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Powerlifting as a way to battle eating disorders

As an outsider to a particular sport, it can sometimes be hard to understand why the people that do it love what they do, especially something like Powerlifting!

Often, getting into new sports has the ability to do much more than build a strong and capable body – it can awaken you to new ways of thinking about yourself and help to battle the stresses of daily life by allocating time in the day just for you.

One of our Deadlift Divas, Grace, has kindly shared some of her reasons for getting into Powerlifting, and speaks about how this has helped her to overcome negative thoughts and feelings surrounding eating. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story with us!

How did you get into powerlifting?

I first got into Powerlifting by being introduced to the Deadlift Divas at MYGYM by a friend who ran an Acroyoga class. After going to the first session, meeting all the ladies and seeing how enthusiastic and supportive Christie (Diva leader) was, I couldn’t wait to go to the next class. The “bug” for me really happened when I entered my first competition, the training leading up to it and the atmosphere on the day – that was it for me, I knew this was something that I really loved and wanted to continue doing.

What attracted you to the sport?

I had wanted to get into lifting at the gym for a while, but had no idea where to start or what I was doing! So the taster session for Deadlift Divas was a god send. Initially what attracted me was the ability to gain strength – I’m a vet student so often have to deal with some rather large and strong animals! In the farming community especially, there was a stigma attached to female vets not being strong enough to do certain things, so I guess I wanted to prove them wrong. At the time I was also just out of recovering from an eating disorder, I’d spent so long being fragile and so this was another driver for me to get stronger.

What do you like most about lifting?

First and foremost is the fact it allows me to de-stress and focus. I know that when I step foot in the gym and walk up to the bar, whatever has been stressing me, causing me anxiety or to generally feel crappy goes out the window. For that hour and a half it allows me to clear my head, put my worries to one side and to really connect with myself.

Secondly, it allows me to appreciate what my body can do, instead of focusing negatively on how it looks, for example. Through powerlifting, I have increased my body confidence and self esteem ten-fold. This sport allows me day by day, week by week to get stronger both physically and mentally. I know that to lift I need to fuel myself adequately, this simple fact has helped me to tackle my eating disorder at times when previously I may have slipped back into “bad habits”. In fact, even when I have slipped into bad habits, Powerlifting has helped me to gain the courage to fight back against my disorder and get back on the recovery wagon.

Lastly, I adore the community and supportive environment it encourages. I have done 2 competitions now and it still amazes me how everyone cheers everyone else on, whether you lift just the bar or 3 times your body weight!  I guess it’s because everyone understands that each lifter is going through their own individual competition and everyone has their own personal battles. We are a small community so we are all supportive of each other, rather like one big family – which I love! I know that if I have an issue, whether that’s gym related or not, I have people I can turn to and people to listen.

Posted in Benchpress, Powerlifting, Training, Training Science, Uncategorized, Weightlifting Tagged with: , , ,

MYGYM’s Edmond Avetisyan comes second in Olympic Lifting British Championships

MYGYM regular Edmond Avetisyan came second last weekend in the Olympic Lifting British Championships.

Ed’s category (94 kg) was first to compete with an early 9 am start. He snatched 147 kg which placed him first. However, during the clean and jerks, his opener of 180 kg went very well, but the jump to 187 kg irritatingly left Ed missing the jerk.

There were a few hitch-ups with his final clean,  but overall coming in second was an incredible achievement!

Ed is now focusing on the under 23 Europeans in a few weeks’ time. Wishing him the best of luck and expect an update here!

Posted in Olympic Lifting, Training, Uncategorized, Weightlifting

Arching in the Bench Press: why the controversy?

The Girls Who Powerlift blog has just published a new article about arching in the Bench Press by state champion Powerlifter Christina Myers.

Women do seem to get a hard wrap for benching with an arch, even though many male Powerlifters do it too. I’ve found that lots of guys like to comment on how you are benching in a rather irritating, faux-concerned way: ‘is it safe to be doing that?’ and ‘watch your back!’ are just a few of the responses that I have experienced, and I’m definitely not alone!

Hopefully this article provides some food for thought and may be a way of explaining why it is not a concern to those kind souls who are just so worried about our back health.

Please drop a comment below if you’ve anything to add – it would be great to get a discussion going!

 

 

Posted in Benchpress, Powerlifting, Training, Weightlifting Tagged with: , ,

Weekend of achievements for Bristol Barbell Club members

Last weekend a team of our very own Deadlift Divas and one honorary deadlift ‘Dude’ took what appeared to be every medal going at the Knights Gym Powerlifting competition in Cheltenham!

