In today’s digest we bring you articles on Using Mental Imagery, How to Build a Bulking Diet, How to Exercise if You Have an Ectomorph Body Type and Finally! How to Tell if a Supplement is Worth Taking.. Hope you enjoy them…
Using Mental Imagery
Tom Venuto, the famous bodybuilder who wrote a fantastic ebook on loss and muscle gain gave me this article on using mental imagery to post on the blog. I hope you enjoy it and visit his site to learn more. The word “visualization” or using mental imagery sometimes conjures up images of new age gurus […]
Tom Venuto, the famous bodybuilder who wrote a fantastic ebook on loss and muscle gain gave me this article on using mental imagery to post on the blog. I hope you enjoy it and visit his site to learn more.
The word “visualization” or using mental imagery sometimes conjures up images of new age gurus teaching esoteric techniques for personal enlightenment and “attracting” what you want into your life.
This causes many evidence-based types to scoff. However, piles of research has shown that using mental imagery (aka “visualization”) can improve performance. The latest study suggests that a certain type of mental imagery can also increase your strength
How to Use Mental Imagery
Olympic champions and professional athletes have used visualization and mental rehearsal techniques for decades. Not only is visualization one of the most widely accepted techniques in sports psychology, it’s supported by scientific research.
Nevertheless, many people remain skeptical of using mental imagery
Some people agree that mental rehearsal might enhance specific skills, like a golf swing or a basketball throw, but they question whether it could make you stronger, increase muscle growth or help you lose weight.
Study on Using Mental Imagery
A new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that indeed, mental imagery can make you stronger. This study also begins to explain how mental imagery works on a neurological level…
Twenty two sports students, with a mean age of about 20, participated in the 6-week long experiment. Prior to the study, none had done mental imagery before. The students were divided into a control group and a mental rehearsal group. The goal was to see if mental imagery could increase bench press and leg press strength.
Each participant was given very specific instructions on how to perform the mental imagery. During the rest period between sets, they were to vividly imagine the exercise movement and the muscle contractions generated from each rep.
After 12 workout sessions, the mental imagery group had significantly increased their strength more than the control group, especially in the lower body (leg press).
The researchers concluded:
“The results provided evidence that mental imagery did contribute to improve strength of the leg muscles without any macroscopic structural change”
What they were saying is that the duration of the study wasn’t long enough that there was any major muscle size increase, so they credited the strength increase to non morphological adaptations.
Why Does Using Mental Imagery Work?
It’s well known in exercise science that gains in strength occur from changes not just in the muscle fibers and surrounding tissues, but in the nervous system.
That gives us clues about how mental imagery works.
Put simply, mental training techniques, (since they’re working with your brain/nervous system – as the name implies), can trigger some of the same neurological adaptations that occur from physical training.
Apparently, mental imagery can increase synchronization of motor units in muscles, having large corresponding cortical areas in the primary mortor cortex.
There are also psychological benefits, such as increased motivation, improved focus during the set, technique improvements, more confidence and less apprehension or anxiety. But clearly, there’s more to this than just “psyching up.”
How to Use Mental Imagery Now
Here’s something else interesting. The researchers even suggested that mental imagery could decrease strength loss when athletes are inactive due to injury.
This recent study is a practical one because it gives us one specific technique that you can apply to your next workout: vividly imagine a successful lift for the upcoming set using mental imagery while you’re resting between sets.
NOTE: it’s important to mentally see (visualize) the exercise and mentally “FEEL” the muscle contraction. This is multi-sensory – both visual and kinesthetic.
In some of Toms previous articles, he talked about density training and superset training as excellent techniques for busy people because these methods reduce rest intervals, making the workout time efficient.
But the rest time between heavy sets doesn’t have to be wasted – now you know what to do with that time…
Instead of chatting with your gym buddies, or scoping out the attractive bods in the gym, you can be mentally rehearsing your next set, using mental imagery… and enjoying the strength increase that follows.
