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The Most Powerful Muscle-Building Tool Available

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The bodybuilding debates will never end. The endless arguments over how an effective muscle-building program should be structured will most likely continue until the end of time. Just scour the Internet message boards, flip through any muscle magazine or talk to the sales rep at your local supplement store. No matter who you talk to or what you read, it seems that everyone is an expert these days.

Also: Burn Fat Safely and Successfully

If everyone is an expert, confident in their own ideas and beliefs, how can the average beginner possibly know who to listen to? He or she is instantly confronted with endless questions that seem to have no clear-cut answer.

How many days should I train per week? How many sets should I perform for each muscle group? What type of rep range should I be using? What are the most effective exercises for stimulating muscle growth? How long should my workouts last?

These questions go on and on until he or she is eventually led to believe that building muscle is an infinitely complex process involving rocket-science precision and an intimate understanding of human physiology. I mean, that’s what takes to build muscle, right? Wrong! Believe me, there are answers to these important questions, and if you are willing to put in the time and effort you will most definitely find them. But that’s not what this article is about.

You see, amidst all of the confusion and endless debating, the majority of lifters end up losing sight of the big picture. Beyond all of the specific workout principles, such as rep range and exercise selection, remains one crucial principle, a principle that lies at the very heart of the muscle growth process. If this principle is not given full attention, or even worse, completely ignored, building muscle becomes next to impossible.

The bottom line is that muscles grow as they adapt to stress. When you go to the gym and lift weights, you create “micro-tears” within the muscle tissue. Your body perceives this as a potential threat to its survival and reacts accordingly by increasing the size and strength of the muscle fibers in order to protect against a possible future “attack”. Therefore, in order to continually increase the size and strength of the muscles, you must focus on progressing each week by either lifting slightly more weight or performing an extra rep or two. In doing this, your body will continue to adapt and grow to the ever-increasing stress.

Building muscle is all about building strength!

So what is the most powerful muscle-building tool available? Quite simply, it is a pen and a piece of paper!

Every time you go to the gym you must write down exactly what you accomplished and then strive to improve upon it the following week. If you aren’t always getting better, then you’re either staying the same or getting worse. Every week you should have an exact plan of attack ready to be executed. You absolutely cannot afford to start throwing weights around aimlessly without a clear-cut goal in mind.

The specifics of building muscle are important to understand and implement, but regardless of what style of training you’re currently using the ultimate deciding factor between success and failure is progression. You can sit around all day obsessing over specific principles, but the bottom line is that if you aren’t getting stronger every week, you absolutely will not be getting any bigger. Examine your training approach closely. If you haven’t been paying laser-like attention to the amount of weight you’ve been using, the number of reps you’ve been performing, and then striving with every ounce of your energy to improve upon those numbers each week, you are completely ignoring the very foundation of the muscle growth process. If you want to see the best gains in muscle mass and strength that you possibly can, a pen and a piece of paper is the most important tool you could possibly have in your arsenal.

Health & Fitness

5 Moves to Target the Lower Abs

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It’s no secret that not all exercises that target the lower abs are created equal; some are more effective than others. For anyone that’s wanting to target the lower abs, it can be very frustrating, to say the least. However, targeting and strengthening the lower abs is possible. The trick is finding the best moves for you to build muscle and flatten or chisel the stomach the way you desire.

Also: Why the Glute Bridge Is Great for After an Abs Workout

Move 1: Rolling Plank
The plank in itself is a great move for the stomach area as a whole. However, this rolling plank works the entire core including the lower abdominal. It will also build strength in the lower back.

Here’s how to do it. Start in a plank position with the body making a straight line from feet to shoulders. Rotate the body to a right side plank and hold for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat on the left side. 10 reps are recommended, 5 on each side.

Move 2: Hanging Leg Raise
Deep muscles are worked during this move as well as the lower back and abdominal area. The only equipment necessary is a chin-up bar. Simply hang from the bar with the feet together and knees bent slightly. Bend the knees and raise the hips at the same time and lift the thighs up to the chest. Pause then lower back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps each.

Move 3: Roll Up
The classic roll-up still can’t be beaten when it comes to the best move to build muscle in the lower tummy. Lay flat on your back, arms stretched straight above the head. Slowly bring them straight up, and raise off the floor to touch the toes. Slowly lower back down. Do 3 sets, 10 reps each.

