Whey contains a unique collection of bioactive components ideal for elite and recreational athletes. Literally hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted on this perfect protein for active people. One of the positive outcomes of ingesting whey protein is improved body composition. Training-induced improvements in body composition are coordinated by a complex network of metabolic pathways, many of which are favorably influenced by the unique nutrient matrix in whey protein. Whey is naturally high in essential amino acids (EAA) for stimulating the protein synthetic machinery. Beyond the high EEA content, whey is also packaged with an assortment of distinctive nutrients to support recovery from exercise and adaptations to training. These benefits and the many health promoting attributes of whey are reviewed here.
Whey and casein are the two primary proteins in milk. Casein is the major milk protein representing about 80% and whey the remaining 20%. Both milk proteins have all the essential amino acids, which makes it score well on all methods of protein quality. Whey protein however is more soluble in an acid environment, whereas casein molecules are relatively insoluble in the aqueous environment of milk. Casein forms a curd during the cheese making process. The liquid remaining is separated and represents whey. The liquid whey actually contains additional nutrients besides protein such as lactose, vitamins, minerals, and small amounts of fat. There are several other types of protein contined within whey. The major one is beta-lactoglobulin comprising about one-third of the total protein. Protiens of smaller abundance in whey include alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide, proteose peptone, immunoglobulins, serum albumin, lactoferrin, and lactoperoxidase. These whey proteins have each been investigated separately and shown to have a variety of health promoting actions. On whole it can be said that whey is a complex protein protein source. A distinguishing feature of whey protein is the complex protein source with a high prevalence of EAA, indispensable for stimulating skeletal muscle protein synthesis(1-4) and physiologic responses to resistance training. Compared to soy protein, whey contains a higher proportion of EAA, especially branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), potent nutrient modulators of protein synthesis(5).
A Unique Aspect of Protein Quality: Digestion Rate
Proteins are unique for many reasons – they contain nitrogen, and they provide amino acids that serve as building blocks for the formation of new proteins. But not all dietary proteins are equal in their biological effects. An emerging concept in protein quality is that digestion rate has a major impact on protein effects in the body. This has led to the classification of proteins as either slow or fast. Some proteins are digested slowly, whereas others are digested quickly and results in quite different effects. Whey protein is digested and absorbed quickly resulting in a more rapid increase in plasma amino acids compared to casein, which significantly alters muscle protein kinetics(6) and probably other physiologic aspect attributed to whey such as satiety.
Whey Acutely Stimulates Protein Synthesis
Ingestion of whey protein alone stimulates muscle protein synthesis(6,7), and when provided before or after exercise augments the anabolic response to resistance training(8,9). The high degree of branched-chain amino acids in whey (~10g per 100 g of protein) is especially critical for stimulating protein anabolism, particularly leucine(10,11). The important role of leucine has been laid out in a series of elegant experiments. Researchers directly examined muscle protein synthesis after feeding animals various formulations of amino acids and compared them to glucose ingestion. When a complete protein was consumed (one that contains all the amino acids), protein synthesis was increased. When just essential amino acids were provided and the nonessential ones left out, the same increase was noted indicating nonessential amino acids are not required to stimulate protein synthesis. When just the BCAA were given, again there was the same increase in protein synthesis. Finally when just leucine was consumed, yet again protein synthesis increased to the same magnitude. These findings provided strong evidence that leucine was the driving force behind the ability of dietary protein to stimulate protein synthesis. Cutting edge work in the last few years has revealed how leucine directly activates a critical compound in muscle cells called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). It turns out mTOR is like a molecular switch that turns on the protein synthetic machinery in muscle and leucine is one of the major activators of mTOR. Thus, leucine not only provides the building blocks for protein synthesis, it also has a critical role in up-regulating the process. The application of all this work is that adding additional leucine to typical protein beverages is an effective strategy to maximize muscle anabolism after resistance exercise. Stimulation of protein synthesis with intake of EEA post-exercise translates into improved protein balance when measured over an entire day(12). Thus whey protein, which has a higher proportion of EEA and leucine than other protein sources, consumed after resistance exercise provides a greater overall anabolic effect on skeletal muscle.
Timing of Whey Protein Around Exercise
Timing of protein intake has been shown to be an important variable for maximizing its effects. Prior work had indicated that when free amino acids plus carbohydrate were taken before resistance exercise, it resulted in a more anabolic response compared to consumption after resistance exercise. This was an exciting finding because it showed the value of ingesting amino acids before a workout for maximizing protein synthesis. However no work had validated these findings using an intact whey protein. A recently study examined whether the timing of whey protein was important in terms of promoting anabolism(8). Healthy subjects were placed into a group that received 20 g of whey protein immediately before, or a group that received the same whey protein immediately after a bout of resistance exercise. The anabolic response (muscle protein balance) was increased in both groups whether taken before or after exercise. Some subjects had a significantly greater anabolic response when whey protein was consumed before exercise, but the average responses were similar. The researchers suggested a better time to ingest whey protein before exercise might be 30 to 45 min before exercise in order to allow for digestion and absorption of the amino acids into the circulation. The logical conclusion from this research is to consume whey protein at both time points (both pre and post-exercise) for maximizing protein synthesis and protein balance.
Whey Protein is Preferentially Diverted to Skeletal Muscle
Enahcincing protein synthesis is critically important important for athletes, but the key is to specifically target skeletal muscle to enhance muscle growth rather than other tissues. There are differences between protein sources in regards to the tissue-responsiveness to protein. In particular, there are considerable differences in the fate of soy and intact milk proteins (ie, combination of both whey and casein)(13-15). In comparison to milk, when soy protein is digested the amino acids are directed toward deamination pathways rather than protein synthesis and splanchnic regions (internal organs) rather than skeletal muscle. Milk protein on the other hand appears to be preferentially directed toward peripheral tissues thereby having greater potential to augment skeletal muscle protein synthesis. For example, healthy men who consumed milk protein immediately after resistance exercise had a markedly greater uptake of amino acid nitrogen compared to subjects who consumed an isocaloric and isonitrogenous soy protein beverage(16). Another recent study examined skeletal muscle protein synthesis and translation initiation following consumption of soy and whey protein after exercise in rats(17). Whey and soy protein both increased skeletal muscle protein synthesis and translation initiation following exercise, but whey protein resulted in significantly greater circulating levels of leucine and specific phosphorylation of mTOR and S6K1 demonstrating greater molecular signaling for protein synthesis.