Most fat loss programs only focus on diet or physical training. If you want to learn more about how you can add “mental training” techniques to increase fat loss, muscle growth and muscular strength, then be sure to check out chapter one in Toms ebook, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.
Using Visual Imagery is important to your workouts and other parts of your life and I use them a lot, I hope you will now as well.
Using Mental Imagery was originally published at LINK
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How to Build a Bulking Diet
If you are wondering if you should bulk, then you should definitely be bulking. A lot of people make fun of the perma-bulkers but if you put your body through a period of intense muscle development, your gains will become stunningly better than they are currently. This is a technique that has been in use […]
If you are wondering if you should bulk, then you should definitely be bulking. A lot of people make fun of the perma-bulkers but if you put your body through a period of intense muscle development, your gains will become stunningly better than they are currently.
This is a technique that has been in use for a long, long time and you can see it everywhere around you. Just look at the movies – Ryan Reynolds in “Blade Trinity”, Jason Momoa in “Conan” and Chris Hemsworth in “Thor” all bulked before they shot the movies. There is a lot of information on the internet about how to bulk, but in the end you can summarize it in these five points. Here’s how to bulk like a pro.
STEP 1: Find Out How Many Calories You Need to Maintain Your Body Weight
This is your caloric maintenance number, the number of calories that your body needs to keep itself where it is right now. If you want to put on more muscle, you have to tell your body to grow more by sending it growth signals.
You bulk using two main signals to your body – eating and working out. The first and foremost thing you should do before you start planning is get your calories in check. If you don’t do this, don’t even bother starting in the first place. If you want to put on weight, your body will need a high number of calories which are more than what it needs to maintain itself. It’s really simple – consume more than your body will burn!
So, let’s get to it. First, you need to determine your maintenance calories. This is where you break even with consumed and burned calories without gaining or losing any weight. Here’s how to do it:
- Use a calorie calculator. These are based on years of research and data and they will let your figure out your daily calorie needs.
- Eat the exact amount of calories that the calculator designated as your daily calorie need, for one week. Don’t change your routine or anything else, but check your weight before and after that week.
- If your weight hasn’t changed in that one week, do it for another week just to be sure. If your weight has increased, eat 250 fewer calories and do it for another week. If it has increased, eat 250 more calories per day and try it another week. You should be doing this until you find two consecutive weeks where your weight has not changed.
This means that you might need a month or maybe even two to prepare for your bulking period, but when you do prepare, you will have mastered the calorie numbers and you will be able to control what happens with the calories in your body.
STEP 2: Map Out Your Surplus
Now that you know how many maintenance calories you should eat, you can move on to the next phase – creating your bulking diet. You need to find the sweet spot that will let you get the best gains possible, because if you overeat, you will be putting on fat mass, but if you under-eat you will not be making as good a progress as you could be.
The sweet spot you’re looking for is between 5% and 20% extra calories per day. If you eat with a 20% surplus, you will start getting fat and eating with a 5% surplus is the bare minimum for any muscle mass boost. If you eat somewhere between 5% and 10% surplus, you will optimize the lean muscle to fat tissue ratio, and if you eat at 10% surplus calories you will have the adequate amount of food to grow sustainably. Also, as it turns out, if you eat a 20% caloric surplus a day, you don’t get more lean muscle. Instead, you just get fatter.
STEP 3: Know What You Need to Eat!
Now that you’ve figured out how many calories you need to eat and determined your 5% to 10% caloric surplus, you need to know how you will actually ingest those calories into your system. You need protein, carbs and fats. Here’s how to divide them.
- PROTEIN. If you look it up, you will see that there is so much literature regarding protein intake that you could start reading right now and never finish even a percentage of it while you live. More or less, all of the studies come down to this – you need a gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight per day if you want to grow. Eat 1.5 grams of protein instead if you need to, but the norm is around 1 gram for every pound in the beginning.
