How to Grow Muscle Naturally, Part 1

18 06 2013

 

MarcWkOutStation    To grow muscle bigger and without anabolic steroids and/or growth hormones, you must focus on lifting heavier.  The body will also require a balanced diet to provide muscles the nutrients required to repair and grow the muscle after intense exercise and during periods of rest.  If you plan to cheat your way toward fast muscle growth you’ll achieve short-term results and may harm your good health doing it.  But if you want long-term sustainable muscle growth without health risk, working for them honestly and smartly will help you achieve that goal.

Growing muscle and strength naturally will require working each muscle group by performing fewer repetitions per set with heavier resistive weights.  (Muscle & Strength 2013).  I know, many of you think you have to do as many reps as you can until failure to gain strength and muscle bulk.  The science backs the lower reps per set scenario to stimulate strength and anabolic muscle growth.  To do otherwise is to work for a different fitness goal.

The physiology behind growing larger muscle has to do with muscle fiber types within various muscle groups.  To stimulate the 3 muscle fiber types: slow, moderate fast and fast twitch fibers is dependent on much muscular effort and training technique required to contract each muscle type optimally.  Slow twitch fibers are considered aerobic [optimally stimulated during long endurance, low-intensity exercise activities], whereas fast twitch fibers are optimally stimulated through anaerobic “forceful short burst,” high-intensity exercise activity.  All 3 muscle fiber types are found throughout each muscle group and vary in degree of concentration throughout the body.  (A1Articles 2013)

These muscle types are set up to work like this.  The slow twitch fibers begin muscular contraction when needed for low intensity exercise.  As you need to move with more muscular effort, then the moderate fast twitch muscle fibers fire.  The last muscle fibers to follow are the fast twitch.  At this point the body’s muscles are working without oxygen and lactic acid is produced to slow down muscular intensity or stop the activity.

Slow twitch muscle fiber respond well to aerobic endurance training activities: for example, long distance running, swimming and jogging events.  Whereas the fast twitch muscle fibers are needed to excel in football, bodybuilding and weightlifting which are more anaerobic exercise activities.   Moderate fast or intermediate muscle fibers contract at a rate necessary to sustain mid-range endurance and strength efforts while supporting the other two fiber types to get work done.

It is also shown through controlled studies that with adequate rest and recovery fast twitch muscle fiber breaks down and regenerates itself towards greater growth potential when high intensity anaerobic weight training is practised with frequency.  Fast twitch muscle fiber can also grow larger when adequate rest follows a high intensity training day.  In other words, resist working the same muscle groups daily.  That’s why you see weight lifting routines that focus on core abdominal, low back, legs and calves one day and then chest, back, shoulders and arms the next.

Best repetition strategies per exercise activity.

I’ve extrapolated the following exercise programming from the following cited sources (Muscle & Strength 2013), (aworkoutroutine 2013) and my personal trainer programming preferences.

If you want to grow fast twitch muscle fiber size and performance for any muscle group…  perform between 3-4 sets at 6-8 reps as much weight as you can handle per exercise activity.  Then the following week add 5 lbs at each exercise weight station.  Do not go over 6-8 reps for any one resistive weight exercise.  The key is to find a starting weight you can push maximally 8 times for 3-4 sets the first week [This is your beginning 100% muscular effort].

If you fail to push 6 reps per any weight lifting activity, reduce weight.  If you hit 6-8 reps consistently throughout your 1st week… Then at the beginning of your second week, add 5 lbs to your set and maintain that new weight for the week.  Then the following week add 5 lbs for that exercise activity and repeat the process.

Assisted lifting is where a partner helps you to squeeze out your 6-8 reps using free weights.  Assisted lifting is a wise strategy to use as a safety measure to prevent injury, as well as a motivator when pushing the envelope.  However, be aware and understand when the assist is your partner’s effort vs. your own.  The point is, in knowing whose effort achieved the 6-8 reps/set is just as important as knowing proper nutrition, rest and recovery strategies.  If you can’t balance this wisdom, you’ll spend more time nursing your injuries then growing muscle.

Muscle Rest and Recovery Cycles,

How do you know when to stop adding the 5 lbs/week?  First of all, shoot for intensity training cycles that last 4-6 weeks.  Then provide the body a 1 week rest cycle within a training cycle.  For example, if you cannot maintain your 6-8 reps on the bench, leg or shoulder press while adding 5 lbs per week… Then recalculate your high bench press, leg, shoulder etc., weight at 90% effort and you’ll stay on target with 6-8 repetitions/set, regardless of what week or training cycle you hit the wall.

