Tag Archive | "study"

What’s your fitness age?

The researchers evaluated almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90, using mobile labs. They took about a dozen measurements, including height, body mass index, resting heart rate, HDL and total cholesterol levels. Each person also filled out a lengthy lifestyle questionnaire. Finally, each volunteer ran to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill to pinpoint his or her peak oxygen intake (VO2 max), or how well the body delivers oxygen to its cells. VO2 max has been shown in large-scale studies to closely correlate with significantly augmented life spans, even among the elderly or overweight. In other words, VO2 max can indicate fitness age.

In order to figure out how to estimate VO2 max without a treadmill, the scientists combed through the results to determine which of the data points were most useful. You might expect that the most taxing physical tests would yield the most reliable results. Instead, the researchers found that putting just five measurements — waist circumference; resting heart rate; frequency and intensity of exercise; age; and sex — into an algorithm allowed them to predict a person’s VO2 max with noteworthy accuracy, according to their study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The researchers used the data set to tabulate the typical, desirable VO2 max for a healthy person at every age from 20 to 90, creating specific parameters for fitness age. The concept is simple enough, explains Ulrik Wisloff, the director of the K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University and the senior author of the study. “A 70-year-old man or woman who has the peak oxygen uptake of a 20-year-old has a fitness age of 20,” he says. He has seen just this combination during his research.

The researchers have used all of this data to create an online calculator that allows people to determine their VO2 max without going to a lab. You’ll need your waist measurement and your resting heart rate. To determine it, sit quietly for 10 minutes and check your pulse; count for 30 seconds, double the number and you have your resting heart rate. Plug these numbers, along with your age, sex and frequency and intensity of exercise, into the calculator, and you’ll learn your fitness age.

The results can be sobering. A 50-year-old man, for instance, who exercises moderately a few times a week, sports a 36-inch waist and a resting heart rate of 75 — not atypical values for healthy middle-aged men — will have a fitness age of 59. Thankfully, unwanted fitness years, unlike the chronological kind, can be erased, Dr. Wisloff says. Exercise more frequently or more intensely. Then replug your numbers and exult as your “age” declines. A youthful fitness age, Dr. Wisloff says, “is the single best predictor of current and future health.”

NY Times

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What’s your fitness age?

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Diet Doesn't Need To Mean Denial

Clean eating. We’ve all seen it held up as the best way—the only way—to live a fit life, look and perform like an athlete, and not die before our time. Of course, clean eating has a dirty little secret: It always comes alongside its greasy sidekick, the cheat meal.

This makes me sad, and it irks me. I’m talking about the whole clean/cheat setup, and really, the whole idea of “clean.” I’ve spent time on the darkest side of clean eating—namely an eating disorder—and I think it’s time for this way of thinking to die. My job now is to spread the gospel of flexible dieting.

Many of you might be familiar with that term, but it’s probably from misguided articles and forum posts ridiculing the idea of IIFYM (aka, “if it fits your macros”). If you’re a clean eater, you may have made some snarky remark a time or two about us flexible dieters being unhealthy. Perhaps you’ve even commented on our moral character. We’re bad people, we’re going to hell for eating pretzels, and we should be ashamed of ourselves because we eat our baked potatoes with butter. The gall!

Enough with the snarky name-calling! Let me show you the truth, the way, and the light to food freedom! The first step is to debunk the most common myths about flexible eating.

“Enough with the snarky name-calling! Let me show you the truth, the way, and the light to food freedom!”

Myth 1

False! Eating a bunch of crap is … well, crap. That’s the typical American diet, and it’s far from what constitutes flexible dieting.

Key components of flexible dieting include
  • Overall mindfulness of macronutrient and micronutrient intake, whether you count macros. This means that you’re aware of approximately how much protein you consume, and that you also get sufficient fiber.
  • Understanding that treats and junk food are allowed, but not as the norm. I like to recommend an 80/20 rule. Other people lean toward 90/10; that still feels fairly restrictive to me.
  • Portion control. This is vital. There’s a difference between 1 doughnut and 12, and you don’t abuse this. Think a handful of gummy bears rather than a whole bag. A small serving of sweet potato fries with a chicken salad. A glass of wine to complement a steak.

So what do flexible dieters eat? Primarily whole food sources, with a sprinkling of fun indulgences on the side. If the typical American is going to eat a croissant and a glass of orange juice for breakfast, he is not a flexible dieter. What a flexible dieter might do instead is throw in an omelet with that meal, keep the croissant, and then choose better carb sources for the rest of the day. Why? Because, a croissant is a treat.

Believe me, I’ve definitely tried to get in my protein and fiber through junk food alone, and it can’t be done. There’s no realistic way to meet your daily nutrient needs through chocolate and gummy bears. Besides, who wants to survive on a steady diet of nothing but sugar and fat? That would make anyone sick. In fact, it’s making plenty of people sick all around us, all the time. It’s called type-2 diabetes.

And if you do end up having a particularly treat-heavy day, then the next day, you rein it in a little. You don’t obsess over it; you don’t worry about it; you just move on. It’s all about checks and balances. Don’t mistake that for bingeing and purging—there’s a big difference.

Myth 2

What’s healthy about a restricted food list? There is nothing positive that can come out of putting a whole slew of foods off-limits and shackling yourself to specific food items. Let’s take a look at your clean diet for a second:

Meal 1: Oats and egg whites for breakfast
Meal 2: Chicken, white rice, and almonds for lunch
Meal 3: Protein shake with a banana post-workout
Meal 4: Lean beef and green beans for dinner
Meal 5: Casein or cottage cheese before bed, maybe with peanut butter

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And let’s be honest, I’ve given a generous portrayal of a clean diet there. The real thing is often far, far more repetitive.

Yes, I understand that consuming a nutrient-dense diet is incredibly healthy. But that’s not what “clean eating” is. There is an incredibly high correlation between exclusive eating (i.e., limiting food choices) and binge eating. This is no coincidence. Study after study has shown that as soon as you deem a food forbidden, your desire for it increases even more, even if you may have never wanted it in the first place.

Not allowed to eat chocolate? All of a sudden, that’s all you can think about.

On the flipside, having the option to consume a treat doesn’t mean that you will necessarily chow down on it. Rather, it means that you won’t be using up your willpower to actively resist the food.

Myth 3

You tell me what’s worse for your health:

  • Eating a square of chocolate every evening, savoring every bit of it, and then moving on with your life, OR
  • Hurriedly scarfing down not one, not two, but three whole chocolate bars in one sitting with no self-control whatsoever and then feeling guilty—not to mention bloated—for the entire next day, if not longer.

I think the answer is obvious.

