Ben's Online Training Journal: Q & A!

Ben is a teenage bodybuilder who's got a lot of experience and smart lifting under his belt! Get ready to learn and grow!
(For Ben's Old Training Journal Click Here.)

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This Weeks Q+A

Hey everyone,
Here is this weeks Q+A which is just a few of the best questions from the Teen Bodybuilding section of the message boards. If you've never been on the board before be sure to check them out, there's quite a few knowledgeable bodybuilders on the boards who will be sure to give you a great answer to any question. I've also included a few questions sent to my old email address over the past couple of months. Ouch! I just looked in there after not reading it for the past 4 weeks to find 40 odd questions... this could be a large Q+A :P

Q. Does smoking hinder my muscle growth and overall height?

A. Good question, I haven't read many studies on this but from what I have seen it quite loudly points to the fact that smoking does hinder height and also does hinder muscle growth. Not only this but I find it hard to see how anybody who smokes could have a really productive workout if they smoke. My smoking friends, there ain't no way known that you're going to have a satisfactory sporting life as a smoker - you can't keep up the intensity long enough to get great results.

Smoking and bodybuilding interests me quite a bit so I'm going to do a bit of research on it over the next couple of days - I'll post what I found in the message boards and somewhere in my journal. But for the time being my advice is quit - I'd say this to a non-sportsperson as well but believe me you're life will be better for it.

Q. What's the best fat burning supplement?

A. There's lots of supplements out there for fat burning - not all of them work though. The best fat burners by far are E/C/A's. The problem with this is the EPHEDRA (if you didn't notice, the E bit of E/C/A :P). Ephedra isn't really good for anyone to be taking as ephedra puts quite a strain on the heart amongst other things. Now maybe it's OK for adults to take it but I certainly don't think teens should be taking it that's for sure!

So now you're saying what the hell am I suppose to take now? There are three supplements which are safe (when taken in correct doses) for teens and anybody for that matter. Firstly is my personal favorite - L-Carnitine.

L-Carnitine is said to help the body use it's fat stores as energy and from experience this is exactly what it does! Secondly is Chromium which is not the most effective fat burner but it does work to some extent specially in getting rid of that last pound or two. The last one is a bit of a roughy - Pyruvate.

Pyruvate is from what I've read in terms of studies etc. a great supplement but unfortunately is not very highly thought of by bodybuilders as a good fat burner - I'm planning on trying it out in 4 weeks time so I'll keep you guys up-to-date with my thoughts on it. I'll be starting another cycle of L-Carnitine and Chromium in a couple of days (whenever they come in the mail) and that's going to be a great combination!

Q. Whenever I do curls I get pain in my wrists. Why is this? and How do I stop it?

A. First of all it's definitely not uncommon to get pain in your wrist when using a straight bar. If you feel you need to use the straight bar then you can try using Vitamin C and/or Glucosamine Sulfate which should help your pain. If you don't have the money for supplements or feel that your workouts will not be affected by eliminating the STRAIGHT BARBELL CURL from your workout then you could alternatively use these exercises:

Dumbbell Curl
Preacher Curl
EZ Bar Curl

These should stop the pain as they don't make your hands stay in the one unnatural position which is uncomfortable.

So there you have it - 3 short Q+A's. I'll have more questions next week.

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Monday, 4th December
Muscle Cramping

The other day I got asked by the brilliant people at Bodybuilding.com whether I could do an article on Muscle Cramping. Wondering why I'd never thought of this article before I set out as usual to do a bit of research. After a few hours of researching medical journals and medical encyclopedias and anything with the words 'muscle cramping' in them I came up with this:

Whether you know it or not Cramps or generally quite common occurrences, mostly resulting from EXCESSIVE EXERCISE of UNACCUSTOMISED EXERCISE. Have you ever done 2 hrs of exercise, stopped, started again and got painful cramps? Well, that would be the excessive exercise one and the unaccustomed exercise part is self-explanatory and means that if you are starting to exercise again after being chained to the couch for a couple of years you must EASE yourself into it. Do you jump into a boiling hot bath? No, you ease yourself in, the same is true with exercise.

