10 Simple Strategie For Gaining Muscle Mass
Mar 18th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training
1. Increased Muscular Tension
The conscious flexion of the working muscles over the entire range of motion causes an increased muscular stimulation. This technique particularly suits isolation exercises.
Thus, for example when doing Arm Curls, an extra tightening of the arm flexing muscles at the end of the concentric phase will increase the stimulus to the biceps.
In general, the eccentric part of a movement should be done slowly and deliberately under high muscular tension, which in turn leads to a higher training level, a more intense workout and an improved development of strength and muscle mass.
2. Final ContractionsFinal contractions can lead to up to 30% increased muscular stimulation. Simply do 3-5 partial repetitions with almost extended joint positions after finishing a set.
For example, after the last repetition of the lat pull-down exercise, before dropping the weight, do a few repetitions in the upper part of the movement. You can apply this technique to almost any strength exercise.
3. Train ComplexA high and complex effort, and thus progressively higher workload is critical to muscular development.
You can move the highest weights during basic compound exercises that stimulate many muscles simultaneously and that involve functional movements.
|Complex Exercises For The Upper Body||Complex Exercises For The Lower Body|
4. Train StandingTry to do as many exercises as possible in standing position, because it requires and triggers the development of a larger number of stabilizing muscles, especially core muscles.
It is important to keep up a correct training technique and to avoid any swinging. This is particularly suitable for the training of the shoulders and arms, for example, Shoulder Presses with Barbell or Dumbbells, Lateral Raises, Arm Curls and Triceps Extension.
3. Variation: Heavy - Light - HeavyTo build muscles, it is important to use heavy weights and to train a the range of 5-8 repetitions.
However, muscles need some training variety to constantly develop and to grow.
Switch between heavy load training on the one hand and training with lighter weights on the other. Performing many repetitions with relatively light weights leads to better blood circulation within the affected muscles, resulting in an improved oxygen and results nutrient supply and thus promotes muscle growth.
A very simple and effective method is a permanent heavy weight training in combination with a once per weekly high-rep workout for all major muscle groups.
5. Effective RestingIn order to complete the necessary training volume in minimum time you may want to take advantage of the breaks between sets.
Here you either train the corresponding antagonist or any weaknesses, such as Calves or Abdominal Muscles.
Short and intense workouts cause a higher production of hormones that are involved in muscle building.
6. Eat MoreTo gain weight, you need to take in more energy than you consume. Therefore you need to eat more and you need to eat the right food.
To maximize the calorie intake eat mainly foods with a high energy density. Foremost amongst these are healthy fats such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts and peanut butter.
In addition, a sufficient supply of proteins is important. If you cannot meet the daily requirements through diet, it makes sense to resort to supplements, such as protein shakes.
If you are not able to take in large enough amounts of calories through solid food, you need to drink more energy-dense fluids. Drink plenty of milk, preferably whole milk, since the combination of protein and a little more fat leads to a longer digestion time in the stomach, and thus provides more energy of a longer time. Otherwise, high-calorie juices and self-made smoothies, such as milk with oatmeal and fruits, prepared in mixer, are an excellent source of energy.
7. Drink MoreMuscles consist to 65% of water. Your muscles won´t grow without a sufficient water supply.
The complete protein and fat metabolism is based on an adequate fluid intake. To effectively build muscle mass, you need to dink 1 liter of water per day per 20 kg of body weight.
8. Rest MoreReduce the calorie consumption besides the strength training to a minimum. Avoid long cardio units.
Train hard and be lazy for the rest of the day. To ensure a good recovery and muscle growth you need to sleep about 8 hours per night.
9. Eat Directly After TrainingAfter each intense workout, the muscles are hungry for glycogen and amino acids. Fulfill these needs promptly.
To make the most of the time window of about 15 minutes, you should either have a full meal, or alternatively drink a whey protein shake together with with rapidly digestible carbohydrates.
10. Think BIGUltimately, it is important to be convinced of your own performance and muscle growth.
Imagine to already own the desired muscles. Visualize it every day. The right mental cinema provides the necessary motivation.
