Monthly Archives: June 2013

6 Natural Testosterone Boosters That Work

There’s not a man alive who doesn’t wish his testosterone levels were higher—except maybe Justin Bieber. That’s because testosterone is the hormone that’s associated with manliness. It’s one of the main reasons that men have more muscle, greater strength, less fat, and a bigger sex drive than our female counterparts. So when our testosterone levels start to fall, due to age, stress, or just regular, intense training, we need to do everything in our power to pick them back up. These three ingredients can help make a big difference in your testosterone levels.

D-ASPARTIC ACID

This amino acid, also known as D-asparaginic acid, stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone (LH), which travels via the bloodstream to the testicles where it causes a boost in testosterone production. One Italian study reported that healthy men supplementing with D-aspartic acid had a 30% increase in their LH levels.

FENUGREEK

This herb contains high amounts of Furostanolic saponins, which are natural plant chemicals that can boost  testosterone levels. It also enhances performance, as one study reported that men taking fenugreek for eight weeks increased their bench-press and leg-press strength twice as much as those taking a placebo.

DAMIANA

This shrub, also known as Turnera diffusa, is native to Mexico and Central and South America. Research from the University
of Mississippi discovered that Damiana contains the active ingredients pinocembrin and acacetin, which indirectly work to keep testosterone levels high while inhibiting estrogen in the body.

Top 5 Bodybuilding Mistakes for beginners

A lot of people fall in love with the idea of wanting to build muscle. They often start out with good intentions and visualize themselves looking a certain way within a few months. More often than not they get this better image of themselves from the front cover of a magazine. All this fantasizing finally digests in their mind until they decide to hit the weights. Without thinking they haven’t really done any research and marched straight to the gym and started pumping Iron, this is were things start to go wrong. The top 5 bodybuilding mistakes for beginners are:

Lack of commitment
Most people hit the gym thinking its going to be a quick fix and within a month or two they think they will be ready to pose for the front cover of muscle magazine, wrong. I can’t count how many of my friends have talked me into letting them train with me only to stop 5 weeks down the line. This is not only a waste of their time but also a waste of mine. After 5 weeks you should expect your muscles to feel more toned, You will even see a fairly fast increase on how much weight you can lift. But you really wont see any difference in size until 5-6 months down the line. And because it takes so long you wont notice the difference, as it is a slow progression over time. I suggest taking pictures before you start and then every 4 months onwards to compare. realistically give yourself 1 year of committed training.

Overtraining
Most beginners don’t understand that rest is also a big part of building muscle as is lifting the weights. You should generally only workout for about 45-90 minutes and not train the same muscles within 24-48 hours of each other. Its not a requirement to lift weights as often as you can for long periods of time. REST is one of the most important factors in bodybuilding.

Bad diet
Diet again is an important part of building muscle. Your body needs protein and lost of it, try and eat 25-30 grams of protein every 2-3 hrs. You also needs complex carbohydrates, try and eat 5 smaller healthy meals (protein and complex carbs combined) throughout the day so your body as always got enough nutrition rather than eating two to 3 big meals a day which your body cant digest and use all at once. Eating smaller regular meals will avoid excess food being stored as fat and give your muscles plenty of nutrition to repair themselves.

Bad form
Lifting weights incorrectly can also have a negative influence on your bodybuilding ambitions as well as cause sports injuries. If you are targeting a specific muscle always try to isolate that muscle with the weights. Always lift weights in a controlled manner and if you think you are lifting the weights wrong, ask an instructor.

Lifting too much weight
Ok this one also applies to some experienced lifters also. A few years ago down at my local gym I used to get asked by this guy (who reckoned he knew everything about bodybuilding) to spot him. He would pack the bar with as much weight as he could to do about 5 reps. Thing is, I would also have to lift the weight with him. So he ended up doing 1 rep and I helped lift the other 4 reps. He would then take his top of and pose in the mirror for 5 minutes. After 1.5 years of going to the same gym together I noticed he never made any improvement and still lifted the same weight. I also see a lot of beginners walk in the gym and lift more than they can control which also leads to bad form. My advice here is to start of low and build up. Don’t feel stupid because others seem to be lifting a lot more weight than you.

