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The link between sleep and muscle growth

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Photography by SNH Foto

Our guest blogger, Mehmet Edip is back with more tips and advice to help you make those sought for epic gains! You can read more articles from Mehmet in our ‘Guest Articles‘.

When you exercise, tiny tears develop in your muscle fibres but muscle repair only occurs when the body is resting or sleeping, and if you aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep, your body cannot repair the muscle fibres as insufficient sleep is disruptive.

Sleep dramatically impacts your entire body, and it’s during sleep that your body recovers from exercise, repairs itself and grows new muscle tissue. When you are sleeping hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone and cortisol are produced in higher doses than throughout the rest of the day.

Testosterone is a hormone which determines how much muscle your body can build, and sleep is vital to this. A Singapore study found those who slept for 4 or less hours per night had 60% less total testosterone and 55% less bio-available testosterone than those who slept 8 hours or more.

Growth Hormone is vital to the body being able to form and sustain muscle mass and tests have shown that particularly in men, 60% to 70% of daily human growth hormone secretion occurs during the first two hours of sleep.

Cortisol is the hormone that assists in the breaking down of muscle tissue – in other words, it supports the metabolic systems of anabolism and catabolism, both vital to building muscle.

What can help stop muscle breakdown?

 When you are sleeping you are essentially fasting as your body is not consuming any food during that period and this is catabolic to muscle growth.

A recent study found that those who took a protein shake right before sleep increased overnight muscle protein synthesis by more than 22 percent compared to those who drank the flavored water. So to stop the catabolic effect eating prior to sleeping can help reverse the process and increase protein synthesis.

Supplements which can help you sleep?

 ZMA is a supplement made from zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. While this supplement can boost testosterone levels if you’re zinc deficient, but it also helps induce sleep.

zma

Supplements to increase anabolic potential

Glutamine is an amino acid that prevents catabolism, promotes optimum growth hormone release and supports a strong immune system.

glutamine

During sleeping periods, muscle wasting can occur due to amino acid shortage, and this can result in increased cortisol secretions and inflammation. Glutamine helps maintain a positive nitrogen balance and helps to promote repair.

BCAA’s – Branched Chain Amino Acids – have proven anabolic properties and increase testosterone and growth hormone levels.

bcaas

BCAA’s can also help to blunt the rise in cortisol levels during sleep, helping to prevent catabolism and promote maximum anabolism.

The author of this article, Mehmet Edip is an internationally published fitness model and writer, actor and competitive athlete.

Check out his latest motivational video:

www.mehmetedip.com

Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @The_MehmetEdip

And to like his Facebook fan page: MehmetEdip.FitnessModel.Athlete

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Technique – Form Over Weight

I have become renowned with the many training partners I’ve had to be particularly strict on technique and emphasising ‘form over weight’ when it comes to weight training.  However, like many gym goers it wasn’t always at the top of my priority list when hitting the weights.

The result…

Injuries, niggles and an ego so big that your head can’t fit through the changing room doors. Leave it behind people, DO NOT enter the gym with that ego and trust me you will be on course for greater gains, less muscle imbalances, less injuries and a more improved performance.

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You will often hear top-level Bodybuilders and athletes refer to their technique being a key attribute to their success and muscle gains. But what does it mean to emphasise technique? Does it mean using light weights?  Or slowing the exercise down?

Rule 1: No Ego

Emphasising technique firstly requires you to be prepared to stop what you are currently doing (assuming that you are doing something incorrect), by agreeing to lighten the weights you are lifting in order to compensate with a more improved form/ technique. This means leaving your ego outside of the gym and stepping up to each exercise with an open mind and being prepared to perform it correctly.

no_ego

If you’re someone who simply goes through the motion of any exercise, lifts as heavy as possible, then you may as well stop training if your goal is to gain muscle. Although you may get strong training in this manner, you will struggle to see a significant gain in muscle mass and are more likely to injure yourself.

How do you know if you have bad technique?

Signs of bad technique…

Generally you are someone on the verge of injury or injured most of the time. Signs of bad technique which are felt throughout your body in joints, muscles and even bones. Your body is very clever in that it will tell you if something’s not right by sending a signal to your CNS and causing you pain. If you continue doing what you’re doing, you’re asking for trouble!

A good example is the deadlift exercise. A very complex exercise which is more than simply picking up and putting down a heavy weight. It requires a particular alignment between the feet, hips and shoulders in order to correctly lift the weight. After a set of deadlifting you shouldn’t be feeling pain in your lower back, at least not a discomforting pain. You should feel your hamstrings, glutes and parts of your lats feeling pumped with little or no pump in the lower back.

