Using BCAAs Limits Lean Tissue Loss During Weight Loss

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​Athletes and active adults always look into maintaining fitness while losing weight and this is best achieved by caloric restriction in combination with exercise. During this process, a risk for lean tissue loss, which can limit performance happens. Many studies addressed this issue to determine the effectiveness of a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement, in conjunction with heavy resistance training and a carbohydrate caloric-restricted “cut diet” on body composition and muscle fitness.

Studies have shows that the use of supplements containing BCAAs while following 8 or more weeks of resistance training program resulted in a greater decrease in percent body fat, an increase in lean mass, and 10-RM strength gains on the bench press and squat vs. ingestion of a whey supplement or a sports drink. In addition, the ingestion of a whey protein supplement resulted in greater lean mass gains than ingestion of a sports drink.

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Partials, isometrics and high reps combine for one of the most blistering chest pumps you’ll ever create!
You may have taken up lifting to get bigger and stronger, and as a beginner it’s nice to experience a double dose of each. Seeing week-over-week improvements is incredibly motivating to keep you coming back and training harder.
But soon enough those strength and size gains begin to stall. You can keep doing more of the same – with, not surprisingly, diminishing results – or you can start to tailor your workout to more specific goals. If you’re looking to build serious strength, you’ll realize that your approach in the gym starts to differ from those who are looking to maximize muscle size.
Strength training and bodybuilding use the same tools in the gym, but they have very distinct approaches. Whether you’re looking to train like a powerlifter, a bodybuilder undergoing a strength phase, or you just want to focus on building your strength on individual lifts, it’s important to know the critical parameters that set a strength-focused approach apart.
If you’re a bodybuilder, there’s one big advantage of including strength phases: Once you switch back to a musclebuilding-focused routine, your baseline of strength will be higher than what it is now. Instead of being able to complete 8 reps with 225 lbs. on the bench press, for example, you can now do 10, or conversely complete 8 with 245 lbs. In that sense, strength leads to size.
Here are some key pointers on building strength.

1. Recognize strength training isn’t the same as training for muscle size.

Sure, they both use many of the same exercises and types of equipment, but that’s where each discipline starts to veer from the other. Exercise combinations and the variables involved – including choice of exercises, number of sets, load and rest taken between sets – differ for each. Learn and respect those differences to maximize your gains. Pursuing two distinct goals simultaneously ensures you’ll come up short with each.

2. Focus on a few key multi-joint moves.

The basic powerlifting moves are the bench press, squat and deadlift. Strengthen these and you strengthen just about every body part because each of those movements engages so many different muscle groups. You could also include a shoulder press and bent-over row with your strength-focused moves for a bit more variety.

What’s more, you always want to do these highly demanding multi-joint movements early in your workout when your strength levels are high. Because the exercises require multiple muscle groups to work in coordination, you can handle serious loads. That better triggers your natural release of testosterone and growth hormone, both of which help you maintain and build strength and mass.

If you’ve done traditional bodybuilding-style training in the past, you probably think of working each body part individually. For now, you’re going to have to adjust that perspective. With a strength-focused workout, the goal is to increase the amount of weight you lift on the one main lift of the day (squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, row). Secondary exercises are included to strengthen any weak links among the muscles involved in the main lift rather than working the target musculature from various angles.

Finally, don’t try to use a strength approach on single-joint exercises, like cable crossovers or leg extensions, which put a huge amount of stress on a single joint. With relatively heavy loads, you want to spread the stress across multiple joints, a safer and smarter approach. So when training arms, for example, opt for weighted chin-ups (a multi-joint movement) on biceps day, or close-grip benches or weighted dips for triceps.

3. Increase the weight and reduce the number of reps.

Exercise scientists have weighed in on the load/reps relationship, but all you basically need to do is watch how a powerlifter trains. To build strength, you train with heavier weights for fewer reps. That means on your first (main) exercise, after warm-ups, choose a weight you can do for 1 to 6 reps.

Such a low rep target corresponds to about 85% to 95% of your 1-rep max (1RM). Compare that to a bodybuilder training to optimize muscle size: his intensity is typically 70% to 85% of his 1RM, equivalent to a rep range of 6 to 12.

