If you’ve been training for a while, you probably understand how important genetics are for gaining mass and getting lean. But have you ever thought what that specifically means? What genes make it so easy (or so hard) to get big? Are some people just genetically doomed to stay small and weak? What it is about the biggest guys that helps them get so strong? Testosterone!
While we certainly can’t attribute every bit of muscle-building success to a single hormone, testosterone is THE key to unlocking your true potential. Those gifted mesomorphs you see in the gym – the ones who can eat whatever they want, train half-assed, and still grow – they’re like that because they naturally have super-high testosterone.
Fortunately, your own testosterone-producing abilities aren’t set in stone. Even if you look and feel like a low-T guy right now, there are plenty of tweaks you can make to your diet, training and lifestyle to boost your natural production. Here a few of my favorites.
Far too many guys who lift and even professional bodybuilders focus only on macronutrients – proteins, carbs and fats. This is why bland, colorless meals like chicken and rice are so common, and why some lifters don’t bother to ever eat vegetables. Of course, muscles need protein to grow, and a steady supply of protein in your diet – at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight – is a requirement for putting on size. There are even some really interesting products like Velositol® that you can add to protein that doubles the power of protein on muscle protein synthesis to boost your workouts and help you build more lean muscle.
The truth is, though, that vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients are also crucial in the production of testosterone and other hormones. Your body needs specific materials to produce them, and you can’t cover your bases if all you eat is meat. Some of the most important micronutrients include iodine, selenium, sodium, potassium, zinc, magnesium and vitamin D-3 – and we’re barely scratching the surface. To up your intake of all these vital nutrients, start eating tons of fresh vegetables with every meal. Most veggies contain hardly any sugar or starch, so more is almost always better. Another way to boost your micronutrient intake is to spend some extra money on grass-fed, pasture-raised animal products. Beef and eggs can be fantastic sources of B vitamins and healthy fats, but only if they’re fed their proper diets.
Eat your Fats!
Low-fat diets are truly terrible for those who want to gain size naturally. Study after study has shown a positive correlation between fat intake and testosterone production, so get your grub on with steaks, eggs and fatty fish. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fat is actually good for you if it comes from quality sources, so don’t be afraid of butter or coconut oil, either. It’s the hydrogenated trans fats you’ve really got to avoid.
Carbs: Do you Really Need Them?
If you’re going to be eating more fat, do you really need all those carbs? Carb needs and tolerance will vary wildly among individuals, so you’re really just going to have to test things for yourself. In general, I find it best to limit carb intake to the pre-, intra- and post-workout periods – the times when you know your body can put them to good use. Don’t gorge on potatoes and rice all day, but don’t go too low on carbs, either – at least not for days on end. Ketogenic diets can be useful for fat loss, but in the long run they will lower your production of thyroid hormone – one of the primary controllers of testosterone.
Focus on Getting Lean
You might not want to hear this if you’re already on the chubby side, but body fat is a testosterone killer. More specifically, high levels of body fat will cause you to CONVERT testosterone into estrogen. You’ll end up with low T and high E – a double-whammy for BURNING muscle and BUILDING fat. If you want that next mass-gaining phase to really go well, focus first on getting lean. In addition to a clean diet, consistent and hard training, cardio as well as drinking plenty of water, supplements can help you get lean. Look for a product that contains Velositol® as it will enhance insulinogenic function to boost amino acid uptake into muscle cells to fuel muscle protein synthesis. This promotes leaner body mass and increased muscle-building activity after exercise.
Stress Is a Killer
There’s a good reason why high-T, confident guys don’t stress much. Both chronic and acute stress will raise your cortisol levels, which in turn leads to less testosterone production. Low T and high cortisol make it easier to get upset, and you end up in a stressful cycle that’ll kill your gains. Stress really is a killer – so try to chill out! Minimize the negative influences in your life, and practice meditation and other calming exercises.
Train Hard and Lift Heavy
Focusing on the heavy, compound lifts like squats, deadlifts and presses will really boost your natural T. In fact, a full-body routine or powerlifting split will probably be best for optimizing your hormones. These workouts will definitely deliver results if you want to boost T levels. And beware of overtraining. Doing endless sets and reps with hardly ever a day off is a great way to overtrain and wreck your hormone levels. Most people won’t cross that threshold, but there is a point where you’ll see diminishing returns from hard, heavy training.
