2015/10/08 13:51:44
James 1 comment

Are Your Gains Muscle Or Fat? 5 Easy Steps to Finding Out!

Article by 'The Muscle Nerd' Jeff Anderson and originally published in The MuscleTalker February 2004
How do you know if your current bodybuilding program is working or not?

Well, most guys and gals use a combination of the mirror and the scale. However, both of these methods can be deceiving to say the least. The mirror often shows us exactly what we want to see ("Man! Just look at the size of my chest after only one workout!"). And those ups or downs you see on the scale may mean gains in fat, or even worse….loss of muscle!

So how can you determine your progress? If you really want to know if your gains and losses are muscle or fat, there's a simple formula you can use. Don't worry…you won't have to break out your old algebra books for this one. Just follow along with the muscle nerd:

Step 1: step on the scale. You need a baseline measurement of your weight for figuring out the rest of the formula.

Step 2: measure your bodyfat. While there are several ways to accomplish this, one of the easiest and least expensive ways is to use a bodyfat calliper. Nowadays, you can pick up one up for around £15 or $20 that will do the trick. Follow the instructions with the device to determine the ratio of lean weight to fat in your body.

Step 3: multiply your weight by your measured bodyfat percentage to find out how much fat you're lugging around. Record your answer for future measurements.
Example: 185 lbs. X 17.5% (or .175) = 32.4 lbs of fat

Step 4: subtract the amount of fat (in lbs) from your original bodyweight in step 1.
Example: 185 lbs. (original weight) - 32.4 lbs (of fat) = 152.6 lbs lean weight

This calculation will tell you how much lean weight you're currently carrying. However, this first measurement will not tell you how much muscle you have since your lean weight is also made up of bones, organs, hair, etc. What it does give you is your baseline measurement to compare with future measurements since any gains you make in lean bodyweight should only come from muscle.

Step 5: Perform Steps 1-4 again approximately 3-6 weeks later. Then compare your results with your previous reading.
Example: Let's say your first measurements were:
Weight - 187 lbs
Bodyfat % Reading - 17.5%

187 x 17.5% = about 32.7 lbs of fat
187 - 32.7 = 154.3 lbs lean bodyweight

Now, for your second measurements you get:
Weight - 190 lbs
Bodyfat % Reading - 16%
190 x 16% = about 30.4 lbs of fat
190 - 30.4 = 159.6 lbs of lean bodyweight

If you now compare your second readings with your first, you can see that you've GAINED 5.3 lbs of muscle (from 154.3 lbs lean in first reading to 159.6 in the second); and you've LOST 2.3 lbs of fat (from 32.7 lbs of fat in first reading to 30.4 lbs in the second). vShort of breaking out the slide rule from my pocket protector, this is the easiest way I can teach you how to determine if your current program is helping you meet your goals. Just use this formula at regular intervals in your program (every 3 or 6 weeks is recommended) and you won't have any problems.

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2015/10/07 06:57:17
James 1 comment

Turn a NEGATIVE into POSITIVE results!

(This article was written by former MT member Junkyard Dog & was originally published in The MuscleTalker November 2002 edition)
I will be using curling as an example:
Positive: Contracting the muscle, curling a dumbbell up.
Negative: Extending the muscle, lowering the dumbbell.

Many people tend to work very hard to get the weight up only to let the fall back down offering little or no resistance. What a waste! You should use as much energy to keep the weight from falling that you did in getting it up in the first place.

Time it out to a 1:1 ration. The time it takes to get the weight through the positive motion (curling the weight up) should match time to get it through the negative motion (lowering the weight back down). It really adds a lot to your workout!

You can intensify this by changing the ratio to 2:1 or higher. You can also have your spotter add more weight to the negative by lightly pushing on the bar. This will add a burn that you will not soon forget!

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2015/10/06 16:04:17
James Leave a comment

Digestion and Absorption of Protein and Carbohydrates

One of the most commonly asked questions on MuscleTalk is 'How much protein can I absorb in one sitting?' Unfortunately this is another 'How long is a piece of string?' question, as there are so many factors to consider, and in reality, there is no maximum amount. Often the poster is referring to how much protein can be utilised in a time period I guess, but this again depends on a multitude of factors and I would never like to put a figure on it.

This article sets out to give readers some basic background as to how proteins and carbohydrates are digested and absorbed, as being armed with this information will help you plan your nutrition in order to maximise gains. I am not going to name all the chemicals, enzymes and substrates involved in the processes as this is beyond the scope of this article; if you want to know this any basic physiology textbook will give you the information. Also this article will not debate the fate of these nutrients post absorption.