The total number of reps (counting all sets) you do for the main exercise, not counting warm-ups, should fall within the 10 to 20 range. Your total sets, therefore, could be arranged like this:

▪️2–3 sets of 6

▪️3–4 sets of 5

Once you get to a weight that’s above 90% of your 1RM, which is a weight you can do for no more than 4 reps, drop the total reps for the exercise to 10 in such a manner:

▪️2 sets of 4

▪️3 sets of 3

▪️4 sets of 2

Using your 1RM weight – the max load you can lift on a given exercise – isn’t the best way to build strength but is rather a measure of strength. Use those other combinations in a strength phase. When it comes to testing your limits, that’s when you’ll do 1RMs.
4. Add assistance exercises that help strengthen the main lift.

As previously noted, assistance or secondary exercises in a strength-focused workout are ideally chosen to target weak points – to build them up, so your main lift improves. However, using the same very heavy approach can overwhelm your nervous system. When following a high-intensity approach (the load relative to your 1RM) in a strength workout, you can’t also use high volume. With those assistance exercises, you’ll do fewer exercises, fewer sets and fewer total reps than you might when training for size.
Weak areas might be at the bottom of your range of motion, part way up or even at the top in the near-lockout position. Strength coaches have developed techniques that help you attack a sticking point utilizing such methods as chains or bands, partial reps, pauses at the bottom of the lift and isometrics – all of which can be done in a power rack for safety. The mechanics of doing each properly is beyond the scope of this article but are proven winners to increase strength!
For assistance exercises, pick two to four movements. Limit yourself to 15 to 25 total reps for each exercise (all sets counted), using loads that are 70% to 80% of your 1RM, which corresponds to a weight you can do for 8 to 10 reps. Sets and reps sequencing may, therefore, look like this:

▪️2 sets of 8, 9 or 10 reps

▪️3 sets of 8 reps

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2-Week 10-Session HIIT To Exhaustion

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to be as effective as longer duration steady state cardio for promoting fitness. A new study published in the journal Medicina dello Sport looks at what can be accomplished with a relatively short 2-week period of HIIT where recreationally active women trained 5 times each week to exhaustion. 

Subjects had a variety of values measured before and after the training program. They also took Wingate anaerobic tests twice during each workout. Peak power, time to exhaustion and peak carbohydrate oxidation increased, while rates of maximal fat oxidation remained the same.

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The Science of Performance: Stretching Routine

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Stretching after training is a great way to jump-start the recovery process and could actually speed your muscle growth. Right after training is an ideal time because your muscles are pumped, and manually stretching helps them expand the connective tissue and fascia that surrounds the muscle. This can also improve their shape and enhance muscle separation – here are some key stretches for all your muscle groups.

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Adaptations from HIIT to Endurance Training

One reason High-Intensity Interval Training is so popular with busy adults is the reduced time it takes to get in a good workout. That’s an attractive benefit, but are you giving anything up in the tradeoff with steady state endurance training? A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise put both workouts to the test.

Researchers used high-density surface EMG and motor unit tracking to compare changes in vastus medialis and vastus lateralis muscles after 6 training sessions spread over 14 days. Sixteen cyclists were assigned to perform 8 to 12 intervals of one minute at 100% of capacity with 75 seconds of active recovery or 90 to 120 minutes of continuous cycling at 65% of capacity.


Compared to measurements taken before the training sessions began, HIIT improved maximal oxygen uptake, a key measurement of fitness, by 5%. Endurance training improved oxygen uptake by 6.7%. HIT improved knee extension torque by about 7% while endurance training increased time cycling to failure by around 17%.

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Cold Water Post Workout Recovery

You can experience a decrease in strength and muscle soreness for a day or two after a demanding workout. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance looks at a couple different methods for speeding recovery to get back in the game.

Researchers had 10 physically active male subjects perform 5 sets of hamstring eccentric exercises for 15 reps. Right after completing the workout, some were immersed in 50 degree water for 10 minutes. The others experienced whole body cryotherapy at -166 degrees for 3 minutes.


At 24, 48 and 72 hours into recovery, subjects performed single and double leg countermovement jumps. They also rated levels of muscle soreness and their progress on recovery. Countermovement jump performance was higher and reports of muscle soreness were lower for the cold water immersion group.


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When starting a muscle building program, one of the key body parts that most people put a large focus on is the biceps. It tends to be one of the highly noticeable muscle groups, and if you have nice biceps, people will know that you’re on top of your game. To achieve bigger and better biceps, here are the do’s and don’ts.



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Load Changes Bench Press Muscle Activation

What’s your best bench? It’s a question often asked in the weight room, and an ongoing goal pursued by many. An interesting study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows how muscle activation patterns can change when lifting close to your one rep max (1RM).

