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Welcome to Part II on “Losing Weight and Getting Into Shape in the New Year.” During Part II, I will cover the exercise component of my program. It will include preliminary information on exercise and losing weight, a sensible cardio program, warm-up exercises, weight training, cool down exercises, and a section on supplementation.

As a reminder I’d highly recommend you obtain your primary care physician’s green light before engaging in an intense program of exercise. First, there are a few preliminary things you need to know about exercise and losing weight.

As we all know life is precious. And, living a long life is highly desirable for all of us. With that thought in mind, it is very important that you realize that research may have found “the fountain of youth” after all!

“The One Thing you can do today to live Longer”[1]

Exercise.

“Yes, there’s that word again. But as you read, more and more research has emerged showing that exercise lengthens life. Consider just one piece of research: a 2012 study in the journal PLOS Medicine showed that 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week (that’s half an hour of brisk walking a day for 5 days) increased life expectancy by 3.5 years. Those in the study upped their exercise intensity increased life expectancy by 4.2 years. Understand that this wasn’t a small group of college students measured over a few weeks. This review looked at data of more than 600,000 people. That’s one thing you can do to extend your life.

Exercise.”

 

First Things First—Those First Few Weeks of Exercise

Many people have different goals when they start to exercise, such as lose weight, look better, or maintain or improve one’s health. Here are some hints to understanding why you should not become disappointed at first when you’ve worked so hard yet that scale of yours doesn’t seem to cooperate. You’ll come to understand the term hydration and its importance. I found an article on the Spark People website (in the section Ask the Experts). This question was asked of the experts: I just started exercising to lose weight, but I’ve gained weight. Why did this happen?

According to Dean Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer, “When you start doing more exercise, your body begins storing more fuel in your muscle cells, where it can be used easily and quickly to fuel your workouts. The process of converting glucose (carbohydrates) into fuel that your muscles actually store and use (glycogen) requires three molecules of water for every molecule of glucose. As your muscles are building up glycogen stores, your body has to retain extra water for this purpose. That’s what causes most of the initial weight gain or lack of weight loss. This is a good thing—not something to worry about.

However, despite what the scale says, you are actually losing fat during this time. The extra water retention will stop once your body has adjusted to the new activity level. At that point, the scale should start moving down. You’ll end up with less fat, and muscles that can handle a larger amount.”

Realistic Expectations about Building Muscle Mass

The following is an article (posted April 7, 2014) online by Wannabebig.com. This article talks about setting realistic goals in your bodybuilding efforts. The essence of the article is that it takes time to build muscle, so please be patient. It may have taken some time to look like you do now, so it will take some time to alter how you look now.

“We all want more muscle, but packing on the weight isn’t as easy as just showing up. Find out how much muscle you can gain!”[2]

by Wannabebig.com Last updated: Apr 07, 2014

“One frequently asked question which always seems to plague gym instructors, Internet message boards, various magazines and books has to do with muscle gain. Many of us have heard or have overheard the local gym guru or the community fitness expert boasting about how much he/she has gained, or how one of their clients has gained 10 pounds in a month.

When someone hears this, a light goes on inside their head and it kicks off a series of thoughts that quickly translate into a set of unrealistic goals. I will say this: that from whichever mouth it comes, whether a highly regarded coach, trainer or a bodybuilder, the fact of the matter is that it’s physiologically impossible to achieve this muscle status! Later on, I’ll explain why.”[3]

 

mAKING Physical changes takes time

“Often, people making this claim have a faulty perception of how the body either works or are just super-optimistic. Of course, it’s not only the gym (freaks) that espouses this myth; it can be traced to numerous ads in a variety of muscle magazines lining the bookstore shelves. The bodybuilding industry, nowadays, thrives on people who are hungry for a quick change.

They are ready to buy into the notion that a change can be accomplished because a certain ad lays claims by way of an incredible cut and paste transformation. Frequently, it’s a beginner who testifies to the astounding feat of gaining 30 pounds over a period of several months.

This is, no doubt, a great achievement but most have been fooled into believing that a large percentage is muscle when most of it is due to an increase in glycogen stores, body fat and water.

It’s not my intention to dash your hopes or crush your dreams. I’d merely like you to know that the body simply cannot adapt at the speed claimed by many.”[4]

For example, Chris Thibaudeau of Iron Magazine Online states: “making physical changes takes time.”[5] This couldn’t be closer to the truth.

“So be forewarned that in your quest to change or morph yourself into the next Ronnie Coleman; the transformation is going to take more than a few months. Our bodies are equipped with systems that need to adapt together over a period. This is what you should bear in mind while working toward the goal of a more muscular physique.”[6]

So How Much Muscle Can You Gain?

“Sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to gaining muscle. Nine times out of ten, most of us fail in the dedication department. What starts out as a carefully planned and calculated program, ends up hitting some bumps along the way.

However, even if we are dedicated (some may call it obsessed) and diligent about our nutrition with proper training and recuperation practices, we still would not be able to add more than one pound of muscle in a week. That’s right, only one pound per week–and this is assuming you’ve had a darn good week both inside and outside the gym! [7]

Hypertrophy

“Hypertrophy is enlargement or overgrowth of a muscle due to the increased size of the constituent cells. Increased training will result in an increase in the size of cells, while the number of cells stays the same.

Often, people believe that if they take in 3,500 more calories during a week that they will be successful at packing on slabs of muscle. However, the old adage that one pound equates to 3,500 calories is right for fat but not muscle. If you want to gain one pound of fat, then you should be taking in an extra 3,500 calories per week. Now there’s one way of putting on some weight!

As I mentioned earlier, the body’s multiple systems are all intricately interconnected: if one system has not undergone the proper adaptation, then the results will show in the form of a failure to produce optimal hypertrophy of the muscle complex. For example, if we were to look at some of the soft tissues involved in the hypertrophy process of the muscle complex, we’d see that muscle would generally adapt to a load within several days.

Unlike the tendons and ligaments, studies have shown that muscle responds by adapting after a period of several weeks or even months of progressive loading (McDough & Davies, 1984). It also should be noted that the protein turnover rate in collagen occurs approximately every 1000 days.

This clearly shows that even if one were to gain in body weight, the body would only be able to accommodate a certain amount in the form of muscle; otherwise, the muscles would fall prey to injury due to the time span in adaptation rates for various other tissues.”[8]

Those who scoff at this and continue to believe they’ve gained super-size over such a short period forget, as suggested earlier, that much of the increased body weight is largely due to increased body fat stores, glycogen and water. [9]

 

“In the muscles, protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 180 days (6 months).[10]

“Hypertrophy of the muscle complex has, so far, been shown to be controlled by what is known as protein turnover (the breakdown of damaged muscle proteins and creation of new and stronger ones). This process takes time. Just as the many living organisms around us in nature require time to grow, so do our muscles. In our enzymes the protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 7-10 minutes. In the liver and plasma, it’s every 10 days.

And in the hemoglobin it’s every 120 days. In the muscles, protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 180 days (6 months). This lends even more support to the observation that the turnover rate limits the natural body (of the non-drug-using athlete, bodybuilder) in building muscle quickly.

The Colgan Institute of Nutritional Sciences (located in San Diego, Calif.) run by Dr. Michael Colgan PH.D., a leading sport nutritionist explains that in his extensive experience, the most muscle gain he or any of his colleagues have recorded over a year was 18 1/4 lbs. Dr. Colgan goes on to state that “because of the limiting rate of turnover in the muscle cells it is impossible to grow more than an ounce of new muscle each day.

In non-complicated, mathematical terms, this would equate to roughly 23 pounds in a year! Keep in mind that high-level athletes are the subjects of these studies.[11]

Putting It All Together

“Now that I’ve put a damper on your expectations you can step back and take a closer look at your training, nutritional practices and recuperation tactics. There’s no need to beat yourself up because you’ve only been able to gain a pound a week for the last 6 weeks. If anything, assuming your body fat levels has been kept at bay, you’re probably on the right track.

When it comes to muscle gain there is no dramatic technique or quick fix that will allow you to pack on more muscle naturally. It’s better to stay focused and realistic by training hard, eating meticulously and spending time to recuperate properly; this will result in you achieving a more muscular physique. Keep in mind that it’s physiologically impossible to gain more than one pound of lean muscle per week.”[12]

“For most weight-gainers, half a pound per week would be an even more realistic goal, because they reach their genetic limit. Remember that gaining muscle is a long-term project and not something that can be simply turned on. If you’re dedicated and diligent in your efforts, you’ll not be disappointed! [13]

 

Proposed Exercise Program for Strength and Fitness

I am proposing an exercise program that will include all the elements of total fitness: Cardio, warm-up exercises, weight training, cool down exercises and supplementation. There are three phases to my program. In Phase I you’ll follow my plan for three months. During Phase II my exercise program will be at a more moderate yet advanced level. During Phase III one will be at the most advanced level. By the time one reaches Phase III one should already be physically fit.

