If you want to know how many calories you should eat to build muscle or lose fat, you’ll want to read this article. “How many calories should I eat?” This question is asked more often than you would believe, especially by those entering the fitness lifestyle for the first time. The answer to that question […]Continue reading
Whey protein powder is almost universally the very first supplement a person purchases. What’s not to like about it? Whey protein is: Convenient Effective Affordable Stores Easily Absolutely Delicious Whey protein powder makes perfect pancakes, whips up easily in a smoothie, and even works wonders when added to a bowl of steel cut oats. And, […]Continue reading
Creatine is the undisputed king of sports nutrition supplements, but how does it work and what are the benefits of this best-selling pre-workout ingredient? Over the past 20 years, sports nutrition has escalated by leaps and bounds, and in that time, athletes, bodybuilders, and casual gym rats have been inundated by all sorts of shiny […]Continue reading
Building muscle requires a few important things: Resistance-Training Progressive Overload High Protein Intake Caloric Surplus Plenty of Sleep While each of these is important in their own right, all the sleeping, resistance training, and progressive overloading you do won’t do a lick of good if you’re not consuming a sufficient number of calories. The way […]Continue reading
So often in the fitness community, we’re told to avoid cheap carbs and simple sugars like white bread, candy, cookies, cake, and soda for a couple of reasons. They’re calorically dense and nutrient-poor They spike insulin levels They raise blood sugar levels They promote fat storage They lead to energy crashes They are easy to […]Continue reading
Typical resistance-training recommendations are as follows:
- Train a group of muscle intensely and don’t train it again for another 48-72 hoursOR
- Assault one muscle group with everything you have and don’t train it again for another 5-7 days, or until you’re not sore.
No doubt you’ve heard these same recommendations, or something very similar to them, at one point or another in your lifting career. The reality is, neither of these recommendations hold much water and these “rules of lifting” may actually be holding you back from bigger and better muscle gains.
What if you could actually work the same muscle group(s) on consecutive days and have it not inhibit recovery, but actually promote growth?!
You’d probably think we were crazy.
Well, there’s a little something called feeder workouts, and it may be just what you need to bring up those lagging body parts once and for all!
What are Feeder Workouts?
Feeder workouts are “mini” workouts completed completely separate from your regular workout. In other words, the day after a heavy lifting day, you do a separate workout later that day or, ideally, the following day targeting those exact same muscles you hit on the previous day but for only 3 sets using very light weight and lots and lots of reps.
For example, let’s say on Monday you trained your pushing muscles (i.e. chest, shoulders, and triceps). Then, on Tuesday, before or after your normal training routine you do your feeder workout for chest, shoulder, and triceps. This feeder workout would contain primarily isolation exercises that allow you to really concentrate on the target muscle using very strict form and high reps.
An example feeder workout for your push muscles would be:
- Pec Dec = 3 sets, 50-100 reps
- Lateral Raise = 3 sets, 50-100 reps
- Dumbbell Skull-Crushers = 3 sets, 50-100 reps
Now, jumping right out of the gate performing 50-100 reps in a single set, even using very light weight is incredibly taxing both mentally and physically — the burning sensation that sets in during feeder workouts is unlike anything you’ve experienced before!
The goal of these feeder workouts isn’t to pulverize the muscle and blast it into oblivion. These mini workouts should be looked at low intensity pump work, with the goal being to drive as much nutrient-rich blood into the muscles you trained the previous day. Remember muscle grows when stimulated, not annihilated, no matter what the gym bros tell you!
Why Feeder Workouts work?
Extended Protein Synthesis
Feeder workouts prolong, or extend, the amount of time increased muscle protein synthesis occurs in a muscle group. Normally, when a muscle group is trained, protein synthesis is elevated for roughly 24 hours and returns to normal levels around the 36-hour post training mark.
By performing another mini workout 24 hours after the first one, you prolong the increased protein synthesis occurring in your muscle by another 12-24 hours.