Chronic Effects of Whey and Lean Body Mass
There is evidence that supplementation with whey protein alone(18) or a combination of whey and casein(19,20) are more effective than a carbohydrate supplement at augmenting lean body mass responses to resistance training. In comparison to casein, ingestion of whey protein during resistance training has been shown to promote greater increases in lean body mass and reductions in body fat(21). In that study Australian researchers compared whey isolate to casein protein in bodybuilders. Both groups supplemented their diets with 1.5 g per kilogram body weight per day of the whey or casein supplement while performing their normal resistance training for 10 weeks. The whey group had a greater increase in lean body mass (5.0 kg) compared to the casein group (0.8 kg). In addition, the whey group lost more fat (-1.5 kg) compared to the casein group (0.2 kg). The greater increases in lean body mass translated into greater strength gains over the 10 weeks in the whey group. Another recent study showed no difference between whey and soy protein on lean body mass responses to resistance, but the very short intervention (6 wk) was likely not long enough to observe subtle differences in the anabolic potential of these two protein sources(18).
Whey Protein Promotes Weight Loss and Fat Loss
In addition to promoting muscle anabolism and strength, there is evidence that whey protein may also promote body weight and fat loss. In a preliminary study(22), ninety overweight men and women were assigned to one of three supplement groups: 1) 60 g per day of whey protein, 2) 60 g per day of soy protein, or 3) 60 g per day of carbohydrate. After 6 mo, the whey protein group lost significantly more weight and body fat than the carbohydrate supplement group with no other changes in habitual diet and exercise habits. Whey consumption in conjunction with training has been shown to improve the efficiency of exercise to decrease adiposity(23). Greater weight and fat loss could be attributed to an increased thermogenesis. Higher quality animal proteins induce greater 24 hr thermic effects compared to soy and isocaloric amounts of carbohydrate(24). Since whey is nutrient dense but relatively low in energy (~4 kcal/g), supplementation is an efficient method to promote skeletal muscle anabolism while promoting catabolism in adipocytes and therefore is hypothesized to improve both muscle growth and fat loss. The high leucine content of whey is important in regards to promoting weight loss. Researchers at the University of Illinois have conducted studies that examined weight loss diets that contained 10 g/day of leucine and 125 g total protein per day with a minimum of 2.5 g leucine at each meal. In two separate studies, this group demonstrated that the high leucine diets resulted in greater weight loss, greater fat loss, and better preservation of lean body mass. In these studies, the high leucine diets also resulted in better glucose control. A recent animal study provided some important details on the cellular mechanisms by which leucine regulated body fat. In this study animals that doubled their leucine intake were resistant to diet-induced obesity and improved a host of metabolic disturbances. The higher leucine intake caused an increase in energy expenditure and an increased expression of uncoupling protein 3, which causes energy to be given off as heat rather than stored as fat. These studies all support the use of whey protein to maximize fat loss and spare muscle loss during weight loss. Another mechanism to explain greater weight and fat loss is decreased food intake. Several studies have shown peptides and other components of whey are involved in the regulation of food intake and satiety(25).
Whey Protein Supplements Improve Blood Glucose Control
Eating meals high in simple carbohydrates causes large changes in blood sugar and insulin. Meals with a high glycemic index (high in simple sugars) increase blood sugar rapidly, which triggers the release of insulin. Insulin binds with cell receptors that work like locks and keys to allow sugar into the cell. The blood sugar control system doesnâ€™t work very well in people with type 2 diabetes, which triggers a host of health problems called the Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome includes high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, blood clotting abnormalities and abdominal fat deposition. Swedish researchers found that supplementing with whey protein during breakfast or lunch caused less fluctuation in blood sugar during the day(26). In this study, subjects were provided a breakfast (bread, ham, and lactose) and lunch (mashed potatoes, meatballs, ham, and lactose) with fast-absorbing high-glycemic index carbohydrates and the glucose and insulin responses to the meals were measured. On another occasion, the same test meals were consumed, but whey protein (18.2 g protein and 5.3 g lactose) was exchanged for the lactose and ham so that energy, protein, carbohydrate, and fat were identical. Compared to the normal meals, the whey containing meals resulted in a significantly higher insulin response at breakfast (31%) and lunch (57%), which led to a significantly lower glucose response at lunch (-21%). Thus, whey protein augments insulin secretion, which led to improved disposal of glucose. Insulin also promotes disposal of amino acids, although this was not measured in this study. The implications of this research are that whey protein is an ideal supplement to include with meals and as a post-exercise drink because it augments insulin-mediated disposal of glucose and amino acids. In addition to better glucose control, whey may also positively effect glycogen levels. A recent report found that whey protein increased glycogen levels in both the liver and skeletal muscle of exercise-trained rats more so than other types of protein. Glycogen is a crucial energy source to perform high intensity exercise(26).
Antioxidant and Immunotropic Functions of Whey
Exercise causes an increase in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that if not balanced appropriately by antioxidant defense systems contributes to fatigue, suboptimal recovery, and impaired muscle growth responses to training. Whey is a unique rich source of cysteine and thiol groups (3-4 times higher than soy) that are rate-limiting for synthesis of glutathione (GSH), one of the most important nonenzymatic antioxidant defense systems. The GSH-dependent detoxification of reactive oxygen species is integrated with other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. Suboptimal cellular levels of GSH contribute to excessive oxidative stress that can amplify the biochemical stress response to exercise and impair recovery. Supplementation with whey protein is an effective cysteine delivery vehicle as shown by increased GSH in immune deficiency states such as cancer(27), HIV(28,29) and chronic intense exercise training(30). Increased GSH translates into better anti-oxidant capacity, reduced oxidative stress and increased exercise performance(31,32). Adequate cysteine and GSH are also linked with protein metabolism either through better maintenance of protein synthesis or reduced protein catabolism(33-36).
