Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vegetarian Bodybuilding

I'll admit it: I'd never survive as a vegetarian. I just love meat too much.  

But Jason Ferruggia (creator of Muscle Gaining Secrets) is a big believer in the vegetarian lifestyle.   He's even published his own Plant Based Recipe Guide.

Here's a basic description of Ferruggia's vegetarian muscle-building diet in his own words:

One of the most frequent email requests I get is for a description of my vegetarian muscle building diet. Since there is such great interest in this topic I thought I would share it with you today.

Breakfast- My day always starts with a shake. This will normally consist of rice, pea or hemp protein, or some combination of the three. I blend 30-40 grams of protein in 8oz of organic coconut milk and 8-12 oz water. I also blend in a banana, mixed frozen berries, a tablespoon of cacao nibs, and 2 tablespoons maca powder, which is tremendous for increased testosterone production and virility. This shake is absolutely delicious.

Snack- Some time a few hours later, I will have a few tangerines and some pistachios/cashews or a couple apples with almond butter. The fresh ground almond butter from Whole Foods is one my favorite things and I could easily eat an entire container in one sitting. Sometimes for a treat at night I mix it with organic honey and kill the entire container, washing it down with a cup of hemp or almond milk.

I am big fan of high sodium intake for strength and energy production so I always have a few pickles every day and add sea salt to much of food.

Lunch- This usually consists of some kind of legumes or beans, which are a mainstay in any vegetarian muscle building diet, with organic brown rice or quinoa. I will sauté black beans with peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic and mix that in with the rice. I top it with salsa and some fresh avocado. That is my Mexican style rice and beans. Sometimes I just mix the beans and rice or quinoa with marinara sauce. I always cook enough for two days.

I will sometimes have a salad with that or eat some raw veggies or mix some steamed kale or spinach into the whole thing.

Occasionally I will have a couple almond butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. I have cut out peanuts and peanut butter completely due to the deadly toxins that they contain, along with wheat because of it’s inflammatory properties, so these are not eaten as much as they used to be. I get some brown rice bread for the times I do eat these.

Snack- Similar to above. When I’m not near food I always carry Raw Organic Food Bars with me and a variety of nuts. If I am home and have had fruit for my first snack I try to make this snack raw veggies and hummus along with a decent amount of nuts.

I also drink another shake some time during the day which is usually right after I train. It is similar to the shake above except that I don’t include the coconut milk or the cacao but I do use the maca powder. I blend a banana, almond milk, water, frozen spinach (you don’t taste the spinach at all so this is nowhere near as gross as it sounds) with Vega and some extra protein.

During my workouts I drink coconut water or regular water. And I try to drink at least a half gallon of water throughout the day out glass or my Sigg bottle and do my best to avoid plastic because of the estrogenic effects. I also drink a couple cups of green tea each day.

Dinner- I normally cook some kind of stew consisting of a large variety of vegetables and some kind of legumes. For example, the other day I got home and all that we had was squash, onions, spinach and garlic. I threw it all in a pot with vegetable broth, salt, pepper and yellow peas, which have 10 grams of protein per ¼ cup (you would have to eat a lot of meat to equal the protein in two cups of yellow peas). I let that cook for 2 hours and then mixed in some quinoa. It was absolutely delicious. Other times we will mix brown rice in with a variety of other veggies and lentils. If I was trying to get lean I would probably skip the brown rice. Adding potatoes (even just one) to the stews makes them creamier and even more delicious.

I severely limit my soy consumption because of it’s estrogenic effects but for the occasional cheat meal I will have some tofu with brown rice or some kind of meat substitue with brown rice pasta.

I also eat soy and wheat free veggie burgers one or two nights per week and always have a huge spinach salad mixed with tomatoes, broccoli, olives, peppers, onions, carrots, apples, berries, nuts, seeds, avocado, and whatever else I can fit in there. I top that with olive oil, Vega oil and balsamic vinegar.

Dessert- Occasionally, when I am going to cheat I will have some organic coconut milk ice cream. This is, obviously, made with coconut milk and not cows milk. It is delicious and pretty healthy. Coconut milk contains healthy MCT’s and has none of the dangers of cows milk. It is sweetened with organic agave syrup. I highly recommend it.

The only other cheat dessert that I will regularly eat is organic, dark chocolate. This has been shown to have a variety of health benefits. The brands I buy are those that support slave free, fair trade practices. These include Newman’s Own, The Endangered Species Chocolate Company and Green and Blacks.

So that’s my vegetarian muscle building diet. It’s very easy to follow, and a whole lot healthier than eating pounds of red meat and saturated fat.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He has trained thousands of clients during his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including more than 500 athletes from over 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of articles for numerous top rated training magazines and websites and has authored four fitness books. He is also the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Muscle Gaining Secrets. 

You can read my review of his program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Get Huge Arms

I remember my first few months of training. Like most new trainees, I was interested in building up my arms.  I was really excited when they started growing.  But some beginners go about arm-building all wrong--I've seen it countless times.  Here's another article on the right way to build some "guns."  It was written by Jason Ferruggia, author of Muscle Gaining Secrets (one of the programs I endorse here on this blog). 

How to Get Huge Arms
By Jason Ferruggia

Everyone who ever picks up a weight soon develops the desire for a set of massive arms. It’s nearly unavoidable. Within a week after their first workout most guys are start for searching the secrets of how to get huge arms during every spare moment they have. Nearly everybody loves to stretch their shirt sleeves or even cut them off. Unfortunately, many people go about their arm training all wrong. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when training for big arms is using the wrong exercises. Kickbacks and concentration curls will do very little to develop a set of impressive guns. If you really want to know how to get huge arms, use my top ten biceps exercises and your arms will be exploding with new growth in no time.

Close Grip Chin Up- This is the king of biceps exercises because it allows you to use the most weight and move your body through space. Any time you can move your body through space, instead of just moving your limbs, there is a higher level of neuromuscular activation which leads to greater muscular development.

Barbell Curl- As far as isolation movements go, this is the best one there is when it comes to building big biceps.

Dumbbell Curl- Another isolation movement that is nearly the equivalent to the barbell curl. The added advantage is that when you can no longer complete another rep you can stop doing them simultaneously and switch to alternate curls to cheat a few more reps out.

Incline Dumbbell Curl- The added stretch here makes this a very effective bicep building exercise.

Hammer Curl- These target the brachialis muscle, which, when developed, can add a great deal of mass and thickness to the upper arm.

Parallel Bar Dip- You wanna know how to get huge arms? Train your triceps hard. Although everyone focuses on the biceps, the triceps actually make up 2/3 of the upper arm and can really make your arms look enormous if you train them properly.

When it comes to proper triceps training, there is no better exercise than the parallel bar dip. Again, this is an exercise where you are moving your body through space instead of just moving your limbs. If you need proof of the effectiveness of dips you need to look no further than the incredible arm development of male gymnasts.

Close Grip Bench- This is another compound movement which will pack slabs of muscle on the triceps as it allows you to use a ton of weight.

Half Range Close Grip Bench Press aka Lockouts- This exercise is done by setting the pins in the power rack so that they stop the bar about a third of the way down from the top. This greatly overloads the triceps and allows you to use extremely heavy loads. The end result is that you will build huge horseshoe triceps.

Angled Bar Pushdown- I prefer the angled bar to the straight bar for pushdowns because it is much less stressful on the wrists and much more comfortable to handle heavy weights with. This is a highly effective isolation movement which is pretty easy on the elbows; a rarity for isolated triceps exercises.

EZ Bar Lying Triceps Extensions- This is another highly effective isolation exercise for the triceps. Unfortunately, this exercise can lead to elbow problems. For this reason it should be used less frequently than the others and the reps should be kept a bit higher; preferably in the 8-15 range.

Stop wasting your time with any arm exercises that are not on this list, immediately. Use those listed above and hit them hard and heavy. You won’t be asking anything else about how to get huge arms if you do that.

