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Seven Nutrition Muscle Building Mistakes

For most guys building muscle seems impossible. I understand. I’ve been there.

As a 103lb pipsqueak, I tried it all. Show 14-year old Eric a flashy label promising “big gainz” and I’d give it whirl. As it pertains to nutrition and supplementation it’s impossible to know what works and what’s bullshit.

Should you be bulking and cutting?

How about Paleo? Intermittent Fasting?

Low carb…right? I heard carbs make you fat.

It becomes more difficult when you’re trying to build a lean, athletic physique without tons of body fat. Most guys try everything and remain in a constant “bulking cycle,” only to wind up fat, confused, and defeated. You don’t want to be a massive blob that can’t move off the platform.

I get it.

You want a body that projects confidence, athleticism, and health. That’s where I come in. Instead of reading (and trying) every new diet method you need to relax. Sit back. Now breath. There’s no perfect diet. Stop making it so damn complicated and make sure these nutritional mistakes aren’t preventing muscle growth.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”- Dr. Seuss

  1. You Don’t eat enough food

Every skinny dude in the history of skinny dudes says “ I eat a lot,” but still can’t gain muscle. I’ve done it too.

Here’s the hard truth: If you’re not building lean muscle then you aren’t eating enough. Obvious right? Well, it’s still the biggest problem for most dudes. It’s not easy, but without excess calories, you won’t gain muscle. muscle building mistakes

Start with these caloric calculations to gain lean muscle.

Bodyweight in pounds x 18-22

Ex.) 155 lbs x 18-22 =2790-3410 calories per day.

For 2790 calories:

Protein: 25%= 697 calories/ 4 cal/g= 175 g Protein

Fat: 25% = 697 calories/ 9 cal/g= 77.5 g Fat

carbohydrates: 50%= 1395 calories/4cal/g= 348 g Carbs

Tinker with these percentages slightly, but the bottom line remains the same: you need to eat a serious amount of food. Anything less than 2790 calories per day for this person won’t result in muscle gain. Hate counting calories? More on that later, but start consuming Super Shakes on top of your regular diet, they’re a game changer. Instead of struggling to eat more drink your calories with a high-quality protein, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats in a shake on top of your current diet.

  1. You don’t know how to cook

I often hear guys complain about the cost of eating healthy and building muscle on a budget. These are the same dudes who tell me they ate Quiznos four times this week. What gives? For the same cost of a sandwich or burrito at your favorite lunch spot you can buy two pounds of chicken at your local grocery store. If you don’t know how to cook you’ll never develop the body you want. You need to be able to cook. Learning  3-5 awesome meals should be a prerequisite to your adulthood.

Bottom Line: You need to be able to cook. You’ll make healthier choices, save cash, and impress your next date.

Check out these awesome resources:

  1. Paleo’s Keeping You Skinny

A high fat Paleo diet is great for general public and those looking to maximize fat loss. If everyone ate a cleaner Paleo diet we’d have a lot less obesity and sick people. Problem is, with the limited food selection and all around “cleaner” food options it’s harder to consume the calories needed for muscle growth. Always staying low-calorie and low-carb will keep you lean, but it’s a huge muscle-building mistake. If you’re eating Paleo and not seeing gains its time to let loose and expand your food repertoire to gain lean muscle.

  1. You’re fasting too long

Intermittent fasting has risen to the forefront of nutrition from guys like Martin Berkhan and books like Engineering The Alpha. I’m a big fan of fasting, it works great for people trying to lose weight. Problem is, for guys trying to build muscle it’s hard enough to get a caloric surplus in 24 hours, let alone eight. Taking 12-16 hours off from food and then attempting to horde 3000+ calories in 8 hours is too steep a task for scrawny guys. There are awesome benefits for fat loss and digestive health to fasting, but it’s not ideal for gaining lean muscle mass. If you prefer this style of eating shorten your fasting window to no longer than 10-12 hours or only fast on non-workout days.

  1. You Suffer from carb phobia

Low carb diets are great for the sedentary couch-dweller looking to lose fat. However, when you’re looking to build muscle staying “low-carb” sucks. Too few carbs is one of the biggest nutritional muscle building mistakes possible. muscle building mistakes

Here’s why: Muscle tissue glucose uptake is stimulated by insulin, which triggers the migration of glucose and amino acids to muscle cells. This promotes protein synthesis, which is kinda important. Muscle contractions increase the facilitated diffusion of glucose into muscle cells more, promoting greater insulin sensitivity. Simply, when glucose is present in the blood the blood the body uses it as energy over stored fuel – an ideal recipe for building muscle mass. Yes, your body synthesizes glucose from other substrates through gluconeogenesis, but this process takes time and potentially breaks down amino acids for fuel.

Since your muscle-building workouts have all-out bouts of activity like sprints, jumps, throws, and heavy lifting then you’ll need readily available carbs rather than breaking down muscle for energy. If you think you’re getting pudgy by eating a banana before your train look at rest of your diet, there’s something else wrong. Carbs fuel high-performance.

  1. You rely on Bodybuilding Supplements

Most Supplements are Flat out a waste of money. Sketchy “cutting” of supplements with fillers occurs to the detriment of your wallet and health. (Read Protein Pixie Dust by Bryan Krahn) That said, supplements that aid your health will also you help you build lean muscle.

Proteins are the building blocks for muscle and muscle repair. Besides their muscle-building properties, proteins manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components. Bottom line: Protein is essential for numerous bodily functions besides muscle growth.

  • Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is the most researched dietary supplement in exercise science. Creatine is proven to increase strength, power, muscle, and endurance with high-intensity exercise. Although creatine is in the diet from red meat, supplementation increases saturation to increase force production of the muscles. It’s important to stick with creatine monohydrate. Leave the fancy marketing aside, creatine monohydrate is the most researched and effective variation of creatine available.