Whey also has positive effects on immune function. The GSH antioxidant system is the principal protective mechanism of the cell and is a crucial factor in regulating the exercise-induced immune response(37). Reviews addressing the immunoregulatory activities of whey in animals and humans have revealed widespread immunotropic functions that could be attributed to a variety of whey fractions such as lactoferrin, glutamine, immunoglobulins, and other peptides (eg, lysozome, beta-lactoglobulin, and alpha-lactalbumin)(38-42). Lactoferrin is an iron-binding glycoprotein with known immunological functions (41) that has been shown to be absorbed intact in adult humans(43). Its anti-microbial activity is due to its ability to chelate iron, an essential element for many microorganisms. This same property may contribute to its ability to reduce oxidative stress. In addition, lactoferrin is known to activate NK cells and neutrophils (40). Whey also contains immunoglobulins and is rich in the amino acid glutamine; both can decrease with intense exercise and therefore are important for a healthy immune system which is vital not only for optimal health but important to muscle tissue remodeling after exercise.
Hypotensive Effects of Whey
Several peptides from whey protein have been shown to possess hypotensive properties (reviewed in(44)). The most likely mechanism for this blood pressure-lowering effect is inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity because milk has been shown to be a rich source of ACE inhibitory peptides(44). Inhibition of ACE prevents the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, a potent vasoconstrictor. Whey derived peptides showing ACE inhibitory effects are released during normal digestion in the gastrointestinal tract by proteases. Peptides can be absorbed intact through the intestine by paracellular and transcellular routes, and there is evidence that a heptapeptide from whey with ACE inhibitory activity is transported through the intestines and detectable in blood(45). A recent paper in the Journal of Hypertension evaluated the effects of a whey hydrolysate in 30 subjects with mild hypertension(46). Subjects were randomly assigned to a whey hydrolysate group (20 g/day) or a control group who ingested the same amount of an unmodified whey protein. After 6 weeks of treatment the whey hydrolysate group significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 8 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 6 mm Hg compared to control. An additional benefit of lower LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) was also noted in the whey hydrolysate group. The magnitude of reduction in blood pressure in just 6 weeks would be considered very clinically relevant and on par with some drugs used to treat blood pressure.
Whey protein is an excellent, high-quality protein source with advantages over other proteins. Research supports whey may support greater increases in lean body mass and decreases fat as part of a resistance training program. Certain constituents of whey may also promote antioxidant status and a healthy immune system. Since exercise, in particular excessive exercise, can result in compromised antioxidant and immune status, whey might be particularly effective in individuals who exercise intensely on a regular basis. In addition, whey offers benefits for individuals just wanting to maintain or enhance health.
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The 2007 Arnold Classic champ Victor Martinez credits his extreme training and powerful MHP supplements for his success.
With a physique that seamlessly merges elements of both the classic aesthetic look of bodybuilding yore and todayâ€™s prodigious mass monsters, Victor Martinez ruled the day to win the coveted 2007 Arnold Classic. And now his sights are firmly set on the holy grail of bodybuilding, the 2008 Mr. Olympia.
Ever since Martinez won the 2000 NPC National Championships heavyweight and overall crowns, lofty expectations have followed him. But until 2005, it seemed the biggest knock against the 34-year-oldâ€”the fact that he often couldnâ€™t time his peak quite right to the day of a contestâ€”was threatening to be his ultimate undoing. Even after two pro victories, one at the 2003 Night of Champions and one at the 2004 Show of Strength, his opportunities for greatness were slipping away. A 13th at the 2002 Arnold Classic, ninth at the 2004 Olympia, seventh at the 2005 Arnold Classic … just when it seemed that his potential would never cross paths with his placingsâ€“lightning struck!
At the October 2005 Olympia came the first hint that a new Victor was emerging as the force everyone expected him to be, as he finished fifth and generated plenty of post-show buzz in the process. In 2006, he earned second at the Arnold Classic and third at the Olympia, leading in to his ultimate conquest to date, his win at the 2007 Arnold. That success thrust him into the spotlight for the Olympia six months later, where Martinez would be pitted against the legendary Coleman and the man who had wrested the title from the eight-time champ the year before, Jay Cutler.
While all the pre-battle hype focused on Cutler vs. Coleman, the reigning Arnold Classic champion stepped confidently onto the Orleans Arena stage in Las Vegas. There, he sent a shudder of excitement through the bodybuilding world as he nearly pulled off an incredible triumph, coming up just shy of winning the Olympia in what will go down as one of the most debated Olympia results of all time.
As tough as the loss may have been, the Dominican Dominator isnâ€™t letting the disappointment derail him. In fact, having come oh-so-close to the pinnacle of the sport is propelling his efforts anew, as he relentlessly focuses on the goal before him: Win the 2008 Mr. Olympia, whatever it takes.
Helping to fuel his quest is the top-rated MHP brand of supplements, including the high-octane triad of new Dark Matter, a supercharged and extremely potent post-workout creatine-based anabolic formula (ranked as the No. 1 creatine supplement on the market today by ProSource); Probolic-SR, a superior time-released protein blend that continually feeds his muscles and keeps him anabolic and TRAC Extreme NO, a scientifically-advanced time-released nitric oxide formula that drives his intense training sessions.
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With an unwavering desire, a strategic lifting plan to obliterate any remaining flaws, a dialed in diet and a specially crafted supplement regimen that includes his favorites from MHP, Martinez is on the cusp of making that final leap from second to first, while establishing an all-new level of physical perfection for his contemporaries to chase. Itâ€™s a formula that might soon change the face of bodybuilding itself.
