If you feel like your life has been following the same script and nothing works out, well, you might be lacking something called “self-control”.
Self-control and willpower are two components of your psyche that are in constant dialogue.
Oftentimes, we blame ourselves for not doing the things that have to be done in order for us to achieve our goals.
For instance, that burger you ate last night contrary to your weight loss goal, felt natural and temptatious…
Or maybe, you got as far as buying a gym membership, but you only attended once for a half-assed workout.
If the answer is “Yes”, then you’re in to learn something new in this article.
Let’s talk about willpower.
The Biology Of Willpower
Willpower and its development is without a doubt a hot topic for many people, which is why you can probably find a lot of people talking about it online.
But really, to fundamentally change how your willpower functions, you have to understand how it works on a physiological level.
If we trace the human history, we can come to find that willpower & self-control are instincts that formed throughout our evolution.
For instance, when humans were more primal, you had to somehow know that you should stay away from other humans’ things, or otherwise, you might get hit in the head.
This is exactly how in time, the prefrontal cortex has developed - This is the section of the brain that is responsible for self-control.
The thing is, this part of your brain uses up quite a lot of energy and when you’re tired, underfed, or under-recovered, it suffers the most.
What this means is that you are practically off your leash in terms of self-control, if those conditions are present.
And the problem is that nowadays, we are exposed to such conditions EASILY, leading to more and more people finding less and less motivation and willpower to do the right things for themselves.
Stress vs. WillpowerIf you know a thing or two about stress, you’d be aware that the body has the so-called “stress response”.
This is a self-protection response that arose back when our ancestors were living in the wild, where predators were behind every tree.
The stress response is also known as the “fight or flight” response and is characterized by an increased heart rate, alertness, lowered immune function & high cortisol and adrenaline levels. (1)
The same response gets triggered in animals, such as when a gazelle gets attacked by a cheetah.
Contrary to the fight or flight response, the instinct of willpower kicks off another response, called the “pause and plan” response. (2)
This is basically the moment of rationalization when you’re responding to an internal conflict.
So, you see, with the stress response, you respond to a threat in the environment…
But with willpower, you realize you are your own threat.
If you trigger the pause and plan response, you will be able to induce self-control and develop more sustainable, healthier habits, and overall, make the right choices in any situation.
It’s All In The Heart
Your heart rate variability (HRV) is one of the most important variables that can speak about your internal response and whether it’s a stress or self-regulation response.
Heart rate variability (HRV) is basically the variance of time between the separate beats of your heart.
When under stress, the heart rate goes up and the variations decrease, pushing the heart to work closer to its maximum capacity.
This in turn triggers the feelings of fear or anger that are relevant to the fight or flight stress response.
Oppositely, when you successfully trigger the pause and plan response, your parasympathetic nervous system takes over to induce a relaxation signal.
This makes the heart rate come down while the HRV increases and this, therefore, creates the feeling of calmness, present alertness, and focus.
Heart-Brain CoherenceYou see, willpower, self-control, or however you like to call it, is not just about one component of your brain, such as the prefrontal cortex.
The moments of self-regulation and willpower are the end product of the work of a countless number of intricately connected neurons and systems in the body.
But we can certainly look at two specific organs that seem to govern the majority of physical and mental responses.
Those are namely the heart and the brain.
Studies find that the heart has its own “mini-brain”, which is basically a bunch of brain neuron-like cells. (3)
This means that the heart can do almost everything the brain does, independent of the brain.
And then again, these two organs are intimately connected through the neural network, constantly governing each other’s work.
Isn’t It All Autonomous, Though?
When we talk about biology, most of the processes in the body are automatic.
You don’t consciously digest, control your blood pressure, heart rate, etc… (4)
BUT… There is ONE autonomous function that can make you capable of powerful self-regulation responses… Breathing! (5)
Now that you’ve read the word above, you’re probably breathing consciously, but don’t worry, you’ll switch back to autopilot in a second.
However, whenever you decide to, you can take conscious control over your breath.
Even at moments when willpower needs to come into play, you can use breathing to induce powerful self-regulation.
Breathing Willpower Practice
Remember, most of your responses and thoughts are a repeating pattern and you have the willpower to change that, in case it impacts you negatively.
Here’s something you can do during moments when you need willpower/self-regulation:
Though you may think “Hell, what will breathing do?”, this sends a powerful relaxation signal to the brain and the heart.
