Archive for Hypertrophy

How To Get Big…Or Not

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

If you look around the gym, or take a poll of all the members, you will realize that 90% of the people there are worried about one thing, and that’s size. Some people want to grow, and get huge, and others are looking to shrink. Lastly, some are trying to stay the same size but look a little bit better. Not too many people are there only for performance. It’s disappointing to hear, I know, but that’s the reality and I can cope with that. Now i’m going to share the secret to getting bigger…it’s your diet. The secret to getting smaller? You got it…your diet.

I know a lot of you are wondering about workout routines, cardio type, or nutritional supplements, but i’m about to disappoint you. The true determinant of your results lies in the number of calories you take in each day.

So many women come into the gym, start an exercise program, then say “I just don’t want to look huge!”. The truth is, no matter how heavy you lift, or how many days a week you do resistance training, if you don’t have enough nutrients to build, you just wont. The formula is simple. If you have excess calories, your body uses them to build. When those calories are quality nutrients, and you are providing your body with a good workout stimulus, your body will build lean mass. When those calories are garbage and you aren’t getting an appropriate training effect, your body will store body fat.

Now let’s look at the opposite. If you aren’t taking in enough calories, you will shrink. If you are training appropriately and taking in the right nutrients to feed your muscles, then you will burn off that stubborn body fat. If you aren’t taking in enough calories, and there isn’t enough protein to feed your muscle mass, you will lose just as much muscle as fat. This means you become a smaller version of the same person. If you are training because you want to change your body, then this last option isn’t for you.

Now, within this framework, if you have the right caloric intake for your daily nutrition, then it is time to tweak your workout program and worry about supplement strategies that are proven to be effective.  Unless we are talking about steroids or growth hormone, no supplements can make up for being on the wrong side of the calorie equation.

Men, if you are trying to put on some mass and are struggling, you need to eat another meal, take a weight gainer shake, or a shot of olive oil (it works). Women, if you are lifting weights and you don’t want to get ‘too big’, then make sure you aren’t overeating. It’s as simple as that, so make sure you aren’t making the biggest mistake in the book!

Remember, it’s about getting better!

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10 Ways to Keep Off Body Fat

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

Seeing as this is turkey weekend, and most people are likely to eat their faces off on Sunday or Monday, I decided it would be a good time for a fat-loss article. Am I saying skip the gravy and the stuffing? Not necessarily. It may be a good idea to jump head first into some new habits as of Tuesday though.

Let’s face it, it’s always goal number one. Lose the fat. It weighs us down, it looks bad in tight clothes, and worst of all it actually leads us down a path of health concerns. So maybe it’s time you started to do all of the little things right in order to get rid of what’s hanging on, and prevent any new accumulation of adipose tissue. In no particular order, here are 10 things you can do to keep the fat away…

Drink Green Tea

                Except for water, green tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. While its health benefits are numerous, here is how it helps with fat loss. Green tea contains both caffeine and Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC), which are both known to increase your metabolic rate. Before you think about going Decaf, consider that these two ingredients work synergistically for maximum results. So while both caffeine and green tea extract (ECGC) can both be beneficial, it works best when they are together. Drink 2-6 cups of green tea per day.

Eat More Cinnamon

                Cinnamon is not only delicious but also plays a huge role in managing blood glucose levels. Most diabetics probably know about cinnamon’s ability to keep blood glucose down, keeping the insulin response in check. Insulin plays a very important role in the formation of new body fat. Using healthy amounts of cinnamon in your food can go a long way in keeping you from becoming insulin resistant.

Take Your Fish Oils

                Fish oils are very high in two important omega 3 fatty acids, DHA AND EPA.  While ingesting fat seems counter intuitive, it’s important to note that these omega 3 fatty acids are some of the most powerful substances in the supplement industry. In fact, ingesting EPA and DHA with your meals helps improve brain health, vein elasticity, inflammation, and the use of body fat as fuel.  Aim for anywhere from 3-10g of fish oils per day.