An Evaluation of the Industryâ€™s New Standard of Quality
So many bodybuilders, athletes and fitness-oriented individuals, at all levels of accomplishment, have switched to ProSource premium brand supplements. This is not all that surprising when you consider the decline in quality that has occurred recently with many of the major retail supplement brands. Unfortunately, many companies have embarked on missions to cut production costs and increase profits with no regard for product quality. All they seem to care about is their profit margins. Itâ€™s much too easy for them to â€œwater downâ€ their products with cheap, lower grade materials because thatâ€™s the quickest way to make more money. On the surface, it can be difficult to recognize a change in quality but over time it becomes evident by the lack of positive results delivered by the products. And theyâ€™re pulling it off with gusto because too many of their loyal customers donâ€™t look past the hype, and by the time they realize their supplements are not working, a lot of money has been wasted.
ProSource, on the other hand, recognized the need for a true no-compromise line of ultra-premium quality supplements a long time ago and decided to do something about it. We assembled an elite research and development team to help create what would quickly become known as the single highest quality supplement brand in the industry. The goal was not to be the biggest, but to be the best. Our R&D directors and Quality Control managers search the world for the absolute best bioactive material available. Italy for the purest form of glutamine, Germany for the proven best and purest form of creatine, Japan for the most potent standardized green tea extract, Bulgaria for the most bio-active form of T-boosting tribulus, etc. We could get much lower quality at much cheaper prices, and right around the corner, like many other companies do, but that would defeat our entire purpose. Each and every product in the ProSource line is designed in strict accordance with a quality control mandate that is in some ways even more comprehensive than what is seen in the pharmaceutical industry. For example, our now legendary tribulus product undergoes extraction upon extraction upon extraction followed by multiple precision analytical testing until its bioactive yields are precisely in the range specified by our elite product formulators. These levels far exceed the minimum dosages needed to produce efficacy. Our goal is to deliver potency, purity, and overall results at a level thatâ€™s beyond any industry standards. In contrast, the majority of competing tribulus products on the market undergo, at most, a single extraction and yield no meaningful standardized levels of key active ingredients.
This superior product quality could not be more evident than in our proteins. Thereâ€™s a reason why ProSource is recognized industry-wide as the provider of the worldâ€™s highest- grade protein. Years ago we introduced pure ultra-filtered whey protein isolate to the industry, which is now recognized as the gold standard. Whey isolate is proven time and again to be the most amino-rich, most potent muscle-building protein known to science. And ProSourceâ€™s NytroWhey protein line contains the absolute highest quality, most potent whey isolate available worldwide. To this day, we are yet to find a competing protein that utilizes pure whey isolate of a comparable grade. Fact is, no other protein out there remotely compares to the superior whey isolate found in ProSource products. This is the truth, and it is why many of the top pro bodybuilders who are under contract with other companies actually use NytroWhey. There simply is no other protein brand that delivers such quality and purity. As more and more bodybuilders continue to discover this fact, NytroWhey has begun to emerge as the industryâ€™s leading “competition quality” protein.
The bottom line is that unless you are using legitimate high-grade supplements with validated bioactivity you might as well save your money. In order for supplements to deliver meaningful results, they must have efficacious levels and ratios of key active ingredients.
So how can you be absolutely sure your brand delivers the quality and potency needed to yield real results? Simple, choose the ultra-premium lab-tested products in the ProSource line. When you do, you will experience first hand the difference of supplementing with truly superior quality ingredients.
All ProSource products are clinically inspired formulations, subject to independent lab testing, and in some cases, independent clinical testing to ensure the ultimate in purity, potency and results!
Be on alert! Thereâ€™s an outbreak of bad form in gyms nationwide. We throw the book at 12 of the worst offenses, and show you how to clean up your own act for maximum gains.
Are you a law-abiding citizen when you train? Heck, most of us tend to consider ourselves conscientious enough when it comes to exercise form. You might even get a chuckle when you see others doing this or that move incorrectly, thinking to yourself, “That poor sap, doesnâ€™t know what heâ€™s doing.” Sometimes, however, poor form isnâ€™t so obvious. And – reality check – youâ€™re likely just as guilty as the next guy of doing something improperly. We covered 12 of the most common blunders in part one of this story, and here, we reveal 12 more. The good news is, itâ€™s never too late to turn away from a life of criminal exercise performance. Review these common mistakes, admit your wrongdoing, and dedicate yourself to walking the straight and narrow from now on with our expert advice.
1) Leg Extension
Crime: Allowing your knees to bend beyond 90 degrees in the bottom position
The leg extension seems simple enough: Sit down, place your legs behind the ankle pads, and extend your knees. But thereâ€™s a slight yet critical error you can easily make, depending on the mechanics of the particular machine youâ€™re using. Because your thighs are fixed in place as you rep, shearing forces can build up in your knee joint â€” these are exacerbated when you bend your knee past 90 degrees (i.e. bring them slightly up underneath you). To combat this, stop the descent when your shins reach 90 or just before. Another tip: Donâ€™t extend explosively upward into a knees-locked position at the top. A smooth and controlled rep on the way up and on the way down will help keep your knees healthy for the long term.
2) Lying Leg Curl
Crime: Lifting your hips off of the pad
This common problem is a result of using a flat-style leg-curl bench: Lifting your hips off the pad as fatigue sets in puts your hamstrings in a stronger biomechanical position, thus helping you complete more reps. Unfortunately, it also puts your lower back at risk for strain. Thus, the answer here is to use a lying leg curl machine with an angled bench, which lifts your hips up while supporting your torso during the exercise. If your gym only has the flat-style, you may want to consider alternate hamstrings exercises, such as one-leg machine curls, seated leg curls and Romanian or stiff-leg deadlifts.
3) Romanian Deadlift
Crime: Rounding your lower back in the bottom position
The Romanian deadlift is an incredibly valuable exercise in developing complete hamstrings â€” strong hams help stabilize the knee joint by counterbalancing the powerful quadriceps muscles on the front of your thigh. However, gym-goers the world over all too often break a critical rule, allowing their back to round in the bottom position. Not only does this place your lumbar region in a dangerous position ripe for injury, it takes emphasis away from the muscle groups youâ€™re attempting to target. Instead, stabilize your spine by tightening the surrounding muscles, holding it in its natural arched position while performing the movement from the hip joint. Also note, thereâ€™s no need to stand on a raised platform or a bench in an effort to extend your range of motion; it doesnâ€™t make the exercise any more effective than bringing the bar down to about mid-shin level.