To learn more about Creatine click here: Creatine: Cutting to the Chase

  • Greens Supplement

Most guys struggle to get enough fruits and veggies in their body. With a high protein diet, it’s important to have a balance between acids and bases. Get your greens. Bonus: Some Greens supplements also contain vitamins and minerals to replace a multi-vitamin. Check mineral levels to avoid over consumption.

On day’s I’m not eating fatty fish like salmon I’ll take an Omega-3 supplement. Research on Omega 3 supplementation has shown improved nervous system function, cardiovascular function, immune function, and insulin sensitivity. As a starting point take 2-3 grams daily to notice the benefits of fish oil, split up between meals throughout the day.

Bonus:When shopping for a fish oil supplement look for each gram 1 soft gel in pill form) to contain 500 mg out of 1000 mg of DHA and EPA. I recommend 500 as the number to look for, but these products are more expensive. When the levels are below 500 mg they’re pumping the product full of fillers.

7a.You haven’t tried Carb cycling

If you’re looking shred fat, build muscle, and improve your health then carb cycling is your answer. Problem is, most make it so inconvenient that they only last a few days.  I’m a realist: I know you’re too busy to track down every damn detail. Here’s my simple chart:

Workout? Difficulty Starchy Carbs
No X Avoid em’
Yes I almost died As many as possible
Yes Solid Workout 1-2 meals with starchy carbs
Yes I took it easy 1 meal post-workout with carbs

Carb cycling doesn’t need to be complicated. Focus on healthy food options, base your carb intake off of your activity level, and reap the rewards of nutrient timing.

7b. You don’t track calories, ever.

Tracking calories sucks. I hate it. Labels are often wrong, it’s time-consuming, and a pain in the ass. I like to keep things simple with my clients rather than have them worry about every detail.

Still, without any tracking you’re limiting your lean muscle gains. Rather than track everything take a few days per month to see where you’re at. Guys who build muscle eat the same foods and meals pretty consistently, so you’ll be able to re-use the calories.  If you track periodically it will keep you on-point with portion sizes and give a realistic view of what you need to eat.

Nutrition Muscle Building Mistakes Wrap Up

Rather than crying yourself into a corner about you need to take action. The solution is often more simple than your question: eat more. Pick any strategy below and follow it for the next two weeks. From that point, move on and adopt another habit. Soon, you’ll be avoiding these muscle building mistakes and build new, swolltastic habits.

  • Eat. More. Food.
  • Drink a supershake daily.
  • If you fast, shorten it to 8-12 hours
  • Occasionally track your food.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Dirty up your Paleo.
  • Supplements are only a small part of the picture, focus on food and health first.
  • Maximize insulin sensitivity with carb cycling.

 

Want to simplify muscle building with done for you workouts and muscle building meal plans?
Head here.

 

Citations:

Berardi, J. , and Ryan Andrews. “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.” 2nd. Toronto : Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 115. Print.

Berardi, J. , and Ryan Andrews. “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.” 2nd. Toronto : Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 358-361. Print.

Amino acid catabolism” by Mikael HäggströmOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Seven Laws of Building Athletic Muscle

I almost quit.

Twice.

I failed as an athlete trying to build athletic muscle and as a college meathead trying to re-establish some semblance of athleticism. I wasn’t’ happy with my porous results and I wouldn’t be happy unless I had the best of both worlds—being athletic and muscular. Not one, not the other, but both. What’s the point in being a muscle bound sluggish Ogre or lacking confidence?

There’s more to building athletic muscle than deadlifts and lifting weights. Instead of being ripe with dysfunction and scrawny you must ditch the old school “body-part splits,” “insanity workouts,” and “ the Westside or Die” mentality. There’s no perfect recipe.

Forget these tools, they’re only a method of training. What’s needed are sound principles to make real change and get things done. Your body should exude confidence in your abilities and perform in the world, not just the platform. These seven things will build explosiveness, lean muscle, shred body fat, and boost your confidence.

sprints, building athletic muscle
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rethwill/8752384617/

1.)  Movement is a Must

The most common tip to become a better athlete is “get stronger.” This is important, but sports are more about movement than being strong. An over-emphasis on building strength is as dangerous as minimizing it. Without a base of movement it doesn’t matter how strong you are, inefficiencies in movement will hold back your high performance training. Sports occur with jumps, throws, sprints, cuts, hops, and reactive movement, not barbells and dumbbells.

Besides, sprints keep your fast twitch muscles firing on all cylinders and maintain explosiveness as you age. Perform jumps and throws before workouts. Sprint and do change of direction drills two or three times per week to keep you athletic and lean.

2.) Build a base of strength

There are multiple types of strength, but we’re focusing on absolute and relative strength.

Relative Strength is the amount of strength relative to body size. This reflects a person’s ability to control or move their body through space. All else being equal, smaller individuals have higher relative strength.

Absolute Strength is the maximum amount of force exerted regardless of muscle or body size. Greater amounts of absolute strength favor those with higher bodyweight and in general, larger individuals.

Building a base of strength improves relative strength (when size is in check) and improves your ability to generate force.

building athletic muscle
Building Athletic muscle require heavy lifting

Why this matters:

You want a body that performs as well as it looks. Both absolute strength and relative strength are needed for high-performance gains. Greater relative strength can be driven up by greater absolute strength and tested through activities that require moving the body through space—jumps, chin-ups, sprints, and bodyweight movements in sport.

Plus, you’ll increase nervous system activation, leading too:

1.  Increases muscle fiber recruitment: the number of muscle fibers being recruited.

2.  Increases speed of rate coding: the speed at which the body sends electrical signals to the muscles.

These both lead to greater adaptation and improvements in workout performance and help you build lean muscle. Build your strength base, it improves your ability to build lean muscle, strength, boosts your endurance, and shreds body fat.