Set the right priorities in terms of muscle building and developing a certain unwillingness to compromise, that is do everything necessary to reach your goal and to avoid any actions that prevent you from growing muscles.
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The Best Six-Pack Ab Exercises
At first glance, the best and most effective six-pack ab exercise won´t be recognized as abdominal-specific, because it isn´t the classic and very popular exercise like crunches, leg raises or sit-ups that I´m talking about. Obviously, even crunches don´t offer a really functional core training, hence there are much smarter ways to train and shape the center of your body.
Mar 2nd, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training
Six-pack Abs RequirementsTo get six-pack abs, you have to meet two essential requirements:
|Muscles||Strong core muscles are the basis, not just for good-looking abs, that is nothing more than a pleasant side-effect, but for a pain-free back, a good posture and an outstanding training performance, which requires the core muscles to be as strong as possible.|
|Body Fat||Men need to have a body fat percentage of 10% or lower to show a six-pack ab. Otherwise they remain hidden below a layer of body fat. That, however, means no functional disadvantages at all, you simply don´t have visible abs.|
Complex Training vs. Isolation TrainingCurrently, the most popular ab exercises are isolation exercise that involve certain rolling-in movements of the upper body, which is no functional way to train your abs. The main purpose of all core muscles is to stabilize the trunk against external forces. Beside stabilization, the obliques serve as torso rotator. Let me summarize:
Isolated core training through upper body roll-ins or side-bends is a meaningful act, but does not provide a functional and natural way of core strengthening.
Also the percentage of body fat, as the second important pillar for a six-pack abs, can be influenced more effectively by doing functional and complex exercises, since you activate a large number of muscles simultaneously. This leads to an increased hormone secretion and increased fat burning. A reduction in body fat requires a certain amount of active muscle and an adequate diet, which leads to insight number two:
The more muscles you activate simultaneously during an exercise and the more muscle mass you own, the higher your potential for burning body fat. Therefore you have to do complex exercises, requiring a signficant and functional participation of your core muscles.
The List: The Best Six-pack Ab ExercisesI will divide this list into two categories:
- Ab Exercises whose target muscles are mainly abs.
- Non-Ab Exercises that activate a large number of muscles and put high demand on your core muscles.
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Bench Press Video Tutorial | Training Technique | Tips and Tricks
Finally I had the opportunity to create a Youtube video out of the Bench Press Tutorial video files. Have a look!
Feb 27th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training
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Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #2: Increased Metabolism
Feb 19th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health
The Metabolism in Top FormThe secret of a slim and attractive body lies in the very personal metabolism of every human being. Those who are gaining weight from a (suspected) lettuce can assume that their metabolism is not running at high levels, meaning all body processes slow down and their physical energy and performance are low. A high metabolism causes a high basal metabolic rate, which means the daily energy need of the body increases.
Symptoms of Low Metabolism
- increased need for sleep
- decreased energy
- often cold hands and feet
Very seldom it is "bad genes" that have a negative effect on the metabolism. Rather, the behavior and habits of everyone figure it. Building muscles and therefore burning excess body fat is directly linked to a good metabolism. Any kind of sufficiently intense physical but also mental activity has a positive influence on it. Besides physical activity there are a few other factors playing an important role in this game. Here are the most successful strategies on the way to a good metabolism.
Strategy 1: Physical Activity | Fitness and Everyday LifeDaily exercise is the best way to control your own body weight. A good combination of targeted and non-targeted exercise is the most effective way to increase your metabolism.
|Targeted Exercise (Training)||Non-targeted Exercise|
|Training Frequency| Metabolic Trend||Explanation|
|Very punctual (although long) training session, e.g. only on weekends, with several days of rest have only little positive effect on the metabolism, it is stagnating.|
|Regular workouts of 30-60 minutes a significant increase of the metabolism. Have a strength training on at least two non-consecutive days.|
Strategy 2: Calorie Intake | NutritionOne of the most successful strategies to increase the basal metabolic rate is a smart diet. It is by no means about counting calories or living very ascetically. On the contrary, a sensible and intelligent handling of this issue creates enormous scope for culinary delights.
