Archive for the ‘Natural Bodybuilding’ Category

Genetics, College and Supplements

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008


I have been bodybuilding for about a year now, and really seem to be getting into it quite a while. It is amazing to find out how big the bodybuilding base is when you are actually getting to be a part of it. I had a few questions. The Mr. universe or Arnold qualifiers is it there lives to do that?

Having a job and kids and family seems too much for competitors. If you want to look like that, is it more than dedication ….you eat breath sleep bodybuilding!

I have come realize that most supplements are a scam, and eating is so hard at college, especially clean and frequently.

My genetics seem to be at a disadvantage too.

- Jake S.


Quit worrying about genetics, supplements and how hard it will be and make small changes over the course of a year to ensure that things become a routine.

I receive all types of replies from skinny guys, women, older guys who give me a LAUNDRY list of why they can’t do something but they really want to look like such and such a fitness pro or model.

You can’t.

If you can’t train like a pro, eat like a pro and be dedicated like a pro, you can’t be a pro.  If you enjoy swimming but can only give 2 hours a week maximum and sometimes have to skip your workouts to pick up the kids, you won’t be the next Michael Phelps contender.

That doesn’t mean you can’t look awesome!

These guys don’t have to live/breath/eat bodybuilding but I’ll tell you what they do.

1) Consistency
2) Dedication
3) Determination
4) Over many years

They don’t skip meals. They don’t skip workouts. They are determined to make it work thru preparation and hardwork.  They don’t make excuses.  They overcome injuries and obstacles that would sideline the average person and keep pushing forward.  They hit a roadblock and work to get over or around it.

In the case of Usain Bolt and the Men’s 200m Semi-finals, the guy doesn’t even think about times, precise meal planning, he just does it.  He wants to win so he simply runs faster than anybody else.

They don’t worry about the supplement of the month. Most of them are either on steroids among other things or just use the basics like creatine and protein.

All these other things are for the confused guys who are looking for the answer in a bottle while the professional already know the answers.  Hard work equals great results.

Hard work over a period of time will beat out any dude who trains half-assed or inconsistently or uses some supplement of the month in hopes that he’ll look like a pro but have to put in less work.

Eating at college is hard!

In fact, I just all but skipped out on that. I just ate my 3 meals a day and worked out when I could. My goal in college was to get in and get out with a degree. Looking huge and ripped wasn’t even on my mind. I just exercised and kept active and didn’t concern myself with that.

I could have but it would have been very difficult and required a ton of planning and buying food. I didn’t have the room, the time or the will to eat 5-6 times a day when I was in school. It just wasn’t my priority.

If you want it to be, then you’ll just make it work. You’ll buy food. You’ll get a small fridge. You’ll prep meals and carry them to class because that’s what guys do in college when they need meals and are always on the go.

My tips would be to first figure out what you want and then start making small changes to make it happen.

Make things routine.

For example, take a look at your breakfast.

Is it perfect?

If not, how can you make it so. What can you do every single day to have the best darn bodybuilding breakfast on campus. If not, then you can’t possibly have a lifestyle if you can’t make a simple change to your breakfast.

Then look at your training. How can you make it consistent. 4 or 5 days a week in addition to classes? No breaks for finals. NO breaks to get hammered on Friday night. You can’t get to 10% body fat and look ripped when you get ripped right? Some guys can but most guys can’t.

Focus on what you can do and less on what you can’t.

Start small. Make your breakfast the best. If you can’t even do that for 2 weeks, then don’t bother making a significant lifestyle change as you won’t be able to keep the pace.

But you don’t have to live, breathe and eat this stuff to be a superstar. With some hardwork, consistency and dedication, you can kick butt!

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Surprisingly Simple “Pre-Workout Energy Drink” Video

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

This video rocks! This six minute video will show you step by step how to make your own homemade supplement energy workout drink. But before you watch the video, let me tell you some of the reasons why I like it so much.

For starters… we’ve all spent countless dollars on supplements. Who hasn’t tried a fat burner or wondered during their cutting cycle if just this one particular product might work to help chemically stimulate them to lose weight? Or the pre-workout blues where you don’t have the energy but you see the guy with the 1 gallon jug of some Nitrix Oxide mixture, caffeine and Yohimbe to get them amped for the workout ahead?