- CARBOHYDRATES. Carbs have been well documented as well. The studies say that you should eat 2 grams of carbs for every pound of bodyweight per day, which should be somewhere between 45% and 55% of your daily caloric needs. If you work out for 2-3 hours daily, feel free to boost your carbs to 3 grams for every pound of bodyweight daily, which would be between 55% and 65% of your total caloric needs.
- FATS. You need fats as well, but they aren’t just energy – they are more of a utility macronutrient, which will let you bulk more easily. It’s easier to ingest the necessary amount, and to figure out what that is, just take your protein and carbs numbers together, subtract them from your daily calories and you will have the number of calories you need to consume in fats.
STEP 4: Know What Supplements You Need
If you want to start a bulking diet, chances are you think it’s gonna be all supplements and no fun. You couldn’t be more wrong. A bulking diet is based on the right food, with supplements added in to maximize the effect. Here are the supplements you will need for a good bulk.
- WHEY PROTEIN. When you get tired of eating steak, chicken breasts and fish, you will need to get some whey in your body. Also, whey shakes can help you ingest liquid calories which you might need urgently after training. There is no bulking period without whey protein.
- CREATINE. If you have a larger training volume, you will have better muscle mass gains. It’s that simple. Creatine has been proven to boost your training capacity and will boost the volume of your training as well. If you’re trying to increase your training volume and build muscle mass without taking creatine, you are definitely missing out.
- CAFFEINE. You will need caffeine for one simple reason – it works! It will help you train harder, so consider drinking a cup before working out.
STEP 5: Set Your Sleep Schedule
Even though this is not technically a part of the diet, sleep is an integral part of the muscle growth process and your body will not grow if you don’t sleep. Your body receives the signals that it needs to grow while training, but it only grows when it’s recuperating while you sleep. 7 hours is fine, but 8-9 is better because when you sleep there are a number of recovery and hormonal reactions in your body that grow your muscles.
How to Exercise if You Have an Ectomorph Body Type
Would you generally describe yourself as lean and lanky? Do you have longer arms and legs with a slimmer midsection? You might be an ectomorph. Ectomorph is one of the three main body types, also called somatotypes. The other two are mesomorph (more naturally muscular) and endomorph (may gain weight more easily). “An ectomorph might […]
Would you generally describe yourself as lean and lanky? Do you have longer arms and legs with a slimmer midsection? You might be an ectomorph. Ectomorph is one of the three main body types, also called somatotypes. The other two are mesomorph (more naturally muscular) and endomorph (may gain weight more easily).
“An ectomorph might have a thin, narrow, or smaller frame without a lot of muscle,” says Adam Feit, head strength and sport psychology coach for Precision Nutrition in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Most people are a mix of body types, since we’re all unique individuals, he says. However, if you have ectomorph characteristics, thinking about your body type and how it impacts your natural preferences for exercise and plays to your strengths and weaknesses can help you create a well-rounded routine that improves your health and performance.
What Types of Exercises Should You Do if You’re an Ectomorph?
First, remember the underlying rule that the best workout (no matter your somatotype) is one that you want to do and you stick with. However, because ectomorphs generally are lean and lanky and don’t tend to build muscle easily, you should likely be doing strength training because increasing strength helps you avoid injury and maintain mobility and functioning over time, says Feit.
“It’s natural to gravitate toward things we’re good at. For people with lower body fat, they may find they naturally excel at endurance activities, like running,” says Feit. Running is a very effective aerobic workout. Compared with people who don’t hoof it regularly, runners enjoy a 27 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, according to a November 2019 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
But ideally it’s not the only exercise you should be doing (nor is any other steady-state aerobic activity, like walking or cycling) — especially if you’re an ectomorph.
For a more balanced routine, consider adding HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or strength training, says Feit. Strength workouts improve bone mineral density and the efficiency of your muscular system, which interacts with your cardiovascular system, he explains. HIIT and other types of interval training help boost aerobic capacity, so you get more efficient at all of your workouts over time, according to Mayo Clinic.