Each breath takes you further and further from the stress response, thus opening the doors for a brief moment of pause and plan, that will improve your thoughts, feelings, emotions, actions, and therefore, end results.
Willpower and self-control are instincts that have allowed us to survive, thrive, and evolve.
Much like the stress response, the willpower response doesn’t get triggered as it used to during the times of our ancestors.
Nevertheless, it remains a functional part of people’s character and is something that can be worked on.
It is just a matter of YOU taking conscious control over your own actions, thoughts, and feelings.
Remember, you are the master of your body and mind, you are capable of powerful, internal self-regulation.
In the last part of this article series, you learned that protein and fats are the two essential macronutrients in your daily nutrition.
These two contain essential amino & fatty acids, which regulate many processes, growth of tissues & body composition.
For the goal of building muscle mass, however, there is one more very important nutrient in the foods you consume.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about carbs and why they are an important aspect of your nutrition.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates, also known as “carbs” are the sugars, fibers, and starches, found in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, milk, and other food products.
This nutrient provides 4 calories per gram and when metabolized, gets converted to blood glucose & muscle/liver glycogen.
Glycogen is basically the stored form of carbohydrates.
Most of that glycogen gets stored in the muscles and a lesser portion goes to the liver.
Carbs Are The KING Of Intense PerformanceNow, during intense bouts of training activity, the body uses ATP (adenosine triphosphate) as its main energy source.
However, the stores of that ATP are generally limited, and as your workouts continue, the body needs to find more sources of energy to REGENERATE that ATP, in order to continue the activity.
This is where muscle glycogen comes into play - In a process called “glycolysis”, the body uses muscle glycogen to restore ATP and continue muscular contraction.
What About Keto?
Carbs have often been demonized and this is the exact reason why trends like the ketogenic diet come to the surface.
There are actually many people that consider the ketogenic diet to be optimal for high-intensity performance.
But the truth is that during a keto diet, the body starts utilizing fatty acids as the main energy source, due to the lack of carbohydrates.
And, guess what, fats have 9 calories per gram, as opposed to carbs that have just 4 calories per gram.
This makes fats more than twice as caloric as carbohydrates.
That exact caloric value, combined with the more complex structure of fats, makes them unsuitable for high-intensity performance.
This is because high-intensity performance is optimized when you have an energy source that can be broken down RAPIDLY.
Quite logically, when we have a nutrient with a simple structure and 4 calories per gram (carbs) and a nutrient with a more complex structure and a higher caloric value, the winner is obvious.
Studies have shown that no matter the trends, carbohydrates remain the KING of high-intensity performance, due to the fact they are the only nutrient that can be broken down into energy rapidly enough, during high-intensity training bouts.
Can you build muscle and get stronger on zero carbs? Yes, but the rate of progress will likely be suboptimal.
What Carbs Should You Choose?
When we look at carbs, there are two main types we can differentiate between:
Simple carbohydrates are called that way, due to their simple structure, which the body breaks down easily during digestion.
This means that simple carbs are quick energy for the body and this can be used in certain scenarios.
However, for the most part, this quick and easy digestion leads to sudden spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels, which can lead to what we refer to as a “sugar crash”.
Simple carbs are mainly found in refined sugar products, such as raw sugar, brown sugar, syrups, fruit juice concentrates, candy, doughnuts, etc.
On the other hand, we have complex carbs, which have a more complex structure and release energy gradually.
If your goal is to build muscle mass, complex carbs are what you should primarily focus on.
This type of carbohydrate will not lead to any blood sugar spikes and will grant sustainable energy, that is released gradually, as we already mentioned.
Complex carbs are mainly found in grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.
Here’s a list of the best complex carbs you can use in your muscle-building nutrition plan:
If you are trying to build muscle mass, you should know that you can’t go without performing well in the gym.
And well, quite frankly, optimal athletic performance is a matter of providing the body sufficient energy.
Specifically for intense performance, the most potent energy source is muscle glycogen.
This implies that a suboptimal consumption of carbohydrates may actually hinder your workout performance, due to the low levels of muscle glycogen.
If you read part 1 of the muscle-building nutrition series, you now know that one of the most important things about nutrition during a building period is to eat in a caloric surplus.
