By: Douglas Scott
People are ALWAYS asking me how to gain muscle, as fast as possible.
I guess athletes and weekend warriors alike are fixated on building those muscles up just as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation out there that it may seem complicated. However, sticking to tried and true principles can make the process of building muscle size and strength quite simple. Follow these five steps to refine your workout plan and start getting bigger and stronger today.
Step 1: Get Stronger on Basic Exercises
If your goal is to build muscle in record time, then you need to get stronger. Physiologically speaking, as a muscle gets stronger (produces more force), the cross sectional area grows larger (i.e., it hypertrophies). Your workout plan should include basic exercises that address all the muscles of the body, such as Shrugs, Deadlifts, Leg Presses, Chest Presses, Chin-Ups and Dips.
Step 2: Repetition Reproduction
The foundation of every successful workout plan is repetition. This is when the muscle comes in contact with resistance, causing it to grow in size and strength. Perform each repetition in a controlled fashion. Remember, each rep has two phases—the positive phase (lifting the weight) and the negative phase(lowering the weight)—and both are important. Focus on each, especially the lowering phase. Bouncing or jerky movements reduce muscular tension and therefore slow strength gains.
Step 3: Year-Long Progression
Muscles are amazing at adapting to the stress of exercise. Once you are able to complete an exercise with a given resistance for a certain number of repetitions, your body has adapted and you should increase the weight. However, too many young athletes overestimate the weight they can lift today and underestimate the weight they can lift a year from now. For example, if you're a freshman in high school who is able to bench 150 pounds for 10 reps, it might be tempting to increase the weight to 160 pounds in your next session to force-feed muscle growth. Avoid this and look long term. Instead of rushing things, aim to add a larger amount of weight, say 50 pounds, but do so over the course of the entire school year. This may not sound like much, but think of where you will be in four years: 150x10 as a freshman, 200x10 as a sophomore, 250x10 as a junior and 300x10 as a senior. Small increases in weight can lead to big increases in size and strength if you are consistent.
Step 4: Focus on Sleep and Recovery
You do not get stronger and build muscle when you work out. The actual growth occurs while you are recovering between sessions. If your goal is to gain strength and build muscle fast, limit strength training to two to three times each week and make sure you are getting quality sleep every night. Numerous sleep studies suggest that lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep hampers the body's ability to build muscle. Sleeping at least eight hours a night promotes protein synthesis and lean muscle gains.
Step 5: Eat Healthy Foods
The body needs fuel to build muscle. That fuel comes from food. Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. Pay attention to lean cuts of protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. If your goal is to gain lean body weight, increase your food intake, but remember that you can't force-feed growth, and you may start to store excess body fat.
Developing a stronger and more powerful physique is not as complicated as many make it out to be. If you can commit to following these steps for a sustained period, you will be pleasantly surprised by how big and strong you become.
NOW... GO AND BE A VIKING!
By Marie Spano
What started for one purpose (to give thanks) inevitably turned all (or mostly) about food. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy this Thanksgiving.All holidays are great but you have to love Thanksgiving. You can wake up and run a 10K road race, get home in time to watch most of the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade, sit around and watch football and drink beer while other people cook and then stuff your face since you burned off several hundred calories in the morning.
Then the next day when your alarm rings at 4 a.m. you may find yourself immediately turning it off and rolling over in your food-stupor and going back to sleep until 11 a.m. - well after the Black Friday sale items have been snatched up by eager beavers (or the insane as I call them).
FOR SOME COUNTRIES DINNERTIME IS ABOUT SHARING WITH FAMILY AND ENJOYING COMPANY.
Thanksgiving seems to create a state of food anxiety among many people across the U.S. What started for one purpose (to give thanks) inevitably turned all (or mostly) about food. Not that this is terribly surprising given our food-obsessed nation. For some countries dinnertime is about sharing with family and enjoying company.
Here, it's about how fast you can put food on the table and eat so you can get on to the next task (and yes I am eating a meal, or something that resembles a meal, as I type this article). Next thing you know you ate more than you should have, found yourself snacking later and a few weeks from now your clothes don't fit quite right.
