Amino Acids for Energy and Focus
Whether you have been lifting weights for a while or are just starting to build muscle, fueling properly for your workouts is a must. Without proper fuel, you will not get the most out of every gym session. Amino acids play an important role in muscle growth and recovery while also giving you extra energy and focus during workout sessions. They are a great addition to pre and post workout fuel but can easily be missed in a normal diet. If you are trying to gain muscle and get the most from your workouts, then supplementing with amino acids is a great idea.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Without them, your body could not function properly. Not only do amino acids build muscles, they also carry nutrients, chemical signals, and antibodies throughout the body. Your body produces only eleven out of the twenty amino acids it needs. You must get the remaining nine essential amino acids from food or supplements.
How to get Amino Acids
Amino acids can be found in protein rich whole foods like eggs, beef, chicken and fish. You can also get amino acids from supplements like Amino Charge BCAA (link here.) The advantage of using supplements is that they are specifically designed to protect existing muscles, help new muscle fibers grow and speed up recovery between workouts. Supplements are also quickly absorbed by the body so you can take them before, during and after your workout without upsetting your stomach.
How Amino Acids Help Workouts
Amino acid supplements supercharge your workouts. They increase your energy, allowing you to go harder for longer. They also protect your existing muscles, by keeping your body from digging into already stored amino acids for fuel. Branch chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine, are particularly helpful for this. These amino acids also offset the fatigue caused by another amino acid, tryptophan, which is produced when you workout.
While your brain is not a muscle, amino acids can improve its function so that you can keep your head in the game throughout your workouts. Amino acids can cross the blood brain barrier and prevent the mental fatigue caused during workouts. They can also improve your short term memory and your brain’s processing ability. This will help you maintain focus, so you can give every single workout your all. You can also focus more on the muscles you are working, which is critical if you are training for a competition or event.
Amino acids are essential to your body and especially important for gaining strength. While you can get amino acids through your diet, it can be easy to miss out on these building blocks of protein. By supplementing with amino acids, you can ensure that your body is working at its best. You will be able to stay focused and energetic throughout your workouts. This will also improve your performance and increase recovery time. If you think your workouts need an extra boost, use an amino acid supplement before your next gym session. Your body will thank you.
It is not enough to just eat the right meals; the timing of your meals also matters if you’re looking to build muscle. You need to eat the right meals at the right time to achieve the right results. Without beating about the bush, the right meals for muscle building are protein-rich foods and the best time to eat these meals for optimal muscle gains is an hour prior to bedtime.
Of course, I know if this was to be a conversation in a face to face Seminar, you will definitely want to ask me “why.” Well, I won’t wait until you ask me “why” in the comment box, I will explain the reason now. In fact, the reason is obvious and you can attest to that after reading this post to the end.
You need to be aware that you strain and damage some of your muscle tissues while performing your daily routine, including workouts at the gym. The most convenient and suitable time for the muscles to repair themselves is at night while you’re sleeping. It is during rest periods, and particularly while sleeping, that your system repairs the strained and damaged muscles and makes them become bigger than before. So, you can always do yourself a favor by ensuring that you complete your 8-hour dose of sleep every night.
Protein’s are the building blocks of the muscles. So, if you make it a habit to always eat meals rich in proteins at about an hour before going to sleep, you stand the chance to boost the growth of your muscles than just eating around haphazardly. The one-hour interval allows for proper digestion of the meals. While sleeping, your body is also producing testosterone, which is needed for muscle building.
So, what food can you eat to enable your body gain optimal muscle recovery and growth? Here are 5 healthy late night meals that can help your body build and rebuild muscles while you sleep:
1. Avocados and Eggs
Avocados are natural source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which are great bodybuilding diets. Eggs, on the other hand, are also a good source of high quality protein. The eggs’ yolks are also rich in vitamins and minerals, which contains healthy fatty acids. So, combining avocados and eggs in a meal gives you access to essential nutrients you will need to build your muscles. Before going to bed, you can prepare avocados and meals by combining 2 whole eggs and 2 ounces of avocado. This combination gives you a total count of 244 calories, including 14 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs and 18 grams of fat. This meal is not only great for building your muscles; it’s super delicious as well!