This extra amount of energy will allow the body to optimally recover the musculature, thus improving gains.
Now, besides caloric value, however, food also gives the body essential nutrients.
In this second article of the muscle-building nutrition series, we will go over protein & fats and tell you more about why they’re important, how much, and what sources you should use.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
What Are Essential Macronutrients?
When the topic at hand is sports nutrition, the word “essential” can only mean one thing.
Essential macronutrients are macronutrients that the body NEEDS but can’t produce on its own.
If there is a lack of those essential macronutrients, it is likely that you would experience suboptimal recovery, tiredness, quick exhaustion, and in severe, chronic depletions, you may experience dysfunctions of certain bodily systems.
And well, while this sounds bad, we live in a world where all the food you want is right at your fingertips, meaning that you can easily avoid those depletions.
All you have to do is to make the right food choices!
Protein - How Much & What Food Sources?
The name of the word “Protein” is derived from the Greek word “Protos”, which means “First/Of prime importance”.
That is to say that protein is essential and there’s no wonder about that - You ARE protein…
Especially your muscles, they are made up of protein and they NEED protein to recover and grow.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which the body uses for all recovery and physiological maintenance.
There are 20 amino acids in total and 9 of those are essential (remember what essential means?)
The optimal daily protein intake forms at 0.8-1g of protein per lb. of body weight.
If you are an omnivore, it is recommended to derive most of your protein from quality animal products, as animal products contain all essential amino acids.
Oppositely, if you are plant-based, try mixing different types of grains and legumes, as plant products lack certain amino acids.
Fat - How Much & What Food Sources?
After protein, you have dietary fats, which are the second essential macronutrient in your daily nutrition.
The dietary fats in your nutrition plan will do the following:
Even more importantly, dietary fat will ensure that your hormonal system functions properly.
Studies have shown that males who under-consume dietary fat, have LOWER testosterone levels, as opposed to males who get at least 20% of their daily energy from fats.
And guess what - Your testosterone levels massively impact muscle growth, recovery and mood.
The optimal daily fat intake forms at 0.35-0.45g per lb. of body weight.
Generally, most animal products contain sufficient amounts of fat, but if you need to add more fat sources, go for the following:
By taking care of all the essential macronutrients in your daily nutrition plan, you will ensure that the body has everything needed to recover and grow bigger and stronger.
Protein and fats are the two ESSENTIAL nutrients we get from food, which as you learned, regulate the majority of bodily processes.
And then, we have carbohydrates, which are not really essential but can be a powerful thing to use during a muscle-building period.
In the next part of this article series, we’ll explain to you EXACTLY why your carb intake is important for the goal of building muscle.
There are 2 important aspects to focus on when the task at hand is to build as much quality muscle as possible.
The first aspect is training and the second aspect is nutrition, the latter of which is closely linked to nutrition.
Quite simply, if you don’t focus on giving your body all the nutrients it needs to recover from the vigorous, muscle-building workouts, you will gain less muscle.
In this series of articles, we’ll tell you more about the important nutritional considerations to take into account when trying to build muscle.
For this first part of the series, we’ll talk about one of the biggest factors in muscle-building nutrition - Calories.
What Are Calories
By definition, a “calorie” is a measurement unit, used to measure the amount of energy in the foods that we consume.
Each food product has a certain caloric value, which is determined by the ratio of the 3 main macronutrients.
Those 3 macronutrients are protein, fats carbs, which have 4, 9, and 4 calories per gram, respectively.
Your caloric intake is important because there is a number of calories that your body requires daily, to sustain healthy functioning of all systems, as well as maintain body weight.
Calories in VS Calories out
The number of calories that your body needs to maintain its weight and healthy functioning is referred to as your “Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)”.
Your TDEE depends on a number of factors:
The reason why this is important is that if you consume FEWER calories than your TDEE, you will LOSE weight.
This is called “eating in a caloric deficit” and the loss in weight happens because the body does not get enough energy from food (hence, deficit).
Oppositely, if you consume MORE calories than your TDEE, you will gain weight (this is called “eating in a caloric surplus”)
Now think about it - If you want to BUILD muscle, you can’t make something, out of nothing, right?
Even physics can tell you that you cannot create energy, you can just transform it.
And guess what, the muscle you’re trying to build actually has quite a solid energy content!
In a sense, the extra energy you give the body from food will go towards building that extra muscle on your frame.