TIPS FOR THANKSGIVING
So back to Thanksgiving - the holiday of all holidays that is centered around food and physique-unfriendly drinks. As you approach this day, what do you need to know? First of all, take the focus off of food and the notion of "good" food and "bad" food. Once you put a mental tag on a certain food as being "forbidden" you are setting yourself up to binge on it.
Food isn't "good" or "bad" the way a small child is depending on the day and what you catch them doing. Yet I seem to run into people all the time who like to educate me on what is "good" and "bad". French fries? "I never eat those, they are awful," an obese woman once told me.
Veggie chips? "Horrible! Those are the worst thing a child should eat!" several school nutrition employees once told me (all had one or more obesity related chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome etc.). "You are going to get high blood pressure!" my uncle has lamented after seeing me salt my food (of course he blames his hypertension on salt and not his obese abdominal area, i.e. fat gut).
Most people I know with a forbidden food list half as long as my nephew's Christmas list are overweight or obese. Why? They lecture anyone around them about what to eat and not eat, "diet" while others are around and then binge on those foods behind closed doors. So, if you don't want to look like them, skip the forbidden foods.
Don't treat Thanksgiving as an all-you-can-eat buffet. I don't remember the concept of buffets growing up. But I've found the South is loaded with them. People pay one small price and go in and stuff themselves on cheap-quality fat-laden food like they are eating their last meal.
There's nothing like a huge meal to prompt a heart attack or bout of acute pancreatitis. Please, do 911 workers a favor and don't put yourself in a predicament where you'll need their services. Here's a reality check: there is nothing that you will eat on Thanksgiving Day that you can't eat any other day in this country.
Pumpkin Pie? Check the freezer section of your local grocery store. Cobbler? Same place. Stuffing - rice/pasta isle. Seriously, food is everywhere and this isn't the last time (hopefully) you are going to eat whatever is served this day so get the idea of gorging out of your mind. I guarantee you'll only feel like garbage later if you overeat.
Don't diet during the day. If you eat very little all day you will overeat by the time Thanksgiving dinner is served. The idea of "saving" your calories for later doesn't work. Eat like you normally would so the desire to stuff yourself doesn't overwhelm you.
A FEW MORE TIPS
If you are watching your calorie and fat intake (and yes, this can be done even on Thanksgiving), fill up on salad or steamed veggies before digging into the casseroles and pies. Bring a veggie platter to the feast and snack on this while watching TV.
Beware of the side dishes. The majority of calories and fat come from the side dishes and desserts on Thanksgiving, not the main course (turkey). Even deep-fried turkey (if cooked at a high temperature - above 350 F , the entire time the turkey is cooking) without the skin, isn't that fattening. Casseroles and mixed dishes though? Expect those to help you pack on the pounds.
THE MAJORITY OF CALORIES AND FAT COME FROM THE SIDE DISHES AND DESSERTS ON THANKSGIVING, NOT THE MAIN COURSE, TURKEY.
Eat slowly and stop when you are full - novel concept, I know. Chew on this - do you really need another helping of squash casserole or pecan pie? The experience of eating it lasts a brief period of time. The weight you may add to your waistline usually lasts for weeks or years for some people. So, savor the flavors, textures and smells of the food on your plate.
Drink water or lower calorie beverages throughout the day. If you are drinking alcoholic beverages, alternate them with water, tea, Crystal Light or vitaminwater (B vitamins + tasty hydration).
Skip the seconds or go outside and throw a football after your first course. By the time you go in for seconds they'll be gone.
CHOOSING THANKSGIVING FOODS
If you really feel the need to eat a lot of food, take a look at the information below and at least be cognizant of how your favorite dishes stack up. Choose dishes with fewer calories and fat and eat those first.
If you stuff yourself with healthier options you'll have less room (I hope) for less healthy options.
Have a great Thanksgiving and keep these tips in mind. This holiday should be about the 3 Fs: family, friends and football. Keep your focus on the real purpose and truly enjoy the food you are eating and you won't start 2009 fighting with gym members over the allotted time on the cardio equipment.