Another sign of bad technique is muscle imbalances. If you have one leg bigger than the other for example you may be squatting wrong and putting too much pressure on your stronger/ leading leg. Or you might be performing bicep curls with dumbbells and one arm swings the weight up whilst the other lifts it with control, the result, one big right arm and a small left arm!

How to improve your technique

Not to worry if you’re someone who lacks the best technique or is struggling to perform exercises correctly. There are many tools out there these days which can help. Firstly, the use of a good training partner who is very observant can make a massive difference to your technique. I’ve been fortunate enough to train with guys who are very strict with technique and would stop me during an exercise if I was doing it wrong. This can be a frustrating process but trust me it’s worth it.

Video

Video yourself and watch it back to see how exactly you perform an exercise, it may be nothing like you imagined. This is a good reality check so you know what needs fixing the next time you perform that exercise.

YouTube is a great way to watch exercises and find out how to correctly perform them. By watching personal trainers and most high level Bodybuilders and imitating them you are more likely to train correctly than by Bob from your local gym who has no care about technique and just goes to lift heavy weights. Check out some of my exercise tutorials: GNC P.T Academy.

Summary

Emphasise form over weight. Once you have mastered the correct technique of an exercise slowly increase the weight you lift.  Approach every exercise with these two simple tips and you will be on your way to greater gains and less (if any) injuries!

Website: www.leeconstantinou.com

Twitter: @LeeConstantinou

Facebook: Lee Constantinou Fitness

 

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Examine.com – Nitrates

What is nitrate?

Nitrate (aka inorganic nitrate) is a nitrogen atom bound to three oxygens (NO3), and is related to both nitrite (two oxygens) and nitric oxide (one oxygen). Aside from being naturally occurring in the body, nitrate can be found in many vegetables (leafy green vegetables being the best source, and beetroot being the most famous source). Nitrate is one of two molecules that are said to be the bedrock of the performance enhancing effects of beetroot (the other being betaine).

How is nitrate related to nitric oxide?

Nitrate can be converted to nitrite in the body, and then nitrite can readily degrade into nitric oxide. Unlike the conversion of l-arginine into nitric oxide (which requires the enzyme nitric oxide synthase), nitrite is not localized to this enzyme. Your body can produce nitric oxide from nitrite in a variety of ways, and nitrite seems to be a regulator of microcirculation (the smaller blood vessels in your body, which are highly associated with “the pump”).

In a sense, dietary nitrate is an alternate source of nitric oxide that works differently than L-arginine (but with better results).

Spinach Leaves

How does nitrate benefit exercise?

Studies conducted on nitrate (either via beetroot or via sodium nitrate) suggest that nitrate is able to delay exhaustion and increase average power output in intensive exercise that lasts over a minute and is more muscular in nature (crossfit, rugby, or rowing as examples). It appears to have also benefit exercises that are even longer, but not nearly as much.

Nitrate does not appear to enhance power output (unlikely to benefit powerlifters), although it might increase power output in exercise that is extended such as a short race.

It is thought that this is due to increasing mitochondrial efficiency, and allowing more ATP (cellular energy) to be made per molecule of glucose or fatty acid. This is a benefit of nitric oxide itself, and anything that can increase nitric oxide capacity in the body basically gives you more energy.

Are there any health related effects of supplemental nitrate?

Nitrate appears to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. It also reduces blood pressure in healthy people when they exercise (which inherently causes blood pressure to rise), but does not decrease pressure when a healthy person is at rest. Due to this, intake of nitrate is unlikely to induce low blood pressure (hypotension) to problematic levels.

The ability of nitrate to favour microcirculation could be useful for people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, where microcirculation is decreased and diabetic neuropathy is a risk.

It is thought that nitrate could reduce the rate of cognitive aging (via preserving blood flow to the brain), but this hypothesis is not yet tested.

What are common sources of nitrate?

The most popular source of dietary nitrate is beetroot, and beetroot appears to be the best source of nitrate when looking at tuber vegetables. The entire tuber vegetable class (beets, radishes, turnips) seem to have high nitrate values, outperformed only by leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, rocket, celery, Chinese cabbage) which are the highest sources.

beets

Nitrate is found in most foods, although in low enough levels that they might not exert benefit to the body. Beyond the vegetables already mentioned, the other dietary source that may contribute to nitrate in the diet is processed meats (as sodium nitrate is a preservative in pink meats, and confers dietary nitrate).

In summation?