The post Testosterone: The Science of Building Lean Muscle appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Justin Woltering
Title: Testosterone: The Science of Building Lean Muscle
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/health/testosterone-the-science-of-building-lean-muscle-copy-copy/
Published Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:08:56 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
WHICH EXERCISES REIGN SUPREME?
By PJ Braun
Sponsored by Blackstone Labs
Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Experiment and figure out what’s best for you. Pay attention to your body and if something doesn’t feel right, try something different.
By the time you guys read this article, I will have surpassed 18 months in federal prison and working out in the gym is not just a distant memory, but now getting close to being a reality again as the second half of my sentence winds down. I have so much excitement in my heart and mind to get back to training with real weights and machines instead of bodyweight. Since the first time I touched a weight 30 years ago, I fell in love with working out! If I could work out all day, every day, I would! Sex is awesome too, close second, but I give the edge to the gym! Am I that crazy!?! I love chasing the pump and seeing my progress and I love challenging myself to push harder and more efficiently. I hate myself for getting away from that for a few years before my sentence, but I have learned to not live in the past. Time to make up for lost time. Over the years I have tried literally hundreds and hundreds of different exercises from powerlifting to functional to rehabilitation and I have learned what works best for my body through copious amounts of trial and error. So, I have decided to detail my most important exercises for each body part and why!
I started out like most kids in the gym obsessed with the barbell bench press. It was an exercise that determined who was the worst ass in the high school gym and I hated not being good at it. When I was in my late teens, I started training under a powerlifting coach named Rob DeLavega in Brookfield, Connecticut at a Powerhouse Gym and he taught me the key fundamentals of the squat, deadlift and of course the bench press. I was not a great bench presser until years after my powerlifting career. My best max was only 455 pounds, but I was pleased when I could work out with 405 pounds for sets of eight and really proud when I did 225 pounds for 50. I was always better with stamina then low reps. The problem with the bench press is that ergonomically it is inferior to many exercises for building the chest because of the angle and stress on the shoulder joint. Most great bench pressers have massive front deltoids but often develop shoulder injuries. I destroyed both shoulders bench pressing and to this day still have lots of pain. So going back in time, if I could do things a little different, I would have spent most my time on the incline barbell press. This exercise really isolates the chest and is safer on the shoulder joint. Of course, you still need strong delts and triceps because like any compound movement, the body must work in synergy, but by keeping your scapula down and back, the stress is just unreal! It’s much harder than the flat version but it will blow your chest up!
Honorable mention: The incline dumbbell press is a close second because it’s so important to incorporate unilateral exercises to work out imbalances, and you can place the dumbbells exactly where you need to really feel the muscle work.
I love the dumbbell press and the Hammer Strength shoulder press. However, you can press all you want but if you really want them to look awesome, you need to do tons of lateral raises. The medial and posterior delts need that extra stimulation or you will be very imbalanced. My favorite is the seated dumbbell lateral raise done slow and strict. I start with the dumbbells under my legs so I can get a farther range of motion, and it’s hard to cheat when you’re seated.
Honorable mention: Reverse pec deck. Most people do this way too heavy and get too much trap involved. Done very light and strict, you can really engage the posterior delts more than anything else to round out the back of the delts!
For many years I focused on the barbell squat. I loved squatting heavy and would often work up to 495 pounds for sets of 10. I squat deep and love the feeling of exploding out of the hole. However, it wasn’t until a great bodybuilder named Ben Pakulski and I did legs together that he talked me into opening my mind about training. In 2006, we did legs for a Muscular Development video at Gold’s Gym Venice. I told him I mostly just do lots of squats, but he got me to start incorporating more variety and splitting the days up. I started experimenting and that’s when I really started growing. What was the key? The hack squat! Nothing overloads your quads the way the hack squat does and it’s much safer on your back!
Honorable mention: Close-stance leg press to 90 degrees. A lot of guys either use too short of a range of motion or too deep of a range of motion where the spine starts to curl off the back support, which is very dangerous. Keep the knees together and come down to 90 degrees and explode up to really overload the quads!
