BodyWorks: Just Get Fit.

I’m a little confused. Is a movement like pull-ups a compound movement or an isolation exercise?

It’s an absolutely smashing day here on the island of Guernsey. Thought we’d better sort this out before the beach.

It’s classed as a compound movement, As it is spread over a range of muscle groups.

Although it’s fashionable and convenient to label exercises into a groups like isolation and compound, it’s probably a little misleading. If you are going to do this, it is possibly more useful to substitute functional in place of compound.

Rarely, if ever, is isolating a single muscle in the human body possible. There will always be a certain amount of assistance and involvement from adjacent attachment and opposing muscle groups.

Although not precise, It is often useful, especially for something like bodybuilding, to act and think of it as being possible. This mental construct allows us to focus on the least amount of muscle area while attempting to exert maximum stress on a smaller portion.

We can achieve a better muscle fibre overload, thereby increase muscle hypertrophy more effectively.

Gym R(x): Self Sufficiency or How to Deal with Things Like Tendonitis & Other Minor Chronic Inflammatory Ailments.

Pain ain’t nothin’ but weakness leavin’ the body.

Widely used U.S. Marine Corps Recruitment Propaganda

Yeah,well, at least in times of war, most of those newly minted recruits don’t last long.

But what about the rest of us? The ones that don’t plan ever to quit? Certainly just not let themselves fade away. What about us, the ones in it for the long haul? Whether we’ve put our shoulders against the doors of life and shoved…or just sat on our asses and observed? We, who usually end up with aches and pains that stick around long after the party’s over? We, who seem to rack up these nasty niglements that suck up our time and energy and are so exceedingly hard to shake?

What about us? The ones who don’t want to think of themselves as sheep, but as lions?

What are we supposed to do?

Tendonitis, joint pain and other chronic inflammatory conditions are commonly experienced as the dark side of intense fitness training. Most athletes will just shrug their injured rotator cuffs and tend to chalk it all up as the wages of sin or the cost of doing battle.

These painful episodes often cause even the most motivated and hard working athlete to cry and scream in pain when no one’s looking, to take more time off training than they are ready for.

Issues like these can not only become exceedingly painful, but many athletes will grow concerned with, or fearful of, the question of potential longer term damage or chronic disability. Scary stuff for individuals who live through their physicality.

A trip to a medical professional may or may not work as a ”one off”. Most of us can’t afford the time and expense of constant and unending trips down to see our good ol’ GP or Physio with little or no result. Or worse yet, only to receive condescending, unhelpful advice to ”knock the gym on the head for a while”, ”quit lifting those heavy weights”, or some equally simple minded, churlish pearls of wisdom for our pains.

Are we likely to take their expensive advice which will result in probably getting fat and out of shape? No Thanks! It’s too damn hard to get back in shape. Did I really just pay £80 for that bit of depressing news? Next time I’ll be sure to spend my money more wisely…say like flushing it down the toilet.

So, what to do? What to do? Should you just throw your hands up, say I quit and console yourself to banishment over an unending river of pints down at your local? A hasbeen, boorishly declaiming to anyone within earshot the sad story of how fit you used to be? Christ, I think that I’d rather swallow my own tongue or gouge out an eye.

Ok, let’s get back to reality.

My best, my most reasonable advice in the first instance here is: keep healthy and don’t get injured. Do whatever it takes to not put yourself in a desperate situation. Be disciplined, be cautious, don’t get cocky, don’t show off or let yourself get too complacent.

Injury is like a big, terrible, stealthy, dangerously ugly cat lurking in the shadows and ready to pounce…on anybody…don’t foolishly rely on your up-to-now string of luck, or anything else that you can’t control.

A possible way forward and the one that I almost obsessively dish out to any client who has an injury and will listen to me, any customer who comes in to see me desperately seeking insight into issues of pain & injury, has been to try to convey the necessity to build up some body-knowledge and self-sufficiency. To take the problem into his or her own hands and take responsibility to try to find a workable solution, however daunting this must seem at first blush.

My advice is to take a proactive approach, aggressive in its goal and intention. It is advice to fully investigate various physical, mental and nutritional healing techniques available to anyone who is intent on surviving bad luck and/or the onslaught of years and to figure out what works and what is essentially just snake oil. And you need to be really clear with this mindset, because if you are not careful, snake oil might be what you’re offered, at a price you can’t afford.

In my experience, it is often necessary to combine and mix or ‘shotgun‘ one, two or more of the following techniques to solve problems that might otherwise put you out of action, not only temporarily, but for good.

