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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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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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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Designing Your At-Home Workout Program

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The at-home workout program has unexpectedly become the new norm due to area gyms closing as a result of COVID-19. A by-product of this is that we are spending more of our time inside. Many are now wondering how we can take our old workout plan we did at the gym and incorporate it into a new home routine?

Now that we are home-based, there seems to be additional questions we need to think about and work around. In addition to the question above, there are other matters to worry about too, like when you’re going to exercise, space availability, and equipment needs.

Approaching Your At-Home Workout Program Differently

A paradigm shift is a “a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” This may be a perfect time to start thinking differently about how we exercise at home, meaning, how we structure and execute our training routine. Change can be a very good thing when it comes to an individuals body and how that body adapts and progresses during a training cycle.

5 Basic Human Movement Patterns

Whether your training plan is geared towards a full-body, split routine or circuit-training, should not be the focus. What really matters most is training movements not muscles. Do not rely on specific exercises, instead, make sure you add-in specific movement patterns during each training session. Movement patterns are exercise classifications and can be thought of as the movement direction of the exercise. There are different schools of thought on how these movement patterns are categorized and even talked about.

The following is a modified version of some of the basic human movement patterns that should be included in the design of any training program. This list could also include other categories like hip dominant, knee dominant, rotational and anti-rotational categories. For the purposes of this article though, we will refer to the following five basic categories.

Squat

Any variation of a Squat is considered one of the best compound movements you can do. Exercises listed in this category are considered hip or knee-dominant by some. You can think of this category as exercises that utilize muscles around the hip and knee, like a Barbell Squat, Dumbbell Squat, or a Goblet Squat, as examples.

Hip Hinge

This particular category of exercises consists of movements that involve a “hinging” motion at the hip joint, and have little to no movement at the knee. Classic examples of exercises that incorporate a hip hinge are a Kettlebell Swing and a Romanian Deadlift.

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Hip Hinge Category: Kettlebell Swing exercise

Pull: Vertical & Horizontal

The vertical pull includes moving a weight or body weight vertically, relative to the position that your body is in. Examples of these types exercises would include Pull-ups and Lat Pull-down.

The horizontal pull include any exercise that moves the weight toward your body horizontally. A few examples include: Bent-over Rows, Inverted Row or a Seated Row.

Push: Vertical & Horizontal

This category combines both vertical and horizontal in order to make life easier for you. The vertical push, includes exercises that move a load or weight vertically in relation to the torso, like a Military Press or Push Press.

Horizontal push is a category of exercises that involves moving a weight straight out in front of you, away from the body, like a Bench Press.

Weighted Carry

Many strength and conditioning experts agree that a Weighted Carry is the best, all-in-one exercise a person can do. The Carry is ideal for increasing overall strength, especially back, core and grip strength. The exercise benefits don’t stop there though; it’s also ideal for improving stamina and functionality. A simple definition of a Weighted Carry is picking up a weight or a load and carrying it for distance or time. The best exercise example is a Farmer’s Carry.

The importance of adding these five movement patterns into your at-home workout program is invaluable. It offers someone a better way to design and customize their training program to meet all their needs. It also assures that an individual will work through the various planes of motion more often during training compared to a traditional training plan. The benefits of focusing on movement patterns instead of working specific muscles ensures a well-balanced, strong, functional body.

Exercise Program Design

Now that you have a better understanding of movement patterns, it’s important to use them in your next at-home workout. To experience measurable gains with your at-home training program, it’s important that you understand the basic concept of periodization.

  • “Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.” Len Kravitz, PhD

To get the most benefit out of any at-home workout program, a periodized training plan should be followed. This is where adjusting the various training variables over time (i.e. sets/reps/rest/load/time under tension) comes into play. The idea is to control these variables during each training day and over the course of a full training year. By following such a training format over time, you’ll ensure maximal gains long-term, safely and effectively. Think about that for a moment. If you have not had strength gains in a while, maybe a lack of periodization is the culprit?

Use the Jefit App for Additional Workout Guidance

The JeFit app makes thousands of strength training routines accessible. It comes with a customizable workout planner, an extensive exercise library, and a members-only Facebook group page. Check it out!

