There are many reasons why your muscles wont grow or why your muscle growth is retarded. One main culprit for your muscle tissue to in a catabolic and not in an anabolic state is the stress hormone called cortisol. This "stress hormone" , cortisol, is produced by your body when you are under stressful situations. Yes, any type of stress, whether they are mental stress, physical stress or just emotional stress will trigger off an increased in the production of cortisol hormones. A high level of cortisol is always a bane for bodybuilders and that in itself, is creating more stress.When you exercise or especially weightlifting body building exercises, you are placing a tremendous stress on your body. This in turn will cause the cortisol hormone in your body to rise to unacceptable level which may destroy your muscle tissues, bone density and causes weight gain especially abdominal fat. Ohhh...that abdominal fat that would not go away.This hormone hates your muscles and wants you to grow fat. It takes away protein from the muscles. However to be fair to this hormone, the cortisol hormone has its positive functions. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal cortex and is commonly known as a stress hormone because the level of cortisol in your body rises sharply when you are under stress. This hormone plays an important role in your bodys metabolic function, it facilitates cardiovascular function, carbohydrate metabolism and controls inflammation. After all, it is a steroid hormone.As more cortisol is being produced, your muscle tissue breaks down further since the amino acids from your muscle protein is being converted into glucose for energy. This hormone also blocks new muscle tissues from growing because it interferes in protein synthesis in your muscles.How to lower cortisol level? Get enough sleep Let your body recuperate from the days stress and let the body rebuild its wears and tears. A lack of sleep will put your body under further stress and thus increasing cortisol levels. Avoid stress Take up yoga, read a book, take a break from whatever you are doing. Learn meditation and breathing techniques to reduce everyday stress. Take a week or so break from your exercise routine after 6-8 weeks of regular training. As your body learns how to relax, the level of cortisol hormone will fall correspondingly. Do not over train Over training is a common issue amongst athletes of all types. This is especially so in bodybuilding and weight lifting. You are already damaging your muscles when you lift weights, dont let cortisol hormones rob your muscles of the much needed proteins and preventing muscle repair and growth.Once your body and mind is free from stress, your cortisol production will be at a healthy level and you will once again see your muscles growing, provided that you are doing other things that are conducive to getting your muscles to grow.
Copyright 2006 Jonathan PerezMany people looking to gain muscle weight can become very confused when they read and hear all of the conflicting information that's spread on TV, magazines, the internet, and diet books.One of the most misunderstood techniques is the low carb diets that have been very popular in the last several years.The popular belief lately is that sugar (carbohydrates) should be kept to moderate to low levels in your eating, even if you are trying to build muscle mass and / or "gain muscle" weight.The reason for this is because of the recent popularity of low-carb diets, such as The Atkins diet, The Southbeach diet, The Zone diet, etc.Even in bodybuilding magazines all of a sudden everyone and their mother is recommending to keep carbs in your diets almost to a minimum.Well, the misconception that sugar is somehow "evil" and will cause you to get fat, raise your bad cholesterol, and even lose your "insulin sensitivity" is based on several MYTHS that have been passed around by the media and "monkey see, monkey do" nutrition and exercise "gurus".One of the main misconceptions is that eating carbs will cause a sharp rise of insulin in your blood, which supposedly causes your body to store fat.A lot of this is based on the incorrect belief that you should avoid eating "high GI (glycemic index)" foods, and to mainly get most of your carbs from "low GI" foods.Basically, the Glycemic Index is a chart that was developed years ago that measures how much of a rise in insulin a certain food causes in the blood once digested.To put it simply, the higher the GI number is, the higher and quicker it makes your insulin rise.(For some odd reason that's NOT based on any real, conclusive evidence. People seem to think that raising your insulin levels is "bad").Well, in 1981, researchers at the University of Toronto were the first to accurately notice that "simple" carb foods (having a high GI) actually produced a smaller increase in blood sugar than most "complex" (or low GI) foods (everyone today thinks the opposite is true, of course based on what they read in the latest "how to gain muscle weight" article)!In fact, eating table sugar (sucrose) actually causes a smaller increase in blood sugar than eating foods such as baked potatoes and whole wheat bread.Foods containing added sugars do NOT have a higher GI than foods containing naturally occurring sugars.In fact, you really can't count on the "GI" much at all!!!Why?Because the Glycemic Index does NOT take into account the differences in variety, ripeness, processing, or cooking foods, which have a huge impact on how that particular food affects your insulin levels, even if you are trying to gain muscle weight.Also, the fat content of food also has an affect on insulin: foods that are high in fat have a lower GI, like peanuts, which only have a GI of 14.In addition, there some foods that have a high GI number, but don't affect your insulin levels at all........like carrots!Carrots have a GI of 95 (which is pretty high), but don't try to tell me that you'll get fat, get diabetes, etc., from eating carrots!!!Bodybuilding magazines, supplement companies, and the internet spread myths to all of us seeking to "build muscle mass" , only leading us to NO RESULTS!I guarantee you that if you are desperately trying to gain muscle, if you go on a low carb diet, not only are you not going to build any muscle weight, but you are actually going to get smaller than what you are already are.If you are trying to eat your way to a leaner, more defined, more sculpted you, there is NO NEED TO BREAK DOWN YOUR EATING DOWN TO ALL KINDS OF RATIOS or PERCENTAGES.Regardless of what type of foods you eat and in what combinations, "IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE CALORIES"!
