Awesome Workouts You can do With Just a Pull Up Bar

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workouts-to-do-with-just-a-pull-up-bar

5 Workouts that Only Require a Pull Up Bar

You can have an awesome workout even without any equipment! All you need to get in shape is yourself – push-ups, sit-ups, body weight squats and sprints can all be done without workout equipment of any kind. If you add a single piece of equipment – a pull-up bar – the possibilities for your workout are almost endless.

While a lateral bar about 6 – 9 feet off the ground may not sound terribly modern, exciting or intimidating, the truth is that innocent looking length of metal is about to put you through a routine that will leave you completely spent, build some serious muscle, and have people commenting on your physique.

What are the specific exercises you can use a pull-up bar for? Besides the fact that pull-up bars can be used for regular pull-ups (which is not exactly breaking news), pull-up bars have a multitude of other uses.

1. Medium Grip Pull-ups

This is your standard pull-up. Grip the bar slightly more than shoulder width apart, pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar, and slowly lower yourself back down again. If this sounds easy, just give it a try. Unless you are the Incredible Hulk, you’ll start to feel it after just a few reps! Medium grip pull-ups are one of the most effective upper body muscle building exercises, and target nearly every muscle group above the waist. While shoulders, triceps, biceps, back, and core all get a great workout from each of the three types of pull-ups, this grip gives your back an extra good workout

2. Close Grip Pull-ups

These may be slightly easier than a medium grip pull-up, but will still leave your arms burning! Grip the bar about shoulder width apart, or slightly closer. As with a medium grip pull-up, a close-grip pull-up will work basically everything above the waist, with a special focus on your triceps.

3. Wide Grip Pull-ups

These are killers! Wide grips are the hardest type of pull-ups and are not for the faint of heart. To perform a wide grip pull-up, grip the bar with each hand about 8 inches outside of your shoulder. As with the other pull-up exercises, these will work your entire upper body, but you will especially feel wide grip pull-ups in your shoulders.

4. Chin-ups

These are similar to pull-ups, but instead of gripping the bar with your palms facing away from you (as with pull-ups), hold onto the bar with your palms facing towards you and about shoulder width apart. Just like pull-ups, chin-ups are compound exercises and work every major upper body muscle group. However, chin-ups specifically target your biceps.

5. Leg Raises

This exercise is somewhat unique compared to the ones listed above. To perform a leg raise, grab hold of the bar with your palms facing towards you or away from you – it does not matter for this exercise. Instead of pulling your body upwards, swing your legs forwards by tightening the muscles in your stomach and, while keeping your knees as straight as possible, lift your legs until they are at a 90 degree angle with your upper body. Make sure to do each rep at a controlled tempo; don’t just use momentum to swing your legs forward. Although this exercise targets your core, as with all the other exercises mentioned in this article, leg raises will work all the muscles in your upper body.

Home Pull Up Bar

Some people may have access to a gym or a park with pull up bars and some might not. That’s why this nifty little invention came about called the home pull up bar. The cool thing about these bars is that you can put them up on almost any door way and do any of the workouts listed above on them. They’re designed surprisingly well and once you get past the initial “holy crap will this thing hold me up?” thought, you’ll be able to get in a solid workout.

I recommend going with this one that I found on amazon.com. I’ve never used it myself since I have access to a gym with a pull up bar, but from what i’ve read and all the reviews, it’s a solid buy, and it’s a decent price.

Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

iron gym pull up bar

 

$23.38 @ amazon.com

By combining the five exercises listed above, you can get a complete upper body workout with a specific exercise targeting each of the five major upper body muscle groups.

So get ready, grab a pull-up bar, and prepare for an awesome workout!

Reasons Why Protein is Good for Weight Loss

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reasons-why-protein-is-good-for-weight-loss

Why is Protein Good for Weight Loss?

What goes in to your body affects how well your body maintains itself. That’s why your diet is just as important as how much exercise you get, especially when you’re trying to cut the pounds and add some lean muscle mass to your body.

The problem is that too many people focus on things like herbs, how much fat is in food, and other minute details that may not have as great of an influence on weight loss as you may have been lead to believe.

The answer to your weight loss woes may be simpler than you ever imagined. By shifting your diet to consume more protein, you may be helping yourself gain an upper hand in the war against weight.

Let’s explore the three biggest benefits that protein has when it comes to losing weight and getting shredded.

1. A Feeling of Fullness

One of the most prevalent problems with diets concerns eating too much and snacking too often. This problem is anything but simple, as it can be derived from everything including the desire to taste more of something that’s good to full-blown depression.

This wide range of causes can make treating the symptoms of overeating difficult. Couple this in with the low feeling of fullness that refined foods rich in processed sugars provides, and the problem becomes even larger.

Protein is one thing that can help with the feeling of fullness. Something as seemingly simple as consuming more protein in your breakfast meal can leave you feeling fuller for the remainder of the day.

The reason protein works to make you feel fuller revolves around the way that it’s broken down in the body. Compared to carbohydrates, it’s absorbed slowly.

The difference between protein and fat is that protein tends to be more prone to be turned into energy. This allows your muscles to absorb the nutrients you gain from protein rather than storing it in fat due to an extremely sluggish digestion period.

2. More Energy to Digest

Protein has another advantage over fats and carbohydrates: it has a higher thermic effect of food (TEF). This means your body must expend a significant amount of energy before breaking protein down into a form of energy that your body can use.

Studies have shown that protein has a TEF that is roughly five times that of lipids. While energy derived from proteins is readily accessible, this added energy required to break it down has a few neat implications when it comes to your diet.

For example, it means that your body would rather use protein for building muscles before it uses it to make energy. This makes any exercise and muscle building you perform have far better gains.

The other major implication TEF has for protein and dieting is that it forces your metabolism to work harder when you consume more protein. This results in a higher basal metabolic rate, which means that your body is more prone to burn energy.

