Q & A With Clayton South - October 2003!

Learn all about the central nervous system, how to lose the extra fat around your stomach, what kind of creatine is best for you, if nor diol is alright to stack and much more...
Note: Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of this website's publisher or staff. Bodybuilding.com does not condone any form of illegal drug use for bodybuilding or for any recreational purpose. Bodybuilding.com also does not condone abuse of legal drugs for any purpose.

I always hear about the "central nervous system." What is it exactly and why is it important?

Put simply, the central nervous system (CNS) is the brain and spinal cord. Granted, this is a gross oversimplification, and thus I will provide you with a more detailed answer.

The nervous system consists of central and peripheral divisions. The peripheral nervous system consists of three components: cranial nerves, spinal nerves and the autonomic nervous system. The cranial nerves control sensory and movement; there are twelve of them. The spinal nerves are equally distributed in the body in pairs, with one member of each pair for each side of the body. You may probably already know that the spine is divided into five sections. These sections are: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal. Each pair of spinal nerves connects to a particular place on the spine.

The autonomic nervous system functions outside of your conscious control. The autonomic nervous system controls such things as heart rate and other vital functions. It is further subdivided into the sympathetic division and the parasympathetic division. At the risk of oversimplifying the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic division is responsible for putting you in a excited state, while the sympathetic division is responsible for calming you down. In this sense, the two divisions of the autonomic nervous system balance and oppose each other.

The nervous system is responsible for the contraction of muscles. As indicated in the publication The Principles Of Bodybuilding, when you first begin a training program, you will notice quick strength increases. This results from nothing more than an increase in the efficiency of a signal traveling from your brain to the muscles (telling them to contract), and that signal traveling back to your brain indicating that a contraction has occurred. As your body becomes more efficient at contracting muscles simultaneously, it then becomes possible for a second type of adaptation to occur: lean muscle gain.

Just as overtraining can occur for individual muscles, overtraining can occur for the central nervous system also. This type of overtraining is what is known as total body inflammation. The key to successful strength and muscle increases is an understanding on the nature of the central nervous system, and its function. The central nervous system is an important and vital part to consider when planning an effective fitness program.

I am a 26 year old guy started body-building 5 months back, I have a serious problem with my abdomen, it's 35" and I just can't seem to find a way to get it in. Please help!

Your problem is not an uncommon one. Here are several trips that you can employ an attempt to correct your situation.

1. Keep caloric intake the same, but decreased caloric intake per meal

Oftentimes, what you'll see on bodybuilding stages of around the world are bodybuilders that appear as though they are pregnant, despite the fact they have bodyfat levels below 6 percent. Why is this the case?

Sometimes this can result from incorrect usage of hGH. Other times this can result from overeating. When you look at a bodybuilders nutritional requirements it becomes immediately obvious why overheating may occur: bodybuilders need a lot of food. Because bodybuilders require a lot of food, and must eat every so many hours, they must obtain a certain percentage of their daily requirement per meal. If they require a large amount of calories over the course of a day, depending upon the number of meals and they eat, their calories per meal will be higher or lower.

The more time that passes between meals necessitates that bodybuilders eat more calories per meal. When the stomach is loaded with this much food repeatedly, it has a tendency to appear distended. What is the solution?

The solution is to keep energy intake the same, but at the same time increase the frequency of your meals. Increasing the frequency of your meals will ensure that you still obtain what you require daily, but it will reduce the amount of calories that you are consuming at each meal. So, instead of needing every three hours, eat every two. Or, instead of eating every few hours, have a small meal every hour. This will reduce the amount of food is in your stomach at any given time, and will thus reduce the chance that your stomach could become distended from overeating.

2. Practice breathing techniques

Breathing techniques used to be practiced by bodybuilders, but unfortunately you do not hear of such techniques being practiced in great numbers today. I am speaking specifically about the stomach vacuum. The procedure is simple. Breath in deeply and, tensing your abdominal muscles, push the air out until you have reached a full exhale. At this point, sucking your abdominal muscles in toward your rib cage and squeeze. Hold this for three seconds and repeat the procedure as many times as you wish.

