Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Sore Muscles: 3 Phases for Treating Those Sore Muscles

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

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Muscle soreness can be caused by three hypothesis (muscle damage, tissue damage, muscle spasms) Sore Muscle Reliefresulting in cumulative micro trauma resulting in some type of cellular damage. At times, this can be the leading cause of overtraining and being uncomfortable for a few days after training.

Continual cellular damage over and over to the point where the body cannot recovery can result in overtraining.

It’s interesting to note that the amount of sore muscles you experience is not directly related to the amount of cellular damage.

From what is known about sore muscles is that the most muscle fiber damage seems to occur in the eccentric or stretching portion of the exercise.  That’s may be why you feel so sore after those dumbbell or cable flyes and maybe not a 90 degree bench press.

Don’t worry…

Here’s a quick checklist for helping to reduce the amount of muscle soreness you may experience. You can use one or all of these the next time you feel a little too sore from your last workout.

Phase 1 - Pre Training Recovery

Leg Elevation:

Many of us stand or sit for long periods of time before going to the gym and training. This is a less than optimal condition because your overall circulation is less than ideal. What you can do is 20-30 minutes before you train, lay down with your feel against a wall or other object and get the blood back to your upper body and heart.

You’ll improve your circulation especially when you train legs or your lower back.

If you want, you can take this opportunity to listen to music or take a quick nap and begin the mental transition into training. (Probably not a good idea to do this at work as you’ll be accused of lying down on the job).

Phase 2 - Recovery During Training

Rest Intervals Between Sets:

A great way to boost the intensity of any workout without changing a single thing is to decrease the rest time between sets. You’ll instantly get more work done in less time. If you feel that the intensity is too high, you can increase the time between sets and help reduce the build up of lactic acid as well. The time you take to rest between sets has a significant impact on your next set as well as future performance.

If you’ve ever tried Week 1 of Jeff Anderson’s Advanced Mass Building, you’ll experience some lactic acid training that will bring a whole new level of sore muscles into your life.  It would appear that the level of lactic acid has some relation to the soreness as well.

Movement Between Sets:

Just think about it. It’s like a warm up and cool down all over again but between the sets. Most people understand the importance of warming up before lifting weights. They also know about a proper cool down after working out.

But did you know that you can use those sample principles on a minute level in between your sets?

This movement not only serves as a ‘transition’ between an all out effort and recovery but it aids in better circulation and helps reduce the swelling of muscular tissues.  Keep moving between sets.

Periodization:

Remember that soreness can be caused by a few hypothesis (tissue damage, muscle damage, spasms). But did you stop to think that if you keep on training the same you just keep on damaging the muscle at a micro level over and over without a chance to recover?

Incorporating a light day or week into your training can help flush the area with new blood, reduce the formation of scar tissue and flush waste from the area.

Planning these type of workouts in your training program will speed up the time needed to recover as well as add variety to your program which in turn provides overall recovery.

Phase 3 - Post Training Recovery

My strong hunch is that most people will be unable to avoid soreness at some point and seek treatment.

So that’s why there’s a few ways you can help reduce the severity of soreness during your training as well as aid in the recovery process after your training.

Contrast Showers:

Done on your lumbar area, this involves using short bursts of hot and cold water to improve the circulation. You can further stretch during this time to flush new blood to the area.

Post Workout Nutrition:

Needless to say…

After your workout your body is in a prime time to devour nutrients. This is an ideal time to give it the protein it needs with the carbohydrates for energy recovery.

You see, if muscle soreness is caused by micro trauma resulting in cellular damage then obviously you want to give your body plenty of materials quickly to repair itself.

Proper post workout nutrition can reduce the amount of soreness you can experience.

Therapeutic Modulaities:

This can encompass such things as massage, sauna, whirlpool, chiropractic adjustments, acupressure and others are among the more popular therapeutic modalities. Make no mistake….

Recovery really begins when you leave the gym. Depending on factors such as your level of fitness, age, medical conditions, you may be wise to use some or all of these post workout recovery methods to speed up overall recovery.

There’s no magic formula per se but anything you can do to help speed the recovery process will result in less muscular discomfort and quicker recovery for the next workout.