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The Best Home Gym Equipment on a Budget

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We are currently living in very turbulent times, and now more than ever, the benefits of choosing the best home gym equipment goes beyond increasing just strength. We are hearing, thinking, and reading more and more about the growing COVID-19 outbreak. It looks like living with the coronavirus will be the new norm for a while and it’s enough to raise anyone’s stress level. A continued, elevated stress level, coupled with no exercise could potentially suppress your immune system.

Benefits of Having a Home Gym

One of the best and safest options you have for getting in great shape is doing it right from the comfort of your own home or apartment. Not to mention, this seems to be a no-brainer with COVID-19 hanging around for months to come. In addition to the many health & safety benefits, there is also an associated cost savings resulting from your gym temporarily closing.

Cost Savings Benefit

You do not have to spend a ton of money setting up your home gym. There are many different pieces of equipment you could use but it will depend first on budget and then on availability of space and of course training experience. Let’s assume that space, budget and experience are somewhat limited.

Exercise Equipment Needs

The following lists include multiple options for exercise products that are ideal for home use and can be purchased online. Each list offers versatile equipment, and is practical in terms of staying within a budget.

You can take care of your equipment needs while the Jefit team can help in terms of finding the best strength-training routines to help you get started.

Home Gym Option #1

Stability Ball

This product reaches far beyond just sitting on it for basic core work. Try lying in a supine position with your feet on the ball. Engage your core and raise your buttock off the floor, pause, and return to your starting position. Following a set of hip extension, perform the same movement with your feet on the ball and knees bent. Lift your buttock off the floor and hold in a bridge position, slowly lower and repeat. After completing these two movements, start in the same position but this time pull both feet in towards your buttock, performing a leg curl movement.

Foam Roller

If you’re not rolling out on a regular basis, then you should honestly start. There are many benefits of adding in a few minutes of foam rolling before and even after your exercise session. Maintaining healthy fascia should be top of mind for you. Remember, restriction (i.e., connective/muscle tissue) is associated with disfunction and this can lead to a limited range of motion; and yes, this will eventually effect your performance.

Exercise Bands

Regular band work can be ideal for any exercise level. Bands are great to utilize in circuit-type exercise routines or as part of your dynamic warm-up. Different colored bands typically equate with different intensity levels. These are very inexpensive to purchase and can be brought anywhere for an exercise session.

Medicine Ball

This is another great tool for your exercise toolbox, if used correctly. It’s ideal for adding resistance to various moves like squats, lunges or a step-up with a shoulder press. In the hands of the right person, a medicine ball can be a welcome addition to any home gym.

Jump Rope

One of the best forms of cardio exercise you can do is jumping rope. It’s great for elevating your heart rate and easy to transition to – so it’s ideal for any circuit-type or HIIT training program at home. Below is an example of how the JeFit app can help you keep track of this and many other exercises that you’ll now be doing from home.

Home Gym Option #2

Adjustable Bench

This is a versatile piece of equipment for any gym. This multi-purpose bench will allow you to do many different upper body exercises and can even double as a “plyo-box” for steps-ups etc.

Dumbbells

A must for any home gym. Dumbbells, take up minimal space. A good pair of dumbbells can be used for just about any upper/lower body strength exercise. Start by purchasing a few pairs of dumbbells and build up to a full set over time.

Kettlebells

One of the many great things about this product is its wide scope of usage. You can use kettlebells for basic, traditional exercises to more advanced movements like a Carry exercise or a Turkish Get-up.

Ab-Roller

Another unique product that really targets your core and is great for developing core strength. It’s one of those exercises that can really overload your core area so start slow and gradually build your repetitions and/or hold time.

TRX System

This training-system has become well-known and a staple used in everything from boot camp classes to home gyms. One of the best exercises you can do, in my opinion is an inverted row. If you ever want to test your strength level try completing 10 repetitions using strict form with a full range of motion.

It may be more of a challenge for some people to workout at home alone especially if they have a history of working out at a gym with others. If you need a little “motivational push” then read this.

Workout with Jefit at Home

The JeFit app 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 our app so that you can see how close you are to your fitness goals.

Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions about a particular piece of equipment that you were thinking of getting for your gym.

Don’t forget to join our Jefit community so that you can be a part of it too!

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