BodyWorks: Just Get Fit.

I am a woman who trains daily in the gym to get toned and fit. I prefer men to look like men and women to look feminine but not fat. I want to use protein powder, but my overweight G/Fs tell me that I’ll start to look like a guy.

There are a couple of curious misconceptions in the world, one that classifies foods and supplements into male and female categories and another that you go to the gym and are destined to grow huge, grotesque muscles-whether you want to or not.

There are probably many factors to account for this strange belief structure and rather unnatural way of looking at things, including, but not limited to cultural and marketing influences. But why people who obviously aren’t very well informed, dare I say just plain ignorant, believe that you are in serious danger of going into the gym and exit a couple of weeks later as a huge and misshapen carricture of your former self is something of a mystery.

Let’s leave the question of hormonal differences aside for the moment. There will always be exceptions, but the factors affecting the differences between the sexes as far as fitness, training techniques and nutrition are more inclined to be quantitative than qualitative.

Both men and women need protein, although based on bodyweight and musculature, men may require greater quantities of it. In either case, it serves the same purpose i.e. aiding in a number of vital physiological functions and contribute to the repair process.

So ladies, have no fear should you choose to take a portion of your daily protein intake as a supplemental powder. Doing this will exert no harmful or irreversible effects on you and you are in absolutely no danger of getting big, ugly muscles and being unable to fit into your normal clothing.

I’m young, just starting out in the gym and want to gain some size. If I use a Mass Gainer Protein Supplement, how long do I have to use it?

Think of High Protein Mass Gainers, and most other supplements, simply as tools.

They allow for a readily measurable and nutrient dense feeding with limited amount of prep time required. Also, they will often supply certain anabolic nutrients in quantities of a density not normally found in everyday foods.

You can insert a screw into a piece of sheet metal using a hand screwdriver, or you can use an electric drill. A good mass gainer is the drill, handy and time saving if you have a lot of work that needs to be done.

Take your supplement as long as necessary to achieve the goal that you’re chasing and then keep an eye on things in order to monitor your progress.

Return to using it when you need to, i.e. in times of heavy training or when you’re having trouble getting and keeping to a regular meal schedule.

Did You Ever Try Being A Vegetarian & A Bodybuilder At The Same Time?

I spent a couple of years as a vegetarian, not for any moral, philosophical or health reasons-just as an experiment, to see what would happen and how it worked.

Several things resulted from this experiment. Mental clarity benefitted, gut microbiome changed, I felt lighter, slightly more agile and my skin got subjectively better. On the minus side, my quality as a competitive bodybuilder declined and overall strength and power suffered.

One day, I woke up, went down to the local Norm’s and had steak and eggs for breakfast. It took a week or two for my body to adjust to the change back to carnivority. During which time a host of physical and psychological resets caused a certain degree of havoc. Some of this havoc resulting in quite comical happenings, others not quite so humorous.

This radical degree of upset to physiological functions could have been avoided, most likely, by a more gradual and measured approach to the return to meat eating. My offhand and careless “cold turkey” approach to the adaptations that occurred during what seemed to be, at least in my case, a rather fundamental change was probably a little presumptuous.

Are protein efficiency ratio, net protein utilization, and biological value good indicators of quality protein for muscle building?

They are supposed to be, they were initially designed to be, but all of the protein assessment strategies/scales currently in use have their limitations.

These limitations start to materialise and become influential when the original populations that the scores are based on and derived from are altered and the formulas are applied to different populations.

For instance, one measurement that is most utilized and preferred by the majority of researchers in various fields as the most useful was not mentioned in your question, it is:

Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAs)

In 1989, the Food & Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) in a joint position stand stated that protein quality could be determined by expressing the content of the first limiting essential amino acid of the test protein as a percentage of the content of the same amino acid content in a reference pattern of essential amino acids (FAO/WHO, 1990). The reference values used were based upon the essential amino acids requirements of preschool-age children. The recommendation of the joint FAO/WHO statement was to take this reference value and correct it for true fecal digestibility of the test protein.[1]

When this method is applied to the target group, i.e. preschool age children, it works. When applied to 70 year olds suffering from decreased kidney function (as blood test measurement for glomerular filtration rate GFR) , it doesn’t. Similarly, a problem arises if you’re looking at other subgroups of the population, not to mention high level athletes, or perhaps Champion Level Competitive Bodybuilders using various PEDs.

