Monday, February 15, 2010


Confusion abounds among bodybuilders concerning the best way
to increase muscular size and strength. Many people, even some
bodybuilders, harbor the idea that the only way to grow and get
big is take either oral or injectable anabolic drugs, such as
anabolic steroids or growth hormone. While such anabolic drugs do
contribute to the development of massive muscular size, it's also
true that even potent drugs simply won't do much without the
proper nutritional and training stimulus.

Of course, drugs have many possible deleterious effects on
long-term health, particularly when they are abused. Is it
possible to develop maximum muscular size and strength without
using any drugs? Your ultimate potential in bodybuilding is
determined by genetics; for example, a man with a light bone
structure will probably not emulate the muscular mass of a
champion bodybuilder such as Paul Dillett. But it's also true
that with optimal nutrition, intensive training, and adequate
recovery, anyone can improve their physical development to a
remarkable degree--regardless of genetic limitations.

Strength: the cornerstone of muscular mass gains

Generally speaking, a larger muscle is a stronger muscle.
The overload induced by heavy resistance training leads to a body
compensation effect whereby muscle fiber cross-section or the
thickness of individual muscle fibers increases. What happens on
a microscopic level is that with resistance training, the body
increases the synthesis of muscle proteins, such as actin and
myosin. The stimulus of heavy resistance training also promotes
the addition of muscle structural units called sarcomeres, or
segments of myofibrils (muscle fibers). The net result is a
thickening of existing muscle fibers or an increase in diameter
that results in muscle hypertrophy or growth.

Another theory of muscle growth is that of hyperplasia, or
muscle fiber splitting to form new muscle fibers. While this
process has been shown to occur in animals, such as cats and
birds, the evidence that it exists in humans is still not
definitive. However, studies published in 1982 compared the
muscle fibers of champion bodybuilders to physical education
students, and found no difference in fiber size.

How then to explain the obvious muscle size disparity
between the students and the bodybuilders? The researchers
suggested that as a result of long-term, heavy weight-training
muscle hyperplasia occurred in the bodybuilders.

The important point no one argues with is that to get big,
you need to train heavy and hard. Time and experience have
conclusively proven that exercise affecting large muscle groups
that are multi-joint in nature elicit the best size and strength
gains. Such exercises include the so-called basic exercises,
including squats, bench presses, barbell curls, bent-over barbell
rows, deadlifts, etc. These exercises work because they involve
the largest muscle groups in the body, and also promote the
greatest release of growth-promoting anabolic hormones in the
body, such as testosterone and growth hormone.

The amount of resistance used in such compound exercises
should be enough to provoke muscular failure after 6 to 8
repetitions per set. Obviously, strength levels will vary among
individuals, and this will require experimentation. The important
point to remember is to always maintain good form, not using a
weight so heavy that it requires excess swinging or body
movement. Such loose exercise style often leads to injuries and
consequent training setbacks.

Another important consideration in relation to strength
training is eccentric muscle contractions. The eccentric phase of
a repetition usually involves a lowering of the weight in
contrast to concentric muscle contractions, where the weight is
raised. Research shows that with eccentric muscle contractions
the muscles ability to resist force is about 30% greater compared
to concentric contractions. This increased level of force
production by the muscle may produce greater size and strength
gains. The easiest way to employ eccentric contractions is the
take at least 4 seconds to lower a weight (with 2 seconds to
raise it).

The amount of rest between sets depends on your training
goals. Research shows that minimizing rest between sets leads to
a greater release of growth hormone, an anabolic hormone. On the
other hand, resting for 2-3 minutes permits the handling of
heavier weights due to replenished energy stores in muscle (ATP-CP), and increases testosterone secretion.

Another consideration involves training frequency. You want
to emphasize maximum rest and recovery to ensure rapid gains in
size and strength. While theoretically a 3-day-a-week routine
would be best for this purpose, the reality is that such training
necessitates exercising too many muscle groups in one session,
making unacceptable inroads into available training energy that
will inevitably lead to a loss of training intensity. More
practical is a split-system involving training varied muscles on
different days. One popular technique is a 4-day split, which
allows adequate time for growth and recovery.

