By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
Q: I am a natural drug free bodybuilder and it seems to me that I hit sticking points in my training a heck of a lot quicker that some of my buddies who are on the “juice”. No matter how hard I try, progress almost seems like an impossibility some times. Maybe I am just not tough enough or not training intensely enough. I know that you have trained natural all of your life so what are some of the secrets you have learned for making continued progress.
A: The simple answer…Do more heavy barbell squats and deadlifts to help create an anabolic effect. But then you might whine and tell me that you couldn’t do these kind of exercises because you have bad knees and a weak back. So I will stick with non-exercise tips to help keep you anabolic…sound fair enough?
To begin with, you want to avoid at all costs the negative influences which create a catabolic (muscle robbing) effect on the muscles such as: Over-training, poor nutrition, not enough rest and emotional stress.
The positive influences for staying in the anabolic (muscle gain) environment includes and is not limited to: Proper training, nutrition, rest and a positive mental attitude.
With regard to proper nutrition, the late Vince Gironda always seemed to have some natural anabolic secrets in his bag of goodies. So rather than give you my personal secrets to anabolism, let’s look to an icon in the bodybuilding world. Here are “3” of his secrets.
Vince used to suggest taking three to four amino acid tablets and 3 to 10 liver tablets every three hours to help keep the body in a positive nitrogen state between meals and during those times when a person can’t eat a normal meal or snack.
(Liver contains a red protein pigment called Cytrochrome P-450 which accounts for the endurance factors that many hard training bodybuilders receive from taking it. Back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s it was common to see many bodybuilding competitors take as many as 60 Liver tablets a day in the off-season and 100 tablets the last few weeks prior to a competition).
Another of Vince’s Anabolic Secrets that has proven to be beneficial in the promotion of muscular weight gains was to eat 1 boiled egg every hour that you are awake. I know that sounds like a ton of eggs and potentially challenging to do considering work, family etc…so then shoot for every 2-3 hours and see if that gets you anywhere.
Back in the 1960’s the late, Vince Gironda “The Iron Guru” revealed to the bodybuilding world the Euro-Blast Weight Gaining BIG SECRET that the European muscle monsters were using to gain muscle density. Vince begin using it on his students to increase their body weight by as much as 40 pounds.
Get ready to be slightly grossed out but also intrigued…
The BIG SECRET is simply drinking 6 ounces of half & half or certified raw cream mixed with 6 ounces of ginger ale.
Blah! I know, but it worked.
Sometimes to trigger the anabolic or growth mechanism of the body even further Vince would advise adding 2 ounces of a milk & egg protein powder.
Just so you know, milk and egg protein sources allow for some of the best absorption of all the protein sources. This means that both eggs and milk are more biologically available than several other protein sources making them high on the list of best protein options.
The students at Vince’s Gym in Ventura, California enjoyed this drink as a daily in-between meal pickup at 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
How Much Protein is Really Needed?
by Sol Orwell of Examine.com
We have to take a step back and ask ourselves – what do we mean by need? Are we talking about the amount you need so you don’t die? Or are we talking about the optimal level for good health?
Firstly – the bare minimum. You need roughly 0.8g per kg of bodyweight to just live. So for a 150 lb person, that’s just 55g (just above 2 scoops of protein powder). For a 200lb person, that’s 72g (just a bit less than 3 scoops). You can outright ignore the RDA you find on labels – that’s based on a 165lb male or a 137lb woman.
Then again, that’s the bare minimum to survive. If you want to look rail-thin, that’s your minimum. But for people who are into athletics, scientific studies say more is better:
• The bare minimum you should consider is roughly 1g/kg of bodyweight. This is pretty much for everyone. Only exception is if have an actual disease and your doctor recommends something else.
• The range athletes who want to have muscle is roughly 1.2-1.5g/kg. So for a 150 lb person, that is roughly 100g/day. For a 200lber, that comes out to ~125g/day.
• Any more than that has not been studied. That doesn’t mean more protein is good or bad. It just means we don’t know.
Still, if you eat even more protein, there is no evidence that it will cause harm. So if you love your protein, take as much as you want.
When should I increase how much protein I take?
While the above is your base, when cutting, the rules change.
Protein has a very high TEF (thermic effect of food). That means how much energy your body has to burn to be able to use it. Carbs and fat have roughly 5% TEF. Protein is at 20% TEF. That means if you eat 1000 calories of protein, you instantly “lose” 200 calories (as your body needs to burn that much just to be able to use that protein). Furthermore, when you are cutting, your body has to get energy from somewhere. It will get this energy from your body in the forms of adipose (fat), glycogen (carbs), and skeletal muscle (protein).
So when cutting, protein becomes super important. It helps burn itself off, and when your body needs to extract energy, it helps minimize any loss from skeletal muscle (which you want to keep!)
So our 150 lb athlete should likely bump his protein intake to ~125 grams and our 200 lb athlete up to ~160 grams.
All of the scientific research presented in the Supplement-Goals Reference Guide (over 2000 references) is human studies. While they factor in animal studies and in vitro studies while building up their knowledge on topics, they do not include them in their conclusions.
Supplementation is interesting field. Some people rely too much on supplements while others totally dismiss them as useless. This non-biased guide will help you decide for yourself.
I bought a copy for everyone on my staff to reference.