To date, I’m not a huge supplement fan myself so I don’t spend all that much money but I did. When I was 18 years old, I feel for tricks of the trade. I skipped meals and didn’t train like an animal in favor of the flashy ads. We’ve all been fooled at some point. It’s why marketing and advertising works so well and why people who can write, literally write their own paychecks.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself! For starters…

If you do like pre-workout drinks and you want to make your own, here’s a really simple recipe that you can follow that will have you amped for those workouts. Maybe you’ve heard the saying?

“Nothing is more persuasive than a good demonstration” If you tell them, they doubt you, but if you show them, they believe you.”

“Marc, do you think X brand of fat burner will work? Do you think I should spend my money on a pre-workout drink? I’m tired before I hit the gym and I need something. Please help. I don’t have a lot of money so don’t recommend something too expensive okay”

I get these all the time.

And that brings me to this video you’re about to watch and why I like it so much.

It’s hard enough to talk you thru making your own supplements. There’s confusion on what to buy, where to purchase the bulk products and how much to put in. I’m going to defer that question to the guy who likes to make his own supplements.

Frankly… NOTHING beats a good demonstration.

So, watch this demonstration, and appreciate a much education of homemade supplements.

Credit and a big thank you go to the producer of this video, Jeff “The Muscle Nerd” Anderson, The HomeMade Supplement Chef!, Thanks Jeff. Some companies may hate you for spreading this video. I’m sure some people will thank you for saving them a boatload of money. Almost everybody will appreciate the simplicity you demonstrate in this video on making your own pre-workout drink.

To pick-up the PDF of this recipe and to learn how to make many other homemade supplements from Jeff Anderson head over to:

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How to Read a Research Study

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
Photo Credit: NinJA999

Image Credit: ninja999

Do you ever wonder how they do it? How do fitness experts get their hands on a research study and break it down for the layman to understand? Do they know something we don’t? Do they really just print out 15 or more pages of a long, methodical study and read it word for word, first page to last and understand it?

For example, a new diet study from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) compared low fat, low carb and the Mediterranean diet.

Here’s 2 excellent examples of fitness experts, breaking down just this study for you, reading far beyond the abstracts or the studies quick conclusions.

Sites That Got It Right:

  • Diet-Blog
  • Burnthefatblog

They like us, use a formula to read beyond the headlines, media frenzy and comprehend the article.

Almost all the reporters got it wrong, wrong WRONG! So did most of the gloating low carb forumites and bloggers. Come to think of, almost everyone interpreted this study wrong. Some valuable insights came out of this study, but almost everyone missed them because they were too busy believing what the news said or defending their own cherished belief systems …

- Tom Venuto

I Am Going to Show You How:

  • how to read a research study
  • know if the expert you are following has read the study and comprehended the study
  • be able to spot experts who use this formula from the others who skim and jump to conclusions

Why This Matters to You:

If you aren’t interested in learning how to read one, that’s fine. But make sure the guru you follow is READING and interpreting the study correctly based on the whole study.

Let’s get started with how to read a research study!

Structure of a Research Study:

Any professional research study contains the following sections:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Sources (sometimes the references and sources are combined as a single source of citations)

You may find that some research studies section names vary just a little, e.g. Methods could be Research Methods or Methodology. If you have in your hand a “research study” that doesn’t contain at least 90% of the above aforementioned sections, you don’t have a research article. If you are reading an article or blog post that doesn’t summarize the same sections above for you, you don’t have a summarized research study.
See the Section Definitions below if you aren’t familiar with what each section contains.

How to Read a Research Study: It’s Not First Page to Last!

My first inclination is to print out the whole thing and read it from beginning to end. Usually by the end, I’m confused, bored and tired. You don’t read the first to last page unless you’re already familiar with the topic.

