Now that you know the importance of diet, it stands to reason that you should hear some of the facts about it. As you know there are whole sections of book stores dedicated to diet philosophies, plans, methods and techniques. Such volume can make discerning truth from fiction a daunting task, but let's start with some basic truths and build upon them to the point where falsehoods become evident. Below you'll find some definitions and accompanying explanations which will serve as the nucleus for what will become the foundation of your future eating habits... Read More »
Diet - food and drink regularly provided or consumed; a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight.
Extreme dietary restrictions which are not medical in nature should always be viewed suspiciously. The best diet is not one of exclusivity (i.e. soups, cabbage, carb free, etc.), but rather one that permits you to be you, minus poor eating habits such as overeating, poor late night food choices, excessive junk food consumption, and unnecessary emotional/stress induced eating. Anytime you see the word "ONLY" a flag should immediately rise as in, "You can only eat this and/or that", "You should only eat before this time of day", or "Only foods from a certain macronutrient (carbs, proteins, and/or fats) group should be eaten", etc. It is a well documented fact, that you should eat whenever "genuinely hungry", a term that can be contrasted with "artificial hunger" which largely denotes emotional eating (i.e. out of boredom, loneliness, anger, or sadness), and eating due to external stimuli (commercials, aromas, coaxing, etc.). Conversely, genuine hunger has more to do with lowered blood glucose levels, energy and the appropriate passing of time between meals. However, what you eat should depend on your energy requirements. For example, if hunger strikes before bedtime at say 10:30pm, a full course meal would be an unacceptable solution since nutritional needs during sleep are minimal. A better option for late night eating would be to enjoy a snack such as fruit, an assortment of low fat protein sources like yogurt or cottage cheese, light popcorn, nuts, or any of a multitude of light hunger satisfying foods that won't hinder sleep or provide excessive calories that are ripe for storage. Whenever your body legitimately requires food you should eat, because not doing so can have an adverse effect on your metabolism.
Calorie - a unit of energy that expresses the heat-producing or energy-producing value in food when oxidized within the body.
Contrary to popular belief calories aren't just things you shouldn't' eat too much off. They are posted on the nutritional labels as guidelines to portion control, what should be eaten and in what amounts. As cited above, a calorie is actually defined as "a measurement of heat energy", and when thought of in this way it makes understanding fitness a whole lot easier. If one eats based on energy requirements, then the body becomes far more efficient. You may have heard the bodybuilder maxim, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like pauper." Well it makes perfect since in light of the expressed energy mandates. However, an even more accurate depiction would be to eat breakfast and lunch like a prince, so as to not bog down the morning with too many calories. The "Law of Diminishing Returns" states that there is a point where more of a thing or activity produces worse or lessened results, as anyone who has ever stuffed themselves at a meal can attest. When overeating occurs the body has to reroute blood from other systems to aid in digestion resulting in lethargy. So although the L-Tryptophan in holiday turkey is often blamed for the post-feasting slow down (and there's some truth to it), overindulgence is the true culprit.
The hypothalamus consistently monitors input from three primary sensors, namely the mouth, throat & stomach to measure satiety or fullness. You'll never see an overweight animal in the wild because they possess an innate sense of how to eat. Only humans and pets battle obesity because of their poor eating habits, but ironically, our bodies have the same hypothalamic appetite controls as our wilderness neighbors. Why then do people become fat, while wild animals stay so fit? The answer is simple; we consciously override our natural shut off mechanisms. Bambi's mom was such a shapely doe because she never had to resist the aroma and presence of fast food restaurants every few miles. There were no golden arches, castles of white, or kings of burgers in her forest, nor was she inundated with visually tempting commercials every time her favorite shows went to break. Obviously, there is also a nutritional component since wilderness foods don't come topped with secret sauces, or two slices of cheese and bacon, but how to cut the crap from meals will be covered later on in "How To Eat For Muscle". A system is only as good as its parts, and the hypothalamus relies on strategically placed bodily monitors to measure input and provide feedback.
The mouth provides data on chewing. This is why you've always heard nutritionists speak of thoroughly chewing each bite, some of whom even cite a specific number of chews that should be taken, though this is illogical because of the many diverse forms and textures of foods. For example, although it may be applicable to chew steak 15 times, how well does this advice translate to watermelon, or ice cream. Nevertheless, fully chewing ones food is invaluable and not just for monitoring purposes but also as the first point of digestion. Well chewed food places less stress on the other digestion processes. A good way to fool this sensor is to make a habit of chewing gum between and after meals. This helps satisfy the brain's requirement when you're not really hungry, but are receiving external cues like the aromas, restaurants and commercials referenced earlier. Chewing gum can also be used like brushing teeth to signal the end of eating.
The throat delivers input on swallowing which also serves as part of the satiety puzzle. The consumption of low and zero calorie fluids can have a profound impact in this area. Those false hunger cues can be readily offset by drinking a diet soda or cold glass of water between and prior to meals. The same can be said for the more extensive chewing and swallowing required for certain low fat foods like salads and rice cakes.
Cardiovascular fitness can be defined simply as the body's ability to get oxygen and blood to the muscles. The shortened term used when referring to cardiovascular exercise is "Cardio", but the slang term "wind" is also frequently used when referencing endurance. Physical activity becomes cardio work when the pulse quickens and breathing becomes deeper causing the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to work harder. One can improve the efficiency of both systems through regular training. However, too much of this activity can be counter-productive as it forces the body to catabolize muscle tissue... Read More »
TIPS ON TRAINING
Exercise should be pre-meditated, deliberate, and methodical with limited distress. You should set aside designated times for structured exercise at least 4 times a week and not overlap this designated time with work, chores or family.
As with dieting, competitors adjust their workout routines depending on where their body is at a certain time, and where they need to be by competition time. As expressed earlier, the cleaner the diet the less time spent in cardio sessions, thus most average about 3-5 days of cardio work a week in conjunction with weight training. This number and duration will increase as contest time nears, but not by much. Here's one competitor's quote on the subject, "I have found that if I train smarter, more intense, then I can spend less time in the gym. It makes my life more efficient and that is so important when managing my time."
Due to differences in genetics, not all workouts will have the same impact for everyone. The one constant that is repeated throughout the websites of female competitors regarding the key to training, is to continually vary both weight and cardio training.
Weight bearing cardio work, those exercises for which standing is required, are superior to non-weight bearing ones by virtue of having to support one's own bodyweight throughout the activity. This means that walking or running SHOULD be preferred over cycling or rowing, however one should not forget to account for intensity. That is to say, a moderate walking session, may not be as productive as a fast cycling or spinning one.
How Much Cardio is Necessary?
There are a few simple guidelines to follow when determining how much cardio work should be done. But as with every other aspect of training, it all comes down to goal orientation.
To gain weight one will find reducing cardio of value, but there is still a need for it in order to maintain health. Everyone regardless of whether they are training or not, should be getting a minimum of three 20-minute cardio sessions simply because the body requires exercise to maintain proper functioning.
When seeking to lose fat cardio activity is recommended four to six times per week at 40+ minutes per session at a solid intensity. However, as discussed earlier, the amount of cardio required for serious training is directly related to the soundness of the dietary & weight training programs, as well as your particular goals.
For improving cardiovascular fitness in general training three or four times per week for 30 to 45 minutes per session (depending on current level of fitness) will yield good results.
What Type of Cardio Should Be Done?
Cardiovascular training, no matter what the exercise, is categorized based on duration and intensity. When choosing what type of cardio to do keep the ultimate goal in mind.
If the goal is fat loss but the body is poorly conditioned, begin with low intensity, long duration work such as walking. For the same goal with reasonably good cardiovascular conditioning, you should work out at the level which burns the most calories, i.e. high intensity training (explained in detail below).
If the goal is to improve general cardiovascular fitness, then moderate intensity work is more appropriate. This is where deep breathing begins, and conversation is labored but possible.
Maximum Heart Rate
The heart rate is the guide for cardiovascular exercise intensity.
The maximum heart rate (HR max) is the theoretical number of beats per minute that your heart is capable of producing.
This is found by subtracting your age from 220, e.g. if you're 40 years old,
220 - 40 = 180 HR max. But this is simply an estimation, not an absolute upper limit.
To measure aerobic exercise intensity, percentage of HR max (%HR max) is often used. If you want to exercise at 60% of your HR max, your heart rate should be (using the example above) around 108 beats per minute.
Target Heart Rate
Your Target Heart Rate is the range of heart beats per minute at which you should work in order to best achieve aerobic fitness. This range is typically between 60% and 80% of your HR max. The bottom end of the scale is best for low intensity training while the top end is for high intensity training.
ADDRESSING THE LOW INTENSITY = FAT LOSS MYTH
Most of the people who are familiar with and subscribers to the theory that low intensity training is superior to high intensities with regard to fat loss, are probably shaking there heads right now. As with most myths, there is a thread of supportive truth propagates this philosophy, however further analysis clearly reveals a breakdown in the mathematical logic. The reasoning behind high intensity superiority is simple. More fat is burned for fuel as a percentage of the total calories burned, and high intensity work burns more calories. Now scratching their heads, some readers may be thinking, "What did I just hear?" Okay it's time to pull out the pictures. Let's view this from an indisputable statistical vantage point.
