15 Facts About Muscle and Strength You May Not Know

As individuals begin to head back to the gym, the focus turns to building muscle and strength. Obtaining additional knowledge regarding both topics will only help your fitness cause.

Fifteen Facts Regarding Muscle and Strength

Muscle: Build and Preserve it as You Age

  • How fast can you build muscle? One study reported, that “high responders” were able to build an average of 4.5 kg of muscle mass (about 10 lbs.) after 12-weeks of a push-pull-legs strength training program (5x/week). The “low-responders” put on an average of 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs.) in that same time span. 
  • Do you know the three types of muscle tissue found in the body? Cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle, and smooth muscle are their names, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are approximately 650 muscles in the human body. Some reports cite more because they count “all” muscle. For example, the biceps brachii muscle has two heads, does this count as one or two muscles?
  • The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, the calf muscle can generate most force when used, and the jaw muscle exerts the most pressure.
  • Your muscles create at least 85 percent of your total body heat.
  • A meta-analysis published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reviewed 49 studies of men ages 50 to 83 who did regular strength training and found that subjects averaged a 2.5-pound increase in muscle mass.
  • Research has shown three decades of age-related strength loss and two decades of age-related muscle loss, can be recovered or reversed within the first couple of months of starting a strength training program.

Additional Fun Facts About Muscle

  • Starting around age 30, we begin to lose as much as 3 to 5 percent of your muscle mass per decade.
  • The average women’s maximal strength is about 60 percent compared to the average man. When looking at the upper body, women average 25-55 percent of men’s average strength. The gap closes in the lower body, where women are 70-75 percent as strong as men.
  • Muscle is more dense that adipose tissue (fat) and takes up less space on the body. In terms of weight, muscle = 1.06 kg/liter and fat = 0.9196 kg/liter. This makes muscle tissue approximately 15 percent denser than fat tissue.
  • Skeletal muscle makes up approximately 40 percent of total bodyweight. Some researchers suggest that number could be even higher. According to Shephard, in Biochemistry of Physical Activity, the skeletal muscles – when considered collectively – form the largest of the body organs. About 28 kg (62 lbs.) in a 70-kg sedentary man. In terms of a low/high number, men are comprised of about 40-50 percent muscle mass while women are in the range of 30-40 percent. The single number most often sited in scientific research is 42 and 36 percent respectively for men and women.

Lastly…

  • According to biochemist and former CrossFit owner, Robb Wolf, PhD., building and maintaining lean muscle is the best thing you can do to optimize longevity. “There’s this guarantee of losing muscle mass, losing the ability for maximum power production, as we age that begins in our 30’s,” he explains. Research shows, you lose 3 to 8 percent of muscle mass per decade after you turn 30, and even higher rate after age 60. The process called sarcopenia, or age-related muscle mass loss, that happens as you age; between the ages of 20 and 80, research has found you can actually lose 40 percent of your muscle mass

Strength: Use it or Lose it

  • Strength appears to peak between the ages of 25 and 35 and is maintained between ages 40-50. It then declines by 12-14 percent per decade after 50 years of age, according to research published by Doherty and colleagues.
  • According to research, individuals who do not strength train lose 5 to 7 pounds of muscle every 10 years. A by-product is a reduction in metabolism by about 50 calories a day. The loss of muscle becomes more pronounced as we continue to age. By the time we reach age 70, the muscular system has experienced a 40 percent loss of muscle tissue and a 30 percent decrease in strength.
  • An average women’s maximal strength is about 60 percent compared to the average man. When looking at the upper body, women average 25-55 percent of men’s average strength. The gap closes in the lower body, where women are 70-75 percent as strong as men.

In the End

Therefore, staying active and strength training regularly, early in life, builds a strong foundation, especially when trying to maintain muscle and strength later in life. The great thing is you can prevent the loss of muscle tissue and strength as you grow old. So it’s never too late to hit the gym and get involved in strength training.

Let Jefit Help Build Muscle and Strength

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. In addition, the app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and has a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.

References

Davidsen, PK., et al. (2011). Responders to resistance exercise training demonstrate differential regulation of skeletal muscle microRNA expression.
Journal of Applied Physiology.

Shephard, RJ, (1984). Biochemistry in Physical Activity. Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas Publisher.

