Sunday, November 27, 2005

If you want to build muscle, don't overtrain!

If you're looking to build muscle mass, it's important that you don't overtrain. Overtraining is the quickest way to hit a plateau and stop all muscle growth.

If you read this article, your days of hitting plateaus are over.

In fact, most people I talk to overtrain. And overtraining is the quickest way to slow down or stop your progress.

Your workouts should be very demanding. They should be intense and very focused. With this intensity comes the need to rest to allow your muscles to fully recuperate.

Muscle growth is achieved by progressively overloading the muscles... forcing them to adapt by building new muscle to handle future demands. If you don't allow your muscles to fully recuperate, they won't be able to handle any new demands placed upon them. They'll start getting weaker from less rest. That's how plateaus happen.

We're going to take necessary steps to combat this problem. We do this by training smarter, not just harder. Proper rest and recovery from working out is so important, it literally is the deciding factor behind building muscle and not building muscle.

Follow these 5 steps and you'll never hit a plateau again.

1. Keep workouts short and intense. Workouts do not need to be long to be effective, in fact, if they're too long, they're counter-productive. The goal of weight training is to go into the gym and stimulate muscle growth, not to annihilate the muscles. Anything more that what's needed is overtraining.

2. Keep a lower rep range.

Keeping your rep range low will ensure maximum overload and increased intensity. Four to six reps get the job done efficiently and more effectively than higher reps with lower weight. Remember, overload (weight) builds muscle, not reps. Low reps ensures more overload. It's also easier to intensely focus on four to six reps than it is for ten.

3. Keep a lower number of sets. Remember that weight training is no marathon. You only need a couple heavy sets of an exercise to stimulate muscle growth. If you feel you didn't work a muscle sufficiently after your two heavy sets, I question the amount of weight or your intensity on those sets.

You should feel as though you probably couldn't do another set as effectively as your last one. Remember, its not the quantity of sets that matter if you want to build muscle, it's the quality. More isn't better when it comes to weight training, better is better.

4. Rest enough between your sets.

Rest at least a minute between your warm-up sets and at least two minutes between your heavy sets. You need to recuperate enough to handle the demand the next set is going to place upon your muscles. You cannot expend max energy on an exercise if you're still tired from the last set.

You will not be able to lift as much weight or do as many reps if you're not rested enough. There isn't a set amount of time to rest, just feel rested enough so that you can meet or exceed the efforts of your previous set.

5. Get adequate rest before working the same muscle group again.

Heavy and intense weight training produces microscopic fiber damage to the muscles. It's this damage and rebuilding which causes a muscle to get bigger and stronger. In other words, you can only build muscle if you let this process takes its natural course.

Without proper rest between workouts of the same muscle group, you will not recover sufficiently to handle placing more overload on that muscle group.

You should wait at least five to seven days between working the same muscle group. If you train biceps on Monday, wait until the following Monday to ensure they are rested enough. Training them prior may create an over training environment. Remember that they will get worked while performing other exercises, so they actually are not fully resting all week.

These are 5 simple steps you can use to avoid hitting a plateau. But what if you feel that you are, in fact, over training and have hit a plateau?

What are some of the signs of over training?

First of all, if you're not looking forward to getting into the gym any more, that's a sign. If you're sluggish and tired more than usual, that's also a sign. If you're struggling to lift weights that are not normally a struggle, then that's a sign of overtraining.

If you feel you've hit a plateau and are overtraining, immediately take a week off. You may just need some rest. Use this time to heal and continue to eat properly.

Also, make sure your protein level is high. This is the time your muscles need the building blocks to work with. This rest and proper nutrition will be very anabolic (muscle building) to your body. It may be all you need to bust through that plateau.

These are a few things you can do to avoid over training and hitting a plateau. Stick with lower reps, shorter workouts, plenty of rest between heavy sets, and keep your protein intake high. These are surefire ways to help you build muscle and avoid overtraining.

All the best in health and life,

Shawn Lebrun
http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com

Friday, November 25, 2005

To Build More Muscle, Get Smart!

If you want to build more muscle mass, you first have to work at getting smarter!

When you learn better, you can start to do better. When you start to do better, you get better results. But there comes a point where if you start to read up and try too many different things, you'll get away from the basics of muscle building and fat loss.

That's why it's dangerous for young kids to pick up a muscle mag written by the pros. The workout routines contained in those magazines ARE NOT written for people just beginning or even people considered advanced.

The workout routines written in most muscle mags you see on the book stands were written by pro bodybuilders that have above average genetics (so they can handle more weight training) and also they use performance enhancing substances that should only be used under a doctor's supervision.