For ectomorphs, these types of exercises boost the areas of fitness the body may be more prone to struggling with (strength and power) and they’ll help you do better in the areas of fitness the body tends to do well with (aerobic exercise).
For clients who have gravitated toward more cardio-heavy workouts, Feit suggests starting a strength routine with moves such as dead lifts, squats, split squats, tricep presses, bicep curls, and shoulder shrugs.
As for structuring a strength workout, Katrina Pilkington, a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer in Sacramento, California, recommends performing 8 to 12 reps of the exercises you pick with a slow-focused tempo all the way up and down. This will train muscle fibers for both strength and endurance. Another option is to set a timer for 30 seconds and do as many reps as you can in that time frame. Perform three sets total of each exercise.
Mobility and flexibility training is also important to maintain and improve range of motion in joints. Feit often recommends interspersing mobility moves with strength in the first 5 to 15 minutes of a workout. For example, for shoulder mobility add a band pull-apart: Hold a resistance band with each hand, raise arms to shoulder height and pull hands apart. Try a hip opener stretch or a spinal twist. Bonus: These type of “moving” stretches will also relieve tension and tight muscles (which generally feels really good).
Common Ectomorph Exercise Mistakes — and How to Fix Them
Limiting Yourself Building muscle might be something you have to consistently work at, and it will be challenging. But you can absolutely reach your goals to get stronger, says Feit.
Too Many Miles Not all ectomorphs like to run or even enjoy endurance exercise. But if you do enjoy endurance activities, you likely know the tendency to want to keep increasing that mile count (whether you’re walking, running, cycling, or cross-country skiing). Adding distance will increase fitness, says Pilkington. But using some of that time for other types of exercise (like the aforementioned strength and interval training) might do your body more good than those extra miles, she says. “If you want to get faster and be a more powerful endurance athlete, you have to train your muscles accordingly.” (Strength training appropriate muscle groups also helps prevent overuse injuries for those who do long-distance activities.)
Skipping Exercise Ectomorphs tend to have long, lean body types naturally and not gain weight readily, which may lead you to think that based on your aesthetics you’re fit. Fitness is about more than aesthetics. No matter your weight, you need to be doing aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises to maintain fitness (which in turn promotes health by decreasing the risk of health problems like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and early death). “Your body was meant to move,” says Pilkington.
Only Doing One Type of Yoga Yoga is a fantastic mind-body exercise that helps relieve stress, improve mood, diminish pain, lose weight, and more. But just like it’s not ideal that your only form of exercise is running, it’s not ideal for your only form of exercise to be yoga either. If a steady practice of yoga brings you joy, Pilkington recommends varying the type of yoga you do. For instance, there’s hatha yoga (generally a slow-paced style), which could be great when you need to de-stress, but it may not be intense enough to boost strength. You might also want to try yoga with weights or a yoga flow class (like vinyasa yoga) to boost aerobic fitness, Pilkington says. “As you age, strength and bone density start to decrease. You want to maintain it.”
Forgoing Protein If you exercise for endurance, you may be used to focusing on carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. To build muscle and meet your energy demands, you need protein, Pilkington says. If you’re making pasta for dinner, try adding chicken or tofu. If oatmeal is your breakfast of choice, add some nuts or a spoonful of peanut butter.
Not Making Modifications Longer legs might make dead lifts and squats more challenging for you compared with someone who is proportionally closer to the ground. Modify them by shortening the length of movement. For instance, position a low box in front of you while you do a dead lift, and touch the weight to the box (instead of the floor), so you’re not reaching down so far that you’re compromising the posture you’re trying to maintain, recommends Feit. For squats, it’s okay to go only as far down as your legs allow without compromising a straight back and keeping your heels on the ground.