3. Protein Promotes Muscle

It’s common knowledge that people with more muscle on their bodies burn more calories than people with less muscle mass.

The only way to gain more muscle mass is to eat a diet rich in protein. By utilizing the two mechanisms already covered, a diet with more protein allows you to add more muscle to your body.

As you gain muscle, the composition of your body will have a tendency to preserve muscle while burning fat for fuel.

The good news is that this additional muscle doesn’t have to be in the form of muscles that help your arms increase in size. You can add lean muscle to your body that helps you with endurance to reap similar benefits.

Protein is the Dieter’s Building Block

Developing lean muscle mass requires you to consume more protein in addition to exercise. By simply adding protein to your diet, you can reap the benefits of increased muscle mass, a higher basal metabolic rate and a tendency to eat less.

These three benefits combine together to form the building blocks of a strong diet. This is why foods rich in protein may be the first step for any dieter trying to lose weight.

Post Workout Stretches To Combat Muscle Soreness

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stretches-to-help-you-recover-after-a-workout

4 Stretches to do after a workout

Are you trying to take control of your health? Do you want to reach all of your fitness goals this year?

If you do, then don’t get injured before you can reach your most important goals! Did you know stretching after your workout is one of the most important actions you can take after all of that hard work so that prevent against injury?

Stretching is not just important for flexibility. It’s also beneficial to preventing muscle injuries and to allow your muscles to heal faster. If you’ve ever had a hard session in the gym, then you know how sore you can be the next few days. Hint: really sore!

While stretching isn’t a magic cure for soreness, it is going to help you diminish the soreness a little bit. Plus it’ll increase your flexibility which is going to allow you to perform more workouts in a more proper way and prevent injury.

Follow our guide of these quick post-workout stretches that you can do to prevent muscle soreness and injury in the future.

Exercise #1: Heel to Butt

walking-heel-butt

Lift your heel to your butt with your arms and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg as well. Do this at least two times and maybe three depending on the intensity of your workout. This feels good and stretching your leg muscles.

Exercise #2: Standing Calf Stretch

standing-calf-stretch

The standing calf stretch is a great exercise to really lengthen your leg muscles and help them feel fully extended after an intense run or other workout. Find a spare wall with nothing on it. Place your palms flat against the wall. Push one leg behind you and the other in a lunge position. Press against the wall, stretching your calves on each side for 20-30 seconds. Repeat two or three times.

Exercise #3: Reclined Twist

reclined-twist

Find an open, flat surface and lay down on it. You may want lay down a comfortable yoga mat. Stretch your legs out in front of you. Then bring one leg over, twisting your body slightly and lifting your knee with your arm. This is called the recline twist stretch and works your legs. Hold for 20-30 seconds once again and then move to the other side. Repeat this stretch three times.

Exercise #4: Arm Across Stretch

arm-across

This stretch works your arms and is exactly how it sounds. Stand straight with your legs comfortably together or apart. Make sure you are steady. Bring one arm across your chest. Wrap your other arm in a hook around the straightened arm. Gently press your hooked arm to get a deeper stretch. Hold 20-30 seconds. Shake out your arms to release the stretch. Repeat on the other side. Continue to do this two or three times until you feel fully stretched.

Dynamic Stretching

So, while post workout stretching is crucially important, dynamic stretching is almost just as important. What do we mean by dynamic stretching?

Dynamic stretching means stretching DURING your workouts. Doing a quick stretch after every set of your workout is going to keep you limber and flexible throughout your routine which is going to prevent your muscles from going cold and getting injured.

You can employ the same 4 stretches above during your workout, just not as much or often. For example a quick “across arm stretch” after every bench press stretch, is going to keep your muscles engaged and less likely to cramp up or fail on your next set.

Stay Hydrated!

While stretching is important, the number one reason our muscles get injuried, cramped up or sore is because we don’t get enough hydration. Hydration is what life depends on, 70% of our bodies are made of water, so why would you deny yourself such an element?

Sweating and working out use up A LOT of our hydration, so its important to hit the water fountain or your water bottle as much as possible during your workout to prevent dehydration. Dehydration itself has many worse side effects than just muscle cramps and soreness. It can lead to a lot of other health issues, so make sure you’re getting enough water!

Wrapping Up

So are you ready to get to work now? If you’re on your way to an intense workout, remember that your post-workout stretches are very important as a preventative measure to injury.

Don’t subject your muscles to soreness and injury! Make sure you are stretching after your workout. It only takes minutes — a short time in the long run when you consider how you’ll pay in soreness and/or injury in the future. Good luck on your workout and keep at it!

Follow our small guide of four great stretching exercises to do in your post-workout routine, and you’ll be feeling great and ready for your next fitness routine. Happy exercising…and stretching!

Link to images: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/stretches-for-sitting-long-periods-of-time

How We Sabotage Our Health and Fitness Goals

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Tips to Stop Ruining Your Own Goals

how-to-stop-sabotaging-your-goals

Are you trying to get in shape? Trying to run a marathon? Trying to reach a new weight? Trying to get a six pack?

Do you have that you go through the ebb and flow of an exercise routine — pushing yourself extremely hard only to skip one day and think you’ll never progress? If you’re on a roller coaster of health and fitness goals, then it’s hard to stay on track and feel good about what you are doing.

The worst feeling in the world is the feeling of hopelessness. Feeling like you aren’t doing enough, or you aren’t talented enough or you’re not trying hard enough. But the truth is, odds are you ARE. You’re just mentally psyching yourself out. You’d be amazed at the things you can achieve if you just never gave up. Now obviously there are limitations to this, like you’re not going to play in the NBA if you’re 5’5, but for most other things you can achieve them. You just have to keep pressing forward.