Doherty TJ, (2001). The influence of aging and sex on skeletal muscle mass and strength. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 4:503-508.

Poon, L.W., Clayton, G., & Martin, P., et al. (1989). Individual similarities and differences of the oldest-old in the Georgia Centenarian Study. The Gerontologist, 29, 43.

Ivey, FM et al., (2000). The Effects of Age, Gender and Myostatin Genotype on the Hypertrophic Response to Heavy Resistance Strength Training. J. Gerontol: Med Sci 55A: M641-M848.

Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, and Hu FB, (2011). Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. New England J Med; 364:2392-2404.

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5 Benefits Your Body Gets from Boxing Workouts

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Boxing is a great sport that is not just meant for professional boxers. The benefits from boxing workouts offer numerous health and mental benefits that everyone can enjoy. After all, taking part in boxing training doesn’t mean that you have to step in the ring and participate in competitive boxing. But if you want to learn how to defend yourself and keep fit, boxing is one of the best options for you.

Boxing can help you exercise your entire body without even having to step in the ring. Remember, boxing training is more than just hitting the punching bags or sparring with your trainer. Boxing workouts include numerous routines that will give your heart a run for its money. So if you are still on the fence or a professional boxer and want to learn more about what boxing workout does to your body, please read on.

The Benefits from Boxing Workouts for Your Body

1.   Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

Boxing workout routines are great for your cardiovascular system. And that is because most of the training routines will have your muscles moving fast and heart and lungs working extra hard to keep up. The simple act of throwing some punches when sparring will force several muscles in your body to contract and relax at once, and the faster and harder your punches are, the faster your muscles contract and relax. And this will force your heart to pump more blood and oxygen to these muscles, thus giving it quite a workout.

Boxing is a fun activity that requires you to move very fast while staying light on your feet. Therefore, your lungs and heart will have to work extra hard to supply the needed oxygen to your body. Boxing workouts demand a lot of cardiovascular fitness, so professional boxers do numerous things like running on treadmills, cycling, jumping rope, and even circuit training. These workouts will improve your stamina while giving you fantastic cardiovascular exercise. 

Training your lungs and heart to work harder is perfect for your performance and fitness. After all, excellent cardiovascular health is crucial when it comes to controlling your blood pressure and preventing heart illnesses. Even though you won’t ever have to step in the ring and spar with anyone, wearing the wrong gloves when training can be pretty dangerous. And if you’re looking for the best boxing gloves, you should look for advice from the professional MMA fighters and trainers in MMA today. I am sure you can find it on MMA today, after all, your safety should come first when sparring or training.

2.   Strong Joints and Bones

Boxing is a great workout that can improve the strength of your bones and joints. After all, denser and stronger bones are great for your health, especially as you age. When hitting the punching bag, the forces that go through your hands stimulate your bones to strengthen and mineralize. And this can reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis or osteopenia, and in some cases, it can reverse these conditions. Resistance training can help mitigate the effects of skeletal mineral loss. The mechanical tension triggered by the external forces on the bones can be an excellent stimulus for encouraging bone-mineral density adaptation. Therefore, boxing can be a great workout for the elderly.

People are always bouncing while sparring or training in the gym, and this puts some extra weight on your knees and legs. Every time you punch, your shoulders, arms, and elbows act as an external weight on your bones, forcing your bones to strengthen. After all, our bones function the same way as our muscles. The more weight you apply to your bones, the more the osteoblasts produce bone mass. And this helps thicken and enlarge them, making them stronger.

3.   Bigger Muscles and Weight Loss

Another considerable advantage of boxing workouts is that they help your muscle grow bigger while burning some extra fat. Boxing is about being quick and strong enough to defeat your opponent. So the quick movements done by your hands when punching does more than strengthen your shoulders and arms. These quick movements also help your muscle expand.

Professional boxers go through a great deal of training, including resistant training, weight lifting, and bodyweight exercise like pushups, among others. These workouts strengthen your muscles and make them more powerful, thus giving you taut and toned muscles.

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4.   Better Endurance and Stamina

Other than giving you huge muscles and improving your cardiovascular health, boxing can also improve your stamina. Better cardiovascular health means that your heart and lungs can supply the needed blood and oxygen to the muscles as you work out. And this will leave you working harder and spending more time in the gym without getting tired.

