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  1. You don’t want to spend long hours at the gym, but you want to get stronger, fitter, leaner, and just plain look good. It’s possible that you’re not getting the most out of your workout time. It’s possible to get a super-effective workout in 30 minutes, and only do a few workouts a week, if you maximize your workouts. Disclaimer: First, I’m not a certified trainer. These are tips I’ve read elsewhere that work well for me. Second, you should always get a doctor’s approval of any new workout plan. This plan is especially intense, so if you have a heart condition or other condition that might be affected by heavy exercise, you should definitely refrain from trying it until you’ve gotten checked out by a doctor. And even if you have gotten checked out, or even if you don’t bother doing so, it’s still important to start out an exercise program slowly, until your body has the chance to adjust, or you will face burnout or injury. Don’t dive right into this program — it’s designed for people who have already been working out but want to see better results, quicker, and spend less time doing it. Here’s how to do it. 1.  Limit your workouts to 30-40 minutes. Though the tendency of some people who really want to get a lot out of their workouts is to spend a lot of time at the gym, the truth is that after 30 or 40 minutes, the benefit isn’t as great. To go that long, you’d have to lower the intensity of the workout, and that means that you’re spending too much time working out. It’s better to work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time. 2. High-intensity workouts. If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s best to take it slow. If you’re running or cycling, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout. 3. Protein. Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workout, as both cardio and strength workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend either whey or soy protein shakes. 4. Water. Be sure to hydrate throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day. 5. Carbs. Although the low-carb craze might say otherwise, carbs are our body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs, or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a shake, be sure to include carbs — or a banana is a great source of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise. 7. Shake before and after workout. It’s best to take a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building blocks they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates muscle growth. Also take a small protein/carb meal 60-90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement bar would work fine. 8. Slow lifting. Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction. 9. Heavier weight. When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception. One set, to failure. Instead of doing 2-3 sets, as many people do, maximize your effectiveness by doing just one, with heavy weights, until you can no longer keep the proper form. Lifting to “failure” doesn’t mean that you should lift the last few times with a wobbly or inefficient form. 10. Compound exercises. Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, pushups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pullups, dips, and more. 11. Balance lifting. Instead of having exercises where you’re sitting down or holding on to something or otherwise stabilized, it’s more effective to do them standing up, or on one leg, or on a Swiss exercise ball. These types of exercises force you to balance yourself while lifting, which brings your core muscles into play. This gives you a stronger overall body and allows you to lift more over time. 12. Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy. It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for very long. Pick something that’s fun — running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, stairmaster, etc. After the initial phase when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and look forward to it. 13. Mix it up. Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time. 14. Good form. For strength training especially, and swimming, form is very important, but it’s also important for other types of exercise. If you’re strength training, start with lighter weights so you can work on your form. It’s good to have an experienced spotter or trainer who knows good form to help you for the first month or so. Never sacrifice form for heavier weight. For swimming, you’ll need to get a coach to teach you form. 15. Hills. If you run or bike or walk for cardio, you’ll want to incorporate hills (after the first month or two of doing it at an easy pace on flat ground). These will make you stronger and make your limited workout time even more effective. Take them easy at first, but once you’re used to hills, you can get a good pace going. Either use a hilly route or do repeats on one hill. 16. Circuits. One mistake that people make is to do multiple sets of the same exercise without rest between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. But instead of doing a set, resting, and then doing your second set, it’s more effective to move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises but do rest each muscle group. This will give you a good cardio workout while you do your strength training. The ideal workout plan If you take all of these tips into account, the ideal plan would be to alternate 2-3 days of high-intensity strength training with 2-3 days of high-intensity cardio. You could get by with 4 days of exercise if you do them at high intensity. The high-intensity strength training would be 30-40 minutes of circuit training, with no rest or little rest between exercises within a circuit, and a short rest between circuits if you do more than one. The circuit should work out your entire body, using compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, pullups, good mornings, etc., and either standing or using a Swiss ball so that you are working out your core. You should use heavier weights, one set for each exercise, doing them slowly (5 second up, 5 seconds down), and to exhaustion, making sure to have good form on each exercise. You would have a protein/carb shake before and after the workout, and a small meal of protein/carbs within 60-90 minutes of the workout. Water is also important for both types of workouts. The high-intensity cardio would be something you enjoy doing. You would do interval training, at a rate where you couldn’t talk, with short rests in between intervals. On some workouts, you would incorporate hills. Remember, these high-intensity workouts are not for people just starting out. You should build up an endurance base before doing the high-intensity cardio, and start the weights with lighter weights, stressing good form.
  2. How Food Can Affect Your Stress Levels

    Stress and nutrition have always been linked – it’s a fact. Someone with a healthy and balanced diet is likely to be far less stressed than someone with a poor diet.  Stress is now known as a major health disorder, affecting millions of people within the UK. This page will look at: How food can help your stress levels How caffeine affects a person that is stressed Food, stress and relief Healthy, nutritious food and breathing exercises are the simplest methods for relieving stress. These methods are not only cost effective but readily available – and without any side effects. Foods with high vitamin and mineral levels actively help to reduces stress levels. Certain foods and drinks can aggravate stress. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid some of them completely, just consume them in moderation. Foods and drinks that can trigger and aggravate stress include: Tea, coffee, cocoa, energy drinks Fast foods and takeaways Butter, cheese Meat and shellfish Sugar Alcohol Soda, soft drinks and chocolate drinks Almonds, macadamias and other nuts Coconut oil Tea, coffee, cocoa and energy drinks should most definetly be avoided when stressed. They may be refreshing for someone that’s tired but they also contain neuro-stimulators like caffeine and theo-bromine, which are proven to heighten stress. Stress makes you anxious – further stimulation can heighten this anxiety and even cause insomnia. Junk food and takeaways are always delicious but are a far cry from a balanced and healthy diet. They contain high levels of protein, fats and carbohydrates that don’t contain vital minerals and vitamins, which can induce stress. Reducing stress is all about a balance of the correct vitamins and minerals, so it’s highly recommended to avoid all fast foods and takeaways. Beverages like soft drinks are packed full of calories that are useless and contain no vitamins or minerals. When stressed, a build-up of carbon dioxide and lactates in the body can result in a condition called ‘acidosis’, which is damaging to health. The high levels of carbon dioxide in beverages aggravates stress, therefore soft drinks need to be considered as an unnecessary addition to your diet. Sugar should be avoided where possible when stressed – stress causes an increase in blood glucose levels, which can in turn lead to a higher risk of developing diabetes. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as there are plenty of foods that are good for helping to reduce stress: A few of these foods include: Water Fresh vegetables Fresh fruits Fish Soups Yoghurts Herbal products Fresh fruit and vegetables provide an array of vitamins and minerals that are great for reducing stress. Vegetables also have a high fiber content, which is helpful in treating constipation – another long term effect of stress. Fish such as mackerel contain omega fatty acids, which are extremely good for the heart and can protect you from heart diseases. Fish also contains choline – a great memory booster. Yoghurts provide minerals including calcium, essential to maintain well functioning nerve impulses. Calcium also contains lactobacillus, which is essential for maintaining effective gut flora (micro organisms that help you to digest food properly). Herbal items such as Dandelion, Chamomile, and Passion flower to name but a few, will relax both the body and mind. To keep stress to a minimum, design a meal plan for the day that incorporates a big meal in the morning, something relatively light for lunch and another light meal in the evening. Salad before your evening meal with fruits and yoghurts after is a sure way to satisfy your appetite.
