5 Foods to Eat for Accelerated Muscle Growth

Food is quite literally our life energy source, think of it like high octane gas that fuels our brain and body. Eating specific foods may help when looking for muscle growth to occur. Our brain needs about 130 grams a day of carbohydrate to function optimally. It’s important for any nutrition plan to include all the major macronutrients and micronutrients. Our body also need amino acid-rich sources of protein for muscle growth to take place. Amino acids are considered the building blocks that eventually help form proteins. Almost all foods contain some source of protein. Amino acids are important because they play a big role in protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.

There are 20 different amino acids that are grouped together making up three separate categories. The body makes 12 of these amino acids and we get the other 8 from food we eat. The cool thing is our body produces thousands of different proteins using just these 20 amino acids. Amazing!

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Non-essential amino acids do not need to be included in the diet. Nine out of the 20 amino acids are essential, but adults only need to obtain eight of them: valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan. The ninth amino acid, histidine, is only essential for infants. Your body doesn’t store amino acids, so it needs a regular daily supply of these essential building blocks.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids need to be included in the diet. There are handful of amino acids as you know but the one I’m going to mention here is leucine. “This amino acid directly contributes to muscle protein synthesis. It affects the ability to recover from both stress and exercise. Leucine facilitates cell growth as well as the formation of sterols which are used in the process of forming hormones like estrogen and testosterone.” Make sure the amino acid, leucine, is also in that whey protein shake you drink post workout. This will improve your chances for muscle growth. Research has shown just 1.5 grams of leucine can provide adequate stimulation for muscle protein synthesis. Other research has shown that 3 grams of leucine alone stimulates protein synthesis in young men.

Conditional Essential Amino Acids

You usually hear about essential and non-essential amino acids only. Conditional essential includes 8 amino acids that are specifically needed in the body under certain conditions like stress, exercise, aging, etc.

Some of the Best Protein Sources for Muscle Growth

1. Beef, Pork, Wild Game (especially if it’s grass-fed)

2. Poultry (i.e. chicken, turkey)

3. Eggs (the yolk contains most of the nutrients; also 185 mg cholesterol)

4. Fish & Seafood

5. Dairy (i.e. cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt)

**Additional food sources like Tempeh, Tofu, Beans, and Nuts.

Healthy food high in protein. Meat, fish, dairy products, nuts and beans

Did You Know…

Did you know that foods like broccoli (3 grams), baked potato (4 grams), avocado (4 grams), and a cup of quinoa (5 grams) also contain adequate amounts of protein. Add these healthy food options as “sides” with the main course mentioned above. They will also help meet your daily protein requirements to ensure muscle growth.

Great Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Stew (bonus recipe, contains 38 grams of protein)

What you’ll need to turn this into your dinner for tonight:

Canola oil (2 Tbsp)
Cubed lamb stew meat (2 lbs.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
One (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth

How to Make It:
1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the lamb, season well with salt and pepper, and cook until well browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, apricots, green olives, tomatoes (with their juices), reserved lamb, and beef broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lamb is very tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Feeds 6

Nutrition per serving: 495 calories, 38g protein, 46g carbs, 10 g fiber, 16g fat (Credit: Paul Kita, Men’s Health Magazine)

How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

The average, healthy adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram per body weight. BUT, if your strength training and want to add muscle mass, that number needs to increase. See the protein recommendations (below) published by Precision Nutrition, found in The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, 3rd edition pp. 216. They offer a great online nutrition certification course BTW, I actually took it a few years ago.

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Protein Requirements

Questions for you. What do you consider the best choice for protein intake? How much protein are you taking in on a daily basis? For muscle growth to actually occur, sufficient protein requirements need to be met. Also important are adequate training stimulus and plenty of recovery (between workouts and sleep). Think of it as a three pronged approach. Enjoy! Eat Well. Stay Strong!

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Jefit App: Elite Version

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When you really want to get an honest opinion of a product, it’s good practice to listen to an outside, unbiased source. Product reviews from companies that have no vested interest in an outcome can be insightful. Here are a few such reviews, regarding the Jefit app elite version, from a few well-known brands that have no stake in the game. They simply want to share their opinion with others about particular products they like, in this case, the Jefit app.

The following excerpt is from a review by Men’s Journal, naming Jefit one of the best 22 apps to use.

“Remember how you used to walk around the gym with a notepad to write down every single exercise? This app can replace that old paper and give it an infusion of smarts. Track your routines or work from a library of weight training programs, then connect with other users through the app’s social component. You can use a free version for the barebones experience, or pay for the Elite tier for more content.”

