Caffeine and hypertrophy

Update: For some personal reasons, this article has a special place in my heart. The main takeaway is that while caffeine is awesome, limit your intake to the morning period only. Caffeine has a half-life in the human bloodstream of 8 hours, so it can take a long time for it to filter out of your system. A good night’s sleep is important for strength and muscle gains.

Caffeine is the most widely-used stimulant on the face of the earth. It’s incredibly useful for improving our work output, stamina, and for many of us, getting us out of bed in the morning! It’s also great as a pre-training stimulant to boost our nervous system, and it can help to enhance the body’s metabolic rate to enhance fat loss.

Coffee and muscle growthI can get through quite a lot of coffee on some days – yesterday I had a total of three espressos and a mug of black coffee made from a stove-top. This amounts to probably thrice as much caffeine as I usually take in, and it’s not something I like to keep up. Here’s why.

While coffee is fantastic for all of the above reasons, I ensure that I don’t drink coffee at any point after the morning. This is because I don’t want to interrupt my sleep at night, which is the prime anabolic window. If you’re drinking upwards of a pint of Americano-strength coffee in a day, leading that into the afternoon and evening, this will affect your natural sleep patterns negatively. How do you think that’s going to affect your muscle growth? Negatively.

Caffeine is one of those great things you have to enjoy in moderation, or else risk limiting your gains significantly. If you’re drinking loads of coffee or energy drinks every day, all day long, try limiting your intake to just the morning when you wake up. You’ll be tired all the time while your body adjusts to a more natural pattern. You’ll sleep more, and most importantly when it comes to muscle hypertrophy, you’ll grow more.

Tagged with:
Posted in Miscellaneous

How to be lean for the rest of your life

Many athletes struggle with their bodyfat levels. A lean body is a prime goal for athletes in most sports, partly for aesthetics, but also for performance. Having lots of extra bodyfat is inefficient, since you carry extra weight that isn’t serving your performance in any way. Having more muscle serves your performance directly (up to a point), but excess bodyfat just takes away.

lean back musclesBecoming incredibly lean is simpler than you think, and there are just a few steps to take to ensure maintenance of low bodyfat. Notice that I say simple, not easy. If you’re used to eating lots of sweets, fruit, and bread, then you’ll find these steps harder.

If you really want to be lean, you’ll find these steps easier. Notwithstanding the performance gains and extra mobility and enhanced health, having a lean body makes you look fantastic. However, always prioritise sport performance, and don’t allow aesthetics to become your main goal.

Insulin sensitivity

Insulin sensitivity is THE KEY, guys. It’s literally the foundation for everything else you need to know about staying lean.

Basically, you might already know that protein, carbohydrates, and fats are the three main macronutrients that make up all food. All food is comprised of these three, no exceptions.

And carbohydrates in particular are molecules that the body can break down instantly for quick energy. At their simplest, carbohydrates are sugars.

When we consume carbohydrates, and we get higher blood sugar levels, we get a spike in the hormone insulin within our blood stream.

Insulin is a steroid, and long story short it gets your cells to absorb nutrients. More nutrients mean that cells can repair themselves and grow bigger.

However, when we eat a large amount of carbohydrates all throughout the day, your lean body tissue becomes less insulin sensitive. This includes your muscles.

This means our muscle becomes less likely to take up nutrients, and so more of the nutrients we consume get used for lipogenesis, a.k.a. body fat.

SugarEating fat does not make you fat. Eating lots of sugar and carbs throughout the day makes you fat.

So what we really want to achieve when we want to get leaner, is we want to make our body partition nutrients preferentially to lean body tissue, especially your muscles.

So how do we do that?

Great question, and that’s the point of this article. There are a few simple ways that I’m going to explain to you that you can start using today, so you can start getting leaner today.

Lowering your carb intake, a.k.a. ‘keto’

What we want to achieve with this is to regulate our blood sugar levels, by making some changes to our diet.

Foods that are made up of carbohydrates each have different effects on blood sugar levels. This is called their glycemic index.

For instance, a baked potato or a bowl of cereal will make your blood sugar spike through the roof, whereas brown rice won’t as much. Foods that have trace/no carbs in them, like meat and eggs, won’t make your blood sugar jump at all.

Did you know that wholewheat bread has a higher glycemic index than raw sugar?

So what you can do then is aim more for foods that either have a low carbohydrate count to begin with, or go for foods that are lower on the glycemic index scale.

