Over 40 ? You need more Protein

I actually turned 40 sometime ago and have struggled to regain the growth of my youth with little to no success, you see the problem is that although we all age we don’t like to think that it has happened and therefore very few of us adjust our lifestyles and nutrition especially to accommodate the changes.

So when I set off back to the gym I was training and eating exactly as I did before, and the results were mediocre at best, the fat refused to budge and the muscle wouldn’t come back for love nor money, a lot of the reason for starting this blog was to share the learning process with like minded people as I try and work out some of the most difficult things to nail down if we are all to live free with happy lives.

Please take a look at my Protein page here where I have included the section on protein over 40 and how the requirement changes, it is truly my intention to educate and assist with my blog and site and welcome any questions at all, I will endeavour to answer them either through a post or as an update on the site.

Photo by Modernista Magazine from Pexels

Nature has an answer for everything – Fenugreek

If you have spent anytime pursuing any kind of sport you will have definitely been exposed to the myriad of pills and potions to help enhance physical performance, from sports drinks laced with sugar for running all the way through to steroids and growth hormone for bodybuilding, the supplement industry is a multi billion dollar industry and it is not difficult to see the motivation behind the glossy advertising campaigns and influencer posts.

Meanwhile for the vast majority of us the availability of the base ingredients of these hyped products never crosses our radar, sitting anonymously on a shelf in a health food store waiting for the inquisitive and informed person to notice just how much cheaper they are compared to the big company names pushed on us from any chosen publication as we pursue our sport.

One of the things I and men all over the world have to deal with is the decline of testosterone from the age of 30 and all the negative symptoms this brings, lack of energy, lack of sex drive, lack of intensity, and as a consequence lack of activity can increase bodyfat and without testosterone to keep the levels down estrogen will rise and cause more weight gain, this is a cycle that many men find themselves in and are looking for a way to increase testosterone without going down the slightly risky route of testosterone replacement therapy or even worse trusting the local dealer to sell good quality steriods.

So while researching testosterone boosting supplements I noticed Fenugreek came up over and over again and so I looked into it further, there is a plethora of information out there and lots of scientific studies proving the effectiveness of this herb (1) and the thing that caught my eye again was the dosage levels, this particular study cites 500mg of Fenugreek as an optimal dosage, most of the supplements I had seen were around 350mg, so far below, it is also widely accepted and shown in this study (2) that the combination of Fenugreek and protodioscin (Tribulus Terrestris) had a significant effect on testosterone, libido, strength and mental alertness.

So rather than purchase the sports manufacturer product that contained only one of the ingredients required and at a lower dosage level than is effective, I set out to buy them separately and see if I could get the results that the study showed.

I began with 600mg of Fenugreek and 300mg of Tribulus as these were the strengths that the tablets came in, and I have been doing this for nearly a week now, I can report with some confidence that my strength has increased and my focus at work has very much improved, one of the effects of higher testosterone is the reduction of bodyfat in general and I think I am seeing some changes but in fairness it is too early to really tell and as far as timelines is concerned I have only just started, I did go up to 600mg of Tribulus but I am not sure if i will continue this as I did start to feel a little odd but this could be just the body getting used to the new substance.

I will monitor my progress for 12 weeks and report my findings as I go, but it is looking really positive so far…

Nature truly does provide for nearly all our requirements, sure it takes more looking and the results are rarely instantaneous, this doesn’t sit well in our on demand society and so natural products often get overlooked in favour of synthetic drugs that hit the system like a steam hammer, but you should always balance the benefit you are looking to achieve, as there is nearly always a detriment to drugs and very rarely to normal dosages of natural products.

As always I will provide links to the products I am writing about, if you are interested and would like to buy through my link please do so, but if not simply google Fenugreek or Tribulus and you will find a whole load of places where these are available.

Cardio Increase Slowing Down Metabolism ?

So I recently increased my Cardio work, I was previously walking 5k every morning and burning (according to Strava) around 700 calories, this was good, so in the vein of more is better I decided to cut down the distance (as I am not ready for 5k runs) and increase my pace, but this has had an opposite effect, instead of the steady 3 or 4lbs a week loss I have stopped, completely, my weight, despite running being the only change has refused to budge from 17st 11lbs, so I have been looking at why this may be.

Additionally and quite worryingly I have started to run out of energy at the gym, my strength has increased and I am able to work harder at the start of the workout but hit a wall about half way through feeling dizzy and faint, this is obviously not good.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not taking in enough Calories or Carbohydrate to fuel my workouts and so I plan to increase these using clean sources such as boiled brown rice and pasta, potatoes and using Tuna and lean Beef for protein.

I have been giving some consideration to body types as well as this seems to be one of the areas that I have not spent too much time researching, I am a classic endomorph as I gain muscle easily but I also have a propensity to gain fat, so for the meantime I will be eating clean as above and doing some research into metabolic typing as it relates to my diet and exercise routine.

