Archives for 2011

Which Muscle Building Supplements You “Should” Be Taking

Creative Commons License photo credit: d_vdm

Today I want to go over something really important and it's muscle building supplements.

Just to set the record straight “You DON'T NEED Supplements to Build Muscle”

I used to think supplements were the holy Grail to muscle gains, especially as a naturally skinny guy. I used to think all I need to do is suck down as many supplements as I can and I’ll get huge. Boy was I wrong!!!

I remember one time back in college 90% of my diet consisted of sucking down protein supplements, after about two days of doing this.

My body eventually crashed. I remember waking up sucking down a shake before going to class, then realizing it had absolutely no energy at past out of my bed for hours.

Not only did I miss all my classes that day, but that was a huge wake-up call.

You NEED to have a balanced diet, not only to build muscle but to promote a healthy lifestyle as well.

So why take supplements and if they're not necessary to build muscle?

  1. the truth is supplements provide certain nutrients in various combinations of nutrients at peak times, whereas if you tried to get them from whole food sources. It would be very difficult and even in practical.
  2. Supplements also make it easier to consume the right combination of nutrients at the right time
  3. supplements help you reach your caloric goals (consuming six meals a day, not only is tough to cook, but it's also tough to eat, tough to store and also tough on the wallet)

So, which muscle building supplements to take (which ones are essential for muscle gains)?

Muscle Building Supplement #1- Protein Supplements

There are three types of protein supplements that I'm going to be discussing:

Whey protein: whey protein is the most common muscle building protein out there and for good reason. Whey protein hits the bloodstream very quickly. Which makes it the ideal protein to consume before during and after your workouts.

Casein Protein: casein protein is almost the exact opposite of whey protein. Casein protein is slowly digested within the body, where whey protein supplies almost a surge or immediate supply of protein casein protein provides a steady flow of protein to your body and muscles. This protein is ideal to consume throughout the day and right before you go to sleep.

Weight gain shakes: weight gain shakes is another popular dietary supplement. Weight gain shakes are high in primarily protein, carbohydrates.

These supplements are used to help you reach your caloric goals.

Remember you have to consume an extra 3500 calories in order to gain 1 pound of new muscle, weight gain shakes makes it easier to consume those extra calories.

Here are some quick tips I want to give you if you choose to use protein supplements or any supplements for that matter

Quick Tip#1: DRINK LOTS OF WATER - If you’re going to be increasing your protein and your caloric intake with supplements in any way shape or form drink LOTS of water. I recommend AT LEAST 6 – 8 cups per day, in all honesty you should be doing this anyway to promote a healthy body but it’s especially important when you begin increasing your caloric intake.

Quick Tip#2: Make sure you’re getting the MAJORITY of your protein from whole food sources - When I first started out, I thought supplements were way better than “actual’ food when it came to building muscle.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth, whole foods have so much more benefits that supplements don’t have, so make sure you’re consuming NO MORE THAN 40% of your daily protein from supplements. Remember supplements are used to SUPPLEMENT (or assist) your diet not replace it so make sure you’re consuming the majority of your protein from whole food sources.

Muscle Building Supplement #2 - Essential Fatty Acid Supplement

Believe what all fat is not bad for you. Some fats actually help boost your metabolism, regulate you're hormone producing glands which helps keep your testosterone”the big daddy muscle building hormone” levels high, also reduces inflammation, and joint pain.

You can usually find EFA’s in whole food sources like:
walnuts, avocados, extra virgin olive oil etc.

But to ensure you get quality amounts of your a censure fatty acids. It is recommended that you take an Essential Fatty Acid Supplement

Supplements to REALLY consider

Just note that with a proper balance diet (unless you have a fulltime nutrtionist this is VERY hard to do) you don't need these but remember since you're putting alot of STRESS on your entire body when you workout you need to provide your body with an ABUNDANCE of nutrients.

This not only will this speed up your recovery, keep your energy levels high, but it'll also ensure your body (not just your muscles) stay in tip top shape while you're damaging and stressing it through your transformation phase.

  • Multi-Vitamin
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C

But just remember, you don't need supplements to build muscle Supplements are just that “supplements”, the are used to assist your current diet. They're basically a convenient solution to help you reach your dietary goals.

No supplement can replace a well-balanced diet

Train hard,


Why You Need to Workout Your Legs to Build Muscle

Today, we’re gonna be talking about the most important, yet most neglected body part in all of weight training: the legs.

This topic is so important that I feel the need to dedicate an entire article to just convincing you that training legs, and training them hard, is a MUST.

