More Than Muscle

Five bodybuilding supplements that benefit more than your gym efforts

By Elizabeth R. Carey


You’ve been taking supplements such as arginine, carnitine, creatine, glutamine and 5-HTP for years. They’ve helped you get into fighting shape—a lean physique with powerful muscle and athletic prowess. But did you know that some of your favorite nutrition basics have better health implications too? Here’s what science is saying about what you’re probably taking already.

The supplement: Arginine
You take it now because:

sm PSPLArginine 100cap More Than Muscle
more info

Recovery is important, without it your muscles are fatigued and don’t function optimally which effects your performance in the gym. A 2006 Journal of Nutrition study found that when arginine was combined with glutamine—specifically 6.6 – 7.2 grams of this combination daily for 30 days—training efficiency was improved because muscle integrity and the oxygen capacity of blood carried to the muscle increased.

But it also:
Prevents heart disease. As you already know, l-arginine helps make nitric oxide (NO) in the body, which is one of the reasons that it is able to help with muscle recovery as it increases blood flow. This action also helps keep your circulatory system healthy as it reduces blood vessel stiffness and improves blood vessel functioning, as shown by a French study in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Improves performance in the bedroom. This is where nitric oxide really comes into (er…) play. NO relaxes the muscles surrounding the vessels that supply blood to your penis and as a result, your member’s blood vessels dilate, increase blood flow and, hello, he’s at attention.

Supports immune function. According to University of Pittsburgh researchers, arginine may help stimulate the body’s defense system; specifically, T-helper cells and cytokines that fight off disease. What’s more: low levels of arginine in the body have been documented in causes of trauma and cancer, which means not having enough in the body can help disease fester.


The supplement: Carnitine
You take it now because:

sm NOWAcetyl LCarnitine 200 More Than Muscle
more info

That super-hard workout that made you feel oh-so good and taxed your body sent it into a cycle of stress and muscle damage. Granted, you need a bit of both to gain some muscle mass—just not too much. Recently, University of Connecticut (Storrs) researchers found that taking 1-2 grams of L-carnitine L-tartrate after exercise eases the stress and the muscle damage that occurs after exercise so you get just enough to sculpt a killer physique and not get a killer cold. In addition to helping with recovery, carnitine delivers fat to the mitochrondria—the workhorse of our body’s cells—and help the body use it as energy.

But it also:
Improves blood vessel function. Boston University researchers found that alpha lipoic acid and L-carnitine improve blood vessel function and blood pressure. In a double-blind crossover study, the scientists examined the effects of combined alpha-lipoic acid/acetyl-L-carnitine treatment and placebo (8 weeks per treatment) on blood vessel function and blood pressure in 36 subjects with coronary artery disease. The carnitine combination increased the diameter of arteries by 2.3 percent and decreased systolic blood pressure. While more studies like this one need to be done, it appears that carnitine does the heart good.

Beats fatigue. Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread pain, troubled sleep, disturbed mood, and fatigue. It has been recently suggested that FMS may be associated with metabolic alterations including a deficit of carnitine. In a clinical trial of 102 subjects, Italian researchers found that acetyl l-carnitine (LAC) did help alleviate the symptoms of FMS.

Their subjects took either of two capsules/day of 500 mg LAC or placebo plus one intramuscular injection of either 500 mg LAC or placebo for 2 weeks. Then, for the following eight weeks, subjects took three capsules daily containing either 500 mg LAC or placebo. Subjects were then tested four weeks after the study ended. What they found is that acetyl l-carnitine decreased pain as well as eased other general and mental health issues in the fibromyalgia patients.

Increases fertility. Leave it to the Italians to find a way to help sluggish sperm swim. In the journal of Fertility and Sterility, University of Padova researchers report that carnitine supplements might help rev up sperm movement. In a small clinical trial, 30 men who had been diagnosed with decreased sperm motility took 2 grams of L-carnitine supplements daily for three months. Then for another three months, the men didn’t take anything.

Researchers found that sperm motility improved while the carnitine supplements were being taken. Also, this improvement was temporary. Three months after treatment ended, sperm motility was still a bit better than before the study, but not by much. In addition, those who experienced the greatest improvement from the supplement had the sharpest drop in sperm motility after the treatment ended.

Regulates metabolism. Carnitine is a molecule that plays a unique role in cell energy metabolism; specifically, the major process by which fatty acids are oxidized. This function is ubiquitously dependent on carnitine, as the molecule adapts it to fulfill the needs of different tissues. In skeletal muscle, the importance of carnitine’s function to control and to regulate fuel not only relates to the metabolism of fatty acids and the capacity for fatty acid utilization, but also to fat balance and insulin resistance. Carnitine is a determinant in insulin regulation of fat and metabolic rate of glucose in skeletal muscle. As a result, it’s critical in determining body composition and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, according to a 2003 report in Acta Diabetologie.