Practically speaking, unless you are doing research with the view to subsequently writing it all up in a peer reviewed journal, it probably really doesn’t matter much, even if the measurements are off by 25%+.

An example, say that you are a bodybuilder and you decide to roughly double your daily protein consumption using the following two supplements (Whey Protein Isolate and Casein):

WPI………………PER= 3.2   BV=104    NPU=92    PDCAAs=1.00

Casein………….PER= 2.5    BV= 77     NPU= 76    PDCAAs= 1.23

WPI is faster acting and has higher peak concentration of amino acids in the blood than casein.

If you are a healthy youngster, you’ll generally get a better effect with casein, if on the other hand, you are a healthy bodybuilder over 40, WPI looks to be more beneficial and show better lean muscle mass gains.

Why is this? Can these results be traced back to any of the values listed. Can any of these values explain the differing effects in the different age groups? And if so, how? The answer is no, not using these scales, at least not yet.

Also, if your current intake is say 50–60g a protein a day and you double that amount, you will most likely see a truly dramatic effect on your body composition. It wouldn’t matter much what the ratings of the protein source are that you choose to use.

But, the total effect on lean body tissue will not be so substantial if your current level is say 250g/day and you boost that to 500g/day. Protein quality may play a much greater role in this case, and the various formulas and numbers that they produce might start to take on increased significance.

So, things begin to change in the real word depending on the level of protein that you currently consume. None of the scales mentioned above take this observation into consideration.

Ah, but now we are beginning to move off topic a bit.

Footnotes:  [1] Protein – Which is Best?


So, tell me: What really is the point of having to wear excess amounts of calories as fat. They would look so much better on me stored as glycogen.

I agree 100%.

Especially, if you’re planning on trying on and fitting into that sexy little bikini while sporting your diamond shaped washboard 6-er for the beach this summer.

But this objective is just a relatively selfish, individual, short-term goal. Unfortunately, your genes have something else planned for you, and on a significantly broader time scale.

Surviving through lean, cold winters and providing a continuous downstream legacy of fat and sassy little yous is their main concern. And your ability to be able to store large quantities of calories fast and efficiently is quite an advantage to this end.

It wasn’t the lean and hungry warriors out hunting, fighting, freezing & working through calories at high rates of speed in the form of readily available but relatively small glycogen stores who survived best. It was those others, those less confrontational, cleverly economical ones. Hiding out, safe in hibernation mode, allowing others to do the hard and bloody work, skulking and lustily procreating in those nice, warm caves, storing their calories far more efficiently in the form of fat; these were the ones who saw the spring sun rise over the beautiful and savage prehistoric ice-age glaciers most often.

And all that jiggly, jelly-like mass crowding around your midsection, taking up valuable space on your thighs and buttocks, is their legacy to you.

Glycogen is a relatively fast burning fuel. Most living creatures, humans amongst them, store very little of it in muscle tissue, perhaps 500–1000 kcal worth (less than a day’s rations). Fat, on the other hand, can be stored in efficient, if unsightly, parcels of about 3500 kcals per pound.

The Average Joe (or Joess) lugs at least 25–30 lbs. worth of fat around (and some considerably more). If this amount were magically reconstituted as carry on luggage, most of us would be in real danger of paying the overweight toll getting ourselves through the boarding gate and onto EasyJet.

This kind of greasy, wobbly, ungainly caloric excess will generously provide its owner with a minimum of 100,000kcals worth of stored energy to draw upon in times of food scarcity. An amount that will most likely last, even on the longest intercontinental flight, while allowing extra time for as many ridiculous and annoying delays at Heathrow as you like.

