STRONGLIFTS http://stronglifts.com A Simple Workout To Get Stronger Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:37:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 StrongLifts 5×5 Featured in New Apple Commercial on TV http://stronglifts.com/apple/ http://stronglifts.com/apple/#respond Thu, 05 Jun 2014 09:39:06 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10477 Video:   The StrongLifts 5×5 app is featured in the new Apple commercial “strength”. This ad showed during the Stanley Cup, Jimmy Fallon, etc. Pretty cool :-) App link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stronglifts-5×5-workout/id488580022?mt=8 Android version (has more features, they’re coming to iphone) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stronglifts.app Both apps are free to download. So get them. No excuses. -Mehdi P.S. Shame the guy hasn’t [...]

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Video:

 

The StrongLifts 5×5 app is featured in the new Apple commercial “strength”. This ad showed during the Stanley Cup, Jimmy Fallon, etc. Pretty cool :-)

App link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stronglifts-5×5-workout/id488580022?mt=8

Android version (has more features, they’re coming to iphone)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stronglifts.app

Both apps are free to download. So get them.

No excuses.

-Mehdi
P.S. Shame the guy hasn’t his thumbs around the bar :)

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Getting ready for lifting heavy http://stronglifts.com/getting-ready-lifting-heavy/ http://stronglifts.com/getting-ready-lifting-heavy/#respond Wed, 16 Apr 2014 07:36:04 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10435 Here’s a question about working out in the morning that I received in my mailbox. My comments are below… Hello Mehdi, I’ve been a regular visitor of your website & love reading your mails. I am an ectomorph (like you, fingers overlap around wrists). Never lifted anything, not even a push up. A week ago,i [...]

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Here’s a question about working out in the morning that I received in my mailbox. My comments are below…

Hello Mehdi, I’ve been a regular visitor of your website & love reading your mails. I am an ectomorph (like you, fingers overlap around wrists). Never lifted anything, not even a push up. A week ago,i joined a gym & i discovered i got no strength or stamina. Hard even to do a proper pushup… can’t even think about doing a pull up ! So,my question is: Should’nt i be getting some strength in my arms & body before joining your league , ‘cuz i guess,i ain’t ready for lifting weights just yet ! I want to know your opinion. Eagerly waiting, Arun. P.S I am from Orissa,India. Glad to know you’re helping people out here. Clean water availability is certainly a problem out here. Thank you.

I feel you man – also started out like you, not able to do a single pushup, let alone a pullup.

Lol, I remember struggling to climb rope during gym classes. The teacher yelled at me in front of everyone: “come on you sack of potatoes!!!”

Funny now, not so funny back then – you know who kids are in school, I was the laughing stock for weeks…

Anyway. So I spent several months doing pushups at home. Couldn’t do a single one so I had to them kneeling, forced negatives, and all that.

Anything but fun, I was sore all the time.

Later I joined the gym and looking back I wished I had started lifting weights straight away.

Because lifting an empty bar of 20kg on the bench is a lot easier than having to do a pushup with your body-weight (at least 70kg?)

Progression is a lot easier as well – you’re adding 2.5kg on each side of the bar, you can even microload, your body can handle that.

If it’s too heavy, start with a lighter barbell, or with two light dumbbells. Then work your way up.

All of this is easier than forcing yourself with negative reps, simpler than kneeling/incline pushups and all that too.

Plus, it’s easier to track your progress – you just look at the weight increasing on the bar and you know you’re getting stronger.

And it’s specific – because you’re lifting weights from the get go. So you’re practicing form for when the weights get heavier.

That’s why, if I were you, I’d just start with the empty bar and add weight each workout.

Don’t make excuses.

-Mehdi

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Getting stronger by starting with an empty bar http://stronglifts.com/getting-stronger-starting-empty-bar/ http://stronglifts.com/getting-stronger-starting-empty-bar/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:40:59 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10437 Here’s a question I received about the starting weight on StrongLIfts 5×5. My comments are below… “I weigh 170 lbs. I am in decent shape and have always done minor lifting but nothing major. When I start this program is it really necessary for me to start with only the bar on squats? That seems [...]

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Here’s a question I received about the starting weight on StrongLIfts 5×5. My comments are below…

“I weigh 170 lbs. I am in decent shape and have always done minor lifting but nothing major. When I start this program is it really necessary for me to start with only the bar on squats? That seems very light to me… So if I do that then my warm ups are the same weight as my sets? Thanks!”

You make me think of Karate Kid.

The first one, not the bs remake of last year or what was it.

Mr Myagi who told “Daniel-San” to wax on, wax off.

And Daniel who got pissed, thinking what is this old guy making me waste my time with this waxing, I just want to do karate and fight.

Fast-foward couple of weeks later, Mr Myagi hits Daniel San and Daniel was able to block it.

Huh?

Yeah, it’s all that “useless” wax on wax off training you did, nitwit.

