BodyWorks: Be No Weakling

How long will muscle memory and strength last if you take time off from training (say 3-6 months)?

The concept of ”Muscle Memory” or neuromuscular conditioning, is basically a form of efficiency developed through practice and repetition similar to any other physical competency.

It is sometimes treated with a kind of superstitious awe as a form of voodoo, presenting some variety of magical property that perhaps will allow the practitioner to go away on a journey to a distant land whose people have never heard of a dumbbell, not lift for years, come back and in a matter of weeks or days get back to their old hulk ways.

The answer to the question of ”how long muscle memory lasts” is that:

It lasts for a while.

How long a while depends on a variety of things including how long you have trained, your age, your physical activity level (other than weightlifting), health and nutrition status (protein intake/injury/surgery), genetics and so on. Strength is only one aspect of muscle memory, hypertrophy, lifting efficiency, power, endurance, etc. are also important components which also go comprise this concept.

A ballpark estimate of mine will be that in 3–6 months of not-training (or detraining), for the majority of people who have trained less than 5 years, very little, if any muscle memory will be in evidence when training is resumed.

put it somewhere.jpeg

Where the hell did I put all that muscle? I know that I stashed it somewhere.

I find myself wanting to eat lots of cheese every single day. Is this normal and what do I do about the unhealthy saturated fats in cheese?

As a matter of fact, I am a cheese addict from way back.

At one sitting, I can easily eat 1/2 Kilo of this highly addictive food.

Interestingly, cheese contains casomorphins, chemicals very akin to, yes you guessed it, opioids. In fact, research suggests that many of the casomorphins are more potent than morphine[1]

Finally, a reason for our cheese lust! We are addicts!

Now, on to the question of:

is this addiction good or bad for us?

Experimental data suggests ambivalence here.

There may be both a ”yes” and ”no” answer to this question.

I suspect the answer will ultimately be along similar lines addressing the potential health benefits of alcohol consumption.

It is probably going depend on the exigencies dictated by your genetic predisposition (some of us can handle saturated fats better than others) and the sheer quantity of this tasty substance that you consume.

Footnotes

cheese addict

Say hello to my little friends.

Should you only take creatine on the days you lift?

It’s human nature to suppose that there is a formula or a mandatory procedure for things. Or a strong intuitive feeling that perhaps a magick spell with special magick sounding words spelt in a particular way in the traditional form will work better than just higgidly-piggidly-making-it-up-as-you-go-merrily-along.

But sometimes, it’s all irrelevant; it just doesn’t matter either way. Or, if it does, it may only increase the efficacy by so small an amount, that it isn’t even worth the candle.

Creatine is one of these supplements that appears to lend itself to this laissez-faire attitude.

Even taking it with caffeine, which diminishes effectiveness by around 5% or so, really doesn’t matter enough for us to stress over. 95% is quite good enough and is more than compensated for by the positive effects of that pretraining cup of coffee.

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I began using creatine when it became commercially available in 1990s. Started using it with clients not long thereafter. At the time it was expensive at around £200 per kilo, you can now purchase pharmaceutical grade wholesale for about 1/10 that.

Over the years, I have found that it probably doesn’t matter, after physiological saturation is achieved, how you use it, on training or none-training days, any excess will be excreted by the body. A few may find it beneficial to use prior to training for psychological (placebo) benefits.

As far as the question ”does it work” most people will fall into the following categories: responder, less sensitive responder and non (or very low) responder. A very small percentage of potential users may suffer from digestive issues when using it.

Only the most responsive users will be sensitive to the scheduling of its use, the other two categories, planing will be less of a matter for concern.

Since it is relatively cheap, safe and widely available, a loading phase (say 10–20g daily for 5/7 days) followed by a 5g/day or two-on-day-off dosage pattern, regardless of your activity level.

This simple procedure seems to work out fine for just about everyone.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO GAIN MUSCLE USING A HIGH SET/REP RANGE?

Yes.

What the optimal training range with regard to sets and reps is (i.e. whether you respond more to heavy weight, lower volume or lighter weight, higher volume) depends on your genetics.

I’ve been training for over 40 years now. After the first year or so, I realised that anything less than 15 reps/set & 10–20 sets per body part didn’t work or make much sense to me. I didn’t get bigger or stronger with heavy, low rep work. All I got was injuries, frustration and bouts of tendonitis.

