Archive for the tag - muscle

Exercises for Bigger Arms: Davey Wavey and Phil Fusco.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed male model Phil Fusco about his workout routine. Today, I’m excited to share a video that we made together while visiting New York City. In it, Phil and I share some of our favorite arm exercises.

And trust me, it was almost more hotness than I was able to handle. I think I’m still sweating. Take a look!

Why Did My Muscles Stop Growing?

Hey Davey,

I’ve been following your advice for about a year to build my muscles. For the first 8 or 9 months, I had a lot of success and my muscles increased in size pretty dramatically. I haven’t changed my workout strategy and I’m still eating what I’ve always eaten. So what gives?

From,
Ryan

This is a common problem – and the solution is surprisingly simple.

Of course, all of this assumes that your workout plan is designed around muscle growth and that it will include low reps of heavy weights and constant progressive overloading. Since you were able to see muscle gains for so many months, it seems likely that your workout strategy is very effective. Good job!

The culprit is most likely your diet – and here’s why.

To build muscle, you must have a calorie surplus. Without the extra calories, your body won’t have the fuel to build your increased muscle mass. As such, it’s generally recommended that individuals who are looking to build muscle through their workouts consume a surplus of 250 – 500 calories per day. In other words, if your daily calorie requirement is 2,500 calories for maintenance, then you’d want to eat at least 2,750 calories for muscle growth.

But as your body becomes more muscular, you burn more calories each day. With added muscle, your calorie requirement increases. And so while 2,750 calories may have been sufficient a year ago, it’s no longer resulting in the required calorie surplus. And without the surplus, your body won’t build muscle. This is why you were able to see muscle gains for many months, but then things tapered off – even though nothing in your workout strategy or diet plan changed.

To solve this issue, simply increase your daily calorie intake by another 250 calories. It’s basically one extra snack per day. As simple a fix as it is, it’s the number one reason why muscles stop growing.

Is It Okay to Run with Sore Legs?

Dear Davey,

I’ve started a new lower body workout, and it leaves me sore for a few days thereafter. I know you’re not suppose to strength train muscles that are still sore, but is it okay to run with sore legs?

From,
Matthew

Well, there are a few points that need to be made here.

First, there are two types of soreness. There’s delayed onset muscle soreness (called DOMS) which occurs 12-48 hours after you complete your workout. It’s normal to experience DOMS – especially when you start a new workout regimen.

The other, less-desirable type of soreness occurs immediately and is often asymmetrical (i.e., it occurs only in one leg or one hamstring), and it’s most-often injury related. If your soreness is injury related, then you need to avoid using the injured muscle until you’ve recovered.

If you’re experiencing a low-level of DOMS in your legs, it may be okay to do some cardiovascular training. Ensure that you do a warm-up and proper stretch before engaging in your cardio. If the soreness or discomfort increases during your cardio, then you should stop immediately – as the increased pain may be indicative of an injury.

Keep in mind that DOMS typically fades within a month or two of a new routine, so you probably won’t be dealing with issue long-term. As you become more accustomed to your routine, the soreness will dissipate in subsequent workouts. And remember: Soreness isn’t required for muscle growth.

The bottom line: If you’re experiencing a slight amount of DOMS, then it’s okay to engage in cardio so long as it doesn’t exacerbate the soreness. If your soreness is injury related, avoid cardio until you’ve healed.

When it Comes to Fitness: Don’t Cut Corners.

I heard a great fitness quote today:

If you start cutting corners, you’ll end up going in circles.

A few weeks ago, we talked about how you can use an occasional cheat rep to break through a workout plateau. Used sparingly, cheat reps should only be employed to make an exercise harder – not easier.

Cutting corners, on the other hand, makes your workout less intense and, ultimately, less effective. For example, you might ease up on that last sprint interval. Or perform 6 repetitions of an exercise instead of 8. You might even skip a muscle group and leave the gym early. Indeed, cutting corners is easy to do.

We tell ourselves it won’t matter if we take it easy… just this once. And it’s true. The impact of any one workout is negligible. The problem is that it sets a bad precedent – and that when we lower the bar for ourselves, we put ourselves on a downward trajectory of reduced standards and reduced results.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at muscle mass. Muscle requires a tremendous amount of energy to maintain. Your body, by default, is programmed to be efficient with its energy expenditures, and so it won’t maintain or build unnecessary muscle mass. If you want to build additional muscle, you need to demonstrate to your body that your current muscle mass is insufficient for the tasks at hand. This is accomplished not by cutting corners, but rather by pushing yourself beyond your current limitations.

If you want to transform your body or your performance, you have to give it all that you’ve got. Literally. Push yourself. Push yourself. Push yourself.

When is the Best Time to Take Protein Supplements?

Last week, I wrote about the best type of protein to take before going to sleep for the night. After posting the article, I received a number of emails from exercise enthusiasts who didn’t realize the importance of consuming protein before bed. With that in mind, today’s post will cover the four times (including before bed) when protein consumption is most often recommended.

Obviously, protein requirements vary greatly from person to person. So, first things first, it’s important to calculate your daily protein requirements. For some people with high protein diets or lower protein needs, protein supplementation in the form of powders and shakes may be less important. For others, it can be crucial for success.

