Monday, March 23, 2015

How to build muscles fast, the Right way

How to build muscles fast

Important introduction

Building muscles effectively and as soon as possible, by using scientifically accurate methods, have been used by professional bodybuilders and movie actors almost for the last three decades. In this article I will try to describe precisely the methods and everything that you will have to follow and to keep in your mind, so please, if you want to achieve your goals, you have to read everything that I write here.

You have to understand that the process is (most probably) not light for your pocket (if it is, then you are very lucky), for you will have to invest in correct supplementation and diet needs. So if you are not willing to invest in your targets, the whole thing loses its meaning, and your targets will just go "much" farther in time, with you most probably losing your motivation by false-thinking that you are a hard gainer. Losing motivation can even lower the effectiveness of your testosterone and its levels in your blood, by rising the catabolic stress hormone cortisol (study).

As an important note, I would like to inform you that If you have previously tried to gain muscle by practicing the regularly known programs (with supplementation/diet or neither) and you have completely failed to gain any muscle size and strength at all, then you must check up your hormonal levels with a doctor (Endocrinologist) to verify that you don't have any problems. Pay attention to the hormones, Testosterone and Estrogen ratios, LH (Luteinizing Hormone), and Insulin. Remember that your hormonal levels must be at fine levels to for you be able to achieve steady gains, otherwise, you will put your body into a stressful muscle-catabolic state where most probably you will lose more muscle fiber filaments than the ones your body is able to repair, especially if your testosterone levels are significantly below average and/or you're overtraining.

Remember that after each training session you are going one step back from your goal by having damaged Myofibrils in Myocytes (filament fibers in muscle cells/fibers), and if you'll give your trained muscle groups enough time to rest (about 3 to 4 days, up to 5) with correct diet and supplementation, you will go two steps forward towards your goal, for your body will generate bigger Myofibrils in the Myocytes, than the ones you have previously damaged, through reconstructing, regenerating, and enhancing them with more Myofilaments.  So, Myofibril regeneration and reconstruction is what brings the size and strength gains in your muscles. But without normal hormonal function with correct diet and supplementation, the process of reconstruction will not take place as it should be, and the muscle catabolism mechanism will keep your progress non-existent, or at best, extremely slow. The more days you offer to your hard-trained muscle groups to rest, the more solid the gains would be, just remember not to exceed 5 days of rest for each muscle group, except if the feeling of soreness continues to be present. In between these days, provide to your body all the needed nutrients which I'm going to discuss in the next paragraphs.
(For more on this, read: The importance of a resting period for muscle hypertrophy).

Muscle building supplementation

Forget everything you knew until now about the effectiveness of many over-marketed supplements, the following list consists of the "only" supplements you are going to need, almost everything else is a complete waste of money.

1. BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

The building blocks of muscle's protein - Branched Chain Amino Acids (L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine). This (in combination with a full protein with all the EAA / Essential Amino Acids) is the most important supplement you can provide to your body for muscle fiber reconstruction and enhancement during your rest periods, and the most crucial role between them corresponds to L-leucine. It is even more important that your body cannot produce these three amino acids by itself, therefore it depends by taking them from your food & supplements, which are the only source.

Studies have shown that BCAA very effectively increase protein synthesis (anabolism) in the muscle cells, during and especially after physical exercise. They achieve this by activating the mTOR pathway (mechanistic Target Of Rapamycin, which is a serine/threonine-protein kinase) that promotes cell growth, cell proliferation, cell motility, cell survival, protein synthesis (anabolism), and cell transcription. BCAA also increase the levels of Insulin and its anabolic activity through the mTOR pathway, too (study). Remember that Insulin is the most anabolic hormone that your body produces, and it's much more anabolic than testosterone. But there are even more benefits. BCAA can increase Testosterone, while decreasing the extremely catabolic stress hormone Cortisol, too (study)! Briefly, it is a 'miracle' supplement for preserving muscles, muscle hypertrophy (building / enhancing muscle fibers), and well being.

BUT. You have to have an adequate amount of a full protein in your stomach (with all the EAA / Essential Amino Acids) to be able to get the advantage of BCAA. If you don't, BCAA alone can and will cause muscle breakdown! (explanation).

* Contrary to the common (marketed) beliefs, the best kind of BCAA to buy and use for your body is not the instantized (iBCAA) which dissolve very quickly in water. In reality, the instantized (iBCAA) powder does not dissolve instantly, it 'sinks' and spreads in the liquid, without really dissolving. You can understand this by shaking the glass slightly and then by looking at your glass of iBCAA in an angle, with a light source in front of the glass (not behind it). You will see pearly-looking particles floating around inside the liquid (it's the iBCAA powder). Regular BCAA are hard to dissolve, but they do dissolve completely after a while, iBCAA do not.