The supplement: Creatine
You take it now because:

sm psp002 More Than Muscle
more info

If you’re a low-carb devotee, creatine is a quick form of energy that is stored in your muscles. More specifically, creatine turns into ATP, which you need for your muscles to contract. Creatine supplementation also helps you get the muscular, lean physique you’re working so hard toward. According to a 2001 study published in the journal Metabolism, creatine may raise resting metabolic rate by more than 100 calories a day.

But it also:
Increases heat tolerance. Yes, we know that this is somewhat sports-related, but if you live in hot climates (and with global warming, don’t we all?), this use shouldn’t be overlooked. University of Glasgow researchers examined the effects of combined creatine and glycerol supplementation on responses to exercising in the heat. Subjects were given either 11.4 grams of creatine or 11.4 grams of glucose mixed with water and one gram of glycerol per kilogram of bodyweight. The results indicated that a combination of creatine and glycerol is an effective method of hyperhydration which reduces the body’s thermal and cardiovascular responses to exercising in the heat. This means that your workouts won’t feel as hard and your body won’t overheat as quickly as if you weren’t supplementing with the duo.

Prevents Sacropenia. Part of getting older is losing muscle mass, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Also known as sacropenia, the contributing factors of this loss are physical inactivity and under-nutrition. You can continue to strength train into your golden years and beyond; however, muscle loss is still observed in older adults who perform weight-bearing exercise, say Canadian researchers. As we already know, creatine supplementation has the potential to increase muscle accretion and hydration to cells, and to facilitate the up-regulation of muscle-specific genes such as myosin-heavy chains, possibly leading to muscle hypertrophy. For these reasons, creatine — in addition to continued weight workouts — may help prevent age-related muscle loss.

Fights Muscle Disorders. Progressive muscle weakness is a main symptom of most hereditary muscle diseases. Creatine might be helpful for treating them. German researchers evaluated the efficacy of oral creatine supplementation in muscle diseases by searching the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Register in May 2004 for randomized trials using the supplement. After reviewing 12 clinical trials, researchers found that short- and medium-term creatine use improves muscle strength in people with muscular dystrophies and is well-tolerated, but that it did not significantly improve muscle strength in those suffering from metabolic muscle diseases.

Develops Nervous System. As we develop in the womb, creatine plays an important role in developing our spinal cord during weeks 5 to 11.5, say Swedish researchers in the journal Brain Research. Specifically, they found that chronic creatine exposure resulted in significantly higher densities of immunoreactive neurons in the cultures suggesting a differentiation inducing mechanism of creatine supplementation.

Keeps Brain Healthy. When it comes to creatine’s influence on the brain, there are not many studies showing the supplement’s ability to improve its functioning. One recent study in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology examined creatine supplementation’s effects on the brain. What the Yale researchers found is that a healthy human brain is malleable and shifts with seven days of supplementation, with the regions of initially low levels of creatine showing the largest changes. Overall, supplementation appears to improve cellular turnover in healthy brains.


The supplement: Glutamine

sm psp017 More Than Muscle
more info

You take it now because: It converts glucose into energy when your body needs to get through a tough workout.  And since it is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid, it aids in recovery and release of growth hormone. This means more muscle growth.

But it also:
Strengthens immunity. Glutamine boosts levels of glutathione by prodding your liver to synthesize the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione keeps oxidized fats in foods (think trans fats) from passing through your GI tract thus protecting your body from free radicals. This action makes glutamine an awesome immunity agent that cuts illness short and hastens recovery. That’s why you should take large doses of the amino acid during times of stress and illness. Many experts recommended taking 2,000 to 8,000 milligrams daily.

Heals wounds. When it comes to the relationship between nutrition and wound healing, there is no doubt that adequate carbohydrate, fat and protein intake needs to occur for proper curing. Research has suggested that other specific nutritional interventions can have beneficial effects on healing wounds; more specifically, glutamine.


The supplement: 5-HTP

sm 5 HTP More Than Muscle
more info

You take it now because: It stops carb cravings by regulating the brain chemical serotonin that tends to drop when you are dieting.

But it also:
Treats depression. 5 Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is considered a natural alternative to traditional antidepressants, used to treat depression. When Australian research wanted to see whether science backed this claim, they consulted databases looking for clinical trials. Only two of 108 trials met their criteria and suggested that it was better than placebo at alleviating depression.

More Than Muscle

Five bodybuilding supplements that benefit more than your gym efforts
By Elizabeth R. Carey

You’ve been taking supplements such as arginine, carnitine, creatine, glutamine and 5-HTP for years. They’ve helped you get into fighting shape—a lean physique with powerful muscle and athletic prowess. But did you know that some of your favorite nutrition basics have better health implications too? Here’s what science is saying about what you’re probably taking already.

The supplement: Arginine
You take it now because:

sm PSPLArginine 100cap More Than Muscle
more info

Recovery is important, without it your muscles are fatigued and don’t function optimally which effects your performance in the gym. A 2006 Journal of Nutrition study found that when arginine was combined with glutamine—specifically 6.6 – 7.2 grams of this combination daily for 30 days—training efficiency was improved because muscle integrity and the oxygen capacity of blood carried to the muscle increased.

