The Delusions & Reality of Hormone Cycling

Are you delusional or realistic about your physique goals?

If I were to ask you point blank what your body fat is what would you tell me face to face?

If I were to show you a picture of someone else's body that is very similar to yours, would you acknowledge it or be in denial?

If you and your significant other see a man walk by twice the musculature that you are and much leaner would you credit him or tell yourself that if you took the same stuff (drugs) he took, you would appear the same?

These are all questions and scenario's that I have witnessed, and reminds me that some people cannot grasp reality. 

Let's start from the beginning…

When you first begin weight training, you are usually clueless and unaware of proper nutrition,rest, training and all the key variables involved in getting results. For the fresh beginner, results will manifest regardless, simply due to the "foreign" stress that is happening to your fresh muscle tissue. Muscle growth, increase in metabolic rate and a better sense of well-being will inevitably happen…..AT FIRST. Once this grace period comes to a plateau (usually a few months) you will need to further educate yourself about proper nutrition and more sound training routines to keep the results soaring.  

Let's investigate a typical hypothetical scenario –

Although everybody gets results in the very early stages of weight training, some people respond ABNORMALLY well to lifting weights and will leave their training partners in the dust! So if both trainees started weight training at the same time, but one surpassed the other by a huge margin, it is very apparent that genetics are crucial in muscle hypertrophy and favorable body composition. The training partners will both accrue more knowledge in regards to nutrition, supplementation, and different training techniques but the genetic superior will always stay way ahead.  As time passes the thought of hormonal assistance is becoming extremely tempting to the genetic inferior.  In fact, he begins his first cycle in hopes to surpass his training partner. He begins to put some weight on (water–>via–>glycogen retention), his strength begins to increase, muscles appear fuller (more 3-dimensional looking) but he still does not look like his training partner?

I mean, he has put on 15-20 lbs. in 4 weeks, and has gotten stronger, but he still is not as impressive as his damn training partner! 

This scenario is so harsh and disheartening for most people to accept that it literally drives them insane. If they don't accept the fact that some peoples genetic makeup responds better to muscle stimuli, food, drugs and all other pertinent aspects of muscle growth- they begin to make assumptions for their short-comings. Perhaps thinking their superior partners are taking some special product behind their backs, taking huge amounts of hormones or all of the above. Let's say that the genetic superior decided to dabble in hormonal assistance, most likely due to other experienced people noticing his potential, telling him how well he'd do in Bodybuilding and what not. 

This is when the genetic elite trainee EXPLODES! His already lean and muscular physique gets even more profound with big & round muscles and low body fat. 

As you can see from this common scenario, it will be obvious right from the beginning who is predisposition to be a lean & muscular elitist among people with mediocre genetics. 

So what can you do about this painful, yet rude awakening fact of life?

Well, first off get your training and nutrition down as best as you can before even CONSIDERING hormonal assistance. How many times have you seen younger "newbies" choose a harsh methylated, designer hormone before considering a high quality protein powder, let alone even looking as if they lift weights to begin with? People want to take short-cuts and assume that hormones are the missing link to them looking like a Greek God. 

Once you stress all variables at your disposal then you may need to turn to hormones for breaking through new grounds. Once you commit to going to the "dark side" of hormonal cycling understand that you will get results, but DO NOT get irate when you don't turn into Mr.Olympia afterwards, 

It is truly sad when someone who fails to grasp reality will cycle steroids and gain a respectable amount of muscle (8-14 lbs.), gains some strength, loses some body fat, yet are pissed off that they did not achieve more? 

For the newbie hormone user or experienced user, you must still continue on with your diligent eating and training regimen that you SHOULD HAVE been doing in the first place. To truly maximize your supra-physiological hormone levels, you must feed the muscle high quality protein, essential fats, and complex carbs every day. Just because you have an athletic friend from Nigeria who can eat candy, potato chips and fast food all day and go to the gym for a half -ass workout and look better than you does NOT mean that you shouldn't do everything in your power to make the most of what you got.

Let's now make a "Pre-Cycle Checklist" for variables that MUST be addressed before committing to a hormone cycle

The Pre-Cycle Checklist – 

1.) I have stressed all avenues of nutrition and found out what suits my body best.

2.) I have stressed all facets of training and found out what suits my body best.

3.) I have been training diligently for more than 6 months while eating and training consistently.

4.) I understand that genetics play an integral role in nutrition response, training response and hormone response.

5.) I understand that you CANNOT continue gaining 10-15 lbs. each and every cycle.

6.) I understand that there is a "diminishing returns" effect when using higher dosages of hormones and side   effects become prominent.

7.) I understand that to improve upon each cycle I must increase a variable to continue gaining – increase calories or increase weight on lifts or increase dosage of hormone or all of the above.

8.) I understand that SAYING I eat 5000 calories a day is much different than LITERALLY EATING 5000 calories a day.

9.) I understand that SAYING I am 8-9% body fat is much different than LITERALLY being 8-9% body fat with ALL abs fully visible and have very thin skin all over.

10.) I understand and acknowledge all of the above.

If you can understand & oblige to this list, then you are realistic enough and mature enough to engage into hormonal assistance. You must segregate yourself from false perceptions and accept reality. Please do not become discouraged from the information given and use it to your benefit and seek out your underlying potential, just be a realist about it.