OK guys, you are going to be really surprised by this one. But if you really want thick hamstrings, the key exercise here is a wider-stance squat! Yes, that’s right. When you learn to sit back into your glutes and hams and perform the reps slow and efficient, the hamstrings get a different kind of stimulation. You’re probably thinking, I thought squats were a quad exercise? Squats work the entire lower body and when you open your stance, sit back and push through your heels, you will blast your hamstrings like crazy too. Want to really intensify it? Check out this tip in my honorable mention! Want to get more glute involved? Try the dumbbell plié squat or sumo variation.
Honorable mention: Lying hamstring curls done before you squat, so they are engorged with blood. Either superset or just done as straight sets, this combo really brought out the thickness in my side poses and the lying hamstring curl is essentially like doing a barbell curl for your arms. Explode up and control the negative. Learn to do hip thrusts properly, and the stimulation to the posterior chain will be superior to doing squats alone.
I absolutely love training back, and I had a hard time coming up with my number one here, so I am going to first say that your back needs lots of volume and angles but most importantly, you must row like crazy to grow. I love all variations of row exercises, from barbells to dumbbells to Hammer Strength to cables!! They all have their place, but I am breaking this down for width and thickness. For width, you have to barbell row with an underhand grip. Oh yeah, baby, like the great Dorian Yates in those crazy Blood and Guts workouts that really brought the lower lats thickness out. I have gone up to some sloppy sets of 405 but prefer to be stricter with the weight. For thickness, I switch over to the old-school T-Bar row. Not a machine. It must be done with a 45-pound bar in a corner with a V-Grip handle near the top.
Honorable mention: Pull-ups, which are great for starting the foundation of your back. Wide-grip, close-grip and underhand chins done early in your bodybuilding journey will provide a great deal of strength. Sadly, I can barely hang from a pull-up bar without a great deal of pain in my shoulders now, but that’s from all the old injuries. For all you young guys starting out, form is most important! Don’t swing, and use a complete range of motion.
Later in my career, I got really into cable variations for the triceps to warm up my elbows. If you look at my photos, you see that triceps were one of my best body parts and they grew almost too fast for me and made my biceps look smaller. The exercise I feel did the most for mass is the overhead dumbbell extension, done with both arms at the same time. I would often go up to the heaviest dumbbells in my gym, which was 130, and could do it strict and slow for 15-20 reps.
Honorable mention: The rope pushdown, which is the most versatile exercise for the triceps because you can change the stress of the exercise so easily. I prefer to start literally every triceps workout with rope pushdowns to really warm up my elbows and find that it’s really easy to pump up fast this way!
I see so many people train biceps too heavy and because of that, they don’t maximize the contractions and the full range of motion for the biceps. I was guilty of this early on in my career and it wasn’t until I started doing lots of incline dumbbell curls that my arms really grew. The incline curl when done properly takes the delt out of the exercise and from a full range of motion, the stretch at the bottom makes the muscle really isolate. I love dumbbell exercises, and this is by far my favorite.
Honorable mention: The dumbbell preacher curl. They key on this one is locking your armpit onto the top of the preacher bench and keeping your shoulders pulled back. Another awesome unilateral isolation exercise.
The best of the rest: I have trained calves, abs, and forearms hard and thorough, but my position is slightly different here. These are areas that simply can be ignored if they are genetically superior because of all the stimulation they get. I know so many guys who don’t train abs because they get lots of stimulation from compound exercises and their abs are sick. It’s easy to overtrain the ancillary groups too. Specifically forearms, because your grip is involved in so much! I developed major tendinitis from doing forearm work and don’t isolate them anymore. You want massive forearms? Don’t use straps on back day!
My calves were massive before I even touched a weight. EMG studies show that the donkey calf raise recruits the most muscle fibers, but many gyms don’t have that machine, so you got to make do with what you got. Variety is key for calves and abs, and if I really had to pick a number one ab exercise, it would be the kneeling rope crunch because you can really exaggerate the range of motion and contraction. If you want to really hit your core, you need to involve reverse curvature of the spine, meaning your lower body curls up toward your head instead of the standard crunching down!
So, there you have it. My most important exercises. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Experiment and figure out what’s best for you. Pay attention to your body and if something doesn’t feel right, try something different. What works best for me may not work best for you and the best part of the bodybuilding journey is learning the keys to success in the gym to unlock your true potential. Just because I have been training 30 years doesn’t mean I have stopped learning. When you stop learning, you stop your growth. That goes for the body, the mind, and the spirit.