The catch here, is that growth will only occur if you’re fueling properly. You’re only going to grow and promote repair and recovery if you’re consuming ample protein and eating at a caloric surplus.
Improved Mind-Muscle Connection
Simply put, the human body gets better at things it does frequently. If you want to get better at pull ups, you need to start doing pull ups more often. The reason for this is that you’re increasing training volume, which your muscles adapt to by growing bigger and stronger, but in addition to getting stronger, you also establish a stronger mind-muscle connection, or an increased “awareness” of which muscle should be working during a given exercise.
Feeder workouts are especially great if you struggle feel certain muscle groups firing during a lift. For example, don’t feel your lats working while doing pull ups (along with the other muscles of the back), performing a feeder workout the following day of straight-arm lat pulldowns may strengthen your mind-muscle connection to your lats, which translates to better lat recruitment during your subsequent pull up workouts leading to better workouts and bigger gains!
Shoring up Weaknesses
Following your heavy lifting day, the trained muscles are incredibly responsive to less intense or traumatic training methods, i.e. light weights, high reps. This is great for bringing up lagging muscle groups that may be holding back your heavier compound movements.
For example, if you struggle with the lockout portion of a bench press or overhead press, performing lighter weight, higher rep tricep work the day after your heavy presses, using very strict form while focusing on the contraction, will bring strengthen your triceps and translate to better performance in your heavier compound lifts.
Feed to Grow!
Feeder workouts are rarely discussed when discussing muscle growth. However, they represent an incredibly effective way to increase training volume without overtaxing your central nervous system (CNS) or muscles the way that high volume, high frequency heavy lifting programs can. Remember to keep the feeder workouts light and high rep but limit each exercise to 3 sets and only ONE exercise per muscle group. Coupled with a proper muscle-building diet, you’ll be astounded at how quickly your weak points become your best assets, all thanks to feeder workouts!
The Pump is the stuff of legend. Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger first mentioned its existence, the pump has been the goal of any individual who embraces a life spent with the iron.
While there’s no denying the pleasure and appeal of the pump, a debate has erupted between bros and science buffs as to whether or not getting a pump rolling during your workout actually has any benefit aside from inflating your ego.
So, does a pump help build muscle, or is it all show, no go? Let’s discuss!
When pursuing the ever-elusive pump, lifters are ultimately concerned with enhancing vasodilation, the widening and relaxing of blood vessels. This widening or enlarging of blood vessels expands the diameter of the blood vessel and leads to some pretty incredible things. All of which are important for muscle building!
Increased Blood Flow
A wider, more dilated blood vessel allows for greater blood to flow through it, which means more nutrient rich blood is transported to your muscles, delivering the essentials it needs to repair and grow.
Improve Nutrient Delivery
Compounding off the previous point, blood carries with it essential nutrients used by your muscles to function, repair, and grow. With more blood reaching your muscle, more of these critical nutrients are supplied at a faster rate, leading to greater performance, endurance, and recovery.
Greater Oxygen Delivery
Oxygen is one of the critical nutrients carried in the blood and used by your muscles to break down glucose and create the energy source for your muscles to perform known as ATP. More blood flow, leads to more oxygen delivery, supporting increased energy production during training for superior performance.
Massive Muscle Pumps
The pump is a result of increased blood flow to muscle cells, which increases intracellular pressure. The result of this increased pressure is muscle cell enlargement manifested as sleeve-busting muscle pumps.
Improved Waste Clearance
In addition to delivering oxygen and nutrients to working muscles, blood is also tasked with the duty of removing metabolic waste products (carbon dioxide, urea, lactic acid) that accumulate as a result of physical exercise. Increased blood flow helps clear these byproducts more effectively, leading to better endurance and decreased recovery times while training.
Enhanced Hormone Transport
Blood also delivers important muscle-building hormones like IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), Growth Hormone, and testosterone to skeletal muscle cells during and after exercise. If you’re keen on making gains, you want more of these hormones delivered to your muscles!