Cramps are cause by the build up of lactic acid and other chemicals in the muscles (as a result from activity) and muscle-fiber damage. Not only are they caused by exercise but by sitting/lying in awkward positions or from repetitious movements, such as writing. If you're one of the unlucky ones who get cramps at night there usually isn't a cause! It does however seem to affect people with circulation problems such as narrowing of blood vessels.

So now you're saying who cares about that? I just wanna know how to stop them! You do know in the short term to relieve cramps you simply massage and/or stretch the cramping muscle but to prevent cramping in the long-run your doctor may prescribe a drug containing calcium or quinine which are helpful in preventing painful recurrences.

Naturalmed.net said that supplementation with Magnesium, Vitamins A, B complex, B1, B3, C, E, Calcium and Potassium was a great way to prevent muscle cramping.

The best way to prevent muscle cramping before it EVER happens is simply to warm up and subsequently warm down properly before and after exercise, every time you exercise. Through in a good diet including sufficient Calcium and you're well on your way to stop those painful cramps!

NB: Once again I am not a doctor nor do I hold any qualifications in such an area. My information was gathered purely from medical encyclopedia's and journals and I strongly advise visiting a doctor if muscle cramping hampers you.

Acknowledgements: Reader's Digest Encyclopedia of Family Health, A-Z of First Aid and Health and naturalmed.net.

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Tuesday, 5th December

Research Your Supplements

The Latest fads are the latest fads but are they the latest duds? Too many times do I see hard-working bodybuilders reeled in by the effective and simple techniques of bodybuilding propaganda. Now by no means am I saying that supplements are duds. But, I am saying that it's becoming too easy for bodybuilders to jump on the band wagon of the latest supplement craze because of the results of ONE study which was endorsed by the company who made the product.

Be honest with me here, put up you're hand if you have bought a supplement after seeing it in a magazine with some huge 100000lb guy endorsing it? Now keep your hands up if the supplement proved to be anything like you thought it would be? Sure you got results - 2lbs of muscle in 2 months along with 4lbs of fat.

The problem of today's bodybuilding world is the push for the big bucks. I'm not saying these supplements are complete @$@$%!&*. But, I am saying that because you see a guy standing with a glass of Whey with abs sticking out past his chest, legs that could easily be mistaken for tree trunks and biceps which just about knock the guy in the face certainly does not mean that this is how he got that way and definitely does not mean you will be a dead ringer for this guy after one cycle.

When you log onto Bodybuilding.com's online store knowing you need and will get some supplements take the time to research your supplements. Get all the ingredients of the supplement and get to work. You should spend hours researching supplements (I spent 3 weeks for my last stack). Get to know what each supplement does, and whether unbiased chemists think that it actually does what it's supposed to do. There are so many medical journals out there, not to mention that Bodybuilding.com has info on most ingredients in it's supplements.

So now that you know what's in your supplement, you are now 90% confident it works...but you want more. Now you've got to COMPLIMENT your supplements to ensure they work best. An example of this is the use of ALA is supposed to increase the uptake of Creatine into the muscles (we'll soon find out when I being using it in a few days time). Take the time to find out complimentary supplements.

The lesson for today is no doubt that knowledge is your best bodybuilding weapon - it will carry your bodybuilding dreams farther than you ever thought imaginable - Read and Learn!

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Wednesday, 6th December

Training Splits

Ah Training Splits, a much talked about topic even though besides tying your shoelaces it's the easiest. Lifting varies from 2 days through to 7 days per week and the results from this time range vary greatly also. Today I'm not going to give you a lecture on my preferred split of either 4 or preferably a 5 day split I'm just going to list a few possible splits for those of you who have emailed me. I'll recommend some 3/4/5/6 day splits and the pros and cons of doing the split (the # parts). I'll leave Abs and Forearms up to you.

3 days Splits:

To me 3 day splits don't make much sense. While you are certainly rested well every time you have a workout I don't see how you can't lose muscle mass due to OVER REST (if there is such a thing). But here's a few 3 day splits anyway:

  • Mon: Back/Triceps/Traps
  • Wed: Legs
  • Fri: Chest/Shoulders/Bicep
    # While Monday and Wednesday are quite reasonable as the use of triceps and back means you don't waste any muscle before using them the Friday combination is way too hard on the upper body.

