Happy Moments

Image ID : 53068853
Copyright : anyaberkut

All too often, we carry around feelings of negativity and allow them to color our days. If we are feeling anxious, dejected, or angry, then we will create that environment for the day. And then what happens? we may say, “well it figures” or “I knew this was gonna be a crappy day”, because it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, we will have to deal with bad days every now and then, but if we can start every single day with good intentions and a positive mental attitude, we’ve won half the battle against challenges and upsets.

So this is what I want you to do today, especially if your day is especially frustrating or challenging:

I want you to call to mind one of the happiest moments in your life, a moment in which you felt pure joy, pride, elation. Bring it into view. Remember how you felt.

Now I want you to carry that memory with you throughout your day. Allow yourself to bask in that moment, to reminisce. See how it changes your attitude towards the day. Take note of how you respond to minor irritations today.

You know something? You can take that happiness, carry it with you every day. If your happy moment had something to do with an accomplishment, then allow that feeling of pride to shine through, to empower you today.

We all have the power to transform our days, our lives. Simply by harnessing positive, happy thoughts, we become powerful, we become strong.

How To Assess A Client For Body Asymmetries (repost)

Asymmetric Musculature

I originally wrote this piece for AFE and am reposting it here.

Fitness pre-testing is a valuable tool for evaluating movement patterns and assessing a client’s strengths and weaknesses. The information gathered from such testing can then be utilized to develop a customized program which addresses and corrects functional abnormalities. The more thorough the pre-testing, the better equipped a trainer is to help the client reach optimal potential within the training program, while also guarding against injuries which the client might be predisposed to as a result of compensatory patterns.

Many people have developed compensatory patterns over time. Sometimes structural abnormalities exist from birth, or develop in childhood, and often throw surrounding soft tissues and joints out of alignment. In other cases, injuries from sports or other activities can cause a person to begin favoring one side of the body in an effort to reduce the stress load on the injured side. The problem with these compensatory patterns is that they allow the weak or restricted side to become even worse over time. Because of this, functional weight training should always address these patterns in an effort to correct them.

How To Determine Asymmetry

One of the most valuable early tests for determining structural asymmetry is the single leg stance, in which the client’s ability to stabilize the trunk over the supporting leg is determined. Misalignments of the hips, knees, or ankles/feet can be detected easily with this screening tool. For example, if one hip joint is restricted or otherwise unstable, the client will shift weight in an effort to maintain balance. A trainer can then utilize the information gathered from the single leg stance test to focus on compromised function in a joint or extremity.

Clients will frequently exhibit asymmetries in strength, range of motion, or muscle recruitment which can easily be overlooked if a trainer doesn’t have a practiced eye. Because of this, a thorough assessment of the client’s posture, range of motion, and form should be implemented before training begins so that the trainer can identify and properly address compensatory movement patterns.

Let’s say a client exhibits poor movement while performing a basic bodyweight squat, the source of the dysfunction must be determined so that the trainer can correct it. Is the limitation is coming from the foot, the knee, the hip joint, the pelvis, or the sacrum? Is the issue one of limited mobility, muscle weakness, joint instability, or of poor muscle activation? The origin and the nature of the dysfunction will determine which corrective exercises should be added to the client’s program.

Sports and Compensatory Patterns

Asymmetries are especially common in people who engage in sports such as baseball, golf, soccer, football, and tennis, which rely heavily on one side of the body. Because of this, it is important to ask clients if they currently play sports or have played them in the past. It is also important to ask clients about any past injuries which may be contributing to current compensatory patterns. Compensation results from a number of factors, including muscle weakness, impaired joint mobility, musculoskeletal asymmetry, leg length discrepancy, previous injury, and even joint stress from obesity. Joints can become lax and unstable, forcing contralateral muscles to take the brunt of the movement in order to stabilize the dysfunction. What often results is overuse in the compensating region, which in turn adversely affects the client’s training, and also reinforces the asymmetry.

Offset Load Training

weight plates


Offset load training is a training approach in which different loads are used on the right and left sides of the body during an exercise, challenging the body to adjust. If you have ever dealt with clients who have demonstrated asymmetry in strength or power between one side of the body and the other, or who have visible differences in muscle mass when comparing each side, and have addressed their asymmetry solely with isolated unilateral movements, you can implement offset load training as a very effective way to break through training plateaus and to address accumulated asymmetry between the right and left sides of the body. Offset load training is not only more challenging than isolated unilateral exercises, it also results in more neural connections and greater kinetic efficiency.