Core Temperature Regulation
Last, but certainly not least, blood flow also improves core temperature regulation. This helps prevent you from becoming overheated or dehydrated while training, ultimately enabling you to perform better for longer periods of time and make more gains!
Pumps and Hypertrophy
Building muscle (i.e. hypertrophy) is extremely dependent upon the net protein balance in the body, meaning, protein gain must be greater than protein loss in order for muscle growth to take place.
Remember that getting a pump increases blood flow, oxygen transport, and nutrient delivery to working muscles, which supports and enhances the natural anabolic processes of the body. Therefore, it stands to reason that increasing blood flow (getting a pump) may enhance protein synthesis and combat muscle breakdown, resulting in superior muscle growth.
But there’s more.
The body sees muscle cell expansion (increase in size) as a threat to the cell’s survival. The body responds by reinforcing the structure of the cell, which leads to increased size and strength.
As you can see, getting a massive pump while lifting is far more than purely aesthetics…it’s helping to grow too! In fact, research confirms this: “In summary, the results of our study demonstrate that net protein synthesis during amino acid administration can be doubled by previous performance of heavy resistance exercise. Moreover, the data suggest a link between the stimulation of protein synthesis after exercise and an acceleration in amino acid transport. The greater rate of transport after exercise may be due to the increase in blood flow.” 
What the researchers concluded is that physical activity (such as weight lifting) improves delivery of amino acids to your muscles, enhancing repair and growth. It stands to reason that further increasing blood flow, as a result of getting a pump, you can increase that amino acid delivery even more, leading to bigger and better gains that you would had you not gotten a pump.
Last but not least, getting a pump increases your mood, self-confidence, and motivation. There’s no denying the pleasure you feel from getting a pump rolling during your workout, don’t kid yourself. In your effort to maintain and increase your pump even more, you may find yourself grinding extra hard during your workout, which could lead to moving more weight or doing more reps, which leads to muscle growth!
Ways to Achieve a Pump
Yes, the pump is truly awesome, and for a number of reasons. There’s a number of things you can do heading into the gym to ensure that you’re guaranteed one monster pump while training.
Heading into your workout, you need to be focused on making every rep count, squeezing the muscle as hard as you gain to drive as much blood as possible into the muscle and creating a powerful muscle pump. It’s not always easy to train this hard and with this much intensity day after day. That’s where pre-workouts come in. They provide everything you need to get focused and have a terrific workout. There’s no better option than SteelFit® Steel Pump™.
Steel Pump™ includes a potent trifecta of ingredients to help you achieve and sustain a raging muscle pump all workout long. Utilizing proven pump-powering compounds including citrulline malate, glutathione, and grape seed extract, Steel Pump™ turbocharges nitric oxide production, blows open blood vessels, and gorges your muscles with blood making for some of the largest pumps you’ve ever experienced!
Carbs are you friend
Carbs are often demonized in today’s nutrition landscape, but for hard-training athletes, they’re absolutely essential. Your body uses carbs to generate glycogen, which is the stored form of energy your muscles use during high intensity activities, such as weight lifting or running. When your body stores glycogen, it also stores some water along with it, which enhances muscle fullness and gives you more shapely and rounded muscles.
Don’t skimp on the salt
Much like carbs, salt (sodium) is heavily criticized these days for all sorts of reasons. But, it’s one of the most critical minerals in the body. Sodium affects everything from nerve function to hydration and even muscle contractions. As such, it plays a vital role in getting a sleeve-busting pump.
Having a salty snack pre-workout helps your body hold onto more water, which drives more fluid into your blood system, yielding bigger, better, and badder pumps!
High Rep Training
Low rep training is great for increasing pure strength, and can even benefit hypertrophy, but when it comes to getting your pump on, high rep training is what your focus should be. Training in the higher rep ranges (8-20 reps) keeps the muscle under tension for longer periods of time, driving more and more blood into the muscle (along with extra nutrients), creating a towering pump.