Cut Refined Sugars

                Refined sugars are the number one reason why obesity has skyrocketed in the past few decades. We tend to ingest way more sugar in our diet than we need for energy. After all, our body can actually create glucose through the conversion of amino acids; a process that is very costly metabolically, meaning you will burn more calories while doing so. Every time we ingest refined sugars, our body releases insulin to transport the glucose from our blood to our tissues. The more insulin we are exposed to, the more our body becomes resistant to its effects. In turn, our body has to release more and more insulin. As mentioned earlier, insulin plays a major role in laying down new body fat.

Eat More Protein

                This is probably one of the biggest pieces missing in the average diet, adequate protein intake. That is just to keep us healthy and on the right track regardless of goals. Now, consider that you are either trying to build muscle, or drastically improve body composition. Protein intake becomes increasingly more important. First, it takes a lot of effort for your body to breakdown and absorb protein, increasing your metabolism significantly after eating. Second, it insures that your body has the fuel necessary to maintain muscle mass, and build new muscle. Regardless of overall calorie intake, if protein intake is high, muscle mass will be maintained. This is crucial when trying to improve body composition. Too many people go on diets, reduce calories (with low levels of protein intake) and spend hours on cardio machines. This results in losses of both body fat and important muscle mass, essentially making you a small version of the same person. Body fat % does not improve, perhaps even getting higher. Aim for 1g/lb. of body weight of lean sources of protein (fish, chicken, turkey, extra lean beef, and protein powders) per day.

Have a Post-Workout Shake

                While many people picture the protein shake for the meathead body builder, anybody doing serious exercise would benefit immensely from consuming a mix of carbohydrates and protein, in liquid form, within 40 minutes of the completion of exercise. Not only does a post-workout shake signal your body to go from muscle wasting to muscle building, but it also signals your body to burn fat as an energy source for recovery. Your body is extremely sensitive to new nutrients within 40 minutes of a bout of exercise. This is the only time of day when it would be appropriate to ingest a serving of fast-absorbing, simple sugars. These sugars behave as an effective transport to bring protein and other nutrients into your body’s cells when they are in need the most. Also, taking in these nutrients in liquid form increases the speed of absorption and delivery. After the 40 minute window has closed, your body’s ability to recover from the exercise bout is reduced greatly. Try Interactive LeanGainer, or mixing a scoop of whey powder with a scoop of Gatorade powder for an effective post workout shake.

Lift More Weights

            Don’t think heavy weights only apply to skinny guy trying to bulk up, and athletes trying to improve. Lifting heavy weights activates more muscle fibres, which in turn burns more calories. It also insures that you are at least maintaining your muscle mass, if not building new muscle. Increasing muscle mass improves metabolism, which helps burn off body fat. This is the formula that will give you a fit and lean body, not lifting little pink dumbbells ad nauseum. Try to do some strength training 3 days a week for at least 20-30 minutes.

Do Intervals

            Usually when somebody is unhappy with the way their body looks, their natural reaction is to immerse themselves in copious amounts of cardio. When this fails miserably, a select few hire a trainer and begin to see results. The rest usually find themselves in a plateau, after minimal initial gains, and eventually gain all the weight back. Why? Your body is extremely good at adapting to current levels of stress, and becomes very capable of jogging for an hour on minimal energy consumption. Add in the fact that slow steady-state cardio activates very few muscle fibres and you have an equation that is not conducive to success in fat loss. Enter interval training. This involves any form of training that alternates bouts of very high intensity with periods of low intensity exercise. This could be a running sprint, rowing, biking, or even some forms of resistance training. These bouts of high intensity exercise put your body in a situation of oxygen debt, where you literally don’t have enough time to recover fully from these bursts. This creates a situation after your workout called EPOC; Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. When EPOC occurs, your body’s metabolism stays elevated for up to 48 hours after exercise. Trying a format like 20 seconds of very high intensity cycling, followed by 40 seconds of slow ‘recovery’ cycling, repeated 8 times can create an extremely difficult and rewarding workout. All in a total of 8 minutes, completely demolishing the benefits of a 40 minute jog. Start pushing yourself to higher speeds and you will be rewarded with faster fat loss and greater fitness gains.             