For specific set, rep, rest and frequency recommendations as well as months of workouts and other priceless information that will show you exactly how to get huge arms, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more tips on How To Get Huge Arms, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets

You can visit my review of his program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back Workout

A thick, wide back is one of the most visibly striking characteristics you can develop.  It will give you that noticeable  "v-taper" look.  Here's an article from Jason Ferruggia, creator of Muscle Gaining Secrets (one of the programs I endorse on this blog).  He describes the three most important back-building exercises.

How to Gain Weight & Build a Barn Door Sized Back
-Jason Ferruggia

If you want know how to gain weight and build a thick, muscular back there are three exercises that you need to become very familiar with. Those exercise are chin ups, rows and lastly but most importantly; deadlifts. If you did nothing but those three exercises faithfully you would end up with a thick and impressive looking back.

When it comes to uncovering the secrets of how to gain weight you need to realize that the back muscles make up a huge portion of your total musculature and that developing them will add countless pounds to your frame.

So how do we go about developing all of the muscles of the back? Firstly we have to address the traps which start at the neck and go all the way down to the mid back. These can be worked most effectively with dead lifts, shrugs and hang cleans. Deadlifts can be done for anywhere between one and twenty reps. Shrugs are best kept at 6-12 reps and cleans should usually be done for six reps or less.

Next on the list are the smaller muscles around the shoulder blade area which are the infraspinatus, rhomboids, teres major and minor and rear deltoids. These muscles work during all forms of rows. If you are really looking to get the most bang for you buck and to work as many muscles as possible then stick with big compound rowing exercises like dumbbell and barbell rows. These will work most muscles in your back. But if you are more advanced and want to isolate and directly target some of these smaller muscles you can do that with face pulls, bent over lateral raises, scare crows and external rotations. These smaller isolation type exercises are not necessary but can help prevent imbalances and can put the finishing touches on a well muscled back. Unlike other isolation exercises like leg extensions and concentration curls, these exercises actually do serve some purpose and are effective at building size and strength and preventing injury. When utilizing some of these smaller isolation exercises be sure to keep the reps in the 8-12 range as that is what seems to work best for these muscles.

The lats are next and are the muscles that stick out under your armpits and give you the appearance of width. They make up a great deal of the total back musculature. To really increase the size of your lats and thus the width of your back, focus on all variations of chin ups and the occasional higher rep set of pulldowns.

Lastly we have the erector spinae which is basically the lower back musculature. This area extends from the top of the glutes up to the traps. A well developed set of erector spinae really stands out and lets people know you are way more than all show and no go. There is no better lower back exercise than the deadlift and its variations. Some other great erector spinae builders are good mornings, back extensions and reverse hypers. These exercises should be done for 6-20 reps, while deadlifts can be done for 1-20 reps.

While everything written above is important and should be considered, you could ignore all of it and just deadlift on a regular basis and still develop a very impressive back. Whenever someone asks me how to gain weight I tell them to eat a lot and do deadlifts. Deadlifts are the king of the back builders and work every muscle group. If you are pressed for time, stick with deadlifts. If you have more time to dedicate to building a big back do two sets each, twice per week of some type of deadlift or lower back exercise (deads should only be done once per week as they are very tough to recover from), shrug, upper back “isolation move,” compound row and chin up.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He has trained thousands of clients during his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including more than 500 athletes from over 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of articles for numerous top rated training magazines and websites and has authored four fitness books. He is also the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Muscle Gaining Secrets.

You can read my review of this program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Healthy Diet to Lose Weight

One of my best-selling programs here is Mike Geary's Truth About Abs.  This program is packed with the diet and training information you need to transform your body.  Here's one of his articles with three simple steps to make your diet healthier and lose weight:

3 Tips to Eat a Healthier Diet to Lose Weight Faster

by Mike Geary

If you want to lose weight, we all know that eating a healthy diet should be your first priority. Sure, exercise is important, but diet is king when it comes to lifelong weight management. I hope this article gives you some simple, yet effective ways for you to make healthy changes in the way you eat on a daily basis.

1. Make sure to eat at least some healthy fats in most of your meals. Eating enough healthy fats is very important for maintaining proper fat burning and muscle building hormone levels in your body. Adequate healthy fats in your diet also helps in keeping your appetite under control.

The healthiest sources of dietary fats are raw nuts, seeds, egg yolks (from organic free range eggs), avocados, extra virgin olive oil (highest antioxidant content of olive oils), coconut oil (a great source of healthy saturated fats in the form of medium chain triglycerides), and grass-fed meats (a great source of the healthy fat, conjugated linoleic acid, which can help burn body fat and build muscle).

Try this tip -- eat a handful of raw nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds are great healthy choices) 3 times a day about 30 minutes prior to meals. This can help to quell your appetite and give your body some protein, fiber, and healthy fats so that you eat less calories overall at your meals and get more nutrition at the same time due to the high nutrient density of most nuts.

2. Try to eat a high quality protein source with each meal and snack that you eat. Quality proteins from grass-fed meats, grass-fed raw dairy, and even from plant sources such as nuts and beans provides good appetite suppression so you can control your calorie intake easier.

Getting ample quality proteins also helps you to build lean muscle (if you're working out hard regularly) so that your metabolism can run at a higher rate from the increased lean muscle on your body.

Eating sufficient protein at most of your meals also aids your body in controlling blood sugar and insulin levels by helping to slow the breakdown of ingested carbohydrates.

3. Although I do not fully agree with extremely low-carb diets, I do believe that one of the main reasons that so many individuals struggle to lose weight for most of their lives is due to eating excessive processed carbohydrates such as refined grain-based starches and refined sugars on a daily basis.

The natural sugars in whole fruits and berries are ok because the fiber in fruits helps to slow the blood sugar response in your body. Just make sure to avoid fruit juices, which are mostly sugar and have the fiber removed in processing the juice.

In my experience as a nutrition specialist, when people start to minimize their grain consumption (from cereals, bagels, breads, pasta, etc), they start to lose body fat much easier. What I usually recommend is for people to minimize eating grains and focus their carbohydrate intake on fruits and vegetables solely. This simple step alone usually helps people to start managing their weight more easily.

Try to implement these 3 tips for eating a smarter, healthier diet and I'm willing to bet that you'll start to see a leaner body and more energy in no time.

For more fat loss tips, visit Mike Geary's Truth About Abs.

Note--you can read my review of his program here:
The Truth About Abs Review

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Muscle Building Workout

You've probably seen me say it over and over again on this blog:  genetically average, natural trainees should not follow the same routines used by professional bodybuilders.   Here's an article from Jason Ferruggia, creator of Muscle Gaining Secrets (one of the programs I endorse on this blog).  Read it an think about it before you start designing your training routine.   

More Effective Muscle Building Workouts
By Jason Ferruggia

Why is it that almost all of the muscle building workouts you read about advocate body-part splits? Monday is chest day, Tuesday is back, Thursday is legs and Friday is arms…or something like that, I guess.

Why does everyone just do what everyone else is doing and follow the herd like a bunch of sheep without stopping to ever consider why?

Paul Anderson
You need to understand that most forms of muscle building workouts have just been passed down for decades from one generation to the next, without the inclusion of rational thought. Sometime in the 60’s, sensible muscle building workouts started becoming less and less prevalent with the rapidly growing usage of anabolic steroids.

In the days of old, men like Steve Reeves and Paul Anderson trained with far more reasonable, lower volume programs. Unfortunately these smarter muscle building workouts started to disappear during the 60’s. By the time Arnold got to Gold’s Gym in Venice for the first time, high volume, body-part splits were the widely accepted way for everyone to train for size and strength.

These types of muscle building workouts are not based on deductive reasoning but just on the fact that “it’s what everyone else is doing.” The proponents of these training methods will always blindly tell you that “higher volume training is needed for hypertrophy gains.” Says who? I can tell you for a fact that the University of Chicago isn’t wasting time examining the effects of Jay Cutler’s marathon workouts. There are no studies saying that you need 8-12 sets per body-part to grow. In fact there are studies that show the opposite; that one set is just as effective as three.

The proponents of this type of training will also tell you that higher volume training is associated with higher levels of growth hormone secretion. What they don’t tell you is that the level of GH increase is not enough to make any difference at all. In fact, almost anything you do elevates GH. Extreme temperatures elevate GH but my biceps don’t get bigger every time I take a shower. The increased GH secretion from training is so minimal that it is not enough to make the slightest difference whatsoever.

