Archive for December, 2013

Body Weight Circuit Training Workouts

The other day I wrote about practical strength training programs and what you can do to mix up your workouts. That got me thinking about Michael Murphy’s favorite workout that has become legendary among high school athletes.

Michael Murphy was a U. S. Navy Seal who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2005. If he sounds familiar to you, that is because a Naval warship was christened in his name in May of 2011.

Anyway, it is said that his favorite workout was a body weight circuit training workout that consisted of running a mile, doing 100 pull ups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats, then running another mile. This is affectionately and painfully referred to as “The Murph.” This, of course, is scalable, and those that can’t complete a full Murph yet can do the half Murph – half mile run, 50 pull ups, 100 pushups, 150 squats, then another half mile run.

One would perform this torturous activity by sets. For the half Murph, run a half mile, then do ten sets of 5 pull ups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats, then half mile run. If this seems too daunting, scale it to your abilities.

For example, walk or run a set distance around your neighborhood, then do the circuit training exercises, then walk or run the same set distance. There are lots of ways to scale the push ups, pull ups, and squats to your abilities.

Push ups can be done from the knee position instead of the toe position. Picture in your mind the classic push position – hands on the floor, body straight, toes on the floor. Now, instead of toes on the floor, put your knees on the floor. In essence, you are shortening the plank and making the exercise easier. Or, you can do push ups against a wall or a set of stairs. The more parallel to the floor you are, the harder the pushup.

Similarly, pull ups can be scaled. If you are outside, you can do pulls from a tree or post. Stand next to the post with your feet at the base. Grab the post and lean away from it until your arms are extended. Then pull yourself back towards the post. Or, find a cross bar or some other support that will allow you to angle your body to the ground and pull your self up towards the support. Again, the more parallel you are to the ground will be more difficult.

Squats can be scaled as well. Grab on to a sturdy surface and bend at the knees. Go down as far as you can, or until your legs form a right angle. Then push back up. As you progress, go down farther and do more reps.

I refer to this as a body weight circuit training workout because different calisthenics that engage different muscle groups are performed one right after another, with minimal rest in between the exercises. Allow yourself a longer rest between the sets. In other words, Set 1: 5 pull ups, no rest, 10 push ups, no rest, 15 squats; one minute rest. Set 2: repeat.

If you have never worked out like this, you may find it very challenging. Scale it to your ability. Start easy, then change the exercise position to make it more difficult, or increase reps, or decrease rest time. Your overall endurance and strength will make substantial gains. Like anything else, you have to apply consistent effort.

So, let Michael Murphy be your inspiration. Take consistent action every day and watch as your fitness improves over time.

Do We Need Vitamins To Gain Muscle?

We’ve all been told by the people who work at GNC to buy a solid multivitamin along with our whey protein purchase. Are they just upselling us or are they actually giving good advice? In this article you’re going to learn whether or not you really need to use a multivitamin to gain muscle mass

Your body undergoes thousands and thousands of bio-chemical reactions every day. For us bodybuilders, this process is even more intensified. In order for protein synthesis (the creation of larger muscle fibers) to take place, these chemical reactions are essential. So what happens if our bodies don’t have the required vitamins and minerals

I will answer that question with another question. What happens when an Eskimo runs out of ice blocks to build his igloo? Production stops, that’s what. If you don’t provide the raw materials that your body needs in order for a bio-chemical process to take place, then your body will not be able to manufacture the intended result

Here’s the cold hard facts. A person would need to eat an impossible range of foods to meet their daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. Don’t get me wrong, you can get by just fine without an intake of the full vitamin spectrum, you just wouldn’t be running at an optimal level

For this reason bio-chemists have constructed brilliant multivitamins that operate on a time release system. This allows for maximum absorption. So when it comes to the growth of new muscle, yes a strong multivitamin can yield a great return on investment

Supplementing with a performance based vitamin such as Mega Mens Sport, or Animal Pak will allow your body to do the following

1) Continually and efficiently build more muscle in less time

2) Help avoid your body from hitting a ceiling

3) Give your body more energy

4) Allow your brain to operate more efficiently

5) Repair joints and tendons quicker helping to avoid injury

There are more benefits to consuming a quality multivitamin, but those are the main ones. Clearly it’s a smart decision to supplement with a good multivitamin when training with a workout routine to gain muscle. But what exactly do these vitamins do?