Men’s Journal Review – November, 2019

This review is from PC Magazine, who named Jefit one of the best apps for 2020 (activity-tracking category).

“Jefit is a workout app for strength training in particular, although you can design all kinds of workouts using it. The app comes with routines that you can do as well as a bank of exercises that you can explore based on which muscle groups they target. Jefit has tools for logging how many reps you do and a calendar for keeping track of your workouts. There’s also a calendar for planning your workouts and rest days, plus a training schedule that tells you briefly what’s up next in the coming days. The free app is ad-supported with limited features. An Elite membership removes the ads and unlocks advanced features, such as video-based exercise instructions, charts, and goal settings.”

PC Magazine Review – January 2020

Jefit Elite Key Features

  • Advertisement Free
  • Quick Swap Exercise Feature
  • Training Analytics
  • Customized Training & Progress Reports
  • Workout Summaries
  • Premium Workout Routines
  • Unlimited Workout Routine Downloading and Storing
  • Printer Friendly Format for Routines and Workout Summaries
  • Access to Priority Support
  • Elite Badge

The Jefit Elite version of the app includes many unique features as seen above. In this discussion though, the three we will focus on are, the workouts, exercise videos and progress reports. All three are important to help you progress and get the most out of your training.

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Well-Designed Workouts

Each Jefit Elite premium workout featured on the app is developed by experienced trainers. Jefit trainers bring a strong training background to the site. They have years, and in some cases, decades of training & coaching experience. The Jefit Team includes individual trainers who are certified strength and conditioning specialist and have worked as strength & conditioning coaches. Goals have a better chance of being met when a member is following a program from a qualified coach. With that said, there is now a better understanding of the Jefit Elite workouts featured on the app. Speaking of workouts, you now have premium exercise programming available at your fingertips. All you have to do is consistently get to the gym (or home) and follow along!

HD Video Guides

The ability to review a well-executed exercise video is like having a built-in coach during your workout. In addition to videos, there is a step-by-step exercise description for all exercises featured on Elite. There are many times that a person may think they are doing an exercise the right way until they watch how it’s performed correctly on video.

Progress Reports

There are several reasons why progress reports are important during strength training. A progress report can be a great motivational tool when trying to reach a specific goal. They also can reassure Elite members that they are making progress over a specific time period. It also allows a member to see that the program is going as planned, and that it will be complete by the expected date. Finally, a progress report can be used to celebrate success via goal setting. You followed a premium exercise program, completed all the sessions in the routine and made gains.

Hopefully this helps you can see the value in Jefit Elite. Give it a try and let us know how you do. Be Well and Stay Strong!

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Review: Classic 3-Day Split Barbell Workout

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One of the most often used strength training programs is the classic 3-day split barbell workout. This particular exercise program has long been considered a true classic among bodybuilder and novice a like. There are different split day options for 2-3-4-5 days routines. A split routine refers to a workout that is divided up by muscle groups. Selected exercises are used to train these major muscles groups on different days. The workout is ideal if you have limited time to workout (an hour or less). Someone on this type of routine still has a strong desire, though, to gain lean muscle and strength. The length of time needed before noticing small gains is typically 6-12 weeks. This is dependent of course on age, training history, nutritional intake, recovery etc.

A Suggested Training Schedule

There are many layout options for a 3-day routine in terms of how someone can “split” it up over the course of a week. A new Jefit training program features the following split routine, using a push day, a pull day and on day three, everything else. The push days includes exercises for chest/shoulder/tricep, while the pull day highlights the back and bicep. The third day focuses on legs and core. The weekly layout looks like this:

Monday: Chest Shoulders and Triceps
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: Back and Biceps
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: Legs and Core
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Rest day

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Exercise Program Design

Lets discuss in a little more detail the make-up of each of these workouts. The new Jefit program, Barbell Workout (3-day Split), is an intermediate level program. The program uses a (45-lbs.) barbell for all exercises except some of the core exercises found in day 3. The resistance used will depend on the training ability of the person. If you are new to strength training, you could still try this program. In this case, the person would start out using the weight of the bar only for all exercises. See how your body responds and progress from there.

The majority of the exercises require 4 sets using a repetition sequence of 10,8,8,6. This type of repetition format takes advantage of a lighter first set (a warm-up set). The weight is increased for each subsequent set. There are 5 exercises featured for each of the workout days and many of the movements used are compound exercises. The recovery time between sets is two-minutes, a novice though may need an extra minute or two. A set that involves 8-repetitions as an example, means it’s an 8-RM (repetition maximum). A person will need to lift the most weight they can handle, using good form. If you end up performing more than the suggested amount of repetitions, increase the load by 5% for upper and 10% for lower body exercises.

