These days, going vegan has become a trend. Everybody’s doing it! I personally think that’s awesome, but as with everything it comes with some pros and cons. Due to the higher demand for vegan food there are new options popping up left and right.
These options are often delicious, such as Beyond and Impossible burgers. There are many others, such as ground meat, chicken, sausages, and so on.
Often in the excitement and celebration of having new vegan options we include these types of foods into our diet without giving much consideration as to where they come from, other than the fact that they’re vegan.
Many of us even go so far as to eat these foods daily. Keep in mind that most of these foods are new in the marketplace, and we don’t necessarily know how they’re affecting us on a long-term basis.
The Beyond and Impossible burgers in particular have become incredibly popular, and while they are definitely delicious, let’s consider how they may be affecting our bodies.
Our bodies are natural organisms, made to consume naturally occurring plants, and these “mock” meats are not natural. They are created in a laboratory.
They have chemicals in them, and while we may not know the extent of how harmful they can be long term, we should should proceed with moderation.
“Mock” meats also tend to be very high in sodium, so pay attention to that as well. Unless you are an athlete who sweats alot daily, you shouldn’t eat more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.
Don’t buy Beyond Meats every time you go to the store. Have them once a week, or once every other week. When you go to vegan restaurants, don’t order the mock meats every time.
Instead, find dishes made with whole foods. Sure, cooking whole foods takes longer than whipping up a burger or hot dog, but it can save you money and trips to the doctor also.
As a vegan who consumed mock meats VERY regularly, I got colds and would get sick regularly. As a vegan who eats a whole food plant based diet, I haven’t had a cold in 3 years.
That’s not to say the same thing will happen to you, but I’m willing to bet that you will notice that you get sick significantly less, and if you do get sick, that it’s much less severe than it was before.
I’m certainly not telling you what to eat, I’m only presenting ideas that work well for me and people that I know. At the end of the day, the only person that can choose what goes in your mouth is YOU!
And I believe it’s fair to say that you deserve to feel healthy and vibrant on a daily basis. Remember though. As with all things, moderation is key.
In the age of information, we have more knowledge available to us than ever before. On one hand, this is can be a great thing, but on the other hand, it can be confusing as hell. There are so many fad diets at the moment, carnivore, paleo, keto, pescatarian, vegetarian, etc. Even when it comes to vegan diets, there are just so many different schools of thought, it can be overwhelming, especially for someone who’s just looking to make the healthiest and most sustainable decision for their health. Is this you? Well, worry not my good friend. That’s exactly why I’ve created this article, to clear up your confusion. For obvious reasons, I will focus on clarifying the confusion around the vegan or plant based diet.
First, let’s define what a vegan diet is. In simple terms, it is a diet devoid of any meat or animal products of any kind. Simple enough, right? But you know how we humans do things. We complicate them for no good reason haha.
There are several ways of eating a vegan diet, and they vary pretty significantly. Here is a list of the main ones.
Types of Vegan Diet:
Typical Vegan- This is definitely the most common. It isn’t very limiting. Essentially, the people following this type of diet eat anything that doesn’t have animal products. This often includes lots of junk foods, alcohol, etc. They are usually vegan for ethical reasons and don’t care much about their health.
Raw Vegan- This diet is much more restricting as one following it only eats vegan food that is raw, or uncooked. Those following this type of diet usually care tremendously about their health, and put great thought into everything that goes into their bodies.
Fruitarian- This diet is very simple. It consists of eating fruit exclusively. It is the probably the most restrictive of all vegan diets. People who follow this diet are usually very mindful about their health also. I have to add that while I feel fruit is one of the best foods we can eat, I believe eating it exclusively robs one of the nutrients that other food groups provide.
80-10-10- This diet was created by Dr. Douglas Graham and consists of eating raw vegan with 80 percent of your calories from carbs, 10 percent from protein, and the remaining 10 percent from fat.
There are other variations, but those are the most common. All of these diets can work for certain people, but I feel the best way to eat will always be finding a way to eat sensibly, while enjoying some variation of the foods you love.
Deprivation seldom works for long periods of time. We all want to find a sustainable way to eat that we fully enjoy, while having the least impact on the health of our beautiful planet that we possibly can.