After exercise though, particularly weight training or any other higher-intensity exercise, your muscle insulin sensitivity is much higher. So your nutrient partitioning abilities are greatly enhanced.

Therefore, a great tactic used by many athletes all over the world is to eat either foods with no carbohydrates, or foods with a low glycemic index before exercise, and then consume the bulk of the day’s carbohydrate allotment in the post-workout period.

You’ve probably also heard of the keto movement that has become more popular.

The keto diet focuses on having a very low carb intake overall. Usually recommended is 50 grams per day of net carbohydrates, that’s total carbs minus fiber.

This near elimination of carbohydrates from the diet forces the body to adapt more to using fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, a process called ketosis, hence the diet’s name.

It’s a very difficult regime to follow, because most foods that companies have tried to force down our throats with marketing are full of carbohydrates, so you have to avoid a lot of stuff you might already be eating a lot of.

It is very effective though, as Sarah can testify if you ask her.

But isn’t low-carb unhealthy? Didn’t people get sick on Atkins?

I wouldn’t recommend going zero-carb for any time longer than two weeks, because you risk missing out on a lot of nutritional value that some carbohydrate foods provide, for example starchy vegetables like carrots are highly nutritious.

However, I certainly wouldn’t agree that limiting your carbohydrate intake to 50 grams / day is unhealthy by any means. You can have a very healthy diet with that kind of carb parameter.

You could eat some cooked meat, cheeses, and healthy vegetables, and feel perfectly satiated without going over 50g of carbs. You’d get all of the macros, vitamins, and minerals you’d need in a meal without much need for imagination.

My personal opinion on the Atkins diet is that I think it takes it a little to the extreme, and the people who do it don’t educate themselves on why it works beforehand. They’re lazy and just want a step-by-step plan to follow day by day.

If people educated themselves on the human body and nutrition properly, they would know what looks right and what doesn’t. In addition, it’s far more valuable to have the background knowledge and context to make your own diet programs to follow.

I’m not making any case against Atkins at all, I think it can be resourceful and effective for many. My point once again is that you should want to invest time in learning the background and context of a diet before doing it and risking affecting your health.

Paleo

Paleo sort of fits in with keto, in that it’s more of a lifestyle philosophy than a strict diet program per se. Circumstantially it will usually end up being a low-carb diet, and many do have great results with it.

Paleo is all about living a lifestyle akin to our paleolithic ancestors, motivated by the increasing consumption of processed foods in our society that are often unhealthy. The idea is that unadulterated, organic foods are of greater purity.

This means that the diet favours all sorts of meats, vegetables, and animal products like eggs. These things in the diet will definitely lead to a healthy body.

The best thing about paleo in my opinion is that it cuts out cereals. Cereals and other grains are, in my opinion, one of the chief causes of insulin resistance among the general population. Most breakfast cereals have an astronomically high glycemic index.

The western world as a whole has been sold on the marketing lie that breakfast is essential for good health, and that cereals are the best way to do that. Absolute rubbish. Correlations between breakfast eating and being healthy prove nothing.

So for that reason, I am glad that the popularity of paleo has brought about greater awareness and skepticism of not only carbohydrates but cereals and other grains as well.

And while conventional wisdom told us to eschew dietary cholesterol and get plenty of whole grain bread and “heart-healthy” cereal, paleo taught overweight people that these behaviors were precisely the things making them fat.

– Dani Shugart, author and physique competitor

The only problem with paleo is that it cuts out a lot of perfectly healthy foods. Great foods like brown rice and porridge made from steel-cut oats are off-limits, as are certain supplements that are extremely beneficial.

In addition, many paleo followers end up getting most of their carbohydrates from fruits and other fructose-dominant carbohydrates due to the time demands of, say, baking a squash. Fructose is hard to digest for most of the population, and it turns to fat faster than any other kind of sugar.

And for that reason, I don’t personally follow paleo or advocate it much. Unless you find your beliefs resonating with the ideological facets of the paleolithic lifestyle, you might do just as well if not better nutritionally on a ketogenic diet or practicing intermittent fasting.

Want more great articles like this? Just enter your email and click “Sign me up!”

Email:  

Bodybuilders

My own method of choice: intermittent fasting

My own personal method for keeping my body fat low and my insulin sensitivity at a good level is intermittent fasting.

