The United States Army is about to undertake a dramatic and unprecedented overhaul to the way it tests, and promotes, military fitness. The man who headed the research into the new standards talks with us about how and why, as well as the future of Army nutrition and how the Army plans to circulate 80,000 kettlebells to bases around the globe. January 22, 2019 • 43 min read
For example, a 2015 review published in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism suggests that, for maximal muscle growth, people consume 25 to 35 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'll find that amount of protein in a chicken breast, a cup of Greek yogurt with slivered almonds or about a three-quarter block of tofu.
In well-trained endurance runners, creatine (with glycerol for hyperhydration) caused a relatively large increase in body weight gain (0.90+/-0.40kg) and water weight (0.71+/-0.42L) but failed to negatively influence performance over 30 minutes in the heat. This failure to improve physical performance in the heat with creatine loading (despite water retention) has been noted elsewhere.
Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified numerous products marketed as bodybuilding or muscle-building dietary supplements that contain hidden active ingredients, including prescription drugs and steroid and steroid-like ingredients. Not only do these ingredients pose serious health risks, they might cause you to pop positive on a drug test. The only way to be sure a product contains only what’s on the label is to look for one that has been evaluated by an independent, third-party organization. For more information, visit FDA’s Consumer Update about bodybuilding products.
Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
It’s important to remember that since everybody is different, these estimates are just that. How the numbers work out for each person will definitely vary. So many factors—like genetics, hormones, sleep, and diet—can change the rate at which our bodies burn calories. And some people may have a harder time than others when it comes losing fat or gaining muscle—again, there are so many factors at play and our body chemistries are all different. Strength training is important for many, many, many other reasons (more on that later), but if you’re looking to increase your metabolism, it’s important to have realistic expectations and know that strength training can make a difference, but probably won’t drastically affect how many calories you burn from one day to the next.
Creatine helps create essential adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the energy source of muscle contractions. By upping your levels, you can increase the amount of energy available to your muscles, boosting your performance. Because your muscle strength and size increases when you add weight and reps, improving your performance can be a game changer in terms of increasing your muscle mass. If you’re able to lift longer and harder, your muscles will grow. Creatine is certainly a winner among muscle building supplements.
Cornelissen VA, Defoor JG, Stevens A, Schepers D, Hespel P, Decramer M, Mortelmans L, Dobbels F, Vanhaecke J, Fagard RH, Vanhees L. Effect of creatine supplementation as a potential adjuvant therapy to exercise training in cardiac patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. 2010;24:988–999. doi: 10.1177/0269215510367995. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
Despite all the awesomeness of hypertrophy, athletes may be more interested in effects on power. Power is the ability to generate high amounts of force in relatively short periods of time — more power means you can pull more weight in low-rep sets — and independent of the hypertrophy, just five to ten grams of creatine per day appears to improve power output by 12 to 26 percent.
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
Using too much weight, too soon; always start lower than your expected ability and work your way up that first workout. If your form suffers, you are swinging the weight, or using momentum, this indicates you may be using too much weight. Greater momentum increases the potential for injury and reduces the effectiveness to the muscle group being targeted.