Low Intensity (L.I. for short) burns about 50% fat for fuel while High Intensity (H.I.) burns about 40%, this what I meant by some truth to the myth.
But say, for example, one burns 100 calories in 20 minutes of L.I. work, compared to 160 calories in 10 minutes of HI work. Performing HI actually burns more total fat, and does so in only half the time as illustrated below.
100 calories x 50% = 50 calories
160 calories x 40% = 64 calories
In addition, HI training will also boost the metabolism for a longer amount of time AFTER the workout is done. This post-workout fat burning effect only minutely accompanies training. Even though HI training is a powerful fat loss tool, it should only be used by those who have already attained a good level of cardiovascular fitness.
The basic idea when trying to lose fat is to create a caloric deficit which prompts the body to release stored energy, a.k.a. fat. The type of training does not matter nearly as much as creating this deficit, bringing us back to the paramount importance of diet and muscle building, but as illustrated above HI training aids in creating this deficit more efficiently than LI training.
The human body is a marvelous machine and as such it responds best to a variety of stimuli. To derive optimal value one's cardio training should be varied. Here are some examples of ways to diversify this training component.
Equipment - treadmill, stationary bike, stair stepper and elliptical machine. Rather than doing the same old steady-state fixed pace, alternate between fast-blast intervals and recovery paces. A fast-blast interval can last from 30 seconds to several minutes and should be done at an intensity that leaves you barely able to hold out for even a few moments longer. The recovery interval should have the effort level of a casual-paced walk/pedal, and is done for one to two minutes to catch your breath.
Classes. A major component among fitness competitors is their extensive use of instructed classes (often taught by them). These groups serve multiple purposes including help with cardio motivation, increased flexibility and core strength, and as great stress relievers. A two group class per week minimum is recommended, and general course selections included various Step, Boot Camp, Kickboxing, Core, Yoga, Pilates and Spinning.
The track. Run or walk one lap at a rigorous speed, then walk the next lap moderately. Alternate for at least 20 minutes.
The climb. Climbing gyms are easy to find, and wall-climbing offers an exciting alternative to more traditional exercise while working the entire body. For those who dislike stretching, climbing stretches the body while providing excitement to the exerciser, and there are different routes for all levels of participants.
The rope. Still one of the single best cardio activities known to (wo)man, the jump rope is simple, inexpensive, convenient and extremely efficient. The best way to improve and monitor your jumping is by timing it. Begin by simply jumping for as long as you can, then take a one minute break and repeat for a total of four repetitions. On successive outings increase the jumping time of each repetition by a very minor amount such as 5 seconds, until you become a world class skipper.
The great outdoors. Outdoor exercise is an option which helps break up some the monotony of gym workouts. Several of the competitors reviewed used this option in conjunction with the gym. That is to say they'd: warm-up with outside walking, jogging or inline skating before lifting; burn additional calories this way after lifting, as well as; utilize the outdoors for independent cardio sessions.
Training with weights is often the most neglected aspect of the female workout program. And although there are a variety of reasons why women tend not to lift weights, they usually center around two quintessential questions... Read More »
Training with weights is often the most neglected aspect of the female workout program. And although there are a variety of reasons why women tend not to lift weights, they usually center around two quintessential questions:
This varies with the individual and is largely dependent on experience and goals, but in general 3 - 5 exercises per body part are performed within a training session. This same information applies to the number of sets per exercise.
QUESTION #1 The primary reason given by women for not lifting weights is the fear of getting too big or "bulky". In reality, such a thing couldnt be further from the truth. How or what one lifts (stimulus) is not directly correlated with how they look (size). Little guys and gals can be extremely strong and vice versa. Weight lifting makes you stronger and to some degree tighter, not bigger. If men, with testosterone-based (muscle building) systems can lift for years and never get truly big, to think that an estrogen-based (non-muscle building) females system would permit such growth is ludicrous. Remember what we learned earlier, You are what you eat, as dietary composition and overall caloric intake increase so does the body. Logically, the inverse would also have to be true, in that as calories are restricted/decreased the body becomes smaller and lighter...a valid and reliable process commonly known as Dieting!
When presented with this information, many will dismiss it based on personal experience stating something to the effect of, Well when I began lifting, I immediately noticed that my arms and legs were getting bigger, and this was further evident in the tight way my clothes began fit. Although this is seemingly irrefutable evidence, the reason is far more an issue of increased muscle volume, than actual growth. For example, bedridden hospital patients often experience a condition known as Muscle Atrophy, referring to the wasting or loss of muscle tissue resulting from a lack of use often due to disease or injury. This condition though far more pronounced in such patients, is somewhat analogous to what happens to a person who doesnt workout. Of course their muscles dont waste away, but due to a form of stimulus deprivation, the muscles experience significant shrinkage resulting in below normal tone and tautness. Essentially, the muscles are filled below capacity, which causes them to droop and sag. When weight training stimulus is reintroduced, the muscles of the body rapidly respond as if being supplied with long denied nourishment, sparking an inflation of sorts which causes an expansion to potential volume. Sadly, the reaching of this very normal (full muscular) state, after several years of neglect, is generally viewed as the onset of bulk or mass building. Should lifting continue the muscles would suddenly, and very stubbornly, plateau at their peak capacity. SO PLEASE DONT BE AFRAID TO LIFT WOMENLIFT!
QUESTION #2 Welcome aboard. Now that youve joined the ranks of weightlifter, the next most popular issue is Free Weights vs. Machine Weights. Both camps contain a high number of constituents and can typically justify their respective positions at great length. The truth however, is a bit more complexyou see neither form compliantly fits into what we would call Best. Both of these facets prove invaluable to the lifter, as they emphasize different aspects and phases of muscle building. Generally speaking, the majority of the novices time should be spent in the free weight area because they: (1) require balancing when lifted, meaning the muscles work harder throughout the process as they labor to align and stabilize the workload and; (2) allow for a greater range of motion both at the start and end of the lift permitting more muscle flexion and contraction. Complimentarily, machine weights have defined start and stop points for greater safety, possessing weight alignment and stabilization factors. These elements make them ideal for: some finishing exercises that are better performed with cables; working around injuries that free weights would expose and necessarily restrict and; as aids for younger and older lifters who would greatly benefit from the safety factors mentioned above. Thus, for the otherwise healthy individual, the perfect training regimen would include a majority of free weight training in conjunction with supplementary machine weight work.
Weightlifting can improve your body, but lifting alone rarely produces the results sought by those who engage in it. As expressed earlier in Eating To Build Muscle and later throughout this work, the key to sculpting a better body (conditioning it to be stronger, harder and more attractive by lifting and tightening specific areas) is far more comprehensive. This section will explore the requirements for efficient muscle building, among which are well planned and timely meals, in conjunction with the essentials of muscle breakdown via stimulation, and repair through rest & recovery.
The key components to muscle stimulation are volume, intensity and consistency. Sufficient doses of these three work to create tiny fissures known as micro-tears within the individual muscle fibers. If given the proper raw materials (proteins) the body can repair these fissures in a way similar to that of a damaged brick wall. The protein acts as a mortar of sorts filling in the tears which in conjunction with enough time to solidify, fortifies the rebuilt muscle with even greater capacity so as to handle the former workload in the future. This increased muscular capacity, explains the increases in your training weights. Perpetuation of the breakdown and repair cycle continues until full genetic potential is achieved, at which point no more muscle can be made without exogenous hormonal/steroidal assistance.
Competitors and serious training enthusiasts use well structured workouts, and as a result of their desire to increase muscularity, the vast majority of them lift heavy most of the time. There are as many weight training programs as there are self-proclaimed fitness gurus. These methods emphasize specific goals such as muscle development, tightening and toning, timesaving maintenance, strength building, etc. The most popular of these splits are the ones that effectively work the whole body in one cycle, while simultaneously providing the necessary rest for previously worked muscle groups. Remember that development, regardless of your individual goal, comes by virtue of proper nutrition, appropriate muscle stimulus and adequate rest. Training regimens should be selected based on your goal orientation and available time. Here is collection of some the most efficient programs and their respective applications.
One of the most effective and most popular routines is the Two Body Parts a Day Program.
This routine does a superb job of providing both stimulus and rest. Although it may look too strenuous, it should be noted that while two groups are working one day, the others are resting. Additionally, this workout provides enough rest that some elect not to schedule an off day, and instead upon completing day three, immediately begin with day one (providing a full 72hrs of rest per body part). These people choose to let off days fall where they may, secure in the fact that they train regularly enough to be largely unaffected by missed workouts. Another emphasis of this plan is its allowance for the working of multiple muscle heads which are very specific working areas of each muscle group. For instance, the deltoids or shoulders contain three muscle heads known as the anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear). Very few exercises are able to hit each head within a muscle group, it is therefore important to deliver specialized attention to the various heads in order to promote complete development, providing both functional and aesthetic value. How To illustrations as well as numerous exercise variations (angles, range of motion, hand or foot positioning, supination, etc.) can be found within any basic weightlifting book, or muscle magazine. The various exercises have very common names and can be Googled for greater description, as well as pictures and animations of each. Here is a very basic example of how this program typically looks, along with a diversity of exercises for the various muscle groups, and an in parentheses notation of the targeted area. Be sure to customize it based on your individual level of development, needs and goals.