I know, I know – it’s a movie Mehdi.

Sure, but the lesson is that you got to have patience. Starting with the empty bar sounds ridiculous but you’re adding 7.5kg a week.

That’s 30kg a month – 60lb!

In three months you’d Squatting with two big plates on each side of the bar- more than most guys do in the gym.

But only if you go through the system and be patient by starting with the empty bar and slowly working your way up.

You don’t want to start super-heavy, end up with sore legs, miss reps, and have to skip workouts in week one already.

Wax on, wax off – remember?

Start light and work your wayup.

It’s gotten all my StrongLifts Members stronger.

Don’t make excuses.

-Mehdi

P.S. If you’ve done Squats and the other exercises before, with good form, then it’s okay to start a bit heavier. 50% of your 5 rep max is a good rule of thumb. Be conservative rather than aggressive.
If you have no idea what 5 rep max means and all that, just start with the bar.

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Getting strong smoking cannabis http://stronglifts.com/getting-strong-smoking-cannabis/ http://stronglifts.com/getting-strong-smoking-cannabis/#respond Sat, 12 Apr 2014 07:49:15 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10439 True question I received about getting stronger while smoking cannabis. My comments are below… “Hey mehdi just wondering what your thoughts are for cannabis users? I found I could only break through my 200 lbs squat plateau when I was high. Also can go for about 25-27 pull ups while high as opposed to maybe [...]

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True question I received about getting stronger while smoking cannabis. My comments are below…

“Hey mehdi just wondering what your thoughts are for cannabis users? I found I could only break through my 200 lbs squat plateau when I was high. Also can go for about 25-27 pull ups while high as opposed to maybe 20-22 when I’m not. It forces me to focus on my form and I can feel even muscle and be so much more I tune with my body. I understand lifting with cannabis can be considered dangerous but I have a safety rack.”

If getting high helps you break through your plateau – I guess I’ll start smoking weed then!!!

Quick drive over the border to Amsterdam while listening to Bob Marley…

Seriously – this is BS.

I don’t smoke myself (done it a handful of times in my mid-teen, never liked it) but asked someone around me who lift weights and smokes.

He confirmed what I thought – he tried lifting weights while high once, and his strength went down immediately.

I told him I received an email of someone claiming he could lift more when high, and he started laughing while rolling his eyes.

“That guy has smoked too much” he said.

Lol.

I mean, if smoking weed was some super-secret way to get stronger, they’d all be high at competitions in powerlifting, olympic lifting, strongman, and all that.

But that’s not the case.

Because smoking weed is not going to help you lift more.

The same or less. But you risk getting hurt whether you got a power rack or not. I mean, you could lose balance and end up with your fingers between the bar and your rack – thought about that?

Just stop using drugs and let lifting weights be your drugs.

It’s done wonders for me and all my Members.

Don’t make excuses.

-Mehdi

P.S. It’s one thing to smoke once a week or so. I don’t got no problems with that. But this here, smoking right before, lifting – come on. Would you get drunk before lifting? Right. This is equally stupid.

You want to be cool, Squat 400lb that’s cool.

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Deadlifting in the smith machine http://stronglifts.com/deadlifting-smith-machine/ http://stronglifts.com/deadlifting-smith-machine/#respond Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:50:19 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10441 Here’s a question about Deadlifts I received in my mailbox. My comments are below… “Mehdi, I just joined one of the only gyms in my area and I plan on starting StrongLifts 5×5 on Monday. Now, this gym does allow Deadlifts but only inside the smith machine. Yes, it sucks. But, I’m stuck with this gym. [...]

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Here’s a question about Deadlifts I received in my mailbox. My comments are below…

“Mehdi, I just joined one of the only gyms in my area and I plan on starting StrongLifts 5×5 on Monday. Now, this gym does allow Deadlifts but only inside the smith machine. Yes, it sucks. But, I’m stuck with this gym. So, my questions: Should I add additional weight right off the bat because I’m stuck within the smith machine? What about barbell rows? I didn’t see any rules against them, but, just in case, what are my options?”

Seems you signed up to one of those gyms that don’t want you to Deadlift heavy because it makes too much noise…

… a gym ran by people who don’t get it’s a GYM – not a library.

Lol.

Anyway. You can’t Deadlift inside a smith machine. It just doesn’t work.

Remember – I did smith squats for months. Then I switched to free squats and couldn’t handle the weight I was doing in the smith machine.

When you have to lift the weight, not the machine, it’s a different ballgame.

Now you could just drop Deadlifts and Barbell Rows alltogether.

One of my friends did that – he did StrongLifts 5×5 for months. But he did it his way – only Squat, Bench and Pullups (right…)

No press, no row, no Deadlifts.

Then whining about lacking shoulder and back development…

“Well duh, how about you start deadlifting and rowing heavy?”