4) Lat Pulldown
Crime: Leaning back excessively as you pull the bar down
When training the back, there are two essential planes of motion to work in: Rowing-type movements, and pull-up/pulldown movements. Both are vital for complete development, which makes this error a costly one. During a pulldown, many have a tendency to lean back, which essentially turns the pulldown into another row. Sure, it puts you in an advantageous position as far as being able to lift more weight, but you donâ€™t reap the benefits provided by the pulldownâ€™s upright angle of attack. Instead, save the rowing for other exercises in your routine â€” for pulldowns, sit up in the seat and bring the bar down to your upper chest, concentrating on the contraction of your lats and upper-back muscles.
5) Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Crime: Rocking your torso up and down as you rep
This wrong move is usually born out of a desire to lift too much weight. The target of this exercise, the rear delts, are generally small muscles, and arenâ€™t equipped for the heavy dumbbells you may be otherwise used to heaving in your workouts. By incorporating a bounce in each rep for momentum and recruiting the more powerful muscles of your back, you can lift a lot more than you could if you controlled each rep via a focused contraction of your rear deltoids. Drop the weight and do it right, with no moâ€™ and plenty of concentration, to develop your rear delts to their full potential.
6) Upright Row
Crime: Placing your hands too close together on the bar
Itâ€™s hard to say where this bad habit, passed from generation to generation, originally came from, but upright rows should not be done with the hands side by side on the bar. This way-too-close grip doesnâ€™t provide an ounce of benefit, and worse yet, it compromises your wrist joints on the ascent. Place your hands at or just inside shoulder-width apart, and lead with your elbows as you lift the barbell up along your body toward your upper chest; your delts (and your wrists) will thank you.
7) Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye
Crime: Letting the weights collide at the top of the rep
You may think youâ€™re working intensely if you powerfully contract your pecs to bring the dumbbells up in an arc over your chest, where they meet with a clang at the top. In fact, that impact immediately removes stress from your pectorals, essentially allowing your chest to rest at the top instead of getting a maximal contraction. For flyes (as for most exercises) control is the name of the game. Lift in a deliberate manner, either squeezing the dumbbells together forcefully at the top â€” without letting them crash together, of course â€” or stopping an inch short of touching as you give your pecs a strong squeeze before starting the descent.
Alternate Dumbbell Curl
Crime: Leaning your body to each side as you bring the corresponding dumbbell up
A lot of people could be cited for this particular transgression. Incorporating a swaying movement to help bring each dumbbell up doesnâ€™t necessarily feed the biceps, but it sure feeds the ego, as the momentum helps move a heavier dumbbell. Throw in an extra tweak at the apex (where you shift your elbow directly under the handle, essentially allowing the biceps to rest at the top), and you get an exercise thatâ€™s not doing you a whole heck of a lot of good. Instead, keep your body still as you bend at the elbow, forcing your biceps to do the work. Sure, the dumbbells you can use will probably be lighter, but arenâ€™t bigger biceps more valuable than bigger weights?
9) Triceps Cable Pressdown
Crime: Leaning over the bar as you push it down
The pressdown is yet another victim of a widespread transgression, the chronic use of too much weight during arm training. If you drop the pin deep down on the weight stack, then proceed to lean forward, shifting your shoulders over the handle as you finish each repetition, youâ€™re guilty of not letting your triceps take on the bulk of the workload. Pressdowns should only involve movement at your elbows, nowhere else. Lock your elbows at your sides â€” envision a steel rod running through your body holding them in place if it helps â€” and remain upright as you push the handle down.
10) Dumbbell Kickback
Crime: Bringing your arm too far forward, then using momentum to lift the weight
This slip-up is so common, youâ€™ll often spot it in otherwise respectable magazines and training textbooks. For this exercise, you bend at the hips, place your non-working hand on a bench or fixed object for support and, with your other upper arm in tight at your flank, you extend your elbow to lift a dumbbell back and up in an arc. The problem arises on the way down, where the working arm crosses past a 90-degree angle before beginning the next rep. Instead, to keep the triceps under constant tension, stop the descent just before your elbow reaches 90 degrees and begin the next rep â€” this eliminates the momentum generated by bringing the dumbbell too far forward, and doesnâ€™t allow the triceps to fully relax at the bottom.
11) Hanging Leg Raise
Crime: Repping in a way that causes your body to swing
To perform hanging leg raises, you either hold a pull-up bar or set your elbows on the pads of an upright leg-raise bench and bring your legs up in front of you, forming a 90-degree angle with your body. The exercise uses the weight of your legs and gravity to put your abs through their paces, and can be extremely effective â€” unless you swing your legs so hard that your body sways to and fro. Itâ€™s much better to follow the letter of the law, and perform the move slowly and under control, forcing your abs to handle the workload. Count 3-4 seconds as you bring your legs up and slightly curl your lower back, pause while contracting your core strongly at the top, then lower your legs back to the start.
12) Decline-Bench Crunch
Crime: Not “curling” your upper body off the pad (i.e. remaining flat-backed on the ascent)
What would you rather sport at the beach: A stellar set of hip flexors, or a killer six-pack? You may covet the latter, but you are probably doing your decline-bench crunches in benefit of the former. To flex your abdominal wall, you need to shorten your abs, and thus your lower back correspondingly must curl. If, on the other hand, your back remains flat as you do decline crunches, your hip flexor muscles are driving the movement. On any abdominal exercise (including hanging leg raises mentioned above), make sure the distance between your ribcage and pelvis is shortening â€” if even only a few inches â€” on each rep. That way, youâ€™ll be sure to squeeze results out of every set.
By Jeff Volek, Ph.D.
Carving out a lean, hard body, with washboard abs is the ultimate goal for bodybuilders. Itâ€™s what we all should strive for. In the last few years, however, it has been more and more difficult to find truly effective thermogenic supplements to help us get there. Fortunately, there are new thermogenic, fat-burning compounds hitting the market now that are backed by real clinical science and delivering truly outstanding results. Before we get to the good stuff, though, we need to dispel the hype about one particularly ineffective compound being touted in some products, even as we speak.