(front - middle shoulder)
(bent knee for beginners; straight leg for intermediate; weighted for advanced)
The level of intensity is a major question when it comes to serious training, and a topic on which everyone has a theory. Some go with the "30 or 45-Second" rules, others wait a full minute or more, while still others simply train instinctively. But just how much time should elapse between sets, and should you permit more time for heavier lifts? The great Franco Columbo summed up both questions in the simplest of answers, when asked how long to rest between sets he replied, "As long as it takes to catch your breath."
There are however, numerous far less intuitive techniques that are routinely adhered to by premiere athletes. These specific guidelines encompass a variety of uniformed methods, are most often referred to as the 'Weider Principles'. They are so named for Joe Weider who helped launch the fitness era, and is considered the grandfather of modern bodybuilding. This section will explain eleven of the most popular Weider principles of bodybuilding, and since they are not meant for use at every stage of training, each is followed in parentheses by a letter B, I, or A and stand for beginner, intermediate, and advanced training levels respectively.
Muscle Priority Training (I & A) - Training your most underdeveloped muscles first, so as to subject them to the maximum possible effort. If you have a weak body-part you want to improve, train it first in your workout, before you begin to fatigue.
Pyramiding (B, I & A) - When using multiple sets for a given exercise, doing your first set with less weight for more reps, gradually increasing the weight and decreasing the reps over the remainder of your sets. This allows you to gradually warm up a muscle group, preparing it for the resistance to come in the next set.
Muscle Confusion Principle (I & A) - Muscles acclimate to a specific type of stress causing them to "habituate" or "plateau" when the same stress is continually applied over time. You should constantly vary exercises, sets, reps and weight to avoid acclimation, and to sustain growth and change.
Pre-Exhaustion Training (A) - Pre-fatiguing a larger muscle with an isolated, single-joint movement so it can be even more exhausted by the compound movements to follow. When you do an exercise like the bench press which works not only the chest, but also smaller subordinate muscles which might fatigue before your chest is fully exhausted. By doing a chest isolation exercise beforehand, you can fatigue your chest prior to bench pressing to chest failure.
Supersets (I & A) - Working opposing muscle groups in back-to-back fashion, taking as little rest as possible in between sets. Alternating sets between opposing muscle groups such as biceps & triceps, and chest & back greatly increases intensity. When you train one muscle group, the other is recovering (sometimes even being stretched) as you complete the set. With two muscles or muscle groups being worked, more nourishing oxygenated blood is pumped into the area.
Tri-Sets (A) - Doing three sets in a row for the same body-part with as little rest as possible in between sets. Three exercises in a row more thoroughly exhausts the muscle. This training technique is so demanding that it should only be done on occasion, and is more often used by bodybuilders in their pre-contest training. It is not optimal for muscle building.
Set System Training (B, I & A) - Simply doing more than one set for each exercise. This is the opposite of high-intensity training which involves performing one set per exercise. Often, the first couple of sets aren't enough to fatigue your muscle.
Giant Sets (A) - Doing 4-6 exercises for the same body-part with little rest between sets. Giant sets are used to create overwhelming stimulation to a body part and totally exhausts the muscles involved. This technique should only be used occasionally as your body needs time to recover from this level of effort. This type of training is used more for muscular endurance and calorie burning than for putting on mass.
Instinctive Training (A) - This involves experimenting with your workouts and paying attention to how your body reacts to certain types of training. The fundamentals of bodybuilding training are the same for everyone, but individual uniqueness still exists. Thus, fine tuning becomes more important, the further along one gets in training. Whatever you are accustomed to is going to feel best, but you have to figure out what actually produces the best results and adjust accordingly.
Compound Sets (I & A) - Alternating two exercises for the same muscle group, taking as little rest as possible between each set. Each same body part exercise fatigues the muscle involved in slightly different ways (often working separate muscle heads), so doing two exercises in a row with little rest in between achieves a deeper level of stimulation and muscle pump.
Staggered Sets (I & A) - Training smaller, slower developing body parts like calves or forearms in between sets for major body parts. Arnold Schwarzenegger relied on this principle early in his career to develop his calves. He would do a set for chest, back or shoulders, followed by a set of calf raises while his major muscle group was recovering for the next set. He'd then alternate sets for the working body part and calves. His calves got plenty of time to recover between sets and by the end of his workout; he would have subjected them to as many as 15-20 total sets of various calf raises.
The glutes, hips and thighs are notoriously stubborn areas on the female anatomy. These body parts can seem unshapely or less than flattering even after theyve been significantly strengthened and cardio trained. The cold hard fact of the matter is that theyll likely require extra attention, and this what Finishing Exercises (FIs) are all about. An argument can be made that anything other than a basic exercise can be considered an FI. For example, if the biceps require a greater peak, then Preacher Curls become FIs. Similarly, if the calf muscle lacks the diamond shaped head, the proper FI would be Donkey Calf Raises. There are also some exercises which are inherently FIs because they should only be performed after muscular development occurs, but still lacks that polished presentation look, bringing us back to the glutes, hips and thighs.
Here is a blend of both types mentioned above which work as specific toning exercises to downsize thighs, raise the gluteus maximus, and tighten hip muscles. Again these common exercise names can be located on the internet along with greater description, pictures and animations.
Stand straight up, arms at your sides, with a dumbbell in each hand.
Lunge forward with first leg. Land on heal then forefoot. Lower body by flexing knee and hip of front leg until knee of rear leg is almost in contact with floor. Return to original standing position by forcibly extending the hip and knee of the forward leg. Repeat by alternating lunge with opposite leg.
Keep torso upright during lunge. Lead knee should point in the same direction as foot throughout lunge. A long lunge emphasizes the glutes; a short lunge emphasizes quadriceps. Variations include the Rear, Side, and Walking Lunges. Additionally they can be performed weightless, or with the barbell.
With feet flat beneath bar, squat down and grasp bar with a shoulder width or slightly wider over hand or mixed grip.
Lift bar by extending hips and knees to full extension. Pull shoulders back at top of lift if rounded. Return and repeat.
Pretend your arms don't work anymore . Throughout lift keep hips low, shoulders high, arms and back straight. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement. Keep bar close to body to improve mechanical leverage.
SEATED HIP ABDUCTION (AB meaning away from, is easiest remembered as in to nab or take away. This is best described as the pulling away or separating of the legs, as in the above images.)
Sit in machine with heels on bars. Pull in on lever to position legs together. Release lever into position and grasp bars to sides.
Move legs away from one another by abduction of the hip. Return and repeat.
Adjust platform so lever fulcrum is same height as hip. Adjust roller in low position. Face machine and grasp side bars. Place outside of thigh against roller pad and shift body weight to opposite leg.
Raise leg against roller pad to side by abduction of the hip. Return and repeat. Reposition roller pad lever and continue with opposite leg.
Sit in the machine with heels on bars. Pull in on lever to position legs apart. Release lever into position and grasp bars to sides.
Move legs toward one another by adduction of the hip. Return smoothly and repeat.
Variations include the Standing, and Cable Hip Adductions.
The inverse of working hard, properly and consistently in the gym is getting adequate rest, recuperation and recovery. The Muscle Building section explained how muscle is broken down and rebuilt with protein and rest. This section will explore what happens when said rest is inadequate, and how to restore normalcy, as well as some preventive measures such as early identification and correction.
Overtraining is best defined as the state experienced by a training individual who has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where the standard amount of rest is no longer adequate for full recovery. The "Overtraining Syndrome" is the name given to the collection of emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms due to overtraining which has persisted for weeks to months. Athletes and coaches also know it as "burnout" or "staleness." This is different from the day to day variation in performance and post exercise fatigue which is common in conditioned athletes. Thus, overtraining is marked by cumulative exhaustion which persists even after recovery periods.
Physiologic improvement in sports only occurs during the rest period following hard training. This adaptation is in response to the maximal loading of the cardiovascular and muscular systems, and is accomplished by: improving the efficiency of the heart; increasing capillaries in the muscles and; increasing glycogen stores and mitochondrial enzyme systems within the muscle cells. During recovery periods these systems build to greater levels to compensate for the stress that was applied, resulting in a higher level of performance.
If sufficient rest is not included in a training program then regeneration cannot occur and performance will plateau. Should this imbalance between excessive training and inadequate rest persist, performance will ultimately decline. The most common symptom is fatigue; it may limit workouts and can even be present during rest. It may also cause you to: become moody; easily irritated; have altered sleep patterns; become depressed or; lose the competitive desire and enthusiasm for the sport. Some even report decreased appetite and weight loss. Physical symptoms include persistent muscular soreness, increased frequency of viral illnesses, and increased incidence of injuries.
There have been several clinical studies on athletes with overtraining syndrome, including exercise physiological, psychological, and biochemical laboratory testing. Findings in these studies showed decreased performance in exercise testing, decreased mood state, and in some cases an increase in cortisol levels -- the body's "stress" hormone. A decrease in testosterone, altered immune status, and an increase in muscular breakdown were also been identified. Medically, the overtraining syndrome is classified as a neuro-endocrine disorder. The normal fine balance in the interaction between the autonomic nervous system and the hormonal system becomes disturbed. This results in a kind of athletic "jet lag", during which the body has a decreased ability to repair itself while resting. Heaping more workouts onto this unbalanced system in addition to the normal stressors of life (work, personal, and family) exacerbates the situation.