For you, the reader looking to give veganism a shot, or in the early stages of your vegan journey I recommend a few simple things to help you enjoy this process more. Subscribe to some vegan food based YouTube channels.
There are so many incredible vegan chefs making delicious vegan versions of everything you can imagine and more! Get a notebook. Write down recipes that look good and try them. Keep your favorites.
Make a list of all the foods you love and then look up vegan recipes of them. These days there are even videos of how to make everything under the sun, so don’t let not being experienced in the kitchen stop you.
Learn to make sauces. The perfect sauce can take 2 minutes to make, and can take a dish from good to fire! Write a couple of simple sauce recipes down to try. Keep the ones you like.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. I like to buy something I’ve never had every time I go to the store. It can be a seasoning, fruit, vegetable, anything! Obviously you’ll run out of things to try eventually, but you’ll find new things that you love.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for new and beginning vegans, and maybe even some experienced ones. If you have, be sure to give it a like, and comment if you benefitted or have any questions for me. I love interacting with you guys so don’t be bashful. Much love always,
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” John Pierpont Morgan
So, you’ve decided to begin a weight training program, but you’re not sure where to start. There is so much conflicting information out there, it can be a challenge just figuring out what will work best for you. While there are many factors determining your ideal training program, there are a few basics that essentially apply to all beginners right off the bat. Due to all the complex information available about this subject, my chief aim is to make this as straight-forward and simple as possible. With that being said, let’s get right into it.
As a beginner in the weight room, the best thing you can do is to keep things very simple. Resist the urge to do fancy exercises and exotic programs simply for this reason, the basics are the most effective things you can do to improve your body composition and your overall health. So, what are the basics? They are compound (multi-joint) movements. Why would you do this? They work more muscles at a time the, then isolation (single-joint) movements.
In other words, you’re doing more in less time. This is not only more efficient for building the body, it’s also time efficient. Time efficiency in the gym is super important because when you’re training for too long, aka more than an hour, cortisol aka the stress hormone begins to rise in the body. Cortisol inhibits muscle growth and fat loss, which is a big no no! Also, as a beginner, the body responds to even a small stimulus, and isn’t conditioned to recover from a significant amount of work.
It is for these reasons that it makes sense for a beginner to utilize a full body three times a week routine. There should be at least one day of rest between workouts so doing your workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday would be ideal. However, if Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, or any other combination of days work better for you then by all means go for it. The exercises you select for your routine should all be basic compound movements, as I said earlier. Examples of basic, compound movements are: Deadlifts, Squats, Barbell rows, Chin-ups, Leg press, Military Press (esp. When performed while standing) , Clean and Jerks, Snatches, Dips, Etc. You can pick five of these exercises and perform 3 sets of each for eight to ten repetitions. A sample program would look like this:
Exercise: Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 10
Squat 3 10
Bench Press 3 10
Chin-Up 3 10
Military Press 3 10
For the chin ups, you can use an assisted chin-up machine if you need to. If your gym doesn’t have one, lat pull-downs would be a great option as well. Rest sixty seconds between each set and control the weight on the eccentric(negative) part of the movement. Repeat three times a week increasing the weight used in each each exercise every week by about five pounds. This will ensure that you are progressing consistently, provided you are eating a balanced diet.
That’s all there is to it. Stick with this program for as long as it is effective, which could figuratively be indefinitely, and I promise, you will not only improve your health, but also create phenomenal changes in your body chemistry. Print this article out, write it down, or whatever you have to do, and take it to the gym with you. If you’re unsure of the form on an exercise, look it up on YouTube. Remember, it doesn’t matter where you’re starting from, or even where you finish, but the distance that you travel. All the best.
“The groundwork of all happiness is good health.” L. Hunt
Nowadays, more people than ever are taking up resistance training and rightfully so. Although in the past it was thought that weight training was harmful to health and decreased speed and mobility. Thankfully, these days we have many scientific studies showing us that just the opposite is true.
Weight training performed in a controlled and safe manner has many benefits for people of all ages, and I will be covering many of them right here in this very article. I’ve compiled them into a list, in no particular order, for your convenience.
Check them out, perhaps it will give you that extra push you need to get into the gym, or perhaps your workouts have grown stale, in which case this may be just the fire you need to get out of a rut. Ok, enough of the chit chat. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
8 Benefits of Resistance Training
Anti Aging. If this one doesn’t grab your attention, don’t even bother reading the rest of the list. Training slows down many of the factors that result from the aging process, and let’s be honest. Who doesn’t want to feel good in their body for as long as possible?
