder, liquid, gel, etc.

It is increasingly difficult for the average dietary supplement user to choose not only the dietary supplement they really need (of course, if you are listening to commercials, you need everything), but also the form in which each dietary supplement is best consumed.

Are you in for capsules or powder? In the article below, we will make it easier to choose between these two forms by listing the advantages and disadvantages of each:

Capsules

Kapsule su vrlo praktične za transport, lako ih je ponijeti gdje god želite, bez straha da će se rasuti. Potrebna vam je samo mala vrećica ili kutijica za tablete i možete ih ponijeti u džepu.

S prahom je to malo teže. Točnije, puno su veće šanse da će vam se prah istresti. Također, ako imate više prahova, svaki ćete morati označiti da vam se ne pomiješaju, a kad sa svim tim različitim prahovima dođete npr. na carinsku kontrolu, velike su šanse da ćete završiti u sobi za ispitivanje.

Nadalje, ako imate više kapsula, nije problem popit ih sve zajedno, bez obzira što se u kojoj nalazi. Potrebna vam je samo čaša vode i to je to.

No zamislite scenarij u kojem imate 3-4 različita praha: jedan s okusom čokolade, drugi jogurta, treći manga i četvrti kikirikija pa sve to pomiješate u istom shakeru i trebate popiti. Ne zvuči baš kao zabava, zar ne?

Zbog opne u kojoj se suplement nalazi, otpuštanje i djelovanje kapsule je znatno sporije nego kod praha. To treba imati na umu npr. ako uzimate pre-workout – kapsule ćete trebati uzeti u puno većem razmaku prije treninga, nego što je to slučaj s prahom.

powder

Powder

According to some estimates, as many as 40% of people have problems swallowing capsules and supplements are the only solution for powdered diets. The mechanism behind the ingestion of capsules is very simple: the human brain perceives food as fuel for its normal operation. However, it does not agree with the idea that capsules have the same effect and simply prevents a person from swallowing something that is capsule-shaped, that is, not a normal food form.

In addition to being easier to swallow for many, the powder is a more appropriate form for those nutritional supplements that are taken in large quantities. For example, whey protein never comes in capsule form because for one measure of protein a person would have to swallow too much capsule.

However, all dietary supplements taken in smaller doses, of a few grams, can be stored in capsules except in powder.

As stated in the capsule chapter, powder is much more rapidly absorbed into the body because there is no barrier formed by the capsule membrane. With powders, absorption begins immediately and is faster.

When it comes to the flavor we usually get with powders, it can be both positive and negative. As mentioned earlier, sometimes more flavors are not the best combination, and there are some nutritional supplements whose flavor, when powdered, is so intense that it is sometimes unbearable, such as creatine ethyl ester, maca powder or krill shrimp oil.

Therefore, the taste can be an advantage, and it can be a huge and insurmountable disadvantage, so it may be best to be guided by the taste when choosing capsules or powders of certain supplements. If the powder tastes awful and you have the option of capsules, then select them and drink them as simply and quickly as possible. If taste is something you enjoy, choose powder because it will make this dietary supplement comfortable and easy to drink and will also increase fluid intake, which many people lack.

Therefore, both capsules and powders have some advantages in consumption, from convenience, absorption rate to taste and ease of administration, so consider all the criteria and choose the form that works best for you.

15 Quick Tips for Optimal Nutrition!

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29 Jul

1. Start your day with a serving of fresh seasonal fruit and a glass of juice. Why?

To encourage and support the urination and elimination of toxins and by-products from the body.

2. When to eat fruit?

In the morning as your first meal!

The fruit should be eaten 1/2 – 1 hour before the main meal or 3 hours after lunch! Why? Fruits are easily digestible and if eaten immediately after a meal rot in the food we consumed.

3. Fruits can be eaten in the evening, but in the morning you should not eat heavy and long-lasting digestible foods as your first meal. Why?

Our organism has a cyclical structure.

1. From 4-5 o’clock in the morning until 12 o’clock it is cleansed of all by-products and toxins.

2. From 12 o’clock to 8 o’clock the organism receives food.

3. From 8 pm to 4-5 am, our body uses the food and nutrients taken from it.

4. Do not consume concentrated protein (meat, poultry, fish) in the same meal with concentrated carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes). Why?

food

Scientists have found that taking them in the same meal cancels each other and their overall effect is weaker. For example, eat fish, meat or poultry with a serving of salad, and at the same time consume pasta, rice or potatoes with copious amounts of salad!

5. Eat balanced (biologically effective) daily meals every day. Why?

In order to enter the body through nutrients through the necessary nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, fluid!

6. When should you take your last daily meal and why?

At least 3-4 hours before bedtime, to minimize the burden on the body at bedtime and rest!

7. In the preparation of meals, the so-called cold – pressed oils, such as olive, sunflower, soybean oil. Why?

Because these oils are a great source of desirable unsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the body.

8. Divide your body weight by 8 and you will get the number of glasses of fluid (2 dcl) you need to drink each day. (If your body weight is 72 kg, this means you will drink 9×2 dcl, 1 l and 800.

Watch your urine if it is light and transparent, it is a sign that you are drinking enough liquid. If your urine is a thick yellow color, urgently start drinking at least 1.5-2 liters of fluid daily!