1. First Thing in the Morning

When you wake up, your body is in a catabolic state and hasn’t received proper nutrition for a good eight hours. It needs protein, and it needs protein quickly. I usually opt for a whey protein shake because the protein is absorbed quickly by the body. Just like brushing my teeth and flossing, protein consumption is part of my morning routine.

2. Before Your Workout

Some trainers recommend protein consumption 30 minutes before exercise. This will set up your “anabolic window” to help repair and rebuild the damage done during lifting. Again, a fast-acting whey protein works well here.

3. After Your Workout

After exercise is the most important time to consume protein. If you only take one protein supplement a day, this is the time to take it. Research has shown that sooner is better, so you may even want to take your protein powder or shake to the gym. Whey protein, due to its fast absorption, is the best choice.

4. Before Bed

Because your body will essentially be fasting during sleep, it’s important to consume a protein that’s slow to absorb. Before going to bed, I recommend casein protein because it takes 5 – 8 hours to fully breakdown.

Obviously, protein supplements are really just that – they supplement the protein that we get through a proper diet. The extent to which you’ll need to supplement depends on your fitness regime and diet, so just use this advice as a general guideline.

And, keep in mind that more protein isn’t always better! Too much protein can result in weight gain, kidney problems and even heart disease. So don’t overdo it!

Answered: Which Muscle Building Theory Works Best?

Hey Davey,

I’ve started working out this year at college, but before I do I did what a good college kid does and researched what the best way to gain or define muscle is, and I found two different theories.

The first theory is that you need to go all or nothing, meaning you have to lift as much weight as you can for as long as you can, and each time you work out you add extra weight to it.

The second one is working out with any weights, at least an amount that has resistance, to the point of muscle exhaustion.

I wanted to know your take on these two theories and which you follow by or would advise others to follow.

Thanks!
Kevin

Hey Kevin,

The short answer is that it depends on your goals.

The first theory that you mentioned is more in line with gaining muscle mass. If you want to add bulk, perform exercises with large amounts of resistance (i.e., heavy weights) until you reach muscle failure. To make increases in size and strength, you’ll want to aim for 7 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. You’ll want to be fully fatigued on your last repetition – and, if you’re not, increase the resistance. In order to continue adding bulk, you’ll need to work with greater amounts of resistance (i.e., move to heavier weights) over time. This process is called progressive overload.

The second theory that you mentioned is more in line with endurance training. Endurance training is useful for athletes and individuals looking for sustained strength over longer periods of time rather than adding bulk. You’d user lighter weights and aim for 12 – 15 repetitions of each exercise set.

I hope this helps!

Love,
Davey

Ask Davey Wavey your fitness or nutrition questions!

Twink Wanting to be a Stud.

Hey Davey,

I am 6’1 and 140 pounds. I can’t gain weight.

I’ve been working out forever and have even worked with a trainer for a month. While doing that, I got to 145 pounds in about 2 to 3 weeks, but I couldn’t really afford it. I feel like if I were bigger, I would have a better chance at asking out the bigger guys that I like so much. I would even be able to wear shorts for once.

Maybe I just need to appreciate what God gave me. What do you think?

From,
Alfred

Hey Alfred,

I’m going to give you a healthy dose of tough love.

First of all, you can gain weight. In fact, you did. While working with a trainer, you gained five pounds in just 2 – 3 weeks. At that rate, you could be 190 pounds in six months. You do have the ability to put on extra pounds – and, if you consume more calories than you burn, you certainly will.

Continue to follow the routine prescribed by your trainer. It likely included lots of strength training exercises to build muscles – and a few short sessions of heart-healthy cardio. Moreover, it probably meant eating – a lot.

If you’re a very thin guy, you might not end up looking like the hulk – but you certainly can put some meat on your bones.

As for asking out the bigger guys to which you’re attracted, exercise does build confidence. But reality check; if a guy is only going to give you a chance because of your muscles, then he’s probably not the man for you. If you want a stronger, more muscular build, then do it for you – not for some potential suitor.

I will also say this: What’s very attractive to everyone – including those bigger guys you like – is confidence. Even as you work to transform your body, I’d recommend owning what you’ve got. Put on those short shorts and flaunt what the good Lord gave you. Few things are sexier than a man who is comfortable in his own skin. You’ll drive men wild.

Love,
Davey

Tight Underwear Prevent Muscle Growth?

Hi Davey,

There are a lot of people that say that tight underwear lowers our sperm count and testosterone levels, thereby preventing muscle gain. Is it true?

From,
Frank

Hey Frank,

I’m so glad you asked this question!

First things first, it’s common knowledge that testosterone aids in muscle growth. The more testosterone you have, the more muscle you’re likely to build through your training. And, of course, this has been proven time and time again through the use of anabolic steroids, which – though dangerous – mimic testosterone and result in muscle growth.

If you do a Google search, you’ll see countless websites warning of the link between tight underwear and reduced testosterone and sperm counts. But rarely do they cite any research to back up their claims. I’m interested in science – not rumors.