Newsflash: It’s entirely possible for a flexible dieter to eat the same way as a clean eater most of the time. Yet come Saturday night, the clean eater may go out to dinner for his weekly cheat meal and have a burger, French fries, and a milkshake, followed by cheesecake for dessert, and then come home and eat everything but the kitchen sink. The flexible dieter, on the other hand, can have the same burger and French fries and have no problem stopping there. Hell, he may not even finish the fries because he’s reasonably full and feeling satisfied.

Do you see the difference here? The flexible dieter hasn’t lost touch with what satisfaction feels like. Throughout the week, the flexible dieter stuck to whole food sources not because he had to but because he wanted to. He had no problems whatsoever with controlling his food intake on the weekend.

“But sugar is bad for me,” a clean eater might proclaim. Well, did it ever occur to you that the only times you allow yourself to consume too much added sugar is when you binge?

Sugar itself may not be the culprit. After all, apples contain sugar. It’s the massive quantity of added sugar you consume in one sitting that makes you sick.

Myth 4

Not all flexible dieters choose to count their macros. But for those who do, the guidelines for determining macronutrient guidelines aren’t too different from those of bodybuilders and other strength athletes.

Namely, protein intake is usually around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, and carbs are 0.6-1.5 grams per pound, depending on goals, the leanness of the individual, carb tolerance, body type, metabolic capacity, age, and activity level. Fats fill in the remaining calorie allotment. People who are striving for muscle gain naturally will have a higher calorie allotment, 16 times bodyweight or upward. People who are looking to lose weight would start off closer to 10-12 times bodyweight.

Let’s use me as an example. I’m a 24-year-old female mesomorph, 115 pounds, with approximately 18 percent body fat. I train five days each week with a low-to-medium activity level for my job. I would calculate my maintenance macros for training days as follows:

Total Calories: 115 pounds x 15 = 1,725
Protein: 1 g/lb. bodyweight = 115 g, or 460 cal (4 cal/g protein)
Carbs: 1.5 g/lb. bodyweight = 173 g, or 692 cal (4 cal/g carbs)
Fats (total remaining calories): 1,725 – 460 – 692 = 573 fat calories, or 64 g fats (9 cal/g fat)

Some flexible dieters like to carb cycle between training days and off days like I do, not only for the physiological benefits but also because it affords them the leeway to fit in higher-carb treats on training days and, conversely, higher-fat treats on off days. My off-day macros might look like this:

Total Calories: 115 pounds x 15 = 1,725
Protein: 1g/lb bodyweight = 115 g, or 460 cal (4 cal/g protein)
Carbs: 1 g/lb. bodyweight = 115 g, or 460 cal (4 cal/g carbs)
Fats (total remaining calories): 1,725 – 460 – 460 = 805 fat calories, or 89 g (9 cal/g fat)

Having 89 fat grams for an off day would allow me to consume foods including, but not limited to full-fat cheese, coconut oil, nut butters, and maybe even some fried goodness.

This is just one of many possible approaches to the macro puzzle. Flexible dieting is all about honoring your personal preferences with regard to macronutrient amounts, food choice, meal timing. This will allow you to adhere to your program and consequently yield the best results.

Myth 5

Look up #flexibledieting hashtags on Instagram and all you’ll see is the ice cream, Pop Tarts, and burgers that we consume. But what the pictures don’t tell you is that those foods actually make up a small portion of our daily food. We typically don’t show off the chicken breast, sweet potatoes, and veggies we consume. Why? Because it’s way more fun to talk about our treats.

So no, a cheeseburger is not the same thing as eating a high-quality cut of protein. But if we decide to order that burger, it’s because we’ve been eating well recently, weighed our options, and perhaps even factored the meal into our macros. We’ve decided that that’s what we truly wanted to eat, and we have no qualms about indulging our taste buds for a night.

Again, flexible dieters prescribe to an 80/20 rule or some variation. We care about our health just as much as a clean eater does, but we also understand that to make a lasting lifestyle change, we need to create sustainable habits. We have no timeline to get to where we want to be; we’re all about enjoying the ride.

Are you a flexible dieter? If not, what are you waiting for? Freedom awaits you. Are you a clean-eating diehard? Make your case in the comments.


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Diet Doesn't Need To Mean Denial

Posted in Bodybuilding, Diets, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Weight lossComments Off on Diet Doesn't Need To Mean Denial