The Right Way to Read a Research Study:

1. Start with the abstract for an overview. Reminder: Do not draw conclusions. Here’s where many people if they even bother to view the source stop. They reach a conclusion after viewing just the overview! That’s wrong and it usually leads to distribution of misinformation. You’d be surprised but most media outlets only read the title! Or the conclusion only and then report that to the masses as fact.

2. Read the first paragraph or so of the Introduction to get a general idea of the topic. Go to the last paragraph to read the hypothesis if any.

3. Skim the Discussion to see how the study turned out and any results.

4. Time for the details! Head back to the middle part and read the Methods section carefully and plan on re-reading this a few times to digest it all.

5. Read the Results section. You can use the Discussion section for clarity on what the statistics mean. However, don’t get bogged down in the details of the Methods or Results section. Just obtain an idea of how the hypothesis was tested.

6. Read the Discussion section closely. Pay attention to details.

7. Read the whole study, first page to last. Re-read it again for the best comprehension.

What The Section Means:

A summary of the main points of the article: here’s where you’ll find the purpose of the study, the hypothesis, the methods used, who was studied, and the conclusion or the findings. While you should read this first to get an general overview, a common mistake made is to draw conclusions just from the abstract.

This section contains relevant background information, contexts and the predictions to be tested (the hypothesis). It may contain some references to previous studies related to the same topic.

The approach taken in the study is in the methods section. Here you should find detailed information about the research methods used. The questions asked the setup of the study, ages of the subject, number of subjects, procedures, testing conditions, and the approach that will be taken for data analysis.

Data is summarized in this section, relationships between variables and any differences in the groups should be reported in this section. The analysis should reflect something about the predictions that were described in the Introduction section. Comparisons might be included to explain findings and to explore any unforeseen findings.

You won’t find numbers or many stats here but you will find them summarized in a narrative form. How the study coincides with the hypothesis and any previous studies on the subject are discussed in this section. Suggestions for the need for further studies on this topic frequently are found in the discussion section.

A listing of the sources cited in the research study such as articles, books and possibly other studies. This could include sources not directly used to are still relevant to the research topic at hand. A little trick is to use the reference list to find many other sources on the topic.

Now that you understand how to read a research study here’s some practice for you.


Use this diet study from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) compared low fat, low carb and the Mediterranean diet. Remember, almost everybody got this one wrong! Let’s see if you read the study if you find the same conclusions.


Do you think the following headlines are valid?

  • Study Tips Scales in Atkins Diets Favor: Low Carb Regimen Better Than Low Fat Diet For Weight And Cholesterol, Major Study Shows.
  • Low-Carb and Low-Fat Diets Face Off
  • The Never-Ending Diet Wars
  • Low Carb Beats Low Fat in Diet Duel
  • Atkins Diet is Safe and Far More Effective Than a Low-Fat One, Study Says
  • Unrestricted Low-Carb Diet Wins Hands Down
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How to Be a Bodybuilder Instead of a Gym Rat

Monday, July 21st, 2008
Do Genetics Determine Everything?

Photo Credit: Kaptain Kobold

There must be some reason why certain people build more muscle and lose more fat than others.

Said another way, if two equally gifted individuals start working out … why does one make significant progress and the other looks like they don’t even belong to a gym?

Is it simply a random occurrence – the proverbial, “your genetics determine your physique”?

Is it simply whoever trained harder on that particular day?

Is it simply that one person had a greater desire to challenge themselves than they other?

To be sure things like genetics, opportunity and desire contribute to the outcome of most bodybuilders, but there is another factor – often unseen – that plays a huge role in determining who gets to show off the six pack when summer rolls around.

And that factor is “gym strategy “.

That is -


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Exercise for Seniors

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Tough Old Bird

Exercise Program for Older Adults

Source: One of the MANY e-mails my mom sends me.

  1. Begin by standing on a comfortable surface where you have plenty of room at each side.
  2. With a 5-lb. potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides, and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.
  3. Each day you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.
  4. After a couple weeks, move up to 10-lb. potato sacks.
  5. Then try 50-lb. potato sacks. Then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb. potato sack in each hand, and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I’m at this level.)
  6. Once you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each sack.