So there you have it, an oversimplified answer to your question. Having a nice, fat caloric bank balance that will provide its holder a much higher chance of survival than more readily accessible but smaller stores of available glycogen would ever allow is the reason.



This little bit extra would be look much more aesthetically pleasing if only it were muscle.

Hate Cardio? Who Cares?


By now everyone, or at least everyone who cares and doesn’t have their heads shoved securely up their, erm, sorry, I mean…in the sand, knows that one of the devices that BODYWORKS has recently procured is simply known as “The Beast“.

OK, so what The Beast is is a motorised stairmill, a modern Jacob’s Ladder. A sort of big chunk of part of a revolving and continuous staircase escalator. This thing is in no way a piece of passive exercise equipment. You can’t fall asleep or otherwise fake it or take it easy when you mount this piece of devilment. For, if you do, it will not end well for you, I promise.

A great deal of what a gym is about is the creation of a strong, secure sense of energy, positiveness and motivational qualities delivered in a straightforward, businesslike and reliably consistent manner. Not always an easy task. Especially when a crucial ingredient to producing this particular feeling is the proper set of tools, and lots of them. Most of which are reasonably expensive and take more than a little maintenance. An area composed of sufficient space and light also contributes significantly to that much sought after but rarely achieved  gym feeling.

So as some things wear out and lots of good & useful things need to be bought and paid for, you strive to keep the gym fed and watered properly, bright and shiny, while also keeping your eye on the bottom line, making a living.


As a guy who’s been building and running gyms for the last quarter of a century or so, you not only have the regular issues of business survival but various social issues, as well. You sometimes appear to be a large target for PA or passive aggression (“why on earth be passive aggressive, when you can just be honest-in-your-face-aggressive?” is a question I often ask myself).

This PA can take on a variety of very strange and unusual forms, but it is fundamentally someone’s mask for insecurity, shame or jealousy. And it is usually dressed up and disguised as something else.

To make this point less obscure, here is a short sample of some brief examples:

[Start of Rant. You can skip this part, if necessary]

“The gym is just soooo F-iiiinnnggg boooring! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! I don’t go for all of that cardio junk, I simply don’t have time for it! I walk my dog, that’s enough. It’s ok for you, you love it.”  

Well, at least your dog receives some benefit.
Yes, of course I do, but not every minute of it. It’s not all “Girls & Glamour”, often very little of it is, and being in this business involves long stints of dealing with dishonest suppliers, picking up after slovenly customers, cleaning toilets and scrambling to pay the rent.

While this may be an unexpected point of view, it is sort of the point of this blog. Or, eventually it will be, once I get through a few other comments and concerns:

“Grown Ups still do this sort of thing, seriously? Come on,  you’re not still training yourself, are you? Well, gee you are getting on a bit. Isn’t it about time to stop trying to keep up with all these youngsters? Why can’t you just be normal, behave yourself, sell it off and retire?”

Sorry about that, Geez, but you’re really not handing me a very attractive option here. But if it was, I undoubtedly would end up sitting around watching stupid TV, eating crap, drunk most of the time,  putting on a pot belly and so on. The most probable subsequent outcome then would be just to die, a miserable, tired old has-been…like some people I know.

Oh, and how I just love this next one. I most often get this little morsel around party time, at some social function, or occasionally from a taxi driver on a trip up to the airport :

“You know I trained a few years back. Yeah, got good, too. Really big and ripped. Ha ha, I was bigger than you.”

Glad to hear it, mate. Shame you had to let it go. So tell me…what happened?

Et cetera, et cetera, etc.

So, fundamentally after a little close scrutiny, what all this thinly veiled criticism boils down to is lack of motivation, feelings of powerlessness, insecurity, shame and dissatisfaction delivered up to you in a rather unappealing way by people too lazy to do anything about the hazy shroud of unhappiness that they constantly move around in. In your opinion, doesn’t this description seem to just about cover it?