3.) Progressive overload

I hate to break it to you, but squats, cleans, presses, pulls and lunges are still the best for building lean muscle and strength. Too maximize these exercises you must progressively overload the body. That means add weight, decrease rest, and increase training volume. Push your body beyond its abilities or you won’t grow. Get comfortable being uncomfortable or get left behind.

4.) Keep Isolation Isolated

By isolation exercises I’m referring to the typical bodybuilder exercises: lateral raises, biceps curls, and the like. Except for a few exercises at the end of your workouts these isolation exercises are inefficient and a waste of time. They’re a piece of the puzzle for building muscle, but everything has its place. With a limited amount of time to train you’re better off building strength and explosiveness. Get strong, and then worry about isolation, as it’s needed. For others use isolation as it’s needed to prevent injury and improve movement. Here I’m referring to your rotator cuff exercises, activation exercises in your hips and trunk and the like. Make them a piece of the puzzle, but not the main focus of your workouts.

5.) Pride, Passion, and Perseverance.

“Pride, passion, and perseverance.”

“Pride, passion, and perseverance.”

I remember my High-School Football coach preaching these terms over, and over, and over again. I used to think he was full of shit, but he’s right. These three terms are vital to your success on and off the field.

Pride to put your best foot forward and pursue your goals no matter the circumstances. Passion to be relentless and put in the time when no-one is working. Perseverance to push through plateaus and struggles that will occur. Attacking training with pride, passion, and perseverance is imperative to building athletic muscle.

“Knowing” what to do is great, but it won’t get you results. Put in the work!

6.) Exercise Risk/Reward

Everything is a tool and requires a risk-reward analysis.

building athletic muscle
Sorry, this won’t help you unless you’re training for the circus

The behind-the-neck overhead press is a great muscle builder, but creates shoulder impingement and dysfunction in lots of individuals. Is the trade-off worth it?

No. Each exercise is a tool, not the end-all-be-all. There are dozens of exercises to train the same muscles, pick a better option.

7.) De-loading Exercise

Train all you want, but without an emphasis on recovery you’ll end up beat up, weak, and un-athletic.

Training hard is rarely the missing piece for progress. That title goes to recovery, the vital component that most athletes neglect. Intense exercise causes tons of stress: joint & ligament stress, muscular damage, neural fatigue, and hormone disruption are all factors that must be taken into account and is highly individualized to each athlete. Beginners may be able to go for months without backing down; however, advancing athletes require individually specialized programs to maximize training gains. De-load, do recovery workouts, use soft-tissue therapies and contrast showers for better recovery.

Building Athletic Muscle Wrap Up

There’s more to building muscle and being athletic than your strength numbers. Get off the platform and into the world. You have to move, move well, and move often in a variety of ways. You have a finite amount of resources for training; pick exercises wisely, train hard, and be persistent. There you have it. These principles are key for building athletic muscle without turning you into a bloated ball of fail.

 

About:Eric Bach, CSCS, PN1 is a strength coach at Steadman Hawkins Sports Performance in Denver, Colorado. As an author Eric has been featured in publications such as T-Nation, eliteFTS, and the PTDC. He is the owner of Bach Performance where he coaches clients to take control of their lives, helping them become stronger, shredded, and more athletic. Get your Free Ebook 101 Tips to Jacked and Shredded Here.Athletic Muscle Building

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/bachperformance/
TWITTER: twitter.com/Eric_Bach

P.S.

If you want all of this programmed into a workout to finally build the body you desire join Bach Performance Online Coaching today. I’ve got a ton of projects coming an awesome things for you coming up, so stay tuned and join the Bach Performance community for exclusive offers and updates.

Join us now at Bach Performance.com 

Have a tip to add? Drop the Comment Here, I’d love to see it!

 

photo credit: oscarandtara via photopin cc

Complex Pair Training: PAP Explained

I’m officially half of a Complex Pair– married, tan, and still awful at Spanish…which didn’t work out well with the taxi drivers in Mexico. All in all I was in Mexico and Minneapolis for the better part of two weeks getting married and honeymooning. Everything was great as I used the time to enjoy time with my wife, refresh my mind, and rest my body with cheese-cake, push-ups, and cervezas.

Note: (As a result, I felt like a ball of fail and was kindly greeted by double leg cramps during squats today.)

complex pair, pap, Complex Pair training

Fitness is an industry…

filled with trends and troughs. Some fancy-pants method pops into the limelight and becomes THE magical way to rapid results and then magically disappears overnight. Only the time-tried and best methods last long-term.

Case in point, Complex pair training.

Also known as Post Activation Potentiation (P.A.P.), complex pair training is an advanced method that utilizes a light, explosive movement (i.e. speed: Jumping) paired with a heavy movement ( heavy squat, >80% 1-RM) to increase nervous system activation, strength, and total power.

Sounds pretty badass, right? It is, but it’s also very advanced; requiring planning and some beastmode skills to maximize it.

post-activation potentiation, PAP, complex pairs, Complex Pair training
Still some power in those hops!

Today I’m sharing my own spectacular iteration on complex pair training on Elitefts. For advanced athletes complex training provides a great recipe to shatter plateaus in athletic, strength, and muscular development. Plus, there’s a bomb-diggity complex pair workout program included.

Complex Pair Training: What you need to know:

  1. Post-Activation Potentiation is the driving force behind the benefits of complex pair training.
  2. Complex-pair training can improve power and rate of force development (RFD).
  3. Complex training works best in trained, advanced level athletes. Unless you can move a decent amount of weight, this isn’t for you. If this is you, then stop watching Miley Cyrus twerkin’ it, go pick up heavy stuff, and raid the fridge.
  4. Adding five pounds to the bar each workout might work when you’re a rookie, but not once you’ve advanced as a trainee.

Long-term gains aren’t achieved solely by linear workouts. Soon, your linear periodization and small to medium T-shirts no longer get the job done.