Doing Too Much Too Quickly When It Comes to Strength Training If your goal is to do 8 to 12 reps per set for strength training, but you can do only 4 reps of the move, then do 4 reps, rest, and then do 4 more. The goal is to complete the reps in as few sets as possible, and that can be something you work toward, says Feit. Trying to crank out too many reps without a break may compromise your form, which can make the move less effective and increase injury risk. What’s more, exercise is about challenging yourself, but if you get frustrated by what you’re doing, there’s a risk you might stop doing it altogether. The point of a workout is that you should be working through it; if it’s easy you’re probably not making progress.
Finally! How to Tell if a Supplement is Worth Taking.
For the past six months I’ve been researching supplements extensively. You see, I am in the process of starting a supplement company. My goal is to only offer supplements that are proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to provide immense benefits for the customers who purchase them. During my research, I stumbled across a […]
For the past six months I’ve been researching supplements extensively. You see, I am in the process of starting a supplement company.
My goal is to only offer supplements that are proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to provide immense benefits for the customers who purchase them. During my research, I stumbled across a guy named Sol Orwell. He has created the first non-biased guide on the subject of supplements. I’m actually using all of the findings in his guide to decide what supplements I want to offer through my company.
Sol took the time to do an interview where I picked his brain about supplements and the supplement industry.
Preview: He isn’t a fan of multi-vitamins, fat burning supplements, glutamine, and many other high-selling popular products. At the end, he even reveals what he takes and has his parents take as part of their supplement program.
Question 1: The first thing I did when I read your guide was look up two mega-selling supplements recommended by Dr. Oz. Your research found them to be a waste of money. Why do you think he recommends this stuff?
I recently posted on Facebook that people should stick to their domain of knowledge – the area they live and breathe. For Dr. Oz, that means cardiothoracic work.
The problem is that nutrition and supplementation has nothing to do with his domain of knowledge. Couple that with the media’s drive for sensationalism (the more attention the better), and you get Dr. Oz’s whacky recommendations.
It’s in his interest to always have something shiny and new to recommend, regardless of any solid evidence.
I’ll use an example to show how removed from science he is: Dr. Oz has a page on how artificial sweeteners cause cancer. That page links to one study as proof. But if you click on that study and read the actual conclusion:
“In conclusion, therefore, this study provides no evidence that saccharin or other sweeteners (mainly aspartame) increase the risk of cancer at several common sites in humans.”
Yeah. If he can’t even read the studies he cites as his proof, it’s simply not worth bothering with him.
Question 2: I’m taking a stack of Amino acids at night and an hour before working out. It is suppose to boost HGH. I haven’t noticed a difference and consequently, your research proves that these supplements have negligible effects. How can supplement companies get away with exaggerating the effectiveness of a product?
Because concise language (as used in scientific research) does not equate to our every day usage.
An example makes this clear: If I make $100.00 per hour, and I get a raise of 10 cents/hour, I have indeed, technically, gotten a raise. But is the raise actually useful? Nope.
And that’s what’s going on here. Do these products boost HGH levels? Sure. Do they actually boost them in a meaningful way? Nope!
So technically they aren’t lying to you, but they aren’t giving you the full story either.
The other way supplement companies can make such egregious claims is by not telling you what the actual study was. For example, glutamine is a highly recommended muscle builder. In petri-dishes, the more glutamine you can pack into a muscle cell, the more it grows! Sound awesome right? In the real world (aka our bodies), the small intestines and liver horde the glutamine for themselves, and very little actually gets to the muscle cells.
So the marketing talks about how the more glutamine your muscle cells the more they grow, without ever actually mentioning that unless you are injecting it directly, that will never happen!
Question 3: What is a little known supplement that you have found to be effective for fat loss? For building muscle?
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just like our previous HGH example, you can find a ton of supplements that make a small difference, but no supplement that legitimately burns fat loss.
For building muscle, creatine is the one proven supplement – it’s safe, it’s cheap, and it works. I even make my own mom take it!