Digestion of food begins in the mouth and continues until all nutrients have been absorbed in the intestines. A number of digestive enzymes are involved in protein and carbohydrate digestion which result in short chain structures of the nutrients (oligomers) or the basic unit of each (monomers). The simplest unit of proteins are amino acids of which there are 20-odd different types. Two amino acids linked together are called dipeptides, three are called tripeptides, a few amino acids in a chain are called oligopeptides and long chains of them are called polypeptides.

The simplest units of carbohydrates are monosaccharides, two of which together are called disaccharides, a few in a chain are oligosaccharides and long chains of monosaccharides are called polysaccharides.

Many articles will have you believe that proteins and carbohydrates can only be absorbed from the intestinal lumen in their simplest form, i.e. as amino acids and monosaccharides, but this is not the case. Amino acids and monosaccharides are absorbed in their basic monomer form by an active sodium dependant transport process, however di- and oligopeptides and di- and oligosaccharides can be taken up in their short chain form and then further broken down to free amino acids and monosaccharides when inside the cells of the intestine rather than in the lumen. The process of this is not precisely known but is definitely unrelated to a sodium transport system and thought to be either cell enzyme-related or dependent on an ion gradient. Thus there are two unrelated systems in operation to absorb protein and carbohydrates.

OK, I can hear you saying: 'Enough boring science, James, how does this affect my bodybuilding nutrition in practical terms?' You may be aware of the concept of amino acids competing for receptor uptake when being absorbed. If the protein available at intestinal level is both monomer and oligomer forms then absorption will be maximised. If you are eating a combination of food sources then both processes will be optimised naturally due to digestion processes. Also 'peptide' supplement formulas using proteins from different sources will have an advantage here as some of the peptides will be fully digested to amino acids before absorption and some will still be peptides.

Whey protein is semi-elemental, i.e. it is naturally partially digested, and made up of amino acids and short chain peptides. So, whey consumed with nothing else except water, will be digested and absorbed very quickly, which can be advantageous when demand is high (post workout and first thing in the morning). However, at other times whey on its own may pass through the digestive system too quickly and be fully broken down to amino acids by the time it reaches the intestines level hence absorption will not be maximised. For this reason other protein blends are preferred (such as those containing casein or egg) or, even better, eat protein from food sources and maybe compliment the meal/snack with just 10g of whey to bump this up.

As explained above, protein and carbohydrate are absorbed by the same two methods, but also there is a degree of synergy of absorption, i.e. the presence of both in the small intestine compliments each other's absorption.

For optimal results I would suggest only whey in water first thing in the morning and post workout, and at other times a combination of food sources of protein or a mixed protein formula consumed with carbohydrates.

Article by James Collier originally published in The MuscleTalker March 2003

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2015/09/29 06:40:33
James Leave a comment

The 'Losing Fat, Gaining Muscle' Debate

The debate as to whether it is possible to lose fat at the same time as gaining muscle is a common one. From a scientific point of view it is, in fact, not possible to be in an anabolic state while you are in energy deficit. It is also imperative to be in energy deficit in order to lose body fat. So, from this point of view it is impossible to actually gain muscle, whilst losing fat.

Bodybuilders who are dieting strictly, say for a show, will not be able to gain any muscle while losing their fat to achieve the cut look. The trick is to maintain their muscle, which if training and nutrition are optimal is easily possible, and you need lose no muscle even in the strictest stages of dieting.

However, most of us don't need to diet so strictly. Many of us may want to lose a reasonable amount of fat, but there is no need to lose it so quickly that muscle growth isn't possible. All bodybuilders and athletes who strive for optimum nutrition should be eating a varied choice of food everyday. Such bodybuilders/athletes who are aiming to lose fat, in doing this will have their calorie intake varying from one day to the next; sometimes they will be in energy deficit, where fat loss will occur and sometimes in energy surplus (where they will gain muscle). Furthermore, this will happen during the course of one day; at times they will be in deficit, at times in surplus.

Of course, on this type of regimen, neither muscle gains nor fat loss will be as high as if you were in energy surplus or energy deficit respectively, so the individual need to decide what it their priority. However, as most of you are striving to continually gain muscle, even if you want to shed some fat, this is the best way of achieving your goals.

As to how you would achieve this metabolic state sounds complex, but, in fact, it's far from complex. All you need to do is 'clean up' your diet, reduce portions of the carbohydrate fraction of your meals (but not eliminate them), keep protein high, eat small regular meals and include (more) cardiovascular exercise. From this you must monitor your progress, possibly on the scales and my bodyfat assessment, but more importantly in the mirror and with the critical eyes of your honest friends. If progress on either parameter is not as you would like, you will need to adjust accordingly.

