Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is Metabolism?

Some people think that the metabolism is a kind of organ, or a body part, that influences digestion.  

Actually, the metabolism isn’t any particular body part.  

It’s the process by which the body converts food into energy.  

Hence, you’ve likely heard of the phrase metabolic process used synonymously with the term metabolism, because they both mean the same thing. 

The Medical Myths 

This isn’t a complicated medical text (which should be great news to most of you!), and so we don’t need to spend an unnecessary amount of time and space focusing on the layered complexity of the human body and its extraordinary intelligence.  

Yet without drilling deeply into medical details -- which are not relevant for our general understanding purposes -- it’s helpful to briefly look at the biological mechanisms behind metabolism. 

Metabolism, as mentioned above, is the process of transforming food (e.g. nutrients) into fuel (e.g. energy).  The body uses this energy to conduct a vast array of essential functions.  

In fact, your ability to read this page - literally - is driven by your metabolism.  

If you had no metabolism - that is, if you had no metabolic process that was converting food into energy – then you wouldn’t be able to move.  

In fact, long before you realized that you couldn’t move a finger or lift your foot, your internal processes would have stopped; because the basic building blocks of life - circulating blood, transforming oxygen into carbon dioxide, expelling potentially lethal wastes through the kidneys and so on - all of these depend on metabolism.  

Keep this in mind the next time you hear someone say that they have a slow metabolism.  

While they may struggle with unwanted weight gain due to metabolic factors, they certainly have a functioning metabolism. 

If they didn’t, they wouldn’t even be able to speak (because that, too, requires energy that comes from, you guessed it: metabolism!).

It’s also interesting to note that, while we conveniently refer to the metabolic process as if it were a single function, it’s really a catch - all term for countless functions that are taking place inside the body. Every second of every minute of every day of your life - even, of course, when you sleep - numerous chemical conversions are taking place through metabolism, or metabolic functioning.  

In a certain light, the metabolism has been referred to as a harmonizing process that manages to achieve two critical bodily functions that, in a sense, seem to be at odds with each other.   

Anabolism and Catabolism 

jojopig.comThe first function is creating tissue and cells.  Each moment, our bodies are creating more cells to replace dead or dysfunctional cells.  

For example, if you cut your finger, your body (if it’s functioning properly) will begin – without even wasting a moment or asking your permission –the process of creating skin cells to clot the blood and start the healing process.  This creation process is indeed a metabolic response, and is called anabolism.

On the other hand, there is the exact opposite activity taking place in other parts of the body.  Instead of building cells and tissue through metabolism, the body is breaking down energy so that the body can do what it’s supposed to do.  

For example, as you aerobically exercise, your body temperature rises as your heart beat increases and remains with a certain range.  

As this happens, your body requires more oxygen; and as such, your breathing increases as you intake more HO.  All of this, as you can imagine, requires additional energy.  

After all, if your body couldn’t adjust to this enhanced requirement for oxygen (both taking it in and getting rid of it in the form of carbon dioxide), you would collapse!   

Presuming, of course, that you aren’t overdoing it, your body will instead begin converting food (e.g. calories) into energy.  And this process, as you know, is a metabolic process, and is called catabolism.

So as you can see, the metabolism is a constant process that takes care of two seemingly opposite function: anabolism that uses energy to create cells, and catabolism that breaks down cells to create energy.  

Indeed, it’s in this way that the metabolism earns its reputation as a harmonizer. It brings together these apparently conflicting functions, and does so in an optimal way that enables the body to create cells as needed, and break them down, again as needed. 

Metabolism and Weight Loss 

By now, you already have a sense of how metabolism relates to  weight loss (catabolic metabolism, or breaking cells down and transforming them into energy).  

To understand this process even more clearly, we can introduce a very important player in the weight loss game - the calorie. 


Calories are simply units of measure.  They aren’t actually things in and of themselves; they are labels for other things, just like how an inch really isn’t anything, but it measures the distance between two points.  

So what do calories measure?  

Easy: they measure energy.

Yup, the evil calorie - the bane of the dieter’s existence - is really just a 3-syllable label for energy.  

And it’s important to highlight this, because the body itself, despite its vast intelligence (much of which medical science cannot yet understand, only appreciate in awe) does not really do a very intelligent job of distinguishing good energy from bad.  