<div id="DPG" webReader="141.750253293"><div class="side-bar" webReader="-16.044198895"><div class="c10"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/ask-the-muscle-prof-fast-twitch-muscle-vitalstats.jpg"/></div><h3 class="article-title c11">Vital Stats</h3><p><strong>Name:</strong> Jacob Wilson<br /><strong>Education:</strong> PhD in Skeletal Muscle Physiology from Florida State<br /><strong>Occupation:</strong> Founder <a href="http://abcbodybuilding.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">ABCbodybuilding.com</a><br /><strong>Website:</strong> <a href="http://www.jacobwilsonphd.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">jacobwilsonphd.com</a><br /><strong>Facebook:</strong> <a href="https://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Wilson/616781070" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jacob-Wilson</a></p></div><p>
<h3 class="article-title">Q Everyone keeps telling me that to get huge I need to eat enormous amounts of food. Is bulking really the answer to gaining mass?</h3>
</p><p>Let's face it, the core goal of bodybuilding is to develop quality mass. We're willing to slave for years just to put on another inch or two on our quads or arms. But it's also true that the obsession with gaining muscle lead athletes to go to extremes, and one of them is clearly the traditional bulk.</p><p>Throughout the history of the sport, bodybuilders have separated their diets into two entirely distinct phases: bulk and cut. The first occurs in the offseason and is characterized by consumption of an excess amount of calories in order to gain size—which comes in the forms of both lean mass and fat. During the second phase, which occurs during contest prep, bodybuilders lower their calories and increase their cardio in order to burn off all that fat and get shredded.</p><p>This is simply the way things are done. But is it really necessary? Some recent research indicates that there may be a better method. To understand why, let's start by bulking up on the fundamentals of mass-building diet and training.</p><h3 class="article-title">It All Starts With Training and Protein</h3><p>The first thing I must emphasize is that without hardcore training, you are not going to get huge. All nutrition talk aside, training is the most powerful stimulus for muscle mass. As I have pointed out <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mass-class-training-the-fundamentals-of-muscle-growth.html">in my earlier articles</a>, effective training for mass is built around three primary techniques.<sup>1</sup></p><p>The first is to obtain a large pump during the training session; this cell swelling response triggers muscle growth. The second is to increase the amount of lactic acid in your muscle, which occurs via short rest period lengths and higher repetitions. The final mechanism for growth is mechanical stress, which is accomplished by lifting heavy weights. These training methods should be cycled throughout the week so you experience each growth stimulus frequently.</p><img src="images/2014/is-bulking-really-necessary-graphic-1.jpg" width="560" height="327"/><p>All nutrition talk aside, training is the most powerful stimulus for muscle mass.</p><p>Only once your training is in place do you need to start worrying about macronutrients. And when that time comes, the research is clear that protein is a critical priority when it comes to gaining mass.<sup>2</sup> However, <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mass-class-nutrition-fundamentals-of-eating-for-growth.html">as I've discussed elsewhere</a>, I would like to change the way bodybuilders approach protein. Most people focus on how much protein they obtain throughout an entire day.</p><p>However, research by my brother, Dr. Gabe Wilson, suggests that the real focus should be what you consume to maximize growth <em>at each meal</em>.<sup>3</sup> His work suggests that for most people, the optimal amount comes out to about 30-40 grams of high-quality protein per meal. Exceeding this amount hasn't been shown to increase muscle growth.<sup>4</sup></p><p>The main reason you should select 30-40 grams of protein is that this amount contains the optimal amount of branched-chain amino acid <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/lleucine.html">leucine</a> to encourage muscle growth. And just in case all that eating sounds like a tall order for one day, there's another cool thing about Dr. Gabe Wilson's research. He found alternating meals containing whole protein with snacks of supplemental branched-chain amino acids optimizes growth, too!</p><h3 class="article-title">Calories </h3><p>Training: check. Protein: check. OK, now you can start manipulating calories. But this doesn't mean you need to start eating every calorie-rich food in sight.</p><img src="images/2014/is-bulking-really-necessary-graphic-2.jpg" width="280" height="394" border="0" class="right-image c13"/><p>Can you gain muscle without taking in excess calories? The answer is actually yes.</p><p>Can you gain muscle without taking in excess calories? The answer is actually yes. My lab recently published a study in the "European Journal of Applied Physiology" where we optimized protein intake, but kept calories at maintenance in the subjects.<sup>5</sup></p><p>We found that these highly trained subjects gained muscle and lost fat at the same time, with minimal change in their total bodyweight. In other words, training hardcore while on maintenance calories can actually shift your body to a more muscular, less fat appearance.</p><p>The premise for our study wasn't entirely new; it was the subjects who made it special. Up until recently, nearly all of the studies which overfed subjects were done in sedentary (non-training) subjects. The most-cited study to date took sedentary people and overfed them for 100 days by 1,000 calories per day.</p><p>The average body weight increase for the subjects during the overfeed was 17 pounds, of which 67 percent was fat, and only 33 percent was muscle mass.<sup>6</sup> This research shows that excess calories can lead to both fat mass and lean mass, and it seems to support the idea of a traditional bulk.</p><p>My lab is the first to look at the impact of bulking in guys who were actually training hard. In addition to the above study, Sean McCleary headed up another study where we overfed subjects with either a moderate 800 calories or an extreme 2,000 extra calories per day for 45 days.<sup>7</sup> This was markedly shorter than past studies, which lasted 100 days or longer. Subjects in our study also trained every body part to extreme levels several times per week.</p><p>We found that both groups increased their muscle mass by approximately 6-8 pounds. But, the difference when it came to fat gain was more pronounced. While the moderate calorie group <em>lost</em> 2 pounds of fat, the extreme calorie group <em>gained</em> 2 pounds of fat! This tells us that while extra calories can be anabolic, there is a ceiling for their positive effects.</p><p>Past this ceiling, excess calories will be stored as fat. The result is that it will take you longer to cut down, and when you do that, it will cost more muscle tissue from catabolic breakdown.</p><h3 class="article-title">Short Duration, High Protein</h3><p>Want to know how to build quality mass? Here's your roadmap in two sentences:</p><ul class="dpg-list"><li>Optimize your training.</li>
<li>Optimize your protein intake.</li>
</ul><img src="images/2014/is-bulking-really-necessary-graphic-3.jpg" width="560" height="357"/><p>Optimize your protein intake.</p><p>That alone is enough to ensure you add muscle. However, if you want to accelerate this process, then consuming calories above that needed to maintain weight can be advantageous—to a point. There is a limit to the potential anabolic effects of overfeeding, after which you aren't gaining any more muscle, but only fat.</p><p>Our study suggests that any overfeed should probably be no more than 500-800 extra calories per day. Further, keeping your bulks shorter, in the range of 30-45 days, will maximize muscle gains and minimize fat gains.</p><p>Now what are you waiting for? Go get those gains!</p><h5>References</h5><ol class="dpg-list"><li>Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2857-72.</li>
<li>Wilson J, Wilson GJ. Contemporary issues in protein requirements and consumption for resistance trained athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006 Jun 5;3:7-27.</li>
<li>Wilson GJ, Layman DK, Moulton CJ, Norton LE, Anthony TG, Proud CG, Rupassara SI, Garlick PJ. Leucine or carbohydrate supplementation reduces AMPK and eEF2 phosphorylation and extends postprandial muscle protein synthesis in rats. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Dec;301(6):E1236-42.</li>
<li>Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover EI, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):161-8.</li>
<li>Wilson, J. M., Lowery, R. P., Joy, J. M., Andersen, J. C., Wilson, S. M., Stout, J. R., ... & Rathmacher, J. Wilson JM, Lowery RP, Joy JM, Andersen JC, Wilson SM, Stout JR, Duncan N, Fuller JC, Baier SM, Naimo MA, Rathmacher J. The effects of 12 weeks of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate free acid supplementation on muscle mass, strength, and power in resistance-trained individuals: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print]</li>
<li>Tremblay A, Despres JP, Theriault G, Fournier G, Bouchard C. Overfeeding and energy expenditure in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Nov;56(5):857-62.</li>
<li>McCleary, S.A., Rauch, J.T., Silva, J., Ormes, J., Lowery, R.P., and Wilson, J.M. Effects of energy load on resistance training adaptations. National Strength and Conditioning Conference; 2013 Jul 9-12; Las Vegas, NV.</li>
</ol><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/dym/dym.htm"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/dymatize-nutrition-banner-2.jpg" width="560" height="144" border="0" class="c15"/></a><br /><h4>Recommended For You</h4><div class="c18" webReader="4.46268656716"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-how-do-i-target-fast-twitch-muscle-fibers.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/ask-the-muscle-prof-fast-twitch-muscle-small.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c17" webReader="5.49253731343"><h4 class="c16"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-muscle-prof-how-do-i-target-fast-twitch-muscle-fibers.html">Ask The Muscle Prof: How Do I Target Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers?</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Fast-twitch muscle fibers aren't just important for sprinters and competitive weightlifters. Here's what they have to offer bodybuilders!</p></div></div><div class="c18" webReader="5.30973451327"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mass-class-nutrition-fundamentals-of-eating-for-growth.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/welcome-to-mass-class_dymatize_sm.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c17" webReader="7.0796460177"><h4 class="c16"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mass-class-nutrition-fundamentals-of-eating-for-growth.html">Mass Class Nutrition: The Fundamentals Of Eating For Muscle Growth</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
You can drive yourself crazy with the what, when, and how of muscle-building nutrition. Or you can master the fundamentals with guidance from Dr. Jacob Wilson.</p></div></div><div class="c18" webReader="5.24186046512"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mass-class-training-the-fundamentals-of-muscle-growth.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/welcome-to-mass-class_dymatize_sm.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c17" webReader="6.73953488372"><h4 class="c16"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mass-class-training-the-fundamentals-of-muscle-growth.html">Mass Class Training: The Fundamentals Of Muscle Growth</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
I want to bring this sport to a new level with the latest science has to offer, and I want you to ride along with me. Pull up a chair and get out your notebook.</p></div></div><br class="c19"/></div><div class="padded-content article-content mod-about-the-author" id="article-about-author" webReader="39.6382978723"><h4 class="article-section-header">About The Author</h4><div class="ata-left-column" webReader="7.78378378378"><div class="ata-author-name"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jacob-wilson.html">Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., CSCS</a></div><div class="author-gradient-button"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jacob-wilson.html">VIEW AUTHOR PAGE</a></div><p class="ata-author-summary">Dr. Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., CSCS*D is a professor and director of the skeletal muscle and sports nutrition laboratory at the University of Tampa.</p></div><div class="ata-right-column"><div class="ata-author-image-frame"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jacob-wilson.html"><img src="images/2013/writer-jacob-wilson-sig-new.jpg" alt=""/></a></div><div class="ata-view-all-articles-link"><ul class="bb-chevron-list bold-type"><li><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jacob-wilson.html#articles" class="bold-type">View All Articles By This Author</a></li>
</ul></div></div></div>

