HARDGAINERS’ ARSENAL FOR PACKING ON MUSCLE MASS

This article is dedicated to the ‘hardgainers’. You know those guys who cannot get any muscle size no matter how much they eat, no matter what they do. I have 10 tips that can help.
As always, see your primary healthcare provider before starting any fitness regimen. This site and the advice given here does not replace sound medical advice or opinion. Now the list.

1) 60 Minutes or less. Keeping your training under an hour will defeat the killer of many hypertrophic hopes and dreams- you guessed it, overtraining. Overtraining is a killer. Destroyer of gains due to overzealousness. Keeping your training under 60 minutes is a sure way to make overtraining irrelevant to you.
2) Become a member of the ‘Clean Your Plate Club’. Yes… eating has everything to do with building muscle mass. No matter what you eat, for the hardgainer- eating is and should be a habit. Without those extra calories, how will you gain that extra muscle mass you long after?
3) Stop relying on supplements. We all know that suplements are great. Supplements get the job done in ways that you couldn’t on your own. In this case, however, lay off most (not all) supplements. It’s a safe bet to only focus on supplements that will help with your gains (more on that later).
4) Take it Easy. Aside from this being a truism of life, this shuld be a goal for those of you seeking to put on muscle mass. Cutting out stress triggers (situations, people) will help your central nervous system do its job better and more effectively.

5) Overload on Calories. For the hardgainer, caloric intake is the name of the game. In fact, it is something that will dominate this article (as it dominates the hardgainer’s thoughts). Eat, eat, eat some more.
6) Think Progress. As mentioned above, your workouts should really be under an hour if even that. The main thing is to make sure you are progressing at a workout.
Now some things will work for a while and you may see some results. But if you want to gain weight, you’re better off focusing on progressing in either the number of reps or an increase in weight lifted within your main program.
7) Rep Range: The Right Mix! Keep the rep range between 6-8 repetitions. Outside of that, you risk overtraining (that will decimate any gains you have made).

8) Use a Mass Gainer. Remember me saying earlier about how most supps are not to be relied upon? This is why. You have mass gainers that are made just for increasing appetite or simply packing on extra pounds. Mass gainers are fantastic for hardgainers because it will slow metabolism somewhat. Metabolism is the hardgainer’s ‘frenemy’.

9) Hit the Buffet. Once a week…. hit a buffet line. Load it up, eat, eat and eat some more. Besides, buffets are cheap and you can eat all you want.

10) Slow it Down! Lastly, is a concept powerlifters and strength athletes have been using for the longest. Slow the pace of your reps down and use frequent breaks in your sets. Also you need to focus on the big presses ( e.g. bench press and squats). The concept of slowing your rep pace down will have an effect of building big muscle, just not lean muscle. The breaks will give the muscle time to grow. Visualization is another great trick you need in your ‘gainer arsenal’.

In closing, the hardgainer has the metabolism the rest of us want. The rade-off for the hard gainer… a great metabolism, but he cant gain muscle weight/size/mass for anything. These tips will get the hardgainer on the road to mass and strength, just as he has dreamt of.

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15 Ways for Success with Your Fitness Regimen

How many of you have kept with your New Year’s pledge to lose weight, perhaps turn your life around? If you’ve fallen off track, that’s no big deal (over 85% of Americans break their New Year’s pledges in under 45 days). In case any of you all need a refresher, or a plan to get over the hump (or just to stay the course), here is my list of 15 ways to have success with any fitness regimen. This is by no means a comprehensive list… but hopefully it will work for you. There is no shortcut to ideal health (whatever that is for you), no magic pill that lets you hit your five-a-day target and no single exercise that gives you a shredded physique in minutes. It takes time, hard work and an educated approach to get in shape and stay in shape. Following these tips will make your fitness quest (and life) a whole lot easier.

1. Prepping for Success
The better path to a sound diet is found by using your weekends wisely. Use the extra time you have on your weekends to make large batches of healthy meals that you can portion up to cover at least a couple of midweek lunches and dinners, avoiding the certain death of your fitness goals via fast food.

2. Mix Up Your Exercise

Variety is – cliché alert! – the spice of life, and many sports and activities support each other in ways you won’t realise until you try it. For example, strength training for your legs and core will make you a better runner, while those addicted to dumbbells will find Pilates works muscles they’d never even considered.