Remember, the fast movements while sparring can take a toll on you if you don’t have stamina. Some of the workouts that can improve your stamina and endurance include hitting the punching bags, running, punching a speed bag, and jumping ropes. With improved stamina, you can throw some punches and duck even when you’re tired.

5.   Improve Your Hand-Eye Coordination

When throwing punches in the ring, you need to understand that your eyes and fists are working together. And one wrong move can result in you getting knocked out. Therefore, boxing training can help improve your coordination, and this will help you hit the bag at a right angle.

Hand-eye coordination can be quite helpful in a lot of things. It can improve your motor skills that are valuable when doing numerous day-to-day activities like holding your pen and buttoning your clothes. Improved motor skills can come in handy as you grow older; therefore, boxing workouts are ideal for people as they age. 

Final Thoughts on the Benefits from Boxing Workouts

If you have never tried boxing or the workouts that come with it, then you might want to try it. Sparring, punching heavy bags, and all the other routines that come with this sport can have your body feeling great in no time. Plus, it’s a great way to relieve some stress. In fact, the benefits of boxing workouts outweigh the negative parts of this sport. And if you won’t be entering the ring to fight or spar with an opponent, then you will be safe. Just make sure you’re working with an experienced trainer who will teach you how to hit the punching bags correctly.

Use Jefit App to Record All Activities Like Boxing

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app also has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and has a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.

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6 Reasons Your Hip Flexors Get Tight

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Your primary hip flexors – the iliopsoas muscles – are each composed of two muscles that together connect your upper half to your lower half, provide stability for your entire lower body, and are chronically under appreciated.

You may not have spent much time thinking about your deeper core muscles: you can’t see or easily touch them, so they stay out of sight and out of mind.

If these deeper hip flexor muscles are tight or imbalanced, it affects your entire body. Just because you can’t see them in the mirror doesn’t mean they aren’t playing a major role in your mobility, your strength, and your aches and pains.

To keep your body strong and healthy, so you can stay on track with achieving your fitness goals, you’ll need healthy hip flexors.

Why Do I Have Tight Hip Flexors?

1. Inactivity

Your workout makes up a small fraction of your day. Many of us probably still spend close to 50 percent of the day in a seated position (i.e. working, commuting, eating, relaxing). If you sleep an average of 8 hours each night, then that equates to about 20 hours of being inactive.

Sitting puts the hip flexors into a shortened position relative to their natural length. When stuck in this flexed position for extended periods of time, the likelihood of developing tight hip flexors increases, especially as you repeat this pattern day after day. Sleeping in the fetal position can have a similar, compounding effect.

2. Stress

Stressful situations activate the body’s sympathetic nervous system response where the body enters a “fight or flight” mode, causing you to tense up and clench your hip flexor muscles (as well as others). Coupled with more shallow breathing, the body doesn’t get enough oxygen to truly relax and the muscles continue to hold tension.

3. Overuse & Lack of Recovery

The hip flexors can become overused by performing repetitive actions that require hip flexion, like running, cycling, kicking, or squatting. As these motions are performed day after day and used for extended periods of time, it can fatigue the muscles. Without giving the hip flexors a chance to adequately recover, the body may respond by holding tension in this area.

4. Muscle Weakness

Just like any other muscle in your body, your hip flexors need to have enough strength to perform the tasks you ask of them each day. They support your body in a good upright posture, provide stability for your lumbo-pelvic hip complex as you attempt a new 1RM on your squat or deadlift, and help you move one leg in front of the other as you run your next race.

Weak muscles can soon become tight muscles, as the brain senses weakness in the body and sends signals to a particular area to tighten up in order to create stability around a joint and provide protection.

5. Injury & Imbalance Can Result in Tight Hip Flexors

An injury, whether past or present, can play a role in developing tight hip flexors because of the way the body compensates around that injury. Let’s take an ankle injury, for example. At first, moving around is difficult and you rely more on the non-injured side of the body. This may occur for days, weeks, or even months depending on the severity of the ankle injury, where muscle imbalances begin to develop around your hips as a result of these compensations.

After the injury has “healed,” it is important to restore the full range of motion in the ankle joint and address any muscle imbalances that developed during that recovery process. If left unaddressed, the body remains unbalanced and will continue to compensate for the effects of the past injury. The hip flexors will tighten up and try to create stability, with one side potentially becoming tighter than the other.