The team absolutely smashed it, with many of the members having never competed before. Christie Civetta and Matt Watson were on hand to coach them to success and by all accounts the well-deserved Frankie and Benny’s ice cream sundae went down a treat afterwards!

Personal bests were hit by everyone! Hayley Muir won gold in the -52kg class, Deepali Lodhia won Bronze in the -63kg, Emma Shepherd tied for gold in the -72kg, and Kieran won silver in the -83kg class! Well done everyone!

Deepali and Kieran typically compete in Taekwondo competitions, but it just goes to show that strength transfers to strength because they did so blimmin’ well.

In other news, Christie took home a silver medal and broke the divisional record in the English Bench Press Championships last Saturday – hitting an incredible 85kg bench in the open 72kg class!

MYGYM veteran George also competed in the Central Masters Championship in Birmingham where he broke two British Masters records for Olympic weightlifting in the 94kg 60-65 age group. He achieved a 90kg snatch and 105kg clean & jerk!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Powerlifting at MYGYM, please contact us.

Posted in Benchpress, Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, Training, Weightlifting Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Bristol Barbell Club updated!

Hey guys

Its been awhile, over a year in fact since the last post. We hope many of you have been staying tuned via our social media pages (main ones Instagram and Facebook).

As most of our members know, we are part of MYGYM and most updates re the gym and Bristol Barbell club now show up on MYGYM’s blog via MYGYM-Bristol.co.uk/Blog/ mostly written by the awesome Anona.

With the above being said, we will strive to be more active on the original club website here, though most likely the same blog updates will be shared from MYGYM.

Anyway, hope you all have a great week and don’t forget to Vote on the 8th June 2017!

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We are now Bristol Barbell Club

Hi guys

Activity on our website has been low for the past year, a lot has been happening behind the scenes.

We now have a bigger weightlifting area, our club is now a good mix of both Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting athletes.

Listening to our members we thought it would be best to do a name change to encompass the club as a whole, perviously known as Bristol Weightlifting Club, we are now “Bristol Barbell Club”.

Club nights are now as follows:

Olympic Weightlifting: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 6-9pm

Powerlifting: Tuesday and Thursdays 7-10pm

As usual, out of club training slots, experienced members are welcome to us the weightlifting area for extra training.

Bristol Barbell Club membership is only £30 per month on a rolling monthly contract with MYGYM Bristol, you can join via www.mygym-bristol.co.uk 

We are on social media, remember to follow us! We are on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Tips for Olympic Weightlifting

Tips for Olympic Weightlifting
Olympic Weightlifting
Olympic weightlifting is an athletic discipline that requires individual to lift weights in a single lift placed upon a barbell. There are two types of lifts in this competition that are called snatch and clean and jerk. The lift where the individual takes the barbell in an overhead position in single motion is called jerk. On the other hand, the weight is held on the shoulders for some time before standing up to take it overhead in the lift called clean and jerk. Many athletes practice this fantastic sport to help them with explosive and strength increasing reasons. Almost all can benefit from Olympic Lifts.

The right gym with the right atmosphere
Looks can be very deceiving. When you look at the participants lifting barbells in these two types of lifts during Olympics on television, you think it is a very easy sport. However, it takes years of weightlifting and dedication to be able to compete at the highest level in this sport. More than anything else, it requires proper training under the watchful eyes of an experienced weightlifter and coach to be able to lift weights in the right manner.  At MYGYM Bristol Gym “Bristol Weightlifting Club”, training is imparted in Olympic weightlifting to people who are desirous of lifting weights. Find out more about our gym at Weightlifting at MYGYM Bristol

It is a gym that is not only meant for general fitness but also to help people desirous of making a mark in various  other sporting events such as weightlifting and martial arts.

Proper training under an experienced coach
If you are desirous of learning weightlifting, it is important to join a gym where there is proper environment and the essential equipment to be able to lift the weights in the correct manner. There are many other things like your diet and other exercises that are necessary for a budding weight lifter. At MyGym in Bristol, you will get all help and assistance from experienced weightlifting coaches to learn weightlifting. Lifting heavy weights requires great strength in your shoulders and arms but it also requires strength in your thighs and legs. This is the reason why your coach will tell you to do front squats as much as you can to increase strength in your legs.