I your new to the sport I hope this helps.

Maximise your Bench Press

The bench press is  one of the Mecca of weight bench exercises. The bench press is generally used by most people as a measurement of how strong you are, although using the bench press as a measurement of total strength isn’t a very good indicator of your overall physical strength. However it is a great exercise that will help build your chest as well as your arms and being able to push alot of weight on a bench is a great way to show off to your friends. Many people do not realize that half of the work is in the technique.

Position yourself correctly
Most people, especially beginners do not know how to position themselves on the weight bench. when resting on the bench line yourself correctly so that your forehead is inline with the center of the bar and your arms are of equal distance apart. this will help you balance the weights once you have lifted them from the rack. once you have the balance sorted each arm will take equal load of the weight thus preventing one arm taking too much weight and failing a few reps short of your full potential.

Use full and precise Movements
There’s nothing more important than form. if you cant lower the bar to your chest at a controlled speed its time to lower the weight until you can. on the push action its both beneficial to push fast and push the weight up slowly so from one week to the next or on different sets fluctuate the speed at which you push the bar up. you will gain no benefit in dropping the weight to your chest (you may however cause an injury).

Breath
Breathing is a big deal, if you stop you will fail to circulate oxygen around your body and muscles, which will decrease the amount of repetitions you can achieve as the lactic acid will build up faster. As you lower the bar breath in. as you push the bar breath out – DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH!

Mix it up
Don’t allow your muscles to get used to any particular weight or set of repetitions whilst Benching. mix it up occasionally by lifting less weight with more repetitions. Also have a session at least once a month were you try and lift as much weight as possible, even if you only achieve one rep. if you put your body through un-normal stressful situations it will respond better.

Partner up
there’s nothing more encouraging than a training partner. a training partner will give you more focus and will help push you that little bit further. You can also cheat on the last few reps with the assistance of a training partner and they can also be there for safety to help you if you struggle to rack the weights or drop them.

Rest and Relaxation
Do not bench press every time you see a weight bench. Your Muscle’s need to rest every time they have been through a stressful exercise (recommended amount of rest is 24hrs). if you don’t rest, your muscles will never get the chance to repair themselves which will result in a sports injury which could put a stop to your bench press action altogether.

Portion of protein every three hours is best for muscle building

Bodybuilders and other athletes who do weight training a couple of times a week build up muscle best if they take a portion of protein every three hours during the day. Dividing the portions in this way works better than taking protein every hour and a half or every six hours. Researchers at Nestle write about it in Nutrition & Metabolism.

Nutritionists need no convincing: strength athletes make faster progress if they consume more protein. There’s less known however about the effect of different sorts of protein and the effects of the intervals at which the protein is ingested. Daniel Moore, a nutritionist at the Nestle Research Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland and at the University of Guelph in Canada, is interested in the latter subject.

Moore performed experiments with 24 young men, all of whom did strength training 4-6 times a week. He got them to train their legs on a leg extension machine in his laboratory early in the morning before breakfast. After warming up with 5 sets at 60-70 percent of their 1RM, the men then performed 4 sets of 10 reps at 80 percent of their 1RM.

In the 12 hours following the training the men were given 80 g whey isolate. The BOLUS group were given 2 portions of 40 g whey – so one portion every six hours.

Another group, the INT group, were given a 20-g portion of whey every three hours, so they had four portions spread over the 12-hour period.

Yet another group, the PULSE group, were given a 10-g portion of whey isolate every one and a half hours. So in the 12-hour period the PULSE group were given eight portions of protein.

The synthesis of proteins in the leg muscle was higher the more the subjects spread out their protein intake. The same was true though for the breakdown of muscle protein too. In the end it was the athletes who had ingested a portion of protein every three hours who built up a little more muscle protein than the athletes in the other groups.