Now he’s finally doing Deadlifts and Rows, but with weights lighter than his Bench (funny but true) because he has to learn form first.

You don’t want to be that guy doing things half-way, only to have to take a big step back in a few month to catch up on everything.

If I were you, I’d never sign up to that gym. I’d find a REAL gym instead or build my own gym at home. Wait, that’s actually what I did.

And I didn’t have the space in my apartment. So I put everything in the garage of my parents a few kms away from here.

If you really want it, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen.

No excuses, remember.

-Mehdi

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“Hammering” neglected muscles http://stronglifts.com/hammering-neglected-muscles/ http://stronglifts.com/hammering-neglected-muscles/#respond Sat, 05 Apr 2014 08:02:30 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10445 Here’s a question I received about arm and calf work. My comments are below… “Mehdi, I’ve been at it for a month now and seen alot of improvements, my question is, I feel some muscles are neglected, biceps, tris, calves to name a few, yes I’ ve read that certain exercise does accommodate those muscles, [...]

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Here’s a question I received about arm and calf work. My comments are below…

“Mehdi, I’ve been at it for a month now and seen alot of improvements, my question is, I feel some muscles are neglected, biceps, tris, calves to name a few, yes I’ ve read that certain exercise does accommodate those muscles, but I feel I’m not targeting them and giving them a good workout, is it wise to have them separate on a off day for a good hammering?? Thanks looking forward to your reply chur!! jimi”

Hah, I’ve been there – it’s all in your head man!

When I switched to the 5×5 routine, the same thing happened to me.

I trained one muscle a day for five years. Dedicating each Sunday to “arms” – barbell curls, alternated db curls, ez curls, preacher curls, cable curls. Then five more exercises for triceps.

I hammered my calves on “leg day” – seated, standing, donkey calf raises for high reps until failure so they got “pumped”.

I even remember calling my friend the next day – “are you sore?!?”

We thought you should be to get stronger…

So when I stumbled upon this 5×5 routine from Reg park, I couldn’t help but think – wtf? Where’s the arm and calf work on this thing?!?

The first months felt weird – I wasn’t getting “pumped”.

I wasn’t doing any any direct work for my arms or calves.

And I was getting scared that’d I’d lose the physique I had built the previous five years.

But that didn’t happen – I actually ended up looking better than before, more balanced, while getting stronger.

And training only half the time, lol.

Here’s why – and a lot of guys don’t get this – you don’t *need* to hit a muscle directly for it to grow.

When you bench heavy for sets of five reps, your chest, arms and shoulders all have to work hard to get the weight up.

So just keep doing StrongLIfts 5×5. In a few months you’ll be used to training this way, your mind will have “adapted”, and you’ll look back at that old way of training and laugh.

No excuses.

-Mehdi

P.S. But hey, if you’re going to add stuff for your arms anyway, don’t do it it on your off days. Your body needs those to recover and get stronger.

Instead, do heavy pullups or dips at the end of your workout. Two-three sets max. And stay focused on increasing your Squat. Because that will lead to the biggest overall strength gains.

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“Deadlifts are bad for you” http://stronglifts.com/deadlifts-bad/ http://stronglifts.com/deadlifts-bad/#respond Mon, 31 Mar 2014 08:04:03 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10447 Crazy claim I got in my mailbox two weeks ago. My comments are below… “Hi Medhi, my dad has been doing your program for a while now and has seen amazing results, so I thought I would give it a go also. I was talking to a friend at work and he said that deadlifts [...]

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Crazy claim I got in my mailbox two weeks ago. My comments are below…

“Hi Medhi, my dad has been doing your program for a while now and has seen amazing results, so I thought I would give it a go also. I was talking to a friend at work and he said that deadlifts harm the nervous system and are very bad for you as they are not a natural lift?! Is this true?!”

Hah, you’ve just been a victim of “broscience lol!

Because claiming Deadlifts are not a natural lift is bs.

I mean, I did the groceries last weekend with my girlfriend.

We have these big bags we put everything in to carry the groceries from my car in the basement to my apartment on the third floor.

Here’s how I do it: I take one bag out of my car trunk, and put it on the floor. Then I take the other bag out and close the car trunk.

After that I position myself inbetween the two groceries bags, get down to the grab the handles, and lift the two bags up to carry them upstairs.

That movement right there, that *is* a Deadlift (followed by a farmer walk to the third floor lol)

So your friend claiming Deadlifts aren’t natural is BS. Because whether you’re picking up a pencil or carrying something – you’re Deadlifting.

Deadlifts are a natural movement. They can’t be bad for you.

But guess what is?

Deadlifting with BAD form.

Deadlifting with a ROUND lower back.

Yet if you keep your spine neutral, you’ll get stronger at Deadlifts without getting hurt your lower back.

I recommend you tape yourself next time you Deadlift, and then share that video with my StrongLifts Members so they can check if your form is safe.

Don’t make excuses.