6. Having Too Much Range of Motion

Working into too much range of motion goes beyond what your muscles and joints were designed to do, creating instability. This is commonly seen in people who are hypermobile and also in those who force themselves too deep in their yoga poses or other stretches.

Because the brain feels unsafe in these over-extended positions, it sends signals to the muscles to tighten up and create stability, acting as a protection mechanism. With the hips being involved in many of these movements, the hip flexors are among the muscles that will hold tension in an effort to keep the body safe.

How to Release Tight Hip Flexors

Chances are that you’re reading this article because you have tight hip flexors and they are limiting you, or causing pain in your low back, groin, hips, knees, or feet (yes, they even directly affect your feet!). Maybe you’ve tried stretching your hip flexors, but aren’t getting results and are wondering what to do next.

You’re likely familiar with many kinds of muscle release tools, such as lacrosse balls, foam rollers, and massage guns. But to release your hip flexor muscles (like your psoas and iliacus) that lay deeper within your core, you need to apply direct, prolonged (30-90 second) pressure.

A great tool that I recently tried is called the Hip Hook. It was designed by Christine Koth, MPT, a physical therapist, and it’s the only tool designed to release both the psoas and iliacus muscles by applying precise angled pressure, using a pivot to access these hard-to-reach muscles from the right angle. In addition, I read Ms. Koth’s book recently that you may also find interesting, Tight Hip, Twisted Core – The Key to Unresolved Pain.

Try the Jefit App

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data, audio cue tips, and a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

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How to Calculate Your Fat & Muscle Mass

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The amount of bodyweight someone carries does not distinguish between muscle and fat weight. Overall bodyweight does not paint a true picture of how well someone is doing regarding their diet and exercise. For example, when I step onto the scale, it tell me I weight 227 pounds, great. I’m more interested, though, in the ratio of that bodyweight number. Meaning, how muscle and fat do I currently have? What is the ratio of my lean muscle and body fat? This, in my opinion, is the more important question that we should ask ourselves every few months. As an example, my goal is 85 percent lean muscle and 15 percent body fat. If you are female gym-goer maybe that ratio looks like 75/25.

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Muscle, water, connective tissue, organ weight and more are included as part of lean body mass.

Jefit Body Composition Metrics

The Jefit website offers the ability to record and track the five key health metrics seen below. There is also the ability to input and track bodyweight, girth measurements and percent body fat via Jefit iOS and Android platforms. What is great about the website, however, is the option to see your breakdown of lean muscle mass and fat mass. Check it out!

  • Current Weight
  • Percent Body Fat
  • Lean Body Mass
  • Body Fat Mass
  • BMI (Body Mass Index)

How to Calculate Fat & Muscle Mass

First, you need your bodyweight and percent body fat numbers. Once you have these, you can then figure out the ratio of muscle and fat mass that comprises bodyweight. A few items to keep in mind. Men have about 3 percent essential fat while women have about 13 percent essential fat. This is the minimal amount of body fat that someone needs to maintain for overall health.

The average college-age male, who is a non-athlete, has about 15 percent body fat, while a female of the same age will have about 23-25 percent. A college athlete will have considerably less body fat. Here are two examples that demonstrate how fat and muscle mass are calculated.

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Let’s look at the case study from above from a Jefit user. This is from a 227 pound male who is carrying about 17 percent body fat.

First, multiply bodyweight by percent body fat. The number you get is fat weight mass. In this case, it’s 227 x 16.8 percent = 38.13 pounds, which is the fat mass.

Next, subtract fat weight (38.13) from bodyweight (227), this equates to lean mass (not pure muscle mass) which in this case is about 189 pounds. About 44 percent of this number is pure muscle mass, which in this case, is about 83 pounds. The weight of your bones (skeletal system) comprises 15 percent of your bodyweight.

What the Math Looks Like

227 x 17 percent = 38 pounds of fat weight, therefore, 227 – 38 = 189 pounds of lean mass. It’s important to understand that this number, 189 is comprised of: muscle, bone, connective tissue, fluid, skin, organ weight, etc. Otherwise known as all the good stuff. The 38 pounds is fat or adipose tissue. The ratio for this male individual would be 83/17. Or, 83 percent lean mass and 17 percent fat mass.