You’ve hit the dreaded plateau…

Luckily, there are numerous strategies to bust through your current levels of strength, power, and muscular development. The time has come to add strategically designed training to stimulate new gains.

Enter complex-pair training—an advanced training strategy to add spring to your static training, produce new slabs of muscle, and develop a powerful physique.

This advanced strategy combines a high-intensity strength training exercise followed by an explosive exercise that mimics the biomechanics of the strength training exercise, such as a deadlift and a broad jump. The driving force behind complex training is a phenomenon known as post-activation potentiation.

 

What Is Post-Activation Potentiation? Click me and Find out 🙂

How To Squat Big Weight

[Piece Written for Natural Power and Muscle Magazine, download your free copy here]

” Drive through the earth.”

“Make the plates jump.”

“Accelerate as fast as possible.”

“Explode all the way up.”

You’ve heard the cues to squat big weight, but what do they actually mean? More importantly, will they teach you how to squat big weight

For a big squat you need to be strong AND explosive-– one without the other leaves much to be desired in the rack and on the playing field. 

Problem is training both is complicated. You need to develop speed, speed-strength, power and maximum strength qualities to reach your potential and keep your chicken legged’ squat off the safety racks. Don’t worry, it’s not as complex as it sounds, at least not after you read this. Miss out on these methods and you’ll be stuck in mediocrity; however, if you work hard you’ll explode through plateaus and finally learn how to squat big weight.

 Force Velocity Curve

What?

Graphs? 

Don’t worry, it’s not your eleventh grade math class. The force velocity curve is a hyperbolic graph that shows the relationship between force and velocity, an inverse relationship between weight (force) and the velocity (speed) that you lift the weight. The heavier the weight the slower movement (absolute strength);conversely, the lighter the weight the faster the speed (speed) of the movement. These qualities make up opposite sides of the spectrum, with speed-strength, strength-speed, and power making up the middle of the curve. force velocity curve for squats, How to Squat Big weight, speed squat, big squat,  How to squat big weights Photo Credit: elitefts.com

To squat big weight  multiple qualities must be trained to minimize weak points and optimize the nervous system to fire all on cylinders. If either end of the curve is neglected performance will suffer. You can’t train solely maximum strength if you want to be your strongest and you can’t train solely “speed” to be explosive.

Qualities on the Force-Velocity Curve

Maximum Strength: Here’s the heavy lifting, generally 85%+ maximum effort for multiple sets of 1-5 five reps to build maximum strength. Going heavy is vital to developing a big squat, but avoid shitting a kidney and missing reps. Missing reps overtaxes your nervous system, leaves you weaker, and wrecks your confidence. Hit reps the you know you’ll make and yourself for the occasional max-out attempts.

Strength-Speed, Speed-strength and Power: Speed-strength and strength-speed are synonymous with power: They both produce a super-high power output compared with their longer duration, lower velocity counterpart maximum strength. Compare a tractor trailer and a Ferrari— It’s great to have a ton of horsepower, but for high-performance it’s best to generate horsepower rapidly.

Power= Work/Time

In this case explosive barbell exercises are best using loads between 30%-85% for multiple low-rep sets is best. (Baechle & Earle, 2008). Maximum power is achieved through moving moderate loads at high velocity with loads of 40-60% 1-rm. For a big squat speed squats are ideal for power development, technique practice, and increased work capacity. Brace hard, use a rapid, yet controlled descent and explode out of the hole.

With lower resistances speed-strength is addressed with an emphasis on velocity of movement against a small load. This could be a sled sprint with 10% bodyweight, light jump-squats, or single leg plyometric.

Speed: Pure velocity is the key and exercises like un-weighted box jumps, broad jumps and  sprint work. If a big squat is your focus then jumps are the best option because they match the mechanical movement of the squat and have minimal risk compared to sprints.

Your best choices are broad jumps, vertical jumps, and box jumps to increase your rate of force development and explode through stick points.

[Side Note: If you’re an athlete that requires speed for on-field dominance there needs to be a premium placed on it. In this case intense movement skills like acceleration and top end speed should be the first priority in your training, not lifting maximal weight.]

Squat Pattern Velocity Movements:

For developing a strong, explosive squat the intensities on the force velocity curve must be trained. Not every quality must be trained in each training session, but all need to be addressed. Squatting twice per week allows you to do just that with one heavy and one speed session. Separate these sessions by at least 48-72 hours for full recovery.

Here are the best exercises for the squat pattern in the Force-Velocity Continuum: It’s simple– contrary to what Tracy Anderson says,  if you lift foo-foo weights your body won’t surpass it’s minimal essential strain. The SAID principle states that specific adaptations occur based on the imposed demands.  You must train each quality of the strength curve to minimize imbalances and develop balanced strength, power, and speed.

Speed: Box Jump, vertical jump, broad jump

Speed-Strength: Dumbbell or Vertimax jump squat

Strength-Speed: Speed Squats with 40-75%

Maximum Strength: Squat singles at 85-95%+

Targeting the squat pattern with multiple sessions per week while addressing force-velocity spectrum leads to greater gains in power, strength, and explosiveness.

The Workout

[Download Natural Power and Muscle Magazine for the workout and articles from Nate Miyaki, Eric Prush, Tony Bonvechio,and JC Deen

Day 1: Speed-Strength+ Maximum Strength

Dynamic Movement and (optional) movement skills

1a. DB Jump Squat 3×5

1b. Plank 3×45 sec

2a. Heavy Squat 5×2-3 @ 85-95%

2b. lateral band march x8

3a. Bulgarian Split Squat 3×8-10

3b. Palloff Press 3×12

4. Sled March/ Prowler Push

Day 2: Upper Body Push/Pull

squat big weight, how to squat big weight

Day 3: Strength-Speed + Speed

Dynamic Movement and (optional) movement skills

1a.Broad Jump 3×5

1b. Side Plank 3×30 sec.