For the drug free lifter who does not possess muscle building genetics quite up to par with the current Mr. Olypia, training this way is a huge mistake. Not only does it drain your amino acid pool and glycogen stores but it dramatically enhances your recovery time between workouts. If you do 8-12 sets for chest on Monday you can not recover from that workout and be able to train again for seven days. So you are only getting one growth stimulus per week or fifty two per year. Now if you reduce your volume to the point where you can recover faster and more efficiently without draining your amino acid pool and glycogen stores so greatly, you can train bodyparts twice per week instead of once. Now instead of 52 muscle building workouts per year for each bodypart, you can now do 104. In fact, if your volume is kept low you can even get away with training bodyparts three times a week in certain situations. Now, which do you think will be more effective; 156 muscle building workouts per year or 52?

To train more often you absolutely have to lower your training volume. The total sets per workout should be kept low and the total sets per exercise should be even lower. There is no need to hit four sets of incline presses, flat bench presses and decline presses for your chest workout. Doing that is a form of neuroses; you think that you need to hit every angle and do and endless amount of sets to stimulate every last muscle fiber, but this is simply not the case.

The reason these types of muscle building workouts remain popular is because nobody wants to be told that they are wrong. Admitting your mistakes is something many people can’t do. It is why when something radically different is proposed, the high volume proponents get upset and offended. Nobody likes to have their ego bruised so they keep on doing and promoting the same old high volume workouts that they always have.

That’s fine, let them continue to do what they choose; personally I have way more important things to do than spend all of my waking hours in the gym. If I can get better results in a fraction of the time with short, highly effective muscle building workouts, I will choose that option every time.

Cut your volume down, up your weights and intensity and get ready for the “what are you on” questions to start rolling in.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For More Effecive Muscle Building Workout tips, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets.

You can read my review of Ferruggia's program by clicking this link:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to Build Shoulders

Want to know how to build big shoulders? Jason Ferruggia, creator of Muscle Gaining Secrets, talks about this in the following article. He mentions two exercises that you probably don't see being done much in the gym these days:

How to Build Big Shoulders
Jason Ferruggia

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is, “how do I big build big powerful shoulders?” I usually answer this question by listing the following two exercises. Firstly, the best all around shoulder building exercise is the barbell hang clean and press. You perform this exercise by bending over with a barbell in your hands and a shoulder width grip. Start with the barbell just above your knees and be sure to maintain perfect posture with your head in line with your spine, chest up and back arched. Initiate the movement by driving your hips forward and shrugging your shoulders. Pull the bar to your upper chest and catch it there by dipping at the knees slightly. Immediately press the bar straight up overhead to lockout.

Do one or two heavy set of 5-8 reps, rest 90-120 seconds and then, if you really want to fry your shoulders, do a backoff set with a lighter weight for 10-20 reps. This will smoke your shoulders and build them up better than just about anything else.

The other best shoulder exercise you can do if you want to build cannon ball sized delts is a handstand pushup. This is as difficult as it sounds but can be modified for novice or intermediate lifters. The easiest way to work up to a handstand pushup is to start by simply holding the position for time while you keep your feet up against the wall. Work to increase your time each week and eventually you will be able to start doing partial reps. Allow your feet to slide up and down the wall and aim to increase the range of motion each week. Eventually you will be strong enough to do a single full range rep, going down until the top of your head lightly touches the floor. From there you will work up to doing a set of 5-8 reps.

After you can do that you will need to add greater range to increase the difficulty of the exercise. To increase your range of motion place your hands on two boxes and lower your head down between them. Once you can do a set of 5-8 reps like that, with your head going all the way down between the boxes, you will have powerful shoulders that would make the Hulk turn the other way if he saw you coming. Do 2-3 sets once per week with 90-120 seconds rest on a different workout day than the one in which you do the hang clean and press.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He has trained thousands of clients during his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including more than 500 athletes from over 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of articles for numerous top rated training magazines and websites and has authored four fitness books. He is also the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Muscle Gaining Secrets.

You can read my review of his program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turbulence Training

One of the programs I endorse on this blog is Turbulence Training by Craig Ballantyne.  This program is especially good for those who are trying to fit training into a busy schedule.   I've heard good feedback on it from my readers. Here's an interview about the program:

Question: First of all Craig, I’d like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. To introduce yourself to our readers could you tell us a little about your background?

I’m a strength coach (CSCS) in Toronto and I write for Men's Health, Oxygen, and Maximum Fitness magazines. I have worked extensively with young athletes and I train 3 of the players on Canada’s National Rugby team.

I’ve also developed my own training system that has been featured in the magazines, and I call it Turbulence Training. The goal is to get maximum results in minimum time, no matter what the goal (mass, fat loss, or athleticism).

Turbulence Training (TT) uses a combination of the basic, most effective lifts, structured in time-saving supersets, as well as interval training. It’s based on research, but I’m not going to claim that it’s any magic secret or rocket science. It is simply about getting things done quickly in a logical order. It’s amazing how complex some trainers have made training when it is generally such a simple process to achieve your goals.

Men and women looking to lose fat love it because it fits their often hectic schedules. Three 45-minute strength & interval sessions for fat loss are a lot easier to fit in rather than five 1-hour cardio sessions. And the bodyweight workouts I have, you can get done in the time it usually takes you to get to the gym and back.

Question: Your Turbulence Training system is one of the most effective training systems I have ever seen. Could you briefly describe the thought process that went into creating Turbulence Training and what makes it so effective and time efficient?

In grad school, when I had no time to train, I had to find a way to get results, fast.

That’s what almost everyone wants and needs these days, and it doesn’t matter if they want to gain muscle or lose fat. I was working 15-16 hours in the lab but still trying to get in my workouts. I realized that I couldn’t do marathon sessions, but I wasn’t about to sacrifice muscle or get fat.

Fortunately, the results of my training studies along with my review of some other research studies, confirmed my experiences that high-intensity training was the way to go. Use only squats, deadlifts, presses, split squats, rows, and similar exercises to get the maximum results in minimum time.

By training with multiple sets of low reps (6-8), and using intervals, you apply the most metabolic turbulence to the muscles. That burns a ton of fat and calories in the workout, and after. That is the key. Light weight, high reps, and slow-steady cardio don’t cause you to keep burning a lot of calories after the workout. And this approach also helps you do the next to impossible; gain lean mass while losing fat.

Another important component of TT is variety. I change the workouts frequently, every 3-4 weeks. That means rotating the exercises, putting in new variations (you can still create an endless number of workouts with variations on the basic lifts, as well as the advanced bodyweight exercises).

That’s the nuts and bolts of my Turbulence Training philosophy.

Question: I know you are a big fan of interval training. What are your favorite methods of interval training?

Sprinting is the best method, without a doubt. So whether it’s running intervals on the track, uphill sprints, or treadmill running, that’s clearly the most effective method. Moving your own bodyweight over a distance is the true definition of work, and that can be done at a high intensity.

Strongman methods are also top-notch. Pushing the truck, pulling the sled, flipping the tire, these are all great ways to do your interval training.

A little word of caution here though, as both sprinting and strongman training methods can be very intense, so you do need to warm-up more than adequately. Don’t just jump into sprinting outside or you could strain a muscle. And be conservative with the volume. If you haven’t done truck pushing intervals in 6 months, or ever, don’t do 5 or 6 of them because you’ll be puking your guts out. That being said, both of these methods are great because you are doing a lot of work in a short amount of time.

My next two favorite methods are bodyweight training and cycling. Both can be done with less need for an extensive warm-up, but both will really help you slash the fat.

I’ve been on a big bodyweight kick over the past year and it includes some very tough bodyweight interval circuits. It’s great “real-world” conditioning for athletes, and everyday people. The bodyweight workouts and circuits can be humbling, but build “everyday” strength.

I’m also partial to stationary cycling. Because you are cycling against a resistance you can do a lot of work. Doing a lot of high-intensity work means burning a lot of energy during the training the session and after (what I call putting your body into Turbulence). Just be careful with overuse injuries on the bike…as being in that hunched position can be rough on the low-back and can tighten up the psoas and rectus femoris muscles.