No matter what age you are, being sedentary can be hazardous to your health! From the moment we are born, humans were meant to move. While starting an exercise program is always best done when you are younger, it doesn’t mean if you are currently reading this at age 40 + and never really exercised a day in your life, you should just give up.

Did you know that more adults fear losing their independent than death?

Now is the best time to start any type of exercise plan.

I believe that the human body is the only machine on the face of the earth that wears out and breaks down from not using it enough.” - Tom Venuto

The past surgeon general estimated that ~85% of our most dreaded diseases could be prevented with appropriate exercise. You’ll exercise later? No problem. Join the ranks of thousands each year that have major issues due to inactivity. Now hear this…

I’m not asking you to be the next Mr. or Ms. Olympia but I am asking you to start moving.

Being Sedentary Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

  • 300,000 deaths per year are related to poor diets and inactivity
  • 60% of U.S. adults don’t engage in a minimum amount of physical activity
  • 40% of U.S. adults are not active at all

The list goes on but I think you get the point.

Age is No Excuse for Inactivity

If you’ve not heard, adults in their 70′s and 80′s can achieve a level of fitness associated with people 30 years younger. To put that into some type of perspective, an active 65 year old could be as fit as a sedentary 30 year old. Moreover…

You get fragile as you age? That’s a myth my older friends. Wolf’s Law, named for the German pathologist states:

“The robustness of a bone is in direct proportion to the physical forces applied to that bone.”

In short, if you remain active your bones will remain strong. Weight bearing exercises help to strength bones. You older guys and gals should be participating in weight exercises if you aren’t already.

Adults who lead a sedentary existence increase the risk of fracturing bones in accidents around the home or becoming unable to perform regular routine tasks around the home.

FACT: Unfit people will experience a decline in physical performance of roughly 2% per year while fit people will only decline by around 0.5% per year.

I’m no math expert but I can tell you that take that by 30 years and you’ve got a HUGE difference on your hands. Need more proof? Check out Art De Vany.

“At 70, I am fit and lean and strong at 6?1? and 200 pounds. I am never sick and can do anything I want to do”. - Authur De Vany

Training Considerations

  1. Get some medical clearance first before you bum rush the gym and start doing the latest 3 hour routine you just found in that muscle mag
  2. Have a program designed for your specific issues (ROM, join pain, existing injuries, flexibility, fatigue, medical considerations)
  3. Start off slowly (just like a beginner at any age) until you get a good level of base strength

It can be a little more complex than the above but most professional fitness trainers in conjunction with your doctor can design a program based on your current abilities, medical constraints and pre-existing injuries if any.

However, this isn’t an excuse. I’ve personally witness a 74 year old come into my gym and do pull-ups, 3 times a week with a 45 lb weight. For reps! I’m also in contact with a 65 year old Harley Davidson motorcycle rider who did 405 lb squats last year and aims to beat his record this year… AFTER … having knee surgery.

If you want more proof age is no excuse, check out Fit Over 40 by Jon Benson. His beautiful book is an not only an inspiration to what you can accomplish at any age but it’s a true testimonial that you can build muscle and burn fat no matter what your age.

I often get asked if there’s a real different in training between somebody who’s younger (30) and somebody who’s older (50+). A few of my fitness colleagues believe there’s different routines for older people.


Jim Flanagan said it best when being interviewed by Dr. Darden.

“Today, I train just as hard, but not as frequent. I allow for more recovery…”

That’s the real difference. RECOVERY. In fact, you might argue that if you are older, you have to train harder in order to keep those gains coming.

Don’t let age be a factor in anything you do. And don’t get suckered into training programs for older people.

Scott “Old Navy” Hults didn’t even start bodybuilding until age 59 if I recall. He’s won several big name competitions in the Master Pro Bodybuilder category. He trains just as hard as any younger guy. Maybe harder. Most of his training partners are guys who are half his age. He doesn’t do any special exercises for seniors. He started off slow just like any beginner would and he increased his level of fitness. Now he can train at an advanced level.

In short for those who hate to read, Scott didn’t do some special old man exercises or buy into a program for seniors because he was over 40.

While there are considerations for older adults based on their current fitness levels and medical considerations not present in younger people, it’s still the same principles.