For a sample meal plan of such a regimen see my article on MuscleTalk, not that this is merely an example and will need to be amended to suit you: See our Losing Fat article.

(This article was written by James Collier & was originally published in The MuscleTalker July 2003 edition)
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2015/09/29 06:36:27
James Leave a comment

Warming Up and Stretching

(This article was written by former MT moderators Devildave & Ozzy & was originally published in The MuscleTalker October 2002 edition)
One of the most important aspects of working out is the warm-up. This is all to often neglected. Warming up is essential to prevent injury and increase your gains; it relaxes the muscles and allows them to be stretched more efficiently. It will also improve your circulation by dilating the blood vessels to the muscles. Exercising without warming up may causes muscles to work without enough oxygen supply, forcing them to use anaerobic processes respire. As a result lactic acid accumulates and muscles may become fatigued. Cold muscles and tendons are more prone to injury and tears, thus warming up helps to optimise training.

Muscles, ligaments and tendons are designed to be flexible, but when cold they are stiffer, so it is advisable to gently ease into your stretch patterns. Focus largely on the area to be worked in your routine, but remember secondary muscles will be used. Begin your stretches at a moderate intensity and, as the body loosens up, you should be able to stretch harder. A stretch should be lengthy enough to fully open the muscle, but remember that you must not 'bounce' in your stretch as this places unnecessary pressure on the muscles. A stretch warm down can also help to keep the blood circulating through the used areas. Again stretching should be concise and lengthy to ensure a good warm down.

Train safe!

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2015/09/23 14:01:52
James Leave a comment

Liquid Sun Rayz UK Expanding!

 James Collier & Louise Beard formalise their partnership by forming a new company, Active Tan Ltd, to promote Liquid Sun Rayz in the UK.
James Collier, MuscleTalk.co.uk co-owner, PCA official and bodybuilding & fitness promoter, who’s been distributing Liquid Sun Rayz (LSR) products in the UK  since 2010, and Louise Beard, competition spray tanning expert and LSR UK trainer, have teamed up to supply LSR and other competition accessories in the UK and Europe and to promote the brand.  James and Louise have been working alongside each other since 2011 and have now formed Active Tan Ltd so they can together utilise their unique expertise and promote the world’s most popular competition tanning products even more.
As well as offering products like Competition Bronzer, Posing Glaze, skin preparation creams, tan remover and posing trunks found on www.liquidsunrayz.co.uk to the public and trade, Liquid Sun Rayz UK will be offering a spray tanning service at bodybuilding and fitness events.  As Europe’s only competition spray tanning trainer, Louise will also be training spray tanners in the art of spraying for competitions and improving their techniques.
This partnership will not only benefit the brand, but will help bodybuilding and fitness competitors by way of increasing their access to the best products and service available.
For more information email info@liquidsunrayz.co.uk

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2015/09/23 10:20:18
James 3 comments

The Battle of the Sexes (How Should Women Train?)

(This article was written by former MuscleTalk Moderator Nikki & was originally published in The MuscleTalker April 2003 edition)
There has been a debate in the Female Bodybuilding forum about whether us girls get the best results when we train like men. So what's the answer? Well, the answer is both yes and no.

To settle this argument we must initially establish that there is a difference between the make up and composition of males and females. Furthermore, each and every one of us is different. But that's a whole new topic...

First let's have a look at the general differences between men and the fairer sex.

*Hormones: Women have more leptin which regulates the breakdown of body fat. Females also have lower testosterone (test) levels but higher levels of growth hormone (GH). To compensate for this, women's GH levels remain stable when exercising rather than peaking like men's, and females have a higher level of the test-trapping protein SHBG. Men release more fat-burning hormones such as adrenalin and noradrenaline giving them a greater muscle 'pump' and higher fat burning when training.

*Composition: Generally females have more fat and less lean muscle than males. However, fat in our breast tissue and surrounding our reproductive organs alone make up around 7-8% of our body fat percentage (BF%), making it important that women do not let their BF% decline lower than this for a sustained period. It is also clear that males and females store fat differently. Men generally get the 'beer gut', while everything gets pear shaped for women!

*Glycogen stores: Us women tend to have smaller livers than men meaning that we store less glycogen. However, we protect our glycogen stores more than men, meaning we require lower carb intakes.

*Muscle Fibres: Often girls have a greater proportion of fat-burning slow-twitch muscle fibres that boys. This is not always the case, though.

*Blood: Less small blood vessels in women's blood compared with men make it harder to reach a high intensity when training.