By Kris Gunnars, BSc
There are many ways to lose a lot of weight fast.
However, most of them will make you hungry and unsatisfied.
If you don’t have iron willpower, then hunger will cause you to give up on these plans quickly.
The plan outlined here will:
1. Cut Back on Sugars and StarchesThe most important part is to cut back on sugars and starches (carbs).
These are the foods that stimulate secretion of insulin the most. If you didn’t know already, insulin is the main fat storage hormone in the body.
When insulin goes down, fat has an easier time getting out of the fat stores and the body starts burning fats instead of carbs.
Another benefit of lowering insulin is that your kidneys shed excess sodium and water out of your body, which reduces bloat and unnecessary water weight (1, 2).
It is not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds (sometimes more) in the first week of eating this way, both body fat and water weight.
This is a graph from a study comparing low-carb and low-fat diets in overweight/obese women (3).
The low-carb group is eating until fullness, while the low-fat group is calorie restricted and hungry.
Cut the carbs, lower your insulin and you will start to eat less calories automatically and without hunger (4).
Put simply, lowering your insulin puts fat loss on “autopilot.”
AdvertisementBottom Line: Removing sugars and starches (carbs) from your diet will lower your insulin levels, kill your appetite and make you lose weight without hunger.
2. Eat Protein, Fat and VegetablesEach one of your meals should include a protein source, a fat source and low-carb vegetables. Constructing your meals in this way will automatically bring your carb intake into the recommended range of 20-50 grams per day.
This has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day (5, 6, 7).
High protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce desire for late-night snacking by half, and make you so full that you automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day… just by adding protein to your diet (8, 9).
When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients. Period.
A diet based on meat and vegetables contains all the fiber, vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. There is no physiological need for grains in the diet.
Don’t be afraid of eating fat, trying to do both low-carb AND low-fat at the same time is a recipe for failure. It will make you feel miserable and abandon the plan.
The best cooking fat to use is coconut oil. It is rich in fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are more fulfilling than others and can boost metabolism slightly (10, 11).
There is no reason to fear these natural fats, new studies show that saturated fatdoesn’t raise your heart disease risk at all (12, 13).
To see how you can assemble your meals, check out this low carb meal plan and this list of low carb recipes.
Bottom Line: Assemble each meal out of a protein source, a fat source and a low-carb vegetable. This will put you into the 20-50 gram carb range and drastically lower your insulin levels.
3. Lift Weights 3 Times Per Week
You don’t need to exercise to lose weight on this plan, but it is recommended.
The best option is to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Do a warm up, lift weights, then stretch.
If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice.
By lifting weights, you will burn a few calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight (14, 15).
Studies on low-carb diets show that you can even gain a bit of muscle while losing significant amounts of body fat (16).
If lifting weights is not an option for you, then doing some easier cardio workouts like running, jogging, swimming or walking will suffice.
Bottom Line: It is best to do some sort of resistance training like weight lifting. If that is not an option, cardio workouts work too.
Optional – Do a “Carb Re-feed” Once Per Week
You can take one day “off” per week where you eat more carbs. Many people prefer Saturday.
It is important to try to stick to healthier carb sources like oats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits, etc.
But only this one higher carb day, if you start doing it more often than once per week then you’re not going to see much success on this plan.
If you must have a cheat meal and eat something unhealthy, then do it on this day.
Be aware that cheat meals or carb refeeds are NOT necessary, but they can up-regulate some fat burning hormones like leptin and thyroid hormones (17, 18).
You will gain some weight during your re-feed day, but most of it will be water weightand you will lose it again in the next 1-2 days.
Bottom Line: Having one day of the week where you eat more carbs is perfectly acceptable, although not necessary.
What About Calories and Portion Control?
It is NOT necessary to count calories as long as you keep the carbs very low and stick to protein, fat and low-carb vegetables.
However, if you really want to, then use this calculator.
Enter your details, then pick the number from either the “Lose Weight” or the “Lose Weight Fast” section – depending on how fast you want to lose.
There are many great tools you can use to track the amount of calories you are eating. Here is a list of 5 calorie counters that are free and easy to use.