Until next time, I love you all. Peace out, bye.
The post WHICH EXERCISES REIGN SUPREME? appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Team FitRx
Title: WHICH EXERCISES REIGN SUPREME?
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/which-exercises-reign-supreme/
Published Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2023 13:33:45 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
GlycoLog allows carbs to work for you to build muscle, so you can achieve serious lean gains.
The Great Carb Debate. Are you confused about carbs? That’s no surprise. The great carb debate has been going on for years, and carbs have gotten a pretty bad rap. Some people have labeled carbs as evil outcasts that make you fat and say that carbs should be shunned by everyone from celebrities to soccer moms and even high-level athletes – who in fact need them more than anyone else. What’s the solution? GlycoLog from Blackstone Labs allows carbs to work for you to build muscle, so you can achieve serious lean gains. GlycoLog puts CARBS back on the MENU!
Serious Lean Gains. There are lots of carbphobics out there, but you don’t have to be one of them. The issue that some people have with eating carbs is that it increases insulin, the body’s storage hormone. Insulin can either shuttle carbs into fat or muscle, depending on your genetics. Most people have poor genetics, which means eating carbs inevitably leads to increased fat. But that doesn’t have to be the case when you incorporate GlycoLog into your supplementation regimen. Using GlycoLog means carbs are back on the menu again, and they’re bringing some serious lean gains with them!
Hack Your Genetic Code
GlycoLog acts as a nutrient partitioner – and directs the carbs you eat into your muscles and not your adipose tissue. GlycoLog has been formulated to hack your genetic code to make insulin work for you, not against you, with these ingredients:
Chromium (300mcg) is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood glucose. Chromium is critical to insulin metabolism and therefore a vital component to nutrient uptake in the body.
Gymnema Sylvestre (1g) enhances insulin function to reduce blood sugar. A comprehensive review of the scientific literature on Gymnema sylvestre notes it also reduces plasma glucose, leptin levels, bodyweight, and even body mass index (BMI).
Bitter Melon (500mg) increases glucose uptake and utilization by skeletal muscles as well as reducing formation of glycogen in the liver. Additional research on bitter melon notes it also suppresses inflammation in adipose tissue (fat).
Super Berberine (300mg) lowers blood glucose levels and encourages glucose absorption by muscle cells. GlycoLog includes the trademarked Super Berberine for its improved bioavailability over standard berberine supplements.
Cinnamon Bark (250mg) increases insulin activity while simultaneously acting as an insulin mimetic to facilitate glucose transport into skeletal muscle tissue. Cinnamon bark reduces blood sugar, cuts body fat, and increases lean mass.
Sodium R-Lipoate (150mg) is a highly bioavailable form of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). ALA is essential to carbohydrate metabolism and also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. It helps lower blood sugar, reduce appetite, and increase energy expenditure.
BioPerine (5mg) can enhance the effectiveness of the blood sugar-lowering compounds in GlycoLog by increasing the time they remain active in the bloodstream.
• Insulin Mimetic and Nutrient Partitioning Agent
• Simulates Glycogen Storage
• May Improve Glucose Metabolism
• Helps You Digest Carbs
• Achieve Serious Lean Gains
For more information, visit https://blackstonelabs.com/products/glycolog
The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
5 STAR REVIEWS
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“Buy it. Compared to other GDA supplements you can definitely tell this is an elite product. Take with cheat meals and it really helps control the spike you get from such a high-carb meal.” -Emma R
The post GlycoLog appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Team FitRx
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/nutrition/supplements/glycolog/
Published Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2023 13:13:46 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
When the Weight Stack Isn’t Enough
The Giant Killer
By Two-Time 212 Olympia Champion Shaun Clarida
Sponsored by MUTANT
Q: I see you use something called a GymPin to add weight to both machines with stacks as well as plate-loading machines like Hammer Strength and Arsenal Strength. Which machines do you need to do that for, all of them? Every post of yours I see it looks like you have every plate a machine can hold!