Asymmetries in strength or muscle development most commonly result from natural dominance on one side, but they can also emerge as a result of injury. During bilateral training, the stronger side will always compensate for the weaker one by taking on more of the load, so the weaker side remains at a disadvantage. In contrast, unilateral and offset movements force each side of the body to bear the load fully and independently, effectively forcing the weaker side to work. Over time, differences in strength between each side are diminished as a result of this type of training.

Benefits Of Offset Load Training

One of the greatest benefits of offset load training is greater trunk stability and strength. Any time you perform a unilateral or offset movement (think of using a shovel), you activate your abdominal muscles in order to resist rotational forces and maintain a neutral spine. Another benefit of offset load training is that offset exercises challenge the nervous system to adapt to the unequal weight distribution by recruiting muscles in a coordinated fashion to maintain balance. You might be surprised by how much your client’s overall strength will increase as a result of improved conditioning in the smaller stabilizing muscles of the trunk. This is because enhanced balance and trunk strength stabilize the extremities and transfer power to them. In other words, if the muscles in the trunk are more efficient at stabilizing the spine, the limbs will benefit from greater power.

How To Add Offset Load Training To A Client’s Regimen

Offset load training works with most barbell and dumbbell movements and can be easily incorporated into a client’s training regimen. You can use this form of training as an adjunct to bilateral movements in a client’s plan. When selecting weights, make sure the difference in weights between sides is moderate, and keep the rep range around eight to twelve reps. Instead of handing dumbbells to your client, have the client lift them so that the muscles of the trunk will become activated even before the exercise is performed. If you are using a barbell, load each side with a different number of plates. If using the double cable assembly, set the pins at different weights. Be sure to monitor your client closely during this type of training, especially those relatively new to lifting weights who have poor balance and coordination.

Oil and Water: Is Crossfit Detrimental For Developing Aesthetic Muscle? (repost)

I truly enjoyed writing this article which was featured on Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide. You can see the published post here: http://sportsnutritionsupplementguide.com/training/crossfit/item/1389-oil-and-water-is-crossfit-detrimental-for-developing-aesthetic-muscle#.V1HlOvmlyWg

Read on to find out what I think about Crossfit:

Could someone please tell me why this move is even necessary?  It's dangerous and incredibly damaging to the joints and soft tissues in the body.

Could someone please tell me why this move is even necessary? It’s dangerous and incredibly damaging to the joints and soft tissues in the body.

I will boldly state right now that I’m not a fan of Crossfit, and will be delighted when its novelty wears off. I’ve dedicated my life to supporting, empowering, inspiring, guiding, coaching and otherwise promoting any activity that gets people moving. This is one reason I waited to publicly write about my arguments against the principles of Crossfit. The other, more specific reason, is that it’s become more common to hear NPC and IFBB competitors ask if Crossfit will enhance their efforts to get into contest shape. If the latter is you, let me cut to the chase. Not only will Crossfit widen your waistline as a result of the constant heavy “functional” lifting, it will also cause cortisol spikes, which make your body hold onto belly fat for dear life.

Before I get into why Crossfit is counterproductive to developing aesthetic muscle, a word to those who have found Crossfit gets them active, and has not caused them injury. Keep it up. If it’s Crossfit you need to keep you moving and motivated to be fit, don’t stop on my account. If however, Crossfit just doesn’t feel right, or your goal is to create your best body, and give you the best chance to stay injury free, read on. You’ll find that you don’t have to become part of the latest fitness craze to reach all of your fitness goals and then some.

CrossFit’s Unnecessary Nine

We begin our class with a review of the nine fundamental exercises that CrossFit is built upon:

Air Squat
Front Squat
Overhead Squat
Shoulder Press
Push Press
Push Jerk
Deadlift Sumo
Deadlift High Pull
Medicine Ball Clean

Oh boy, I can only imagine how many lumbar disc herniations have occurred in weekend athletes as a result of performing most of these movements, not to mention the rotator cuff strains and tears from the stress on the shoulders. First off, it just annoys me to know CrossFit renamed the free squat or bodyweight squat to Air Squat in an effort to be catchy and original. Then again, I see no point in getting a client to perform 200 or 300 “air” squats in a row, not unless your objective is to drive your client to complete exhaustion and overtraining. Based on what I have witnessed with the design of CrossFit regimens, exhaustion and overtraining is the inevitable outcome.