The main goal is to keep carbs under 20-50 grams per day and get the rest of your calories from protein and fat.
Bottom Line: It is not necessary to count calories to lose weight on this plan. It is most important to strictly keep your carbs in the 20-50 gram range.
10 Weight Loss Tips to Make Things Easier (and Faster)Here are 10 more tips to lose weight even faster:
Bottom Line: It is most important to stick to the three rules, but there are a few other things you can do to speed things up.
How Fast You Will Lose (and Other Benefits)
You can expect to lose 5-10 pounds of weight (sometimes more) in the first week, then consistent weight loss after that.
I can personally lose 3-4 lbs per week for a few weeks when I do this strictly.
If you’re new to dieting, then things will probably happen quickly. The more weight you have to lose, the faster you will lose it.
For the first few days, you might feel a bit strange. Your body has been burning carbs for all these years, it can take time for it to get used to burning fat instead.
It is called the “low carb flu” and is usually over within a few days. For me it takes 3. Adding some sodium to your diet can help with this, such as dissolving a bouillon cube in a cup of hot water and drinking it.
After that, most people report feeling very good, positive and energetic. At this point you will officially have become a “fat burning beast.”
Despite the decades of anti-fat hysteria, the low-carb diet also improves your health in many other ways:
You Don’t Need to Starve Yourself to Lose WeightIf you have a medical condition then talk to your doctor before making changes because this plan can reduce your need for medication.
By reducing carbs and lowering insulin levels, you change the hormonal environment and make your body and brain “want” to lose weight.
This leads to drastically reduced appetite and hunger, eliminating the main reason that most people fail with conventional weight loss methods.
This is proven to make you lose about 2-3 times as much weight as a typical low-fat, calorie restricted diet (46, 47, 48).
Another great benefit for the impatient folks is that the initial drop in water weight can lead to a big difference on the scale as early as the next morning.
Here are a few examples of low-carb meals that are simple, delicious and can be prepared in under 10 minutes: 7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in 10 Minutes or Less.
On this plan, you can eat good food until fullness and still lose a ton of fat. Welcome to paradise.
How to Reach Your Goals! -Experts describe strategies for setting goals and making sure you achieve them.
By Carol Sorgen
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
WebMD Feature Archive
We all have goals. What are yours? To lose 20 pounds? Get in shape? Buy a new house? Make more money? Having a goal is the easy part. Reaching it? Well, that's something else entirely. If you're frustrated because you feel like you keep coming up short when it comes to realizing your dreams, maybe it's time to try a different approach.
When setting a goal, ask yourself first of all if your goals are realistic and if you are really ready to make the changes in your life necessary to reach those goals.
"Most people don't take into consideration whether they're ready to do what it takes to achieve their goals," says Steven Rosenberg, PhD. Rosenberg is a behavior therapist, the team psychotherapist for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team, and author of I Hope the Hell I WIN! Turning Hope into Reality…How Winners Win! If you're going through a stressful time at work, for example, this may not be the best time to start a weight loss program; maybe you'd do better to wait a few months and start on, say, your birthday.
Be realistic as well, says Rosenberg. You can't lose 40 pounds in two weeks, or even a month. Set an achievable objective, such as 1 to 2 pounds a week; by the end of the year, you will have lost the 40 pounds.
Goals that get reached are those that are firm, well-defined, and to which the individual is truly and completely committed," says Susan Schachterle, director of the Denver-based Ahimsa Group, which provides consulting and coaching services to individuals and organizations worldwide. "Without that commitment, trying to reach goals is like grabbing Jell-O -- you think maybe you have it, but there's really nothing to hang on to."
Schachterle suggests that you check your commitment. Ask yourself why you want to achieve that particular goal. What will that do for you? Why is it important? What will your life be like when you have reached it? How will achieving your goal change things for you?
"If you're having trouble making a strong commitment," says Schachterle, "make sure it's the right goal and the right time for you."
The Art of Saying 'No'
Another reason many people don't reach their goals is that they just can't say no -- to everyone else. "Many of us, especially women, put other things and people first," says Susan Newman, PhD, a social psychologist at Rutgers University and author of The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It-and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever. We're unable to refuse when asked for our time, our talent, our expertise, or merely our presence.