  3. Tips for having awesome 6 pack Abs

    Everyone wants "Six Pack Abs." While it's not always easy to get strong, sexy abdominal muscles, you can find your inner six pack, or at least a strong, toned, and flat belly, when you combine healthy eating, with a solid fitness routine that includes endurance, strength and specific exercises for your abs and core. 1.  Clean Up Your Diet The first step to finding your six pack is to clean up your diet. If you want to see your ab muscles, you need to decrease your overall body fat. Get rid of processed "junk" foods, sugars and processed carbs. Eat more vegetables, nuts, and fruits, organic lean protein and healthy fats, such as olive oil, fish oils, and avocados. Try eating several small meals each day and avoid late night snacking. Eat some protein for breakfast, lots of vegetables, fruits, and fiber and drink water rather than calorie-laden beverages. Don't cut calories drastically or you could inadvertently lower your metabolism. Bottom line: eat more high quality, nutrient rich foods and eat fewer empty, processed calories. 2.  Add High Intensity Training If you want to get fit faster, and burn more calories in less time, don't spend all your time in the so called fat-burning zone. Instead, add some High Intensity Training (HIT) to your workouts a couple times each week. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you can burn more calories in less time with short, high intensity exercise. You can also boost your overall cardiovascular fitness with this type of training. Be sure to slowly ramp up your intensity, however, or you could wind up with an injury. 3.  Perform Regular Cardiovascular Exercise Aerobic exercise is one of the safest ways to burn lots of calories over a long period of time while you maintain heart health and tone muscles. Simply modifying your diet or reducing your calories without exercise will lead to initial weight loss, but you'll likely reach a plateau and you may also lose muscle. A personal exercise plan that has a solid base of cardiovascular exercise will help you maintain exercise for the long-term, help you get past weight loss plateaus and can help you maintain your muscle mass. So get out for a nice long walk, a hike, a bike ride or a swim on a regular basis. Park the car and walk for most of your errands and just get moving more often. 4.  Build More Muscle Strength training is an essential part of most fitness routines, but if you want a six pack, building more muscle can help. Strength training with weight lifting not only helps build muscle, boost metabolism and increase muscle definition, but it is a great way to burn lots of calories in a short time. Strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments also helps reduce strain on the joints which ultimately can help prevent many sports injuries. 5.  Perform Abdominal and Core Exercises Once you've reduced the layer of body fat to the point where you can find your six pack, performing specific ab and core strengthening exercises will makes them much more visible. Once you understand how to safely exercise your abs, you'll find core exercises are most effective when the torso works as a solid unit and both front and back muscles contract at the same time, and you perform multi joint movements. 6.  Do The Plank Exercise How to do it: The plank can help you find you six-pack. Learn how to do it properly and maintain a straight line from ears to toes. Hold it for 10 seconds and over time build up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds.  7.  Do Bicycle Crunches The bicycle crunch is another great core exercise that egages many muscles at once to help work the core in every possible way. 8.  Do The Vertical Knee Raise The Vertical Knee Raise (or Captain's Chair) exercise does require some gym equipment, so check around your health club and give it a try. 9.  Do Crunches on an Exercise Ball These days everyone probably has an exercise ball at home, so thre is no reason not to try this exercise. 10.  Play Sports That Build a Six Pack One of the best ways to get six pack abs is by playing sports that burn the fat and engage the core naturally. Athletes who play sports that naturally engage both the upper and lower body in powerful, repetitive movements have a great six pack as a by-product of playing a sport they love. Why not get your six pack while having fun?
  4. You belong to the gym, and you even make time to go, but still the scale isn't budging. What gives? While your intentions should be applauded, here are some reasons you're not seeing the slimming results you're after. Cardio workouts aren't intense enough: In order to lose weight you need to do the kind of cardio that gets your heart pumping. That means brisk walking on the treadmill or leisurely biking while perusing through a magazine just won't do the trick. Kick it up a notch and run on the treadmill or take a spinning class. Add sprinting intervals to your workout to burn more calories and help reduce belly fat. To really see results it's recommended to do 60-minute cardio workouts like these five times a week. I know it sounds like a lot, but it's the most effective way to start dropping those unwanted pounds. Eating high-calorie pre- or post-workout snacks: You definitely need energy to get through or recover from your workout, but it doesn't make sense to eat a 400-calorie snack when you've only burned 300 calories. Stick to snacks that are around 150 calories. Here are some ideas for healthy, low-cal munchables. Your weights are too light: Strength training builds muscle, and muscle increases your metabolic rate, which translates to calories burned. But if you're lifting weights that are too light than you're not building muscle mass effectively. You'll know your weights are heavy enough when your muscles fatigue after 10 to 12 reps. The same goes for strength training moves like push-ups or crunches—do enough reps to feel the burn. Incorrect form when strength training: Even if you've been doing your strength training routine for a few weeks now, and you know it backwards and forwards, it's good to check your form regularly. Watch yourself in a mirror or meet with a personal trainer because if you're doing the moves incorrectly, like using momentum instead of your muscle strength, which can mean that you're not getting as good a workout as possible. Same workout, different day: There's something nice about getting into a routine, but if you're constantly repeating the exact workout day in and day out, you're more likely to reach a plateau. Keep you body guessing by mixing up the equipment you use and the order of the exercises you do. Also try out new fitness classes, and work different body parts on different days. It'll not only challenge your muscles, but you'll get a more effective workout, which translates to a leaner, more sculpted bod.
  5. Overview The vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables promote proper development of nerves and muscle tissue. Eating vegetables also helps maintain the health of your muscles and nerves, strengthening them and keeping them from breaking down. Both fresh and frozen vegetables impart health benefits. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily for optimum health, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Citrus Fruit Folic acid, found in fortified orange juice and grapefruit juice, is essential to tissue development. Fortified juices may also contain calcium, which plays a role in muscle contractions and helps nerves function properly. Citrus fruits are also a good source of vitamin C, which promotes wound healing. Bananas Bananas provide potassium, which helps your muscles contract. Potassium is also important for the health of your nervous system. Bananas are also a good source of B6. Cruciferous Vegetables Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts contain vitamin B6, important for proper nerve function. Cruciferous vegetables are also a good plant source of calcium. You need calcium for proper nerve and muscle function. Leafy Greens Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and chard are one of the few plant sources of magnesium. Your body uses magnesium to carry oxygen to your muscles and nerves so they can function properly. Leafy greens also contain folic acid and calcium. Potatoes Potatoes provide potassium, which your body needs for proper transmission of signals from your nerves to other parts of your body. Potassium also plays a role in muscle contractions. Potatoes also contain B6 for nerve function.