We all should know by now that life is a never ending series of choices. While it’s true that advanced in technology have lead to the decline of many diseases, it’s hard to argue that a change to ones lifestyle and environment have the GREATEST impact. Even the smallest changes can result in significant and life altering benefits.

Go out and get some exercise…. please.

Additional Resources:

Top 10 Fitness Trends


Authur De Vany

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Different Pushup Exercises

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

There’s so many different pushup exercises that when I went looking I found this video showing some pushup variations. Below you’ll find a very simple and easy to follow pushup workout to increase your pushups so you will be able to do 100 in a row.

I tried to do 100 pushups in a row and only did 60 non-stop. After all the training programs I’ve done, I figured that I’d easily get to 100. Boy was I wrong! Anyhow…

I Did The HundredIt took me a few seconds in Google to find a very nice site called One Hundred Pushups that has a serious but simple progressive workout plan. My last test, I was able to do 87 in a row. Frankly…

There’s more benefits to the standard pushup that most would think.

  • Release of growth hormone with higher repetition sets
  • Holding the proper pushup position actives the core and strengths your abdominals
  • Trains 3 muscle groups in a single motion (chest, tricep and deltoids)

Even with all the dumbbell and barbell and machine exercises I do on a regular basis for chest, when I started doing just standard pushups independent of my training and not just as a supplemental to my training, I noticed something fantastic. My chest…


In fact, so much the results were significant enough for several people to comment. And the ONLY change I made was just adding standard pushup workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday following the outlined progressive pushup program.

This body weight exercise added inches to my chest that years of direct chest work never did. You can bet I’ll be adding this into my regular workouts for a growth explosion and strength increase that using weights just can’t duplicate.

By the way, I participated in an Underground Chest Training seminar where I gave my very best tips on building a great chest. There were 5 other experts who chimed in on the action. Pushups, v-bar dips, chin placement and many other top notch chest exercises and techniques were covered.

It’s about that time again to see if I can best my previous record of 87 pushups in a row.

How Many Pushups Can You Do?

View Results

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Effects of Alcohol on Muscle Building Explained

Monday, June 30th, 2008

effects of alcohol on muscleQuestion: Does drinking alcohol once a week ( In moderation, like 6 to 7 drinks of 7% per drink of alcohol contents ) affect building muscle or muscle we have? - John C.

My Answer:

As a group, bodybuilder are more health conscious of the foods we put into our bodies than the Average Jane or Joe.  I picked up the following line from Arnold Schwarzenegger in regards to soda pop but it applies to anything that doesn’t directly provide nutritional value or support for the individual.

“Why take something the body doesn’t need right now?” – From Arnie Goes Crazy

This question comes to me more often than “can I build muscle and burn fat at the same time.”  It’s a valid question and one that requires a bit more than what I keep hearing…

  • you shouldn’t drink any alcohol if you are serious about bodybuilding
  • people who on a fat loss quest wouldn’t be caught dead with a drink in their hand
  • drinking completely destroys your muscle building efforts
  • having even just one drink can ruin a week’s worth of gains
  • and so many more statements made by people who’ve never done a set of JD Squats (Jack Daniels Squats)

While it’s true that alcohol has many negative effects on muscle building and the worthless calories from each drink can add up, especially on a fat loss quest where you’re always hungry and every calorie counts, you can still indulge.

But first, let’s take a look at generally what alcohol does to the body in relation to the bodybuilder who’s trying to build as much muscle as humanly possible.

The REAL Effects of Alcohol on Your Body

Many of us associate the effects of alcohol on the body with the heart, lungs, liver, brain, memory, etc. Furthermore, if asked about effects of drinking alcohol in terms of our fitness goals, most people will let you know about the infamous beer belly.

You know what I’m talking about right?

Drink too much and you end up storing too many calories as fat.

Many people will choose low calorie alcohol drinks or low carb alcoholic beverages in an attempt to avoid the fat storage issue. They feel that by making this choice the only bad effects of alcohol – increased fat storage – will be minimized.

