Home Authors Posts by Adam Gethin
It always seems we want what we cannot have. Those who are born with the luxury of being able to live on chocolate and never gain fat whilst others can merely look at a dumbbell and gain 5lbs of muscle. The thing is though; they often have opposing appetites meaning the guys who need to eat more to gain weight don’t want the food and the ones who pack on fat overnight dream about the stuff. If ever there was an example of sod’s law this is it. Time and time again we come across young lads who need to develop the appetite of a starved lion to gain any kind of size yet their eating habits resemble something more like a 12 year old boy. The trick is then to help people in this predicament get in extra calories from quality sources without having to gorge down tonnes and tonnes of food because clearly that is going to grate on their resilience pretty quickly!
Below are 3 ways to increase your calorie intake with ease. Hard gainers, listen up!!
1 – Fats
Fats have many vital roles within the body one of which is supporting testosterone production. If you are chasing muscle mass then adding plenty of fats to your diet is a good idea. They are also very calorie dense, at 9 calories per gram (over double that of protein and carbs!!). Adding almond butter, cashew butter, parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, organic butter and organic double cream are all easy ways to increase calorie intake AND add a LOT of flavour to your diet. Creamy coffees, cheesy meat dishes and buttery scrambled are all options now!
Why the emphasis on ‘’organic’’ with the butter and cream? Glad you asked. Organic isn’t always necessary however with butter and cream in particular we find that the fat in non-organic alternatives are loaded with toxins (toxins live in fat). With that said we always go organic in these cases.
2 – Post-Training Hunger
You have to take advantage of windows of opportunity and usually within an hour of having a hard lifting session your appetite is firing! With that said for you guys who struggle to gain weight we want to get the calories into you! We are talking a lower fat HIGH carb and protein feeding frenzy!! Don’t go silly, but a big bowl of oats berries with whey protein for dessert after a chicken and basmati rice stir fry wouldn’t be frowned upon!! Even some frozen yogurt to help it all go down would be fine. Get the point?
3 – MRPs
If appetite isn’t your strong point and neither is gaining weight then meal replacement shakes will be your friend! Our most highly recommended product in this category for you would be PhD Growth Factor Mass!
There is no excuse, where there is a will there is a way. It so happens these 3 tips above are very easy to implement! Eat to grow muscle!
Approximately 33% of your upper arm development comes from your biceps. Almost every man who picks up a muscle magazine and starts lifting weights desires bulging biceps – let’s be honest, they look great! Unlike a lot of cases where people neglect muscles in the gym and therefore lack development we cannot say the same for this one – it isn’t often you come across people who aren’t eager to bash their biceps up in the gym! They just do it wrong a lot of the time.
If this sounds like you – all effort and no reward, then read through the 5 bicep building tips below and learn how they will make a difference to the size of your arms!
1 – Function & Action
What is the main function of your bicep? To make your palm pace the ceiling essentially! Try it now and see if you instantly feel added tension on your bicep – you should! With that said this tells us that turning your wrist towards your forearm as you bicep curl doesn’t make sense that becomes more of a forearm builder. Next time you curl focus on cocking your wrist back! Feel the difference.
2 – Shoulder Movement
Sit and watch most guys in the gym curl heavy and you will almost certainly notice that as they lift the weight (curl) they will bring their upper arm forward. This is achieved by engaging the anterior deltoid (front of your shoulders). This means that there will be more emphasis and stress on this muscle rather than the bicep. This is a fast way to achieve very little growth within your biceps! Learn to isolate the biceps even if it means lifting less!
3- Range of Motion
Again, observe average Joe do his bicep curls. Most will only go half, maybe two thirds of the way down before lifting again. Why? Because if they used a full range of motion they wouldn’t be able to lift the weights they are using and don’t want to upset their ego. Full range of motion on bicep training is imperative for growth!
4 – Posture
A lot of people kind of scrunch themselves up when they curl forcing their traps (upper back/shoulder muscles) to become tight and their posture goes all funny. As a result the exercise becomes more about the back than biceps. Not good. Remember, isolate for growth!
5 – Frequency
If you are ‘’smashing’’ your biceps up once a week to no avail try hitting them twice, maybe three times even a week. You only need 3-5 working sets a time as they will do a lot of work on pulling movements anyway. This is in aid of stimulating muscle protein synthesis levels within the muscle more frequently!
