Archive for the tag - muscle growth

Shocking But True: Your Body Needs Carbs After Exercising.

You know that it takes protein to build muscles like these - but did you know it takes carbs, too?

Yes, I said the dreaded c-word. I know what you’re thinking: “Carbs are bad! Carbs are terrible! Get that Kool-Aid away from me!” But hear me out.

Many people adhere to low-carb diets to maintain a lean build. And it works. Low-carb diets can be extremely effective. Even so, there is one time when all people need to consume carbohydrates – and that is after a workout.

After a workout, most fitness enthusiasts know they need protein to rebuild and repair their muscles. As such, there’s a full spectrum of quality protein powders available. But marketers are savvy. Realizing the bad rap that carbohydrates get, most of these protein powders pride themselves on being low-carb or carb-free. While this might seem like a great selling point, it flies in the face of science and post-workout research.

When taken after a workout, carbohydrates restore muscle glycogen. And if you don’t eat carbs in your post-workout recovery meal, your body may actually break down muscle for this very same purpose. Uh-oh.

After you finish exercising, your body needs carbs – and it needs them fast. Simple carbohydrates, like the ones you might usually avoid any other time in the day, are absorbed quickest by the body, and thus they’re the ideal candidate. 40 – 70 grams of carbohydrates usually do the trick, which is basically a bottle of Vitamin Water. Nothing too crazy, though some trainers might advise upwards of 120 grams.

Here’s the bottom line: After you exercise, take a protein shake. And, in the likely event that your protein shake doesn’t provide enough carbs, grab a quick sugary drink or even a dextrose supplement. Yes, Davey Wavey just told you to drink a sugary drink. I promise, this is the only time!

The 2-for-2 Rule: How to Know When You Should Increase The Weight.

Building muscles requires increasing resistance. Following the 2-for-2 Rule helps you identify when it's time to up the weight.

We know that progression is necessary to build bigger and stronger muscles. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten; our muscles won’t increase in size or strength unless we push them to do so. And that “pushing” is done through incremental increases in the amount of resistance.

Just yesterday, while exercising with my boyfriend, he asked a common question: When should I increase the amount of weight that I’m lifting? To answer that question, most people expect an answer that’s attached to a time-frame, like “every three weeks” or “every fifth workout.” But that’s not really how it works, and all of our bodies work, adjust and develop differently.

Graves and Baechle created a more practical formula to determine when it’s time to increase the amount of resistance. It’s called the 2-for-2 Rule:

If you can successfully complete two or more repetitions in the last set in two consecutive workouts for any given exercise, then the load should be increased.

For example, I perform 4 sets of 8 reps of dumbbell bicep curls. If I can perform 10 reps on my final set of bicep curls for two weeks in a row, then it’s time to increase the weight. Remember, if you are looking to build muscle, you’ll want to target a low number of repetitions – but you should be fully fatigued on your last rep. The 2-for-2 Rule helps identify when fatigue is no longer happening!

If you are new to working out, you may be able to increase resistance by 5% โ€“ 10%. If you are more advanced, 2% โ€“ 5% may be more appropriate. This usually amounts to 2.5 – 5 pounds for smaller muscle groups and 5 – 10 pounds for larger muscle groups.

So You Want to Make Your Ex Jealous With a Sexy New Body, Eh?

Dear Davey,

I was en route to work this morning and I bumped into my ex. He cheated on me every week for a year and I was dumped over the phone just before Christmas last year.

Anyway, where you come in… Looking at myself in the mirror, I think I have all the makings to have a fantastic body. I want to gain some muscle (but not too much!) and get as close as I can to a body like yours.

I promised myself I would look amazing if I ever bumped into him again and, well I failed. I am now giving myself untill the summer (not expecting miracles but a definite improvement) to look great.

What is the best way for me to gain muscle mass fast… and which exercises will give the best and quickest results?

I cannot bare to feel like I did this morning again. He looked great, and I looked… well, not.

Sincerely,
Man-On-A-Mission

Dear Man-On-A-Mission,

On one hand, I want to tell you that exercising to make another person jealous or envious isn’t a sustainable motivator. And it’s not coming from a place of true power. I want to tell you to spend your energy looking at today and moving forward, rather than looking back an a relationship that lacked fulfillment. I want to tell you that the time you spend in the gym should be an investment in yourself and an improvement to the quality of your life.

But on the other hand, who am I to talk? When I first started working out, my motivations weren’t the purest. I wanted to look like the Abercrombie & Fitch models that I saw at the mall. I wanted a hard stomach and bulging muscles. It was only months (or perhaps even years) into my exercising that I came to appreciate the much larger, non-superficial benefits of an active lifestyle. Today, it is those benefits (like better health, increased energy, improved sleep, etc.) that are my primary motivators. The muscular physique, is still nice, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now that I am done preaching, I’ll tackle your question. Building muscle mass quickly involves lifting free weights (dumbbells and barbells) in the low-rep range (usually 4 – 8 repetitions of each exercise). The weights should be heavy, and your muscles should be completely fatigued on your last repetition. Moreover, you’ll need to push yourself to constantly progress to higher amounts of resistance in order to increase the size of your muscles. Keep your sessions short – generally 45 minutes or less of lifting – and never train a muscle that is still sore from your previous workout (it makes sense to do different muscle groups on different days). Combine your strength training with a moderate amount of cardiovascular exercise.

Squat, barbell bicep curls, dead lifts, chest presses or other exercises that make use of free weights are where you’ll want to spend the bulk of your time. I generally do 4 sets of each exercise, but you’ll get most of the benefits from just one or two sets. So do what works best for your schedule and time commitments.

Know that you’ll need to increase the amount of food you consume, and especially increase your protein intake. Whey protein isolate is the best for muscle growth.

Since it’s the start of a new routine for you, you’ll probably want to limit yourself to 3 or 4 workouts per week. Over time, you can increase that – but don’t overdo it or else you may burnout.

For additional reading and details, check out my 8 tips for gaining muscle fast.

I’d say good luck but it’s really more science than luck!

Love,
Davey

Use Drop Sets to Increase Muscle Size.

The future governor of California says hasta la vista to stubborn muscles.

Bodybuilders love drop sets, and though you might not be competing or the next Mr. Olympia competition, they’re useful if (muscle) size is your thing. Drop sets tear deep into muscle tissue, thus causing explosive growth; use this technique to target muscles that are particularly stubborn.

A drop set is a technique wherein, after completing a set of a given exercise until failure, you drop down the weight and immediately continue the exercise with reduced poundage.

Let’s use the bench press as an example. I could do 10 reps at 220lbs before I hit failure. The 10th repetition would be very hard for me – there’s no way that I could go for an 11th without cheating or dying. My muscles have hit the point of failure for that weight – but not absolute failure. I could do additional repetitions at a lower weight. With drop sets, I’d quickly reduce the weight by 15%-20% – perhaps down to about 180 lbs – and then keep going until failure. I’d repeat this process for a number of sets.

For an extra challenge, workout with a buddy or two and try a “zero rest set.” Stopping and changing the weights takes a bit of time. But with a zero rest set, you have a workout partner quickly switch the weights for you. The difference – even if it’s just a few seconds – is substantial!

Arnold Schwarzenegger, by the way, was a huge fan of drop sets. So, if you’re looking to say “hasta la vista” to small or stubborn muscles, drop sets could just be your new best friend.