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Introduction and Basics of Nutrition

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.

Aerobic Exercise and Pre-Workout

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.

Low Intensity
100 calories x 50% = 50 calories

High Intensity
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.

Weight Training and fat burners

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 »

Women and Steroids - Weight Training and Fat Burners

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.

Weight Determinants: Image Preview When determining the proper weight for an exercise let sets and repetitions be your guide. If at least three sets of a given weight can be comfortably performed, the weight is considered too light. But, if three sets cannot be completed, then the weight is too heavy. In other words, one must find a medium that permits the hard fought, grunted out lifting of at least three good sets (often at increasing weights) for each of the above goals.
  1. Wont lifting weights make me big and bulky?
  2. What is best, machines or free weights?

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.

GENERAL GUIDELINES STRENGTH: 4 - 6 repetitions per set MASS: 6 - 10 repetitions per set DEFINITION: 12 - 15 repetitions per set
MUSCLE BUILDING

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.

DEVELOPING A PROGRAM

Program Design for Personal Trainers A frequently quoted excuse for not lifting weights is, I really have no idea what to do with weights. Unfortunately the way most people, women and men alike, approach weight training is to join a gym and mimic what they see. Needless to say this is not a good idea, and such a haphazard approach wont effectively change your body.

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.

For those with little time.

This is primarily for maintenance purposes.
FULL - BODY TRAINING PROGRAM
DAY BODY PARTS TRAINED
Monday Chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, abs, lower back/obliques
Tuesday Off
Wednesday Same as Monday
Thursday Off
Friday Same as Monday
Saturday Off
For those with time, but who are unable to attend daily.

This is geared towards growth and development.
ALTERNATING TRAINING/OFF DAYS PROGRAM
DAY BODY PARTS TRAINED
Monday Chest, triceps, abs
Tuesday Off
Wednesday Back, biceps, lower back/obliques
Thursday Off
Friday Shoulders, legs, abs
Saturday Off
Sunday Same as Monday
For those with time and versatility.

This is geared towards definition.
TWO-A-DAY TRAINING PROGRAM
DAY BODY PARTS TRAINED
MORNING EVENING
Monday Chest, abs Triceps
Tuesday Biceps, lower back/obliques Back
Wednesday Off
Thursday Legs, shoulders, abs
Friday Off
Saturday Same as Monday
Sunday Same as Tuesday
TWO BODY PART SPLIT TRAINING PROGRAM
DAY BODY PARTS TRAINED
Monday Chest & triceps & abs
Tuesday Shoulders & legs & lower back/obliques
Wednesday Back & biceps & abs
Thursday Off
Friday Same as Monday

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.

DAY 1

CHEST

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Flat Barbell Bench Press (overall chest)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Incline Barbell Bench Press (upper chest)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Decline Barbell Bench Press (lower chest)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Pec Dec Machine Flyes (outer chest)

TRICEPS

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Kickbacks (overall tricep)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Dips (overall tricep)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Press Downs (outer tricep)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Reverse Press Downs (inner tricep)

LOWER to MIDDLE ABDOMINALS

  • 2 Sets to Failure Captains Chair or Hanging Leg Raises
(bent knee for beginners; straight leg for intermediate; weighted for advanced)
  • 2 Sets to Failure Seated Reverse Crunches

UPPER to MIDDLE ABDOMINALS

  • 2 Sets to Failure Weighted Crunches
  • 2 Sets to Failure Half-Way Down Crunches
  • 2 Sets to Failure Half-Way Up Crunches

DAY 2

SHOULDERS

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Overhead Dumbbell or Machine Military Presses

(front - middle shoulder)

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Lateral Dumbbell Raises (middle shoulder)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Bent-Over Dumbbell Raises or Rear Delt Machine Presses

(rear shoulder)

  • 2 Sets of 10 -12 Forward Dumbbell Raises (front shoulder)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Shrugs (trapezius)

LEGS

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Barbell Squats (overall legs & glutes)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Seated Leg Extension (Quads/upper-front legs)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Laying Leg Curls (Hamstrings/upper-rear legs)
  • 2 Sets of 10 -12 Hack Squats (Quads/upper-front legs)
  • 2 Sets of 10 -12 Seated Calf Raises (overall calves)
  • 2 Sets of 10 -12 Standing Calf Raises (upper calves)
  • 2 Sets of 10 -12 Donkey Calf Raises (middle calves)