Basically, there are the following three options:
- Losing body weight, caused by energy deficiency,
- Keeping body weight, caused by energy balance,
- Gaining body weight, caused by energy surplus,
|Calory Intake | Metabolic Trend||Explanation|
|Energy Balance: To keep up your body weight, it is enough to adjust the average energy intake and consumption. This, of course, should of course happen at a high level.|
|Energy Surplus: An increased energy supply causes a higher metabolism. If this generates an energy surplus, the body weight increases, which is highly desirable at least for building muscles.|
|Energy Deficiency: A reduced caloric intake provides an energy deficiency, to which the metabolism adapts quite rapidly. First, the body weight decreases, followed by the basal metabolic rate, until you again reach a point of energy balance or surplus. That is why no diets will ever work without strength training.|
|Weekly Energy Balance: To occasionally surprise and stimulate your metabolism, get your weekly energy in balance, meaning that you can vary between daily energy surpluses and deficiencies. Consequently your metabolism increases along with the chance for regular days where you will have an energy deficiency. A very enjoyable way of keeping or even losing body weight.|
Strategy 3: The Right Timing of MealsSince the body needs energy on a regular basis, it should also be supplied this way. You body will reward a constant energy supply by an autonomous reduction of body fat. On the other hand, skipping meals for long periods of time leads to a decreased metabolism as it prepares itself for further possible shortages. At the same time you body increases readiness to store any energy supplied as fat. It just does not know better... A constant supply of energy is as important for weight loss as for the increase of body mass. To not produce the exactly unwanted results by mistake, you have to comply with the following rules:
- Never Fill up Completely, unless you want to gain weight. It doesn´t make sense and may even be counterproductive to eat large quantities at once, because you will have to have a meal every 3-4 hours.
- Eat Slowly and With Intention. Food eaten too fast is not digested correctly. A lack of concentration leads to unconscious food intake, and inadequate self-control.
- Drink a Lot. Drink about two to three liters of water per day to maintain the body´s metabolism and detoxification capabilities. Add another liter per hour of exercise.
- Prefer Whole Foods. If you are unsure what exactly to eat, remember to keep it as simple as possible. Avoid any industrially processed food. Instead, eat fresh, natural foods, and prepare your own meals from them.
Example Daily Schedule
Time Meal Recommendations 06:00 am 1. Breakfast In the morning you should eat particularly easily digestible carbohydrates from foods such as cereals, bread, fruit or fruit juice spritzer. That will wake you up and saves the coffee. As source of proteins choose little sausage, fish or dairy products. In general: do not eat too much and too heavy, because that will promote fatigue and will make it difficult unnecessarily to start the day. In the morning it is particularly important to drink a lot of water, because it will support the still ongoing detoxification processes of the night. 09:00 am 2. Breakfast or Snack As with each snack you should avoid hard to digest and fatty foods. Otherwise, there are no limits. Dairy products such as yogurt and some fruits and vegetables are a good choice. Again, remember to drink some water. 12:00 Uhr Lunch For most people lunch is the largest meal. Avoid high concentrations of fats and abandon the idea that lunch has to be a warm meal. Heat kills most vitamins, enzymes and takes away all vitality. Of course, some foods need to be cooked or fried to be made edible, but overcooked vegetables only suit as lifeless stomach filler. Drink a glass of water before and after lunch. 15:30 Uhr Snack In the afternoon most people use to have coffee and cake or other sweets with plenty of sugar for desserts. A great idea if your intention is to feel tired and weak as soon as the blood sugar level returns to normal values. Again prefer fruits, nuts and a healthy source of protein, and drink some water. 19:00 Uhr Supper Except on training days, avoid significant amounts of carbohydrates in the evening. Instead eat combinations of vegetables, e.g. as a salad, or fish and meat. It is perfectly okay to eat a little more of that in the evening, because hunger has a negative impact on sleep quality. Drink enough fluid. 22:00 Uhr Late Snack Whoever goes to bed very late or wants to build muscle mass, should have a late snack that in best case is content-wise related to the supper.
Under the condition of maintaining the distance of about 3-4 hours between meals, the times listed here must be adjusted to the individual possibilities and requirements.