Let’s make the math simple,

If you can bench 100lbs for 8 reps/per set the first week, add 5 lbs the following week.  The second week you are now pushing 105 lbs for 6-8 reps/3-4 sets.  [You should be able to maintain this effort resting no more than 2 minutes in between each set until you finish the work for each muscle grouping [quads, abs, chest, shoulder, arms, back].

For week three, continue the 6-8 repetitions with an added 5 lbs to your bench press exercise.  Now you are at 110 lbs.  Let’s say you’re at week 5 and reach a sticking point.

In other words, when benching 120 lbs you reach an infrequent 5-6 reps per set… it is now time to take a break on the bench press for a week by working at 90% effort as opposed to 100%.  By using this technique it is possible to pass the sticking point (or wall) and not risk muscle fatigue and injury during a training cycle.  Complete your 4-6 week cycle and then start a second one with a new adjusted and ending bench press weight for example.

120lbs x .90 = 108 lbs [round up weight on the bench press]:  Instead of working the chest press at 120 lbs, you’ll work out at 110 lbs to finish your week. 

In this example, you begin your second training cycle on the bench press exercise at 110 lbs.  This is 10 lbs heavier per repetition then when you started your first training cycle.

This is the change up your muscles need to get you to the next level and prevent injury.  By using this change up technique your muscle will continue to grow and get stronger.  Make sure you listen to your body, watch your repetition counts and make adjustments when necessary.

Cycling your effort, rest and recovery,

Your body needs time to heal and repair after intense exercise activity.  After each muscle group has been pushed hard, do not work the same muscle group for 24-72 hours (Kawamoto 2013).   When torn muscle fibers heal during the recovery phase, they rebuild and get stronger.  Soar and achy muscles tells you, you’ve worked out harder than last conditioned and are ready to continue the course (Siegel 2012).  This does not mean you should strive to achieve a “no pain, no gain” mentality.  Keep this in mind, if you feel like you’re body is going to break, it will.    You can tell when the muscles are adequately rested… when most the aching, soreness and/or stiffness are gone from the last intense workout.  This rested time line toward recovery typically takes 1-2 days.

My personal preference to expedite and alleviate muscle pain after intense exercise is to walk it off through a 1-2 day period while I work other muscle groups.  For example, low-impact exercise: walking, swimming or cycling to circulate oxygen enriched blood to assist in the muscle healing and recovery process.

See Part 2, by Marc Woodard.  Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets.  Changing Exercise and Nutrient Strategies to Grow More Muscle.   July 2013,

 Works Cited,

 A1Articles. “THE “SHIFT” ON MUSCLE FIBER TYPES: Maximum Strength, Muscle Growth and Performance.” A1 Supplements. A1Supplements.com, n.d. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://forum.a1supplements.com/content.php?618-THE-SHIFT-ON-MUSCLE-FIBER-TYPES-Maximum-Strength-Muscle-Growth-and-Performance&gt;.

Kawamoto, Jon-Erik, M.Sc.Kin.(c), C.S.C.S., C.E.P. “6 Recovery Strategies for a Workout-aholic.” Men’s Fitness. Weider Publications, 2013. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/6-recovery-strategies-for-a-workout-aholic&gt;.

Muscle & Strength LLC. “Rep Out: The Truth About Rep Ranges And Muscle Growth.” Muscle & Strength. Muscleandstrength.com, 2013. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/truth-rep-ranges-muscle-growth&gt;.

Siegel, Kathryn. “CAN YOU BE TOO SORE TO WORK OUT?” Greatist. Greatest.com, 8 Aug. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://greatist.com/fitness/can-you-be-too-sore-work-out&gt;.

Woodard, Marc T. “Changing Exercise and Nutrient Strategies to Grow More Muscle, Part II” Mirror Athletes Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete.com, Publish Date, 25 July 2013. Web.  <http://mirrorathlete.com/>

Woodard, Marc T. “Exercise is the Anti-Aging Hormonal Fix.” Mirror Athletes Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete.com, 23 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://mirrorathlete.com/blog/2012/02/23/exercise-is-the-anti-aging-hormonal-fix/&gt;.

A Workout Routine. “Weight Training Intensity – How Many Reps Per Set Of An Exercise?” A Workout Routine. Aworkoutroutine.com, n.d. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/weight-training-intensity/&gt;.

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, CPT, MSC ARNG Retired.  2013 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

 





GH-Hormone Stimulator the Fountain of Youth Elixir?