Rowing is okay for interval training. And simple walking at faster speeds or inclines is perfect for beginners. Remember that interval training is relative. What is an interval for me might not be an interval for you, or for Lance Armstrong.

Elliptical training machines are useless for intervals. These things are one of the biggest wastes of space in commercial gyms today.

As far as timing goes, there is no one best interval length for fat loss. I use everything from 20 seconds to 3 minutes for the length of the work interval. For the shorter sprints, I use 60-90 seconds rest, and for the longer aerobic intervals (i.e. 2-3 minutes) you would rest an equal amount of time as the work interval lasted. These are excellent not only for fat burning but for improving sport-specific conditioning.

One thing that has never made sense to me is the Tabata protocol for intervals (and if you don’t know what it is, don’t worry about it). The rest intervals are too short to allow high quality work…and that’s what Turbulence Training is all about – quality over quantity.

Question: Why is interval training so much more effective than regular steady state cardio?

Many reasons. But specfically, we choose quality over quantity.

1. It’s at least 200% more efficient, if not more. You can get the same or better fitness and fat loss improvements in half the time.
2. It builds real-world fitness. How many times each week do you do a 20-second stair climb? Compare that to how many times you run 30 minutes continuously (not including training)? The fact is life activities are short bursts of intensity, not long, slow bouts of continuous activity. The same can be said for most sports. So it quickly becomes clear which training method is better.
3. Intervals build anaerobic and aerobic fitness. Cardio builds only aerobic fitness.
4. Intervals build sport-specific fitness. Put a typical marathon runner on the basketball court and he’ll get beaten every time because he doesn’t have sport-specific fitness.
5. The health benefits of interval training are the same as you get from traditional cardio training. But again, the workouts are shorter.

Question: You favor a rep scheme that is lower than most typical fat loss programs. Could you explain why this is?

When you diet, you have to give your muscles a powerful stimulus to grow or maintain their current size. If you train with light weight and high reps, you don’t stimulate muscle growth and you don’t hit as many muscle fibers. The result will be a loss in muscle mass.

So in the TT workouts, we work in the 6-8 rep range for the first two supersets. The third and final superset of the workouts will often use 10-12 reps in order to stress all the metabolic processes in the muscle. That means the most “turbulence” and the most calories burned in and out of the training session.

Question: How much time does some one need to dedicate to training each week to achieve a great physique?

Fortunately not as much as most people think. You can do really well with 3 hours of structured training. However, you have to live the fat loss lifestyle for 167.5 hours per week (allowing 30 minutes per week for a “cheat” meal).

If you pick efficient lifts (like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows), you don’t need to lift more than 1-2 hours per week for fat loss. And you can get great interval training results in three 20-minute sessions. Then you just have to concentrate on your nutrition. Plan ahead, shop correctly, and prepare your meals in advance.

For mass, cut out the intervals, do 4 sessions of 45 minutes per week, and you’re set. Spend the rest of the time concentrating on your muscle-building nutrition.

Question: What are the two or three biggest mistakes most people make in their quest to lose bodyfat?

Following politically-correct workouts and nutrition programs. By that I mean, slow-cardio marathon sessions followed by light weight, high rep weight training. Fortunately, there are a lot of great Internet sites giving good info for men, and even the magazines are catching on and giving good programs.

Unfortunately, women still get terrible fitness advice (one of the recommendations that upsets me the most is the suggestion to lift soup cans or water bottles – like that is going to help any woman under the age of 75).

As far as nutrition goes, the politically-correct recommendations still include a lot of carbohydrates, and generally these articles don’t even recommend the right carbohydrates. If you want to lose fat fast, get carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables first. These should be eaten at every meal. Cereal bars, rice cakes, and juices have no place on any weight loss program, if you want the weight lost to be fat.

Question: There’s six weeks left until the fourth of July; in that time how big of a difference can some one make in their physique?

CB: If someone knows what they are doing, or trains with someone that knows what they are doing, they can make incredible changes. Just look at bodybuilders. Look at the difference they make in 6 weeks. But again, they aren’t following politically correct recommendations. Don’t get me wrong though, just because you aren’t doing the politically-correct weight watchers diet doesn’t mean that you are doing anything unhealthy.

So in my opinion, both beginners and advanced physiques can make dramatic changes in their bodies in only 6 weeks. Overweight guys that eat like crap can probably lose 20-30 pounds of fat if they turn things around dramatically. And any guy that is around 15-18% body fat can develop an incredible set of abs and hit single-digit body fat in only 6 weeks.

Question: Where can people read more about you and your training methods? Do you have any new projects, etc.?

I have lot’s of big projects coming up, Jay. And I could go on forever about this stuff, so if your readers have questions, feel free to contact me through my site.

I keep on adding programs to my member’s section at Turbulence Training and I’ll be focusing on more hardcore fat loss workouts, muscle-building programs, and my bodyweight training pet projects. Seems like the hardcore fat loss programs are in greatest demand, so I’m working on those right now.
Craig Ballantyne

So all that, and I plan to continue taking Turbulence Training to the masses to help people get more results in less time.

About the Author
Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training.

You can read my review of this program here:
Turbulence Training

Friday, November 26, 2010

Training Tempo

 Is tempo, or rep speed important?   I've never paid much attention to it because it never seemed to make much difference in helping me get bigger and stronger.  Jason Ferruggia  (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets) agrees with me on this:

Training Tempo
By Jason Ferruggia

I'm sure by now that many of you are familiar with the word tempo when it comes to training for fast muscle gain…Right?

No? Well, I wouldn’t feel left out or get too worried about it because it is a fairly useless concept. Tempo, in the training world, is the speed at which you perform your reps in a given set. Therefore, the correct terminology should actually be “rep speed.” It is typically displayed in a three-digit code. The first number represents the eccentric or lowering (also called the “negative”) portion of the rep, the second number represents an isometric contraction or pause, if there is one, and the third number represents the concentric or lifting (“positive”) portion of the rep. For example, if you lowered the weight in three seconds, took a two-second pause, and then lifted it in one second, this would be represented by a 321 tempo. A 404 would mean that you lowered the weight in four seconds, did not pause, and then lifted it in four seconds.

The concept of “tempo” was first brought to light back in the early 90’s. Plenty of people got suckered and jumped on the bandwagon. Since then, many trainers and strength coaches have written in great lengths about “tempo” and have suggested that different “tempos” induce different training effects. They have also suggested that “tempo” is something that should be manipulated frequently.

Here’s the truth…

Giving “tempo” prescriptions for mass building workouts and hoping that it will lead to fast muscle gain is a complete waste of time.

Changing the speed at which you perform your reps on a regular basis never lets you know if you are making progress or not. This is actually a great trick that some trainers use. They don't know how to get their clients stronger, so they just change the “tempo” and hope there is no way their clients will ever catch on to this ingenious little scheme. In January, you are benching with a rep speed of 505, and then in March, a 402 rep speed. Come June it's 323, etc., etc. Because the “tempo” keeps changing, so does the weight you’re able to use. But how do you know if you are ever getting stronger? It's just like using way too many exercises—there is just too much variety to keep track of. There are certain variables that need to remain constant in any experiment, and that's what your training program basically is-- an experiment. You are always testing what you are doing and you need to see if it's working, meaning that you’re getting bigger and stronger. If your bench goes up, is it because your “tempo” was different or did you really improve your strength? With varying rep speeds, you never really know. That is one of the major reasons why the “tempo” concept is completely useless.

So the next time you see a workout program with any kind of “tempo” prescription included in it, run the other way in a hurry; there far better ways to waste your time.

For more myth-busting information and to discover the real secrets of fast muscle gain, click HERE now.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building.  Visit Muscle Gaining Secrets to learn more tips on how to gain muscle.

You can read my review of this program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Egg Yolk

Think the egg yolk is bad for you? Are you one of those who throws away the yolk and just eats the egg white? This article may make you think again. This is an article from Mike Geary, author of Truth About Abs.

I was on a weekend trip with some friends recently and one of my friends was cooking breakfast for the whole group. I went over to see what he was cooking and saw he was getting ready to make a big batch of eggs.

