Are Healthy Supplements Killing you?

I am not the first and I most definitely will not be the last to ask this question, it had occurred to me previously that the level of trust we have in the supplement industry far outstrips the trust we have in professional health care, I mean after all when was the last time that you were prescribed tablets and just took them without a seconds thought, or indeed a lengthy talk from the medical professional with regard to possible side effects and dosage levels?

Yet we stream through the doors and surf the websites of health food shops daily spending millions on vitamin tablets, protein supplements and mineral compositions that are sold to us as a healthy alternative to medicine at best and at worst a cure for our ills.

I have recently been experimenting with varying supplementation and have had some mixed results, and some fairly disturbing ones, this has prompted me to write this article to get people thinking about the sheer amount of “supplements” we take and for what reason.

First A Word About the Industry

The UK vitamin industry according to https://www.hfma.co.uk/media-events/industry-facts/ was worth, in 2016 £421 million, and the market in the USA is worth an estimated $37 Billion, this encompasses sports supplementation and vitamins, minerals and general health supplement sales over the counter, this means that no matter what the tagline of an advert, you can be fairly sure there is a lot of money behind advertising it, additionally and more alarming from a consumer point of view is the amount of white label supplement companies that will allow you to design and package your own supplements and sell these on Amazon or Ebay or even at the local market, you can tailor the product essentially to meet the amount of profit you wish to receive from the sale and after the company has made the supplement packaged it and then labelled it for you I would imagine that the temptation to drop the more expensive ingredients down is quite strong.

This has another issue though, given the wide spread and cheap entry into the industry through this route, one can only imagine that the amount of actually different supplements on the market is quite small, and this means that we are making choices about which products to buy based on the quality of the label of which person is representing the product to us.

However we can still rely on the big chain companies can’t we ? well I guess from a quality control point of view yes we probably can, after all they will have the buying power to provide the best ingredients at a reasonable price, if they do or not depends on the integrity of the company I guess, but shoudl we even be taking them in first place?

Health food store checkup ?

The health food store shopping experience is a varying animal, occasionally you will encounter somebody who has done some training or is an enthusiast themselves, but ordinarily you are dealing with nothing more than a shop assistant, while they may be very good at serving people and very attentive while you are in the store this does not mean that their advice will extend much past the company line, partially because they probably don’t know better and partially because essentially they are employed to sell stuff for profit.

I made several purchases from my local Health store and was never once asked if I was deficient in what I was buying, or if I had any reason to suggest that I required a higher dosage than I would be receiving from my diet, or what my diet was for that matter, my purchases were simply rung up and I was sent on my way.

I feel that this is the first hurdle to be honest, this is really where there should be some interception and questions asked, for instance take a firm favourite of the health food store vitamin C, this little firm favourite is water soluble and can neither be manufactured nor stored by the body, it is consumed and used and flushed out taking free radical cells with it , it plays a fundamental role in the absorption of iron and has been shown to assist the immune system and has links to helping to prevent some forms of cancer, this is all good news, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is definately something we can benefit from, but at what dosage ?

When walking into a store there are many options, 500mg, 1000mg, 2000mg, buffered, non buffered, tablets, soluble literally the list goes on.

The recommended average daily intake for a healthy women is 75mg and 120mg if pregnant or breastfeeding, already we are way over that stated dose, so it is unclear why they should then go on to sell the higher dosages when 75mg would get the job done and that is the recommended intake, so at that we have not even considered dietary vitamin C (vitamin content present in our daily food intake).

The dosages however do start to have a sense of reason, albeit a little sinister when you consider the tolerable upper limit for adults is 2000mg or 2 grams a day, beyond this the concentration of vitamin C can lead to some pretty unpleasant effects to name a few, diarrhoea, nausea, headache and at the worse end gout, kidney and liver complications.