It’s important to know which vitamins are fat soluble and which are water soluble. The reason being is that you need to limit your intake of fat soluble vitamins. These vitamins are stored in your fat cells and you can overdose on them which leads to health problems. Water soluble vitamins are impossible to overdose on since you simply excrete excess amounts in your urine. Let’s look at each vitamin from A-K individually.

Vitamin A: Have you ever heard that carrots improve your vision? Well that’s because carrots contain a generous amount of vitamin A. This fat soluble vitamin is also beneficial for healthy teeth, bones, skin, along with respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems.

It’s the most common of the fat soluble vitamins. But with that said, you can overdose on this vitamin causing dry skin, birth defects, liver damage, and headaches. But worry not. If you look at your label of your performance multivitamin, you might notice that it says 198% of your vitamin A intake (such as on the label of Animal Pak).

However, they use the carotenoids version of vitamin A such as beta-carotene. These versions of vitamin A are treated like water soluble vitamins. Your body will take these carotenoids, convert what they need into vitamin A, then excrete the rest.

Vitamin B: There are 8 different types of vitamin B. If you sum up the role that vitamin B plays, it’s to create energy for the body to function.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): This vitamin basically helps to convert your food into APT for your muscles (energy). It’s also important for your central nervous system.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): This one is all about the oxygen. It will help to effectively use oxygen to aid in brain function, tissue repair, and skin regeneration.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Many pasta manufacturers add this vitamin into their pasta. It’s known to help absorb carbohydrates into the cells. This is probably the reason that you find it added into pastas. This vitamin also helps with the functioning of the brain.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): This one is rather simple. Its role is to help convert food into APT (energy).

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): This one helps to convert proteins into energy and in turn produce essential proteins for your body to use as building blocks.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid): This vitamin is responsible for the production of red blood cells. For anyone who gives blood this is a very important vitamin to supplement with.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Important for the generation of genetic material in your cells. It also helps with healthy maintenance of the central nervous system.

Biotin: Helps the body form fatty acids and maintain healthy skin.

Vitamin C: Probably one of the most popular vitamins. Vitamin C is great for your immune system, helps with connective tissue regeneration and is a powerful antioxidant. It’s a water soluble vitamin so it’s impossible to overdose on.

Vitamin D: Believe it or not, your body converts sunlight into vitamin D. Since this vitamin is a fat soluble vitamin your body will stop converting sunlight into vitamin D once it’s had enough. The main role of this vitamin is to help absorb calcium into your body. Overdosing in this vitamin can cause joint pain, dizziness, and diarrhea.

Vitamin E: This vitamin is fat soluble but the body can break it down quite easily. For this reason it’s quite hard to overdose on. The role for this vitamin is for healing of the body and to aid the circulatory system.

Vitamin K: Finally we have big K. This vitamin is responsible for blood clotting to stop excessive bleeding. This is also a fat soluble vitamin but like vitamin E it can be broken down easily.

When you’re training hard with a workout routine to gain muscle you need all of these vitamins working together. All vitamin B’s are water soluble. This is why you see a ridiculous 9000% daily intake of certain vitamin B’s on the label of energy drinks. Various pre-workout drinks also contain large amounts of vitamin B. Some guys like to drink something like this before training with their workout routine to gain muscle.

Performance multivitamins don’t just contain vitamins A-K. They also include large amounts of very important minerals. These minerals serve just as much of a purpose, if not more, than the range of vitamins do when it comes to building muscle.

Just like vitamins, it’s very difficult to get your daily intake of the entire spectrum of minerals. For this very reason it’s extra important that you supplement with a multivitamin. You will find that different types of multivitamins are designed for different purposes. This isn’t a marketing scam. This is because different people need different nutrient balances depending on their age, sex, and level of activity.

Typically you will find that multivitamins targeted at active men who train with a workout routine to gain muscle will have much larger quantities of each vitamin and mineral. Not only this, but certain vitamins and minerals will have an extremely large amount to help the body to recover and regenerate tissue damage.

The elderly require larger amounts of certain minerals and vitamins because their body’s function differently than they did 20 years ago. There is an exact science behind the creation of each specific multivitamin.

To conclude, yes it’s a very good idea to supplement with a multivitamin when training with a workout routine to gain muscle. There is simply no other way to give your body every resource that it needs to rebuild with 100% efficiency. If you don’t currently use a multivitamin, do the research as to which type is best for you and go pick a pack up.

Building Body Mass for an Average Joe!