CrossFit routines also incorporate other exercises such as pull-ups and pushups. What bothers me here is that these movements are performed in a high rep range, to the tune of 100 or more. Then the client may be pushed to do tire flips or one of the Olympic lifts that CrossFit has managed to make faddish, even though they were developed over 100 years ago.

One of the calling cards to CrossFit workouts is training at “super high intensity”, which taken in correct doses are fundamental to conditioning. As it is used in CrossFit programming, the benefits are far outweighed by the negatives they incur. In CrossFit context, they tax the central nervous system to an excessive degree. Crossfit fanatics may love the feeling of being pushed to the limit, but this borders on being DANGEROUS. When the body is fatigued to the extent that it is in a Crossfit routine, the risk for muscle breakdown and frank rhabdomyolysis is considerable. No physical discipline is worth the risk of landing in the hospital.

I understand that Crossfit offers a great social environment and a feeling of camaraderie, but at what price? Every single person I know who is a fan of Crossfit has been injured while doing it. The suggested Crossfit regimen of 3 days on, 1 day off is too rigorous when you consider the fact that Olympic lifts are part of the core of Crossfit training. The body simply cannot repair itself in enough time. To fatigue a Crossfit client by having him/her do a WOD (workout of the day for those of you not familiar with Crossfit) and then stack on deadlifts for reps or 5 foot high box jumps is insane.

Benefits drop dramatically when the body is completely depleted like that. The Crossfit ideology of deplete and endure is BS. In contrast, bodybuilders and physique enthusiasts, train hard and heavy, and yes, they often train to depletion or failure, but they certainly aren’t going to attempt 100 pull-ups after destroying a traditional back workout. They understand the law of diminishing returns all too well.

Proponents of Crossfit often state that the training is functional and enhances the day to day activities which people perform. When was the last time you had to do a clean and jerk while on the job? Unless you work as a firefighter, stock room clerk or some other physically demanding work role, I seriously doubt that you are performing movements which mimic what happens while in a Crossfit box. Besides, if you’re injured as a result of Crossfit (or should I say WHEN), you can’t possibly perform any challenging physical movement which strains your injured body part.

For those of you who compete in the NPC or IFBB (or INBA, WBFF, etc.), don’t expect to be able to incorporate Crossfit into your contest prep training and sculpt your physique in the manner required for bodybuilding. I actually had a client who begged me repeatedly to let her do Crossfit two days a week despite my recommendation that she abandon it and focus on traditional weight lifting. I finally acquiesced, and allowed her to incorporate Crossfit as part of her training.

As I had predicted, she sustained an injury, her waist widened from all the heavy complex movements which made her midsection boxy, and she became soft as a result of the cortisol spikes which the high intensity Crossfit training created. After 3 weeks of seeing all her efforts from pre-Crossfit training unravel, I asked her to reconsider her decision to engage in Crossfit. As soon as she stopped doing Crossfit, her waist began to nip in, and her body began to tighten up again. Amen for old school weightlifting!

If it sounds like I am saying you will have to decide between doing Crossfit and competing in any of the bodybuilding divisions, I am. You simply cannot create the nipped in waist and beautiful taper that defines every single bodybuilding division. If you do Crossfit, you will create a strong body (plus some injuries), but you will also widen your silhouette and carry a layer of fat as a result of all that cortisol you will release from constant high intensity training. Look at a typical Crossfit athlete. Shoulders are broad, quads and hams are thick, and the abdominal region is thick and boxy. That is what happens when compound Olympic lifts are performed on a regular basis. If that is your aesthetic ideal, by all means knock yourself out with Crossfit, but you will be destroyed on a bodybuilding stage. On the subject of Olympic lifts, even power lifters have the sense not to rep out on these movements. Yet Crossfitters, blinded by the so-called warrior mentality that leads them to do stupid things that invite injury, will rep out on movements which recruit a tremendous amount of muscle fibers and hence tax the central nervous system. I am willing to bet that the Crossfit nation contends with adrenal burnout, permanent muscle damage, and repetitive tendon and ligament ruptures on a relatively consistent basis, and that such negative aspects will eventually cause the demise of this fad sport.