2a. Speed Squat 5×3-5 @40-75%

2b. Fire Hydrant x8

3a. Barbell RDL 4×8-10

3b. BW Glute Bridge 4×12

4. DB Walking Lunge 2-3×8-12

Day 4: Upper Body Push/Pull

Wrap Up

It’s not typical for most to squat more than once per week, but neither is being strong, shredded, and athletic.

At some point you’ll plateau and gains stop getting results so easily. When it happens it’s frustrating and leaves you searching the “interwebz” for answers. This plan teaches you how to squat big weight– with multiple sessions, fluctuating intensity, and training multiple qualities to achieve rapid gains in explosive strength and power.

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Busy Man’s Carb Cycling: The Uber Convenient Way to Shred Fat and Build Muscle.

Carb cycling is the planned manipluation of carbohydrate intake. On workout days you’ll have more carbs and calories to repair your body and build lean muscle.

On non-workout days carbs are kept lower. Because you wont increase insulin sensitivity after a workout, eating fewer carbs and pushing yoru body into a slight calorie deficit can increase fat burning.

When done correctly and consistently, carb cycling works with the ebbs and flows of your schedule, allowing you to train hard, build muscle, and lose fat.

Carb cycling is an advanced strategy that can do wonders for preventing fat loss plateaus and maximizing insulin sensitivity.   

 Picture This: It’s early fall and Saturday around noon. College football season has arrived. You’re at your local alumni sports bar with your buddies. Everyone’s ordering, microbrews, nachos, chicken wings, and fries..food galore, a gluttonous paradise.

Carb Cycling

 

The waitress makes her way to you, what do you do?

The decision shouldn’t be whether you can crush a few nachos and beer with your friends, it should be “ did I earn my carbs today?”

Luckily, you crushed front squats and obliterated your legs. You order the double bacon bison burger, fries, a side salad, and a Hercules Double IPA.

Now, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, but you’ve earned the right to splurge. That’s one of the beauties of carb cycling–the freedom to enjoy some of your delicious, higher carb, and sometimes less healthy options with less damage to your diet.

The key to this high effective strategy? Insulin.

Insulin and Carb Cycling

Insulin is an extremely anabolic hormone that can help you lose fat and build muscle if manipulated correctly. Too little and you’re doomed to flat muscles, poor recovery, and pre-shrinking your affliction t-shirts to look jacked. Too much and you’ll resemble the Michelin Man and suffer from myriad health problems.
 
Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas that plays a major role in metabolism and regulates nutrient entry into your cells. When insulin is seldom elevated (like long-term low carb diets) you won’t gain much muscle. Conversely, a higher carb intake when your body is more sensitive to insulin such as the hours after a workout triggers rapid tissue repair, protein synthesis, and muscle growth.
On the flip side when your body is not sensitive to carbs, such as non-training days and being excessively overweight, spending your afternoons at the pasta buffet will lead to carbs behind stored as body fat. As you can see insulin is a double edged sword. Through proper timing and fluctuations, carb cycling empowers you to control insulin and strip off body fat and build lean muscle faster. 

Carb Cycling Made Easy

Carb cycling is as easy as it sounds. Cycle carbohydrates on weight training days (high carb) and non-workout/cardio days (low carb). Rather than giving you a plethora of calculations and impractical menus we’ll simplify the process. 

Lifting heavy and with high training volume? It’s a high carb day. 

Due to the repeated muscle contractions during resistance training, your body will have an increased insulin sensitivity. With this increased response to carbs your body will drive nutrients into your muscle cells, aiding them in repair, growing them, and providing you with more energy. 

On lifting days you’ll be consuming fruits and starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and oats) as your carbohydrate sources. If you’re trying to build muscle without living in the gym like we teach in our Minimalist Muscle course, eat carbs during all meals and during your workouts.

If you gain fat easily or have shorter, less intense workouts like a 30-minute bicep blaster, use moderate starches. This would mean carbs during your workout and with your first meal post-workout.

Taking a day off or hitting a low volume workout? Keep the carbs low.

On non-lifting days keep carbohydrates low because there isn’t the same increase in insulin sensitivity. Carbs consumed when your body is less sensitive may lead to additional fat gain. Let’s minimize that, shall we? By minimizing carbs a few days per week your body becomes more receptive to insulin. This means on the days you do consume carbs, your body becomes hypersensitive and shuttles carbs towards building muscle rather than being stored as fat.  

If you hit a light workout or interval session get your carbs from fruits or veggies throughout the day. It’s fine to keep carbs during your workout or in the meal after, but keep them lower overall. 

Lifting? Carb up and support your muscle-building workouts. More volume in the gym means more carbs. 

Intervals or taking the day off? Avoid most starchy carbs, improve insulin sensitivity, and burn more body fat.  

 

Sample Workout Schedule and Carb Intake

Monday: Lower Body Training (high volume) /High Carb

Tuesday: Upper Body Focus (low volume) /Moderate Carb

Wednesday: Off Or Sprint Work

Thursday: Upper Body Focus(high volume) /High Carb

Friday: Lower Body Focus/High Carb

Saturday: Upper Body Focus/High Carb

Sunday: Off Or Sprint Work

Low Carb Day

Breakfast: 4 egg scramble, 1/2 tomato, 1/4 avocado

Snack (Optional): Handful nuts and carrots

Lunch: Mediterranean salad w/cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, chicken, feta cheese w/balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Workout: One banana with protein shake

Dinner: Sirloin steak, broccoli, and a small salad. Optional: One sweet potato

High Carb Day

Breakfast: 3 egg scramble with spinach, 1 cup oatmeal with blueberries

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop vanilla protein, 1 cup berries, 1/2 cup cottage cheese

Lunch: Sandwich loaded with lean meat and veggies

Dinner: Sweet potato, barbecue rubbed chicken thighs and cauliflower

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop chocolate protein, 1 orange, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup cottage cheese

 

Common Issues and Questions

Do Calories Still Matter if I go Low Carb? 
Yes. The idea that dropping carbs will miraculously drop body fat is false…unless you’re burning more calories than you’re eating. Now, carb cycling can improve insulin sensitivity and over time lead to better fat loss, but if you’re eating more calories than your body burns you’ll still add fat. Sorry, butter in your coffee can still make you fat. 