Well, to my shock and horror, I noticed that he was cracking the eggs open and screening the egg whites into a bowl and throwing out the egg yolks. I asked him why the heck he was throwing out the egg yolks, and he replied something like this...

"because I thought the egg yolks were terrible for you...that's where all the nasty fat and cholesterol is".

And I replied, "you mean that's where all of the nutrition is!"

This is a perfect example of how confused most people are about nutrition. In a world full of misinformation about nutrition, somehow most people now mistakenly think that the egg yolk is the worst part of the egg, when in fact, the YOLK IS THE HEALTHIEST PART OF THE EGG!

By throwing out the yolk and only eating egg whites, you're essentially throwing out the most nutrient dense, antioxidant-rich, vitamin and mineral loaded portion of the egg. The yolks contain so many B-vitamins, trace minerals, vitamin A, folate, choline, lutein, and other powerful nutrients... it's not even worth trying to list them all.

In fact, the egg whites are almost devoid of nutrition compared to the yolks.

Even the protein in egg whites isn't as powerful without the yolks to balance out the amino acid profile and make the protein more bio-available. Not to even mention that the egg yolks from free range chickens are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Yolks contain more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and panthothenic acid of the egg. In addition, the yolks contain ALL of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the egg, as well as ALL of the essential fatty acids (EFAs).

And now the common objection I get all the time when I say that the yolks are the most nutritious part of the egg...

"But I heard that whole eggs will skyrocket my cholesterol through the roof"

No, this is FALSE!

First of all, when you eat a food that contains a high amount of dietary cholesterol such as eggs, your body down-regulates it's internal production of cholesterol to balance things out.

On the other hand, if you don't eat enough cholesterol, your body simply produces more since cholesterol has dozens of important vital functions in the body.

healthy whole eggsAnd here's where it gets even more interesting...

There have been plenty of studies lately that indicate that eating whole eggs actually raises your good HDL cholesterol to a higher degree than LDL cholesterol, thereby improving your overall cholesterol ratio and blood chemistry.

And 3rd... high cholesterol is NOT a disease! Heart disease is a disease...but high cholesterol is NOT. Cholesterol is actually a VERY important substance in your body and has vitally important functions... it is DEAD WRONG to try to "lower your cholesterol" just because of pharmaceutical companies propaganda that everyone on the planet should be on statin drugs.

If you're interested in this topic of cholesterol specifically, I have another article listed at the bottom of this page about why trying to attack cholesterol is a mistake, and what the REAL deadly risk factors actually are.

In addition, the yolks contain the antioxidant lutein as well as other antioxidants which can help protect you from inflammation within your body (the REAL culprit in heart disease, not dietary cholesterol!), giving yet another reason why the yolks are actually GOOD for you, and not detrimental.

To help bring even more proof that whole eggs are better for you than egg whites, I recently read a University of Connecticut study that showed that a group of men in the study that ate 3 eggs per day for 12 weeks while on a reduced carb, higher fat diet increased their HDL good cholesterol by 20%, while their LDL bad cholesterol stayed the same during the study. However, the group that ate egg substitutes (egg whites) saw no change in either and did not see the improvement in good cholesterol (remember that higher HDL levels are associated with lower risk of heart disease) that the whole egg eaters did.

So I hope we've established that whole eggs are not some evil food that will wreck your body... instead whole eggs are FAR superior to egg whites.

But what about the extra calories in the yolks?

This is actually a non-issue and here's why... even though egg yolks contain more calories than just eating the egg whites, the yolks have such a high micro-nutrient density in those calories, that it increases your overall nutrient density per calorie you consume. Essentially, what this does is help to regulate your appetite for the remainder of the day, so you end up eating less calories overall. In addition, the healthy fats in the egg yolks help to maintain a good level of fat-burning hormones in your body.

Overall, this means that the extra fats (healthy fats) and calories from the yolk are so nutrient-dense that they actually HELP you to burn off body fat!

Also, your normal supermarket eggs coming from mass factory farming just don't compare nutritionally with organic free range eggs from healthy chickens that are allowed to roam freely and eat a more natural diet. Your typical cheap grocery store eggs will have lower nutrient levels and a higher omega-6 level and lower omega-3 level. On the other hand, the cage-free organic eggs from healthier chickens allowed to eat more natural feed and roam freely will have much higher vitamin and mineral levels and a more balanced healthier omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio.

I recently compared eggs I bought at the grocery store with a batch of eggs I got at a farm stand where the chickens were free roaming and healthy.

Most people don't realize that there's a major difference because they've never bought real eggs from healthy chickens... The eggs from the grocery store had pale yellow yolks and thin weak shells. On the other hand, the healthier free range eggs from the local farm had strong thick shells and deep orange colored yolks indicating much higher nutrition levels and carotenoids... and just a healthier egg in general.

This is due to the fact that a free-roaming hen allowed to roam on plenty of land will eat a variety of greens, insects, worms, etc transferring MUCH higher levels of nutrients to the eggs compared to an unhealthy hen that is trapped inside a dark factory farm hen house in horrible conditions and fed nothing but piles of corn and soy. It's a DRASTIC difference in the nutrition that you get from the egg.

So next time a health or fitness professional tells you that egg whites are superior (because of their "fat-phobic" mentality towards dietary fats), you can quietly ignore their advice knowing that you now understand the REAL deal about egg yolks.

And can we all please STOP with this sillyness about eating an omelete with 4-5 egg whites and only 1 egg yolk... If you want real taste and real health benefits, we'd all be better off eating ALL of our eggs with the yolks.

After all, do you REALLY think that our ancestors thousands of years ago threw out the yolks and only ate the egg whites? NOT A CHANCE! They intuitively knew that all of the nutrition was found in the yolks. But our modern society has been brainwashed with misinformation about fats and cholesterol.

Another interesting study about eggs...

I read a study recently that compared groups of people that ate egg breakfasts vs groups of people that ate cereal or bagel-based breakfasts. The results of the study showed that the egg eaters lost or maintained a healthier bodyweight, while the cereal/bagel eaters gained weight.

It was hypothesized that the egg eaters actually ate less calories during the remainder of the day because their appetite was more satisfied compared to the cereal/bagel eaters who would have been more prone to wild blood sugar swings and food cravings.

Oh, one last thing I almost forgot... I personally eat 4 whole eggs almost every day with breakfast, and I maintain single-digit bodyfat most of the year.

Enjoy your eggs and get a leaner body!  Click here to visit The Truth About Abs and learn more fat loss tips.

-Mike Geary

Friday, November 19, 2010

Build Lean Muscle

One of the keys to build lean muscle is to set (and break) personal records (PR's). Jason Ferruggia (author of Muscle Gaining Secrets), talks about it in this article.  Again, we are going back to simple principles that work--try the basic steps before going to more advanced techniques.   PR's are also a great way to measure your progress and stay motivated. 

How to Build Lean Muscle at a Mind Blowing Rate
By Jason Ferruggia

What is the most important thing I can do at the gym to ensure that I will continually build lean muscle?

It’s very simple. The most important thing you can do each and every single time you go to the gym if you want to build muscle is to try to set a PR (personal record) on every lift you do. That’s it. What this means is that you should always be trying do either do more reps with the same weight (within reason, any sets above 12 on most upper body exercises and 15-20 reps on lower body exercises will do nothing to stimulate muscle growth) or more weight for the same number of reps. Doing the same thing that you have done in a previous workout will do absolutely nothing to help you build lean muscle. The first time you apply a new stress to the body it will adapt by building itself up bigger and stronger. But when it faces that exact same stress again the next time, it will be prepared for it and thus will not adapt again. This is why you have to go up in either weight or reps and try to set a new PR.

Powerlifters and weightlifters continually try to set PR’s in contests. They also do this in training by testing their one rep maxes every few weeks or months. But setting PR’s does not have to be relegated to singles. You should try to set six rep PR’s, ten rep PR’s and twenty rep PR’s. If you are really serious about your desire to build lean muscle, you always have to be improving. To do this you have to keep detailed records of everything you do in a training journal and always look back at it so you have a goal to shoot for at every workout and on every set you do.

