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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

The Incredible Bulk: What You Need to Know About Building Muscle

IMG_7072new.jpgFor years fitness enthusiasts have used the colder months of the year as an opportunity to put on muscle mass (or muscular hypertrophy) without having to expose the additional fat mass they have added in their attempt to grow bigger muscles. It’s traditional to believe one must participate in a “dirty bulk” followed by a “cutting phase,” which is a method used by many bodybuilders. Many of them will add an excessive amount of fat and muscle size, and then transition to their cutting phase, which consists of a decrease in body fat while attempting to maintain as much muscle as possible.

This method has been shown to be effective at developing “Quick Gaines”; however, the period of carrying excess fat is often not pleasing to the eye of the weightlifter.

Getting rid of the excess fat after you have obtained it may also be more challenging than you expect. If you are a guy or girl interested n muscle building this bulking season but would prefer not to pack on the extra fat mass as well, I’m here to break down how this can be done through various methods.

Two Methods for Building Muscles

There are two different types of muscle hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar.

  • Method 1: Sarcoplasmic is defined as an increase in muscle cell size due to an increase in the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid within a muscle cell, with little strength increase. This means a person is able to obtain bigger muscles through expanded muscle cell size without necessarily increasing the amount of strength and power the muscle can produce. This type of hypertrophy is often seen in bodybuilders as they are primarily concerned with increasing size for show purposes rather than worried about strength gains.
  • Method 2: Myofibrillar hypertrophy is defined as an increase in muscle size due to an increased number of actin and myosin contractile proteins. This type of hypertrophy does allow for an increase in strength. Myofibrillar training involves heavy weight with low rep ranges (specifically 3–7 reps). Because heavier weight is lifted, muscle size can increase as well as overall strength capabilities of the muscles being utilized. The formula is simple: bigger muscles allow for higher strength thresholds.

To get a better grasp on these two concepts, consider this image. One circle (muscle cell) increases due to increased volume (sarcoplasmic fluid), while the other increases in size due to increased concentration of myofibrils (actin and myosin).

Choosing Your Hypertrophy Method

IMG_7174.jpgSo which type of hypertrophy should you go for? That depends on what your personal goal is. Ask yourself these three quick questions before you approach method 1 or method 2:

  1. Do you wish to gain muscle size only for physique purposes, or do you wish to improve your strength as well? (Physique purposes = Sarcoplasmic; physique and strength purposes = Myofibrillar)
  2. Will I be more consistent/enjoy lifting heavy weight and fewer reps, or moderate to moderately heavy weight with a higher rep scheme? (Being able to remain consistent will play a huge role in the results you see.)
  3. What is the average time I will have to complete my workout? (If you have less than 1 hour you may want to go with higher-volume training. High-volume training calls for shorter rest periods due to faster muscle recovery vs. heavy load training, which requires longer rest periods due to slower muscle recovery. Higher volume/shorter rest period training also adds an element of cardiovascular conditioning as well due to an extended period of elevated heart rate.)

In my opinion, a strategic combination of both methods would be ideal for maximum functional hypertrophy. The Sarcoplasmic method ensures you are not just gaining muscle size, but also increasing cardiovascular conditioning. The myofibrillar method also allows for increased muscle size; however, your overall strength capacity will improve as well. Combining both methods together in a comprehensive exercise program will allow all aspects of muscle hypertrophy, strength, and cardiovascular conditioning to prevail.

Make an appointment today with a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist to figure out how to attack this bulking season!

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This blog was written by Darius Felix, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: winter muscle building hypertrophy building muscle bulking

Nutrition with Whole Foods: Winter Vegetables to Try

ThinkstockPhotos-636370602.jpgAre you uninspired on the vegetable front once the weather turns cold and the local fresh produce is no longer available? Luckily there are some hearty winter vegetables that I challenge you to try: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. These whole foods will add some variety to your current lineup—and help you get the nutrition you need more easily. Below are recipes to try.

Brussels Sprouts, Quinoa, and Cranberry Salad
Serves 4–6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed, then halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Toss the first 4 ingredients together until combined.
  2. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together to make the vinaigrette and pour over the salad.