In their heart of hearts most people want to have it all done for them. They want the process of getting fit and going to the gym to be like walking into a bar or restaurant. They want to be invited to sit in a comfortable chair and have their health, fitness and conditioning served up to them, without having to work, feel pain, or struggle for it. Some of these people even think that they should be paid for going to the gym, and even if I don’t have to pay them, I should at least be the one willing to provide it to them FREE of Charge.

Nope, sorry. Marks & Sparks doesn’t provide me with FREE food, nor does that guy at the Petrol Station feel very comfortable when I don’t really want to pay for my litre of milk and a fill-up.

[End of Rant.]

Anyway that rather long and boorish aside, back to The Beast. One of the problems with cardio is that most people find it repetitive, dull and pointless. They’ve seen all this gear before and found it disappointing. They begin to feel like gerbils on treadmills, automatons operating X-Trainers and blithering idiots peddling away on stationary bikes. Well, one reason for these unnecessary, uncomfortable and pointless feelings is that potential users continue to remain unchallenged and cowed by the difficulties encountered attempting to use these things properly. Potential users have yet to work out how to really effectively these devices in a practical manner and see results.

Another reason that some people see gym cardio through crap coloured glasses is that most of these old school cardio devices don’t have very good ergonomics and require some inventive and imaginative strategic use decisions to get any lasting fitness conditioning sense out of them.

Enter The Beast

This motorized 10HP, 650 kg, 2.2m high, 3m wide, 2m deep startlingly impressive device is an answer to our pitiful, sad and silly dilemma.

But be forewarned, it was truly forged in Hell by a Hellish Blacksmith.

The Hellish Blacksmith

“It was constructed in Hell by a Hellish Blacksmith.”





 It’s OK, A little pain never hurt nobody.

If You Want To Get Buffed Without Eating Animals, How Do You Calculate Total Protein Intake From Incomplete Protein Sources?

A nice question. Also, one that will be the basis of some controversy and much argument.

Be prepared to follow the rant:

FOOD COMBININGor trophologyis a prevailing and persistent myth that doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, it is just not true. Yet this perfidious and popular mollycoddle is a religious belief that refused to die an honourable death, no matter how hard the steel toed boot of truth tries tonkick it. Almost everyone takes this FOOD COMBINATIONm  misconception as given fact and common knowledge and repeats it, especially those who really shouldn’t, for instance, vegans and vegetarians.

Although there has been several methods of protein calculation put forth (i.e. PDCAAS, NPU, BV, etc.), there is as yet no method that has received a quorum of consensus amongst the scientific community as a way to precisely solve the equation.

Does this conundrum pose a practical problem for those of us interested in getting the optimal amount of protein for muscle building and health concerns, yet would prefer not to slaughter and eat poor creatures that never did us any harm? No, not in the least.

Modern research seems to support the position that no special care or tacit knowledge needs to be resorted to in order to figure out practical protein intake.

As long as caloric intake is adequate and sufficient, the non-animal sources of protein are sensibly varied, the individual is not practicing any particularly heinous form of food restrictions (or otherwise in state of malnourishment or starvation), total amount of protein intake can be calculated effectively as the sum of the protein count found in the individual food sources consumed, whether your foodstuffs are classified as containing “complete” proteins or not.

For example: say you have a romantic vegetarian evening planned and decide to whip up a vegetable paella with a cup of sweet corn containing 400 Kcals and with about 10g of proteins, a 40g portion of red lentils ( 150kcals) with 20g proteins, a heaping cup of whole grain rice having 250 Kcals 25g proteins, some special spices, a dash of virgin olive oil, chilies and a tomato. Voila! You have a tasty dish containing roughly 800 kcals or so and a a a respectable 55g worth of protein bound to help in your quest to build some muscle and impress your beautiful guest. Thrown in, along as a freebie, no sacrifice of cute, furry animals to haunt your conscience and wreck your sleeping moments.