Actually, to be blunt, the body doesn’t care about where the energy comes from.  Let’s explore this a little more, because it’s very important to the overall understanding of how to boost your metabolism, particularly when we look at food choices.

In our choice-laden grocery stores, with dozens of varieties of foods - hundreds, perhaps - there seems to be a fairly clear awareness of what’s good food, and what’s bad or junk food.  

For example, we don’t need a book to remind us that, all else being equal, a plum is a good food, whereas a tub of thick and creamy double-fudge ice cream is a bad food.  

Not bad tasting, of course; but, really, you won’t find many fit people eating a vat of ice cream a day, for obvious reasons. So what does this have to do with calories and energy?  

It’s this: while you and I can evaluate our food choices and say that something (like a plum) is a healthy source of energy, and something else (like a tub of ice cream) is an unhealthy source of energy, the body doesn’t evaluate.  Really.  

It sounds strange and amazing, but the body really doesn’t care. To the body, energy is energy. It takes whatever it gets, and doesn’t really know that some foods are healthier than others.  It’s kind of like a garbage disposal: it takes what you put down it, whether it should go down or not.

So let’s apply this to the body, and to weight gain.  When the body receives a calorie - which, as we know, is merely a label for energy - it must do something with that energy.  

In other words, putting all other nutrients and minerals aside, if a plum delivers 100 calories to the body, it has to accept those 100 calories.  The same goes for 500 calories from a (small) tub of ice cream: those 500 calories have to be dealt with.  

Now, the body does two things to that energy: it either metabolizes it via anabolism, or it metabolizes it via catabolism.  That is, it will either convert the energy (calories) into cells/tissue, or it will use that energy (calories) to break down cells.

Now the link between calories/energy, metabolism, and weight loss becomes rather clear and direct.  

When there is an excess of energy, and the body can’t use this energy to deal with any needs at the time, it will be forced to create cells with that extra energy. It has to.  

It doesn’t necessarily want to, but after figuring out that the energy can’t be used to do anything (such as help you exercise or digest some food), it has to turn it into cells through anabolism.  

And those extra cells?  Yup, you guessed it: added weight!  

In a nutshell (and nuts have lots of calories by the way, so watch out and  eat them in small portions…), the whole calorie/metabolism/weight gain thing is really just about excess energy.   

When there are too many calories in the body – that is, when there’s too much energy from food - then the body transforms those calories into stuff.  

And that stuff, most of the time, is fat.  Sometimes, of course, those extra calories are transformed into muscle; and this is usually a good thing for those watching their weight or trying to maintain an optimal body fat ratio.  

In fact, because muscles require calories to maintain, people with strong muscle tone burn calories without actually doing anything; their metabolism burns it for them.  

This is the primary reason why exercising and building lean muscle is part of an overall program to boost your metabolism; because the more lean muscle you have, the more places excess calories can go before they’re turned into fat.

Check out the Video about Metabolism 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fitness FAQ

How many reps do I need?

How many reps you need to do depends on your goals. As a guideline try and stay within 2 to 6 reps for strength and power, 8 to 12 reps for muscle size and 15 to 20 reps for endurance. If your goal is to build muscle then your reps range should be around 8 to 12 reps i.e. the weight should be heavy enough to allow only 8 reps, actually you should only be able to get 6 reps with great difficulty on the 6th, but you need to continue on to fight for those last 2 reps, it should be an absolute struggle to get those last two reps. That's
where the muscle growth is. You always need someone there to watch over you when you are performing reps like these. On your next visit you should aim for 9 reps, then 10, 11 and 12, these reps should also be a struggle. When the time comes that you can force out 12 reps with great difficulty, it's time to up the weight.  

How many sets for muscle growth?

Not counting warm ups, 1 good heavy set is enough to induce muscle growth, if done correctly to total muscular failure, however, very few people can or know how to use the 1 set principle correctly so 2 to 3 heavy sets is usually better to ensure muscle growth stimulation. Anything above 3 sets per exercise is usually a waste of time and recovery energy. 

How many days a week should I workout?

You should workout 2 to 4 days a week and no more. You simply cannot fully recover and grow when you are working out 5 and six days a week. It usually takes 48 to 72 hours for a muscle group to recover from an intense weight training session. Only until after full body recovery will muscle growth happen. An every other day routine is good. 