But it also:
Prevents heart disease. As you already know, l-arginine helps make nitric oxide (NO) in the body, which is one of the reasons that it is able to help with muscle recovery as it increases blood flow. This action also helps keep your circulatory system healthy as it reduces blood vessel stiffness and improves blood vessel functioning, as shown by a French study in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Improves performance in the bedroom. This is where nitric oxide really comes into (er…) play. NO relaxes the muscles surrounding the vessels that supply blood to your penis and as a result, your member’s blood vessels dilate, increase blood flow and, hello, he’s at attention.

Supports immune function. According to University of Pittsburgh researchers, arginine may help stimulate the body’s defense system; specifically, T-helper cells and cytokines that fight off disease. What’s more: low levels of arginine in the body have been documented in causes of trauma and cancer, which means not having enough in the body can help disease fester.

The supplement: Carnitine
You take it now because:

sm NOWAcetyl LCarnitine 200 More Than Muscle
more info

That super-hard workout that made you feel oh-so good and taxed your body sent it into a cycle of stress and muscle damage. Granted, you need a bit of both to gain some muscle mass—just not too much. Recently, University of Connecticut (Storrs) researchers found that taking 1-2 grams of L-carnitine L-tartrate after exercise eases the stress and the muscle damage that occurs after exercise so you get just enough to sculpt a killer physique and not get a killer cold. In addition to helping with recovery, carnitine delivers fat to the mitochrondria—the workhorse of our body’s cells—and help the body use it as energy.

But it also:
Improves blood vessel function. Boston University researchers found that alpha lipoic acid and L-carnitine improve blood vessel function and blood pressure. In a double-blind crossover study, the scientists examined the effects of combined alpha-lipoic acid/acetyl-L-carnitine treatment and placebo (8 weeks per treatment) on blood vessel function and blood pressure in 36 subjects with coronary artery disease. The carnitine combination increased the diameter of arteries by 2.3 percent and decreased systolic blood pressure. While more studies like this one need to be done, it appears that carnitine does the heart good.

Beats fatigue. Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread pain, troubled sleep, disturbed mood, and fatigue. It has been recently suggested that FMS may be associated with metabolic alterations including a deficit of carnitine. In a clinical trial of 102 subjects, Italian researchers found that acetyl l-carnitine (LAC) did help alleviate the symptoms of FMS.

Their subjects took either of two capsules/day of 500 mg LAC or placebo plus one intramuscular injection of either 500 mg LAC or placebo for 2 weeks. Then, for the following eight weeks, subjects took three capsules daily containing either 500 mg LAC or placebo. Subjects were then tested four weeks after the study ended. What they found is that acetyl l-carnitine decreased pain as well as eased other general and mental health issues in the fibromyalgia patients.

Increases fertility. Leave it to the Italians to find a way to help sluggish sperm swim. In the journal of Fertility and Sterility, University of Padova researchers report that carnitine supplements might help rev up sperm movement. In a small clinical trial, 30 men who had been diagnosed with decreased sperm motility took 2 grams of L-carnitine supplements daily for three months. Then for another three months, the men didn’t take anything.

Researchers found that sperm motility improved while the carnitine supplements were being taken. Also, this improvement was temporary. Three months after treatment ended, sperm motility was still a bit better than before the study, but not by much. In addition, those who experienced the greatest improvement from the supplement had the sharpest drop in sperm motility after the treatment ended.

Regulates metabolism. Carnitine is a molecule that plays a unique role in cell energy metabolism; specifically, the major process by which fatty acids are oxidized. This function is ubiquitously dependent on carnitine, as the molecule adapts it to fulfill the needs of different tissues. In skeletal muscle, the importance of carnitine’s function to control and to regulate fuel not only relates to the metabolism of fatty acids and the capacity for fatty acid utilization, but also to fat balance and insulin resistance. Carnitine is a determinant in insulin regulation of fat and metabolic rate of glucose in skeletal muscle. As a result, it’s critical in determining body composition and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, according to a 2003 report in Acta Diabetologie.

The supplement: Creatine
You take it now because:

sm psp002 More Than Muscle
more info

If you’re a low-carb devotee, creatine is a quick form of energy that is stored in your muscles. More specifically, creatine turns into ATP, which you need for your muscles to contract. Creatine supplementation also helps you get the muscular, lean physique you’re working so hard toward. According to a 2001 study published in the journal Metabolism, creatine may raise resting metabolic rate by more than 100 calories a day.

But it also:
Increases heat tolerance. Yes, we know that this is somewhat sports-related, but if you live in hot climates (and with global warming, don’t we all?), this use shouldn’t be overlooked. University of Glasgow researchers examined the effects of combined creatine and glycerol supplementation on responses to exercising in the heat. Subjects were given either 11.4 grams of creatine or 11.4 grams of glucose mixed with water and one gram of glycerol per kilogram of bodyweight. The results indicated that a combination of creatine and glycerol is an effective method of hyperhydration which reduces the body’s thermal and cardiovascular responses to exercising in the heat. This means that your workouts won’t feel as hard and your body won’t overheat as quickly as if you weren’t supplementing with the duo.