Eat Fibre

                We all know about fibre’s ability to keep us regular, and improve the health of our intestines and digestive tract. However, what most people don’t realize is fibre’s role in improving insulin sensitivity. When fibre is abundant in your meal, it has the effect of slowing down the rate at which your body absorbs the nutrients, thus keeping blood glucose levels low. This in turn prevents a large release in insulin, preventing your from becoming insulin resistant.

Drink Water

            Water is the most important nutrient for the human body. Period. Most people do not drink enough water and it hurts their physical performance at work, at the gym, and at home. Also, drinking more water insures your body is less likely to stay bloated, giving you a much leaner look. Water plays a role in so many of the body’s cellular processes that it’s not even worth it for me to explain any more. Just do it. Drink AT LEAST 2 litres of water every day.

Now that I’ve given you 10 ways to look better, feel better, and move better, you can go pig out on thanksgiving dinner.

Be sure to contact us at info@razorsedgeperformance to find out ways we can help you specifically improve your body composition today!

Good Luck Vince!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

This summer, we at Razor’s Edge Performance had the pleasure of working with a new client named Vince. Vince is a professional hockey player from the GTA who has been playing in Europe for the past 4 years and has come back to play in the AHL this season. Vince is in training camp with the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, and hopes to not only make the team, but make an impact this season and catch the attention of the big club.

We  had 6 weeks to get Vince and his body in the best possible shape in order to perform on the ice. The first week we tested his abilities, taught some routines and exercises, and started building a foundation of fitness.  From then on, we trained 4 days a week for the final 5 weeks.

One of the biggest improvements we saw, came in his bench press. In 5 weeks, his projected maximum went up just over 30lbs! The exciting part is that we didn’t have enough time to focus on his bench press. We had to make sure his speed, power, agility, strength, and conditioning were all improving at the same time. We had to make sure his risk of non-contact injury on the ice was reduced as much as possible.

So why did his bench press improve so much when we only benched once a week? This one comes down to the central nervous system. When we are talking about improving strength and power, we often overlook the fact that the nervous system is one of the most important factors. Too many people focus on the specific muscles involved, then isolate and superset them for a huge pump. This is the definition of bodybuilder training. This may help you build definition, but it will decrease performance, and here is why. Doing high-energy, high-power movements like plyometrics, olympic lifts, and sprints improve the coordination between your brain and your muscles. Moving quickly increases your rate of force development, and the number of motor units activated. Since these improvements are related to your nervous system, the benefits are applicable to all movements, across all muscles. This way, every time we did a box jump or a sprint, we indirectly improved his bench press performance. Remember, the reason sports teams test the bench press is because it is a great measure of upper body strength and power.

Let’s all wish Vince good luck in San Antonio. I will try to update his progress regularly. For all the athletes out there, drop the body part splits, and start getting better at your sport!

PS – Vince scored a goal in each of the first 2 intrasquad scrimmages of training camp with the Rampage!

All About CREATINE!

Posted in Health with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

Creatine is by far the most popular nutritional supplement…EVER. Yet unfortunately, most people don’t really understand the reasons behind its effectiveness, and how it can help improve performance. For the average exerciser Creatine might as well be a distant cousin of the unicorn, a mythical creature of unknown origin and use.

It’s time to breakthrough all of the myths and explain both the mechanisms of action and protocol for usage.

WHAT IS IT?

