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.

Biceps:
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.

Triceps:
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