Nitrate is a highly promising nutritional supplement that may be the link between health and leafy green vegetables. Currently, nitrate appears to have more ergogenic potential than beta-alanine at the same game and can confer a wide range of cardiovascular and blood flow health effects.

About the Authors

 Kurtis Frank and Sol Orwell are the co-founders of Examine.com. Examine.com is a database on supplementation and nutrition, helping you figure out what works (and what doesn’t). They are currently working on a beginner’s guide to supplementation.

examine.com

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Bodypower Expo 2013

What an epic weekend! Bodypower Expo 2013 was crazy! With so many fitness personalities and athletes it was an event not be missed. Fans were flowing in the thousands as the weekend saw close to 30,000 people over the course of the three days. If you were at Bodypower over the weekend then I am sure you were inspired to take your fitness to the next level!

Top left: Steve Cook, Ben Noy, Jamie Alderton, Shaun Stafford, Jim Stoppani, Richard Gozdecki

Top left: Steve Cook, Ben Noy, Jamie Alderton, Shaun Stafford, Jim Stoppani, Richard Gozdecki

I was fortunate enough to catch up and get a picture with many of the fitness personalities who are taking the industry by storm. I struck a typical ‘Bodypower pose’ with fellow GNC guest bloggers (showing a bit of bicep). Having spoken to all of them through emails and social networking websites it was nice to meet them face-to-face and hear the passion they have for improving the industry.

Top left: Chris Lovado, Jeff Seid, Kirk Miller, Emma Storey-Gordon, Claire Harper, Charlene Hart

Top left: Chris Lovado, Jeff Seid, Kirk Miller, Emma Storey-Gordon, Claire Harper, Charlene Hart

In addition to all of the athletes representing their brands, Bodypower Expo also played host to an array of lectures and talks by experts in the industry who shared their experiences and knowledge with the general public. ‘The Academy’ had talks and Q&A’s with industry experts such as Phil Learney, Dr Jim Stoppani, Alex Ferentinos, Rehan Jalali and many more. VIP members were also given the privilege to access the Super Gym and watch world-class bodybuilders, leading international trainers and high level athletes demonstrating how they workout.

There were many competitions over the weekend including the USN Classic, POTW (Physique of the week) and Fit Factor which saw members of the general public bring their best shape to compete for a top placing and great prizes. There was so much going on at Bodypower this year that you really had to attend all three days to experience the full effect.

I’ve attended the expo for the past 3 years and my favorite part of the Bodypower is meeting people and seeing how the industry is evolving and expanding. There are more people alike than we realise and it’s great for everyone to come together for a few days and share their experiences and inspire others to achieve their goals too.

Top left: Dr Zak, Ryan Terry, hot ladies, Ulisses Jr, Zoe Smith, my BP team

Top left: Dr Zak, Ryan Terry, hot ladies, Ulisses Jr, Zoe Smith, my BP team

Unfortunately GNC were not exhibiting this year however, I did make myself present and interact with as many people as possible. GNC is in a time of growth and some really exciting things are happening which I cannot share just yet but watch this space… You can guarantee we will be there making a presence at Bodypower Expo 2014!

See you next year!

Website: www.leeconstantinou.com

Twitter: @LeeConstantinou

Facebook: Lee Constantinou Fitness

 

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Body Transformation – Weight Loss Challenge

Have you entered the Body Transformation challenge? This is my first of a four-part look into each category and what you can expect along the way as you etch closer to your goals. First up, the weight loss challenge.

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Not sure what the Body Transformation challenge is? Read my first blog post about the GNC Body Transformation Challenge 2013.

Are you currently in a cutting phase and wish to drop a dramatic amount of body fat? At GNC we have provided all the tools you need to drop body fat whilst maintaining muscle and shaping your body. How does that sound?

What is included?

To support the weight loss challenge you can download your complementary nutritional and training plan.

Male Weight Loss Plan

Female Weight Loss Plan

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I like to think I know a thing or two about the training and nutrition plans seeing as I strategically designed them and even tested its effectiveness. It’s fair to say I am the ‘go to’ guy when it comes to questions about these plans so feel free to fire me over any questions that you may have.

Diet Plan

The nutritional plans differ for males and females in that they vary in the quantities of food we recommend. The male weight loss plan consists of 5 meals per day while the female plan just 4 meals. Each meal constitutes to a healthy, balanced diet and includes complex carbohydrates such as oats, sweet potato and brown rice, high protein sources such as chicken breasts, white fish and salmon, fruit and vegetables. Yes fruit is part of the weight loss plan. Too often I read about fruit being bad for weight loss and it’s ‘unneeded’ but I believe in balance and fruit provides vital micronutrients as well as fibre which is critical when fat loss is your goal.