  6. You know the deal. You either add both muscle and fat easily, or you have trouble adding either. If you’re one of those lucky guys who adds muscle mass without fat, well, give thanks to your mom and dad. Interestingly, if you’re trying to add quality mass — whether you have trouble adding muscle or you also add too much fat — the rules are pretty much the same. The biggest difference is how much you should rely on one strategy or another. This piece gives you the top seven tips you should adhere to, no matter which category you fall into. I’ve adapted them to each situation, so you’ll get the best results by following these guidelines: If you’re a hardgainer, follow the “Bigger Is Better” tips.If you tend to add bodyfat while you beef up, then follow our “Balance Is Better” tips.If you’re not willing to count calories, follow the “Make it Easy” tip.1) Consume More Quality Carbs Every Day Heresy? Our top tip suggests you should consume more carbs? Well, yes. When you’re in a growth phase, you need tons of slow-burning energy supplied by carbohydrates. But there’s a world of difference between complex carbs and the simple sugars you see loaded into a number of foods. Good sources of slow-digesting carbs include foods such as brown rice, yams and oatmeal. You can also increase consumption of starchy carbs such as whole-wheat bread, pancakes and pasta. Regardless of which category you fall into, increase your carbohydrate intake earlier in the day but scale back to almost no carbs during your last two meals. In the evening carbs are more likely to be stored as bodyfat rather than burned for energy. Bigger Is Better: You should strive to consume 2.5–3.0 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight each day. If you weigh 180 pounds, you should take in 450–540 grams of carbs each day. Balance Is Better: For guys who add size easily but tend to put on bodyfat, you should reduce carbs to 2.0–2.5 grams per pound of bodyweight each day. This means a 180-pounder should consume 360–450 grams of carbs per day. If you notice that you’re adding more bodyfat than you’d like, scale back a bit. If you still aren’t gaining weight, go with the “Bigger Is Better” recommendation above. Make It Easy: Consume moderately large carb portions from the foods listed above at breakfast, your morning snack and lunch. Take in fast-digesting carbs with your pre- and post-workout shakes. Eat fewer carbs with your dinner (a small yam or just vegetables), and avoid carbs at your bedtime meal. 2) INCREASE YOUR CALORIES I know this one’s obvious, but it’s absolutely crucial. You have to take in more calories than you burn if you want to grow. Simply put, you can’t add quality weight if you’re not in a caloric surplus. The good news is that following the other tips in this article will also help you achieve this goal. Bigger Is Better: If you’ve been having trouble putting on weight, increase your calorie consumption by about 25% over your baseline. This can be as simple as increasing the portion size of most foods — consuming a 10-oz. steak instead of an 8-oz. one. A rule of thumb is to get in about 20 calories for every pound of bodyweight each day. This means that a 180-pound bodybuilder should consume about 3,600 calories a day for growth, but you may need adjustments depending on your metabolic rate. Balance Is Better: To avoid adding too much bodyfat, start by increasing calorie consumption by only about 10–15% over your maintenance. Instead of eating an 8-oz. steak, go with one just slightly larger, say 9-oz. As a rule of thumb, you should be consuming about 18 calories per pound of bodyweight, so a 180-pounder should be taking in about 3,240 calories. Make adjustments to this amount, shifting up or down, depending on how your body responds after you’ve been following it for about a week. Make It Easy: If you’re a hardgainer, eat just past the point of fullness at each whole-food meal of the day and then consume a large whole-food late-night snack that includes no carbs. For those who add fat easily, eat just to the point of fullness – excess gorging is more likely to lead to adding bodyfat. 3) TAKE IN MORE MEALS PER DAY Consuming more meals per day is recommended for those trying to shed bodyfat, but it’s also important for anyone trying to add size. That may seem contradictory, but regardless of your goal, eating more meals per day helps your body preferentially add muscle mass over bodyfat. During mass-building phases, consume 6-7 meals per day. Bigger Is Better: Try to consume a meal every 2-3 hours, and keep meals and snacks somewhat close in their total calories. Whole-food meals may have as much as twice as many calories, but snacks should have a significant number of calories, too. A 180-pound bodybuilder consuming 3,600 calories a day should strive to get in at least 400 calories at each of six meals, with the rest of calories coming from snacks. Balance Is Better: The rules are similar for guys who add bodyfat more readily. You want to strive for even distribution of calories to keep from overeating at individual meals, particularly later in the day, when calories are more likely to be stored as fat. See the “Calories per Meal” to see how you should break down calorie consumption throughout the day. Make It Easy: Eat at least six meals a day, and make sure that each of your snacks contains significant calories. 4) CONSUME MORE DIETARY FAT When you’re trying to add quality mass, you not only need to add more calories, but you need to consume more dietary fat. It may get a bad rap, but consuming fat is crucial to quality bodybuilding gains. Also, split your dietary fat evenly between “healthy” fats -- emphasizing omega 3s -- and saturated fats. Omega 3s promote health and growth, and they’re under-represented in the American diet (including that of most bodybuilders). Good sources of omega 3s include herring, sardines, salmon and fish oils. Saturated fats in particular have an undeserved bad reputation. As long as you’re getting plenty of omega 3s, you can also consume saturated fats without compromising your health. Saturated fats help your body make hormones such as testosterone, which is essential for building muscle tissue. Good sources include dark-meat poultry, dairy products and less lean sources of red meat. Bigger Is Better: Consume up to 30% of your calories from dietary fats, getting in 15% of your daily calories from saturated fats. Increasing your fat consumption will also help to more easily increase your overall calories, as fat contains more than double the calories per gram than an equal amount of carbs or protein. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories, while each gram of carbs and protein contains only 4 calories. This makes dietary fat a great choice for hardgainers seeking to add bodyweight. Balance Is Better: If you already tend toward weight – and fat – gain, you should consume slightly less overall fat than a hardgainer to avoid going too high on your overall calorie count. Instead, go for 20% of total calories from fat, with 10% of your total calories coming from saturated fat and the other 10% coming from healthy fat sources like omega-3 polyunsaturates. Make it Easy: If you’ve been emphasizing very low-fat cuts of meat such as chicken and turkey breast or tuna, go with fattier alternatives. If you’re a hardgainer, don’t worry about the fat content of quality meats. If you tend to add more bodyfat, then choose moderately fatty foods such as salmon and leaner cuts of red meat. 5) MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR PRE- AND POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION One of the most crucial times for mass gains is around the time of your workouts. What you consume immediately before you train and in the 2–3-hour window after training impacts not only how much weight you add but also how much of that weight will be muscle tissue. Bigger Is Better: A 180-pounder should consume about 270 calories both before and after training (540 total calories or about 3 total calories per pound of bodyweight). You can shift the calories a bit, depending on how well you handle a shake before you train, going with fewer before and more afterward. Get in about half of these calories from protein and half from fast-digesting carbs. This means consuming a little more than 30 grams of carbs and 30 grams of protein before and after you work out. Balance Is Better: Around the time of your workouts, the rules are essentially the same for guys who add weight easily. The only difference is that bodybuilders in this category tend to weigh more than hardgainers, so you’ll be taking in more total calories in the same 1:1 ratio before and after your workout. If you weigh 200 pounds, you need a total of about 600 calories (or 3 calories per pound of bodyweight), split evenly before and after training sessions (300 calories at each meal). This means taking in a little more than 35 grams of protein and 35 grams of simple carbs both before and after you train. Make It Easy: Drink a shake that’s about half protein and half carbs before and after your workouts. 6) GO LIQUID When you’re trying to choke down quality calories for muscle growth, one of the biggest battles is how much food you actually have to eat. Experienced bodybuilders know that consuming liquid calories is one of the easiest and fastest ways to power down calories to put you into a surplus so you can grow. Bigger Is Better: If you can’t get down all the whole-food calories for any particular meal, eat as much as you can and drink a shake in addition to the meal. Compared to force-feeding whole foods, you’ll feel a little less bloated and your digestion will be quicker, allowing you to be hungrier when it comes time to consume your next meal. Balance Is Better: If you add bodyfat easily, consider using this tip to get in the calories you need. But also be aware that your hunger is a pretty good guideline for the amount you can consume to add quality muscle. If you’re drinking too many calories beyond your hunger threshold, then you may be adding more bodyfat than muscle mass. Make It Easy: If you’re a hardgainer, drink calories after whole-food meals to take in more than you would from whole foods alone. If you add bodyfat easily, add only liquid calories if you’re not full from your whole-food meals. 