I will always staunchly defend the focus and the principles behind bodybuilding. I know that NPC and IFBB competitors are true warriors and know how to push through grueling training. I also strongly believe that for the most part, most competitors are smart enough not to over train or invite injury by performing movements which are biomechanically unsound. The world of bodybuilding not only rewards strength, but it also recognizes the aesthetic ideal which all bodybuilders aspire to achieve, regardless of division. Bodybuilding is not about flipping a massive tire across a gym, it’s about sculpting and defining muscle.

Minimalist Footwear

minimalist footwear

Please check out my latest article for American Fitness Educators which discusses minimalist footwear! Original post can be found at:


Less Is More

Are there benefits to training in minimalist footwear? Studies have demonstrated that training while wearing minimalist shoes results in enhanced performance due to greater foot pliability and a closer approximation to a barefoot stance. Since our feet adjust to wearing raised heels over time, it can be incredibly challenging to keep our heels on the ground while performing exercises like deep squats. Proponents of minimalist footwear may even argue that barefoot is best for heavy weightlifting, but the risks of exposure to microbes or hazardous fragments of glass, metal, or rocks, make minimalist shoes a much more feasible choice while at the gym.

Dysfunctional movement patterns become established throughout the body over time. Conventional athletic shoes can often contribute to ankle and foot dysfunction because they inhibit natural foot action. If you don’t believe it, then try to perform some of your physical activities barefoot and see how well, or poorly, you perform. Chances are that the impaired mechanics in the feet and ankles will make it difficult at best to perform those activities. By gradually switching over to minimalist footwear, an athlete can essentially correct improper foot mechanics and optimize kinetic feedback throughout the body during movement.

Benefits Of Minimalist Shoes

Conventional athletic footwear features a cushioned heel which also can compromise power. In contrast, minimalist footwear features little to no heel, and the soles are very thin and malleable, so they allow the joints in the foot to move and adjust to weight loading movements. In addition, the heels and midfoot make solid contact with the floor, causing more activation in the glutes and hamstrings. Studies have demonstrated that people who wear minimalist footwear develop greater strength in their legs and feet, since more power is transferred from the working muscles, through the feet, and into the movement. Plyometric movements and sprint power will also be enhanced while wearing minimalist shoes.

A 2011 study by Squadrone and Gallozzi assessed the ability of experienced runners to estimate the degree of inversion, eversion, dorsiflexion, and plantarflexion, of a slope surface board placed under their right foot while standing. They found that the degree of proprioceptive feedback which subjects received while wearing Vibram Five Fingers® was much more accurate than in subjects who wore a standard running shoe. In conclusion, cushioned shoes conferred a distinct disadvantage when compared to minimalist shoes during assessment of foot position awareness.

How To Transition Into Minimalist Shoes

Anyone who is transitioning from conventional athletic shoes to minimalist footwear needs to do so gradually, since the body has to adjust to radically different proprioceptive input. There have been cases of metatarsal stress which developed after converting too quickly to minimalist shoes. However, once the transition is made, noticeable strength gains should occur. Try spending about 15 to 30 minutes, twice a day, wearing minimalist shoes around the house. After about a week or two, you can try them out at the gym one to two days a week until you become accustomed to the feel of the shoes. Be aware that your gait and foot stance will probably change as you acclimate to this type of shoe.


Squadrone R, Gallozzi C (2011) Effect of a five-toed minimal protection shoe on static and dynamic ankle position sense. J Sports Med Phys Fitness Sep;51(3): 401-8.

Versa Gripps Are Awesome!


I am now the proud owner of a pair of Versa Gripps Pro, and I love them! I used them on chest and back day right after returning home from Olympia, and immediately noticed a difference in my strength while using them. They effectively reduced the strain in my hands, which was excellent since I have issues with them as well as forearm tendinitis.

These grips are especially fantastic for deadlifts, wide grip pulldowns, and any type of row. Bravo Versa Gripps!