The takeaway from this is that you need to constantly monitor your progress, not everyday as that is impractical, I would say more like looking for consistent results over a period of about two weeks, this way you see the week to week change which may go up or down but the overall momentum over the 14 days will give a more accurate picture of the effectiveness of your training routine.

Picking up the cardio pace

Check out my activity on Strava: https://strava.app.link/vqFsfyjkeY

I do cardio first thing in the morning so it is time limited, as the 5k walks were getting easier I had to find a way to increase my output, so went faster! But initially for less time and distance, however this will pick up and I will pass my previous calorie expenditure in no time, proving that sometimes to move forward you have to take a little step back.

Build the Ultimate Chest with 2 exercises

Recently on Quora I had a question about which exercise was better for building a big chest, Bench Press or Dips, and I had to stop for a moment and think, you see the big thick chests of the late 70’s Bodybuilders were built with both, as this was the way of things, in fact it was common practice to warm up with Bodyweight exercises like dips and pull-ups before heading onto the weights, additionally Dumbells were seen as finishing exercises or “concentration” and were normally left to the end, the question was interesting though as I have always thought of the Barbell Bench Press as quite an inefficient exercise as it tends to recruit a lot of help from the Triceps and Shoulders to complete the movement, but it cannot be denied that it is the exercise of choice and if anybody is going to lift weights you can be fairly sure that it will figure in their routine.

To decide what is best, we first need to understand in where the muscle is anchored as this will give us some idea of what movement it is bio-mechanically suited to performing, the whole idea behind all these new and strange looking machines that came out of late are all trying to move the resistance through the best possible motion to load the target muscle directly, there is a trade off with this though, when we do this we isolate the muscle completely and build it in size and strength, but if we concentrate solely on that type of isolated movement we do not bring the other supporting muscles up with it, and you can at best start to look a little odd as you have large major muscle groups with nothing behind or at worse you could liken it to hanging a chandelier from a thick heavy chain from a plasterboard ceiling with no extra support, sooner or later it will pull loose from the ceiling and the roof will come in, this what gives powerlifters and strength competitors that solid thick look it is all the muscle groups growing together regardless of aesthetics to create the strongest individual possible.

So the pectoral muscle has two parts the Pectoralis major and minor, the muscle we are all referring to when we think of this is the major as this is the most visible, this is anchored under the anterior Deltoid and attached like an open fan to the sternum it’s major function is to draw the arm across the chest and is used to push things away from us, the minor is also anchored under the anterior Deltoid but this is attached to the Ribcage and is activated by drawing the arms back over the head this would tend to be activated along with the Latissimus Dorsi and Serratus muscles.

Pectoralis Major

  • Bench Press
  • Flies
  • Dips
  • Cable Cross Overs
  • Dumbell Press
  • Cross Bench Dips
  • Press-ups

These all have an Incline / Decline variant and as discussed previously Bench Press can be done with Dumbells as well as a Barbell and in fact when training on your own it is probably advisable to do it that way to avoid dropping the weight on yourself!

The best way to determine which exercise is best is to try them, and variations of them, but I would say that as an integral part of a chest routine they should both exist, in fact I would go out on a limb and say that a routine consisting of just these two exercises would be sufficient to build a good think chest, I will explain.

Bench Press

Laying flat with your feet flat on the floor grip the Barbell evenly at just beyond shoulder width and by that I mean that the inside of your thumb should be just outside the line of the shoulder this will help to reduce the activation of the Triceps, there are several schools of thought on the arched back situation you often see but I will offer my opinion, a small arch that you could just about slide a flat hand into is fine any more than that and it is too much, lower the weight slowly and under control, do not bounce the weight at the bottom as this could cause damage, push straight up and do not lock out, it is bad for your elbows and besides it just rests the weight on your Triceps as they fight to keep your arm straight against the weight.

Dips

Traditional Dips at a dip bar are very difficult to get wrong as the body is suspended and pretty much just follows it’s own pattern, the trick here is concentration, mind – muscle connection plays a big part in this movement as you are concentrating on moving up by squeezing the pectorals together rather than simply straightening your arms, you will know when you have got it right because your chest will pump up instead of you triceps just feeling like balloons!

Flies

Done with Dumbell in a flat position keep your arms just shy of straight and put a small arc into the movement so instead of simply going straight up and down move your arms from the open position as if you were going to cross them over your chest but obviously stop as they meet at the top of the movement the best way to imagine this is to think about pulling from under your shoulder and toward your sternum as that is the path the muscle will want to naturally take.

Cable Crossovers

These are done on a cable crossover machine (surprise) and are easy to get wrong, it seems that some people are trying to replicate a pressing movement by literally closing and opening the arm at the elbow, this really makes it a Tricep exercise and at best the Pecs just had a stabilising support, You need to imagine the same movement and intent as the Fly but stood up, this exercise also targets the Pectoralis Minor due to you bringing the arms down and across from overhead, once performed right you will know because the resultant pump from both the Major and Minor muscle groups is huge and you will notice it.