I could go on and on about why having big legs is not only good for your physique, but will also help you push past weight plateaus that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

However, seeing as we don’t have all day and you most likely don’t want to be reading 10 pages of ranting and raving, I’m going to list a couple of the top reasons for training legs and talk about each of them in a bit of detail. So without further ado:

You want to train legs because:

  1. You don’t want chicken legs
  2. Your legs support the rest of your body
  3. Training legs increases Testosterone (Your BIG DADDY Muscle Building Hormone)
  4. Leg strength is a major part of every compound exercise

So let’s dive right in and talk about number 1 on the list.

Reason #1: You're NOT BIG Without BIG LEGS

I can’t even count the number of times I go to a gym and see a bunch of guys working on chest, back, biceps, triceps, etc.

And they walk around, thinking their big and tough… except they’re all wearing pants… and when the AC blows… you can tell they’ve never trained legs a day in their life.

You think you’re big without big legs? You’re not. Your legs are LITERALLY HALF YOUR BODY.

So no matter how much you can bench, no matter how many pounds you can curl, no one is impressed if you have stick-figure legs.

Reason #2: Your Legs Support the Rest of Your Body

As a wise man once told me, your legs have to support all of your body weight. So if you’re legs aren’t big and strong, it’s going to be hard for your body to pack on mass. Your base just won’t be strong enough to support it. Makes sense right?

Reason #3: More TESTOSTERONE!!!

When someone tells me that they’ve hit a plateau and either they can’t gain weight or they’ve hit a sticking point in their bench press or deadlift, or what-have-you, the first thing I ask them is if they squat. Squatting regularly will increase your testosterone, making it:

1) more likely for you to get stronger
2) more likely for you to gain weight

And if you’re reading this right now, you don’t need any more than the two reasons listed above to start hitting the rack.

Reason #4: You Need Your Legs More Than You Think!

Finally, your legs are an essential part of every compound exercise that you do. And as we’ve learned previously, compound exercises are the best way to not only get stronger, but also to build more muscle and gain more weight.

Some food for thought: When you bench, you’re always told to keep a stable base and put your legs firmly and in a comfortable position on the floor.

Why is that? (because you drive with your legs even when you’re working your chest… that’s why its called a COMPOUND exercise).

Again, when you deadlift, why is it that you’re told to drive through your heels? (the power is primarily coming from your legs).

And finally, when you clean and press, why do you explode with your legs on the clean portion, squat down a bit, and then drive again with your legs in a fluid motion on the press portion? (because your legs generate the most power here).


You can thank me later.

Until next time,


Bulking Up SUCKS!!!

Hey guys,

Today I'm going to break down something very BIG when it comes to building muscle and gaining weight. And it's the "Good", the "Bad" and the Ugly when it comes to "Bulking" up.

Specifically I'm talking about the "Bulking" Technique. If you don't know what that is, in simple terms it's when your diet and training are both focused on MAXIMUM muscle gain and a large part of this has to do with consuming very large amounts of calories each day.

Now there's a good side to this, a bad side to this and an UGLY side to this (as you'll soon see). And in the next few minutes you'll know if it's for you and if it isn't what other route you can take to reach your muscle building goals.

Here are some pics from my most recent transformation using the Bulking Technique:

Even though the "bulking" technique is an effective way to build muscle it's not for everyone. So if you're thinking about "bulking" then there's some key things you need to know FIRST to see if it's right for you.

The Good Side of Bulking

It's a Proven Method to Build (LOTS Of) Muscle

As I said before the "bulking" technique is an effective way to build muscle. It's been used by many top pro bodybuilders and fitness professionals for YEARS. And because this technique uses the approach of MASSIVE calorie intake I feel that the bulking technique is great for:

  • "hardgainers"
  • skinny guys
  • ectomorphs
  • guys with fast metabolisms
  • basically anyone who naturally struggles with building muscle.

The reason why I say this is because the bulking technique helps you build muscle and gain weight no matter how stubborn your "genetics" are.

It's also fairly simple to follow and very focused. Aside from eating the wrong things at the wrong times, you can "almost" eat whatever you want, as long it it provides the right amount of carbs, proteins, and fats.

And probably one of the main benefits of the bulking technique especially for newbies trying this out for the first time is that results are seen rather quickly compared to other muscle building strategies.

The Bad Side of Bulking

You WILL Experience Fat Gains

Probably the biggest down side to Bulking is that, if done correctly you WILL see fat gains. Since you're essentially "over eating" (consuming more calories then your body burns) on a daily basis then should expect to see some fat gains.