This is the exact reason why sports science points out that building muscle is OPTIMIZED when you consume food in a caloric surplus.
This begs the question, though...
Can You Build Muscle In a Deficit?
Is it really that binary? If you eat in a deficit, you will lose fat and if you eat in a surplus, you will gain weight, and there is no in-between.
Well, as a matter of fact, it is not really that simple - You can be out of a caloric surplus and still gain muscle.
HOWEVER, those gains will simply be SUBOPTIMAL and in this case, we’re looking for something OPTIMAL.
Gaining muscle in a caloric deficit is possible for a couple of groups of people:
And so, if you are someone who is just starting out in the gym and has a lot of fat to lose, don’t worry - You can tone up the muscles during your fat loss diet!
Nevertheless, advanced trainees should focus on their long, bulking period when food is being consumed in a surplus.
Again, that surplus shouldn’t be too big, as it may lead to excess fat gains.
The recommended daily caloric surplus is about 250-300 calories.
In doing this and training progressively, you will be able to create the right muscle growth stimulus, while providing the body all it needs to recover and grow stronger.
If you are trying to build muscle but are ignoring your nutrition, you are doing something wrong!
Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of your recovery plan, as it technically provides all the important nutrients and energy value, needed to grow your muscles.
One of the essential principles of muscle-building nutrition is to eat in a caloric surplus.
In doing so, your muscle growth will be optimized, thus yielding the best results possible.
For the next part of this series, we will go over the two essential nutrients that make up a big portion of your caloric intake, namely protein, and fats.
See you in part 2!
If you look at different athletes from different training disciplines, you will notice the diversity of muscular development you can have.
For instance, most powerlifters are pretty rugged, while most gymnasts and sprinters look rather athletic.
This brings a question to mind - Are there different types of muscle growth and is more always better?
In this article, we’ll go over the two different types of muscle growth and explain which one you should focus on stimulating, depending on your goal.
The Two Types Of Muscle Growth
If you look at a muscle group, you will find that it is made out of separate muscle units, called myofibrils (muscle fibers).
These are the active, contractile components of your musculature, that make moving possible.
Around the myofibrils, there is a jelly-like fluid that contains non-contractile elements.
This is called the “sarcoplasm’ and is used for energy during muscular activity.
Now, there are two types of muscle growth we can look into:
Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the growth in the size of the separate muscle units, called myofibrils.
This type of growth is mostly sought after by strength athletes, like powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters.
The main adaptations that occur when myofibrillar hypertrophy is stimulated, are increases in relative strength and improved efficiency of the nervous system.
For this type of adaptation, bulk muscle growth is a secondary adaptation.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, on the other hand, is the growth in the size of the jelly-like fluid around the muscle fibers, which we mentioned above.
This can be referred to as “bulk muscle growth” - something that bodybuilders and physique athletes seek.
The end results of this type of stimulation, are increases in bulk muscle growth, along with relative strength.
In this case, increases in maximum strength are a secondary adaptation.
If you’re not a competitive athlete that needs to focus on developing just a bunch of physical properties, your best bet is to mix different types of stimulation.
Nevertheless, your training approach should be specific to your goals.
For instance, if your goal is to improve your maximum and relative strength, you should primarily focus on stimulating myofibrillar hypertrophy.
This is best done by training in the powerlifting rep range of 1-5 repetitions, but then again, you can do 6-15 rep sets every now and then to stimulate other adaptations.
If however, your goal is more oriented towards sculpting a bodybuilder-like physique, you should focus on the bodybuilding rep range of 6-15 repetitions.
Ultimately, you should try to combine low reps, high reps, slow reps, fast reps, etc.
To achieve the ultimate, functional, and good-looking physique, you should incorporate all kinds of stimuli into your workouts.
ConclusionWhat we see on the outside as muscles that make us look good, is actually a complex, adaptable system (the muscular system).
The two main types of growth that can occur in the muscular system, are myofibrillar & sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
The way you set up your training parameters and workout as a whole, will determine which type of growth will occur.
If you are looking for the best overall development, however, you should carefully mix your workouts and utilize different types of stimuli.
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In the last 2 articles of the muscle-building series, you learned that each workout can be measured by certain parameters (variables).
The ratios of these variables trigger different energy systems and components of the body and its musculature, thus creating a different end result.