Men carry more muscle than women. An average male (18-39 years old) has about 44 percent of their bodyweight made up of muscle mass. About 34 percent of a female’s bodyweight is made up of muscle mass.

Use Jefit to Record & Track your Body Composition Metrics

To ensure an exercise and nutrition program is truly working, record a few baseline numbers mentioned above. Over a period of time, you should experience a slight increase in lean mass, a decrease in fat mass and your ratio should also change. Recording and tracking body composition (and strength) metrics should help keep you motivated. An assessment can be beneficial because it keeps you consistent, with both training and your nutritional intake, because you know at a future date, your metrics will be looked at again for comparison.

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Common Mistakes When Trying to Build Muscle

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It can be frustrating when you put in hours each week at the gym or with your home workout, yet you see minimal or no gain. Here are some of the more common mistakes that could be preventing you from building muscle and what you can try instead.

Don’t Skip Leg Day

Let’s start with the most common mistake. Focusing wholly on your upper body may cause you to end up out of proportion, but more likely than not, this won’t be the case – you won’t be able to build the upper body muscle to begin with. Having strong legs allows you to support a bulkier upper body, making it easier to build muscle. Many compound leg exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, are also better at increasing testosterone, which helps when developing muscles elsewhere.

A study by the University of Texas found that “performing squats synthesizes more testosterone and growth hormone than a similar session on the leg press.” Although the test subjects lifted more weight on the leg press, their exhaustion was 42 percent higher after doing squats.

Avoid Sugar Spiking

Consuming too many sugary energy drinks, chocolate milkshakes or even some protein bars, could be taking away your ability to gain muscle. While they may give you the energy and protein necessary to build muscle mass, the excess sugar, in turn, could be inhibiting your ability to take in muscle-building amino acids. Look out for low-sugar drinks and snacks that will still give you the protein and energy. Keep in mind, men should consume no more than 38 grams a day and women 25 grams a day of added sugar.

Consuming the Wrong Kind of Calories

When trying to build muscle, you do need to consume additional calories. However, it’s important to eat the right kind of calories. Fast food, ice cream and pizza will more likely cause you to pile on fat. Increase your calories in more healthy ways by eating more fish, chicken, rice, potatoes and vegetables.

Mis-using Supplements

Some people can go overboard on supplements like creatine and fish oil, using these instead of taking up a healthy diet or taking too many causing nutritional problems. There are then those who take the wrong kind of supplements (i.e. performance enhancing drugs like steroids). Steroids are notoriously common amongst some gym-goers but as most know, they can run all kinds of other health risks. You’ll bulk up faster, sure, but you also damage your body in the process, causing severe long-term health problems.

Avoid Too Much Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise, is very beneficial, but, should be reserved to a minimum when trying to bulk up. This is because it steals the calories needed for repairing muscle tissue, converting the calories instead into fuel for aerobic exercise. Try limiting your cardio to twenty minutes, three times a week and see if this has any impact. A few short, HIIT sessions could also work well.

Ignore Weight Training Technique

There are specific techniques to follow for each strength training exercise. For example, proper deadlift form, requires keeping your legs about hip-width apart, not arching (flexing) your back, tucking your chin etc. These will all help build muscle more effectively in addition to protecting your spine and hips in the process. Make sure that you’re using the right technique with each exercise, otherwise you could be preventing yourself from building muscle.

Reference

Shaner, A.A., Vingren, J.L., Hatfield, D.L. et al. The acute hormonal response to free weight and machine weight resistance exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 2014, 28, 4, 1032–1040.

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3 Ways to Burn More Calories in the New Year

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Out with the old and in with the new. Looking to make 2021 the year that you change the way you look and feel? For that to really happen, you may just need a bit more dedication. Let’s take a look at how your body can burn additional calories each day.

Your body continually expends calories, every minute of every hour of every day. Even while you’re sitting reading this.

You will be happy to know that we burn calories even while we sleep. In one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, two groups of overweight non-smokers were followed for a two-week period. One group slept 8.5 hours a night and a second group slept 5.5 hours while both groups ate about 1,500 calories a day. After two weeks, the people who slept more lost more fat than the group who slept less. Even more amazing was the fact that subjects who slept less lost more muscle (60 percent more muscle was lost by the sleep-deprived group). Those three hours of lost sleep caused a shift in metabolism that made the body want to preserve fat at the expense of lean muscle.