An accepted amount that is beneficial is around 500mg, this has been found to assist in certain situations on of which was a study on macular degeneration, during an age related eye disease study it was show when used with other vitamins and minerals to slow the progression of the disease.

There is vitamin C in the vast majority of food we eat, and it is added to a lot of breakfast cereals and especially for children as their diets tend to lack whole foods and therefore require supplementation to maintain the balance.

My Experience

Ok so onto the reason why I felt I needed to look further into this, I started looking around for ways to make myself stronger, healthier and more mentally agile, as a result I ended up following a course of the below supplements.

  • Fenugreek – A natural herb linked to the production of testosterone, as a man now in my mid forties, my testosterone levels have been steadily dropping for the last 10 to 15 years, and I wanted to find a way to halt this, fenugreek has been shown to increase levels of free testosterone in males when supplemented at 500mg a day, it does this through its constituent Protodioscin a saponin that may support the production of testosterone.
  • Tribulus Terrestris – Essentially added as it has been marketed as a testosterone booster by itself, it is considered to increase the potency of Fenugreek when taken along side, it is used widely for the treatment of many things but one of it’s reported effects is to increase certain hormones, testosterone is one, although you don’t have to dig to far into the research to see that the evidence is pretty weak.
  • Vitamin B complex – this was both to help with cognitive function as wel as the role that vitamin B plays in energy utilisation and in the muscle building process, by helping with the production of red blood cells directly helps provide more oxygen to muscles, allowing them to work harder and recover quicker.
  • Vitamin C – for recovery and immune assistance
  • Alpha-GPC – A nootropic compound that has been shown to increase brain activity and in fact is used in the medical profession to help treat Alzheimer’s and further studies have shown that when taken before an intense workout can increase growth hormone output post workout by significant amounts.
  • Fish Oil – for the EPA DHEA content again for cognitive function also it does contain omega-3 fats which are absolutely essential and were lacking in my diet as I was trying to cut down on my bodyfat quite drastically and was eating next to no fat at all.

Now that may seem like a long list, and I suppose actually that it is, if my calculations were correct I should have been a quick thinking, strong quick recovering masterpiece of an individual, instead the opposite was actually true, I was becoming tired, and I mean falling asleep at the steering wheel tired, on several occasions I had to pull over and literally have a quick nap before continuing my journey home from work, I had headaches, really big ones, not stress headaches these were different, as if my blood pressure were elevated during a big deadlift or some kind of heavy compound exercise like that, my balance was of and I had to bail out of several workouts due to fatigue and generally feeling unwell, I had become confused as well at work easy repetitive tasks needed concentration more than before, the answer took a while but it was fairly obvious I needed to stop the tablets !

I stopped taking them on a Monday, and immediately the headache that I would develop while driving to work did not materialise, it took about a week for my imbalance to stop and go back to normal and my workouts took around 3 weeks to stabilise and only now (some 5 weeks from stopping ) am I able to truly push myself at the gym again.

Conclusion

I feel that I got out just in time, the detrimental effect that all the tablets was having was becoming intrusive it had affected my home life, my work and my training, I even took some time away from this website as a result of struggling to concentrate, but all the time I was convinced that these things were safe to take, why? because they are sold that way, the shops are bright and on the high street, websites are not seedy http affairs that you need a special browser for and pay only in bitcoin, so you think that all will be well, but the truth is that anything we put into our bodies is a balancing act, it can be hugely beneficial in small doses and poisonous in large, or it can be wholly ineffective in a small does and only worth taking more than is recommended, the supplement / health food industry is vast and does help billions of people make better choices, get healthier and live longer, but we have to remember that it is an industry, and it is going to make profit as and where it can see it, unfortunately that means that if they can sell something that won’t harm you unless you take a lot more than they recommend then they will because you will be a repeat customer, in exactly the same way as a supplement company will sell you a weight gainer loaded with sugar instead of protein because it is cheap and you will feel great when you start using it because you muscles will fill out with the extra calories and you will have boundless energy, at no point will they inform you that you could have got the same effect from eating a large quantity of doughnuts.