Day-1: Push Movements

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Day 2: Pull Movements

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Day 3: Legs & Core

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One of the great things about a 3-day split routine is a typical workout is less than an hour. In addition, since you work only a few muscle groups per workout, you can really target that area more intensely. Also, there is a recovery day following each workout, so the body gets plenty of recovery time to repair itself, adapt and get stronger. Putting this together with a solid nutrition plan and plenty of recovery is a successful recipe for strong gains in strength and mass. Stay Strong!

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Jefit Scheduled Server Upgrade and Maintenance Starting Friday Evening

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In order to continue to bring you the best experience with our exercise workouts and related content, the Jefit website and back-end server will be temporarily offline. Durning this period of time, users will not be able to create an account / login or use any features that are associated with our servers.

However, a member might still be able to use our offline functionality such as editing exercise routines locally or track a workout from the Jefit app if you login prior to the server being offline.

The expected downtime window will be from Friday May 1, 2020 at 10 PM PST to Saturday 12 PM PST.

Thank you for understanding and we look forward to getting our site up and running as efficiently as possible in order to improve the overall experience for our dedicated user base.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

The Jefit Team

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Results Are Best When You Plan & Track Workouts

Jefit for iOS Android and Web

According to a 2017 report from IQVIA Institute for Human Data Sciences, there were 318,000 mobile health apps three years ago. That number is expected to top 400,000 apps this year. The growth rate will be 15% reaching 31 billion in revenue by the end of 2020. The question is, can all this technology help get better results if you use it to plan and track workouts?

People hire trainers or coaches because they invariably know they will work harder with them versus doing it alone. Working harder typically means lifting more weight in training sessions and being more consistent with workouts. In turn, results are more significant and goals are met more often. There is actually a name for this, its called the Hawthorne Effect, or observer effect. The basic definition is “the alteration of behavior by the subjects of a study due to their awareness of being observed.” When you know you’re being watched or you have to regularly check-in and record your data, you do better.

There is a trickle down effect from working with a coach to using specific technology, like an exercise app. Writing things down and planning shows ownership, you don’t “own it” until you write it down …or record it. Those who plan and track workouts do better than people who don’t track their workouts. A great example of this is a high-level athlete who works with their coach over a four-year period to prepare for the Olympic games.

People Who Use Apps Are More Confident & Exercise More Consistently

A survey reported in Elliptical Reviews looked at the exercise habits of nearly a 1,000 people. The results were pretty favorable regarding the benefit of using an exercise app. The results showed 55% of subjects used an exercise app prior to the study. All app users reported more consistent workouts and they were more confident when they worked out. In the survey, 73% of women and 66% of men were more confident when they were using a workout app.

The survey also showed 40% of people who use fitness apps workout five or more days per week. The survey found only 4.9% of non-app users exercise every day, compared to 7% of people who used an app.

Using an App Can Increase Physical Activity

The Journal of Medical Internet Research, makes the case that those who use exercise apps are more likely to exercise during their free time than those who don’t use an app.

“The study concludes that exercise apps may be improving exercise levels and health outcomes by making it easier for users to overcome barriers to exercise, such as lack of ready access to information, lack of interest and motivation, and lack of access to exercise facilities, etc.”

Shiva Gopal Reddy, M.Sc.

Research from the University of South Australia showed promising results with smartphone apps. They called apps “a promising tool for delivering accessible and appealing physical activity interventions.” The goal of this systematic review by Romeo and colleagues tried to determine the “effectiveness of smartphone apps for increasing objectively measured physical activity in adults.” The review looked at nine different research studies that met all of the researchers’ criteria, totaling 1740 subjects. This review reported an increase in physical activity in subjects who used apps for a minimum of 3 months.

Jefit App Plans and Tracks Workouts

The Jefit app, won multiple awards in 2020 including best app by PC Magazine. The Jefit app is used to plan and track workouts. It comes with a customizable workout planner, an extensive exercise library, and a members-only Facebook group. You can choose new workouts and track your progress with the app. It keeps you on track to see how close you are to reaching your fitness goals. The app includes 1300 exercises, more than 3800 strength training workouts, 9 million registered users and 10 million downloads to date.

Jefit for iOS Android and Web

The Health Benefits of Strength Training

bench press elite

Many younger people engage in strength training for reasons of vanity rather than possible health benefits. Some people probably also believe that aerobic exercise trumps strength training when it comes to those health benefits. Well, both are important, and need to be performed regularly to receive any of the benefit we’re about to discuss. The best exercise though is the one that you end up doing most often.

How Many Days a Week Should I Be Strength Training?