When seeking muscle size, you also want to avoid
overtraining by doing too many sets. While high intensity
training advocates say not to do more than 1-2 sets per exercise,
existing research clearly points to increased training volume as
a greater inducer of muscle growth for most people. However, you
still should limit the volume or number of sets per muscle group
to allow use of maximum poundages without undue fatigue. In
practice, this varies with training experience, but for most
people, a set range of 3-4 per exercise is best.

The total number of sets per muscle group depend on which
muscles you are training. Larger muscle areas, such as the legs
and back, usually require a larger number of sets compared to
smaller areas, such as the arms. You might want to do about 12
sets for larger muscle groups, and 6-8 sets for smaller muscle
groups. No muscle group should be trained more than twice each

The final consideration in planning a strength/size program
is aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. Studies show that excess
aerobic training hinders strength gains, since aerobic training
and resistance training are mutually exclusive. Aerobic training
tends to blunt the increased muscle protein synthesis needed to
grow in favor of systems that increase oxygen delivery, such as
increased capillaries and cellular mitochondria. As a result, you
should either eliminate aerobics during a size phase program or
keep it to a minimum of no more than 30 minutes, 3 times a week.

Nutritional considerations

Of all nutrients, protein is of prime importance for the
promotion of increased muscular size and strength. Studies show
that successful bodybuilders often consume massive amounts of
protein, on the order of 4-6.2 grams of protein each day.,
Another study found greater gains in body mass with 4 weeks of
resistance training when protein intake was 3.3 versus 1.3 grams
of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This study also found
that muscle protein synthesis was 5-times greater in the high
protein group.

Another study compared a high protein intake (1.6 grams per
kilogram of bodyweight) versus a low protein intake (0.8 grams
per kg/bw) under conditions of a low-calorie diet. The lower
protein intake consistently led to a negative nitrogen balance
(indicative of protein losses from the body), while the higher
intake produced a positive nitrogen balance.

An interesting aspect of this study was that the lower
protein intake (0.8 grams) is precisely the recommended level of
protein intake for active adults. This study also confirmed
previous findings showing that when you lower either calories or
carbohydrates, you must increase your protein intake to remain in
a positive nitrogen balance conducive to muscular growth.

A important consideration in determining protein nutrition
for promotion of muscular mass gains involves protein quality.
The best food proteins are derived from milk and eggs, and such
proteins also foster the greatest rate of muscle growth and
recovery. The digestion and absorption characteristics of a high
quality protein formulation, such as the Metamyosin complex
contained in Met-rx, is far superior to that of any form of food

Recent studies confirm that, contrary to specious commercial
claims, a combination of the two major milk proteins (casein and
whey) is far superior to either protein alone. Whey does offer
benefits, such as rapid absorption and a high branched-chain
amino acid content, but it also produces no anticatabolic effects
in muscle due to its rapid uptake and oxidation effects. In
contrast, casein is slowly absorbed over a 6 hour period, leading
to a "time-released" effect of amino acid absorption in the body.
This delayed release fosters a positive nitrogen balance favoring
an anticatabolic effect in muscle.

The Metamyosin protein complex contained in newer versions
of Met-rx, such as the Keto Pro line, retains all of the delicate
protein peptide complexes so vital to health and recovery. These
elements include lactoferrin, which has potent immune-boosting
and antibacterial effects, as well as promoting an
antiinflammatory sequence favoring faster muscle recovery after
heavy, intense training. The casomorphins contained in the casein
portion of Metamyosin act as a natural painkiller, and may allow
more intensive training through the dissolution of pain
associated with hard training. The Keto Pro line also is rich in
glutamine, a conditionally essential amino acid linked to
increased immunity and anticatabolic effects in muscle.

