muscle building

How to Bulk at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

You don’t have to hit the gym to bulk up. Even as you stay at home while the pandemic rages on, do not make compromises on your fitness goals. All you need is a great workout plan with the right diet to support it. 

Here are some useful tips to build muscle and bulk up in the comfort of your home. 

Plan Your Workout 

Plan Your Workout

The most common misconception about gaining weight or bulking up is that you need to lift heavy weights to get results. While it is true that higher weights are helpful to build muscle, they are not the only option for you. 

When it comes to building muscle, there are some basics about working out that you must understand. The concept of progressive overload will help you immensely when combined with the right muscle building foods. Progressive overload means challenging your muscles progressively so that they become stronger and grow more in volume. There are different ways to do this: 

  • Increasing weights 
  • Increasing the number of repetitions per set 
  • Working out more often 
  • Reducing the rest between your sets 
  • Increasing the difficulty level of the exercise 
  • Slowing down the movement 
  • Holding a position instead of repetitions

This is applicable even to bodyweight exercises that you can perform at home, like the ones mentioned below: 

  • Push-ups: Works on your chest muscles, core and back. 
  • Pull-ups: Ideal for your lats, shoulders and biceps. 
  • Squats: Bulk up your quads and glutes with bodyweight squats. 
  • Lunges: Another easy variation for your quads that also engage your core effectively. 
  • Step-Ups: A few step up repetitions can challenge and strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and quads 
  • Crunches: For a strong core and ripped abs, crunches have always been the go-to exercise. 
  • Planks: This is the ultimate workout to stabilize your core and build those muscles in the abdomen. 

How to use them to bulk up: 

  • Perform these exercises in a circuit starting with the upper body, moving to the lower body and ending with a good ab workout.
  • Keep increasing the level of difficulty as mentioned above to get the results that you want. 
  • Always remember to start with a warm-up and end with a few stretches to cool down. 

Eat Right 

muscle building foods

An effective bulk-up plan needs a good diet that gives you a calorie excess. The thumb rule of bulking up is to eat more calories than you burn. Make sure you get this excess calorie count from healthy muscle-building foods that are rich in protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals. Here are some tips to prepare and follow an easy bulk up diet: 

  • You need to increase the consumption of protein for mass gain. This can be achieved by adding protein-rich foods like eggs, poultry, meat, fish, legumes, nuts and fruits. Supplementation is key to ensuring that you get your daily required intake of protein. Healthy protein shakes like Healthkart 100% Plant-Based Protein are rich in their nutrient content and extremely convenient to use. 
  • Load up on your carbs to bulk up faster. Carbohydrates give you a rich calorie source and are also necessary to give you the energy that you need to stay consistent with your workout plan. Complex carbs through whole grains and starchy foods like sweet potato are ideal for bulking up. To get your carb and calorie load on the go, choose a reliable mass gainer like ON Serious Mass
  • Break your diet into smaller, more frequent meals. This helps you ensure your daily required calorie intake without feeling too heavy after each meal. Add healthy snacks that are rich in calories. This includes protein bars, smoothies with ingredients like peanut butter, creamy salads, cheese, yoghurt and other calories rich, healthy foods
  • Top up on calories whenever possible. In order to build muscle, your calorie intake may have to be as high as 4000 calories per day, depending upon your body type. Topping your meals with calorie-rich foods like nuts, seeds, peanut butter, cheese, butter, ghee and bananas make sure that you never miss an opportunity to load up. 

Stay Committed 

Stay Committed

Whether it is eating the right muscle building foods or working out, here are some tips to help you stay committed: 

  • Schedule your meals even when you are at home. 
  • Fix a time to work out and stick to it. 
  • Wearing the right workout attire keeps you motivated. 
  • Prepare a playlist of your favourite songs to keep you going through your training session. 
  • Choose easy and convenient sources like shakes and smoothies to get your share of protein for mass gain
  • Find a workout buddy.
  • Get an online personal trainer or coach if you are just starting your fitness journey to ensure safety. 