7) INCREASE THE QUANTITY OF YOUR BEDTIME SNACK You burn energy when you sleep from both fat stores and muscle tissue. When you’re in a growth phase, it’s crucial to slow your muscle loss while you sleep because it’s during this time that you’re fasting. But don’t consume carbs before bedtime because they’re more likely to lead to bodyfat storage. So avoid all forms of carbs and emphasize protein in your bedtime snack. Bigger Is Better: While you should avoid carbs, consume reasonable quantities of dietary fats. They’ll provide satiety and keep amino acids in your bloodstream longer. Consider whole foods such as deli meats, lean red meat and whole eggs, all of which derive their calories almost exclusively from protein and fat (but check your deli meats, as some are infused with carbs in the form of sugars and may be spiked with sodium). A180-pounder should take in about 450 calories (2.5 calories per pound of bodyweight) at this meal. Strive to get in 30-50 grams of protein at this meal. Balance Is Better: To avoid adding bodyfat, scale back your bedtime snack a bit from the hardgainer, going for 2 grams per pound of bodyweight. This means consuming up to 400 calories for a 200-pounder. While you don’t need to consume 100% of this from protein, you should get the balance of these calories from protein foods or shakes. Emphasize slow-digesting forms of protein such as casein at this time of day, and scale back on the calories a bit if you notice that you’re putting on more bodyfat than you’d like. Make It Easy: Consume a large bedtime snack every night that contains no carbs. Hardgainers can take in a balance of protein and fat. Those who add bodyfat more readily should emphasize slow-digesting proteins over dietary fat. 
  7. 10 Pro Tips For Losing Fat

    Are you ready to crank things up a notch? You can lose fat any pace you choose, really, but everyone should strive to be as efficient as possible. So we assembled the best package of tips we could find to turn you into a fat-burning pyromaniac. TIP 1: CLEAR THE KITCHEN It all starts with cleaning out your kitchen. Make no mistake: If food you shouldn't be eating lurks in your fridge, cupboards, or freezers, you will give in at some point or another. You may think you have willpower of steel, but wait until your leptin levels start dropping and hunger clouds your every waking thought, and a few of your dreams. Few people will leave their house to satisfy their taste buds; they're much more likely to hit the fridge. TIP 2: COMBINE CARDIO VARIATIONS The debate rages: steady-state cardio training vs. interval training for fat loss. Steady state allows for a longer fat-burning session. Interval training ramps up your metabolic rate and increases fat oxidation rates for hours after the workout is done. Which to choose? Try both. You might do five or so intervals first and then move into steady-state training. This will allow you to reap all the benefits in one workout. Plus, the steady state will burn even more fat than usual because the intervals will have led to glycogen depletion. Your cardio, like your weight training, should always be progressively more challenging.  TIP 3: DO AT LEAST ONE FULL-BODY WORKOUT PER WEEK Just like the jury is out on the single best form of cardio training to do, you'll get mixed opinions on whether fat loss is best achieved through full-body or body-part split training. Full-body workouts increase your metabolism more per workout due to the large amount of muscle mass you hit. They also allow for more total downtime to rest during the week. Split systems have you working out more frequently and still hitting each muscle group with a higher volume for muscle glycogen depletion. Here again, consider combining the two. Each week, do one full-body workout, one upper-body workout and one lower-body workout. If you prefer a full-body, push, pull, lower-body setup for a four-day cycle, that's fine too. This allows you to still do a bit more volume per muscle group in each week yet have that maximum metabolic enhancing full-body session in place. Whatever you do, you must lift weights to burn major fat. "Lifting weights is most effective for body-fat reduction when it is done correctly," says MuscleTech's Marc Megna, an ex NFL athlete, performance coach, and motivational speaker on fitness. TIP 4: DRINK GREEN TEA DAILY Green tea should be your top beverage of choice while on a fat-cutting plan. This health elixir will help to rev your metabolism, allowing you burn more calories daily. Green tea is also loaded with healthy plant chemicals and of free-radical-fighting antioxidants. All these health goodies will help to reduce the tissue damage that can take place while dieting and still doing intense workout programs, helping you feel better as the fat-burning process hums along. Furthermore, the slight intake of caffeine you'll get will also boost energy and promote more fat burning, providing even greater benefits. The hot liquid may also help soothe the hunger pangs roiling your stomach. Simply put, green tea is an all-around winner for people looking to get leaner. TIP 5: HAVE TWO HIGHER CARB DAYS PER WEEK One tool most people do not make use of enough is the power of higher carb days. Low-carb dieting definitely speeds up progress for many people, but if their carb intake falls too low for too long, it will have the opposite effect. Here's what happens: Leptin levels plummet harder and faster for low-carb dieters than people who take in more carbs. This ends up increasing hunger, slowing down the metabolism, and basically making your life miserable in the process. Have your low days as you prefer, but add two high days into the mix as well. This tricks the body into thinking carbs are around all the time, avoiding the plateau-causing metabolic drop that otherwise occurs. Plus, you'll feel happier! Remember, carbohydrates induce the brain to release serotonin, a feel-good hormone that keeps you sane. Your family and coworkers will thank you. I'd recommend limiting your cheat meals to those high-carb days. Phil Heath, three-time Mr. Olympia titleholder, has a cheat meal every three days or so, usually before a hard workout. So you know those extra carbs are being put right to work. TIP 6: COMMIT TO SLEEP Sleep is another underrated part of a proper fat-loss program. If you aren't sleeping enough, your insulin sensitivity will decrease, which means that hormone will be less effective at shuttling glucose from your blood into cells, where it belongs. So what does your body do? It pumps out more insulin, still hoping to finish the job. The problem is that insulin is also a fat-storage hormone. Since your cells will be starved for glucose also means you'll encounter carbohydrate cravings and lousy workouts. Few healthy food choices are made after midnight. Going to bed an extra hour early is also a perfect way to combat night-time eating, which can be disastrous to your progress. TIP 7: INCREASE YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE 10-20% A higher protein intake is the next step to seeing enhanced fat loss. Not only will protein-rich foods calm hunger pangs, but they also have a higher thermogenic effect as well. Thermo-what? Well, for every 100 calories you eat, your body will burn about 20-30 percent of those calories off simply breaking down the food. TIP 8: PRACTICE YOGA Combating stress is another must-do for success, and there's no better way to do so than by taking yoga classes once per week. Not only will you crush stress, but you put yourself more in touch with your body and healthy living, which can help you make wiser choices when it comes to your diet plan. Furthermore, yoga will help to ease muscle soreness by lengthening the muscles and reducing pent up tension you may be holding. TIP 9: DRINK ONE GLASS OF WATER BEFORE EACH MEAL A sneaky technique to try if you struggle to cut back on your food intake is to simply drink one glass of water before each meal. This serves multiple purposes: Staying well-hydrated makes sure your metabolism runs at top speeds. Even slight dehydration makes it sluggish.The water will fill you up, therefore prompting you to take in fewer calories during the meal.It's refreshing and can help combat food cravings, making it easier to choose healthier foods for your meal.And a slice of lemon to your water glass and you'll often find that the taste you had for whichever food you desired has passed.  TIP 10: SWITCH TO SINGLE-INGREDIENT FOODS The last tip to remember that will dramatically help you improve the quality of your diet is to only eat single-ingredient foods. If you use this guiding rule, you'll immediately cut out all the processed, unhealthy foods that can quickly put a stop to weight loss and have you feeling unwell. Single ingredient foods are in their most natural state and will contain the most nutrition to help keep your body healthy throughout the weight-loss process; they leave you energized as well! So there you have it—the top 10 pro fat-burning tips to use if you want to strive to see optimal and rapid success. Don't rely on quick-fix approaches. Rely on sound and proven strategies that will get you results and keep the weight off for good.