3. Calibrate Your Fitness Technology
If you invest in a fitness tracker, don’t just sit back and assume that following the preset targets will lead you to glory. Adjust the steps, active minutes and calorie targets regularly to build on your progress, or make them more realistic if you never get close and have started to ignore them. If you don’t engage with your fitness tech, you’ll quickly discard it.

4. Add In Extra Activity
This one of the oldest tricks in the book: take the stairs not the escalator, or get off the bus a stop early and walk. Any activity is better than none, and will only encourage you to do more. And if you really want to up the ante, try sprinting up the stairs (safely) each time you take them – clinical studies found that short bursts of high-intensity stair-climbing can make a significant difference to your cardiorespiratory fitness.

5. Keep Tabs On Your Visceral Fat

You can be skinny on the outside (at least your arms and legs), but fat on the inside. Visceral fat is the type that builds up around your organs and often results in a pot belly. It’s linked with heart disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Check your waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) to see if you’re at risk. Grab a piece of string and use it to measure your height, then halve it. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, get exercising – visceral fat is the first type to go when you start a health regimen.

6. Value Your Rest Days
When you start on a fitness kick, it’s tempting to exercise every day while motivation is high. This is a bad move, and one that may see your motivation flame out within weeks, because you’re always exhausted and won’t see the massive improvements you expect for your efforts. Why? You’re not giving your muscles the time and rest they need to recover and grow.

7. Up The Intensity If You’re Short On Time
Health and wellness experts still promote the 150 minutes of moderate activity a week minimum, but now offer an alternative option of 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. That’s running or singles tennis, for example, rather than cycling or walking, which count as moderate. You can also mix the two, so 60 minutes of vigorous cardio plus 30 of moderate will do the trick also. Bear in mind the guidelines also demand strength exercises on two or more days a week alongside your aerobic activity.

8. Treat Your Body Right
Nothing derails a health kick as quickly as injury, as many serious injuries will start out as small ones- you may think it’s OK to push through. Scaling back the intensity for a few days is better than having to shut it down for a few months. If you have an urgent desire to hit the gym, target a different part of the body from the one that’s bothering you.

9. The Drive for Five
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be at the cornerstone of your healthy diet plan. What’s not wise is getting in a rut and eating the same five every day, because different types of fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals. A good way to vary your five-a-day is to eat different colors, as the hue is a decent indication of the nutrients they contain.

10. Don’t Undervalue Your Sleep
There is tendency for people who sleep very little to brag about it, as if it’s an indication of their commitment to life. However, getting the full seven to eight hours is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides the energy for your exercise and even influences dietary choices – a 2016 study found that in the day following a night of limited sleep, people ate an extra 385 calories on average. You don’t snooze, you lose.

11. Increase Your Cadence On Your Runs
If you are consistently picking up injuries when running, one change it’s definitely worth trying is to up your rate of strides per minute (your cadence). If you overstrike, thus taking fewer steps, you put extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. Try and take more steps, which means your feet will land more beneath your body, reducing the impact on your joints.

12. Give It Your All or Turn It Loose
The first time you try an exercise it’s very hard, but at least quite novel. The second time the novelty is gone, and it’s still hard, leading to the temptation to quit. Try it at least once more, as the third time is often the charm – when a sport or workout starts to become as enjoyable as it is tough.

13. Count Reps Backwards
This is a mental trick that might make resistance workouts a little easier. Counting down the reps means by the time it’s really hurting you’re at the 3,2,1 stage, which feels closer to the end than 8,9,10 or whatever target you’re going for. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

14. Make Full Use Of Your Street Furniture
Exercising outdoors is a great way to ensure you get your hit of vitamin D (if it’s sunny) as well as a good workout, and it doesn’t have to be all cardio. As well as the exercise machines that litter many parks, you can nearly always finds a bar or ledge for pull-ups, or a bench or wall to do dips on. Rarer treats can even include chains to use as ersatz TRX ropes.

15. Record Stats and Progress

 

Nothing builds motivation as efficiently as seeing signs of improvement, so make sure you keep some kind of record of your activity. It can be as simple as noting your record five-rep max or fastest 5K time, using either one of the many excellent fitness apps available or old-fashioned pen and paper.
In closing, these tips and tricks will help in your fitness goals. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a fundamental building block in fitness and in life. Knowledge (alongside hard work and dedication) is the most essential of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!

