Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Four Muscle Building Mistakes

I'd like to share about some mistakes that I have observed new/beginner trainees make in their quest to build muscle. These mistakes involved training, nutrition, and recovery. Here goes:

Mistake 1: Buying Too Many Supplements

Right now you can go on any bodybuilding website and buy pre-workout, intra-workout, and post-workout supplements. You can also buy "fat burners," "testosterone boosters," and a wide variety of pills, powders, and potions with all kinds of exaggerated claims. You can easily blow your whole paycheck on stuff that may not make a bit of difference in terms of getting bigger, stronger or leaner.

The truth is that there are only a handful of supplements that are worth you time: creatine monohydrate, whey protein, and a multivitamin to name a few. These will not make some huge difference--hence the word supplement. They simply help you by supplying a convenient way to add to your nutrition plan. Speaking of which, here's another mistake . . .

Mistake 2: Poor Diet

I still remember the way I ate as a college student: pizza, burgers, and other fast food galore. Guess what--I still made gains. Yep, I improved my body with less-than-ideal eating habits. But I could have made progress a lot more quickly if I had put some real planning into my diet. If I had, for example, eaten about a gram of protein per pound of lean body weight I would have seen much better results. I also would have built a leaner, more aesthetically pleasing body if I had eaten less processed food and tried to stick to higher quality food.

I'm not saying you can't eat junk food or fast food every once in a while. You can have a "cheat meal" or even a "cheat day" if you eat well for most of the week. But if you always fill up on junk then you are leaving less "room" for the kind of nutrition that will actually help you reach your goals.

Mistake 3: Overtraining

A beginner who is new to training usually can only handle a very low volume of training. But you'll often encounter bodybuilding magazine articles describing a training schedule of 5-7 times a week with 2-hour workouts. This may work for guys who are using steroids, but it's not the best idea for a new, natural trainee. You are better off doing relatively brief, infrequent workouts. Three times a week is usually all you need if you are just starting out. Even more advanced trainees will find that four sessions a week is more than enough to get the job done.

Mistake 4: Insufficient Rest/Recuperation

Back to the college days: I remember staying up late and trying to get by on little sleep. But this is a terrible habit for those who are trying to build muscle. Just a few days of insufficient sleep will cause your testosterone levels to plummet--this is not what you want if you are trying to build mass and strength! Do your best to sleep 7-8 hours a night if you are trying to transform your physique. An occasional sleepless night is OK, but a regular habit of it will kill your gains.

I hope you will try to avoid these mistakes. I'd recommend a solid program like No Nonsense Muscle Building 2.0 (NNMB). if you want a complete guide to body transformation. Check out this complete program review if you'd like more information on it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bodybuilding, ECA, and Other Drugs

Let's be honest: bodybuilding and certain types of drugs just go hand-in-hand. They always have and most likely always will.

Let's start with the obvious: anabolic steroids. These powerful drugs are synthesized versions of testosterone, the male hormone. Using these will promote muscle growth and strength far beyond your genetic potential. Steroids allow you to train more intensely and recover more quickly than would be possible training naturally. They also shift the body's physiology to favor muscle mass over fat mass. That's why "enhanced" athletes will always have an easier time building and keeping a great deal of muscle mass even with a very low body fat level.

I'm not saying that anyone who uses steroids will immediately look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. But you cannot deny the reality that these drugs make a huge difference and give the user a significant advantage over a person who is not using them.

But the drugs don't stop with steroids. It seems human growth hormone is also commonly used. The research on HGH is controversial because it doesn't seem to do much on its own. But when combined with steroids it definitely makes a difference.

Insulin is another commonly used drug in bodybuilding. This powerful anabolic hormone is often used to help the athletes build more muscle buy accelerating the shuttling of nutrients into muscle cells. But using insulin, just like many other drugs, can be very dangerous.

But let's not forget fat loss drugs. One of the most commonly used compounds is clenbuterol. This stimulant is known for its ability to give a two to three week "turbo boost" to your diet and fat loss program. It is popular for those who want to use something that will help them through a crash diet.

