Mastering the Pull-up

As a beginner – or even if you’re experienced – nothing can be more embarrassing than jumping up on a bar and only banging out one pull-up. In fact, the average person approaches the pull-up bar like he or she is about to steal something, looking around to see if anyone else is watching before hammering out a sloppy, uncontrolled couple of sets.

Well, stop it, because you’re only hurting yourself by not maximizing the value the pull-up can bring. Your latissimus dorsi (back) is the biggest muscle in your body and if you want a V-shape torso, the pull-up can’t be viewed as the red headed stepchild of your workout any longer.

Here is an article from Men’s Health magazine dedicated to mastering the pull-up. It has a step-by-step guide on helping you improve add reps to your pull-up routine. It doesn’t matter if you can do 0 to 1 reps or 8 to 12, this article should help you maximize the benefits of the pull-up.

Here’s a taste of what the article offers. For the entire column, click here.

Your Best Effort: 0 TO 1
The problem: You’re not strong enough to lift your body weight.
The fix: Turn your weakness into an advantage with heavy “negatives.” Doing only the lowering portion of an exercise with a heavier weight than you can lift is a fast way to build strength.
How to do it: First, a couple of definitions.
- Chinup: This is the same movement as a pullup, but you’ll use a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Because your biceps are more involved, it’s a little easier than the pullup.
- Neutral-grip pullup: Again, it’s the same basic movement, but you’ll grip the parallel bars of the pullup station so your palms are facing each other. This is harder than a chinup, but not as hard as a pullup.
Now follow the workout schedule below, using this method of performing negatives: Place a bench under a pullup bar and use it to boost your body so your chin is above the bar. Then take the prescribed amount of time — either 5 to 6 seconds or 8 to 10 seconds — to lower your body. Once your arms are straight, jump back up to the top position and repeat. Rest for 60 seconds after each set.
Week 1: Chinup : 3 sets : 5–6 reps : 5–6 seconds
Week 2: Neutral- grip pullup : 3 sets : 5–6 reps : 5–6 seconds
Week 3: Neutral- grip pullup : 2 sets : 5–6 reps : 8–10 seconds
Week 4: Pullup : 2 sets : 5–6 reps : 8–10 seconds

Creatine monohydrate

Creatine is one of the most studied supplements there is. It came under in the late 90′s because of unfounded concerns with dehydration and cramping. These concerns were put to rest after many researchers found no link between creatine and dehydration among athletes. After literally hundreds of studies there appears to but no negative side effects associated with creatine usage at all.

What many people don’t know is that creatine is found naturally in the food we eat. It is found in high levels in red meat. As a matter of fact, this is the main reason why many people who eat red meat regularly don’t seem to get good results with the supplementation of creatine. Creatine does, however, yield great results for most people.

Creatine will work very well for about 30 to 40 percent of the people who use it. Another 30% of the people who use it will claim good results. But unfortunately, about 30% of all creatine users report almost no effect at all. Many of these people may be getting it in their diets.

When taking creatine, use 20 grams per day for the first seven days as a loading phase. Do you need to load up? No, but your muscles will reach their saturation point quicker. After the loading phase, use 10 grams a day for five more weeks. Take the next three to four weeks off, and start again.

Creatine hit the market about 15 years ago and has been one of the top selling supplements since. It’s popularity is due to one reason — it works.

Creatine works by giving the muscle cell what it needs to store ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). ATP is the energy source our muscles use for heavy-duty, short-term workloads, the type used in weight training, sprintning, wrestling, etc. Creatine has been shown to increase strength in most people by 10%. Endurance athletes will find the use of creatine to be a waste of time because it does not affect that energy system.

Exercise or illness

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise, will sooner or later have to?find?time for illness.”

Edward Stanley

The South Beach Diet. Thumbs Down

The South Beach Diet is nothing new.? It is another low carb diet wrapped up in a new package.? Some have called it a friendlier version of the very popular Atkins diet.? Dr. Agatston from the get go claims his South Beach Diet is not low carb, however, the usual carbohydrate foods like bread, fruit, fruit juice, rice, potatoes, pasta, sugar and snacks are excluded.? No matter how it is marketed, it is most certainly low carb.

