‘It depends on your goal(s)’
Everything you do in the gym, everything you eat, and any change you make to your routine should be accountable to this question. The fitness industry is becoming increasing lucrative, and brands are making it a commodity, with this comes choice, ambiguity and confusion.
Just look at;
- The different workouts listed in Men’s Health or Muscle and Fitness each week
- New supplement crazes that come and go quicker than Katie Price’s husbands (hello Raspberry Ketones)
- The plethora of ‘diets’ out there – carb cycling, carb back-loading, IIFYM, this list goes on
How is the inexperienced trainer meant to pick through these trends and brightly colored tubs of powered chemicals in order to find what they need? By asking themselves constantly ‘does it fit my goal(s)’.
Let’s Take a Few Examples;
Crossfit is first and foremost, a sport. Granted a sport which very closley mimics what most people do in the gym, but still a sport. People that compete in Crossfit are trying to complete as many reps as possible across a set number of exercises, people do Crossfit for the sake of doing Crossfit – because they enjoy it, it is not a ‘means to an end’ like bodybuilding.
So with that in mind, if you are trying to add as much muscle as quickly as possible, should you do Crossfit? No. Why? Because Crossfit moves like Olympic lifts aren’t ideal for building muscle – there’s not enough time under tension. Take the ‘kipping pull-up’ – a Crossfit staple – there is some considerable thrust used from the legs and hips in the interest of simply completing each rep, there is not a strong focus on the lats for a long period of time, which would better facilitate muscle growth.
If you want a balanced physique with low bodyfat and some muscle, by all means do Crossfit. If you’re trying to build the maximum amount of muscle possible, don’t. It depends on your goal.
Branched-chain amino acids are the building blocks of protein, BCAA power or pills are essentially protein in a pre-digested form that assimilate into the bloodstraem very quickly (at least compared to the digestion rate of whey or solid protein), they’re one of the most popular supplements for gym rats along with whey and creatine.
BCAAs are an easy way to protect against catabolism (muscle breakdown) when calories are restricted for long periods of time, which makes me wonder why so many people pop BCAA pills during their not-particularly-intense workouts when their last protein meal (which won’t have even fully digested yet) was less than an hour.
For competing bodybuilders, BCAAs might be useful for dialling in that extra 0.5%, but for you and me, there are far better things to spend our time and money on.
I recently did a post on why I think carb-backloading is great for people like me that have a sedinatry job and are looking to build muscle while minimising fat gain. It may not be the BEST opinion for people that have a sedinatary job and are looking to build muscle at all costs (i.e. with a disregard to any fat gain), and it certainly wouldn’t be a great option for ectomorphs with active jobs.
My point is that people hear about a new nutritional method and immediately jump on the bandwagon regardless of whether or not it suits their goals. Why would you deprive yourself of carbs in the morning if you’re working on a building site, or training in the morning.
If you blindly follow what everyone else is doing, or what you read on the internet, you’ll never reach your full potential…
Every time you consider making a change to your diet or training regime, ask yourself what your goals are.
If you want to build no-compromise muscle
- Concentrate on eating a adequate amount of calories
- Train intensely, with a focus on strong contractions and enough time-under-tension
- Make rest a priority
If you want to drop a significant amount of fat, but don’t mind losing some muscle
- Train frequently, prioritising aerobic energy systems
- Carefully monitor calories and macros, ensuring adequate protein
- Keep metabolism revved throughout the day