Hard Gainer FAQ
| Eating/Diet | Glutamine
| Creatine | Recovery
| Exercises | Carbs |
Training | Protein
| Over training | Gains
| Getting past plateaus | Kids
& Bodybuilding | Muscle Anatomy Chart
| Bodybuilding Contest FAQ
Building Muscle - So you want to pack on a few
pounds of lean muscle mass? Before you embark on your quest for
muscularity you need to remember a few key facts as they are the
foundation for any muscle building program: Diet, Exercises, and
Recovery. First lets take a look at diet and food nutrition, because
without it your body simply will not grow...EAT, EAT, EAT !- First
off try to Include as much variety in your diet as you possibly
can. It's recommended you consume five to six medium size meals
during the day rather than two or three big ones. Try to Include
a large amount of high quality protein in your diet and cut out
as much animal fat as possible. Also, the lighter you cook your
foods, the more nutrients will be retained. Its is also key to consume
lots of natural carbs found in grains, breads, fruits and veggies.
Multivitamin-multimineral supplements are also very important as
they contain digestive enzymes (this will aid in protein synthesis).
Avoid junk food and empty calories(sugar). Try to stay away from
soda and beer as they are packed with empty calories. Whatever you
do don't miss meals! Missing meals puts your body in a fat-storing
mode. Don't add extra sodium (salt) to your food. Avoid excessive
alcohol. Recent studies confirm that a glass of red wine a day is
good for you because of the flavanoids, but avoid drinking excessively!
Don't hesitate to splurge or treat yourself to a huge meal every
now and then, just don't make it a habit.
Most bodybuilders will agree that eating every 2 hours or so will give your body "balance", and by being consistent your digestive system and muscles will love you for it.
Here's an example six meal day:
· 8AM - : Eggs, whole grain toast, half a cantaloupe, one or two glasses of skim milk, and a multipack of vitamins & minerals. An excellent way to start the day.
· 10AM - :Yogurt (digestive enzymes), fruit, slice of whole grain bread
· 1PM - : Baked potato, broiled fish, steamed green veggies, one or two glasses of skim milk
· 4PM - : Tuna fish sandwich, a scoop of nonfat cottage cheese, a piece of fruit
· 7PM - : skinned, broiled chicken breast, brown rice, a green or yellow veggie or a large salad, glass of milk
· 10PM - : Protein shake before bed.
Take a look at the charts below, they are designed to give you anidea of what your target intake of protein, carbs, and fat should be as they relate to your specific goal:
Protein - Proteins are the basic building blocks of life. Protein, and only protein, provides your body with the amino acids it needs to build, repair and rebuild muscles. Protein also provides the necessary components to keep your immune system healthy, make hormones, enzymes, skin, hair, nails, organs and blood.
Throughout history, whey protein has been used to soothe burns, to inspire vitality and to cure various illnesses including jaundice, infected lesions of skin, gonorrhea, epilepsy, and more. Today, science is proving the power of whey to be far greater. From being a great foundation for building strong, lean muscles and healthy bones, to lowering cholesterol and assisting in cancer prevention, whey protein can make a difference in every stage of life. What is Whey protein? Whey is a byproduct of cheese making that contains vitamins, minerals, protein, lactose and traces of milk fat. Most commercial whey supplements are derived from cow’s milk, which is comprised of 6.25% protein: 20% in the form of whey. Whey protein supplements utilize the concentrated protein, eliminating the lactose and milk fat. Whey is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential and nonessential amino acids, which are vital to your metabolism, and to making your body function properly for good health.
How much do I need? Several factors play critical roles in how much protein your body needs. Age, size (height and weight), metabolic rate, exercise level, stress factors (work, health status, viral or bacterial infection), your amount of sleep, and the quality and quantity of foods you eat, all play a role in determining your protein requirements. Extensive research into human metabolic rates and how they are affected by age, activity and stress have been prepared over the last decade by leading physicians in hospital settings. See the table below for estimates of your protein requirements based on your personal lifestyle/training goals.
If you are serious about building muscle, then it is imperative that you consume enough protein to support new growth, otherwise you’re not taking full advantage of your workouts. A person weighing 200lbs. would have to consume roughly 260 grams of protein throughout the day, that’s a lot of food, but every body builder will agree that if you want to be big you need to eat big.Now, I know that 260 grams of protein seems like a lot, but if you eat 6 meals a day it is actually easy to break up and consume.
For some of us it’s hard to find enough time in the day to eat that much and this is where protein shakes come in handy. You can easily use shakes to make up for the protein that you were unable to intake just by eating regular foods, plus they’re good for a few additional vitamins and minerals. Typically a 16oz. shake will contain roughly 50g. of protein is mixed with milk. I highly recommend Designer Whey brand of protein shakes. Their protein is known to be the best on the market when it comes to quality and purity. When making shakes I recommend trying to add fruits in the mix, strawberry, kiwi, and bananas will definitely make them more taste bud friendly.