Particularly, I follow the 16 hour fast / 8 hour feed split that Martin Berkhan recommends on his website, Leangains. There are absolutely dozens of health benefits to intermittent fasting as well, that are also listed on his website.

This 16 hour fast is perfectly timed to help lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. I eat pretty much whatever I want during my feeding period, partly because of that fact, but also because I train with such a high frequency.

There is a very popular myth that’s floated around the fitness industry that frequent eating is good because it makes your metabolism chug on faster. This makes people wary of taking long periods without eating, and consequently any kind of fasting.

The origin of this myth is probably the correlation between smaller meals and thinner waistlines, and the anti-correlation between huge meals and thicker waistlines. Correlation does not imply causation.

The Thermic Effect of Food also contributed heavily to the idea of the myth, which refers to the fact that the body has to use energy to digest food for energy. So people got the idea that frequently making the body digest food would ‘stoke the metabolic fire’.

A much-ignored study in 1997 that specifically looked at meal frequency found no significant benefits either way from eating small, frequent meals:

Studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly-labelled water to assess total 24h energy expenditure find no difference between nibbling and gorging.

– Bellisle et al.

Again, in 2012, the myth was debunked, and covered in a Leangains post. This study actually gained large press attention and dealt a big blow to the frequent eating myth.

Yet another myth that makes people afraid of intermittent fasting is the idea that it makes the body go into ‘starvation mode’, where the body starts to shut down by lowering the metabolic rate and breaking down muscle proteins for energy.

Again, nonsense. Metabolic rate actually increases a small amount during fasting for almost two days, lasting up to 60 hours. The function of this is to make us better able and willing to go out and hunt us some prey. It’s a desirable thing to happen from an evolutionary perspective.

Actual starvation takes much longer to set in. Humans can go without food for a long time.

In any case, in the eight hour feed you still get the total amount of calories that you normally would in a regular diet. You just condense all your eating into that eight hour window.

The lesson is, if fasting for up to 60 hours does no damage, then 16 hour fasts are child’s play. You’ll need some willpower to make it through the first 16 hour fasts, but after that it becomes easier. Your body definitely adapts to when it’s used to eating, thanks to the hormone ghrelin, and you’ll stop being so hungry in the mornings.

The reason it’s my personal method of choice though, is that it’s the one that I can most easily follow as a lifestyle. And that’s the most important thing about any diet.

It’s completely useless to follow an extreme diet for several weeks, only to stop it completely and pile on loads of weight again afterwards.

Being lean is a lifestyle, and some people out there have a really bad attitude to losing weight and keeping it off. This article is not for the lazy.

Intermittent fasting is just so awesome for all these reasons. It’s almost magical in its fat-stripping ability, it helps you live longer, and it’s easy to follow every day as a lifestyle.

C3G has magical Jedi wizard powers

Imagine a chemical that’s common in lots of fruits and berries, and literally instructs your body to be more insulin sensitive, and make your muscles absorb all the nutrients you eat.

It exists.

Cyanidin 3-glucoside belongs to a class of pigments called anthocyanins that will directly impact your insulin sensitivity in particular doses.

The supplement, a compound found in various berries, profoundly increases the insulin sensitivity of muscle cells while decreasing the insulin sensitivity of fat cells.

That means the glucose uptake in muscle cells increases, and glucose, nutrients, and BCAA’s are partitioned into these same muscle cells while fat storage in general is hindered and fatty acid oxidation is increased.

– Christian Thibeaudeau, strength and bodybuilding trainer

It’s not cheap, however, to get in the right quantities. You can buy a direct supplement from Amazon, or you can eat a lot of purple berries. Cherries, blueberries, and blackberries aren’t always cheap, however, and you might end up spending a lot of money to get enough C3G.

The cheapest way to get lots of C3G into your system by far that I’ve found is to buy packs of frozen berries from the supermarket. No nutrition is given up from freezing them at all.

I recommend eating some berries 45 minutes to an hour before any big carb-heavy meals. A great idea you could try is to consume your C3G before a big meal out or a party with family or friends, if you think you might eat some carbs, junk food, or carb-heavy alcohol.

Oh, and it may also protect against cancer.

Drink more water, and stop adding sugar to your hot drinks

It literally amazes me how many people out there have some kind of aversion to drinking water. It’s the most natural, pure thing we can consume, and some people just avoid drinking a simple glass of water.