Controlling Anxiety Without Meds

Anxiety is real. In America today, according to the National Institutes of Health, anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). Anxiety is a contributing factor of many health disorders (high blood pressure, obesity, heart attacks, mental fatigue). Many Americans are on medications for these disorders (that is/can be a case of the cure being worse than the disease). A viable alternative to risky prescription medication is a natural or holistic approach to treating anxiety.

Here are 6 tips for managing anxiety naturally:

1. Maintain Stable Blood Sugar

 

“It isn’t disrespectful to the complexity of existence to point out that despair is, often, just low blood sugar and exhaustion.” – Alain de Botton
The American diet promotes a blood sugar roller coaster, and every time we’re on the ride down, we can feel anxious.
When our blood sugar crashes, our body responds with a stress response. We secrete stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which tell our liver to make more blood sugar to keep us alive. The good news: We stay alive. The bad news: This hormonal stress response feels identical to anxiety.
By stabilizing blood sugar, you can avoid this stress response and decrease your anxiety.
Here’s how to maintain stable blood sugar:

Eat more protein and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, coconut oil, butter and ghee from pasture-raised animals).
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks daily; don’t skip meals.
Take a spoonful of coconut oil upon waking, in the afternoon and right before bed; this will serve as a blood sugar safety net throughout the day.
Always have a snack handy (e.g., nuts, hard-boiled egg, dark chocolate, almond butter or jerky).

2. Get Off Caffeine (for a while)

Don’t underestimate the relationship between caffeine and anxiety.
Think of it like this: When we’re caffeinated, our nervous system is ready for a fight. Introduce a stressor- you are on Defcon 5 regarding anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, do yourself a favor and get off caffeine!!!!
I know, I know, the idea of going off caffeine might be giving you anxiety right now. If you reduce your intake gradually (coffee -> half-caf -> black tea -> green tea -> herbal tea) over the course of a week or two, you’ll avoid withdrawal symptoms. After a few weeks, you may be surprised to see that your anxiety has decreased, your sleep has improved, your energy is stabilized, and you even tolerate stress better.
If you had a successful trial off caffeine, but you want to go back to having that morning ritual, consider making green tea your go-to beverage, rather than a “Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte.”
3. Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is your best bet against anxiety.
There’s a 2-way street between anxiety and sleep–anxiety causes insomnia and sleep deprivation makes us vulnerable to anxiety.
The best way to address this is to set ourselves up for better sleep. Conveniently, the way to do this overlaps with the overall approach to anxiety.

Here’s how:
Reduce or eliminate caffeine
Even if you have no trouble falling asleep, caffeine decreases sleep quality.
Maintain stable blood sugar
Blood sugar fluctuations disrupt your sleep, causing middle of the night awakening.
Be strategic about light:
Let your eyes see bright light in the morning and dim light at night.
If your room isn’t completely dark when you sleep, wear an eye mask or get blackout curtains.
Wind down and unplug before bed

4. Treat the Gut

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the recent articles about the relationship between gut flora and mood.
The bugs in our digestive tract have a profound impact on how we feel and play an integral role in anxiety disorders.
Here’s how to promote healthy gut flora and heal the gut:
Avoid what irritates the gut:
Food: Gluten, sugar, industrial vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, alcohol.
Certain medications: Antacids, antibiotics, oral contraceptives (only make changes under close supervision from your doctor).
Add in what soothes the gut:
Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, miso paste, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, kefir (if you tolerate dairy).
Starchy tubers: Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, plantain, taro, yucca.
Bone broth:
Purchase Wise Choice Market Bone Broth.
Make your own bone broth.
Supplements:
Take a probiotic.

Consider supplementing with glutamine and collagen.
Create the conditions for the gut to heal:
Squatty Potty can be life-changing.
Get enough sleep.
Manage stress with yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, unplugging, acupuncture, being in nature.
Treat gut infections. If you suspect you may have a chronic gut infection, get evaluated by an integrative or functional medicine practitioner.
5. Exercise

 

Exercise is the best anti-anxiety medicine.
If you struggle to exercise regularly, forget the boot camps and triathlons. Get in the habit of mini workouts. Do small amounts of exercise in your living room or take a brief walk outside. Sustainability is key.
In general, stand more, sit less, walk whenever possible, and treat your body right with exercise.
Yoga and Tai Qi are particularly beneficial for anxiety, but the most important thing is to find something you enjoy.
6. Magnesium

Magnesium: Nature’s Xanax

 

Many of us are deficient in magnesium, since our food is grown in magnesium-depleted soil.
You can supplement with magnesium in a few different ways:
Take an Epsom salt bath.
Take a chelated magnesium supplement (e.g., magnesium glycinate).
Try a topical magnesium gel.