A: I use it on almost every machine that has a weight stack that you use a pin to adjust the weight for, because most of the stacks were designed to accommodate a certain level of strength that very few people go beyond anyway. A lot of times a weight stack will only go up to something like 200 pounds and the GymPin lets me add 25 or 45 more pounds to that. I do also use it for plate-loading machines like the Hammer Strength Incline Press for chest so I can add a sixth plate to each side since there’s only enough room for five 45s. It also comes in handy on certain leg press machines when the posts don’t allow me to put enough plates on to really challenge me. On most models I can push 13 or 14 plates a side if I’m going as heavy as possible. I’ve seen people do crazy things like using bungee cords or duct tape to secure extra 45s. The GymPin is a much safer and more convenient tool to add extra resistance. I feel it my duty to mention that no one should be adding weight to anything if you are sacrificing form, range of motion, or mind-muscle connection just to say you used x amount of weight. But if you are genuinely maxed-out with what a machine holds or allows for, use my code GK20 for GymPin at www.gym-pin.co.uk!
The Heat Is On!
Q: Your new home state of Texas went through a record-setting heat wave less than two months after you moved there. How did you handle all those days in a row that were well over 100 degrees outside?
A: Honestly, I love it. I’ve always been a fan of the heat. I love Florida and Texas weather. What isn’t so fun is that summer is also the rainy season in Texas. The storms here are just ridiculous. They are so loud I thought the windows were going to shatter! I wake up and it’s 70 or 80 degrees. It gets up to 100 or more by noon. I prefer the heat. You know I stay covered up almost all the time when I train. So don’t feel bad for me, I’m fine even at over 100 degrees!
Olympia Prep: Bigger and Better
Q: You are starting your prep for the Olympia, where you will defend your 212 title and hopefully earn your third win. Where are you at with your physique this year as compared to your starting point in 2022? I believe you hit an all-time high for your off-season bodyweight and strength.
A: I did get up to 215 pounds, which is crazy. I never thought I would be that heavy in this off-season with having a new baby and moving across country. I had assumed my training would have suffered a bit here and there with all that going on. But I have been able to get my training, meals, and cardio in every day without fail. I’d always heard “everything is bigger in Texas,” and now I believe it! I remember sending Matt Jansen my check-in when I hit 215, and I was surprised. That’s a lot for me. I will come in a little bigger at this Olympia than ever before, but the most important thing for me is conditioning. Nothing else matters if the condition isn’t top-notch. That’s why I never focus on my bodyweight. I’m more concerned with trying to improve certain areas like my chest and hamstrings. As I get stronger on those movements and add new lean muscle tissue, the weight does creep up. It’s been a great off-season and I also feel I’m going to grow into the show. I’m one of those guys who gets stronger in prep, so sometimes I have to be mindful and stay safe, so I don’t get injured. But I’m going to keep pushing hard, stay strong, and hold as much size going into the show as possible. Despite being 40 and already being as strong as I am, I still find I’m able to make strength gains.
How Being a Dad Changed Me
Q: Has being a dad changed your outlook on life at all yet? Most men say they feel like an entirely different chapter of their life has begun.
A: I feel like an adult now! I actually had this conversation with Branch Warren recently at Destination Dallas. I thought I was motivated and had purpose before, but becoming a father was like turning a switch. From now on, everything I do moving forward isn’t for me anymore. It’s for my daughter. Now she’s the reason I’m determined to improve and win my third Olympia title. She gives me a whole new fuel and drive to be the best I can be.
Home Gym, Texas Style
Q: Do you have any equipment at home?
A: My new home in Texas has a four-car garage, and I set aside two of the bays to be my “home gym.” In the past in New Jersey, I always had to drive to the gym for my morning cardio. It wasn’t a long drive, but I always thought I would save time by having cardio equipment at home. Now I can do that as well as abs, calves, and adductors. At home I have a Matrix Stairmaster, a Hammer Strength leg raise, an old-school Hoist seated calf raise, an Icarian calf press, an Atlantis ab crunch, a Nautilus ab machine, and Magnum abductor and adductor machines. I also got a new Nautilus hip/glute drive machine. This saves me a lot of morning trips to the gym, and of course I still do all my heavy training there.
YouTube: Shaun Clarida
Shaun’s MUTANT® Stack
For more information, visit iammutant.com
The post When the Weight Stack Isn’t Enough appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Team FitRx
Title: When the Weight Stack Isn’t Enough
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/athletes/when-the-weight-stack-isnt-enough/
Published Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2023 12:58:27 +0000
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