Also read part 1: Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #1: The Basics
How Magnesium Can Prevent Muscle Cramps
Almost any athlete is familiar with cramps within the active muscles during physical exercise. It usually affects runners, but also other intense physical activities such as swimming, squash or ball sports can lead to these painful muscular contractions. However, with the right diet you can prevent cramps.
Feb 10th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health
What causes Muscle CrampsMainly an insufficient concentration of magnesium in the blood is responsible for cramps. Magnesium itself is a vital mineral that we take in by the food we consume. A deficiency can occur due to low supply or through an intensive excretion of magnesium, such as sweating, which results in a more spontaneous responsiveness of the nerves that are responsible for the contractions of the muscle, especially within calf and thigh muscles. If cramps happen very regularly, put your diet to a test. Eat more foods that contain large amounts of magnesium.
Magnesium Rich FoodsThe daily need of magnesium is about 300-600 mg. The following table shows foods that are very good magnesium suppliers.
|Food||Magnesium content per 100 g|
|Whole wheat bread||82 mg|
|Whole grain pasta||52 mg|
|Brown rice||68 mg|
|Sunflower seeds||420 mg|
|Pumpkin seeds||168 mg|
|Sesame seeds||340 mg|
|Mineral water||10 mg|
A balanced diet is a great prevention of muscle cramps. Compensating the fluid balance during or after physical activities with magnesium-rich mineral water is decreasing the risk of suffering from magnesium deficiency even more. Remember to drink one liter of water per hour of exercise.
Magnesium Tablets and LiquidsAnother way to increase the magnesium intake is to consume magnesium tablets as a dietary supplement. These are usually available as an effervescent tablet to dissolve in a glass of water. A look at the packaging reveals the amount of magnesium per tablet; usually it is about 200-400 mg. In addition to that, you can get magnesium in liquid form in a special ampule. They provide magnesium ready to eat and usually contain 25 ml of liquid with about 300 mg of magnesium.
Further Action against Muscle Cramps
StretchingIf a cramps occurs, stop the the current activity o be stopped to stretch the particular muscle. There are two options:
- Active stretching by flexing the antagonist.
- Passive or static stretching by applying external forces.
|Stretching exercises for the leg muscles:||Calves|
MassagesThen have a slight relaxation massages to relax the muscles even more. Here it is important to act cautiously and gently, because strong external forces can lead to further muscular contractions.
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Nutrition 101: How much Protein per Day
The recommended amount of protein per day is a hot topic, especially among strength training athletes, that is steadily revived by confusing recommendations in so-called professional journals and other media.
Meanwhile, there are studies, one I will look at here in detail, that support my personal experience in terms of training, nutrition and muscle-building. But before that, let me clarify a few terms and issues around the subject of protein.
Feb 4th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Nutrition
Ei. Image credit by mac.black
What is Protein?Proteins are usually denoted as the building blocks of life. They are composed of amino acids, which in turn are the basic building block of all cells in the body. In addition to the structure building tasks, amino acids are responsible for a variety of other bodily functions such as oxygen and iron transport in the blood, the formation of antibodies and the secretion of hormones. In short, no life without proteins. The continuous cell degradation and recovery processes in the body demand the daily intake of a certain amount of protein through diet. Even physically inactive people have to cover a basic need for protein.
The Daily RequirementAs the level of physical activity increases, through an intense strength or endurance training for example, the demand for protein is growing equally, since the related metabolic processes of regeneration and adaptation of the body to the higher level of physical activity ask for more amino acids. But the disproportionately large amounts of protein, which are particularly recommended by many athletes, professional journals and the nutritional supplement industry, cannot be justified by that.
The "How much protein should I eat per day" table:
|Type of Physical Activity||Daily Amount of Protein per Pound Body Weight|
|Endurance Training||0,75 gram|
|Strength Training||1 gram|
These numbers cover the daily need. The significant and deliberate exaggeration of the recommended amounts of protein for the particular activity level as well the amount of protein served per meal offer, according to a study mentioned on www.medicalnewstoday.com the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, no significant benefits and even generate some unwanted side effects. “Most of the excess is oxidized and could end up as glucose or fat.”
