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Nutritional based articles straight from's specialist writers 

Posted 07 February 2011 by Connor LaVallie

Manageable Guide To

Ripped Abs!

When it comes to making changes in your physique, you must get clear on what you want, and be honest with yourself from the beginning. Think about the small incremental improvements that could be made on a daily basis, and eventually visualizing those daily efforts stacked up…making your goal a reality. When weather is improving, many people are searching for ways to trim up. When it comes to obtaining what you want, there are a couple main issues that arise. I am talking about the balance between how much emphasis should be placed on work done in the kitchen, and how much focus you should place on the gym. You will find very strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum, and since most trainees want a set of chiseled abs… the argument comes up repeatedly.

One commonality I have witnessed among numerous people seeking the best path to obtaining a “six-pack” is an initial desire to do whatever it takes, but their plan is clouded and invariably I see the same people often discontinuing their pursuit only days later. The challenge they were facing may have seemed too difficult in the moment, and they give up… feeling like an overall failure. When people want to know how they can get ripped abs, one of the first questions they ask is what exercises they should do, or how many crunches does it take?! Well, asking those questions first is a futile approach, and will only lead to unnecessary frustration.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t require perfection, but a balanced, manageable approach to consistent efforts on a daily basis toward hard work in the kitchen and gym.

When it comes to the diet, there is no magic formula or potion for getting ripped. The fact of the matter is… it comes down to calories in vs. calories out, how many times have you heard this? Well that’s because it’s true! I would recommend being objective in your approach and keeping track of your diet in order to guarantee you create the proper calorie deficits. A rule of thumb for determining your calorie needs for losing fat is to multiply your bodyweight by 12 - 13 and that number will give you a place to start. You can tweak that number as you notice changes and make further progress. In addition, there are a couple strategies I like to implement when cutting up that initially seem small, but make huge differences.

5 Steps To Follow

  1. Set up a plan - Like I’ve stated before, establishing a routine that fits your lifestyle is critical. It’s crucial not to be too rigid in your pursuits because life is unpredictable; being flexible yet persistent is the key to long term success.
  2. Take food with you - Humans have evolved from a life of scarcity… the body is pre-disposed to hold on to every ounce of energy you feed it. Fat is stored as energy reserves when the body needs it in times of survival. When you starve yourself, the body is apt to hold on to the fat, while slowing your metabolism. Supplying your body with food on a consistent basis will get your metabolism firing, and allow you to use more fat as a source of energy. (It will also keep you from seeking out the nearest vending machines!)
  3. Drink more water - Make it a habit to drink a large glass of water immediately upon waking in the morning. This will kick start your metabolism and start the rehydration after a night of sleep. With proper hydration levels, it will be easier for the body to utilize fat for energy.
  4. Limit alcohol consumption - The dehydration effects, disruption of hormones, empty calories, etc, of excessive alcohol will have negative effects on your progress. Moderation is key though; a glass of wine with dinner won’t hinder your progress.


  5. Shop the perimeter - The produce, meats, dairy, and extremely perishable products are all found around the perimeter of the supermarket. You will naturally consume for satiating foods, and it will keep you away from the processed calorie-dense junk in the middle aisles. Doing this one action consistently can have a dramatic effect on your physique.


6. Make it easy - Don’t be afraid to eat out sometimes. Most restaurants have options that will keep you on track such as lean meats, or fish with steamed rice and veggies are a great choice. Also, a cheat every now and then can actually help you in the long run by further stimulating your metabolism and fat-burning hormones. Satisfy your craving, but always keep it within reason. Remember chicken breast can make you fat… if you eat too much of it!

7. While it is true… making sure your diet is in line should be your number one priority to getting lean…and staying lean. It is worth mentioning that having the right personal approach to abdominal training can be very effective. Having a strong core is so crucial to maintaining correct form in the gym, which can lead to fewer injuries in the future when doing other exercises. The abdominals are just like any other muscle group, so working them will produce growth and create a more impressive look when you diet down. I work them two times a week, and once a week I add in supersets for about fifteen minutes of continuous effort.