2. Casein and Flax
Casein protein is a well-known meal among bodybuilders and weight-lifters for its slow-digested protein that helps to improve metabolism during sleep. Flax, on the other hand, is rich in plant omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. So, when combined, Casein and Flax, both make a healthy meal for bodybuilders. If you mix 28 grams of casein protein powder with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil, you will obtain a total count of 221 calories, including 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat.
3. Greek Yogurt and Chia Seeds
Greek Yogurt has become extremely popular among fitness enthusiasts in recent times. This is because it is super delicious and also packed with slow-digesting casein protein. The protein content is great for people looking to build muscles. Chia seeds are high in fiber, anti-oxidants, proteins, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. When Greek yogurt is combined with chia seeds, they provide plenty of essential nutrients suitable for muscle building. If you combine a cup of yogurt and one tablespoon of chia seeds, it gives you 180 calories, including 23 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fat.
4. Whey Protein and Peanut Butter
Whey protein has been a long time buddy for the muscle builders. This is because it provides the body with an incredible range of essential amino acids as well as helps to enhance the release of anabolic hormones that stimulate muscle growth. Whey protein comes in different flavors, including strawberry and vanilla, and when you add some peanut butter to it, it becomes a nutritious and healthy meal suitable for bodybuilding. A combination of 28 grams of whey protein and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter gives 288 calories, including 28 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs and 16 grams of fat.
5. Cottage Cheese and Almonds
Cottage cheese is a great late-night meal, and has been a bodybuilding staple for decades now. Stand alone, cottage cheese is filled with excellent blends of body-needed proteins. And when combine with almonds, they provide nutrients that are suitable for building muscle. So, a cup of low-fat cottage cheese and one ounce of almonds will give you a total of 327 calories, which include 11 grams of carbs, 34 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat.
All the above insanely delicious and nutrient packed meals are great late-night meals for fitness enthusiasts looking to build muscle. So, if you can incorporate these meals into your lifestyle and ensure you eat them as late-night meals an hour prior to bedtime, then you are on your way towards achieving your fitness goals.
Read our guide on 3 Fast High Protein Breakfast Options for Muscle Gain
Aarron Lambo is a bodybuilder from the United Kingdom with a passion for lifting weights and being fit. He has steadily been rising in the fitness industry ever since he got into the gym at the age of 15.
Over his lifting career, Aarron has been building up his success with hard work ethic and dedication. He has won several amateur bodybuilding shows, has opened his gym (the Alpha Training Gym in Northamptonshire) and fitness business. He’s steadily becoming a bodybuilding icon in the United Kingdom.
As an entrepreneur, Aarron is impressive, but as a bodybuilder, he’s even better. His stats are:
At 5’5” (165 cm) his weight is 205 to 215 pounds (88.5 to 93 kg). Quite impressive if you ask me, especially considering his low body fat percentage.
Aarron Lambo was born and raised in East Midlands of England. He became interested in bodybuilding at a very early age, and by the age of 15, he had started his journey. He also found inspiration in bodybuilders that he saw in fitness magazines. He’s said:
“My brother in law gave me a load of 1990’s fitness magazines, but I kept them for years going through them over and over, looking at pictures of what I thought was the freakiest physiques in the world.”
From that, his passion for the sport was born, and he knew that he wanted to step on stage one day. Just a year later, at the age of 16, he started competing in bodybuilding shows in Northamptonshire and winning different categories for teens.
Soon after, his entrepreneurial side began to surface, and at the age of 17, he wanted to open up his gym. A goal that he couldn’t accomplish at that point due to lack of funding. However, he kept pushing.
In 2008, after having made some connections in the UK, he finally opened his gym.
The gym worked out, and within five years of hard work, he opened his training center. He’s publicly stated that it was a long and challenging process, but well worth it.
Within just three short years, he opened his fitness promotion business and made social media accounts. Aarron’s initial goal was to bring top fitness influencers from the industry to the fans by organizing different activities such as training sessions, photo shoots, and regular meet and greets.
Since gaining his deserved success, Aarron has toured the UK and Europe to promote his business and organize different events. Some big names from the bodybuilding sphere have been featured: Phil Heath, Lee Priest, and Terry Hollands.
His Training Style
Aarron’s training style is in no way unconventional. He relies on heavy compound exercises such as the barbell bench press, barbell squat, deadlift, barbell row, rack pulls, close-grip bench press, and barbell bicep curl to build muscle mass and strength.
