May is here! That's right, the wonderful month of May is upon us, and that means that summer is ever-so-close. For those of us who are veterans of the lifestyle, our fat reduction programs most probably began months ago. As we emerged from our mass-building programs and relished our newfound muscle mass and strength, we realized that with it came a slight increase in body fat levels. So, accordingly we began the usual fest of cardio and calorie reduction.
For those new to the lifestyle, however, many things serve as motivators. The beach, wearing form-fitting clothing, looking good in the summer car, or getting into shape for that special someone. Regardless of your experience level or the motivator that serves to compel you to the bodybuilding lifestyle, the deadline is approaching!
But, don't panic! Like all great things, bodybuilding takes time. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your dream body be. The most important thing to realize is that you have begun a journey that will give you focus, drive, courage, and strength when facing adversity. If you stick with your goal of getting into shape for summer, you may find that this goal transfers over into the desire to be in shape FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Often a small goal is the spark needed to ignite an intense fire that burns brightly for many, many years.
In this column I have the opportunity to correspond directly with you, the reader; and you have the chance to get your questions answered by me. I encourage all of you to continue sending in your questions. I also wish you a world of results as you stick to achieving your goals, and I know that all of my colleagues here at Bodybuilding.com wish you profound inner and outer success, too. Good luck to you all!
I am loosing my mind with the whole ephedra issue. I am a 22 year old up and coming model. I stand at 5'2" and weigh 121 lbs. I am looking to tone up as well as loose a couple of pounds for my profession. I am open to any weight-loss product that works and does not contain ephedra. So far, based on research, I have narrowed the competition down to Xenadrine EFX and Hydroxycut Ephedra free. Please let me know if any of these products actually works the same without the ECA stack, and if so which of the two would be best.
Often times a company will produce a product that works very, very well. Then, for whatever reason [be it a change in the law, financial constraints, or a desire to tailor to a wider market base] the company will "re-vamp" the product, claiming that it is "new and improved." With products seldom undergoing independent testing and review, and with companies doing their own advertising and so-called "scientific research" it becomes clear that trying to determine if something really works or is really "revolutionary" is about as easy as finding a specific grain of sand in the Atlantic Ocean.
With several "versions" of one product being produced, things become even more complicated. However, it does seem that you have thus far done very well at eliminating a lot of the other products out there, and insodoing have managed to find quality brand names with reputations. Cytodyne, which makes Xenadrine EFX, as you may or may not be aware, is one of the premier brand names out there. In my mind, at least, there are only several other brand names out there that are on par with them: Prolab, Optimum Nutrition, Labrada and Dorian Yates Approved. While the magazine hype may give the impression that MuscleTech is also a heavyweight, my personal opinion is that they make one good product - hydroxycut. For my view on their protein bars, refer to the article Battle of the Bars!
Cytodyne makes two excellent fat burners - Xenadrine RFA-1 and Xenadrine EFX. I have used both of these products and can thus say from experience that both are excellent and work very, very well. Xenadrine EFX does not result in the immediate reduction of excess body water as the ephedra based RFA-1 does. However, over time the same results are achieved using both fat burners, but with EFX you do not get the typical "jitters" associated with RFA-1.
Hydroxycut, made by MuscleTech, is also an excellent product. I have used both the ephedra based version, and the ephedra free version. Again, the results with these two products are similar, and this makes sense. If you get a chance, compare the ingredients on both the ephedra based and the ephedra free versions of hydroxycut. When you do, do the mathematics buy multiplying the milligrams of ingredient X and multiplying by whatever the percentage of standardization indicated. What you will find is that in the end both products contain the exact same ingredients! The difference with the Ephedra free version, though, is that no jitters result from use. This also has a benefit of having no side effects like headaches and extreme fatigue when you go off the product.
My personal opinion is that both are great! I prefer hydroxycut because the dosing procedure results in consistent delivery of thermogenic elements, but I also like Xenadrine EFX because it costs less and is also excellent. My advice to you is to get clearance from your physician before trying products containing stimulants, and once you get that clearance, give both a try and see which one you like best.
I was checking out your superb articles at Bodybuilding.com, and I have this question. Here's hoping for your kind insight... I am 5' 9 172lb average body with a bit of a "potbelly". My aim is to build muscle mass AND lose the unwanted fat, AT THE SAME TIME? Is it actually possible to accomplish both of these tasks simultaneously? If so, then HOW? I am hoping that by August 2003, I will be able to create some significant physique changes. I shall be very grateful for your kindness in answering back with a reply.