The Right Timing and the Right AmountTests during this study have shown that the intake about 30 grams of protein per meal provides an ideal supply with amino acids to make sure the muscle synthesis. Among the volunteers who have taken up to 90 grams of protein per meal, no further increase in muscle protein could be demonstrated. Consequently the daily amount of protein has to be distributed fairly evenly among several meals throughout the day. Again, the researchers from Texas offer some interesting insights. Thus, the recommendation is to take in the first 30 grams of protein as early as breakfast and to cut the amount somewhat in the evening, as the synthesis of muscles functions most effectively during the day, while at night no significant amounts of protein can be processed.
ConclusionTherefore the uncontrolled intake of large amounts of protein, especially in the field of strength training and bodybuilding, is just a curiosity. Replaced it by an intelligent handling of the own food and potential supplements. My own experiences has shown that an intensive weight training, which primarily targets developing strength and muscle density and not large muscular volume, is agreeable with a long-term protein intake on the level of an endurance athlete, that is below the mentioned 1 gram per pound body weight. Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/168876.php
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10 Nutrition Rules for Healthy Living, Muscle Building and Fat Loss
Jan 15th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Nutrition
„You Are What You Eat.“A sensible diet along with regular exercise is the key to a healthy life. The following 10 diet tips primarily aim at athletic or physically active people. But everyone else can also benefit from this. Maybe the increased level of energy, as result of a healthy diet, sooner or later leads to an interest in (strength)training.
Nutrition Rule 1: Eat RegularlyThe intake of several small meals throughout the day has the following advantages:
- Less Hunger: The stomach is elastic. Large meals stretch it, which ultimately leads to a delayed feeling of fullness. After switching to several small meals in regular intervals, they very soon saturate as effectively as the previous large portions.
- No Cravings: People who avoid to eat for a long period time over the day, increases the chance of binge-eating in the evening, which is in most cases satisfied with candy instead with healthy foods.
- Nutrient Supply: Regular meals give a steady supply of energy an nutrients to the body, which results in steady performance and good muscular development.
- Fat Loss: The body rather tends to cut excess fat, if it recognizes it as superfluous due to a regular energy supply .
Nutrition Rule 2: Eat ConsciouslyThis is a very important point, which is very often neglected in the course of a stressful day. Concentrate on what you eat. Make yourself aware of it and maybe write what you eat down in the beginning of a dietary change. Once you consciously deal with the issue, you´ll recognize bad habits, which makes it easier to control them.
Nutrition Rule 3: Eat Slowly"We don´t live by what we eat, but only by what we digest." (Hufeland). The prerequisite for an ideal digestion of the food taken in is an adequate preparation in the mouth. To do that, you have to chew long and calmly. Every single bite swallowed in a hurry is a challenge for your stomach, at the cost of your own life energy and health. Also, eating too fast is always a breach of Nutrition Rule 2.
Nutrition Rule 4: Have a BreakfastBreakfast is often declared as the most important meal of the day. That's true, but there a few things to be considered:
- Drink a Lot: Besides the often obligatory coffee, a large quantity of water or tea belongs to good breakfast. Why? During nighttime the body is quite busy regenerating and detoxifying the body. These processes need to be supported with lots of extra fluid in the morning.
- Don´t Fill up Completely: This advice may sound a little strange, but we all certainly made the following experience before. After a large, heavy and energy-rich breakfast, instead of a having a dynamic start to the day, a sudden tiredness and lethargy, caused by the enormous work of digestion the stomach has to do in this a case, makes us want to return to bed again. Eat a light breakfast, avoid the intake of large amounts of indigestible foods such as whole grains and cereals. Instead eat fruits and vegetables (bonus: they contain a lot of water), low-fat dairy products other light sources of protein and carbohydrates.