Have you heard that 90% gym-goers overtrain 90% of the time?

Could it be that simply “under-recovered” and could easily stand to train more if only they could recover quicker?

Sleep:

While there is not a set number of hours you need to sleep as that depends on the individuals schedule, personal preferences and level of stress it’s still clear that sleep is vital to recovery.

This is the time your body repairs all that micro trauma.

If you aren’t getting enough quality sleep, it can affect your overall recovery and body’s ability to repair itself. That can lead to prolonged muscle soreness. The amount of sleep each person needs will vary.

Make no mistake about muscle soreness…

It’s uncomfortable!

But using any or all of the above recovery methods you can significantly reduce the duration of muscle soreness.

More important than that…

Create a periodized program that helps to keep your body in a state of recovery and avoid overtraining.

Things I Don’t Recommend for Sore Muscles:

Aspirin and other medications. While it does reduce inflammation, it tends to reduce protein synthesis.  You just worked out and now you’re a bit sore so instead of taking some of the natural steps above, you reach for a pill.  Unless you have a medial requirement, I’d opt not to take over the counter medications for things as simple as “I’m sore” from my last workout.

Alcohol. Hey, it’s causes numbness but it has a slew of other effects on your muscle building efforts that aren’t productive.  Having a 6 pack may help reduce soreness but it’s the old college phrase I heard, “Solve one problem, create two more.”

Finally, it’s been shown in recent studies that static or dynamic stretching does not prevent or reduce the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) you may experience.   It’s still a good ideal to stretch post-workout but don’t expect a miracle to happen because of it.

Photo of the Bengay by jeroen020 Used under a Creative Commons license

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Ideal Body Fat Percentage

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

body fat percentage chart

What is your ideal body fat percentage?

According the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) they have come up with a very simple body fat percentage chart that outlines from the essential body fat needed to survive to what is classified as obese. You should be able to use this body fat percentage chart to find your ideal body fat percentage based on your gender and age.

Average Body Fat Ranges for Males and Females
Gender Male Female Male Female Male Female
Age 18 - 39 40 - 59 60 - 79
Essential Fat 2% to 4% 10% to 13% 2% to 4% 10% to 13% 2% to 4% 10% to 13%
Underfat 5% to 7% 14% to 20% 5% to 10% 14% to 22% 5% to 12% 14% to 23%
Healthy 8% to 19% 21% to 32% 11% to 21% 23% to 33% 13% to 24% 24% to 35%
Obese 20% + 33% + 22% + 34% + 25% + 36% +

* Chart courtesy of the ISSA

Note: You may have heard terms like the following: Lean, ripped, shredded, contest shape, competition shape. If so, those terms generally refer to the category listed above as underfat. For example, if you are a male, who’s 25 years old, with significant muscle mass at 6%… not only are you lean, you are probably ripped, shredded and huge and possibly standing on stage in contest shape.

Body Fat Tips:

In the past few years, I’ve received many questions (mostly from males) asking if they should bulk or cut first. I use this chart as a reference in conjuction with their overall goals. I prefer to use my current body fat as a health gauge vs. my height vs. weight. If you are a tall skinny person with a rather unusual higher than normal percentage of body fat, you’d be very unwise to start bulking up and adding more body fat without first knowing the reasons why you might be in your particular situation. Using body fat as a measurement vs. other visual aids is more accurate, safer and will help monitor your overall muscle gains or fat loss.

* If you are a male or a female who’s looking to step on stage or just wants to look good for summer, then take a quick body fat percentage check. Using that, you can then determine your best option if it’s to cut or bulk.

* If you are at the top end of healthy or considered to be obese by body fat percentage standards, focus on burning the fat. Your goal should be to get healthy first and then adjust as necessary. If you are already at the top end of healthy and you want to “bulk up,” you’ll get stronger but you probably will add more fat to your body composition making you more at risk.

* Take a body fat measurement weekly or monthly to get a continual status update of your progress. When you start a new program you should take a new measurement for a baseline.

* Don’t let a body fat measurement control your life! It’s just one of many indicators of progress and/or health. A body fat caliper can be quite accurate with practice but seek medical advice in conjunction with your own findings.