Jason, thank you for your kind words on my articles. I am glad that they have been able to serve as a guide for you in your fitness endeavors.
Although this may sound confusing, the answer to your question as to whether or not building muscle and losing fat is possible at the same time, is both yes and no. To be more exact: Yes it is possible, but no it is not simple, and most people do not do it correctly. Let me give you some insight so that you can make progress towards your goal and save yourself a lot of frustration and pain along the way. I will focus first on weight training and then move into dietary habits.
To achieve your goal, it is necessary to do exercises that tax you enough so that you put on muscle. Put another way, this means that cable movements are out, and compound movements like clean and press, deadlifts, flat bench press and squats are in. I recommend that you keep training sessions brief [1 hour or less] and that you train once every three days. It is necessary to WORK during your workout. This means lifting heavy poundages with correct form, and on the final sets of each compound movements do 2-4 repetitions. Realize that you will see improvements in terms of repetitions and small poundages. Also, realize that such progress will be consistent and continual.
As for your nutrition, you should increase your protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, and increase your fat intake from good sources. Eat fish like salmon, Pollock, and eat plenty of chicken and lean cuts of beef as well. Eat plenty of nuts and seeds. Make sure to also incorporate generous amounts of olive oil and flax seed oil into your diet. Find out what is in your food, click here!
For carbohydrates, focus on complex sources like yams, oatmeal and brown rice. At all costs attempt to avoid any foods that are processed. You should only be consuming foods that nature, and not some machine, made.
For post-workout, have a carbohydrate shake, consisting of honey and water. Honey, unlike refined sugars, provides consistent blood sugar levels over time. This means that you will not crash after consuming it. If you like, you can add lemon juice to this for flavor. Thirty minutes after consuming this drink, consume 60 grams of whey protein. An hour after that, eat another meal consisting of brown rice and chicken breast. If you find the chicken breast a bit dry you can try a favorite trick of mine: drown it in Louisiana hot sauce! It does the trick every time, and hey, hot sauce is made from peppers, which help you burn fat! For more information on the appropriate foods for bodybuilding, refer to my article Grocery Shopping for the Bodybuilder!
As I said before: lift weights once every three days. Trust me; you will REQUIRE this amount of rest between workouts if you work hard. On your "off days" do light cardio sessions three times per week for 25 minutes, with the weekends off. Do not, however, do cardio on the same day as you lift weights. If you work hard enough you will find it impossible to do both on the same day. Also, supplement with a good thermogenic during this time. For more information on thermogenics and other great supplements, please visit the superstore online or visit one of Bodybuilding.com's retail stores.
My name is Stephanie and I am a 25-year-old woman and I have been working out seriously for 2 years. I was told that to be a successful female bodybuilder I need to take steroids. I am worried about steroids because I have heard bad things about them. What are the side effects if I take them?
Unfortunately, the issue of women and anabolics is seldom discussed in mainstream bodybuilding literature. The reason for this is simple: the market is predominantly male. This leaves female bodybuilders searching for sources of information about anabolic drugs and their side effects. I hope that in this space I can do my part to correct this informational vacuum.
Space constraints do not allow me to go into the detail I would like on this issue, however I will list common side effects for your benefit and consideration. Keep in mind that side effects will depend to a large degree on the specific steroid you take, and your individual tolerance levels to anabolic and androgenic substances. This general list is exactly that: general. For more specific information on how you may respond specifically, see your physician. Here are the most commonly observed steroid side effects noted in women:
- Facial hair growth
- Deepening of the voice
- Increased sex drive
- Enlargement of, and increased sensitivity of the clitoris
- Increased sensitivity of the nipples and breasts
- Aggressiveness [sexual and otherwise]
- Disruption of hormone cycles [menstruation]
- Temporary infertility with short-term use
- Permanent infertility with long-term use
As I mentioned, this is not an exhaustive list, and I am not a medical doctor. I would recommend speaking with a health care professional before you consider using substances that could have long-term health effects. Also, do realize that anabolic steroids are a controlled substance and that means that without a doctors authorization, you are committing an offence by using them.
If, after knowing the effects [legal and otherwise] you decide still to use them, please be safe about it and speak to a physician. Get as much knowledge as you can. Bodybuilders who live long lives do so because they are informed. Shooting substances into your body without knowing what they do is to have a deathwish. When it comes to steroids you should be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.
I'm a police officer in training and for my career I workout with weights to build strength and muscle. My girlfriend works as a security guard and is extremely fat. I care about her, and I have encouraged her to get into the gym. She makes excuses and says that she will "go when her girls are ready." By the way, all of her girlfriends are even more obese than she is! Help! What do I do?