The regular, pure, not over-processed BCAA which are hard to dissolve, are the best and the most effective ones! Keep that in mind. BCAA in the purest and most bioavailable form (naturally-correct molecular structure) are hard to dissolve because they are naturally hydrophobic compounds, especially L-leucine. The process that makes them easily dissolvable and/or sink-able in water makes them less effective (I have a detailed experience experimenting on my self). Try to find a completely pure BCAA powder that is not instantized. Not only it costs less, but it's also better for your goals.

Try to avoid the artificially flavored & colored versions, except if you don't mind your supplement to have some toxicity on you. Yes, BCAA in pure form taste awful and bitter, but you have to think about the positive effects, for you are not buying ice cream or candies, you are buying a supplement for muscle growth (+ you will have more BCAA per dose). Get real! Of course, you can use BCAA in tablet/capsule form, but, you will have to swallow unimaginable amounts of tablets/capsules throughout the day, and their cost is extremely higher than the powders (by comparing the dose amount and the quantity for which you are paying for).

In my experience, the most optimal way to use BCAA for muscle hypertrophy is by consuming about ±0.25g of BCAA per 1kg of body weight (1kg = 2.2 lbs) per day. So, a person who weighs 70kg (154 lbs) should consume ±17.5g of BCAA throughout the day, with the last dose to be consumed before going to sleep (important), for sleeping is the time when your body starts to rebuild and enhance your damaged muscle fibers.

The first dose should be consumed approximately 30 minutes before exercise, and another one right after. The third dose should be consumed before going to sleep. If you have enough money to support your supplementation and you're willing to even greater results, you can have extra doses. An extra dose in the morning and one dissolved in your gym-bottle for in-between your workouts.
On rest days, it is advisable to have the three (or more) doses dissolved in a bottle of water or juice that you are going to sip evenly throughout the day until you reach bedtime. Just do not forget that you must have adequate amounts of a complete protein in your stomach, every time you're taking the BCAA!

2. Creatine monohydrate & Citrulline malate

First of all, contrary to some common beliefs, these supplements are natural and safe if you follow the suggested doses (especially Citrulline malate which is very safe even by using very high doses). Though you don't 'have to' consume Creatine monohydrate and Citrulline malate in contrast with BCAA, these supplements will help you to achieve your goals much faster than without them, for the following reasons:

Creatine is naturally produced in the human body from the amino acids Glycine and Arginine, and it has absolutely nothing to do with steroids like some uneducated people use to believe. Creatine monohydrate will help you by rising your strength, and it achieves that by transferring more water to your muscle cells while also increasing muscle stores of the very limited PCr (Phosphocreatine), therefore it increases the muscle’s ability to re-synthesize the ultimate cell fuel called ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) from ADP (Adenosine diphosphate) for your body to meet increased muscle-energy demands, and also the energy that's being used by your brain.

The best way to get the benefits of creatine monohydrate is to consume 3 to 5g's (no more) about 45 minutes before exercise. Use only the form of Creatine "monohydrate" (choose "micronized"), it is the cheapest and the most effective form of creatine supplementation you can get from the market.

Citrulline malate, like creatine, plays a crucial role in increasing readily the ATP from ADP (study). Another one of its important abilities is to increase (very effectively) natural plasma levels of Arginine in your body, at a 'much' higher extent than simple Arginine supplementation which has very low bioavailability when consumed. So it doesn't only help with increased muscle-energy demands but also increases the strength and the final muscle-pump for much longer periods. In combination with creatine monohydrate, it does miracles in increasing strength output. It also helps to eliminate Lactic Acid and Ammonia through the Urea Cycle. You will be able to do more sets and repetitions without getting tired fast, and the muscle soreness for the first days of resting from exercise will be greatly reduced (study 1, study 2). It even enhances the effectiveness of BCAA (study).

Citrulline malate is the ultimately real NO (Nitric Oxide) increasing supplement, so you can forget Arginine supplementation forever because it's a waste of money compared to Citrulline malate.

The best way to get the benefits of Citrulline malate is to consume 5 to 7g about 30 minutes before physical exercise.

These two supplements will help you to achieve much greater performance in your workouts, meaning that you will force your muscles into deeper muscle fiber reconstruction in your rest periods after exercise, for then your muscle fibers will be more damaged because of the prolonged duration of exercise (but that's good for you), and BCAA will take care in reconstructing/repairing and enhancing those damaged fibers in your rest periods.

Muscle-building diet

One of the most important things to consider for your muscle-building goals is the correct diet and nutrient needs. After your workouts, you are obliged to feed your body with protein and all the needed nutrients from food, you might also consider the supplementation of protein with a protein supplement, in case you are not able to get enough protein from your food.