"Saying yes is a habit we're not even aware of," says Newman. "Think 'no' before you think 'yes' (not the other way around). By adding the word 'no' to your vocabulary, you open up vistas of time, not only to work toward a goal but also to think about how to reach it," Newman says. "In short, you put boundaries in place and establish priorities in the correct order [for you]."
If you haven't mastered the art of saying "no" and you think that's derailing your efforts to reach your goals, Newman suggests taking these steps:
There are two tricks to properly setting your goals, says University of Alabama at Birmingham clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, PhD. Klapow is co-author of Stop Telling Me What-Tell Me How: The Simple Answer to Better Health.
First, turn goals into specific behaviors, says Klapow. "To say that you are going to exercise doesn't tell you which exercise to do, for how long and how frequently. If you don't know what to do, you are less likely to do the behavior. Be specific. Saying that you plan to walk five minutes a day -- and increase the time by one minute each week until you are walking 30 minutes per day -- is better than just saying that you plan to exercise."
Klapow's second tip is to make sure you are successful at reaching your goals right from the start. "Resolutions need to be things you can actually do," he says. "This is important because you are more likely to repeat the behaviors in which you are successful. Set short- and long-term target goals and make the short-term goals easy to reach."
At this time of year, when many of us are making New Year's resolutions, Klapow reminds us that resolutions are basically a set of new behaviors. Because the behaviors are new, and not learned habits, we have a tendency to slip back into our old behavior patterns.
"The best way to keep track of what you are doing every day," says Klapow, "is to get a calendar and write down every time you perform your new habit. Don't leave it up to your mind because your mind can play tricks on you. Three days without performing your new habit is your sign that you may be slipping."
The Benefits of Intuition
Using your intuition can also help you reach your goals, says Lynn A. Robinson, MEd, author of Real Prosperity: Using the Power of Intuition to Create Financial and Spiritual Abundance. Robinson offers three tips for achieving a specific goal:
The Benefits of Intuition continued...
Getting your friends and family involved can also help you reach your goals, says Sandra Beckwith, leader of "Finding the Courage to Change" workshops. "You need someone who will reject your usual excuses -- 'I can't afford it,' 'I don't know how,' etc. -- and help you see that there's a way around every obstacle," says Beckwith. "He or she can brainstorm with you. … This allows you to see a situation from a different perspective, through fresh eyes."
Actually seeing your goal written down can also help you keep it in the forefront of your mind, adds Newman. "Tape reminders all over the house so your goal will always be in front of you -- literally."
Visualization and mindfulness (including approaches such as meditation and hypnosis) are also ways to help you achieve your goals. Mindfulness trainer Maya Talisman Frost explains that goal-setting is only one aspect of getting what you want. "It's the intention that gets us where we want to go," says Frost.
Goals tend to be arbitrary and number-oriented, says Frost, such as the number of pounds lost, amount of money earned, number of hours spent in the gym, and so on. Intentions, on the other hand, are "big-picture" statements about what fulfills you.
Yes, your goal is to lose 20 pounds in six months, but what's your intention? How about, "I feel strong, healthy, fit, confident, attractive, and sexy," says Frost. "The number on the scale isn't what matters most -- it's how you feel each day."
Positive thinking is often more effective than negative thinking when it comes to changing health behaviors. For example, people quit smokingmore readily when the positive aspects of health are emphasized, rather than the negative side.
"Intentions allow us to picture ourselves -- and how we'll feel -- when we are successful," says Frost. "There's no room for failure in the picture. We focus on the positive and powerful feelings we'll have."
Picturing SuccessThe most effective way to change our beliefs is to create a mental story of success, Frost says. We need to picture ourselves as we want to be, and we need to talk about it. Her basic formula: See it. Say it. Hear it.
After years of fighting the "Battle of the Bulge" I finally focused on my goals and desires so that I could win my fight for fitness. Now as a 54 year old father, competitive bodybuilder, personal trainer, and a business owner I'm here to help you to do it too!