He’s stated that he uses isolation exercises as finishers to put the final touches on his physique.
In regards to his repetition ranges, he varies them over time. He trains with low, medium, and high reps alike and sees all of them as beneficial.
It’s no secret that Aarron is a big guy. And, as such, he needs to consume massive amounts of food just to maintain his muscle mass. To get that much food, he eats every two to three hours. He puts a heavy emphasis on healthy fats in his morning and evening meals with foods such as fatty fish, coconut oils, eggs, avocados, nuts, and meats.
During the day, he puts a lot of emphasis on carbs, the fuel for the body, and eat a lot of fast-digesting carbs after his heavy workouts.
As far as supplementation goes, Aarron is a minimalist and only takes what is proven to work: protein powder, pre-workout, BCAAs, and fat-burners.
Elite Whey Protein – 21g Whey Protein with 3g Creatine & 2.4g Glutamine
Gold Standard Whey Protein – 24g of High quality Whey Protein Concentrate
Amino Charge BCAA – 2:1:1 ratio of L-leucine (6.45g), L-isoleucine (750mg), and L-valine (750mg) with Glutmaine (3.9g) and Taurine (750mg).
Aarron’s story is inspirational for both aspiring bodybuilders and entrepreneurs. He’s achieved everything with a hard work ethic and discipline. Unlike what some might believe, he was not born into money and never had anything given to him.
It took him many years to open up his gym, a process that was difficult to put it lightly. But thanks to his perseverance and upbeat attitude, he’s accomplished a lot and is well on his way to becoming a bodybuilding icon in the United Kingdom.
If there is one thing we can learn from Aarron is never to give up, no matter how difficult or grim the road ahead looks. He kept pushing and by taking consistent, small steps toward his goals, he’s achieved a lot.
Martyn Ford is a bodybuilder with incredible stats:
At 6’8” (203 cm), Martyn weighs 320 lbs (145 kg.) and is easily one of the most intimidating guys out there.
However, just like most of us, Martyn has also suffered setbacks in his life and has been in tight situations.
At a young age, Martyn was a talented cricket player with a bright future in the sport. Unfortunately, during a practice session, Martyn suffered an injury that put him out of the game. Things weren’t looking good, but there was still hope of a comeback.
However, after the injury had healed, Martyn was struck by glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis) which put him out of the game for an entire year. That period was crucial for his development for the sport, and he had to make the tough decision to leave cricket behind and channel his energy elsewhere.
At that difficult time in his life, Martyn discovered the world of bodybuilding and fitness. Due to his anger and frustration, he went all in at the gym, trying to make himself feel better. And it worked – before he knew, he had fallen in love with the iron and became addicted to his progress in the gym.
Since that time, Martyn has made it a point never to look back and harbor regret or resentment for difficult times in his past. He’s become an influential fitness icon, online sensation, and actor.
Here’s his take:
“Think about what you don’t want to become. Negative reinforcement is a great tool to kick-start the body into action! The fear of being a failure is almost like the ‘fight or flight’ that will either crush or push you!”
Martyn believes in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s theory of “shocking” the muscles. Because of that, he changes his training routine every month and a half or so to avoid adaptation and make linear progress.
However, Martyn rarely makes changes to his training methods and repetition ranges. Instead, he varies his exercise selection. He’s often stated that one week he might do only presses for his chest and in the following week, just fly movements.
Martyn is also very strict with his resting periods: he takes 60-second breaks between sets and 2-minute ones between each exercise. He also includes different intensity techniques such as drop sets, forced reps, and slow negatives to push his muscles to the limit and elicit more growth.
His training split looks like this:
Incline Press 3 x 12/8/6
Incline Fly’s 3 x 12/8/6
Decline Press 3 x 12/8/6
Barbell Curls 3 x 12/8/6
Concentration Curls 3 x 12/8/6
Bent-Over Rows 3 x 12/8/6
Close Grip Pulldowns 3 x 12/8/6
Deadlifts 3 x 12/8/6
Seated Single Arm Rows 3 x 12/8/6
Shrugs 3 x 12/8/6
Recovery, Rest day
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 x 12/8/6
Seated Laterals 3 x 12/8/6
Single Arm Lateral Raises (Using Cable) 3 x 12/8/6
Front Raises 3 x 12/8/6
Rear Delt Fly’s 3 x 12/8/6
French Press 3 x 12/8/6
Rope Pushdowns 3 x 12/8/6
Leg Extensions 3 x 12/8/6
Squats 3 x 12/8/6
Leg Press 3 x 12/8/6
Hamstring Curls 3 x 12/8/6
Calf Raises 3 x 12/8/6
Recovery, Rest days
Martyn is also a big believer in using cardio for fat loss and staying conditioned. Some of his choices include cycling, walking, and running. He also makes sure to add some HIIT cardio into his regimen, as well as MMA twice per week.