  8. 7 Ways to Relieve Muscle Soreness

    How do you feel on Sunday night after working all weekend in your yard, or doing a marathon of home repair or house cleaning? You'd rather not move for hours, right? In order to prevent muscle stiffness and soreness, try these seven suggestions below before relaxing for the night.   Move More Even though you might want to flop onto the coach, cold drink in hand, first move a little more. Slowly and gently is fine. Get the blood flowing into those sore muscles by simply walking around the house or around your neighborhood, or raising your arms over your head while breathing deeply. Stretch Before relaxing in your recliner, stretch your muscles before they stiffen, helping them to become more pliable and flexible. As oxygen flows into your muscles, you'll speed their recovery. Whether your choose yoga, Pilates or stretches of your own, you're relieving muscle soreness. Bonus, Dr. Andrew Weil says muscles contain stretch receptors which can improve your mood. Drink Water Water is the ultimate rehydrator. Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they can dehydrate you. Feel Kneaded Gently massage overworked muscles, prompting nutrient-rich blood to flow through, replenishing them. Better yet, get a massage from someone you like. Pack in Protein Your muscles are hungry after exertion. They crave protein. Choose natural sources such as fish, poultry, lean meats, nuts, lentils and quinoa. Soak in a Tub A warm bath cures many ills, and always helps ease stiff muscles. You'll also sleep better after a bath, helping you awake refreshed. If you're brave, try a hot/cold treatment, alternating water temperatures every couple minutes, to open blood vessels more. Ease Back In When your muscles are feeling rested, ease back into your normal fitness program gradually so your body has time to catch up with all the plans you have in store. Remember, the most effective way to relieve muscle soreness after an active weekend is to move a bit more, drink lots of water and nourish your muscles back to health.
  9. 5 Eat Clean Diet Tips

    You may have heard about the eat clean diet to lose weight. Luckily, eating clean isn't just a passing fad or a new crash diet, but a sustainable way for everyone to improve their health and maintain a healthful weight. Whether you're a vegetarian, Paleo-enthusiast or newbie to healthy living, the key to a successful healthy diet is eating clean. It doesn't matter if you spend hours slaving away at the gym every day, you're never going to be healthy if you feed your body junk. A clean diet is non-negotiable in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. So what does "eating clean" entail? Here are some basic fundamentals: Eat More Whole Foods Whole foods are in its most natural state when you eat them. Fresh fruits, vegetables and some grains are examples of whole foods. An apple is a whole food, whereas store-bought applesauce is not. You should strive to fill your diet with as many whole foods as possible. Whole foods are easily digestible and contain nutrients that are easy for the body to assimilate. They aren't filled with the excessive amounts of calories, sugars or fats, which are commonly found in processed foods. The human body was designed to digest whole foods, not processed foods, which brings me to the next point... Cut Out as Many Processed Foods as You Can For some, eating a complete whole-food diet is an easy goal, while for others, not eating any processed foods whatsoever seems impossible. The best advice: try to diminish as many processed foods as you can. Read Labels Michael Pollan once famously said, "If you can't say it, don't eat it." A good rule of thumb to live by is to not buy anything with more than five ingredients. Also try to avoid consuming foods that contain scary-sounding ingredients. Did you know that MSG goes by at least five different names? Do Your Own Research The Internet offers a great deal of information about food labels. The next time you're at the supermarket and you're unsure about what "Autolyzed yeast extract" is, consult Google. Eat Balanced Meals Stop focusing on non-fat, low-cal or sugar-free products. Focus on eating the right kinds of fats and sugars. Remember this rule: about half of your plate should be veggies, while the other half is divided in half so you have a quarter of whole grains and a quarter of protein.
  10. 8 Great Bodybuilding Foods

    When it comes to eating for bodybuilding and strength, most of us know there are a handful of staple foods that meet the stringent nutritional requirements and provide an anabolic stimulus. However, there are many other lesser-known and "underrated" foods that do just as good a job. Do yourself a favor and try these foods! Add them to your weekly nutrition to support your growth, strength and recovery. 1. OYSTERS Oysters contain zinc, which plays a big role in hormone production, a fact that's relevant to anyone who lifts. A 2011 study published in "Biological Trace Element Research" reported that giving trained athletes a zinc supplement for four weeks (30 mg/day) prior to exhaustive exercise resulted in higher post-workout testosterone than the placebo1,2. The authors also stated that zinc increases the conversion rate of androstenedione to testosterone, and when combined with training, enhanced testosterone production. Other foods high in zinc include chicken liver and pumpkin seeds. 2. GREEK YOGURT Greek yogurt is produced in part by straining excess liquid and carbohydrates from regular yogurt, yielding a higher concentration of protein. The straining process used to create Greek yogurt results in a higher concentration of casein, a "slow-digesting" protein; it slowly releases amino acids into the bloodstream. A 2012 study published in "Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise" showed that consuming casein before sleep provided an increase in blood amino-acid levels that was sustained throughout the night and yielded a 22 percent increase in protein synthesis. Depending on your calorie needs, you can use full- or reduced-fat Greek yogurt as part of your muscle-building efforts. However, always strive for the plain version to reduce the effects of added sugar. 3. STEAK (AND OTHER FOODS WITH SATURATED FATS) Many bodybuilders can benefit from saturated fats (steak and eggs, full-fat dairy, or poultry). A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" randomly assigned 45 men to either a high-fat/low-fiber or a low-fat/high-fiber diet. The subjects followed each diet for 10 weeks. For each group, the high-fat/low-fiber periods yielded 13 percent higher levels of total serum testosterone compared to the low-fat/high-fiber diet period. Another study from the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" enrolled eight strength athletes and 10 active non-athletes. After comparing the subjects' dietary analyses and blood tests, it was shown that only the strength-training athletes had significant correlations between fat intake and testosterone levels. What does this mean? It signifies that if you train with weights—particularly heavy weights—and eat a diet higher in fat, you'll obtain a higher increase in test levels compared to a normal "active" lifestyle and a higher fat diet. Keep saturated fats to no more than 15 percent of your total daily calories, however. For health reasons, avoid trans fats altogether. 