Move 4: Leg Drop
Lift both legs to the ceiling. Make the abdominals tight then lower the legs slowly until they are a few inches above the floor. When the lower back starts lifting you’ve gone too far. Then raise them back up, and repeat. Do 10 reps and 3 sets.

Move 5: Scissors
Lift both legs straight to the ceiling. Lower the right leg until it’s just a bit off the floor, then switch legs. Do the move quickly with no breaks. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps each. For added benefits lift the head and shoulders off the floor.

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Health & Fitness

The importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water

Alkaline for the Body

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I am sure that many of you have been told of the importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water. What is not as often mentioned is just how alkaline foods and water work to ensure optimal health.

Also: How can I Stay Motivated when it comes to Home Exercise?

To begin with, the consumption of an alkaline diet regulates the body’s PH factor. The body’s PH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. When the body’s PH is kept at just above 7.0 a variety of bodily functions work more efficiently. The resulting health benefits are both numerous and of great importance.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water is an excellent buffer against cardiovascular disease. Alkaline diets are great for reducing inflammation, the result of this is often the lowering of both cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water lowers the chronic pain effects for a variety of ailments. Another benefit of an alkaline diet’s inflammation lowering qualities is a great reduction in chronic pain symptoms. Alkaline foods and water can provide significant relief for chronic sufferers of chronic back pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and joint pain.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water provides protection of bone density. Alkaline diets provide excellent mineral balance which facilitates bone growth and health. In addition, alkaline diets promote the production of growth hormone and the absorption of Vitamin D which provides further protection for bones.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water reduces the risk of cancer. Alkaline diets provide an abundance of antioxidant protection against cancer. Also, alkaline environments are not conducive to the growth of cancer cells.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water prevents the development of diabetes. The pancreas is a bodily organ provided with the task of regulating the body’s blood sugar. The pancreas is dependent on an alkaline environment to function properly. One study, focusing on the effects of alkaline water on blood sugar, showed that just a month of drinking alkaline water can bring the blood sugar of diabetics to a normal level.

The health benefits of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water cannot be understated. I am sure that after reading just a few of these benefits you will agree that making a conscious effort to incorporate alkaline foods and water into your diet is well worth the effort.

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Health & Fitness

Prevent Muscle Loss During Fasted Cardio with BCAA Supplements

BCAAs to Start Your Day

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Photo by Nicole De Khors

One of the most popular forms of extreme fat loss is fasted cardio. Usually done in the morning, this exercise method consists of working out the body anaerobically on an empty stomach, as opposed to full of calories from prior meals. The benefit of fasted cardio all lies in the specific targeting of fat reserves. More specifically, after eating a large meal, insulin levels are raised within the body. As cortisol levels are very high in the morning, they will target muscle cells with the increase in insulin. However, during a fasted state, those high cortisol levels in the morning can be utilized to target fat reserves as opposed to the muscle as the insulin levels will be greatly diminished during that fasting time. As explained by Men’s Fitness, “if you are fasted, insulin is low and cortisol will then go after body fat reserves”.

Also: Increasing Longevity Through Better Nutrition

For those looking to optimize their fat loss while still maintaining all of their hard-earned muscle, fasted exercise is not the only part of the equation. A healthy amount of Branch Chain Amino Acid’s to start your day will help to maintain all of that muscle that has taken so many dedicated hours in the gym to pack on. BCAA are essentially the very building blocks of muscles themselves. According to Layne Norton, experienced bodybuilder, and Ph.D., “BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis”. So not only can this aminos help to you to maintain your muscles, it can also provide your muscles with a greater capacity for growth by targeting the actual muscle cells. But within a fasted state in the morning, we are primarily concerned with the rate of protein breakdown that may occur. Lucky for us, BCAA supplements can answer for this too. BCAA’s are also very capable of decreasing the rate at which protein breaks down. As explained again by Dr. Layne Norton, this can be explained by the aminos “decreasing the activity of the components of the protein breakdown pathway”.

In short, starting your days with a BCAA supplement is a great way to ensure that your muscle gains are not lost during fasted exercise. BCAA’s are one of the most well-researched supplements on the market and therefore finding a wealth of knowledge on them is not difficult. A simple search engine will guide you through a host of well documented and researched information. Additionally, these supplements are easy to find at any local supplement store or more simply online.

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