We know these feelings so we have put together a small list of four ways we all sabotage our health and fitness goals that will help you stay on track and feel good about your progress — no matter what your goals are and where you are in the process. The key to reaching your goals is not to beat yourself up before you even start — and certainly not to put yourself down in the process.

Learn how to gain self-confidence and reach your goals by reading on:

How We Sabotage Ourselves

Tip #1: We Use Negative Self-Talk

Have you ever caught yourself talking down to yourself? It doesn’t have to be audible. Often we are telling ourselves negative statements in our heads, and this is true for our health and fitness goals. “I’m so fat.” “I’ll never be able to lift that.” “I’m not making any progress.” Sound familiar? Don’t beat yourself at your own game. Catch yourself in these statements and turn them into positive ones. You’ll instantly feel better and more confident.

Tip #2: We Give Up

Sometimes we find ourselves setting our goals to high at first. When your goals are too big at first, it is really easy to give up. Don’t sabotage your health and fitness by giving up on all your goals just because you fall short of one. Instead, make smaller goals that are much easier to achieve. You’ll build confidence as you go and feel that you can take on greater and greater challenges.

Tip #3: We Get Injured, Unnecessarily

Learn the proper way to lift. Stretch before and after you exercise. Drink the appropriate amount of water. Combined, these and other preventative measures will help ensure you don’t get seriously injured. If there is anything that will sabotage your health and fitness goals its being so injured that you cannot exercise.

Tip #4: We Don’t Get Enough Sleep

It’s not just exercise that is part of a good health and fitness routine. Our mental and emotional health also is very important. We sabotage our chances of having a happy, productive day when we don’t take care of our physical needs — getting enough sleep, staying away from drinking too much alcohol (which can act as a depressant), not eating healthy foods, skipping meals and like activities.

Take control of your mental and emotional health by making sure you are taking care of your physical body. Know the factors that affect you negatively throughout the day and manage them by doing what is best for you. Don’t hurt goals by hurting your mental health chances!

Wrapping Up

Are you ready to reach as many of your health and fitness goals as possible? Do you feel more empowered and ready to take on the challenge? Remember that you can and you will if you keep trying. Sometimes trying is enough.

Take it day by day and celebrate accomplishing even the smallest goals you reach on your health and fitness journey. And finally, don’t give up! Print out this guide of tips reminding you of the four ways in which we all sabotage our health and fitness goals, and then counter all of them.

You’re on your way to achieving success!

A Beginner’s Guide to Carbohydrates

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A Quick Guide to Carbs for Beginners

beginners-guide-to-carbohydrates

How much do you know about carbs? Do you understand the difference between “good carbs” and “bad carbs?” You will, once you read this quick but concise guide to carbohydrates.

What are carbs?

Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides, are macro-nutrients that comprise the starches and sugars that are found in dairy foods, fruits, nuts, grains and some vegetables. Insoluble cellulose fiber is also considered a carbohydrate.

They are an excellent source of energy for our bodies.

Types of carbohydrates

Simple carbs

Simple carbohydrates are also known as monosaccharides. According to the Mayo Clinic, the simplest carbohydrate is sugar. Simple carbs include fruit sugar, or fructose, lactose, or milk sugar, and sucrose, commonly known as table sugar.

Processed flour is loaded with simple carbs. The human body expends virtually no energy digesting simple carbs. Simple carbohydrates do not provide long-lasting energy. For this reason, simple carbohydrate sugars are sometimes called “bad carbs” or “fast carbs.”

Complex carbs

Complex carbohydrates are also known as polysaccharides. Complex carbs take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. They are found in whole grains, unprocessed oats, dairy products and vegetables. Nutritionists consider complex carbs to be more healthful than simple carbs.

This is why complex carbs may be called “good carbs” or “slow carbs.”

Starch and fiber carbs

Found in foods such as dry beans, corn, potatoes and peas, dietary fiber and starches are considered complex carbohydrates. Foods rich in dietary fiber and starch include nuts, seeds, oats and whole grains.

According to the Center for Disease Control, or CDC, insoluble dietary fiber is found in foods such as barley, brown rice, couscous, fresh unprocessed fruit and some vegetables. Bread and pasta made with whole grains deliver a significant amount of beneficial dietary fiber.

White bread and pasta made from white flour deliver none.

What carbohydrates do

The human body turns carbohydrates into energy. Excess carbs are stored for future energy or turned into fat. Carbs both simple and complex are processed through the liver, stimulating pancreatic production of insulin in the process. Simple, fast carbs cause a quick spike in insulin levels. Complex, slow carbs stimulate significantly less insulin production.

As the liver processes carbohydrate, it converts it into glucose. Some glucose may be used as energy right away. Excess glucose converts to glycogen for future energy use. The amount of glycogen that can be stored in the liver and muscles is limited; excess glycogen is stored as fat.

Glycemic index

Carbohydrate foods are measured on the glycemic index, or GI, according to how much and how quickly they raise blood sugar levels. Each food has its own GI number on a range of 1 to 100. Simple, fast carbs rank higher on the glycemic index than complex, slow carbohydrates.

Foods such as candy, muffins and cookies rate highly on the glycemic index. They provide a rapid burst of energy that does not last. For this reason, many people report feeling a “sugar hangover” after consuming foods that have a high glycemic index number. For energy that lasts, choose foods that rank closer to 1 on the GI scale. Opt for fresh fruit, whole grain bread, cubes of hard cheese, a handful of nuts or a big bowl of popcorn.

For optimal health, eat more complex carbs and fewer simple carbohydrates

Up your intake of healthful dietary fiber by choosing whole fruit instead of juice. Incorporate more beans into your weekly diet, and limit your consumption of meat products.

Begin your day with a serving of unsweetened, whole-grain cereal topped with fiber-rich fruit such as sliced peaches or chopped apples. Add a few shelled walnuts for an extra dose of beneficial dietary fiber carbs.