Martyn is an avid calorie tracker, and he knows precisely how much energy he is consuming every day to build muscle with very little fat in the process. When he was younger and just starting out with bodybuilding, he made sure to eat a lot of food every day, but never tracked his macronutrients.
This resulted in him gaining quite a bit of muscle mass but also a lot of fat.
Now, he is much more methodical with his approach, consumes between 4500-8000 calories, tracks his macronutrients meticulously and can stay in excellent condition year-round.
Now, that many calories might seem like an enormous amount to some of you, but keep in mind that Martyn is 6’8” and weighs well over 310 pounds. He needs a lot of energy to maintain that size.
As far as supplementation goes, Martyn makes sure to include products that help him elevate his gym performance and build muscle mass more efficiently. Some of the supplements include garlic, ZMA, Glutamine, Creatine, BCAAs, protein powder, and Ginger.
Optimizing your workouts for peak performance requires going above and beyond the normal routines. Part of this process requires learning how your body behaves and responds to various challenges and modifying your plan around your unique response that might be slightly (or not so slightly) different than another person’s response to the same challenge.
Metabolism is one of these characteristics that is variable and unique to you.
At a high level, the Mayo Clinic describes metabolism simply as “the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.”
Your metabolism is affected by several parameters. For example, an obvious first thought might have simply been physical activity. Hitting the gym takes energy. Period.
And another, possibly less-than-obvious source of metabolic activity, is the food you eat. That’s right, eating food requires your body to burn calories. This process, known as diet-induced thermogenesis, refers to the body generating heat and using energy in order to metabolize the food you eat back into useable energy itself.
Diet-induced thermogenesis usually accounts for only around 10-15% of your daily caloric expenditure, but a subtle note to add is the role different foods (different macronutrient profiles, to be exact) play on thermogenesis. Protein, in particular, causes the largest thermogenic spike. In fact, eating protein increases metabolism by roughly three times that of carbohydrates, and over six times that of fats.
But these sources are still not the biggest contributors to your metabolism. Diet-induced thermogenesis and physical activity combined rarely come close to the largest source of caloric burn – your basal metabolism.
Basal metabolism is simply the calories required for life. To keep you going. To keep you alive.
All your internal organs require a constant supply of energy to keep things running like hearts beating, lungs breathing, and kidneys filtering. On average, your basal metabolism accounts for roughly 70% of your daily caloric expenditure. That means, if you simply laid on the couch and didn’t move all day, you’d still burn these calories.
But your basal metabolic rate is unique to you. And it is affect by several factors including your body composition, your gender, your age, and your genetics.
The largest variable affecting your basal metabolic rate is your body composition. In fact, gender is primarily only a contributing factor in large part due to natural differences in body composition and lean muscle distribution .
Of your body composition, the largest contributing factor is fat-free mass. Most of us have heard that muscle burns more calories than fat. Indeed, in addition to organs like your brain, your kidneys, etc., your muscle mass contributes a significant portion of these calories burned. Roughly 20% of the variability in basal metabolism between individuals can be attributed to the amount of lean muscle tissue. On the contrary, fat-mass contributes roughly 6% of the variability in caloric burn per person.
Other interesting things to note about your basal metabolism is that age only accounts for roughly 2% of the variability seen in basal metabolic rates. The decreased rate of metabolism often associated with aging is more closely linked to a loss in weight and lean muscle mass.
And unknown sources between individuals that can’t be attributed to these factors represent nearly 27% of the variability. Some of this could very well be associated with genetics. Other potential sources of variability could be derived from differences in organ size and distribution of body tissues such as brown fat, visceral fat, and subcutaneous fat.