The sweet spot is 2-3 sessions a week to obtain all the health benefits of strength training. One strength session a week is enough to maintain the strength that you have. An individual can experience gains in about 4 to 6 weeks if new to strength training.

What are the Health Benefits of Strength Training?

Helps Preserve Muscle Tissue. As you reach your fourth decade you experience hormonal changes that result in loss of lean muscle tissue. The loss of muscle tissue is even more pronounced after age 75. Other factors like stress and lack of sleep can disrupt the body even more. When this occurs, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone. The best way to offset this loss is to engage in a regular strength training program, 2-3 times a week. Strength training, if used properly, is like a magic pill. Researchers at Wake Forest University studied overweight adults who were in their 60’s. The study showed participants who lost weight and engaged in strength training lost less lean muscle mass than those who shed pounds through aerobic training.

Increases Strength. As you age, you lose strength, its that simple like taxes and death! Your strength levels peaks between 25-30 years old. Following that, it’s a downhill battle for most to hang on to that strength. Research studies have shown that strength can be reduced up to 40% by the time a person reaches age 70. By the time you hit age 75, you have about half of the muscle mass you had in your twenties.

In physically inactive people, there is a loss of about 3-5% of muscle mass per decade and a parallel decline in muscle strength, after age 30. As a result, the average person will lose 1/2 pound of muscle per year between age 30-60. This equates to about a loss of 15 pounds of muscle!

Builds Strong Bones. Strength training has been shown to increase bone mineral density. As weights are lifted, the tendons that are connected to bone, get “pulled-on” in the process. This constant pulling, over time, is what builds strong bones. This is a good thing because after age 40, you start to lose 1% of your bone density per year.

Helps Control Body Fat. A study in the journal Obesity reported that strength training helped adults become slimmer. Losing muscle reduces your metabolic rate. You feel like you’re not eating at times but still have difficulty losing weight. In turn, you see an increase in body fat. Regular bouts of strength training will preserve muscle mass and and to some extent, metabolic rate, and this with proper intake, will prevent body fat levels from rising out of control.

Hopefully, some of these statistics opened up your eyes a bit more regarding the benefits of strength training. Strength training a few times a week, is something you can do for yourself that always pays back strong dividends. Try the Functional Strength program featured on the Jefit app to help you build muscle mass. Stay Strong!

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Three Requirements for Muscle Growth

There are three key requirements for muscle growth to occur. To ensure muscle growth you need an appropriate training stimulus, proper diet with adequate protein and of course plenty of recovery. A fourth factor, not discussed here, is the important role that genetics play. We all know people who train hard, eat well and get plenty of sleep. They typically get stronger but don’t really pack on lean muscle. There are many variables that can effect (1) how much and (2) how quickly your body adds lean muscle. This ultimately depends on age, gender, genetic and hormonal factors. There is a saying out there when talking about the part genetics play: “If you want an Olympic athlete then you need Olympic parents.”

Appropriate Training Stimulus for Muscle Growth?

How do you stimulate muscle growth? When a persons muscles are challenged they adapt and change over time. Changes are dependent on the type of activity and muscle fiber types used, the load exerted on the muscle, and the velocity and duration of the contraction. (Marieb, 2004) The point is to push through all the hard workouts, because muscular growth or hypertrophy can only be accomplished through these adaptations and changes. “It takes about 16 workouts to have a noticeable ‘superficial’ effect. There is simply no other recipe to do this in a healthy, orderly, and long-lasting manner.” Try using the Jefit, a workout planner & tracker app to record all your workouts.

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Is the Current RDA for Protein Enough?

This is a tough area for a lot of people. Their eating habits are just not where they need to be. In addition to eating well-balanced, highly nutritious meals, protein intake needs to be sufficient. If not, muscle growth to say the least, will be difficult if not impossible. The scientific research has shown different results over the years in terms of protein needs.

The question we should ask ourselves is – do we follow the suggested RDA of 0.8 grams/kg/day for protein intake or is it more in line with 1-2 gram/kg/day? The answer may depend partly on the volume of daily exercise you’re doing, if you’re a strength or an endurance athlete, and your age.

Adequate Nutritional Intake (Especially Protein)

A classic study was done in 1988 at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. I was actually one of the test subjects in that study and also later worked there. The team headed by Meredith and colleagues, looked at the protein needs of 12 subjects. Six were young (26.8 +/- 1.2 yr) and six were middle-aged (52.0 +/- 1.9 yr) endurance-trained men. All subjects consumed either 0.6, 0.9, or 1.2 grams/kg/day of high-quality protein over three separate 10-day periods. They did this while maintaining their training and a constant body weight. The results of the study estimated that protein requirement was 0.94 +/- 0.05 grams/kg/day for the 12 men. The data from the study showed endurance exercise was associated with a specific dietary protein requirement. These needs were actually greater than the current Recommended Dietary Allowance of 0.8 g/kg/day.