In this article, we are going to go in-depth on the muscles’ active, contractile components, which we know as “muscle fibers”.
What Are Muscle Fibers?
Each muscle fiber, also called a “myofibril”, is an active, contractile component of each of your muscle groups.
These are the active components that allow for muscular contraction and there are different types of muscle fibers.
Depending on how demanding the activity is, the body chooses which muscle fibers to activate
Types Of Muscle Fibers
When we look at muscle fibers as an active component of your musculature, we can differentiate between two main muscle fiber types:
Slow-Twitch Muscle Fibers
This type of muscle fiber is the weaker type of tissue, as its power & force production levels are quite low.
Your slow-twitch muscle fibers get activated during activity that is not demanding or in other words, low in intensity.
Though generally weak, the slow-twitch muscle fibers can work for hours on end.
This is the muscle fiber type that was designed for endurance bouts, such as cross running, prolonged rope jumping or any other low-intensity activity that is fairly long in duration.
Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
On the other hand, we have the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are the stronger, more powerful active components of your musculature.
Your fast-twitch muscle fibers get activated during intense activity that demands the production of force/power.
This type of fiber was designed for short, power-burst movements, such as a sprint or any type of resistance/weight training.
The fast-twitch fibers are the most powerful ones and have the highest potential for hypertrophy (growth).
Furthermore, the fast-twitch muscle fibers have 2 more subtypes - Fast-twitch Type 2X & type 2B.
Type 2X fibers are able to generate the most force and power output but are generally inefficient due to reaching fatigue fairly quickly.
Type 2B fibers on the other hand are a mix of type 1 and type 2x fibers, meaning that they can endure more intense activity for longer.
To Sum It Up
Your musculature is made up of 2 different types of muscle fibers - Slow & Fast-twitch.
The slow muscle fibers get activated during low-intensity, prolonged activities.
These fibers can work at low intensity for hours on end but cannot produce enough power and force for intense activities like sprinting.
This is where fast-twitch muscle fibers come in.
When the task at hand is to engage in more intense activities, the body utilizes the power of your fast-twitch muscle fibers.
These muscle fibers are big, strong, and can produce short powerful bursts, but might fatigue too quickly, compared to slow-twitch fibers.
If you are not a competitive athlete, your best bet would be to stimulate both types of muscle fibers.
Stimulating slow-twitch fiber development is best done by engaging in low-intensity, prolonged cardio activities, such as jogging, swimming, rope jumping, etc.
Doing this type of work will primarily result in improved endurance and with it, improved cardiovascular and respiratory efficiency.
Developing your slow-twitch muscle fibers, however, won’t result in significant visual body changes.
Oppositely, stimulating fast-twitch fiber development is best done by engaging in high-intensity training activities, such as weight training, calisthenics, sprinting, etc.
Doing this type of training will primarily result in improved levels of strength, strength endurance, and power output.
Developing your fast-twitch muscle fibers is the best way to go if one of your goals is to sculpt an aesthetic body.
Ultimately, if we look beyond the ego that tells us to look better, we can come to one simple conclusion…
That is namely the fact that your body is a special, ever-so-capable biological machine of beauty.
For the general population that is not engaged in competitive sports, the best bet is to develop the body all-around.
In doing this, you will be able to experience the freedom of movement and you will also look good, perform well, be strong, flexible, and powerful.
“It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
In the first part of the muscle-building series, you learned that the way you set up the variables in a workout, will practically change the end result.
For instance, training closer to maximum intensity will primarily result in improvements in maximum strength.
On the other hand, workouts that are moderately high in intensity will increase bulk muscle growth along with strength endurance.
In this article, we are going to have a look at how the body provides energy for activity of different parameters.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
ATP - The Body’s Main Energy Source
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the purest source of biological energy for all living beings.
ATP is technically used in every bodily process in most living beings, as this is a pure source of energy that can be used right away.
During intense activity like weight training, however, the ATP stores get depleted fairly quickly, due to the demanding nature of the intense activity.
Once depleted, the body needs to regenerate ATP, in order to continue the muscular activity.
To do so, the body utilizes 3 main energy systems:
Now let’s have a look at each of those!
The ATP-Creatine system
This first energy system is the most powerful, but least sustainable energy system that the body uses.
As mentioned, during intense activity, ATP gets depleted in about 5-6 seconds of work.
