What Is Insulin And Why Is It Important For Building Muscle?

If you are into fitness or have been trying to become more healthy, you have probably heard the word “insulin” being thrown around. What is insulin and what role does it play in your body?

If you read some nutrition “gurus”, insulin gets a bad rap. Especially guys who argue that carbohydrates are evil and push low-carb diets, try to point the finger at insulin as one of the main causes of people getting fat. They argue that carbs are bad and insulin is bad by association.

However if you look at their arguments more closely, you can see that they make pretty sketchy connections and their conclusions are pretty much BS.

In order to be able to analyze all the different diets that people are hyping-up and make an informed choice on which is the best for you, you need to know what insulin is and how it works.

Let’s start by listing the main roles of insulin in the body:

1) push glucose into cells, in order for it to be used as energy

2) push other types of nutrients (for example proteins), in order for them to be used by the cells

3) store excess glucose for later use (either as glycogen or fat)

Remember these roles when reading the rest of the article, as this is crucial for understanding the importance of insulin in different bodily processes, and especially in what role it plays in getting bigger muscles and losing fat.

Insulin is one of the most important hormones for your metabolism. The different cells in your body need glucose for energy and insulin promotes the absorption of glucose by them (either for energy or for storage – glycogen, fat).

It is a peptide hormone, which means that it’s a functional protein. It is produced in the pancreas by beta cells and serves many functions in your body. You can think of it as the main regulator of your body.

Insulin is released into the bloodstream when glucose is present, whether due to food getting ingested or due to different stress hormones flooding the body.

What happens is that when you are eating, the food is broken down into its more basic constituent parts, and the pancreas starts releasing insulin into your bloodstream. The insulin then directs the transport of these nutrients either into the cells or for storage. Once the level of these nutrients in the blood drops, then the amount of insulin drops as well.

Let’s use an analogy in order to illustrate how insulin works. Imagine that insulin is a small spaceship that travels through your blood and muscle cells are big space factories. These space factories have docking stations (insulin receptors) that the insulin spaceship periodically visits and docks at them.

In the process, the insulin acts as a sort of key, unlocking the doors to the cells. Once these doors are unlocked, nutrients such as glucose or amino acids can enter the cells, bringing energy and also different building blocks for their internal processes.
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7 Things You Are Doing Wrong In The Gym

Personal_Training_at_a_Gym_-_Cable_Crossover

Many people go to the gym, but end up seeing very little results. The reason for that is not the routine they are doing. The problem is often much more basic, especially for beginners, office jockeys and weekend warriors. So if you fit in one of these categories, then try to examine what you are doing and what things you are doing wrong.

If you thought that this post was going to be about progressive overload, compound exercises and deadlifts, then you are in for a surprise. The main mistakes of most people are much more basic than that. If you are a more advanced lifter than this is most likely “well, duh” for you, but unfortunately most people keep on repeating these mistakes, sabotaging their own progress.

Here is a list:

1) You don’t go regularly to the gym

You might go to the gym one time one week, three times the second week, skip the third week and go back the fourth week. Your gym schedule is irregular and you do things haphazardly. No wonder you are not seeing results.

If you want to see results, then you need to go regularly. Pick a number of days a week (whether 2 or 4 or whatever) and stick to that number.

2) You are not consistent with your routine (you don’t stick to your routine)

Many people try to look for the perfect routine. In reality, it doesn’t really matter what routine you do, as long as it encompasses a few basic principles and most importantly you stick to it.

Many people go the gym, do cardio one week, then work on some chest presses the next week and do something totally different the third week. You need to pick a routine and stick to it. The key to anything is staying consistent.

Also don’t forget to work all your major muscle groups, a lot of guys go to the gym and keep on working their chest and biceps over and over again. Yes, they are being consistent, but it is a stupid type of consistency which can only lead to muscle imbalances and injuries.

3) You think some magic supplement will solve all your problems

I have a friend who I noticed had not being going to the gym for a while. I asked him why that is and he replied:

I can’t train if I don’t buy protein powder first.

He is obviously under the impression that some magic bullet (especially in the form of supplements) will make the difference. However his problems are much more fundamental: he is not consistent and his routine does not follow the basic principles of lifting. No wonder he never sees any progress. Yet, he still doesn’t listen.

4) You spend too much time fiddling with your smartphone

Seriously you don’t need to check your cell phone in between sets or play with it when you are on cardio machines. In fact, leave it in the locker room or at home.

5) You train through injuries and don’t give your body time to rest and heal

Contrary to popular belief, your muscles don’t grow in the gym doing exercises, but after that during the time you are at home and at rest. If you are not resting, then you are not giving your body time to recover and grow.

Also when you train through your injuries, you are settign yourself up for bigger problems later on. If you have a major injury, then take a break and give your body time to heal. That way you can continue on training for a long time.

