[ Q ] Clayton, I'm writing because you always give excellent advice.
Here's my situation: I'm a father with kids, and I get up at 4:30 am, 6 days a week before work to train. My routine is: I train each body part twice a week, and each workout has 20-25 minutes of cardio built-in with 45-50 minutes of weight training.
Currently, I workout on an empty stomach in the mornings and have a protein shake after I'm done my workout, along with glutamine and Oolong Tea. I'm confused: should I take more protein later in the day? And, when should I take the vitamin C and GCS?
My question is; in your opinion, what times of day should I be taking these supplements for best results?
Rochester Hills, MI
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[ A ] Thanks for your question.
From the sounds of it, you're a busy man, and organization in all areas — including supplementation — will greatly assist you in maximizing your results.
Training early morning is a great way to not only make sure that you get your workout done every day, but also to ensure that you maximize your results — provided that your supplement plan is suitable.
It's well established that testosterone levels are generally higher in the morning hours and that exercise is most beneficial for burning body fat during this time on an empty or partially full stomach.
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It's also a logical fact that working out in the morning builds more muscle because you have the rest of the day to recover and utilize almost all of your total daily protein intake for new muscle tissue when protein utilization and muscle growth rates are higher.
Obviously, however, you can only build muscle and burn fat in the morning if you first eliminate catabolism from sleep. This is best achieved by ingesting some fast-acting whey protein and BCAA's immediately upon waking and immediately prior to exercise.
Following exercise, it's important to ingest some whey protein, along with more BCAA's, specifically focusing on the amino acid L-leucine. This amino acid is critical during both the pre-workout and post-workout period and scientific research shows that L-leucine is heavily involved in anabolism and protein synthesis — more so than any other amino acid.
Dosing with vitamin C post-exercise is highly recommended. While exercise eventually builds muscle and generates oxidants while simultaneously inducing intramuscular acidosis and the secretion of chemicals like PGE2 and IL-6. Dosing with vitamin C post-workout speeds recovery and muscle growth.
When it comes to glucosamine and chondroitin, I recommend dosing with these several times daily throughout the day, with your last dose occurring several hours before bed. Joint support is important throughout the day — especially because of your ambitious exercise regimen — but is especially important before sleep when your body begins slowing down and begins allotting resources to system-wide repair. By giving your body glucosamine and chondroitin during this time, it will have what it needs during the critical repair period.
One final recommendation: consider using a milk-based protein powder or a protein powder blend for use between meals during the day and prior to bed. Milk proteins are highly anti-catabolic and provide extended amino acid coverage between feedings. Taken before bed, this will limit the duration and severity of the catabolic state overnight.
[ Q ] Hello! I am a personal trainer who just recently received my certification through NCSF. I currently work as a part-time trainer at a commercial gym. Unfortunately, I only make $7.50 out of every $50.00 session and it seems like all of the major fitness clubs are the same. What suggestions do you have so that I can bypass these clubs and pocket most or all of the cash?
[ A ] Thanks for your question — it's a good one.
Over the past 20 years a trend has emerged: small and independently run gyms have been bought out or displaced by large, commercial, corporately run exercise franchises. As a result, many gyms no longer offer the same social atmosphere they once did, as corporate profit margins have become the ultimate concern. Both the customers and people who work in these gyms feel the difference, and many wish that things were different.
I've worked in many gyms, and it's a fact that while the customer pays handsomely for the services of a qualified personal trainer, the corporation — not the trainer — pockets most of the cash. In fact, most customers would be, and often are, shocked to learn of the pricing and compensation structure at most commercial gyms. And, more and more prospective trainers are discovering the truth about this side of the industry before having to go on the inside. I have several thoughts on this issue, so I'll share them.
First, I think the payment structure for personal trainers is shocking — it stinks. I do not think that it's acceptable for a company to essentially gouge a customer while compensating trainers minimally.
I think that payment and compensation terms should reflect the value of the trainer and his or her expertise. IF a trainer is qualified and has been thoroughly tested and vetted and is shown to be a professional, he or she must be compensated accordingly.
On the other hand, I don't think that the commercial clubs are to blame. The fact is: commercial gyms exist to make money — they're commercial enterprises that operate on a for-profit basis. And, working in or with these entities is an entirely voluntary act — you choose to work there according to their terms, so if you don't want to work there because of the terms of employment or compensation, it's entirely your option to quit.
American Fitness Institute
And this brings me to the answer to what you can do: utilize the wonders of the free-market. And yes - I said "free market" because free enterprise is the only system that will make conditions better for trainers in search of a living and a profit.
It's pretty clear why commercial for-profit companies compensate trainers so poorly: because they can. Unfortunately, personal trainers are a dime-a-dozen and the industry is littered with know-nothing trainers who take weekend courses that "teach" them nothing credible.
It's the existence of these "shake and bake" trainers that hurts the entire industry by artificially inflating the number of "trainers" on the market, thereby perceptually devaluing the worth of existing trainers, and it makes it difficult to distinguish the professional from the wannabes. For every fully competent and consummately professional trainer, dozens of know-nothing title holders are pushing for their piece of the action.
Therefore, to be fairly compensated, it's up to you to distinguish yourself from the rest of the so-called trainers on the market that seek to undermine your worth and compensation potential.
This starts by first being very clear about your target client audience — who you will train, and who you will not train. Remember: specialization is the key to life, and this is true in your job, your qualifications and your customer base. Whereas poor-quality trainers will "take what they can get," professional trainers are clear about the kind of training they will and will not do.
Next, sell yourself on your unique merits — show and tell why you're the best trainer and why people are better off going to you instead of some "faceless shirt" that simply occupies a spot on the payroll of some commercial gym outfit. In other words, your goal here is to show how you're truly different than other so-called trainers — why not all trainers are equal, and why you're the best of the bunch.