Testing for Your Basal Metabolic Rate
To test for your basal metabolic rate, you can undergo a simple testing procedure that is likely available at many nutrition or personal training clinics. The test is simple but requires some preparation on your part. Specifically, you will likely need to fast for some amount of time (usually around 12 hours) before the test. Because, if you remember, diet-induced thermogenesis might influence your test results.
The test itself requires you to breathe into a mask connected to a gas analyzer while resting comfortably in a relaxed position. While you sit and breathe for a period of time (roughly 20-30 minutes), the gas analyzer is precisely measuring how much oxygen is going in and how much carbon dioxide is going out.
And that’s it. Assuming there were no abnormalities in the test results, you will finish and be provided with your basal metabolic rate. You’ll then have an understanding of how many calories you will burn as a baseline to build your nutrition plan, your workout plan, and help set your body composition goals.
But this test also provides another interesting value worth investigating. The same basal metabolic rate test can also determine your respiratory quotient. Your respiratory quotient will provide some insight into the substrate from which your body’s energy is derived. In other words, does your body harvest its energy more from carbohydrates, proteins, or fats?
Your Respiratory Quotient
Your respiratory quotient is almost certainly going to be a fraction somewhere between the values of 0.7 and 1.0. Typically, your results will lie between 0.8 and 0.85.
This number reflects the gas analyzer’s readings of oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide output. Specifically, the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen provides this decimal.
If all of your energy were being derived purely from carbohydrates, your respiratory quotient would be equal to 1.0. For every glucose molecule that is harvested for energy, 6 oxygen molecules are required to produce 6 carbon dioxide molecules (a ratio of this 1-to-1 equivalency creates a fraction of 1.0).
However, if all of your energy was being derived from fat, your respiratory quotient would be closer to 0.7. For example, metabolism of the fatty acid, palmitic acid, produces 16 units of carbon dioxide for every 23 units of oxygen, creating a ratio of 0.696.
Pure protein metabolism produces a respiratory quotient of around 0.81. However, your body does not store appreciable amounts of protein for use as an energy source. Protein turnover occurs at a fairly constant rate and would markedly change if protein was consumed before exercise and other readily available fuel sources were used first.
Your respiratory quotient can be used as a way to help understand your body composition and metabolic fuel source in order to adjust your body composition goals and direct your nutrition plan.
And these techniques can also be applied to studying your active metabolic behavior, too. Performing these tests during exercise can give you further insight into how your body adjusts its fuel sources during specific kinds of workouts (think sprinting, endurance events, weight lifting, etc.). This can further help direct your nutrition plan to optimize your fuel source for each particular type of training you are targeting.
Personalizing your training and nutrition plan around your body’s specific metabolic behavior can help optimize your performance. Some commonalities exist. For example, protein produces a higher diet-induced thermogenic response than carbohydrates and fats, and body composition (particularly fat-free mass) composes the majority of the variability in basal metabolic rate.
But variability in your respiratory quotient may provide further insight into your body composition and the composition of your body’s fuel sources. Actively applying these personal characteristics can help you clarify your goals and personalize your diet and training plan for peak results.
- Johnstone, A. M., Murison, S. D., Duncan, J. S., Rance, K. A., & Speakman, J. R. (2005). Factors influencing variation in basal metabolic rate include fat-free mass, fat mass, age, and circulating thyroxine but not sex, circulating leptin, or triiodothyronine, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(5), 941–948. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/82.5.941.
When it comes to making muscles, most people normally focus on what it is that they are doing inside the gym. This is normally a common misconception that one may be able to gain more muscle simply by working out in the gym alone. Most fitness articles have been able to push for this notion more whereby one is encouraged to hit the iron, train smart, push their body to the limit and find motivation to get to the gym which is very okay by the way, however, all this might be a waste of time given that one’s lifestyle does not match the motivation in which they are after. Listed below are three factors that one needs to look at in order to gain muscle outside the gym.
Get More Sleep
Resting is very essential for muscle gain. Deep sleep is normally very essential for any person wishing to gain more muscles given that it is able to allow for the REM cycle to come into play and optimize one’s release of testosterone while the muscles are able to rest. This is very essentials as one needs to give the body time to actually work on the result which they are looking for and getting enough sleep is one of the most essential ways to helping one achieve this goal. Just by sleeping for 5 hours won’t cut it after one has undergone an intense phase of working out. One is normally advised to sleep for a period of 7-8 hours every night in order to give the body the needed care that it needs for recovery and generation of energy to train intensely for the next day. In simple terms, it’s while you sleep, you grow.