6) You don’t pay attention to your diet

Whether you are fat or skinny depends on what you do in the kitchen: what you eat. If you want to see results, you need to fuel your body up with nutrients.

7) You can’t take a hint

If what you are doing isn’t producing results, then you are doing something wrong and need to change what you are doing. This is pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how many people can’t take a hint and continue on doing things in the wrong way.

Read More:
Top 12 exercises that must be a part of your routine

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Get Rid Of Them Chicken Legs: How To Get Bigger Calves

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If you step into the gym, you will immediately notice something. You will see guys with huge arms, huge chests…. and chicken legs. It’s pretty amusing watching these guys with huge biceps as they strut around on their toothpick legs.

The problems is that many guys spend most of their time working on their show muscles, and totally neglect the legs. If you are one of those guys, then you should remind yourself of the fact that legs make up half of your body. If you don’t work them, then you will never see the total gains you want.

With that said, I will assume that you do spend a considerable time working your legs with such staples as deadlifts, squats and a variety of other exercises. However your calves have not attained the size that you want.

For many people, the calves are their most stubborn muscles and even if you spend considerable time working them, they still refuse to grow. If you have that problem, then you should consider changing your approach.

The calves support and stabilize your legs and the rest of your body. So having big and strong calves, isn’t just a matter of having good looking legs, but also results in many functional advantages. With stronger calves your performance in many sports will improve, you will be able to jump higher, run faster and perform many activities in a more explosive manner.

In order for you to better understand how the calves work and what types of things you need to do to train them, you should have a basic understanding of what the calf muscles actually are. The back side of the lower leg (the calf) is made of two main muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The entire system of calf muscles is sometimes called the triceps surae muscle, or the three-headed calf.
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How A Routine Of Deadlifts And Pullups Made Me Blow Up To My Biggest Weight Ever

gaining weight and muscle, scale

gaining weight and muscle, scale

Today I got to my parent’s house. I live far away from them, so visit just a few times a year. The scale at my house is broken, so I wasn’t really aware of my weight. I thought I had actually lost weight, as I had not really been eating right and my working out routine has been severely limited due to the fact that I am still trying to strengthen up my knee after the ACL operation I had in the fall of last year. My focus this year has been recovering from my ACL injury and not gaining weight and muscle.

So today for the first time I had access to a functioning scale. Imagine my surprise when the scale showed 86 kilograms! That basically equals my all time high weight ever. And I had actually thought I had lost weight and was probably howering somewhere around 80 kilograms.

That’s great news, since not only am I close to my biggest weight ever, my abs are showing as well, and all this after not even trying to eat properly. 🙂

What can I thank this to? I think it’s due to my routine now heavily relying on pullups and deadlifts.

This is what my routine consisted of:
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Lazar Angelov Transformation And Inspiration

One of the most impressive physiques on the net belongs to a Bulgarian bodybuilder named Lazar Angelov. Dude is seriously ripped and symmetric. He started off as a basketball player, but later turned to bodybuilding. The guy has impressive genetics, but also a lot of hard work went into getting the body he has.

Here is a video that can serve as inspiration:

Lazar Angelov Transformation and Inspiration

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In Order To Get Big You Need To Eat Big

monkey eating to gain weight

The number one mistake that people who want to gain weight and muscle make is that they simply aren’t eating enough. Most of the time they don’t even realize that they are making this mistake. They might think that they are stuffing themselves, however in reality they are not eating the amount required for them to gain weight.

In order to gain weight, you need to eat more than your maintenance calories. This is the most important advice that anyone can give you. Most people always want to know what kind of a routine they should do, how many reps, what exercises and stuff like that. It doesn’t matter what type of a routine you are doing, if you are not eating enought. Eating above your maintenance level is the basic prerequisite for any routine to work.

For most beginner and even intermediate lifters, basically any type of routine will help them pack on weight and muscle. Of course some might be better at it than others, however if your routine meets some basic principles, then it will help you. It’s the eating part that will be the main difference maker.

The importance of eating cannot be understated. Most of the time when people failed to gain weight, it is because of the fact that they were not eating enough. If you are lifting hard and still fail to make progress on gaining weight, then you need to reexamine your diet. Track it for a week and see what you are eating and how many calories per day in total it is.