Drinking solely juice, cordial, and sugared pop drinks is not only a bad way to get carbohydrates, it’s also terrible for the teeth. Sugar + S. Mutans = cavities.

You need to get over the fact that water doesn’t taste sweet, and realise how natural and good it is for you. It should be an easy thing to do when you realise how bad all those sugary drinks are for you.

The same also goes for putting loads of sugar and excess milk into your hot drinks as well. Cut out the non-calorie sweetener crap too – the calories aren’t the point. It’s about getting over any obsession with needing your food and drink to always taste sweet.

Be a man and drink some black coffee. Give it time, it’ll grow on you. Just don’t drink it after midday. The caffeine in the morning will also give your fat burning capabilities a good kick too.

Go outside and do something

Clearly, keeping active is important too, so make sure you’re exercising at least three times a week.

Preferably this should be a higher-intensity form of exercise, such as lifting weights. If you do it right, you’ll also get a nice pump, which’ll further encourage nutrients into your muscles when you eat.

Also, when you go and do intermittent fasting, it’s good to do something while in a fasted state. Go for a walk for half an hour. You’ll feel great afterwards. Experience the often-underappreciated pleasure of a simple walk around town.

If you want you can also do cardio during your fast. You shouldn’t lose any significant amount of strength and muscle so long as you also engage in strength training and high-intensity activity while maintaining a high protein intake during your feed.

In fact, in Leangains the common practice is to take 10g of a BCAA supplement before a fasted weights workout, to counter muscle breakdown.

The idea is that the branched chain amino acids help to keep catabolism at bay because of the anabolic ‘switching on’ effect that leucine has on muscle.

Two grams per kg of body mass is a great amount of protein to ensure you’ll keep all of your muscle and additionally build on it. If you’re on a budget, here are some tips to getting those extra grams of protein, and then some more.

I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for years now, and in the last six months my upper body strength has improved dramatically. Clearly fasted training does not have any limiting effect on strength or muscle gains.

But Jon, I heard such and such from that TV program and another thing from that Daily Mail article blah blah blah

Shut up. This is what works, and it’ll work for you too. I guarantee it. Just go and try it, you’ll see.

I’ve experimented personally with quite a few diet schemes combined with particular workout plans, and I’ve come up with what works in my experience. As always, you don’t have to believe me on this, I am just providing a perspective based on experimentation and empirical evidence.

I think because of the fluid nature and inherent random chaos and errors with exercise, I personally value this over certain types of scientific research, particularly correlation studies. Correlation does not imply causation, and many researchers have not touched a barbell in their lives.

I am not making a point against scientific research – quite the opposite, I am a science graduate – but I am cautioning you to value your own empirical evidence from experience over weak correlation in research studies.

Takeaway tips

  1. Insulin sensitivity is always the key when it comes to fat loss
  2. The ultimate goal is to make your body better at partitioning nutrients
  3. You can do this by lowering your overall carbohydrate intake…
  4. …or making sure your carbs are of a low glycemic index persuasion
  5. Intermittent fasting is super-effective for improving insulin resistance, and it’s often the easiest method to fit into a lifestyle
  6. C3G is awesome
  7. Only drink water, tea, and coffee, without sugar and without lots of milk
  8. Exercise

Subscribe if you want to get updated as soon as we publish articles like this!

Posted in Guides, Nutrition and diet, Workouts and fitness

Choose to be a professional athlete

Almost exactly a year ago, Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, and Justin Gatlin won medals in the Olympic 100m final in London. I watched the race, and saw the sheer glory these guys attracted. They were too cool for words in my eyes. I wanted the power, athleticism, and freedom that they had. So I decided to do it. I chose to become a professional athlete.

I was around 21 at the time, and only slightly above average in terms of fitness. But I didn’t let that stop me. As a young man, my body is in prime position to grow and adapt. I’d been a naturally fast sprinter in high school, repeatedly winning the school year’s silver medal in the 100m, without much training to speak of apart from a newspaper round on a bike.

This dream inside me, to become a professional sprinter, instantly clicked with my sense of self. I realised that it was what I wanted to do with my life. I was fascinated by all of the training knowledge out there, and I continue to ingest as much material as I can. But that hunger for training knowledge is not the most important thing. The most important thing was that I acted on my inspiration. I didn’t let anyone or any notion get in my way.

Is fitness everything you think about? Does a sport dominate your consciousness? Is it everything you want to do? Then train to become a professional at it. Train as hard as you possibly can, read about training theory as much as you can, and make a dedication to not leave the sport until you’ve achieved everything you want to within it.