The treatment for overtraining is rest. The longer the overtraining has occurred, the greater the rest required, making early detection very important. If the overtraining has only occurred for a short period of time (e.g., 3 - 4 weeks) then interrupting training for 4 - 5 days is usually sufficient rest. You must consider rest from a systemic viewpoint because thats what needs to occur, namely a resting of the bodys various systems. Overtraining affects both peripheral and central mechanisms within the body. For instance, resting from overtraining on the bicycle by swimming more will help a pair of fatigued quadriceps, but continues to stress the heart, pituitary and adrenals.
Although proper diet and training are the primary determinants of fat loss, supplemental herbs and research chemicals can aid this endeavor. It should however, be clearly noted that supplementation has virtually no effect when diet and training are not intact. Once again, and this cannot be overstated, diet should be the focal point when seeking to achieve your fitness goals. Sadly, people dont realize that the body actually prefers to burn fat, rather than store it. This lack of knowledge often causes women to resort to cutting calories, a behavior which counterproductively promotes fat storage. The human body is actually designed to eat several small meals throughout the day, every 2.5 - 3 hours including carbs ladies! Consider if you will the still uncorrupted eating preferences of babies, in relation to this regimen which provides sustained nutrition, energy, and ideal elimination. It is out of convenience and the accommodation of stressed lifestyles that three meals a day (i.e. before, during and after work) became the staple. The key to unlocking the metabolisms fat burning machine lies in returning to a 5 - 6 small meals a day routine.
The human body is comprised of many different systems all of that have a preferred level of functioning or set-point. The maintenance of these systems via the constant monitoring and readjusting of changes is known as Homeostasis. Fat burners, also called thermogenics, work by means of increasing the body's core (not thermometer) temperature. This heat increase initiates a homeostatic response to cool the body back to normalcy, a process that requires calories. As you'll recall from "The Basics of Nutrition", a calorie is a measurement of heat energy that if applied to a sound diet and training program, can be specifically targeted towards fathence the term, "Fat Burner".
The non-steroidal products below can greatly compliment any training program or steroid cycle:
Ephedra (Mahuang) This natural Chinese herb has been used for over three centuries in slimming and medicinal teas. It is a beta-antagonist, a bronchodilator (often found in asthma medications in various different forms), but is also a central nervous system stimulant. Although a mildly effective fat burner, when combined with caffeine and aspirin in an ECA Stack, it is far more adept at providing quick and sustained energy capable of propelling you through longer, stronger, and thus more productive workouts. A single serving is considered to be between 25 - 30 mgs, however, due to the variance (mild to severe) of side effects it is recommended that you begin with 1/2 or 1/3 of a serving and increase as tolerated. This can easily be achieved when a single serving equals two or three capsules, but when using single serving capsules the purchase of empty caps allows you to manually divide this herb into halves or thirds as desired. The maximum 24-hour amount is 100mgs. Side effects typically includejitteriness, hot flashes, warming sensations, and insomnia. Tolerance, or receptor downgrading, is often developed and can be countered by taking the anti-histamine Benadryl for seven consecutive nights at 25 - 50 mgs. Benadryl works by upregulating the beta receptors, where Ephedra is absorbed, and literally clears them for continued optimal functioning. Ephedra should be taken early enough to negate insomnia, thus most users do not administer it after 3pm if theyre anticipated average bedtimes.
Note: For a more detailed explanation of how Benadryl and similar products impact usage, please see the Steroid Profiles section for the drug Clenbuterol, here at Steroid.Com.
Lastly, there has been and I guess always will be some division among Ephedra and Clen users as to what form of administration is best. However, statistically speaking they are best taken continuously for OPTIMAL results. This information is also well documented in the Clenbuterol profile.
Central Nervous System Stimulants (CNS Stims) - Since the Ephedra ban, many supplement companies have turned to mimicking alternatives that provide a lesser, but similar effect. The most noted among these are Synepherine, Aspidosperma Quebracho-blanco (a form of Yohimbe), and L-Tyrosine. The bottles of these products have varying dosages and detailed instructions so please read them carefully.
Clenbuterol (Clen) is a vailable in both tablet and liquid forms, and like Ephedra is also a beta-agonist/antagonist (although selective), a bronchodilator, and a central nervous system stimulant. It is a very effective fat burner in both bodybuilder and athletic circles. It increases the ratio of Fat Free Mass to Fat Mass, by decreasing overall body fat. Clen works by increasing the core body temperature several percentage points (not degrees on the thermometer) stimulating a homeostatic response, that causes the body to burn calories as it works to restore normalcy. Administration is often began with 20 mcg doses and increased daily (by the same amount) to the desired plateau dosage which varies with the individual and is mostly contingent upon the tolerance of side effects. However, regardless of tolerance 200mcgs is considered grossly excessive for both female and males. Similar to Ephedra, side effects typically includejitteriness, hot flashes and/or warming sensations, and insomnia. Additionally, Clen affects the respiratory & cardiovascular systems of individuals differently. For example, some people experience a negative affect resulting in a lessened or weakened aerobic output, others incur an increased cardio output similar to that of Ephedra, while still others are not affected. Another difference between the two is that the Clen has a smoother elevation and dissent, whereas Ephedra can cause both system jolts and crashes. The most pronounced problem on Clen is the severe muscle cramping. This occurs throughout the body and can range from inconvenient to greatly debilitating. Athletes and bodybuilders typically take the amino acid L-Taurine in 500 3000 mgs (as needed) doses daily to eliminate cramping. Tolerance, or receptor downgrading, is often developed and can be countered by taking the anti-histamine Benadryl for seven consecutive nights at 25 - 50 mgs. Benadryl works by upregulating the beta receptors, where Clen is absorbed, and literally clears them for continued optimal functioning. Clen should be taken early enough to negate insomnia, thus most users do not administer it after 3pm .
Note: For a more detailed explanation of how Benadryl and similar products affect usage, please see the Steroid Profiles section for the drug Clenbuterol, here at Steroid.Com.
Lastly, there has been and I guess always will be some division among Ephedra and Clen users as to that form of administration is best. However, statistically speaking they are best taken continuously for OPTIMAL results. This information is also well documented in the Clen profile (see above excerpt).
Cytomel (Liothyronine Sodium, Thyroid Hormone 3) - Available in tablet and liquid forms, Cytomel is the synthetic version of the naturally produced Thyroid Hormone 3, also known as T3. The thyroid gland and its various hormones are responsible for regulating the bodys metabolism of food and stored energy producing substrates (fat, muscle and glycogen). It is taken to optimize ones metabolic rate, and can therefore be used as a super fat burner.The thyroid gland maintains a delicate hormonal balance, so problems in this area often require medical care and hormonal treatment. Supplemental usage should be tapered slowly 20/25mcgs every 2-4 days until desired amount is reached, it is then plateaued for the cycle duration, and finally tapered back down in a similar manner. Cytomel is run to differing plateau dosages depending on the individual's needs, but it really shouldn't be run higher than 100mcgs. This very powerful synthetic hormone indiscriminately consumes any available energy resource. Although it may be employed to burn the energy from food and stored fat, it can also draw from lean muscle tissue (another source of energy). Since muscle is obviously desirable and a natural fat burner itself, the net value of taking Cytomel is a loss, that is unless it is used in conjunction with muscle preserving anabolic steroids which negate Cytomels muscle burning tendencies while embracing its fat burning properties.
Since every body type is different, it is difficult to generalize how one should eat for various goals (e.g. muscle gain, weight loss, competition, etc.). The following is an amalgam of information mostly generated from the personal webpages of bodybuilding, figure and fitness competition legends' people who know how the body works and how to optimize it. The emphasis here is on muscle building, and these insider practices will provide the foundation for what can be molded into a personalized diet and training regimen. Remember that any drastic changes in your diet or exercise programs should be discussed with a physician prior to implementation.... Read More »
Drinking water throughout the day is extremely important. Set out with the goal of consuming a gallon of water per day, but remember this is a goal not a necessity. Increasing water intake will impact a variety of dietary areas, and only actual water can be readily used in physiological processes. All other drinks require breakdown, and elicit secondary bodily responses. During serious training one should avoid soda, even diet versions. Consuming Aspartame and other Nutra Sweet-like products forces the body to release insulin and store fat, because of this they do NOT count as water intake.
The total amount of calories eaten in a day depends largely on the stage of training, and the level of physical development. For example: eating more helps increase mass; eating less promotes weight loss and; eating lean & watching sodium improves definition and reduces fluid retention respectively.
The daily requirements for a good general muscle building diet consists of a large amount of protein (approx. 120 -150 grams), some good complex carbs (100 - 250 grams), and a small amount of mostly unsaturated fats (20 - 30 grams). The above amounts are averages and will naturally vary based on individual requirements and activities.
In the muscle building stage the total amount of calories consumed should be that which permits continuous progression without increasing stored body fat.