4. OATMEAL (AND OTHER HIGH-FIBER FOODS) Underrated and undervalued, fiber holds considerable water and provides "bulk" to food residues in the GI track. Among other benefits, fiber exerts a "scraping" action on the cells of the gut wall. Fiber can also dilute harmful chemicals or bind with them to inhibit their activity. It also hastens the speed of unwanted food residues through the digestive track. The best example of a fiber food is oatmeal. One serving contains a high amount of complex carbohydrates and 13 percent of your daily fiber needs. Many people, even strength athletes, are deficient in fiber. Adult men should consume about 40 grams of fiber daily; women should aim for 25 grams. These numbers are based on a diet of 2,000-2,500 calories; if you eat more calories to gain weight, you need more fiber. Since fiber is digested slowly, you should avoid eating a large amount of fiber before your training session. Likewise it may be detrimental to eat a high-fiber meal immediately after training, since the two hours post-exercise are the most critical time to have nutrients quickly available to begin the repair and regeneration process. It's best to eat high-fiber foods for other meals throughout the day. These include whole grains and whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes. Also, don't forget about soluble-fiber-rich foods such apples, citrus fruits, carrots, beans, peas, and oats. 5. GRAPEFRUIT Grapefruit contains ample vitamin C to facilitate adequate function of your metabolic system. Research has demonstrated that vitamin C has some fat-burning capabilities, and half a grapefruit contains approximately 40 mg of vitamin C. Studies have also noted that chemicals in grapefruit may reduce levels of insulin, helping to regulate fat metabolism. When insulin is steady, the body processes energy more efficiently. In a 12-week study conducted at The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, Calif.), researchers discovered that subjects who consumed a half grapefruit before each meal, three times per day, lost an average of 3.5 pounds, while subjects who consumed the same meals without grapefruit lost only 0.5 pounds. 6. BEETS/BEETROOT The value behind beets and beetroot juice lies in their ability to increase the body's production of nitric oxide (NO), a gas which causes blood vessels to dilate to accommodate greater blood flow. Improved blood flow leads to greater oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles and other surrounding tissues. This improvement likely aids in improved athletic performance and recovery—which is essential for mass building. A study published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" found that eating two medium-sized beets an hour and 15 minutes prior to exercise improved performance, reduced the perceived level of exertion, and decreased the amount of oxygen subjects' bodies needed to complete a workout. 7. BANANAS Bananas contain the enzyme bromelain, which some studies have found boosts a man's libido. They are also rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin. Bromelain is also abundant in pineapples, which have been used for centuries in Central and South America to treat indigestion and reduce inflammation. 8. GRAPES The skins of red grapes contain resveratrol, an organic chemical which contains polyphenols. Similar to many fruits and vegetables, these polyphenols act as antioxidants in the body and can help scavenge free radicals. These unstable molecules have damaging effects throughout the body and to many bodily systems. Resveratrol has important regulatory function in grapes; it helps protect them from invasion by bacteria and fungi. Resveratrol is commonly found in red wine—the skin is taken off earlier in the fermentation process of white wines, so they have less resveratrol—and also and can be purchased as supplements. The resveratrol in grapes is also a proven aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase is an enzyme which converts testosterone and other androgens into estrogen. Inhibiting its action is an important factor for people wanting to reduce estrogen in favor of maintaining and increasing lean mass, helping to promote testosterone. Of note: The concentration of resveratrol is much higher in the skin of red grapes compared to red wine. Bottom line: Eat the fruit and steer clear of the drink.
  11. When most people think of muscular endurance they think of things like running and cycling. The fact is, muscular endurance is important to almost any activity that requires any use of physical strength and is one of the more important aspects of physical fitness and performance. There are many ways you can improve your muscular endurance, but not all of them will give you lasting results. If you want to make some serious gains there are several principles you must follow to achieve maximum benefit to your muscles! Muscular Endurance Tip #1 – Get Stronger I can’t stress this enough to both athletes and the general fitness population: strength matters! Not only does it matter, but it should be one of the first steps towards achieving most goals. The fact is that many people underestimate how important strength is to other physical aspects such as improving muscular endurance. One of my favorite analogies to demonstrate this point comes from strength coach and author, Brett Jones. He compares absolute strength to the size of a glass. The bigger the glass the more “stuff” you can put in it (e.g. sports, activities, fitness, etc.). If you have a thimble of strength you won’t be able to do much and progress will be a battle. If you have a barrel of strength everything else becomes easy! Greater strength will not only make objects (such as your body) feel lighter but allow you to control them much longer with less effort. Depending on where your strength level is, which is usually too low, improving absolute strength will have a profound impact on your endurance! Muscular Endurance Tip #2 – Move Better Another important concept to understand is that if you want to move more, you must first move well. The reasoning here is twofold. If you move well you will not only expend less energy but you will also risk less injury. When talking about increasing muscular endurance what most people really want is to make longer duration activities feel easier. To use running as an example: if it is easier to run longer, you will run much farther. Our bodies operate as a system and with better gait, posture, and movement everything works, well, better. On the other hand, poor movement causes fatigue to set in much quicker by what I will call ‘energy leaks.’ Not only that, but it significantly increases the risk of injury and chronic pain from poor mechanics. Much of this is caused by bad posture and muscle imbalances that 9 times out of 10 are caused by sitting too much. Muscular Endurance Tip #3 – Progressive Overload This means systematically increasing your work load whether it is volume, resistance, length, or distance. This is a very important concept as doing the same thing over and over for extended periods of time will eventually yield no additional benefit. Without progressive overload you will be spinning your wheels and moving nowhere fast! The goal here is progress, not perfection, so take your time and slowly move up to continuously make improvements in your endurance. Runners, for example, will slowly build up their pace or distance before a race. To increase strength-endurance you must work to increase the weights that you use in order to reap the benefits. Muscular Endurance Tip #4 – Vary Resistance / Effort It is okay to go heavier on some days and lighter on other days if you are training more frequently. Going hard 7 days a week is a surefire way to hit a plateau and prevent any chance you have to effectively increase your endurance. For runners, that might mean taking some days to go a bit lighter and work on your stride. When I say easy, I mean easy. Some days just shouldn’t feel like you worked your butt off. For strength training, it is okay to do things like squat every day. Just don’t squat as much as you can every day or every set unless you want two strands of spaghetti for legs for the next week. Go bodyweight sometimes or do lighter goblet squats. Have some ‘fun’ days! Muscular Endurance Tip #5 – Increase Training Density & Volume Here, training density refers to the amount of work that you do in a given period of time such as during a workout. Volume is the amount of time you spend training either in a workout or over the course of a week, month, etc. The way to increase both density and volume in a workout is to increase the overall number of sets and/or increase the repetitions in each set. One way I have found to easily increase and track training density and volume is to use timed sets. What you want to do is choose an exercise or a superset (two exercises back to back) and complete as many rounds as you can in a given amount of time, say 5 minutes. The next time you train, the goal is to complete more rounds in the same amount of time. This is also a great way to notice improvements in your endurance as well! Muscular Endurance Tip #6 – Take Deload Weeks A surefire way to hinder your attempts to gain muscular endurance is to overtrain by not taking enough time to recover weekly or between sessions. More does not always equal better when it comes to training.