-Mehdi
P.S. The nervous system thing is bs as well. Yes Deadlifts are harder because each rep starts from a dead stop, you use a lot of weight and it uses more muscles than other exercise.

But that’s no reason to skip on Deadlifts.

I recommend not to talk about lifting with friends, family and co-workers- they often don’t “get” it. Talk about it with the Members of my online StrongLifts community instead. They do StrongLifts 5×5 and get what you’re doing.

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How to get thick, heavy and dense muscle http://stronglifts.com/get-thick-heavy-dense-muscle/ http://stronglifts.com/get-thick-heavy-dense-muscle/#respond Tue, 25 Mar 2014 08:23:26 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=10433 Question about building muscle I received earlier this month. My comments are below… Hi, I’m new to weightlifting, I don’t want to be a bodybuilder but would like a body similar to Tom Hardy’s in the film Bronson. I believe I need to follow a powerlifting routine so I’m wondering if 5×5 Stronglifts is a [...]

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Question about building muscle I received earlier this month. My comments are below…

Hi, I’m new to weightlifting, I don’t want to be a bodybuilder but would like a body similar to Tom Hardy’s in the film Bronson. I believe I need to follow a powerlifting routine so I’m wondering if 5×5 Stronglifts is a program that will give me thick, heavy and dense muscle?

Okay, I hate to burst your bubble, but you won’t get a body like Tom Hardy in Bronson, Batman or any of his movies.

You can train like him, you can eat like him, you can do everything he did…

… and you still won’t get a body like him because…

… YOU ARE NOT TOM HARDY!!!

You are you.

You’re not him, you’re not me.

Heck, my two brothers lift weights. They lift the same way I do, they eat pretty much like I do, we got the same parents.

And we *still* don’t look the same.

My early mentor, I trained the same way he did, ate the same way he did, and I never looked like him either.

I became a stronger and more muscular version of ME.

And you will become a stronger and more muscular version of YOU.

NOT of someone else.

Anyway, if you don’t want to be a bodybuilder but just want to get stronger and build muscle without spending your life in the gym…

… than StrongLifts 5X5 will definitely help you achieve your goal.

Three exercises, three times a week, about 45 minutes per workout.

That’s all it will take you to get stronger and build a better physique.

It worked for all my StrongLifts Members.

Don’t make excuses.

-Mehdi

P.S. Keep in mind we don’t even know if Tom Hardy achieved his physique naturally. And I’m not claiming he didn’t. But we know steroids is common among actors who need to get ripped quickly. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if he used steroids to get there.

My point is: it’s even harder to get a body like him when you’re training naturally while he’s using drugs. Better is to let yourself get inspired by the results of guys who train drug-free.

Good place to start is my online StrongLifts community.

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Top 12 Strength Training Supplements Dissected http://stronglifts.com/12-strength-training-supplements-dissected/ http://stronglifts.com/12-strength-training-supplements-dissected/#respond Wed, 24 Jul 2013 06:00:16 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=6480 The amount of marketing BS spread about supplementation is absurd. It makes sense – supplements are a billion dollar industry, and the craziest claims get you paid. We’ve been dissecting supplement and nutrition claims for over two years at Examine.com. With over 20,000 citations now, we’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge. And we’re going to [...]

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The amount of marketing BS spread about supplementation is absurd.

It makes sense – supplements are a billion dollar industry, and the craziest claims get you paid.

We’ve been dissecting supplement and nutrition claims for over two years at Examine.com. With over 20,000 citations now, we’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge. And we’re going to use that knowledge to reveal the truths about the 12 most popular strength training supplements.


Glutamine

Claim: Glutamine is touted as a muscle-building agent, and more recently it’s starting to be marketed as an intestinal-health supplement.

Reality: In a cell culture (aka a petri-dish), glutamine can cause dose-dependent increases in muscle protein synthesis. Furthermore, when given to trauma patients, there appears to be rapid recovery of muscle tissue. Unfortunately, these properties do not apply to healthy athletes who use glutamine for muscle-building purposes. This is not one of the issues where there is a lack of evidence, but instead pretty much complete consensus from repeated scientific studies in which glutamine does not outperform placebo.

It is possible that very low protein intakes (vegetarian/vegan diets) could benefit from glutamine supplementation, but supplementation could be avoiding by simply eating more protein.

The reason glutamine doesn’t work is a kinetic issue: the liver and intestines consume most glutamine, and thus little gets to your muscle tissues. Glutamine does seem to help people with intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease.

Notables: As glutamine’s inefficacy is a kinetic issue, it is possible that a certain variant of glutamine could bypass the issue and actually cause muscle growth. This variant is only a theory right now, and does not currently exist. However, glutamine is not likely to go away anytime soon, since the cash cow can still be milked.

> Waste of your money, unless you have serious intestinal issues.