It reduces abdominal fat. In 2014, a study published in the research journal obesity, performed by Harvard researchers on 10,500 men over the course of 12 years found that strength training is more effective than cardiovascular training at preventing increases in abdominal fat. In other words, if you want to get leaner, lift weights.
Creates better cardiovascular health. Lifting weights has been shown to decrease visceral fat(abdominal fat), which loves to sit around the organs, including the heart. It also improves blood pressure and facilitates better functioning HDL(good cholesterol). Fun fact. 2015 research published in The Lancet medical journal showed that grip strength (a marker for total-body muscle health) more accurately predicts death from heart disease than blood pressure does.
Controlled blood sugar levels. Strength training improves the muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose, or blood sugar, thereby decreasing blood sugar levels.
It reduces the risk of cancer. Research from the journal Oncogene show that visceral fat cells produce high levels of a cancer-triggering protein called fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2. Also, according to research, published in Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, muscle mass is a strong predictor of cancer treatment outcomes. Muscle wasting is a common complication of cancer treatment and is associated with a higher risk of chemotherapy toxicity, faster tumor progression and lower survival rates.
Improved brain health. Strength training can improve brain power in all people over a lifetime, but the effects are possibly the strongest in older adults who are suffering from cognitive decline. In a study in the Journal of American Geriatrics performed in 2016, when men and women ages 55 through 86 with mild impairment performed weight training twice a week for six months, they improved their scores on cognitive tests significantly. However, when participants spent their workouts stretching, their cognitive test scores declined. The key could be getting the blood flowing, Rebold says, noting that high-intensity strength training increases the flow of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. In this study, adults lifted 80 percent of their 1RM, or the maximum amount of weight they could lift for one rep. That roughly equates to the amount of weight they could lift for eight reps without breaking form.
Preventing and managing osteoporosis. Strength training greatly increases bone mineral density. Any weight-bearing exercise in which you’re standing with gravity pulling down on your body will lightly stress and strengthen bones and muscles.
Improved brain health. Strength training can improve your brain power over your lifetime, however, the effects seem to be the strongest in older adults suffering from cognitive decline. In one 2016 study in the Journal of American Geriatrics, when men and women ages 55 through 86 with mild impairment performed weight training twice a week for six months, they significantly improved their scores on cognitive tests. However, when participants performed stretching only workouts, their cognitive test scores declined.
The key may be getting the blood flowing, Rebold says, noting that high-intensity strength training increases the flow of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. In the study, adults lifted 80 percent of their 1RM, or the maximum amount of weight they could lift for one rep. That roughly equates to the amount of weight they could lift for eight reps without breaking form.
There are a tremendous number of benefits to weight training, these are only a handful, however, I hope some of them are new to you, and perhaps could be the inspiration you need to get in the gym. There’s no need to kill yourself, all you need to experience many of these and more benefits is 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week. In the meantime, I’ll be here, guiding and encouraging you every step of the way. Let’s do this!
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar
Often, in the fitness community, there is a rush to achieve a certain result as quickly as possible.
This leads to the use of steroids, growth hormone, ephedrine, and other harmful and unnatural substances. It may seem like no big deal to experiment with these kinds of drugs, but in reality to use these drugs is to cheat and misuse your body and mind. Like it or not, harming yourself to look good or be stronger is self-abuse.
This kind of abuse comes as a result of low self-esteem, and though it temporarily increases confidence, it is unsustainable in the long run and ultimately leads to even lower self-esteem. Remember, bodybuilding is an act of self love.
Any act putting one’s health at risk for the sake of vanity is not in line with true bodybuilding. Keep this in mind when temptations to take shortcuts come along. Bodybuilding is a journey, not a destination.
Still, with all that being said, how does one stay motivated day in and day out for decades? There is no simple answer to this question.What motivates some is of no consequence to others.
I’m sure you’ve heard that to stay motivated one needs a strong why. A strong why allows us to push through difficulties that would otherwise make us quit. People get into bodybuilding for all sorts of different reasons.
I find that on the surface it doesn’t really matter what gets someone into bodybuilding initially. What ultimately keeps us around is love. Some love the art of bodybuilding, while others love the challenge.