Creatine is a substance that occurs naturally in our body and that of other animals as well. It is stored in our liver, muscles, and brain, with 95% of it being in skeletal muscle. The biggest sources of creatine in our diet are meat and fish. Unfortunately, with farming and agricultural processes changing over the years, the amount of creatine we get from our food is extremely low. This is why supplementing with creatine has been proven to provide a great effect.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

First and foremost, creatine is an energy substrate. That means it’s involved in the process of creating energy. ATP is the primary energy source for short-term, high-energy activities. Our body can only store a small amount of ATP, so it needs an effective way to replenish its stores after it runs out. This is where creatine comes in. Two thirds of the creatine stored in our muscles is in the form of phosphocreatine. After ATP is used to power a sprint or a set of deadlifts, phosphocreatine combines with the leftover ADP to create ATP, getting your muscles ready to repeat that intense activity. The more creatine (or phosphocreatine) you have stored in your muscles, the more times you can repeat activities at high intensity. It is this increased work capacity in anaerobic, high energy work that brings the greatest advantage. The more times you can go all out in a sprint, lift, jump, or throw, the more stimuli you provide your body. This increased stimulus allows your body to become bigger, stronger, and faster.

The second biggest reason why creatine can help jack up your performance, is by promoting muscle hypertrophy. That means muscle growth. Through a couple of highly complicated processes, creatine seems to help up regulate the genes related to muscle protein synthesis and also increase the activity of satellite cells within skeletal muscle. These satellite cells are unspecialized stem cells that hang around the outside of muscle tissue, and move in to help repair damaged muscle tissue. It is the addition of these satellite cells into the muscle belly that helps increase its size.

WHO DOES IT BENEFIT?

Many people can benefit from supplementing with creatine for a number of different goals. If you are resistance training in hopes of getting bigger or stronger, improve body composition, or increase strength and power, then creatine will surely help you. If you compete in athletics, most notably, anaerobic type sports then creatine will help you too. Some examples are football, hockey, basketball, sprinting, jumping, throwing, and soccer. Vegetarians tend to respond especially well to creatine supplementation since their normal levels of stored creatine is at the very bottom of the acceptable range. This is due to the lower dietary intake of creatine. Women and men both respond well to creatine supplementation as well.

HOW DO I USE IT?

Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied and most available version of creatine for sale. It is a tasteless and odourless powder that dissolves well in most liquids. The most popular dosage protocol for creatine involves a loading phase of 20g/day for 4-5 days followed by a maintenance load of 3g-5g/day after that. Loading allows you to increase your intramuscular creatine levels quickly, but they still level off after the first 5 days. If you skip the loading phase and take a regular maintenance dose from the start, you will still get increases in performance and intramuscular creatine levels will reach a maximum somewhere between 14 and 20 days.

WHAT CREATINE ISN’T…

Creatine is not a steroid, it is not illegal, and it is not banned. It is one of the cheapest nutritional supplements on the market, and arguably the most effective. Creatine does not damage your kidneys or increase the likelihood of cramping or compartment syndrome.  It does not appear that you can overdose on creatine, but there is also no benefit to greater ingestion after muscle saturation has been reached. Finally, creatine has been rumoured to increased water retention, however this is another myth. Research shows that increases in body water are directly related to increases in lean body mass, and overall hydration levels do not change.

If you strength train or play sports, creatine can help you. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.

 

10 Tips for Gaining Lean Mass

Posted in Health with tags , , , on July 29, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

Whether you are trying to look like Arnold, just want to improve blood lipid profiles, or draw stares at the beach this summer, your focus needs to be on building lean mass. Whether you want to add 5 lbs or 25 lbs to your frame the formula will be the same. There are a number of different ways to build muscle in the gym, so here I will focus on the things you can do outside of the gym. So without further ado, here are my 10 tips for adding lean mass.

1-  PROTEIN

            Protein is the building block for muscle, without it, you won’t grow. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, it is hard to eat too much protein. Everyone who wants to add lean mass and improve body composition should aim to get one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This will not be easy. You should try to keep track of nutritional content labels so it’s easier to keep track of how many grams you are getting per day. For most, this will be much more protein than you are currently getting, therefore you will need to make the effort to eat much more.