Since then, there have been several studies on individuals who engaged in regular aerobic exercise. The exercise, more vigorous in nature, demonstrated a higher protein need more in line with 1.1 to 1.4 grams/kg/day. This by the way is about 38%-75% above the current RDA range. There is good evidence that the current recommended protein intake may actually limit muscle growth. This was seen in a study published in the Journal Applied Physiology. Some researcher’s report an optimal intake more in line with a protein range of 1.5 to 1.8 grams/kg/day which is 88% to 125% above the suggested RDA. The best way to make this happen is by ingesting 25-30 grams/protein with each meal and of course supplement with a post recovery protein drink.

Optimal Recovery (Sleep)

You can have the two other two boxes checked but if sleep is not happening, muscle growth will not occur. As a persons training intensity increases, more recovery and sleep is needed. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), we need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Are you getting that? When this happens on a regular basis for you, you can check that third box. Here are their guidelines for recommended amounts of sleep by the NSF.

  • School age children (6-13 yrs. old): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category) 

Key Take Aways

Increasing strength and building muscle can seem like a full-time job at times. You will need all the help you can get to make this happen, especially on both fronts. By checking all three boxes (training/nutrition/sleep), your odds of finally adding lean muscle will improve greatly. Be Well and Stay Strong!

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Compound Strength Exercises Work Best for a Strong Body

When you’re looking to increase muscle size and build strength, you should focus on using more compound strength exercises. Research over time has demonstrated compound exercises are superior compared to other types of exercise. In fact, a 2017 study published in Frontiers in Physiology looked at exercise subjects who used compound versus isolation exercises over an eight-week period. The study showed that the group who focused on compound strength exercises had greater gains in both strength and VO2 max. A second study published in 2019, also supports the use of multi-joint (MJ) over single-joint (SJ) exercises when looking to improve strength in this case, in the lower body. Researchers reported significant strength increases in both SJ and MJ groups, but the MJ group saw significantly greater increases in 1-RM for all leg exercises that were tested in the study.

What Are Compound Strength Exercises?

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time (ACSM). An example would be a Barbell Squat which works many muscle groups like the core, legs, hips and back. Another example would be a Bench Press exercise which works the muscles that make up the chest, shoulders and arms. Compound strength exercises are a staple in many exercise programs because they are ideal for building strength and adding size. In addition, a compound exercise will recruit more muscle fiber and in turn burn more calories per minute than a single-joint or isolation exercise. Compound exercises can be performed using body weight, exercise bands, dumbbells or your best option a barbell. This is because the average gym-goer can lift 20% more weight using a barbell compared to dumbbells. Compound exercise are also important because they mimic activities of daily living (ADL’s).

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An example of a compound (or multi-joint) exercise: Pull-up

Examples of Compound & Isolation Type Exercises

Compound (Multi-joint) ExercisesIsolation (Single-joint) Exercises
SquatLeg Extension
DeadliftLeg Curl
DipsTricep Extension
Military PressDumbbell Side Lateral Raise
Pull-UpsBicep Curl
Bench PressDumbbell Chest Fly

What are Isolation Strength Exercises?

Isolation exercises work only one muscle or muscle group and only one joint at a time (ACSM). Examples of isolation exercises include the Biceps Curl or a Leg Extension exercise.

Combining both mult-joint barbell and single-joint dumbbell exercises in a workout has been shown to work well. This type of combination can be seen in the new Jefit program, Compound Strength Routine. Many machine-based strength training products are designed with isolation exercises in mind. Some research has shown, however, that an isolation or single-joint exercise, like a biceps curl, can increase muscle hypertrophy more than a multi-joint exercise.

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An example of an isolation (or single-joint) exercise: Bicep Curl

Jefit’s New Compound Strength Routine

A new advanced strength program designed around multi-joint exercises is the Jefit Compound Strength Routine. The 3-day, advanced, strength training program includes 9-10 strength exercises in each workout. The routine offers three different strength programs, using barbell and dumbbells, and includes 1-3 supersets in each exercise session. This type of program design makes for a faster workout and in turn keeps all the session times less than an hour.

To wrap things up, please read this great list of guidelines from strength expert, Charles Poliquin, that discusses the pro/con of using both compound and isolation type exercises. It’s definitely worth a read. Be well and stay strong!