Don’t forget to get enough rest and de-stress to ensure that all the effort you are putting into your training gives you the results you want.

HOW BCAAS HELP IN BUILDING MUSCLE

Four reasons to include BCAAs in your muscle building arsenal? Find it now.

The word fuel has a special significance for fitness enthusiasts. For muscle seekers, this extra dash of energy is required to finish one more rep and for competitive athletes, it can spell the difference between that coveted medal and defeat. Branched chain amino acids, comprise of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine and form 40 percent of the daily requirement of amino acids.

After you’ve eaten protein, amino acids reach your liver, where they are used as fuel or to rebuild muscles, depending on the need of your body.  Rather than monopolizing on BCAAs, the liver shuttles it immediately to the muscles, which makes them an easily available source of fuel for muscles, during intense workouts.

Unlike, other amino acids, the muscles can use BCAAs directly for fuel.

1. GET MORE ENERGY FOR WORKOUTS

A fierce training session can set off the process of catabolism or muscle breakdown. After depleting the reserve of muscle glycogen, your body accesses the easily available BCAAs stored in your muscles for fuel. The longer and intense will be your workout faster will be the depletion of BCAAs from your muscles. A BCAAs supplement right before your workout will add an incremental dosage of BCAAs to the reserve. This will give a boost of energy for mean training sessions.

Other than providing direct fuel to muscles, BCAAs delay the perception of fatigue.   French researchers discovered that during exercise, an amino acid metabolite is known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) signals the brain that the body is fatigued, causing it to reduce muscle strength and endurance. The amino acid tryptophan is responsible for producing 5-HT in the brain. Several research studies have confirmed that valine, a BCAA lowers the amount of tryptophan that gets into the brain. Since you feel less fatigued you’re able to train for longer duration and push your muscles to the verge of failure.

2. BCAAS STIMULATE MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS

Of the three BCAAs, leucine is the rock star of amino acids. It’s by far the most anabolic amino acid, according to the June 2013 issue of the ‘Journal of Physiology’. A series of cellular studies show that leucine directly activates a molecular switch called Mtor that tells the body to produce more muscle proteins. So leucine not only provides the building blocks for protein synthesis, it also plays a critical role in -regulating the process.

If you are looking to build muscles, it is essential that you keep the level of testosterone (an anabolic hormone) on the higher side as against cortisol which is a catabolic hormone. Studies show that taking BCAAs during resistance training enhanced the testosterone level in the body and lowered the cortisol level in the blood. This means, BCAAs enhance muscle growth and prevents the breakdown of muscle proteins. Therefore, they are highly recommended before, during and after your training exercises to ensure muscle growth and recovery for greater strength, energy and fitness.

3. BCAAS DECREASE MUSCLE SORENESS

Several studies go on to prove that BCAAs taken before and after resistance exercise can reduce or delay onset of muscle soreness. In one 12-day-study, participants took either 10g of BCAAs or a placebo twice a day (morning and evening). In addition, after an overnight fast, they further took 20 g of BCAAs one hour before exercise and again immediately afterwards. Muscle soreness peaked two days after the workout. But the level of soreness was significantly lower when subjects took BCAAs. There was also less muscle damage and a faster recovery of muscle function in the BCAA group.

4.  BCAAs IMPROVE IMMUNITY FOR FASTER MUSCLE RECOVERY

Whenever you go to gym and lift weights, you place enormous amount of stress on the body. Research suggests that BCAA may increase the synthesis of muscle tissue and decrease muscle damage during exercise, and it may even contribute to a healthier immune system. Isoleucine, a component of BCAAs promotes muscular endurance by enhancing muscle recovery. It is also required in the production of haemoglobin in the body which is important for training as it supports enough oxygen supply to all parts of the body.

RECOMMENDED DOSAGE

Though BCAAs dosage varies from person to person depending on training and age, the recommended dosage for an average person can vary between 1 to 10 g.

BEFORE WORKOUT

  • Take 5 to 10g of BCAAs supplements half an hour prior to intense training.

DURING WORKOUT

  • 2 to 5g of BCAAs can be taken during the workout for better results.