True, at first I had a little trouble with some of my mates, who loved to lift heavy and were a little disgusted with my ‘’pansy-assed attitude’’. Now, after most of them have hit middle- age, it is hard to find them in the gym any more.

Where are my mates? Why are they no longer in the gym? Where did they all go?

They are no longer in the gym presumably because they have been permanently injured out, or they have lost the necessary motivation.

As they got older, it got harder. They just couldn’t lift as heavily, as easily, or as pain-free, as they once did….and so, they quit.

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In recent years, genetic testing has become affordable. Now, whether you think it is quite there as useful scientific reality or not, is another matter. I happen to think it is. I think that, as long as it is interpreted properly, it is well worth the time, effort and cost…providing that you take the resulting data with a grain (or more) of salt.

A couple of years ago, I had some genetic testing done and used several providers to double and triple check the outcomes. Results came back with data which generally had a high degree of agreement, indicating that I had a peculiar lack of the genes associated with strength, power, tendon integrity and fast-twitch muscle fibres. On the other hand, I was pretty richly supplied with genes relating to slow-twitch fibre volume, endurance, high IGF levels, nerve modularity, capacity for hyperplasia and other interesting qualities that might indicate a stronger endurance/aerobic orientation rather than strength and power orientation. Odd for a bodybuilder, nevertheless true for me.

Which, of course, many years of experience, trial and error and doing-it-the-hard-way had already taught me.

wtvol.jpeg

The way you train depends on who you are.

Myostatin Inhibits Muscle Growth. How Much Creatine Is Needed To Kill Myostatin?

An intriguing question.

However, one assuming a direct correlation between Myostatin Suppression and Creatine supplementation. Surprisingly, with all the interest generated concerning this matter, there is still little proof of it.

I would like to believe that a cheap, relatively safe, readily available supplement like CRE is an effective MYO suppressor. One can only assume that the lack of research concerning the creatine monohydrate (it’s most effective form) and Myostatin Connection is due to the lack of financial incentive to those concerned like Big Pharma.

So, the continuing surprise here is that there has, as yet, not been a credible study proving a direct causal relationship between CRE & MYO, one that is based exclusively on the use of CRE, without the simultaneous use of resistance training. Popularly cited research published back in 2009 can be found here: Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on serum myostatin and GASP-1 .

Even a more recent meta-analysis fails to relate direct causation of MYO inhibition by CRE: Effect of creatine supplementation during resistance training.

So, although it has been continually proven that CRE has a direct effect on muscle mass (in combination with resistance training), the actual mechanisms involved are still unclear and needing some sound elucidation.

My guess is that genetic factors will heavily influence the extent to which CRE inhibits MYO, once that elusive relationship has been well established.

To finally get an answer out to your question, let me first provide the following disclaimer:

As there is yet to be found in the literature concrete evidence that CRE inhibits MYO, it is only a speculative assumption that there is, in fact, a dosage related mechanism in play.

With the above caveat firmly in mind, if CRE is going to work to suppress MYO, a guesstimate for a failsafe activation dosage would presumably average around 20g.

But, as the saying goes: ‘’the proof is in the puddin’’’ it will be left up to us Citizen Scientists to find this answer out for ourselves in the time-honoured tried and true DIY fashion that we all know and love.

Is it possible to build muscle at 45 years old?

*Note: This is an updated reprint of one of my all-time popular posts (pushing 500K reads on Quora, last time I looked).

It is also probably my favourite and one that I try to live up to as the years go racing by at breakneck speed.*

You must be joking, right?

There’s not a chance that you’re serious, is there?

Let’s assume that this question is being asked by someone who is for real, hasn’t spent much time in a gym or had much previous athletic experience of any sort. In other words, we will assume the asker is asking this question from a position of real, sincere, and genuine doubt.

The reason that I am making this assumption is an easy one: a person who has spent any appreciable time in a gym is routinely exposed to a lot of guys (and gals) over 45 years old (some way, way over) showing more musculature than the man (or woman) on the street less than half the age of our iconic over 45-year-old muscular hero. And so, the answer to this question would have been relatively obvious and in all likelihood would have remained unasked.