Prevents Sacropenia. Part of getting older is losing muscle mass, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Also known as sacropenia, the contributing factors of this loss are physical inactivity and under-nutrition. You can continue to strength train into your golden years and beyond; however, muscle loss is still observed in older adults who perform weight-bearing exercise, say Canadian researchers. As we already know, creatine supplementation has the potential to increase muscle accretion and hydration to cells, and to facilitate the up-regulation of muscle-specific genes such as myosin-heavy chains, possibly leading to muscle hypertrophy. For these reasons, creatine — in addition to continued weight workouts — may help prevent age-related muscle loss.

Fights Muscle Disorders. Progressive muscle weakness is a main symptom of most hereditary muscle diseases. Creatine might be helpful for treating them. German researchers evaluated the efficacy of oral creatine supplementation in muscle diseases by searching the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Register in May 2004 for randomized trials using the supplement. After reviewing 12 clinical trials, researchers found that short- and medium-term creatine use improves muscle strength in people with muscular dystrophies and is well-tolerated, but that it did not significantly improve muscle strength in those suffering from metabolic muscle diseases.

Develops Nervous System. As we develop in the womb, creatine plays an important role in developing our spinal cord during weeks 5 to 11.5, say Swedish researchers in the journal Brain Research. Specifically, they found that chronic creatine exposure resulted in significantly higher densities of immunoreactive neurons in the cultures suggesting a differentiation inducing mechanism of creatine supplementation.

Keeps Brain Healthy. When it comes to creatine’s influence on the brain, there are not many studies showing the supplement’s ability to improve its functioning. One recent study in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology examined creatine supplementation’s effects on the brain. What the Yale researchers found is that a healthy human brain is malleable and shifts with seven days of supplementation, with the regions of initially low levels of creatine showing the largest changes. Overall, supplementation appears to improve cellular turnover in healthy brains.

The supplement: Glutamine

sm psp017 More Than Muscle
more info

You take it now because: It converts glucose into energy when your body needs to get through a tough workout. And since it is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid, it aids in recovery and release of growth hormone. This means more muscle growth.

But it also:
Strengthens immunity. Glutamine boosts levels of glutathione by prodding your liver to synthesize the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione keeps oxidized fats in foods (think trans fats) from passing through your GI tract thus protecting your body from free radicals. This action makes glutamine an awesome immunity agent that cuts illness short and hastens recovery. That’s why you should take large doses of the amino acid during times of stress and illness. Many experts recommended taking 2,000 to 8,000 milligrams daily.

Heals wounds. When it comes to the relationship between nutrition and wound healing, there is no doubt that adequate carbohydrate, fat and protein intake needs to occur for proper curing. Research has suggested that other specific nutritional interventions can have beneficial effects on healing wounds; more specifically, glutamine.

The supplement: 5-HTP

sm 5 HTP More Than Muscle
more info

You take it now because: It stops carb cravings by regulating the brain chemical serotonin that tends to drop when you are dieting.

But it also:
Treats depression. 5 Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is considered a natural alternative to traditional antidepressants, used to treat depression. When Australian research wanted to see whether science backed this claim, they consulted databases looking for clinical trials. Only two of 108 trials met their criteria and suggested that it was better than placebo at alleviating depression.

Bodybuilding Food on the Go

Being a writer/photographer for several publications and websites, I find myself checking into so many hotels that I mix up my room numbers from one place to the next. As a competitive bodybuilder this not only puts stress onto the training regime but also onto the dietary needs of an athlete. Training all the body parts through a three days a split weight training cycle is attainable on most occasions, but eating six times a day can be a hard push. From years of trial, error, starvation and unforeseen fat gain from spending a lot of time on the road, I have come up with some handy ways to keep on my dietary track even if I am away from my home turf.

What not to take
A couple of days before you leave for the airport; you should have a list of foods that you regularly eat. Raw foods such as fruits are out of the question and will more than likely lead to confiscation at the airport security check-in. Fluids are also on the banned substance list for air flight, so, those ever so convenient RTDs will have to stay at home if want to save yourself the bloat of having to chug down 120gms of protein in order to grant yourself security approval.

Preparation
Option one

01 Bodybuilding Food on the Go

Spending several hours in the kitchen the day before you fly is an option that will guarantee a successful trip whilst staying on your bodybuilder’s nutrition regime. A cool bag with plenty of icepacks will suffice and keep your food fresh until you get to your hotel room where you should already have a fridge booked and waiting for you. A little trick I have learned when booking a hotel’s fridge is to mention that you are a diabetic and require the fridge for your insulin medication. The hotel is more than happy to agree on most occasions but try to book it prior to your departure in case they have a shortage of refrigerators (which is very likely if you happen to be in the host hotel for a bodybuilding or sporting event). Cook an adequate amount of protein and carbohydrates and then freeze it for the duration of your stay. The food needed for your journey will be OK if kept in a refrigerator. I recommend that you keep this food in a small cool bag that is of adequate size for a standard-sized lunch box containing enough food for your journey from your home to hotel. Please note that plastic spoons and forks would be much lighter to carry and will cause much less hassle at the security check.