3. Reduce energy intake

This tip is somewhat like the first tip that I outlined above in that it involves a reduction of calories. Whereas the first tip involved keeping overall calories constant and increasing meal frequency while reducing calories consumed at each meal, this tip involves reducing overall calorie intake - otherwise known as reducing energy intake.

Studies have shown that reducing energy intake is, by far, the best way to lose weight and decreased your waistline.1 If you are going to do this, place an emphasis on protein and reduce overall calories from carbohydrates and bad fats.2 For more information on how to lean up, refer to my publication A Step-By-Step Plan For Bodyfat Reduction!

4. Increased cardiovascular exercise

It goes without saying that an increase in cardiovascular exercise will lead to weight loss, if calories are restricted below what is necessary to maintain your body weight. Put another way: if you burn more calories than what you consume, you will lose weight (and thus may also lose inches off of your waist).

5. Begin a structured abdominal program

It is not enough to eat correctly: you must also subject your abdominals to physical stress. Often times on television what you'll see are products that claim that it is possible "with just two minutes a day" to have fantastic abdominals. Most of the time, what you'll discover instead is that the program will tell you one of two things: you do not need to exercise at all, or, you do not need to change or eating habits at all. Apparently, these people are aliens, because the human body does not work the way that they instruct you to exercise it.

To reduce your waist size, or to take it to a greater extreme and to achieve a six-pack, both dietary reform and physical exercise are necessary. Learn more about ab training, click here. Follow these tips and your waist should shrink in no time.

Hello Clayton. I have a quick creatine question for you. I am switching away from Cell-Tech Hardcore because I am just not happy with it. I currently use AST's L-Glutamine so I figured I would try their creatine as well. But I noticed they have 2 types: "Micronized Creatine" and Creatine HSC".

The HSC appeared to be the better product but it is hard to tell just from the website so I was hoping you could give me some more information. I am also interested in hearing about other good creatine products if you recommend one. Thanks a lot for your help.

You are correct in your belief that creatine HSC is the better product. I do not like the use the word "better" when speaking of these two products because the truth of the matter is that AST is a great company and both of these products are great. In fact, you would be pretty hard-pressed to find another company that has their honest reputation and work ethic (Labrada being the only other one that comes to mind).

The reason that I say one product is better than the other is because HSC has a small amount of carbohydrate in it. Studies have shown that the presence of a small amount of carbohydrate will significantly increase the amount of creatine absorbed by your muscles.3 This absorption will, in turn, lead to greater increases in fat-free muscle mass. Basically, HSC is one step beyond micronized creatine.

As for other good creatine products: Prolab Creatine Monohydrate works well. Basically, when buying a creatine product it is important to make sure that you purchase from a reputable manufacturer. Any of the big names like AST, Prolab and Labrada will ensure that you are getting a quality product. Given that I consider MuscleTech to be nothing more than a propaganda machine that manufactures supplements on the side, I do not consider them to be a "big name."

Neophytes to bodybuilding may, but those of us who have been around for a while know the name of the game. Just because you bark the loudest doesn't always make you the biggest (or best) dog on the block!

On a personal note, I was not satisfied with cell-tech either. There was too much sugar in it. I did not like putting all of that sugar into my body on a regular basis. Besides, an even greater insulin spike can be obtained by ingesting a smaller amount of sugar along with 50 grams of protein, post work out.3 The science upon which cell-tech product is based is somewhat old (in some senses, but not others), and its my qualified opinion that there are now more effective and efficient products available for purchase.

My problem deals with losing weight, adding muscle while working around injuries and other obstacles. I am 6'3" 208 lbs. I am in pretty decent shape except for fat on my stomach and on the chest area. My diet is pretty clean but I do have to work around an illness called IBS.

Doing cardio for me is playing ball on the weekends because I have bad knees that hurt when I run, use the precor or any of the cardio machines. I also had a shoulder operation which limits some exercises which I won't do and also limits very heavy weights. Looking at my physique, if I could firm up the chest, flatten the stomach and grows my arms a bit, I'd bet set. What can I do?