  12. 7 Strength-Training Tips for Beginners

    Strength training can be intimidating to a fitness newbie, especially if you’ve never operated one of those machines with the pulleys and levers, or you don’t want to go toe-to-toe with that tan, grunting guy. However, strength training is a crucial part of getting fit that just can’t be ignored. Cardio alone doesn’t cut it. I repeat: cardio alone DOES NOT CUT IT! Now I’m not saying you should be able to bench press like Arnold, but even a few days of light strength training each week can do wonders for your health—and not to mention, your physique. Not only does resistance training help build muscle strength, it increases your body’s resting metabolic rate, causing it to burn more calories throughout the day. (Yes, please!) It also reduces blood pressure, decreases your osteoporosis risk, and improves your balance. If you’re a strength-training beginner, these 7 tips will get you going in no time. 1. Do a cardio warm up It’s important to get your heart rate up before starting your strength-training routine. Begin with a 5-minute warmup of brisk walking, light jogging, or dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching uses controlled movements to loosen up your muscles and increase your range of motion. Try doing some walking lunges or butt kicks. 2. Learn proper technique In order to prevent injuries, you must know proper form and technique. Proper technique will make sure that you’re working the right muscles without straining. If you’re a true beginner, it can be beneficial to invest in a single training session. A trainer can show you the correct positions, grips, and motions while also helping you create a basic strength-training routine. If you don’t want to spend the money on a trainer, there is a lot of free content online to help you learn proper form. Check out these fitness apps for help, or follow me on Facebook for tips. 3. Know your options You may associate strength training entirely with dumbbells, but they aren’t your only option. In fact, there are many modes of strength training at the gym, and even in your own living room! You can use resistance bands, weight bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, exercise balls, your own body weight… the list goes on! You can also take advantage of strength-training classes your gym may offer. Classes are a great way to learn how to use equipment that’s new to you while also keeping your routine fresh. 4. Determine the right amount of weight for you Figuring out how much weight you should be using for a given exercise requires a bit of experimentation. Keep in mind that in the beginning it’s better to err on the side of too light than too heavy. If you’re doing 3 sets of 12 reps of bicep curls, your arms should feel fatigued by the last set, and extremely fatigued by the last few reps. Your arms should be working hard, they might even be a bit shaky, but you shouldn’t ever feel extreme discomfort. If you blow through your sets without any trouble, up your weight. If you’re done by the second set, drop down in weight. 5. Work on imbalances Most people are stronger on one side of their body than the other. For this reason, I’m a big proponent of isolating each side of your body during strength training so that they’re worked equally. For example, single-leg squats will ensure that you’re relying solely on the muscles in your working leg, instead of letting your stronger leg do more of the work. Having balanced strength on both sides of your body is a true indicator of overall fitness, so try out some isolated moves! 6. Allow your routine to evolve As you become more familiar with strength training, it’s important to start incorporating new exercises and equipment into your routine. If you’re getting bored with your workout, your muscles are, too. Spicing up your sweat sessions will trick your muscles and ensure that they’re working to their full potential. You should also monitor your weight amounts and raise them as you get stronger. 7. Don’t forget to rest Strength training causes tiny tears in the muscles, which then heal stronger than before. These tears are good, but only if you allow them time to heal properly. The average person needs 24 to 48 hours of rest to heal in between workouts so make sure you allot yourself that time. People are often more gung-ho at the beginning of their workout program and sometimes overdo it. Listen to your body. Soreness is fine, pain is not.
  13. There’s no question that strong is the new skinny, but putting on muscle can be easier said than done. And while figuring out the formula for size and strength isn’t exactly rocket science, there is some science involved. The Science of Strength Thankfully we don’t need a periodic table or fancy equations to figure out how to get fit. However, it is helpful to know what makes muscles grow. It might seem counterintuitive, but in order to grow, a muscle must first be broken down. And that’s what happens when we lift weights. We’re applying stress to our muscle fibers to create the best possible kind of injury, triggering satellite cells to rush to the scene of the “trauma” in order to repair our muscles. These cells fuse muscle fibers together and create new muscle protein, known as myofibrils.The result: bigger, stronger muscles. When it comes to strength training, we can use this process in our favor. Because the body adapts quickly to challenging tasks, if it can’t do something, it will try and change to make it easier the next time. According to Nick Tumminello, the owner of Performance University, the key is creating a training plan that provides stimulus to the muscles and elicits growth. Tumminello says that if we want our muscles to grow, we must subject them to “metabolic stress, muscle damage and tension.” It’s also important to increase and vary the amount and types of stimulus over time. This concept is known as progressive overload. Putting the method into practice could be as simple as upping the weight on the bar, mixing in new exercises, or focusing on eccentric lowering of the weight. Maximum Muscle So what are the best methods for building muscle from diet to training techniques? We called in elite powerlifter Casey Williams, World Record holder for the squat (700 pounds) and the combined total of bench, squat and deadlift (1,770 pounds) in the 220-pound weight class. Williams also coaches other athletes looking to get bigger and stronger. Here is his advice for anyone looking to build muscle safely and effectively. 1. Get moving For gaining size and lean muscle, Williams recommends focusing on four main exercises — squat, bench press, deadlift and overhead press — which aren’t just for powerlifters, he says. “Big moves are an invaluable way to increase strength and lean muscle.” And there’s science to back that up. Research shows that compound moves, such as the squat, recruit multiple muscle groups and elicit a larger hormonal response, making them more effective for building strength and muscle than isolated movements, like the leg extension. As for rep range, Williams recommends five or fewer repetitions for strength and six to 12 repetitions for gaining size. 2. Be free. It’s not just the moves that matter most; equipment also plays a role. Williams advocates free weights over machines, and suggests getting your hands on a barbell, flat bench, power rack and plenty of weights. When it comes to exercise machines, his best advice is to avoid them all. In one study, which compared the performance of free weight users with the progress of another group using exercise machines, those using free weights outperformed the machine users, showing marked improvement in strength and balance. 3. Carry on. If size is the goal, it’s best to prioritize muscle over miles. That doesn’t mean zero cardio, just a different kind. Think about it: A pro football player doesn’t train the same way as a world-class endurance athlete does. Focus on preserving muscles and burning fat. To accomplish those goals Williams recommends using hills sprints and farmer’s walk as part of a cardio routine. He also suggests sled pushes and pulls, which combine strength training with cardiovascular conditioning. 4. Eat up. Packing on muscle usually calls for the consumption of additional calories, but it’s important to focus on quality over quantity. According to the Department of Medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine, the diet for an athlete or exerciser shouldn’t deviate from that of a healthy individual except in the overall amount of food. By avoiding processed foods, refined sugars and alcohol, and opting for lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, lifters can adequately fuel their body to make gains in the gym. 5. Shut down Finding the exercise sweet spot can be a challenge. Too much exercise will result in overtraining, increased risk of injury and halted progress. On the other hand, too little exercise can make building muscle an uphill battle. It’s the combination of work and rest that will lead to results. Creating a training plan that allows for a day off between workouts is one method Williams recommends for beginners. More experienced lifters may be able to sustain a training plan that includes more workouts each week. But even then, Williams suggests a deloading phase every four to six weeks. This phase includes a reduction in the amount of weight during training sessions. Williams also points out that insufficient sleep can drastically affect performance in the gym and cause a strength training plateau. Stronger Every Day There’s no secret to making muscles grow. Although the process isn’t complicated, it does require commitment and consistency. But by challenging your body on a regular basis and fueling with proper nutrition, results are sure to follow.