Versa Gripps Purple

Check out the descriptions from their website:

The Mind-Muscle Connection

The latest achievement in muscle building technology, Versa Gripps allows you to train better moving you to the next level of performance excellence. A Self-Supporting Grip assist ingeniously designed to enhance muscle isolation and optimize performance. This revolutionary grip is the most effective and easiest way to increase your strength, muscle mass & stamina while maximizing your overall fitness results. Versa Gripps eliminate the need for gloves, hooks, and lifting straps. Absolutely, the Best Grip in the World. For Men & Women

#1 Patented, Self- Supporting Grip
Secure One-Hand Grip & Release Movement
Comfortably Eliminates Grip Fatigue & Failure
New Built-In Arch Support offers Carpal Tunnel Protection
Locks your grip in place for complete control
Made of Strong, high-quality Non-Slip material exclusive to Power Gripps USA
Quick Release Feature makes it safe & easy to release the bar
Ergonomically designed protect hands & wrists
Secure hook & loop closure around the wrist
Protects Hands from unsightly calluses
Ergonomically designed to protect hands and wrists
Innovative wrist support: a funnel-shaped design allows the weight to rest at the base of the hand
Superior Quality. Made in the USA
Excellent Wrist Support
Versa Gripps incorporates a unique stand-up grip making wrapping the grip around the bar easy with one hand, even over your head. Developed by strength trainers who demanded a product that exceeded the limits of ordinary weightlifting hooks, workout gloves, and straps. Used for pushing and pulling exercises. Proven to endure even the toughest of workouts. Versa Gripps provides excellent wrist support and are the most versatile fitness accessory on the market for men and women.

Our grip is our weakest and most vulnerable link to a successful workout regiment. Like a chain, we are only as strong as our weakest link. The success of our workout depends upon our connection to the weight. Fatigue, due to high repetitions using lighter weights or failure due to a heavy weight, is caused by an unsupported and/or unprotected grip. This can result in dropping the weight; a set cut short due to loss of focus; or injury.

Versa Gripps eliminates grip fatigue and failure, allowing the user to concentrate on the larger muscle groups while not thinking or worrying about one’s grip. When you no longer have to worry about losing your grip or your grip becoming tired, you will then be able to concentrate and appreciate the mind/muscle connection. Huge gains will be experienced.

Versa Gripps are used for all pushing (as in the bench press) and pulling (as in the deadlift) movements in strength training. The patented Versa Gripps take the place of gloves, lifting straps, hooks and wrist supports. By using Versa Gripps, both movements are accomplished safely, easily and comfortably.

Unlike lifting straps – that are difficult to use, particularly over your head – Versa Gripps are flexible, self-supporting and stand-up in front of your hand. This design makes it quick and easy to reach by the tips of the fingers on the same hand that is wearing them.

The gripping portion is made of a proprietary material that is reinforced tough, is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. This gripping material is engineered just for Versa Gripps, to be tacky and remain grippy throughout the life of the product. The grip is made wide enough to cover the width of the hand for protection from the knurls of the weightlifting bar, and against calluses. Other weightlifting gloves encase the entire hand and become a playground for bacteria and disease. Versa Gripps allow the hand to breath, with freedom of movement for the fingers and the thumb.

Another valuable safety feature is their ability – should it become necessary – to immediately release the weight. Simply let go. This is not possible when using straps or hooks.




Bringing Out The Bitch


We all have limits on what we are willing to put up with before feelings of irritation and anger begin to bubble under the surface and threaten to spill over. Recently I have dealt with more individuals and customer service reps who apparently never learned manners from their parents, and who don’t seem to care when they get on my last nerve. Though I have manners and can be a study in calmness and patience, I can go from zero to bitch in a flash when someone rubs me the wrong way.

I honestly think that there are many people who will assume that women are pushovers, so they are shocked when a confident and assertive woman stands her ground. The problem with a woman asserting herself is that she suddenly comes across as a bitch, even if she is in a position of authority which should afford her the right to speak with conviction. Though I have always been a pretty strong personality, I developed a thicker outer shell over the years because I was railroaded by so many people who took advantage of my generosity. It is a challenge to be a physician, because I automatically am placed in a position in which I have to deal with people’s maladies and complaints. Basically, this means that people come to me only because they have problems which need to be fixed, and because they are usually in pain or experiencing some type of discomfort, they may not be in the best of moods. Though I am empathetic and receptive to the needs of others, this doesn’t mean that I am some sort of pushover in other areas of my life.

Let’s face it: assertive equals bitchy for a lot of people, especially for women. God forbid if you disagree with someone and you are a woman, because all of a sudden you are a bitch. This seems to be the case in all scenarios, including personal relationships. You may be filled with resentment over something, but you also run the risk of appearing confrontational and bitchy if you decide to unload your thoughts and feelings about the situation to the person who is upsetting you. So much for the emancipation of women, because the social climate still reels in horror over an assertive woman.