(Caloric Intake > Normal Requirements + Training Requirements)
This amount is often in the neighborhood of 1700-2100 cals a day. But let's look at this from another perspective. Calories per day can also be measured, and probably more clearly understood, in terms of calories per pound of bodyweight (ppbw). This vantage point permits us to more specifically examine requirements based on actual weight. For example, to gain muscle 125 pound woman might eat 15 calories ppbw, meaning she'd need 1875 calories a day. But again this is extremely individual, as another 125 pound woman might lose weight at this caloric amount depending on her metabolism and body composition. It is therefore, most important to learn from and listen to your body.
Typically, any competitor (fitness, figure, or bodybuilder) will try to build as much muscle as possible until about two to four weeks (often more for bodybuilders) prior to the program, depending on body fat and appearance.
During the last few weeks before competition the goal is to lean out (lose as much fat and water as possible), so caloric intake is reduced and should be customized for each individual. But whatever the decided amount, it must be substantial enough to spare all the hard earned muscle, while final goals are being attained.
(Caloric Intake < Normal Requirements + Training Requirements)
It is important to take a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral once daily, but be sure to check the label for iron content. The average dose is 18mgs per serving, but most manufactures produce both iron and iron-free multis because some people do not require additional amounts of this mineral, and could experience physiological complications if it were unnecessarily supplemented.
An often overlooked aspect of paramount importance is the Post-Workout meal. It is during this glycogen (stores of energy found within the liver) deprived state that the most ideal conditions for nutrient absorption are found. An immediate meal composed of simple carbohydrates and protein are required to best take advantage of this opportunity. As time elapses the window for absorption depreciates exponentially, returning to normal at around the 40-minute mark.
Creating a diet that becomes part of your lifestyle is most important. Crash dieting, weight loss pills/drinks and fad diets are merely SHORT-TERM fixes. A healthy eating lifestyle takes commitment, dedication, patience and planning.
Set realistic short and long term goals. Make the short ones rapidly attainable, like losing a pound in two weeks. This way motivation is maintained as progress is constantly being made. Long term goals might include something like losing one percentage of body fat in month, or further out, placing in the top 10 in the next competition.
Be sure to eat breakfast, preferably oatmeal. You may already know breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it stokes the metabolic furnace, but oatmeal is satisfying, filling and a great high-fiber way to start the day.
Try to eat 3 medium size meals with two supplemental snacks per day, this method more evenly distributes energy and promotes more thorough digestion and elimination.
Avoid foods that are processed, fried, and contain trans-fats.
Although your diet should be extremely clean (filled with healthy wholesome foods and supplements), be sure to permit yourself a cheat meal or two every week. This is not a license to eat like a pig at your favorite fast food restaurant, but rather an opportunity to indulge in a fried, or creamy meal with a decadent dessert. Eventually these infractions will become unnecessary and likely eliminated altogether. This will occur for two reasons: 1) because you are training your body to no longer crave them and; 2) because they are so counter-productive to your goals that they'll become undesirable. But don't rush this; you'll know when the time is right.
When preparing chicken, vegetables and potatoes select from spray oils such as olive, canola or vegetable and non-stick pans, rather than saturated fats like butter and margarine.
Use cayenne/red pepper, garlic, and ground pepper to add flavor; avoid adding salts and sodium filled seasonings.
Don't let a weak moments or days get you down, everyone falls off the wagon occasionally. Those who are driven pick themselves up and keep plugging away.
No matter how much you go to the gym, DON'T forget one important rule: Your diet is ultimately responsible for your failures and successes!
As far as food choices for protein, the best sources come from lean meats of any type with grilled or broiled boneless & skinless chicken breasts topping the list. Also of great value are egg whites, fat free cheeses, and salmon which is preferred twice weekly for its high concentration of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). The bulk of this diet should come from actual food, but be sure to supplement daily with protein bars and/or shakes between meals to increase protein intake without greatly impacting overall calories. There are also a few rules to observe regarding protein powders, central to which is selecting the best protein sources. Various brands claim that certain specific individual protein sources are best and should be exclusively consumed. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that this view is incorrect; instead indicating that a blend of proteins is superior to any one form. For example, the composition of milk is 80% casein (generally a fine protein) and 20% whey protein, however whey can be further broken down into both whey concentrate which has a 40% absorption rate, and whey isolate at 85% absorption. The highest quality supplements (shakes, bars, puddings, cookies, etc.) will use a combination of proteins in what's called a proprietary blend for maximum nutrient absorption. The FDA mandates that food product ingredients be listed by 'Order of Amount'. Not many people are aware of this, but in the case of proprietary blends (especially shake powders), the parentheses nullify the FDA mandate. This means that once the company chooses to use parentheses they no longer have to follow the ordering rule, and can list their ingredients as they see fit. This tactic is used to confuse consumers into thinking that the product contains a lot of the early listed high quality ingredients. Below are a few ways techniques for distinguishing quality powders from confederates.
POPULAR WOMEN'S SUPPLEMENTS:
MAS Myoplex Light Protein Powder
Optimum Nutrition's Rocky Road
IDS' Belgium Chocolate, and Cappuccino
Met-Rx; EAS, Avid Caramel Peanut Roll; Balance Almond Brownie
Optimum Nutrition's Opti-Women Multivitamin
GNC Women's Ultra Mega ACTIVE Multivitamin
Often Added Nutrients:
1.Examine the cholesterol content. Very high quality drinks contain virtually no cholesterol whatsoever, and often list it as less than one milligram. Those drinks with single digit milligram cholesterol amounts are of rather good quality. Once a drink enters double digit amounts, the quality begins to drop exponentially, and the majority of these are loaded with Whey concentrate (a poor and inexpensive source of protein).
2.The higher quality protein blends have greater dissolvability and will mix more easily, while their inferior counterparts will be courser often requiring excessive shaking or necessitating blender assistance.
3.Remember the above whey lesson. Be sure that any whey containing supplement (especially 100% Whey) you purchase contains the highly absorbable isolate form, and not the inexpensive, poorly absorbed whey concentrate.
Whole wheat products, oatmeal, sweet potato, and rice cakes are carbohydrate dietary staples. It is also important to eat a couple of cups vegetables a day including frequent servings of the dynamic duo broccoli & spinach. Other female favorites are zucchini, carrots, beans, and asparagus. Try to mix up the choices in order to ensure the complete amount of vitamins throughout the diet. Fruits are also important carbs which provide additional energy filled nutrients and fiber, but are less frequently implemented when compared to veggies.
King among healthy sources of fat is the legendary salmon. This is not the crusted, butter drenched local restaurant version, but rather the healthy, home-baked, brushed with extra virgin olive oil (to prevent drying) serving which is eaten at least twice a week by those in serious training. Other good poly- and mono-unsaturated fat food favorites include avocados, natural peanut butter, raw almond butter, and a variety of other nuts. When it comes to supplementing, several female competitors absolutely swear by Flax Seed Oil, among which the multi-blended, female friendly (contains Evening Primrose Oil), well formulated Udo's Choice Oil Blend from Flora is the favorite.
There is considerable variation in the baseline flexibility between individuals, and furthermore even within a person's own body (e.g. flexible shoulders but inflexible hips or; flexible right hamstring, but tight, inflexible left hamstring). Genetics, injuries, and abnormal biomechanics all play a role in these differences. Stretching may be useful for both injury prevention and injury treatment. The commonly held belief is that stretching for prevention if properly practiced, potentially increases flexibility which appears to translate into a reduced risk of injury. The theory here is that muscles and tendons with a greater range of motion will be less likely to experience tears when actively used. Other speculative benefits are thought to be improved recovery and enhanced athletic performance, both of which are attributed to improved biomechanical efficiency.
There are a variety of different types of stretches and numerous reasons why people perform them. Below are some of the more popular stretches, along with examples and the reasoning as to why they should be practiced or discontinued.
Passive stretching is also referred to as relaxed stretching, and as static-passive stretching. A passive stretch is one where a position is assumed and held with some other part of the body, or with the assistance of a partner or some form of apparatus. For example, bringing the knee towards the chest, and then holding it there with the hands or arms is a form of passive stretching. The splits are also an example of a passive stretch in which the floor serves as the apparatus used to maintain the extended position.
Active stretching, also know as static-active stretching, is when a position is assumed and then held with no assistance other than the strength of working (agonist) muscles. An example of this would be raising one's leg under its own power and suspending it in the air without the assistance of other body parts or apparatus. The tension of the agonists in an active stretch helps to relax the muscles being stretched (the antagonists). Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the agonistic muscles. Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer than 15 seconds. Many of these movements (or stretches) can be found in various forms of yoga.
Isometric stretching is a type of static stretching (meaning it does not use motion) which involves the resistance of muscle groups through isometric contractions or the tensing of stretched muscles. This form is more commonly referred to as 'flexing', and is often used by bodybuilders during contests to better display muscle groups, and in practice to enhance striations.
AN ASSORTMENT OF STRETCHES
You should not try to make big gains in flexibility in a short time spans. Stretching should be done gradually over a long period of time, and maintained to prevent slipping back towards inflexibility. Many people enthusiastically embark on a stretching program, but then quit a few weeks into it because they haven't seen results. Be patient and consistent, flexibility takes time to accrue. Below are some examples of simple, yet diverse stretches:
Reach Ups Reach with both hands as high as possible, clasp them together and inhale deeply. Exhale on the way down, while slowly lowering your arms returning them to the sides.