Ask The Muscle Prof: Is Bulking Really Necessary?

Q Everyone keeps telling me that to get huge I need to eat enormous amounts of food. Is bulking really the answer to gaining mass?

Let’s face it, the core goal of bodybuilding is to develop quality mass. We’re willing to slave for years just to put on another inch or two on our quads or arms. But it’s also true that the obsession with gaining muscle lead athletes to go to extremes, and one of them is clearly the traditional bulk.

Throughout the history of the sport, bodybuilders have separated their diets into two entirely distinct phases: bulk and cut. The first occurs in the offseason and is characterized by consumption of an excess amount of calories in order to gain size—which comes in the forms of both lean mass and fat. During the second phase, which occurs during contest prep, bodybuilders lower their calories and increase their cardio in order to burn off all that fat and get shredded.

This is simply the way things are done. But is it really necessary? Some recent research indicates that there may be a better method. To understand why, let’s start by bulking up on the fundamentals of mass-building diet and training.

It All Starts With Training and Protein

The first thing I must emphasize is that without hardcore training, you are not going to get huge. All nutrition talk aside, training is the most powerful stimulus for muscle mass. As I have pointed out in my earlier articles, effective training for mass is built around three primary techniques.1

The first is to obtain a large pump during the training session; this cell swelling response triggers muscle growth. The second is to increase the amount of lactic acid in your muscle, which occurs via short rest period lengths and higher repetitions. The final mechanism for growth is mechanical stress, which is accomplished by lifting heavy weights. These training methods should be cycled throughout the week so you experience each growth stimulus frequently.

All nutrition talk aside, training is the most powerful stimulus for muscle mass.

Only once your training is in place do you need to start worrying about macronutrients. And when that time comes, the research is clear that protein is a critical priority when it comes to gaining mass.2 However, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, I would like to change the way bodybuilders approach protein. Most people focus on how much protein they obtain throughout an entire day.

However, research by my brother, Dr. Gabe Wilson, suggests that the real focus should be what you consume to maximize growth at each meal.3 His work suggests that for most people, the optimal amount comes out to about 30-40 grams of high-quality protein per meal. Exceeding this amount hasn’t been shown to increase muscle growth.4

The main reason you should select 30-40 grams of protein is that this amount contains the optimal amount of branched-chain amino acid leucine to encourage muscle growth. And just in case all that eating sounds like a tall order for one day, there’s another cool thing about Dr. Gabe Wilson’s research. He found alternating meals containing whole protein with snacks of supplemental branched-chain amino acids optimizes growth, too!

Calories

Training: check. Protein: check. OK, now you can start manipulating calories. But this doesn’t mean you need to start eating every calorie-rich food in sight.

Can you gain muscle without taking in excess calories? The answer is actually yes.

Can you gain muscle without taking in excess calories? The answer is actually yes. My lab recently published a study in the “European Journal of Applied Physiology” where we optimized protein intake, but kept calories at maintenance in the subjects.5

We found that these highly trained subjects gained muscle and lost fat at the same time, with minimal change in their total bodyweight. In other words, training hardcore while on maintenance calories can actually shift your body to a more muscular, less fat appearance.

The premise for our study wasn’t entirely new; it was the subjects who made it special. Up until recently, nearly all of the studies which overfed subjects were done in sedentary (non-training) subjects. The most-cited study to date took sedentary people and overfed them for 100 days by 1,000 calories per day.

The average body weight increase for the subjects during the overfeed was 17 pounds, of which 67 percent was fat, and only 33 percent was muscle mass.6 This research shows that excess calories can lead to both fat mass and lean mass, and it seems to support the idea of a traditional bulk.

My lab is the first to look at the impact of bulking in guys who were actually training hard. In addition to the above study, Sean McCleary headed up another study where we overfed subjects with either a moderate 800 calories or an extreme 2,000 extra calories per day for 45 days.7 This was markedly shorter than past studies, which lasted 100 days or longer. Subjects in our study also trained every body part to extreme levels several times per week.

We found that both groups increased their muscle mass by approximately 6-8 pounds. But, the difference when it came to fat gain was more pronounced. While the moderate calorie group lost 2 pounds of fat, the extreme calorie group gained 2 pounds of fat! This tells us that while extra calories can be anabolic, there is a ceiling for their positive effects.

Past this ceiling, excess calories will be stored as fat. The result is that it will take you longer to cut down, and when you do that, it will cost more muscle tissue from catabolic breakdown.

Short Duration, High Protein

Want to know how to build quality mass? Here’s your roadmap in two sentences:

  • Optimize your training.
  • Optimize your protein intake.

Optimize your protein intake.

That alone is enough to ensure you add muscle. However, if you want to accelerate this process, then consuming calories above that needed to maintain weight can be advantageous—to a point. There is a limit to the potential anabolic effects of overfeeding, after which you aren’t gaining any more muscle, but only fat.