That leads us to one of the all-time favorites: the eca stack. Bodybuilding just wouldn't be the same
without everyone's favorite stimulant combination! Ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin have multiple properties that any bodybuilder would love. It gives you an incredible boost in energy, which will add intensity to your workout. Ephedra, in fact, became a popular pre-workout ingredient in the 90's. It was included in supplements like the original Ultimate Orange, which was very popular years ago. The ECA stack also significantly reduces your appetite. As you can imagine, this is extremely helpful for someone who is doing some kind of pre-contest diet. Appetite suppression is very helpful when you are on strict calorie requirements and trying to reach single-digit body fat levels. But the benefits don't stop there: this stack also slightly increases one's metabolism, which helps offset the effects of training and living on low calories. If you combine all these properties you understand why the ECA stack has been a stable of bodybuilders for decades.

Another pharmaceutical weapon in the bodybuilder's arsenal is diuretics. These can help get rid of the last bit of water underneath his/her skin and help the muscle definition really show through. But this is also one of the most dangerous practices among professional bodybuilders. A lot can go wrong when you use and/or abuse diuretics, and fatalities have occurred.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hypertrophy and Muscle Cells

Getting larger and stronger muscles is arguably the most important goal in bodybuilding. The technical term for this is "hypertrophy." Muscular hypertrophy is an anabolic process, meaning tissue is being built up. It requires protein, positive calorie balance, and the right training stimuli.

The protein in our protoplasm makes up about 10-20% of our cellular mass. This is then used for the structure (maintaining the actual form of the cell) and for enzymes which control the chemical reactions within cells. Essentially when you eat meat you are kind of "recycling" the animal's tissue and using it to repair and build your own body.

Each cell has within it your unique genetic code--your DNA--and it uses this as a guide for sending the amino acids where they are needed in the body.

This is why a supply of high quality protein is so important for the body and in particular for aiding recovery and growth after lifting weights.

Muscle fibers cannot reproduce via mitosis (by splitting in half) as they have multiple nuclei. This means that in order for your muscles to grow, the existing fibers need to become thicker. For this to happen the muscle fibers must add more myofibrils" (the small strands which make up muscle fibers and that are themselves composed of even smaller sarcomeres) which it does by splitting them along their longitudinal axis. This action, however, requires lots of Myosin, Actin, and other proteins (and who much protein a muscle fiber can use is limited by the number of nuclei in each one).

This is just a short summary of some of the factors involved in muscular growth. You can invest in a program like Hypertrophy Max if you'd like an advanced bodybuilding program. You can read this program review for more information.  You may also be interested in a program that is a little less expensive, like Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0 (MI40X).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ben Pakulski: Arm Training Tips

Ben Pakulski
Here are four unique arm training tips from Ben Pakulski, creator of the Mass Intentions MI40  program. Follow these tips and I'm sure you'll find them helpful for adding arm mass:


Small muscles require less volume, and recover faster. Basic logic says, a smaller muscle has less overall total volume of muscle fibres. It takes LESS overall stimulus to fatigue these muscles and less overall training volume to exhaust glycogen stores (stored muscle energy).


 Heavy weights are going to fatigue a greater overall percentage of muscle fibres in a shorter amount of time (aka less sets). Heavy weights also have the added benefit of stimulating "high threshold motor units". These are the muscle fibres that require a lot more stimulus to grow and respond, but also the fibres that are more likely to be responsible for muscle hypertrophy or GROWTH!


Arms receive a lot of stimulus on a regular basis. For most people, this tends to occur in the middle of the range of motion where the muscles are strongest. In order to get the arms to grow and respond, it is necessary to subject them to a different type of stimulus. One of the best ways to improve arm development is to subject them to more tension and continuous tension at the extremes of the range of motion (a.k.a, when a muscle is fully lengthened or fully shortened --where muscles are weakest). This will allow for greater time under tension as well as targeting different points of the strength curve to force the nervous system to adapt and stimulate new muscle growth.


The FIRST muscle to engage in ANY movement must be the muscle you are trying to target. If you are working your biceps, to most effectively stimulate the bicep, it must be the muscle to initiate the movement. As mentioned, muscles are weakest at those extremes and that makes it LEAST likely to contract. This is where your conscious intent and control is vital! The best way to ensure this is happening is to CONTRACT its antagonist muscle. This will ensure a fully lengthened working muscle and make it much more likely that it will initiate the movement(provided youre using proper control).

 e.g. when working your bicep, to fully stretch your bicep at the bottom of the range, it is necessary to contract your tricep before initiating the movement of contracting your bicep again.The opposite is true when training triceps. Contract your biceps at the top of the range when a tricep is fully stretched (forearm touches biceps).

Note: be sure to check out my Review of MI40 if you'd like to learn more about Pakulski's training methods.