But luckily it has come up, offering an excellent opportunity for me to give it my best shot, an opportunity for which I am truly grateful and would like to thank you.

Now, brother & sisters, allow me to kneel down before you, raise my right hand toward the heavens and testify!

But, before doing this, I’d like to rephrase this question for a better fit:

Is it possible to build muscle at 45+y, 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 (some might go so far as to get a little dramatic on us and say hell) to pay. A great deal of reaching outside your comfort zone. This hard, hard work and the associated little humiliations that will certainly accompany it, we will just have to chalk up to the cost of doing business.

I’ve recently answered a similar question from a Quora member who is 60y+(and listen to me, doing it at 45 is a damn sight more comfortable, let me tell you from personal experience). I include some of the same photos that I used there. I’ve also had a look at the backlog of questions on Quora like this. The sheer quantity of similar questions is staggering! So, perhaps this is an important question that is still in search of a satisfactory answer. Let us try to give it one.

At first blush, my answer may appear a little harsher than it was there to that 60y+ guy. Your observation would be correct, and the reason is this: you are 15 (or more) years younger. For, oh my brothers & sisters 15 years, when you are on the wrong side of 40 is a lifetime! A significant percentage of the over 45 population is likely to cross over in the next 15 years.

Here are some photos (not because I’m an OCD, narcissistic selfie taker bent on foisting particularly photogenic images on poor, defenceless Quora Readers…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.

Advertising the Gym 2012. Age 54y.

Gym Advert.jpg

 

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 let us take the scalpel and place the sharp end in a direction inwardly, toward our own hearts. Simple questions are so often 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 oddsmaker 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 a squeak?

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 likable bloke, easier to be around, a better mate to my mates down at the local bar?

(Hell, I wasn’t really a very easy or likeable guy to be around when I was on the right side of 45y, it’s probably a little late for me to try to start now).

Here is the $64k question:

‘’Why allow someone, some anonymous fraction of society to throw you so easily away? Have you become so enfeebled, so beaten? Has life stripped you of so much self-respect and ripped self-sufficiency from your hands? Has your once brave and shinning soul been extinguished in the concentration camp of your life experiences? Where is your pride?’’

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 significance concerning the only tools in life that truly 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 a slight value and another’s opinion worth so much? Why indulge yourself in the dubious luxuries of timidity and self-doubt when faced with two so stubbornly malicious, onerous adversaries like Age & Decay?

You do not have the time for such indulgences.

No one does. No one.

Undoubtedly, one day, these two malign forces of devilment and disaster will take you out. They are likely to creep up on you by stealth and !!whamo!! When you least expect it. But, as long as you remain vigilant, it will not be today and (keep your fingers X’d) not tomorrow, either.

When they do come in for their sinister date with you, be assured, oh my brothers and sisters, be assured that they will scurry out of their deep, dark, dank holes and by a sly & malevolent cunning strike you a cowardly blow from behind at a time when your gaze has been momentarily averted, when your defences are down.

Consider it of no consequence. Nothing lasts forever. Just go out, train hard and get some muscles. Strength & brawn will always, always remain very useful assets indeed. I have always admired these qualities and tried as best as I could to attain them.

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

It’s your call.

Be no weakling.

The clock is ticking

…and you are 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 challenging problem of getting additional muscle onto an already healthy, fit, and experienced 45+-year-old individual is an entirely separate and different question.

Playing at 007. Rousse 2017. Age 59.007

What would happen to my body if I only train my upper body, and instead of leg day, I sprint?

How you react to any reasonably consistent training strategy will depend on a combination of age, lifestyle, genetic factors.

With that in mind, depending on your Genetics, if you decide to use ”Leg Day” for sprinting instead of squats, you’ll probably get better at sprinting.

What will happen to your body? Well, that depends on the factors cited above and how efficiently you train your upper body. But it’s unlikely, unless you started out with pretty tiny legs in the first place, that your lower body will gain any appreciable size or strength.

If size and strength are your overarching goals, the sort of training scheme that you are suggesting here is highly unlikely to yield satisfying results.

To summarise:

Using progressive resistance training strategies on your lower body will, without fail, contribute to overall strength and size.

Substituting sprints on leg day ain’t gonna.

q1

Is Edamame High In Protein?

iu

This rather random question actually has enough teeth to it that I don’t mind biting.