Based on this tracking, you can then prepare your diet plan. Calculate your maintenance calories and try to eat anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories above that one. Start off slow, the first week, maybe add just 250 calories above maintenance and consistently keep adding more, until you reach an optimum level, where you are adding weight, but not too much fat. When packing on weight, you are bound to gain fat as well, however by eating clean, you can minimize this fat gain. You can always lose a lot of this fat in a fat-cutting phase later.
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The Ultimate Guide To Gaining Weight Has Come Out!

weight gain with beer

weight gain with beer

It’s here! If you want to get all the essential information that you need in order to gain weight and lean muscle, then you are in luck! 🙂 I wrote a big post on all the basic principles for gaining lean weight. You can use it to start your own journey to have the body that you always wanted. 🙂

Read it here:
How to gain weight

It’s still a bit of a work in progress, however it should give you all that you need to know to get started.
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Keep It Simple 2

how to gain weight, keep it simple, bulk up, gain muscle, fast, bulk up, healthy

how to gain weight, keep it simple, bulk up, gain muscle, fast, bulk up, healthy
Here is the second installment of Keep It Simple. In this post, I will be giving short summaries of some of the articles I had posted previously, together with the key lessons from each article.

Nutrition:

There is a lot of controversy in the field of nutrition on what type of a diet you should have and what you should eat. Recently there has been a rise in many types of fad diets promoted by different gurus. You do not need to follow any of these diets to be healthy, but should be mindful of what you eat. There are a few basic principles to keep in mind when choosing what to eat. The keyword behind all these principles is balance.

I did 3 articles on the three main macronutrient types that you need to eat and several other articles looking into related topics. These articles summarize all the basic things that you should know about your diet and can help you in forming your own eating strategy. This strategy will depend heavily on what your goals are.

What are carbohydrates?
For most people, carbohydrates form the largest part of their diet. Their primary role is to deliver energy to the body. This energy is delivered primarily in the form of glucose, which is the basic fuel for the human body. It can come in its simple form, delivered as a simple sugar and thereby getting released into the bloodstream really quickly, or it can come in its more complex form, for example as a starch (chains of glucose branched together). This glucose is either used up by the body to fuel its functioning or it is stored as glycogen. Glycogen storage is rather limited however, and so excess glucose often gets stored as fat. Carbohydrates have recently become a bogeyman, and have replaced fats as supposedly the main culprit behind the obesity epidemic in the Western world. This has given rise to a number of low-carb diets such as Paleo or Atkins. However, these types of diets have often been criticized by different people, stating that they are based on bad premises and carbohydrates are not the bogeyman that it is often portrayed as.

Key Lessons: Carbohydrates are an essential part of the diet and should be eaten. The amount of carbohydrates and when they should be eaten depends on what your goals are (lose weight, gain weight) and your activity levels (for example long exercise and long-distance running). So if you are trying to gain weight, having a large number of carbohydrates in your diet may help you. Good sources of carbohydrates for someone trying to gain weight are brown rice and sweet potatoes. On the other hand, for someone trying to lose weight, you might try to cut down on the amount of carbohydrates. The strategy once again is different for active people. Carbohydrates are basically the fuel for the body and so for active people who do long and demanding exercise or activities (such as long distance running), they might need to also take in more carbohydrates, before, during and after exercise.

What is protein?
Proteins serve as the building blocks for your body. The amino acids that they contain are recomposed and then incorporated in many bodily structures, for example muscles are made of protein. That’s why if you want to build muscle, you need to ingest protein. Some of the amino acids that make up different types of proteins are called essential amino acids. This means that your body can’t manufacture them and needs to ingest them from the outside through food.

Key Lessons: As proteins are the building blocks of muscles, your diet needs to have a significant amount of protein in it, in order to be able to make muscles grow. You especially need to make sure to provide your body with the essential amino acids, because it can’t manufacture them by itself.

The different types of protein supplements
While the majority of the proteins you ingest should come in the form of normal foods, there are some supplements that can be used to supplement your protein intake. This is to make sure that you have enough protein in order to build muscle, especially after a workout. There are different types of protein supplements, for example egg protein or soy protein, however the most important protein supplements come from cow’s milk. The two main types are whey protein and casein protein. These are sold in powder form and can be mixed with milk or water to create a liquid which you can drink. Whey protein is absorbed by the body fast, while casein protein is absorbed slowly.

Key Lessons: Since whey protein is a fast absorbing protein, you should take it straight after working out. That way you supply your body with building blocks needed to build muscles. Casein protein is a slow absorbing protein and the best time to take it is before going to bed. That way it can release those amino acids during the night and help you grow bigger.

What is fat?
Fats are the third major macronutrient needed by your body. It is a much maligned nutrient, however it plays very vital roles in many bodily functions. Fats are very important, especially because of the fact that they contain some essential fatty acids, which your body cannot produce and which need to be obtained from the outside. Some very well-known fatty acids are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Fats can be divided into saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Traditionally saturated fat has been considered an unhealthy fat, while unsaturated fat is considered healthy, but recently more and more people are stating that saturated fat should be an important part of your diet. There are some fats that are considered very unhealthy and those are trans-fats.

Key Lessons: Fats are an important part of any diet. They are especially important if you want to gain weight. They should compose around 20-30% of your diet. However don’t gobble down any type of fat. Try to eat “healthy” fats from natural sources such as fish oil or avocados. These are sources of essential fats and have positive benefits for your body and health.

The omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids imbalance in our diets
Omega-6 and omega-3 are a types of fatty acids, the building blocks of fats. They are both very important for our bodies and are considered essential. However due to the rise of the modern diet, there is a huge imbalance between the amount of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Sometimes the ratio is 10:1 or even 20:1 in favor of omega-6. This can have a lot of negative effects on our bodies. There is a bit of a controversy on how important this ratio is, with some arguing that it is very important and needs to be addressed, while others don’t give the ratio much importance. What everyone does agree on is the fact that omega-3 fatty acids are very important and need to be eaten. The main sources are seafood, fish and marine algae. You can also supplement it by taking fish oil supplements.

Key Lessons: You need to make sure to include a lot of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet in order to be more healthy. You should also cut down on eating too many processed foods.
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Keep It Simple 1

how to gain weight, keep it simple, bulk up, gain muscle, fast, bulk up, healthy

how to gain weight, keep it simple, bulk up, gain muscle, fast, bulk up, healthy
I like to write long articles on different subjects, trying to pack them with information and to go really deep into the issues. However I do realize that not everyone wants to read those long articles. Instead many people just want to get the key takeaways from each article and how they can apply them to their own lives. So that’s why I am introducing a new series: Keep It Simple. Here I will try to post short summaries of what I have written up to that point and what is important to get out of that.

Fitness:
The world of fitness is full of misconceptions and contradictions. It can get pretty confusing for a newbie, but even for more advanced lifters. There is so much contradicting information out there, that a person has a hard time making sense of it and applying it to their own routine.

One Size Does Not Fit All: What Fitness Advice To Follow
That’s why it is very important to look at all the advice that is given and try to determine how it applies to you. Each one of us is different and that’s why what works for one person might not always work for another person. However fitness advice is often given out as the “truth”. However if you look at some of the supposed truths more deeply, you can see that they are more akin to opinion than some scientific fact.

Key Lesson: Do not blindly follow any routine you find, but instead try to determine whether it will bring you closer to the goals you want to accomplish and fits your body and mindset.

Compound Exercises To Do If You Want To Gain Weight And Muscle
Compound exercises are a key to any bulking routine. If you want to gain weight and muscle, then your routine needs to be based around these types of exercises. Isolation exercises are not as efficient at recruiting all the different muscles that you have and stimulating your entire body to grow. Instead compound exercises recruit several muscles at once and are a more efficient way of growing your body. Some examples of compound exercises are squats and good mornings.

Key Lesson: In order to grow, you need to focus on exercises that recruit several muscles at once: compound exercises. However you need to pay a close attention to form, as improper form can lead to injuries.

Confused About Muscle Confusion?
The differences in viewpoints can be illustrated by looking at the concept of muscle confusion. This concept rubs a lot of fitness gurus the wrong way. They state that there is no such thing as muscle confusion and the only thing that matters is muscle overload, that is constantly lifting heavier weights. However on the other hand, there are some fitness gurus that have made muscle confusion the key part in their routines. There is nothing that proves or disproves this concept and so the discussions on whether it works are just shouting matches. Some people say that it works for them, while others state that they don’t want anything to do with the concept.

Key Lesson: Muscle confusion can work you, however it should be applied in the right context. A lot of people just go around the gym doing some random exercises without having any plan. So at the end they see very little progress. If you want to make progress with a routine based on muscle confusion, you need to be systematic about it. Muscle confusion also works better in certain contexts and goals. For example if you want to lose weight, then a routine based on muscle confusion is a good way to go. However for gaining weight, I would stick to a strict routine based around heavy compound exercises and progressive overload (lifting heavier and heavier weights).

Should You Lift Fast Or Slow?
Another controversial topic is the tempo or speed of a rep when lifting. Some people argue that you should lift slow, while others argue that you should do it fast. There are various arguments pro and con for each. However it seems that most people that argue for lifting fast have strength as their goal, while many of those arguing for lifting slow have size as their goal. However there is no consensus on what type of effects the speed of a rep has on your body.

Key Lesson: The speed of lifting is not a very important parameter. Try to experiment with different speeds and see what fits you best. For beginner lifters I would advise to start lifting slow, to learn proper form and keep the weights under control.

WTF Is Hypertrophy And Should You Care?
There are different types of hypertrophy and the one you are going for will determine the type of a routine and how many reps per set you should do. The two main types of hypertrophy are: sarcoplasmic and myofibrilar. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is more about the increase in size of the muscles, while myofibrilar hypertrophy is more about the increase in strength.

Key Lesson: If you want to go for strength you should do sets with reps in the 1-5 range, while if you want to go for size, you should do reps in the 6-12 range.
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