I will always stand up for myself. If that makes me a bitch, then so be it.

Of Crossfit Boxes And Boxy Midsections

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Monday, 04 August 2014

Have I pissed off any Crossfit devotees already with the title of this article? I hope so. I challenge any Crossfit fanatic to continue with Crossfit training while being able to grace a bodybuilding stage with the tiny waist, full lats, and rounded delts which are sought after in every single bodybuilding division. When an athletic pursuit is characterized with moves like overhead squats, push presses, push jerks, sumo deadlift high pulls, medicine ball cleans, and tire flips, developing a boxy midsection is unavoidable. I find it ironic that Crossfit gyms are referred to as boxes since the term box is rather suggestive of the body shape which develops under that discipline.

Whether you have been doing Crossfit and now want to cross over into the world of competitive bodybuilding while still training with Crossfit, or you have been competing in the bodybuilding world and are entertaining the idea of incorporating Crossfit training into your contest prep efforts, let’s just say you can’t have both. Simply put, you cannot sculpt your physique in the manner required for bodybuilding when you are a Crossfit devotee. Not only will Crossfit training widen your waistline, the intensity of Crossfit will cause excessive cortisol spikes which makes your body stubbornly cling to belly fat and derail your efforts to become super lean for the stage.

Crossfit training develops endurance and sacrifices the aesthetic lines which are sought after in bodybuilding. We who compete know that a small, nipped in waist and a wide v-taper is the ideal no matter what the division. But when you see a typical Crossfit athlete, you will see broad shoulders without the shaping or the beautiful round caps that are seen in bodybuilding. A Crossfit athlete’s quads and hams will be thick, and the back and chest muscular but compact. Most notably, the abdominal region on Crossfit athletes is always thick and boxy. This is due to the compound Olympic lifts which are regularly performed in Crossfit. You simply cannot attain the tiny waist and beautiful lines that are worshipped in the bodybuilding world when you engage in Crossfit.

I actually had a client who begged me repeatedly to let her do Crossfit two days a week despite my recommendation that she abandon it and focus on traditional weight lifting. I finally acquiesced, and allowed her to incorporate Crossfit as part of her training. As I had predicted, she sustained an injury, her waist widened from all the heavy complex movements which made her midsection boxy, and she became soft as a result of the cortisol spikes which the high intensity Crossfit training created. After three weeks of seeing all her efforts from pre-Crossfit training unravel, I asked her to reconsider her decision to engage in Crossfit. As soon as she stopped doing Crossfit, her waist began to nip in, and her body began to tighten up again.

Bodybuilding is steeped in honoring an aesthetic ideal, sculpting and defining muscle, while also celebrating muscular strength. Crossfitters may brag that they have more endurance than bodybuilders, which may be true to an extent, but I personally would rather have the lines of an IFBB Bikini Pro than to trade that all in for the wide, tank like physique of a Crossfit athlete. If the idea of muscle sculpture is what drew you into bodybuilding, celebrate that instead of being lured into Crossfit.

Creatine-Rich Foods Or Creatine Supplements?

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Sunday, 29 June 2014

Creatine has been established as an important component of maximal muscle growth, strength and energy in the world of weightlifting, hence its almost ubiquitous presence in pre-workout formulations. Though creatine can be formed in the kidneys and liver from arginine, glycine and methionine, weightlifters should supplement this production, either by taking powdered creatine supplements such as creatine monohydrate, or by consuming large amounts of creatine-rich foods.

Beef is hands down the richest and easily accesible food source of creatine, with two grams per pound of meat. If you are opposed to the idea of eating red meat, alternative sources of creatine are found in poultry and in fish such as salmon and tuna. Those of you who are vegetarian or vegan will be hard pressed to pull sufficient creatine from foods and will have to supplement via synthetic forms such as creatine monohydrate, micronized creatine, or creatine citrate.

You may be able to consume massive amounts of meat and supply your body with the 3 to 5 grams of creatine which is considered the norm in bodybuilding circles, especially if you are adamant about obtaining all of your performance substances from whole food sources, but that would require massive dedication and a lot of meat chewing!