9. Make sure you consume enough, but not too much (not more than 25g) fibers from different sources! Eat pasta, rice, potatoes and fruit! Why?

healthy-food

Fiber protects the heart muscle, makes the digestive system healthy, maintains optimal body weight and desirable cholesterol, prevents high blood pressure and diabetes, and veins and bowel disease.

10. Eat preferably fresh (not frozen), seasonal from our climate, naturally grown without pesticides and fertilizers!

11. Drink fresh milk (not permanent, it’s full of chemicals) and fermented dairy products: kefir, acidophilus, probiotics and whey.

12. Eat fish at least twice a week as it is easily digestible and is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids, essential fats, minerals and vitamins.

13. Supplement daily with suggested doses of Vitamin C, E, Vitamin Complex, and minerals and oligoelements. Why?

Because older people find it difficult to absorb all the micronutrients they need from food.

14. Be sure to be moderately physically active daily – hiking, biking, swimming, exercising, or exercising.

stretching

15. Strive to spread comfort and a positive attitude in your family, your neighborhood, and your environment. You will avoid stress and, above all, maintain your health.

BCAA amino acids – everything you need to know and how to consume them

BCAA amino acids – everything you need to know and how to consume them
29 Jul

BCAA (branched-chain amino acids or branched-chain amino acids) are a fantastic trio made up of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. All three are essential amino acids, which means that not only can the body synthesize them from other amino acids, they must necessarily be ingested through food or supplementation.

BCAAs account for 40% of the daily requirement of a total of 9 essential amino acids (the others are: phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, lysine and histidine). In addition, they make up about 35% of muscle tissue.

Of course, they are found in protein-rich foods, most in chicken, beef, salmon, eggs, etc. They are also found in whey proteins.

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The importance of BCAA supplementation

As far as supplementation is concerned, it is of particular importance for athletes because the free form of BCAA passes through the liver and the gut and directly enters the bloodstream. This is the reason why people with liver impairment when entering the BCAA supplement have managed to keep the muscle mass.

The BCAAs came on the market in supplementary form before some more advanced supplements, such as creatine, and for a long time did not attach to them the importance they deserve for their qualities. Just recently, they are devoting more research, whose results reveal that BCAA is much more than ordinary building blocks of protein.

When we usually talk about proteins, we primarily mean their building material, not their energy role. However, with the BCAA, their energy role is unavoidable. Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are metabolized within the muscle, allowing the muscle to use it as energy in the form of ATP during training. There is also a bonus effect, because not only can BCAAs be used as energy, they promote the oxidation (breakdown) of fat in athletes whose glycogen reserves are depleted.

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More about BCAA

Another way BCAAs allow an athlete to train longer and more intensely is their effect on glycogen reserves. BCAAs have been shown to “conserve” glycogen and reduce its consumption by up to 25%. This also enables faster recovery after training.

Another beneficial effect that BCAAs have is on anabolic hormones: testosterone, insulin and growth hormone. Normally, testosterone under the influence of intense training increases, but after training there is a fall. However, it has been found that his level remains increased up to several hours after training if the athlete has entered the BCAA before training.

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In addition, BCAAs improve testosterone: cortisol and thus contribute to the anabolic environment. Leucine has shown the potential to increase insulin sensitivity, leading to easier resolution of adipose tissue, greater muscle growth and defense against diabetes.

The latest research reveals the abstract, Sci-Fi, or long-distance BCAA activity and its benefits. BCAA (especially leucine) has been found to play the role of a signaling molecule that sends a message to the body: “Build muscle!” and it does so through a specific mechanism.

Specifically, the cell contains the protein molecule mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin or mechanistic target of rapamycin). Leucine has been shown to act as a trigger on its mTORC1 fraction, which activates a complicated metabolic pathway that results in the activation of protein synthesis (= new muscle tissue). Of course, everything works together if physical activity is also present, this should not be mentioned separately.

Leucine, if administered after training at adequate intensity, can increase protein synthesis by up to 145%. Protein synthesis is impaired after 35 years. Therefore, in older age, leucine is an important link in achieving a favorable environment for muscle growth (that is, in this case maintaining and preserving existing muscle tissue).

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When to take BCAA

BCAAs are taken before, during and after training. Framework recommendation is 3-5g before, during and after training. Somewhere we will come across a recommendation with multiple values.

For athletes engaged in very intense training, the dose can be calculated using the following formula: (total body weight in kg) – (fat mass in kg) X 0.44 = number of grams of BCAA per day.

Additives in Food : The most common and the ones you should avoid

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27 Jul

The simplified definition of nutritional additives is related to substances of a particular chemical composition that are added to food in the process of processing and processing, with the aim of preserving the basic properties of taste, smell and consistency.

There are also additives called. natural origin, such as natural dyes, vitamins, fibers, enzymes, but there are controversies in the professional circles as to how convenient they are. We know more than 3500 compounds used in the industry as additives.

Once upon a time, people were using some methods to conserve food in order to extend its shelf life, so we can say that the good side of the story is that the additives have today achieved high product safety. Why do we then panic the article background so as not to check how many additives it contains our favorite product?

food-info

Namely, only the presence of food additives changes some of its original characteristics. It prefers to work on a consistent product quality as well as to make certain seasonal foods available throughout the year. Though we have once felt sorry for the team, today we are taught that we do not have problems in the middle of winter with tomatoes in the basket and run the cashier’s way.