How Low is Low Carb?

This depends on your size and body part percentage. With some clients, I’ll shoot for under 100 grams of carbs on low carb days for fat loss. A simple trick is to replace the grains/starches you eat with leafy, fibrous greens.

I’m not looking to build muscle, only lose fat. Is Carb Cycling still for me?

Yes! Carb cycling is great for a fat loss diet. When you’re consistently low on calories and carbohydrates you may see reductions in metabolic rate, thyroid hormones, sympathetic nervous system activity, energy levels, and sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen (Berardi and Andrews 368).

This leads to a plateau that stops your fat loss in its tracks, yikes!

When you cycle carbohydrates and calories back into your diet you raise leptin levels a powerful fat burning hormone that down-regulates when calories are low. Essentially, you trick your body into burning more fat by keeping it out of starvation mode.

Can I pig out on High Carb Days? You did use examples of fries, beer, and wings….

Although carb cycling does afford my flexibility in your food choices this isn’t a pass to go eat pizza, burgers and fill the gaps in with crappy protein powder.  You can indulge occasionally but stick to mostly high-quality foods and supplements like Grass-fed whey and a greens powder (here’s mine) if you hate veggies. As tasty as it is, the combination of high fat, high carb, high alcohol containing meals is a perfect recipe for gaining weight. Sorry IIFYM folks, junk food is still junk food and will come back around to harm your body in the future. 

That’s a Wrap

Carb cycling works–that’s been shown by coaches a long time ago.  For starters, you’ll improve insulin sensitivity and strategically maximize the power of insulin around your workouts to build muscle. Psychologically, my friend and fellow coach Ben Johnson points out, carb cycling helps you pay more attention to what foods you’re putting into your body, leading to better food choices.

In both cases, approaching your diet with awareness and timing carbs around your workouts is a no-brainer for losing fat, building muscle, and improving performance in the gym.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, just focus on eating healthy food options and staying true to your carb cycling schedule to reap the rewards of proper nutrient timing.

Citations:

Berardi, Jon, and Ryan Andrews. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Second. Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 368. Print.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. “Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes.” Bethesda, MD: , 2013. Web. 

 

The BEST way to Burn Body Fat

19 years old. There I was, plastered on the floor with a lowly 65 lbs on the barbell beside me. My lungs ached, forearms screamed, and legs felt like jello.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredpolin/4560294699/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredpolin/4560294699/

In my post-workout daze I said “Are you shitting me? I can deadlift 3x my bodyweight and 1/3 of my bodyweight just made me it’s little bitch. There is no way this should be difficult. But it was.” 

A new method The BEST way to Burn Body Fat was born.

It’s been 5 years since I first used them, but my first experience with barbell complexes still rings loud and clear. Barbell complexes are arguably the most efficient method to rapidly boost conditioning and strip body fat.

You see, although I base most workouts around multi-joint barbell exercises combining them all into a series was something new. In most cases, the more familiar you are with an exercise the less effective it is for fat loss and body composition changes.

The hard to swallow fact is, traditional cardio is a piss-poor method for fat loss. Most people become very efficient on the treadmill or elliptical quickly, leading the body to adapt and become more efficient. To give it to you straight, the things you suck at are probably the best for losing fat.

I have yet to train anyone who breezes through barbell complexes and hasn’t shed flubber. The best part is, they only take 10 minutes at the end of your workout.

For barbell complexes the only equipment needed is space to move, a barbell, and possibly a few weights. Regardless of strength levels I’d recommend starting with an empty barbell. Speed and full range of motion are more important than weight. In addition, adding too much weight will hinder your recovery and conflict with the remainder of your intelligent programming. Move as fast as possible through each exercise without putting the bar down. Your heart will be pulsating through your t-shirt, your lunges will scream, but damn you will be glad you did these.

Here are three of my favorite barbell complexes

“Rookie”

  1. deadlift 4×12 rest 0
  2. hang clean 4×12 rest 0
  3. Military press 4×12 rest 0
  4. front squat 4×12 rest 60-90 sec

“The Olympian” 

Bach Performance Athlete Raven Cepeda performs complexes only 10 minutes per week to stay lean while bulking for a powerlifting meet
Bach Performance Athlete Raven Cepeda performs complexes only 10 minutes per week to stay lean while bulking for a powerlifting meet
  1. Hang Snatch 3×10 Rest 0
  2. Push Press 3×10 Rest 0
  3. Hang Clean 3×10 Rest 0
  4. Front Squat 3×10 Rest 0
  5. Front Squat Reverse Lunge 3×10 Rest 0
  6. High Pull 3×10 rest 60-90 sec

**Note: If you don’t know how to properly perform these exercises avoid this sequence. Never perform exercises without proper training, but even more with overhead lifts such as the Olympic lifts.

“The Widow Maker”

  1. Overhead Press 2×10 Rest 0
  2. back squat 2×10 Rest 0
  3. reverse lunge 2×10 Rest 0
  4. hang clean 2×10 Rest 0
  5. front squat 2×10 Rest 0
  6. bent over row 2×10 Rest 0
  7. Romanian deadlift 2×10 Rest 0
  8. Front Squat lunge 2×10 Rest 0
  9. biceps curl 2×10 Rest 0
  10. front squat hold calf raise 2×10 Rest 90-120 sec

 

Will you step up to the plate and make 10 extra minutes for Complexes?