AFTER WORKOUT

  • Take 5 to 10g of BCAAs or slightly more, for optimum muscle repair and recovery.

In essence, if bodybuilding is your aim, BCAAs are a wonderful addition to your supplement arsenal. Try it to supersize your muscle growth.

THE RIGHT RATIO

You’ve heard that 2:1:1 is the right ratio for taking BCAAs (Leucine-Isoleucine-Valine) and often wondered that if leucine is the critical ingredient to bulk up muscles, why can’t the ratio be higher? After all, more is merrier and consuming BCAAs with a higher ratio of leucine will be just right to instigate muscle synthesis!

The truth is that building muscles require intense training. The longer you work out better will be the outcome. Valine builds your endurance and isoleucine promotes fat loss. While leucine is busy building and repairing muscles, the remaining two provide the fuel to add bang to your training sessions. Be sensible and choose BCAAs with the right mix of 2:1:1 to fuel your workout. The results will be outstanding.

BCAAS TIME

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you should have BCAAs 20 to 30 minutes before workout.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22569039

ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS WITH CARBS

Does the fitness buff or bodybuilder in you avoid carbs? If your answer is yes, know why you shouldn’t be making this nutritional mistake and how it affects your success with muscle building.

For most people on the muscle building route proteins and fats are the allies and carbohydrate is the enemy, the essential evil that has to be avoided at all cost. Little do such folks realize that by avoiding carbohydrates they have short-changed their muscle building goals? When broken down to basics carbohydrates are glucose, proteins are amino acids and fats are essential fatty acids. Whereas the body has to rely on foods to receive essential fatty acids and a couple of essential amino acids, it can break down proteins or fats in glucose, which is the preferred fuel for the brain and for muscles during a workout. Perhaps, the whole idea of avoiding carbohydrates stems from here, which is not right and for good reasons.

1.   BIGGER MUSCLES NEED CARBS

With 4 kcal per gram, carbohydrates sources such as cereals, fruits and vegetables are dense in vitamin and fiber. Moreover, starchy complex carbohydrates like potatoes and long-grain rice help to replenish muscle glycogen reserve, which is used as fuel during workouts, especially during prolonged continuous or high-intensity exercise.  When these carbohydrate stores are inadequate to meet the fuel needs of an athlete’s training program, the results include fatigue – reduced ability to train hard, impaired competition performance, and a reduction in immune system function. Humans can store approximately 350 g (1,400 kcal) in the form of muscle glycogen, an additional 90 g (360 kcal) in the liver, and a small amount of circulating glucose in the blood (~5 g, or about 20 kcal). To build bigger muscles, you need to work out hard, which will result in the breakdown of the existing muscles and then use dietary proteins to fuel muscle synthesis. If you don’t eat enough carbs you’ll lack the energy required for intense workouts. As a result, your muscle building suffers.  The American College of Sports Medicine agrees and recommends, “Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time.

2.   EAT CARBOHYDRATES TO PRESERVE LEAN MUSCLE MASS

It’s a no-brainer that glucose stored as glycogen in the muscle tissues and the liver is the body’s preferred source of fuel when you work out. In humans, the majority of glycogen is stored in skeletal muscles (500 g) and the liver (100 g).  When your body depletes the glycogen reserve of carbohydrates, it moves on to the other source of fuel, which is your lean muscle which itself is the reservoir for amino acids.  Thus, by restricting carbohydrates your body goes in a catabolic mode and attacks those lean muscles that you are trying hard to build.

3.   PUMP YOUR MUSCLES WITH CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates act as a cheaper substitute for creatine. Just like creatine, carbs give you more energy for workouts and contribute to the swell of the muscles. Next to water and protein carbohydrates is stored as glycogen in your muscles. This allows you to build bigger and firmer muscles because your muscles store 2.7g water per gram of glycogen.

CARB-RICH FOODS

Many everyday foods and fluids contain carbohydrates but have different features.  Earlier, carbohydrates were classified as either simple or complex, and more recently, the terms low and high glycemic index (GI) are being used. From a sports nutrition point of view, it is more helpful to classify carbohydrates as nutrient-dense, nutrient-poor or high-fat.

