In the past decade, pre-workout booster supplements have gained more and more traction in the fitness world, becoming one of the most potent pump products.
Though some pre-workout formulations help you recover in-between sets and after a workout, the most potent and sought-after effect of those products is the increased strength, pump, endurance and focus.
In this article, we’re going to give you our take on pre-workout supplements and whether or not they are worth using.
What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements, also known as “nitric oxide boosters” are products, formulated for the specific purpose of increasing nitric oxide production.
Nitric oxide is essentially a naturally produced compound in the body that serves a variety of functions, such as regulating blood pressure and relaxing smooth muscle tissues.
Generally, most pre-workout formulations contain a flurry of potent stimulants that increase pump, focus, strength and endurance.
What Do Pre-Workouts Contain?
For the most part, many of the famous pre-workout boosters have a similar ingredient content so let’s have a look at the most common contents of a nitric oxide booster and what they provide.
Because caffeine is the single most potent, proven to work as an energy booster, it is used in the formulation of all stimulant-based pre-workout supplements.
A stimulant-based product without caffeine is kind of like a salad without, well, the salad.
Caffeine is proven to improve energy levels, exercise performance, mental alertness, memory and focus.
For this reason, most pre-workout formulas contain anywhere from 150 to 350 mg of caffeine in each dose.
Without a doubt, this is one of the ingredients that provide the bigger portion of the boost you feel from a pre-workout supplement.
If you know a thing or two about the body, you probably know that creatine isn’t just a supplement.
As a matter of fact, creatine is the body’s secondary energy resource, used during high-intensity training, such as resistance training.
As a compound, creatine is stored in skeletal muscle and plays a big role in your performance.
For this reason, besides being offered as a standalone product, it is included in many pre-workout formulations.
Though creatine is not a stimulant, it is a viable part of any pre-workout formulation, due to its proven benefits for intense performance.
#3 Nitric Oxide Boosters
As we mentioned, nitric oxide is a naturally-produced compound in the body that has a variety of functions, one of which is the improvement of the blood flow.
Some of the compounds that the body uses to make nitric oxide are the following:
Because these two compounds have main roles in the production of nitric oxide, you will more than likely see them in most pre-workout formulations.
Do Boosters Have Side Effects, Though?
Though it seems like pre-workout supplements can only take your performance to the moon, there are a couple of possible side effects, which you should consider before buying a product.
#1 Energy Crash
Some of the most famous pre-workout boosters can easily lead to an energy crash, following the energy spike during the workout.
This is mainly induced because of the sudden energy spike you get from all the stimulants.
For this reason, it is possible that you will experience a significant decrease in physical and mental energy after the workout.
#2 Too Much Caffeine
As we mentioned, one of the core ingredients of all stimulant-based products is caffeine.
Because pre-workout supplements contain 3-4 cups of coffee worth of caffeine, this can easily lead to unwanted side effects, such as:
The important considerations here, are to determine your caffeine tolerance and take into account any other caffeinated drinks that you’re having throughout the day.
#3 Supplement Origin
Because most supplements are not tightly regulated, you may stumble upon a product that has banned, strong substances that may be dangerous for you in the long run.
For this reason, your best bet is to rely on already well-established supplement brands, that offer supplements approved by a third party.
Always research your pre-workouts (and your own stimulant tolerance) before starting to use them!
Stim-based pre-workout supplements can do wonders when it comes to optimizing performance.
Nevertheless, to avoid any side effects, you have to make sure that you do the following:
Ultimately, if you follow these guidelines, you will be able to find a good product that will increase your output, without putting you at risk of any possible side effects.
Do YOU have a favorite pre-workout supplement? Tell us which one it is in the comments below!
When it comes to training, whether it is professional sports or general training, there are two main types of activity one can do.
Those two types are namely “anaerobic” and “aerobic” training, each of which provides a different stimulus for the body and thus, a different end result.
In this article, you’re going to learn more about these two types, which one is better for specific goals, and how to combine them.
So without further ado, let’s get to it!
Anaerobic & Aerobic Processes
Though these two terms may sound a bit complex, their meaning is quite simple
The word “Anaerobic” comes from the following Greek words:
In simple words, all anaerobic processes in the body do not require oxygen to run.