When you snack, snack smart. Skip the sugary refined snacks and opt instead for raw veggies or whole fruit.

Why are Carbs important to people who are into fitness?

Carbohydrates are an EXCELLENT source of energy. Our bodies do a wonderful job of turning carb rich foods into fuel for our activities and bodily functions.

So it’s pretty obvious why this is a benefit for people who are into fitness, weight lifting, sports and any other action that requires high amounts of energy.

Carbs also play an essential role in helping protein repair and build your muscles.

4 Simple Tips to Build Self-Confidence

tips-to-build-self-confidence

Some Quick to Build Your Self Confidence

tips-to-build-self-confidence

Are you struggling with your self-confidence? Would you like to feel happier, be more energetic and get more things done? Do you want to experience life more fully and feel good about how you are contributing to the world?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then follow our little guide of four tips for building your self-confidence. Everyone needs a little boost every now and then — and everyone must build skills to get better at self-confidence.

Self-confidence is not something one is born with, rather it is instilled in you at a young age. If you didn’t have the privilege of a healthy role model to believe in you and encourage you, then you may have to work just a little harder at your confidence levels.

Why is Self Confidence so Important?

There are many reason why being confident in one’s own self is extremely important.

Health

First of all, your health. Confident people tend to be less stressed and worried, which results in a much healthier lifestyle and fewer medical conditions. They also don’t stray away from physical activity, exercise and sports, all of which contribute highly to a healthier life.

Related: Why Stress is so Detrimental to Your Health

Love Life

It’s pretty obvious, confident people have a better love life. They are more open to relationships and are more well received by others.

It’s tough to lead a healthy love life if you don’t believe in yourself. If you don’t see your own self worth, how can someone else?

Money and Position in Life

Confident people make more money. That’s a fact. They take more risks, they network more effectively and move up in their professions quickly. Everyone loves a confident person. Nobody wants to give a promotion or raise to a person who doesn’t even believe in themselves or their own skills.

It’s much easier to make a doormat of someone who acts like one. Confident people demand their position in life be raised because they feel they deserve it. And most of the time they do. And so do you!

This guide will give you some tips to get you feeling a little better about yourself — something we all need! Read on to get your four tips, and start practicing now!

Tip #1: Use Positive Self-Talk

Stand in front of your mirror at the beginning of each day. Look at yourself, and tell yourself three positive things about yourself or your position in life. Self-encouragement may feel silly at first, but everyone needs a coach.

Research shows that when you talk positively, you feel the effects of that. The result is more confidence. Even if you don’t necessarily believe what you are saying, the effects are the same. So first thing, cheer on yourself!

Tip #2: Ask for Encouragement

Go to your closest friends or family members and tell them you need their help. Sometimes people aren’t the most natural helpers, but almost everyone will help others in need. We all need a team of people behind us, so tell them that you need a little positive feedback every now and then. They can be your fans and supporters in the journey to building new confidence in all areas of life.

Remember, don’t be afraid to do this, because people with a lot of self-confidence are not fearful people!

Tip #3: Ask the Impossible

One way to get over fears, especially fears of rejection, is to go out of comfort zone in the “asking” department.

Start small at first. Ask a stranger for a dollar. Ask a barista for an extra dollop of whipped cream. Call your cable provider and demand something for free. Then, move on to harder tasks, like asking out your crush!

You’ll gain self-confidence and decrease your fear of rejection as you see how generous those around you are and as you realize that getting a “no” isn’t about you at all.

Remember, everyone gets rejected at some point, the difference is how we choose to deal with that rejection.

Tip #4: Set One Big Goal

Set one big goal that you think you actually could accomplish this year. Make it challenging yet achievable. You’ll get a huge boost of confidence when you accomplish that goal. The same is true for setting up smaller, easier goals and working up to your big goal. Make a checklist to track your progress and reward yourself as you reach your goals. Celebrating achievements — even small ones — is a boost to self-confidence that will only grow in time as you continue to set and reach goals on your list.

Final Thoughts

With just a little practice, you will be on your way to getting more out of life and feeling good about the steps you are taking in all areas if your life.

Don’t get discouraged if at first practicing these skills is hard. Asserting yourself and believing in yourself is hard! None of us can do it on our own, which is why this guide and the community around you can really help you excel.

Are you ready? To be the person you were meant to be? To join in the fun of life that can only be experienced when you truly feel good about yourself?

Try a few of these tips everyday over the course of the next few weeks. Gradually build up to practicing all four skills in one day. Little by little it will get easier, and you will not only feel more confident but you actually will be more confident.

Benefits of Intra Workout Supplements

benefits-of-intra-workout-supplements

What are the benefits of taking an Intra Workout supplement?

benefits-of-intra-workout-supplements

What is an Intra Workout Supplement?

An intra workout supplement is a supplement you take to increase your muscle mass during a bodybuilding work out. Some of the ingredients to look for in a good intra workout supplement are amino acids, carbohydrates and co-enzymes. These ingredients will help you immensely in building your body and increasing your muscle mass. This type of supplement will help you gain mass, repair muscle damage and build your endurance so you can train longer.

How is an Intra Workout Supplement Used?

As the name of the supplement implies, an intra workout supplement is taken just before and during your training routine. Take half of the supplement before you train. Add the other half to your water bottle while you lift. You should notice an increase in muscle as well as endurance when using this supplement.

How do Amino Acids Work in a Workout Supplement?

Amino acids are the building blocks of muscles. They are crucial when weight lifting when you want to gain muscle mass. Amino acids are expended when you lift weights, because you expend energy and increase your metabolism. Amino acids both build and repair muscles, so if you don’t have enough amino acids, you can’t build muscle or repair any muscle damage that may occur during weight lifting. If you are lacking in amino acids, you will not gain strength or muscle. Plus, you will not have the energy to do your training.

Why Include Carbs in Your Weightlifting Routine?