  • Mon: Back/Biceps
  • Wed: Legs/Traps
  • Fri: Chest/Triceps/Shoulders
    # I don't mind this as it's quite popular and complimentary for muscle groups but I'm against the compounding theory and rather leave muscles separated so as to get the best workout of muscle groups when it's actually your intention to work on them not wear them out from compounding with another muscle.

  • Monday: Chest/Back
  • Wednesday: Quads/Hams/Calves
  • Friday: Shoulders/arms
    # Not bad but pretty harsh on the arms on Monday and Friday.
4 days Splits:
    4 day splits are probably the most popular of all splits and I am partially in agreement that they are the best - but you'll find out later that they're not my favorite :P

  • Monday: Chest/Biceps
  • Wednesday: Quads/Calves
  • Friday: Shoulders/Triceps
  • Sunday: Back/Hamstrings
    # Well spread out workout as there is little compounding and a lot of time for resting used body parts - something I am a big supporter of!
  • Mon: Back/Biceps
  • Wed: Chest/Hams
  • Fri: Quads/Calves
  • Sun: Shoulders/Triceps
    # Once again there is lots of room for sufficient resting and growing!
5 day Splits:

Ok, calm me down, these are by far my favorites! 5 day splits are perfect and allow you to concentrate much better on a group of muscles rather than 3 at a time. Nothing beats 5 day splits and even though I hate preaching my own ways to you if you do have time, it's a great way to train if you love being in the gym and more particularly if you want to grow! I use this only when I have time to (i.e. on holidays or times when little is happening on the school/work side of things.) I advise training 5 day splits on a Mon-Fri basis leaving all weekend for a little R&R.

  • Mon: Chest/Calves
  • Tues: Back
  • Wed: Quads/Hams
  • Thurs: Arms
  • Fri: Shoulder/Traps
    # ***** 5 stars for this workout (which *wink* happens to be the same as mine). I can't fault this workout. It allows plenty of time for rest and best of all isolates areas with ease and without having to worry about other groups. Ok that's it looks like I'm going to have to give you a full reason as to why I love this workout so you'll agree with me.

    Firstly by when you work your chest you compound your triceps and thus you will sometimes have slightly sore triceps after doing your chest workout and this workout gives 3 days until triceps. Because Back uses biceps mainly, none of Monday's muscle groups which are sore on the Tuesday are used up in Tuesday's back workout.

    Having Legs right in the middle of the week gives the upper body time to recover from Monday and Tuesday's workouts. As everyone wants big biceps and triceps having a day after they are rested during Wednesday's leg workout. The only two muscle groups that I like compounding are Shoulders and Traps exercises because they both are equally worked in their exercises.

  • Mon: Triceps/Shoulders
  • Tues: Biceps
  • Wed: Legs
  • Thurs: Back/Traps
  • Fri: Chest/Calves
    # I don't mind this split either - it even allows for bicep lovers to have their own day just for biceps *watches the drools*.
6 day Splits:

For 6 day splits I recommend either doing a 3 day split having a rest day and then doing the same 3 day split for the rest of the week to cover a 7 day period or do a 5 day split and work your weakest area(s) on day 6.

Anyway, I gotta split...(get it!)
till tomorrow, Ben

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Thursday, 7th December
My Progress at the moment

Because I ran out of ideas for articles for the time being I thought I'd just give you a brief little outlook on my current progress. Once again I've got another setback, I had an operation on my feet which has stopped me from walking all week but I'll be back in the gym making up for that lost time hopefully on Monday.

Don't you hate when you miss out on something you should be doing but can't? I hate it! I'm sick of setback after setback and I'm hoping this will be the last from now on. I guess that there's a positive from the negative though - this motivates me even more to get back into the gym and lift heavy and to grow like no one has ever grown before.

Hopefully by the time I get back into the gym I'll be hopping back into it with the aid of my supplements which are yet to arrive because Customs seems to take forever (most likely I've ordered something on the customs banned list - which can be annoying because not only are you allowed the NATURAL supplement, it increases the time for your supplements getting to you by a long way which can be quite frustrating).

Nevertheless life goes on and supplements or no supplements I'll be in that gym on Monday and hopefully will stay in there a long time without break! For those interested in my supplements and how they help me I will detail every week how each supplement is helping me or (hopefully not) not helping me.

Stay natural!