But what you didn’t know is that only about 5% of the calories from alcohol are stored as fat! [14]

Then it hit me as it should hit you right about now…

The effects of alcohol on the body are far more damaging than can be predicted by the number of empty calories in some alcoholic beverage.

The truth is…

1- Alcohol really affects the amount of fat your body can and will burn for energy!

In a study done by the American Journal of Clinical Research [4] they concluded that just a mere 24g of alcohol consumption showed whole-body lipid oxidation ( the rate at which your body burns fat) decreased by a whopping 73%!

When alcohol goes thru the liver, the by-product is called Acetate. It would appear that acetate puts the proverbial brakes on fat burning.

Your body can use many types of fuel. Protein, carbohydrates and fat. In many cases, the fuel used is dictated by it’s availability.

Trouble is…

Your body tends to use whatever you feed it for fuel right? As your acetate levels increase, your body burns more acetate as fuel.

What this means is…

Fat burning takes a back seat!

What it all boils down to is this…

a) You consume a couple of alcoholic drinks or more. b) Your liver metabolizes that into acetate. c) Your body uses the acetate for fat as fuel.

2- Increase in appetite

In another American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, there was evidence to suggest that consumption of alcohol lead to an increase in appetite over that of any other carbohydrate type drink. [5]

Researchers over in the Research Department of Human Nutrition and Center for Advanced Food Studies in Denmark [8] concluded that consumption of alcoholic beverages, and wine in particular, may enhance total energy intake at a meal relative to a soft drink, when served with no restriction.

3- Decrease in Testosterone and an Increase in Cortisol

A study of 8 healthy male volunteers observed that after drinking alcohol, the effects of a significant decrease in testosterone and an increase in cortisol (a muscle destroying hormone) lasted up to 24 hours! [6]

The only real question to ask yourself is this…

If you are serious about building muscle and burning fat, you want all the free testosterone levels you can get and you want to reduce cortisol in any way you can. That means go lite on the drinking because it does affect your hormones.

What more…

Is that the effects were even worse if you exercise before drinking. [1] This means that if you are going out and will be drinking more than a small amount of alcohol, you might as well skip the gym.

Not shocking is a study done by the Department of Radiology, Sahlgrenska Hospital, Goteborg, Sweden [2] that determined increased waist to hip ratio of alcoholics may include not only changes in adipose tissue, but also in muscle tissue distribution.

In layman’s terms.. that means more fat around the waist and less overall muscle mass.

4- Decrease in vitamin and mineral absorption

When you consume large quantities of alcohol, your liver is busy converting the alcohol to acetate and any vitamins and minerals that it might process are taken up by the detoxification process.

Alcohol interferes with the metabolism of most vitamins, and with the absorption of many nutrients. Alcohol stimulates both urinary calcium and magnesium excretion. [13]

This just means that you’ll get less of a benefit from the “healthy” meal you may be consuming.

Food in the stomach will compete with ethanol for absorption into the blood stream. It is well known that alcohol competes and influences the processing of nutrients in the body. [12]

5- Decrease in protein synthesis of type II fibers

This means the actual building of muscle is slowed down by 20%+ or more. This included a 35% decrease in muscle insulin-like growth factor-I (GF-I). [9]

6- Dehydration

A common side effect of alcohol is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic. Drinks containing 4% alcohol tend to delay the recovery process. [11]

Considering how important water is to muscle building and general health, it’s clear that dehydration can put a damper on your progress. After alcohol consumption the first thing you might want to do is drink coffee. But that’s a diuretic as well. How to avoid dehydration? Drink more water.

7- Sleep

Alcohol consumption, especially at the times when you would normally sleep, can have effects on the quality of sleep. Clearly high quality sleep is extremely important to the rebuilding and growth process of muscle. Without proper rest and recovery, your gains will be affected.

Alcohol consumption can induce sleep disorders by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states and by altering total sleep time as well as the time required to fall asleep. [10]

8- The next day

A rather obvious conclusion but if you plan on drinking on a Friday night in excess then the leg workout you thought of doing on Saturday morning won’t be top notch. It takes a bit to recover, your body to detoxify and for you mentally to be prepared to workout.

