7 Muscle-Building Strategies for Guys

Experts share strength-training tips that yield results quickly.

8086052_mIf you’re looking for quick muscle building, go no further than your local gym, where doctors say that major strength gains can be had in just a few weeks.

Last year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association updated their recommendations for physical activity. In addition to regular cardio workouts, Americans are now being encouraged to perform resistance training at least twice a week, working every major muscle group.

Spero Karas, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics in the division of sports medicine at Emory University, says that testosterone, the male hormone responsible for muscle growth, maxes out between the ages of 16 and 18. It reaches a plateau during the 20s and then begins to decline. As a result, muscle building after the adolescent years can be challenging, he says.

Fortunately, a little strength training goes a long way — particularly in the early days.

“When someone starts a fitness program, especially after not doing anything for awhile, the initial strength gains tend to be dramatic and quick,” Karas says. “In the first 12 weeks, it’s not uncommon for a guy to see a 10, 20 or 30 percent jump in strength.”

During the first weeks of a new training regimen, strength gains come from the recruitment of new muscle fibers, which make the muscles stronger and more visible.

Even though muscle recruitment does not result in more muscle mass, says Karas, it will definitely make your muscles look bigger.

One reason is that muscles take in water and swell during training. Another is that muscles burn fat, which tends to make the muscle look more prominent.

After the first three months of strength training, muscle gain is much slower. At that point, you’re aiming for an actual increase in muscle mass, which takes time to develop.

“After you’ve maximized the recruitment, you’ve reached the plateau, which is when the increase in strength and muscle mass becomes an arduous task,” Karas says.

Whether you’re committed to the long haul or just want some muscle-building tips, here are seven ways to maximize your gains.

1. Commit to some form of strength training.

Unfortunately, there are no easy shortcuts to good health, says Kent Adams, PhD, FACSM, CSCS, director of the exercise physiology lab at California State University Monterey Bay.

“You don’t have to train like a maniac,” he says. “Just start a reasonable, individualized resistance training plan.”

For tips and workout plans, visit the web sites of organizations like the ACSM or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you don’t have access to free weights, head for the weight machines or a cable system. Other alternatives include resistance bands, plyometrics, and calisthenics.

At a minimum, perform lunges, squats, and other exercises that work your quads and hamstrings, along with extra cardio activity that will prompt your legs to begin building muscle.

No matter which strength training method you choose, however, be sure that resistance levels (the amount of weight you use) and the number of repetitions you do are high enough to fatigue the muscle. Failure to do so, Adams says, will hinder growth. The ACSM recommends three sets of 8 to 12 reps for each exercise.

To speed up the process, make the most of your workout, and keep your heart rate and metabolism elevated, try “super-setting,” says Lisa De Los Santos, a Cooper’s-Institute-certified personal trainer at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California.

She suggests one set each of two or three opposing muscle exercises. Rest, then do a second set of each exercise before moving on to the next group.

2. Alternate muscle groups.

Weight training creates tiny micro tears in muscles, which then repair and rebuild during periods of rest. Serious injury can result if muscles are not allowed adequate time to repair.

The ACSM recommends a three-day split as follows:

Day one: Chest, triceps, and shoulders
Day two: Lower body (quads, hamstrings, gluteals, hip abductors and adductors, and calves)
Day three: Back, biceps, and abs

Feeling sore? Take an extra day or two — or work a new muscle group. Don’t forget delayed-onset muscle soreness, which can hit as late as 48 hours after a workout.
3. Drink plenty of water — before and after workouts.

Adequate hydration is essential to muscle building, yet few people get enough water, even without daily exercise. So in addition to the daily 8 to 10 glasses of water recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Karas suggests an additional 12 to 16 ounces before working out. He then recommends another 8 to 10 ounces for every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Prefer sports drinks? Indulge only if you’re exercising for more than an hour, when electrolyte depletion becomes more of a risk.

4. Eat a balanced diet.

Muscle building requires a careful balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals, all of which are best absorbed through food.

Avoid carbohydrate-heavy diets, which can cause insulin levels to spike and inhibit growth hormones that prompt muscle growth, says Karas. Instead, opt for five or six small, balanced meals every day. And if muscle building is your goal, don’t use this time to diet.