If you haven’t had much luck on this front we hope these points will change that very soon! Train smart, train hard.
Injuries are the bane of any avid sports person’s life, they are a massive inconvenience and often immensely painful. Many clouds have a silver lining yet you would be forgiven for outlining the fact this cloud is one which is exclusive to that rule! Rather than discuss common injuries and how to fix them (because after all you would need a specialist to help you with that!) we are going to talk about good habits to develop in order to help limit the risk of them occurring.
1 – Soft Tissue Work
There are few things in this world which are as relaxing and potentially as painful all at the same time. Soft tissue work isn’t always painful, it depends on the variety you choose, the practitioner and what they are treating (if there are knots in the muscle then it might get a little uncomfortable!). However, having regular soft tissue work could help sustain the clarity of your muscle tissue. This is particularly important around the scapulas where we see common issues in this area leading to posture and shoulder injuries.
2 – Stretching
We often see elite athletes displaying immense levels of flexibility and suppleness – professional footballers, tennis players and even pro bodybuilders doing the splits. When we consider these guys are exercise all of the time it is imperative they don’t get injured too often! Staying flexible is often their secret and it is said to be something Ryan Giggs swears by, a man who has played at the highest level of professional football for over two decades which is unheard of! Stretching 2-4 times a week and even attending yoga is a great way to help stay injury free. Special areas of focus would be the hips, lower back and shoulders!
3 – Foam Rolling
This is something which has become far more popular in recent years amongst elite athletes and it has filtered down to the general population. All you are doing here is using your body weight, the floor or wall and a strong roll of foam. By rolling various muscle groups against this you are ‘’rolling’’ the muscle out, helping it remain free and supple which allows for better recovery and even arguably growth!
These are 3 top habits to get used to doing on a regular basis if you want to optimise the chances of staying injury free. Remember, flexibility is going to really help you stay healthy long term. Mr Giggs is good testimony to that!
Habits aren’t rules but they become instinctive behaviours which can lead us down a path – good or bad. Snacking on a chocolate bar and bag of crisps is a bad habit to get into, alternatively reaching for a handful of walnuts is a good habit. We aren’t talking structured eating here, tracking the numbers you ingest or anything else. We are merely talking habits which will hold you in good stead to burn some fat and maintain better health.
1 – Breakfast
Too many people either skip breakfast or eat a flimsy one at best. The problem with this is that there is little happening here to kick-start the metabolism for the day and more than that there is little to satisfy your desire for food in the next few hours. As a result by the time 11s roles around most people are ready to eat and they tend to eat sugar ridden snacks to fix that acute hunger they have developed.
Eating a hearty breakfast to start your day is a great habit to get into! High protein, some healthy fats and maybe a little fruit. How about some full fat Greek yogurt, blueberries and 1-2 boiled eggs? Simple, effective, tasty and convenient.
2 – Snack Better
If you are a ‘’snacker’’ then you need to ensure you choose more wisely. Sure, an occasional chocolate bar or packet of crisps won’t kill you but they are poor habits to maintain. Why not try PhD Diet Whey bars, a delicious protein bar which will fill you up and more than satisfy your cravings for something sweet. PopChips are another amazingly tasty snack and have less than 100 calories per serving! Certainly a great swap for a regular bag of crisps.
3 – More Nutrition
Most people under eat on the good foods which leaves them hungry, run down and agitated. Add more vegetables to your diet (as much as you want!), add more protein to your diet from lean meats and oily fish and add a little extra healthy fat from walnuts, almonds, cashews, almond butter, avocadoes, coconut oil and organic whole eggs. In doing so your body is better nurtured and your appetite will be controlled that much better!
Developing better eating habits and not restricting yourself with rules is going to be better for a large percentage of people who lead a busy work, social and family lifestyle! Good habits, good results!
A lot of ‘’young guns’’ focus too much on what is in front of them in the mirror and not enough on what’s behind them such as their back for example! Having big pecs and the back of an 11 year old school girl just looks silly and what’s more it will ultimately create big issues for you in the future in regards to posture and shoulder issues. With that said we need to do something about this trend and intervene! Lads, if you are hitting the bench press and building up your chest muscles then do exactly the same for the rest of your body, especially your back! Here is how.
