Thursday, August 21, 2008

How To Eat More

First, I've been away for a bit but I'm back now and hope to get some regular posts up going forward.

Second , I am working on a new section at the site which will eventually give illustrations of videos and pictures of all the top muscle building exercises. So far, 13 exercises are up, check them out at the Weight Training Exercises Database.

Third, a frequent question I get is, "Exactly how do I eat more?

If this is an issue for you, check out this new trend...

Human feed bags for more convenient eating

Don't know about you, but that made me laugh hard.

Seriously, if you are trying to eat more in order to gain quality muscle weight, it can be difficult at first. There are some tips on how to eat more in the following article...

Making the Healthy Weight Gain Diet Stick..


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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Science of Steroids

The National Geographic Channel is running a good program titled the "Science Of Steroids." Its an interesting hour for everyone, whether or not you use steroids or have any thoughts about using them.

Science of Steroids

Some things I found particularly interesting from the show:
  • One of the "experts" talked about how using steroids was one of the last things anyone would admit to - they'll admit to spousal abuse, cocaine use and everything else but not steroids. He compared it to pedophilia in terms of the lengths people will got to in order to hide it.

    Strange but true.

  • The program did a good job of addressing the lack of studies on steroids.

    A lot of users are very convinced that there aren't any dangers in using steroids. At my site, I have limited coverage of anabolic steroids. While I'm not pro-steroids (and I don't, never have, and never will use), I'm not hysterically anti-steroids like a lot of the mainstream coverage tends to be (the "you're going to die horribly and immediately" type of coverage). I try to present a fair look at the potential side effects of steroids.

    It's pretty benign stuff.

    But, every few months or so, I get an email from some guy telling me that I'm wrong, that there are no studies that say that steroid use will lead to cardiovascular problems or whatever. They basically tell me that steroid use is akin to chewing gum, that there are no real risks.

    They are right, there are very few studies on side effects. The reasons as explained in the show are the fact that you really can't load humans up on 'roids and wait 20 years to see what happens. Couple that with the fact that users won't admit that they use and you get very limited data to draw from.

    BUT, if you look at the case studies, if you look at the early deaths and medical problems for so many pro wrestlers and bodybuilders, you pretty much have to be blind to not see that these are very dangerous drugs and can have some consequences.

    Those that walk around miffed that anyone would suggest that there are any dangers to steroid use do have their reasons to distrust the medical community's warnings. The medical community has totally botched the whole steroids issue from day one and continues to do so.

    As pointed out in the show, you'll still find medical authorities stating that anabolic steroid use has no effect on muscle building or enhancing athletic performance????

    That's probably even more absurd than denying there are risks associated with use. You shouldn't need definitive studies to be able to make an obvious observation.

  • The fastest growing group of steroid users? Its not athletes, its regular people just looking to use them to improve their appearance.

    Personally, I understand the temptation to use for competitive athletes. Had I been real close to breaking into the major leaugues, I would have felt the temptation (Unfortunately, I was never close). I don't understand why someone would use just to improve their physique?

    I just don't get it. I think a good percentage of those who do choose to use for these reasons really aren't appropriately educated on the subject. And that makes steroids even more dangerous.

JP Clifford

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cholesterol and Muscle Building

Put this one down as another study that has produced results that may have surprised the general public, but not so much your average bodybuilder.

High Cholesterol Is Good for Building Muscle.

Not so long ago I got an email from a guy who was frustrated with his inability to gain muscle weight. The results he reported were truly horrible. He was seemingly doing everything right, eating to a caloric surplus, working out with a good routine and schedule, etc. And he was gaining weight, its just that 80% of the weight gain came in the form of increased body fat.

I was unable to pinpoint a reason for his lack of success until he proudly told me that he was one heck of a disciplined dieter - that less than 5% of his diet was fat and he consumed virtually no saturated fat. His reason for the low-fat diet was to discourage fat gain and protect his heart health.

There is abundant evidence that low-fat doesn't translate into weight loss or decreased fat gain. In fact, as the guy above demonstrated, it does the exact opposite. The reason is that a lack of dietary fat will hurt your muscle building hormone production.

The effects of such a diet to your general health are questionable, the effects on your ability to build muscle shouldn't be in question. You simply won't maximize your ability to build muscle with a diet that is so low in fat. Fat, and the resulting cholesterol, is clearly an important part of the muscle building equation.

Isn't high cholesterol a killer, doesn't it cause heart attacks? This is a big issue and I won't pretend to be qualified enough to dissect it. The correlation between cholesterol and heart disease, however, isn't as cut and dried as most people think. Some will even say that its a complete fabrication being kept alive only by the pharmaceutical companies greed to market their statins despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

What is clear is that, as the above article concludes, there is still a lot we don't know about cholesterol. After all, maintaining muscle mass is a positive step to avoiding heart disease.

My hypothesis is, as always, that as studies finish up and science progresses, the actual "most healthy diet" recommended for all by the mainstream will become closer and closer to what the experienced natural bodybuilder of today eats. My hypothesis continues to be proven correct.

Suggested Reading for those looking for more information on the dissenting opinion of cholesterol's role in heart disease: Anthony Colpo has some very well-researched stuff on the topic - A few must-read articles are here. Definitely check out the one on low-fat diets and his results from trying to maintain health and a presentable physique on them. He also has a book The Great Cholesterol Con. I haven't read that but Colpo used to have a very extensive website on the subject of which I was a big fan (he has taken it down in hopes of spurring book sales).

Also, Fat Head, The Movie (a response to the inaccuracies of the popular Super Size Me movie) is good stuff - Interesting trailers are here, some interesting cholesterol facts are here. And some reccomended reading is here.