I am definitely not saying that we should not buy supplements, simply that we should use the intelligence that I lacked when I embarked on my rampage and dose ourselves accordingly, remember that you are putting extra something in your body, and in the case of vitamins and minerals the irony is that the majority of people that consider taking these things will also give consideration to their diets and as such probably are not deficient in the vast majority of the products they buy, they just don’t notice any side effects because they stay within a limit set to avoid any detrimental feeling.

The supplement industry is not evil or malicious, it is just profit driven, and anything profit driven has the potential to weigh potential for comeback against the profit made by selling the product in the first place, and that is where the consumer misses out if they don’t stop and clarify the claim of the companies on their products and also their own individual requirements.

Before embarking on any supplementation regime you should always look at your diet first, and make the adjustments there where you can, the clue is in the name supplement, the human body is an amazing thing and it knows what it needs from food and drink to help us to grown and thrive doing the tasks that we choose, it will adapt and grow or shrink as required, you will get faster or stronger through repetition and all through the bodies own devices, majority of supplement advice is to take that delicate system of hormones and proteins and hit it with a sledgehammer, if you imagine trying to fit a square peg in around hole, using a lathe to turn the peg and make it fit will take time and patience but the end result will be perfect, the peg can however be made to fit with a large hammer and enough brute force, but it will be ugly and weak broken and unreliable, life is a marathon not a sprint.

Changing yourself is not always a bad thing.

Controversial I know but hear me out, changing yourself is not always a bad thing if who you have become is what is holding you back, and for the majority of us that is the case, working jobs we hate on a corporate hamster wheel or even worse dead end jobs that are only “filling in time until we decide what to do” the world has educated the masses to believe that we are meant to work we shouldn’t aim high and routinely we, as a group ridicule the ones who dare to dream.

Don’t Change for Others!

Well no, you shouldn’t change for the sake of others, if you are being yourself and people have an issue with that then that is their issue not yours, on a personal level you should never alter your standards or shelve your hopes and dreams for the sake of a relationship, relationships are supposed to be reciprocal and therefore tolerance and in most cases a certain prioritisation of the partners wants and needs should come first and the other way round too, this way both parties are happy and equally valued, and if you had one person in your corner all all the time helping you to achieve your goals imagine how far you would get, this is not the place to change, love and loyalty under a false banner of intention and desire will always end in tears, Always.

Change Everything Else, However

I posted previously a news article that frankly scared the hell out of me, I do not want to work until I die, penniless and without the ability to enjoy my winter years or to help me children achieve their potential in a world that is getting smaller and more cramped, but to make this happen life has to be treated like a business, with the advent of gamer “professionals” and vlog millionaires the bar and the goal has shifted, you are now the business, and unless you treat everyday as a means to an end you will go out of business and be closed down sooner than you think.

The concept of going to work 9 to 5 and making a decent living, retiring at 65 and living a comfortable life at the seaside with a golden retriever and enjoying long walks on the beach with the Mrs in the sunset happy just to have an ice cream isn’t dying it’s dead, it no longer happens, chances are that if that was how you lived your life then the Mrs left ages ago for a younger bloke who sells rubber dog poo with a nice cheery face on it through his etsy store, and vice versa, this may sound very male biased but to be fair women have been just as capable of making huge sums of money as men, are just as capable of putting in the hours as men and the only thing that historically stopped them from achieving the same positions was having to wade through an archaic “old boys club” culture in business and life in general, this is now largely giving way and quite rightly, so the above scenario cuts both ways.

The process begins by having a look at yourself and having the guts to ask “what am I doing wrong?” and with the opportunities on the internet and global reach the way it is today, if you are worried about money in any shape or form then you (like me and millions of others) are doing something wrong, good news is these things are not too hard to spot I have listed below the one’s I found.