Thanks to the fact that she managed to survive long-term storage, we would like to thank the presence of additives or preservatives that have prevented her from tampering. In addition to uniform quality, food additives retain or alter the appearance of foodstuffs in the form of colorants.

Taste and flavor enhancers change the flavor while rinsing agents, for example in bread, increase the volume of the product. Some additives bind water to the product, such as phosphates in sausages or cheeses while others allow the creation of “new” products, which is most commonly the case with energy drinks,

Here you should not neglect the economic calculation because the wide and available offer reduces the cost of the product. Everything we find in a store and we know that there should not be because it is simply no season, we’ve come up with the development of food production technology, as well as the use of additives.

Let us break here and the illusions of the naive ones (if they are still hidden) – there is no “light” sweetener and emulsifier, there are no ready-made meals without flavor enhancers, there is no food that can stand for more than a few days without it being backed by some kind of preservatives , stabilizers or any other substance. If you do not have a garden behind the building, forget about the food-free additive.

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E-Numbers

Given that we are in the forest of information, recognition of additives takes place through E-numbers that represent a generally accepted mark throughout the world. E-numbers provide easier labeling and recognition, as well as certification of toxicological evaluation and classification of additives.

As additives are divided into several groups, there are certain numbering rules that we bring here:

dyes – 100-181
preservatives – 200-285 and 1105
antioxidants – 300-340
acidity regulators – are indicated by different numbers
thickeners / emulsifiers – 322, 400-499 and 1400-1451
substances to prevent stomach – 550-572
flavor enhancers – 600-650
polishing agents – 900-910
sweeteners – 420, 421, 950-970
We have already noted that although the additives allow us today a very high level of safety of the products in the technological sense, some do not keep a good voice and can harm the human health.

Precisely for this reason, consumers are increasingly aware of what they enter into the body, especially the group that already has some health problems or they are more sensitive.

Since food additives are a controversial subject, there is a clear legal framework for their labeling. As in the rest of the world as well as in Croatia there are special provisions dealing with labeling of nutritional additives and the food producer is legally obliged to mark all additives in a food product.

Before this comes at all, extensive methods of testing the quantity and manner of use of certain food additives and their effects on human health are being conducted. This is especially the case of an over-the-counter caution that would disrupt it, but it is true that the additives that have undergone all procedures are related to certain diseases.

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The most dangerous food additives

Sigurni smo da su vas već upozorili da od E621 bilježite kao od baba roge ali sad ćemo vam pobliže objasniti i zašto. Iako ima nekoliko zlih E-ova kojih se treba čuvati, ovaj je najopasniji.

Naime, riječ je o mononatrijevom glutaminatu (MSG) navedenom na deklaracijama proizvoda pod oznakom E621 a njegova česta upotreba može naškoditi čovjekovom zdravlju u vidu pojačanog lupanja srca, bolova u prsima, glavoboljama, mučninama, vrtoglavici i sl. a posebice se smatra da velika količina ovog aditiva pobuđuje receptore živčanih stanica i vodi do njihova odumiranja. E621 je sam opasan ali u kombinaciji s kompićima E626 do E635 može uzrokovati još veću štetu stoga se zna dogoditi da ih proizvođači hrane razdvajaju.

Rekli smo da je opasan ali u čemu je privlačnost? MSG predstavlja pojačivač okusa a sastoji se od natrija i glutamične kiseline. Ova potonja djeluje na receptore na jeziku i u mozgu, koji hranu registriraju kao ukusniju. Postoji i kontroverznije stajalište kako MSG napada krvno-moždano barijeru odnosno obrambeni sustav koji ima funkciju sprječavanja ulaska toksina u mozak te svojim pojačanim podražajima iscrpljuje stanice mozga što može uzrokovati njegovo oštećenje.

MSG pored toga može biti uzrok i pojavi gojaznosti obzirom da ponajprije djeluje na hipotalamus odnosno dio mozga odgovoran za regulaciju osjećaja gladi te na taj način u nama stvara iznimnu želju za hranom.

MSG možemo naći u mnogobrojnim proizvodima od instant juha, gotovih jela, brze i smrznute hrane, dodataka jelima, grickalicama, margarinu, senfu, žvakaćim gumama, topljenom siru, tjestenini.

Obzirom na navedene opasnosti, ipak ga nalazimo u hrani i ukoliko ga ne vidite na deklaraciji, postoji mogućnost da se krije pod nazivom prirodna aroma, ekstrakt kvasca, hranjiva tvar ili nešto slično.