Twenty healthy men with a least a year of weight training experience performed single reps with the load increasing from 70% of 1RM, to 80%, 90% and finally 100% of 1RM. At the heaviest load, the pectoralis major becomes a supportive prime mover with the deltoideus anterior taking over as prime mover. The triceps brachii also show greater involvement at 100% of 1RM.

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Cycling vs Resistance HIIT

 If you’re working at improving your aerobic capacity and strength, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can offer you a streamlined approach to realizing those goals. Not only are HIIT workouts typical shorter than traditional steady state cardio, the increased intensity is a great way to change up a stale workout routine. An interesting study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested different HIIT routines on competitive strongmen and powerlifters.

The aerobic fitness and strength of 16 resistance trained men were measured before and after 8 weeks of HIIT. Some cycled while other performed effort and volume matched sets of weight training exercise. Although both groups showed significant improvements in aerobic fitness and strength, the cycling group realized greater improvements in aerobic capacity while gaining about the same amount of strength as subjects in the resistance HIIT group.

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Caffeine vs Excercise for Energy

Caffeine is the world’s most popular stimulant. It’s found in coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks. Everyone responds to caffeine a little differently, and the dose can make a big difference in the energizing effect. Consider the findings of a University of Georgia study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

Female college students who reported getting less than 6 ½ hours of sleep per night were put in a simulated office environment. Some got a placebo or a capsule containing 50 mg of caffeine. That’s about what a 12 ounce can of soda provides. Others walked up and down stairs at a normal pace for 10 minutes. Caffeine and placebo conditions weren’t all that different, but exercise energized subjects for a short period of time.

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Optimize The Potential Of Static Stretching

Old school against the joint stretching, known as static stretching, has been practiced for many years to increase mobility and reduce the risk of injury. Unfortunately, this technique can also decrease muscle performance. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests there may be a way to reduce the undesirable effects.


Fifteen college students performed a 2-part warm up or a 3-part warm up. Both warm ups included low intensity aerobic and sport specific exercise. The 3-part warm up also included static stretching. Tests performed afterward showed no differences in peak torque, mean power or total work. So sport specific movements might help reduce the negative effects of static stretching.


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Alternative Weight Training Workout

Getting stuck in the rut of sticking with the same weight training routine for too long can impede further progress. That’s why, every so often, it’s a good idea to take a very different approach. One example can be found in the findings of a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 

Fourteen weight trained subjects did 5 reps of kettlebell swing, snatch and clean movements using a load averaging 8 to 10 reps max. Analysis of muscle activation showed swings were better than the snatch for hitting the erector spinae muscles, swings were more effective than the clean for training lats, and both the snatch and clean worked better than swings for activating obliques. Using all these movements can provide an effective whole body workout.

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Build Bigger Biceps By Changing Your Reps

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Arm gains stalled? Time to alter the training stimulus by adjusting your rep scheme!
Follow these simple tips and you will definitely feel a difference

Altering your rep scheme is one way to jump-start your training, because it hits the muscle fibers with a novel stimulus.
Let’s say you’re stuck at 25 kgs on the EZ-bar curl, a weight you can handle for 10 reps. Rather than try another set with 20 kgs pounds, load 25 kgs onto the bar. You might be able to lift it for only 5-6 reps with good form, but don’t worry; you’ve just applied an altogether different stimulus to your biceps with a heavier load!
One common, proven method to building strength is a scheme called 5×5, meaning 5 sets of 5 reps. This protocol was popularized in the 1970s by the late Bill Starr, a legendary strength coach. You shouldn’t use the 5×5 technique with barbell curls, however; it’s more effective with multijoint exercises than single-joint exercises. Instead, we’ll choose the weighted chin-up, which uses an underhand grip and stimulate the biceps tremendously. 
The goal is to take a given weight and complete 5 sets of 5 reps, resting 2 minutes between sets. The best place to start in terms of load is with your 6RM—that is, a total weight (body weight plus added plates) that allows you to complete just 6 reps. Your 6RM should equal 85 percent of your 1RM.
The right load is one that lets you complete the first 2 sets of 5 reps—but not the third. (Do just 5 reps, even if you can do more.) Adjust the load accordingly if that’s not the case. Over time, once you’re able to complete all 5 sets for 5 reps, add 5-10 pounds to the load and start again.
Even a scheme like 5×5 can become stale over time, so there are other options to consider. Choosing a weight at which you fail at 8 or even 12 reps also offers a marginally different training stimulus. Concurrently adding a fourth set to increase the training volume allows you to vary the stimulus even more.

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