This week we will expand on certain topics that many beginners to the world of bodybuilding may have questions on, as well as some issues that I feel need to be addressed.
Are you a beginner and have questions or topics you'd like to see covered? Email me at TankSergeant@military.com!
Well it's that time of the year again! The time when most of us waist an extra five hours at the gym every day waiting on machines and equipment because all the gyms are overcrowded with people who swear that THIS TIME they'll get the weight off and stay fit, by golly! Gym owners and personal trainers love this time of year because of the revenue brought in by new members. The thing is what is so special about this time of the year that makes people want to get in shape now, vs. say starting a "Mid-Year Resolution" in June?
Diane Fields summed it up best when she stated that "Weight loss goals are not achieved when pinned to a date on a calendar, but rather through the adoption of sound nutrition, cardiovascular exercise and progressive resistance training as daily elements of a fit life." Key words being "daily elements of a fit life." For more information on this topic, click here!
Check out the amazing New Year's Guide, click here!
This is a topic that burns me to know end. And from other articles I've been reading by my fellow Bodybuilding.com writers, a lot of us feel the same way. Society has gotten lazy, and we're always looking for the "quick fix." The sad thing is, most people spend more time and money on the latest infomercial gadgets than they would if they just stuck with the basics of fitness.
I compare infomercials that promise the body of your dreams with little to no effort with all those "work at home" and "get rich quick" scams. Nothing in life worth having comes easy, and that especially applies to physical fitness. The are no secrets here, and no "wonder gadget" or "magic pill" is going to give you the body you desire "in just three minutes a day." Believe me, those people with the amazing bodies in the infomercials did not get that way in just three minutes a day!
There is a lot of misleading information in regards to "before and after" as well as the time it should take to attain the body you desire. Sadly, even legitimate supplement companies mislead consumers when it comes to their "before and after" advertisements. "Joe Snuffy lost 60 pounds of fat and gained 25 pounds of muscle in just 12 weeks!" If you read the fine print at the bottom of each add (you may need a magnifying glass to see it) it will almost always say, "Results not typical." The time and effort required to achieve our goals is different for each of us, and is based a lot on genetics.
Joe Snuffy may actually have lost 60 pounds of fat and gained 25 pounds of muscle in 12 weeks, however it may take John Doe nine months to achieve the same results. Take all advertised timelines with a grain of salt, and focus only on YOUR progress and results. And exercise patience. Also remember that life may through you little setbacks along the way. The key is being able to bounce back from these and still press on towards your goals. As long as you continue to progress in the right direction, don't sweat it if it takes you nine months vs. three in order to achieve the same results as someone else. If anything, be thankful for the time and effort you put into it, as it will make you appreciate your new body that much more.
When it comes to spending your hard-earned dollars, the area you need to exercise the most caution on is a personal trainer. The things to look at are 1) the physical appearance of the personal trainer. Does this individual truly lead by example, and have the type of body you'd like to emulate? 2) Try and get a feel for the trainer's personal ethics. Is he/she truly interested in helping people, or are they simply looking at making as much money as they can off people? 3) Are they of a similar body type, with similar goals as you? 4) Cost.
Are they really giving you that much more information for your money, or would you be better off keeping the $40 per session, and finding the information yourself on say Bodybuilding.com?
Learn more about personal trainers, click here!
Motivation is a very personal issue, and is different for every one of us. Some things to remember when you look at the source of your motivation are 1) Is it based on a real desire to make a positive change to your body, or is it simply based around something superficial like a New Year's Resolution? 2) Is it motivation that will stand the test of time? Many people start working out because they want to look more appealing to the opposite sex. There is nothing wrong with this, however what happens when one achieves their goal, and finds a significant other? All too often we stop working out and let our bodies go, once we've found that special person in our lives. Simply ask yourself, "can I stay motivated once I've found the man/woman of my dreams?"
Learn more about Motivation, click here!
For most beginners, there is little to no need to go crazy when it comes to supplementation. To keep things as simple as possible, I have broken down supplements into two categories, Required and Optional.
Required supplements are those necessary to maintain bodily function and general health while maintaining a regular exercise regime.
- Multivitamin: first and foremost, get yourself on a multivitamin. When exercising, your body excretes vitamins and minerals through sweat. Taking a multivitamin every day will help keep your body from getting depleted.
- Glutamine: Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid, produced by the body. Recently it has been shown to have many health uses. For bodybuilders, it is vital for preventing muscle breakdown, and speeding up recovery times. Your body depletes its stores of glutamine when exercising, and supplementation helps prevent those levels from getting too low. The nice thing about glutamine is that it is extremely cost effective, and you only need to take a minimal amount every day.