Nutrition Rule 5: The Right ProteinsPeople who follow a routine of strength training have an increased need for protein. The limited digestive capacity of the stomach makes it necessary to take in a little portion of protein with each meal to eat the recommended daily amount. Basically, it is recommended to take in 1.5 - 2 times the body weight in kilograms in grams of protein per day, e.g. people with a bodyweight of about 80 kg need a daily protein intake of 120-160 g, provided a regular strength training. There are publications speaking of much higher amounts, but these numbers can be classified as unhealthy, especially because with the consumption of animal protein many by-products such as bad fats, purines, and the accumulated toxins from the individual animal are also being taken in. A significant part of the daily amount of protein should be of plant origin.
Low-Fat Protein Sources (selected):
|Animal Origin||Protein per 100 g||Plant Origin||Protein per 100 g|
|Chicken breast||23 g||Noodles||12 g|
|Turkey breast||24 g||Potatoes||2 g|
|Beef||22 g||Soybeans||37 g|
|Alaska Pollock||19 g||Lentils||24 g|
|Tuna||25 g||Peas||20 g|
|Trout||20 g||Beans (white)||21 g|
|Mountain Cheese||29 g||Oat flakes||12 g|
|Cottage Cheese||29 g||Spelt||13 g|
|Low fat quark||14 g||Millet||11 g|
|Eggs||13 g||Buckwheat||12 g|
|Egg-white||11 g||Mushrooms (dried)||17 g|
Nutrition Rule 6: The Right CarbohydratesAs during the "low fat" hysteria of the past many foods were labeled correspondingly and to taste at all were fortified with carbohydrates, with the still growing fatty degeneration of the population we came to the realization that the increased carbohydrate intake must be responsible, leading to a "low carb" hysteria. A little education about the different types of carbohydrates and their purpose and effects takes away much of the fear of his excellent source of energy. Basically there are two types of carbohydrates:
- simple carbs, that are digested very quickly and rapidly release their energy, and
- complex carbs, are digested slowly and therefore their energy is provided uniformly over a longer period of time.
Examples of simple and complex carbs (selected):
|Simple Carbs||Complex Carbs|
|all simple sugars||all whole grain products|
|white flour products||rice (whole grain)|
|marmalade||noodles (whole grain)|
|honey||muesli & cereals|
Nutrition Rule 7: Healthy FatsThey are one major supplier of energy, they support fat loss, they are slowly digested and they are part of many vital functions of the body. A daily intake of 60-80 grams of fat is recommended. When doing a regular strength training, one can also take in a little more, people wanting to loose weight should take in less. More important than the quantity is the type of fat. An increased intake of animal fats should be avoided. But even in the league of vegetable fats, there are "good" and "bad", depending on the relation of fatty acids. Here´s a selected overview:
|Sources of "good" Fats of Plant Origin||Sources of "bad" Fats of Plant Origin|
|Linseed oil||Sunflower oil|
|Olive oil||Thistle oil|
|Salmon oil||Wheatgerm oil|
|Sources of "good" Fats of Animal Origin||Sources of "bad" Fats of Animal Origin|
|Fish||Meat and Sausage|
Nutrition Rule 8: Fruit and VegetablesThese two foods are one of the most fundamental basics for a healthy diet. They provide vitamins and minerals and can be eaten fresh and in large amounts. Fruits, due to the high content of fructose, should not or only in small doses be taken in the evening.
Nutrition Rule 9: Natural FoodProcessed foods should be avoided. Their ingredients are often difficult to understand and in most cases they contain an excessive amount of sugar, salt, flavor enhancers and preservatives. There is a very simple rule: the more colorful the packaging, the unhealthier the content. Foods should be eaten or form the basis of self-prepared foods the way nature provides them to us.
Nutrition Rule 10: Drink a LotTo supply the body with oxygen and nutrients and to ensure a proper detoxification, the blood needs to be as fluid as possible and to circulate freely. Therefore be aware to drink about 2-3 liters of fluid per day. The following table shows the kind of drinks to be considered or not.
|"Good" Drinks||"Bad" Drinks|
|Water (without gas)||Milk|
|Tea (non flavoured, unsweetened)||Coffee|
|Juice-water mixed drinks||Juices|
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Happy New Year!!!
A happy new year to all of you! Let 2010 be a great year. Live it with joy and passion, decide to be as healthy and fit as you can be and follow your bliss.
Jan 1st, 2010 - written by Stephan in General
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tags: advice |