  • Sleep late / wake up late – sounds obvious right? then why do we all do it? realise that if we sacrifice the binge watching of breaking bad now we can watch it in a penthouse overlooking the beach in the future, but for now Sleep because nobody functions properly when tired and irritable.
  • Don’t exercise – Easy to say, that you want to be a business person or you are too busy to exercise, cardio at the very least is a must, remember you as an organism run on oxygen, cardio will improve your cardio vascular system, so in a basic sense the fitter you are, the faster you are and it takes less time to complete tasks, that way you have more time to do more things.
  • Take chances – The easy path is the path of least resistance, yet we marvel at people who are flexible and have trained themselves to be able to practise yoga or gymnastics or even bodybuilders. stop to think when looking up to these people is that what you are admiring is somebody literally chose the path of most resistance, if you are pushing so much there is a little pain then you are doing good.
  • Listen – Real simple, if you knew everything then you would be rich already, listen to as many people as possible, most of what is said will be useless, but there is gold in them thar hills!
  • Keep Goals in mind – Stop being distracted by everything around you, TURN OFF SOCIAL MEDIA NOTIFICATIONS

If you are looking for something to do while staring at your phone, rather than the latest cat video, or yet another guru shouting at you that their way is best and you should give them thousands to see how, train your mind to be quicker and more agile, try Elevate in the links below (not affiliate links) I will even start a little traineesuperhuman group so we can play against each other.

Call to Action

Now is not the time to start, now is the time to DO the clock has been ticking for some time already and we are literally fighting for our futures, so whatever it is you do, do it better, excel at your chosen field and always run a side hustle, no income is guaranteed that is true, but income that relies on the decisions out of your control needs a backup, because you never know when it is going to fail.

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.

When Motivation is Not Enough

Summary

You have been shouted at by a stranger on YouTube and you have started a million and one get rich quick schemes and some get rich slow schemes, nothing is coming in and you are just spending more and more time online trying every different avenue you can to make something, anything work.

You are not alone, the online world from our prospective is split into two camps, the this is what you should do to make money and the this is how you should feel and act to make money, there is no this is how I do it camp, there is nobody who gives any prospective on how long these things should take or indeed how you actually start to make some, any cash at all, and before you start listing the hundreds of millionaires that have YouTube channels and that have catchy titles like “this is how I make $10000 a day from typing” or “watch me build a million dollar sales funnel” let me say this, I am talking about real substance on how you execute these promoted Frameworks, I put together a business idea in a post that can be found [here] where I outlined an online property business that could easily be global and you could do it from that fabled beach in the Bahamas that seems to be the very first trip these people make after making all their money, but here is the rub, the entire thing was useless, not worth a single penny because it has no Method of execution there is no information on how you complete the steps just simply the steps themselves and without that it is like having a Bentley with no tyres on the rims, it looks good but can’t go anywhere.

And it is at this point people fail, when you are sat there after you exhausted all your ideas and you have nothing left to give, it is 2 in the morning and you have to be up for work in 4 hours, but hang on isn’t this what you paid them for? isn’t this the advice that you are supposed to be receiving, well yes it is, so you have a cup of coffee and you remember Elon Musk saying that he worked 100 hours a week and all the influencers on Instagram with the positive little memes all the way up to the ones that simply stand there and tell you that you don’t work hard enough, and you trudge on just getting older, more skint and more and more disillusioned as you scroll through social media watching videos on how well everybody else is doing.

This is the point where motivation just isn’t enough, and this is also where you like others can start to fall into depression, and self -doubt, as somebody who has been there I can honestly say that this is difficult to get out of, almost impossible to live with and will ultimately effect everybody close enough to you to care.

Sounds Grim Right?