 

Eating too fast messes up your insulin balance

The faster you eat, the more difficult it is for the hormone insulin to do its work in your body. That means that fewer nutrients reach your muscles, and probably that more get deposited in your fat reserves. In the long term this leads to a much higher chance of developing diabetes type-2.

We’ve extracted these words of wisdom from a small epidemiological study published recently by endocrinologists at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences in Clinical Nutrition. The researchers collected data on 234 people who had recently been diagnosed as having diabetes type-2. They compared these data with data on 468 people who did not have diabetes.

One of the questions the researchers asked the participants was about the speed with which they generally ate their meals. If they compared themselves with other people at the same table, did they eat faster? Or at the same speed? Or more slowly?

The researchers discovered that the fast eaters were twice as likely to have diabetes type-2 than the slow eaters. The researchers corrected for factors such as genetic predisposition, BMI, waist measurement, education, smoking, the amount of triglycerides in the blood and physical exercise. Click on the table for a complete version.

Previous studies have already shown that fast eaters are more often overweight than slow eaters. [Prev Med. 1996 Sep-Oct; 25(5): 593-600.] [J Epidemiol. 2006 May; 16(3): 117-24.]

If you eat fast, you eat more; if you eat slowly, you eat less. [J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jul; 108(7): 1186-91.] That’s probably because the digestive system produces all sorts of appetite supressing hormones while we are eating. [J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jan; 95(1): 333-7.] Production of these hormones is slower in fast eaters. Apparently these hormones also ensure that the insulin hormone can do its work.

Beta-Alanine works better if you take it with meals

Athletes will benefit more and faster from a beta-alanine supplement [structural formula shown here, above] if they take the amino acid during meals. Sports scientists at Ghent University in Belgium discovered that taking the supplement during a meal leads to a faster increase in carnosine [structural formula shown here, below] concentration in the muscles than when it’s taken between meals.

The dipeptide carnosine neutralises the acids that are formed in the muscles during intensive physical exercise. The more carnosine there is in your muscle cells, the longer you can continue your exertions for. And that’s interesting for athletes.

The body makes carnosine by attaching the amino acids histidine and beta-alanine to each other. The body has an ample supply of histidine, but not of beta-alanine. That’s why beta-alanine supplementation is a good strategy for jacking up the carnosine levels in the muscle cells.

Muscle cells absorb creatine and L-carnitine better if you ingest them with food. After a meal, the concentrations of glucose, insulin and amino acids in the blood all rise. Your muscle cells absorb the substances and activate anabolic processes. If this helps the uptake of creatine and L-carnitine, is the same true for beta-alanine? That’s the question the Belgians set out to answer with their human study.

For a period of 46 days the researchers gave three groups of test subjects 3.2 mg beta-alanine every day. One group took their beta-alanine on four occasions throughout the day, between meals [PBA]. Another took their beta-alanine on three occasions at mealtimes throughout the day [PBA+Meal]. A third group used a slow release supplement containing beta-alanine, and took it 30 minutes before a meal.

Before the supplementation started and at the end of the experimental period, the researchers measured the concentration of carnosine in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the test subjects. Taking the beta-alanine during mealtimes led to a greater increase in the carnosine concentrations in the muscle. When the subjects took their beta-alanine between meals, the amount of carnosine in their muscles rose by 40 percent. When they took the amino acid during meals, the amount of carnosine rose by 57 percent.

The uptake of the slow release version of beta-alanine taken half an hour before a meal was the same as when ordinary beta-alanine was taken during the meal. The meaning of this in practical terms escapes us, but it’s nice to know.

Fish protects heart against stress

People who eat fish a couple of times a week have fewer heart attacks than people who never eat fish. Researchers at the Japanese National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Kodaira may have discovered how fish protects the heart and blood vessels. They believe that eating fish protects the heart muscle from the effects of stress.