Carbohydrates are important to a weight lifting regime because they provide energy to the body. If you were to consume carbs and not exercise, you would gain weight. But adding carbohydrates to your workout, especially if you add carbs during your workout, will give you the stamina to increase the duration of your workout, and thereby improve your muscle mass and strength. It is recommended that the human body receive 45-55 percent of its diet in carbohydrates. Because body builders train very hard, they may need a supplement to ensure they receive enough carbs for adequate energy for a strenuous workout.

What do Co-Enzymes Add to a Workout Supplement?

Co-enzymes are an important building block for cells. They add a nutrient that is crucial to produce energy for the body. Co-enzymes are essential for the body to process protein properly. If you want to increase the amount of energy you have to train properly, adding co-enzymes and carbohydrates will give you the energy boost you need to train longer and increase your muscle mass.

What we think are the best intra workout supplements on the market

We believe these 3 creatine supplements below are some of the best creatine products to consider. They are manufactured by reputable companies, are fairly cheap and don’t add in a bunch of extra nonsense.

Scivation Xtend Endurance

Scivation-Xtend-Endurance-2015

$29.71 at amazon.com

Controlled Labs Purple Wraath

Controlled-Labs-Purple-Wraath-2015

$59.99 at amazon.com

Cellucor COR-Performance Beta-BCAA

Cellucor-COR-Performance-Beta-BCAA-2015

$29.99 at amazon.com

Final thoughts

If you are looking for the just the right way to put your workout over the top, consider using an intra workout supplement containing amino acids, carbs and co-enzymes.

These ingredients will enhance the workout you do and give you the best benefits in muscle mass possible for the time and effort you put in during your training. Continue your workout routine. You will notice improvement in strength, muscle growth and endurance.

6 Supplements That Are Worth The Money

supplements-that-are-worth-the-money

Which Supplements Are Actually Worth Buying?

Ideally, we should be able to obtain all our vital nutrients from food. However, real life makes this challenging. If you’re a nutritionist, you have in-depth knowledge of the body’s needs and how to meet them. However, most of us don’t have this advantage

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledges that supplements are useful in filling nutritional gaps. [1] Still, you don’t want to overload your body or your budget with unnecessary nutrients. Which supplements offer the greatest benefit? Which ones are worth your money? There are three:

  • Multivitamins
  • Whey protein
  • Creatine

Read on for why these supplements merit a spot on your shopping list.

1. MULTIVITAMINS

The NIH recommends discussing supplements with your doctor first, so your health care is managed professionally. Your physician can also test for certain nutrients to see how much supplementation is needed. This is helpful for evaluating blood levels of calcium and Vitamin D

The NIH also suggests choosing a multivitamin tailored to your age, gender, and any special condition, such as pregnancy. [2] Following that guideline, here are the nutrients that should be present in supplements for women and men.

WOMAN’S MULTIVITAMINS

Childbearing Age to Age 50

According to Prevention magazine, a woman’s multivitamin should contain 100% of the following daily values:

  • Vitamin B6 – 2 mg
  • Vitamin B12 – 2.4 mcg
  • Vitamin D – 600 IU
  • Vitamin K – 90 mcg
  • Folic Acid – 400 mcg
  • Calcium – 1,000 mg
  • Iron – 18 mg
  • Magnesium – 400 mg
  • Selenium – 55 mcg
  • Zinc – 8 mg
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids – 2 gm [3]

Women’s Multivitamin Superheroes

The Livestrong Foundation gives high marks to the following women’s multivitamins:

  • Centrum Ultra Women’s
  • Nature Made Multi For Her
  • One-A-Day Women’s
  • Puritan’s Pride Woman’s One Daily
  • Rainbow Light Just Once Natural Women’s One [4]

PREGNANCY VITAMINS

Research shows that prenatal vitamins reduce the risk of pre-term birth, low birth weight, and birth defects.

According to WebMD, a woman’s prenatal multivitamin should contain:

  • Folic Acid – to prevent neural defects
  • Iron – to avoid anemia
  • Calcium – for proper bone development
  • Vitamin D – to assimilate calcium
  • DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid needed for the brain, eyes, and nervous system. Studies also suggest it promotes normal gestation length and supports a mother’s mental health. [5]

Promising Prenatal Multivitamins

  • Below are highly-rated organic prenatal supplements that are a great value:
  • Country Life Maxi Prenatal Multivitamins – good for sensitive mommy stomachs
  • New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin – Kosher, easily swallowed and digested
  • New Chapter Wholemega Prenatal – with 17 omega fatty acids, including DHA
  • Twinlab Prenatal Care Multivitamins – energizing, ideal levels of calcium and magnesium

MEN’S MULTIVITAMINS

The Institute of Medicine reports that men and women have the same basic needs for Vitamins B12, D, and E. Men require the same amount of iron as postmenopausal women, 8 mg. [6] They don’t need as much calcium. The Harvard Medical School reports that high consumption of calcium can contribute to prostate cancer. It recommends 800 mg of calcium per day for men. [7]

A multivitamin targeted to men may have lycopene. This is the red pigment found in tomatoes. It works as an antioxidant, protecting against cellular damage. Lycopene has been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer. A men’s multivitamin may also have higher selenium than a woman’s formula. This trace mineral is also associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Men’s Multivitamin All-Stars

Men’s Health magazine highly rates the supplements below for men. Their findings are based on recommendations by two renowned dieticians, Dawn Blatner, dietary consultant for the Chicago Cubs, and Dave Grotto, nutrition author. [8]

  • Rainbow Light Men’s One
  • Nature Made Multi for Him
  • One A Day Men’s Health Formula

2. WHEY PROTEIN

What is Whey?

Whey protein is the watery component of milk that separates when cheese is made. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It has the dietary advantage of being low in lactose, a milk sugar. It is also readily assimilated by the body.

Why Buy Whey?