Well that’s because it is, I am not going to trawl through the internet to find statistics to dazzle you with the amount of research I did to back up my opinion because I don’t need to, the evidence of the state of society is all around us, it is in our schools, our workplaces and out in the streets, it follows us home and usually sits by the bed all night waiting to grab our attention even if we dare to wake up for a few minutes, I am talking, of course about the age of information technology, a lot of commentators blame Social Media solely for societies ill’s but this simply is not the case, it is the scale of information and demand for attention that is causing the confusion, and yes this encompasses social media, but it also extends to TV, Radio, Cinema, and even the lowly conversation, this is an On-Demand world and anything less just isn’t good enough, and anything other than instant results are also simply not good enough, so when we don’t realise all our dreams of financial success overnight, rather than go looking for the reasons or anecdotal evidence of how long it took the most successful to achieve their goals we look inwards and blame ourselves, we start to scroll looking for the inspiration that will drag us out of our unproductive trench and somehow propel us to the top the way it did so many others.

But this is because when you sit and stare at the screen for hours on end, or watch the latest “make money online video” you are only getting half the conversation, with no context at all, all the people we are taught to look up to have struggled to make their money, Richard Branson had several failed businesses and nearly lost Virgin a couple of times, Mark Zuckerburg wrote several unsuccessful applications including a music program he later gave to Microsoft for nothing, Grant Cardone came from very humble beginnings and if you watch enough videos you will soon realise that Gary Vaynerchuk had a far from ideal childhood, problem is they weren’t famous then, so there is cataloguing of Gary Vee drinking urine from a can because he was being bullied and the Christmas tree business Richard Branson had never made it to the front pages of any newspaper but they happened and created the inspirational characters you see and follow today.

One thing that unites them all now is calm, and I know that sounds odd but bear with me, I know they are not all calm in their approach to life, they scream and shout, book huge auditoriums and have lights, music and pyrotechnics but look at them closely, they are calm, their eyes are calm and no matter the volume of their words they are delivered with a calm certainty that resonates through every syllable, I guarantee they will not have sounded like that when they began, they sound like that now because they know it is a numbers game, it is clear thought and good decisions that make the millionaires of the future a vision and an unerring drive to get there, but it also a marathon and not a sprint, and marathons require planning and they require pacing or you will just be left behind, a sweating crying mass alone by the side of the road, defeated.

Your Recipe for Success

So right back to the beginning at 2am with work at 6am, the best thing you can do is stop what you are doing and protect your job, ask yourself this, when you are changing jobs, do you announce it to your boss that you are looking for alternative employment ? no, or at least I do not because we would fear that it would prejudice our position within the company we currently work for, so why let your venture destroy your security now? get some sleep and come back to it the next day, I guarantee that if you want to succeed it is going to be easier if you are as calm as possible, calm people make rational decisions, they consider the options and often times react very quickly as they have already formulated the course of action and do not need to adjust it once it is in play, “Think Slow, Act Fast”, there are two sides to every goal, the planning and the execution and this is where most of us fall down because we are still planning while we are executing, negating, in some circumstances any progress we might have made to the point of deviation.

Everything Must be in a straight line for efficiency

As crude as it is (and I promise I will work on my graphic skills) what I am trying represent is that if we start with an exponential amount of planning at the start, we can draw a straight reducing line toward the goal as over time we can decrease effort required as experience and skill increases, whereas if we are constantly in the planning stage the line is a lot more bumpy, there will be times where reaction to events is required to keep pushing a project forward and these are best represented by a triangle along the line, as the effort sharply increases in line with the goal but then once the solution is reached it quickly decreases, my point is to succeed you need to react to problems not lack of planning.