Have a look at ELITE ZMA which can help support a better nights sleep.
Eat For Your Goals
Whether one is working out in order for them to bulk up, lose weight or just become strong bull, there is need for one to be disciplined when it comes to giving the body the required nutrients that it needs in order for it to actually function better. A habit that is common is normally eating a perfect meal during on time of the day then taking shortcuts during the rest of the day. This approach may end up causing one to be held back in more ways than they would have imagined. If one is looking to gain muscles, they need to understand that they need to eat better, more ad frequently.
For fat loss, one needs to reduce the number of calories which they consume as they need to make smarter food choices with regard to consuming better quality carbohydrates. One is also advised to have a high protein diet in order to help in boosting the body’s muscle repair.
Have a look at ELITE WHEY PROTEIN a good quality source of tasty protein!
Life happens, and this makes it harder to avoid stress that easily since it’s easier said than done. One may opt to find ways to deal with stress, such as going to bed early or even trying out deep breathing throughout the day. One may also find other ways to relax such as listening to music, going on walks and pleasure reading as it all depends on one’s preference. Hence, try to find a better way to reduce stress for better muscle gains out of the gym.
The squat exercise has been called the king of strength training exercises for a very good reason as there is nothing else that is able to train the lower body musculature quite like a squat. When one is able to do this specific form of exercise well, then they are able to improve on their athletic performance as it helps them run faster, jumper further, jump higher and hit harder. As much as the squatting technique may seem to be incredibly simple, it may also be quite complex. In the event that one thing is off, it may then detract one from training and instead cause injury. Listed below are some few guidelines to help one improve on their squat
This goes without say that one needs to be able to train continuously the more one does it the better they become at it. Just by simply doing it once won’t be able t cut it as there is need for there to be a continuous routine so that the muscles are able to be in the right shape as time progresses. One is advised to aim for at least two workouts each week with squats included in them to improve one’s squatting.
One may easily be able to perform various variations of the squat as this will help in kick-starting one’s lower body strength. The various variations are able to target different muscles and parts of the muscle and change nervous system stimulation. Some fop the variations may include:
- Barbell front squat
- Rear foot elevated squats with dumbbells or barbell
- Barbell wide-stance back squats
- Pause squats
- Anderson squats
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Every single time that one is doing a warm up, they are advised to hot a few sets of body weight squats or/and PVC pipe back squats. This is because it will help in the reinforcing of the squatting motor pattern.
One is advised to focus on creating torque by using their feet. Drive the feet into the ground then try to rotate the feet to the outside of the body, but not too hard in the vent that they end up moving. This will help one stay tight which simply means that it will be easier for one to stay in a proper position throughout their movement.
One may easily brace their torso by simply taking a deep breathe just before they descend into a squatting position and push out on their abs all the way through the movement.
Don’t Ignore the Little Things
As much as a barbell squat may seem simple, there are a few little things to make it a perfect squat such as:
- Wrist position which should be straight and not bent back as this will help in keeping the upper body tight and save the wrists from any potential problems.
- Head position as one should not stair at the ceiling but instead they should remaining a neutral position, eyes looking straight ahead through the squat.
One needs to understand that squats aren’t only a lower body exercises as they also engage the core muscles of the torso a lot. By one simply learning to train their core muscles specifically, then this isn’t only be beneficial for squatting but also everything athletically.
If you are serious about getting results in the gym, you continuously need to expand your horizon and find effective and proven supplements. ZMA is one of these products.
When it comes to fitness supplementation, there are lots of products that most often pop to mind. You’ve got protein powders that help you consume more protein easily. You’ve got creatine, which enhances your muscle-building efforts in a safe way. You’ve got pre-workout supplements that enhance your performance.
There are many other examples, but you get the point.
Now, ZMA is a lesser-known supplement, but it is steadily gaining popularity, and for a good reason:
But what is ZMA? This is a combination of Zinc monomethionine aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate, and Vitamin B6. All three ingredients are crucial for many biological processes and statistics show that most people don’t cover the required intake with their normal diets.