2- EAT OFTEN

            Eating for fat loss and eating for muscle growth can be very similar in one respect. You need to be eating every 2-3 hours. The only difference between the two philosophies is volume. Building requires excess calories, while cutting requires a caloric deficit. When trying to add lean mass, it is important to keep fuelling your body every few hours even if you don’t feel hungry. When our body tells us we are hungry, it is often too late. Set a 3 hour timer if necessary to make sure you are following your plan.

3- EAT LEAN MEATS

            In order to make sure you are adding protein without excess saturated fats, focus on eating as many lean meats as possible. Choices include turkey, chicken, fish, extra lean ground beef, eggs, and most cuts of steak. You should have a lean source of protein at every one of your 3 hour feedings. Having a good quality protein powder on hand, with a shaker cup, gives you a quick and effective option for a feeding that is a clean source of protein. Relying on a purely liquid diet is not always a great idea, but having a protein shake for 1 or 2 of your feedings can be a great option.

4- GET COMFORTABLE IN THE KITCHEN

            You don’t need to be Wolfgang Puck to make a big difference in the kitchen. Get some Tupperware and learn how to cook up big portions of meat and vegetables to last for a few days. Get used to packing up plenty of meals so that you aren’t at the mercy of the closest restaurant when your 3 hour timer goes off.

5- POST-WORKOUT SHAKE

            The human body has a 45 minute window after a workout, where it is extremely responsive with the nutrients you take in. Having a shake that includes both carbohydrate and protein right after your lift will turn on your body’s muscle building machinery. Good options for this are ‘weight gainers’ as they include a good ratio of carbohydrates and protein, or a combination of carbohydrate powder and branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

6- GET YOUR MICRONUTRIENTS

            While the macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) are usually the biggest focus with nutritional intake, attention must still be paid to the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). While they do not provide much in the form of energy, and nothing in terms of calories, vitamins and minerals are extremely important for many of your body’s chemical reactions. This includes muscle growth. A nutrient deficiency is one of the easiest ways to put your muscle building engine in neutral. To cover your micronutrient demands, make sure to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and/or take a multivitamin. Ingesting fruit and vegetables with a variety of colours, and at every feeding will give your body the foundation it needs to build.

7- GET YOUR FISH OILS

            In the past, the general public has feared fat in the diet like the plague. However, the good fats, especially omega 3’s, are extremely helpful for both increasing your calorie intake, as well as reducing body fat, and keeping your body in an anabolic state (anabolic = building). Take fish oil capsules with food at least 3 times a day to make a positive change to your body composition.

8- TAKE CREATINE

            No supplement has ever been tested and researched more than creatine monohydrate. A relatively inexpensive supplement, creatine has been shown to have statistically significant increases in work capacity, lean body mass, and body composition in more than 80% of the peer-reviewed studies conducted on the product. This is an extremely high number, given the variability in research design and testing protocols. Adding 5-10g’s a day of creatine monohydrate to protein shakes or a cup of tea, increases your body’s natural stores of creatine. In turn, this increases the amount of work you can do in the gym, and helps ensure you are building clean muscle.

9- WORK HARD

            Following tips 1 thru 8 is only effective as long as you are matching this effort with hard work. Pushing yourself with your lifting program will give your body the impetus it needs to get bigger. Lift weights at least 3 days a week, and considering adding extra pushups and squats before bed on off-days.

10- REST

            This includes sleep and days off. As for sleep, make sure you get at least 7 hours a night, and go to bed at a decent hour. Not all sleep is considered equal, with sleep before midnight being much more valuable than sleep after. Most of your body’s muscle building efforts come when you are sleeping, and your body is releasing growth hormone. Getting into a deep sleep is important to maximize growth hormone production. As for days off, it is important to try getting a day of rest after every 2 or 3 days of working out. Never go 4 or 5 days in a row of hard work. Your body uses exercise to ‘break down to build’, but will not build if you are constantly breaking down. Get in a couple of intense workouts, and then give your body a break.

For more help with planning your meals, or to purchase nutritional supplements, contact Cory Kennedy at info@razorsedgeperformance.ca

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