“The body won’t easily put on muscle if it is at a caloric deficit,” explains De Los Santos.

Watch your fat intake, which should be no more than 30% of your total daily calories, and be sure to consume plenty of vitamin- and mineral-rich fruits and vegetables.
5. Get lots of protein.

“If you want to build muscle mass, the key is protein, protein, protein,” says Karas. “Muscles are comprised of protein and you need the essential amino acids that are the building block of protein.”

No time to cook?  De Los Santos suggests high-protein snacks like cottage cheese, cheese sticks, protein bars, and protein shakes.  Health and nutrition stores carry a variety of powders which can be mixed with water or low-fat milk for an energizing protein power punch between meals.

Other recommendations include turkey, cheese, and cracker snack packs as well as frozen or prepackaged diet foods that combine protein-rich choices with low-fat, low-complex carbohydrates.

6. Get enough sleep.

In addition to being linked to high blood pressure, depression, and other health problems, sleep deprivation can inhibit the growth hormone important for muscle building, says Karas.  Recent studies have linked it to obesity as well.

How do you know you’re getting enough to build muscle?  People who are well rested feel alert and do not have the urge to nap, reports the CDC. The average adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep, although some may need more.

7. Hire a trainer.

If you need information or motivation, consider hiring a personal trainer. Costs vary according to location and experience, but typically cost between $30 and $85 an hour.

A trainer doesn’t need to be a long-term investment, however. According to De Los Santos, working with one for just three months is enough time to get comfortable in the gym, establish a routine, learn a variety of exercises, and see good results.

“A good trainer will educate while training and will not create long-term dependence,” De Los Santos says.  “Ideally, you’ll learn the skills to either maintain your fitness level or work toward new goals.”

Be sure your trainer is certified through a reputable fitness organization like the ACSM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, or the American Council on Exercise and has an updated certification in CPR and/or first aid as well.  You’ll also want to hire someone you like, since you’ll be spending at least an hour a week together.


Article from: WebMD.com

How The Pump Powers Muscle Growth

Without question, nothing is more satisfying than achieving a powerful vein-swelling pump, but did you know that it amplifies muscle growth too?
Every bodybuilder, athlete and weekend warrior knows what the pump is and how it is quite possibly the most psychologically motivating sensation experienced by gym goers. Of course you train to get big, but as soon as you step foot in the gym there is only one goal on your mind: Get the kind of skin-stretching pump that makes you feel like you can smash through a brick wall.

Nothing Is More Satisfying Than Achieving A Powerful Vein-Swelling Pump.

Nothing Is More Satisfying Than Achieving A Powerful Vein-Swelling Pump.

Aside from the mental and aesthetic benefits associated with the pump, what you may not know is that achieving peak vasodilation supports new muscular development. That’s right! The pump — scientifically identified as exercise-induced hyperaemia — is vital to creating the most anabolic environment conducive to new growth.

How Does It Work

Now, you’re probably wondering how the pump actually promotes new muscle growth. The release of nitric oxide facilitates the relaxation of the endothelial cells — smooth muscles that line the blood vessels — thereby expanding the lumen of the blood vessel (the middle space of a blood vessel where blood flows through).
As the lumen expands, blood flow is enhanced, resulting in peak vasodilation. Blood plasma is the primary channel through which nutrients, amino acids, testosterone, growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF

-1) are delivered to your starving muscles. Therefore, by feeding your system more blood, you transport elevated amounts of the various musclebuilding catalysts directly to your hard-working muscle cells.

Another example of how the pump powers growth is through the role of oxygen. Increasing the delivery of oxygen-rich red blood cells to your starving muscles accelerates the speed at which your system is able to cleanse itself of muscle toxins such as ammonia.
The removal of ammonia and other metabolites allows bodybuilders to recover more quickly between sets and perform more repetitions, which could result in better growth stimulus and adaptive growth in response to micro-tears at the muscle fiber level.