Option 2
This option proves to be a little easier in preparation and is more convenient for those who do not want to prepare cooked foods and are only away for a short time. Tuna sachets make a great food source and handy emergency meal. This is much like tinned tuna but comes in handy hard-foil sachets that are easy and light to pack and are extremely convenient for that emergency protein fix. Protein powders and a good shaker bottle are also a good idea. A couple of scoops of powder mixed with some water is a meal that can drive as much muscle building protein into your body as required and has more nutritional benefits than most food stores along the way will offer. Protein bars are another great commodity but please pack them in a cool bag as they do often melt on flights. The Supreme Protein bar has 30gm of real, usable protein (mostly whey isolate!), AND it the best tasting bar on the market.  In terms of carbohydrate, I normally pack a small tub of Uncle Bens Quick Oats. Most of the time, a microwave oven or a cooking stove is nowhere to be seen, so in a hotel room a normal procedure on my journey is to add some quick oats to my protein powder in my shaker bottle and drink it uncooked. Its harmless, painless, surprisingly filling and gives you the nutritional value that you would get on your strict diet that you follow at home.  If you find that you aren’t hardcore enough for this, you can boil up some water with your hotel room kettle (presuming there is one) and add it to the quick oats. Let it sit for a while to expand and cook before adding the protein powder. Also, if the thought of raw oats mixed with your protein shake sounds as appetizing as eating a scabby cat, packing some rice cakes might be a little more palatable. To get a slower release of carbohydrate, a brown rice option is now available and tastes great when dipping them into my protein pudding. Protein pudding is an awesome treat that is made by a couple of companies including Instone. It has the thick creamy texture of a regular pudding but is made with plenty of muscle-maintaining protein.  Due to it being premixed, I would recommend that you have it packed into your checked-in luggage so it doesn’t get confiscated due to its fluid content.

Beef Jerky is a food that is also commonplace in my suitcase. Again, it is very convenient and provides an adequate amount of protein that is low in carbohydrates (though it can be high in sodium if you happen to be watching your salt intake). These packets come in large and snack-size portions and have been consumed by yours truly in plenty of taxi rides from airports and hotels.

With the options I have outlined above, there are no reasons why being on the road should complicate your dietary needs. If you find that your time away from home is for a further extended period, most of the above commodities can be found at the local supermarket or health food store.

CRIMES AGAINST GROWTH

Ready to win the battle against body fat and improve your cardio fitness? This step-by-step plan will help you run stronger and longer — and get you leaner in the process — in one month.

Is your exercise form so bad it’s criminal? We lay down the law on how to correct 12 of the most common errors perpetrated in the gym.

Listen up — we have some crimes to report, and everyone in the weight room is a suspect. You’ve seen it for sure, and likely you’re at least a little guilty yourself. Stopping short on your squat. Swinging your arms like pendulums on your curls. Cheating a bit too much on your bench press to lift more weight than you can safely handle. Those are just a few examples, but there’s more.
The problem is, by breaking proper form, the only person you’re robbing is yourself — you’re not getting the utmost benefits out of each rep, and thus each workout is less productive than it can be.
The good news is, it’s never too late to turn away from a life of lifting transgressions. Here, we’ll identify the most common form errors on popular exercises, tell you why they’re detrimental, and render the verdict on how to fix them to maximize your mass-building results. Ready to lock up new muscle gains?

1) Barbell Squat
Crime: Stopping before your thighs reach a point parallel with the floor
It’s a hard pill for some to swallow — you’re able to load enough plates on a leg press to stock an Italian kitchen cabinet, yet on the squat, just a few 45s a side leaves you weak kneed. To compensate, those who can’t stand the thought of lifting lighter have adopted a shorter range of motion, and thus are able to move more weight than if they used the correct thighs-parallel-to-the-floor position. While the totals may look more impressive in your logbook, incomplete reps will cheat you out of benefits. In fact, going to parallel is not only safer on your knee joints, it engages more muscle fibers in your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes than quarter reps ever could. Don’t worry about poundage — go light and get the form down, and once you do, the impressive weights will follow naturally over time.

2) Leg Press
Crime: Letting your lower back lift off the pad at the bottom of the repetition
Bringing your knees down to your chest on the leg press can constitute a nice, full-range-of-motion repetition. But there’s a catch — if you’re not limber enough, your glutes and lower back will curl off the seat, instantly putting plenty of undue strain on that very fragile area of your body. The hundreds of pounds of weight bearing down on you can tweak your lower back, and before you know it, you have serious pain to contend with. On the leg press, always keep your glutes firmly against the pad, stopping each rep at the point right before they would begin to lift off. If you work on your flexibility over time, you’ll be able to do a nice, deep rep, without compromising your lower back — a win-win situation on leg day.