Other additives that are desirable to avoid, we mention:

  • Sodium nitrite-preservative, serves for preservation, color and flavor of meat products. We can find it in bacon, ham, ham, smoked fish and stuffed beef.
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisols (BHA) and Butylated Hydrotoluene (BHT) – Antioxidants are used to preserve food and prevent oxidation. They are found in grains, chewing gums, chips and vegetable oils.
  • Monosodium glutamate – an amino acid, is used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salads, chips and frozen foods.
  • Propyl gallate, preservative that prevents fats and oils from fading. We find it in meat products, soup cakes and chewing gums.
  • Olestra – a synthetic fat that prevents the absorption of fat from the digestive system. It can be found in chips.
  • Potassium bromide – used as a supplement to increase volume in white flour, bread and baking.
candy

Speaking of E- numbers, it is best to avoid the following:

E102, E 104, E107, E110, E120, E122, E123, E124, E127, E131, E132, E133, E142, E150, E151,E153, E154; E171, E173, E210, E220, E223, E232, E249, E250, E284, E285, E310, E311, E312, E320, E321. E308, E407, E472, E473, E512, E553, E620, E621, E622, E626, E942, E950, E951, E952, E954, E1440.

Napomenimo samo da je niz od E630 do E640 zabranjen u dječjoj hrani.

Ne očekujemo od vas da ćete popis nositi u novčaniku kao sliku djece, ali svakako obratite pažnju pri sljedećem posjetu trgovini.

Jasno je da su aditivi danas u prehrambenoj industriji nezaobilazni. Oni čine hranu primamljivijom , dugotrajnijom, izazivaju u nama iznimnu želju za njenim unosom. Gotovo je nezamislivo na koje bismo sve namirnice morali zaboraviti da aditiva kojim slučajem nema.

Stoga, zaključak je kako ih ne možemo izbjeći. Ono što možemo je educirati se o onim najštetnijim i probati ih izbjeći kada je to moguće. Upozorenja se posebice odnose na one najosjetljivije, djecu i pripadnike starije dobne skupine. No opće pravilo vrijedi za sve- što je deklaracija „kraća“, to je sadržaj proizvoda „zdraviji“.

Your 4 Must-Know Nutritional Principles For Losing Fat

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25 Jul

Keep in mind that the daily calorie number is just an estimate. To get dialed in, you need to begin tracking your food intake every day, and checking your morning body weight a few times per week. Your weight-loss goal should be 0.5-1.0 percent of your body weight per week. For example, 0.9-1.8 pounds per week if you weigh 185 pounds.

If you’re losing weight slower than this—or not losing at all—reduce your total calorie intake by 10-15 percent (read more below about how to do this.) If you’re losing too quickly, raising your risk of muscle loss, increase your calories by 5-10 percent. Whichever way you’re going, adjust your meals until your rate of weight loss falls within 0.5-1.0 percent of your body weight per week.

Principle 1: Eat More Protein (And Distribute It Evenly)

Protein offers fat-loss phase benefits that’ll help you maximize your physique changes as you go through this program. First, it plays a major role in muscle growth and repair. As long as you consume enough protein, you can optimize muscle maintenance even when restricting calories.

Protein can also reduce your appetite because it takes time to digest, so food stays in your stomach longer. Plus, protein triggers the release of several satiety hormones, including cholecystokinin, to further suppress your hunger. And the more protein you eat, the more cholecystokinin is released and the less hungry you feel.

But how much protein do you need to eat? A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that natural bodybuilding athletes preparing for competition do best by consuming 1.1-1.4 grams per pounds of body weight, for example, 204-259 grams of protein per day for a 185-pound person.[1] Go back to the figure you got from the macro calculator to make sure your daily protein target falls within this range.

The recommendation from the study is a great starting point. You’ve also got to make sure you distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day to maximize muscle growth and maintenance. That’s because you need a minimum threshold of leucine, an amino acid found in protein that fully activates muscle growth and repair at the cellular level. You should aim to consume 25-35 grams of protein per meal to get the recommended dose of 2-3 grams of leucine per meal.

Make sure your protein comes from high-quality, complete proteins, such as dairy, beef, poultry, pork, and soy. These complete proteins are rich in leucine and contain all nine amino acids essential for maximizing muscle growth and repair.

Principle 2: Reduce Fat First

The amount of protein you consume will be the same throughout the program. Your challenge now is to adjust your other macronutrients to create a calorie deficit. When it’s time to start cutting calories, cut fat first.

You don’t want to start by reducing carbohydrates because they are the primary fuel source for your brain and muscles. During exercise, your body relies on both carbohydrates and fat as fuel. The higher the volume and intensity of your workout, the more your body relies on carbohydrates.

Let’s say you need to create a 300-calorie deficit. You can remove 33 grams of fat, the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of olive oil or 4 tablespoons of peanut butter (I know, it still sucks, but it’s for the gains). Or you can cut out 75 grams of carbs, or about 2 cups of brown rice or 3-1/2 medium-sized apples!

Cutting those carbs would probably have a helluva bigger impact on your satiety. And if you’re constantly hungry when you’re dieting, your chances of sticking to your plan are slim to none, which means those abs won’t be popping anytime soon.

Principle 3: Prioritize Carbohydrates Around Your Workouts

Consuming carbs during your workout delivers a quickly digested fuel supply that spares muscle glycogen, enhances focus, and reduces the extent of muscle breakdown.

Your post-workout meal, which you try to eat within an hour of finishing your workout, should be full of carbohydrates to replenish your muscle glycogen stores and properly prepare your body for tomorrow’s workout. Eating carbs post-workout also minimizes the rate of muscle breakdown, and enhances the recovery process.