Anxiety has a significant impact on quality of life. Maintaining stable blood sugar, reducing caffeine, getting enough sleep, healing the gut, getting some exercise and filling the body with magnesium are safe tactics that go a long way toward reducing anxiety. If your anxiety does not respond to these lifestyle hacks, go see your healthcare provider.
In closing, you only have one life. Life is too short to let it slip away in anxiety and fear.
Living life free from anxiety is another way THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

8 Habits of Successful People

These days, we all read about the successful ones- entrepreneurs, trust fund babies, athletes, entertainers and the like. Regardless of how they started out, I can guarantee you most of them had some difficulty climbing that ladder of success, with some overcoming extreme difficulties (cultural, internal and others) to get to where they are today. This list is nowhere near comprehensive, but it should prove useful as a starting point (or to at least jog your memory).

NOTE: This article (and this site) is no substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider for all things health/wellness related.

  1. Keep it Moving. Constant movement, especially exercise, keeps the feel-good endorphins pumping, which keeps you pumping on the uptick.
  2. Think! Deep thought and meditation works wonders.Take a few minutes and reset, set your mind at ease.
  3. Eat! Hydrate! Eating and hydrating within the first hour of wakefulness lends to you being less stressed, more focused and yes, more productive throughout the day.
  4. Fake It Til You Make It. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it does work- you’re laying the foundation in your heart of hearts. The words you use create your reality. Throughout history, various faiths attest to this tactic.
  5. Create a routine. We all have (and cultivate) habits over time. This is your chance to make a positive impact on your life.
  6. Expect Excellence. From yourself. If you really get down to the bare bones of it all, your expectation of yourself should supersede the expectations you have of others. Basically focus on nothing other than yourself. There’s no shame in it.
  7. Work Your @$$ Off. Without this, everything else is a waste of time. Having a work ethic, hard work… sets the table for everything else. Having this foundation makes success possible. Hard work and keeping your vision in front of you at all times will usher you into the place in life you’ve always wanted to be.
  8. Attitude. It’s really not about having “the right attitude” (whatever that is). It’s about having an emboldened sense of being, a healthy self-image and a thirst for success. Something that this world cannot tame, quench or stop in any way. The dreams and visions take time to be established, so throw in some patience and a KILLER INSTINCT to the mix as well.

I hope you all take this to heart, even if it’s just a passing fancy. From time to time, we all need to self-evaluate and reinvent ourselves.

THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

Meal Planner Sample

HACK

In all my time writing, lifting and working out, I have always placed a heavy emphasis on knowledge. Knowing how a thing came to be is big for me to understanding the true value of an exercise. In this fitness game we all love, there are several iconic exercises that come to mind, especially for you lifters out there:
Bench Press. Coined “the granddaddy of all weight training exercises”, this venerable exercise started out in the early 20th century as a floor exercise by Russian-British athlete George Hackenschmidt (who benched 315 the first time he did the exercise).
Hack Squat. Not nearly as popular, but just as effective, this was also invented by Hackenshmidt (the name Hack was obviously a play on his name).
Note: This article is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider for all help with fitness regimens and diet.
I thought that this would be a bit of a fun history piece on an icon of nt only sports, but fitness as well. George Hackenschmidt (1877-1968) was a Russian-British athlete, author and vegetarian advocate. In his lifetime, he participated in over 3000 wrestling matches and was involved in probably the most iconic wrestling rivalry ever: Hackenschmidt/Gotch. He was billed as the first “World’s Heavyweight Champion” and was credited with inventing the Bear Hug (a wrestling hold). He was a writer of some note, penning several books such as “Fitness and Your Self”(1937), “The Complete Science of Wrestling” (1909) amongst others. He was also a strict vegetarian (and an advocate of the lifestyle) with a strict diet limited to fruit, nuts and vegetables. He drank 11 pints of milk per day, avoided smoking and caffeine.
Aside from the history tidbit, I have provided a pretty good video you can watch on Hackenschmidt (SHOUT-OUT TO NICK’S STRENGTH AND POWER for the inspiration), plus a short biography on him.
In closing, I can truly say that being knowledgeable is a big part of the basics. Knowledge, being studious and acting on the knowledge are also part of the basics.
THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

RESOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George/Hackenschmidt