PHYSICAL/MENTAL STRATEGIES & TECHNIQUES:

  • Cryotherapy (icing);
  • Thermal or heat application;
  • compression (using a neoprene sleeve or other binding methods);
  • Application of medicated ointments and liniments
  • Application of DMSO (controversial in some jurisdictions);
  • Acupressure and or dry needling;
  • Cupping;
  • Moxibustion;
  • Self Massage;
  • Soaking in a hot tub using bath salts and/or essential oils;
  • EMS (electrical muscle stimulation);
  • Infrared and or ultrasound applications;
  • Mindfulness, meditation and focus techniques;
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • Pressure balls and rollers
  • various stretching techniques

NUTRITIONAL STRATEGIES:

  • Omega Fish Oils (and no, COD Liver, although cheap, is not what I am referring to);
  • Chondroitin Sulphate, Glucosamine, MSM preparations;
  • Capsicum (amazing how much pain a properly prepared, extra hot mexican dish or eye-wateringly spicy curry can kill! );
  • Various exotic spices, condiments, roots, herbs and oils like turmeric, ginger, garlic, saffron, cbd oils, etc.;
  • Reduction of pro-inflammatory foods and substances such as processed meats, alcohol, trans fats, HFCS and table sugar.

The above is only the short list, by no means does it pretend to be exhaustive.

This short post offers noone a panacea. Neither is it designed to substitute as professional medical advice or masquerade as a satisfactory answer to all issues arising from the multiplicity of causes that may manifest involving injury and chronic conditions.

But you have to start somewhere. And if you’re unlucky and the professional help that you require is not forthcoming…you need to make your own luck.

You need help yourself.

I want to add 20kg. of lean muscle mass. Can I accomplish this on a Vegetarian Diet?

Vegetarian bodybuilding is doable. However, it will require a little extra work and planning in the nutritional tactics and strategies departments than will diets incorporating meat products. Although, I would not say it was an optimal diet for gaining muscle. But, if you are going vegetarian for philosophical, compassionate or possibly other reasons, more power to you.

Now, let’s look at the 20kg. of muscle part of the question.

The answer to this is…Who knows?

That much muscle mass would be difficult to gain on any kind of diet, vegan, carnivore, steroid or otherwise. What is important to know is that muscle gain can be experienced through various types of nutritional pathways, if protein intake is kept at a required level. Let no one tell you that it is impossible. It may very well be difficult, but certainly not impossible.

Two bodybuilders come to mind when talking Vegan Muscle, one good and one great: Andreas Cahling and Bill Pearl.

Andreas in his prime, Santa Monica circa late 1970s
Andreas 2015 or 2016, looking a little like a very buffed out medieval muscle guy.
Iconic Bill Pearl, Mr. Universe in his 40s.
Bill in his 50s in the gym.

Is a lack of sleep related to muscle hypertrophy?

If what you mean is does the lack of sleep have a negative effect on muscle hypertrophy, the answer is yes, quite clearly.

As you’re probably already aware, the body is filled with various physiological clocks and timing devices, hormonal, chemical and neurological wound or unwound by multitudes of genetic, nutritional, environmental and lifestyle factors.

These timing devices are the harbingers of anabolic and catabolic pathways that dictate whether you are awake or asleep, growing or shrinking, living or dying.

Sleep is not a game!

In the last couple of decades the amount of knowledge that we have accumulated with regard to the significance and profundity of the effects of sleep (or the lack of it) on the brain and body is staggering.

As far as muscle growth is dependent on Growth Hormone which is pulsed, for the most part, in the deeper (Stage 3) levels of sleep, the lack of deep and restful sleep will interfere with your anabolic processes more dramatically than any other single factor, other than perhaps, starvation.

This fact, along with the seemingly paradoxical effect that the lack of sleep has on fat distribution in the body (higher cortisol secretion will support catabolism and increased rate of fat storage), makes even the most powerful steroid pale in comparison to it.

Hypnos: The All-Powerful-God-of-Sleep.

What Motivates You To Work Out When Other X-BBuilders Your Age Have Quit?

What’s this supposed to be? A veiled insult? Ha ha, well hopefully not.

I’ll be brief here. An unusual tact for the usual wordy author of this blog, I know.

But it may work in this case.

The things that motivate me to workout now are the same things that motivated me to work out then. In fact, they are the same things that always have, ever since I was 17 or 18:

Fear, lust & love of the chase:

  1. The fear of age, decay and decrepitude.
  2. The lust to survive & thrive.
  3. The love of the pursuit of the highest quality of life that I can set in my sights before time finally manages to lock me in its crosshairs.

Pretty simple, huh? That’s gonna be just about it.

I keep training for the simple reason I aim to give looking like this a miss, if I can.

Is there any sense in trying to get fit, if you’re over 45y?