So there's a fine line between becoming educated and becoming over educated. You want a working, common sense knowledge. Learn what causes muscle to grow and fat to burn off the body. You don't care about advanced workout theory or new designer supplements.You want basic, applicable knowledge of what must be done to lose fat and build muscle. The easier something is to understand, the more likely it will be applied and used.

And since most people fail to see results in their routines because they've been misinformed and misled about what it takes, you need to focus more on common sense. Most people build muscle the same way (same process must be used). Most people burn fat the same way (same processes must be used)

So learn from others, either through books, websites, articles, or personal conversation, what has worked for them. Be careful who you listen to though, everyone has an opinion on what they feel works. Before listening, make sure that what they're doing:

1. Works - don't take fat-burning tips from those overweight or muscle building tips from those with no muscle.

2. Is safe - skip the drugs or latest and greatest supplement or workout routine

3. Sounds right. If it sounds like common sense, great, but if you're scratching your head, walk away.

4. Make sure it comes from someone qualified to give advice. Have they done fitness contests or are they certified trainers. Listening to the wrong people can get you hurt.

Spend some time becoming informed and educated about the basics of muscle building. Visit a bookstore and pick up some books on basic weight training, or aerobics, or fat burning, or nutrition and read through and learn some stuff you can apply.

Skip right over anything that sounds "advanced, too good to be true, too confusing, or anything else that's not basic, common sense. Achieving a great physique and fitness levels really comes down to just focusing on a few common sense areas (diet and exercise!)

So before looking for the advanced stuff, make sure you've learned the basics. If you resolve to learn just one new thing about cardio, weight training, or nutrition each week for a year, that's 52 new things you'd learn. Imagine how much extra muscle you could build by doing this!Becoming fit is a process, one that involves education, experience, time, and action.

Start to learn better so that you can start to do better.It’s not what you know that counts. It’s not what you do that counts. It’s what you know AND do that helps you build more muscle!

If you want a simple, powerful program that guarantees you'll build muscle and lose fat in less time, check out "Simple Steps To Get Huge And Shredded"

http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/getshredded.html

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Which Is Better For Building Muscle: Machines Or Free Weights?

Want to know the Million Dollar question I get asked probably more than any other?

Which is better for building muscle: Machines or Free Weights?

Well, first of all, overloading the muscle with heavy weight -- whatever the type of equipment you use -- is what promotes muscle growth. Any exercise that limits overload is not a good choice.

However, in most cases, it's much more effective, and more efficient, to overload the muscle with dumbbells and barbells.

Most machines are very inefficient and not nearly as effective at muscle stimulation as free weight compound exercises. That's because they limit the amount of overload you can achieve. Less overload... less muscle fiber recruitment and less muscle growth as a result.

Sticking with basic free weight exercises enables you to handle maximum overload and use natural biomechanics as you perform the movements. Machines restrict your natural movements, again, making them less effective for building muscle.

Now, if I had to use a machine for resistance training, it'd probably be Hammer Strength machines. Hammer Strength is a company that recognizes that humans do not lift weights in a perfectly straight line. The range of motion of Hammer Strength equipment generally follows the natural arc of our own force curve.

And the thing is, you can probably lift more weight on Hammer Strength equipment than a free weight barbell. And it makes sense why. The machines help you out by balancing and stabilizing the majority of the weight for you. This makes it easier to lift more weight. But it's not an advantage. Muscle fiber recruitment will always be less than if a free weight were used.

Even though the absolute poundage is greater on a machine, the actual overload on the muscle is greater with free weights because you're responsible for balancing and stabilizing all the weight yourself. This, along with an increased range of motion, is why free weights are better for more muscle fiber recruitment and maximum stimulation.

Bottom line, good old-fashioned free weights are the number one selection for building muscle!

If you're looking to pack on more muscle massand get a lean, tight physique, use my "Simple Steps To Get Huge And Shredded" program. If you want to shed some stubborn fat and lose your love handles in time for the beach season,use Tom Venuto's "Burn the Fat" program.

Either way, start taking action now if you want a body you feel good about on the beach:

http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/best-programs.html

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Fastest Way To Build Muscle

So, you want quads the size of tree trunks or biceps that bust out of the sleeves of your shirt?
Well, I'm going to share with you the fastest way to build muscle.

But first, let me ask, are you taking a step forward, each and every day, going after what you want to achieve? Or are you a member of the "I want it now but don't want to work for it" club, simply sitting back waiting for things to come to you?