Upon use, ATP gets broken down into ADP (adenosine diphosphate).
To recover ATP, the body uses its stores of creatine, joining a phosphate molecule from it with ADP and thus regenerating ATP for another 10 seconds of activity.
That is to say, creatine is not just a supplement - It is the body’s natural, secondary energy reserve!
Think of the ATP-Creatine system as something utilized during a 60-100 meter sprint.
The Anaerobic Glycogen system
Once you are past the 15-second mark of your exercise, intensity naturally drops due to the low amounts of ATP & creatine.
The body then needs to again, regenerate ATP to ensure energy for sustained muscular activity.
To do so, the body starts tapping into its muscle glycogen.
Muscle glycogen is basically the stored form of blood sugar, which is derived from the consumption of carbohydrates.
Through a process called “Anaerobic glycolysis”, the body restores ATP for another 90 seconds, without the need to use oxygen (this is what anaerobic means).
Think of the Anaerobic glycogen system as something utilized during a 200-400 meter sprint.
The Aerobic System
Now, the more you continue your activity after the 2-minute mark, the more intensity naturally drops and the more oxygen starts helping you to regenerate energy.
The aerobic system uses muscle and liver glycogen, as well as fatty acids, to release energy and regenerate ATP, at the presence of oxygen.
This energy system is used to sustain low-intensity, prolonged activities.
As such, the aerobic energy system can be used for hours on end, unlike the first two (i.e you can run at a low pace for hours on end, but you can only sprint 200-400 meters at a time).
Think of the aerobic energy system as something utilized during a 5000-meter cross run.
Why This Is Important…
If you are trying to build muscle, you MUST know the best fuel you can provide your body with…
And now, before we even got through the basic physiology of muscle building, there are two things you can take and use for your nutrition and supplementation:
Ultimately, we can say that the ratios of the parameters in a workout, will determine which energy systems & active components get triggered and thus, determine the end result.
Those active components we refer to are namely your muscle fibers.
In the next article of this series, we will give you more insight into the types of muscle fibers, which your body activates, depending on how the training parameters are set.
See you there!
When the task at hand is to build as much quality muscle mass as possible, there are two things you should look at: Your training and your nutrition.
Muscle gaining is technically a process of stimulus, followed by a period of recovery.
At its very essence, muscle gaining is just your body preparing for bigger challenges, ahead of time.
In this series of articles, we’ll take you through everything you need to know, in order to create your PERFECT muscle-building blueprint.
The first part of the series goes over one of the most important things for the goal, namely, analysing, measuring and setting up your workout.
Now let’s get to it
How to measure a workout
If you think about it, when you are in the gym, you’re working with weights…
Those weights are numbers and when we have numbers, there is a certain level of mathematics involved.
That is to say… There’s actually a mathematical formula for muscle gains!
Your workout can be measured by 3 main variables:
Intensity is a measure of how close you get to your maximum strength capabilities.
The closer you get, the higher your intensity is, meaning that it increases as your working weight goes up.
Volume is a measure of your total working weight, for all of your exercises, sets, and reps.
You can measure volume using this formula: Weight * Sets * Reps = Volume
For instance, using 100 kg for 2 sets of 10 would create a volume of 2000 kg (100*2*10=2000 kg)
Last but not least, we have density, which is a measure of your volume, related to the total time needed for its completion, including rest times.
To measure density, you use this formula: Volume / Total completion time = Density (kg per minute)
For instance, if those 2 sets of 10 with 100 kg take you 2 minutes to complete, this would be a density of 1000 kg/min.
But How Do You Measure Intensity?
Alright, so far you learned the following:
But how exactly can you measure intensity…?
Well, here comes the practical part!
To get an idea of what 100% intensity looks like for you, for a certain exercise, you have to find out the weight you can lift for one single repetition - This will show you your maximum strength capabilities.
To do this, you will use the “One repetition maximum” method.
Again, this method implies using a weight that will take your muscles to failure after one single rep, meaning that you will not be able to complete a second rep unassisted.
How to test your 1 rep max
Before we get to the actionable steps, if you are a beginner, avoid testing your one-rep max, as it may lead to injuries.
Instead, use the same scheme but go for a 5 rep max instead, where you use a weight that takes your muscles to failure at around the 5th repetition.