There are few things more exciting in the world of supplementation than when a breakthrough innovation is first introduced. Get ready, because weâ€™ve just learned that on the thermogenic front, a new Xenadrine product, above and beyond anything ever produced before, will be hitting the market very soon that will prove to be so cutting edge, so powerful that it is certain to revolutionize the industry forever! Stay tuned for further information as we all greatly anticipate this stunning development.
B-phenylethylamine (PEA) is a popular ingredient in many weight loss formulas that is aggressively marketed as a potent amphetamine-like substance. PEA is associated with stimulation of various neurotransmitters in the brain that influence emotions such as euphoria and alertness. Many weight loss products claim that taking PEA supplements will increase normal brain concentrations of PEA. However it is well established in the literature that it is extensively and rapidly metabolized by the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). Many weight loss formulas with PEA will therefore add ingredients that allegedly inhibit MAO. But studies actually show the combination of PEA administration and partial or complete pharmaceutical inhibition of MAO does not produce psychomotor-stimulant effects or stimulant-like behavior. The truth is if PEA was a legitimate â€œamphetamine likeâ€ substance that produced a powerful stimulant effect, we would see products with just PEA as the only ingredient. But the fact is, such products would yield no noticeable effect whatsoever and therefore marketers are forced to combine it with caffeine, yohimbe, and other ingredients that will have some noticeable effect. Thus, the PEA is only included in those products as a marketing twist to dress up the formulations and make them look more sophisticated. The bottom line on PEA is that the science is quite conclusive on the fact that it has no beneficial effect whatsoever. It is a complete waste of money. Now that we cleared that up, letâ€™s focus on the newest, proven effective fat-burning, metabolism-boosting additions that any top quality thermogenic formula should contain.
Green Coffee Extract
One of the newest thermogenic ingredients to hit the market, green coffee extract is already finding its way into some of the more advanced formulations. And for good reason. Both green coffee extract and its major phenolic compound chlorogenic acid have shown significant thermogenic fat-burning effects, as well as other health promoting actions. In one recent clinical study, for example, its benefits were more than evident as researchers who conducted the study found green coffee extract actually prevented weight gain and fat accumulation. The effect is likely due to a combination of the caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and other polyphenolic compounds, with the powerful antioxidant activities in the green coffee extract. Chlorogenic acid appears to target fat stores in the liver, as opposed to adipose triglyceride stores, by up-regulating one of the rate limiting enzymes in fat oxidation, carnitine palmitoyl transferase. Chlorogenic acid contains a compound called ferulic acid, which has been shown to stimulate nitric oxide bioavailability, and have a positive effect on vascular dilation and blood pressure. The science behind this compound is accumulating both positive data and acceptance as a solid contributor to the thermogenic category. In fact, another new study, just released, showed that coffee enriched with chlorogenic acid, resulted in a significant decrease in glucose absorption and a stunning, three-fold greater weight loss compared to a group receiving instant coffee. Recap:
- Green coffee extract is a clinically tested, thermogenic fat loss agent.
- The major compound in green coffee is chlorogenic acid, which is metabolized to ferulic acid in the liver.
- Green coffee extract also contains caffeine, a potent stimulator of norepinephrine and thermogenesis.
- A recent study showed green coffee extract helps prevent fat accumulation and body weight gain.
- A recent randomized human study showed a three-fold greater weight loss in subjects receiving coffee enriched with chlorogenic acid.
In the last few years, the herb Macuna pruriens has gained revered status in the bodybuilding arena because of its naturally occurring compound called L-Dopa. L-Dopa is a neurotransmitter that has a variety of functions in the brain among which is the stimulation of growth hormone (GH). This GH stimulation is a rare attribute prized by bodybuilders and baby boomers alike. Because Macuna may help correct hormonal imbalances, and in particular enhance GH secretion, there is potential value for significantly promoting fat breakdown and muscle growth, simultaneously. Growth hormone is a peptide hormone secreted from the anterior pituitary in the brain. In skeletal muscle, GH promotes a positive protein balance by increasing protein synthesis and possibly inhibiting protein breakdown. In adipose tissue, GH increases lipolysis (fat breakdown) and dramatically decreases lipogenesis (fat synthesis). Thus, GH serves as a very powerful nutrient-partitioning agent, which is music to the ears of anyone working to transform their physiques at any level, from top pros to the casual fitness buff. Ultimately, Macuna pruriens, especially when it is of high quality and standardized for 15% L-Dopa, represents a natural and powerful way to achieve elevated levels of growth hormone. Recap:
- Macuna seed powder extract is a significant source of L-Dopa. Macuna pruriens significantly elevates plasma L-Dopa levels.
- Studies have shown Macuna pruriens also has potent antioxidant effects.
- Research indicates that a high quality Macuna pruriens standardized for 15% L-Dopa, yields elevated levels of growth hormone and enhanced fat loss potential.
Vinpocetine has more recently earned a hot spot in quality thermogenic formulas, due to its ability to increase norepinephrine, and boost metabolism. Vinpocetine is derived from the leaves of the Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) native to Europe. It has been primarily studied clinically in patients with cognitive decline or to treat symptoms of acute stroke, motor disorders, and dizziness. The precise mode of action is not exactly known, though it has been postulated, and basically accepted, that this potent compound works to help inhibit phosphodiesterase, and therefore, potentiate the effects of other thermogenics that work through stimulation of cAMP in cells. In addition, vinpocetine has been shown to inhibit a cyclic GMP phosphodiesterase, and it is speculated that this inhibition enhances cyclic GMP levels in the vascular smooth muscle, leading to reduced resistance of cerebral vessels and increase of cerebral flow. There is also evidence that vinpocetine may increase norepinephrine directly. In one experiment, vinpocetine increased both the resting and the nerve stimulation-evoked release of norepinephrine from blood vessels. And finally, in some studies, vinpocetine has demonstrated antioxidant activity equivalent to that of vitamin E. Stated more simply, this valuable bioactive contributes to any thermogenic formula by basically providing enhanced brain cognition and function, norepinephrine release and improved mood. Recap:
- Vinpocetine is a potent inhibitor of phosphodiesterase, which may spur a synergy with other thermogenics. It is a valuable antioxidant.