Men’s Fitness cites six reasons:

  1. Increased muscle strength
  2. Hunger control
  3. Weight loss
  4. Improved immunity
  5. Cancer protection
  6. Reduced stress [9]

Types of Whey Protein

There are three types of whey – concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. They differ in the way they’re processed.

Concentrate – contains some lactose and fat. It is about 70-80% protein and has the best taste. It tends to be the least expensive.

Isolate – has less lactose and fat. It is approximately 90% protein. It lacks many of the beneficial nutrients present in whey protein concentrate.

Hydrolysate – also called hydrolyzed whey, it is pre-digested for faster absorption. It causes a greater surge of insulin than isolate. It is the most expensive form of whey and less tasty than the other two.

Fitness experts vary regarding the best type of whey.

According to Authority Nutrition, whey protein concentrate is the best option. [10] It is the least expensive form of whey and retains most of the nutrients present in whey. Additionally, many people prefer the taste of whey concentrate. If you try concentrate and have difficulty digesting it, you may fare better with isolate or hydrolysate.

Muscle and Fitness suggests that isolate or hydrolysate are the preferred forms. [11] Isolate is the purest form of whey, with the highest protein percentage. Hydrolysate is the most easily digested.

Keeping both viewpoints in mind, digestibility is a prime consideration. Go with what goes down easiest.

Whey Dosage

A general recommended dosage is 1-2 scoops, about 25-50 grams of protein per day from protein powder.

Whey Protein Champions

Men’s Health salutes the following brand of whey protein powder:

  • Jay Robb Whey Protein Isolate – low in carbohydrates, lactose-free, no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. [12]

Bodybuilding.com cites the following as a wow-worthy whey product:

  • Now Foods Whey Protein Isolate – all natural, smooth flavor. [13]
  • BuiltLean.com gives three cheers for the following:
  • Blue Bonnet 100% Whey Protein Isolate – short ingredient list, great flavor.
  • Enhanced Life Extension Whey Protein – very low calorie, yummy.
  • Tera’s Whey Organic – high-quality concentrate, excellent taste, easily digested. [14]

3. CREATINE

Creatine is a nitrogen compound made by the liver. It fuels cells with energy. Muscle cells are especially fond of creatine.

The International Olympic Committee permits the usage of creatine. [15]

Why Take Creatine?

Here’s the upshot on the benefits of creatine. As documented by bodybuilding.com, research shows.

  1. Creatine builds muscle.
  2. It enables high-intensity strength training.
  3. It enhances recovery.
  4. Creatine makes you a smart cookie. It enhances brain function and protects against nerve degeneration. Australian researchers report that creatine increases intelligence and improves memory.
  5. It facilitates bone healing.
  6. It improves glucose tolerance, of particular benefit to those with diabetes.

Note – Consult with your doctor before starting creatine. It must be used with caution with certain medical conditions. Also take care to not exceed the recommended dosage, which can result in side effects.

Creatine Dosage

The optimal dose of creatine depends on body weight and exercise intensity. For details on dosing, including ideal timing, go to: http://www.nutritionexpress.com/showarticle.aspx?articleid=61, or click here:

Creatine Celebrities

Bodybuilding.com gives high scores to the following creatine products. Kudos apply to the unflavored versions of each.

  1. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
  2. CreAde by RSP Nutrition
  3. Platinum 100% Creatine by Muscle Tech

4. OMEGA-3 FISH OIL

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is extracted from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. It contains beneficial fatty acids, most notably, EPA and DHA, which are necessary for cardiovascular health and inflammation reduction. Oil can come in either liquid or capsule form and may contain other beneficial oils such as flax, and safflower. Since most Americans do not consume nearly enough Omega – 3 fats via the foods they eat, it is recommended to supplement with a concentrated source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Why Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

  • Reduced chance of heart attack and stroke
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Decreased joint pain
  • Lessened risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Omega-3 fatty acids have a host of benefits, especially for those with high blood pressure or triglycerides. EPA and DHA, the two primary fats found in fish oil, are touted as some of the most important dietary fats humans can consume. Research has shown that the benefits of Omega-3s are numerous and may include:

This list is not exhaustive, and both the medical community and anecdotal accounts speak to several other benefits of fish oil supplementation. Because it has gained such notoriety in recent years, there are endless options available to the consumer. Always make sure to research any fish oil supplement extensively before purchasing as some manufacturers do not include adequate levels of EPA and DHA.

Omega-3 Dosage

In order to supplement safely with omega-3 fats, keep in mind that maintaining an appropriate ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is crucial. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in many common food items and comprise a majority of our daily intake. To maintain this ratio, experts recommend that healthy individuals consume 500 milligrams per day, composed of both EPA and DHA. Below are some high-quality fish oil supplements to consider.

Omega-3 Fish Oil Standouts:

  • WHC UnoCardio 1000 + Vitamin D 1000
  • OmegaVia Fish Oil
  • The Vitamin Shoppe Omega-3 Fish Oil
  • Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega D3

5. MAGNESIUM

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a water-soluble mineral, responsible for assisting in over 300 different reactions inside the human body. It is needed by the body in much larger amounts than several other minerals, and since it is water-soluble, it is routinely eliminated, making supplementation almost necessary. Magnesium is available in several forms, but the most popular are magnesium citrate, chelate, oxide, and glycinate. A topical form of the mineral is also available.

Why Supplement with Magnesium?

Most people are deficient in this crucial nutrient, as most food sources do not provide the recommended daily allowance. Magnesium plays a role in several important bodily processes including DNA creation, enzyme production, and fat breakdown, among others. It has been shown to have a myriad of benefits including the following:

  • Insomnia relief
  • Constipation relief
  • Relief from muscle aches and spasms
  • Increased heart health
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Bone health
  • Increased energy

Because it is involved in over 300 reactions in the body, there are endless reasons to make sure to include this supplement in your list.