Get you Pump on with Steel Pump!
The Pump isn’t just for looks, it’s a valuable weapon in the quest for gains! The only way to ensure you get a pump each and every time you step foot under the bar is with Steel Pump™.
It’s an essential pre-training fuel the provides everything the mind and body needs to perform at its best no matter what the circumstances may be. One scoop of Steel Pump and your muscles will have everything they need to blow up and create a massive pump that will have you looking swole and making those epic gains you’ve always wanted!
- Biolo G, Tipton KD, Klein S, Wolfe RR. An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein. Am J Physiol. 1997;273(1 Pt 1):E122-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9252488
Every lifter has heard of, chased after, and, at one time or another, attained a raging muscle pump. First popularized by the great Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Pumping Iron”, the pump is a phenomenon sought by many and achieved by only the most deserving.
One of the foundational components to achieving a massive muscle pump during training is ample amounts of nitric oxide (N.O.). This molecule is much more than a pump enhancer though, it carries with it a number of benefits that enhance training, overall function, and even health!
Read on to see what this all-important molecule is and how it can benefit all aspects of your life.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Not to be confused with nitrous oxide (“laughing” gas), nitric oxide is an essential signaling molecule composed of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) present in numerous tissues throughout your body. It’s plays a role in all facets of life, including:
- Regulating cell life & death
- Nutrient transport
- Immune system response
Benefits of Nitric Oxide
As a key regulator of blood flow (via vasodilation), nitric oxide plays a critical role in nutrient and oxygen delivery, glucose uptake, power output and velocity. Due to the range of actions N.O. performs, it’s no surprise that it offers a slew of benefits:
Nitric oxide’s most well-known benefit is in its role as a powerful vasodilator, which causes blood vessels to dilate (“relax”), promoting greater blood flow throughout the body, especially working muscles.  Greater blood flow to your muscles increases vascularity, fullness, and some monster-sized pumps.
Enhanced Oxygen and Nutrient Transport:
Compounding on the increased blood flow comes increased delivery of oxygen and other essential nutrients (such as amino acids) which enhances performance, recovery, and muscle growth.
Nitric oxide also helps avoid premature fatigue, enabling you to train for longer, and reap more gains from your workout. During high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting, oxygen is depleted, leading to an accumulation of lactic acid, often felt as a “burning” sensation in your muscles, forcing to end your set.
Nitric oxide boosting supplements, such as citrulline malate, can offset this fatigue and improve “athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to relieve post exercise muscle soreness.”[3,4]
One of the most crucial factors in accelerating recovery is flooding your muscles with the essential nutrients it needs to repair the damage done by your intense workout. How freely and easily blood flows throughout your body is the determining factor in how quickly those nutrients get to where they need to be.
Nitric oxide increases blood flow to the muscles and their surrounding tissues, which means more blood gets to your muscles quicker, supplying your muscles with the valuable muscle-building nutrients they need to GROW!
Faster recovery also comes with the added benefit of allowing you to train more frequently, leading to bigger and better gains in strength and size.
Enhanced Glucose Utilization:
Arginine is the amino acid that fuels nitric oxide production in the body. Research has shown that L-Arginine supplementation significantly improved the rate of glucose appearance, disappearance, and Researchers conducting the experiment attributed this improved glucose utilization to increased nitric oxide production.
As you’re probably aware, L-Arginine isn’t the most beneficial nitric oxide elevating compound in supplements; it offers terrible bioavailability. That’s why SteelFit includes Citrulline Malate along with Grape Seed Extract and Glutathione, three incredibly bioavailable compounds that support and enhance nitric oxide production.
Improved Cognitive Functioning:
Over the past few years, nitric oxide has received greater attention for its role in enhancing cognitive function. More specifically, scientists are investigating N.O’s impact on neurotransmitter production. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay signals between nerve cells in the brain to the muscles in our body.