In 2017, at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, I’ll be in the starting blocks at the 100m final, five years to the month from when my journey started. Where will your inspiration take you?

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Miscellaneous

Glutamine usage for building muscle

Is glutamine one of the best supplements out there for bodybuilders? As an amino acid, it certainly aids muscle synthesis. But it supposedly also holds many other benefits for those looking to build muscle.

Glutamine supplementation has been found to reduce patient convalescence time. It literally speeds up the healing process for wounds and other injuries and ailments. The anabolic benefits could also be crucial for people with muscle-degenerating illness. Patients with immunodeficiency can also benefit from glutamine, as it is used by white blood cells to maintain a healthy immune system.

It also increases your body’s ability to release growth hormone, a crucial anabolic hormone. Bodybuilders could benefit from this by supplementing glutamine before sleep each night to aid muscle building while the body is in an anabolic state during sleep. Try to take 10-15 grams of glutamine a day for optimal results. Research has shown that a 2g dose of glutamine increased growth hormone secretion four-fold.

Best of all, there are no health risks with a sensible level of consumption. This is because glutamine occurs naturally in most people’s diet already, occurring primarily in meats and other common foods.

Here is a link to one of the best deals we’ve found online.

Tagged with:
Posted in Nutrition and diet

How to increase your testosterone levels

Your body contains its own natural anabolic hormones that it uses to create new tissue, and these are released primarily during sleep. Your body has evolved to move towards an anabolic state when the sun goes down, and back towards a catabolic state when the sun rises. So, sleep time is when your body is best at actually building your muscles and engaging in hypertrophy.

Here are some things you can do in your daily life to improve your testosterone levels:

  • Get more sleep, and go to bed on time. Don’t stare at your bright laptop screen all night. If you really genuinely have to get some work done overnight, search Google for ‘Stereopsis F.lux’ and download the software. I’ve been using it for over a year now, and it’s fantastic
  • Men: stop masturbating. If you think I’m crazy, search YouTube for ‘The Great Porn Experiment – TEDx’. Watching this video will literally change your life, no exaggeration. I could literally rant for hours and hours about the amazing benefits of this, but I’ll restrain myself and let you discover them for yourself
  • Do heavy, compound lifts to elicit a greater hormonal response. Heavy snatch grip deadlifts alone will help to achieve this
Tagged with: ,
Posted in Miscellaneous

Leptin resistance and fat loss

I’m going to wash briefly over this topic to give you a basic understanding. If you want a more in-depth understanding, there’s loads of in-depth information out there on Google. Leptin is a pretty misunderstood and forgotten hormone that was only discovered in the late 90s. We’ve known about insulin, in contrast, for about 50-60 years.

The fat stores in your body aren’t static, energy bins. They are actually an active endocrine gland – they make stuff. Lots of inflammatory chemicals get made by your fat stores, especially in those with high bodyfat percentages. Crucially, they also make a hormone called leptin.

Leptin is your body’s ‘fat reporter’, and the hypothalamus in your brain responds to leptin by affecting your body’s metabolism. When your fat stores are at a good level, your metabolism stays where it is. During a famine, when you have insufficient fat stores to survive on, your brain talks to your thyroid and decreases your metabolism, and increases your appetite (via hormones like ghrelin).

However, when you’re overweight, the converse is not true. Your metabolism is not cranked up as a result of extra fat stores, because you’ve developed leptin resistance. So, your brain interprets its perceived lack of communication from leptin by slowing the metabolism and increasing the appetite.

Leptin resistance can be caused by:

  • Excess overeating and excess caloric restriction (<1000 calories/day)
  • Excess fructose in the diet (e.g. high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Excess wheat in the diet (more on this in later articles)
  • Stress

While all of this may seem confusing and scary, don’t overthink it. If you’re trying to lose bodyfat, try intermittent fasting and keto for an extended period without worrying too much about leptin.

Tagged with:
Posted in Nutrition and diet

Leangains – slow and steady approach to muscle building

We all know there are many, many methods kicking about to build muscle, gain strength and cut fat; but not many that claim to do all three.

Leangains is a great tool to use when you are trying to do just that. I have been doing it now for just over a month and can see some effects (small – but that is the point). You are constantly making your body second guess itself. One day it is building muscle, the next it’s burning fat.