Please note that the meals recommended in the plan are not set in stone, so you can switch up the timings of the meals and adapt it to make it suit your lifestyle.

Depending on your bodyweight and metabolism, the quantities of food will vary from person to person. Calculating your TDEE will allow you to better understand the quantities of food you need to be consuming in order to successfully lose weight. Be sure that you are in a 500 calorie deficit to ensure a loss of 1 pound of body fat each week, this is the optimal amount of fat you should aim to lose to keep your metabolism healthy but also so you know your diet is sustainable.

Supplements

2x GNC Super Whey Protein – Muscle Repair

1x XMP Super Shaper Formula – Boost Metabolism and Thermogenesis

2x GNC L-Carnitine 500mg – Supports metabolism & energy

2x GNC Fish Concentrate – Anti-inflammatory

Not only do these supplements form part of the plan, I have included the precise timings when you can most benefit from supplementing with them. Supplements are a great addition to a good diet but often people miss-understand timing which is why we have clearly labelled when you should have them.

I’m a big believer that weight training should form the foundation of any weight loss programme. Resistance/ weight training has the ability to boost the metabolic rate, push your heart rate up sky-high whilst shaping and defining your physique. Both plans consists of higher rep ranges (8-15 reps), this will exert your muscles whilst giving your cardiovascular system a minor workout. Working in these rep ranges will burn a high amount of calories during your training. Keep your sessions challenging by aiming to increase the weights you lift from session to session in order to help further shape and define your muscles.

I’m a big fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which is why it has been coupled with LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio to further increase the amount of calories you burn. The metabolic effects of HIIT go far beyond your training session so the fitter you get, the more you should aim to do. LISS is a great way of burning calories with little expenditure of energy and taxation on your CNS (Central Nervous System). It also forms part of your recovery as it increases the blood flow around your body to working muscles.

Testimonial – Arthur Bill

Prior to launching the GNC Body Transformation challenge we had to ensure the weight loss plan would work, it was no good taking my word for it. So, we trialled the challenge over 12 weeks with one of our GNC store, lifestyle advisors, Arthur Bill.

Arthur was far beyond the weight he wished to be and for far too long put off getting himself into his desirable shape. He dedicated himself to both the training and diet plan week in week out. He consulted me on a regular basis to ensure he kept himself moving closer to his end goal. He managed to drop a staggering 2 Stone of body fat in 12 weeks!

I was extremely proud to be a part of Arthur’s journey and to see his weekly changes were remarkable. Check out his before and after stats:

Real People, Real Results

Arthur before

Week 0
Weight: 13st 3lbs
Waist: 36″
Chest: 40″
Biceps: 15″

Week 12 Weight: 11st 3lbs Waist: 32" Chest: 36" Biceps: 14"

Week 12
Weight: 11st 3lbs (-2 Stone)
Waist: 32″ (-4″)
Chest: 36″ (-4″)
Biceps: 14″ (-1″)

“The 12 week challenge has been amazing , there have been times I’ve had cravings and I’ve had a few little snacks here or there but I still kept to the diet and training . Seeing the week 0 picture and the progress I’ve made has been great! I’ve always had encouragement from my friends and family, and I’ve always kept in that mind-set that I must give 110%. Stick to the diet, eat clean, train hard and results will come.”- Arthur Bill, Chichester

Take The Challenge Today!

If you are currently on the Body Transformation challenge and require any help and support email advice@gnc.co.uk for specialist training, diet and supplement advice.

Visit our FAQ page for more information, hints and tips.

Do you wish to transform your physique over 12 weeks? Enter the GNC Body Transformation challenge for your chance to win £5,000 cash and £1,000 worth of sports nutrition supplements.

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Becoming a Powerlifter

Once again, introducing 2x World Natural Bodybuilding champion & USN Ambassador, Richard Gozdecki. From one sport to the next, he really is an all-round athlete who demonstrates sheer determination to succeed in whatever he sets his mind on. He has dominated natural bodybuilding and made his mark, Becoming a 2x World Natural Bodybuilding Champion! Richard now looks into politics to become the next Prime minister…. I joke. Lol, he has set his mind on the world of Powerlifting. Read on to find out his story 2 weeks before his first ever Powerlifting meet.