 

To maximize energy before and during your workout, and to fuel recovery afterward, distribute your carbohydrate intake as follows:

  • Pre-workout meal: 30-40%
  • Intra-workout shake: 5-15%
  • Post-workout meal: 30-40%

By following this approach, you’ll be able to continue training hard and progressing well, while doing everything necessary to maximize muscle maintenance as you diet.

Principle 4: Drink More Fluids

Getting hungry when you diet—and you will get hungry—can send you sprinting to the pantry for comfort food. Well, here’s a big secret: To keep your appetite in check without knocking yourself out of a calorie deficit, drink more fluids before, during, after, and in-between meals.

When you drink lots of fluids at once, your stomach expands, which triggers the “stretch receptors” located in your stomach lining to send satiety signals to your brain. By staying hydrated throughout the day, and drinking 12-16 ounces of water anytime hunger hits, you’re more able to skip that high-calorie snack you were fantasizing about and stick to your plan.

5 Tips for Building Your Best Back Ever

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25 Jul

Back is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind muscle group for many people. Unlike the chest, shoulders, arms, and abs, it doesn’t easily catch your eye the way a biceps stretching out of a T-shirt sleeve or a ripped sixer does. Even more importantly, it can’t be scrutinized for weaknesses when you’re looking straight into a mirror.

The fix is simple—not easy, mind you, but simple. Just give your back the same attention as you give those other body parts and take the time to identify any developmental weaknesses.

These five tips will help you cover your back from every angle and build a complete upper body, from deep thickness around the spine to flaring, cobralike lats.

1. Row Big

Rowing is many things—uncomfortable, tough, sometimes brutal. Still, there’s nothing quite like a basic barbell or dumbbell row to widen and thicken the back from every angle. The only problem: the way most lifters row, their lower backs give out before their lats get any love.

If that sounds familiar, drop the free weights and try the single-arm landmine row, aka, the Meadows row. This bad boy—a favorite of IFBB pro bodybuilder John Meadows—is performed using a barbell slid into a landmine apparatus on one end. If your gym doesn’t have a landmine, wedge the empty end of a barbell into a corner, or use a T-bar row station. It allows you to go heavy while having just a bit more stability, putting the stress where it should be and not where it shouldn’t. 

Stand in front of the loaded end of the bar, perpendicular to it. Bend at the hips so your back is angled slightly higher than parallel to the floor and grab the end of the bar with the inside hand using a palms-down grip as if you’re about to do a dumbbell row. Pull the bar, bringing your elbow and shoulder blades back as your hand comes up toward your side. You can also brace your other forearm on the same-side thigh for balance.

2. Nix The Momentum

Using momentum during workouts isn’t always a bad thing. For instance, if you’re doing Olympic lifts, you’re purposefully generating momentum to develop your explosive power. In other cases, though, slinging weight around takes the tension off the target muscle and can make an exercise much less effective.

If you want to maximize the development of your back, you need to take it slower on a majority of your movements, including rows, pull-downs, and pull-ups. For example, during deadlifts and rows, a short pause at the bottom of each rep can help dissipate momentum.

Pendlay Row

This barbell exercise includes a dead stop at the bottom of each rep, with the weight set down on the floor. To do it right, place your feet about shoulder-width apart, with the fronts of your ankles flush against the barbell. Bend at the hips and take an overhand grip on the bar, just outside your ankles. Your back should be parallel to the floor, with your core tight and your eyes looking ahead to a spot on the floor. Pull the bar to your upper abdomen, leading with your elbows as they bend and squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top. Lower the bar along the same path and reset, putting the weight on the floor for a second before you pull it straight up again

3. Don't Just Pull Down—Pull Over

The classic dumbbell pull-over doesn’t get its fair share of praise. Bodybuilding writers and gym lore haven’t helped matters, muddying the waters as to whether it’s a chest exercise or back exercise, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was known to say that it could help expand the ribcage. That dubious claim aside, the pull-over is a solid upper-body move that calls the lower pecs and the lats into play, with extra emphasis on the latter.

You can do it with a dumbbell, with your body crossways on the bench, or while lying normally on the bench, lowering the weight over the top edge of the bench behind your head. You can also switch things up by trying it with a barbell or EZ-curl bar or doing a standing variation in which you use a cable rope attachment, pulling the rope from overhead while facing away from the stack. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have the machine at your gym, you can do Nautilus pull-overs, preferred by no less an icon than six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, who said they really helped him widen his outer lats.

4. Strengthen Your Mind-Muscle Connection

Admittedly, it’s a little harder to establish a strong mind-muscle connection with muscles you can’t watch in the mirror. That means you’ll need more practice to achieve connection perfection, and this lat pull-down variation offers a chance to do just that

Kneeling Single-Arm Lat Pull-Down

Also called the kneeling single-arm high-pulley row, this exercise can make a huge difference in establishing the link between your brain and back for three important reasons:

  • As a cable movement, the kneeling single-arm lat pull-down keeps the tension on the working muscle throughout, prompting greater activation of the lats as you work in the direction of the cable and giving you the chance to focus on the muscle contraction as you pull.
  • Doing it unilaterally instead of using both arms simultaneously gives you a greater range of motion. Because each side has to handle a full load, you can focus on one lat at a time and also bring up a weaker side for balanced development.
  • You are forced to cut back on the resistance. So often with back, because it’s a powerful muscle, we overdo the poundage and correct performance goes out the window. The kneeling single-arm lat pull-down gives you a chance to prioritize form over ego gratification. (There’s plenty of time for that with the compound exercises that should be front loaded in your program, like the single-arm landmine row, outlined above.)