Magnesium Dosage

  • Infants: 30 mg
  • 7-12 months: 75 mg
  • 1-3 years: 80 milligrams
  • 4-8 years: 130 mg
  • 9-13 years: 240 mg
  • 14-18 years: 410 mg for men and 360 mg for women
  • 19-30 years: 400 mg for men and 310 mg for women
  • 31 and older: 40 mg for men and 320 mg for women

The amount of magnesium required depends on age. Reviewers recommend the following promising magnesium supplements:

  • Pure Encapsulations Magnesium
  • Metagenics Mag Glycinate
  • Bluebonnet Chelated Magnesium
  • Solaray Magnesium Glycinate

6. PROBIOTICS

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria that are similar to the ones found in human intestinal tracts. They consist of several strains of beneficial bacteria to help balance the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. Probiotics can contain many strains of bacteria including Bifidobacterium strains, Streptococcus and Lactobacillus strains, among others.

Why Take Probiotics?

Due to the standard diet of the majority of the population, the balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria in the digestive tract is very unequal. An unhealthy diet can wreak havoc on the digestive system, and probiotics can help re-establish an appropriate balance. The benefits of supplementing with probiotics are numerous and may include the following:

  • Improved digestion
  • Improved immune system
  • Stronger teeth
  • Weight loss
  • Balanced acid levels
  • Improved colon health
  • Repopulate gut bacteria following antibiotics

Probiotic Dosage

How much good bacteria is necessary to keep the bad bacteria at bay? There really is no upper limit to the number of probiotics necessary, and because supplements vary so widely, there really is no set dosage. Most experts and studies have found that supplementing with higher concentrations of probiotics yields better results.

Below are some potent probiotic options:

  • Schiff Digestive Advantage Daily Probiotic
  • Culturelle Digestive Health Probiotic
  • Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic Formula
  • Trunature Digestive Probiotics

THE BIG LEAGUES

Enter the big leagues of life with the three powerhouses – multivitamins, whey, and creatine. They’re worth your hard-earned money. Be at the top of your game emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Here’s to your health!

References:

[1] http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/aug2013/feature1
[2] http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/#h6
[3] http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/natural-remedies/vitamins-women-best-multivitamins
[4] http://www.livestrong.com/article/122578-top-ten-multivitamins-women/
[5] http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/prenatal-vitamins
[6] http://articles.latimes.com/2009/apr/06/health/he-skeptic6
[7] http://www.health.harvard.edu/family_health_guide/good-nutrition-should-guidelines-differ-for-men-and-women
[8] http://www.menshealth.com/health/best-multivitamins-men
[9] http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/6-reasons-you-should-be-using-whey-protein?page=2
[10] http://authoritynutrition.com/whey-protein-101/
[11] http://www.muscleandfitness.com/supplements/build-muscle/best-and-worst-whey-protein-powders
[12] http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/best-whey-powder
[13] http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/tietge9.htm
[14] http://www.builtlean.com/2012/03/16/whey-protein/
[15] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263269.php
[16] https://top10supplements.com

3 Benefits of Creatine Supplements

benefits-of-creatine

What are the benefits of taking a creatine supplement?

benefits-of-creatine

Creatine is a popular supplement amongt athletes and bodybuilders alike. This is in part due to its popularity with building muscle and strength. However, creatine can be used for more than just muscle building. Discussed below are 3 ways in which creatine can benefit you and your workout routine (MensFitness.com).

Muscle Growth

One of the benefits of creatine is that it will increase your workout intensity. This is due to creatine creating phospocreatine in the muscle allowing for longer workouts (MensFitness.com). This means that you will achieve a higher level of muscle mass over time. Not only will your muscle mass increase but you will build it much faster due to the creatine allowing you to keep pushing when you would have previously given up or burned yourself out.

However, creatine alone will not be enough. It must be supplemented with additional calories and your own personal drive to push through the workout before any noticeable muscle mass will be built.

Creatine used for building muscle is most beneficial for those who have trouble putting on muscle mass and maintaining it (BodyBuilding.com).

Recovery

Recently the effects of creatine supplements were tested with athletes running a 30 kilometer race. They were tested for post-exercise muscle recovery in the muscle cells themselves.

Athletes who took 20 grams of creatine per day mixed with maltodextrine were found to have decreased damage in markers regarding creatine kinase, prosaglandin-E, lactate dehydrogenase, and others. Other participants in the study that only took maltodextrine were shown to have an increase in these damage markers

In conclusion, they researchers found that taking a creatine supplement mixed with malotdextrine reduced the damage to the cells of the muscle and reduced inflammation.
It is recommended that athletes whom participate in high-intensity exercises or workouts use creatine to promote complete recovery of muscle cell damage (BodyBuilding.com).

Creatine has also proven to help myogenic satellite cells, used in building muscle, and improve the strength and maintenance of skeletal muscle (MensFitness.com).

Performance Increase

Creatine has been found to increase your metabolism thus contributing to fat loss and a higher amount of calories you burn during a workout or exercise. The impact is significant for sprinters whom increase their metabolic rate every time they run. Sprinting relies heavily on ATP as fuel and adding creatine will help increase a sprinters performance and weight loss (BodyBuilding.com).

Also, sprinters who use creatine as a supplement have enjoyed a 10 percent increase in performance during the first 30 seconds after starting to run. For many this can mean the difference between a win and a loss (MensFitness.com.)

If losing weight is your goal, then consuming less carbohydrates is a key ingredient to losing that weight. However, this means a loss in energy during your workouts. This can be balanced out by adding creatine to your diet (BodyBuilding.com).

What we think are the best creatine supplements on the market

We believe these 3 creatine supplements below are some of the best creatine products to consider. They are manufactured by reputable companies, are fairly cheap and don’t add in a bunch of extra nonsense.