Achieving maximum vasodilation also allows your body to quickly deliver metabolized amino acids and nutrients that are derived from your pre- and post-workout nutrition, and shuttle them directly to your hypertrophying muscles — allowing for enhanced muscle recovery and growth.
Since the pump is the life force of new growth, you simply cannot afford to wait until halfway through your workout to achieve peak vasodilation.

To make your training sessions as anabolically efficient as possible, you need to get pumped as fast as possible. And the best way of accomplishing this is by using a quality, fast-acting nitric oxide accelerating product.

That’s why tons of bodybuilders use L-arginine-based n

itric oxide boosting supplements. Although there are many nitric oxide supplements to choose from, not all are created equally.



Power Pump – nitric oxide booster available online

If you want to stimulate maximum nitric oxide production for powerful pumps you need to use a scientifically researched and precisely dosed formula with a technologically advanced delivery system.

The truth is most inferior nitric oxide products don’t start working until halfway through your workout. So do your research to make sure you choose a nitric oxide supplement wisely because the anabolic power of the pump can’t be denied.


Article credit: bodybuilding.com

6 Vein Popping Reasons to Use Nitric Oxide Supplements

When you feel fatigued in the gym, do you think of taking a Nitric Oxide supplement? Learn why you should make the investment to help blaze through your workout and beyond!


You’ve been working hard in the gym, pushing up more weight each week, being sure to get in a proper pre and post workout shake, and giving your body the rest it needs to recover so it can build itself back up stronger than ever before.

But, is there something else you could be doing to take your progress up one more level? After you’ve gotten the basics down and have a firm understanding of what you need to be doing in the gym then it’s time to look at some of the additional things that do help you push that little bit extra in the gym that take your results over the top.

One of these factors that can serve this purpose is nitric oxide. What is nitric oxide and how does it help you? Let’s have a closer peek at all this supplement has to offer.

1. Increased Recovery Rates

The first way nitric oxide can help you is if you find you are putting in a great amount of effort in the gym but you are so fatigued for the day following that it’s a few more days until you finally recover and are good to go again.

What this supplement does is help to support the amount of blood flow to the tissues by encouraging the smooth muscles in the body to relax, therefore allowing more oxygen delivery to get to the working muscles.

Since one of the primary factors in a speedy recovery is being sure that plenty of nutrients get to the muscle tissues after a hard workout, blood flow is really going to make a difference.

Note that you won’t notice as great of results if you are not taking in a proper post-workout shake and meal to follow, but as mentioned above, once you’ve got that taken care of, that’s when you’ll clearly see the impact that nitric oxide has on you.

When you recover faster between sessions, this means more frequent weight training workouts, which typically translates to better results. Remember though that more frequent weight lifting workouts without full recovery translates to poor results and over training, indicating just how important recovery is. If you hope to workout often, you better look after this issue.

2. Reduced Fatigue Levels During Higher Rep Protocols

Another thing that nitric oxide is going to assist you with is fatigue. If you’re finding that as you’re going about your workout session, fatigue is a limiting factor in your workout, this is a supplement that can help.

As you perform your weight lifting exercises, the body rapidly begins to run out of oxygen. When it does, you’ll start to get lactic acid build-up forming in the muscle tissue, which then generates quite a high level of fatigue.

Often, this fatigue is felt as a burning sensation and causes you to cease exercise. If you’re attempting a higher rep protocol – into the 8-12 rep range – this build up of fatigue can be extremely limiting on your progress. So if you can get more oxygen to the tissues, thereby reducing the amount of lactic acid build-up and correspondingly the amount of fatigue, you will dramatically reduce this issue.

3. Enhanced Endurance Performance

If you’re an endurance athlete training for a distance event, nitric oxide can also benefit you. Often this supplement is thought to be more of a strength athlete aid, but believing so would be a mistake. Since endurance performance also heavily depends on the amount of oxygen getting to the muscle tissues, blood flow delivering oxygen will help you work longer without tiring out.

Those who are training for endurance and will be racing at an altitude much higher than they are used to will want to strongly consider supplementing with nitric oxide. At higher altitudes reduced ability to take in oxygen is particularly noticeable. By using the supplement you will help to offset this so it feels more like your usual training conditions.