Later on you can tweak my program by experimenting with keeping the program more interesting. You don’t want to get bored; as you gain more knowledge around the gym (bodybuilding sites on the internet can also assist with knowledge building over time) my program will morph into your program. It is my hope that at the advanced levels (either Phase II or III) you will become hooked on bodybuilding, fitness, and good health. Trying new things is one key to keeping you motivated to continue any health or fitness program.

For the first three months in the gym, I want you to work on building muscle slowly (possibly building just ½ pound of muscle mass per week or, more realistically, only ¼ pounds of muscle or 4 ounces per week). After 52 weeks of exercising 3 days a week for 1 hour and 20 minutes your gain in muscle will likely be 4 ounces times 52 weeks or 13.5 lbs. of lean body mass. Combine this with a well-controlled healthy diet and one will look a much trimmer, healthy and better looking person in the mirror.

Do not get worried about what the scale shows as your weight because, at any point in time, it is the sum of you losing visceral fat and gaining lean muscle mass. As the weeks go by one can rest assured if one is looking better in the mirror, your body is definitely losing weight, even if the scale shows only modest weight loss. Combined with Part I’s discussion of dieting, I know you can succeed! Before I go any further, here is the recommended sequence of your program in the gym in Phase I, and at the advanced levels (Phase II and Phase III):

Cardio*

Warm-up Stretching Exercises

Weight Training

Cool Down Stretching Exercises

 

* Some people in the gym should probably do some stretching exercises before they jump on a treadmill, stationary or elliptical bike. However, most athletes in the gym using cardio machines warm up by simply starting at a slow speed (usually for 5 minutes). After five minutes your upper body and legs are warmed up. If one is doing cardio outside the gym, I highly recommend one do stretching exercises before they walk jog or run. Limbering up before any exercise is good for preventing injury or unnecessary strain.

Cardio Exercise, Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises

Good cardio exercises include walking (slow, medium pace, or power walking), using a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical bike. Some people like to jog or run in the outdoors. My preference is to work out in a gym. The most important consideration is how long you exercise rather than the method per se or where you exercise.

“The most important lesson for cardio work is that you have to stay with it: Research shows that exercise-induced cardiac protection is lost once regular exercise is stopped. If you stop exercising, the synthesis of those protective proteins comes to a halt. In under a week, you’ll be back to your pre-exercise level.”[14]

I recommend at least 20-30 minutes of cardio three days per week as a minimum. Others prefer 5 to 7 times per week. However, working out more than 3 days a week can sometimes be counter-productive if you don’t allow enough time for your body to recover from all your exercise. Actual muscle building occurs during rest & recovery, not necessarily in the gym or outside when you are tearing down muscle fibers.

The sequence I use in the gym is to do 20 minutes of cardio first, and then I do my warm-up stretching exercises (5 exercises should do it) for 5 minutes followed by approximately 45-60 minutes of weight training. After weight training, I do stretching exercises for another 5 minutes (again 5 more exercises should do it).

These stretching exercises are critically important. Your muscles need to be warmed up before jumping into weight training. At the end of weight training, there needs to be a cool-down with stretching exercises. For both warm-up and cool-down exercises, I like to include stretching exercises for the legs, waist (abs and oblique’s), and upper body including chest and arms. I work out only 3 days a week at the gym. The days usually are staggered throughout seven days. However, one day at home during my recovery time (as said muscle growth actually occurs on your recovery days where rest and good sleep is necessary) I use a foam roller to improve flexibility in my body. A foam roller is a piece of gym equipment that can be purchased in many sports stores for a reasonable amount of money. Using a foam roller on the floor takes less than 15 minutes of your time. Collectively, all elements of a full body fitness program are covered with my program: strength, balance, flexibility and stamina.

Phase I

Phase I is for beginners. At the beginning of a fitness program you may lack balance, flexibility and physical strength if you haven’t been exercising in the months leading up to your decision to join a gym or to undertake a general exercise program.

Phase I is to be followed for three months. If one doesn’t feel comfortable going to the advanced program, then feel free to continue working out at the Phase I level until you are ready to move on. One of the first things in Phase I you need to know is what muscles are involved in a good weight training program.

What Muscles Are We Talking About?

When it comes to exercising, what muscle or muscle groups are we talking about?

The following is an overview of the important muscles or muscle groups in the human body. Here is a quick overview of the Major Muscle Groups: Legs (Quadriceps and Hamstrings), Glutes, Chest (Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor), Back (Trapezius, Rhomboid, and Latissimus Dorsi), and Shoulders (Deltoid—Anterior, Medial and Posterior).