OBLIQUES

  • 2 Sets of 25 Lateral Side Twists or Machine Side Twists
  • 2 Sets of 25 Shouldered Bar or Dumbbell Bending Side Twists

LOWER BACK

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Lower Back Machine Extensions
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Barbell/Dumbbell Dead Lifts or Good Mornings

DAY 3

BACK

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Pull-ups [assisted] (overall back)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Seated Row Machine (upper-inner back)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Lat Pull-downs [medium grip] (lower back)

BICEPS

  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Hammer Curls (overall bicep)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Preacher Curls (upper/peak bicep)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Cable Curls (inner-lower bicep)
  • 3 Sets of 10 -12 Reverse Cable Curls (outer-middle bicep)

LOWER to MIDDLE ABDOMINALS

  • 2 Sets to Failure Captains Chair or Hanging Leg Raises

(bent knee for beginners; straight leg for intermediate; weighted for advanced)

  • 2 Sets to Failure Seated Reverse Crunches

UPPER to MIDDLE ABDOMINALS

  • 2 Sets to Failure Weighted Crunches
  • 2 Sets to Failure Half-Way Down Crunches
  • 2 Sets to Failure Half-Way Up Crunches

DAY 4

  • OFF

PRINCIPLES OF WEIGHT TRAINING

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.

FINISHING EXERCISES

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.

GLUTES

DUMBBELL LUNGES

Form

Stand straight up, arms at your sides, with a dumbbell in each hand.

Movement

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.

Comments

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.

BARBELL DEAD LIFTS

Form

With feet flat beneath bar, squat down and grasp bar with a shoulder width or slightly wider over hand or mixed grip.

Movement

Lift bar by extending hips and knees to full extension. Pull shoulders back at top of lift if rounded. Return and repeat.

Comments

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.

HIPS

HIPS 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.)

Form

Sit in machine with heels on bars. Pull in on lever to position legs together. Release lever into position and grasp bars to sides.

Movement

Move legs away from one another by abduction of the hip. Return and repeat.

STANDING HIP ABDUCTION

Form

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.

Movement

Raise leg against roller pad to side by abduction of the hip. Return and repeat. Reposition roller pad lever and continue with opposite leg.

    Comments Variations of these exercises include Cable, and Cord Abductions.
QUADRICEPS (FRONT & OUTER THIGH)

SLED HACK SQUATS

Form Lie on back pad with shoulders beneath the shoulder pad. Place feet on platform slightly higher than base of sled. Extend hips and knees. Release dock levers. Movement Flex hips and knees to descend until knees are just short of complete flexion. Raise sled by extending knees and hips. Repeat. Comments If insufficient hip flexibility forces the pelvis to pull away from the back pad at the lower portions of the movement, then lower the sled just short of this separation point. Keep knees pointed in the same directions as feet. Do not allow heels to rise off of platform, push with both heel and forefoot. Variations include the Behind the Legs Barbell Hack Squat and the Smith Machine Hack Squat.

HAMSTRINGS (REAR & INNER THIGH)

SEATED HIP ADDUCTION

Form

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.

Movement

Move legs toward one another by adduction of the hip. Return smoothly and repeat.

Comments

Variations include the Standing, and Cable Hip Adductions.

OVERTRAINING

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.

It is better to be undertrained than overtrained. While recovering, the best way to monitor progress is to keep a training log which tracks such things as weight lifting increases & intensity, cardio amounts & speeds, bodyweight, general health, how the workout felt, and levels of muscular soreness & fatigue (on a 10-point scale). Other recommendations involve the avoidance of monotonous training, and the ensuring of adequate nutrition. Be sure to heed the early warning signs of overtraining, and to make adjustments accordingly. Remember, dont just train harder, but smarter as well.

FAT BURNERS & RESEARCH CHEMICALS

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.

How to Eat For Muscle?

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 »

Female AAS Research

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 »

Steroids and Women

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 »

Women on Steroids

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 »




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