The adequate intake of the essential vitamins and minerals is crucial for optimal performance, better results in the gym and better overall health. ZMA is the best way to supplement with zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.
Zinc is an essential mineral that has been shown to increase testosterone levels in people who have a zinc deficiency. Furthermore, zinc is a crucial player for proper enzyme and immune system function and hormonal production.
In high enough doses, Zinc can act as an aromatase inhibitor and reduce estrogen levels in men. Aside from that, this mineral is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to help with prostate issues.
Zinc is lost through sweat which is yet another important reason to supplement with it if you’re interested in improving your gym results.
Magnesium deficiency is the second most common one, next to vitamin D. This often leads to high blood pressure and reduces glucose tolerance.
Optimal levels of magnesium have been shown to help with depression and ADHD.
Lastly, vitamin B6 has been shown to help with proper brain development and function. Research suggests that vitamin B6 deficiency can interfere with memory and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later in life.
Vitamin B6 also plays an important role in the making of important hormones such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Both of these hormones are important for mood, energy, and concentration. Serotonin, specifically, can drastically improve your mood and ward against problems such as depression, brain fog, and anxiety.
Vitamin B6 has also been shown to have a positive impact on eyesight. Research suggests that taking vitamin B6 can prevent eye disorders as we age.
Now, ZMA is not classified as a testosterone booster, but research has suggested that it can help athletes and lifters improve and maintain their testosterone, even during periods of strenuous physical activity.
Additionally, ZMA supplementation has been shown to increase strength gains and muscle mass, as well as help trainees achieve better sleep.
Some research also suggests that supplementing with zinc and magnesium decreases cortisol levels (a catabolic hormone). Triathletes who took magnesium for four weeks after a triathlon maintained healthy cortisol levels compared to a placebo group.
With summer on the horizon, it’s time to leave the winter bulk behind and jump into the warm weather ripped and ready to have some fun.
Without further ado, here are the top tips to get crazy ripped:
- Clean up your diet
The most important tip, by far, is this. Cut out most of the junk from your diet and only leave a bit here and there to treat yourself.
Instead, eat mostly whole, nutritious foods that aid in recovery, muscle maintenance, and energy levels. Switch foods like burgers, candy, and chips for better alternatives such as grains, lean meats, and vegetables.
Whole foods are generally low in calories which means that you can eat more of them and feel satisfied. On the other hand, eating mostly junk food would leave you feeling mostly hungry, not to mention the energy spikes that often leave you feeling fatigued by mid-afternoon.
Also, plan your meals ahead of time to ensure that you’re following through. For example, set aside some time on Sunday, cook everything you need for the week, put in Tupperware and you’ll have ready meals for the entire week.
2. Get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of successful fat loss. If you chronically undersleep, you’ll feel tired all the time and you’ll constantly crave junk foods. And that’s just a recipe for disaster.
Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Your body will thank you.
- Turn off electronics for 30 minutes to an hour before bed. This will help you fall asleep quicker.
- Supplement with 2-5 mg. of melatonin before bed. This is a proven product to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
- Keep your room in the 65-70 ° F (18-21 ° C) ranges and completely dark. We sleep better in cooler rooms and the darkness aids with melatonin production.
3. Eat more protein
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients, especially if your goal is to get ripped. You see, protein has a higher thermic effect which means that it takes more energy for your body to break it down. Also, protein is very satiating. Eating more of it will allow you to keep hunger at bay, which can be a big issue when getting ripped.
Last, but not least, protein is imperative for muscle maintenance during periods of caloric restriction. Simply put, if you don’t eat enough protein, you’re going to lose much more muscle mass and may end up looking skinny-fat rather than ripped to the bone.
4. Include interval training into your regimen
Show of hands:
Who here hates running on the treadmill for 45-60 minutes?
It’s tedious and boring. And when you have much better alternatives, especially as the weather is getting better, why even bother.
Instead, go to the track or in the park and do some interval running. It takes less time, it’s more fun to do and it burns just as much (if not more) calories as running on the treadmill does.
And if you’re interested in supplements that can help you along the way, we’ve got you covered. We recommend starting with the following muscle-building essentials:
If your interested in learning more about the how-to’s of building muscle, check out our free articles:
Let’s face it: packing on muscle seems simple on the outside, but it takes quite a bit of know-how and consistency to get it right.