Meditate

One thing to do and an opinion that is shared by some of the most successful people on the planet is meditation, now you may think that mediation is sitting cross legged and humming to yourself in the Lotus Position, but I would rather you think of Meditation as something more personal, we all have different interests and likes/dislikes, we all have things that calm us and things that annoy us, for instance a very successful APP that helps people study is one that simply feeds the background sounds of a coffee shop the listener, thousands of people benefit everyday from the calming effect this app has on them, I however fell agitated by the background noise of a coffee shop, or any public establishment so for me that app would be a one way ticket to failure!, so pick something that Absorbs your thoughts something that takes you away from reality for a time to allow your mind to completely forget anything other than pleasure, it is easy to pick an activity to achieve this state, simply do something that makes you forget time, by which I mean anything that you do that usually you are so occupied by that time seems to slip away without you noticing, if that is sitting in the lotus position then great, if it is riding a dirt bike then also great, you looking to achieve a disconnect from effort, allowing your mind time to slow down and bathe in a huge release of endorphins, always remember though to set some kind of reminder about re-focusing on your goal and work because without that you could spend all day chilling out and that won’t get anything done!

Summary

So in summary, anything worth having takes work and a lot of it, but all the motivational speeches, inspirational stories and success shaming in the world is not going to help if that is not the problem, if the problem is overload and mental fatigue then that is what needs to be addressed, learn to recognise this and switch off YouTube or Instagram or wherever else you go to get your daily dose of persecution from virtual peers that likely are doing no better than you and relax, think slow and act fast, a ten minute rest will lead to a much more productive 30 minutes effort, till next time……..

Main Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Educate yourself on everything!

Well not everything, but all that is important to you, for instance if you are trying to get healthy do not simply look at the label or the physique of the model that is holding the item up on Instagram but rather dig deeper and actually research the supplement or diet change you are about to make, I say this because I have recently realised that the quantity of cod liver oil that I have been using is actually not high enough to provide the amount of EPA and DHA that is regarded as “Beneficial” this is because I like a lot of others just remember that somebody once said that Cod Liver oil was good for you, and I took the recommended dosage because I was to lazy to look any further, this is true of all things physical, medical, business and finance, dig deeper and actually reap the benefits of what you are doing, because if you don’ you are simply spending money and seeing no return.

So here is my example, studies have shown that Omega3 is responsible for the improvement of a lot of conditions to name a few

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Cancer – although further study is needed it has been shown that consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids is linked to the reduction in incidences of, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer and Colon Cancer
  • Heart Disease – Some studies have recorded as high as 25% reduction in heart attacks with the correct dosage of Omega-3 high in EPA and DHA

And this is where my point comes in, you see the dosage for these kinds of benefits is around 250 to 500mg a day of combined EPA and DHA, and when looking at the back of my cod liver oil tablets I can see that the one a day that is the recommended dosage, is providing me a whole 80mg of EPA and 100mg of DHA, so nowhere near enough to help when looking for even the basic benefits of Omega-3 let alone the 850mg dosage that was used in the Cancer study, to compound matters there is even a question over the use of “Cod liver Oil” as opposed to “Fish Oil” again not taking the time to educate myself failed me there too, you see the reason that the supplement companies do not want you taking large dosages of Cod Liver oil is because it is high in Vitamin A and at certain levels this is toxic to the body and will as the levels get higher poison you, this can also be fatal so is best avoided really, before you start panicking however it should be noted that it is widely accepted that the danger point is somewhere around 10,000 I.U. and each Cod Liver Oil tablet I have in my tub provides 2,664 I.U. so one a day is fine but to get the required EPA and DHA intake would mean you were dangerously close to the upper limit as, ironically, the better your diet the more Vitamin A you take in naturally.

Fish Oil on the other hand is available with much larger quantities of the two important ingredients EPA and DHA and as it does not contain Vitamin A it is possible to take enough in to satisfy the requirement to start seeing the benefits of increasing your intake of these fatty acids.

I have made this switch to Fish Oil and upped the dosage to around the 600mg level and will bore you all with the findings in a week or two once I have started to see any changes as a result.

Now, that was quite a long winded explanation about Cod Liver Oil, and although it is informative and I hope it helps somebody make a choice between throwing their money away and actually getting some benefit from a product, it was not really the message I was looking to convey.