If you really want to build lean muscle, no set should ever be done without the goal of setting a PR. The only exceptions are prehab exercises and times when you are rehabbing from an injury. If you continually try to set PR’s on everything you do it gives your workout a much greater purpose and meaning. Not only that but it is a thousand times more fun than just mindlessly going through the motions trying to get a pump. Suddenly your workout becomes something that has quantifiable results that can be measured each and every single time you set foot in the gym. What could be more motivating than that? Chasing PR’s also eliminates all the useless junk volume that most people end up doing after they have finished their main exercises.

Even if you start your workout with big exercises like chin ups and military presses and set new eight rep PR’s on those, it doesn’t mean that when you get to the little exercises and the end like hammer curls and pushdowns that should forget the principle and just do whatever it takes to get a pump. On the contrary, you should still be trying to set a new eight, ten or twelve rep PR on both of those exercises as well.

Forget about adding more sets, decreasing your rest periods and supersetting for a while because none of those approaches will ever help you build lean muscle at a mind blowing rate. If you want to really ramp up the speed at which you build lean muscle and strength, start trying to set PR’s on every lift you do and get ready to be blown away by the results you achieve and how much more enjoyable your training will become.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more tips on how to build muscle, visit Muscle Gaining Secrets.

You can read my review of his program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cardio Weights (Part 3)

Now it's time for the third in a series from Jason Ferruggia on integrating cardio work into your weight training routine.  Part 1 was a general introduction, and Part 2 was about the ideal intensity and duration of cardio you should use to avoid losing muscle.  This third article is all about interval training:

Doing Cardio While Building Muscle- Part 3
By Jason Ferruggia

Interval Training

The good- intervals allow you to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time and keep your metabolism elevated long after you finish doing them.

The bad- if you are training legs two or even three times per week, you can not do intervals more than once a week without overtraining. Let me rephrase that; you can but eventually it will lead to overtraining or at the very least slow down your strength gains. You can negate this slightly by keeping your leg training volume extremely low and doing your intervals on the same day as your weight training. You can't do five to eight sets of legs two or three days a week and 30 minutes of intervals on top of it. That's a dead end road.

You also have to remember to do your intervals on your training days and not on off days like you might do with other forms of cardio because that will lead to overtraining much quicker.

The ugly- if you choose sprinting as your form of interval training you could get hurt; it's an ugly truth that has to be faced. The thing that will lead to even more injuries is following faulty interval protocol advice. Normally it is recommended to do 30-60 second intervals when they are being performed on a stationary bike. A lot of people take these recommendations and apply them to sprinting. This is a huge mistage! Nobody can sprint for 30-60 seconds. Ok, not nobody; but most average people can't do it. World class athletes can sprint for that long, but not everyone else.

Don't believe me?

Go try it. Warm up thoroughly and try to sprint for 60 seconds straight. Let me know what happens. We have all seen the Olympics and how winded guys are after sprinting the 100 which happens to last all of ten seconds. Most of us have seen guys run the 40 and not be able to catch their breath for at least a few minutes afterwards. And that takes five seconds or less. Not only is sprinting for 30-60 seconds impossible for most people but it also greatly increases the risk of injury.

When you keep your sprint distances and times very short, you decrease the risk for injury because you never hit top speed and instead spend most of your time in the acceleration phase. This phase has the least potential for injury. For that reason, most people should be running 20-50 yard sprints. This keeps you at top speed for a very short period of time; usually little enough time to maintain form and not suffer an injury. When you run at top speed for too long the chance for a break down in form and thus an injury is greatly increased.

I would never recommend that a non athlete ever try to sprint for 30-60 seconds straight and you should never take that advice from anyone. It is faulty and dangerous. To further reduce your injury while sprinting, use adequate rest periods between sets. Also, running with a sled slows you down enough to avoid top speeds and makes sprinting much safer.

Bottom Line- Intervals are a great tool for getting ripped, however when your main goal is to get big and strong and just keep fat gain to a minimum, they should be used sparingly if at all. I would recommend sprints above intervals on a bike and even then I wouldn't do them in true interval fashion but more of a traditional speed workout with short sprints and adequate rest periods. This will still elevate your metabolism greatly and keep you lean. Just look at the physiques of Olympic sprinters for proof of this; that his how they train. Sprint, rest... no intervals.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building.  

You can read my review of Ferruggia's programs here:

Muscle Gaining Secrets Review (for hardgainers/beginners)

Triple Threat Muscle (for intermediate/advanced trainees).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cardio Weights (Part 2)

This is part two of a series by Jason Ferruggia, author of Muscle Gaining Secrets and Triple Threat Muscle.   Here he talks about the advantages/disadvantages of different intensity levels for cardiovascular training. His primary concern is how to do cardio without affecting muscle gains.

Doing Cardio While Building Muscle- Part 2
By Jason Ferruggia

The purpose of doing cardio when trying to get bigger and stronger is to keep you lean, improve your insulin sensitivity and allow you to eat more calories. What kind of cardio will have the least negative effect on your size and strength gains? That's a no brainer; walking. The great thing about walking is it will not impede your progress in the least, the bad thing is that you have to walk for a bare minimum of 45 minutes to really burn a decent amount of calories and you will not elevate your metabolism much after walking. That is the great thing about interval training; it elevates your metabolism dramatically for long after you have finished your workout.

With that being said, I would still choose a good fast paced hour long walk on the beach over sitting on a stationary bike inside while pounding away on some brutal intervals. I despise intervals on a bike with a passion. My rear end goes numb and I get a splitting headache. Not to mention that I am bored to tears within three minutes. Plus, I think we all do more than enough sitting and the last thing I want to do is sit some more while I'm supposedly "working out;" my hip flexors are tight enough already, thanks.

If you love to ride a bike then that is fine and you should do what you love. But for goodness sake, go outside and do it. People will actually get in their cars and drive ten minutes across town to walk inside a gym and sit on a stationary bike and ride it for twenty minutes and then drive home. Why not just ride your bike across town? I don't get it.

So we have established that low intensity, long duration cardio (walking) is the best option for those who are concerned with any losses in size and strength whatsoever. This method was a favorite of many great bodybuilders such as Dorian Yates. Another option here, is to just go for a long slow/low intensity bike ride. Either one works great; but again I warn you to protect your tender parts, aka get a good seat.

Next on the list is medium/moderate/high intensity steady state cardio. This kind of cardio is a little tricky because it can elevate cortisol and lead to losses in size and strength. To prevent this you need to be sure to limit the time spent doing this to 30 minutes, max. Two days a week should be safe and three days would probably be ok for most people as well. It's when you get into the 4-7 day per week, 45-60 minute marathon sessions that you see people at the gym doing (whose bodies never change in the least from one year to the next) all the time, that you get into trouble. If you limit your use of this method you should be ok.

Lastly, we have intervals which we will cover in part 3.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. 

You can read my review of Jason Ferruggia's programs here:

Muscle Gaining Secrets Review (for beginners/hardgainers)

Triple Threat Muscle Review (for intermediate/advanced trainees)

Cardio Weights (Part 1)

I have to admit it--I have a tendency to neglect doing cardio training and just do weights.   This article is the first in a three-part series from Jason Ferruggia, creator of Muscle Gaining Secrets (for beginners/hardgainers) and Triple Threat Muscle (for itermediate/advanced trainees).  He discusses the importance of adding cardiovascular training to your overall fitness regiment:

Doing Cardio While Muscle Building--Part 1
by Jason Ferruggia

There is much debate and controversy on the subject of doing cardio while building muscle. Once and for all I am going to set the record straight. So without further adieu, here's the real deal on doing cardio while trying to gain size and strength...

If you are a beginner who also happens to be a ripped ectomorph who has to fight for every ounce he gains (e.g. a classic hardgainer), I suggest that you lay off cardio almost entirely for at least 8-12 weeks. Get your training and diet down and pack on some size. In that time you should be able to gain at least 15lbs of muscle if not 20+. After you have done that you can add in some cardio. I would start with three weekly sessions of twenty minutes of moderate intensity cardio; no intervals. Use a bike to limit the amount of eccentric stress or pounding on the joints. And remember there are actually things known as real bikes that go outside, not just stationary bikes that people park themselves on to watch Oprah. Although, if you choose that route, get one with a well padded seat that will not lead to the death of your sex life.