Now that you know how much protein you need I bet you’re wondering what foods are highest in it? Click here and check out the Nutritional Values menu and see just how much protein is in your favorite foods.
Carbohydrates - Getting enough calories is important, but so is getting the right kind of calories. Carbohydrate, stored in the body as glycogen, is the predominant energy source for muscle-building exercise. The harder and longer you work out, the more glycogen your muscles require.
Once your muscles are depleted of glycogen, you have no more energy to continue your workout. There are different ways to figure out your carbohydrate needs, but the bottom line is that with at least 300 to 400 grams of carbohydrate per day, your muscles will stay packed with glycogen. One method is to base your intake on 2.8 grams per pound of body weight. About 420 grams per day or about 1,800 carbohydrate calories for a 140-pound person, and 560 grams or 2,200 carbohydrate calories for a 200-pound person. A second strategy for computing your carbohydrate needs is based on a percentage of total calories. When total energy intake is below 4,000 calories a day, getting 70% of those calories from carbohydrates will ensure the muscle power and endurance required to strength train. With a diet above 4,000 total calories a day, a lower percentage of calories can be obtained from carbohydrates, as long as you take in at least 500 to 600 grams of carbohydrate.
For middle aged persons, therapies that might restore youthful carbohydrate metabolism include 200 mcg of chromium 3 times a day, 3 to 6 grams of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and 250 to 500 mg a day of alpha-lipoic acid. All three supplements are effective in improving insulin efficiency and sensitivity. Alpha- lipoic acid is being touted as the "new insulin-mimicker" in many gyms. In several studies involving type II diabetics, alpha-lipoic acid was shown to increase the body's utilization of blood sugar. A greater uptake of blood sugar by muscles could lead to enhanced glycogen synthesis and ultimately greater gains in lean muscle.
Water - Next on the list of important elements is water. Good hydration is just as essential for strength training as it is for endurance training. Your body requires at least eight 8-ounce cups of caffeine-free, non-alcoholic fluids every day. You need to drink even more to replace fluids that are lost during exercise. Make sure you go into your workouts well hydrated by drinking 16oz. of water 2 hours before exercise. While training, drink 4 to 8 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. After exercise, replace any further fluid losses with 16 ounces of fluids. Another approach is to weigh yourself before and after exercise: Any weight lost is fluid. Replace every pound lost with at least 16 ounces of fluid. Note: If you are supplementing with Creatine, your water intake should almost be double the recommended amount.
Supplements - Creatine and L-Glutimine are the best of the best, hands down! When it comes time for body building supplementation theses two are a must. We also strongly recommend taking a daily multivitamin as it also will aid the the muscle cell regeneration process.
Creatine- Studies have shown that creatine supplements can provide additional energy for your muscles, volumize muscle cells and buffer lactic acid build-up. Creatine provides energy for your muscles. In your body you have an energy containing compound called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). What is important to know about ATP is that the body can very quickly get energy from an ATP reaction. You have other sources of energy such as carbohydrates and fat - but they take longer to convert into a useable energy source. When you are doing an intense quick burst activity such as lifting a weight or sprinting, your muscles use ATP for a quick burst of energy. In order for ATP to release its energy it must give up a phosphate molecule and become ADP (adenosine di-phosphate). Unfortunately, we do not have an endless supply of ATP. In fact, your muscles only contain enough ATP to last about 10-15 seconds at maximum exertion. Here is where the creatine comes in to play. When creatine enters the muscles it bonds with a phosphate and becomes creatine phosphate (CP). CP is able to react with the ADP in your body and turn "useless" ADP back into the "super useful" energy source - ATP. More ATP in your body means more fuel for your muscles. This is the process by which creatine provides more energy for your muscles. Volumization of your muscles- Creatine also pulls water into your muscle cells. This gives you a "pumped" look because your muscles have expanded with the increase of water that is trapped in your muscles.
Buffer lactic acid build-up We all know that terrible burning you get in your muscles when you reach the fatigue point. New research has shown that creatine can help buffer lactic acid that builds-up in the muscles during exercise.Creatine is made up of the three amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine. Our body produces creatine (it is made in the liver) and we also can get creatine from our diet. At any given time the average person has about 120 grams of creatine stored in their body.
- How much do I need? We recommend that you take about 5 grams per day. Many creatine manufacturers recommend a loading phase where you take 20 grams a day for the first 5 days - but our research indicated that it may not be necessary. Taking 5 grams a day will produce significant results without the hassle and expense of taking 20 grams a day for the first 5 days.
- Should I cycle Creatine? Recent studies published in muscle guru Joe Weider's Flex magazine reveal that, contrary to popular protocol, the best results from using a creatine supplement are attained not by "loading" and tapering, but steady introduction and "cycling".1 According to the studies published in Flex, the best way to take creatine is one to two grams with water thirty minutes before exercising, then another one to two grams an hour afterward with a fruit juice. Cycle your use of creatine six weeks using it, two weeks off; your muscle tissues fill up and after six weeks additional supplementation is wasted. I've also checked into what some of the creatine manufacturers had to say about it and 6 out of 7 recommended cycling it. Some say 3 weeks on, followed by one week off, or even 6 weeks on, followed by 2 weeks off.