Category Description Examples Use for athletes
Nutrient-dense carbohydrate Foods and fluids that are rich sources of other nutrients including protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants in addition to carbohydrate Breads and cereals, grains (e.g. pasta, rice), fruit, starchy vegetables (e.g. potato, corn), legumes and sweetened low-fat dairy products Everyday food that should form the base of an athlete’s diet. Helps to meet other nutrient targets
Nutrient-poor carbohydrate Foods and fluids that contain carbohydrate but minimal or no other nutrients Soft drink, energy drinks, lollies, carbohydrate gels, sports drink and cordial Shouldn’t be a major part of the everyday diet but may provide a compact carbohydrate source around training
High-fat carbohydrate Foods that contain carbohydrate but are high in fat Pastries, cakes, chips (hot and crisps) and chocolate ‘Sometimes’ foods best not consumed around training sessions

CARB TIME

1.   Immediately after waking up: You need to eat carbohydrates in the morning because your body is in a fasted state and cortisol levels are high. Cortisol has a catabolic effect on the body and causes muscle breakdown.

2.   Pre workout: Eating carbohydrates before 1 to 1 ½ hours before exercise provides you the energy required for intense workouts.

3.  Intra-workout: For exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes, you need to consume carbohydrates 30 minutes into the workout to allow longer and intense exercise. Recommended sources of carbohydrate to eat or drink during exercise include easily digested carbs, such as fruits, energy gels and energy bars.

4.   Post workout: High glycemic carbohydrates after exercise cause insulin to spike which pulls amino acids from the blood and delivers them to the muscle tissue.

Your carb intake varies on your exercise intensity. Still, 30 to 60 percent of your diet should come from carbs. For survival, you need a bare minimum of 130 g or 520 kcal per day. The recommendation doubles in athletes, and endurance athletes like bikers, marathon runners, triathlon athletes etc.), may need to increase their carbohydrate consumption up to 70 percent of the daily caloric intake

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3248697/

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sportsnutrition/a/Carbohydrates.htm

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/content/carbohydrate

http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/basics/carbohydrate__how_much

Top 5 Benefits of Fish Oil for Muscle Builders

Does fish oil help in muscle growth? Yes, and along with proteins, you need to include this essential fatty acid in your supplement stack, as it is loaded with nutrients. 

While athletes, bodybuilders and fitness fanatics can’t afford to ignore proteins, the same emotions do not echo for fish oil. Without a doubt, your regular whey protein shakes along with its basic constituents, amino acids help in repairing and resynthesizing new and strong muscle fibres along with preventing degradation of muscle tissue. However, consuming fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids along with those supplements is great for muscle building. These fish oil supplements are a good source of fats and help in improving the anabolic effects of exercise.

What Are Fish Oils or Omega-3 Supplements?

Fish oil supplements or Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid made from the tissues of fishes like cod liver, salmon, tuna, mussels, trout,  mackerel, herring,  oysters, whale blubber, crabs,  or seal blubber. These Omega-3 fatty acids contain two types of omega-3s, one is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the other one is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).  

The Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in omega 3 fish oil supplements help in reducing the risks related to heart problems, lowers blood pressure and also supports weight loss. Omega-3 fatty acids can only be derived from food and cannot be produced in the body automatically. The benefits of fish oil supplementation also include lean muscle gains, limber joints, reduced workout inflammation and bodybuilding. 

How & When To Take Fish Oil Bodybuilding Supplements?

The omega 3 fatty acid benefits those who want to build muscles and is into bodybuilding.  You can consume fish oil supplements in the form of pills or capsules, but as per the dosage prescribed by your physician. You can take fish oil before or after a workout or anytime during the day. You can consume  2,000–3,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA and therefore the perfect fish oil bodybuilding dosage would be 1 or 2 capsules per day. The MuscleBlaze fish oil capsules contain 1000mg of omega 3, which makes it one of the best fish oils for bodybuilding. 

