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How do we block muscle gains?

How do we block muscle gains?
In the bodybuilding environment there are many new myths, new kinds of behaviour, supplementation and training which are copied without any second thought. Here is the review of the most popular statements which are not scientifically justified.

Myth 1: “carbohydrates will make you fat”

Yes, carbohydrates cause the insulin burst, and insulin contributes to removing glucose from blood and it can cause gathering too much energy, e.g. in a form of subcutaneous fat, or that around inner organs. And here is an important information, you can lose weight when eating 3 meals a day at McDonald's (in a way not to exceed the daily demand for calories), you can also lose weight eating pizza and cakes, in other words, eat very badly. Of course, it makes no health sense – such diet may decrease body weight (I have to underline it – not reduce body fat), and destroy the body from inside! I have explained many people that they are wrong when they decide to use drastic reduction diets, which lack protein, fat, vitamins or other nutrients. I am not completely certain if they are convinced – because “they have noticed the results on the scale”! This matter concerns e.g. an absurd diet prepared by a “specialist” (which was described here: The antidiet from a dietitian).

That diet was following:

  • energy: 1300 kcal

  • protein: 50g

  • fat: 20g

  • digestive carbohydrates: 230g

  • fibre: 9g

Obviously, such diet will contribute to losing weight. If you have read the previous articles, you will understand that the insufficiency of healthy fats is the easiest way towards hormonal problems (testosterone is produced out of cholesterol). It was shown in many studies that starting low-fat highly-fibre diet decreases the level of testosterone (total, free) by even 12% [2]. Additionally, in the cited experiment, the scientists noticed the decrease of androstenolone, DHEA. The decrease of testosterone contributes to faster loss of muscle mass, strength, and it disturbs recovery.

Fats play an important role, because: “cholesterol is the starting compound (precursor) of bile acids, steroid hormones (corticosterois, cortisol), adrenal cortex hormones (glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoids), male hormones (androgens), aldosterone, testosterone, female hormones (estrogens) estrone, estradiol, gestagens -among others, progesterone made in the body”. [1]

In addition, we know that cutting on calories too much blocks metabolism and, as a consequence, “burning” body fat. After few weeks of destroying your body, you start hitting a wall and there occur questions, like: “why? It's been so good so far!?”

Finally, too small amount of proteins influences metabolism most. It slows down and the loss of muscle mass is stronger (during reduction you should provide even 2.2 – 2.5 g of proteins per 1 kg of body mass! 50 g is appropriate for an inactive person lying in bed). After finishing such diet you will remain without muscles, with disturbed metabolism and in much worse sports form than before using it!

To sum up: there's no magic here. Whether you build mass, or lose body fat depends on the energetic balance. If you supply too much carbohydrates, then in adverse hormonal-training conditions, some part of it will definitely be stored in a form of subcutaneous fat. However, you should not beware of carbohydrates. Fattening is a slow process that you can regulate by observing yourself in the mirror and measuring the fat fold. Carbohydrates don't cause gaining weight, provided they are not in excessive amount. Because of health reasons, it's good to limit saccharose in diet (table sugar), as well as glucose-fructose syrup (commonly used in tens of food products), other forms of sugar (cane sugar, brown sugar, honey), glucose, fructose, dextrose, gainers or carbohydrate conditions (carbo, vitargo, maltodectrins, etc.). A sportsperson should base on noodles, buckwheat groats, millet groats, brown rice and wholemeal bread. Too much food is fattening, not one “magic” component of diet.

Myth 2: “you should always train until breakdown”

It is the worst training method out of all you can think of. It is known from research that training until breakdown requires much longer recovery break between sets (even up to 5 minutes) [3]. If you decide to fight until breakdown in each exercise, you start to balance on the edge of injury. Why? In each following repetition your form (this is how the technique in each movement is called) will get worse. It matters a lot in the range of 3-6 repetitions, when the load is submaximal, and the risk increases with each kilogram added to the bar.

The worst choice of exercises done until breakdown is following:

  • deadlift, sumo, classic, siffed-legs, snatch, clean,

  • clean and jerk,

  • jerk,

  • power jerk, split jerk,

  • muscle ups,

  • bent-over rows,

  • high pull.

On the other hand, the method of training until breakdown is quite safe and recommended if you “attack” small muscle groups, especially with isolated exercises:

  • options of bending and extending arms in standing and seated positions, with cables, on E-Z grip, with dumbbells (bicep, triceps),

  • options of lifts, front, side, bent-over,

  • options of crunches in supine position,

  • options of flyes,

  • options of push-ups,

  • leg curl and leg extention,

  • leg press,

  • heel lift standing and sitting.

Summing up: the larger load you use, the higher intensity of the exercise. You should not exercise until breakdown in such conditions. You can do training until breakdown if you exercise small muscle groups in the range of 8-15 repetitions.

Myth 3: “protein is power, the more of it, the better!”

There is absolutely no evidence that more protein from food causes muscle hypertrophy. This issue was described here: How much protein for a bodybuilder.

But that's what a famous bodybuilder said...?!”

Fine, for a huge man weighing 120-140 kg it's really hard to provide large amount of protein in diet. But if you weigh 60-90 kg, you don't have such needs (according to studies, you only need about 1.8-2.2 g of protein per 1 kg of body mass with the aim of building muscle mass). On the other hand, professionals are sposored by various conditioner lobbies – therefore, they say what they have to say. They perform in adverts because they have to. They recommend particular choice of supplements and they wear particular pieces of clothing. It's a business worth millions of dollars. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Summary: I'm not saying that protein conditioners are bad. They are very useful for every sportsperson, not just bodybuilders. But think before using them, you will definitely not grow in size with only proteins. Total supply of calories matters, as well as providing healthy fat and carbohydrates. Excessive amount of proteins disturbs the process of mussle gains.

Sources: Cholesterol – podstawowy metabolit wątroby http://www.pfm.pl/baza_chorob/choroby-ukladu-pokarmowego/ii--cholesterol-8211-podstawowy-metabolit-watroby/1118 2. Low-fat high-fiber diet decreased serum and urine androgens in men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jun;90(6):3550-9. Epub 2005 Mar 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15741266?dopt=Abstract 3. “Short inter-set rest blunts resistance exercise-induced increases in myofibrillar protein synthesis and intracellular signaling in young males.” James McKendry, Alberto Pérez-López, Michael McLeod, Dan Luo, R. Dent, Benoit Smeuni. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/EP085647/abstract 4. Inspiracja: http://anabolicminds.com/articles/7-bodybuilding-lies-keeping-skinny-weak-22199/

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