Research published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research concluded that nitric oxide has a direct impact on the brain’s computational abilities of the brain. And, it also had an effect on memory formation and learning.  Basically, greater levels of nitric oxide resulted in heightened cognitive function and faster reaction times when performing mental tasks.
It’s also been suggested that increased nitric oxide production could play a contributing role in the prevention of cognitive decline, as well as Type II Diabetes. More research is needed to confirm these suspicions though.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest, and most concerning, health problems facing adults, both young and old, today. In addition to nitric oxide relaxing blood vessels, it also relaxes the smooth muscles of the heart, which causes a reduction in blood pressure, thereby supporting cardiovascular health and function. 
Having a healthy heart is also vital to exercise, as the healthier your heart is, the harder you can push yourself while training, leading to better performance and results in the gym.
Maximize Your Nitric Oxide Output
It’s clear that nitric oxide is a powerful ally for all aspects of your life — health, performance, recovery, and cognitive function. To make the most of your workouts, you must maximize your body’s natural nitric oxide production, and the best way to do that is with Steel Pump™.
Each serving of Steel Pump™ delivers proven nitric oxide boosting compounds, including Citrulline Malate, Grape Seed extract, and L-Glutathione, to improve blood flow, enhance performance, and generate some massive pumps. Don’t fall for another gimmicky NO-booster that’s laden with ineffective arginine. Invest in Steep Pump™ for the most epic pumps and performance you’ve ever witnessed!
- Harris MB, Mitchell BM, Sood SG, Webb RC, Venema RC. Increased nitric oxide synthase activity and Hsp90 association in skeletal muscle following chronic exercise. European journal of applied physiology. 2008;104(5):10.1007/s00421-008-0833-4. doi:10.1007/s00421-008-0833-4.
- Bailey SJ, Winyard PG, Vanhatalo A, et al. Acute L-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance. J Appl Physiol. 2010;109(5):1394-1403. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00503.2010.
- Perez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J strength Cond Res. 2010;24(5):1215-1222. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0.
- Alvares TS, Conte CA, Paschoalin VMF, et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab = Physiol Appl Nutr Metab. 2012;37(1):115-126. doi:10.1139/h11-144.
- McConell GK, Huynh NN, Lee-Young RS, Canny BJ, Wadley GD. l-Arginine infusion increases glucose clearance during prolonged exercise in humans. Am J Physiol Metab. 2006;290(1):E60-E66. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00263.2005.
- Paul V, Ekambaram P. Involvement of nitric oxide in learning & memory processes. The Indian Journal of Medical Research. 2011;133(5):471-478.
- Lewis SJ, Bhopatkar MY, Walton TM, Bates JN. Role of voltage-sensitive calcium-channels in nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 2005;528(1-3):144-149. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2005.10.056.
Spend any time talking to trainers at the gym or browsing the aisles of your local supplement shop, and you’ll hear recommendations from numerous people stating how vital BCAAs are to your training. The problem is, you have no clue what a BCAA is, or what it really does.
Sit back and take a deep breath, you haven’t missed out on any gains or gained any fat by not using them during your workout, but you could be missing out on some key muscle-building and recovery benefits by not using them while training. That’s where this no-nonsense guide to BCAAs comes in handy.
After reading this, you’ll know all the ins and outs of BCAAs and what they can do for you!
What are BCAA’s?
In the body, there are 20 amino acids used to synthesize proteins. String enough of these proteins together and you build muscle. The 20 amino acids can be grouped into two categories: essential or non-essential. Essential amino acids (EAAs) are the nine amino acids must be consumed through the diet, since the body cannot produce them. Non-essential amino acids are ones which the body can synthesize.
BCAAs, short for branched-chain amino acids, are a special subgroup of essential amino acid comprised of leucine, isoleucine and valine. The BCAAs get their name from the unique “branch”-like structure they possess. Together, the three BCAAs account for roughly 35% of your muscle mass, which is part of the reason why they’re so important!
BCAAs can be found in whole foods, particularly animal protein, of which dairy and meat are the most plentiful.