Here is a quick overview of the Minor Muscle Groups: Biceps, Triceps, Abdominals (Abdominal Rectus and Oblique’s) and Calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus). There are many websites available to show you the physiology of muscles in the human body. Much will depend upon how deeply you want to become knowledgeable. This type of detailed knowledge is out there; you just need to seek it out.

Initial Weight Training Program

The following is an overview of the Major and Minor Muscle Groups and a sub-listing of exercises one could do (at least 2 sets each as a beginner) as your initial program—primarily directed at beginners although at the advanced level some of these same exercises may apply.

If you do not know what these are specifically, go to any of the bodybuilding sites on the Internet because you’ll not only get a written description of these exercises, but also a video of each exercise being performed. This will make learning proper technique and form much easier to absorb. Don’t expect perfect execution of technique and form the first time. Like they say, “practice makes perfect.” Covering all the major and minor muscle groups will take one approximately 4 workout days to go through one cycle of this beginning program. Then repeat same cycle for 3 months. Good luck!

 

Major and Minor Muscle Groups

 

Major Muscle Groups

Legs

     Quadriceps

Leg Press Machine

     Hamstrings

Lying Leg Curls

Glutes

Barbell Squats

Close Stance Dumbbell Squats

Wide Stance Dumbbell Squats (between the legs)

 

Chest

     Pectoralis Major

 Peck-Deck Machine

Dumbbell Fly’s

Dumbbell Press

Low Cable Chest Fly’s

             Incline: Chest Press (Machine)

 

     Pectoralis Minor

Chest Dips

Barbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

Cable Crossover

    

Back

     Trapezius

Reverse Lats Pull Down

Lat Pull Down

Bent Over Two Arm Long Bar Row

     Rhomboid

 Bent Over One-Arm Long Bar Row

Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row

One Arm Dumbbell Row

Seated One-Arm Cable Pulley Row

Barbell Deadlift

     Latissimus Dorsi

 Lat Pull Back

Lat Pull Down

Shoulders

    

     Deltoids

         Anterior deltoid

Overhead Barbell

Barbell or Dumbbell Upright Row

Incline Barbell Front Raise

Bent-Over Lateral Raise

Reverse Peck-Deck Fly’s
      

     Medial   deltoid

Arnold Presses (dumbbell)

Front Arm Raises (cable)

Upright Row (barbell)

         Posterior deltoid

Rear Deltoid Lateral (Peck Deck)

 

Minor Muscle Groups

 

Biceps

Reverse Grip Rows

Cable Curls

Overhead Cable Curls

Hammer Curls

90 Degree Preacher’s Curls

Triceps

Rope Pull Down

Dips

One Arm Cable Triceps Extension

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Exercises

Barbell Shrugs

Seated Curl Push Down

 

Abdominals

 

     Rectus abdominals + Oblique’s

 Ab Machine

Oblique Cable Crunch

Bell Tower Crunch

Side Bend with Plate

Standing Oblique Dumbbell

 

 

Calves

     Gastrocnemius and Soleus

Seated Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises

Dumbbell Calf Raises

Common Question

One of your first questions upon arrival to a weight training room or facility will be how much weight should I try to lift. As times goes by you’ll increase your weights, sets and repetitions (lighter weights—more repetitions; heavier weights—fewer repetitions). However, at the beginning individuals will each have a different answer to this question.

Individuals always vary in their natural abilities. No matter whom you are—start with the lighter weights. You’ll have to experiment to get a precise answer. For example, when doing barbell curls should I start with 20 lbs. or 40 lbs.? When I first started to do leg presses I put on only 50 lbs. I found it much too light for my leg muscles. After my first nine months I reached a weight of 405 lbs. doing 5 reps. At one year in the gym I can now do 405 pounds for 20 repetitions (most people in the gym simply call them “reps”).

 

Phase II

The Advanced Program

During Phase I you were exposed to two different ways to exercises your muscles, that is muscles in isolation and/or compound exercises. An example of muscles in isolation would be to work your biceps or triceps. Compound exercise movements involve several muscles or muscle groups exercised at the same time. While most of the exercises in Phase I are single muscles in isolation, most of the exercises in the advanced program found in Phase II are compound exercise movements with some isolation. [Please remember to give yourself approximately 1 minute rest time between every set regardless of whether one is in Phase 1, II, or III].