This same study showed that test subjects burned on average 400 more calories by sleeping 3 more hours – that’s an additional 2,800 calories burned for just one week. Think of sleeping as an extra calorie burning bonus. Here are three additional ways your body can expend more calories each day:

1. Building More Muscle Increases your Resting Metabolic Rate. 

2. Performing Higher Intensity Workouts will Increase your EPOC.

3. Adding More “Movement” will Increase your NEAT level.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”  

Plato

Build More Muscle

Regular strength training sessions (3x/week) will overload your muscles and the stress (overload) placed on your muscles will eventually adapt and become stronger. As strength increases, the body can handle heavier loads and over time you will experience an increase in lean muscle, as long as you get adequate sleep and nutrition. Research has demonstrated that for every three pounds of muscle you add, your resting metabolic rate increases by about 6-7 percent. An elevated metabolism means you burn calories at a faster rate at rest and during activity.

Benefits of EPOC

Supplementing high intensity strength and cardio sessions into your weekly exercise routine will not only burn more calories during a workout but post workout as well. This is commonly referred to as the after-burn or in scientific research circles as EPOC or excess post oxygen consumption. If the intensity is high enough you have the potential to expend a few hundred calories up to about 24 hours post workout. EPOC depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise session; as they increase so does EPOC.

Take Advantage of NEAT

A study published in Science by Dr. James Levine took 20 “couch potatoes” (10 lean and 10 mildly obese) and recorded their bodily movements every half second for 10 days. He discovered that leaner subjects burned about 350 more calories a day through NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis or about 33 pounds a year.

In a second NEAT study, Levine recruited 16 volunteers and for 8 weeks had them eat 1,000 calories a day over what they needed to maintain their weight. You might expect that all of the subjects put on weight—with 1,000 extra calories a day. But at the end of the study, the gain per individual ranged from less than 1 pound to greater than 9 pounds. And the variation, according to Levine, was explained by the amount of NEAT. A highly active person can expend three times more calories than an inactive person and NEAT levels can vary up to 2000 calories between individuals.

If you’re not seeing changes in body composition with your current program, take a look first at how you’re fueling your body. Secondly, increase your intensity with your cardio sessions and start building more muscle. Lastly, increase your daily movement and some NEAT things will begin to happen.

Use Jefit to Track Your Progress

Do what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Reference

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, and Penev PD (2010). Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine 153(7):435-441.

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See How to Get More Protein on Plant-based Diet, Watch The Game Changers

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Sometimes you read or watch something that changes how you think about a topic. The topic is this case is nutrition and more specifically, a plant-based diet. It’s always important to understand both sides of a story though. Many bodybuilders and recreational lifters alike think they can’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet. So, they tend to avoid it, even if they intuitively know it’s a healthy option. Most stay away because they can’t grasp how eating a plant-based diet would allow enough daily protein to build lean muscle.

Your mind could change a bit after watching an interesting documentary on Neflix called The Game Changers, produced by James Cameron. The show first dropped back in 2018 and is currently trending once again. I would highly recommend that you at least watch it. The show is 85-minutes long and interviews many great athletes who talk about how and why they transitioned to a plant-based diet.

Definition of a Plant-based Diet

One of the better definitions of a plant-based diet was found in this article published by Harvard Medical School and author Katherine McManus, MS, RD. She goes on to say that “plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.”

There are several pro/con reviews of the documentary, however, saying they get a lot right but also some things wrong. One review mentioned the show vilified red and processed meats while claiming animal proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs were as equally bad for your health. We know that certain ways of eating like a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet, have been shown to be healthy, and they includes such foods.

There may be an argument that healthy eating is not an “all or nothing” diet or philosophy and more about finding the best option to eat healthy. To be able to eat healthy the majority of time would be a good thing; incorporating a manageable diet that enhances a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Check out the show and see what you think for yourself, who knows, maybe it’s something you’ve thought about trying in the past. In any event, this or something similar could be a reset for eating better during (1) this stressful, pandemic time and (2) for a fast approaching Holiday season.