- Numerous studies show enhanced cerebral blood flow and consistent improvements in cognitive performance with vinpocetine supplementation.
- Vinpocetine also directly increases norepinephrine.
Oolong Tea Extract
Because of oolongâ€™s unique bioactive profile, and because it delivers a different spectrum of catechins than green tea, some of the best products use the two teas together in their formulations. Thatâ€™s why oolong tea is more and more becoming an effective and preferred ingredient in some of the more advanced thermogenics on the market.
Aside from wonderful water, the most popular beverage consumed worldwide is Camellia sinensis, more commonly known as tea. About three-fourths of all tea produced is black tea (77%), the remaining forms are either green (21%) or oolong tea (2%). All three variations are of the same plant, with the differences occurring during the processing of the tea leaves, which impacts the levels of bioactive flavonoids. Black tea has the least amount of flavonoids because it is oxidized enzymatically during processing, thus giving it the black appearance and a more roasted flavor. In contrast, green tea is heated and dried to avoid enzymatic oxidation altogether, while oolong tea is semi-fermented, which significantly reduces the level of oxidation. Representing only a small fraction of the total amount of tea produced, the oolong variety contains a broad spectrum of polyphenols and catechins. In terms of total catechins, oolong tea is on par with green tea, while actually outperforming the other forms in terms of total caffeine, phenolic compounds and anti-mutagenic activity. Researchers are quickly learning that oolong tea delivers a wide array of benefits and are just scratching the surface of this amazing plantâ€™s full potential. For certain, it is an excellent addition to any thermogenic product. Recap:
- Oolong tea is a very good source of caffeine and several bioactive polyphenols.
- The catechin profile of oolong tea is different than green tea.
- Because oolong has a different catechin profile than green tea, the best products use the two teas together.
- The catechins in oolong have shown effects on thermogenesis and weight loss.
> Caralluma fimbriata is a new addition to the category that appears to be on the cutting edge of fat-loss technology. This edible plant has been known and consumed throughout India for hundreds of years as an appetite suppressant, thirst quencher and endurance enhancer. Two major clinical trials have been conducted on this powerful ingredient, and both showed highly successful outcomes. In a randomized, placebo controlled study, 62 overweight men and women either consumed a Caralluma fimbriata extract (1 g per day) or a placebo (maltodextrin) for 60 days. The results surpassed all expectations as the weight loss was actually two-fold greater in the Caralluma group (-2 vs -1 kg), while the percent of body-fat was reduced to a greater extent as well. In addition, subjective ratings of hunger were reduced by a remarkable 20% in the Caralluma group, which corresponded to a significant decrease in caloric intake. In yet another clinical study, this one over a duration of four-weeks, the preliminary findings provided further support for its tremendous efficacy. The study showed subjects who supplemented with 500 mg of Caralluma fimbriata extract before each meal, had consistently greater weight loss than placebo. In fact, over half the subjects in the Caralluma group lost more than 6 pounds in that 4-week period. Based on these clinical studies alone, it has become abundantly clear that this unusual compound offers exciting new potential as a true and powerful appetite suppressant and body-fat reducer. If it works this well alone, imagine what it can do when included in a state-of-the-art formulation of other key thermogenic compounds, all working synergistically, via multiple pathways. Itâ€™s fair to say that Caralluma is quickly earning a place as one of the few truly effective weight loss compounds available today. Recap:
- Caralluma fimbriata is an edible plant native to India, used for centuries as an appetite suppressant and performance enhancer.
- Caralluma contains a variety of phytochemicals including pregnane glycosides, flavone glycosides, megastigmane glycosides, bitter principles, and saponins.
- Two recent clinical studies show Caralluma to have consistent effectiveness as an appetite suppressant and weight-loss agent.
Like most fruit, raspberries contain a delicious array of potent compounds that contribute to health and performance. Chief among them, we are discovering, are its significant benefits to weight loss. The key compound from raspberries, called Razberi-K (RK), is yet another fairly new addition to this important category. Also known and represented as (4-(4-hydroxyphenyl) butain-2-one in the literature, this aromatic compound has been shown to work through two distinct mechanisms: decreasing absorption of dietary fat, and stimulating lipolysis (the breakdown of fats by the enzyme lipase).
A look at the structure of RK provides some clues as to its fat-fighting benefits. Chemically, it is very similar to capsaicin, the major pungent principle in hot peppers. Several studies have reported that capsaicin acutely increases energy expenditure, reduces food intake, enhances fat oxidation, and decreases body fat. RK is also similar in structure to synephrine, a naturally occurring alkaloid found in the fruit of Citrus aurantium. Synephrine acts on cells through adrenergic receptors, specifically on beta-3 adrenergic receptors and maybe alpha-1 receptors, which promote fat breakdown. Based on its similarities to those two compounds and its unique structural features, researchers hypothesized it would and should have potent effects on obesity and lipid metabolism. Japanese researchers recently performed experiments detailing the anti-obesity effects of RK. The results showed that it was effective in preventing obesity in response to a high calorie diet. RK specifically promoted increased norepinephrine-induced fat breakdown, enhanced thermogenesis, and inhibited absorption of dietary fat. Together, these effects contributed to a profound reduction in whole body fat as well as fat in visceral adipose tissue and the liver. Due to its unique chemical structure and multiple mechanisms of action, RK looks very promising as a fat-loss agent. Here again is another fairly new compound to the category that has the real potential to deliver significant benefits. Recap:
- Chemically RK is similar to capsaicin and synephrine, known thermogenics.
- RK promotes breakdown of fat in adipocytes.
- Stimulates thermogenesis and inhibits absorption of fat.
- RK specifically promoted increased norepinephrine-induced fat breakdown and inhibited absorption of dietary fat.