- Protein: Protein is the building blocks of the body. Regardless of your goals, be it muscle gain, fat loss or both, anyone on a regular exercise regime needs to increase their protein intake. The reason for this is that no matter what type of exercise you are performing, your muscles break down to one degree or another. The amount of protein consumed depends on your individual goals. For a person trying to gain muscle mass, it has been generally agreed upon that .8 to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight is ideal. Though no real studies have been conducted on how much protein someone simply trying to lose bodyfat should take, taking one to two extra servings of protein a day will help maintain lean muscle.
Optional supplements are those that may help you attain your goals, however they are by no means necessary. Many have conflicting research reports, so it is best to experiment and see what actually works for you. Also read the warning labels thoroughly before taking any kind of supplement.
- Thermogenics: Thermogenics, otherwise known as "fat burners" are an effective way to help one burn excess bodyfat, though they are by no means a "magic pill" that will make you lose weight without having to exercise. Two of the most popular thermogenics are MuscleTech's Hydroxycut and Cytodyne's Xenadrine. For those of you who are leery of ephedrine-based products, there are a number of stimulant-free thermogenics available. Regardless of which you choose, read the warning labels carefully. If you have any kind of thyroid issues, you cannot take thermogenics.
- Creatine: One of the biggest breakthroughs in bodybuilding is creatine. It has been proven to help with volumizing muscle cells, allowing for bigger gains. If you are on a budget, don't sweat having to buy creatine. Though it is a very effective product, it is by no means necessary. Its only drawback is that it makes the body retain water, which is good for muscle development, however it can lead to bloating. If this happens to you, cycle off it for a while.
Learn more about supplementation, click here!
What Has Worked for Me ///
I don't care for New Year's Resolutions. In fact I think that they are a joke. However if you are going to make them, make sure that they are resolutions you could just as easily have made in July, or October for that matter.
Again, this is a very sore subject for me. What I don't understand is that the FDA is suing the makers of those ab belts because they don't work, yet I STILL see infomercials for them! I think we all need a big wake up call, and need to realize that there are no wonder gadgets or magic pills that are going to give us the body we desire. Only proper diet and exercise will do that. So to all the couch potatoes out there looking for the easy way out I say, "Save your money and get to the gym!"
This has probably been the hardest for me to deal with. When I first started bodybuilding, I thought that I too could have the body I desired in 12 weeks or less. I didn't take into consideration my poor genetics, nor that I would undergo two major surgeries in one year. What I've had to do is be flexible with my timelines, and always stay focused on the final goal. My personal goal is to drop down to 8% bodyfat, while keeping my weight over 200 pounds.
What has worked for me is that I break it down into smaller goals and work towards those one at a time. Example: During the spring and summer I had cut my bodyfat from 22% to 12% before hitting a minor plateau. It was during this time that I had double-hernia surgery and went back up to 18% bodyfat. My current goal is to get back down to 12% before I focus on anything else. I may then focus on adding mass, or I may continue on and try and cut to 8%.
My own observations and experiences with personal trainers have for the most part been quite ugly. It is unfortunate, because there are a lot of trainers out there who are in it for the right reasons, and desire to pass on information and help their clients attain results. All too often though, I see trainers whose sole purpose is to leach their clients for as much money as they can, trying to get as many sessions as possible out of them (at $40 an hour no less!), until most of the time the clients burn out and quit because they are not seeing the results that they hoped they would.
What's worse is that I've witnessed trainers who had no idea as to what they were doing. All too often they have their clients work out with too little or too much weight. One incident involved a male trainer teaching bench press to an overweight female client. He made her start with way too much weight, and the poor woman was damn near in tears trying to squeeze out three repetitions! Needless to say, I was appalled. I've also seen trainers who themselves show anything but signs of good health.
I mean would you go to a dentist that had bad teeth? Trainers should first and foremost lead by example. I also believe that men should not train women and vice versa. The reason for this is that male and female bodies are drastically different. I learned this lesson the hard way. I'm not saying don't use a personal trainer, however I am saying that you should exercise EXTREME caution when choosing one.
I admit that my own motivation stemmed from wanting to appeal to women. This is very common. Once I found a woman who liked and wanted to be with me because of who I am, I admit that I slacked off on working out for a while. I then came to realize that bodybuilding for me was a goal in and of itself. I didn't just want to look good, all the other benefits that came with living the lifestyle still appealed to me. My girlfriend and I help each other's motivation, and tackle this as a team. Like I said, motivation is a personal issue, and no one can tell you what your motivation should be. Whatever it is that drives you to succeed, channel it and hold on to it!
I have done a lot of experimenting in this area. I take a multivitamin, one serving of glutamine, and several extra servings of protein each day. I choose not to take creatine, because I feel bloated when I take it. However I certainly do not discourage people from using it. I also take a thermogenic, namely Hydroxycut, which has helped me trim my bodyfat levels. I've been experimenting with anabolic enhancers, and I have to say that the jury is still out on those. I'll keep you all posted on what I find.