Not to mention you need energy for the workout ahead.

Sure you can hit the weights but my point is…

It’s not going to be the best workout you’ve ever experienced.

At this point you might be totally discouraged to ever drink any alcohol again. But there’s some good news.

Here’s proof…

In the November 2004 issue of the International Journal of Obesity [7] they did a study on the effects of moderate consumption of white wine on weight loss.

Each group consumed 1500 calories. 150 calories came from white wine in one group and 150 calories from grape juice in another.

The conclusion?

An energy-restricted diet is effective in overweight and obese subjects used to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. A diet with 10% of energy derived from white wine is as effective as an isocaloric diet with 10% of energy derived from grape juice.

It’s simple: Moderation is the key! (with first place being abstinence as you already know).  1-2 drinks per day for the general public, is considered moderation.

As a bodybuilder looking for the best possible muscle gains, maybe 1 drink per day or even 1 drink per week would fit into your goals.  However, 6-7 drinks would be detrimental to your muscle building efforts.  You’re better off having 1 drink a night for 7 days than 7 drinks in one sitting.  Again, moderation.

My friend Tom Venuto of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle, has an excellent method for those who DO wish to drink 6-7 beverages in a night.  He’s got a neat little plan outlined in his nutrition section that details what to do if you know you’ll be out for a night of drinking.

In any event…

The effects of alcohol on your body when it comes to building muscle and burning fat are quite clear. It is a lot more than just some extra calories stored as fat. If you consume too much, it can derail your goals a lot longer after your head has hit the pillow and you’ve gone to sleep.


1. Heikkonen, E., Ylikahri, R., Roine, R., Valimaki, M., Harkonen, M., & Salaspuro, M. (1996). The combined effect of alcohol and physical exercise on serum testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and cortisol in males. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 20, 711-716

2. Kvist, H., Hallgren, P., Jonsson, L., Pettersson, P., Sjoberg, C., Sjostrom, L., & Bjorntorp, P. (1993). Distribution of adipose tissue and muscle mass in alcoholic men. Metabolism, 42, 569-573

3. Raben A, Agerholm-Larsen L, Flint A, Holst JJ, Astrup A. (2003). Meals with similar energy densities but rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol have different effects on energy expenditure and substrate metabolism but not on appetite and energy intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 77, 91-100

4. Siler, S.Q., Neese, R.A., & Hellerstein, M.K. (1999). De novo lipogenesis, lipid kinetics, and whole-body lipid balances in humans after acute alcohol consumption. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70, 928-936

5. Tremblay, A., & St-Pierre, S. (1996). The hyperphagic effect of a high-fat diet and alcohol intake persists after control for energy density. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63, 479-482

6. Valimaki, M.J., Harkonen, M., Eriksson, C.J., & Ylikahri, R.H. (1984). Sex hormones and adrenocortical steroids in men acutely intoxicated with ethanol. Alcohol, 1, 89-93

7. Flechtner-Mors, M., Biesalski, H.K., Jenkinson, C.P., Adler, G., & Ditschuneit, H.H. (2004). Effects of moderate consumption of white wine on weight loss in overweight and obese subjects. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 28, 1420-1426

8. Buemann, B., Toubro, S., & Astrup, A. (2002). The effect of wine or beer versus a carbonated soft drink, served at a meal, on ad libitum energy intake. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 26, 1367-1372

9. Lang CH, Frost RA, Kumar V, Wu D, Vary TC. (2000). Inhibition of muscle protein synthesis by alcohol is associated with modulation of eIF2B and eIF4E, 3, 322-31

10. Alcohol Alert, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, No. 41 July. 1988

11. Shirreffs, Susan M., and Ronald J Maughan. 91997). Restoration of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration: effects of alcohol consumption, Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 83, No. 4, pp. 1152-1158

12. “Alcohol, chemistry and you,” Kennesaw State University,, Aug. 2002

13. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Report to Congress, 1990

14. “Why alcohol calories are more important than you think,” Christian Finn,

Photo of the martini by Kyle May Used under a Creative Commons license


Sore Muscles: 3 Phases for Treating Those Sore Muscles

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

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.