Fish protects heart against stress

Stress raises the likelihood of contracting cardiovascular disease and eating fish reduces it. This is probably because of the fatty acids found in fish: EPA [structural formula shown here] and DHA. If you give people supplements containing fish fatty acids for longer than 12 weeks their heart rate goes down [Circulation. 2005 Sep 27; 112(13): 1945-52.] and the likelihood of them developing cardiovascular problems as well. That’s why the Japanese wondered whether these two factors – stress and fish consumption – could cancel out each other’s effect on the heart muscle.

The researchers did an experiment with 12 students who ate more than 70 g fish four times a week, and 13 students who ate less than 70 g fish not more than twice a week. The subjects had to keep subtracting 13 starting from 5000 [5000 – 4987 – 4974 etc.] and the researchers told them whether their answers were correct or not. At the same time the subjects’ heart functioning was monitored.

The researchers discovered that a high-fish diet had no effect on how difficult or unpleasant the subjects found the test. So the amount of mental stress was the same in both groups.

Among the group that ate large amounts of fish, the systolic blood pressure [pressuring during the heart beat; SBP], the average blood pressure [MBP] and the diastolic blood pressure [pressure between two heart beats; DBP] rose by less than among the subjects that ate little fish. The heart rate increased less in the fish eaters than in the other group.

The pulse wave velocity [an indicator of the stiffness of the blood vessels; PWV] also rose less than in the low fish eating group.

Fish protects heart against stress

The Japanese conclude that a diet rich in fish normalises the heart muscle under conditions of stress. They note, however, that the fish eaters’ diet differed from that of the other group in a number of ways. “A group difference in fish-eating habit was a salient feature, but such a dietary pattern was accompanied by modulation in other food categories, including a higher intake amount of fruits, algae, and vegetables.”

Nevertheless, the Japanese maintain that it’s the fish that is responsible for the cardiovascular stress protective effect. “These findings suggest a possible physiological mechanism that may explain why frequent fish consumption reduces coronary heart disease risk”, they write.

 

15 grams of whey before strength training, and 15 grams afterwards

Athletes build up more muscle mass and strength if they ingest 15 g whey before a strength training session and another 15 g after they’ve finished. Researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland discovered that the stimulatory effect of whey at molecular level has nothing to do with myostatin inhibition, but everything to do with activation of the growth enzyme cdk2.

Scores of studies show that strength training is more effective when combined with extra protein, for example in the form of whey. That’s logical, as trained muscles need extra amino acids for recovery and growth. The Finns were curious as to whether they could demonstrate the effect of extra proteins at the molecular level.

Strength training reduces the production of the muscle-inhibiting protein myostatin, and the Finns speculated that ingesting whey proteins close to a workout might further suppress the production of myostatin.

The researchers got ten males in their twenties to do nothing for a period of 21 weeks [Control]. Another group of ten young men did strength training twice a week during the same period. The researchers got the men to do a basic exercise programme with leg-presses, leg-extensions, leg-curls, leg-adductions, leg-abductions, calf-raises, plus basic exercises for the abdominal muscles, lower back, chest, shoulders, upper back and upper arms. The group were given a placebo during the workout [Placebo].

A third group of eleven young men followed the same regime, but were given a shake containing 15 g whey [Protein] immediately before and after the strength training session.

Using MRI technology the Finns showed that after 21 weeks the men in the Protein group had built up bulkier muscles than the men in the Placebo group. The figure below shows that the increase in the circumference of the quadriceps vastus lateralis was faster in the men that were given whey before and after their strength training sessions.

The whey supplementation also resulted in an increase in static and dynamic strength.

The whey supplementation did not lead to a further decrease in myostatin production, however. It seemed that the whey supplementation actually reduced the decrease. So the added value of whey supplementation during strength training has nothing to do with myostatin, but has something to do with the cell-cycle kinase cycline-dependent kinase 2 [cdk2]. This is a protein that plays a key role in the life cycle of cells. Cdk2 is involved in the growth of young cells.

“The increase in cdk2 gene expression suggests a higher proliferating cell activation response with protein supplementation that can be advantageous for muscle hypertrophy”, the Finns write.