You must be joking?

Is there even a whisper of a chance that you’re serious?

I am going to assume that this is actually a serious question asked by someone sincerely wanting a plausible answer and is not looking for excuses? Furthermore, he or she has probably not spent much time in a gym or has had much previous athletic experience…of any sort.

I will also take for granted that you’re not just some simpering troll out for a glib Hump Day stroll about our website.

The reason that I am hazarding this guess this is easy: a person who has spent any appreciable time in a gym would have seen a lot of guys (and gals) over 45 years old (some way, way over) sporting with plenty of muscle.

If they had seen this with their own eyes, the question need not have been asked.

So, allow me to me to kneel down before you, raise my right hand toward the heavens and testify!

But, before doing this, I’ll rephrase this question for a better fit:

Would it be possible to build muscle at 45y or older, if you have never touched a weight or been within shouting distance of a gym?

Yes, sure. Of course it is. Don’t be silly.

However, as is the case with learning any other skill at 45+y, there’s a toll to pay. A great deal of reaching outside your comfort zone, hard work and perhaps a little humiliation will probably be the cost of doing business.

I’ve recently answered a similar question on a  Quora forum from a member who is 60+y (and listen to me, doing it at 45 is going to be a damn sight easier, let me tell you). I include some of the same photos that I used there. I’ve also had a look at the backlog of similar questions around cyberspace and my, there certainly are a lot of them. 

So then, this is perhaps a popular important question that has yet to find a satisfactory answer.

Let me attempt one.

At first blush, my answer may appear a little harsher than it was for the 60y+ guy. It is, it is supposed to be. You are 15 (or more) years younger. If I do say so, myself 15 years, when you are on the wrong side of 40, make for a rather big advantage.

Here are some photos (not because I’m an OCD, narcissistic selfie taker bent on foisting particularly photogenic images on poor, defenceless members of the General Public…simply as a small parcel of credible evidence that may be useful to back my claims) from just a standard guy uncomfortably thrashing around on the wrong side of 40.

Greece 2013. Age 55y.

Agadir, 2014. Age 56y.

2014. In my office at BodyWorks. Age 56y.

2015 Morro Bay. Age 57.

…and so on and so forth. And all this from a guy who has a lot of spare hardware installed in various key-locations of his anatomy (I won’t bore you with ugly photos of these items, unless there is a call for it).

2016. Explaining the benefits of LandMine Squats for people with back injuries at BodyWorks, my gym in Guernsey. Age 58y.

If we take a sharper blade and slice a little deeper, we should be able to do a bit more damage to this question, as we have already decided it is an important one, but one that we should direct inwardly, toward our own hearts.

Simple questions so often are best answered in this fashion.

Should I be swayed by other people’s and Society-at-Large’s opinion of when the right time to throw up my hands is?

Is it reasonable to say I quit and forever become a skinny, pencil-necked non-person with no future prospects?

Should I let someone else be the odds maker for my further progress and happiness in life? Even if he or she decides my chances are as being between nil and none? Do I let someone else decide my absolute status until such a time as I shall pass away without even so much as asqueak? Because…why? It’s less hassle? Requires less energy and involves less risk? Does throwing out the white hanky and coming out with my hands up score me valuable points and make me a more likeable bloke, easier to be around with with my mates down at the local bar?

Hell, man (or woman), I wasn’t a very easy or likeable guy when I was on the right side of 45y, why start now?

Why let someone else throw you away?

Why waste limited and precious time asking pathetic questions like this and prevaricating? Do you really need my or anyone else’s permission? Our unvetted and untested advice on a matter of such significant import concerning the only tools in life that matter? Your own flesh, your own blood & your own soul?

Why entrust your fate to the careless hands of strangers? Why are you of such slight value and another’s opinion worth so much? Why indulge yourself in the dubious luxuries of timidity and self doubt in the face of two stubbornly malicious adversaries like Age & Decay? You do not have the time for such indulgences. No one does.

Undoubtedly, one day these two forces of devilment and disaster will take you out. They are likely to creep up on you and !wham! when you least expect it. But, as long as you remain vigilant, it won’t be today and probably not tomorrow and when they do come in for their sinister date with you, they’ll scurry out of their deep, dark, dank holes and by sly cunning strike from behind when you’re looking the other way.

Just go out, train hard and get some muscles.

A warrior’s prime duty is to ensure his spirit remains unbroken.

It’s your call, the clock is ticking and we’re paying by the hour.

Ojai 2016. Age 58y. Age is just a number? Yeah, shame it’s such a big one.

*NOTE*

As has been pointed out, the assumption here is that we are starting with a novice. The more interesting and difficult problem of getting additional muscle onto an already healthy, fit and experienced 45+ year old individual is an entirely separate and different question.