So yeah, basically it’s that simple.

Quick Creatine Question Time: Is it safe to use everyday? What is it best used for? What is the best dosage? And do I have to cycle it?

Creatine has several interesting uses and lots of possible physiological outcomes. There is evidence that it exerts the main force of its muscle building effect through myostatin inhibition. It also biogenic substrata component in the ADP-ATP energy cycle, fundamental for producing energy used in all manner of metabolic processes including muscular contraction.

Many internet bros and self-styled gurus out there will confidently inform you that cycling is necessary. Bro Science is a peculiarly popular form of advice, but not necessarily a particularly sound source of credible information. The cycling myth most likely is an anachronistic holdover from a time when it was an excitingly new and rather expensive secret new supplement, selling for around £1/g. and in a vendor’s best interest to market it as a questionable alternative to steroids. I know of no serious scientific study proving that that cycling creatine is either necessary or useful.

At reasonable dosage levels (around5–10g daily) I am not persuaded that it needs to be cycled. It is not as if creatine is a drug that you are in danger of building up tolerance to. How sensitive you are to creatine is probably influenced by a complex combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. When muscles become saturated, excess creatine will merely be excreted.

In other words, if you don’t use it, you’ll just harmlessly piss it away.

The 5 Top Supplements For Not Growing Old Gracefully

Ok, here’s the BODYWORKS hit list of the “5 Top Supplements For Not Growing Old Gracefully”:

  1. High Dosage DHA/EPA Standardised Fish Oil>Even with the latest research indicating that fish oil might not be as efficacious for preventing coronary events as once believed, this is going to be #1 on the list. The Omega-3s have multiple other important uses including anti-inflammatory properties (inflammation is one of the major downsides contributing to the ageing/decrepitude process), demonstrated anti-depressive effects, immune boosting and triglyceride reducing qualities, to name a few. Make sure to get the best quality Omega-3’s sources (including seafoods) that you can find and afford to avoid mislabeling and rancidity issues.
  2. Creatine> I have written extensively about the anti-sarcopenia muscle building and brain enhancing properties of this very useful little molecule on Quora and elsewhere in the past. The research behind its multiple benefits is massive, ubiquitous and undeniable. Monohydrate is probably the best, most assimilable and cheapest form of creatine and the only one, with the possible exception of ethyl-ester compound, that I would recommend.
  3. (-)-epicatechin> Many readers will not be familiar with the name of this molecule, but almost all will know the natural source it comes from: Dark Chocolate. One of my favourite supplements. Recent research has indicated positive effects on muscle growth (most likely primarily due to its ability to inhibit myostatin), high antioxidant (although not all oxidation processes are bad, some in fact are downright vital) and blood pressure lowering effects. If you plan on getting your dose of this useful little molecule from natural sources, choose a vetted brand ( is a decent go to source for supplement lab testing results, but there are others) with at least a 70% rating in approximately the 30-50 g dosage range.
  4. PROTEIN> Protein is just such a ubiquitous Old School supplement that it is often downgraded in its perception as a very useful supplement! A staple for every serious trainer out there or, at least should be. However, the protein available today is not the lactose-laden cr*p of yesteryear. New technology applied to the processing of modern protein supplements is all very New School and is constantly evolving. Protein supplementation are one of the small group foodstuffs that has actually benefited from modern food processing technologies.

There are seven main types of protein available in today’s marketplace (although fish, pea and yes, insect protein can be found out there, too): casein, egg albumin, milk protein isolate, hydrolysate protein, soy, whey concentrate and whey isolate.