The Abdominal Anatomy

The abdominals are composed of four main muscles: The Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique, Internal Oblique, and Transversus Abdominis. Each muscle has a role in the stabilization of a strong core, and the appearance of an impressive midsection. I like to implement a routine that hits each one of these muscle groups to an equal degree for a time efficient, intense workout:

The ab workout

  • Warm-up: 50 trunk twists- 2 sets, 25 full-sit ups.
  • Superset 1) balance ball sit-ups with side bend/ balance ball leg raises- 2 sets
  • Superset 2) bicycle crunches/ suitcase crunches - 2 sets
  • Superset 3) leg raises/side crunches (1 set each side) - 1 set
  • Superset 4) 30 second planks/ 30 second side-bridges- 1 set
  • Cool-down: 50 trunk twists- 2 sets, 25 full sit-ups
  • Other exercises to add variety: Balance ball knee crunch, Floor wipers, Roman chair raises.

This is a fairly advanced routine, and beginners should use caution and start out using one set of each exercise, and slowly add in more work until you can complete the workout in a reasonable time for your current level of fitness. To keep track of your progress, use a stopwatch and see how long it takes you to complete the workout in week one and shoot for a better time the following week.

...And Finally

I would say that it’s easy… but then everyone would be walking around looking like extras from the movie 300 but of course we know that isn’t the case. It is however, a very manageable strategy to start getting ripped and as soon as you see the changes taking place, I guarantee you will make it a part of your lifestyle. If you’re honest with yourself, have a plan for what you want, and follow my suggested strategies in the kitchen and gym you will get what you want and much more!

Written by Connor LaVallie


Posted 01 August 2011 by, Writer: Brad Borland, MA, CSCS

Perfect Meal Timing

For More Growth!!!

Many of you are consistent with your muscle building practices. Your training is on point, your supplement program is sound and you eat all of the right foods including good amounts of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. But what if you could be better? What if you could tweak your diet to make even more significant gains?

Enter meal timing. Meal timing is the practice of taking in specific macronutrients at specific times regarding training, goals and time of day. Many trainers and nutritionists recommend the standard practice of ingesting a certain amount of proteins, carbs and fats throughout the course of the day. Recent research has shown that manipulating certain nutrients and their amounts can significantly increase gains in strength and size and burn body fat.

Get Your Whey In Early

Immediately upon waking the body has just undergone a six to eight hour fast void of muscle building blocks of protein. Protein should be the first thing on your mind after such a hiatus. Fast digesting whey protein is the perfect fix to set your body into a positive amino balance once again and will hold off catabolism until you can get those eggs cooked! Take around 20-30 grams of whey first thing in the morning.
Another wise move is to take in a good amount of complex carbs in the morning to help refuel your glycogen stores for the day ahead. This will not only give you energy for your training later in the day, but will also stoke your metabolism to switch into high gear helping you to turn on that fat-burning furnace. Anywhere between 40 - 60 grams of a complex carb source such as oatmeal or Ezekiel cereal are great choices.

Mid-Day Slump

Another time to keep a close eye on is the mid/late morning blood-sugar crash. Many of us at jobs tend to forget our important muscle-building meals during hectic times of day that we neglect our guidelines to keep us on track. A great (and quick) solution is to pop a protein shake and some healthy fats. This can easily be accomplished with a quick shake of whey and water and around one ounce of nuts such as almonds. Not only will this feed your muscles with the much needed protein boost (not to mention convenient), but will also provide healthy fats to keep blood-sugar levels steady until your next solid meal.

Pre-Workout Loading

One of the most critical times to actually start the recovery process after a training session is before you even step into the gym. Saturating your muscles with protein prior to training can actually provide not only energy for the grueling session to come but can also provide key amino acids to muscles because they will be readily available for recovery. This will give you an advantage regarding performance and rebuilding for your next intense training bout. Try 30-40 grams of whey protein.

In addition to quality protein you must also consider complex carbs prior to training. Carbs are a must if you want to make any substantial gains at all. Not only will they provide a steady flow of energy, they will also spare protein to be used as energy. 40-60 grams of a quality carb source should be taken with whey protein 30 minutes to an hour prior to lifting. Good sources include oatmeal, 100% whole grain bread, rice or a medium sized apple.