Our study suggests that any overfeed should probably be no more than 500-800 extra calories per day. Further, keeping your bulks shorter, in the range of 30-45 days, will maximize muscle gains and minimize fat gains.

Now what are you waiting for? Go get those gains!

References
  1. Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2857-72.
  2. Wilson J, Wilson GJ. Contemporary issues in protein requirements and consumption for resistance trained athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006 Jun 5;3:7-27.
  3. Wilson GJ, Layman DK, Moulton CJ, Norton LE, Anthony TG, Proud CG, Rupassara SI, Garlick PJ. Leucine or carbohydrate supplementation reduces AMPK and eEF2 phosphorylation and extends postprandial muscle protein synthesis in rats. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Dec;301(6):E1236-42.
  4. Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover EI, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):161-8.
  5. Wilson, J. M., Lowery, R. P., Joy, J. M., Andersen, J. C., Wilson, S. M., Stout, J. R., … & Rathmacher, J. Wilson JM, Lowery RP, Joy JM, Andersen JC, Wilson SM, Stout JR, Duncan N, Fuller JC, Baier SM, Naimo MA, Rathmacher J. The effects of 12 weeks of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate free acid supplementation on muscle mass, strength, and power in resistance-trained individuals: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print]
  6. Tremblay A, Despres JP, Theriault G, Fournier G, Bouchard C. Overfeeding and energy expenditure in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Nov;56(5):857-62.
  7. McCleary, S.A., Rauch, J.T., Silva, J., Ormes, J., Lowery, R.P., and Wilson, J.M. Effects of energy load on resistance training adaptations. National Strength and Conditioning Conference; 2013 Jul 9-12; Las Vegas, NV.

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Supplements are a big part of Jim Stoppani, PhD’s, nutrition plan. His column is titled “Ask The Supplement Guru” for a reason! Just like he did for his training and nutrition programs, Jim uses research to back up his supplement choices. Guesswork is a recipe for failure, not success.

Jim Stoppani, PhD, Fitness 360
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More Science, More Supps

“Supplements help provide nutrients in a more concentrated form. We know that certain supplements can help increase muscle mass, strength, and increase fat loss. I am a firm believer in the benefit of supplementing a good diet with the proper ingredients, taken in the proper doses at the right time. I have seen the benefits of supplements firsthand in the lab, in myself, and in the thousands of people who I have worked with”

“I have seen the benefits of supplements firsthand in the lab, in myself, and in the thousands of people who I have worked with.”

Jim admits that all the information out there, much of it conflicting, can be overwhelming. He suggests that every person interested in supplementation should do his or her own research. “A good place to start is Bodybuilding.com, where you can read my articles,” he says. “You can also go to PubMed and search for scientific articles on certain ingredients like creatine.”