Casein protein works more slowly than other types of protein. It is a great supplement to take in the evening time, right before bed to help repair broken down muscle tissue. Egg albumin is just the egg whites and no yolk. It is a pure protein and wonderful for promoting lean, healthy muscle tissue (although egg yolk is a great source of rather important nutrients, too it is also high in fat). Milk protein isolate is a combination of casein and whey. Hydrolysate protein considered one of the highest quality proteins available; it is also one of the most expensive protein supplements available. Hydrolysate protein absorbs quickly into the muscles, so it is best to take this protein supplement right after an intense workout, and has a great amino acid profile. Soy protein is available for purchasers who are concerned with following a vegetarian style diet. But Soy protein is also heart healthy, helps aid muscle recovery and is also good for speeding up an individual’s metabolism. Whey concentrate is an inexpensive form of protein and highly popular among bodybuilders and non-bodybuilders alike. This form of whey protein has an impressive amino acid profile and is easily absorbed into the muscles. Whey isolate is well-known as one of the fastest acting protein supplements out there. It is also extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars.

5. Go ahead, call me a crack-pot or goof-ball for this next suggestion for a supplement, if you want to. But for me, it is one of the most important and efficacious on the list, if not the most important supplement of them all.

Ruthlessly Positive Atitude (RPA)> : “Getting old it ain’t for sissies” as the great Betty Davis quipped. Motivation, emotional & physical grit, spiritual toughness, the warrior-like never say die attitude, all these necessary characteristics are required to do battle with the ageing process. And all, without exception, are reliant on a mindset that can generate these survival qualities in order to withstand the relentless slaughterhouse of time. The Selfish Gene may not have much use for you after your 30s and Nature may not want you to stick around after 80 (the time of life that most medical practitioners and experts in the geriatrics field will tell you that “it’s all downhill from there”).

But you, you might just have other ideas.

I get sore muscles and body aches almost everyday from exercising. What painkiller can I take?

The Man of Steel Doesn’t Avoid Pain, He Knows Its Just The Cost of Doing Business!

There are already many good answers to this question, some of them very good. So, rather than hack over the same old ground, I will let you ask Dr. Google about those and answer the corollary to this question: What you shouldn’t do to get rid of soreness or DOMS .

Most people hate pain, they think of it as the Devil’s Handmaiden. People believe pain to be an unnecessary aberration, do not want to tolerate it and intend to avoid it at all costs. Like Polio, caring parents would like to see their children never exposed to it and pain wiped off the face of the earth. Many modern societies & cultures believe it behooves them to do all that they can to keep the evil of pain from their constituents’ abodes. This attitude is completely intuitive, sympathetically understandable and simply mistaken.

(For example, let’s say) that after a particularly kickass training session last night, your biceps are killing you and so you decide to drop by the local chemist’s on your way home from work to pick up some Brufen.

Taking analgesics like Brufen probably isn’t the smartest way to solve your little pain problem because:

Ibuprofen alters human testicular physiology to produce a state of compensated hypogonadism

Now this sounds rather scary and undesirable (at least for guys trying to put on some buff) and it is. It is really rather counterproductive to why you went to the gym in the first place. And most likely, similar sides are bound to occur with many, if not all of the other analgesics (and anti-inflammatories, but that’s the subject for another post) that you received a script for on your last trip to your doctor’s.

So, perhaps a mind-reset is in order here, and this is a simple explanation for why you need one: when you have trained with credible intensity and invested a reasonable amount of sweat equity in your training session, you briefly upset your body’s homeostasis, you do a little damage on a microscopic level to muscle fibres or have overloaded some other physiological mechanism in some way, depending on your choice of training methods. And the result of this wilfully imposed stress is pain.

This just happens to be the way it is and it needs to be. You must recognise this discomfort as necessarily prerequisite to muscle hypertrophy (in the case of resistance training) and cardiovascular adaptation, in the case of aerobic training. So, here’s the advice: do man up princess.

There might indeed be a few practical ways & protocols to reduce DOMS (i.e. soaking in a nice hot bath might not be particularly high tek, but it works) that won’t interfere with training adaptation. But you do want to be particularly careful here to not put roadblock in the way of all the hard work that you just put in just to silence an ouch or two.

Experiment with some stuff and see what works. The use of analgesics & painkillers after you hit the gym is definitely something that won’t.

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