What exercises should I be doing for muscle mass?

You should be doing the heavy basic exercises like squats, dead lifts, and basic presses. These are the exercises when done correctly and safely will produce the best results for muscle mass. The "simple" isolation exercises can be added on later when you have gained a respectable amount of muscle from the basics. Don't waste your energy doing isolations if your goal is muscle mass fast.

How much rest between sets?

As much as you need. You should allow your body to recover between sets and let your breathing return too normal. Usually 1 to 2 minutes sometimes you'll need 3 or more minutes to recover, it depends on the exercise and how hard you pushed yourself.

Should I warm up?

Yes you should warm up, it is very important that you do, but just don't spend half the day doing so. A few light muscle stretches followed by a couple of light sets of the first exercise you are going to do that day. Then stretch again in between those light sets.

Should I stretch between sets?

You should stretch between sets on your first exercise only. Don't over do the stretching, the idea is to loosen up muscle for heavy lifts, not burn out muscle before you execute heavy lifts. 

Should I workout at home or join a gym?

It's a matter of personal preference really. Do you like the gym atmosphere or would you rather the privacy of your own home. 3 questions to consider: Can you really concentrate at home to lift really heavy? have you someone there to help? Have you got enough weights and equipment? If you've answered yes then maybe you could train at home for a while and see how you get on, otherwise I think the gym would be a better option for you. 

Do I need a fitness trainer?

You could consider a fitness trainer if you find that no matter what you try to do, you are not getting the results you desire. If you find that you cannot concentrate on your workouts then you could consider hiring a personal trainer for a time.

What supplements do I need for muscle building?

jojopig.comIf your diet is perfect then you don't really need supplements to support muscle building, but whose diet is absolutely perfect? When it comes to supplements I find that the basics are great like Whey and casein protein powders, creatine, multivitamin/minerals, vitamin c, Vitamin e and zinc. There are "super supplements" available that you could try out for 8 to 12 weeks but I like to stick to the basics. How far you want to take supplementation depends on the individual's goals.   

There's a lot of talk about creatine, is it any good?

Yes it is good, it's very good. Creatine increases energy production in the muscle cells so you can lift heavier and for longer. Creatine helps you to quickly gain weight making you stronger, and the more you can lift means the more muscle fibres you can stimulate for muscle growth. It pulls fluid into the muscle cells making you look bigger. 

What type of protein powder is the best?

There is no real best when it comes to protein powders but Whey protein isolate (WPI) is a fast acting protein and is better than whey protein concentrate because it is purer and has a higher BV (biological value) around 170 compared to 104 for the concentrate which means that the WPI can be used more efficiently by the body. The higher the BV the better. Egg Protein has a BV of 100. Milk protein i.e. whey and casein has a BV of 85 and Beef Proteins about 75.

When should I take protein shakes?

You should take protein shakes (whey protein) before and after a training session i.e. about 30 minutes before and within 1 hour after. You can take a casein protein last thing at night for a steady flow of amino acids for growth and repair while you sleep. On non-training days you can take the whey protein anytime.

Should I eat anything before bed?

You should not eat anything before bed because it could keep you awake all night, especially if you eat a carbohydrate food. Having said that, you can take a casein protein supplement without your sleep being affected.

How can I speed up recovery?

You can speed up recovery by taking a creatine supplement immediately after a workout and about 40 minutes later take a whey protein supplement, then within an hour after that have a highly nutritious real meal supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Vitamin c and e is great for fast recovery.

Should I wear a lifting belt?

Some people find lifting belts great while others can't stand them. I would recommend you wear a lifting belt on your heavy sets and on your heavy sets only, like squats, dead lifts, shoulder presses and bent rows.

Should I wear gloves?

You don't really need gloves. It's a matter of personal preference. Some people will tell you that gloves help them lift more weight, while others will tell you that it detracts from their lifting strength. I like to wear gloves because they give me a better grip on the bar.  

How many reps for building strength?

To build strength you need to concentrate on low reps with very very heavy weights. Reps should be in the 2 to 6 range and the weight should be heavy enough to only allow you perform 2 to 6 reps. You should always have help on standby when you are lifting like this.

