In The Beginning

For what ever reasons at some point in or lives we either just plain slack off and get lazy or have a hard time finding the time to get into shape and lead a healthy lifestyle. Some have actually never really even stepped foot into a gym and have lead very sedentary lifestyles.

It’s very easy to tell ourselves we don’t have time or we’ll get to it tomorrow and tomorrow leads to next week and than it’s just a forgotten memory. It’s really not that difficult to carve out 30 - 45 minutes a day to get a good workout in. Think about it you come home from work probably get dinner started and than sit in front of the TV for a couple of hours.

Well why not take 30 - 45 minutes out of TV. Time and head to the gym for a workout. I always find that if I take my gym bag with me I head to the gym right after work before I even get the chance to sit down and make excuses on why not to exercise. For some of you an early morning workout may work better. You can get it out of the way and get a great start to your day.

First off you need a plan. Get a trainer if you’re not sure where to start or how to use the equipment. If you can’t afford a trainer there are a ton of magazines and books out there to help you do the exercises properly.

For beginners the best way to go is using a split program. There are a few different ways to go about it you can do an upper body/ lower body split for 3-4 days per week. Depending on the time you have during the week. For a 4 day split you will do 2 upper and 2 lower body workouts per week alternating days. Try and leave 48 hours between upper body workouts and the same for the lower body. For a three day split you would do 2 upper body workouts one week and one lower body and the next week it would be two lower body workouts and one upper and alternate each week.

Remember you will also need to do some type of cardio during the week as well. Starting at least 3 days per week for 30 minutes and if you want to lose weight or body fat you will want to do at least 4 days of cardio working up to 30-45 minutes per session. Once you’re finished weight training you can add your cardio in. Another option is to do cardio first thing in the morning before breakfast for optimal fat burning.

The most important thing is getting it in when it works best for your schedule. Some people work very early or just plain not morning people and prefer to train in the afternoon. Others will prefer to get it done in the morning and out of the way so they don’t have to worry about it later.

Here is an example upper body and lower body split program.

Upper Body:

Wide Grip Pull down (to the front of the chest)
Dumbbell bench press
Dumbbell overhead press
Barbell curls
Triceps pushdowns
Do each exercise for 12-15 reps and start with 2 times through and after a couple weeks add a third.

Lower Body:

Smith Machine Squats (until you get the hang of it, then switch to a to bar) OR Leg presses – don’t do both in the same session.
Dead lifts
Leg curls
Calf raise (seated or standing)
Reverse crunches
Do each exercise for 12-15 reps and start with 2 sets through and after a couple weeks add a 3rd set.

Also a remember nutrition is a huge part of meeting your healthy goals and fitness lifestyle. You must eat anywhere from 4-6 meals per day. Never go longer than 4 hours without a meal.

The mistake many people make is skipping breakfast. Breakfast is the very most important meal of the day. They believe by doing this they will not have the extra calories but actually what happens is they end up making up those calories and more by making unhealthy choices and over eating at the end of the day. Again make a plan. Plan your meals for the week. And pack your food for your workday. Always have healthy snacks on hand such as fruit, vegetables, and nuts.

Here are some sample meals. Try and get in a protein and carb with each meal and eat lots of green vegetables.

Breakfast: Oats and either an omelette (mainly egg whites) or a protein drink
Snack: Protein shake with an Apple or Tuna salad (taking amino acids would be advised with the tuna salad).
Lunch: Grilled chicken, small salad, and sweet potato/baked potato
Snack: Tuna roll/wrap/pita with some onion, cucumber or other green veg
Dinner: Steak or Salmon, Broccoli, and brown rice or boiled potato
Supper: Cottage cheese or protein shake

You can have some of your favourite treats but in moderation. I recommend a treat meal a couple of times each week, this could be replacing dinner with a Chinese or Indian meal or having your dinner as shown but with ice cream as a dessert for example.

Drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day. Your muscles are protein and water, you may have plenty protein in your diet but you wont grow without water, it will also flush any impurities from your system, keeps your skin clear and healthy and keeps you fully hydrated, a condition overlooked by many.

Help For The Supplement Buyer
Any athlete out there who is involved in any sport knows that proper eating and supplementation is extremely important to the training regimen.

Sportsmen, mainly bodybuilders and rugby players spend more money on supplements than anyone else I know. They tend to do a lot of experimenting and research to see what works best to help improve their strength, their performance and their physiques.

Whether looking to add mass for increased strength or trying to lose fat to show increased definition or to drop weight to make a weight class everyone strives to maintain the hard earned muscle that they spent months putting on.

I will explain the most important and most popular supplements categories below. I’ve not gone into massive detail or naming individual products because obviously we can only recommend Extreme Nutrition products, we know the work that goes into formulating them, we know how much money we’ve spent on independent University done research (£50 000 between 2006 and 2007) and we know that testing these formulas on ourselves and our athletes we know they taste good, don’t cause stomach upset, they bring the results they are supposed to bring and we know we don’t charge over inflated prices like many of our rival companies.

