TRAINING & NUTRITION ARTICLES

The Importance of Carbohydrates In Muscle Building

By Aces Labs

The Importance of Carbohydrates In Muscle Building

So we know the importance of proteins when it comes to building muscle. Proteins are the building blocks of which our muscle are made and aid our muscles in rebuilding and growing. However, we need to address the importance of carbohydrates in muscle building. It is extremely hard to build proper lean muscle on a low carb diet no matter who you are. Carbohydrates are the energy supply of the body and are stored in the muscle tissue and liver as glycogen. Glycogen is broken down into glucose when needed to be used as energy.

One of my key beliefs has always been to load carbohydrates properly around your workout. A good quality carbohydrate meal an hour before training helps fuel your muscles for the activity. I always sip on a fast-acting carbohydrate when training, something fast absorbing such as vitargo or dextrose. This keeps fueling my muscles and keeps me going longer and stronger. Having carbs readily available in the system means that muscle breakdown will not occur as you are consistently fueling your muscles with a carb drink every 20 minutes. Post-workout a carb-protein drink is extremely important as the glycogen is stored immediately in your muscle in a large amount and the protein aids in rebuilding and growing your muscle fibres. Therefore, if you are looking for size and good lean muscle gains, loading carbs around your workout is extremely important.

We must remember also that carbohydrates are not only used when bulking and picking up massive size. They are also used when looking for lean gains, they are only used in different amounts. Evert meal with a protein should be supplemented with a good quality carb such as sweet potato, potato or rice. The amounts of carbs per meal will differ regarding your objective in size gains. When looking for muscle size, never neglect your carbohydrate intake and do not be scared to load your carbohydrates heavily around your workouts.

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Best Snacks For Muscle Building

By Aces Labs

Best Snacks For Muscle Building

So it is all perfect when we prep our meals and eat 6 times a day and find time to eat and everything. But it very rarely works out like that. Sometimes the days are just crazy and we can’t get to eat and it doesn’t all go to plan. So we need to find some healthier alternatives for on the go that won’t affect us badly.   

Chicken wraps can be a decent option and can fill us nicely. With the free calories salads provide. Low fat mayonnaise is preferable, with some lovely grilled chicken. A nice trail mix with a blend of almonds, pecans, and some dried fruit, along with some sunflower seeds. A perfect balance of fats and fibers.

Homemade protein balls made with protein powder, peanut butter and oats is a perfect healthy snack for on the go. Biltong is my go to. Yes it can be pricey but you do not need too much. Lean is preferable. Orange or grapefruit is also a lovely form of vitamin C and fiber and gives you a much needed energy lift.

Protein pancakes are excellent to pack and there are many different variations you can look up online that are simple and easy to make. Peanut butter and banana roll ups. Simply spread the peanut butter and add slices of banana in a whole wheat tortilla. Tuna with salsa is a lovely snack again and easy to make, and you can add some chilli for a thermogenic effect.

Apples are a great source of fiber and Vitamin C. Add some cheese for the protein you need. When looking for size I loved having a protein shake and adding raw oats for the extra carbs. Easy for on-the-go. Cottage cheese with fruit. Simple add a mix of fruit to your low fat cottage cheese. Lastly, protein bars, no excuse they are everywhere and there are so many options to suits all needs whether banting or bulking.

Do not be scared to snack. Just make sure you are snacking on the right things and again keep them balanced. Always make sure all meals are balanced.   

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Does Cardio Affect Our Muscle Gains?

By Aces Labs

Does Cardio Affect Our Muscle Gains?

There is massive debate surrounding this topic. Many say that cardio is counterproductive which can be very true, and many say that cardio can help your body and your muscle development. Many competing athletes are forced to do cardio to stay as lean as possible while maintaining muscle. So I guess the real answer is that there can be pros and cons, but cardio done correctly can help you overall.

If we overdo the cardio, we will be burning up too many calories and the idea with building muscle is taking in surplus of calories. So we need to balance it that we are not burning up too many calories. Cardio should also not be done for too long. Maximum 20 minutes cardio I would say at a steady heartrate of 120-130 bpm. Slowly walking on an incline on the treadmill or doing the stepper for 20 minutes can be perfect. Furthermore this can improve our flexibility and our overall recovery time. And we need not forget the most important factor, cardio strengthens the heart. Many heavy weight trainers neglect their cardio health and also with the widespread use of steroids heart health is important. It is wonderful that we can deadlift 220kg but can’t walk up a flight of stairs without having to stop.