It's no secret that life rewards action. If you sit back and wait for things to come to you, I hope you have a lot of time to wait. The true power to reach your bodybuilding goals is your ability to consistently take action each and every day.

That, my friend, is the fastest way to build muscle.

In fact, can you imagine how much closer to your muscle building goals you'd be if you simply resolved to do ONE thing each and every day that would bring you closer to that goal. Good things would start adding up quickly, and like the snowball that keeps getting bigger while rolling down the snowy hill, you too would find your muscles getting bigger. Successful people are not necessarily those that make the right decisions all of the time.

But they do make decisions and better yet, act upon them. If what they do doesn't work the first time, they simply try something else until they get their desired result. What amazes me is the number of people I see and talk to that are not happy with their current physique or muscularity, yet they keep doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results!

Thomas Jefferson once wrote "I'm a firm believer in luck, and I've found the harder I work, the luckier I get." Well, the same is true in bodybuilding. How hard do you work for the things you seek?

Do you take some form of action each day and go after them? Do you get in the car and drive to the gym in the snow when you could just grab some cocoa and sit in and watch a movie? Do you slam a protein shake when you're done your muscle-blasting workout or do you just wait a few hours for dinner?

Do you do an intense cardio session when it would be far easier to sit on the couch? The great thing about taking action each and every day towards a specific bodybuilding goal is, sooner or later, the momentum you build is overwhelming and you find yourself closer to your goal than ever expected.

It was once said that "Good things come to those who wait, but it's the leftovers from those who hustle." I would like to challenge you for two weeks. Each and every day for two straight weeks, do something, anything, that brings you closer to whatever fitness goal you may have.

Whether you want to build muscle mass, lose stubborn body fat, or increase your strength and energy, you need to take some form of action every single day.

Whether you are beginning an exercise program or consider yourself advanced, sit down, go over what you are looking to achieve, and then plot out specific steps you need to take to accomplish these goals. Then get acting on them.

You'll find that the more you act on things, the more good things happen. The great thing about taking action towards a specific goal each and every day is that the Law of Momentum will start to take hold. Meaning, a body in motion tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by some outside force.

The flip side, of course, is a body at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by some outside force. Accept the challenge, do one or more things every day for the next two weeks that will move you closer to a specific goal you have and see how the Law of Momentum starts to take effect in your life.

Whether you realize it or not...you have chosen to be where you are. Success is easy - if you work hard, consistently follow your plan, stay committed and determined, and don't give up until you have what you want.

If you need a little help to get going, I'll show you, step by step, how to build muscle and lose fat in less time. Visit
http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/getshredded.html

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Best Time To Take Supplements To Build Muscle

If you want to learn how to take your supplements to build muscle mass a lot faster, this article will show you how.

Out of the hundreds of emails I get each week, more than half are from people who are interested in knowing which supplements to take or what the best way is to take the supplements they're currently using.

So this article will show you when to take some of the top supplements and how to get the most out of them. Creatine, glutamine, and protein are 3 of the top supplements for gaining lean muscle and strength.

But what are the best times to take these proven supplements in order to build muscle? Here's what I've found personally works best for me as well as tracking clients progress using these 3 supplements (which, by the way, are about the only 3 I recommend to clients, other than protein/meal replacements, EFA's and a good multi-vitamin).

There's a lot of conflicting research that shows creatine and glutamine may compete directly with one another for cell transport and absorption. That's because both creatine and glutamine use the same transport method (sodium) to be absorbed by the body, so there's a chance that one will get absorbed more than the other.

Even though there are different theories as to whether this is true or not, here's my thought: By-pass the entire problem by just splitting up the timing a little bit. Here are the best times to take these 3 proven supplements in order to build muscle:

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Creatine
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Best taken 1/2 hour or so BEFORE a workout and again RIGHT after a workout. What I do is take a creatine/juice/protein drink about a half hour before a workout and than another shake right after.

This "bracketing" technique helps set up an anabolic (muscle-building) state for your muscles and helps prevent muscle breakdown from a workout (catabolism). Other than these 2 opportune times, you can add another creatine serving or two any time throughout the day. I usually recommend 25 to 30 grams of creatine on a loading phase and 10-20 grams a day on a maintenance phase.

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Glutamine
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Definitely take glutamine right before bed. This is where the overwhelming research shows the value of glutamine raising Growth Hormone levels significantly by taking 5 grams before bed. Increasing your levels of growth hormones will help you build muscle, if you train and eat correctly. Also, another great time is upon waking, when your muscles have been without significant nutrition for up to 6-8 hours.