4. Increased Availability Of Energy


Another important indirect impact of nitric oxide on exercise performance is that blood flow enables you to better maintain your core temperature balance.

When body temperature rises significantly during a hard workout session, the body will try its best to cool the tissues so that overheating doesn’t occur. With good blood flow this process is made easier, so less energy will be directed to accomplish this goal leaving more energy to complete your workouts with.

5. Increased Glucose Use

Those who are looking to burn off body fat may want to think carefully about the benefits of nitric oxide. One study conducted by the American Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at the impact of the NO precursor L-arginine on glucose metabolism during exercise. They had nine endurance trained males cycle for 120 minutes total which was then followed by a 15 minute max effort cycling period.

During this time glucose levels were measured in the body and it was noted that those who had taken the L-arginine had a significantly higher glucose rate of appearance, glucose rate of disappearance, and glucose clearance rate. This demonstrates that these athletes were taking up the glucose faster into the muscle cells as the exercise persisted.

In addition to this, the supplement also supported the increase of nonesterified fatty acid concentration as well as glycerol in the body, potentially pointing to the burning up of fat as fuel.

So those who are looking to burn body fat may have a slight advantage when using this process in terms of using up available glucose in the body and then burning off fat tissues.

6. Increased Muscle Pump


The last benefit of using nitric oxide is a great muscle pump after a workout. Who doesn’t love the feeling of tight full muscles after you’ve just dished out an intense biceps and triceps workout? When on nitric oxide, this pump will be more pronounced and will stick around slightly longer.

Since muscle pumps are largely a result of increased blood flow to the muscle tissue, which does come naturally to a degree when exercise is performed, the blood flow to the tissues with nitric oxide makes it particularly evident.

These muscle pumps may just spark some extra motivation in you to keep up with your workout program, therefore getting you better long-term results!


Nitric oxide is one of the more effective performance boosting supplements available and is often found in many stacked products so you can get benefits from more than one supplement at a time. Be on the lookout for this fast-acting aid and make the investment to take your workouts to a higher level.

Article credit: Bodybuilding.com

Supplement Guide: Nitric Oxide

Can this supplement help to speed growth and recovery time?

Where it comes from: Nitric Oxide (NO) is a gas that’s naturally produced in the body; it’s used to communicate between cells. “To make nitric oxide, enzymes in the body break down the amino acid, arginine,” explains registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokesperson Jim White. Nitric Oxide supplements    actually include arginine – not nitric oxide. Arginine is naturally found in foods such as spinach, sesame seeds, crab, shrimp and white meat turkey. What it’ll do for you: Nitric Oxide’s main job is to deliver messages between the body’s cells. It also plays a key role in controlling the circulation of blood and regulating activities of the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach and other organs. But from a muscle-building prospective, NO affects the release of hormones and adrenaline. It’s also said to speed growth and recovery time as well as increase blood flow, thus delivering more nutrients to muscles, helping them grow. Many athletes take NO supplements because they believe they make them workout harder and for longer – even though there’s no real evidence supporting the theory. However, a 2010 study supports NO use for older men. A researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles examined 16 male cyclists ages 50 to 73. The men who were given powdered supplements (containing arginine and antioxidants) showed a 16.7 percent increase in their anaerobic threshold – the point at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the muscles – after three weeks. The men given the placebo did not see any increase in their anaerobic thresholds. Suggested intake: “Clear dosing guidelines have not been established,” says White. In the UCLA study mentioned above, the powder (Niteworks, made by Herbalife International) contained 5.2 grams of L-arginine and L-citrulline, 300 milligrams of L-taurine, 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E, 400 micrograms of folic acid, 10 milligrams of alpha lipoic acid, and 50 milligrams of lemon balm extract. “Powder is usually mixed with a liquid and then these liquids are absorbed by the body faster and more efficiently than capsules, tablets or pills,” White says. Associated risks/scrutiny: “With any amino acid-containing product, overdose is a possibility,” warns White. Too much arginine can lead to diarrhea, weakness and nausea. Consult your doctor before taking this – and any other – supplement.

Found at: http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/supplements/supplement-guide-nitric-oxide