Your weightlifting coach will also check your action while lifting weights and rectify it to make it smooth and correct. This is very necessary as unnecessary effort is wasted in lifting a weight if this action and the technique of lifting are not perfect. Once you know the technique, you are ready to increase the weights to lift more. You will also learn about the importance of proper diet and weightlifting gear to become a successful weightlifter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Protein Spiking, a PSA

About a week ago in the first part of the supplements that don’t suck series, the issue of protein spiking, a process by which supplement companies dilute their products, was briefly mentioned. With a new wave of protein spiking related lawsuits currently being launched against companies as large as MusclePharm, it would be prudent to take a break from the supplements that don’t suck series in order to delve in to this issue.

Protein spiking is a process that takes advantage of Kjeldahl method, a which measures the nitrogen content of a substance. Since proteins are composed of long chains of amino acids, and amino acids contain nitrogen, the Kjeldahl method is used to get a rough idea of how many grams of protein something contains. When designing the test over 100 years ago, Johan Kjeldahl set eggs and meat, each with a 6.25 conversion ratio of nitrogen to protein, as the standard for testing foodstuffs. Doing the math the other way, we find that dietary protein is therefore, on average, 16% protein (16%x6.25=100%).

Simple enough.

However, not all amino acids have the same nitrogen to protein ratio as meat does. Glycine, for example, is 18.66% nitrogen by weight. For every gram of glycine, the Kjeldahl method registers 1.16g protein. Creatine is even higher in nitrogen by weight, and every gram of creatine registers as 1.8g of protein. Other cheaper aminos register as less, but they nevertheless contribute to the overall nitrogen content determined by the Kjeldahl method.1

Now, if you’re a supplement manufacturer operating in a marketplace with little regulation, what do you do with this knowledge?

Well, if you’re a company run by good people who don’t lie and cheat and steal, nothing; you continue as you were, selling whey to people just looking to get their gainz on.

If you’re a company run by dicks, you add cheap aminos to your product, increasing the nitrogen concentration and tricking people in to thinking they’re buying more protein than they actually are. With the money you save, you can even license the face of a famous bodybuilder to make people think you’re legit.

Unfortunately, it’s not just supplement companies using this technique.

In 2008, Chinese authorities executed two people, and imprisoned five others, after they discovered that 22 companies were using melamine, an organic base containing 66% nitrogen by weight (1g melanine Kjeldahl methods as 4.1g protein), as a spiking agent in baby formula. Six infants died as a result of kidney damage, and over 54,000 were hospitalized.2

Though nothing meriting an execution has yet occurred in the west (though I wouldn’t put it past /r/bodybuilding), it does make one wonder why there isn’t more regulation in place to protect consumers, as the problem is endemic to the industry.

The best published analysis so far of protein quality was done by Labdoor, after a diligent redditor with lab access found some pretty suspicious things going on with protein samples that he requested from other redditors. Labdoor followed up, and these are the results3:

Labdoor Protein Analysis

Click to enlarge

Keep in mind, some of the products listed contain carbs as a stated ingredient, so a product like cytogainer may not be such a rip off as it first seems.

If you’re suspicious of a protein mix not on this list, there’s a couple of things you can do. The easiest thing to do is to look at the ingredients on the package.

“We typically see two situations:

  1. The disputed amino acid is within a “protein blend”

    In this case, you’ll see a product whose label looks something like this:

    Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Glutamine Peptides, L-Leucine, Egg Albumen, Whey Peptides, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine), Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), etc etc etc

  2. The disputed amino acid comes after the dietary proteins

    Here’s an example:

    Protein Blend (Whey Protein Concentrate, Brown Rice Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Egg Albumin, Milk Protein Isolate, Partially Hydrolyzed Whey Protein), Taurine, Glucose Polymer, Cocoa Powder (Dutch Process), L-Glutamine, etc etc etc…

In either example, it’s really not possible to tell how much “watering down” is being done, because the whole batch of ingredients are counted as “proteins”. For all we know, they could each be in equal dosing!”4

Slightly more difficult, but still fairly easy, is to compare the amino acid profile printed on the product with a the known amino acid profile of whatever protein you are buying. Simply googling “amino acid profile casein”, for example, will give you an idea of what you’re looking for. In many cases though, the amino acid profile of a protein will not be printed on the product itself, which alone should be enough of a red flag to warrant finding a different brand.

Finally, avoid buying non meat based protein supplements with taurine or creatine in the ingredients or amino profile. Neither is naturally occurring in non meat sources, and both will throw off the Kjeldahl method.

Until regulators step up their game, the onus is on the customer to make sure they’re not being ripped off.

Good luck.