Alligator Stretch Lie on your stomach and gently push up onto your elbows. Try to look back at the ceiling or the other wall behind you while stretching the abdominals and lower back. You may advance the stretch from the elbows/forearms onto your hands for a deeper stretch.
Seated Straddle Stretch Seated with your legs forward in a V-position, while exhaling slowly reach toward the center until you feel the stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat the exercise 3 times.
Back Crunch Rolls Lay on your back, pull your knees toward you in a ball position, and crunch your chest toward your knees. Hold, then release. Repeat 5-10 times.
Cat Stretch Either standing with your hands on your knees, or on the ground with hands and knees on the floor like a cat, round up your back and inhale deeply. Then relax your back while exhaling. Repeat for 5 deep breaths.
Chest and Triceps Stretch Seated with legs folded or standing, reach behind you with both hands and clasps them together. Try to extend both arms for a full stretch.
Standing Torso Twist From a standing position, slowly twist the torso from left to right to loosen up the spine and lower back.
Standing Calf Stretch Lunge forward toward a wall with one leg. Keeping your heel on the floor, leave the other leg stretched behind you. This move looks like you are trying to push down the wall. Repeat stretch with the other leg.
Overhead Triceps Reach Standing or seated reach behind your head with one arm and try to extend the fingers between your shoulder blades toward the middle of the back. Use your other hand to grasp the elbow and help with the stretch. Repeat the stretch on the other side.
THE RESEARCH ON 'STRETCHING' One naturally assumes that the stretching of muscles and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) prior to exercise would be the best way to prevent injury during said exercise, right? Well, not only is the research in this area inconclusive, but the data proving the exact opposite is mounting. A one-year study of 1543 athletes who ran in the Honolulu Marathon, found only 33% of male runners who did not stretch were hurt, while a striking 47% of male runners who stretched regularly were injured (Lally D, 1994.). Even when the research accounted for the fact that the strongest predictor of a future injury is a past injury, and excluded runners who took up stretching after a previous injury, stretchers who did not run any more miles than the non-stretchers still had a 33% greater risk of injury. However, this study also found that stretching after workouts reduced the risk of injury. This led to the conclusion that stretching should occur when muscles are thoroughly warmed, in order to be considered a protective measure.
In a similar study (van Mechelen W, Hlobil H, Kemper HCG, et al., 1993) 159 runners who were instructed how to warm up, cool down and stretch effectively were compared to a control group of 167 similar runners who received no instruction. The injury rates of the two groups were identical suggesting that the stretching instructions produced no protective benefit. Still other research has determined stretching may be beneficial. A study of military recruits who performed a series of static stretches before and after training were compared to a control group which did not stretch at all (Amoko et al, 2003). Although there was no difference in the rate of bone or joint injuries, the stretching group returned a significantly lower rate of muscle-related injuries.
In their review of this literature, Thacker et al (2004) stated that "There is not sufficient evidence to endorse or discontinue routine stretching before or after exercise to prevent injury among competitive or recreational athletes. Further research, especially well-conducted randomized controlled trials, is urgently needed to determine the proper role of stretching in sports."
Warm-Up Cardio - A good way to increase blood flow and preheat the body is to perform several minutes (working up a good sweat) of cardio activity prior to training. The rule here is not to exceed 30 minutes of cardio training activity prior to weight training, after said time athletic research indicates a decline physical strength.
Warm-Up Weight Training - A commonly practiced activity among many weight lifters is to lift less weight during the first one or two sets of a new exercise. It is believed that this method eliminates muscular shock by preparing the body for the workload of the heavy training sets.
Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetic derivatives of testosterone, a naturally occurring male sex hormone. They not only possess an anabolic (muscle and strength building) component, but an androgenic (affecting sexual characteristics) element as well. To put it bluntly, steroids are used to make men, manlier. However, AAS use can also provide significant muscular and aesthetic benefits for female users. This segment will explore some of the reasons AAS interest women, as well as: the efficacy of female usage; related benefits and side effects; the best compounds and dosages as well as; other information those considering usage will find invaluable... Read More »
One of the most prevalent questions in many steroid forums is, "Is it possible that I'm a steroid non-responder?" This question is the direct result of a lack of user knowledge. Hormones, regardless of type, are chemical messengers that deliver very specific activity determining signals. These constant signals are precisely en- and decoded by various receptor cells throughout the body. As long as certain variables are properly aligned, the correct administration of anabolic steroids will effectively elicit a muscle building response. And therein lays the real question, What are these variables, and how does one go about aligning them properly?
STEROIDS + KNOWLEDGE = RESULTS Appropriate steroid administration includes using the proper goal-oriented compound(s), dosage(s), timing & duration (SEE BELOW: "Best AAS for Women) Appropriate muscle fiber breakdown includes lifting heavy, effectively, and regularly (SEE WEIGHT TRAINING: " Muscle
SOME REASONS WOMEN TAKE STEROIDS
Although there are a variety of reasons women elect to use steroids, the following have been found to be the most significant.
SELF-IMAGE In the words of the legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes, "Often the easy, obvious answer is also the correct one.", thus many women take steroids to become more attractive and to exert greater sex appeal. Another reason can be found in a condition known as 'muscle dysmorphia', a disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with the idea that he or she is not muscular enough. Those who suffer from this condition tend to hold delusions that they are "skinny", fat or "too small" when they are often possess above average musculature. Dysmorphia is sometimes referred to as Bigorexia or Reverse Anorexia Nervosa, and is a very specific type of body dysmorphic disorder. Muscle dysmorphia is NOT a simple obsession with working out or bodybuilding. To be clinically diagnosed as muscle dysmorphic, a person must exhibit symptoms of the type and degree outlined within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV), and not merely be overly interested in their physique or engaging in fitness behaviors that other people would consider excessive. Some of the inclusion criteria for the disorder are:
Surprisingly, many women use steroids because they feel like a need to protect themselves, as a result victims of rape often begin taking AAS. In a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study of women weightlifters, twice as many of those who had been raped reported using anabolic steroids and/or another purported muscle-building drug, as compared to those who had not been raped. Moreover, almost all rape victims reported a marked increase their bodybuilding activities after the attack, in belief that being bigger and stronger would discourage further attacks by making them intimidating and/or unattractive. In another study involving 75 female subjects, 10 reported being raped as their reason for using AAS to increase muscle strength and size (Gruber, Pope; 1999). The rape victims in most cases believed they would never be able to trust a man again and consequently replaced these relationships with bodybuilding activities. Of the 10 admitted rape victims, 5 said that prior to the experience they had no intention of ever using steroids, and believed they were a sign of weakness and an unwillingness to achieve goals through hard work.
Of course AAS provide tremendous performance enhancement benefits, and though men garner the bulk of such scandals, professional and amateur female athletes also administer steroids for this purpose. Numerous female athletes secretly employ AAS as a way of enhancing their overall performance, but one arena in which this usage is not so secret is that of competitive bodybuilding. Anyone viewing an upper level competition will immediately and accurately infer that these women are using anabolic steroids. However, there has been substantial decline in the interest of female bodybuilding, in lieu of the increased attention to womens fitness and figure competitions. Although the extreme mass and muscularity of men is largely viewed as a great spectacle, the trend for women has become one of balance between muscularity and femininity. But make no mistake, these less than gargantuan physiques are still quite often steroidally enhanced, albeit specifically tempered with the proper AAS compounds, dosages, diets and training regimens (all to be discussed later).
PREPARING FOR AAS
It is always a good idea to work with a physician who is knowledgeable about and aware of, your steroid usage because they can provide valuable safeguards, including appropriate testing. Since this is often not the case, you should have baseline labs performed prior to beginning any AAS cycle. These tests will serve the dual purpose of checking your health, and marking the desired points for returning to normalcy after steroid discontinuation. Labs can include a variety of measures, but be sure to log the liver profile, lipid screen, T3, T4, estrogen & testosterone levels and ratio, as well as baseline heart rate and blood pressure readings.
Reproductive system functioning can be a major concern, as AAS typically impact the menstrual cycle. Changes can vary from minor menstrual irregularities (i.e. inconsistent days, variable heaviness, periodic spotting, etc.) to the complete absence of menstruation for several months, depending on the steroid types, dosages and durations. The charting of menstruation details for a couple months prior to administering AAS is also a good idea for noting normalcy.
THE BENEFITS OF USING AAS
As you'd probably expect, women receive many of the same physical, physiological and psychological benefits as men which typically include:
Overall, a woman will experience an increase in leanness, muscle definition, muscle mass, weight, and strength. The effectiveness of training will become better for she will have an improved recovery rate. She will become more aggressive, have a heightened sexual drive and a better self-esteem. But there is more to using anabolic steroids than just appearing to be the person you have always imagined yourself to be.
- Strauss, Liggett, Lanese; 1985
POSSIBLE STEROID SIDE EFFECTS
In biology and medicine, Virilization refers to the development of secondary changes, or a set of anatomical structures and features unique to males and females that are not directly related (and therefore secondary) to the production of sex cells. Most virilization is produced by androgens - any natural or synthetic compound (including steroids) that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. Some negative side effects are permanent and others go away when the drug is discontinued. When it comes to the severity of negative side effects, the type, dosage and duration of AAS play significant roles. The proper management of these variables can lead to satisfyingly successful cycles.