Another good time for glutamine is about a half hour or hour after working out. This helps in the recovery/recuperation process from demanding workouts. So, creatine definitely before and after your workout and glutamine right before bed and right upon waking.

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Protein
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The best times to take ANY protein drink or protein supplements are as follows. I've listed them in order of importance, so based upon your affordability, start at the top of the list and work down.

1. Most important time---right after a workout. Your muscles are like a sponge and need instant nutrition for muscle recovery and growth.

2. Right before bed. You're about to sleep for 6 to 8 hours.

That's a long time without protein. Could you imagine going throughout your day (when awake) not eating 6 to 8 hours? Right before bed is important.

3. Right upon waking. Same thing, you've just gone 6 to 8 hours without proper nutrition. Your body needs protein quick.

4. Half hour before a workout. This sets up the "anabolic window" before your workout and provides your muscles with adequate nutrition so that the effects of weight training (weight training breaks down muscle--called catabolic) are not as severe.

These are the best times for protein to help build muscle mass. It can be regular whole food or protein supplements, again, based on your affordability. Protein supplements may be better than whole food in these times because its digested quicker.

But start at the top and work down. If you can afford 4 servings, you'll really notice the difference in muscle gains and fat loss. I hope this article helped shed some light on when to take the 3 most important supplements for gaining mass and strength:

Protein, creatine, and glutamine.

To learn more about which muscle building supplements are best to build muscle and increase strength, check out my "Simple Steps To Get Huge And Shredded" workout program: http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/getshredded.html

Thursday, November 10, 2005

To Build Muscle, Get A Tan!

If you're looking to build lean muscle, I want you to firstwork on getting a tan. (Although that may be tough for usliving here in the frigid northeast!)

I can see it now, people are going to be lined up at their local tanning salon, telling the clerk they need to startbuilding some muscle. Well, let me save you from stares of confusion from the salon owners.

You're not going to build muscle from sun tanning. But the cause and effect relationship between the sun andtanning perfectly illustrates a point I want to make about working out too much.I must get 3 or 4 emails each day from people wanting to know why they're not building muscle as fast as they'd like.

They tell me that they're working each muscle group as often as possible. Well, the thing is, there's no law in weight lifting that says if you double your time, you double your results. Usually, if you double the amount of time you lift, you actually lessen your results.

It's because weight lifting is closer to the "Less is More" theory than the "The More The Better" one. So I want to show you how getting a tan actually answers why you do not want to weight train a muscle group more than once each week. Getting a sun tan is a cause and effect relationship.The sun is the cause and the tan is the effect.

In other words, the sun is the stimulus and the tan is the result. When you get a tan, what is actually happening is that your melanocytes are producing melanin pigment in reaction to ultraviolet light in sunlight. Ultraviolet light stimulates melanin production. The pigment has the effect of absorbing the UV radiation in sunlight, so it protects the cells from UV damage.

You have to expose yourself to UV for a short period of time to activate the melanocytes. By repeating this process over 5 to 7 days pigment builds up in your cells to a level that is protective.

But what happens when you get too much sun? That's right, you get a sun burn, something you do not want to happen.Too much of the stimulus leads to a negative result.

So the key is to find the right amount of sun for the desired effect.Too little sun results in no tan and too much sun results in a sun burn. So, how does this relate to building muscle?

Muscle growth happens by overloading a muscle with heavy weight and then allowing it to rest and recuperate. In this case, the lifting of heavy weight is the stimulus and, if the environment is properly set up, the result is lean muscle growth.

The proper "environment" for muscle growth is rest and proper nutrition (high protein, moderate carbs, plenty of water). If you train a muscle group (biceps, triceps, etc) more than once each week, it does not get a chance to recuperate and will not grow or become stronger.

It's like going back out in the sun too much.

Overexposure to the sun leads to a burn.Overexposure to lifting leads to overtraining.

When overtraining occurs, muscle growth and strength gains come to a screeching halt.So to maximize muscle growth and keep that "anabolic window of opportunity" intact, you definitely want to train a muscle group once each week.

Too much weight training (stimulus) will produce negative results.If you do not allow your muscles to rest, recover, and get ready for the next workout, you're doing the same thing as if you went back out into the sun too much.

Too much of something can produce negative results as much as too little of something.

So if you want to start building more muscle, start working on your tan ;-)

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My top pick of resources to help you build muscle, lose fat, and increase strength:

http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/muscle-building-tips.html
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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Do You Need A Routine Makeover?