Oppositely, all aerobic processes in the body DO require oxygen to function.
Examples Of Anaerobic Activities
Anaerobic training activities are basically any type of training which requires you to do a short, power-burst bout.
Here are some examples of anaerobic training activities:
Because of the nature of anaerobic activities (short, power-burst movements), this type of training mainly develops muscle strength, size, strength endurance and explosiveness.
Examples Of Aerobic Activities
Contrary to anaerobic activities, we have aerobic activities, which are basically any low-intensity exercises that are long in duration.
Here are examples of aerobic activities:
Unlike anaerobic activities, aerobic training mainly develops the cardiovascular & respiratory systems (heart & lungs).
With this type of training, your body becomes more efficient at releasing energy with the help of oxygen.
Which Type Of Training Is Better?
As we already established, anaerobic training will stimulate the development of your musculature and its main properties - Strength, strength endurance & explosiveness.
On the other hand, with aerobic training you will improve the work of your heart and lungs.
And so, the answer to the question “which type of training is better?” is quite simple… It depends on the context!
Are you someone who wants to look better? Focus your training around anaerobic activities and throw in some aerobic activities here and there.
Or, if you’re someone who just looks to improve their endurance in the long run, focus on aerobic activities that are low in intensity and long in duration.
Ultimately, if you’re not a professional athlete, you would be best off combining both types of training and tipping the scales in favor of the one that matches your goals the most.
ConclusionThough most people just LOVE to compare different types of training and dub some “better than others”, one thing remains true…
That is namely the fact that the body is a complex machine, capable of a MULTITUDE of movements.
The more movements you do and the more you engage in different types of activities, the more you develop the systems and components (muscles) that make those activities possible.
Therefore, this approach will lead to a functionally and visually better physique.
What is YOUR approach to training? Comment down below!
Click here If you’ve ever tried to talk your dad into going to the gym with you, it is likely that the response was something along the lines of “I’m too old to do any physical activity”.
Well, people of previous generations have grown with the belief that age is a terminal sentence that inevitably deprives you of the ability to do anything body-care related.
And while this is relevant and valid for individuals who believe it is so, it is not really the ultimate truth that no one can escape.
Let’s Face The Facts…
If you are of an older age and don’t have any severe physical/health issues, here are some facts for you:
In most cases, refusing to do those is simply the end result of giving up, or in other words, it is your mind that thinks age is stopping you.
Self-Care In The Older Years
It is true that there are certain physiological and mental changes that occur as we age, but one thing still remains true - You can CHOOSE to take actions and adopt health-nourishing habits.
Here are our best tips for adults who are looking to improve their lifestyle and habits:
It appears that the older we get, the more muscle mass we lose and the less active we become.
NEvertheless, engaging in low & high-intensity physical exercise, is one of the best anti-aging therapies you can have during your older years!
Exercise and especially resistance training can help you maintain your muscle mass over the years, leading to significant improvements in metabolism & how you look visually.
Since the body is more prone to injuries during the older years however, it is a good idea to mix low and high intensity training and avoid overexertion.
Think of it this way - What can you do for your body in the next 10 years, given that you are 55 years old now? 10 years is a lot of time and it will certainly yield results if you put in the work!
#2 Eat well
As the older age steps in, people become more likely to ditch their body-care habits altogether.
Whether you are 20 or 55 however, one thing remains true - Your body needs certain essential nutrients, in order to sustain healthy functioning of all bodily components and systems.
For this reason, it is a good idea too be mindful of your nutrition, even at an older age.
Include quality animal products, fish, fruits, vegetables in your daily nutrition plan and try to eat the least amount of junk food possible.
Quality whole foods will keep you satiated and will in turn make it much less likely for you to overeat and gain excessive weight.
What does this mean? Better health and body composition even in your older years!
#3 Manage Stress
Oftentimes, people are rendered incapable of giving their bodies what they need not just by age, but by the progressively growing stress factors over time.
Stress management is an important aspect of body/self-care and your anti-aging habits.
How do you do that?
Well, there are many self-help books, but it mostly comes down to one very important realization…
That is namely the fact that most stress responses are AUTOMATIC - You don’t choose to be stressed, stress takes over you.