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder

Optimum-Nutrition-Micronized-Creatine-Powder

$6.09 at amazon.com

Dymatize Micronized Creatine Powder

Dymatize-MICRONIZED-Creatine

$9.59 at amazon.com

Universal Nutrition Creatine Powder

Universal-Nutrition-Creatine

$7.75 at amazon.com

Final thoughts

In conclusion, creatine can have many beneficial qualities that not only pertain to muscle mass and strength training.

It can help with weight loss, endurance, and muscle recovery to allow you to perform your best as an athlete or bodybuilder.

5 Benefits of Pre Workout Supplements

benefits-of-pre-workout-supplements

What are the benefits of taking a pre workout supplement?

benefits-of-pre-workout-supplements

Many people who are serious about fitness take both pre- and post-workout supplements. Pre-workout supplements are especially necessary, as they nourish your body when you need it the most and help you to get in a harder and more energetic workout.

What are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements are nutritional supplements that serious performers drink before an intense workout in order to power their muscles, increase their energy, make the most of their gains, and speed their recovery.

Many pre-workout supplements have their own proprietary blends, but almost all pre-workout supplements feature a few key ingredients.

Pre-workout supplements usually contain some kind of carbohydrate for giving you energy to last throughout your workout and caffeine or natural energy boosters for that helpful “jump start” to motivate and power you up.

To help build your form, pre-workout supplements also frequently include amino acids, protein, or vitamin compounds that your body can use to stimulate muscle growth and speed healing to get you back in the gym and feeling great.

As someone who pushes themselves, you’ll have to decide which blend is right for your goals. Do you want muscular growth or endurance? Do you need a turbocharged boost or a slow supply of energy? Reading up on pre-workout supplements can let you know what to look for on a label — and in the gym.

Here are some important ways a pre-workout supplement will help you.

Increased Energy

Most of us are fitting in a workout between work and other obligations. Despite your busy life, it is important to give your workout your max effort.

Pre workout supplements have compounds that increase your energy, which can be guarana, green tea, or even good old-fashioned caffeine.

Energy-boosting supplements get a bad rap because we use them too often and in the right situation; however, pre workout is one of the times when they can do a lot of good by increasing your energy and endurance.

Increased Metabolism

The energy-boosting compounds in a pre workout supplement will naturally boost your metabolism as well. This means more fat loss per pound lifted or calorie sweated off. However, many pre workout supplements also include special compounds to increase metabolism.

This may be just the jump start you need to see greater rewards and stay motivated.

Increased Blood Flow

Increased blood flow means increased oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which always improves your workout. Many pre workout supplements are filled with amino acids, B vitamins, and other compounds that increase the production of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide improves your cardiovascular function. In addition, it dilates blood vessels slightly to allow better blood flow to muscles and extremities. You may even notice that your muscles are more veiny after taking this supplement, which can make you feel like an Iron Man in the gym.

Feed Your Muscles

The amino acids and B vitamins that are essential to nitric oxide production also are important building blocks of muscle. You cannot build muscle unless you have an excess of these important nutrients in your body. What better time to have some extra aminos and vitamins flowing through your veins than when you are in a workout?

Recovery

Leg day is always going to hurt, but maybe not as much if you take a pre workout supplement. Studies have shown that taking proteins or amino acids pre workout will decrease the amount of muscle breakdown and wear-and-tear.

Those torn up muscles are responsible for a lot of the soreness and pain we associate with a painful workout recovery. Taking a pre workout supplement will allow you to get back in the gym as quickly as possible and see faster results.

Improve Your Confidence

We’re sometimes so busy improving our bodies that we forget the most important partner in our workout: our minds. If you’ve ever said, “Wow, I don’t think I can do this,” you understand negative self-talk can get in the way of your dreams. It’s an old saying that our heads quit before our bodies do.

A pre-workout supplement can help with your confidence by providing you with a natural chemical attitude adjustment. By giving you energy and helping your body heal faster, a pre-workout supplement can help push yourself and feel as if you still have gas in the tank.

That increased energy will help you have a more successful workout, and from there, it gets easier to believe in your ability to work up to your maximum effort and see yourself achieve.

Boost Your Endurance

If you’re going for a hard workout, you need to go the distance, not hit a wall halfway through. Pre-workout supplements containing natural energy boosters like caffeine can help supply your body with the quick energy it needs right away, but you’ll need more.

Pre-workout supplements can also supply your body with the long-term energy it’ll need over a marathon training session, a SISU or Tough Mudder endurance preparation, or any other endeavor where endurance counts.

Many pre-workout supplements come with protein, a vital boost for muscle endurance. Protein keeps the body from essentially cannibalizing its own protein stores (that is, your hard-earned muscle). You worked too hard for those muscles to lose them, right?

Pre-workout supplements that focus on endurance often contain an amino acid called creatine in addition to protein. Creatine helps with cell inflammation and damage, helping the body use oxygen more efficiently, like getting a whole new carb for your body’s engine.

Don’t hit the wall at mile 20; a pre-workout supplement can help you finish strong.

What we think are the best pre workout supplements:

We think these three supplements below are some of the best pre-workout products to take a look at. They’re not very expensive and from our experience get the job done.

Pro Supps Mr. Hyde

Pro-Supps-Mr-Hyde-2015

$40.39 at amazon.com

Cellucor C4

c4-4th-generation

$39.95 at amazon.com

Betancourt Bullnox Androrush

Betancourt-Bullnox-Androrush-2015

$32.89 at amazon.com

Final thoughts

Many pre-workout supplements make outlandish claims. However, most actually do offer real benefits. Adding pre and post workout supplementation can make a huge difference in both your outcome and the time it takes to achieve it. Better and faster gains will keep you motivated to continue your fitness journey.

SOURCES:

https://www.bodybuilding.com/

https://www.livestrong.com/

https://examine.com/