As tough as this can be, just remember: if you're working for someone else and accepting a paycheck from them, you're letting them tell you how much your services are worth and you're letting them decide what kind of financial future you're going to have.
Get out there and bust your @ss — provide an excellent and unique service with something that sets you apart, and do it for the best price for your specific target customer. Do this and you'll be happy to let the "shake and bake" personal trainers battle it out for the chicken-feed. Stick to your principles and work hard, and you'll soon find that your competition won't last long.
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[ Q ] I've been researching testosterone boosting supplements, but I'm slightly afraid because I've read that these supplements can raise your testosterone levels to the point that you can lose hair. Do you have any advice on what testosterone boosting supplements are effective?
[ A ] It's a common misconception that testosterone boosting supplements boost testosterone production to supraphysiological levels — levels above the genetically maximum amount of testosterone you could produce naturally.
Commercially available testosterone boosting supplements "boost" testosterone or, more accurately, increase testosterone activity by:
- Increasing free and total testosterone
- By reducing estrogen
Many testosterone boosting supplements aim to increase your free testosterone levels by inhibiting the action of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) — a hormone that binds to metabolically active free testosterone and render it useless. Also, many of these testosterone boosting supplements stimulate your pituitary gland and increase the release of Luteinizing hormone (LH) — a hormone thought to increase free testosterone circulation.
Next, some supplements aim to increase testosterone activity by reducing estrogenic activity — either by inhibiting estrogens, or converting them into weaker estrogens that are more easily excreted from your body. It's thought that by altering the testosterone to estrogen ratio that the effects of testosterone become more pronounced.
In neither situation do your testosterone concentrations reach supraphysiological levels — only anabolic steroids bring your testosterone concentrations to supraphysiological levels — while also crippling your natural testosterone production to near zero.
The bottom line is this: you can rest easy knowing that natural supplementation won't produce the side-effects you mention.
As for supplement recommendations, two of my favorite supplements are 6-OXO and trigonella foenum-graecum. Both of these ingredients are making waves in the bodybuilding community, and while 6-OXO is without question the better-known of the two ingredients, it's only a matter of time before trigonella (also called Testofen) reaches the same height of popularity.
[ Q ] I was talking to a friend about doing steroids and he recommended the drug Primobolan. I did some research but I'm confused. What's this drug used for and what kind of results can I expect from using it?
[ A ] Primobolan — 17beta-Hydroxy-1-methyl-5alpha-andros-1-en-3-one — comes in oral or injected versions. The oral primobolan goes by the name methenolone acetate and the injected version goes by the name methenolone enanthate.
Primobolan is a mildly androgenic and anabolic steroid, and it's generally considered to be one of the safest steroids out there because it doesn't harm your liver nor does it aromatize, so estrogen concerns, water retention and gynecomastia are not really factors. However — and there is always a "however" — this drug doesn't do much for muscle building, either.
Primobolan has traditionally been used as a cutting drug by bodybuilders who are entering competition and want to produce a cut, dry, hard look. The usual dose for men using the oral version is approximately 100mg per day, with approximately 200mg per week being the dose for the injected version.
The difference between the dosages for the oral or the injected version has to do primarily with the fact that the majority of the oral drug is destroyed in the first-pass by your liver, leaving only small amounts intact and usable.
To summarize: this drug is used pre-contest for cutting. If this fits your needs and you can find genuine primobolan at a good price then you can consider giving it a try. Just don't expect to gain a great deal of size from taking it.
[ Q ] Hi Clayton, can you please tell me what is the proper dose of L-Arginine and L-Lysine is for boosting my natural growth hormone levels? I want to spark my growth hormone levels to create more muscle while I'm working out. Also, when are these ingredients best to take?
[ A ] L-Arginine and L-Lysine are great amino acids and are highly effective for boosting natural growth hormone production — if you know how much to use and when to use them.
To get to the point: these amino acids are best used immediately before bed and immediately upon waking, on an empty stomach. It's during this time that catabolism reigns, and taking these amino acids on an empty stomach facilitates their rapid absorption, crushing catabolism like a rag-doll and getting you anabolic in a hurry!
- 1200mg L-Arginine
- 1200mg L-Lysine
To maximize your results during this time — to stimulate as much growth hormone as humanly possible - I recommend using them in the following amounts:
While you can choose to dose with regular L-Arginine, I recommend using a L-Arginine pyroglutamate. Traditionally, massive dosing (3000mg) with regular L-Arginine was needed to see any effects on growth hormone output. Unfortunately, doses in these amounts were so high that the resulting side-effects — i.e. nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, etc - made supplementation impossible.
The main benefit of supplementing with L-Arginine pyroglutamate is that you can dose with L-Arginine at much lower doses and see effects while avoiding nasty side-effects. This is primarily due to the ability of this special form of arginine to cross the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) more easily than conventional L-Arginine.
Another possibility for you to consider is supplementing with L-Arginine and L-Ornithine in combination. One study showed that supplementation with 2 grams of L-Arginine and 1 gram of L-Ornithine increased growth hormone levels and resulted in strength and muscle mass increases in trained subjects.1
If you are going to use Ornithine, I recommend using Ornithine AKG as this form of Ornithine appears in research to do a better job at increasing growth hormone levels and promoting protein synthesis over conventional Ornithine.2
- Di Pasquale M. Amino Acids and Proteins for the Athlete. The Anabolic Edge. CRC Press. Boca Raton. 1997, pg. 130.
- Krassowski J, Rousselle J, Maeder E, Felber JP. The effect of ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate on growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) release in normal subjects. Endokrynol Pol. 1986;37(1):11-5.
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