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Workout Review: Strength & Cardio Circuit

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We all know that exercise is like medicine for the body. There are times though when you just want to move through your workout in minimal time. This where a good strength and cardio circuit comes into play. This is why circuit training is so efficient, it combines the perfect blend of strength and cardio in minimal time. The end result is usually the same, a great full-body workout and a body covered in sweat!

The cool thing about circuit programs are: they’re fast, fun and very effective at getting results. You never get bored because there are so many design options for a circuit routine. The featured strength & cardio circuit can now be found on the Jefit app.

What is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is training method that alternates between several exercises (usually 4 to 12) that target different muscle groups. A plan can even use different movement patterns (like push, pull, press, carry, etc.). The design of the program enables someone to move from exercise to exercise with minimal or no rest depending on their fitness level. Some of the many benefits of regular circuit training include improvements in body composition, muscular strength/endurance and aerobic capacity.

What is Interval Training?

Interval training, on the other hand, alternates between periods of moderate-to-high-intensity work with brief periods of active or passive rest. The main difference between circuit training and interval training is not what you’re doing but rather the intensity of the work being done. You have probably heard about HIIT (high-intensity interval training) before or seen it in some of the workout titles on the Jefit app.

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Equipment Need: Jump Rope, Weight Plate and Dumbbells

Circuit Design: UB/LB/Core/Cardio Sequence

The circuit session begins with four exercises group together following a brief warm-up. The session design alternates between an upper body exercise, a lower body exercise, and a core exercise before transitioning to cardio for 1-2 minutes. The program features 20 exercises (including four for warm-up) that comprise four rounds of “mini” circuits with four exercises in each group.

Here is what each of the four circuits (after the warm-up) look like in this latest Jefit circuit workout:

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I have personally been doing circuits for many years now and, like a lot of people, working through one never seems to gets old. In any event, circuits are fun and get great results, so why not give one a try for your next workout?

ADDITIONAL READING:

HIGH-INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODY WEIGHT: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment, ACSM Health & Fitness Journal, 2013.

Whole-Body Aerobic Resistance Training Circuit Improves Aerobic Fitness and Muscle Strength in Sedentary Young Females, J. of Strength & Conditioning, 2015.

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Simple Body Hacks to Improve Performance

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The majority of people who exercise or engage in individual or team sports often looks for ways to improve performance. With that, brings us to how we can better “hack” our body to improve performance, some also call this DIY science….biohacking. Dave Asprey, a biohacker who created the company Bulletproof, defines biohacking as “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so that you have full control over your own biology.” 

Why Try to Hack Your Body Anyway?

There are many people out there who try to hack their body to improve performance, on some level. They do this basically because they have a strong desire to feel better and to see just how far they can push the human body. A lot of people are hacking their body essentially to try and live as long as possible. Dave Asprey as an example, has been quoted as saying he wants to live to 180 years old.

Another well-known body or bio hacker is Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling book, The 4-Hour Body. Ferris has a well known reputation for trying to hack just about everything related to his body. Why does he do it? This Wired interview explains why.

Now that you have a better understanding of what trying to hack your body is all about, check this out.

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Mindful breath work effects everything from mediation to sports performance.

Breath Work: An Easy Way to Improve Performance

We all know how to breath intuitively and how importance breathing is since it gives us life. Go beyond this for a moment and listen to this great Wild Ideas podcast from REI. The podcast, comes out every other Monday, and just featured author, James Nestor, author a new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. The book comes out in May. The podcast talked about his years of doing research and talking to medical experts on the science of breathing. He offers up some great easy-to-follow tips that you can use right now. I actually tried his 6-second breath technique on my morning walk today. You can try this when seated (or like me, walking). Take in a long, slow breath through your nose only, for 5-6 seconds. Then exhale slowly for the same amount of time and try this for about 6 repetitions. The goal of this type of breathing, is to help more nitric oxide enter your body and tissues. It’s been reported that when you breathe through your nose, nasal resistance increases by 200% and this helps the release of oxygen. If you were wondering, mouth breathing does not let your body take advantage of the sinuses production of nitric oxide.

Nasal Versus Mouth Breathing

Try closing your mouth and just breath slowly in/out through your nose for about minute. According to a lot of the science out there, “breathing through your nose is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the overall health of your body and for your longevity.” This is what Nestor talks about in his book and in the podcast. You may already know the value of breath work, if you practice yoga on a regular basis. Think about this for a minute. How great would it be if we could get a legitimate boost in performance by simply breathing slowly through our nose? Listen to the podcast and give it a shot. For additional reading, check this great article out on the science of breathing by Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. and this research paper on effects of nasal breathing in runners.