These rumors note that the testes hang from the body for a reason; they need to be cooler to function properly. By wearing tight underwear, we hold the testes close to the body – thus, potentially raising the internal testicular temperature and decreasing functionality.

Not surprisingly, researchers have studied the link. In fact, back in 1998, Munkelwitz and Gilbert from the University of New York published a study about underwear and fertility titled, “Are Boxer Shorts Really Better?” After studying a number of volunteers, the researchers concluded that there is “no difference in scrotal temperature depending on underwear type” and that it was “unlikely that underwear type has a significant effect on male fertility.” Since testosterone influences sperm count, the research suggests that its levels aren’t influenced by tight underwear. Since then, other studies have come to similar conclusions.

Reduced testosterone levels can be caused by any number of conditions or circumstances, including:

  • Testicular damage
  • Post-puberty mumps
  • Radiation or chemotherapy
  • Testicular tumors
  • HIV/AIDs and other viral infections
  • Genetic conditions

Whether you’re in favor of boxers or briefs, know that it won’t affect your testosterone levels or your ability to build muscle. What you eat and how you work out, on the other hand, will greatly impact your results.

Love,
Davey Wavey

10 Skinny Guy Muscle Building Tips

Dear Davey,

I am one of those guys who is very thin and eats whatever his heart desires and I will not gain a pound. I do not expect to ever be “jacked” but I would like to be fit and filled out. With that being said, do you have any work out tips for people with a build and metabolism like myself?

From,
Max

Dear Max,

So you’re one of those people. I’m sure your metabolism is the envy for anyone reading this that is trying to lose some weight. You probably won’t get much sympathy here. But there are a few things that you should know!

First, nutrition is still important. Even though you can eat whatever you want without increasing your waistline, it doesn’t mean that unhealthy food options are any better for your body. I remember reading about autopsies being done on young American soldiers who had died in Iraq. Their veins looked like they belonged in 60-year-old cardiac arrest patients. In other words, nourish your body with healthy choices.

Second, it’s important to be realistic. If your nickname is “String Bean,” or “Tommy the Twink,” then you probably don’t have the genes to look like the Hulk. All of us are given different body types, and so it’s important to create expectations within the boundaries of what is possible. Instead of comparing ourselves to other people at the gym (who have a totally different set of genes) compare yourself to… yourself. You certainly can add bulk, but it will be to a different degree. It will be bulky for you, and that’s what matters.

Beyond paying special attention to your nutrition and being realistic, the recommendations for building bulk are the same for you as anyone else. You’ll need to:

  1. Lift weights. If you want to get creative, try P90X for a serious workout.
  2. Target a low number of repetitions (4-8 or 10 at most).
  3. Be fully fatigued on your last rep.
  4. Keep pushing yourself to progress to heavier levels of resistance or weights.
  5. Fuel your body with enough calories.
  6. Consume the right amount of protein.
  7. Don’t overtrain – get rest!
  8. Continue with moderate cardio. Don’t worry, it won’t burn off your muscle.

So the truth is, with a little effort and dedication, you’ll certainly be able to add some muscle to your frame. You might not look like Popeye, but you will see some fantastic results.

Hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

Ask Davey: Am I Too Young to Lift Weights?

Hey Davey,

I’ve been working out for about a month now, and have been losing quite a bit of weight, mostly inspired by you and the blog. I’m 17, and my parents keep going on about strength training and how I’m too young to do any strength training, but they can’t seem to tell me why its bad for someone of my age. I’ve been doing a bit anyway, with fairly light weights, but I’d like to go onto bigger ones. Is there any truth to being to young? If so, when can I start?

From,
Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

If you put yourself in your parents’ shoes, it’s easy to understand their concern. They probably want to know your motivations. They may worry that you are insecure with your appearance. Or that you are being picked on at school. Or even that you’re giving in to peer pressure. From their perspective, they may be concerned about an underlying problem, and so it’s best for you to be open and honest about why you’re interested in lifting weights. Communicate with your parents.

Moreover, like most people, your parents probably don’t fully understand strength training or any possible risks.

The truth is, strength training is perfectly healthy for young people, and it provides a number of great benefits such as:

  • Increased strength
  • Improved endurance
  • Faster metabolism
  • Promotes healthy body weight
  • Stronger bones
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Healthier cholesterol levels and blood pressure

Much of the concern about weight lifting in younger populations surrounds the myth that strength training stunts growth. The myth is rooted in some truth: If proper form isn’t maintained and/or the youth is engaged in excessive lifting, growth plates could be damaged. To ensure safer lifting, pay special attention to your form and don’t overly exert yourself.

Strength training is safe for young people, even much younger than yourself. And it’s certainly much safer than almost any other sport that your high school might offer. But you don’t have to take my word for it: The Mayo Clinic, The National Strength and Conditioning Association and American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend strength training in children for the above reasons.

It’s always wise to consult a physician, whether you’re an adult or child, before starting a new fitness routine. And with younger populations, supervision is recommended and heavy bodybuilding or power-lifting should generally be avoided until certain developmental criteria are met.

Hope that helps!

Love,
Davey