The truth is, you're either doing what you need to do in order to gain muscle, lose fat, and get in shape....

Or you're not.

So how do you know if you're on the right track to getting the physique you want?

Well, you can do what I did years ago. I spent a ton of time, money, and energy in the gym with trial and error. I kept doing what seemed to work and dropped the rest.

As the years went by, I developed a system that really sped up my results.Now, I teach that system to thousands of people a year. You can find it in my "Simple Steps To Get Huge And Shredded" training program...

http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/simple-steps-get-huge-and-shredded.html

But instead of going through all the frustration and aggravation of trial and error, you can have me go over your current routine with a fine tooth comb.

And I'll change what needs to be changed.

For a very short time, I'm doing routine "overhauls" again for a limited number of clients.
So if you want to learn if you're doing exactly what you need to do in order to get in the best shape of your life, check out...

http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/workout-review.html

I'm only accepting 10 clients right now. This will fill up fast, so you'll want to act now.

After I go over your current weight training, cardio, and nutrition routine, I'll tell you what you need to change. When you change it, you'll gain more muscle and lose more fat in less time.
For more info on getting a routine makeover, go to....

http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/workout-review.html

The Best Supplements To Use

Continuing on with my "best of the best" series of emails, today I'll tackle the best supplements to use.

If I had a dollar for every supplement question I was asked, I'd be a millionaire.

But supplements are just that---they're supposed to go with your good training and nutrition, not take the place of it. No supplement takes the place of good hard work in the gym-- none.

With that said, there are some supplements that I feel are definitely worth taking. They will help you get the most from your weight training and nutrition. Again, they won't take the place of them.

But they will maximize results.

By the way, more a more in-depth look at the supplements I recommend to personal training clients, check out my page here...

http://www.shawnlebrunfitness.com/supplements.html

So here is my short list of the best supplements to use.

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Protein powders

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Protein builds muscle. The harder you train, the more protein your body needs to repair, rebuild, and nourish muscle tissue.

Protein is supplement #1 if you want to ensure muscle gains.The best protein sources are egg, milk, and whey.

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Creatine

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Creatine is a tested and proven strength and muscle-building supplement.
Nothing else I've tried gives you the quick and noticeable gains as creatine does.


Creatine increases creatine phosphate storage in muscle tissue and attracts more water into each muscle cell, resulting in cell volumizing (swells up bigger). The bigger your muscle cells, the bigger your muscles!

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Meal replacement powders

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I'll repeat the necessities of gaining muscle --- eat often and train heavy.
In fact, it's best to be eating every 3 hours or right around there.Meal replacements make eating every 3 hours a snap.


Not only that, it makes eating healthy a snap.

Meal replacements allow you to get the nutrient benefits of whole food meals without the simple sugars and fats you'd normally get.

Meal replacements are a no-brainer---use them often for gaining muscle and losing fat.

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Glutamine

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Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue.

It helps shuttle muscle-building nitrogen into muscle cells where it is used for muscle growth.
Glutamine also plays a major role in elevating growth hormone.


Studies have shown that a 2-gram oral dose of glutamine elevated circulating growth hormone levels by over 400%.

Keeping a high level of circulating growth hormone helps keep the body in an anabolic, muscle building state more often. Another huge benefit of glutamine supplementation is the positive effects it has on the immune system.

When your body requires L-glutamine to fight off infections or viruses, it will get it from muscle tissue, resulting in potential muscle loss.

When you supplement with glutamine, it can help protect the glutamine stores within the muscle tissue.

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Protein Bars

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These are great for when you're on the go and cannot make a whole food meal and cannot get a regular meal replacement.

Keep a bunch of high quality meal replacement/protein bars with you somewhere at all times.

This way, if you can't make a meal, you can rip open a bar and get your much needed calorie boost.

Honestly, if you are going to shell out your hard earned money for supplements, you're best off choosing a couple from the list above.

I've put them in my order of importance, but they are all pretty important.
These are the cream of the crop, the ones that will bring you the best results possible.


==================Recommend Reading==================

To get the lowdown on supplements, look no further than Will Brink.

I like to call Will the Supplement Guru because he's spent more time, money, and effort than anyone else I know researching supplements.

And it shows.

His 2 books, Muscle Building Nutrition And Diet Supplements Revealed are some of the most well-written, in-depth books I've come across.

Here's more on each of them.

Diet Supplements Revealed:
http://www.aboutsupplements.com/cgi/at.cgi?a=239719

Muscle Building Nutrition:
http://www.musclebuildingnutrition.com/cgi/at.cgi?a=239719