And from the site: Food to Gain Weight: Fat (EFAs)

JP Clifford

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Resting For Muscle Growth

Aw, yes, rest.

Perhaps nothing is more frustrating to me then trying to convince a beginner that his spending 2 hours in the gym every day without rest won't make him a big man. Rather, he'll likely end up losing muscle.

Tell the beginner that and he'll often just stare back at you with glossy eyes. He'll think you are just underestimating his determination. He'll think you're way to conservative and that you don't understand that he wants big time results and he wants them in a hurry.

I understand the "beginner logic." In virtually all phases of life we are justly rewarded for long, hard work. Study 5 hours a day for a test and you'll get a better grade then the guy who studies just one every other day. Stay after work everyday and you'll be in line for the promotion before the guy who simply clocks out at 5:00 and heads home to watch South Park. Spend every waking moment practicing your PS3 skills and you'll be able to kick all your friend's asses with a joystick.

But bodybuilding can put you in bizarro world. Here you get rewarded for a little intense effort followed by ample relaxation. And you can get punished harshly for too much intense effort in the gym.

It is quite a change from the reality you thought you knew. Suddenly you get rewarded for kicking up the feet and watching South Park? Suddenly you're the one packing on muscle while your over-achieving friend labors for hours on end at the gym with no results? Suddenly you're kicking your friend's asses without the need of a joystick?

The reason this occurs lies in the science behind muscle growth. It's explained rather well and without getting complicated in this article...

A Day of Rest Is A Must For Muscles.

And if you want to hear me rant a little more on the subject, see this article at the site...

Adequate Rest To Avoid Overtraining And Maximize Muscle Gain.

Now, I'm going to check my email and just pray I don't find another one notifying me that they have decided to triple up on one of my sample bodybuilding routines and will let me know the "spectacular" results they get from their ultra-aggressive approach. I already know the results - they'll soon feel weaker, they'll find the only weight they gain will be a little body fat, they'll likely get colds and flus as their immune systems are beaten down, etc.

JP Clifford

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Muscle Building "Superfoods"

Here's a pretty good list of "superfoods" for bodybuilding.

Eating For Muscle Gain

The list...
  1. Eggs

  2. Almonds

  3. Salmon

  4. Yogurt

  5. Beef

  6. Olive Oil

  7. Water

  8. Coffee
Hey, where's chicken and tuna? It's pretty rare that those two don't make these types of lists.

The problem I have with these types of lists is that some people tend to take them to mean that if they just eat these foods, they can expect good sized gains. I'll get emails from people confused as to why they aren't growing even though they eat an egg every morning and a tuna sandwich for lunch.

Always remember, it isn't just the quality of foods you put into your body, it is also the QUANTITY. To support muscle growth, you have to create a caloric surplus -- you have to give the body the raw materials it needs to build muscle above and beyond what it needs to keep you functioning.

The golden rule of muscle building...
If you aren't gaining, you aren't eating enough to gain.
What and how much to eat to build muscle and gain weight?

It is when you eat a quality balanced diet (that includes solid choices like the muscle building superfoods above) and eat that diet in sufficient quantity to supply the body with surplus calories that you really have something.

When you consistently do that and add in a solid weight training program, you build muscle and grow like a weed.

JP Clifford

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007


"Hey, I'm skinny and I can't seem to gain any weight. I'm 5'10", 205 lbs. with 8% body fat. I've tried everything to put on weight over the past 6 months. Can you give me any ideas so that I can wear shorts this summer without people staring at my chicken legs?"

Believe it or not, I've gotten emails like the one above. Here's a hint, if you're scale says you weigh 205 lbs. at 5'10", one of two things is going on:
  1. Your scale is broken

  2. You are not skinny
Most likely, you are not skinny. And you may have a condition called Bigorexia.

Yep, it's a real term and a real illness, the opposite of anorexia. Its technical name is Muscle Dysmorphic Disorder.

Check this report: Bigorexia: A Muscle Building Obsession.

Long before the shrinks gave this disorder a name, its existence was evident. In every gym, there has always been that well-built guy who always works out in baggy sweats. You sit there thinking, "Damn, if I had that physique, I'd be showing it off." And if you tell them that, they reply that their calves are puny or their delts are practically non-existent.

Bodybuilding and the pursuit of getting bigger isn't a bad thing. It can be a healthy pursuit. But it can definitely work its way into obsession that negatively impacts your life.

Kerry Dulin has a good article on his bout with the disorder, including a list of questions to ask yourself if you feel you may be afflicted.

I'd add one more to his list of questions -- If you think your being stared at because you're so skinny and yet the scales tell you that you weigh more than the average NFL player for your height, you need to step back and consider seeking help.

Bodybuilding should be something you enjoy, not something that controls your life.

JP Clifford

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stretching for Muscle Gains

A recent study on stretching showed that those who regularly stretch can make some impressive strength gains even without weight training.

Muscle Stretching Study

32% average strength gains, a 7% increase on a vertical? Those are things that should get the attention of all athletes.

The study is just one study, was done on sedentary people and not active trainers, and so it is a bit limited. You can bet with the results found on rats and now this one human study, there will be more studies to come and muscle building stretching may become a hot topic in a few years time.

As of now, stretching isn't exactly a high-priority among lifters looking for muscle gains. Just maybe it should be.

In reviewing all of the current muscle building programs out there, only Vince Delmonte seems to be putting an emphasis on stretching and flexibility (see my review of Delmonte's No-Nonsense Muscle Building).

He may be onto something.

See my ratings and reviews for all the top muscle building and bodybuilding programs.

JP Clifford

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