I mean, eat big and train hard sounds like good advice, but what the hell does it mean?
“Eat big” can mean a thousand different things for different people, there’s nothing specific or actionable about it.
Same with “train hard”. You hear it and get motivated to hit the gym, but how do you quantify “hard”, anyway?
Today, we’ll go in much more detail and review some proven ways to build muscle faster:
1. Train muscles more often
It used to be common knowledge that to build muscle, all you needed to do was follow a bro split and eat a lot of food. However, as more and more research piles on, we’ve come to the understanding that you neither need to eat as much as you think nor should you follow the typical bro-split.
You see, with most bro-splits, the big issue is that you only get to train a muscle once per week. There are two big issues with that:
a)You need to cram a lot of training volume in each workout
Training volume (which we can measure in hard sets) is a key driver for muscle growth. Doing more naturally leads to better results, to a point. Say, for example, that you do 18 working sets for your back each week. If you are to do all of that volume in one workout, you’d accumulate a lot of fatigue in your back and as the workout progresses, your performance will continuously drop. This would lead to less total work being done.
Now, if you were to split these 18 total sets into two sessions, you’d be able to do even more work and the same number of sets without getting as fatigued. This would lead to faster muscle growth.
b)You are missing opportunities to stimulate your muscles
When you train, muscle protein synthesis is usually elevated for up to 36 hours and it takes your muscles roughly 48 hours to fully recover. Now, if you train a given muscle once every 7 days, you are leaving much more time for recovery than your body really needs.
These extra days can be used to attack the different muscles again, cause more damage and stimulate more growth.
2. Train harder
If you’ve spent some time in the gym, you’ve probably noticed a common trend:
People don’t train hard. In most cases, they put more emphasis on socializing, browsing through their phones or doing half-hearted sets.
In life, as well as in training, you get what you give. You reap what you sow. You might think that you’re training hard enough, but be honest with yourself: are you, really?
Do any of your sets feel so difficult that you’re anxious to begin them? Do you ever train a muscle so hard that it burns like hell? Have you ever genuinely pushed harder than you thought you could?
Be honest with yourself. If you can’t honestly say that you’re training hard enough, start putting more effort into your workouts.
3. Time your rest periods
There is a delicate balance between resting just enough and resting too much. You need to be conscious of that and time your resting periods closely. This point directly ties in with the above one, because you might be putting a good amount of effort in each individual set, but if you’re resting too much between them, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
On the other hand, not resting enough is also bad because it hinders your performance on each subsequent set and decreases the total work that you do.
Here are some general guidelines for resting periods:
- For sets where you do 1-6 repetitions, rest between 3 and 5 minutes.
- For sets where you do 6-12 repetitions, rest between 1.5 and 3 minutes.
- For sets where you do 12-20 repetitions, rest for 60-90 seconds max.
4. Vary exercises every so often to keep things interesting
One very important aspect of effective training is enjoyability. Simply put, doing the same exercises over and over again is effective, but gets stale after a while. That leads to boring workouts, lack of motivation and less effort being put into them.
To counter that, you should regularly rotate most of the exercises you do. A good guideline is to switch them every 4-6 weeks. Have 5-8 exercises for each muscle group and regularly switch between them.
This allows you to keep the novelty factor into your training and enjoy your workouts more.
Furthermore, there is a theory that your body adapts to given exercises over time and further progress becomes more difficult. By changing the exercises, you modify the stress response and this can lead to faster muscle growth.
5. Eat enough food and protein
While training is very important for building muscle, nutrition is another crucial factor. Simply put, even if you’re doing everything correctly with your training, you still might get suboptimal results due to bad nutrition.
First, you need to establish a caloric surplus for muscle growth. It ensures that your body has adequate energy to repair itself and grow stronger. A good way to know that you’re eating in a caloric surplus is if you are steadily gaining body weight.
Second, you need to eat enough protein. Aside from adequate energy (in the form of calories), getting enough protein is the other piece of the puzzle. Protein provides the building blocks that your body needs to repair muscle tissue and make it bigger. Simply put, you might eat enough calories and gain weight over time, but if there’s little or no protein in your diet, your body won’t be able to synthesize muscle mass.
A good rule of thumb is to eat roughly 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you currently weigh 190 lbs, aim for 190 grams of protein daily.