Protein powders

Claim: Protein powders are dehydrated food supplements with the sole purpose of adding protein to the diet. The sources and flavors vary, and different forms of protein supplements come with various claims to encourage people to buy their powder rather than another. Most famously, this includes whey protein being a “faster-absorbed” protein source.

Reality: There are indeed differences in protein absorption between whey and casein, but there is not a clear relationship with muscle growth. While studies that last 24 hours do note higher protein-synthesis rates with whey over casein, studies that actually measure muscle mass over a few weeks or months note no real difference. So here we have increased muscle-protein synthesis on a technicality, but the truth for building muscle is no significant difference.

It would be safe to summarize that for an average person, the speed of digestion is irrelevant; the only benefits one source of protein would have over another would be coingested nutrients (such as calcium in whey and casein, or fiber in hemp protein).

Notables: Casein protein is known to have gel-forming properties, and with the addition of small amounts of water it can make pudding; with some ingenuity, other recipes such as ice cream or protein fluff can be made.

> A great way to get more protein into your diet, but no type of protein is significantly better than others. The speed of digestion may not be relevant.


Creatine

Claim: Creatine is said to be a muscle-building and power output-enhancing supplement, with a high safety level and a plethora of evidence to support its efficacy. There are various other claims for enhancing cognition and reducing depressive symptoms.

Reality: While the cognitive benefits of creatine supplementation are sometimes reliant on a partial creatine deficiency (seen in vegetarians), supplementation of creatine is a proven way to enhance power output. There is initially some weight gain (excess water retained), but creatine does have an ability to increase muscle-protein synthesis and has been noted to increase muscle gains over time.

There is still an issue of nonresponse (some people do not respond to creatine supplementation, and do not even gain water weight from supplementation), which appears to be a kinetic issue. This does not affect enough people to call creatine unreliable in any way, but creatine nonresponse does appear to exist. You can tell if you respond to creatine by taking high doses (20g daily for 5 days) and assessing the increase in water weight gain.

Notables: Topical application of creatine might be anabolic there too, being able to permeate the skin and potently increase collagen synthesis.

> It’s safe and it works. Especially potent for vegetarians.


Beta-alanine

Claim: Beta-alanine is the amino acid precursor to carnosine, a molecule that serves as an intracellular buffer for acidity. Supplementation of beta-alanine is said to enhance work output and prevent fatigue, and due to increased work output, an increase in muscle mass is claimed to occur.

Reality: Beta-alanine does appear to be effective, although the most recent meta-analysis on the topic suggested that the benefit is 2.85% and only significant in moderate-length trials (60 to 240-second bouts of exercise). This time frame actually excludes weight lifting, and the studies assessing weight lifting and power activities below 60 seconds do not uniformly find benefit.

Oddly, the three studies that measure lean mass and fat mass do note beneficial trends of more muscle and less fat mass. It is currently not known why this occurs.

Notables: Some anecdotal reports suggest that very high (8-16 g) and chronic dosing of beta-alanine, while effective for multiday training sessions, causes severe cramping and pain. This is actually quite plausible, as beta-alanine gets into the muscles via the same transporter that the amino acid taurine uses and competitively inhibits its uptake. Transient taurine deficiencies are well known to induce muscular cramping (as commonly seen with clenbuterol usage).

> Works, but the benefits are small.


“Testosterone Boosters”

Claim: Testosterone-boosting supplements are cocktails of various herbs or extracts that are said to increase testosterone production in the human body. Marketed to male weight lifters, the claims found on the label are the stereotypical claims associated with steroid usage.

Reality: Testosterone boosters are in an odd position. There are numerous herbs (fenugreek, Bulbine Natalensis) or molecules (D-Aspartic Acid, vitamin D, DHEA) that do appear to work, but the increases are quite small relative to testosterone injections, and these studies do not actually measure muscle mass gain over time.

More importantly, there are an astounding number of things marketed to increase testosterone with no apparent consistency in what works and what doesn’t. Even then, libido enhancers (sole purpose is to make you hornier) are very commonly put into testosterone boosters to make you feel like they’re working; the most popular T-booster, Tribulus terrestris, is evidence of this. People often confuse increased libido with an increase in testosterone, but the two can be independent of each other.

Notables: The most promising test booster of late is Bulbine Natalensis. Currently, there is no human evidence on its testosterone-boosting properties (it will apparently be published soon) but it appears to be quite respectable in rodents. While D-Aspartic acid is known to increase testosterone by 42%, Bulbine has been cited at 346%. Usage of Bulbine is limited by its known toxicity in rats (kidneys and liver), and the state of research on this topic is somewhat odd (all toxicity reports come from one research group in Africa, which appears to be the only group who really cared about it up until recently).