Press ups

Photo by Sabel Blanco from Pexels

I would (and do) use this exercise as a warm up, it is a brilliant one to warm up the shoulder joints and the elbows as well as the chest and when performed correct you even get a lot of AB activation as well as some Hip Flexor assistance, the right way to do this is with a flat straight line from your ankles to your shoulders and hands in the same shoulder width position as with Bench Pressing, slowly lower yourself to the ground so that the whole body touches at once not the face or tummy first, and then in one movement the whole body lifts back to the starting position, this is a little rough on the wrists though so make sure to roll them out after each set.

Conclusion

As you can see the two exercises that stand out as having the most activation on the Pectoralis Major are the Bench Press and the Dip as they naturally sit across the muscle girdle and move in the same direction as the muscle can pull, Cable Crossovers are a very close third as they also target the Minor and this will lift your chest up and make it appear bigger over time, I do not subscribe to the Incline / Decline theory because it is so easy to over do, benches just aren’t adjustable enough unless you are lucky, and tend to be too high on incline, moving the stress to the Shoulders and too low on Decline because you have to put one end on a step to achieve it and you end up pushing with you triceps, if it is possible to do so and you are determined to do it, then an incline or decline of no more than 2 inches would suffice more if you have shorter arms to allow for the lever effect, so in the end after being forced to think it through I realised that done correctly Bench Press is a very good exercise and has a good amount of activation across the chest, the trick is to get the hand spacing right and think about the movement rather than the ego boosting weight, because if you go heavy to soon you just recruit every other muscle and leave the Pecs just supporting.

Holiday Challenge

In September we are going to Dubai for what amounts to a long weekend, now, I have lost a considerable amount of bodyfat since starting and along the way my research has taught me a lot about how the body works and how if we work in tune with it and support it during the changes we want to make we can achieve some truly amazing things, there are some challenges coming up in my life over the next six to twelve months that will restrict any travel we may have done so I would like to go out with a bang so as to speak on this trip at the end of the year, the aim is to get as close to having visible Abs and good muscle tone and definition as possible before we depart.

As a way to share what is possible and also to keep me on the straight and narrow ( I have found that an audience no matter how small tends to do this ) I will be documenting my progress weekly until we go, starting today ( I have always traditionally weighed myself on a Sunday for some reason ) and for the following 12 weeks.

Week weight
1 17st 13.2lbs

To achieve this I will be following my own routine that has been working for the past year with just a couple of minor tweaks as I have found that despite the internet message of “just go for it” practicalities have to be considered as well, and nearly falling asleep at work is not a good look, believe me!

So here is the program that I will be starting with initially.

  1. Weight Training – every other day, this has always worked for me and I see no reason to change it, it is easily sustainable as I have no issue with training first thing in the morning or last thing at night, I know some people are precious about when they train but in today’s world unless you are a paid fitness star, a professional athlete or just happen to be a millionaire you have to fit training in around work, no point being muscular and sleeping on a park bench.
  2. Yoga – on the opposite days to the Weight Training, this is to continue the work I did to get flexible and to improve my static strength, I find Yoga very productive and have continued to practice it sometimes just because of the mindset and distraction it provides from the chaos of the rat race.
  3. Diet – This will not change from the low Carb high Protein and fibre diet I converted to all those months ago, save for adding in casein protein at night time to assist my protein synthesis as I am now marching on in years.
  4. Coconut Oil – this seems to have worked wonders, I have been using it now first thing in the morning as my first intake of nutrition, remember that anecdotal research tended to suggest that this sets your body up to burn Fat for energy and provides focus, and I have been having the black coffee and Coconut Oil before going to the gym, I have noticed huge differences in focus, strength and endurance from following this.
  5. 5k a Day – this was the routine I started a few weeks ago and it has appeared to bear fruit, while away two weeks ago I put on 2lbs and this weigh in I have lost that and a further 4.8lbs this is good going in my book and probably right at the upper end of how much I want to lose a week, I certainly wouldn’t suggest that anybody try and lose more a week unless the medical benefits outweighed the possible drawbacks, I may however increase this to 7k as you need to adapt your exercise as the body becomes more capable.

And that really is it, any changes to the routine and I will outline why this has been done and what they are, and hopefully it will be “Abs for Dubai”

Protein – Building block of muscle

Further to my research on nutrition I have completed a page on Protein, it’s synthesis and how much we should be taking in, I have included a Bioavailability chart to help you choose your protein sources with a more informed mindset.

If there are any questions that anybody wants answered please leave a comment and I will endeavour to answer as soon as possible, I really want this site and blog to help as many people as possible cut through the marketing bull***t and build the lives they want quicker and easier,

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So enjoy and please forgive the post to introduce a page!

main Photo by Krisztina Papp from Pexels