Some love the release, while others love the health benefits. There is no right way to be motivated, ultimately we are all motivated by love of something.
Take some time to think about what you love about bodybuilding. When you are connected to your love of bodybuilding, day to day motivation is almost effortless for the most part.
So what about those who don’t love bodybuilding? What about those who hate training and eating in a balanced way? I believe everyone loves something about bodybuilding, some of us just have to look harder to find out what that something is.
Working with a trainer can be very beneficial in this regard, as a good trainer is generally passionate about fitness, and passion is contagious. Knowing what you’re doing early on can help you to achieve your goals in significantly less time.
So then, what if someone doesn’t love anything about bodybuilding? Well assuming someone truly didn’t have a love for any aspect of bodybuilding, to that person I say, find a form of exercise you do love.
One that doesn’t feel like work. One that makes time fly. It could be biking, dancing, martial arts, gymnastics, hiking, swimming, jogging, calisthenics, or any other of the endless possibilities.
This is a far too often overlooked aspect of anyone’s health and fitness. At the end of the day, I bodybuild because I love it. I love training, being disciplined with my eating, and watching my body progress.
If I didn’t love it, there’s no way I would’ve trained almost daily for 17 years, and eaten a bodybuilding style 6 meals a day for almost just as long. Some people love training, but don’t enjoy being disciplined with their eating.
If this is you, figure out a way to get what you want, while still progressing toward your goals. Hating your training or diet is a sure sign that you won’t last. What you have to realize is that will power is a finite thing, and when it runs out, it’s gone.
That’s when you give into temptation, skipping workouts, abandoning your diet, which leads to feelings of guilt and shame, and the cycle repeats. You’re much better off creating a lifestyle where you can achieve your goals gradually, taking on new challenges as you’re ready. This is sustainable because it’s not based on deprivation and abstinence, but balance and moderation.
Let’s recap the tools to staying motivated long term.
Steer clear of shortcuts. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself, and enjoy the process.
If you love it, you’ll stick with it. Therefore, find a form of exercise you do love. Maybe you don’t love every aspect of it, but you should enjoy it overall.
Figure out your why. And make it meaningful. More than just, “I want to lose such and such weight.” Why do you want to achieve X Y Z? Get specific. Find out what emotions are attached to achieving that goal for you.
Work with a trainer. This is optional, but can be a tremendous investment in your health.
Inevitably there will be times when you feel more motivated than others, but if you implement these tips, I guarantee you’ll be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals.
“I visualized my biceps as mountains. This allowed me to develop my biceps much more than if I had pictured them only as muscles.” Arnold Schwarzeneggar
In bodybuilding, developing every muscle in a symmetrical way is paramount. However, there are a few muscles that are and have always been favored by most. These are considered the show muscles.
They are the muscles that the eyes are first drawn to. Think about it. When you first see a muscular person, where is the first place you look. Nine times out of ten it is at the chest and of course, the biceps. Namely, the bicep peak.
When someone asks us to flex, we automatically know that they are talking about flexing our biceps. A well developed bicep peak takes any physique from great to extraordinary, but many people believe having a great peak is genetic.
This would mean that for those who are not born with a great peak, there is no hope. This is a misconception, and with the right mindset and work ethic, almost anyone can develop a great peak.
I’ve witnessed it first hand on myself, and also on others. You see I didn’t always have a great bicep peak, even once my arms got to 18 and a half inches, my peak still lacked.
It wasn’t until I learned a few key principles that my peaks really began to develop. These principles worked like a charm for me, and they can for you too, but keep in mind that everyone is different and has to find their own ways of training.
Use this only as a guide. My hope is that it will lead you down a path of discovery. Discovering that there is much more to training the biceps than you had previously imagined. Let us get into it.
What Exactly is a Bicep?
Let’s briefly discuss the anatomy of the bicep. The bicep is composed of the bicep brachii, which consists of two heads, the long or outer head, and the short or inner head, and the brachialis, which is an underlying muscle that gives the bicep height and thickness when developed.
The primary function of the biceps is elbow flexion and also supination of the wrist. This is why even though the biceps are trained during virtually all back movements, the optimal movement for training them is and always will be the curl. However, there are dozens of variations of the curl.