23 02 2012

Men and women’s growth of healthy muscle, bone, body fat regulation and sexual desire and sense of well-being is dependent upon the metabolisms optimization of 7 hormones working in harmony with each other. The decline in maleness is now being referred as andropause, while the parallel term used on women is menopause. These terms are characteristic of the aging process. There is something you can do about reversing the attributes of old age without creating risk to your good health. Of course, you must understand, there are specific conditions to be aware of prior to participating in any hormone stimulation program, to include supplementing your diet.

You first must be aware why marketers have taken advantage of hormone replacement therapy and androgen stimulation science to promote products that may not be in your best health interest (i.e., supplementation and steroids). Today, we’ll be looking at 2 of the most important male hormones that are also produced within women that contribute to wellbeing (Testosterone and Growth Hormone). Yes, women do produce this hormone in small amounts.

GH (Growth Hormone) also called somatotropin, and somatotropic hormone is produced by and secreted by a man and woman’s anterior pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain), through the glands somatotrope cells. This hormone stimulates the release of another hormone called somatomedin that is produced by the liver which causes growth during puberty. These complex GH protein cells released by these pituitary cells influences the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and other proteins within the metabolic function. GH is an occurring 190 complex amino acid protein hormone synthesized by our body’s pituitary function.

The major role of GH is to balance and sustain human growth and metabolism after puberty. Another role of GH as we become adults is to regulate body weight. It targets adipose (fat cells) receptor sites to stimulate the breakdown of the fatty triglyceride acids while suppressing the fat cell from absorbing more fat after you eat. When the gland is producing enough of this somatotoph protein hormone there is an immediate release of an insulin-like Growth Hormone (IGF-I) secreted by the liver and other soft tissues that also maintains the bodies healthy muscle mass through cell repair complimenting muscle strength and growth.

As medical doctors and scientists focus on HGH (Human Growth Hormone) effect in human and animal studies, it is understood that this hormone as well as the body’s natural producing androgen (testosterone/estrogen) are very significant “anti-aging” metabolic components. This becomes more important knowledge as you’re wondering how to optimize and maintain these hormone levels to help slow down the aging process and provide more vitality. Not only do these hormones optimize metabolism in many respects for both sexes, but most important and valued attributes to both male/female: increased muscle mass, strong bones, sexual desire, reproduction, hair, skin, energy, obesity prevention and sense of well-being.

If a women has lost the pituitary GH function because of a medical condition or surgery, then this can be a major problem since the adrenal glands signaling mechanisms to the ovaries is no longer telling them to stimulate the production of fit-healthy female hormones (GH, progesterone, estrogen, testoterone). As stated, small amounts of testosterone are fractionally produced in the ovaries as in comparison to men and essential for a woman’s overall sense of well-being.

Blood tests can determine if either men/women are low in testosterone-GH and if androgen therapy is right for either sex. Testosterone therapy for women is a different set of circumstances which also appears to have some positive results if needed. A man’s testosterone production is equally split between the testes and adrenal glands (50:50). If a male’s testosterone levels drop below a safe level, increasing these levels can be accomplished through injections, pills, gels or patches. Hormone treatment is known as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

The healthy levels of testosterone typically found in the blood stream for men ranges from 350 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Under the 300-350 level can then become a contributing cause to obesity, bone density loss (brittle bones), muscle loss and may increase your chance of a heart attack. And by the time a male turns 60, since you lose 1% testosterone production per year after the age of 40, impotence occurs for many men.

Young men attribute impotence as an old man’s problem, men in their 30-40’s also can have low testosterone counts. This disorder is called hypogonadism. Many times this disorder is caused by an un-descended testicle. But also common to this disorder can result from a groin injury, prescription drug use, or pituitary gland disorder, or a combination of one or more of these problems.

Although testosterone production in women is fractional in comparison to men, it is an important hormone to a women’s overall good health. And it also contributes to sex drive or libido for them. If a woman is low in testosterone production and then receive HRT to increase their testosterone levels, they often equate the quality of life effects as feeling much better as shown through scientific data.

HRT treatment for men with low testosterone production can improve male characteristics if deficient of this natural occurring hormone. It is recommended by endocrinologists that men with borderline testosterone work towards raising hormone levels naturally through exercise before going on testosterone therapy, especially if you border around 350 (ng/dl). If you can elevate testosterone naturally through exercise activity, then you’ll accomplish the same goal without the health risk associated with unnecessary hormone therapy.

