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1. Should cardio be included? Does it affect mass gain?
If you’re skinny and trying to bulk up, avoid doing a lot of cardio. Why? Take a look at the best marathon runners in the world – they look like they could be blown away with breeze. Now take a look at Usain Bolt, the best sprinter in the world – tons of muscle, power, and a body to envy. I have nothing against people who run all the time and love to run marathons/half-marathons – as long as you’re active I’m all for it. I’m just telling you that if you want to build muscle as quickly and efficiently as possible, doing a lot of cardio won’t help as it will only end up you burning extra calorie which is not our goal, after all, your success will largely depend on your nutrition, NOT your cardio!
Let’s take a sample plan: Spend 4-5 days a week in the gym, with each workout clocking in at 45 minutes. Go for long walks on your off days along with a day of sprints to stay active, but you must also know that my muscles get built while you’re resting, not when you are training. While working out your aim for workouts is to make them as intense (not insane) as possible, and then give your body ample time to recover (while eating enough calories to produce a surplus).
2. Is there a merit in considering bio-availability of protein supplements. Thus, is a micro-filtered whey isolate preferable over raw whey with equal protein macro quantity?
Whey is one of the two types of protein found in milk - the other being casein. Whey makes up approximately 20% of the protein in milk and is a very high quality source of protein that is easily digestible and quickly absorbed, with a high branched chain amino acid (BCAA) content and a high biological value (which means that the amino acid ratio is excellent for building muscle and that a large proportion of the protein consumed is absorbed and utilized by the body).
In addition, whey contains protein sub fractions with biologically active properties, including lactoferrin, lacto globulins, immunoglobulins, glycomacropeptides and others. Whey may have antioxidant-enhancing and immune-system enhancing properties and has recently been researched for other potential health benefits and is even considered a "functional food" by some authorities in the anti-aging and natural health industries. Whey also has research-proven sports nutrition related benefits as a fast acting protein source, making it ideal for post workout replenishment.
Whey is definitely a good choice for a protein powder. The next questions are which whey and why?
Concentrate and isolate are simply two different types of whey protein. They can be purchased individually and some protein powder mixes have a combination of both isolate and concentrate. In its raw state, whey contains substantial amounts of fat and lactose (milk sugar). You wouldn't want to eat raw whey. That's why it is filtered and processed: to remove most of the lactose and fat. If you've ever heard of ultra-filtration or cross-flow-microfiltration (CFM), those are simply two methods of separating the fat and lactose from the protein.
The primary difference between the two whey is that the isolate has had more of the lactose and fat removed, so it contains more protein on a per-serving basis. Depending on whose figures you go by, whey isolate usually contains between 90-94% protein while whey concentrate has a protein ratio of 70-80%. This percentage is a number you may want to take notice of on the product labels when you are comparing brands.
3. How we can increase muscle mass without gaining fat?
Gaining muscle is an anabolic process while losing fat (or muscle) is a catabolic process. Anabolic processes build up molecules or structures and consume energy; catabolic processes break down molecules or structures and release energy. The sum total of our anabolic and catabolic processes is termed our metabolism. SO can you gain muscle without gaining fat?
Honestly, the answer to this question is NO.
You can make healthy food choices and train your muscle harder and give it enough reason to grow also support it well with proper nutrition but the fact remains that you will gain little of fat as well, however with correct food choices the quality of gain can be controlled hence you can keep the fat gain to minimum.
4. How to overcome muscle gain or fat loss plateaus?
A Plateau is when our bodies become accustomed to the stress we place upon it throughout weight training. It can also become accustomed to a certain caloric intake. The reason behind most plateaus is lack of strategic modifications in training programs, nutrition plans and listening to your bodies feedback.
When you don't adjust your caloric intake after your metabolism requires more calories to fuel your body for more muscle growth, you will plateau! When you train too often, or too long you begin to enter overtraining syndrome (OTS) which always leads to a plateau and frustrations.
WHAT CAN I DO TO OVERCOME A PLATEAU?
You have to make changes to your program. Now before you switch everything upside down and start doing the opposite of everything you have been doing, first, you should always start by changing 1 or 2 little things to begin with. Here are few methods to overcome a plateau.