How do I bring out my abs?

To bring out your abs you need to watch your diet closer and cut out all the junk with the empty high calories like cakes and sodas. You could do 3 exercises in tri set style eg: Crunches 1 x 15 then hanging leg raises 1 x 15 then onto lying leg raises 1 x 15 repeat 4 times dropping the reps i.e. 12,10,8s. Rest between sets is as long as it takes you to walk over to the abs exercise area or about 20 seconds rest.

Should women lift weights?

Yes women should definitely lift weights. Lifting weights will be a great help in their weight loss, health or fitness goals. Some women believe they will get huge muscles if they lift weights, this is not true, women don't have enough of the male hormone muscle builder testosterone. Weight lifting is a truly excellent form of exercise not just for men.    

How fast or slow should I perform reps?

You need to ensure that your muscle fibres actually do the work. The reps should not be performed too fast using momentum. Use a Slow and controlled pace that should take you about 2 seconds to raise the weight and seconds to lower the weight, it's also a good idea to pause for 1 second in the extended position. It looks like this 2 1 4. Try various lifting speeds to see which one works best for your goals, you could also try a 3 2 5: 3 seconds to lift, 2 seconds hold and flex on extension and 5 seconds to lower it. 

How do I build massive legs?

You need to get off that leg extension machine and learn how to squat correctly. The squat is the king for building massive legs, along with the dead lift and the leg press. If you want massive legs you need to master heavy squats, and heavy standing calf raises. You could try adding super sets to your leg routines with a pre-exhaust technique if you have the weight training experience, if not then straight sets with the squat involved should be enough.

Do I need cardio while building muscle?

Some cardio while on a muscle building course would be beneficial but don't over do it. 20 minutes on the bike or rowing machine before or after a session should be enough.

How many body parts a session?

2 body parts per session is ideal, that way you can fully concentrate on the body parts and put in 100% effort. It drags on a bit if you have to do 3 and 4 body parts a session, the required intensity just won't be there. Keep it at 2 per session.

Should I change my routine?

Yes you should change things around every 8 to 12 weeks for renewed motivation and goal setting, and for a boost in results.

How often should I increase the weight?

The ideal rep range for muscle growth is 8 to 12, so if you find yourself getting 12 reps or more no problem then it's time to up the weight to bring you back down to the almost impossible 8 rep sets. 

What does intensity mean?

It means how hard you need to work to complete the required action i.e. if your lifting a certain weight and you absolutely struggled to get 8 reps and you wanted so much to quit at 6 but somehow managed 8, that's high intensity. Muscles require a high intensity effort to warrant muscle growth stimulation.

How can I build my stubborn calves?

You need to concentrate more on every rep of every set and get a complete stretch. Don't rush your calf training by just throwing in a few sets at the end of your leg training. Try training them first in the session and use a full range of motion with heavy weight.

How much time does a muscle need to recover?

Muscles usually require from 48 to 72 hours to fully recover from a hard training session. Your nervous system also requires full recovery. It depends on the person’s level of training experience and best recovery practices.

What's the best time to train?

About 2 to 3 hours after you get up out of bed is the best time because hormone levels are high and your back has re-adjusted itself by then, but anytime is a great time to train. It all depends on your daily schedule.

How much protein do I need?

Not as much as you think but certainly more than the average Joe or Jane. 1.14 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a good guide, though lean body weight should be taken into consideration for a more accurate figure and not total body weight.  

How should I take my creatine?

Some people say that creating loading is unnecessary but I like to load creatine 20grams 4 x 5gs daily for 5 days then 5g after training for about 8 weeks.

How can I get motivated to get to the gym?

You're the only person that can make you go to the gym, but bear in mind that the thought of going to gym is much worst than the actual application of going to the gym, once your at the gym you're fine and once you finish a great workout you're glad that you went. Just go ahead and go to the gym regardless of what you think at the time.

How do I stay motivated?

You can stay motivated by writing down everything you do at the gym. Write down your sets reps and weight used so you can see how much progress you are making. You can also change your routine every so often to avoid staleness and keep motivation high. It's also a very good idea yo have training goals and strive towards those goals, and when you reach them you need to set more goals.

Will smoking affect my muscle gains?