3) Lunge
Crime: Letting the knee of your front leg extend past your toes in the bottom position
When stepping down into a lunge, a lot of people make this sometimes hard-to-detect yet critical error. By letting their front knee track out past their toes, they put it under shearing forces and strain. To rectify this, make sure you step out deeply enough and that you keep your hips shifted back (as leaning forward will force that knee out). At the bottom of a lunge, your front knee should be in a 90-degree angle, and your back knee should be elevated an inch or two off of the floor. Also keep in mind, this is a mistake you don’t want to make on squats — shift your hips back and make sure your knees don’t extend past your toes on the descent.

4) Bent-Over Dumbbell Row
Crime: Relying on your biceps to lift most of the load

dbellrow CRIMES AGAINST GROWTH

Think about the action of your back muscles on a row. You may believe it’s obvious, but for plenty of lifters who do the majority of their rowing with their arms, it’s really not. You see, if you bring the dumbbell up to your flank by simply bending your elbow, you’re basically calling on your biceps to do the majority of the work. Now, think about what happens to your back muscles when you shift your shoulders and shoulder blades backward — they contract. Whether you’re rowing with a barbell, dumbbell or on a machine, this is a key concept: To engage your back in the exercise, you need to make sure your shoulder is moving along with your elbows. Forge this important mind-muscle connection by visualizing your back muscles engaging on each repetition of a row, and soon you’ll be making incredible strides in the weight you can handle and the size of your lats, rhomboids and teres major and minor muscles.

5) Seated Cable Row
Crime: Leaning excessively forward and backward
This crime is so common you’ll catch otherwise competent certified personal trainers teaching it incorrectly. During a seated cable row, you’ll see people leaning as far forward as they can, then leaning excessively back the other way as they pull the handle toward their abdomen. What results is an inefficient lower-back exercise in place of a movement to hit the intended body part, the upper back. To fix this, you want to control the movement, staying upright throughout. As you bring the handle toward you, flex your upper back (which will pull back your shoulders, as described in #4). As you lower the weight, don’t allow your upper body to follow the handle forward, just let your shoulder blades shift outward and your elbows straighten. You should feel the difference immediately, and see the difference in the coming weeks in the form of new muscle mass.

6) Back Extension
Crime: Hyperextending your back at the top of the rep
This exercise was often referred to as “hyperextensions” for years — no wonder so many gym goers still do it wrong, excessively overarching their back at the top. Instead of benefiting the lower back muscles, this extra extension only serves to put undue pressure on your spinal cord. To perform the extension right, you should stop the rep when your body reaches a flat “plank” position, squeeze your lower back, and then lower your upper body back to the start.

7) Shrug
Crime: Rolling your shoulders

shrug CRIMES AGAINST GROWTH

This misdeed goes to show, we can even screw up even the simplest of exercises. There may be no movement more basic than the barbell or dumbbell shrug — doing it correctly consists of flexing your trapezius to lift your shoulders up toward your ears, then relaxing to drop them back down. Somewhere along the way, someone tried to get fancy by adding a shoulder roll to the mix, bringing the shoulders back, up, forward and down on each repetition in the false logic that it would more thoroughly work the traps. It doesn’t, so stick to the original: Straight up and straight down equals straightforward muscle gains.

8) Seated Barbell Press
Crime: Sliding forward so your back isn’t in contact with the pad
Those who have stronger pectorals that tend to overpower their delts often resort to this trick — a slight shift forward of your glutes and lower back makes the military press a bit more like an incline press, thus recruiting more upper pecs. Two problems result, however: Your lower back is put at risk for strain, and you lessen the overall work done by your shoulders, thus always relegating them to be weaker link in your upper body. Stay attuned to doing the press correctly, and sitting upright throughout.

9) Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Crime: Bringing the dumbbells all the way down in front of your hips at the bottom
Lateral raises are meant to work what is a relatively small area — the middle deltoid head. In general, you don’t have enough muscle there to lift a lot of weight. So if you are hoisting 45-pound dumbbells and beyond and you’re not built to the gills with muscle mass, chances are you’re cheating on your raises. To test yourself, try this: Hold a dumbbell about six inches away from your side, and then, without swaying or moving your body to help, lift the dumbbell out and up, only using your deltoid muscle to power the move. How much weight could you handle? The same as you use normally? Bringing the dumbbells all the way down to your sides between each repetition allows your muscles to rest at the bottom. If you go the extra step of bringing the dumbbells down in front of your hips until they touch one another, you are essentially extending the range of motion down in this “dead zone” where the middle delt isn’t activated, and you’re probably even shifting your hips forward on the ascent to add some momentum to your raise. From now on, get more out of your laterals by choosing a more realistic weight and bringing the dumbbells down to your sides — but not quite all the way down.