Multivitamin/Multimineral. This is a supplement that should be taken no matter what, we all have problems getting all the nutrients our bodies need so this a must all year round.

Protein powder. Depending on when you take it would make a difference in what type you would need, some Whey derivatives are best taken post training as they absorb much quicker into the system and have plenty of amino acids our bodies need for recovery (usually 16 – 18 amino acids).

A picture of a tub of whey protein

Casein provides a steady state release of amino acids therefore is a better choice if taken before bed or at some point throughout the day. Better still in my opinion, you opt for a protein blend with whey and casein and possibly another couple of protein sources which will ensure all 22 amino acids are present, this ensures you get every amino acid you need to allow growth.

Weight Gainers/Mass Builders - this type of supplement usually consists of whey or whey and casein for protein (25% – 35%) and a fairly high amount of quality carbohydrates (55% - 65%). You have to be careful of this type of protein as it can lead to gaining a lot of fat, some companies are promoting products with as little as 15% protein and a huge amount of high glycemic sugars for carbohydrates (e.g. ON Serious Mass). Be careful as this is dangerous ground because there are more poor quality products/formulas being promoted in this category than the others.

A picture of a tub of weight gain shakes

MRP’s - this is a meal replacement, consisting of around 40% protein and has about 20 grams of carbs per serving. These are much better than weight gainers because the likelihood of adding extra fat to the body is much less. Unless you are a true Ectomorph or hard gainer an MRP would be a much better choice than a mass builder. For many people an MRP is a better option than a protein powder alone, think footballers, rugby players, strongmen, swimmers, cyclists etc.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 the body cannot make them so they need to be consumed through diet. You can also use Flaxseed or Fish oils instead. EFA's have anti inflammatory properties, they aid in joint lubrication, fat loss, and energy production and are a big factor in cardiovascular health too.

Creatine monohydrate was introduced in the 1960’s and has been the biggest selling sports supplement of all time with more scientific studies done on it than any other. Popular with sports people from every persuasion, everyone has tried it but it doesn’t agree with everyone, some people ended up with stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, headaches and water retention. There are many questionable “new generation” creatines like Creatine Ethyl Ester, Creatine AKG, Creatine Malate and Kre-Alkalyn, from the science I’ve seen Kre-Alkalyn is the only option which stacks up and isn’t a mildly better version of monohydrate. Kre-Alkalyn will absorb into the body better reducing the dosage required and eliminating bloating it also neutralises lactic acid so allows you to train harder for longer and provides faster recovery as well as performance enhancement and strength gains.

Glutamine - this is one supplement that always remains in my regime it has many benefits such as faster recuperation from weight training, boosts the immune system, and also spares muscle tissue especially during a low carb pre contest diet. I don’t believe in free form glutamine as it gets absorbed in the gut, the only form I believe in is peptide bonded glutamine which has to be digested in the stomach like a solid food and so DOES make it through to the bloodstream and then on to your muscle cells.

Nitric Oxide (NO)/ L- Arginine - Nitric oxide increases blood flow therfore getting a greater pump during weight training also reduces inflammation and reducing soreness. Growth may be assisted do to increased blood and nutrient flow and a stretching of the muscle fascia.

Vitamin C - keeps testosterone levels high and keep cortisol under control. It also keeps free radicals down. Take Vitamin C with breakfast, lunch, and dinner as it is water soluable and needs topped up regularly.

Testosterone Boosters - many bodybuilders add this to their supplement regiment. Just as it sounds it will boost testosterone levels. You can also find products that will lower estrogen as well as elevate testosterone levels.

BCAA's ( Branch Chain Amino Acids) - these cannot be made in the body there fore need to be added. They repair tissue and allow our brains to function optimally. They should be taken before and after training.

Fibre - should be taken daily especially on a high protein diet. It will keep your system regular. It will also slow the rate which carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream. It will also absorb fat and prevent it from being stored as body fat. Dosage is between 20-25g per day.

For those of you on a diet, looking to lean down or drop body weight there are supplements you can take for that as well;

Thermogenics/Fat Burners which usually contain some form of caffeine such as Kola nut or Green Tea, many will contain Hydroxycitric Acid, Synephrine, Yohimbine, Yerba Mate and many more. It's one of those things you may have to experiment with to see what works best for your body.

CLA ( Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a naturally occurring free fatty acid. It is proven to build muscle and reduce body fat.

There are so many different types of supplements out there to help you reach you goals whether it be to add muscle mass, build strength, or drop body fat. These are the supplements bodybuilders and fitness athletes use in their arsenal to get the ultimate goal.

Also remember a sound nutrition and training plan need to be in place as well to get maximum benefits.

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