I personally have witnessed several competitive Bodybuilders' with average genetics annihilate genetically gifted or "elite" athletes due to impeccable work ethic, adherence to perfect nutrition, and giving everything they had to achieve the end result they sought after. I have noticed a lot of the time, the genetic elite athletes understand that they can do the bare minimum and look better than 95% of everyone else. This awareness makes them LAZY. Can you imagine if that genetically gifted person had the drive, will power, and persistence as the average athlete that is a work horse? It would be a sight to behold. 

I hope everything discussed in this article will "sink in" and let each and every one of you acknowledge the importance of all variables involved in this muscle-building equation. Leave no stone un-turned, and give it everything you got, because for most humans……..building high-quality muscle isn't easy.

Post-Exercise Protein Consumption is Mandatory

In order to gain muscle, you MUST undergo intense resistance training.  In order to gain muscle, you MUST consume protein to re-build muscle tissue.

These two variables work synergistically with each other and to maximize your chances of gaining lean muscle tissue you simply must consume protein alongside a resistance training routine.

The timing of protein ingestion is a highly debatable subject and has been unresolved as to whether precise timing is truly essential for measureable repair/growth opposed to simply consuming enough protein at other times of the day.

A very interesting study was conducted that investigated whether immediate protein consumption or a 2-hour delayed protein consumption had measureable impact on muscle hypertrophy and strength.

13 men with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 ± 1 kg m− 2 (means ± SEM) completed a 12-week resistance training program, training 3 times a week receiving oral protein in liquid form (10 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat) immediately post workout, OR 2 hours post workout.

Scientists examined muscle hypertrophy by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and from muscle biopsies and muscle strength was examined using dynamic and isokinetic strength measurements. They also measured body composition from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and food records were recorded over 4 days. 

They also measured insulin response to protein supplementation.  Here are the exciting and convincing results after this experiment was concluded –

  • Cross-sectional area of m. quadriceps femoris (54.6 ± 0.5–58.3 ± 0.5 cm2) and mean fiber area (4047 ± 320–5019 ± 615 μ m2) increased in the P0 group (liquid protein post-exercise group)

  • No significant increase was observed in the 2-hour delayed group

  • Dynamic & isokinetic strength increased by 46% & 15%, respectively (liquid protein post-exercise group)

  • The 2-hour delayed group ONLY improved dynamic strength by 36%

  • No differences in glucose or insulin response were observed between protein intake at 0 and 2 h post-exercise.

 This phenomenal study proves the significance of ingesting a fast acting protein supplement such as; whey protein isolate immediately post-exercise for initiating muscle hypertrophy.

 

References:

1.) B Esmarck,J L Andersen*S Olsen, E A Richter†, M Mizuno, Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans. 

August 15, 2001 The Journal of Physiology, 535, 301-311. 

High LDL Cholesterol Builds Big Muscles

The word “cholesterol” is often interpreted as a major health concern regarding cardiovascular health.  When most people think of cholesterol they think of “Good Cholesterol” & “Bad Cholesterol.”  

The “Good Cholesterol” is associated with High Density Lipo-Proteins (HDL) & “Bad Cholesterol” is associated with Low Density Lipo-Proteins (LDL).  Recent research performed by Dr. Riechman from Texas A&M University may have shed some new light in regards to “Bad Cholesterol” not being such a bad guy after all.  Riechman determined that you need a reasonable amount of LDL circulating in your blood to induce adequate muscle hypertrophy.

In fact, he performed a study involving 52 adults from ages 60-69 years old who were in generally good health , but not physically active. None of the subjects were training on a regular basis. The summation of the study concluded that after moderate intense exercise, participants who had accrued the most muscle mass also displayed the highest levels of LDL (bad cholesterol). This was definitely a surprise, and not something that was expected.

This unique finding demonstrates that you need a certain amount of LDL to elicit adequate muscular hypertrophy. It proves that all forms of cholesterol are paramount to a person’s health. You simply cannot remove all of your “bad cholesterol” as that would actually be detrimental to your health.                                                                  

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Low Density Lipo-Proteins gets a bad reputation for its ability to build up in the walls of arteries, which causes a reduction in blood circulation which often leads to heart disease and heart attacks.

High Density Lipo-Proteins often helps facilitate the removal of cholesterol from the arteries. However, LDL is significant in the fact that it serves as a “warning sign” that something is wrong and alerts the body to defend the malady at hand.

People need to understand that you do not want to completely rid yourself of bad cholesterol and understand that everyone needs a certain amount of both forms of cholesterol.

Riechman says “Our tissues need cholesterol, and LDL delivers it,”  “HDL, the good cholesterol, cleans up after the repair is done. And the more LDL you have in your blood, the better you are able to build muscle during resistance training.”

The study Dr. Riechman conducted serves as a useful finding in dealing with conditions such as Sarcopenia (age dependent muscle loss), which could help aging individuals fend off muscular atrophy which shortens one’s life span.

The following findings reveal how imperative essential fatty acids and saturated fat based diets are in overall health, and in a person’s plight for ultimate muscle mass accrual. 

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