Yes it will. Smoking will slow down your progress and keep you from reaching your goals. It's also bad for your health, but you knew that already. I suggest that you try some quit smoking techniques until you find one that works for you.

Can I workout with a hangover?

You certainly can but don't expect to perform at 100% level and don't mark it as a great workout. You should stay away from the gym if you're not feeling 100% from a hangover or from a cold or flu. Imagined laziness is different, you should ignore that and get to the gym.

Should I bring a notepad to the gym?

Yes. You need to track your progress so that you know what is working and what's not. Tracking everything is also a great motivator.

How can I shock my muscles into new growth?

By changing your routine or by trying a different training principal like super sets or the pre-exhaust method. You can also shock your muscles by changing the sets or reps and by adjusting the weight accordingly.

How do I prevent stretch marks?

Eat high quality nutritious foods and take a good multi-vitamin/mineral. Take vitamin C, E and zinc. You could also try a good vitamin e cream if you already have stretch marks.

How can I speed up my time spent in the gym?

You can speed up your time spent in the gym by doing less in the gym, which is actually better for you than doing a long drawn out session. Realise that you’re at the gym to work and not stand around talking. Get in, get it done and get out.

Which is better free weights or machines?

Both are good but free weights are better for overall body mass and strength conditioning. More muscles are involved using free weights, this is a good thing. Machines are good to isolate a muscle group and can be used to preexhaust the muscle before the heavy basic free weight exercise.

How much sleep do I need for optimum muscle growth?

You need 8 to 10 hours of sleep for optimum muscle growth. If you're serious about gaining muscle mass then you should ensure that you are getting at least 8 hours every night.

How can I increase testosterone naturally?

You could try zinc and magnesium taken last thing at night or try a product called ZMA. You could also try limiting your rep range to 5 reps but the weight should reflect these 5 rep sets. You will need someone there to help with a true 5-rep range.

Should I workout with sore muscles?

No. Absolutely not. Sore muscles are a clear indicator that you have not recovered from your last session. You need another day or two off. It doesn't matter if your chest muscles are sore and you are training legs - your overall body system has not fully recovered. You could ignore it and go anyway but you will be wasting your time or make things worst on a cellular and nervous system level, then you will need double the time off to fully recover. Your muscles will refuse to grow if you continue to train while not fully recovered from previous sessions. The gym will always be there so take that day or 2 extra off to fully recover and grow. You will then come back to the gym 100%
recovered and ready to go to work on another muscle group or 2.

What's the best way to build muscle?

The best way to build muscle is to purchase a muscle-building program from a person that you know, knows what they're talking about. Don't try and guess it yourself, get the information from an expert. You will also need highly nutritious foods and some supplementation. You need to set clear goals and work very hard to achieve them. You could also try and reduce your time spent in the gym by limiting your training sessions to 1 hour only, when the hour is up you need to get out, go home, recover and grow. Discipline and commitment is also required.

I'm over 40, is it too late for me to build muscle? 

It's never too late to build muscle. If you have a decent training routine and sound nutritional practices and the commitment to improve then it doesn't matter what age you are. You can build muscle at 70 but just don't expect to be Mr Olympia.

Should I use a full range of motion or not?
95% of the time you should use a strict full range of motion with a weight that will just about give you your rep range. You will be able to lift more with sloppy 3/4 reps but it's not as effective as a full range of motion. You could get away with 3/4 reps on your last rep sometimes but a full range of motion is recommended most of the time.

How do I build massive strength without getting too big? 

You need to lift weights that are extremely heavy and do the basic exercises like squat, presses and dead lifts. Rep range should be 2 to 5. You will need 1 or 2 people there to help you while to pump out those very heavy sets. You also need to be experience in weight training to effectively tackle this type of training. Find yourself a good strength or power lifting routine and execute that safely.

I can't seem to build muscle no matter what I do.

You could need a better training routine, better high quality nutrition, higher quality calories, more protein, more rest, more weight, less time in the gym, more commitment. The best thing you could do is get advice from an expert that you know you can trust and you could try a personal trainer for a while. If you go with a personal trainer make sure you tell him/her exactly what you're looking for i.e. if you're looking for massive muscle growth, tell them, make it clear that you're not in it just to get fit and toned.


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