However, if you are in a building phase, then I truly believe that you are doing yourself a disservice if you are trying to get all your extra creatine solely from food sources.

The original form of creatine which was used by bodybuilders and which is still very much in use today is creatine monohydrate. This is the cheapest form of creatine, but it is poorly absorbed, which explains its tendency to cause bloating and digestive upset.

Another negative aspect of creatine monohydrate is that some people don’t respond at all to it. If this is the case for you, then you might want to explore the different forms of creatine which are out on the market. The two best forms of creatine, in my humble opinion, are:

1. Micronized creatine – The micronized form of creatine features smaller molecules, so absorption is significantly better, eliminating the issues of bloating and diarrhea which are often caused by ingesting the non-micronized form of creatine monohydrate.

2. Creatine ethyl ester – This is by far the most absorbable form of creatine, but more expensive than the monohydrate form. You can find this substance in capsule form.

Another form of creatine which is at times used in some of the more popular pre-workout formulas is creatine nitrate. The extra NO2 makes creatine water soluble and also lends a decent pump to workouts. However, when purchased alone, creatine nitrate is costly and thus is not one of my recommendations.

If you want to enhance your creatine intake, consider food sources in combination with supplement sources so that you can obtain an optimal amount which your body is able to utilize.

Natural Libido Enhancers

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Wednesday, 05 June 2013

Testosterone is responsible not only for optimal muscle mass, it is also vital for sexual drive and function. For those of you who compete, chances are that you are already consuming several of the foods, minerals and herbs which are known to enhance testosterone production, but let’s review them here. If you are having issues with a lagging libido, you might want to add a couple of substances that are not yet in your regimen.

ZINC: This mineral has an essential role in testosterone production, and for this reason EVERY man (barring any medical contraindication) should make sure that he consumes enough zinc to maintain normal levels in the body. The most readily absorbed form of zinc is found in animal protein, which is normally consumed in large quantities by people in the bodybuilding and fitness industries. Another well known source of zinc is oysters, but these are not usually consumed on a regular basis. You may wish to supplement your animal protein intake with zinc tablets or capsules to ensure optimal levels of zinc.

L-ARGININE: This amino acid is also referred to as Nature’s Viagra due to its support of nitric oxide release during sexual arousal. Perhaps you may have noticed a sexual surge when pumping iron at the gym and pounding your pre-workout matrix. You can thank l-arginine for that surge since it maximizes nitric oxide release and thus blood vessel dilation EVERYWHERE in the body. That translates to firmer erections in the bedroom. Great food sources of l-arginine include red meat, poultry, salmon, garlic, oatmeal, nuts, beans and dairy products.

MACA: This herb has been used for centuries to increase sex drive and function.

HORNY GOAT WEED: This potent herb is quite effective at increasing libido with little to no side effects.

MUIRA PAUMA: Another herb known for enhancing the libido.

GINSENG: Enhances libido.

YOHIMBINE HCL: I am not a huge fan of yohimbine due to its side effects (gastrointestinal upset, sudden blood pressure drops, nausea), but it can be effective in increasing blood flow to the genitals. Make sure to look for the pharmaceutical grade product if you choose to use this substance. Take 5 to 10 milligrams three times daily.

TRIBULUS: This is also known as devil’s Weed, and has been used for many years as a natural libido booster. Tribulus contains saponins which stimulate the production of luteinizing hormone in the pituitary gland, thus supporting the body’s production of testosterone. However, the general consensus is that tribulus does not have an appreciable effect on boosting testosterone levels, but it still has a positive effect on libido.

ASPARAGUS: Many of you are aware of the diuretic effect of this vegetable, but asparagus is also a rich source of vitamin E, which enhances sex hormone production. Asparagus also triggers production of histamine which facilities orgasm.

AVOCADOS: This fruit is not only rich in healthy fats, it is also loaded with folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium, all of which support optimal androgen production.

BANANAS: Bananas are rich in bromelain which enhances libido and may help with erectile dysfunction.

CELERY: This vegetable increases androstenone and androstenol in a man’s sweat and also increases the patency (decreases risk of clogging) in the arteries.

CHOCOLATE: I had to include this despite the fact that it is not the most contest friendly substance. Chocolate is rich in arginine, which increases nitric oxide levels in the body and supports strong erections. It also supports feelings of sexual desire by supporting dopamine secretion via a substance called phenylethylamine.