May Be BAD For Your Health

Bulking, can actually be bad for your health. For starters when you "Bulk" it's typical to decrease the amount of cardio you do, so you can dedicate more calories to muscle growth. Second, it's typical for things like your cholesterol and blood pressure to increase due to fact that you're experiencing extra muscle and fat gains and doing less and less cardio. And it's for these reasons why Bulking is meant to be a short term strategy for fast muscle gains. That's why most bodybuilders only "bulk" for a few weeks or at most a few months in their off season and then take more conservative approaches to reach their goals.

Since fat gains go hand in hand with bulking it's best to start a "bulking" phase when you're at a low body fat. (Trust me on this one) If you can't even see the outline of your abs then you'll need to drop some body fat first BEFORE you start a "bulking" phase.

Due to the fat gains that you'll experience, this technique is also not ideal for those who want to keep their waist line small and their body fat % down while they're building muscle.

The UGLY Side of Bulking

Unwanted Fat Gains

If done incorrectly you can put on ALOT of unwanted body fat using the "bulking" technique (Which you'll soon see).

And going with that, the more body fat you have, the longer it takes to "cut" the fat and shed those "pudge" pounds. Trust me, if you thought building muscle was hard, going on a cutting diet for months in my opinion is 10x worse.

True story...

So when I first set out to transform my body the first technique I learned was the "bulking" technique. Following a meal plan and workout plan designed to build MAXIMUM muscle gains just made the most sense for me at the time, especially for someone like me who seemed "allergic" to building muscle at the time.

After about 4 - 5 months I gained ALOT of muscle, but also ALOT of fat (which as you know is somewhat expected but in large part was due to some KEY mistakes (which i'll touch on shortly)

Even though this "initial" transformation was over 2 years ago I didn't realize how much fat I actually put on during that "bulking" phase until I looked at a picture of  myself this summer after my six pack challenge with my sister.

(Keep in mind that fat gains are expected when you use the "bulking" technique but the MONSTROUS FAT GAIN I experienced was due to ALOT of mistakes on my part.)

Here's what happpens when you Bulk up the WRONG WAY:

My First Transformation: Me at (184 lbs) and 4 Months Later (226 lbs)

So here are a few Key Mistakes I made that lead to those fat gains:

Didn't Do the Recommended Cardio

Remember how I said you have to "limit" your cardio when you're bulking. Well I took that a little too far and virtually ELIMINATED cardio from my workout plan, which is a BIG NO NO when you're bulking up PERIOD (unless you're actually underweight with a low body fat and even then that's only for your first few weeks).

First I'm not gonna lie, I was lazy. I kept saying I'll do cardio next time (for months). Not only is this bad for your heart and your entire cardiovascular system but its also bad for your fat gains. Since I was consuming SO MANY CALORIES each day, that 20 - 25 minutes of cardio per workout was CRUCIAL to keeping my fat gains to a minimum.

I can go on and on about the excuses I made, but let's just say live and learn. And FYI, cardio is essential even when "bulking".

Ate ALOT of Things I Shouldn't

Since I was under the impression "the more calories I consume the better" I basically ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I remember eating things like pasta, yogurt, ravioli and nuggets at crazy hours in night (hey, I was a college student alright 🙂 )

Now that I think about it, my cholesterol must've been through the roof with all the packaged and pre-made stuff I was eating (they're usually jam-packed with sodium). And what made it even worse was the fact that I was eating this stuff at all the wrong times. So multiply these daily bad eating habits throughout 4 - 5 months and BAM you get MASSIVE Fat Gains.

So as you can see Bulking has some good things about it, some bad things about it and some UGLY things about it. But overall I do believe that this is still a very highly effective way to build muscle, especially if you're a naturally skinny guy like me and you natuarlly struggle building muscle.

Who Is "Bulking" Really For???

If you're:

  • a hardgainer / skinny guy / ectomorph
  • a person who has a fast metabolism
  • don't mind gaining some extra fat to build ALOT of muscle
  • a person who naturally struggles with building muscle
  • a beginner to intermediate weight lifter

then I'd say the "bulking" technique might be your best way to go. The best program I've seen (and actually used) that'll teach you how to bulk up with the "bulking" technique (the right way) is the No Nonsense Muscle Building Program, if you fall into the category above then I highly recommend you give it a shot.

But if you:

  • already have a low body fat and have a six pack
  • want to keep your waist line where it's at while building muscle
  • want lean musle gains without the fat

then I'd say the "bulking" technique isn't for you. If you fall into the category of wanting to build lean muscle without the fat then I highly recommend you give The Somanabolic Muscle Maximizer program a try, everything about this program (from the workout plans, meal pleans, post workout shakes, etc) is designed to help you build muscle with virtually no fat gain.

Ok guys, that's my rant for today. I hope this helped. Let me know what you think about the bulking technique by leaving a comment below.

Train hard,