The most advanced program (Phase III) increases sets and the program’s intensity. But it still involves both isolation and compound movements. There is some disagreement in the bodybuilding community in what I’m about to say: While compound movements are best at developing strength and muscle mass, isolation and the targeting of specific muscles can help to produce better symmetry, tone and definition. Both types of muscle building nevertheless are important and can achieve all of the characteristics above. It all comes down to what your specific goals are i.e., how you want to look. Often these differences are physically reflected among contestants in the Bodybuilding versus Physique contests.

You can advance to this more advanced level if and when you are possessed with good strength, vitality, balance and flexibility. What I mean by this is that you are really physically fit.

 

Phase II

3-Day Compound Movement’s

Program with some Isolation

When you are ready to start the advanced Phase II program, try the following:

 

[5 warm-up exercises]

Day 1(4×8)

Four sets of 8 reps for the following exercises:

Incline Bench Press Barbell

Lat Pull Down

Deadlifts

Shrugs (Dumbbell or Barbell)

Biceps (Bicep curls)

Calves (Use a machine that exercises several muscles on the leg such as calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps at the same time)

[5 cool down exercises]

_____________________________________________________

[5 warm-up exercises]

Day 2 (5×5)

Five sets of 5 reps for the following exercises:

Incline Bench Press—Dumbbell

Bent over Rows

Squats

Upright Barbell Rows

Triceps (Rope pull down)

Abs (Ab Machine)

[5 cool down exercises]

_______________________________________________________

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Five sets of 5 reps for each of the following exercises:

Day 3 (5×5)

Incline or Decline Hammer

Cable Rows

Romanian Deadlift

Military Seated Press (or standing)

Abs (Bell Tower)

[5 cool down exercises]

Phase III

At about one year into my training program one should be ready for my most advanced level (Phase III). I want to make it clear that after Day 2 one might want to experiment with the Day 3 program. In my case I wanted to do more isolation muscle training involving my biceps. Someone else might need to work toward better symmetry with their calves, chest or back muscles. You’ll know by then which way to go. For now here is my advanced Phase III program:

Phase III Advanced Bodybuilding Program

Primarily Compound Movements

There are a total of 415 reps in this 3 day program

Day 1

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Flat Bench Press   4 sets of 8 reps

Squats                       4 sets of 8 reps

Deadlifts                  4 sets of 8 reps

Clean and Press   4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

Day 2

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Military Press       4 sets of 8 reps

Bent Over Rows   4 sets of 8 reps

Upright Rows       4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

Day 3

[5 Warm-up exercises]                 Additional Isolation Exercises

Five Best Bicep Exercises

Barbell Curl                     4 sets of 8 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl     4 sets of 8 reps

Standing Biceps Cable Curl               4 sets of 8 reps

Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows         4 sets of 8 reps

Concentration Curls                           4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

 

Supplementation

The last part of this program involves supplementation. This can sometimes be a “touchy subject” for health and safety reasons, and for reasons related to alleged effectiveness and additional cost.

Most people are aware of the dangers of steroids and bodybuilding. There are lots of supplements being advertised that are supposed to help you as an athlete, no matter what sport or activity one is involved with. My strongest recommendation is first see if you have any deficiencies. My deficiencies turned out to be iron and vitamin D3. I took steps to remedy the situation. Once you address the issue of deficiencies, some supplements may be very helpful to supporting your body’s ability to handle a vigorous exercise program.

I recommend the following supplements based on recommendations in Dr. Life’s Plan:

  • A multivitamin and mineral supplement daily
  • Getting enough fatty acids in the proper amounts (Omega 3, 6 and 9)
  • A probiotic supplement
  • Vitamin D3
  • CoQ10
  • Saw palmetto
  • Lycopene
  • Milk thistle
  • Calcium
  • Pycnogenol/L-arginine [15]

First however, discuss any and all supplements you currently take, and those you are planning to take, with your primary care physician. There may be reasons in your particular medical profile that requires you not take certain supplements. This might be due to possible adverse reactions with any medicines you are already taking.

Individuals have different medical needs; therefore, what you take in supplements must be done cautiously. That said, I do recommend some supplements for good health and as a kind of insurance policy, but also to aid your body during an intense exercise program.

Summary

There are no guarantees in life. If you don’t eat right and exercise there is also no guarantee of a long life. What I’ve offered is a simple road map to meeting any New Year’s resolutions you may have that involve dieting and getting into shape. Many people have good intentions but never follow through. But this will be your year to succeed. As they say, “better late than never.” Good luck!

[1] Jordan D. Metzl, MD., The Exercise Cure, p. 2

[2] Wannabebig.com, April 7, 2014

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] The Life Plan, p.124

[15] Ibid., p. 297-298

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