 

Cauliflower Fried Rice
Serves 4ThinkstockPhotos-535428009.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup carrots, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium heat and drizzle in sesame oil. Add onion, peas, and carrots and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes; set aside.
  4. Slide veggie mixture to one side of the wok and add in the beaten eggs, scrambling until cooked through, and then incorporate with the veggies.
  5. Stir in cauliflower "rice" and pour the soy sauce over the top, mixing well.
  6. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until cauliflower is soft and tender.

 

Turkey Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup
Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package (14 oz.) smoked turkey sausage, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 4 cups torn kale leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 cups cubed potatoes
  • 32 oz. low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 2 cups skim milk (or alternative)
Instructions
  1. Melt butter and heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add diced onions, garlic, sliced smoked turkey sausage rounds, kale, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme; stir to combine and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in potatoes. Add chicken broth and milk; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until potatoes are fully cooked and tender. Remove rosemary sprig.

I hope you enjoy these winter veggie recipes and try one soon!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS nutrition recipes winter whole foods dietitian vegetables

Fighting Old Man Winter: Finding Motivation in Cold Weather

Thinkstock_469903225.jpgIt’s 5:00 a.m. It’s still pitch-black outside. You have a long day ahead. And the weather forecast on your phone tells you the high temperature for today will be 15 degrees? Talk about not wanting to get out from under those cozy, warm covers. Nevertheless, your day awaits, and you must get up, get going, and try not to think about taking a nap all day.

Just thinking about how cold it is outside can make it almost unbearable to go anywhere or do anything that involves opening your front door. However, you can fight back using your own attitude and mental toughness. Nothing can wear you down unless you let it.

Here are some helpful tips for fighting the winter blues and finding your motivation.

Keep Your Alarm Clock Away from Your Bed

Let’s face it: when that alarm goes off in the morning, all we want is 15 more minutes to sleep. Make yourself get up to turn off the alarm and avoid the temptation of hitting snooze and rolling over. (Here are some other alarm clock tricks from Lifehacker.)

Don’t Skip Workouts

It can be very tempting to just call it a day after work, or to sleep in for an extra hour rather than go to the gym and work out. You just have to keep focusing on your long-term goals and realize that there’s no way around the winter weather in the Midwest. You have to bundle up and keep working just as hard as you have been (maybe even harder with all the holiday food you may have eaten).

Plan Ahead for Warmer Weather

When you look outside and see snow falling and being blown about, you may find yourself daydreaming about warm weather and being outside doing fun things. This doesn’t have to discourage you! You should use these little fantasies to your advantage. Create a list of activities that you want to do once the weather warms up and allows for them. You really can trick your mind sometimes. If you put yourself somewhere mentally, you may start to forget all about where you really are. Sitting inside watching snowflakes fall slowly to the ground? No way; you’re hiking through the forest on a 78-degree day with a breeze hitting your face and cooling you off.

Keep Your House Well Lit

This may sound like an odd one, but it will make some sense with an explanation. Days are shorter during the winter, so there is less daylight. To avoid falling into a slump and calling it a day at 5:30pm, keep your house brightly lit to create something of an illusion that it is still daytime. Your brain can trick you sometimes, and if your house is dark, you might find yourself getting tired and lethargic when you still have things that need to be done (like going to the NIFS fitness center and working out).

***

There are plenty of benefits to sticking to your exercise routine through the winter. You will get to eat some holiday food without feeling quite so much guilt. You will stay ahead of the fitness curve while others fall off the tracks. You can use your New Year’s resolution(s) for something other than your fitness goals, because you haven’t broken stride and you’re already well on your way to achieving them.

So when Old Man Winter comes knocking on the door, you can leave a note saying “I’m at NIFS! Try again later!”

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This blog was written by Aaron Combs, NSCA CSCS and Health/Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: motivation goals winter morning workouts

Preparing for Cold-Weather Running

Okay, I know it’s not something we really want to talk, about but let’s face it: the Drumstick Dash and other holiday races are coming up, and I have a feeling it won’t be sunny and 85! I found some good tips on Runner’s World that I wanted to pass along about preparing to run in the cold. Hopefully some of these help as you join the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas races!