> There are promising ones on the horizon, but the current batch are mostly useless. Many of the T-boosters increase your libido without increasing your testosterone levels enough to appreciably build muscle


Branched chain amino acids, aka BCAAs

Claim: Branched chain amino acids (three amino acids known as leucine, valine, and isoleucine) are said to be muscle-building amino acids. This is technically true, and the BCAAs (especially leucine) are prime regulators of how food can increase muscle-protein synthesis. The leucine content of protein powders is even a marketing point, with “leucine-enriched proteins” being claimed to be more anabolic.

Reality: BCAAs do work, and they are anabolic. To be specific, they are anabolic relative to nothing. While this means that the marketing claims do reflect the state of the science, there are some practical limitations. BCAAs are in all protein-containing foods, and the studies that measure protein versus protein with added BCAAs do not uniformly note increased muscle-protein synthesis.

In short, if you follow a protein-rich diet, then you likely get enough BCAAs already, and consuming BCAAs separately will have little impact in increasing muscle mass.

Notables: Isoleucine is quite interesting due to it increasing glucose uptake into muscle cells quite potently, and by a relatively unique mechanism to boot. Leucine can do this as well, but due to inducing muscle-protein synthesis it eventually shoots itself in the foot (the same mechanism also reduces glucose uptake). Due to this, isoleucine supplements have a potential role for being antidiabetic or used on carbohydrate refeeds.

> If you are getting ample protein via your diet/supplementation, BCAAs likely have little benefit. They are a low-caloric source of protein.


Fish oil

Claim: Fish oil, for athletes, is most frequently used to reduce joint pain and inflammation and to allow for faster recovery. It is commonly followed up by studies showing that NSAIDs (the other choice for reducing soreness) hinder muscle growth in youth, while fish oil can theoretically increase glucose uptake and enhance leucine signaling in muscle tissue.

Reality: The joint health and inflammation issue is well known and researched, and does appear to exist. Fish oil dose-dependently reduces soreness and inflammation, and this appears to be secondary to a slight immunosuppressive effect.

Although there is not as much evidence for the muscle-building claim, it is potentially true as well. Relative to people without dietary fish oil, those with inclusion of fish oil appear to have enhanced leucine signaling (and muscle-protein synthesis from amino acids) and increased glucose uptake into muscle cells. There are no current studies that assess actual muscle growth (rather, they measure fractional synthesis rates over a few hours) so while it cannot be claimed that fish oil builds muscle, it does seem possible.

Notables: Fish oil exerts many of its benefits in an omega 3:6 ratio, with the desired ratio being around 1:1.

> Mostly useful in helping you achieve a 1:1 omega 3:6 ratio (or close enough). If you eat ample amounts of fatty fish and not too much omega-6, you likely do not need it. It can help with inflammation and joint pain.


L-Carnitine

Claim: L-Carnitine is touted to be a fat-burning agent, as a carnitine-dependent enzyme (carnitine palmitoyltransferase) is the rate-limiting step of transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria for their subsequent oxidation (the “burning” of the fat). Beyond that, carnitine is also said to enhance recovery from exercise.

Reality: L-Carnitine provision does not inherently increase the rate of fatty-acid oxidation, although it seems to under a few instances. For those deficient in carnitine, usually elderly individuals (65+) and vegetarians, supplementation can help burn fat. In otherwise healthy and young omnivores, carnitine has not been demonstrated to have fat-burning properties.

Preloading exercise with carnitine supplements (either tartrate or GPLC) does appear to have a muscle-protection effect, as increases of biomarkers of damage measured the next day appear to be reduced. Carnitine does not appear to have 100% reliability in actually increasing performance, although it has been associated with it at some times, and although this could lead to increased muscle mass over time (by allowing more work to be conducted) this has not yet been shown with carnitine supplements.

Notables: A variant of carnitine known as Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is commonly used in nootropic communities for its cognition-enhancing effects, which are said to be stimulatory but “cleaner” than caffeine. This may be related to an increase in neural glucose consumption, and would be an added benefit for elderly persons who might be partially deficient.

> Ineffective as a fat burner. Only helpful if you are deficient in it.


Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

Claim: CLA is touted to be a fat-burner, and is said to work on a novel method of fat burning (whereas the mitochondria mediates beta-oxidation of fatty acids, the system that CLA activates is known as the peroxisomal system and its receptors are called PPARs; peroxisomes can burn fat independently of the mitochondria). At times, CLA is also claimed to build muscle mass.

Reality: CLA is a prime example of how animal research differs from human research. In rats and in mice, CLA supplementation results in significant fat loss (and eventually fatty liver in mice) via the above mechanisms. There is ample human evidence to suggest that CLA has no such potency in humans.

Now, it would be incorrect to conclude that CLA is ineffective; if you cherry-pick evidence you can find studies to support the role of CLA in fat loss. The problem is that CLA is highly unreliable (with one study actually supporting an increase in fat mass) and the reason for this unreliability is not yet known.