Every guy who steps into the gym dreams of achieving that great classical V-shaped upper body that commands respect and attention. Many have trained for months, if not years and yet that V-shaped upper body just isn't forth coming. Ever wondered why? Before I show you various ways to achieve that glorious 'V', you must also be aware that the 'V' shape is also an illusion. If you have a wide thick back with a powerful chest, coupled with boulder-like deltoids, your 'V' will show up commandingly because those attributes will make your waist look small and thus accentuating the 'V' illusion. To have a stupendous upper body, you MUST train your lower body. V-shapes will just be an ugly upper body shape if your legs are like bamboo poles. The excellent full body shape is called the X-frame. Just like those super heroes you see in comic books. If you don't train legs, you are missing out on training the largest muscle mass. When training legs, many other upper body muscles especially the back and abs will be involved. This gives you the most muscle mass trained in one go. And because you are training so many muscles at one go, you secrete tons of growth hormones when you sleep, further enhancing overall muscle development for that perfect X-frame. Another muscle group many people fail to pay attention to is the back. The back must be trained for thickness as well as width. Many back exercises also develop the rear deltoids and the trapezius which are very important to getting that 'V'. When your back is thick, you will look powerful and with the width, it will make your waist look narrower, thus making the 'V' more pronounced. Do bar-bell row, deadlifts for a thick and powerful back. Chin-ups and push-ups (weighted and doing them in a slow controlled motion) will provide you the width or more commonly called 'wings'. Another very obvious V-shape illusion creator are your triceps. But most people pay more attention to the biceps than triceps. Why triceps then? Because your triceps, as the name 'tri' suggests, has three 'heads' and each 'head' must be dealt with when you exercise them. They are also 1/3 bigger than your biceps. By training the triceps hard, your upper arms will grow bigger faster, giving more berth to your upper body and again creating a narrow waistline illusion. The best illusion-shapers are your deltoids. Your delts have 3 'heads'. However, most of the time, I see people only working out the front delts. When you develop your delts well, they will be round and boulder-like, and they make your shoulder wide and strong. Now, close your eyes and have a mental image of yourself with a wide thick back, big strong triceps... now, do you see that 'V'? Add lateral raise, bent-over lat-raisers and upright rows to your routine. How to have a beautiful 'V' if your abs are flabby? Forget the side crunches and side bends. It will only make your waistline thicker. Go on a lose fat program by combining weight lifting, cardio exercises and eating correctly. Your abs will show in no time. Ahh... to finally stamp your authority in the gym and at the beach, a wide and powerful gladiator's chest will put you ahead of the pack! Train your chest heavy with dumbbells, barbells and cables machines. Use incline benches rather than flat or declining ones. You want to build the upper chest and not targeting the lower chest in case it gets you the droop or saggy chest which we call 'bitch tits'. Although the pec is one huge muscle, it can be targeted at different places to recruit different fibres to shape it.