Tired of the way you look? You want to build muscle & burn fat while getting stronger?
Click here to download my 19 Tips To Build Muscle FREE eBook.

 
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Creatine Dosage: A Simple Formula For Creatine Cycles

Monday, April 14th, 2008

The Creatine Dosage Calculation

In order to calculate your creatine dosage according to the original research,

Proper creatine dosage and how to calcuate your creatine cycle

you’ll first need to convert your body weight into kilograms. This won’t require a math degree. If it did, I wouldn’t be able to post this or even explain it!

Simple divide your current body weight in pounds by 2.2 to obtain your weight in kilograms. For example, if you weight 190 lbs then your kilogram weight is ~86 kilograms (190 / 2.2 = 86).

Next, multiple your weight in kilograms for the appropriate dose. The recommended loading dosage is 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. The maintenance phase is even less at only 0.03 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight.

Example: 86kg person starting a loading phase would require 25.8 grams of creatine per day for 5 days divided up into 4 equal parts during the day. The maintenance phase of an 86kg person would be 2.58g of creatine per day.

Personal Creatine Dosage Worksheet:

Step 1: Your body weight in pounds

Step 2: Body weight in kilograms
body weight in pounds divided by 2.2

Step 3: Find your Loading dose
body weight in kilograms multiplied by 0.3
divide into 4 equal parts; take 1 part every 4 hours

Step 4: Find your Maintenance dose
body weight in kilograms multiplied by 0.03

It appears that the loading phase will saturate your muscle stores with creatine quicker but there’s little difference in a person who does or does not do the loading phase. Except it might take longer to reach full muscle saturation. Many references today (2008) report the loading phase as unnecessary. Others make comments that a loading phase is only there to go thru the products quicker so you’ll need to purchase more creatine.

The loading phase can be done or not, it doesn’t appear there will be any final outcome differences.

General maintenance phases of Creatine Monohydrate are between 3-5 grams. The references above will get you a more personalized approach to your creatine dosage vs. just the recommendations based on the average person.

If you’d like to learn more about creatine, take a look at Creatine: A Practical Guide.

Photo of Creatine Monohydrate by Size8Jeans. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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Meal Plans Need Not Be Difficult

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Meal variety sucks and how that can be the single factor that leads you away from yourmeal planning goals.

Pull up a chair and hear me out please.

“Variety Sucks!” - he said.

My eyes were wide open like a kid who just heard his first swear word when I heard that. In fact, stunned because many people who I’ve run across told me that variety in my meals is the KEY to success.

You know what I mean don’t you?

“No not that kind of variety,” he said. “Meal variety. When you change your meals all the time. Everything has to be new for each meal. You get bored right? So you always have to have something different. That sucks.”

 

Photo Credit: by helenjane

Again, I couldn’t believe my ears and yet, he was right.

You probably already know this…

What if you continually change your meals all the time, so it’s always a new meal every day. Of course you won’t be bored but what you will find impossible to do is stick with your plan and maintain a steady goal.

Obviously you can understand that makes perfect sense!

You’re probably wondering if most professional bodybuilders and those who you admire have pretty boring diets.

Let’s take an example of Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers or any number of other commercial diets on the market today.

Okay, you’re probably wondering…

What do they all have in common?

Face it… they are all using pre-planned meals!

Don’t miss a word of this…

You are never guessing at what to eat or making hasty choices without full well knowing exactly how many calories are in that meal, the protein, carb and fat contents too.

Knowing this is critical to keeping your meals targeted towards your goals. The more variety you have, the harder it will be to stick with a set meal plan to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients as well as enough calories.

And now you begin to realize that variety does suck.

Do you ever try and create a meal on the fly?

No planning just go to a restaurant and pick something off the menu only to track your meal later and find out you were way over your goal or you aren’t close to your calories for the day and have to literally stuff yourself later?

Here’s my confession…

My greatest success in terms of nutrition have come from a variety of pre-planned meals. 7 day meal plans where I know what I’m going to eat, what to shop for and all of them laser targeted towards my goal.

You see, variety in the food choices isn’t a bad thing at all. Variety ensures we are getting the proper nutrients and ratios. It helps to have several pre-planned meals so that you aren’t too bored but you know what’s ahead.