 

WORKS CITED

1, 4: https://blog.priceplow.com/protein-scam-amino-acid-spiking
2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chinese_milk_scandal
3: http://blog.chaosandpain.com/monday-quickie-picking-a-protein-thats-actually-a-protein-and-not-rich-gasparis-poor-facsimile-thereof/ (probably NSFW)

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Supplements that don’t suck part 2

Oh hey there. In the last installment of this series, we covered the current state of the supplement industry (a disaster), and why taking creatine is a good idea. In this installment, we’ll be looking at two more supplements that are easy on the wallet, but give huge rewards. If you’ve not read the first post, go give it a look.

WHEY PROTEIN

Forget what Chest Day Mcgee down at the GNC told you about whatever bug based protein that the kipping muscle-up crowd is in to these days, and save the hemp protein for the vegans. Whey is the king of proteins.

How can I make such a claim? Let me count the reasons.

  • Whey protein increases more satiety more than any other protein supplement, even casein.1
  • Whey protein has more of the BCAAs that drive muscle protein synthesis, like leucine, isoleucine, and valine than other protein supplements.2
  • Whey protein has a higher concentration of essential amino acids than other protein supplements.3
  • Whey protein increases satiety for longer than other protein supplements, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.4
  • Whey protein is cheap

So what can whey do for you?

Quite a bit, actually.

For most of us, hitting daily protein can be a pain in the ass. If you manage to do it with whole foods, more power to you, but for we mere mortals, having a way to quickly and cheaply supplement your daily protein needs can be a godsend. Whey bought in bulk from an online retailer runs as cheap as 1 pence per gram of protein. Barring foods like liver from non-organic cows (which you shouldn’t be eating for health reasons), canned tuna (which you shouldn’t be eating for ethical reasons), and battery farmed chicken scraps (both, plus ew gross), there is no cheaper form of whole protein on the market.

Whey is also a time saver. 1.5 scoops of whey and a flapjack has been my go to road meal for a while now, netting 45 grams protein, 53 grams carbs, and 18 grams fat, not bad for 2 minutes work and a pound or so.

You can also get fairly creative with whey. Proats should be one of your go to breakfasts, and if you’ve not tried them, you really haven’t lived. Simply make porridge, leave it to cool for a little while, and then add 1-2 scoops of whatever flavour whey you choose (chocolate works best). Whey goes well when mixed with a bit of not too hot coffee, and you can even add it to cold cereal.

People with lactose intolerance can have issues with whey concentrate, so I would suggest they get their hands on whey isolate. A bit more expensive, but still does the trick. Those unfortunate few with an allergy to beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, or bovine serum albumin are shit out of luck though. Your best bet would be to play around with finding a good rice/pea protein mix. The amino profile isn’t as good as whey, but it’s not bad compared to all your other options, and pretty cheap to boot.

Finally, a note on whey farts: they happen. The best way to avoid them is not to take whey on an empty stomach, or to get whey isolate rather than concentrate.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D, though a little pricier than the other supplements we are covering, is on this list because of how beneficial it is, and how much it sucks to be deficient. Vitamin D deficiency has symptoms including:

  • “Rickets, a childhood disease characterized by impeded growth, and deformity, of the long bones.”5
  • “Osteomalacia a bone-thinning disorder that occurs exclusively in adults and is characterized by proximal muscle weakness and bone fragility.”6
  • “Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility.”7
  • “Muscle aches and weakness (in particular proximal limb girdle).”8
  • “Muscle twitching.”9
  • “Light-headedness.”10

Worse still, “pilot studies and regional monitoring suggests that vitamin D deficiency is likely to affect at least half the UK’s white population, up to 90% of the multi-ethnic population, and a quarter of all children living in Britain.”11

While it is tempting to blame the UK’s “unique” weather for these rates, the problem may have more to do with our current lifestyle and less with the fact that it’s always cloudy. Given that vitamin D deficiency rates are high in Miami,12 and that more than a third of Australians 25 years and under are deficient,13 the problem may stem more from staying indoors all day than from the local climate.

But really, who could blame us?

So what will supplementing do for you, asides from preventing rickets? Quite a bit. Before reading this list, please keep in mind that the evidence presented below merely shows a correlation between vitamin D levels in serum and the effect noted, not a causal link between supplementing and the effect. There is a chance that any one of these studies could simply be noting a coincidence. Or, it could be the case that raising your vitamin D serum levels will confer these benefits. Given the data, I think the latter of these possibilities is more likely, but the caveat seemed like best practice. In any case, vitamin D:

  • Reduces all cause mortality (the chance that you will die, for any given reason, at any given time)14,15
  • An increase in testosterone and a decrease in sex hormone binding protein, “even after BMI, smoking, alcohol, beta-blockers and diabetes were controlled for.”16,17
  • Inversely correlated with risk of breast cancer.18
  • Reduces symptoms of depression in teenagers.19
  • Protects against multiple sclerosis.20
  • May improve sleep quality.21
  • Reduces the risk of cardiac disease.22