The answer is YES.

Who would have thought?

I always have a bowl or two at a good Japanese restaurant with some warm sake while waiting for my sashimi & sushi boat to be built. it’s a beautiful tradition…and focuses me on the delights to come!

Edamame is immature soybean and, as such, shares many of the same nutritional characteristics as its more mature self.

There is much back and forth controversy concerning health and fitness benefits of soya these days. I don’t know about you, but I get bored.

My own viewpoint is that the +s probably far outweigh any s by a long shot.

Although, I would eat edamame for no other reason than because it goes so smashingly well with sake prior to a sushi 🍣 or sashimi main course…or even, god forbid, tempura!

Now, as far as protein content goes, edamame is roughly 10–12% protein by weight. A very decent source of vegetable protein.

As vegetable sources of protein go, it is not precisely in a class with sirloin steak or a scoop of whey protein, but will certainly do as a respectable job supplying a reasonable amount of plant protein.

The data below will give you an idea of a nutritional profile for this tase little legume:

       High in protein? YUP!

EDAMAME

One cup of prepared edamame beans contains the following nutrients:

  • 189 calories
  • 16 grams carbohydrate
  • 17 grams protein
  • 8 grams fat (pretty fair bit of this is EPA and DHA, so if you don’t like fish…)
  • 8 grams dietary fiber
  • 482 micrograms folate (121 percent DV)
  • 1.6 milligrams manganese (79 percent DV)
  • 41.4 micrograms vitamin K (52 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams copper (27 percent DV)
  • 262 milligrams phosphorus (26 percent DV)
  • 99.2 milligrams magnesium (25 percent DV)
  • 0.3 milligrams thiamine (21 percent DV)
  • 3.5 milligrams iron (20 percent DV)
  • 676 milligrams potassium (19 percent DV)
  • 9.5 milligrams vitamin C (16 percent DV)
  • 2.1 milligrams zinc (14 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (14 percent DV)

Along with the above benefits, with consistent use as a foodstuff,  may also help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, help in weight loss and may reasonably be expected to hold a whole bevy of other benefits for some people.

Edamame-02

Is it true that someone with larger muscles is always stronger than someone with smaller muscles?

zen liftMuscular strength can be measured in various ways, but what most people popularly consider strength is how much force someone can exert or apply in one go, or repetition.

While the crossectional area of a muscle may be one component contributing to the strength of the individual, it is by no means the only or even the main determining factor ”in the real world”.

Genetics will influence tendon strength & leveraging factors, undefinables like motivation and training history affect how focused one is, how hard someone tries and the extent of their neuromuscular conditioning. Even something as mundane as the physics of the lift being used as a test (particularly true if one has been practising a particular lift) can have significant impact.

Other factors may also influence the measurement of strength and there is probably a Bell Curve-type of diminishing returns phenomena, where after a certain size, an increase in strength is not consistent with an increase in size.

One only needs to watch Olympic Weightlifting, where the middleweights, not the heavyweights, invariably turn out to be kilogram-for-kilogram, the stronger class.

LP

What’s the weirdest advice anyone has attempted to give you regarding bodybuilding?

I don’t think it was, uhm…advice, not exactly.

Although, to this day, I’m still not entirely sure what you’d call it (mindset, POV, superstition, ignorance, idiocy, perhaps?).

It was an observation, a conclusion of sorts, from an erstwhile training partner of mine after the 2nd or 3rd training session with me that went something like this:

I am not going to train with you, anymore.

Oh, too bad…why is that?

You train too gonzo, too intense-like.

Yeah? You don’t say?

Yeah, if we keep on training like this, I’ll have to keep training harder and harder in the future in order to make any gains.

Well, yes…that’s the idea…it’s kind of why it’s called progressive resistance, I think.

No, if I keep training with you I’d have to keep upping the dosage in order to make any progress.

I had to admit, there was a weird kind of bitch logic to this train of thought.

You mean like drugs…like Heroin or something? You build up a tolerance, and training easy ain’t no good, no more? I asked incredulously.

Yeah, kinda like that.

Huh, well sheeeeit!  I’ll be damned, I’m screwed then.

It’s the way that I’ve been training for 20 years.

No wonder it took me so long to get this big.