If you are beyond the beginner level you should always be doing some kind of cardio on a regular basis, be it intervals, moderate intensity steady state, or low intensity, long duration steady state. Again, don't limit yourself to machines indoors; get outside and drag a sled, run sprints, jump rope or play a sport. That's a lot more fun anyway. I think everyone should be doing something like this at least three days per week for at least 30 minutes. It's healthy and prevents a host of health problems, not to mention that it keeps you in shape and looking good.

Contrary to what many people believe, cardio can actually be of great benefit to those looking to get bigger and stronger. Not only does it improve the cardiovascular system and thus improve the quality of your weight training workouts but it allows you to eat more muscle building calories while staying lean. To pack on 20-30 pounds of muscle you have to eat an inordinate amount of food. Doing some cardio will help ensure that you don't get fat from all the excessive eating.

The bottom line is that everyone but absolute beginners should be doing some kind of cardio type activity at least three times per week for thirty minutes. This will not inhibit size or strength gains in the least but may actually enhance them. You should vary your activities and intensities as much as possible. You can do cardio immediately after you train, although I prefer to do it on non weight training days or later in the day after training because I am usually too spent after lifting to give it my all on the cardio. Doing it on off days is usually a better option anyway because it serves as an active recovery activity and also gets you burning some calories on those days.

Next: Cardio Weights--Part 2

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. 

You can read my review of Jason Ferruggia's programs here:

Muscle Gaining Secrets Review (for beginners/hardgainers)

Triple Threat Muscle Review (for intermediate/advanced trainees)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Muscle Gaining Secrets Interview

Jason Ferruggia's Muscle Gaining Secrets is one of the programs I endorse/promote on this blog. I've had some friends buy it and they've spoken very highly of it (I don't promote stuff unless I would recommend it to my friends). Here's an interview about his program.  You'll learn some basic things about his training philosophy:

Interview: Jason Ferruggia

Q: Can you give us some background about yourself?

JF: Sure. I have been in the fitness industry for nearly 15 years. During that time I owned my own private training facility in central New Jersey for ten years where I worked with over 500 clients from over 20 different sports and all walks of life, helping them get bigger, stronger, faster and leaner.

I am now the head fitness adviser for Men’s Fitness magazine where I also have my own monthly column called The HardGainer. I also write for numerous other publications such as Men’s Health, Maximum Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers, and MMA SportsMag. I have written four books and continue to do fitness consulting, training and lecturing on a regular basis.

Q: What got you started with weight training?

JF: I was a painfully skinny kid and always hated that. It tortured me and really affected my self confidence. My cousin was dating a pro wrestler who was absolutely enormous and he was the one who got me really into it. I wanted to be just like him so I started hitting the iron. Unfortunately I was doing a lot of the wrong things and wasted a lot of years before I discovered the right way.

Q: What is it about weight training that you love so much?

JF: I love training hard, getting stronger and making progress. I love lifting heavy stuff. I love doing what so many people don’t have the heart, dedication or balls to do. I love competing with myself and with my training partners. I love unleashing my aggression a few times a week at the gym. I love how it all makes me feel physically, mentally and emotionally.

Q: What adversities have you had to overcome?

JF: I have some of the worst muscle building genetics imaginable. Neither of my parents is over 140 pounds soaking wet. So I had that working against me from the get go. Then after I had gained my first fifty pounds of muscle I got really sick with tuberculosis and nearly died. I had to be rushed to the hospital to have my lungs drained and then was on bed rest for six months. I shriveled down to nothing and was even smaller than when I started. But I battled my way back, regained the fifty pounds and added another thirty plus on top of that. I just wanted it and nothing was going to stand in my way.

TH: What are your favorite and least favorite exercises?

JF: Deadlifts are my favorite exercise, by far. Next would be a tie between squats, clean and presses, military presses, and 1 arm rows. I also love strongman exercises like tire flips, car pushes, keg lifts, farmers walks and the like.

I hate most isolation exercises and machine exercises with a passion. I like heavy, compound free weight and odd object lifting. There is no torture that I could imagine that would be worse than being forced to go to the gym every day and do leg extensions, cable flyes, leg curls, concentration curls, and those types of exercises.

Q: What has been your favorite weight training or bodybuilding moment so far?

JF: Definitely getting all the great feedback from my book Muscle Gaining Secrets and hearing all of the stories from those that I helped. I know how frustrating it can be, not knowing who to listen to or what to believe so it really makes me happy to hear that people are getting mind blowing results with the program and are avoiding a lot of the pitfalls that I fell victim to. I got in this business to help people and did so with hundreds of people in my own gym but now with the book I am able to help thousands and it really makes me happy.

Q: What are your tips for the beginner, intermediate and advanced bodybuilders?

JF: Contrary to what most people say, beginners shouldn’t use high reps. They don’t have the control or stability to safely perform high reps. Also when you are trying to learn a new exercise you don’t want to be doing twenty reps where the possibility of form breaking down is much greater. You want to stick with five reps so that each rep will be done with perfect form. I don’t recommend that beginners go above eight reps for at least their first six months of training.

Beginners should do full body workouts three times per week.

I don’t believe that anyone needs to do more than 16-20 sets per workout, train for longer than 45 minutes or workout more than four times per week; and three is usually better for the drug free lifter.

I believe in using predominantly big, compound exercises like presses, chins, dips, rows, squats and deadlifts. I believe in lifting heavy and always following the progressive overload principle. I believe in keeping a training journal and always trying to beat your previous performance.

I believe in carb/ calorie cycling but I also believe that high protein intake is overrated for building muscle.

I believe that everyone should do cardio to keep lean and stay healthy and in shape. Cardio also increases your appetite and helps allow you to eat more muscle building calories without getting fat.

Advanced guys need to be more concerned about recovery than beginners and intermediates do, so I recommend that they do even fewer sets and take time off even more frequently. Also, contrary to what some coaches recommend, I think some advanced guys would be better served to do slightly higher reps than newbies and intermediates. Whereas newbies should stick with five’s and intermediates should focus mainly on sets of 5-8 reps, advanced guys might be better off lifting in the 8-10 range more frequently just to stay safe and injury free.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say?

JF: I would just like thank you for the opportunity to speak to your readers and hope that everyone will check out my website, Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Muscle Gaining Secrets
Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He has trained thousands of clients during his 14 years as a professional fitness coach, including more than 500 athletes from over 20 different sports. Jason has written hundreds of articles for numerous top rated training magazines and websites and has authored four fitness books. He is also the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Muscle Gaining Secrets.

You can read my review of his program here:
Muscle Gaining Secrets Review

Lose Man Boobs

One of the embarrassing problems overweight/obese men can face is "man boobs"--fat on the chest.  Fat loss, of course, is the key to getting rid of them.  Here's an article by Craig Ballantyne.   Some of my readers have used his Turbulence Training program and have given me very positive feedback.

How to Lose Man Boobs

By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
author, Turbulence Training

You don’t have to go through life with man boobs (otherwise known as male breasts). In fact, you can burn away chest fat and get rid of your "man boobs" forever with just three short, but intense workouts per week.

Getting rid of manboobs is as simple as getting rid of any other fat. You need to cut back on the junk, and fill up on the intensity. Turbulence Training is the fastest fat loss workout you can do at home. You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership (where you’ll be too embarrassed by your man boobs to go anyway).

Listen, women love a chiseled chest, but are turned off by the site of manboobs poking through a sweatshirt. That’s why I’ve put together a fat burning program that focuses on building muscle and blasting fat with all sorts of push-ups, chest exercises, and intervals. In fact, even the Turbulence Training abdominal workouts work the chest and help convert those man boobs back into a real man’s chest in just weeks.

You can gain muscle and lose fat with short workouts. You don’t need to be training 6 days per week or spending hundreds of dollars each month on fancy (but worthless) supplements.

Soon you’ll be the guy who is first to take his shirt off at the beach. No more hiding under sweats in the middle of July, or avoiding the water because you don’t want anyone to see your manboobs.