The preponderance of research indicates that unlike male users who experience only a few (if any) of the numerous possible steroid side effects, women (with their estrogen-based endocrine/pituitary systems) are far likelier to experience more of the following associated side effects:
HOW TO USE STEROIDS
Most of the women reading this article are probably doing so for figure and/or fitness enhancement, but regardless of the 'WHY' this section will provide the 'HOW', how that is to improve your quality of life through the safe and proper administration of AAS.
Permit me to begin by imparting some fundamental knowledge:
BEST AAS FOR WOMEN
Conventional wisdom holds that only a couple of select oral steroids should be recommended as safe for female usage. This conclusion is primarily based on said oral's inherently low anabolic/androgenic ratios and mild to moderate liver toxicity, which is also why actual Testosterone esters should never be used by women (who arent bodybuilders). Whenever a dosage seems too high, as evidenced by unacceptable or intolerable side effects, its immediate reduction typically corrects the problem. It should also be noted that like all goods and services, prices and availability will vary. Anavar (Oxandrolone), though a perennial favorite among steroid users is often nearly twice as expensive as Winstrol (Stanozolol or Stanabol) another favorite. Here are some proven steroid protocols and their resulting effects:
COMMON SIDE EFFECTS
Muscle gain; increased strength, hardness,
Possible gastro discomfort, decreased libido
10 - 20mgs/a day
8 - 12wks
pump, stamina, vascularity & fat loss.
Slight muscle gain; increased
Possible hair loss or thinning, joint pain
strength & hardness.
As stated earlier, there is no need to taper steroid usage. All drugs have half-lives, the amount of time it takes for one half of the drug to evacuate the body via the three methods of absorption, degradation and elimination. How the drug is administered (frequency) should always be based on its half-life. For example both Winstrol and Anavar have short half-lives lasting less than half a day. To keep the blood serum levels of these drugs high (for optimal effect) each should be taken twice daily. For example:
Experimentation is important because of the varying effects of different hormones. Below is an illustration of a steroid cycle in the form of a stack or cocktail. As mentioned earlier, users exercise such protocols to enhance their results by exploiting the synergy of two or more compounds. Stacks also minimize side effects, by reducing the amount of harsher compounds while using the same or greater total AAS milligrams. For instance, Winstrol can be hard on the joints and hair, but when combined with the milder Anavar (as in the example below) this risk is significantly reduced, while additional Anavar benefits can be simultaneously realized at the very same desired 10mg AAS dosage.
Orals are a good choice for the needle phobic, but if you dont mind shots Primobolan Depot (Methenolone Enanthate) is a great option. This hormone is primarily used for gaining and preserving lean muscle tissue. The reason Primo is so effective in these areas has to do with its ability to augment nitrogen retention. As a result of this property, many competitors have successfully used Primo to retain muscle during calorie restrictive pre-contest dieting. Unfortunately, Primo comes with two rather daunting caveats: 1) it is a very expensive chemical to obtain, a price which is usually reflected in the cost to the average consumer and; 2) it is one of the most commonly counterfeited steroids on the black market. Nevertheless, if attained this steroid is well worth the effort.
IF TESTTHEN PROP! The dangers of exogenous testosterone within the female body cannot be overstated! But since there will always be those who go AMA (Against Medical Advice), if you must experiment with Test be sure to make your choice Testosterone Propionate. This would be the only choice for women who simply must try testosterone for one all important reason. Should adverse side effects become problematic or otherwise intolerable the propionate ester will rapidly vacate the body, and hopefully completely reverse any negative effects or conditions.
Prop should be injected everyday or every other day and appropriately divided according to the desired total weekly dosage. A cycle using this hormone should run for a minimum of 6 weeks. The most pronounced negative side effects include: clitoral enlargement; excessive facial & body hair; deepening of voice; oily skin; menstrual abnormalities; hair loss or thinning; depression, confusion and; acne on the face, back or shoulders. It is very important to monitor oneself closely while using a hormone as androgenically potent as testosterone.
FEMALE AAS RESEARCH - The media and naysayers have been rejecting steroids since the 1930's, publically spouting negative propaganda, while privately marveling at the wondrous physiques and feats of athleticism and strength it produced. Since women are a relatively new addition to the steroid scene, and due to the obvious ethical issues surrounding the perceived potential for harm, there are very few medical journal studies relating to the effects of anabolic steroids on female subjects. Sadly, the studies which do exist, serve only to complicate matters by often using small sample sizes, and insubstantial control and placebo groups that yield largely inconclusive results.
Studies published to date on androgen replacement therapy in women do not indicate detrimental effects on body composition, lipids or vascular function. The key words here are " replacement therapy". Testosterone derivatives have been developed for clinical hormonal replacement therapy in men. Thus, few forms of AAS are approved for women because the pharmokentics (the study of the action or effects of drugs on human beings) and efficacy of usage on women have not been well researched. Therefore, very little is actually known and published about the short- and long-term effects of non-medicinal AAS usage regarding women. Consequently, even less is clear regarding the supraphysiological (amounts greater than normally found in the body) doses which female bodybuilders, competitors and recreational users have been known to administer.
Although interpolation has been used, the research conducted on male users can't possibly be accurately correlated to females when there are virtually no grounds for comparison. Consequently, the alleged research-based information concerning the adverse physiological, physical, behavioral, and psychological effects of low dosage supraphysiological AAS on women is at best inaccurate, and at worst wildly speculative.
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Bahrke, M.S., Yesalis, C.E., and Wright, J.E. Psychological and behavioral effects of endogenous testosterone and anabolic-androgenic steroids: an update. Sports Medicine 22(6): 367-390, 1996.
Gruber, A.J., Pope, H.G. Jr. (1999) Compulsive weight lifting and anabolic drug abuse among women rape victims. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 40, 273-277
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Hughes, T.K. Jr., Rady, P.L., Smith, E.M. (1998) Potential for the effects of anabolic steroid abuse in the immune and neuroendocrine axis. Journal of
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Lally D. 'New Study Links Stretching with Higher Injury Rates', Running Research News, Vol. 10(3), pp. 5-6, 1994
Malarkey, W.B., Strauss, R.H., Leizman, D.J., Liggett, M., Demers, L.M. (1991) Endocrine effects in female weight lifters who self-administer testosterone and
anabolic steroids. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165, 1385-1390
Porcerelli, J.H., and Sandler, B.A. Anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse and psychopathology. PsychiatricClinics of North America 21(4): 829-833, 1998.
Porcerelli, J.H., and Sandler, B.A. Narcissism and empathy in steroid users. American Journal
Research Report Series - Anabolic Steroid Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse
Strauss, R.H., Liggett, M.T., Lanese, R.R. (1985) Anabolic steroids use and perceived effects in ten weight-trained women athletes. JAMA, 253, 2871-2873
Sutton, L. ANABOLIC STEROIDS: Not Just For Men Anymore. Vanderbilt University
Thacker et al. "The Impact of Stretching on Sports Injury Risk: A Systematic Review of the Literature". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 36(3):371-378, March 2004.
van Mechelen W, Hlobil H, Kemper HCG, et al. Prevention of running injuries by warm-up, cool-down, and stretching exercises. Am J Sports Med 1993;21:71119.
Yesalis, C.E., Kennedy , N.J. , Kopstein, A.N., and Bahrke, M.S. Anabolic-androgenic steroid use in the United States . Journal of the American Medical Association 270(10): 1217-1221, 1993.
INTERNET RESOURCES Carol Semple Ms. Fitness Olympia
Steroids and Women for many people its an odd sounding phrase; after all, when you think of anabolic steroids you normally think of massive, muscular men. Most people have no idea how important the relationship between steroids and women truly is, but it is we assure you massively important. Its true; many more men supplement with anabolic steroids than women, and of course, you can easily pick out some women who do, but the numbers exceed the imagination of most... Read More »
Anabolic steroids can be very damaging to women for one specific reason; they can destroy her femininity. While true, anabolic steroids and women can co-exist in harmony; caution must, however, be applied; were talking about responsible use. Women have fewer anabolic steroids they can supplement with safely, and further, must implement extremely low doses. Lets take a look at all the factors, everything you need to know; well explain the fear, how to avoid it, and explain to you why the relationship between steroids and women is so crucial to society as we know it today. Absolutely, well even show you which steroids most any woman can consider, and even how to mix and match all her PEDs; in short, your questions will be answered.
When it comes to steroids and women, there is a universal fear; turning into a man. As you know, anabolic androgenic steroids derive from the primary male sex hormone testosterone, and as such, while no woman will turn into a man, if shes not careful she can easily display masculine traits. Many anabolic steroids cause what is known as virilization, specifically put, changes that occur due to the high presence of androgens in the body. Androgens are hormones we all produce, both men and women, and essentially so with Testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone being primary. Of course, men require about ten times the amount as women, and when androgen production goes beyond the needed amount for a female, masculine traits can manifest. The most common virilizing effects include:
There is hardly a woman alive who would enjoy such effects, but guess what; plenty of women supplement with anabolic steroids and never experience a single one. The reason is simple; theyre not idiots. Theyve done their homework; they understand which hormones to take and which ones to avoid. They understand if virilization symptoms begin to show then that particular steroid is not for them; well explain shortly.