Complexes are a great method to dramatically improve your body composition and conditioning without stripping your hard-earned muscle. This isn’t for the faint-hearted or de-conditioned. It’s not for novices or those extremely out of shape. Don’t even try these if you aren’t experienced or coming back from an injury, this isn’t for you. It’s brutal.But if you follow this routine twice per week for four weeks you’ll see ridiculous improvements in your conditioning while stripping off layers of body fat.

What are you waiting for, stop wasting time and get Real Results.

Have you ever performed complexes? Share your favorite workout below!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredpolin/4560294699/”>jaredpolin</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

 

Build Massive Shoulders in 30 Minutes

bodyweight training, Expert Tips to Build Muscle

I’ve got some more awesome short workouts for you coming up, as I already published a quick workout to build up your arms here. These workouts are extremely effective when you find yourself in a time crunch.

Building strong and defined shoulders is a trademark of having a good physique. Having a good set of well developed shoulders will be visible in any article of clothing while also making the waist appear smaller. Double Whammy!

Broad shoulders in men will make you stand out in any room while improving posture. In women having broader shoulders will accentuate the hour-glass figure and make the waist appear smaller.

The exercises below will improve shoulder health, definition, size, and power.

Dumbbell 1 arm Push Press: Use the legs to give your typical overhead press some extra power. Accelerate the bar with as much force as you can generate and hold the lockout position on each rep (this will build shoulder stability). Performing the push press with 1-arm will also provide a challenge to your core (specifically obliques) to stabilize the torso with a weight being held overhead.

 

1.Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps with 30 seconds of rest between arms

Bent Over Lateral Raise: To perform stand up with the feet shoulder width apart and a slight bend in the knee. Hinge over at the hips, creating a stretch in the hamstrings with your body at a 45 degree angle. With dumbbells in hand and the arms hanging down retract the shoulders and pull the dumbbells apart (reverse fly). Hold each dumbbell at the top of the movement to stop momentum and squeeze the shoulders together.

2a. Perform 2-3 sets of 12 repetitions, super-setting with exercise 2b with 0 rest.

 

2b. Perform 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions, super-setting with exercise 2a with 0 rest.

Dumbbell Standing Y Press: Hold dumbbells in a neutral grip position and press up and out to form a Y. This exercise greatly challenges the shoulders, upper back, and their respective stabilizers to support the weight overhead.

**video performed using pronated grip rather than neutral grip, either works

Overhead Javelin Press:  With a neutral grip hold a straight bar, or barbell if able in a neutral position as if you were throwing a javelin. Press the bar overhead and transfer the bar to your other hand, perform a press and transfer the bar back to the original hand. The javelin press will really burn the shoulders and stabilizing muscles while simultaneously challenging grip strength.

3. Perform 2 Sets of 6-8 repetitions on each arm, resting 45-60 seconds between sets.

There you have it, a quick workout to build health, ripped, shoulders in less time than it takes you to drive to the gym. Share me!

Copyright 2012 by Eric R Bach.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be duplicated or distributed without written consent from the author.

Exercises to avoid: Adductor Abductor Machine

Stop spending your workout with this awkward machine in hopes of a nice set of thighs or glutes.

adductor-machine
Photo Credit: deansomerset.com

Sorry, your attention should be elsewhere. If you’re looking to maximally develop these areas learn to squat, lunge, deadlift, sprint, and move optimally rather than wasting your time.

Although this wonderful device provides resistance for both adduction (bringing the legs together) and abduction (spreading the legs apart) it neglects to train the muscles of adduction and abduction as stabilizers, their primary role. Although they provide a burn” to the inner and outer thighs it serves no functional purpose and will not further “tone or shape” a muscle.

These machines are useless.

Although they provide a burn” to the inner and outer thighs it serves no functional purpose and will not further “tone or shape” a muscle. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as spot reduction. Contrary to belief you can’t change the shape or tone of your muscles– your insertion points aren’t going anywhere. If you want to a muscle to show visibly the issue isn’t muscle shape, but subcutaneous fat covering the muscle.

Adduction:

The adductor muscles are responsible for adducting the leg away from midline at the hip-joint. These muscles have multiple functions beyond simple adduction as you see below:

  • Adductor longus: Hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Adductor brevis: Hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Adductor magnus: hip extension, hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Adductor minimus: hip adduction
  • Pectineus: Hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Gracilus: Hip adduction, hip flexion, knee flexion

 Abduction:

As stated in described by their group name, the abductors abduct, or move the legs away from midline in the body.These muscles have multiple functions beyond simple abduction as you see below:

The Muscles responsible for abduction include:

  • Gluteus Medius: Hip abduction
  • Gluteus Minimis: Hip abduction, hip internal rotation
  • Tensor Fasica Latae : Hip abduction, hip internal rotation

Isolating these muscles services little purpose, as there are few instances these muscles work as a solo-primary mover in exercise. Muscles that control abduction and adduction must work synergistically to keep the femur (upper leg bone) in proper alignment and maintain frontal plane stability. Neglecting these functions with purely isolated training leaves the body open for knee injuries due to poor stability/mobility in the hip and knee and flexion based back injuries.

Opt For These instead:

All lower body unilateral exercises and variations including: deadlifts, Lunges, Squats (any variation), step ups, sprinting, banded shuffle walks, hip thrusts, bird-dogs, fire-hydrants and banded monster walks.

Training the adductors and abductors is NOT a bad idea, but using the “Yes-NO”machine is a waste of time. Muscles DO need to function in isolation, but overpowering their ability without training them dynamically is recipe for injury.

Plus, I’m not sure this is how you want to see your co-workers during lunch. Avoid the adductor abductor machine, it has no place in your routine.

abduction/adduction.
Yes-No Machine Is sending mixed messages. 