What do BCAAs do?
Due to their unique structure, the BCAAs can perform a rather neat “trick” in the body. Basically, rather than get sent to the liver for processing, the BCAAs are sent directly to your muscles where they are oxidized (“broken down”) for use as energy during ATP production. The BCAAs are converted into glucose, pyruvate, and various other intermediates required by the body, where they increase the availability of carbohydrates and protect muscles against exercise-induced catabolism (muscle breakdown).
Perhaps even more important than providing energy to your muscles, is the fact that BCAAs stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth). So, not only are these three mighty amino acids great for preserving your muscles while dieting and training, they also help your muscles to grow bigger and stronger!
You’re probably thinking that you should be consuming BCAAs all the time, well, that’s not ideal either, as your body needs all 9 essential amino acids in order to build proteins, and consuming only the three BCAAs would mean you’re lacking in 6 other important amino acids. Plus, the other EAAs compete for the same receptors in your body as the BCAAs, so if you’re overloading on the BCAAs, you’re essentially bottlenecking your muscle building abilities.
It is important to maintain a steady stream of amino acids before, during, and after training though, as this provides the energy your muscles need to perform as well as prevent muscle loss and enhance muscle repair and growth.
When to use BCAAs?
BCAAs are most important to use for hard-training athletes who may be at risk for catabolism due to the intense nature of their workouts or those following a very low calorie diet. This essentially breaks down to three classes:
- Resistance-Training (Weightlifters): Resistance training is the key to getting bigger and stronger, but to do so requires you to breakdown your muscles so that they repair and grow. Using BCAAs before, during, and after your training provides the energy your muscles need to perform as well as stave off excessive catabolism, which could lead to significant muscle breakdown, i.e. lost gains.
- Endurance Athletes: Endurance athletes train for hours on end without getting in any form of nutrition, setting them up massive muscle loss. But, consuming some form of BCAA supplement while training prevents this breakdown and helps preserve lean muscle mass.
- Dieters: During periods of reduced calorie intake, your body is at an increased risk for muscle loss. In an effort to make up for the lack of calories you’re consuming, the body will cannibalize itself to get the required energy it needs to keep functioning. Consuming BCAAs (and ample protein) while dieting staves off catabolism, and ensures that you’re only losing fat and not muscle.
- Stimulates muscle protein synthesis
- Increases lean mass
- Prevents catabolism
- Improves endurance
- Enhances mental performance
- Accelerates recovery
- Reduces soreness
BCAAs are absolutely essential for optimal performance and muscle growth. Without these three amino acids, your ability to build muscle will be severely limited. But, with BCAAs by your side, your performance, growth, and recovery will be better than ever before.
- Md. Monirujjaman and Afroza Ferdouse, “Metabolic and Physiological Roles of Branched-Chain Amino Acids,” Advances in Molecular Biology, vol. 2014, Article ID 364976, 6 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/364976
- Blomstrand E, Ek S, Newsholme EA. Influence of ingesting a solution of branched-chain amino acids on plasma and muscle concentrations of amino acids during prolonged submaximal exercise. Nutrition. 1996;12(7-8):485-490.
- Howatson G, Hoad M, Goodall S, Tallent J, Bell PG, French DN. Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012;9:20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-20.
- Blomstrand, P. et.al. “Administration of Branched-Chain Amino Acids During Sustained Exercise – Effects on Performance and On Plasma Concentration of Some Amino Acids.” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology (1991), 83-88, Accessed November 20, 2014, doi: 10.1007/BF00235174
The field of sports science is a constantly evolving one, with new discoveries made everyday in our quest to understand the inner workings of the ultimate machine — the human body. For the longest time, it was thought that the only way to get bigger and stronger was by lifting heavier and heavier weights.
While it is true that you can get incredibly big and strong lifting progressively heavier weights, every natural athlete has a ceiling they hit. At some point, you’ll simply reach a plateau and any further gains will be minimal at best.
Does this mean that you’re forever stuck at a certain size and strength level?