Guest Writer – Richard Gozdecki

rich d lift prep

Following my defence of the WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) World Heavyweight title in 2012, I had a chance to relax and reflect on a massive 5 years as a Natural Bodybuilder. There was a part of me which wanted to go back for a third time and try to defend once more. The rest of me was hungry for a new challenge, a new goal, and something to get my teeth into.

After much deliberation I decided that I was going to give Powerlifting a shot. To keep things in perspective and give myself a goal or at least a starting point I had a look at the BDFPA (British Drug Free Powerlifting Association) calendar to choose a competition date.  I have given myself an 8 week training programme to follow, in the lead up to the event. The 3 lifts I will have to perform will be Squat, Bench-press and Deadlift. Week one was a bit of a shock. I am renowned for my high tempo, high volume, and moderate weight training style. Form and technique are a key part of bodybuilding, but in a completely different way to powerlifting.

In week one I tested myself to see if I was actually capable of performing the correct lifts with good enough form to be counted in a competition. I started light and worked my way up the weights, stopping far short of what I thought could have lifted. It’s fair to say I was starting from scratch. Over the last 6 weeks I have gone back to basics. I have reduced my training days from 6 to 4 to increase rest time.

Even though I still spend around 90 minutes in the gym  per session, I perform less than half the sets than I used to and spend most of my time resting between sets.  At first this was very foreign to me. I’m used to banging from set to set with no rest and working up quite a sweat. When I tried this in week 2 and 3 with heavy weights, I was not recovering enough to maintain heavy weights. I soon found that increased rest time can dramatically increase the poundage which I could lift in the gym. Most sessions I have been working around the 3 to 5 rep range, with some 8 rep work thrown in when I feel it’s necessary.

Powerlifting Training Split

Monday:    Bench-press and Calves

Tuesday:   off

Wednesday: Squats, Hamstrings and Grip Strength

Thursday: Shoulders and Triceps

Friday:      off

Saturday: Deadlift and Calves

Sunday:    off

Richard G dliftEverything seems to be moving in the right direction, although usually when 2 lifts are going well, one lift is suffering or static. I am starting to enjoy this way of training now, but I think that is due to me seeing a continuous improvement week on week.

I am very conscious that I’m working closer to an injury zone than I have before as some days I can feel some joint and deep muscle soreness. I’m spending more time on my warm up and stretching to try to prevent an injury, but will just have to keep my fingers crossed.

Diet & Supplements

One thing that has remained the same has been my diet and supplementation. I don’t feel that a massive increase in calories will increase my strength at this point. Perhaps I will think different when I get more experience, but for now I am making good strength gains which is all I can ask.

I have got 2 more weeks until the competition. This will be my last week of hard training, then I will do some form of taper into the comp. I’m not expecting to set any records, but I would like to set some personal bests and give myself some targets to beat.

Richard G.

2x WNBF World Heavyweight & Overall Champion

Since writing this blog post for us, Richard has gone on to set some new Personal Bests (PB’s) and achieved 3rd place at the British Drug Free Powerlifting finals.

Richard managed a total of 615kg at his first competition.

Squat = 220kg, Bench = 165kg, Deadlift = 230kg

BDFPA British Finals

Determined to come back even better and without a doubt, stronger he took his total up by 130kg to a whopping 745kg!

Squat = 255kg (+35kg)

Bench = 185kg (+20kg)

Deadlift = 305kg (+75kg!)

Who knows what the future holds for Richard, but one thing is certain, it is bright for this gifted athlete. Follow Richard’s progress as he sets his sight on his next BIG goal by ‘Liking’ his facebook fan page WNBF Pro Richard Gozdecki.

I hope you feel inspired and motivated to go out there and achieve your goals no matter how big or small they may be. Until next week… Train hard!

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The Importance of Rest

I have returned from my holiday to Barbados and what could be more relevant to talk about this week than rest. It was by far my most relaxing holiday both mentally and physically, now I am back,  fully motivated and ready to get back into my training and routine again!

Holetown beach, Barbados

Camera phone snap: Sandy Lane beach, Barbados


Why the need for rest?

When you rest, you grow. It’s quite simple really and a lot of the time ‘rest’ as a factor of growth is overlooked. When you rest, your body replenishes energy levels by restoring ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate) and glycogen stores, ready for the next time you perform an activity. At this stage your body also repairs damaged muscle tissue caused from training. These micro-tears; deep within muscles grow back bigger and stronger; as long as the correct nutrient, proteins are there to help with this regeneration process.

So, if you want to gain muscle, strength or improve your performance, you must factor your rest into the equation.

Training + Nutrition + REST = More Muscle/ More Strength/ Improved Performance

What is rest?