To eliminate biceps assistance as much as possible, use a lifting strap around the handle. That reduces forearm and biceps involvement in your grip, so you pull almost exclusively with your back on every rep. In addition, when the handle is rising, roll your shoulder blades forward a bit to accentuate the lat stretch. As you start the next rep, contract your shoulder blades first, then pull.

Drop in the kneeling single-arm lat pull-down at or near the end of your back workout—4 sets of 12-15 reps should do the trick, resting 30-60 seconds between sets.

5. Finish Strong

Other than the glutes-quadriceps-hamstrings complex, your back is the strongest muscle group you’ve got. Add in the fact that the back is made up of multiple muscles, including the rhomboid major and minor, teres major and minor, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, and trapezius, among other connecting groups, and you have a complicated body part to stimulate. In order to give every bit of it the attention it needs, make sure you’re working multiple angles and using a number of grips throughout your back workout. A final movement that elicits utter exhaustion may help too, especially if you’re struggling to get over a developmental plateau.

100-Rep Combo

This 100-rep finisher will help you break down any remaining stubborn muscle fibers and can be done with a pull-down movement or rowing exercise. Choose the former if you’re looking to improve your width and the latter if you need thickness. You can also alternate the two from workout to workout if you want to improve both facets.

The key is to use a machine exercise rather than a free-weight move, since a fixed motion is the safer option for maximum effort, especially when you’re already fatigued. Also, use straps to secure your grip—otherwise, your forearms will likely give out well before your back.

Pick a weight that would elicit failure at 20-25 reps, and have a clock with a second hand in sight, if possible. Here’s how the finisher should break down from there:

  • Do reps until you reach momentary muscle failure, where you can’t do another with proper form. Take that number of reps and subtract it from 100 for your rest period—if you did 20 reps, rest 80 seconds.
  • After 80 seconds, begin repping again until you reach failure, starting at 21. If you get to, say, 35, you rest 65 seconds this time, and then begin again.
  • Keep going until you’ve done 100 reps in total. Toward the end, the number of reps you can get in one turn will decrease. Stick with the 100-minus-total-reps rest scheme, as it helps increase intensity by compressing your work-to-rest ratio.
  • As you improve and get stronger with the weight you choose, you can bump up the resistance in a future workout.

4 Back Exercises Even The Pros Fear

ultimate-back-exercises
25 Jul

In a bodybuilding contest, the elusive V-taper—coupled with a thick, detailed upper back— separates the truly memorable physiques from the rest of the pack.

If you want your back to grow and are willing to put in the time and effort, these four game-changing exercises are for you. Coupled with some unique intensity techniques, they’ll help you maximize strength and hypertrophy while getting mile wide.

You can put all four movements together in a single workout for an incredible change of pace from what you normally do for your back.

1. Snatch-Grip Deadlift

Olympic lifters typically aren’t known for their muscular development—except for their upper backs. With the snatch-grip deadlift, the wider grip forces you to increase recruitment of your upper back muscles, traps, and rear delts—making it one of the most effective width-building exercises around.

Do It Right

Olympic lifters are basically gymnasts with barbells in their hands. Since our objective here is to build size and strength, we’ll modify that wide grip and go with some precise grip-width guidelines I picked up from strength coach Anthony Mychal. The grip position matches with your height and assumes you don’t have disproportionately long or short arms:

  • 5’6″ and shorter: Pinky on or just inside the last ring
  • 5’7″ to 6’1″: Index, middle, or ring finger on the last ring
  • 6’2″ and taller: Index finger on or outside the last ring

We’re going to start the movement at mid-shin level because pulling a traditional deadlift off the floor takes more mobility than you may have at the moment. As you master this movement, slowly work your way down to the floor.

Training Tips

  • Perform this move when you’re fresh.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 5-8 reps.
  • Always perform this movement with an overhand grip for safety and effectiveness.
  • This is not a grip test. Wear straps.

2. 2-Up-1-Down Eccentric Seated Cable Row

Eccentric training is a great way to build strength and add slabs of muscle, thanks to a combination of satellite cell proliferation, preferential fast-twitch muscle recruitment, greater mechanical tension, ability to perform more volume, and even enhanced mind-muscle connection.

If eccentric-emphasis training is like driving on the interstate, my 2-up-1-down technique is like racing in the Daytona 500! It’s also an awesome way to eccentrically overload your back—without needing anyone else’s help!

Do It Right

Do a normal v-handle seated cable row as you normally would, pulling the handle into your abdomen. Then, do the negative with one hand only, and make it last 5 seconds. Do 3-5 reps like that, then do 3-5 more using your other arm for the 5-second eccentric. (Make sure it’s the same number for each side.) Boom—that’s 1 set!

Training Tips

  • A great starting point is to use 70 percent of the weight you’d normally use for a strict set of six normal repetitions.
  • This exercise needs to be heavy—and you need to maintain perfect technique without undercutting the prescribed tempo.
  • This exercise is not a grip test! If you need to use straps, wear them—but only on the side you’re working. Using straps on both sides just gets too cumbersome.