Variations of Bicep Curls
The biceps are a relatively small muscle group, and therefore should not be trained with excessive volume. Three sets of three exercises twice a week for a total of eighteen sets a week is plenty.Very advanced lifters can do more at times as long as they are able to recover from it.
A good way to know if your bicep routine is effective is to measure the biceps every six to eight weeks. If they are growing, you’re on the right track, if not, it’s time to reassess your routine and diet.
For every muscle group, a basic compound movement is generally performed first in your routine. In the case of biceps, this movement is the barbell curl.
Although it’s not technically a compound (multi-joint) movement, it allows you to go the heaviest, and train the entire biceps effectively. In general, this is a good movement to start with, but in some cases there are other movements that are ideal for beginning your routine.
One example of this is if you have been training for at least two years and beginning each workout with barbell curls, and your biceps are still a weakness. In this case, for whatever reason, be it technical or structural, your biceps are not being fully stimulated during the barbell curl.
It would be wise then, to start off with a more strict movement to isolate and pre-exhaust the biceps. Some good movements for this are, preacher curls, incline curls, lying cable curls, or even concentration curls.
These movements make it hard to incorporate any muscle besides the biceps. They will give you a great pump, strong contraction, and get your mind in your biceps. This will make it easier to feel barbell curls later.
Keep your reps higher, between 8 and 15 and never going below 6. This is because when you go to heavy when curling other muscles, namely the lower back and front delts tend to take over.
Focus on feeling the biceps, not on lifting the weight. Follow this up with a more basic movement, like barbell or alternating dumbbell curls. You could also do cable curls with a low pulley.
Follow this up with an exercise for peak such as guillotine curls, high pulley cable curls, or dumbbell preacher curls, and you will have a solid routine for growth, so long as you progress over time and eat adequately.
If you start with barbell curls you could do dumbbell hammer curls next, or cable curls with the rope attachment. From there you would finish with a peaking exercise.
Technique is paramount for maximizing results, and it varies for everyone depending on their unique structure. Figuring out and perfecting the best technique for you takes time, but there are some basic guidelines I’ve found helpful for most.
Here they are. Don’t go too slow. Use a good speed, especially on the positive portion of the reps. Going too slowlywill result in more type 1 muscle fiber recruitment. Type 1 muscle fibers are responsible for a more slim muscular look.
This will result in toned arms but not much of an increase in size in my experience. Utilizing a faster tempo will generally result in more type 2 muscle fibers being stimulated. This will result in a big increase in size over time.
Now that you have an idea what exercises to perform, and how to set up your routine, let’s discuss a few tips to really maximize your time in the gym.
Tip 1: Keep constant tension on the biceps. Do not rest at the bottom unless you’re doing rest-pause reps at the end of a set. This applies the time under tension principle, which is crucial for bicep growth.
Tip 2: Don’t go too heavy. The biceps are only so strong, and if you pick up more weight than your biceps can handle your lower back and front delts will help.
Tip 3: Relax the wrists and forearms. The forearms assist during all bicep movements, since we are grabbing something. Especially if the biceps are a weak point,aim to fully relax the wrists and forearms and put as much tension as possible on the biceps.
Tip 4: Biceps not responding to regular training? Add techniques to increase your intensity such as, rest-pause, drop-sets, supersets, holding peak contractions, etc. to really wake those guns up.
Tip 5: Train the biceps frequently. Twice a week minimum to keep protein synthesis elevated and growth consistently occurring.
Tip 6: Monitor rest periods. Resting too little or too much will negatively affect gains. Aim for around 60 to 90 seconds depending on how quickly your biceps recover from a given movement.
Tip 7: Squeeze! Every rep squeeze the biceps at the top.
Tip 8: Visualize how you want the biceps to look while you are training them. This may seem esoteric, but I can tell you it works!
Tip 9: Flex your biceps in the mirror often, to build a strong mind muscle connection.
Tip 10: Don’t overtrain the biceps. They don’t need a ton of volume, just to be properly stimulated. If any bicep workout takes longer than 30 minutes then you are resting too long and or not training hard enough.
My biceps are over 18 inches, and my bicep workouts typically only last around 20 minutes. However, this is a hard and focused 20 minutes, and at the end, my biceps are toasted.