Low carb diets have been all the rage for quite a while now.? Bodybuilders and fitness athletes have been using this strategy to keep lean and build muscle for decades.? The main reason low carb diets are still so popular, is simple; they work!

For those not familiar with how low carb diets work, it has to do with how our bodies ability to process them.? When food is ingested our bodies secrete insulin.? Insulin is a storage hormone.? To be more specific, its a fat storage hormone.? The higher your insulin levels are the higher the percentage of food will be stored as fat.? Moreover, the higher your insulin is the lower the amount of fat burned as fuel.? Hence, the biggest key to burning fat is to keep your insulin levels low, which is accomplished by consuming a diet of whole unprocessed food that is low in carbohydrates.? The South Beach diet helps one accomplish this, but this is where the benefits of this book end.

Like many doctors and other so-called experts they are taught what to think not how to think.? Dr. Agatson advocates a higher protein diet that is LOW in fat.? One is supposed to consume skim milk, lean meat, and urges the reader never to use animal fats.

Dr Agatson completely disregards the benefits of animal fats for the dangerous side effects of polyunsaturated fats.? For instance, he prohibits the use of butter and urges readers to use processed spreads.

The good Dr. claims you be hungry on the South Beach diet.? Anyone who follows this diet will find the opposite is true.? With a diet that is so low in fat, especially saturated fat, and carbohydrates there is nothing to satisfy your hunger.

Cutting out junk foods like sugar, and processed food in general is always a step in the right direction.? However, his advocating polyunsaturated fats over saturated fats make the South Beach diet one of the most dangerous diets out there.
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Keep it simple with your diet

Anyone who has taking the time to do the research on getting into shape undoubtedly has come across general rules to dieting. Mike will often post on how important your diet is to either losing weight or packing on muscle. Dieting is the key to everything. Having the best workout plan and following it perfectly will crumble under a poor diet.

What people tend to have trouble with as far as dieting goes is that they think of it as a diet. Diets don’t work. Think of the way you eat as a lifestyle change and you’ll be more apt not to binge and have poor habits. If staying in shape and looking your best is worth it to you, nobody should have a problem with a complete lifestyle change as opposed to trying gimmicky diets.

I found a solid article at MSN.com about how to control your cravings. One of the general rules in the article is to eat approximately every three hours. As it’s detailed in the article, it can’t be stressed how important it is to continuously eat throughout the day. Eat four to six meals every day so that you don’t have spikes in your blood sugar, which causes you to binge it and grab anything and everything in your site (i.e. junk or fast food). I know, people work. But don’t use that as an excuse. Fight through it and find a way to bring small snacks to continuously eat throughout the day. Your optimum health depends on it!

Click here to check out the MSN.com/Men’s Health article.

Muscletalk

In the April 2007 issue of Muscle & Body magazine, Dave Hawk’s response to a question concerning soy protein is, to say the least disturbing.? The reader asks, if soy is claimed to be an inferior protein by other authors, why is it used in different products?

Excerpt from Dave’s answer:

What I dislike to hear is the misconception, misinformation and misrepresentation of a great ingredient like soy protein isolate (SPI).? Not only does SPI have natural health benefits, it is 100% equal to whey protein isolate (WPI) in aiding muscle building in men.

Misinformation and misrepresentation, soy protein is garbage.? Obviously Mr. Hawk doesn’t keep up with what’s going on in the supplement or food industries because the FDA denied soy’s heart health claims because of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The only misrepresentation is by the soy industry and so called experts who spew their garbage in columns like Muscle Talk.? SPI is extremely low in quality.? The Protein Efficiency ratio, Biological Value, Net Protein Ratio and the Relative Net Protein Ratio, which are all ways scientists rate the quality of protein, consistently score soy protein toward the bottom.