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Stay Strong with a Plant-based Diet and Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database in your workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice in order to get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong!

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What’s More Important for Weight Loss: Exercise or Diet?

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Have you ever wondered about the value of exercise and diet as it relates to weight loss? Which do you think is more important, exercise or diet? If you’re looking to losing weight, both diet and exercise are critical pieces of the puzzle. Many people, though, place more focus on the diet aspect. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy, sustainable lifestyle then you need to consistently monitor both. Remember, you can’t manage something if you don’t measure it. Finally, if the goal is simply to build lean muscle mass, then strength training and diet are paramount. The goal in this scenario is to create a surplus of calories each day. Weight gain and ultimately adding more muscle mass can not occur if this does not happen.

National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)

One of the best research-based organizations that looks at the weight loss question is the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). The NWCR is the brain-child of Rena Wing, PhD, from Brown University Medical School. The NWCR “provides information about the strategies used by successful weight loss maintainers to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss.” The NWCR is currently tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and, more importantly, have kept it off for long periods of time.

Main Outcome from NWCR

NWCR members have lost an average of 73 pounds and maintained the loss for more than 5 years. “To maintain their weight loss, members report high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/day/walking), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends.”

What should help clear up this debate is the fact that only 1 percent of the NWCR database (>10,000 subjects) have been successful at keeping their weight off with exercise alone. About 10 percent of the subjects have been successful with weight loss maintenance by focusing on diet alone. More than 89 percent of the subjects have been successful because of BOTH diet and exercise modifications.

NWCR

Finally, maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the week and especially on the weekend is important no matter what the goal. Focus on eating clean, healthy foods, avoid highly processed foods and finally, watch the added sugar in everything you eat. Lastly, sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular exercise will always be good choices when it comes to weight-loss.

Workout with Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for your strength workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

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5 Foods to Eat for Accelerated Muscle Growth

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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.

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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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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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What’s a Healthy Body Fat Range?

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It seems like every time we pick up a magazine or surf the web we’re overwhelmed with outlandish weight-loss claims. Let’s do a reset on this for 2020 and change the narrative. Rather than focus on weight loss like so many of us do, let’s start looking more at our percent body fat level. Do you know what your current body fat level is? You should know this number and monitor it over time.

The ideal body fat percentage for an adult varies depending on the age of the individual. Other variables that also come into play are gender, genetics, bone structure and their exercise level. College-age men typically carry 15% body fat while women have 23%, keep in mind that these numbers are for non-athletes.

Age-Related Body Fat Levels

Women:

  • 20-40 yrs old: Low fat: under 21 percent, Healthy: 21-33 percent, Overweight: 33-39 percent, Obese: Over 39 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Low fat: under 23 percent, Healthy: 23-35 percent, Overweight : 35-40 percent Obese: over 40 percent
  • 61-79 yrs old: Low fat: under 24 percent, Healthy: 24-36 percent, Overweight: 36-42 percent, Obese: over 42 percent

Men:

  • 20-40 yrs old: Low fat: under 8 percent, Healthy: 8-19 percent, Overweight: 19-25 percent, Obese: over 25 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Low fat: under 11 percent, Healthy: 11-22 percent, Overweight: 22-27 percent, Obese: over 27 percent
  • 61-79 yrs old: Low fat: under 13 percent, Healthy: 13-25 percent, Overweight: 25-30 percent, Obese: over 30 percent

Stepping onto a bathroom scale does not tell you the real story about your overall health. Your body weight is not as important as how much body fat you’re carrying. Once you can determine your body fat level, you then have a better understanding of the ratio of muscle to fat that you have.

For example, a women who weights 145 pounds and 33% body fat, can calculate that she has 48 pound of fat and 97 pounds of muscle, bone and fluid. A male, who is 205 pounds and has 25% body fat can determine he is carrying 51 pounds of fat weight and about 154 pounds of muscle, bone and fluid. Once this is known, you can start using the Jefit app to keep track of how this number changes over time. In both of these cases, the goal would be to lose fat weight while maintaining or gaining muscle, depending of course what the goals are.

Monitoring your body fat is important, and in turn, offers great insight into the status of your overall health & fitness. As you see, it’s a valuable metric to follow and offers insight into understanding if a particular strength training program is actually working.

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