3. Mechanical-Advantage Dropset Pull-Ups

The idea here is start with your strongest pull-up grip—say, a wide grip—and knock out as many reps as you can. Rest 10 seconds. Move on to your second strongest grip—say, a chin-up—and do as many reps as you can. Rest 10 seconds. Finally, choose your third strongest grip—say, neutral grip—and do as many reps as you can. Repeat this sequence three times.

Training Tips

  • If you can do more than 30 reps over the mechanical advantage sequence, get out the belt and strap on some additional weight.
  • If you do less than 10 reps, use band assistance.
  • Use a full range of motion—and no kipping!
  • Get creative and try other pull-up variations. Always start with the most difficult and end with the easies

4. Banded Reverse Rows

It would be reasonable to call this movement a bench pull on an inverse bench press.

Do It Right

Tie two bands to the top of a power rack, then put the barbell through the bands so it is suspended in the air. Lie down and grab the bar like you’re going to bench press it. Now use the musculature of your upper back to pull the barbell to your chest. Hold the contraction for a second and repeat for 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets.

Training Tips

  • There is a time and a place for cheating, but this is not that time or place! Keep the movement strict by explosively pulling the barbell to your chest while keep your body in contact with the bench.
  • To add more resistance tie the bands to a higher point, use stronger bands, or even double the bands.
  • Do the opposite to decrease resistance.
  • If you can’t tie the bands to a higher point and you don’t have stronger bands on hand, just tie a knot or series of knots in the band to increase resistance.

6 Reasons Your Abs Aren’t Showing

abs-to-the-fullest
24 Jul

Ancient Greeks and Romans viewed visible abs as a symbol of health, strength, and physical fitness. Statues of Zeus, Poseidon, and Heracles are complete with perfect six-packs—a nod to the immortal perfection and strength of the gods.

In today’s Internet culture, having a great torso may not be supernatural, but it still evokes the same symbol of prestige. Who didn’t run immediately to the gym after watching the movie “300?” I know I did.

As awesome as having a six-pack is, building one is not easy. If you’ve been crunching away after every workout and are still not seeing results, you’re probably committing one or more of these mistakes. Here are six reasons you’re not seeing etched abdominals, and what to do about them!

1. You Have Too Much Body Fat Covering Your Abdominal Wall

Strong abs aren’t the most important component of a visible six-pack; low body fat is. If you have too much subcutaneous body fat covering your abdominal area, then no matter how many hours of crunches or leg raises you do, you won’t be able to see your six-pack.

The most effective action toward achieving those ripped abs is to clean up your diet. When it comes to your abs, training can only get you so far. You need a smart meal plan to lower your body fat percentage and uncover your abs; otherwise, all your hard work in the gym will count for naught. So put down that Taco Bell quesadilla and make a healthier choice. Try some of our tasty, healthy recipes!

healthy-food

2. Your Abdominal Exercises Aren't Diverse

Most people see abs as the little hard boxes in the middle of their torso, but the muscle system is actually far more complex. Your abdominal wall is built of the rectus abdominus (the six-pack), internal and external obliques that run along the sides of your rectus abdominus, and the transverse abdominus which lies beneath the internal oblique. I also like to include the serratus anterior because, if you can see the muscles on the top of your rib cage, you look like a bodybuilder.

These muscles help the torso flex, extend, and rotate. Most importantly, the muscles also help the torso stay stable against flexion, extension, and rotation. If you only train them to flex by doing endless crunches, you won’t activate each of the muscles in ways in which they can grow. Like any other muscle in the body, the abdominals need to be trained from various angles and dimensions so they can really pop!

To better address your midsection, vary your exercises so you work each of the ways your abdominal wall functions. Try planks, suitcase deadlifts, and dead bugs.

3. You Aren't Training Heavy Enough

Lately, there has been this weird hype that your abs need to be trained with a ridiculously high amounts of reps. Some people go crazy and do more than 500 reps in a workout. If you are training your abs for a high-endurance, abdominal-specific sport, then rep away. To get your abs to grow, however, you need to stimulate them just like any other muscle group in your body. Would you perform 500 reps of biceps curls in one workout for maximum growth? Probably not.

Start training your abs with some weight so they can develop like your other muscle groups, and vary the rep ranges each time you train them. For instance, in one workout, perform all bodyweight exercises with a rep range of 15-30; during your next abdominal training day, lower the rep range to 8-12 and use a heavier resistance by adding a plate to your floor-based moves or knocking out some cable crunches. Increase the difficulty as you progress.

4. You Try To Crunch Away The Fat

Let me be clear: You cannot lose body fat in specific areas of your body by training that body part more often. If someone ever tells you that you’ll lose your gut by performing abdominal exercises, slap that person in the face and then explain to him or her that it’s impossible to control where body fat comes off your body. The only way to strip the fat from your abs is by slowly and gradually burning it off from your entire body through cardio, nutrition, and resistance training.

Unfortunately, abdominal fat is usually the last bit to come off and the first to come back. The tenacity with which abdominal fat wants to cling to your belly can make dieting and exercise discouraging. The key is consistency. It may take months or even years to uncover your abs, but if you stick to being smart in the kitchen, you’ll eventually see results.