  14. What if I told you that you could gain more muscle mass with less training? Or retain more muscle mass with less training? And even gain/retain more strength with less training? The secret is nutrition.   To get you started, here is my list of the top ten foods to help you gain more muscle mass and strength: 1. Lean Beef   This should be a STAPLE of your diet if you want to gain muscle mass. Why? Because it is loaded with all sorts of things conducive to muscle growth. On average, a three-ounce serving of lean beef is only 154 calories, yet it provides ten essential nutrients, including iron, zinc and B-vitamins. More importantly, it provides your body with high quality protein (not all proteins are equal), and a high level of amino acid that works with insulin to promote muscle growth. For those who are trying to lose weight, this should come as great news – a 3 ounce serving of lean beef provides roughly the same amount of protein as 1.5 cups of beans, but at half the calories. 2. Skinless Chicken   Like beef, it is an excellent source of high quality protein, which is important for muscle maintenance and repair, bone health, and weight maintenance. And of course, there are so many ways you can cook and prepare chicken. Go down to the store and you can easily find chicken meat cut into single serving sizes that can be seasoned and quickly cooked. 3. Cottage Cheese   Not many people know this, but cottage cheese constitutes relatively pure casein protein. For those who don’t know, casein protein is a slow-digesting protein, which means it is perfect for muscle maintenance. This is useful especially for guys who have no choice but to go long periods without eating. Not forgetting, cottage cheese is also an excellent source of vitamin B12, calcium, and other important nutrients. My advice: buy the nonfat/low-fat versions. 4. Eggs   Eggs contain high-quality protein, nine essential amino acids, choline, the right kind of fat, and vitamin D. To sum it up, they are the most value for money. And please note, eggs are not harmful for your health, as numerous studies have already shown. 5. Whey Protein There is a reason why whey protein supplements are the most popular supplement in the bodybuilding world: because they provide a fast and convenient source of protein at an affordable price. Bodybuilders normally use them when they wake up, right after their workout, and mixed with some of their meals. However, for those of us non-bodybuilders, simply using it right after our workouts can be very effective for muscle mass gains. Do not rely on it completely though. It’s more important to get high-quality protein from whole foods, and use whey protein as a boost. There’s so much more about whey protein, if you want to find out more, click hereto read a comprehensive article I have written on how to best benefit from it.   6. Tuna and Other Fish   High in protein, low in fat, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The key here is omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential, not only for health reasons, but also because they improve fat loss and ensure the proper function of your body processes, such as your metabolism.   7. Oatmeal   Oatmeal is an ideal source of carbs due to both its low glycemic index (GI) value and the fact it is minimally processed. The benefits of a low GI diet are as follows:   Better micronutrient profile and more fiber Increased satiety Decreased hunger Lower subsequent energy intake (second meal effect) Fat loss   In short, enhanced fat loss for those looking to lose weight, and a constant source of carbs for muscle preservation.   8. Whole Grains   Whole grains digest more efficiently and provide more nutrients than refined grains, and as such promote sustained energy levels and overall health. For instance, brown rice can help boost your growth hormone levels, which are critical for encouraging lean muscle growth, fat loss, and strength gains.   9. Fruits and Vegetables   top 10 foods for muscle gain, eating for muscle gain, muscle gain dietFirstly, fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants, which are essential for the healthy functioning of your immune system. Secondly, they provide tons of other nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Finally, your body requires the fiber these fruits and vegetables provide, which helps to flush out the substances your body does not need.   10. Healthy Fats   I know some of you shudder at the thought of consuming fats, but good fats are essential for muscle growth. In fact, they play an essential role in hormone production (testosterone and growth hormones) that is responsible for muscle growth and strength gains. Your metabolic rate is elevated as well, which helps you shed more fats. In addition, fats are needed for many important maintenance functions. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the good fats. You can find them in salmon, other fishes, nuts, leafy veggies, oils such as flaxseed, avocados, and seeds. They are also all rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  
  15. 1. Jogging (435 Calories Burned Per Hour) Running is one of the top full body workouts out there and the best part is that the only ‘equipment’ you need is a pair of good shoes. Jogging a few kilometers a day will: Boost Your Metabolic Rate Increase Your Fitness Levels & Endurance Help You Shed That Unwanted Body Fat All this will happen faster than you ever thought possible. However, jogging is hard on your knees so it’s always best that you make progress slowly, increasing your speed and distance as your fitness levels increase. 2. Walking (167 Calories Burned Per Hour) If jogging is a bit too intense for you or if you have joint problems, then walking is an excellent solution for you. Easier – There are many studies indicating that walking can be even better for your weight loss than running and it’s certainly safer and easier to get started with. Get social – It’s also a great way to socialize when you get friends to join you on your walk. This way you don’t get bored with your regime and you will have a group of people holding you accountable. 3. Weight Training (363 Calories Burned Per Hour) How would you like to burn calories non-stop for up to 48 hours no matter what you’re doing? That’s the power of this type of training and the effect of after burn. Most people, who just want to lose some pounds, think that they don’t need to worry about going to the gym to lift some weights. This is especially true for women who worry about looking too ‘bulky’. Building muscle is one of the most effective ways to burn fat and the best part is that it continues to burn fat for up to 48 hours after you exercise. Talk about getting the most out of your workout! 4. Cycling (508 Calories Burned Per Hour) No traffic jam – Breezing past traffic as you feel the wind in your hair and burn massive amounts of calories – the benefits of cycling are huge! Motivation – Another great thing about cycling is that it’s a competitive sport so you can use a little competition to motivate you. Simply choose one goal that challenges you but is still within your reach and create a game plan for finishing it. Soon, you won’t feel like you’re exercising anymore! Your competitive spirit will take you through the whole process and help you lose pounds easily. 5. Swimming (653 Calories Burned Per Hour) For a low impact, high results sport look no further than swimming. This seemingly effortless activity burns hundreds of calories, literally, without you breaking a sweat. The many swimming strokes will help you get different types of aerobic exercise and will provide a new challenge to master. Simply swim a few laps around the pool every day and you’ll see a noticeable difference in your fitness level and waistline without any damage to your knees or ankles. 6. Aerobic Exercise (399 Calories Burned Per Hour) Aerobic exercise is a great way to get your heart pumping and shed those stored calories. A simple 20-minute session a few times a week can help you get rid of unwanted weight fast. There are many different types of these workouts on the market with varying degrees of success. However, to make sure that you’re using the most effective program, you’ll need to do a little research. All you need to do is to search around few review websites and ask a few of your close friends about what would they recommend. 7. Dancing (254 Calories Burned Per Hour) If you’re looking for a fun way to tone up and lose weight, why don’t you try dancing? This is an excellent way to raise your heartbeat and the constant challenges along with the changing rhythm & routines will make sure you never get bored. Luckily, there are many different types of dancing activities so you can be sure that you’ll find something that fits your personality and your lifestyle.