There you have it. The biceps are a very simple muscle to train, but to sculpt them to perfection takes a tremendous amount of effort and will. Our minds are truly our strongest muscles and in order to develop the biceps to their full potential we must utilize not only weights, but our mental faculties as well.
There you have it, if you will incorporate just a few of these tips into your biceps training, you are sure to build peaks that would belong on Mount Olympus. Now train hard and eat properly, I’ll be watching you and counting your reps.
“My attitude is if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” Michael Jordan
In bodybuilding, the idea is to create the illusion of perfect balance, symmetry, and proportion. Ideally this seems simple and straightforward, train everything equally and you will create balance throughout the physique. However, this is not the case, and if it were, every bodybuilder would be walking around with perfect symmetry, resembling a statue carved by Michelangelo himself. The truth is that body parts develop differently due to several factors. This is what we will be addressing in this very article, along with how to overcome these factors and build a physique worthy of being immortalized on Mount Olympus.
Why Everyone Inherently Has Weak Points
No one wants weak points, and for this reason we typically ignore them and keep training as usual, as if hoping they’ll magically vanish one day. This often has the opposite effect, exacerbating our weak points as our strong points continue to grow consistently. Among the many factors that cause weak points are: Genetics, poor mind-muscle connection in certain muscle groups, lack of intensity, overtraining (particularly in smaller muscle groups), and simply the way we are naturally put together. For example, someone with long arms and a short torso is usually going to appear to be lacking in arm thickness. Someone who’s short with a wider waist is going to look blocky, etc. If any of the above describe you, don’t worry. It’s all fixable. It isn’t your fault that you have weak points, it is however, your duty to do something about them.
Bringing Up Weak Points
So how do you bring up weak points? It varies from person to person, and bodypart to bodypart, however, with dedication and patience, any weak point can always be drastically improved. The following is a list of ways to bring up weak points. Give one or two methods a try, and if they work, continue implementing them. If not, try other alternatives, but just remember, the most important thing is that you have your mind made up regarding exactly what you want to achieve.
1.Train more intensely. This is the most basic principle when bringing up a lagging bodypart. Often we are lacking in intensity. Let’s say someone is lacking in the medial or “side” delts for example. It is hard to train them to failure because when they start to get fatigued you have to swing the weights up to keep working them which takes most of the tension off of them and puts it on the traps and lower back. Because of this, I find that the best way to fully develop the side delts is to train them with alot of volume. Every muscle is like this, it has its own preference and it is on You, the bodybuilder, to figure out what that preference is.
2.Learn more about training that particular bodypart. I believe the best way to learn is hands on experience, however, when bringing up a weak point, often it can help to learn about what its functions are. This will help you understand why you would choose certain movements in your training program, and what the most effective movements are. You can also research different methods of training that bodypart that you haven’t tried before. Assuming you’ve been consistent with your current routine, something completely new will often prompt your body to add some new muscle.
3.Lighten up your weights and focus on mind-muscle connection for a while. Too often we believe that big weights equal big muscles, and while this is true in some cases, such as when doing compound movements, there are some instances where going too heavy can hinder or prevent progress all together. Let’s take rear delts for example. They are a small area that is stimulated with heavy weight when training back, however, if we try to use heavy weights on rear delt specific exercises, the back and traps are going to take over the movements. This prevents us from getting deep fatigue in the rear delts and thus, hinders our development and creates a disproportionate look. The same is true with virtually all bicep movements, most tricep movements (with the exception of close grip bench presses and tricep dips), and generally all isolation movements. A good rule of thumb to follow is to never go below 10-12 reps when doing an isolation movement. This will ensure that you’re using a light enough weight to really utilize the mind-muscle connection. It will also increase time under tension, an important factor for growth. Most importantly though, it will aide you in minimizing the involvement of assisting muscles.
4.Train weak points more frequently. Research shows that muscle protein synthesis is increased for 48-72 hours after training a bodypart. This suggests that training a bodypart every 2-3 days is optimal for growth. If you are only training a muscle once a week, consider cutting your current workout in half and training said bodypart twice a week. Add more as you can handle it. For example, you could train arms on Tuesday and Friday. This will keep muscle protein synthesis elevated and ideally, produce more growth. Also, you could do a main workout for a bodypart, then a feeder workout 3 or 4 days later. A feeder workout is a low volume pump workout where nothing is done to failure. The idea is just to bring blood into the muscle to provide it with nutrients and stretch the fascia.