The best way to start back development (and overall upper body size and strength) is to get good at pull ups. Both wide grip chin ups and reverse grip pull ups are fantastic ways to add bulk and width to your back! Even if you can only manage 1,2 or 3 at the moment make a conscious effort to add 1 rep to that number every other week! From here work towards being able to start your back workouts with 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps. From here, you will see major developments!!
The next movement you want to get good at and perhaps more importantly strong at are bent over barbell rows! Anyone with back width and size worth looking at rows big, simple! Get strong in the 6-8 rep range with controlled form.
Seated cable rows, T-bar rows and single arm dumbbell rows are all fantastic additions to a routine designed for optimal back growth.We would always recommend at least one unilateral exercise (single handed) in order to ensure one side doesn’t take over (which is a common issue).
As you get more advanced, stronger and confident adding deadlifts are a fantastic way to really pack on mass to your back. This is possibly the ultimate mass gaining exercise our there but approach with caution! Form must be perfect and you MUST ensure you are flexible within your lower back and hips or you will get injured.
As a final takeaway top tip back training is always complimented best with focus and exaggeration on the isometric contraction after the lift. This is more commonly referred to as the ‘’squeeze’’ at which point you do exactly that to the target muscles (back muscles in this instance) at the static point once you have lifted the weight. This helps maximise muscle fibre recruitment and in turn growth! Simple.
With all of those things pointed out building a strong, thick and wide back should be no issue at all!
Some people will never find it within themselves to follow regimented eating plans and strict training protocols on a daily basis, week in week out. That’s fine, after all we are all different and our lifestyles often make it easier for some than others to do so. In this instance we can focus on habits rather than rules. Things which you just get into the ‘’habit’’ of doing frequently, if not daily. We can divide these new found habits down the middle – training and eating. Today we will cover training habits.
So following a weekly training split isn’t for you, nor is timing your cardio sessions at specific times of the i.e. before breakfast, going for a fast walk for 25 minutes. That’s fine, instead try and incorporate some of these habits into your day to day life and watch the body fat fall!
1 – Basic Cardio
Get moving more is the initial message here. This means getting out for brisk walks with the family, dog or even by yourself. At least a handful of times per week get out in the great outdoors, walk fast, clear your mind and help the body torch some fat.
2 – Getting Intense
Once you can tick the above box some people might find that getting out of their comfort zone once every 7-14 days is something they like to do! For the duration it will probably feel like a bad idea but all the science tells us is that a small amount of high intensity cardio work burns fat like nothing else!! This might mean getting a quick sprint workout in one morning. As we said, once every 7-14 days is more than adequate. Try 15 seconds all out, resting for 45-60 seconds and repeat for 10-15 minutes. That’s a fat burning habit to get into!
3 – Add Resistance
We can’t tell you train on specific days because that isn’t your forte; it won’t work for you and will ultimately lead to meltdown! Instead what we can do is outline some of the benefits of using resistance training and encourage you to use a few of these habits!
Resistance training helps us burn more fat around the clock than regular CV work (cardiovascular). With that said we think 2-3 full body circuits in the gym are ideal for you! That’s 45-60 minutes, hitting all the major muscle groups with exercises like squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, bench press and the likes of. Use a rep range of 8-10 per set, rest for no more than 45-60 seconds between sets and make sure you really control each rep! You will notice the difference within weeks rather than months!
There you have 3 fantastic habits to get into in regards to the exercise you currently do!
Most people fall to the symptoms of the dreaded ‘’cold’’ at least once a year, maybe more. If you find yourself being over sensitive to bugs throughout the year then you need to address your diet and lifestyle – the answer will almost always lie in there. With that said we are going to delve into how you can improve your immune function on a day to day basis and more than that how you should react to the dreaded cold when its ugly head does present itself.
The basics begin with addressing nutrients which support healthy immune function – these are vitamin C, vitamin D and antioxidant rich foods. Most people in the UK will not get sufficient vitamin D from sunlight especially in the winter so you need to cover this with a quality multi-vitamin. In doing so you will also cover all other bases on this front. Vitamin C can be had from various fruits with Kiwi having twice as much as oranges. Blueberries are also a fantastic option as they are absolutely loaded with immune boosting antioxidants!