10) Barbell Bench Press
Crime: Arching your lower back off of the bench

bpress CRIMES AGAINST GROWTH
incline shown

With a grunt of intense effort, your feet planted into the floor, the barbell across your chest, you push the barbell as hard as you can. Unfortunately, all too often when that bar doesn’t head upward as quickly as hoped, your glutes pop off the bench and your back curls up like a lock of Carrot Top’s hair in an effort to prod the weight along, and all of a sudden an innocent bench press turns into a dangerous activity. No matter how often it has been preached in gyms across the country by those who know better, bench pressers all-too-often resort to lifting their butt and lower back off the bench to complete their reps and handle more weight. Don’t give into this temptation — keep your rear down and, in due time, by following good form your bench totals will go up.

11) Standing Barbell Curl
Crime: Leaning back and shifting your elbows directly underneath the bar on the ascent

barbell CRIMES AGAINST GROWTH

Watch others perform barbell curls and you’ll often spot all sorts of mistakes. Guys especially, who are usually after a larger lift total at all costs, will shift their hips forward to get the bar started on its ascent, then bend backwards in an effort to shift their elbows underneath the bar and get it up to their shoulders. From there, they’ll let the bar fall gracelessly back to the start and do it again. After a few sets of this, they may feel as if everything in their body but their biceps has been activated. Checking your ego at the door is the surest way to get your biceps on track; adjust your form on barbell curls by keeping your hips stationary and your elbows firmly entrenched at your sides — it may help you to picture a steel rod running through your torso, holding your elbows in place. At the top of the rep, stop just before your elbows shift directly underneath the bar. Otherwise, you’re giving your bi’s a chance to rest at the apex of each rep, taking valuable tension off of them. Taking these lessons to heart will help you engage your biceps thoroughly throughout each and every set, the surest way to achieve maximum growth.

12) Standing Calf Raise
Crime: Keeping your knees bent during the repetition
While on most exercises, you’d never get the advice to completely lock out your joint, on standing calf raises, you do in fact want to do exactly that. Keeping your knees absolutely straight targets the meaty gastrocnemius muscle on the back of your lower leg. Bend your knees and you’re calling on the much smaller soleus (the same muscle you’re hitting on seated calf raises). One caveat: Straight does not mean hyperextending at the knee, so be careful to not go to that extreme.

Fall Fat Inferno

Summer is over and many of you may be feeling the effects of too many hot dogs and cold barley-based beverages. If you are part of the aesthetically conscious cohort, then you most likely came into the summer in phenomenal shape, and you may or may not have maintained this condition. Regardless of your current condition, the following information will come in handy for the months to come. The following article is intended to give you the basic science behind the newest key ingredients that should be included in a good fat burning/diet aid supplement.

Appetite Suppressants: Making dieting easy on the body and mind

Slimaluma Extract (Caralluma Fimbriata)
Currently the most innovative appetite-suppressing compound is a proprietary extract of the herb caralluma fimbriata, a substance Gencore Pacific Inc. trademarked Slimaluma. It has been through two clinical trials and was introduced recently into the market. According to Gencore, caralluma fimbriata is a succulent cactus used for centuries by locals in India for appetite suppression. In fact, it is essentially a vegetable of daily use in tribal India. Indian tribes chew chunks of caralluma fimbriata to suppress hunger when on a day’s hunt and it is used among the labor classes in South India to suppress appetite and enhance endurance. The clinical efficacy of Slimaluma has been tested in recent placebo controlled double blind trials published in the journal Appetite. In this investigation the effect of caralluma extract was tested in overweight men and women. Fifty adult men and women were randomly assigned to an experimental or placebo group, where the former received 1g of Caralluma extract per day for 60 days. The authors concluded that caralluma fimbriata ingestion was a potent appetite suppressant and its ingestion led to dramatic decreases in waist circumference (Kuriyan et al., 2007).

Mucuna Pruriens
Mucuna pruriens, which originates from the velvet bean, is an ancient Indian herb that contains a large amount of bioavailable L-dopa (the precursor to dopamine). Remarkable benefits have been noted with Mucuna pruriens ingestion in patients with Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that involves a declining production of dopamine (Katzenschlager et al., 2004). Dopamine is a fundamental neurotransmitter that signals areas of the brain that give you the sense of well being, alertness, motivation, and focus. It also is a key player in the signaling cascade for growth hormone (GH) release. Fundamentally, dopamine has been shown to inhibit hypothalamic somatostatin secretion, which then allows for a greater stimulatory effect of growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) which leads to greater release of GH by the pituitary gland. That being said, with Mucuna pruriens supplementation you will notice greater energy and focus and the benefits of augmented GH (increases in lean mass, strength, and decreased fat mass). In addition, the L-dopa in Mucuna pruriens has been shown to balance norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, as well as exhibit potent antioxidant properties. These effects will augment your sense of well being, help to control food cravings, and stabilize mood.