Another food supplement essential to those seeking muscle
mass is creatine. For best results, creatine should be combined
with simple carbohydrates. A 1998 study showed that consuming
10.4 grams of creatine or just over 2 teaspoons with 93 grams of
a simple sugar elicited the greatest muscle uptake and absorption
of creatine. The proposed mechanism involved stimulation of a
muscle creatine-carrier complex instigated by insulin. This
study, however, showed that you need a considerably large insulin
release to sufficiently promote the activity of the creatine-carrier system in muscle. The most provocative insulin-releasing
substance is simple sugars, and according to this study, you need
over 90 grams to produce best results.

At present, only one creatine supplement on the market
contains the optimal creatine/sugar ratio and that is Creatine AC
by Met-rx. This scientifically formulated supplement also
incorporates associated nutrient factors that assist with sugar
and creatine uptake into muscle. Such nutrients include alpha-lipoic acid, which promotes glucose uptake into muscle
independently of insulin, and also assists insulin in this role.
The trace mineral chromium is also included because of its
established effects as forming the core of the glucose tolerance
factor that permits a more effective bonding of insulin to its
cellular receptors. Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, is
added due to its possible cell volumizing promoting effects by
way of modulating electrolyte entry into intracellular
The best nutritional plan for promoting gains in muscle size
and strength based on existing scientific data involve the

Aim for a protein intake of 3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight
depending on your weight goal. For example, if you want to weigh
200 pounds (90 kilograms), you should target a daily protein
intake of 270 grams. Forget that old saw about consuming not more
than 30 grams of protein per meal. No one has yet produced any
research confirming this figure. The body, in fact, absorbs
nutrients according to need, and as discussed earlier, hard-training athletes appear to absorb and use greater amounts of
protein based on the existence of positive nitrogen levels.

Don't consume more than 50% of daily calories as carbohydrates.
The emphasis here should be on lower glycemic index carbs, which
elicit less insulin release. Focusing on lower glycemic index
(value of 60 or less) will decrease the chance of increasing body
fat levels while on a muscular mass-gaining routine. Again, this
relates to less insulin secretion, since insulin in excess
amounts at the wrong time promotes body fat synthesis and

A notable exception to this rule involves a focus on
ingesting simple carbs immediately following training. This is
when you want a greater insulin release, since insulin promotes
amino acid uptake into muscle and increased muscle glycogen
synthesis vital to muscular recovery after training. Studies show
that combining simple carbs with protein in a ratio of 3:1
produces a 37% greater muscle glycogen synthesis compared to only
consuming carbohydrates following training. Creatine AC is best
used at this time, since it provides the right ratio of simple
sugars, along with creatine for muscle recovery. Also useful for
this purpose is Met-rx Mass Action, which also contains creatine
and cell volumizing nutrients that promote increased muscle
protein synthesis.

The best food carbohydrates are vegetables and whole-grains.
Don't ingest fruit juices, and don't go overboard in fruit,

Fat intake is an important aspect of gaining muscle. Recent
studies show that an intake of less than 20% fat leads to
decreased testosterone secretion. While any type of fat will
maintain testosterone levels, for health purposes it's best to
focus on monounsaturated fats (as found in olive and peanut oils)
and polyunsaturated fats, with a particular emphasis on fish oils
or omega-3 fatty acids. These Omega-3 fatty acids are often
lacking in typical diets, yet provide important health benefits.
These benefits include increased insulin sensitivity, less body
fat synthesis, lower blood triglycerides, and an interaction with
anabolic hormones, such as insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1).

For those wishing to increase workout intensity, using the
prohormone Androdiol by Substrate Solutions, will increase
workout aggressiveness. Besides having a conversion rate into
free testosterone 3-times greater than androstendione, recent
studies show that Androdiol or 4-AD affects the same brain
regions linked to increased aggression that are affected by
testosterone. In fact,it is just as potent as testosterone in
this respect

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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