- Recent work showed RK results in reductions in whole body fat, particularly from visceral fat.
Of course, no article on thermogenesis would be complete without the inclusion of green tea extract and caffeine. Even though they are not new to the category, both are so effective as thermogenic powerhouses that they serve as key bioactives in almost any premium-quality formulation, especially in concert with the new, aforementioned fat-burning compounds.
Green Tea Extract
Arguably, the most popular thermogenic compound is green tea extract, and for good reason. A large body of work exists supporting positive effects of green tea on a wide range of biological effects that improve health and weight management. Although green tea does contain a wide variety of compounds, most research has focused on EGCG as the predominant active ingredient that is responsible for the thermogenic, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects. A few years back, a major green tea study designed to examine thermogenesis and fat oxidation kicked off the obsession with this thermogenic supplement. Ten healthy men with a wide range of body fat consumed either 1) green tea extract containing 150 mg of caffeine and 270 mg epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), 2) 150 mg of caffeine, or 3) a placebo. The green tea extract was shown to increase 24-hour metabolic rate by 4% compared to a placebo. This amounted to an increase in energy expenditure of 80 kcal/day. Furthermore, it caused a shift to greater fat oxidation over carbohydrate oxidation and also a greater urinary excretion of norepinephrine over 24 hours during treatment with green tea extract. And to top off these excellent results, there were no adverse side effects including no differences between treatments in heart rate. In fairly general terms, here is how it works. Green tea is particularly rich in the flavonoids known as catechins. Catechins have a wide range of biological effects, but perhaps most pertinent to thermogenesis is that catechins inhibit catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT), the enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a hormone, that when released, increases cellular levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP), which in turn, increases metabolic rate and breakdown of fat in cells. Green tea also contains caffeine, which inhibits the enzyme phosphodiesterase. Phosphodiesterase breaks down cAMP in cells and thus can dampen the stimulatory effects of norepinephrine. Simply stated, green tea works through the interaction of catechins and caffeine. Other mechanisms of action that make green tea extract attractive as a weight loss agent have been identified. German researchers showed that 300 mg of EGCG caused a shift in energy utilization from carbohydrate to fat oxidation. The effect was more pronounced after ingestion of a meal, which provides a plausible mechanism to explain the anti-obesity effects of green tea. The acute benefits of green tea were further documented in yet another significantly remarkable study. After 12 weeks of green tea supplementation (containing 690 mg catechins/day), men had two-fold greater weight loss (-2.4 vs -1.3 kg) and fat loss (-1.4 vs -0.7 kg) compared to placebo. Additionally, compared to placebo, green tea had a four-fold greater effect on reductions in subcutaneous and visceral fat in the abdomen. The study shows that green tea is an effective method for losing fat, particularly in the mid-section. Collectively, these studies provide strong evidence that green tea contains bioactive and bioavailable substances that can help in the management of body-fat through multiple mechanisms. Importantly, while green tea appears to work primarily through the sympathetic nervous system hormone norepinephrine, it is distinct from other similar substances that act through adrenergic receptors, in that green tea does not have adverse cardiovascular effects. Recap:
- Green tea extract is a rich source of the bioactive polyphenol EGCG.
- EGCG has been linked to a multitude of health effects in cell culture, animal studies and human clinical trials.
- EGCG inhibits breakdown of norepinephrine and acutely stimulates thermogenesis and fat oxidation.
- Standardized green tea is a proven metabolism booster.
- EGCG has been shown to cause greater fat loss in weight loss studies.
Caffeine has been a staple in coffee, tea, chocolate and supplements for so long, that itâ€™d be difficult to find an adult who has never enjoyed its benefits. Even with that, it has recently garnered even greater status as a true thermogenic powerhouse. Perhaps more than any other compound of its kind, there is a solid base of research supporting multiple positive metabolic effects of caffeine. Several studies have shown acute ingestion increases thermogenesis and in a dose-dependent manner. In one recent study, caloric expenditure was increased 13% after intake of a single dose of caffeine. There was also a marked increase in fat breakdown and fat oxidation after caffeine. In addition to promoting higher fat oxidation in the resting state, caffeine intake also increases the use of fat during exercise, an effect that enhances performance. Caffeine has also been shown to decrease caloric intake. Needless to say, the science behind this unassuming compound is very impressive. And itâ€™s good news for anyone looking to lean out.
Caffeine works to promote thermogenesis and fat breakdown and utilization through a complex network. Many of the metabolic effects are mediated through enhanced activity of the sympathetic nervous system. It affects metabolism by other means as well, such as working to increase epinephrine (also known as adrenalin) levels. Epinephrine, in turn, is a potent activator of cAMP in cells that upregulates hormone sensitive lipase, the main hormone responsible for breaking down fat. In cells, caffeine also prevents the breakdown of cAMP by inhibiting the enzyme phosphodiesterase. In this way caffeine and epinephrine synergistically work together to promote fat breakdown. Another real reason to get amped about this thermogenic is there is no evidence that caffeine ingestion before exercise leads to dehydration, ion imbalance, or any other adverse effects. Despite popular opinion, overwhelming research suggests that moderate coffee and caffeine consumption causes no adverse health effects. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that regular caffeine use, particularly in a controlled, standardized supplement form would be very beneficial for weight regulation, especially if used in combination with other thermogenics. Recap:
- Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant.
- Caffeine stimulates release of norepinephrine, fat breakdown, and fat utilization at rest and during exercise.
- Caffeine acutely stimulates thermogenesis, and reduces caloric intake.
- Caffeine decreases perception of effort during exercise and improves exercise capacity in many studies.
- Overwhelming research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption causes no adverse health effects
Taken individually these ingredients can offer real effectiveness. Any quality product in the thermogenic category should have at least one or two of these ingredients as its scientific backbone for weight-loss efficacy. In fact, there are few solid formulas in this category that do not utilize one or more of these ingredients. However, since they each seem to work through a different mechanism, using several of them in combination with each other may represent the ultimate synergistic supplement strategy for maximizing weight-loss.
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