There are many experts and researchers who think breath work should become a component in health & fitness model. Meaning, you work on strength, flexibility, cardio, nutrition, etc. – why not also incorporate breath work as part of your daily routine?

Mobility: Unlock Tight Hips to Improve Performance

We typically spend a great deal of our time in the gym pushing weights or doing cardio. One key area that often gets overlooked is mobility. Mobility can be defined as freedom of movement without pain through a full range of motion. Mobility exercises can be done as a warm-up if you’re always rushed for time. They are great for reducing joint pain, improving a fuller range of motion and can even reduce the chance of injury. We all know tight muscles and connective tissue are an accident waiting to happen.

When you want to squat, lunge, or lift weights better, mobility work is key, especially when it comes to the hips. You may have limited hip mobility because of an old injury, you don’t work on mobility or you may sit or drive all day for work. In any event, tight hips can cause, over time, a chain reaction resulting in dysfunctional movement. Over time your hip joints will become tight if not addressed appropriately, you’ll begin to notice issues when performing exercises like Squats and Deadlifts.

What are Some of the Better Hip Exercises to do?

There are a lot of different directions you could go here. This is an opportunity to use the Jefit app and perform this series of exercises. Complete each exercise below slowly, working through a full range of motion. Perform each exercise as a hip and glute warm-up prior to working out and you’ll eventually see an improvement in hip mobility. Some may not be pure hip mobility drills but doing these will in turn improve glute/hip function. Perform each exercise for 30-seconds then move to the next and repeat the circuit twice.

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Moving Towards a More Healthy Lifestyle

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No one needs to tell us that we’re currently living in unprecedented times. The health of everyone in this country, and worldwide for that matter, is at the forefront of all our minds. It is more important than ever to attempt to follow a healthy lifestyle. How do you know if you’re living a healthy lifestyle in the first place? Harvard Health reports you’re considered healthy if you can answer “yes” to all the following criteria. (1) healthy diet, (2) healthy body weight, (3) never smoked, (4) consume moderate amounts of alcohol and (5) exercise regularly.

What’s Considered a Healthy Lifestyle?

According to Harvard Health, one important component to this type of lifestyle is a healthy diet. Meaning, an “intake of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids”. In addition, avoid unhealthy foods like “processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.” No smoking in a no-brainer. A healthy body weight according to the site, is a body mass index (BMI), between 18.5 and 24.9. But to be honest, this is not the best metric to monitor, instead focus on your percent body fat. On the alcohol side, no more than one drink/day/women and two drinks/day/men. A healthy physical activity level means roughly 30-minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week.

Does Living a Healthy Lifestyle Actually Add Years to Your Life?

The research does in fact demonstrate that living a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life. Individuals who met the criteria for all five habits (listed above) enjoyed living longer lives than those who had none: 14 years for women and 12 years for men to be exact. People who had none of these habits “were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.” There is also additional research that reports similar findings to this in the Journal of American Medical Association.

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Are you getting a minimum of 30-minutes of moderate or vigorous activity most days of the week?

You probably have the exercise piece down already, especially if you’re using the Jefit app to help record and track your workouts. Here are some additional ways to move towards a healthy lifestyle, in addition to the five criteria mentioned in the research studies above.

10 Ways to Help You Live Better and Longer

Exercise

  • Burn 1,100 Calories a Week. Duke University scientists discovered that this amount of calories expended from exercise prevents the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue (fat). This type of belly fat causes arterial inflammation and hypertension. Are you falling short of this number? Try joining a sports a league. One study reported that people who exercised in groups boosted their average weekly calorie burn by 500 a week.
  • Hit the Weights. University of Michigan scientists found that people who completed three strength workouts/week for two months lowered their diastolic blood pressure by an average of eight points. That’s enough to reduce the risk of stroke by 40% and heart attack by 15%.
  • Find the Time to Exercise. People who exercise for 2 hours/week are less likely to feel stressed than their sedentary counterparts, say researchers from Denmark.
  • Get on Those Daily Chores. Doing 150 calories’ worth of chores a day can lower blood pressure by 13 points, according to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The reduction lasts only 8 hours, but make it a daily habit and you can lower your blood pressure in the long term.