Notables: CLA was one of the first molecules to be found to be a ligand for PPARs, and in the past few decades (partly due to research on CLA) studies on PPARs in general have exploded. PPARs are already the target of some drugs (thiazolidinediones) and supplements (tetradecyl thioacetic acid) and their established benefits are probably set to be the next things abused by supplement companies in marketing

> Great example of something that was very promising in rats/mice, but did not translate to humans. Highly unreliable results, and thus can be stated as being ineffective in fat burning.


Nitric-oxide boosters

Claim: Nitric-oxide boosters are a category of supplements that are all collectively said to increase bodily production of nitric oxide (aka give you “the pump”). Nitric oxide is not actually supplemented (it has a half-life of a few seconds), but instead supplements that stimulate the enzyme that makes nitric oxide are used.

The most popular supplement in this category is L-Arginine (the amino acid that nitric oxide is actually made from) and recently L-Citrulline has been gaining popularity (being a better absorbed version of L-Arginine), as have Agmatine and Beetroot (via nitrates). These supplements are said to enhance pumps in the gym, muscle growth, and be cardioprotective.

Reality: Nitric oxide itself is very important in the body, and there is evidence for most nitric-oxide boosters. Unfortunately though, the first bout of nitric-oxide supplements (which were all based on arginine) appear to be quite unreliable in their benefits. This unreliability is similar to CLA in the sense that we cannot say they are useless but it limits how much they can be recommended.

Also based on the aforementioned unreliability with arginine, a lot of studies in humans with the statement of “I wonder how nitric oxide does something in the body” could not properly assess the question. Nitric oxide is indeed involved in building muscle, but it isn’t confirmed if the increase in nitric oxide seen with supplementation is sufficient to actually induce benefits.

Beetroot and supplemental nitrates appear to be more reliable, and agmatine is set to get more studies to confirm its benefits (or lack thereof). However, the research is still at a “preliminary and promising” stage.

Notables: Arginine is a somewhat interesting supplement, as although it is the amino acid that nitric oxide is made from, this fact is completely irrelevant and a complete misdirection. The enzyme that makes nitric oxide from arginine is fully saturated even in a fasted state, and adding in more substrate would not work in the desired way. It has recently been noted that arginine can act on a receptor (alpha-2 adrenergic) to induce nitric-oxide production, but it appears to need really high concentrations to do this (which is hard to do with arginine supplementation due to the intestinal issues). Agmatine is more potent at the same issue, citrulline acts vicariously through arginine, and beetroot is a completely different (perhaps complementary) mechanism.

> While L-arginine is the common choice, L-citrulline works better (on a per-dosage basis). Beet roots are a great food-source for nitric oxide, and agmatine holds a lot of potential.


Caffeine

Claim: Caffeine is the worlds most popular cognitive enhancer, and is known to be both stimulatory and “antisleep” to non-users; while tolerance develops to the stimulatory effects, the antisleep properties are retained. It is marketed to athletes to increase power output and to prevent fatigue from setting in during workouts.

Reality: Caffeine definitely does have an ability to increase training volume and power output, but requires dosages of around 600 mg in people who are not caffeine tolerant. Such a dosing protocol, while effective, is likely to cause some hyperstimulation issues.

The increase in power output and training volume is mostly lost when tolerance to caffeine develops, which at this dose can last a week or so. Due to this, caffeine seems to be more of a competition supplement than a basic training supplement.

The time where caffeine still has benefit to persons who are tolerant to it is for the antisleep properties, which are not lost with tolerance. For people who are sleep deprived and need to hit the gym, caffeine supplementation can still prevent the lack of sleep from destroying your workout.

Notables: Caffeine tolerance is known to be insurmountable. In other words, once tolerance develops you cannot just simply take more caffeine to try and overcome tolerance.

> Helps keep you awake, and in non-habitual users has a definitive increase in power output, but only at higher doses. Cannot be used regularly or the increase in power output is lost.


Mass-gainer supplements

Claim: Mass-gainer supplements are marketed to hardgainers (a term used to refer to people who cannot gain mass, usually due to undereating) that carry the claim that they are able to increase mass even in people who have difficulty in doing so. Although “˜mass’ is usually said, the primary focus for these supplements is muscle gain.

Reality: Mass gainer supplements are essentially protein powder with extra calories thrown in. Usually the calories are from nutrient-poor sources to boot (such as straight maltodextrin) and these extra ingredients somehow warrant an incredible price increase. Although it appears to be a deal due to the large size of most mass gainer supplements (many coming in bags), the price per serving frequently exceeds $2-3.

Mass-gain supplements have little to no benefit over simply buying a protein powder supplement without the added calories, and then just making a shake at home with other additives. Adding peanut butter or cream to your protein powder is significantly cheaper, and you can control the added nutrients easier with protein powder and perhaps even add in some healthy stuff (like blueberries).

Assuming a protein powder is used, there is absolutely no need for mass-gaining supplements, and there is no benefit associated with mass gainers that cannot be mimicked by just adding calories to protein powder.