In short, covering yourself with a solid intake of vitamin C from berries or kiwi in a daily smoothie concoction, using a quality multi-vitamin and keeping hydrated will hold you in good stead to maintain a strong immune system. Furthermore, ensure you sustain a healthy sleeping pattern and eat a balanced diet with plenty of calories. Under eating and skipping sleep are two sure fire ways to run your body into the ground and in turn make yourself susceptible to the colds and the likes of.
What happens if you do all these things and yet you still fall unlucky? You will never ‘’bullet proof’’ yourself from colds unfortunately. When they do occur it is imperative you focus on the above points. One other area you really need to focus on though is exercise. We hear about people going for jogs or to the gym in hope that they will ‘’blow the cobwebs away.’’ This isn’t the case at all! When we exercise our body facilitates the recovery process via several pathways. If the immune system is under fire from a cold then it won’t focus on recovering from exercise – in short you are simply exacerbating the issue by exercise. Rest is essential in this case! It might not be what you want to hear but a few days rest will ensure you are back up to pace by the end of the week. It’s a must!
Protect your immune system with these stellar points now!
What is the optimal way of burning body fat in the gym? The truth is there are many ways, as the saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat. One of the ways is to induce as much lactic acid build up as possible. Whilst that sounds very painful the outcome can be great for fat loss. By pushing the body into the lactate threshold frequently during a workout you can ‘’flick the switch’’ on – of course, that ‘’switch’’ is the one which allows for enhanced fat oxidisation.
How does one go about achieving this?
You could be forgiven for thinking it is easily achieved – after all running for 20 minutes on the treadmill or hitting a DTP arm session will quickly induce eye watering amounts of lactic acid to inhabit your muscle fibres. It isn’t that straight forward though.
Lactic acid training was designed on the premise that we want to force a build-up of lactic acid around the entire body which in turn will create a better environment for fat oxidisation. In simple terms this is telling us that performing an upper body workout is more conducive to your fat loss goals over an arm workout – no matter how gruelling the latter might feel. Even if you cannot grip a packet of chewing gum after the arm workout the effect simply won’t be as drastic as the one stimulated by a total upper body session. Fact.
Moving forward we need to put some parameters in place for us to create an effective lactic acid training routine throughout the week. Fat loss is the goal, but so is muscle retention. Below we have outlined a week’s training for you to try – beware, it isn’t for the faint hearted and don’t be surprised if it leaves you feeling beat up and even nauseous.
Workout 1 – Upper Body
Bench press X 5 8-10 reps
Bent over row X 5 8-10 reps
Military press X 5 8-10 reps
Close grip bench press & seated dumbbell curls superset X 3 8-10 reps (each exercise)
Lying dumbbell pullovers & side lateral dumbbell raises superset X 3 8-10 reps (each exercise)
Workout 2 – Lower Body
Squats X 5 8-10 reps
Stiff leg dumbbell deadlifts X 5 8-10 reps
Good mornings X 5 8-10 reps
Leg press X 5 8-10 reps
Calf raises X 5 8-10 reps
Day off –
Workout 3 – Upper Body
Deadlift X 3 8-10 reps
Clean & press X 3 8-10 reps
Dips X 3 8-10 reps
Chin ups X 3 8-10 reps
Arnold press X 3 8-10 reps
Decline bench press X 3 8-10 reps
Renegade rows & press ups superset X 3 8-10 reps (each exercise)
Lying down pull ups x 3 8-10 reps
Workout 4 – Lower body
Squats X 3 8-10 reps
Lying leg curls X 3 8-10 reps
Single leg press X 3 8-10 reps (each leg)
Glute ham raises X 3 8-10 reps
Glute bridges X 3 8-10 reps
Calf raises X 3 15-20 reps
Day off –
Day off –
4 second negatives on every rep
60-90 seconds rest between each set/superset
As you can see these workouts are intense! The rest periods are kept short and the amount of time you spend under tension with the prolonged negative phases mean that it won’t take long for the lactic acid to simply gush into the upper or lower half of your body.