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<div id="DPG" webReader="280.562259402"><p>It's the million-dollar question: How do the fit stay fit?</p><p>At Bodybuilding.com, we're uniquely qualified to know the constellation of factors which separate the successful from the unsuccessful when it comes to fitness. That's because we have <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/">BodySpace</a>, which is more than just the largest social media site in the world dedicated to the fit-minded. It's also a vast data pool that amounts to the world's largest fitness study, a research effort that we refer to as the Strength in Numbers Study.</p><p>Our Strength in Numbers findings are based on BodySpace members who actively make progress toward their stated goal, whether it's weight gain or loss. If you move toward your goal on BodySpace, we consider that fitness success.</p><div class="c15" webReader="13"><h2 class="article-sub-header c13">WHAT IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS?</h2><p class="c14">The Strength in Numbers Study is based on data collected from our very own social fitness network, BodySpace. Our findings come from BodySpace members who successfully make progress toward a stated fitness goal, whether it's weight gain or loss. Every time members post to FitBoard or add a picture, they contribute to the study.</p></div><p>Every time you track a workout, post to <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/fitboard/">FitBoard</a>, add progress pics, and engage in myriad BodySpace activities, you help the community at large. You help us understand the habits that generate fitness success. If you're an active BodySpace member, you contribute to the greater fitness good.</p><p>No matter how many numbers we crunch about crunches, no matter how much digits we slice and dice about getting sliced and diced, shaping up still requires one person to dig deep and make a commitment to become better.</p><div class="cool-fact" webReader="11"><h3>The Power of Progress</h3><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/coolfacts-bluebar.gif" class="c16"/><p>Did you know that BodySpace members altogether lost a total of <strong>1,977,631 pounds</strong> in the last year? The average user also lost<br /><strong>4 percent body fat</strong>. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back<br />for all your tremendous hard work!</p></div><p>New habits must be formed, changes must be made, and reproducible motivation must roar to life. Everyone walks their own path toward their goals, but simple daily habits that reinforce eating better, exercising regularly, and sleeping more still lay the groundwork for a fit life.</p><p>The majority of fit individuals don't spend hours in the gym, live on a diet of cabbage, or nit-pick the optimum amount of holy water to achieve immortality. Instead, fit people share a set of outrageously simple and positivity-reinforcing habits. These are the eight habits of highly successful fit people, according to the first major batch of our Strength in Numbers data.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">1 Highly Successful Fit People Track Their Workouts</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>Memory sure works in a funny way. If you've been relying on it to recollect the exact number of reps <em>and</em> the weight for each of the five (or was it six?) exercises you did two Tuesdays ago, the only exercise you'll be doing at the gym is frustrating yourself.</p><p>It's more than merely a matter of organization. Neglecting to track your workout via an online tool or a <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/printworklog.htm">journal</a> is a rookie mistake, one that can lead to unproductive workouts and a stark absence of recognizable progress. Simply writing down your workouts makes you more aware of what you may or may not be doing. You might be surprised to learn that you were, in fact, doing only 20 minutes of cardio rather than 30.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/fit-people-track-workouts_stat-circle.png" class="c20"/><p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-2.jpg" width="560" height="332"/></p><p>Additionally, a visual record—especially one that other people can view—holds you accountable to completing your workout, gets you fired up about measurable progress, helps you avoid exercise plateaus, and could even engage you in some friendly competition among peers.</p><p>All of these serve to help the fit stay fit—or in some cases, get even fitter.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">2 Highly Successful Fit People Find a Plan And Stick It Out</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>There are literally hundreds of exercise plans out in the wild. It's not uncommon for a newcomer to struggle with finding the "perfect" exercise blueprint. When it comes to picking out a suitable workout program, the best method is to just go with one that fits your goal and difficulty level, and then feel out the program for at least six weeks. Why?</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-main.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-3_01.jpg" width="186" height="323"/></a><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/erin-stern-elite-body-4-week-fitness-trainer.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-3_02.jpg" width="190" height="323"/></a><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/built-by-science-six-week-muscle-building-trainer.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-3_03.jpg" width="184" height="323"/></a><p>If you're new to exercise, your body undergoes major changes as it attempts to wire your motor units and brain to become better accustomed to new movement patterns. Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks for your body to adapt and for beastly gains to come out of hibernation.</p><p>It is for this reason that both sticking it out the first six weeks of the program and tracking your workout—the first habit we discussed (see the synergy?)—are so crucial. In doing so, you can make smart tweaks to turbocharge your program and view progress in numbers, even if they don't immediately make themselves apparent on your body.</p><p>Once you get over that initial adaptation phase, the transformation begins to take shape, making you more likely to dive further into the program. This brings us to the next point ...</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">3 Highly Successful Fit People Post Progress Pictures</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>You may laugh at the prospect of someone who poses in front of the bathroom mirror, arm outstretched, ready to snap a picture. Maybe you actually know someone who does this, but it turns out there may be something scientifically sound to the "selfie."</p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-4.jpg" width="205" height="333" border="0" class="right-image c21"/><p>Progress photos can help you track your progress. Each snapshot in time showcases subtle changes that you might otherwise have never noticed ("Wow, my abs look like they could crush tomatoes here!") and incidentally lights up certain regions in your brain related to euphoria.</p><p>These visual milestones trigger a stronger and stronger release of dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical strongly linked to reward. As you ease the psychological tension between your desire to reach your fitness goal and the hard work needed to achieve it, you will uncover the drive necessary to keep pursuing your goal because you're closer than you were before.</p><p>It might feel a bit awkward at first to take photos of yourself, but these quick snaps can help keep you grounded and motivated.</p><p>When you advance, they allow you to identify weak points or lagging body parts and zero-in on what you need to improve.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">4 Highly Successful Fit People Seek and Share Motivation</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>When you first start your fitness journey, summoning motivation day-in and day-out can be likened to moving a hundred-ton hippo that won't budge an inch no matter how much you goad, hoot, and prod it. Is this genetics or laziness? <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23552494" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Some studies</a> seem to think motivation is inherited, but the literature on motivation itself is <a href="http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/6/695.full" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">still pretty unclear</a>. What <em>is</em> clear, however, is that intrinsic motivation doesn't always come easily, so it has to sprout elsewhere.</p><div class="galleryPhotosContainer"><div class="galleryPhotosRow"><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/38589152" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/02/06/31107422/gallerypic/eRGLUjbDBPTCfkkzpkngBwtqEyiYyZVHXnsng.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/35652762" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/05/31107422/gallerypic/WdkZCPlmDFmKurfWpkSRYLYCDMWUJGeGtSWfg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/36643952" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/15/31107422/gallerypic/RxOJtUuwIAqfssmcggnQlQHHspxgVDKOCtsIg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/33908142" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2013/11/17/31107422/gallerypic/boamlfKagrSKgcqpMLKeZdNmGuzZqzdZzNmjg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/30375611" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2013/08/14/31107422/gallerypic/FkTRTVZwBqliEwnsUTDedqglWmpIiUGDMCjwg.jpg"/></a></div><div class="galleryPhotosRow"><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/20229352" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2013/01/22/31107422/gallerypic/TItGlYfsbUMRFRIdXmAqTeXLuHVuvCWyNtSwg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/16359152" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2012/10/16/31107422/gallerypic/fDWMFqAkPGddxEAtxLszStSYxxjLYtqKIltug.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/12706412" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2012/07/18/31107422/gallerypic/qDRcgeEOLYZcSKvbrYlnGlPrJhDZuRnxIting.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/35468792" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/02/31107422/gallerypic/aWGPFEgVLwKyBRAPUOGiJJKgwATaqddYCASeg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/36643932" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/15/31107422/gallerypic/gaomLocnkCHXprabuRGSwmjNwretOMxbrscVg.jpg"/></a></div></div><p>Enter the Internet sub-genre of fitness motivational pictures and quotes, aka "fitspiration." Popular quotes range from "A one hour workout is only 4 percent of your day. No excuses!" to "Believe yourself and you are halfway there," to the more abrasive and succinct, "Shut up and train." These powerful quotes and images are staples on <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/fitboard/">FitBoard</a>, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Just a cursory look through any of these places will hit you with enough extrinsic motivation to kick your arse in gear.</p><p>The best type of motivation, though, is realizing that you enjoy working out and can gain a sense of achievement from doing something awesome. For this reason, tracking your progress through workout logs, pictures, and even occasional medical checkups is incredibly important.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">5 Highly Successful Fit People Make Fitness Social</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>Few things are 100 percent enjoyable when done solo. For instance, the struggle of a 6 a.m. workout is instantly made better with a workout buddy (and a hit of caffeine, of course).</p><p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-5.jpg" width="560" height="328"/></p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/fit-people-make-fitness-social_stat-circle.png" class="c23"/><p>Numerous studies reinforce the idea that social support helps create a positive feedback loop to spur on a person's positive self-perception and keep him or her exercising. A study that came out of the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention shows that social support specific to fitness kept people committed to exercise measurably better than just general support. It's no wonder that fitness conquests are likely more successful among groups which channel the same exercise mindset, like on BodySpace or group fitness classes.</p><p>Interestingly, a study conducted at Kansas State University found that it's better to buddy up with others who are fitter than you are. It sounds like counterintuitive advice, but hanging with someone stronger or fitter is the perfect motivator, because apparently motivation and harder bouts of effort often germinate from "feelings of inadequacy." These feelings can push you toward improvement.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">6 Highly Successful Fit People Constantly Learn</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-5.jpg" width="311" height="314" border="0" class="right-image c24"/><p>As mentioned before, attaining better fitness at the individual level isn't an exact science—at least not yet. New research on a variety of nutrition and fitness topics hits multiple scientific journals daily, nightly, and ever so quickly. Unless you consume content regularly, it's difficult to keep up with the latest skinny.</p><p>Of course, the Achilles' heel in all this is that such information amounts to the good, the bad, and the ugly.</p><p>You have to apply some critical thinking to separate the chaff from the wheat. Inevitably, you'll come across grand claims with pseudo-scientific backing and a lot plain old-fashioned bro-science, so an active mind and keen eye are essential.</p><p>Don't think you have to try every new program under the sun, either. Rather than implementing everything all at once, save certain tips and techniques for later. Consume quality content regularly, but always examine it through the lens of your own goals, body, and lifestyle.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">7 Highly Successful Fit People Regularly Visit Fitness<br /><span class="c25">Sites</span></h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>Through our Strength in Numbers Study, we discovered that the most successfully fit people in the world start off by doing what you're doing right now: Being here and reading this. This habit goes hand-in-hand with Habit No. 6 and proves that you're on the prowl for information, education, and constant self-improvement.</p><p>Being engaged in such activities will help you stay committed to fitness for life. Whether you're looking for information, recipe ideas, or social support, you're in this for the long haul.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">8 Highly Successful Fit People Take These Supplements</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><div class="left-side-stripe"><ul class="dpg-list"><li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/whey.html">Whey Protein</a></li>
<li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/amino.html">Amino Acids</a>/<a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bcaa.html">BCAAs</a></li>
<li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/multi.html">Multivitamins</a></li>
<li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/creatine-monohydrate.html">Creatine Monohydrate</a></li>
<li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/mic.html">Micellar Casein Protein</a></li>
</ul></div><p>Granted, these supplements won't make or break your fitness progress. After all, fitness is based first and foremost on smart training and precision nutrition. To be effective, dietary supplements must stand upon a solid foundation of whole foods and consistent effort. Supplements augment and can enhance your hard work, but they won't do any of that work for you.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/fit-people-take-supplements_stat-circle.png" class="c20"/><p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-6.jpg" width="560" height="342"/></p><p>In addition, if often isn't possible to get <em>all</em> the necessary nutrients exclusively from real foods. Some chalk it up to inconvenience—a wholesome meal may just be out of reach simply because of the environment or time constraints. Other times the problem might be more complex and further out of your control. Then there's the growing dearth of nutrients from food itself due to modern agricultural practices, soil depletion, long carbon footprints, and excessive processing.</p><p>The nutrients present in food today aren't in the same concentration as food grown 50 years ago, much less hundreds of years ago. Iceberg lettuce, for example, now has the same nutritional value as cardboard.</p><p>In these instances, supplements—in particular protein—provide the extra nutrients needed to support the fit life of exercising individuals, especially people with specific body composition or strength goals.</p><p>If you want to learn more about the popular supplements and see where they fit in your strategy, you can learn a thing or two from <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bbmainsupp.htm">our supplements page</a> or the category guides linked to the ingredients above.</p><h3 class="article-title">BodySpace, Your Space</h3><p>Are you already a BodySpace member or an active part of another online fitness community? Sound off in the comments below and let us know the habits which work for you. Don't forget to give yourself a hug for beginning or continuing your fitness journey with others like you!</p><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/2014-bodyspace-banner.jpg"/></a><h5>References</h5><ol class="dpg-list"><li>M. D. Roberts et al. Phenotypic and Molecular Differences Between Rats Selectively-Bred to Voluntarily Run High Versus Low Nightly Distances. AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2013; DOI:10.1152/ajpregu.00581.2012</li>
<li>Oka, RK et al. Sources of social support as predictors of exercise adherence in women and men ages 50 to 65 years. Women's Health. 1995 Summer;1(2):161-175</li>
<li>National Institute of Mental Health. "Brain signal boosts as monkey nears reward." NIMH. NIMH, 30 May, 2002.</li>
<li>4. Kansas State University. "Burning more calories is easier when working out with someone you perceive as better." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2012.</li>
<li>Mark W. Howe et al. Prolonged dopamine signalling in striatum signals proximity and value of distant rewards. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038</li>
<li>Fan MS et al. Evidence of decreasing mineral density in wheat grain over the last 160 years. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 2008;22(4):315-324</li>
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Strength In Numbers: The 8 Habits Of Highly Successful Fit People