The following represent the wellness benefits for men and women when maintaining normal levels of hormones: You’ll have a stronger physique, better mood, more energy and improved bedroom sessions. However, too much HRT or GH supplementation is not considered safe or useful. As a matter of fact, too much or too little appears to contribute to illness and disease complications.

It is also very controversial regarding the use of DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) supplements to stimulate GH-Testosterone release as opposed to a man’s natural production through the adrenal glands, gonads and brain. DHEA stimulation of a man’s androgen receptor cells metabolite functions cause the release of other hormones: androstenediol and adrostenedione. This is another cause for concern. This is because the metabolite functions undergo further conversion to produce the androgen testosterone through supplementation. The use of a supplement stimulant to increase androgen levels is not natural and is not recommended because of the possibility of increasing your risk to prostate cancer and heart disease.

The hormone androstenedione (mentioned above) is a common precursor sex hormone activated by the adrenal glands. This hormone is also produced within a man’s gonads. Exercise activity will stimulate androstenedione production through the adrenal gland naturally if you don’t have a glandular or metabolic disorder.

Both testosterone and GH hormones drop relatively at a similar rate through the aging process which can create the following ill-health conditions in men and women: gain in body fat, muscle/bone loss, increased breast fat, exhaustion, loss of libido and low sex drive. Can HRT treatment help me with these ill-health conditions? Yes. But it is wise to seek out an endocrinologist to determine through biochemical or physiological test results that show you have “unhealthy” low levels of one or more of the natural occurring hormones.

For both sexes it is the metabolic multi-hormonal functions on the human physiology that promotes natural weight loss and all the other anti-aging properties we desire throughout our lifecycle. These hormonal metabolic functions also help us to stimulate cell regeneration and repair bodily tissues that are beneficial to both men and women. And when these GH functions work in harmony to stimulated normal levels of testosterone, estrogen and other hormones within both sexes, then anti-aging properties are optimized.

It is a benefit to know, if you start exercising in your 20-30’s and sustain this lifestyle your decline of natural occurring hormones during the aging process will slow down considerably. Another noteworthy point: it appears that exercise activity started at a younger age for men and women and sustained also has a greater benefit to the metabolism during the senior years.

Exercise activity for women works much the same way in stimulating increased hormone levels for men. That is, what makes women-women and men-men. Exercise activity will stimulate adequate hormone production to varying degrees in helping to maintain healthy male and female no matter your age. And regardless of when you begin an exercise-activity you’ll experience these natural healthy male-female benefits for as long as you want to sustain your activity levels. If you are looking at supplementation to stimulate GH to activate and enhance male and female characteristics, it is highly recommended you seek professional counseling and lab work before you blindly elevate you’re your hormone levels. If not, you can actually speed up the aging process in a very short period of time simply by breaking your metabolism. The quick results marketers don’t care about your long-term health goals, but your doctors do!

 

References,

Bowen, Author R.  Growth Hormone (Somatotropin).  December 24, 2005.  http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/hypopit/gh.html

Deadline Theme.  HGH Vs. Testosterone – Renew your Youthful Zest. 2011 Testosterone Hormone.  http://www.testosteronehormone.net/hgh-vs-testosterone/

Exercise Biology, the Science of Exercise.   Can Workouts Designed to Increase Testosterone Increase Muscle Mass?  http://www.exercisebiology.com/index.php/site/articles/can_workouts_designed_to_increase_testosterone_increase_muscle_mass_strengt/

Fit and Healthy.  How to Increase Testosterone Levels.  http://ifitandhealthy.com/how-to-increase-testosterone-levels/

Geraci, Ron.  13 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Testosterone Levels.  Men’s Health, December 25, 2000.  http://www.timinvermont.com/fitness/boosttes.htm

Healthfully.org. Testosterone for Women.  http://healthfully.org/malehormones/id17.html

Matsuno A., Katakami H., et al. Pituitary somatotroph ademnoma producing growth hormone (GH)-releasing hormone (GHRH) with an elevated plasma GHRA concentration: a model case for autocrine and paracrine regulation of GH secretion by GHRH. J. Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Sep; 84(9):3241-7.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10487694

The Free Dictionary by Farlex.  Growth Hormone.  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/growth+hormone

Urban Dictionary.  Testosterone.  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=testosterone

Woodard, Marc.  Low Testosterone, another Man-Made Risky Fix?  Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets. January 22, 2012.  http://mirrorathlete.com/blog/?p=1241

 

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2012 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.