  • Arm your feet. Wear shoes with the least amount of mesh material. If you have GORE-TEX shoes, that should be your first pick. Wool socks are a must, and cover your feet with plastic bags if necessary.
  • Dress right. You want to make sure you stay warm, but not so warm that you sweat a lot and get a chill. Layers are important, and gloves and a hat are vital to keep those digits protected from the cold.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing. With it being so dark early in the evenings now, or if you run in the morning, wearing bright colors or a vest to stand out is a great idea. Also, if you are running in the dark, you may want to wear a headlamp or take a flashlight with you.
  • Warm up. The cold doesn’t feel so cold if you are warm when you go out.
  • Run into the wind first. If you have to run into the wind (I know, for some reason it always feels like you’re running into the wind!), get that done first so that when you are sweating, it doesn’t give you a chill.
  • Move past the speed. Cold-weather running isn’t usually for speed work; it’s a time for maintenance work.
  • Change clothes quickly post-run. Be sure to bring extra clothes and change as soon as you are done. Even if you plan to just jump into the car and go, get changed so you don’t get sick.
  • For more tips on dressing for winter running, see this NIFS blog post.

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 5.01.44 PM.pngThe 500 Festival Mini Marathon and Geist Marathon are just around the corner! Now is the time to plan your training program.

REGISTER NOW and take advantage of our Early bird pricing until 11/30/17 and you could win free training!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness running marathon training outdoors winter

Staying Motivated in Your Winter Workouts

Being someone who loves to run, especially outside, I understand the challenge of trying to keep up my motivation during those “indoor months” that have suddenly crept upon us. As is typical for the winter season, Americans report exercising less frequently. And according to a recent study, just from October to November, adults who reported exercising 30 minutes, three or more days a week, fell 3 percent.

122397958So how can we stay motivated for winter workouts? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Try something new that you have been putting off. Have you ever walked by the Zumba® class and thought, “Hmm, that looks like fun. Maybe I should go in and give it a try? Nah, I’ll go outside and run instead.” Or what about that spin class that you’ve been eyeing since you started coming to the gym? Find a class or an indoor fitness challenge that you have been interested in trying and have just continued to put it off.
  2. Build a personal workout calendar. With the hundreds of apps out there these days, this should be one of the easiest things to do. There are several that you can look up online, but check out the Workout Plan app if you need a good place to start. If you are a NIFS member, you can utilize our fitness assessment and exercise prescription at no additional cost. If you work out at another gym, see what services they have to offer to help you come up with a plan that’s right for you. No matter what you choose to do, have a plan in place and follow it to keep yourself on track.
  3. Find activities that you enjoy. One of the keys to staying motivated throughout the winter is to find things that you enjoy doing. You have to pick things that interest you and keep you wanting to come back to the gym. Maybe there is a program that you watch on TV every Tuesday night. Try coming during that time and watching it on one of the cardio machines. Or consider a weight training program or yoga that you have been putting off all summer long.
  4. Get a workout buddy. Finding someone to work out with you will really help those long winter months go by faster. If you have an accountability partner to meet you at the gym, that will help to get you there consistently.
  5. Sign up for a race. There are plenty of indoor events that you can sign up for, or register for a race during the spring to keep you in check. I know there are indoor triathlons within the Midwest that are a fun challenge to try if you have never done one before. You can always sign up for a race in a warmer state as well and make a little trip out of it.
  6. Try other outdoor activities. With all this being said, we don’t need to become hermits and lock ourselves indoors until May. Give some things a try that you haven’t done before, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and running. These things can all be just as fun if you are dressed properly!

I hope this list has given you some new ideas for exercising during these winter months! Find something to keep you motivated and continue to train hard. Don’t let yourself become one of those statistics in the study by letting exercise fall by the wayside during the cold months.


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Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Register today online!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise winter fitness motivation workouts winter skiing snowshoeing