Eating 'a lot' is extremely important to see gains in muscle mass, but it is even more important to know what and when you're going to eat because you want to gain size in muscle mass and not fat. It is a little bit hard to tell you exactly what you have to eat, for everyone has a different lifestyle, but I'm going to speak with simplicity about where you have to pay the most attention.

First of all, to avoid the accumulation of fat from your increased food intake, you will have to spread the food intake throughout the day and to avoid eating only two times per day. In that way you will have an increased metabolism, and an even supply of nutrients throughout the day.

The breakfast and especially after physical exercise (your workouts) are the most important times to eat well to supply your body with the needed nutrients. Breakfast is important because you are nutritionally depleted after sleep so you have to eat to avoid catabolism and low energy levels throughout the day. After the exercise your body searches for nutrients to recover your muscle fibers and to build new ones.

* For your protein needs, try to include as much as you can the following kinds of food throughout the day (especially and most importantly after the physical exercise):

A lot of Egg whites with one whole egg (one egg with its yolk is ok, study) because they are the best kind of protein that you can find easily almost anywhere. Also include Red meat, Fish, Poultry, and Dairy (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt). If you have trouble with this kind of supply, you have to use a protein supplement. The best for this job is clean Whey protein, although plant-based protein like Soy protein is also very good and it is even cheaper.

Remember, the optimal intake of daily protein for muscle building is about 2.5g per 1kg of your weight. That's about 175g of protein for a person whose weight is 70kg (154 lbs). That doesn't mean that you can't build muscle with less, it means that you will be able to build muscle more efficiently.

* For your carbohydrate, fiber, and vitamin needs, try to include the following throughout the day with your main foods:

A significant amount of Legumes (they have a lot of protein and healthy carbohydrates), whole grain wheat and other whole grains with green vegetables (a lot of fiber), and various fruits (healthy and very bio-available vitamins).

Remember, never eat less than 1 hour before physical exercise, and about 45 minutes after.

The best muscle building exercise method

If you want fast growth, first and most important remember not to work out all of your body muscles every day or regularly, avoid working out upper-body muscle groups and legs on the same day. You have to make a weekly schedule of workouts, where you have to place different muscle groups for each day of your weekly schedule. This is because your muscles need a rest period to be able to be repaired with added growth. If you won't follow this, you won't have a positive outcome on hypertrophy. Without the appropriate rest periods, your muscles will be in a constant repair mode, without getting any growth.

For example (this is just to give an idea but it is one of the most effective schedules), on Mondays train your chest and abs muscles, on Tuesdays train your back muscles (Traps, Lats, Middle back, Lower back), on Wednesdays train your shoulder muscles (Deltoids: Anterior, Medial, Posterior), on Thursdays train your arm and forearm muscles (Biceps, Triceps, Flexors, Extensors), and on Fridays train your legs (Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves).

Before working out specific muscle groups, always make sure to do a warm-up with easy weights for the specific muscle groups. Without a warm-up you are in danger of harming your muscle fibers in a way that's going to cause uncomfortable pain for the next days, and sometimes even weeks or more. Also, if your main target is faster muscle hypertrophy, avoid doing running-cardio when you're going to work out upper-body muscle groups. Running-cardio is advisable only when you're going to work out leg muscles. The philosophy on that is the following: By running and then working out the upper-body, the blood supply (therefore nutrients) will be minimized to the upper body, for the nutrients / increased blood flow will be shared with the legs, and vise versa. This is the exact reason why your upper body muscles temporarily shrink (slightly) when/while you train only the legs.

I will speak with simplicity here, and everything that I'm going say will stand true for every one of your muscle-group workouts.

Forget doing a specific number of sets! After warming up, you have to put weights which will not allow you to do more than 10 to 15 repetitions. You will have to do as many sets as you can handle, until failure! In between sets give yourself a rest period of about 30 seconds up to a minute.

Another way, that in my experience is the most effective on hypertrophy, is to do 3 sets without a specific number of repetitions in each set. Do each set until failure. Again, in between your sets give yourself a rest period of about 30 seconds up to a minute.

Speed matters a lot, try to start your first repetitions slowly, then increase your intensity and speed, and end the last two to three repetitions by slowing down, with two to three movement-pauses (isometric) while doing the last repetition. To achieve efficient repair and growth you will have to forget that muscle group and not train it again for at least 3 up to 7 days, depending on your diet and supplementation.

So, here you have it! If you are seriously interested to build muscles fast and you have read every paragraph that I have written in this article for you, you WILL achieve your goals faster than you think.