It’s the million-dollar question: How do the fit stay fit?

At Bodybuilding.com, we’re uniquely qualified to know the constellation of factors which separate the successful from the unsuccessful when it comes to fitness. That’s because we have BodySpace, which is more than just the largest social media site in the world dedicated to the fit-minded. It’s also a vast data pool that amounts to the world’s largest fitness study, a research effort that we refer to as the Strength in Numbers Study.

Our Strength in Numbers findings are based on BodySpace members who actively make progress toward their stated goal, whether it’s weight gain or loss. If you move toward your goal on BodySpace, we consider that fitness success.

WHAT IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS?

The Strength in Numbers Study is based on data collected from our very own social fitness network, BodySpace. Our findings come from BodySpace members who successfully make progress toward a stated fitness goal, whether it’s weight gain or loss. Every time members post to FitBoard or add a picture, they contribute to the study.

Every time you track a workout, post to FitBoard, add progress pics, and engage in myriad BodySpace activities, you help the community at large. You help us understand the habits that generate fitness success. If you’re an active BodySpace member, you contribute to the greater fitness good.

No matter how many numbers we crunch about crunches, no matter how much digits we slice and dice about getting sliced and diced, shaping up still requires one person to dig deep and make a commitment to become better.

The Power of Progress

Did you know that BodySpace members altogether lost a total of 1,977,631 pounds in the last year? The average user also lost
4 percent body fat. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back
for all your tremendous hard work!

New habits must be formed, changes must be made, and reproducible motivation must roar to life. Everyone walks their own path toward their goals, but simple daily habits that reinforce eating better, exercising regularly, and sleeping more still lay the groundwork for a fit life.

The majority of fit individuals don’t spend hours in the gym, live on a diet of cabbage, or nit-pick the optimum amount of holy water to achieve immortality. Instead, fit people share a set of outrageously simple and positivity-reinforcing habits. These are the eight habits of highly successful fit people, according to the first major batch of our Strength in Numbers data.

1 Highly Successful Fit People Track Their Workouts

Memory sure works in a funny way. If you’ve been relying on it to recollect the exact number of reps and the weight for each of the five (or was it six?) exercises you did two Tuesdays ago, the only exercise you’ll be doing at the gym is frustrating yourself.

It’s more than merely a matter of organization. Neglecting to track your workout via an online tool or a journal is a rookie mistake, one that can lead to unproductive workouts and a stark absence of recognizable progress. Simply writing down your workouts makes you more aware of what you may or may not be doing. You might be surprised to learn that you were, in fact, doing only 20 minutes of cardio rather than 30.

Additionally, a visual record—especially one that other people can view—holds you accountable to completing your workout, gets you fired up about measurable progress, helps you avoid exercise plateaus, and could even engage you in some friendly competition among peers.

All of these serve to help the fit stay fit—or in some cases, get even fitter.

2 Highly Successful Fit People Find a Plan And Stick It Out

There are literally hundreds of exercise plans out in the wild. It’s not uncommon for a newcomer to struggle with finding the “perfect” exercise blueprint. When it comes to picking out a suitable workout program, the best method is to just go with one that fits your goal and difficulty level, and then feel out the program for at least six weeks. Why?

If you’re new to exercise, your body undergoes major changes as it attempts to wire your motor units and brain to become better accustomed to new movement patterns. Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks for your body to adapt and for beastly gains to come out of hibernation.