In an industry where there’s a conflicting theory on each and every corner it’s refreshing to get an insight from someone who has walked the walk as well as talked the talked for over two decades. For all the theory available it is much harder to find genuine experience and in turn wisdom. Fortunately, today’s guest has both in abundance and along with that has a lot of scientific knowledge and theory to reinforce his viewpoints. I would like to welcome John Meadows, one of the best amateur bodybuilders in the world (if not the best!!), a very well-known coach and founder of the MountainDog training and nutrition principles.
John, let’s start with nutrition. Just how important is it for a beginner focussing on muscle mass or fat loss?
It’s absolutely imperative! Whatever the goal, whether they are a total beginner or an experienced trainer you cannot afford to under value good nutrition.
Can you outline to us some of your fundamental beliefs on nutrition please?
1 – I believe that the pre and post workout windows represent an opportunity to utilise specific nutrients to optimise the workout. The most powerful time though is actually intraworkout. After all, we want to make sure we get as much from our workouts as possible. Nutrient timing and the correct application of this is the key! Typically before I train (and my clients) I will take on a small amount of starchy carbs with protein and a little fat. Fat slows down the rate at which glucose goes into the blood stream, in turn preventing a huge ‘’insulin dump’’ which in turn causes a crash and you to go hypoglycemic. You have to play with the timing of this meal. Eat it too far out and you will be hungry headed into the session. Eat it to close and you might have more food sitting in your gut then you like. I do like to have some food in you though, even though we are going to do a drink intra. If you are really hungry it will distract you from your training.
During the workout I want to encourage an insulin spike in order to prevent muscle protein breakdown and also provide a surge in free amino acid levels which will spike muscle protein synthesis. A glucose transporter known as Glute-4 (a carrier protein) is up regulated as blood sugar levels increase and also in another way independent of insulin just due to mechanical tension being applied to the muscles (assuming you are using reasonably heavy weight and sufficient reps). As a result it is easier to force more nutrients into the cell (where we need them to go) which is why I want carbohydrates present here in abundance to stimulate such a reaction. From what I have seen over the years, not all carbs do the same job here, and glycemic index is not as important as I initially thought. What matters more is that it is low osmalarity and high molecular weight meaning it will clear your stomach FAST, get into your small intestine and boom into your blood. Also, all proteins are not created equal to achieve this affect. They must be hydrolyzed so that they also rapidly enter the bloodstream. Hydrolyzed just means that a chemical process has taken place to break these proteins down into their constituent di and tripeptides. This might sound complicated but all it means is that we are protecting muscle tissue, encouraging rapid recovery and in turn growth in the long run!
Post-workout I am not as worried on the timing of this meal, as you just flooded your body with nutrients. I also don’t think the sources necessarily have to be fast acting as again, you just nailed that during your training. Instead I prefer to have a good balanced whole meal such as steak and rice for example. Most people have this meal about an hour after they train and do just fine. No need to rush it.
2 – I believe that it is essential we focus on what we eat, ate. Think about that for a second. This is why I focus on eating grass fed meat, free range organic eggs and the likes of. In doing so I believe we can improve overall health which is essential to everything else!
3 – I believe that we should get the majority of our food from wholesome, single ingredient sources to increase micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) intake and naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Gut health is absolutely essential. It is also where the immune system is housed, so they are interlinked. Think about that one!!
4 – We shouldn’t forgo foods we love, even if they are not ‘’ideal.’’ I occasionally enjoy some waffles, have donuts with my kids, and use cereal post or frozen yogurt post workout! The key is to avoid binging, that’s when the problems occur.
Those are my ‘’core’’ beliefs on nutrition.
Amazingly informative!! In relation to the whole carbs and fats debate, do you believe carbs are best consumed around the workout opposed to other times of the day for muscle mass and fat loss?
Fat cells are more insulin sensitive in the morning so I think it’s logical to fuel the body with protein and fats here assuming you train in the evening. There is also some science that says your body will be able to use fat as an energy source better if early meals are limited to protein and fats. We don’t need tons of carbs really which is why I think it’s intelligent to use them around the workouts more so than other times of the day. I prefer people to train in the afternoon or evenings and carbs are concentrated heavily around these times. When training, you can selectively get glucose to enter muscle cells too, and not fat cells. This is another huge reason to eat more carbs around training as opposed to other parts of the day.