Not even close, as modern research has unveiled a new method of weight training that allows you to get bigger and stronger using lighter weights than you’re used to.
It’s called BFR training, and if you’re not familiar with it, stick around to learn a thing or two!
What is BFR / Occlusion Training?
Blood flow restriction (BFR) training, also known as occlusion training, is a newer training methodology using cuffs or wraps placed around a limb during weight training. These wraps allow for arterial inflow of blood into the working muscle with inhibiting venous return. BFR training forces blood to stay inside your muscles longer than normal, which influences muscle physiology in several ways.
During weight training, metabolic waste products accumulate in your working muscles. Blood is responsible for clearing these metabolic byproducts from your working muscles and supplying them with oxygen and nutrients to allow them to continue functioning at a high level. BFR training slows the rate at which these waste products are cleared from your muscles, allowing them to stay around longer, thereby eliciting a more greater anabolic effect in your body. In other words, by restricting blood flow, you’re amplifying the effects of metabolic stress in your muscle cells, which results in better growth after training.
Research has shown that BFR training increases mTOR and lowers myostatin levels in the body which creates an environment that is ideal for muscle growth.[2,3] In case you weren’t aware, myostatin is a protein that inhibits muscle cell growth and differentiation. By rendering myostatin inert, you’re removing another impediment on the pathway for making gains in size and strength.
Resistance training also forces cells to swell and expand with nutrients and fluid, which also happens to be another signal for muscle growth in your body. Occlusion training increases this “cellular swelling” and lengthens the amount of time your cells stay swollen, which tells the body the muscles need to grow bigger to adapt to the increased metabolic stress.
BFR Training How-To
BFR training can be done with weight lifting, walking, jogging, or really any other training modality. Simply take a some form of pressure cuff, wrap or ace bandage that can be used to wrapped around your limbs. SteelFit® offers our own Blood Flow Restriction Training Sleeves that also retain heat while stimulating growth and aiding in recovery. Tighten the bandage (or SteelFit® BFR Training Sleeves) so that it’s at a 7 out of 10 tightness (10 being as tight as possible). Make sure to wrap the bandage/cuff/ BFR Training Sleeves around the top of the muscle. If the wraps are placed too low, venous occlusion isn’t optimal and you won’t get the full intended training effect from blood flow restriction.
Don’t wrap the bandage so tight as to induce tingling or numbness — the bandage is too tight then. Wrapping the bandage too tight cuts off blood flow to the muscles, which defeats the purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish with BFR training. When starting out, it’s better to err on the side of a bit too loose than too tight until you get the hang of things.
BFR Training Benefits
- Train with Lighter Loads (20-30% of 1RM)
- Increased Muscle Size and Strength
- Good for Rehabbing Athletes
- MASSIVE Pumps
- Great for Muscle Gain
- Gentil P, Oliveira E, Bottaro M. Time under tension and blood lactate response during four different resistance training methods. J Physiol Anthropol. 2006;25(5):339-344.
- Fry CS, Glynn EL, Drummond MJ, et al. Blood flow restriction exercise stimulates mTORC1 signaling and muscle protein synthesis in older men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2010;108(5):1199-1209. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01266.2009.
- Laurentino GC, Ugrinowitsch C, Roschel H, et al. Strength training with blood flow restriction diminishes myostatin gene expression. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(3):406-412. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e318233b4bc.
Testosterone is the ultimate anabolic hormone. It’s what helps you build muscle, lose fat, and feel vibrant each and every day. Essentially, testosterone is what makes a man, a MAN!
Sadly, while your T-levels might be raging through teenage and young adult life as you cross the 30 year old threshold, you testosterone levels begin a slow and steady decline that continues until you take your final rest.
Does this mean you’re doomed to a dull life, one lacking in muscle and sex drive?
It very well could if you’re not eating the right foods! That’s where we come in with this list of the top 10 foods that work to enhance testosterone production and inhibit excess estrogen production.