Pre-planning your meals for the week lets you go shopping for the foods you need as well.

Think of how impossible it will be to just “eat” if you don’t give some thought into the meals you are having to reach your goals.

Grocery shopping would be a nightmare if I didn’t already know my meals well in advance.

I know your boring alarm is going off right now but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Plan out your meals. The more pre-planned meals you have, the easier it will be to shop. The faster you can put together something that meets your needs.

The people who simply must have a new breakfast, lunch and dinner so they don’t get bored with foods, are the ones always counting calories. They are always guessing at what meal they are about to eat if it fits their goals. They find out AFTER they have eaten it.

The successful people know before the food hits their mouth what the meal is doing for them. They already know how many calories. They know the portions. Calorie counting only had to happen once.

Think about this for a minute.

If you want variety in everything you eat and you don’t want to have pre-planned meals because that just sounds too boring, then realize that might be why you aren’t reaching your goals.

I’m not saying meals have to be boring and bland but you should know before hand what you are going to eat.

That’s a pre-planned meal.

That’s why variety in one sense of the meaning sucks!

Meal planning does not have to be complicated. If you want pre-designed, bodybuilding meal plans in a variety of calories ranges and the ability to create future unlimited combinations, take a look at the meal plans in the NoBull Bodybuilding Program.

meal plans

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How to Gain Weight in 6 Simple Steps

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Here’s 6 simple ways on how to gain weight without getting fat. When I started I was 150 lbs at best before I got serious about weight gain. In just under 5 months, I put on 30 lbs of lean body mass and am able to maintain 190 lbs . Here’s the overview in a nutshell of:

How to Gain WeightHow to gain weight in six simple steps

Tip 1: Eating Enough Quality Calories

Have you ever asked somebody who’s trying to gain weight what they eat?

I did. And the response I received was shocking.

“I just eat.”

That’s what he said. I just eat.

You MUST know how many calories a day you need for your weight gain goal.

This person desperately wanted to gain weight and every time I saw him the gym he had some excuse as to why it wasn’t going his way. And it was usually related to his metabolism.

Let me tell you…

If you want to gain quality weight, you have to eat high quality dense foods and ENOUGH of them. Furthermore… if you want to gain weight without getting fat, then you bulk with the same principles as if you were on a cutting diet. Choose higher-calorie foods when given a choice.

Photo by: Side Salad

In my years of experience, when I bulked up and gained weight and fat, the biggest mistake I made was not tracking what I ate. I always tracked my diet when I was on a calorie restricted phase (that was a given) but when I wanted to gain weight I just ate everything I could.

Have you ever felt that way?

In order to gain weight, you need to eat more than your usual maintenance calorie intake but not so much as to just store the excess calories and get fat. And you need to eat consistently.

That should have been your “ah -ha” moment.

Gaining weight isn’t your cue to eat everything under the sun. In order to gain weight, lean mass and not get fat, you need to eat just over what you body needs to maintain. In this manner, you’ll provide your body with all the calories it needs to build muscle but you won’t give it so much as it stores the excess as fat.

[ Remember that anything in excess, even protein, can be stored as fat. ]

The key is to gain healthy weight and minimize the fat gains.

Tip 2: Grocery Shopping 101

If you are looking to gain weight, then don’t have bare cupboards. Go to your kitchen right now after reading this section and take a look at what you’ve got in stock.

Make sure your kitchen is fully stocked with the foods you need to eat. Dense foods work wonders for putting on the weight.

Examples are whole-grain breads, vegetables such as avocados and potatoes, kidney beans, lean red meat, poultry and fish.

Bare cupboards = no weight gain!

Bodybuilding doesn’t have to break the bank. Many times you can get bulk items for much cheaper than you think. Packages of tuna, turkey, chicken legs, pasta all are great bulking items that don’t cost a ton of money.

Perishable items like fruits and sugary laden items and condiments are usually things that cost the most.

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How Much Water to Drink?

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

I think the following how much water to drink chart may help you to SAFELY determine how much water you need to stay properly hydrated for your activity without over consumption.

* this chart is meant to be a guide not an absolute *

This chart is courtesy of the ISSA

Recommended Water Intake:

Step 1 Select an appropriate need factor.