MuscleBlaze offers one of the best fish oils for bodybuilding in India at affordable rates.  MuscleBlaze Fish Oil supplements support muscle synthesis and restrict muscle breakdown to boost muscle growth. These supplements help in increasing insulin sensitivity in your body and with an increase in insulin sensitivity your muscles consume any glucose in the blood and thereby recovers at a  faster pace. Thus, MuscleBlaze fish oil supplements are the best fish oil for bodybuilding.

1.       FISH OIL PROMOTES INSULIN SENSITIVITY

In order to understand how increased insulin sensitivity will help you build muscle, you need to endure a bit of biology lesson. Insulin is a protein that pancreas produces and releases when you eat foods, proteins, carbs or both. Unlike other proteins, insulin functions like growth or anabolic hormone. From pancreas, insulin travels to muscle cells. Muscle cells are lined with insulin receptors and once insulin docks in these receptors it signals the muscle cells to open up to absorb the extra glucose idling in the blood to synthesize muscles and improved insulin sensitivity helps muscle cells respond quickly to the insulin trigger.

Evidence: In a meta-analysis report Howard scientist, Jason Wu has reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that taking fish oil supplements significantly increased adiponectin levels by 0.37 mcg/mL(P=0.02). Adiponectin is a known marker for insulin sensitivity and has been associated to lower type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk in previous studies.

2.       FISH OIL KEEPS JOINTS FLEXIBLE

Bodybuilding is all about lifting heavy and it’s the joints that bear the brunt. Ask a bodybuilder about achy joints and you are likely to be handed a list of those that he has nursed in his years of weight lifting. Researchers headed by a scientist from Ohio State University (Columbus) have discovered that heavy loading causes the breakdown of cartilage. Fish oil benefits in bodybuilding, as the training regimen affects their joints and you need fish oil for flexible and limber joints.

Evidence: Several scientific studies go on to prove that EPA and DHA decrease inflammation and arrest progression of osteoarthritis.  In a study group of 293 adults without clinical osteoarthritis, some with and without knee pain, higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids helped decrease the risk of bone marrow lesions.

3.       FISH OIL INCREASES MUSCLE STRENGTH AND PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE

Together with strength training, fish oil supplementation seems to benefit muscle strength and size. Research studies have found that fish oil for gym significantly improves muscle activation and functional capacity.

Evidence: 3,000 adults (aged 59 to 73 years) revealed that consumption of fatty fish (rich in EPA and DHA) was strongly associated with grip strength measured by a handheld device. An increase in grip strength of 0.43 kg in men and 0.48 kg in women was observed for each additional portion of fatty fish consumed per week

4.         FISH OIL NEGATES EFFECTS OF INTENSE TRAINING SESSIONS

Moderate exercise enhances immunity, lowers mortality but athletes and bodybuilders over-train themselves. Prolonged and intense exercise generates free radicals that can damage cells. Omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil can help modify blood antioxidant status after exercise and therefore protect exercise-induced induced free radical damage.

Evidence: A six-week double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled supplementation trial revealed that fish oil supplementation reduced selected markers of oxidative stress after a single bout of eccentric knee contractions.

5.         LOSE FAT WITH FISH OIL

For muscle building aspirants, building muscle is as important as losing body fat to get those defined abs and here fish oil supplementation can help. Fish oil decreases cortisol, a stress hormone linked to fat gain and this casts a positive effect on fat loss.

Evidence: In a study published in International Journal of Obesity on 324 young overweight men it was found that the inclusion of either fatty fish or fish oil as part of an energy-restricted diet resulted in 1 kg more weight loss after 4 weeks, than did a similar diet without seafood or supplement of marine origin.

Additionally, fish oil supplementation helps in boosting immunity, benefits cardiovascular function and delays the onset of muscle soreness after a strenuous workout.  So, if you are thinking of consuming fish oil for muscle growth and bodybuilding then it is time to include MuscleBlaze Fish Oil in your supplement stack to maximize benefits from your workouts and protein shakes.