When steroids and women coexist if were going to avoid virilization, and were assuming you want to, the first order of business is to choose anabolic steroids that carry low virilizing properties. Some steroids carry higher virilizing properties, and logic tells us, well need to avoid these; this isnt rocket science. Even so, lets be clear; all anabolic steroids carry a level of virilization concern, some higher and some lower than others. When we choose anabolic steroids that carry low virilizing properties, in most cases, most women will be fine, but there is still a risk. As we are all unique individuals, some women will not tolerate some steroids at all even though another woman may tolerate it perfectly. Look at it like dairy products; most of us can drink all the milk and eat all the cheese we want, but some of us get sick if we even think about a cow; some of us are lactose intolerant, but most of use arent.
The key to avoiding virilizing symptoms is straightforward; choose steroids that carry a low rate of probability in this regard. Second, if for any reason virilization symptoms begin to show, discontinue use immediately. Once you discontinue use, the effects will dissipate rapidly. If you ignore the symptoms and let them set it, this is where true damage is done, and in many cases, where they cannot be reversed. At any rate, if symptoms show discontinue all steroid use; in your next go around do some examining of your prior use. Was your dose of a certain steroid too high? Maybe you simply need a lower dose that is more tolerable; maybe you need a different steroid altogether. In any case, if youre smart and pay attention to your body you can supplement without these effects becoming problematic.
Competitive bodybuilders; when it comes to steroids and women these are the only women supplementing with anabolic hormones, right? Nope, youd be dead wrong; in-fact, they make up a very small portion of the steroids and women family. If its a physique based sport, then there is a strong relationship between steroids and women; fitness, figure and even bikini, you bet, thousands of them supplement. This doesnt mean they all do, but the majority is well-versed in anabolic steroidal supplementation. Then there are the physique models, the women you see advertising for your favorite protein bar or pre-workout formula; of course, many of them are competitors too, but either way most are supplementing.
Physique athletes and fitness models, yeah, yeah you say; you already knew a lot of them supplement, but many arent aware. Then we have the next group, and this is the one that will surprise far more than the above. When it comes to steroids and women, never has this relationship been as important as it is to our celebrity population. Look at the women of the silver screen from fifty years ago or even twenty years ago; for that matter, look at the women from twenty years ago who look better than they did twenty years ago. Do you think this is all plastic surgery; is it because they have the best trainers in the world? While these factors indeed play a role, without anabolic steroids and a host of other performance enhancing drugs, the female physique as we know it today in popular culture would not exist. Whats more, anabolic steroids arent all that expensive, and as these women have money to burn they have no problem dropping a few grand here and there.
These are the women supplementing with steroids, but theyre not the only ones; nope, were not done yet. You can find women supplementing with steroids, and women in almost all walks of life doing so if any kind of fitness is concerned. Female performance athletes, and even the gym rats that dont compete supplement on a regular basis. These women recognize what men have for nearly sixty years; anabolic steroids will create a physique that is impossible to obtain without. Granted, far more men still supplement, but the amount of women who do would blow the minds of most if they truly had any idea.
We established early on there are certain anabolic steroids women do not need to take; such steroids carry too much risk to a womans femininity, and if she wishes to protect it, she must avoid such forms. With that in mind, the only question is which anabolic steroids can women take? Without question, the number one anabolic steroid for any woman is Oxandrolone; more commonly known by its most popular trade name Anavar. Anavar is the most female friendly steroid of all, and while men can use it to it appears to be far more beneficial to women. Anavar is such a female friendly steroid, in most performance based circles it is informally referred to as The Girl Steroid. This steroid carries the lowest virilization rate of any anabolic steroid, and further, will provide every last trait a female could be alter with supplementation. Most all women can tolerate 10mg every day extremely well, with some women handling as much as 20mg every day perfectly. In any case, most will never need more than 10mg per day, but if more is desired it is recommended you increment up 5mg at a time. If you respond well to 10mg and want more try 15mg, if you still want more, the next go around try 20mg; however, there is something important you need to understand. The higher you go with the dose, the greater risk of virilization. In any case, most women can tolerate 10mg of Anavar a day for up to 8 weeks remarkably well; in some cases even longer if needed, but 8 weeks is our max recommendation with most only needing 6 weeks.
While Anavar should be any womans top choice, there are other steroids that can be solid options. Of such steroids, Primobolan Depot is the second most female friendly anabolic steroid. Oral Primobolan can be used, but as it is not a C17-aa oral steroid it is not recommended as most of it will be destroyed by the liver. At any rate, most women will find they tolerate 100mg of Primobolan Depot a week fairly well, but they must limit their use with 4 weeks of use generally being a safe time frame and 6 weeks being the max. Then we have the Stanozolol hormone, more commonly known as Winstrol. This one is more or less a 50/50 shot; about half the women who supplement with it will tolerate it well, while the other half wont. In truth, perhaps a little more than half will tolerate it well, but it falls below Anavar tremendously in-terms of toleration. If it can be tolerated, most women will find 10mg every other day to be all they need. Injectable and oral Winstrol are both fine, but most women will find oral Winstrol to be the way to go as it commonly comes in 10mg tabs.
These are our top steroids for women, but as well see soon there are other performance items that can be added to a stack that will tremendously enhance it. Of course, before we move on we must mention a few other steroids in passing. There are some women who may find extremely low doses of Equipoise to be beneficial, and in some cases even testosterone; especially if the woman is testosterone deficient. Most women will not need to touch these steroids, but they can be useful in very low doses; were referring to extremely low doses. This is something you may have to play with a little bit, and youll need to keep an extra close eye on virilization, but for the majority, these are items they should not touch.
As you have seen, steroids and women can coexist; its simply a unique relationship that has boundaries if a woman is to remain protected. With this in mind, while the above steroids can provide tremendous results, there are other performance enhancing items that can be added to truly enhance a physique to its maximum potential. There are six items specifically that can be added, and we have listed them all with additional notes where beneficial.
To get the most bang for your buck, if youre going to supplement with anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing tools you need to know how to mix and match them, and of course, what doses to take. These stacks and plans will look remarkably different than typical male stacks, and for one basic reason you should already understand; the relationship between steroids and women, while it can be a positive one is also very fragile. There is a fine line to walk, and if it is not followed the virilization symptoms discussed above will show through, and they can show through in horrific ways. At any rate, its important to understand the below samples are just that, samples. Total dosing and duration can be adjusted to meet your needs; we have simply provided a guideline. Further, we cannot guarantee side-effects will not occur; weve told you what to look for, which steroids are the friendliest and how best to plan, but remember, were all unique human beings. With that said, the following will be well-suited for most women.
Its no secret, anabolic androgenic steroids are used by a large portion of our society; in the U.S. alone over six-million adults supplement with anabolic androgenic steroids but often surprising to many is how many women on steroids make up a portion of this total figure. It is true, men make up the largest portion of the group, in-truth its not even a close comparison but there are many women on steroids as well and many of these women on steroids produce fantastic results... Read More »
While there are many women on steroids in order for most to have success in-terms of both performance while maintaining femininity certain aspects must necessarily be understood. Anabolic steroids can cause severe virilization; this simply means the use of may bring forth masculine characteristics and other female associated side-effects such as and not limited to:
For most women the key to success is avoiding highly androgenic based anabolic steroids, anabolics such as Anavar, Winstrol and Primobolan can be very useful for the female athlete as they can be used safely and effectively. However, this does not mean the various women on steroids are not supplementing with other anabolics; in-fact many women on steroids are supplementing in a very similar fashion as men. However, such supplementation can open the door for some harsh physical changes to a womans appearance. For example, use of testosterone can have serious consequences; however, low doses of testosterone can prove to be very useful in-terms of both performance and libido for women but most will necessarily keep the dose very low. Increasing in popularity has become Testopel, a testosterone pellet that is placed directly under the skin, normally somewhere in the hip/glute region.
Most women on steroids will find that even though safe and effective use is possible such use will normally need to be far less in-terms of not only a mans dose but in total duration as well. Even with anabolic steroids that possess only slight virilization effects many women may find themselves in serious trouble if use is continued for far too long. Unfortunately there is not a one size fits all we can give you as anabolic steroids carry with them highly individualistic traits. Some women will be able to maintain the use of a particular anabolic far longer than others while others will find very short periods to be the only means of success.
While the above remains true, for women on steroids there is one steroid that is by far the absolute best to meet their needs; so much so that in many circles it is often referred to as The Girl Steroid were talking of course of Anavar. Anavar has proven to be highly well-tolerated by most all who supplement with it and in most cases very side-effect friendly; so much so most women who supplement with it responsibly will not incur any negative side-effects. For the women on steroids who supplement with Anavar, generally dosing will fall in the 10mg-20mg per day range and will prove to be both highly effective and safe.
In the end it all boils down to two simple things; responsible use and trial and error. Many women will find certain steroids to cause severe virilization effects, however, once such affects begin to appear if they discontinue use they will normally be in the clear; it is when use continues and the affects set in that can lead to trouble. More importantly and this is part of responsible use and that is personal education; like men, women on steroids are urged to educate themselves on the matter as self-education will lead to a greater more positive experience.