The word ‘rest’ has quite a broad meaning and is used a fair amount within the exercise and fitness industry. We rest during training, we rest during the day and we rest at night. The same word, ‘rest’ can be applicable to many times in your average day.

I’m not going to go too deeply into rest whilst training but again it must be accounted for in order to perform and make progress in your training.

Naturally your body rests during the day and at night when you sleep. Unless you have an active job you will be physically at rest, although mentally alert and active. At night your body shuts off major systems (aside from your cardio-respiratory system of course) to allow a full recovery of various hormones and tissues around the body. For enhanced muscle repair while you sleep, supplement with a time-released protein which is absorbed over several hours.

Even the 7x Mr Olympia understands the importance of sleep

Even the 7x Mr Olympia understands the importance of sleep

Have you ever wondered why you experience DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) after a long sleep? Well aside from the fact that it is a delay in muscle soreness, it is most occurring after an intense training session and a deep sleep (when you grow).

Time off training

Every so often, we all need to just shut off, mentally and physically. Training 365 days a year is just not practical nor is it safe. Even so, training 3-5 times weekly all year round is also impractical. Scheduling a 1-2 week rest period 2-3 times in a year are just what you need to keep motivated, remain injury free and constantly make progress.

This is when you can make the most of the holidays abroad and just get away from your day-to-day routines to allow for a mental as well as physical break. In your time off training, take time to enjoy life and live a little. See your family and friends, make time for socials with those you are close to and enjoy eating some of the foods you enjoy.

You may feel weak or ‘think’ you look rubbish after a week off training but trust me your body will be very grateful and hopefully your motivation should come back stronger than ever! A week off training allows your adrenal glands to calm, taking away that physical stress which occurs internally when you lift weights or train vigorously. Adrenalin is responsible for releasing the hormone cortisol which has the ability to eat away at muscle tissue and other tissues in your body.

Within a couple of weeks back into your training routine, you should start to see a rapid increase in your strength and any temporarily lost size will be back in no time. As I said before you’ll come back motivated and refreshed, ready to give everything 110% effort!

IMG_1883Having just had over 10 days off training and work I am experiencing all of the above, with the same feeling of DOMS I used to get when I first started training, I like to call it ‘bad but good pain’. Once I re-adjust to my diet and introduce supplements again I’ll be in full swing of my off-season, ready and motivated to set my eyes on my next big goal of 2013!

Website: www.leeconstantinou.com

Twitter: @LeeConstantinou

Facebook: Lee Constantinou Fitness

 

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Jamie’s Hardcore Challenge Workouts!

Grenade Athlete and now a WBFF Pro Muscle Model & European champion, Jamie Alderton is back on the GNC blog with a twist. Yes, he has a range of twisted and challenging workouts to help you bust through plateaus and mix up your training. Do you dare try Jamie’s hardcore challenge workouts?!

Guest Writer – Jamie Alderton

Jamie A logo

Everyone from time to time feels like they hit a Plateau with their training. Either they are not feeling the pump from their workouts or they have lost focus in the gym!

Have no fear! I am here to inject some life into your workouts! Get you refocused! And help you continue with your path to perfection!

Below I have listed a challenging exercise for each body part to try out! I warn you they are not easy and are not for the Feint hearted so here we go…

The Dirty Thirty Challenge (Shoulders)

The Dirty Thirty challenge is an evil and twisted exercise pushing your shoulder strength and cardiovascular fitness! You take a standard 20kg Barbell and add a 20kg plate to each side (60kg total or 20kg total for women) and do thirty clean and presses in as quick a time as you can!

My Record: 2 mins 13 secs

7 Set Shutdown (Biceps)

Grab two 5kg Dumbbells and stick a moderate weight on a cable pulley. Hit 12 repetitions on the cable pulley then grab the dumbbells and hold them out for 20 seconds. We are not really concerned about full range of motion in the cable curls we are going for the pump and the pain. Continue doing this for 7 sets without rest! Always best to do as the last exercise in your arm workout.

Death by Deadlifts (Back)

Pick a deadlift weight that is 1.5x your bodyweight (Females pick a lighter weight) the aim is to go from 10 reps to 1 in as little time as possible. It’s an absolute killer!

10 Minute Push up Challenge (Chest)

Exactly what it says on the tin! How many push ups can you do in 10 minutes??

My Record: 262

8 Minute Abs (Abs)

Completing 8 minutes of ab exercises without stopping!

30 seconds, of sit ups, 30 seconds of Leg raises, 30 seconds of the plank and 30 seconds of knee crunches rotated 4 times.