IBS (Irritable bowl syndrome) is a condition characterized by abdominal pain, constipation, tenesmus (the desire to defecate without actually defecating), and paradoxically, diarrhea. Given your IBS and other conditions , it is very important that you take great care to construct a program that is tailored around your health issues. This means several things.

First: no fat burners. Many of these fat burners contain ephedra or synephrine (CNS stimulants), and some even have ingredients like cayenne pepper. These ingredients could exacerbate the symptoms you have from IBS. Flattening out your stomach can be achieved by referring to a question already answered in this month's Q and A. Refer to above. Firming up your chest is something that will come from bodyfat reduction and multi-angle workouts.

Compound movements typically work chest the best. Because of your shoulder situation, you are limited in terms of exercise selection, and poundage. Therefore, in working chest you should ensure that you do not re-injure your shoulder area. You did not provide me with information regarding the diagnosis of your shoulder or your surgery. Therefore, I am unable to recommend specific exercises that would be safe for you to perform. For more information on this, I recommend speaking to a physiotherapist or your doctor.

Adding mass to your biceps involves doing two things simultaneously: increasing caloric intake and using an effective bicep training routine. Without going into the more technical aspects of bicep training (which is beyond the scope of this column), suffice it to say that you must work your biceps so that they respond with growth. Inncorect stimulus can result in a loss of biceps size. For an effective biceps routine, refer to the publication Bicep Blitzkrieg! or refer to the article database here on Bodybuilding.com

I am a 22 year old male that is over weight. I recently started working out again and I also started to supplement with protein. I am thinking about making a purchase of the supplement Nor Diol, or Norandrostendiol. I have heard that I should stack it with 5-diol. I am curious to know if this would help me lose some of my weight as well as increase my muscle and if so, should I also take it on my off days?

Congratulations for making the decision to improve your lifestyle.

Prohormones (depending upon the type) provide your body with the precursors of sex hormones. Sex hormones, typically those of male type, cause a reduction in subcutaneous water, as well as an increase in the liberation of fatty-acids from adiposities.4, 5 This is assuming that the conversion rate of aromatase is low.

The two prohormones that you are considering are good choices. I prefer prohormones of the diol type over those of the dione type because of the way they convert; basically diol prohormones are more anabolic and therefore have less chance of aromatizing into estrogen.6 As you may know already, estrogen is a female hormone responsible for bodyfat storage and subcutaneous water storage.

In theory yes the prohormones you have selected may help reduce bodyfat. However, I would also recommend 1-AD by Ergopharm for this purpose. 1-AD is a great prohormone to use when attempting to reduce bodyfat. It is new and works very well. Give it a try.

Come back next month to see YOUR questions answered! From steroids to supplements to sexuality, workouts to weight loss and more, the answers you want are here!

Past Issues

March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003

References

  1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003;78:31-9
  2. South, Clayton. Applied Bodybuilding Research. August 18, 2003. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/south43.htm
  3. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2003, 13, 294-302.
  4. Friedl KE, Dettori JR, et al. Comparison of the effects of high dose testosterone and 19-nortestosterone to a replacement does of testosterone on strength and body composition in normal men. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 1991;4:607-612.
  5. Kuipers H, Wijnen JAG, et al. Influence of anabolic steroids on body composition, blood pressure, lipid profile and liver function in bodybuilders. International Journal of Sports Medicine 1991;12:413-8.
  6. Van Mol, Peter. Prohormone Science! Do they work? http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/catproh.htm

Disclaimer

The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider. The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers. Further, the author does not warrant or guarantee that the information contained in written publications, from him or any source is accurate or error-free. The author accepts no responsibility for materials contained in the publication that you may find offensive. You are solely responsible for viewing and/or using the material contained in the authored publications in compliance with the laws of your country of residence, and your personal conscience. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the use of information contained in this or other publications.

Copyright © Clayton South, 2003 All rights reserved.

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright holder and author of this publication.

Thanks,