Soy does score high with the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score.? The catch is, soy is set at a score of 100 and 100 is the highest score available.? Because the soy industry flexed their financial muscle, they can now claim their protein is as high a quality as other proteins.? The soy industry spends millions on funding false research and claims in an effort to sell product.?

Dave concludes, WPI is a great staple supplement for anyone’s muscle-building diet, but adding SPI to your daily protein regimen can be a great way to stack your nutritional protein arsenal.

SPI is one of the most highly processed foods one can consume.? Soy beans are regularly treated with heat, alkalis, acids, solvents and oxidizers, in order to make protein products.? Otherwise soy protein would taste like shit and be indigestible.

SPI contains trypsin inhibitors, which inhibits enzymes that help us digest protein.? Supplement wth a protein that inhibits the digestion of protein, smart.

SPI contains goitrogens, which block the synthesis of thyroid hormones.? As soy consumption goes up so does the incidence of thyroid disease.

SPI contains phytoestrogens, which lowers testosterone in men.?

The list goes on, but this is not the forum.?
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Growth Zone my ass

Time under tension is a great tool to use when trying to make gains in size and strength.? It’s well accepted that in order for one to stimulate muscle to induce gains the optimum time under tension is 20 – 60 seconds for the vast majority of people.? In the April 2007 issue of Ironman magazine William Litz has written an article on extending time under tension using partial, burns and X-reps.

Let me start by addressing the before and after pictures included on the second page of the author.? Underneath the pictures it states, “William Litz took his physique from a soft 220 to a hard, abs blazing 210 in only eight weeks using X-reps partials and stretch overload.”?

Does he really think the readers of this magazine are that deficient in their reasoning ability they wouldn’t see how ludicrous the caption under the pictures is?? In a word, YES.? Remember that magazines primarily exist to sell product and could care less about dispensing valid training advice.? Most of what is found in muscle magazines is nonsense filler, like this article.

In this worthless article Litz states, “Why burns fell out of favor is beyond me.? It clearly produced amazing builds in the decades before chemical warfare.”? Yet performing burns and partials for over ten years proved ineffective for him.? He used partials and burns sice the early 90′s, but didn’t make “ab blazing” gains until using X-reps, which are a variation of partials and burns.?

Litz also claims new research indicates that bottom, or stretch position burns are more beneficial, but to keep variety alive.? No research is sited in the article.? Litz would like you to keep in mind that stretch position partials can activate a lot of fibers and may even lead to fiber splitting, if such a phenomenon exists.? It may lead to, if such a phenomenon exists?? Are you kidding me?? You could actually transport yourself from place to place within seconds if such a devise existed.

The fact is, we humans have a finite ability to recover from physical stress.? Stress induced by high intensity training is no exception.? There is no reason what-so-ever to take a set beyond momentary positive failure.? In fact, partials, negatives and other forms of extending sets fell out of favor because they do more to over-train individuals than anything else.? Top bodybuilders are always sited as proof a certain training program works, but what about the 10’s of thousands who use these vary programs and get nowhere.

You can not force growth.? If your progress has come to a halt, you’re not recovering.? Using partials and burns should only be used by advanced lifters wth low frequency.? Pushing beyond, doing more without allowing recovery, will only exacerbate the problem.?????

10 Foods Tough to Digest

Ever feel like your stomach is about to explode even after having a healthy meal? Ever have heartburn or a mild case of irritable bowl syndrome? Well it could be the specific foods that you’re eating on a daily or bi-daily basis.

MSN.com posted a recent article containing 10 foods that are tough for your body to digest.

The 10 (not in any specific order):

- Fried chicken nuggets
- Spicy food
- Chocolate
- Citrus juices
- Mashed potatoes
- Raw onion
- Ice cream
- Broccoli and raw cabbage
- Beans
- Sugar-free gum

I definitely agree with broccoli and beans being on this list. Frequently after workouts I’ll combine chicken with broccoli and beans over rice. Afterwards my stomach blows up like a bowling ball for several hours. It’s interesting to now get confirmation on why that happens.

Click here to read the entire article with brief descriptions of why these foods are tough to digest.

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