If you leave yourself in the dark that is all you will ever see, you will never make any real progress because you cannot make informed choices, a good example of this is, I have been hounded for a few weeks now by a crypto currency based investment company, I know what you are thinking here comes the sales pitch, but you are wrong I won’t even mention the name until they have proved to be a success or a failure, they have contacted me as they have a scheme whereby a team of professional traders send you recommendations every week and you can trade these recommendations with them on their platform and hopefully make some money, it sounds too good to be true right? well that is what I thought and I kept giving them the brush off until I actually thought what if ? what if it isn’t rubbish or a scam ? so I wrote down some questions regarding how they get paid and what risk if any they take and I waited for the phone call, after asking my questions and checking the answers against their website and common sense I actually decided to give them a try, because it sounded plausible enough and I could see the benefit to them of me trading their platform and making money, now it could easily turn out to be a scam but I was able to make an informed decision based on my instincts because I asked the questions I wanted to ask and got the answers.

And that is really what holds a lot of us back, not being able to make a decision because we lack a certainty level where we are comfortable and the reason we lack that level is because we don’t educate ourselves on the prospect in front of us.

Hopefully some of that at least has made sense and I will keep you posted on both the EPA DHA debacle and the crypto currency traders, so if the next post is just a string of sad face emojis I have either gone made through too much Fish Oil or lost all my money, till next time…….

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.

Feeling Strong ?

Self-help and motivation has become very dear to my heart in recent years and I personally find it comforting that there a lot of people out there that do genuinely want to help, from the big names that fill auditoriums to the YouTube warriors that post incessantly, some with good intentions and morals and some with questionable motives largely found reciting industry standard rhetoric to a backdrop of a couple of piles of cash and some royalty free inspirational music, no names are required as we all have experienced these differing styles and their respective protagonists I imagine many times over.

Something happened to me specifically today, I had a moment of fear, a moment when the slow pace of progress closes round you like a cold encompassing blanket and seems to choke the energy right out of you, where all the carefully thought out plans and schemes suddenly seem unobtainable and you freeze unable to see a way forward.

Fear hits us all, I don’t care who or where you are, male or female, young or old, it is how we deal with it that counts and it is how we deal with it that will determine the pace at which you achieve your goals and in some cases if you ever do.

I have read a couple of books that are starting to suggest that we should maybe try and look for the good in what we have and not try to attain anything more, while this leaves me conflicted I do think it is a flawed and potentially harmful message, I mean people look to these places and people for inspiration and motivation, only to be told to not try to hard and look at the prospect of just being content with what you have, it must be a huge disappointment and for some difficult to recover from.

So here is a little mid-week motivation and each word is not only from my heart but it is fresh in my mind as I have gone through those emotions just today.

Feel strong, don’t question it just feel it look out into the open and just feel strong, remember that unless whatever is your main focus of concern is stood right in front of you with inevitable consequence, you have the opportunity to re-route your path, Think Slow Act Fast easy to say not easy to do when fear grips at your heart strings then climbs like an icicle up through your brain clouding your thoughts and play hide and seek with your emotion, but again stop and look around, things are almost always exactly the same as they were the moment before your fear went into overdrive, so whatever you do slow down your thoughts be methodical and then put those thoughts into action with the speed precision and purpose that only a razor sharp plan of action can command. Smash 100 percent everyday and in every action if you think slow forget fear and push your thoughts through to action with every ounce of strength you have you will move forward there is no two ways about it believe in your self and you are 80 percent there.

There is nothing wrong with being happy with the way things are, we are all searching for happiness and if you find it in getting by then that is genuinely awesome, however if that were the case I doubt you would be reading this blog.

Celebrate your husbands/wives/children and cherish them for what they are, your strength, motivation, the rock to cling to during a storm and the precious cargo you must protect as you set sail to a sunnier, happier less stressful land.

Everything else is just leverage.