Here are the steps to testing your one-rep max:
This same scheme can be used by beginners for the 5 rep max method.
Why you need to know this
Alright, this important bit of information we just gave you, is part of what will allow you to create your muscle-building blueprint.
The reason why this is important is that the ratio of these variables is what will determine how the muscles work, what type of energy it uses, and thus, how it develops.
In the next article, we’ll explain to you exactly how these variables affect the way the body provides energy.
See you in part 2!
Training during the weight loss phase is one of the most important factors to consider if your goal is to lose weight healthily.
One important mention is the fact that during a period of weight loss, you lose not only fat, but lean body mass as well.
This includes muscle tissue, organ tissue, bone tissue and technically everything else except fat.
Why you SHOULD Train During Weight Loss
Carefully managing your weight loss period across the aspects of nutrition and training is essential for minimizing those lean body mass losses.
Especially when it comes to training, this is what will actually give a reason to the body to retain its muscle mass.
Think of it this way - If you use the muscles, that directly tells the body “we’re going to need this!”.
This in turn will favor muscle protein synthesis and when paired with good nutrition, it will also minimize muscle protein breakdown.
The end result? A healthier period of weight loss, during which you have increased mood and energy for all your physical and mental activities.
Now let’s see the MOST IMPORTANT considerations when approaching training.
What type of training should you choose?Generally, when it comes to training for fat loss, many people think of extensive, low-intensity cardio sessions.
And though that type of exercise helps you burn more energy and make it easier to create a caloric deficit, it is not optimal for the retention of lean body mass.
Resistance training is one of the BEST tools you can use for that purpose, but you can still add cardio sessions, after resistance training.
Overall, your goal with resistance training would be to train each muscle group once every 72-96 hours.
Now let us tell you more about the separate aspects of your workout.
Training IntensityDuring a period of weight loss, you subject yourself to a deficit of energy, meaning that you are below your body’s maintenance needs.
This lesser amount of energy implies that you might have suboptimal recovery after a workout.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train it all, but rather, you should manage your training intensity.
Training at moderately high intensity can help you avoid suboptimal recovery and can be realized in a couple of ways:
In doing all of this, you will ensure that there is a good stimulus, but also enough energy to recover from it.
Training FrequencyWhen you workout, you practically break down muscle proteins and then, re-build them to improve the performance and appearance of your muscles.
Since recovery isn’t instant, you’d need to grant a sufficient time frame before training a given muscle group again.
This would generally be around 48-96 hours, which would allow for good recovery and increased performance.
Besides training intensity and frequency, you also have to consider the number of sets and repetitions that you’ll be doing for each body part.
For the general trainee, doing 5+ challenging working sets per muscle group trained in a workout, is the best approach, given that you exercise each muscle group twice a week.
The widely accepted effective training volume forms at 10-20 working sets, per muscle group, per week.
Of course, if you are a beginner or intermediate, you will be in the lower range of that spectrum.
The more you advance, the more you increase sets, reps, and weight.
When To Train?Alright, you have a workout plan in place but what is actually the best time to train when the goal is losing fat?
Will fasted training in the morning maybe produce more results?
Well, at equated caloric deficits, training timing won’t make a big impact on total amount of fat lost, HOWEVER…
The more energy you have available before a workout, the better you will perform and thus, the better the end result will be.
Furthermore, your body runs a biological cycle that is intricately connected with the Day & Night cycle of the Earth.
As light goes through your eyes, it gives a signal to the brain, which in turn releases serotonin.
Serotonin makes you feel awake, alert & energized.
By afternoon, you would already be a couple of meals into your day (plenty of energy), and will have a good amount of serotonin produced.
If you look closely, the period between 2 and 5 pm is when you feel most alert and active.
Using resistance training as a tool to optimize your fat loss process, is one of the best practices for any individual looking to get fit.
Your workouts should consist of a good number of challenging working sets, that should not be taken to failure, due to the fact you are in an energy deficit.
Ultimately, your best bet would be to do these workouts in the afternoon, but this can be adjusted to your schedule.
Combining an adequate approach to training & nutrition will allow you to create sustainable results, that will give you health in your older years.
Click hereIf the question at hand is losing fat and keeping it off, most people would search for an easy solution, such as a weight loss pill or a promising program a famous coach made for everyone.
The truth however is that an approach like this more often leads to eating disorders and loss of motivation, rather than sustainable results.