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?


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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Rotator Cuff Exercises

Monday, May 5th, 2008

One of my best friends complained for over 2 years about his shoulder injury from a snowboarding mishap.rotator cuff injury

Another friend ended up in surgery with a torn rotator cuff after falling on a railing doing some crazy trick.

The latest story from another individual was a popped shoulder and yet another rotator cuff injury where the actual shoulder bone was sticking out!

Don’t even ask me how many men over 35 I’ve talked to at the gym who’s #1 complaint is…


Guess what? It’s pretty common to have some type of shoulder injury as you get older and while it’s bothersome to plain out a life ruining experience, surgery isn’t always the answer and there’s things you can do to alleviate some of the pain.

A rotator cuff injury can affect any age group. Younger people usually experience this pain beginning with some type of traumatic event or injury. Older people defined as “Over 40″ start to feel some pain in shoulders with typical wear and tear.

What is a Rotator Cuff? It’s the set of muscles that attach to the shoulder blade and tendons that ends on the shoulder, together know as the rotator cuff.

It is estimated that more than 3 million people seek advice and care from a physician for rotator cuff problems.

What is a Rotator Cuff Tear in the Shoulder: Potential Signs and Symptoms

  • pain when lifting the arm away from the body
  • pain sometimes accompanied by weakness
  • difficulty in sleeping on the injured side
  • basic overhead repetitive activities cause pain

There’s a lot of talk about prevention of a rotator cuff injury. Maybe you should engage in rotator cuff strengthening exercises? However, the real truth is that most orthopedic surgeons agree that the research isn’t clear on whether strengthening the rotator cuff itself tends to prevent injury.

The best tool is awareness.

Advice for a Possible rotator cuff injury:

  • changing the technique and reducing the activity that aggravates the issues is important
  • seek medical advice if the problem does not go away with rest and anti-inflammatory medication

Only 1 person out of the 3 stories I told you about in the beginning sought medical advice. That’s 33% of the individuals who had shoulder pain that was persistent actually asked for professional advice. The rest, let it heal, the pain persisted for months and over a year and never did fix itself. In fact, the tear probably got worse and while they could have used rotator cuff exercises at home, they did nothing but wait and the tear got too large to just let go.

Seek medical advice! The sooner you get it diagnosed, the quicker you can get on the road to recovery.

In reality, people with shoulder pain should get some type of medical evaluation by a specialist. The signs of a good examination will be one that evaluates not only the rotator cuff but the possibility of nearby bone spurs. The best diagnose comes from an X-Ray and an MRI.

Did you know that a bone spur around the shoulder area can place a person at a higher risk for a tear?

Not every rotator cuff injury means surgery. Even though tendons don’t repair themselves, it’s possible with physical therapy and cortisone injections to reduce the pain significantly. There’s even some rotator cuff exercises you can do at home to help with the pain.

If the pain is significant and does not go away, rotator cuff surgery might be the only option. Treatment options have gone through a significant evolution over the last 5 to 7 years.

A decade ago, any rotator cuff surgery usually meant an open incision. Today, many rotator cuff injuries can be done arthroscopically. This lesser invasive approach allows for a few tiny incisions to be made. As a result, this type of surgery gives the patient reduced healing time, rotator cuff rehabilitation is faster and pain control is better.

In some cases where a bone spur is the problem, it’s possible to treat it with a laser technique.

All of these rotator cuff surgery options can be performed on an out-patient basis. Many times with the patient awake. It’s a significant change from only a few years ago.

The absolute best prevention of a rotator cuff injury is awareness.

If you suspect something, changing your activities or the motion is one way to avoided the potential for a more serious shoulder problem. You can use some rotator cuff exercises to help strengthen the area and do some physcial therapy options at home to reduce the pain. If the pain doesn’t go away, seek medical advice. Many times, surgery can be avoided. If not, the sooner you get the area diagnosed by a specialist, the smaller the tear may be and less invasive prcedures can be used. This speeds up healing time, rehabilitation and allows for better pain control.

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Photo of a the rotator cuff surgery by r.rosenberger. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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