Lipolytic and Thermogenic Agents: making dieting more effective

Green Tea Extract (Camillia Sinesis)
A good fat-burning formulation should contain caffeine and green tea extract (standardized for high levels of catechins and EGCG), as the research is plentiful and conclusive regarding the positive effects of caffeine and green tea extracts on lipolysis and thermogenesis. Recently, it was concluded that caffeine and green tea catechins taken together cause significant increases in metabolism throughout the entire day and night (Acheson et al., 2004). For years scientists attributed the thermogenic benefits of green tea to its caffeine content alone; however this was not entirely correct. Biochemically, its effects are due to the interaction between its high catechin-polyphenol content and caffeine and their synergistic impact on sympathetically released norepinephrine (NE) (Dulloo et al., 2000). The synergistic action of these compounds inhibits the break-down of NE, a key player in fat mobilization, lipolysis, and appetite suppression. Applied evidence that supports the biochemistry comes from a number of clinically based studies. For example, in a recent investigation it was concluded that the combination of regular moderate treadmill exercise and green tea extract supplementation stimulates increased whole body fat utilization; an effect that is sustained long after the completion of exercise. Green tea extract has been shown to cause direct increases of lipolysis in the liver and in skeletal muscle (Shimotoyodome et al., 2005). More recent and supporting evidence illustrated that long-term intake of “catechin-rich” green tea extract combined with habitual aerobic exercise increases exercise endurance because of its positive impact on fat metabolism (Murase et al., 2006). Of note, be certain that your green tea product is standardized with high levels of polyphenols, catechins, and epigallocatchin-3-P-gallate.

Raspberry Ketone (4-(4-hydroxyphenyl) butan-2-one)
Raspberry ketone has been recently implicated as the newest “player” in the fat burning supplement scene. Morimoto et al. was the first to report the anti-obesity characteristics of raspberry ketone supplementation in male Wistar rats. After thorough biochemical and histochemical analysis they concluded that raspberry ketones impart substantial impact on the accumulation of fat. It was reported that its effects on lipolysis are manifested via stimulated metabolism of adipose tissue and inhibited small intestine absorption of dietary fat (by suppressing pancreatic lipase activity). They further concluded that raspberry ketone supplementation was effective in preventing sugar and fat induced fat accumulation (Morimoto et al., 2005).

Green Coffee Extract
Green coffee extract is another innovative and interesting compound just breaking into the fat burning supplement scene. We all know that coffee contains relatively high amounts of caffeine, but have you heard of coffee’s other main constituent—chlorogenic acid? This intriguing substance is almost completely lost during the coffee roasting process, but is highly bioavailable in green, unroasted coffee beans. Current research has shown that green coffee extract significantly elevates fat metabolism in the liver (as a result of chlorogenic acid) and the caffeine component suppresses fat absorption. As a result, green coffee extract suppresses body weight gain and visceral fat accumulation (Shimoda et al., 2006).

Imagine a supplement that incorporates a combination of these aforementioned science backed compounds into a single formulation. Well, fortunately the scientists at BioQuest have done there homework to stay on top of the game. Tetrazene Extreme is a novel and innovative fat loss product that battles fat accumulation and hunger while aiding in fat loss from all angles. As always they use standardized extracts to deliver the highest potency, while maintaining consistency between doses. Furthermore, their scientific team has added vinpocetine and huperzine A to Tetrazene Extreme, which ensures dieting sanity and makes it the most robust formula available to date. With Tetrazene Extreme you will eat less and make better food choices, and you will turn up metabolism to burn fat more effectively.

References
Acheson KJ, Gremaud G, Meirim I, Montigon F, Krebs Y, Fay LB, Gay LJ, Schneiter P, Schindler C, & Tappy L (2004). Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling? Am J Clin Nutr 79, 40-46.
Katzenschlager R, Evans A, Manson A, Patsalos PN, Ratnaraj N, Watt H, Timmermann L, Van der GR, & Lees AJ (2004). Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson’s disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75, 1672-1677.
Kuriyan R, Raj T, Srinivas SK, Vaz M, Rajendran R, & Kurpad AV (2007). Effect of Caralluma Fimbriata extract on appetite, food intake and anthropometry in adult Indian men and women. Appetite 48, 338-344.
Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, Inoue S, Tsujita T, & Okuda H (2005). Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sci 77, 194-204.
Murase T, Haramizu S, Shimotoyodome A, Tokimitsu I, & Hase T (2006). Green tea extract improves running endurance in mice by stimulating lipid utilization during exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 290, R1550-R1556.
Shimoda H, Seki E, & Aitani M (2006). Inhibitory effect of green coffee bean extract on fat accumulation and body weight gain in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med 6, 9.
Shimotoyodome A, Haramizu S, Inaba M, Murase T, & Tokimitsu I (2005). Exercise and green tea extract stimulate fat oxidation and prevent obesity in mice. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37, 1884-1892.