Need Factors

0.5 — Sedentary no sports or training
0.6 — Jogger or light fitness training
0.7 — Sports participation or moderate training 3 times a week
0.8 — Moderate daily weight training or aerobic training
0.9 — Heavy weight training daily
1.0 — Heavy weight training daily plus sports training or “2-a-day” training

Step 2 Multiply weight (in pounds) by the appropriate need factor to arrive at the recommended water intake in ounces per day.

Example 1 120 pounds x 0.6 = 72 ounces per day
Example 2 200 pounds x 0.7 =140 ounces per day

We recommend that you drink water eight to twelve times per day.

Example 1 72 ounces per day divided by 10 glasses = 7.2 ounces per glass
Example 2 140 ounces per day divided by 12 glasses = 11.7 ounces per glass

Lewis Black and Aquifina. Or as he says, “the end of water was we know it.”

Here’s Lewis Black with a little humor on the subject of how crazy water consumption is today.

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Download!

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Beware of Muscle Building Myths

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about Muscle Building and the rate of growth you can expect.

Muscular growth is rarely a liner process and tends to come in a series of cycles.

MP3 File

Other Ways to Listen

  • Add to iTunes
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  • Download the MP3 File (2 MB)

Items Discussed in this Episode

  • Muscle Building
  • Rates of Muscle Growth
  • Factors that Influence Muscle Building
  • How Much Muscle You Can Expect to Gain
  • The ONLY Way to Determine How Much Muscle You Gained

Episode Resources

  • Men’s Health Fitness Expert Christian Finn

Your Feedback

Your questions and feedback related to the BodybuildingSecretsLive podcast are always welcome. Please post a comment on this blog or send an email to me, Marc David thru the contact page.

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How to Shop Like a Pro

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

budget grocery shopping

Here’s a Step-By-Step Guide to Bagging Some Serious Grocery Bargains!

Two days ago I went grocery shopping again and when I looked at the bill, my eyes got big! I didn’t seem to have any more food than usual but my bill sure was higher. Something was aloof and all I knew was that the price of food is rising steadily and I’d better get savvy with my shopping if I wanted to keep up with this bodybuilding lifestyle.

Many people bust their butts in the gym but when it comes to making the right food choices or getting enough of the good stuff, they simply fail.

FACT: The average grocery bill has risen 5.7% in just 2 years since 2007.

I’m going to give you some tips and tricks so you can shop like a pro when you are bodybuilding on a budget. You’ll save money and get more food for your dollar. This is even more important for you skinny guys and gals that need to eat and just can’t seem to keep the cupboards stocked with enough food.

Sit tight and take notes.

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How I dropped 2 jean sizes in 4 weeks

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

There is some debate among fitness pros about the best way to burn fat thru cardio exercise. Is it long moderate intensity?  Short, high intensity intervals? None at all?! A combination of both methods?

Honestly, I’ve read plenty of newsletters that preach all types of cardio to no cardio (or at least traditional cardio) and
that’s all good. Getting a group of fitness pros to all agree to anything will happen when pigs fly.

I’m not going to tell you what to do and I’m not telling you anybody else is right or wrong. All I’m going to do is tell you
what worked for me and how I did it.

Here’s what I’ve done to personally go from 19% body fat to 13% in less than 12 weeks…

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You Can Brush Your Teeth with Milkshakes

Friday, October 26th, 2007

I’ve got to get this off my chest before I explode!

Just a few hours ago, a kid posted a simple question about
gaining weight to a bodybuilding forum and received some
typically bad advice on the topic commonly referred to as
bulking.

Here’s what one person said, “It takes a damn long time withoutWeight Gain Tips
eating junk. If you are willing to put the hours in the gym, then you should start stuffing your face with KFC and McDonalds, it’s so much quicker.”

No doubt about it… if you choose to workout and be healthy, you’ll want to make the quickest decisions you can make even if you put your health at risk. Who wants to put in the time? (please note the sarcasm in my voice).

As if that advice wasn’t bad enough, you’d think I’d just let
bygones by bygones but when I saw another person follow up with this gem, I snapped when I read…

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