This is the EXACT moment when you have to think outside of the box and ask yourself questions like:
“Is this worth my time and health?”
“Is there an adequate way of dealing with this without feeling stressed?”
“Is this going to matter in 5 years?”
“Why does this have to make me feel this way?”
All of these questions can lead to certain behavioral models that will guide you to the right decision in the situation and therefore, reduce stress.
Remember, internal self-regulation is important!
ConclusionContrary to popular belief, your older age is not a terminal sentence that you can’t escape.
Even more so, the fact that certain changes happen in the body during your older years, should push you to become more aware of your habits and improve them, in order to nourish your body.
Remember that as long as you are alive, you have the opportunity to take powerful decisions and choose actions and habits that will ultimately improve your quality of life.
Stay active, eat well, rest enough and manage your stress and you will be surprised how fit you can look during your older years!
For many people, fitness appears to be something that has a start and an end date, as if you just have to do the right things for your body just for a certain period of time…
This is the reason why you see trends like 90-days fat loss challenges, 30-day strong core challenges, etc, etc.
Well, the thing is that such trends are not really sustainable and won’t yield consistent results.
Especially when it comes to dieting, there are many things to acknowledge, if you want to make your results last.
In this article, we are going to break down the process of dieting and weight loss, how it affects the body, and what you should do once you reach your desired shape.
What Is Dieting?
A “diet” is a sort of nutrition regimen, that puts your body in the so-called “caloric deficit”.
This simply means you are eating less food than your body needs to maintain its weight.
When you are in a caloric deficit, your body starts burning fat to compensate for that deficit of energy. (1)
And while for you this may mean looking better and feeling good about yourself, for the body it is controlled starvation.
During a period of time eating in a caloric deficit, your body recognizes that there isn’t sufficient energy.
To deal with this problem, the body slows down all of its processes to ultimately preserve energy. (2)
The longer you are on a caloric deficit, the slower your metabolism gets and what was once your caloric deficit, eventually turns into maintenance calories.
Taking diet breaks of 2 weeks every 2-3 weeks of dieting can be used as a tool to mitigate the decreases of your metabolic rate.
These are periods of eating at maintenance, where no significant changes in weight should be observed.
Your Post-Diet Approach
Now, as you just learned, throughout your diet, your metabolism slows down and you lose weight.
At one point, you will reach the desired body shape… And then what?
Well, the short answer is - Keep doing what you were doing in the first place!
That is, being active, eating good food, recovering well, and staying hydrated.
Nevertheless, due to the fact that your metabolism is slower at the end of your diet, there are things you have to do, in order to avoid sudden weight gaining.
Yo-Yo DietingMost people who lose a lot of weight, gain all of it and some more back in TWICE AS LESS TIME as it took them to lose it.
This is because people think of losing weight as a process with a start and end date.
And the truth is that it really isn’t. Weight loss is about a shift in habits, which is sustained over the long term and made a functional part of your self-care routine.
How To Keep The Weight Off
Here are our best tips to keep the weight off after losing it:
By slowly upping your food intake, you will signal the body that it is safe, has energy, and can speed up its processes.
If you give the body too much energy (food) too suddenly, you will gain quite some fat.
On the other hand, however, if you increase food gradually and keep activity high, your metabolism will skyrocket!
During a period of weight loss, your training intensity and effort output are slightly lower, due to the deficit of energy.
After you have reached your desired shape, however, you can transition into adding more food to your daily nutrition plan but also increasing training intensity.
This means, increasing the working weight, but also the number of sets, repetitions, and times you reach muscular failure.
Keeping good track of your nutrition and workouts after your diet is over is essential if you want to keep the weight off.
Quite simply, your main goal is to avoid spikes in weight gain - Just like you avoid weight loss spikes during fat loss periods.
Weight loss is a gradual process, to which the body responds by slowing down its metabolic processes.
As you diet down and exit the diet, you are in a state where your metabolism is just slower and you are more prone to gaining all the weight back.
This is why, you have to utilize something like a reverse diet, where you gradually increase your caloric intake, training intensity while keeping track of your progress and adjusting the plan along the way.
In doing all of this, you maximize the possibilities for you to lose weight and keep it off, creating a new set of behavioral patterns & habits.
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.
re to edit.
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.”
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.