It can be as complicated as you like, or you can use it as a guideline to help steer your nutrition and daily diet in the right direction.

For myself, it is perfect as I am not a huge eater – having a set target has helped me hit my macros (of carbs, protein and fat) especially on workout days which are the most important days for me.

Check out leangains.com for more information and to find out about the gent who brought it into into the limelight.

As always, any questions or comments please feel free to reply.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Nutrition and diet

Altering the tempo of dips for huge triceps

Time under tension is a parameter that can be used to enhance the muscle hypertrophy response from lifting weights. Lifting slowly, ensuring that tension is kept high across the muscle fibres for a longer period of time, can definitely help your muscles grow bigger.

DipsDips are one of the best lifts for using your chest, shoulders and triceps. They are also fantastic in that they are corrective of shoulder inflexibility. With a slightly narrower grip, a primary movement is elbow extension, achieved using the triceps.

One can therefore use dips to achieve bigger triceps by slowing up the tempo. I recommend a tempo of four seconds in each of the concentric and eccentric phases. Keeping upright ensures maximum use of the triceps with the front deltoids as opposed to the pectorals.

If you find that you can do more than ten full dips, add some weight using a dip belt. I’ve seen Tim Visser using dips to great effect in his strength workouts, and they’re a staple in many bodybuilders’ workout regimes.

So go forth, do heavy dips at least three times a week for a month, enjoy your enormous triceps, and repeat.

Posted in Workouts and fitness

Hypertrophy interviews The Strength Guys

Today marks the first of what we plan to be many Hypertrophy interviews, as we talk to Jason Tremblay of TheStrengthGuys.com. I like Jason’s approach of sport-specific strength training, and TSG’s sheer ambition in their growth over the last year, so I thought it’d be great to ask him a few questions about himself and TSG.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

IMG_1967My name is Jason Tremblay and I am the President and Director of The Strength Guys Inc. I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta as an avid sports enthusiast. Growing I played multiple sports and nothing seemed to pique my interest.

As a teenager I began trending towards being overweight and obesity until I discovered weight training at 16 years of age. I dived head over heels into the world of strength training and physique enhancement and sought out to learn all that I possibly could about it.

As I began to learn more and more about strength training I became interested in the personal training side of the fitness industry. At 18 years of age I graduated with my Personal Fitness Training Certificate at Mount Royal University.

During my 10 months of course work in the Personal Training Program at Mount Royal I became friends with Anthony Walker, who is now the co-founder and Vice President of The Strength Guys.

After Anthony and I graduated with our PFT certificates we decided to create a twitter account called @TheStrengthGuys and share some of the lesser known sides of strength training to the world. Anthony and I have been directing The Strength Guys for the last 1.5 years while we are currently pursuing our Bachelors Degrees in Exercise Physiology. Read more ›

Posted in Miscellaneous

Why chimps are so strong

We sometimes hear stories about chimpanzees attacking humans, where the latter come out with some horrific injuries, and we also see pictures of chimps generally looking as hench as all hell.

102688896_e7a5a4079d

So why are chimps so much stronger than humans? How is it they’re able to rip lumps out of people with their bare hands? There’s a pretty simple answer – it’s down to their nervous systems.

Humans have evolved to have better fine motor skills, to work with intricate details, thanks to more neurons and grey matter in the brain. Chimps on the other hand, relative to body mass, have much less grey matter in their spinal cords than humans have. Grey matter contains a large concentration of motor neurons, which means that having less grey matter results in less control over the muscles. Instead, chimps enjoy a much more explosive nervous system as a result. Imagine a bull in a china shop. Not much control but lots of force.

It’s true that chimps and gorillas have much bigger upper body muscles than humans anyway, but the nervous system factor counts for a lot.

We humans have also evolved to use our muscles more gradually over time, making us more natural long-distance runners, whereas the great apes are more natural sprinters and jumpers, better able to use their muscles to explode and apply large forces quickly. So with chimpanzees you have an organism that has a much better developed upper body musculature than humans, that can be utilised with greater nervous excitability.

It just goes to show how important the nervous system is when it comes to strength. Bigger muscles and/or more muscle fibers are central, but you also need an excitable nervous system (more power and explosiveness), and less ‘viscosity’ in your nervous system (high frequency and lots of practice at a specific movement, ‘greasing the groove’ as Pavel Tsatsouline would put it).

Tagged with:
Posted in Miscellaneous