High intensity short bursts can be a brilliant method of cardio and also aid in building muscle. Much like boxers will do when training. So short sprints are brilliant for the legs to build muscle making sure you have sufficient rest periods. Sprinting on an uphill on the treadmill for 20 seconds then 1 minute break is excellent as your heart learns to lower the bpm faster. This can strengthen our muscles and our heart.

So all in all it can be very important even if only done twice a week. Find some time to walk on the treadmill or lightly cycle or even attempt that stepper. In the long run it gas great fat burning benefits as well as cardio strengthening properties. Simply make sure you are taking in extra protein and make sure you are not burning too many calories.

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The Importance of A Gym Partner

By Aces Labs

The Importance of A Gym Partner

More of a lighthearted topic and yet an interesting one nonetheless. Do we need a gym partner and what are the pros and cons to having one, or more than  one. I myself train alone. Simply because no one I know really trains at the times I do and the way I prefer to. I do however have friends at the gym that I will ask to spot me when I really need the help on that last bench press set. So it really is your own call.

A gym partner can motivate you, it is harder to skip gym when you have someone relying on you as opposed to training by yourself. You will always be competitive which means you will be pushing yourself to the limit as ego does get involved here and there is nothing wrong with that. You push each other and assist each other on those last couple of reps when it is needed. For example if I am bench pressing 140kg and I do 6 reps. I may have it in me to push out another couple and that is where the muscle fibers are really broken down and growth is seen. However, as I am alone I don’t feel like being that guys that has the bar around my neck and has to kind of slide of the bench press. So I leave it where I am comfortable. A partner can push you beyond that.

However, this is what I’ve seen in many gym partners or groups of three. The rest periods become ridiculous. They rest for far too long as there is far too much to talk about. Rather chat before and after the session and while training, talk about training. The groups get too big also meaning the intensity and the rest periods aren’t done right. There is too much spotting, you should not be spotting from the first rep and spotting means literally the smallest amount of help so that you do not drop the weight on yourself. It does not mean you lift the bar for your partner.

So a gym partner can be a fantastic asset, you can push yourself more and reach higher and newer limits. Try not make it too much of a social gathering so partner up with someone as driven and likeminded as you.

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When Is The Best Time To Train?

By Aces Labs

When Is The Best Time To Train?

So this is another weekly topic up for debate and there is really no finite answer. It all depends on you and more importantly depends on your schedule and what is possible for you. In my case I have one hour free after my child goes to crèche and that really is my only hour I get. So it isn’t always a choice we have however, we will look at it anyway. The pros and cons or training at different times and when is optimal.

Some people are fast risers and are ready to go straight away. These people do best training in the mornings very often. In the mornings our energy, focus and concentration is at the highest. Therefore it makes sense to train in the mornings for some people. I like training in the mornings as it is a positive start to my day and gets me going. However, 5am may be pushing it and I will more than likely hit a wall at 9 in the morning. Ur testosterone is also at its peak early in the morning which is good for muscle and weight training, as well as muscle growth.

Studies have shown that our lung capacity is better in the late afternoon and our pain threshold is higher. Therefore we may not have as much energy and focus but can push our bodies that little bit harder. I don’t know who finds time to train in the afternoon but it does have its positives and its massive advantages.

Night time is when our bodies slowly start shutting down so training anytime around 8-9 pm may not be the best idea. To boost our bodies again with adrenaline may mean that we will confuse our bodies and then struggle to sleep.

So there is no perfect time to train, each person needs to learn their bodies and know their bodies and do what works best for them. Ideally morning training is good for energy and focus and testosterone. Afternoon training is good for pushing your body harder through those pain barriers, as we have a higher pain threshold. Find the times that work for you and that coincide with your schedule. After all, families, work and our partners come first when it comes to managing our time. Well, most of the time!

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Battle of The Free Weights VS Machines

By Aces Labs

Battle of The Free Weights VS Machines

It’s a simple comparison of free weights against the machine weights. Free weights include anything that you have to pick up and hold, acting against gravity. Machine weights are already in position for you to use in the set range of motion. There will obviously be pros and cons to both sides but we aim to find out which will work better for builder solid muscle mass. Cables are a type of combination of both so for the purposes of this comparison we will leave them out.

Firstly, free weights work more muscles at one time then machine weights do. For instance, during bench press you will be engaging your core as well as your biceps and triceps for balance and of course your chest. In a machine situation it will be a set push in a set range of motion only using your chest muscles. You will find that very often you are working and engaging those smaller muscles where the balance is key and therefore your overall strength increases.