5.Stretch that bodypart daily. Stretching is one of the easiest, and most overlooked ways to improve your physique. First and foremost, stretching can create good posture. Good posture will automatically make your physique look significantly better, even without changing body composition. Correcting bad posture can lead to better technique and the correction of muscle imbalances. Another benefit is decreased risk of injury. As you know, when you’re injured, you can’t workout. If you can’t workout, you can’t progress. It can also help improve mind-muscle connection. It increases range of motion, which leads to better development. Lastly, as an added benefit, it’s good for you in general.
6.Visualize daily how you would like that bodypart to look. This one is slightly different, as it’s not a physical thing. Visualization is very powerful, just look at the studies on how visualization has affected high level athletes’ performance. I have found that if I can clearly imagine how I want a bodypart to look, and I persist with this vision, that is exactly how that bodypart develops. Give it a try, visualize how you want a bodypart to look while you are training it, and also when you think about it throughout the day. Arnold and many other greats have said this was crucial to their success.
All of these methods will assist you in achieving your goals, but keep in mind, nothing will work unless you do. You have to really want it, and be willing to put in the time. That about wraps it up. Have some weak points? Give some of these methods a try and watch them turn into strengths.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” – Thomas Jefferson
I remember years ago when I decided to go plant-based, but I didn’t believe it was possible to live a bodybuilding lifestyle on such a diet.
So, I set out to prove to myself that it could be done. There wasn’t much info out there specifically addressed to plant-based bodybuilders, so I had to do a lot of experimenting.
It took some time, but eventually, I figured out a recipe for success which has worked for myself and several other bodybuilders I know.
It was a challenge for sure. You have to remember, bodybuilding as we know is very young, less than a century old.
Vegan bodybuilding has been around for even less time, so as you can imagine there isn’t a whole lot of info on the subject. That is why I’ve taken the liberty to put together this article.
It contains virtually everything you need to know to get started as a vegan bodybuilder. If you will apply these simple techniques I promise you will avoid many of the pitfalls I have experienced and progress like never before. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Nutrition is crucial to the success of any bodybuilding program. Train as hard as you like, but without proper nutrition you’ll plateau very quickly.
As a natural vegan bodybuilder our approach is a little different, though not drastically from the typical bodybuilder not only in that we do not consume animal products, but also our primary focus is on maximizing our intake of micro-nutrients.
Micro-nutrients are things such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This is because every cell of our body depends upon these micro-nutrients to function optimally.
A good rule of thumb is to eat the rainbow daily. Meaning eat fruits and veggies that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
This is much easier than it sounds and can be done in one salad. It ensures you are getting a wide variety of micro-nutrients daily and prevents deficiencies.
Remember, health is our primary concern because a healthy body recovers quickly and the more quickly we recover, the faster we can put on muscle.
Typically when bodybuilders bulk they put on excessive weight because they believe it’s necessary, but this could not be further from the truth.
Many bodybuilders have built muscle while in a caloric deficit, and while this is not easy and I don’t recommend it, I only mention it to illustrate that one does not need excessive calories to gain weight.
With that being said getting adequate protein is still important, but we don’t need an excessive amount. .7 to 1 gram per lb of body-weight is still about as high as one needs to go, the only exception being if you’re pre-contest and eating a very low amount of calories.
In this case you may want to go up to 1.5 grams per lb of body-weight to protect muscle tissue but it is not necessary. Remember that if we take in more protein than we need the liver has to convert it into glucose, whereas if we just upped our carbs a bit, they are more readily converted to glucose.
This is easier on the body. This protein should come from a variety of sources such as legumes, lentils, tempeh, edamame, fermented protein powder (easier to digest), and quinoa to name a few.
When cooking lentils or legumes, be sure to soak them for at least a few hours. This will keep you from bloating and becoming gassy.
This is majorly important. It’s not how much you eat, but how much you can digest, that determines your optimal performance and recovery. When you are bloated and gassy, it will show on your physique, and in your performance.
It is a symptom that you are not digesting your food efficiently. Circumvent this by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut (my personal favorite), kimchi, vegan kefirs, etc.