One of the biggest difficulties facing bodybuilders is how can they be sure that all muscle fibers have been recruited and exhausted during a given exercise and it is only by achieving this that muscle gains can be maximised.The simple answer is, you have work beyond failure and experience a higher level of training intensity than before. This also ensures that workouts remain challenging and continue to engender progress over time thus reducing the likelihood of regression.But how do you go about intensifying your training? Fortunately there is a tried and tested path to follow as outlined below:1. Increase resistance - increasing the weight lifted in meaningful increments ensures the muscle is pushed beyond its previous point of failure thus maintaining the muscle building process. Aim to increase the weight when you reach six to eight reps and failure does not occur.2. Change the exercise - to achieve maximal gains all muscle fibers in a body part must be trained. Changing the angle (e.g to incline bench press) or introducing a new exercise will stimulate growth.3. Reduce rest intervals - giving the muscles less time to recover before exposing them to further work has the effect of increasing intensity.4. Pre-exhaustion - when an exercise involves two or more muscles the weakest will prevent you from working the primary muscle to failure. The answer is to first isolate and tire the primary muscle before immediately moving to another exercise that works the set of muscles to failure.5. Introduce supersets - this involves performing two exercises for the same muscle group without a rest interval. This means you have to utilize different muscle fibers which stimulate greater growth.6. Use partial reps - at the point of failure you will not be able to complete the full range of movement for a given exercise. Completing a partial rep that uses only a segment of the lift will still work your muscles beyond the point of failure. This technique is especially useful to advanced bodybuilders as it allows them to increase intensity without adding extra routines that could cause overtraining.7. Use isometric contractions - this involves holding the weight still at the point of failure to stimulate a static contraction in the muscle.8. Employ forced reps - this involves completing one or more final reps after the point of failure has been reached. You will need the assistance of an experienced helper to attempt this.Once you have added these techniques to your training regimen you'll know you've done your best to maximize muscle growth.
The bodybuilding debates will never end. The endless arguments over how an effective muscle-building program should be structured will most likely continue until the end of time. Just scour the Internet message boards, flip through any muscle magazine or talk to the sales rep at your local supplement store. No matter who you talk to or what you read, it seems that everyone is an expert these days. If everyone is an expert, confident in their own ideas and beliefs, how can the average beginner possibly know who to listen to? He or she is instantly confronted with endless questions that seem to have no clear-cut answer. How many days should I train per week? How many sets should I perform for each muscle group? What type of rep range should I be using? What are the most effective exercises for stimulating muscle growth? How long should my workouts last? These questions go on and on until he or she is eventually led to believe that building muscle is an infinitely complex process involving rocket-science precision and an intimate understanding of human physiology. I mean, thats what takes to build muscle, right? Wrong! Believe me, there are answers to these important questions, and if you are willing to put in the time and effort you will most definitely find them. But thats not what this article is about. You see, amidst all of the confusion and endless debating, the majority of lifters end up losing sight of the big picture. Beyond all of the specific workout principles, such as rep range and exercise selection, remains one crucial principle, a principle that lies at the very heart of the muscle growth process. If this principle is not given full attention, or even worse, completely ignored, building muscle becomes next to impossible. The bottom line is that muscles grow as they adapt to stress. When you go to the gym and lift weights, you create micro-tears within the muscle tissue. Your body perceives this as a potential threat to its survival and reacts accordingly by increasing the size and strength of the muscle fibers in order to protect against a possible future attack. Therefore, in order to continually increase the size and strength of the muscles, you must focus on progressing each week by either lifting slightly more weight or performing an extra rep or two. In doing this, your body will continue to adapt and grow to the ever-increasing stress. Building muscle is all about building strength! So what is the most powerful muscle-building tool available? Quite simply, it is a pen and a piece of paper! Every time you go to the gym you must write down exactly what you accomplished and then strive to improve upon it the following week. If you arent always getting better, then youre either staying the same or getting worse. Every week you should have an exact plan of attack ready to be executed. You absolutely cannot afford to start throwing weights around aimlessly without a clear-cut goal in mind. The specifics of building muscle are important to understand and implement, but regardless of what style of training youre currently using the ultimate deciding factor between success and failure is progression. You can sit around all day obsessing over specific principles, but the bottom line is that if you arent getting stronger every week, you absolutely will not be getting any bigger. Examine your training approach closely. If you havent been paying laser-like attention to the amount of weight youve been using, the number of reps youve been performing, and then striving with every ounce of your energy to improve upon those numbers each week, you are completely ignoring the very foundation of the muscle growth process. If you want to see the best gains in muscle mass and strength that you possibly can, a pen and a piece of paper is the most important tool you could possibly have in your arsenal.