Negative Effects- There is a vast amount of research that indicates that taking 5 grams of creatine a day is not dangerous to your health. While there is the need for more long term studies, new studies have shown that creatine does not have long term negative effects. On November 12, 1999 at the 19th Annual Southwest American College of Sports Medicine Meeting, two long term creatine studies were presented from the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Lab at the University of Memphis*. Both studies showed that 9 months of creatine supplementation (taking an average of 5 grams per day) in athletes had no negative effects on markers of renal function or muscle and liver enzymes in comparison to athletes not taking creatine.
L-Glutamine-Glutamine has become more prominent as new studies reveal its unique contribution to protein synthesis (muscle growth), anti-proteolytic (prevents muscle tissue breakdown) functions and growth hormone elevating effects. Glutamine provides a critical link in muscle metabolism not shared by any other single amino acid.Glutamine is the most abundant single amino acid in the blood and in the intracellular free amino acid pool (most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue). It comprises 61% of the amino acid pool in skeletal muscle. Glutamine’s unique structure, containing two nitrogen side chains, consists of 19% nitrogen - making it the primary transporter of nitrogen into the muscle cell. In fact, glutamine alone is responsible for 35% of the nitrogen that gets into the muscle cell. Glutamine literally drives muscle building nitrogen into the muscle cell where it is synthesized for growth.
Now for the exciting news - In a recent release of the prestigious
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the results of a study
on glutamine revealed that a single 2 gram oral dose of glutamine
elevated circulating growth hormone levels by over 430%! By keeping
a consistently high level of circulating growth hormone, you are
able to combat the catabolic effects of weight training, harness
the anabolic activity of increased glucose and amino acid uptake,
improve whole body nitrogen retention, and increase lean tissue
How much muscle should I expect to gain?
- Determining how much muscle you could possibly gain can be gauged by several factors. First and foremost, your genetic potential, how much you eat, what you eat, how hard you train, and your training experience all play a role in how much muscle you can expect to gain. First, your genetic potential plays a huge role in muscle gains. Some people known as hardgainers will have to try very hard to put on even a pound of muscle. And then there are those who were blessed with the genetic ability to pack on muscle with ease.
- Secondly, how much you eat also dictates how much weight you gain. If you are barely consuming enough calories to support your new growth, odds are you won't gain very much muscle at all.I worked out for close to 2 years during my early 20's and I barely put on 5lbs. I was ripped but definitely was lacking the bulk. Once I started eating A LOT, I began to notice phenomenal gains! just within the past year I have managed to pack on 21lbs of lean mass, eating is key. Make sure you count your calories and know how much you are consuming. If you have questions about the calorie count in your favorite foods, click here to take advantage of our nutritional values information. Next, what types of food you eat is very important. You could be eating 5,000 calories a day of fast food and cookies and then realize that your not making good gains. The answer is obvious, to make good gains you have to eat good food. This means getting a lot of high quality protein, complex carbohydrates, amino acids and fats. Of course how hard you train also determines what kind of progress you will be making, your muscles wouldn't grow very much without it. Training hard doesn't mean you have to be in the gym 24/7, it means going to the gym anywhere from 2-5 days a week and training the right way for your athletic type, whether it be endurance athlete bodybuilder or someone try to lose weight. Lastly, your overall experience will play a role in your muscle gains. Beginners tend to put on muscle quickly and easily, especially when coupled with an advanced diet. Then as you get more into the intermediate and advanced stages you may notice your gains start to taper down .
1 Kraemer, W. J., & Fleck, S. J. (1993). Strength Training for Young Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2 Larson, R. L., & McMahan, R. O. (1966). The Epiphyses and the Childhood Athlete. Journal of the American Medical Association, 196, 607-612. 3 Weltman, A., Janney, C., Rians, C. B., Strand, K., Berg, B., Tippitt, S., Wise, J., Cahill, B. R., & Katch, F. I. (1986). The effects of hydraulic resistance strength training in pre-pubertal males. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 18, 629-638. 4 Strength training in children and adolescents. Webb, D. R.,Pediatr Clin North Am, 37(5):1187-210 1990 Oct. 5 Pfeiffer, R. D., & Francis, R. S.. (1986). Effects of strength training of prepubescent, pubescent, and post pubescent males. Physician and Sports Medicine, 14(9), 134-143. 6 Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training. Ozmun, J. C., Mikesky, A. E., Surburg, P. R., Med Sci Sports Exerc, 26(4):510-4 1994 Apr. 7 Clapp, A. J., Murray, T. D., Walker, J. L., Rainey, D. L., Squires, W. G., & Jackson, A. S. (1995). The effect of six weeks of resistance training on isometric and isotonic strength in adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27(5), Supplement abstract 118. 8 Weight-training injuries in adolescents. Risser, W. L., Risser, J. M., Preston, D. Am J Dis Child, 144(9):1015-7 1990 Sep.