IIFYM: What You Need to Know

Today we’ll be discussing the popular form of dieting known as “if it fits your macros” or “IIFYM” for short. Some people love it, some people hate it, but what does science say?

First, let’s break down exactly what IIFYM is. IIFYM (also known as flexible dieting) relies on the tracking of the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are called macronutrients because you need to consume them in large quantities. Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, etc.) conversely, are only needed in trace amounts. Optimally, IIFYM also includes tracking your micros, though this is often mistakenly overlooked by IIFYMers.

IIFYM generally starts with the calculation of your BMR (basal metabolic rate) to determine your total calories burned at rest during a day. There are many online calculators that will do this calculation for you such as this one (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm). This gives a starting place for determining your optimal macronutrient intake. Tracking your macronutrient intake also allows for indirect tracking of calories as each macronutrient has its own caloric value. 1g of protein = 4 kcal, 1g of carbohydrate =4 kcal, and 1g of fat =9 kcal. It should also be noted that 1 g of alcohol = 7 kcal. Therefore, tracking your intake of protein, fats, carbs, and alcohol allows for you to indirectly track your total calories for the day as well.

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Once you’ve figured out your BMR, you can add or subtract calories based on goals, activity level, and current diet. If looking to gain weight you will need to eat more calories than you burn through your BMR+exercise. Fat loss occurs when you eat less kcal than you burn through your BMR+exercise. It is important not to make too drastic of cuts however in order to see continuous, long-term progress. This calculator (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutcal.htm) will help to determine your optimal daily caloric intake.

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Post-Workout Nutrition

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the importance of post-workout nutrition, yet few truly know what to eat in order to optimize recovery after a workout. Optimal recovery will allow you to get back in the gym sooner and hit your next workout harder. As many of you may know, anabolism (muscle-building) does not actually occur in the gym. In fact, training is generally catabolic (causes muscle breakdown)! Muscle-building actually occurs during the recovery period, making proper post-workout nutrition essential for gaining muscle. This article will discuss how you can make the most of your post-workout meal so that you can recover more quickly and keep chasing gains!

Muscle-building occurs from an increase in muscle protein synthesis (or mps for short). One of the main factors responsible for increases in mps is the mTOR pathway. Proper post-workout nutrition should seek to stimulate mTOR for optimal results. mTOR is stimulated exercise, insulin, and the consumption of leucine. (1) Obviously, exercise has already been completed before your post-workout meal. Insulin is released after carbs are consumed and leucine can be consumed through protein or BCAA supplementation. These stimulatory factors are discussed in greater detail below.

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Surviving Your Memorial Day Barbecue: 5 Tips to Help Keep Your Diet in Check

It’s almost Memorial Day, and you know what that means! Barbecues! But, for all of the fun that barbecues can be, they can wreak havoc on your diet. For those of us trying to get (or keep) our bodies looking good for summer, this can lead to all kinds of stress. While a good diet is essential to reaching your goals, one day won’t kill you if you keep your diet somewhat in check. Not only is it difficult to track every single gram of protein, fat, and carbs in the many homemade dishes being served, it’s awkward and you don’t want to become “that guy.” So how do you balance the stress of sticking to your diet and not freaking out when you deviate from it slightly? You compromise. Following the tips below, you’ll be able to eat as closely to your diet as possible without having to bring those dreaded Tupperware containers of chicken and broccoli to your Memorial Day BBQ. If you start to get stressed that you’ve gone too far off of your diet, remember that Memorial Day only comes once a year. Be mindful of what you’re eating but don’t stress!

Tip #1: Eat Your Burgers Without Buns

If your normal daily carbohydrate allowance lets you have the bread, go for it. For many of us who are eating low-carb diets, however, these buns are sure to send our carbs way over our daily allowance. This is why eating burgers without the buns is an easy way to stick closely to your diet. When it comes down to it, burgers are not that much different than the chicken breasts that many eat on the daily. There’s some extra fat for sure, but calories are still significantly lower than they would be for a burger with a bun. It’s an easy change that cuts out a ton of unnecessary calories!

Tip #2: Stay Away From the Pasta Salad

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Top 5 Pre-Workout Ingredients

There’s a lot more to a good pre-workout supplement than just a caffeine boost! Pre-workouts can help to boost muscle protein synthesis (mps), endurance, strength, pump, energy, even help to limit muscle soreness. Listed below in no particular order, are 5 of the top pre-workout ingredients on the market. If you’re looking to take your results to the next level, read on to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your pre-workout.

  1. Beta-alanine

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Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is taken up by muscle fibers where it will combine with histidine to create carnosine. Carnosine helps to buffer metabolic waste such as lactic acid, resulting in increased endurance, strength, power, and recovery. (1) The wide variety of proven benefits offered by beta-alanine make it a top pre-workout ingredient for anyone looking to boost their performance in the gym. Optimal dosage ranges from 2-5 g. (2) Some people prefer to split up these doses due to the tingling sensation (called paresthesia) that is often caused by taking large doses of beta-alanine. Don’t worry though, this is a harmless side effect that some people actually enjoy.

  1. Citrulline Malate

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Citrulline Malate (or L-Citrulline Malate) is simply the amino acid citrulline bonded to malic acid. Citrulline is one of the premiere pump-inducing ingredients on the market. A majority of arginine consumed is broken down by the liver long before it can cause an increase in NO levels (and give you a pump). Citrulline, however, bypasses the liver and is then converted to arginine within the body, and eventually to NO. In fact, citrulline has been shown to boost blood arginine levels more than citrulline itself! (3) Though L-Citrulline can provide great pumps on its own, combining citrulline with malate also provides the ATP boosting benefits of malate which helps to generate more ATP through the Krebs cycle to give you more energy. (4) Optimal dosage for L-citrulline itself is about 1-3 grams, while doses of citrulline malate should be about 6 grams in order to provide you with a full dose of L-citrulline (5). Also, look for citrulline-malate in a 2:1 ratio, meaning that there are 2 molecules of citrulline bonded to each molecule of malate, for optimal dosing.