It is for this reason that both sticking it out the first six weeks of the program and tracking your workout—the first habit we discussed (see the synergy?)—are so crucial. In doing so, you can make smart tweaks to turbocharge your program and view progress in numbers, even if they don’t immediately make themselves apparent on your body.

Once you get over that initial adaptation phase, the transformation begins to take shape, making you more likely to dive further into the program. This brings us to the next point …

3 Highly Successful Fit People Post Progress Pictures

You may laugh at the prospect of someone who poses in front of the bathroom mirror, arm outstretched, ready to snap a picture. Maybe you actually know someone who does this, but it turns out there may be something scientifically sound to the “selfie.”

Progress photos can help you track your progress. Each snapshot in time showcases subtle changes that you might otherwise have never noticed (“Wow, my abs look like they could crush tomatoes here!”) and incidentally lights up certain regions in your brain related to euphoria.

These visual milestones trigger a stronger and stronger release of dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical strongly linked to reward. As you ease the psychological tension between your desire to reach your fitness goal and the hard work needed to achieve it, you will uncover the drive necessary to keep pursuing your goal because you’re closer than you were before.

It might feel a bit awkward at first to take photos of yourself, but these quick snaps can help keep you grounded and motivated.

When you advance, they allow you to identify weak points or lagging body parts and zero-in on what you need to improve.

4 Highly Successful Fit People Seek and Share Motivation

When you first start your fitness journey, summoning motivation day-in and day-out can be likened to moving a hundred-ton hippo that won’t budge an inch no matter how much you goad, hoot, and prod it. Is this genetics or laziness? Some studies seem to think motivation is inherited, but the literature on motivation itself is still pretty unclear. What is clear, however, is that intrinsic motivation doesn’t always come easily, so it has to sprout elsewhere.

Enter the Internet sub-genre of fitness motivational pictures and quotes, aka “fitspiration.” Popular quotes range from “A one hour workout is only 4 percent of your day. No excuses!” to “Believe yourself and you are halfway there,” to the more abrasive and succinct, “Shut up and train.” These powerful quotes and images are staples on FitBoard, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Just a cursory look through any of these places will hit you with enough extrinsic motivation to kick your arse in gear.

The best type of motivation, though, is realizing that you enjoy working out and can gain a sense of achievement from doing something awesome. For this reason, tracking your progress through workout logs, pictures, and even occasional medical checkups is incredibly important.

5 Highly Successful Fit People Make Fitness Social

Few things are 100 percent enjoyable when done solo. For instance, the struggle of a 6 a.m. workout is instantly made better with a workout buddy (and a hit of caffeine, of course).

Numerous studies reinforce the idea that social support helps create a positive feedback loop to spur on a person’s positive self-perception and keep him or her exercising. A study that came out of the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention shows that social support specific to fitness kept people committed to exercise measurably better than just general support. It’s no wonder that fitness conquests are likely more successful among groups which channel the same exercise mindset, like on BodySpace or group fitness classes.

Interestingly, a study conducted at Kansas State University found that it’s better to buddy up with others who are fitter than you are. It sounds like counterintuitive advice, but hanging with someone stronger or fitter is the perfect motivator, because apparently motivation and harder bouts of effort often germinate from “feelings of inadequacy.” These feelings can push you toward improvement.

6 Highly Successful Fit People Constantly Learn

As mentioned before, attaining better fitness at the individual level isn’t an exact science—at least not yet. New research on a variety of nutrition and fitness topics hits multiple scientific journals daily, nightly, and ever so quickly. Unless you consume content regularly, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest skinny.

Of course, the Achilles’ heel in all this is that such information amounts to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

You have to apply some critical thinking to separate the chaff from the wheat. Inevitably, you’ll come across grand claims with pseudo-scientific backing and a lot plain old-fashioned bro-science, so an active mind and keen eye are essential.

Don’t think you have to try every new program under the sun, either. Rather than implementing everything all at once, save certain tips and techniques for later. Consume quality content regularly, but always examine it through the lens of your own goals, body, and lifestyle.

7 Highly Successful Fit People Regularly Visit Fitness
Sites

Through our Strength in Numbers Study, we discovered that the most successfully fit people in the world start off by doing what you’re doing right now: Being here and reading this. This habit goes hand-in-hand with Habit No. 6 and proves that you’re on the prowl for information, education, and constant self-improvement.

Being engaged in such activities will help you stay committed to fitness for life. Whether you’re looking for information, recipe ideas, or social support, you’re in this for the long haul.

8 Highly Successful Fit People Take These Supplements

Granted, these supplements won’t make or break your fitness progress. After all, fitness is based first and foremost on smart training and precision nutrition. To be effective, dietary supplements must stand upon a solid foundation of whole foods and consistent effort. Supplements augment and can enhance your hard work, but they won’t do any of that work for you.

In addition, if often isn’t possible to get all the necessary nutrients exclusively from real foods. Some chalk it up to inconvenience—a wholesome meal may just be out of reach simply because of the environment or time constraints. Other times the problem might be more complex and further out of your control. Then there’s the growing dearth of nutrients from food itself due to modern agricultural practices, soil depletion, long carbon footprints, and excessive processing.

The nutrients present in food today aren’t in the same concentration as food grown 50 years ago, much less hundreds of years ago. Iceberg lettuce, for example, now has the same nutritional value as cardboard.

In these instances, supplements—in particular protein—provide the extra nutrients needed to support the fit life of exercising individuals, especially people with specific body composition or strength goals.

If you want to learn more about the popular supplements and see where they fit in your strategy, you can learn a thing or two from our supplements page or the category guides linked to the ingredients above.

BodySpace, Your Space

Are you already a BodySpace member or an active part of another online fitness community? Sound off in the comments below and let us know the habits which work for you. Don’t forget to give yourself a hug for beginning or continuing your fitness journey with others like you!

References
  1. M. D. Roberts et al. Phenotypic and Molecular Differences Between Rats Selectively-Bred to Voluntarily Run High Versus Low Nightly Distances. AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2013; DOI:10.1152/ajpregu.00581.2012
  2. Oka, RK et al. Sources of social support as predictors of exercise adherence in women and men ages 50 to 65 years. Women’s Health. 1995 Summer;1(2):161-175
  3. National Institute of Mental Health. “Brain signal boosts as monkey nears reward.” NIMH. NIMH, 30 May, 2002.
  4. 4. Kansas State University. “Burning more calories is easier when working out with someone you perceive as better.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2012.
  5. Mark W. Howe et al. Prolonged dopamine signalling in striatum signals proximity and value of distant rewards. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038
  6. Fan MS et al. Evidence of decreasing mineral density in wheat grain over the last 160 years. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 2008;22(4):315-324

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Strength In Numbers: The 8 Habits Of Highly Successful Fit People

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