*Genes: This is unexplored territory. But it is known that men have more genes that produce proteins relating to structure and metabolism of muscle cells.

*Metabolism: Our generally higher BF% and less muscle mean we burn fewer calories than men. However, this fluctuates with our hormone levels meaning that women can require an additional 300 calories per day just before menstruation.

So what does this all mean? Basically the difference boils down to BF%. Men have less and find it easier to pack on lean mass then women. But does this mean that women can't train like men? Well that depends on goals.

Most women hope to achieve the 'toned' look, i.e. low BF%, greater muscle mass. If this is the goal then shouldn't women also go back to the basics of building muscle – heavy weight, low reps in order to overload the muscle and stimulate growth? This would enable women to build the muscle they require. Despite the fears of many women, they are not going to become the incredible hulk overnight without hormonal assistance.

Now to address the issue of BF%. As we have established the fact that women find it harder to burn fat then men, this is the area of our training that could differ from that of men. It cannot be argued that the basics steps to lose weight are diet and exercise. So this means that in order for a woman to keep her BF% lower she will need to be more careful with her diet and perhaps include more cardio in her routine. Also, as females store more glycogen then men, the proportion of carbs their diet might need to be lower.

The bottom line to this argument is that a woman and man can train the same way to achieve muscle growth. However, woman will need to keep a closer watch on their diet, keeping carbs lower, and include more cardio in order to achieve the 'toned' look that is so desired.

This is what Arnold says in his 'Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding': “Aren't there any programs developed specifically for women in this Encyclopedia? The primary reason is that the fundamentals of muscle training and diet programs are essentially the same for both sexes...True, it's a fact that the female body responds somewhat differently, but every individual is going to find the need to adjust training and diet programs to suit his or here personal needs. So my advice to women is to learn the bodybuilding techniques in this book...The goal for men and women is the same: to create the maximum possible aesthetic development of the physique. My advice to women interested in serious training is simple: Your muscle cells don't know you are a female. They respond to progressive-resistance weight training, as does a man's. And as far as the training experience is concerned, all that counts is getting through the next rep, the next set, the next workout. The correct approach to training is what produces the best results.”
European Journal of Nutrition. Lipolysis, fatness, gender and plasma leptin concentrations in health, normal weight subjects.
Journal of Applied Physiology. Post exercise protein carbohydrate and carbohydrate supplements increase muscle glycogen in men and women
Journal of Applied Physiology. Skeletal muscle adaptations during early phases of heavy resistance training in men and women
Journal of Applied Physiology. Gender differences in glucose regulatory responses to intense exercise
European Journal of Clinical Investigations. Gender differences in resting metabolic rate and noradrenaline kinetics in older individuals
Schwarzenegger A. Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding

(This article was written by former MuscleTalk Moderator Nikki & was originally published in The MuscleTalker April 2003 edition)
2015/09/23 05:11:20
James 1 comment

Take good care of your breasts...!

...chicken breasts, that is!
Food safety is important and bodybuilders habitually eat a lot of chicken. But do you store and prepare your chicken safely so as to prevent spoilage and/or food poisoning? There is nothing more off-putting than the vial smell of chicken that has gone off, it means you'll have to throw them away, a waste of money as chicken is expensive. Worse still you don't want to get food poisoning and suffer diarrhoea and vomiting, you'll wave goodbye to all recent gains in 24 hours!

You probably buy your chicken once a week and store them in the freezer. Make sure you only freeze 1-2 breasts together in freezer bags, this way when you come to defrost them you won't have to defrost a whole packet, risking spoilage of the last couple in the packet. Also make sure it is still well before their use-by date when you actually freeze them in the first place.

Do not defrost chicken at room temperature, as the outer edges of the meat can reach ambient temperatures and support bacterial growth even though the core of the meat is still frozen. Remember that some bacteria have doubling times of the order of 20-30 minutes depending on conditions. If you are defrosting at room temperature 'throughout the day' you could experience significant contamination of the meat, and perhaps spoilage that substantially causes the bad taste. Defrost chicken slowly in the fridge to prevent bacterial growth/spoilage. I know it takes a long time but at least your food will be edible.

When defrosting in a refrigerator store chicken in a container ensuring the defrosting meat is separate from other foods and will not drip juices onto other products. It's best to put meats on the bottom shelf.

Obviously make sure that chicken is cooked thoroughly and is tender with no pink meat when cutting it. Cooking meat properly prior to eating kills off the bacterial innoculum (thus saving yourself from food poisoning) but obviously you could still have the spoilage of taste if your chicken isn't stored or defrosted properly.

(This article was written by James Collier & was originally published in The MuscleTalker September 2003 edition)
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