Tricep Challenge (Triceps)

Nice and easy yet challenging to do! How many tricep dips can you do without putting your feet down?

My Record: 41

Check out Jamie’s previous article, Big “Fat” Lies.

Jamie Alderton

Jamie Alderton is a Personal Trainer, Sponsored Fitness model and WBFF Pro Muscle Model, check out his Facebook page www.facebook.com/grenadejay and his Personal Training Studio FitWorks www.fitworspt.co.uk

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WBFF Denmark – Competition Results

My 12 Week Body Transformation

I can now finally reveal my 12 week Body Transformation compilation video. I have streamed together all of my weekly progress videos to present to you, my 12 week body transformation:

This is a demonstration of what determination, drive and desire can achieve. Like I said before starting this journey, it is not often that you see week by week progress pictures and videos which is why I made it a priority to give you as much footage and information on my journey as possible.

To read all about my journey to the stage and 12 week body transformation, check out my previous blog posts: http://blog.gnc.co.uk/category/12-week-body-transformation/

You are more than capable of achieving your goals. If you plan to step on stage or simply want to transform you physique, why not enter the GNC Body Transformation challenge?!

WBFF Denmark – Competition Results

I’m back from Denmark and had such a great time competing with The WBFF. I’m sure you are all eager to hear the results (if you haven’t already heard). I managed to place 5th out of 28 competitors, just falling short of a top placing! Being a competitive person I was slightly disappointed with my placing however, it has only fueled me to come back even better and be sure to make myself a contender for that number 1 spot!

Pose down at the WBFF Denmark

Pose down at the WBFF Denmark

I was fortunate enough to be joined by my brother and Grandad who supported me from the crowd and made the trip entertaining and one to remember. Having the support was truly appreciated after working so hard for many weeks in preparation for the show.

In the pre-judging, after my initial T-walk onto the stage I was amongst the first call out of competitors which instantly put me in a good position to be placed amongst the top 10 finalists. Once again I was called out in the first round for the evening show, securing myself a top 5 finish. I had a great time rocking the stage in my tailored suit which added to the element of fashion, to what is a fitness and fashion show.

My brother managed to get some great footage which I’ll share once I’m back from my holiday to Barbados next week (which is a much-needed mental and physical break). I also did some short video logs before and after the pre-judging which I’ll share as well.

WBFF Denmark

Hitting a side pose at The WBFF Denmark championships


Whats next?

Setting goals is the best way of progressing and keeping you moving forward. I’ll be taking all the pointers and advice from the judges at the show and make sure I come back bigger and better!

My short-term goal is to really focus on developing my arms and chest. Over the next couple months I’ll be making my training very geared towards these weak points. I’ll also be keeping a close eye on my body fat too, to ensure I keep it relatively low whilst gaining lean muscle. I won’t be letting myself go beyond 190lbs as I plan to keep my body fat at no more than 10%.

I’ll try to make more of an effort to give you guys more videos and tips on how to achieve your goals, short and long-term as well as exercise tips, nutrition and supplement advice.

Team GNC branded tracksuit and T-shirt

Team GNC branded tracksuit and T-shirt

In terms of competitions, I may be stepping back on sooner than anticipated so there will be no days off when I am back from Barbados.

I am more fired up than ever before and ready for the challenges ahead. I’ll be coming back from my holiday more focused than ever before and ready to make some lean gains!

Website: www.leeconstantinou.com

Twitter: @LeeConstantinou

Facebook: Lee Constantinou Fitness

 

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WBFF Pro Fitness Model World Champion – Shaun Stafford

Having been on the case for several months to get some wise words from the current WBFF Pro Fitness Model World champion, I’ve been fortunate enough to catch up with Shaun Stafford to find out more…

Shaun has been very busy in establishing one of London’s premier gyms, City Athletic which is located in the City of London. He is a Reflex Nutrition sponsored athlete and has appeared on several magazine covers as well many Reflex campaigns. It’s fair to say he has taken the fitness industry by storm and by bringing home a world title, he has inspired many to take to the stage!

This is my first ever GNC interview, where I  plan to find out more about Shaun and share his experiences with you to hopefully inspire you in your fitness goals.