Diet & Nutrition

  • Drink Five 8-Ounce Glasses of Water a Day. Those drinking this amount of H2O were 54% less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack compared to people who drank two glasses a day.
  • Try a Natural Remedy. Israeli scientists found eating one grapefruit a day lowers cholesterol by 20% even in people who don’t respond to statins.
  • Cut Down on Sweets. Tufts University researchers found low-sugar diets had lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who consumed all types of carbohydrates. The happier people also limited their total carbohydrate intake to 40% of their daily total calories.
  • Enjoy Your Joe. Brooklyn College researchers discovered drinking 4 cups of coffee a day lowers your risk of dying of heart disease by 53%.
  • Indulge Your Chocolate Craving. A 15-year study by Dutch scientists found men who ate 4 grams of cocoa/day had half the risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate less. That’s the equivalent of two 25-calorie Hershey Kisses – an amount that can fit into any diet.

Lifestyle

  • Try to Laugh More. A 15-minute funny video improves blood flow to your heart by 50%, reported by the University of Maryland. “This may reduce blood-clot formation, cholesterol deposition, and inflammation,” says study author Michael Miller, MD.

Hopefully this article has offered you a little more insight on what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. If so, maybe you feel like you’re more equipped now to live a more healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Continue to focus on improving your mind body & spirit a bit more each day. Be Well and Stay Strong!

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Strength Training Review: 5×5 Split Routine

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The benefits of strength training performed on a regularly basis are well documented in scientific literature, magazines and on the web. There are many digital health & fitness companies who have apps that enable you to build strength training programs. With so much information coming your way, what type of program is actually best at helping you get results? In this case, when talking about results, we’re referring to gains in both strength and muscle development.

15 Benefits of Strength Training

  • Increases muscular strength
  • Builds lean muscle mass
  • Improves a muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose (blood sugar).
  • Weight management
  • Decreases body fat level (Improves muscle-to-fat ratio)
  • Improves mobility and balance
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis (increases bone density)
  • Will boost your self-confidence and improve your body image
  • Enhanced performance (on all levels)
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases risk of injury
  • Improves posture
  • May reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older people
  • Prevents or controls chronic conditions such as heart diseasearthritisback paindepression, obesity and pain management
  • Increases lifespan

Take a look at the following 5×5 split routine found on the Jefit app. This particular weight lifting program was designed as a 3-day routine. Keep in mind, there are many other split routines you can find that offer 4-6 days versus 3-days.

Program Design: 5×5 Split Routine (3-Days)

All strength training sessions follow a 5×5 format using only two body parts to keep session times under an hour. The workout time range for the 3-day program was between 36 and 56 minutes. The recovery time between sets is a very important training variable that needs to be manipulated depending on load (sets x reps x weight). Adequate recovery is important in order to push that next heavy set. A key point to remember, using a short rest period of one-minute between sets means the muscle is only about 80% recovered. I used a 2:00 recovery time between most of the sets for this reason. That may have to increase if someone is using very heavy weight for all their exercises.

The routine gets its unique name from “splitting” up specific muscle groups and associating those body segments to different days of the week. The idea behind the design of this routine was to couple a leg day with pulling movements that overload the back on Day 1. The second day includes push movements that target the chest with a pull and push for the arms. On day 3 you have pressing movements that target the shoulders with a few core exercises. This routine is only a snapshot for one-week of training.

The 5×5 program used the following 3-day split format over the course of a week:

Legs & Back (4 exercises) – Day 1

Chest & Arms (4 exercises) – Day 2

Shoulders & Core (5 exercises) – Day 3

Sets & Reps Scheme

Be realistic when designing any exercise program regarding the number of sets and repetition you use. More is not always better. Different exercises, sets, repetitions and recovery time will effect both short and long-term outcomes. Using a 5×5 setup gives you 25 repetitions per exercise and two movements per body part brings that repetition total to 50. That is more than enough to overload a muscle using a 5-RM. Many programs out there, when looking at sets and repetitions, equate to unrealistic expectations regarding length of workout. A repetition goal of 25-50 is more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, as long as you’re using a 5-RM. Here is a nice article on how to perform a 5-RM bench press test.

There are four important design elements regarding this particular 5×5 split routine. They are: (1) the use of compound movements, (2) large muscle groups, (3) the use of 5-RM on all exercises, and (4) sufficient recovery time. A 5×5 split routine is popular and has been shown to build strength and muscle size over time. Special emphasis should be placed on your 5-RM in this strength training routine. During anytime in the program, if you’re able to surpass five repetitions for any exercise – that’s right – you need to increase the weight. If for example, an exercise on your “core” day (see below) is too light – then hold a weight plate or wear a weighted vest (if available) to challenge yourself more. See the design and layout below.

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I hope you enjoy the program. If you have any questions on this particular 5×5 Split Routine (3-day), now featured on Jefit app, or any other program for that matter, please reach out to me in the comment section on this blog or our online community via the app. Here is some additional reading that you may find interesting on the topic of strength training. Be well and stay strong!

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