5. You Train Your Abs Every Day

This is a touchy subject because many fitness and physique athletes do train their abs every day at the end of their workouts. However, they’ve been building their abs for years, and what works for fitness professionals may not always be the best approach for you.

Because you actually activate your abs doing many other exercises like squats, deadlifts, military presses, etc., it’s best to give your core a break during the week. Even though you might not be directly training your abs, they still get stimulation during your compound lifts.

For best results, do direct abdominal training 2-3 times per week. As your abs evolve and get stronger, you can shorten the duration of your abs workout and include them in your workouts every other day.

6. You Frequently Change Your Diet

Many, many people go through crash diets and pre-contest nutrition plans in order for their abs to show. However, once they’re done with their contest season or diet, they start eating junk food, stop performing cardio, and say goodbye to their six-packs. Say goodbye to crash diets, “dirty bulking,” and nutritional inconsistency instead.

Like I said before, consistency is the most important piece of the six-pack puzzle. You need to make fitness a lifestyle. If you consistently eat clean and stay intense in the gym, you’ll have abs for much longer than a few weeks. Being lean year-round means you can snap all the selfies you want—even if it’s not contest season!

4 Tips for Awesome Abs

4-ab-tips
24 Jul

“Abs are made in the kitchen,” the fitness saying goes. But a more accurate rephrasing would be, “Abs are revealed in the kitchen.” They’re made in the gym, during your ab workouts and even total-body training. That’s where you build the muscle tissue that dieting later reveals by removing excess belly fat.

Once you’ve dialed in your nutrition, leave the kitchen and head to the gym for your workout. To help you, here are four abs workout strategies to improve your core muscles and build a scroll-stopping torso. Regardless of your current routine, these ab moves can make a big difference.

Tip 1: Use Weighted Core Exercises In Your Workout

The abdominal muscles are like everything else you train; in that sense, they’re no different from, say, your shoulder muscles. They all benefit from weighted resistance, whether from a cable, a dumbbell, etc. There’s this fear in the fitness world that using weight in your training will expand the circumference of your waist and mess with the symmetry of your torso. That’s not the case. If anything, doing weighted movements as part of your workout will make those abs pop even more when you cut down.

When done correctly, the weighted rope crunch is a great exercise for your abs workout. Your stomach works hard to contract, and the cable pulley applies continuous tension where you need it. Use your ab muscles, not your hip flexors, to crunch. Squeeze your abs hard when you pull in on this exercise. Feel that contraction fully on each crunch.

Hit your oblique muscles by crunching and dipping your shoulder to either side.

Tip 2: Lift Slowly, Lower Even More Slowly During Your Workout

You should know this by now, but it bears repeating: When training, momentum helps no one. Your six-pack is no different from every other muscle group in this respect, and if you’re trying to build, each rep counts. As you perform each rep, slow your tempo and maintain control throughout the movement. Your abs will work harder this way, leading to better results from your training.

Take that abs workout favorite, the hanging knee raise. If all your knee raises look like the beginning of a Kipping pull-up, you’re not alone; it’s easy to generate momentum and lift those legs high by swinging. Unfortunately, this kind of momentum doesn’t do much for your abs or your ab training.

Instead, start by tucking your knees to your chin, which will force your hips to lift and contract your ab muscles. Exhale at the top of the contraction to further activate your abs. Slowly lower your knees with control. Slower means you’ll do fewer reps, but each of those reps will benefit your lower abs a lot more. Only move to straight-legged lifts once you’ve mastered the bent-leg version in your training.

Want to shift the emphasis to your oblique muscles? Raise your knees to either side. Want to add some resistance? Hold a dumbbell between your ankles.

Tip 3: Focus On Stability During Your Workout

The core isn’t just about the six-pack. It’s also responsible for helping you stay upright and maintaining stability during other tasks. If you have a weak core, it will affect your training on other exercises, like the squat or even something as simple as a dumbbell curl. You need core strength to stabilize the weight before you can lift it for an exercise.

Additionally, the transverse abdominals — the “girdle” muscle that wraps around your midsection—becomes stronger and tighter through stabilizing isometric exercises, not through crunches. This means all those flailing ab exercises you’ve included in your ab training are missing the one muscle that helps tighten everything up.

Not to worry, there’s a simple solution: an exercise called planks. I don’t just mean the traditional version of the exercise, using the standard plank position. You should be working side planks into your training, too. By doing regular planks, then a plank for each side, in your abs workout, you will soon see a noticeable improvement in the look and strength of your core.

Tip 4: Don't Forget To Vacuum During Your Workout

Any bodybuilding fan has read about the top pros getting ripped for having distended stomachs onstage. Champions from the so-called Golden Era of bodybuilding used vacuums during a workout to keep their tummies tight. After previously falling out of favor, this classic waist-slimming exercise has made a comeback in recent years among the ab routine of today’s fitness stars.

Not only can you include vacuums in your ab training, you can also do this exercise in between sets when you’re training other muscles. It’s a simple way to double-down on your ab gains, and it can be a killer superset no matter what you’re training that workout.

Perform your normal set and follow it up by trying to do a vacuum before you start your next one. With a little practice and consistency, you’ll gain better control of your waistline and your breathing. This exercise can benefit your other training and workout routines, as well.