What time is the best to eat if you are following the OMAD (one meal a day) system?

The correct (or rather, the more correct) answer to this question has to do with the way that you are wired and what your lifestyle choices are.

If it’s only gonna be one, make it a good one!

I have no problem skipping breakfast, a little trouble missing lunch (if I’ve already skipped breakfast) but when it comes to no dinner, I go a bit nuts.

As far as I am aware, the results seen from the OMAD version of intermittent fasting have little chance of being heavily influenced by the time of day that you choose to dine. Let your conscience (or an organ located closer to the ground, your stomach) be your guide. If you are unused to this type of fasting, why put yourself through further stress by worrying about non-issues which are unlikely to have much bearing on outcome?

If you’re the type who likes to experiment, as I do, try varying your feeding times and see what happens.

If a flat stomach is going to make you happy, this is the one to get you there.

Is it possible to lose enough weight to a healthy BMI by just doing a keto diet without exercise?

A rather predictable but risky question to ask a guy who runs a gym, isn’t it?

Well, I won’t answer it predictably, then. I’ll answer it briefly and honestly:

Yes, of course it is possible.

A properly designed Ketogenic Diet will certainly do the job as specified.

But is it desirable?

The role of exercise in this type of diet would be to maximize the benefit, reduce the loss of lean muscle mass and modify some of the other possible negatives or residual effects of a diet of this type which the practitioner may encounter.

Just as an aside, as long as you are going to go to the trouble to put a keto diet in play, it seems a bit of a shame not to get the maximum benefit from your task by avoiding a little iron pumping.

If weight loss is your only concern  in life, then a well designed diet will be sufficient. But most of us want to look good and be functional, too.
If weight loss is your only concern in life, then a well designed diet will be sufficient. But most of us want to look good and be functional, too.

Can I ingest all my daily protein requirement in one go?

As is the case with a majority of questions, it depends on how you go about it and what your goal is.

Most athletes, bodybuilders among them, like the idea of numerous protein feedings throughout the day, distributing a minimum amount of amino acids evenly, more or less, to the body for modifications and repair as the body requires building blocks for these purposes.

Furthermore, athletes like the idea of about 2+g complete protein/kg body weight, say around 200g average intake per day.

Practically speaking, 200g of protein at a single sitting, while sounding simple and certainly doable, may be a bit uncomfortable as a daily habit.

There is also a question of whether the body will efficiently assimilate the quantity of protein at one go. What is likely to happen is that a higher percentage of the protein than is the case with smaller, divided protein portions, is converted and stored as fat.

Then again, in circumstances like a Ketogenic Diet, an ”all-in-one” might just work out to your advantage.

For most people, at least ones interesting in conserving and perhaps increasing lean muscle mass, splitting up their protein feedings is going to be a better choice.

SQUATS: Full Vs. Half

Squats: The Queen of Leg Movements?

Back in the day, when I was both less and more: less injured , less experienced, less wise, less cynical, yet more confident that I knew more than I actually did, I was in the habit of proclaiming to training partners, clients, interested relatives, friends and basically anyone else who would listen to me that

Full range of motion is the golden fleece of bodybuilding training and always, always, always is the right way to train in the gym!

Anything else was just tripe and junk information put out by anybody who was ignorant and too lazy to know any better than to have any other viewpoint that wasn’t mine.

All these years (and all these injuries)later, my experience, further learnings and whatever tiny slivers of wisdom that I’ve managed to wrest from the cruel onslaught of time have reliably informed me that I will, under certain circumstances, have to change my viewpoint a little.

FULL SQUAT pros:

  • You get better at doing full squats than if you don’t.
  • You get slightly more glute and hip flexor/extensor involvement , so if glutes are a prime concern this is one (but not the only) of the ways of getting to them.
  • More Quad involvement (except for the Rectus Femoris muscles)

FULL SQUAT cons:

  • Increased risk of injury, wear and tear (Lower Back , Knees and Hip connectors/connections.
  • Does not significantly improve hamstring conditioning .
  • Difficult to do with back and knee injuries

HALF SQUATS pros:

  • Less Risk of Injury
  • Less wear and tear on the lower back and knees.

HALF SQUATS cons:

  • Not as stimulating to Quads & Glutes (but close enough).
  • Like Full Squats, little benefit to the hamstrings.

So, there you have it.

If you’re injury free and want maximum gluteal and hip flexor stimulation then FULL SQUATS are your weapon of choice.

If you are dealing with a back, knee, hip and/or connective tissue issues then HALF SQUATS will be the movement of choice, if you want to do squats at all.