1: Take a planned recovery week from training and diet.
Your body actually makes muscle while resting, in training you break down your muscle and it recovers while resting using the fuel you give it in form of proper nutrition.
Some advantages of recovery week.
- Ensures proper recovery and muscle repair.
- Refreshes and relaxes your CNS (central nervous system) which can be stressed due to overload.
- Gives your joints and ailments a well-deserved break.
2: Include Supersets:
Now if you are an intermediate at the gym you are well aware of supersets, include this method to increase your training volume and intensity. This helps to accelerate your calorie expenditure in the gym and thus helps in increasing the calorie deficit further. Also, it keeps your heart rate up so just pushes your muscle to burn energy further than it is used to.
3: Drop sets:
In this technique, you add additional reps (which basically does the same as above i.e increase in volume) after reaching failure in each set. So with this technique you fatigue your muscle further and gives then a reason to stimulate further muscle growth.
Here’s a sample on how a drop set looks like:
Set 1: 100lbs 12reps
5. How to workout for mass:
In order for your muscle to grow, you need to give it enough reason to do so. Let us first understand how/when does our body grow. While training we actually break our muscle. So it starts craving for recovery and in order to do so proper nutrition is required, the recovery process makes our muscle absorb most of the nutrients and its storage capacity increases which will encourage it to grow.
Now, how to give your muscle enough work while training. You need to put your muscle under stress every time you workout. Here’s are few tips on how to do it.
Mechanical Load: Tension loading of muscles through exercise is a prerequisite for muscle hypertrophy.
Chronic Stimulation: Our muscles takes 24-48 hours to recover.
Acute responses to training, such as increased rates of protein accretion, return to normal in about 36 hours. Given these facts, you would not want to waste any time after the muscles have recovered. So you should actively have at least a day of complete rest to recover.
Progressive Load: Over time, the tissue adapts and becomes resistant to the effects of mechanical load. To remain effective, the load must be steadily increased over time at a pace which exceeds the rate of adaptation.
Strategic Deconditioning: When the load has been increased at the appropriate pace for long enough, the weights either become intolerable, or the risk of injury becomes too great. Now, since the load can no longer be increased, the adaptation to the load must be reversed. To accomplish this, after the highest weights are used, training is halted for a period to allow the muscles to "Decondition" and allow recovery response to training once again. This can take place after every 6-8 week and can take 7-14 days to fully recover. Here’s a sample on how to incorporate this in your training plan.
Say for example Bench Press:
Week 1: 6-8 reps 100lbs
Week 2: 6-8 reps 110lbs
Week 3: 6-8 reps 120lbs
Week 4: 6-8 reps 130lbs
Now at this point you may need a decondition or DE load
DE load week.
Post DE load week.
Week 1: 6-8reps 110lbs
Week 2: 6-8 reps 120lbs
Week 3: 6-8 reps 130lbs
Week 4: 6-8 reps 140lbs
So, if you notice over a period you have increased your strength in Bench press and so also this means that your one rep max has gone up, more strength means more muscle.
6: How can we differentiate between good fat and bad fat? Is there anything like bad fat??
This is a question we get asked more often than not, many of you will also try to eliminate fats completely from your diet. The truth is, that we need fats. It all depends on the source of food you are getting it from. Let’s make it easy and separate fats into two forms “Good Fats & Bad Fats”.
The fats to avoid are Bad Fats (trans fats). These fats are often found to be in packaged or fried foods such as French fries, margarine, cake mixes, and Ramen noodles. These fats will raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol). The reason these fats are so unhealthy is because most of them have undergone hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that food manufacturers use to keep the fat in packaged food from going bad.
Good Fats some unsaturated fats such as flax seed oil, peanut oil, palm kernel oil etc and saturated fats like coconut oil, butter, clarified butter etc are the good fats! Incorporating these into your diet can actually help you manage your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio and thus help have a healthy cholesterol level. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K all require fat so that they can be absorbed into the body. Without fat, you will not be getting any of these essential vitamins. Foods such as avocado, paneer which are high in unsaturated, can actually keep you feeling full longer because they can take a longer time to digest. Fats are also extremely important for healthy hormone regulation and cognitive brain function.