Sometimes you want to isolate a certain body part such as quads or the “teardrop” and that is when the leg extension machine can be perfect for engaging only the muscle you want to use. I find myself using mostly free weights but I do use machines certain times when I need that isolation or when I have had an injury before and I need to keep the range of motion clean.

Furthermore, it all depends on where you are at with your training. If you are still a beginner or not looking to bulk up massively and compete on stage, machine weights can be absolutely perfect and also your risk of injury is very minimal. Your heavier and more serious lifters will more often head towards the free weights which can also be intimidating to the average person. Sometimes I even get tired of all the big dogs taking up the free weights area so I opt to use certain machines.

Overall, both have massive advantages but the free weights will work more muscle groups and increase lean muscle. So the free weights win the battle of the weights but that does not mean that machines do not work as affectively. Both have massive pros and cons.  

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Bulking Basics 101

By Aces Labs

Bulking Basics 101

So I have dealt with many many guys that are all about bulking and getting as big as possible. They will try a massgainer and they will tell me it doesn’t work. So once again it is a supplement. It adds to your diet. All massgainers work they are simple basic calories, loads of them. The problem is you are not following the rest of the rules that you need to. I remember bulking when I was eating so often I was throwing up half the time. I ate more sweet potatoes in a day then should ever be eaten. Yet there are guys much bigger then myself that eat more. So do not say it doesn’t work, just eat more! If you stop gaining, eat more than that! Here are the absolute basics.

 

Eat every 2-3 hours without fail. Keep pushing yourself no matter what. If you are on the road, use your massgainer shake, otherwise calorie dense meals. Increase all your portion sizes slightly and when you hit a plateau, increase them slightly more. Drink your calories if you need to, add oats to your shakes, drink smoothies, even milk. Use oils on your foods such as canola and olive oil, drizzled over your veggies or meat. Eat rich calorie veggies such as sweet potato and do not neglect your beans. Load up on nut butters like almond nut butter or my preference is macadamia nut butter. Use your sauces over your meals and spices to make them taste better so that you do not struggle to get through your meals as much. A little bit of sauce goes a long way. Eat carbohydrates with every single meal even before bed, wild rice, quinoa, potatoes. Do not forget to load carbohydrates around your workouts, including pre, intra and post. It really is a simple formula, eat, eat, eat! Do not bulk up using takeaways and processed foods you will only bulk in fat.

 

The formula is simple but it is not by any means easy. Many times you feel you can’t eat anymore or you just can’t fine time. The main thing is patience. Stick to your formula and be patient, the results will come!

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The Best Snacks Before Bedtime!

By Aces Labs

The Best Snacks Before Bedtime!

Many people believe that whatever you eat before bed will immediately get stored as fat. This is not always the case. Eat a slice of cake, packet of wine gums, and bag of chips before bed, and then yes you are on the wrong track. Remember, your metabolism never completely stops, even while you are sleeping. I know myself if I do not have a snack before bed I wake up hungry and very tired. Each person is different but there are healthy snacks we can have before bed to keep us fuller and to keep feeding our muscles while we sleep.

 

The trick is to be smart before bedtime. We need to eat foods that keep us fuller for longer and keep fueling our muscle growth and recovery. We need foods that keep our glucose levels stable. My personal favourites are cottage cheese and peanut butter. Cottage cheese contains slow releasing casein protein which gives your body a steady supply of amino acids through the night. Peanut butter further slows the digestion. Salmon is a wonderful option, yes it can be pricey but it is still a brilliant option. Full of protein and omega 3 fat, this gives you the protein you need as well good fibre and fats to aid with satiety. Greek yoghurt much like cottage cheese is excellent protein. Add some flaxseeds to up the good quality fats and fibre to keep you full throughout the night. Low fat cheese is a lovely snack and is also carb free and includes proteins. You may add some raw veggies like cucumber or carrots for free calories to help fill you. Canned tuna with olive oil gives you your blend of protein, fats and iron and is easy and quick to prepare. A perfect night time option. A simple casein protein shake is perfect for that slow release protein and you can add a fat such as coconut oil to help with satiety and slow down the digestion even more. 

 

Snacking at night is a great idea but you need to snack clever. No heavy carbs, no sugar, make sure its high protein and fats. These will keep you fuller for longer and you will wake up feeling much better and fuller in the morning. 

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