Tag: Muscle Building

Bill Starr, Gaining Weight The Natural Way (1993 article)

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It was the first really warm day of spring. The trees and shrubs displayed tiny buds, but the insects and crawling creatures were not yet out in force and, best of all, the poison ivy was still dormant. It was the ideal time to hike through the woodlands of the Susquehanna State Park. I tracked down the source of a small stream, watched a six-foot blacksnake slither up the limbs of a sapling in order to do some serious sunbathing, and observed a dozen adventuresome canoeists guide their crafts over the white water of Deer Creek.

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Guest Post: The History of Amino Acids and their Integration into the Fitness Industry

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In the fitness world, amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein that aid the muscle-building process, along with other benefits. They are also primarily known as the supplement every successful athlete uses on a daily basis to boost performance and aid the post-workout recovery process. While there is no denying that workout supplements such as BCAAs definitely should have a place on your kitchen shelf, it’s important to understand their history first in order to expand your knowledge on the subject and make informed decisions when it comes to your nutrition, supplementation, and training.

Keep in mind that the history of amino acids goes way back before the age of sports science and their integration into the fitness world. With that in mind, let’s revise the past, the present, and even the future of amino acids and their role in your fitness lifestyle.

The History of the Assisted Pull Up Machine

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Now admittedly this is not the catchiest title I’m ever going to use but it hopefully conveys the purpose of today’s post. Back when I started training, assisted pull up machines were a thing of scorn. Who, we would wonder, would bother with such an oddity? Couldn’t individuals muster a solitary pull up by themselves? Well several humbling years later, during which time I realised my version of pull ups was generous to say the least, I discarded the arrogance of my teenage years and used the machine for the first time. It has since become a staple in my training, used at the end of workouts to ensure my back and ego is fried in equal measure.

While we’ve covered mainstream machines like the leg press, prowler or leg extension, I have to admit that I find niche and oftentimes strange devices like the bosu ball or foam roller to be far more interesting. You see for me, the more esoteric devices often represent an attempt to reach out to new trainees or those uncomfortable in the traditional gym setting. As becomes clear when studying the assisted pull up machine, the device was born from a increased societal interest during the late 1970s.

John Hansen, ‘Where Have All the Good Gyms Gone?’, Iron Age (c. 2008)

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The number of health clubs and gyms in America have increased by a phenomenal rate over the last 10 years. According to statistics, there are now 17,807 health club facilities in the United States. There has been a 41% increase in the number of health clubs and gyms in this country since 1992.

This is great news for those of us involved in the fitness industry or even just those of us who are fitness advocates. Now, whenever or whereever we may travel, there will always be a place to get our workout in. Health clubs and fitness are now “in” and those of us who exercise on a regular basis are no longer seen as odd or eccentric.

Forgotten Training Protocols: 4 x 10 Clusters

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For whatever reason some training systems remain in the public psyche while others fall to the wayside, continued only by a few dedicated and often fixated trainers. Thus while nearly every intermediate and certainly every advanced trainee is familiar with manipulating rep ranges, few seem to stray outside the comfort zone of 5 x 5, 8 x 3 and whatever other bland rep schemes we chose. What about 7 x 4 for a change?

Musing aside, today’s short post details 4 x 10 clusters, a method of volume training first introduced to me several years ago by an older trainee and a fallback I use whenever my training gets a little stale.

Alan Palmieri, Gaining Weight And Adding Muscle Mass (2003)

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Although sometimes people take up bodybuilding to lose weight, the majority take to the sport in an attempt to add weight and gain muscle size to their frames. This is especially true for teenagers and young adults. As one matures with age it is usually much easier to gain weight, sometimes too much weight. Individuals who are extremely thin go through just as difficult a time as those that are excessively overweight. Being extremely skinny was the reason I took up bodybuilding in the first place.

T.C. Luoma and Bill Phillips, ‘Muscle Media 2000 Exposes 30 of Bodybuilding’s Biggest Myths That Stand Between You and Success!’, Muscle Media, (October/November, 2000).

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1 — You can get as big as a pro bodybuilder without taking steroids; it just takes longer.

Despite what many of the magazines say, all professional bodybuilders use either steroids or steroids in combination with other growth-enhancing drugs. Without manipulating hormones, it just isn’t possible to get that degree of muscularity, the paper-thin skin, and the continuing ability to pack on mass, despite sometimes having poor workout habits and relative ignorance of the principles involved that many pro bodybuilders have. Many supplement distributors, in order to sell their products, would have you believe otherwise.

Still, that’s no reason to give up. By using state-of-the-art training principles, consuming a nutrient-rich diet, and by getting proper amounts of rest, almost every person can make incredible changes in his or her physique. The competitive bodybuilder circuit may not be in your future, but building the kind of physique that gains you respect is certainly achievable, as are self-respect and robust health.

2 — In order to get really big, you have to eat a super-high-calorie diet.

Well, that’s true; you’ll get really big if you eat a super high-calorie diet, but you’ll look like the Michelin Man’s fraternal twin. However, if you want to get big, lean-tissue wise, then super-high- calorie diets are probably not for you unless you are one of those very few people with metabolicrates so fast you can burn off these calories instead of depositing them as fat. Unfortunately, studies show that, in most people, about 65% of the new tissue gains brought about by high-calorie diets consists of fat! Of the remaining 35%, approximately 15% consists of increased intracellular fluid volume, leaving a very modest percentage attributable to increased lean muscle mass.

According to Dr Scott Connelly (MM2K, Spring 1992, p. 21), only about 20% to 25% of increased muscle growth stems from increased protein synthesis. The rest of the muscle growth is directly attributable to increased proliferation of the satellite cells in the basal lamina of muscle tissue, and dietary energy (calories) is not a key factor in the differentiation of these cells into new myofibres (muscle cells).

Of all factors determining muscle growth, prevention of protein breakdown (anti-catabolism) seems to be the most relevant, but adding adipose [fat] tissue through constant overfeeding can actually increase muscle proteolysis (breakdown). Furthermore, additional adipose mass can radically alter hormone balances which are responsible for controlling protein breakdown in muscle. Insulin balance, for one, which partially controls anti- catabolism in the body, is impaired by consistent overfeeding. So much for the eat-big-to-get-big philosophy!

Stay away from the super-high calorie diets unless you’re a genetic freak, or you’re woefully lean and don’t mind putting on fat [or you’re using appropriate pharmaceutical supplements].

The History of 20 Rep Squats

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Though few exercise programmes maintain a venerated status for long in the Iron Game, the mystique surrounding 20 Rep Squat programmes has endured. As hinted by the name, such programmes require lifters to back squat twenty times before unloading the bar, and in my own experience, lying on the ground questioning your decision-making.

Primarily touted for individuals struggling to build mass or to bulk up their legs, such programmes originated in the 1920s and 30s. That they still exist, albeit with some modifications, is testament to their efficacy and popularity. The goal of today’s post is to highlight the original promoters of the programme, to explore the writers who kept the idea in the public mind and finally to question why the programme remains popular in the current age.