Shaun Stafford cover

Shaun conquering Physique Magazine cover: Mar – Apr 2013
Photography – Arsenik Photography

Q1. What made you get into fitness modelling? - GNC 

SS: When I stopped playing competitive sport, I needed a focus for my training and a friend suggested it. She was competing herself, and I made a bet… I ended up losing the bet, which meant I had to enter my first competition. Since then, it has gone pretty well, so I have just kept going…

Q2. What is current approach to training? - GNC

SS: I try to keep my programs varied and switch things up every 6 weeks or so: I do very little cardio, but usually hit a high volume training system. I usually keep the rep range above 5 for the majority of my training, but cycle between accumulation and intensification.

I also use a lot of drop sets, super-sets, giant sets etc. I find it is a really effective way to produce overload and keep my muscles working and progressing.

Q3. How does your current diet look? - GNC 

SS: When dieting for a show, my diet is very strict and controlled: I weigh out all of my meals and eat 6-7 times a day, totaling around 3-4k kcals. I usually go very low carb, and use carb cycling a lot when dropping body fat. In terms of macros, it is usually around 50% Protein, 15% Carbs and 35% Fat.

When in the off-season, I up my carbs quite a lot, and actively try to ‘fill out’ my muscles again; I find that prolonged periods of dieting leave me feeling flat, so having some time off makes me feel ready to go again when the time is right.

As for cheat meals, I use them very rarely when dieting for a show, but as often as I feel I want/ need during off-season!

Q4. What are your top 3 supplements? – GNC 

SS: I use either Growth Matrix or Instant Whey Deluxe as a Post-Workout Recovery drink and Muscle Bomb as a Pre-Workout (when I use one).

In terms of the supplements I take on a daily bases, I use a Multivitamin (Nexgen+), CLA and Krill Oil.

When I am dieting down, I usually add in L-Carnitine and ALA.

All supplements are by Reflex Nutrition.

Shaun Stafford 2

Photography – Simon Howard (SNHFoto)

Q5. What are your top 3 tips to someone wanting to get into fitness modelling/ competitions? – GNC 

SS:

1) Make yourself different:

There are so many people with great physiques out there and everybody wants to be a fitness model. Ask yourself what makes you different, and interesting. If you stand out, people will be interested! It might be your look, your background, a story, whatever it might be, find out, and use it to your advantage.

2) Hard work cannot be overlooked:

If you look at the guys at the top, you might see a hand full of people with great bodies. What you won’t see is the amount of work and graft it took them to get there! It isn’t necessarily the work in the gym or kitchen, but more the networking, writing, filming, blogging etc… If you really want it, you have to work for it! The harder you work, the higher your chances of success.

3) Provide good quality content for people to follow:

SS: If you put good workout and diet advice up, with interesting photos, you will build up a strong a loyal fan base… this is attractive to potential sponsors and will help you with opportunities.

Q6. What are your plans for the future? - GNC

SS: I have just opened a brand new performance gym, City Athletic, in The City of London. At the moment this is taking up nearly all of my time. It has been a long-term dream of mine, and I am very proud of what we have achieved so far with the business. This is my number one focus for now.

In terms of competing, there is The WBFF Pro World title to defend in August… no one has ever successfully defended it, so that would be a major achievement. The show is going to be the biggest ever, and is in Las Vegas!

After the show I will work hard and try to bring The WBFF over to Europe a bit more, and get a UK show going. This is a long-term goal, so watch this space.

Thanks Shaun, we appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for our interview, best of luck with your future goals. – GNC

SS: Thank you very much for stopping by and talking with me.

Shaun Stafford

Shaun winning the WBFF Pro Fitness Model World title in 2012
Photography – Toby Harrison

Shaun Stafford

WBFF Pro Fitness Model World Champion 2012

Keep up to date with Shaun on Facebook and Twitter:

Facebook page: Shaun Stafford Fitness

Twitter @shaunstafford

www.cityathletic.co.uk

London Premier Gym – City Athletic

***GNC EXCLUSIVE – BLOG COMPETITION***

City Athletic have teamed up with GNC to offer readers of our blog a Reflex/ City Athletic goody bag worth over £100 (including a complementary day pass to City Athletic)! Simply email your answer: A,B or C with your full name to advice@gnc.co.uk to win. Closing date is 25th April 2013. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on the GNC Facebook Fan page and via email on Friday 3rd May 2013.

Q. Which of the following does Shaun have as part of his Post-workout nutrition?

A. Reflex Diet Whey
B. Reflex Growth Matrix
C. Reflex Performance Matrix

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Wait…there’s more! How would you fancy winning a pair of VIP athlete passes to City Athletic and train with Shaun Stafford himself?! Simply ‘Like’ the City Athletic Facebook Fan page to be in a chance to win. Shaun will announce the winner on Friday 3rd May 2013!

Good Luck!

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