Stronger, Bigger, Defined Legs in Under 30 Minutes

My last two blog posts have brought you quick but demanding workouts that can be performed in under 30 minutes. When working out in a time crunch having a plan of attack is critical to making the most out of your time in the gym.

In order to give the legs their best workout in the least amount of time the focus of exercise selection must be on multi-joint compound movements, no leg extensions here! The backbone of any program with strength and hypertrophy as the goal should contain major hip dominant, and knee dominant lifts, such as the squat and deadlift.

In this workout the contrast method will be used. The contrast method uses a combination of Heavy load lower repetition exercise with lightly weighted or un-weighted exercise. This method will nail all of your muscle fibers through PAP (post-activation potentiation.)  PAP will allow you to gain strength in your heavy exercise following each set of your longer, un-weighted set due to better motor unit recruitment.

Without further adieu here is the workout!

Circuit 1

Perform 1 set of 5 repetitions on the front squat and immediately after the set (using a box or bench) perform a bodyweight squat to a box, immediately upon touching the box or bench explode into a vertical jump. Reset and continue for 45 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds and repeat 3 times. Following the third set rest 60 seconds and move to circuit 2.

1a. Barbell Front Squat 3×5

1b. Box Squat Jumps x45 seconds

Circuit 2

With the same weight as the front squats perform all out set of back squats with the same weight, coming within 1-2 reps of failure. Realistically this should be 10-15+ reps in most cases. Following this set immediately perform 60 seconds of bodyweight jump squats. Rest 60 seconds and move to circuit 3.

2a. Back Squats 1×10-15+

2b. BW Jump Squats x60 seconds

Circuit 3

Perform 3 sets of Dumbbell Romainian Deadlifts, immediately after each set perform 20 dumbbell calf raises followed by 20 alternating jump lunges. Rest 45 seconds after each set and repeat 3 rounds.

3a. DB RDL 3×8-10

3b. DB Calf Raises3x20

3c. Alternating Jump Lunges 3×20

There you have it, a brutal yet effective workout to blast your lower body in under 30 minutes. As always make sure your form is up-to-par, as the intensity of this workout will likely require using submaximal, albeit heavy workloads to get the best effect. Share your comments below!

Numminello, Nick. “Contrast Training for Strength, Size, and Power.” T NATION.com. Testosterone, LLC, 11 May 2009. Web. 20 May 2012. <http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/contrast_training_for_strength_size_and_power>.

Big 4: Overhead Press

Welcome to the third, and final installment of the Big 4 series.  So far, the deadlift has been covered here , and the bench press here.This series is comprised of four major barbell lifts, the bench, squat, overhead press, and deadlift. These four exercises are the most efficient exercises for building strength, power, confidence, and an impressive physique.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/elcamino73/7223394614/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/elcamino73/7223394614/

This installment will cover the overhead press, also known as the military press or barbell press. Unlike the bench press, squat, and deadlift, the overhead press has unfortunately been removed from powerlifting and Olympic lifting competition, which has led to a decrease in popularity. The overhead press is performed by standing (yes standing, not seated on a bench “Bucko”) and pressing a weighted barbell overhead. The overhead press is exceptional in that it not only builds ridiculously strong shoulders and triceps; it also challenges the core, upper back, and lats to maintain posture while pushing the bar directly overhead.

As with the bench press there are many critics of the overhead press because of shoulder injuries; however, this is due to poor form and a lack of balance in training. Chances are if your joints are giving you pain on an exercise it’s because your form is incorrect or you have muscle imbalances, get those fixed before throwing an exercise in the trash. The overhead press is a safer upper body press than the bench press because it forces the back muscles, core muscles (abs, obliques, glutes, errectors, serratus anterior and everything in-between) and shoulder muscles to stabilize a load overhead while allowing the scapula to actively move through a full range of motion. The overhead press will build stronger, healthier shoulders while also providing much-needed stability for the shoulder joint due to the synergy required among the bodies muscles to properly perform the exercise.

Here is how to perform overhead press:

Set Up

  • Either power clean the weight into position or un-rack the weight from a squat rack set at sternum level.
  • Grip the Bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip and squeeze until your knuckles are white.

-Play with using a false grip (thumbs not wrapped around the bar), it works better for some people, but is not as safe.

  • Breath in the air you can to stabilize your torso and squat the bar out of the rack, keeping your lats and upper back tight.
  • Keep the bar and chest high, this will create a larger base from which to push from as the bar sits higher on the anterior deltoids.
  • Find a fixed object and stare at it, no need to look up or down, tuck your chin and pack your neck.

Concentric

  • Squeeze those cheeks! Squeezing your glutes will help to stabilize your torso. This will prevent you from excessively arching your lower back.
  • Push the bar overhead without extending the knees, this is not a push press.
  • When the bar clears you head, shift your head and body underneath the bar.
  • Squeeze your shoulders down and together, as if you were putting them into your back pocket.
  • Fully lockout the elbows and stabilize the weight overhead on each rep, this builds a powerful lockout and will make for a healthier, stronger shoulder.

Eccentric

  • Lower the weight back to collarbone level if possible, otherwise as low as your chin will suffice.
  • Keep the bar racked high on your chest as your start each rep.

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Consider investing in a pair of wraps, I use these Wrist Wraps and they work just fine.
  • Push the bar overhead not out in front of the body. If you push out in front you will lose upper back tightness and total body stability.
  • Learn to bail on the lift correctly or perform the presses in a power rack with supports underneath you. Don’t crush your noggin’ junior!

The Overhead press is a great lift that hopefully will gain popularity and yet again become a mainstay in fitness programming. It not only builds strength, but stability and power in the upper body. Press on!

Please leave your comments below,
Cheers,

Eric Bach, CSCS

Copyright 2012 by Eric R Bach.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be duplicated or distributed without written consent from the author.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/elcamino73/7223394614/”>elcamino73</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

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