Think of it this way - Your body is a machine and its YOUR responsibility to understand how that machine functions and what you can do to maintain it.
In this article, we’ll give you the best tips you can use in your daily life to start cutting weight (and keeping it off).
The Modern-Day Problem
Humans have existed for hundreds and thousands of years and for most of that time, we as a species have gone through starvation.
Starvation is something the body knows very well and that is the reason why it can go through metabolic adaptations, which allow it to survive on little to no resource.
And here comes the big but…
It’s only been the past 30 years of human existence (out of 200,000+), that we’ve had such easy access to a multitude of foods.
Furthermore, those foods, many of which are bad, can be delivered right to your door, without having you do anything else besides standing up to pick up your delivery.
If we follow that train of thought, we can conclude that the modern-day lifestyle is quite literally, fattening!
At its very core, it robs you of movement and gives you a ton of junk food to choose from.
What we’re trying to tell you here is that the very first steps you should take towards your weight loss journey, is to take care of your physical activity levels, as well as your nutrition
Fat Loss 101The fundamental principle of weight loss is referred to as “eating in a caloric deficit”.
This essentially means giving the body a lesser amount of energy (food) than it needs to sustain its body weight.
What this means for you is that the primary factor for weight loss is the AMOUNT OF FOOD and not so much the type of food. (Yes, you can lose weight with burgers.)
Now, the amount of energy you need daily to maintain your body weight and bodily functions, is referred to as “Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)”.
Your TDEE is individual and it depends on the following factors:
Quite simply, if you consume more than your TDEE, you will gain weight.
If you consume less than your TDEE you will lose weight and if you’re around your TDEE, no massive changes in weight will be observed.
You can calculate your own TDEE using this weight loss calculator - https://www.traininginthebay.com/macro-calculator/
NOTE: No TDEE calculator is 100% accurate so don’t take these results for granted - Monitor your progress and adjust along the way.
MacronutrientsNow, though you can eat any food on a diet and still lose weight, the choice of food sources is important.
During a period of weight loss, you lose not only fat but also lean body mass (LBM).
In order to avoid a biological disaster, you MUST do everything possible to retain that lean body mass.
The first thing is to secure a moderate caloric deficit, made up of complete, nutritious food sources with sufficient amounts of protein and fats.
The second thing is to secure enough energy (carbohydrates) for good training sessions.
Finally, you have to make sure that your rate of weight loss is adequate, at around 1-2 lbs per week - This will ensure that most of the weight you lost is fat.
Not only that but with a moderate deficit, you will still be able to sustain the healthy functioning of your body and you will also have enough energy for any daily activities.
So to put it simply - If you are in a moderate deficit and primarily eat nutritious foods and train well, you will be able to retain most of your lean body mass and your energy levels will be high.
In terms of quantities, this is how you can spread your macros across the nutrition plan:
Protein (4 calories per gram) - 0.8-1g per lb of body weight.
Fat (9 calories per gram) - 0.35-0.45g per lb of body weight.
Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram) should make up the remaining caloric intake.
Keeping the weight off
Alright, so we now know that a moderate deficit that favors nutrient dense-foods is the best way to sustainable fat loss.
But how do you actually keep the weight off?
The majority of people who go on a diet, re-gain 100% or more of their weight back in twice as less time as it took them to actually lose it...
And this is the EXACT reason why you shouldn’t think of your diet as something that has a start and end date.
It is a healthy habit that you should create and keep with you for the rest of your life, in order to meet the needs of your organism.
If you want to keep the weight off, after you’ve hit your goals, do the following:
Additionally, throughout the period of eating at a caloric deficit, you should resort to diet breaks every 2-3 weeks.
This essentially means going back to maintenance calories and what this will do is it will help you keep your metabolism up, making the whole process more bearable.
Losing your fluff and keeping it off starts at the very fundamentals of what you put in your body.
To achieve sustainable weight loss, you must resort to a moderate caloric deficit and nutrient-dense foods.
Remember this should not be a drastic, quick process but rather a gradual change in time.
In the second part of this article series, we’ll tell you more about training and how you can use it to speed up your fat loss and keep the body healthy.
I have been weight training, running and cycling for 37 years and I have gained a vast amount of experience in fitness both as a Soldier in The British Army and in the past 21 years having been involved in the fitness industry.