Notables: There are no significant notables about mass-gain supplements aside from unscrupulous marketing.

> A very expensive way of just getting extra calories into your diet. A smarter solution would be to add food products into a shake made with basic protein powder.


About the Authors

This dissection was written by Kurtis Frank and Sol Orwell, co-founders of Examine.com. They recently released The Supplement-Goals Reference, a quick and easy way to see which supplements work, and which don’t.

The post Top 12 Strength Training Supplements Dissected appeared first on STRONGLIFTS.

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“The Trainer Said StrongLifts 5×5 Was A Scam. But When I Told Him I Squat 315lb Now, His Jaw Dropped To The Floor” http://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-5x5-is-a-scam/ http://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-5x5-is-a-scam/#respond Wed, 29 Feb 2012 16:15:51 +0000 http://stronglifts.com/?p=5335 This success story was shared by StrongLifts Gold Member Troy D. from Ottawa, Ontario inside the private Member-only StrongLift Inner Circle Community. Check how he achieved a 315lb Squat in 5 months flat, at age 42, with StrongLifts 5×5. ### Hi, my name is Troy and I’m a software developer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. [...]

The post “The Trainer Said StrongLifts 5×5 Was A Scam. But When I Told Him I Squat 315lb Now, His Jaw Dropped To The Floor” appeared first on STRONGLIFTS.

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This success story was shared by StrongLifts Gold Member Troy D. from Ottawa, Ontario inside the private Member-only StrongLift Inner Circle Community. Check how he achieved a 315lb Squat in 5 months flat, at age 42, with StrongLifts 5×5.

###

Hi, my name is Troy and I’m a software developer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

I played sports through high school and university (recreational) but stopped after that. I separated from my wife in Winnipeg and moved to Ottawa to get close to my family. I needed something to focus, was very unsatisfied with my fat skinny body, and my dad wanted a workout partner so I joined his gym.

We went 6 days a week for 1 1/2 hrs, working the circuit on the machines and cardio every other day. Results came but who really cared, I knew benching on a machine was not the same as free weights, I knew that the plateau was coming fast. I did this for 3 months always looking over apprehensively at the free weights section.

Then a friend / co-worker mentioned your site and explained the rush he was getting from squats and I looked into it. I bought in immediately. I had some apprehension, but was willing to follow the program for 12 weeks and see. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Before StrongLifts 5×5 I had never squatted, dead lifted, over head pressed or rowed. I had benched and to get a base line I bench 165×5 before starting the program so I had a baseline I was 5’10″, 185lbs.

I am 42 years old, weight fluctuates between 192 and 198lbs. I am on week 23 of strong lifts 5×5 / 3×5. I had my first forced deload of squats at 5×5 315lbs last week (did 2 deloads prior due to bad form and injury).

Current Stats:

  • Squat: 5×5 310lbs
  • Dead Lift: 1×5 365lbs
  • Bench: 3×5 190lbs
  • Overhead Press: 3×5 140lbs
  • Rows: 3×5 190lbs

People know I lift weights now, they can see it immediately. When I show them videos of me DL 365 or squatting 315, they can’t believe it. Funny though, so few want to try it. I don’t know, 0 -315 squat in 5 months, how much more proof do you need that the system works?

I am super confident and feel like a beast in the gym. I know I can lift more then 90% of the trainers there and I am a newbie. My dad received a letter from one of the trainers telling him that Strong Lifts 5×5 is a scam, I told the trainer I squat 315 now and his jaw dropped to the floor.

The strong lifts community helped immensely. In particular Gold Member Gregory R (400lbs squatter), was a huge influence / mentor. Gold Member Chris D. and I are around the same level so we helped motivate each other to keep pushing, as well Gold Member Quinn W. introduced me to the program and helped me find good supporting videos and documentation. They all helped me get past injuries and missing reps. All Gold interviews and Gold news letters helped as well.

I have achieved 2 of my 3 initial goals, 1, 300lb squat, 2 350lb DL and I am 5 lbs away from 3. 200lb bench.

New goals: get to 5×5 330lb squat, 3×5 350 squat, 1×5 370lb squat – then we’ll switch to madcow.

I say anyone can achieve what I have achieved, strong lifts does work, no question. Three keys to my success, the inner circle, being prepared for my workout and, most important, never missing a workout.

Stay Strong, thanks Mehdi, Jake and the inner circle

-StrongLifts Inner Circle Gold Member Troy D.

###

I’m currently accepting 350 new Gold Members to the StrongLifts Inner Circle. Join today and you’ll receive seven free bonuses as a free gift. To become part of our private club and receive 7 free bonuses, just click here.

The post “The Trainer Said StrongLifts 5×5 Was A Scam. But When I Told Him I Squat 315lb Now, His Jaw Dropped To The Floor” appeared first on STRONGLIFTS.

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