Grab your knife and fork and let’s dive into this man-making meal plan!
Top 10 Test-Boosting Foods
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
You should have listened to your mom when she told you to eat your veggies, they’re vital to limiting estrogen proliferation and supporting testosterone productions. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are packed with indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a phytochemical that prevents “bad” estrogens from building up in the body.
Next time you’re at dinner, grab an extra serving of one of these tasty greens!
Oysters are slippery, slimy, and utterly delicious little bivalves. They’re packed with protein and tons of micronutrients, including zinc, an essential mineral. Zinc plays a critical role in testosterone production and also functions as a natural aromatase inhibitor (AI), which blocks the estrogen receptor site.
Zinc optimizes the crucial testosterone:estrogen and helps ensure your precious T isn’t converted to unwanted E.
3. Brazil Nuts
Selenium is another essential mineral required by the body for all sorts of processes, none the least of which is testosterone production. It’s vital to male fertility and plays a key role in the production of testosterone. Unfortunately, most men don’t get enough selenium through their diets.
Including a serving of Brazil Nuts each day provides you with ample selenium to make certain your testosterone production is never hindered.
Cortisol is a hormone that the body produces in response to stress. It activates your “fight or flight” response, and at certain times, can be incredibly useful. However, when it’s chronically elevated, your body will sacrifice other hormones (i.e. testosterone) to support your stress response, and continue producing cortisol.
Salmon, and other fatty fish, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which help combat inflammation and stress. Just make sure to get the wild species of salmon found in the Pacific Ocean, and not the omega-6 laden farm-raised type of the Atlantic.
More veggies? You better believe it!
Spinach is rich in magnesium, which has been shown to improve testosterone levels when supplemented. It’s also rich in nitrates which improve blood flow to ALL areas of the body, including the ones you’ll be using during your late night romps in the bed!
6. Vitamin D3
One of the biggest deficiecies among adults these days is Vitamin D. This is mostly attributed to adults spending more and more time commuting, working indoors, or watching tv and less time outdoors (the body produces Vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight).
The biggest concern to men deficient in Vitamin D3 Decreased T levels.
Fortunately, supplementing Vitamin D3 can correct this deficiency, increase testosterone levels, and regulate aromatase activity in the body.
A staple of any gym-goers meal plan, oats not only help power your performance in the gym, they also power your testosterone production too! Oats contain steroidal saponins, which stimulate the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), directly influencing the production of testosterone. They also reduce sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which increases free testosterone levels in the blood.
Oats are also high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, which is why they’re always on our menu!
Ready for a tropical treat? In addition to being a tasty dessert or side dish at any meal, pineapples also can enhance your testosterone levels. The tropical fruit is loaded with an enzyme called bromelain. Research has shown that bromelain maintains testosterone levels after intense training.
So, if you’re training especially hard lately, and feeling more rundown than ever. Start adding more pineapple to your diet. Your recovery will substantially improve and you’ll prevent your T levels from falling off a cliff due to the constant hard training.
Another staple of a proper muscle-building diet. Eggs aren’t only rich in protein and brain-boosting choline, they’re also packed with cholesterol. Unfairly demonized for decades, dietary cholesterol is the cardiac killer you might believe it to be. In fact, it’s absolutely crucial to testosterone production, as cholesterol is the precursor for testosterone.
You can have your three eggs per day, and rest at ease, as research shows that subjects consuming three whole eggs per day did so without adversely affecting serum cholesterol levels.
10. Red Meat
Much like eggs, red meat has been put through the wringer for years and years for fear that the saturated fats contained in it would clog your arteries and send you to an early grave. Well, not only are saturated fats good for you, they’re essential to the synthesis of testosterone.
Men following low-fat diets have been shown to have significantly lower testosterone levels than men eating higher fat diets. In particular, saturated fats are documented to have a strong correlation to higher resting levels of testosterone.
So, feel free to order the filet mignon next time you’re out at the restaurant and save the chicken for another meal.