Do you believe you can burn fat and build muscle simultaneously?
There’s a big debate on this now and many say science tells us it’s impossible because to burn fat you need to be in a calorific deficit and to build muscle you need to be in a calorific surplus – you can’t be in both at the same time.
However, my experience tells me otherwise. Science also says that trashed muscle cells can selectively take up glucose over fat cells, so what would happen in this case. Yes, more muscle, and less fat. I see it every year and have done for a very long time so what does that tell us? I will say this, the more experience and “trained” you are, the harder this is. There is also a chemical component here. The more chems people use, the easier this is. It is not easy for a natural, but it is possible. (we are not advocating chemical use at all here and suggest you DO NOT do this).
Great! Moving on to training – can you please outline your fundamental beliefs on training for muscle mass and fat loss?
1 – I believe that we should use a layered approach to maximize the potential for growth of muscle tissue to occur. By this I mean increase strength over a period of time, increase volume, vary rep ranges. These are all various ways to increase stress on a muscle and in turn intensity which is fundamental to facilitating growth in the long run.
2 – I believe that weak muscles need to be trained more frequently! If you have a body part which lags behind the rest then hit it more – once, twice, three times a week.
3 – Periodize your training so that it is progressive. I work with 3 different phases across a 12 week period typically.
4 – Use cardio sparingly – it’s fine to use it but don’t over use it because it can be the cause of catabolism and metabolic shutdown. (In excess of course).
Awesome – how does your training principles for ladies looking to burn fat change?
It doesn’t! They train hard and eat well just like my guys do!
Fantastic. Moving on to supplementation – how important are supplements for muscle mass and fat loss?
On top of a great diet and training plan I think they can certainly add a special something provided you use the right ones at the right time of the day. I do believe there are a lot of inferior supplements out there though, so choose wisely.
For muscle mass, what would they be?
During your workout I would recommend either a hydrolysed casein or whey and if you cannot afford these then Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) or even Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). For my carb source I would use branch cyclic dextrin.
Post-workout I just eat food, and don’t think further supplementation buys you that much.
Above that, a digestive enzyme and probiotic would be a great choice to support gut health if needed. Also science tells us that consuming high quality fish oils also provide some very good benefits.
Superb! Thank you so much for your insight today, it has been a very educational experience for all of our readers I am sure! Where can people contact you?
It is my absolute pleasure. People can check my work out and join my site at mountaindogdiet.com – thank you guys very much!
The great outdoors is often the best place to get a great workout first thing in the morning. Get the heart pumping, endorphins flowing and awaken the mind – it sounds like a rather grand way to start the day don’t you think? Whilst it might feel like a great idea 10PM the night before and not such a good one at 6AM the morning after you will feel good for it once you roll out of the sack and do it. With that said, here are 3 stellar morning routines for you to try. All are going to help kick-start the fat burning furnace for the next 24 hours!
One of the ultimate ‘’beasting’’ sessions any human can endure is a spot of hill sprinting. You will need no longer than 10-15 minutes, after 5 it will feel like it’s been half a day! However, they are ideal for those short on time and in need of a quick fix to making the fat shift.
Try sprinting uphill for 10 seconds, walking back down, resting for 45 seconds and repeat continuously. It’s a tough drag, build up your stamina gradually over a period of weeks. You won’t need to do this more than once or twice a week.
Fast Walking With A Twist
Fasted walking before breakfast is a fan favourite among the fitness community and with a myriad of benefits it is easy to see why. It is also a slightly less strenuous, enjoyable form of exercises to start the day than the gruelling alternative above. However, we want to throw a small curve ball at you. During your 20-30 minute power walk add in 3-4 evenly spaced out 30 second sprints! That’s all. The difference this will make will be apparent upon your return to the house when your top is stuck to your back!!
Strong Man Stuff
If you have ever watched strong men train you will know they aren’t overly fussy on the objects they use. Tractor tires, beer caskets, barrels, cars and the likes of. Sure, you won’t be using the same weight as them but look around your local environment and see what kind of circuits you can come up with. The rules are simple, perform each exercises for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, do a total of 8-10 exercises in the circuit then rest for 2 minutes. Repeat this circuit 2-3 times!
There are several ways you can use to start the way with a bang!
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