You know, I am always surprised at how many people sign on the dotted line and then try to modify the product, ask for a refund, or try to change the conditions of the contract. Every social relationship, be it platonic or otherwise, is a social contract based on an understood set of rules and expectations. Obviously, with friends the arrangement is different than it would be with a girlfriend, fiancée, wife, or husband. Whatever your persuasion [heterosexual or otherwise] the same principles apply: know what you are signing up for.
When people decide to be friends because they like another person, they signal that they are interested in making that commitment. Although it does happen, it seldom occurs that people will attempt to mold their friends into being what they desire. The unsaid rule is "friends accept friends as they are, or they don't." And guess what? If they don't, they get new friends! Somehow, when it comes to intimate relationships, people think they have permission to violate this basic principal of acceptance.
Let me ask you a question: Do you care about your girlfriend as she is or HOW YOU WANT HER TO BE? You say that you care about your girlfriend but from your question, it seems to me that you are vainly attempting to turn into reality the fantasy you are in lust with. [ie. her being skinny]. Instead of accepting her as she is you are basically asking her "Why isn't the REAL you more like the fantasy you that I have in my head?"
You need to realize that your dissatisfaction with others hints at an underlying conflict within your own mind. Put another way, the "imperfections" that you see in others are really the things you dislike in yourself, or that you fear becoming. Has it ever occurred to you that one of the reasons you work out is so that you will not end up, as you call your girlfriend, "fat?" The same compulsion that drives you to the gym is causing you to look upon your girlfriend in self-righteous, egotistical disgust and contempt. What's more, when you create labels for her, the only thing you are showing is that you have the ability to be judgmental with those you claim to care about. Those things do not define her: they define YOU.
Your attitude screams one thing very loudly: how you view your girlfriend. This can be summed up in the phrase: "If only YOU were more like ME, I wouldn't have to be upset with you right now."
The "problem" you see is a problem that resides within you, and the solution is quite simple: change how you think, or end the relationship. It is unfair, unjust and unrealistic to expect someone to change who they are, after you have already entered into a relationship with them based on accepting them AS THEY ARE. It is quite simple: If you do not like how someone appears, your option is to not get into a relationship with him or her. This would be the honorable, ethical, and yes, manly, thing to do. If you allow poisonous thoughts to contaminate the relationship, eventually it will be over. I recommend that you read my article Are YOU a Healthy Bodybuilder?
I hope that this article challenges you to examine your thoughts and attitudes about others. If, however, you aren't prepared to change how you think about things, save your girlfriend a lot time, hurt and self-esteem, and end the relationship.
Over the years I have always maintained a good shape. I'm 56 years young! Recently, though, I've not been active. Being middle-aged, I am wondering if it is too late for me to reverse the side effects of aging by starting a lifting program. I don't have any health problems and I would like to know if a weight program would also help bring back my love life.
It is never too late to begin an exercise regimen! In fact, at your age becoming more active will lengthen and improve the quality of your life. Countless studies show that middle-aged and senior populations derive great benefit and emotional satisfaction from engaging in physical activities.
You did not indicate the effects of aging that you have experienced, and some people do age more rapidly than others. However, many aspects of aging are universal amongst populations worldwide. Most prominent of these effects are joint troubles and a drop in growth hormone and testosterone levels.
Drops in growth hormone and testosterone will have effects on the ability to perform sexually. What is more, drops in testosterone levels may result in a loss of feelings of well-being and a decrease in the function of the libido.
Individuals, even in populations outside of the 20 years age bracket, can derive sexual benefits that result from weight training. After all, check out the AMAZING physique of 80 years young Bob Delmonteque!
Weight training stimulates the hormone system, and if done correctly can stimulate more testosterone and growth hormone.
And besides, Ludwig, many women find a man who "works out" to be very attractive. It is a sign of youth, virility and strength. So aside from the physical benefits, you may find that adding a bit of weight training into your daily habits will help you with the bravado, and help provide a spark that will help with the chemistry in your relationship.
I do recommend that you check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen. After that, do all that you can, and let your body and your relationship reap the benefits! Good luck, on both counts!
Come back next month to see YOUR questions answered! From steroids to supplements, workouts to injury prevention, the answers you want are here!
Do YOU have a question that you want answered? Do you have an opinion you want to share about the column? If so simply send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and be heard! Say your peace!
Rico-Sanz, J. et al. (2000). Creatine enhances oxygen uptake and performance during alternating intensity exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 32: 379-385.
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