Otherwise, honestly, a good workout program, nutrition, and sleep are critical. It’s amazing how people will go out, get drunk, get 4 hours of crappy sleep, and then come to us asking for a supplement to help them. Get those three things in place first!
Question 4: You have an interesting opinion about multivitamins. Do you mind sharing that?
Multivitamins have two major problems:
1. They tend to underdose stuff you actually need, and they overdose on stuff you are getting enough of already. This is marketing – it sounds impressive to have 10000% of the daily RDA of vitamin C. Does it matter? Nope! Is vitamin C hard to get? Nope!
2. There is also physical constraints. A pill can only be so large, and it can only hold so much of a supplement. Think about it this way – you can buy vitamins A B C D etc as separate pills. And now they are compressing all of those individual pills into one? No way you can do that without underdosing.
We do believe that supplements work, but for specific health goals. For example, if you are diabetic, berberine is amazing – it helps lower blood sugar without ever making you hypoglycemic.
Peppermint oil can help with IBS. Bacopa can help with your memory. Dozens of supplements have notable effects in specific situations.
Supplementation should be targeted, not done with a one-size-fits-all approach. That is the way to optimal supplementation (and also not wasting your money!)
Question 5: What supplements do you see a lot of people wasting money on?
Alas, the most popular ones it seems.
Tribulus terrestris – the #1 testosterone booster.
Here’s the thing – when your testosterone goes up, your libido tends to go up. Unfortunately, the inverse is not true – you can have an increase in libido without an increase in testosterone.
And that’s what trib is. It’s actually a virility agent – it helps boost your libido. But it has been repeatedly found to have no effect on testosterone levels.
Glutamine – the most popular amino acid.
As I covered before, glutamine, if you can get it into your muscle cells, helps your muscles grow. But if you consume it does it actually get to those muscle cells? Nope – your small intestines end up hoarding it for itself.
The only time glutamine really helps is if you have severe burns. So severe that you’re in the hospital. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Glucosamine – the most popular joint-pain reliever.
Every time someone says their joints ache, someone will say that glucosamine works.
There is literally no evidence that glucosamine works. Even more damning is that only the sulfate version ever seems to “work,” which leads to the hypothesis that people without enough sulfur in their diet may be getting joint-related pain.
CLA – a fat that is supposed to help burn fat.
While I mentioned how glutamine is a great example on the differences between petri-dish studies and actual human studies, CLA is a great example on the differences between mice and humans – it works potently in rats and mice, but it fails in humans (in fact in a few studies it caused people to gain fat!)
Our approach to supplementation is simple – figure out what health goals you have, and then see which supplements help (and which don’t). The one-size-fits-all approach is not the way to go.
Question 6: Last question. What supplements do you take?
I take (and make my parents and my significant other take):
– Vitamin D (we live in Toronto, which means a lot of rain/snow, and not a lot of direct sun exposure)
– Vitamin K (vitamin K in high doses has been proven to help with artery and bone health)
– Creatine (makes you stronger, and even has neurological benefits)
Those three are cheap, safe, and proven to work.
I personally do not take fish oil because I love to eat smoked salmon. My mom doesn’t, so I have her take fish oil.
When I’m stressed, I do take rhodiola rosea (it’s an adaptogen, so it helps de-stress). This is an example of the targeted supplementation I was talking earlier.
That’s it for me. I also make my parents take berberine and spirulina, as both are excellent general health agents for people who are middle-aged (again, targeted supplementation).
This is not a typical ebook!
Every day, at 5am EST, their internal systems extract data from the complete Examine.com database (which features over 20,000 scientific studies) to obtain the relevant human data and re-create The Supplement-Goals Reference Guide.
This Guide is now my go-to source of supplement information. There really is no need to look further…it has the most up-to-date information and is created by a team of non-biased researchers. I can’t recommend it highly enough if you take supplements.
Get it Here —> The Supplement Goals Reference Guide
Finally! How to Tell if a Supplement is Worth Taking. was originally published at LINK