Also when you are eating 5 to 6 meals a day, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar right before meals does wonders. Lastly, bitter greens such as arugula and chard aid in digestion.
Make these digestive aids staples in your diet, particularly if you are often gassy or bloated. Even if you are not though, everyone can benefit from these natural digestive aids that will build gut flora and keep the stomach acid strong.
Carbs when you’re vegan aren’t much different than when you’re omnivorous so I won’t go into specifics there. Keep in mind though that many plant based proteins contain carbs.
Fats aren’t either, just stick to basic whole plant based sources here. For meals, Combine a protein with a carb source and maybe add a little fat. Towards the end of the day meals should be lower in calories.
This will ensure that we always stay relatively lean. Staying lean is important for bodybuilders because it allows us to see the muscles more clearly. This makes bringing up weak points possible and much easier.
Now it’s time to incorporate all of this into your daily life. Multiply your body-weight by 13 to 15 depending on if you’re an inactive or active man and 10 to 12 depending on if you’re an inactive or active woman.
That’s roughly how many calories you need daily to maintain your current body weight. In order to get leaner consume about 500 less calories than what is required for maintenance.
In order to build muscle increase calories by several hundred. Take pictures and keep an eye on the mirror and scale once a week to get an idea of how you’re responding.
If you’re making sufficient progress keep it up, if not, make small adjustments. Never do anything drastic because once you do, the body will adapt and you won’t be able to make much more progress from there.
Small changes are most effective over time, even though they require some patience.
Supplements are not mandatory but are very beneficial for any hard training bodybuilder looking to progress. With health being our primary concern, we always want to opt for supplements from whole food sources.
That being said, my personal favorite supplement is an Irish moss, bladderwrack, and burdock mixture. These three plants combined contain all 108 minerals the human body needs to function optimally.
Minerals are some of the most important things we can consume and almost everyone is deficient in some areas so this is a God send.
It’s a one stop shop for all the minerals we need on a daily basis and therefore I highly recommend it. Next on my list of supplements would be a quality plant based protein powder.
Go for a fermented form of protein here, or at the least, one with probiotics. This will ensure they digest properly and don’t give you gas.
This is important because gas means bloating and bloating destroys the beauty of a physique. It expands the waist and blurs definition.
I myself take in slightly more than a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily, however, the recommended minimum amount of protein for bodybuilding is about .7 grams per pound of bodyweight.
I take in more because I train very frequently and my workouts are intense. I also find that I build more muscle with more protein.
There is a limit however, and I don’t believe it’s ever necessary to go beyond 1.5 grams per pound in a day. Next on the list is a high quality amino acid supplement.
This can consist of all essential aminos, or just bcaa’s. It can be in powder or tablet form. The only thing that matters is that it is high quality and therefore readily absorbed and used by the body.
These supplements are, as I see it, staples for a plant based bodybuilder. They are not required, but when training intensely, and trying to recover and build muscle optimally they are greatly beneficial.
There are other great supplements, such as glutamine, beet root powder, creatine, etc. but I don’t believe they are essential. The only prerequisite is that any supplements we use should come from natural sources.
This is why I don’t take creatine, as it is synthesized. I recommend starting with the basic supplements once your eating and training properly for a few months.
The only exception is the Irish moss mixture, which is beneficial to everyone, regardless of whether or not you train.
From there, you can try others if you feel inclined to do so. See how different things work for you, but make sure that before you do, your training and diet are solid and consistent.
This will ensure progress as supplements as their name indicates, are only meant to supplement everything else you’re doing.
Stretching is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked aspects of bodybuilding. It is critical for maintaining mobility and staying injury free.
It also helps with being able to perform certain exercises properly over a lifetime, and may even improve the look of the physique by improving postural problems and so on.
For these reasons, I recommend a daily stretching routine that incorporates a stretch for every muscle and also stretching the spine. Each stretch should be held for a minimum of 30-60 seconds.
Yoga is a great way to stretch also, and a good yoga routine will usually incorporate stretching the entire body. Ultimately though, it depends on what you enjoy.
You can stretch the entire body in as little as 5-10 minutes a day just as a way to stay healthy and functional, or if you prefer, you can opt for a more extensive program.
You may even switch back and forth. Whichever stretching routine you decide on, make sure to set a time, such as first thing in the morning, or before bed, so that you build stretching into a habit over time.