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Going Slower for More Gains? The Benefits of Time Under Tension Training

I get it. It’s fun to go to the gym and bang out some quick reps. I never used to listen to people saying that it was better to go slow. Why would I go slow when I can do more reps if I go fast? Well, science has made it clear that more is not always better. The importance of quality reps over the quantity of the reps cannot be overstated. A 2011 study by Burd et al. showed that time under tension (TUT)  training led to increased muscle protein synthesis (MPS). (1) The study used 2 groups. One group performed leg extensions with a slow lifting movement (6 seconds up and 6 seconds down) while the other performed them with a fast lifting movement (1 second up and 1 second down). This means that training with a slow tempo causes increased MPS, leading to more gains in muscle!

How does TUT work?

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What is your WHY?

Working out is hard. It’s tough, painful, time-consuming, and exhausting. Exercise is both physically and mentally demanding. So why even do it? That’s a question that you must ask yourself. As cliché as it is: when you want to give up, remember why you started. For many of us, we started working out to change our appearance and gain confidence. A lot of us (myself included) started working out to attract attention from the opposite sex. Some of us started working out simply to be healthier. Whatever your why is, remember it. Write it down. Look at it every day. With each decision you make, think about how it will affect your why. If it isn’t helping you to achieve your goals, why do it?

Do you know your why? Without a clearly defined reason to push yourself it is almost impossible to stay motivated. If you don’t have a clear why, take 10-15 minutes to define it. Everyone’s why can be reduced down to one thing: being successful. Picture your own personal image of success and compare it to where you are right now. That jump that you want to make from your current situation to your ultimate vision of success; that is your why. Remember the image of your why, write it down if possible. Every time you think about your why associate it with what you personally define as success. Picture reaching your goals so vividly and so frequently that when you finally reach them, it feels like déjà vu. This is a key to success. Without a clearly defined vision of success, you will never know what you’re reaching for. Know that your why may change over time, as mine certainly has, but never stop striving to reach your goals.

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Old School Arm Workout

Today we’re throwing it back to the Golden Era of Bodybuilding, the era of greats such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbo, Lou Ferrigno, and Frank Zane. The list of legends from this time period goes on forever and their impact is still felt today. Many of today’s gym-goers are still influenced by Arnold and other bodybuilders from this time. Well, if you want arms like Arnold, you have to train like Arnold. This workout is based on the training philosophies of these old school bodybuilders. They knew that the standard 3 sets of 10 wouldn’t give them the legendary status they sought. Golden Era bodybuilders focused heavily on volume, intensity, and contraction. We’ll be utilizing eccentrics (negatives), supersets, and multiple different angles to give you the old school arms you’ve always wanted.

 

Terms to know

-Superset: A superset is simply completing a set of two separate exercises back-to-back with no rest in between.

-Triset: A superset consisting of 3 movements

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The Benefits of Cheating

Cheating can be beneficial. I’m not talking about cheating on your significant other or cheating on a test. I’m not even talking about cheating on your diet (though we’ll discuss that in future articles). I’m talking about cheating on exercises in the gym. Though I have often been accused of being a “form Nazi,” even I see the benefits of strategically cheating and so should you!

I would first like to point out that I said strategically cheating! I’m not advocating half repping four plates on bench or ripping out a set of dumbbell curls that uses your lower back more than your arms. What I am advocating for is using a slight bit of momentum to assist you in the concentric portion of a movement (raising the weight), so that you can get more overload on the eccentric portion (lowering the weight). Let me explain:

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5 Training Tips for the Biggest Traps in the Gym

  1. Volume:

Far too often, people hinder the growth of their traps by not hitting them with enough volume! You wouldn’t hit a “chest day” by doing three sets of bench and leaving, would you? However, far too often people do just a few sets of shrugs once a week and that’s it! You don’t need to have a “traps day” as your trapezius muscle is involved in several back and shoulder movements, but you’re lying to yourself if you think that doing three sets of ten is going to get the job done.

2. Weight:

        It seems that there are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to trap training: heavy weight or high reps. This has progressed to the point where guys are either doing 5 reps with the worst form possible, or 100 reps with a weight that isn’t even challenging. Like any muscle group, the key to developing your traps is progressive overload. If the weight is so heavy that you’re having to recruit other muscle groups, less overload is placed on your actual traps. Similarly, if the weight is too light to cause any overload, you will not see any progress. Keep good form and use a weight that is challenging. In order to see the best results, vary between high and low rep exercises in order to keep your traps from adapting and shock them into growth.

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Biggest Mistakes on Leg Day

Stop wasting your leg days! Check out the tips below to make sure you’re not making these common mistakes, and take your leg gains to the next level!

  1. Only Using Machines:

Machines are great for isolating specific muscles within the leg, however, they remove all stress from stability muscles. Without strong stability musculature, your legs will not be very functional outside of the gym. Your likelihood of injury also skyrockets due to this lack of stability. On top of this, you will likely see far worse results as you will only be targeting specific muscles in your legs, rather than working the entirety of your legs as many free-weight movements allow. I know you can get a great workout on the leg press, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a better workout by doing squats.

2. Not Going HEAVY Enough

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