And no matter what anyone says, you don’t have to rely on surgery. Besides, that will leave ugly scars that will leave you just as self-conscious as when you had man boobs. The only fix is a permanent lifestyle change, thanks to the 3 short workouts per week of Turbulence Training. You’ll see changes in your man boobs, love handles, and arm definition within weeks, going from male breasts to ripped abs in the process.

Turbulence Training is not like all those other aerobic, slow cardio programs you’ve tried in the past that didn’t work. And it’s not a wimpy machine circuit that just ends up being a waste of your time. Instead, Turbulence Training is a unique exercise system that you can do in the comfort of your own home, so that no one at the gym can point or stare at your chest – at least not until they are staring with respect.

The fastest way, the safest way, and the only way to get rid of man boobs is with strength training and interval training. Combine that with Dr. Chris Mohr’s sensible nutrition guidelines, and you’ll have a new body, and a new chest in just weeks.

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne
Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training.

You can read my review of the program here:
Turbulence Training for Fat Loss

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lose Stubborn Fat: Hormones

One of the programs I promote/endorse on this blog is Final Phase Fat Loss, by John "Roman" Romaniello.  Here's one of his articles on the role hormones play in getting rid of "stubborn" fat areas:

3 Hormones You Must Address for Fast Fat Loss
by John Romaniello

It seems like most fat loss programs focus on one main thing: to burn fat, you have to expend more energy than you take in.

Such a focus makes sense of course, because if there is a universal truth to fat loss, that’s it.

This is what we call "energy balance." In order to lose fat, you have to create what we call "energy debt" or "energy deficit" – that is, eliminate the balance and instead be on the negative side of the balance scales.

Of course, that works very well for "beginning" fat. However, success doesn’t last forever.

As anyone who’s ever been on a diet and exercise program of any kind can tell you, at first it’s pretty smooth sailing. Eat less, do more, lose fat.

And then it stops! And as those same people can also tell you, it usually stops suddenly.

Of course, the first instinct people have is a very natural one…to simply do more of what was bringing them success in the first place.

So they eat even less and do even more.

And…have no results.

You see, what these people fail to realize (and what most fat loss programs fail to address) is...
After a certain point, simple energy deficit
no longer covers the tab.

It becomes more about what type of deficit.

Speaking generally, you actually have to eat closer to maintenance calorie levels (instead of far below) and expend more Calories through exercise.

Even then, things don’t always happen as quickly as you want.

You see, once you’ve hit a fat loss plateau or when you’re trying to lose the last few pounds (like I was when I was dieting for the beach house), fat loss becomes less about energy balance a more about hormones.

You see, some hormones, such as Leptin, actually control the majority of your general fat loss efforts and all of the factors thereof: appetite, satiety, "starvation mode." However, assuming you’re eating enough and trying to create an energy deficit through training, Leptin isn’t the issue.

In Final Phase Fat Loss though, you’re never on a severe diet, so you don’t have to worry about Leptin.

There are other hormones however, which are a bit more insidious in their effects on your physique. They don’t just determine IF you gain fat - they determine where you gain it, and whether you’re able to lose it from those areas.

Those "problem" areas on your body are there for a reason.

"Problem areas" are created by your hormonal environment, and it’s your hormones that force your body to have particular fat storage patterns.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the three most common types of regional fat storage, and the hormones that cause them.

Baby Got Back: Low Body Fat Storage

One of the most common types of fat storage that we see in women is the "pear shape" - fairly thin on top but heavy on the bottom (and IN the bottom, if you know what I mean).

This is so common that we often refer to a "pear shape" as a body type. This is true to an extent, but this type of fat storage is also heavily dependent on the female sex hormone estrogen. This is one reason why you see this type of fat storage primarily in women.

High levels of estrogen are awesome for enjoying Grey’s Anatomy and makin’ babies, but terrible for fat loss - which is why women usually have more trouble losing fat than men.

However, anyone—male or female—with high estrogen levels will have trouble losing fat, especially from the lower body. In essence, the higher your estrogen levels, the greater the likelihood you’ll store fat in your lower body; mainly in the hips and thighs.

And yes, it IS possible for men to have high estrogen levels. Unfortunately, outside of having to deal with a declined rate of fat loss and lower body fat, these guys ALSO have to deal with the ignominy of man-boobs.

On the whole, estrogen related fat storage is a pain in the ass (get it!?) but it is not completely unmanageable. You see, you can offset this phenomenon with certain types of training.

No worries, ladies (and gents!), I’m here to help.

In addition to helping you lose fat stored in the lower body, these specifically designed workouts will also be great for fat loss in general. Essentially, they’re great for burning calories and for shedding lower body fat through estrogen management. Combine the two and the result is rapid fat loss, with a heavy concentration on lower body fat stores.

Muffin Tops: No Love for the Love Handles

Probably my least favorite incarnation of regional fat storage is love handles and lower back fat. This is, of course, because I personally suffer from such.

Even when I am in lean condition - I’m talking shredded pretty much everywhere else - I store some fat in my love handles and lower back. It used to take me an extra 3 weeks to get rid of it!

The reason I tend to store fat this way is because of how my body reacts to certain hormones, and because of the effect those hormones have on fat storage.

When I was a fat kid and ate lots and lots of goodies, I screwed by my endocrine system a wee bit. Nothing too serious, but a decade of eating rapidly digesting carbs followed by, well, followed by more rapidly digesting carbs, made my insulin spike and crash and spike and crash all over the place.

On top of making me fat in that immediacy, it also completely had a pretty negative effect on the way my body processes and handles insulin period.

The degree to which you are able to process and respond to glucose (sugar) in your body is called insulin sensitivity. The higher this is, the easier and more efficiently your body utilizes carbohydrates for energy, and the less like you are to store carbs as fat.

On the other hand, insulin resistance is the opposite; you don’t deal well with carbs. And anything other than a low carb diet pretty much means you’re gonna hang on to some fat.

And, to make matters worse, as I mentioned previously, there are regional effects. It’s been shown that people who store fat in the love handles are generally very insulin resistant - and therefore it can be reasoned that insulin resistance leads to love handles and lower back fat storage (which of course, means that insulin resistance makes it very hard to lose fat from that area as well).

I’m sure many of you out there who have been heavy before are experiencing much the same problems that I used to have.

The good news is that insulin resistance (and the resulting regional fatness) can be mitigated with certain types of training. For example, with careful planning and selection of exercises, you can start to whittle away at your love handles and lower back fat while you increase insulin sensitivity.

The better news is that I’ve figured out a specific series of training sessions that will do just that.

The One, the Only: Belly Fat

Without question, the most common type of regional fat storage is belly fat. If this isn’t you, it’s someone you know.

Abdominal fat storage obviously has a lot to do with your diet and overall body fat level; that should be obvious but it never hurts to touch on it.

Outside of that, it’s hormones baby, hormones.

The one we’re talking about here is cortisol. This hormone has been in the media a lot in the past few years, and I’ve talked about it a bit, so by now you know that cortisol is sometimes called a "stress" hormone.

That moniker is more appropriate than you know.

Basically, that means your body will produce cortisol (and encourage belly fat storage) under conditions of nearly any type of stress - both emotional and physical. So to combat cortisol, it’s not enough to just get more sleep or stop drunk dialing your ex-girlfriend (although that helps, I’ve heard).

Instead, it is of far greater effect to combat cortisol through resistance training.

Now, if you’re observant, you may have noticed what seems to be a contradiction.

As I said, cortisol is also produced through physical stress. In fact, training is actually one of the primary means through which your body will produce this sneaky little hormone.

Additionally, because cortisol has been linked to overtraining and has a catabolic (muscle wasting) effect, producing too much of it through training is certainly counterproductive.

It’s important to note, however, that long duration cardio and extended lifting sessions are what produces the most cortisol, and I always recommend against those.
Final Phase Fat Loss

Instead, short, intense training sessions using a particular type of training modality will help to counteract the effects of cortisol; both the muscle-wasting effect and the cortisol related belly fat storage.

Visit Final Phase Fat Loss to learn more about Roman's system.

You can read my review of his program here:
Final Phase Fat Loss Review