Post-Workout Punch

We all know by now that post-workout nutrition is of utmost importance for muscle/strength gain. This crucial time has a limited window of opportunity, so it behooves the trainer to take full advantage of this important meal. After a brutal training session the body is starving for nutrients. This “window” which only lasts around an hour or less is the perfect time to down a whey protein shake to shuttle in amino acids as fast as possible to ramp up the recovery process. 40 grams of whey will do the trick.

Another key nutrient at this time is simple carbs. Simple carbs taken with your whey protein will raise insulin levels to help shuttle in more nutrients directly into the muscle. Even though higher insulin levels are related to fat gain, you won’t have to worry about that during your post-workout meal. The higher insulin levels are key in regulating hormone levels and nutrient absorption. Take in around 40 - 80 grams of simple carbs such as Gatorade depending on your goals.

Take advantage of these times to maximize gains and minimize muscle breakdown. These are just a few simple guidelines to try on your quest to a more muscular and leaner physique.

written by Brad Borland

Recommended Supplements And Deals


Posted 08 June 2011 by Brad Borland, MA, CSCS

3 Step Nutritional Guide To

Stay Jacked While Getting Cut

If you are like any other bodybuilder on the planet you fight for every ounce of hard-earned muscle each and every day you enter the gym. Your diet is on point, your workouts are consistent and your rest and supplement regimen is perfect. Somewhere on the road to your ultimate physique you may find yourself wanting to shed a little body fat to show off that work of art you have toiled over for so long. But do you need to sacrifice a few pounds of muscle mass for the sake of a leaner physique?

In a word: No!

By tweaking your diet a little and paying close attention to your macronutrient numbers, you can melt away the fat while keeping your muscular gains. This step-by-step guide will show you how to lean up and stay huge!

Step 1: Protein is King

You have heard it over and over: amino acids are the building blocks of protein and protein builds muscle – period. Without adequate amounts of protein, you will not be able to hold onto that muscle you are trying to reveal to theworld. Keep protein levels around 1 to 1.25 grams per pound of bodyweight (for a 200 pound lifter this would be 200 to 250 grams). Good sources include fish, chicken, lean red meat, turkey, skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, eggs and whey protein.

Step 2: Fat is Your Friend

It can not be stressed enough that fat is essential in your quest to keep muscle while trying to lean up. Dietary fat will actually burn bodily adipose tissue and keep your metabolism in check by regulating key hormone levels such as testosterone. Keep fat intake at about 30 % of your total calorie intake. Good sources include avocado, nuts such as almonds, olive oil-based salad dressings, egg yolks, natural peanut butter and fatty fish such as salmon.

Step 3: Cycle Carbohydrates

Having had a bad reputation for the past few years carbs are essential for normal bodily functions as well as fueling those intense workouts. The trick is regulating the amount and type consumed. For our purposes try out around 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight to start (this is 400 grams for our 200 pound athlete). This will be considered your base. Healthy sources include sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, green vegetables, oatmeal, spinach and apples.

Here is the variable in your plan. You will cycle these carb amounts for each week allowing your body to burn fat while still feeding your muscle. This will keep the body off guard to keep burning fat, but enough carbs every few days to keep muscle tissue. This is where a little experimenting on your part will be important.

You will have a low carb day for 3 days (0.5 - 1 gram per pound) followed by a medium carb day (2 grams per pound) and finally a high carb day (2.5 to 3 grams per pound).
For our 200 pound example:

  • Low: 100 to 200g (3 days)
  • Medium: 400g (1 day)
  • High: 500 to 600g (1 day)

With a little trial and error you will have to determine if you need more or less low carb days cycled into your week. Do not be discouraged regarding keeping muscle on your frame – keeping protein and fat intakes in check you can be ensured that you will hold onto that hard-earned muscle mass.
You should be losing around 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week. Any more than that then take a day or two of low carb days out of the plan or add a medium day. Any less then add a day or two of low carb days in the cycle and/or possibly delete the high carb day.

Written by Brad Borland, MA, CSCS 



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