About Me:

I am 27 years old, I started working out about 6 years ago, but I really got into it about 4 years ago. My starting weight was 135 pounds and my starting height was at 5’11. My goal was to gain weight and gaining muscle mass was my only option. Currently I am at about 6′ and weight 165 lbs. I gained 25 pounds of that within the last 4 years. My current bench is at 240 pounds flat, 250 pounds decline, and 205 pounds incline. About a year ago, my flat bench was at 185 pounds, incline was at 140 lbs, and my decline was at 200 pounds. I am giving you these numbers as a reference because about a year ago was when I discovered a plan that works great for me. Now when I say plan, I mean a workout routine and diet. Before I get started, I want to let you know that this plan does not require you to spend fortunes on supplements, this is just a plan that works for an average person who holds a full time job and can make it into the gym about 3 times a week. The only supplement that I use is Whey protein.

Common Mistakes:

I will start out by pointing out some of the mistakes that I’ve made along way:

Mistake #1: Working only on your upper body while at the gym.

This may be the most common mistake made while trying to build mass. Most people hit the gym on the regular basis, but only work on their upper body (chest, biceps, abs). This may work for a while, buy you will hit your plateau very quickly. I followed this workout routine for almost 3 years and only saw a 5 pound gain out of it and stayed around my bodyweight on my bench. If you really want to gain mass, working out all of your muscle groups is a way to go. After all, you don’t want to be that guy in the gym with a huge upper body and chicken legs.

Mistake #2: Your diet!

What you eat is very import when trying to gain mass. It is important to eat high protein foods. It is recommended that you at least eat 1-2 grams of protein per each pound of your weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would have to eat # grams of protein per day. I usually supplement 2 40g protein shakes for 2 of my meals. Also, it’s important to spread out your protein intake throughout the day. I try not to exceed 40g of protein at a time, anything over that does not help you. A popular and cheap high protein food is tuna, about 30g per can.

Next, try to split up your 3 meals into about 5 – 6 smaller meals. This way your body digests you food faster and uses more of its nutrients. After all, the entire goal here is to gain muscle not fat. Like I said earlier, you may want to substitute a few of your meals with Whey protein shake. I found that by drinking a protein shake within an hour prior to my workout and another one right after my workout. I definitely noticed a difference in my workouts and gains by following this routine. Finally, don’t forget about your carbs and vitamins. Carbs give you energy to go about your day, so they are an important part of your diet. The key to carbs is to eat lots of them early in the day and to decrease the carb intake towards the evening. It is also important to take your daily vitamins, so find a good one!

Mistake #3: Sticking with a same routine.

The key to gaining muscle is to not let your body get used to your workout routine. The key is to shock your body, and the best way to do that is to mix up your workout every few weeks. This can be done by either doing different exercises or by switching up your weight and reps. This is especially important if you are trying to get passed a certain plateau. I used this method to increase my bench from 225 pounds to 240 pounds in a couple of months. This may not seem like a big gain, but you have to remember that I only weigh 165 pounds.

My Workout Plan:

Finally, I will give you an overview of my workout routine:

I have my workout split into 2 day. This part is up to you depending on your schedule. I use 2 days because I have a busy schedule and I know that I will make it to the gym at least 2 times a week and that way I will hit all my muscle groups at least once a week. On an average week I usually make it in about 3-4 times a week.

Day 1:

I work my chest (at least flat bench and incline bench), triceps, upper back (important if you want to increase your bench)

Day 2:

I work my legs (squats are important), lower back (dead lifts), shoulders, traps, and biceps.

*** I work my abs and calf’s each day I work out. These muscles don’t need much recovery time and can be pushed every day. (Look for my post in the future on abs and calf’s)

During my workout week I usually alternate between these workouts and make sure to get enough rest time in between. If you have a more flexible schedule, I recommend spreading out your workout. It takes me about 1 to 1.5 hours to complete my workout. I usually avoid cardio by limiting my rest time. I usually workout on Monday and Tuesday (which covers all my muscle groups) and Thursday (which gives me enough rest time). On Thursday I usually work the muscle groups I hit on Monday, which gives me about 2 days rest in between. I also try to make it on Saturday if I have time. Well, that’s about it. The routine outlined above works best for me for right now. So far I’ve been varying reps and types of exercises that I’ve been doing to keep my body guessing. In my future posts I will cover what exercises work best to build a bigger chest, arms, and abs, so keep an eye out.

I am 27 years old. I spend a lot of time in the gym. Working out and staying in shape is important to me. I like going on rides on my motorcyle and spending time with my 3 year old son.  View profile

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