Further, low vitamin D is hypothesized to increase the risk of obesity, though the link is pretty tenuous.23

DOSING

Vitamin D, like fish oil, should be taken with a form of fat to improve bioavaliability, or as part of a meal containing fat. Though the current USFDA recommendation is to get 400-800IU/day, this is barely enough for maintenance, and those with suboptimal levels need to supplement more aggressively. The upper limit for safe supplementation is 10,000IU/day, and the lowest effective dose range is 1000-2000IU/day.24 To be honest, pull a number out of your hat, on the high side between those ranges, and go from there. I have personally taken 35,000IU/day, twice a week, since I generally do what Charles Poliquin tells me to, but since I can’t find any hard data on it, I wouldn’t suggest it to others. I’m mentioning it simply as a way to tell you that you shouldn’t worry about going up to 10,000IU/day. Do not go wild and start taking 35,000IU/day every day though, overdosing on vitamin D is no fun.

When buying vitamin D, make sure you’re getting cholacalciferol, and not ergocalciferol, since you get more bang for your buck with the former.

There is anecdotal evidence that taking vitamin D before bed may disrupt sleep,25 and since placebo has a 50% success rate, and you’ve just read this whole sentence, you should probably take it in the day.

NEXT WEEK

In the next installment of this series, we’ll be looking at another two supplements before opening up to reader suggestions, which you can post on our facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BristolWeightliftingClub

Thanks for reading!

 

Works Cited:

1, 2, 3, 4: Feigenbaum, Jordan. MD: http://www.barbellmedicine.com/nutrition/7-rules-to-optimize-protein-intake/
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypovitaminosis_D Retrieved March 9th, 2015
11, 13: Blair, Mitch. PhD: Action needed on Vitamin D http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20710026
12: Gonzalez, Diana: Are People Short on Vitamin D in Sunny South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Are-People-Short-on-Vitamin-D-in-Sunny-South-Florida-136853473.html
14: Melamed ML, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population. Arch Intern Med. (2008)
15: Ford ES, et al. Vitamin D and all-cause mortality among adults in USA: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality Study. Int J Epidemiol. (2011)
16: http://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/
17: Wehr E, et al. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). (2010)
18: Garland CF, et al. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2007)
19: Högberg G, et al. Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta Paediatr. (2012)
20: Salzer J1, et al. Vitamin D as a protective factor in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. (2012)
21: Gominak SC, Stumpf WE. The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Med Hypotheses. (2012)
22. Wang L, et al. Systematic review: Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in prevention of cardiovascular events. Ann Intern Med. (2010)
23. Foss YJ. Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of common obesity. Med Hypotheses. (2009).
24: http://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/#howtotake
25: http://examine.com/faq/when-should-i-take-vitamin-d.html

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , ,

Supplements that don’t suck part 1

Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time. You can thank the muscle magazines for these persistent misconceptions, along with the natural tendency of all normal humans to seek reasons to avoid hard physical exertion. – Mark Rippetoe

Who doesn’t love supplements? Or that feeling of going in to a supplement store and looking at all the shiny things with pictures of muscles, improvised explosive devices, and fierce animals on them. It’s like a candy store for lifters, and if the market is any indication, people like it that way. In the UK alone, the supplement industry is worth more than ninety-one million pounds as of 2009.1

These figures should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with coaching or training noobs. They’re always looking for some silver bullet to get ahead. It is a hard sell to tell people that 99% of it comes down to lifting heavy things, moving quickly, eating right, and sleeping well.

Or, as Rip puts it so succinctly above, being uncomfortable. Even advanced athletes can fall in to this trap, but again, it’s understandable. It ain’t easy to be swole, and between working a full time job, looking after any kids you may have, and paying enough attention to your SO that they don’t mind your weird tendency to consume all your meals in shake form, it can be tempting to optimize your gainzZz by consuming the newest formulation of deer antler fur and pine pollen, or whatever new supplement Tim Ferriss is promising will turn you in to a six-packed-pizza-eating-polyglot-love-machine.

But we all know deep deep down that most of it is garbage. People have been getting jacked for millenia without needing beta-alanine and a peri-workout shake to do it.

Sidenote: the ideal male physique prior to the invention of the bench press.

Sandow being a notable example,

Eiferman being another,

and the Navvies rounding out the field. Navvies were “expected to be able to lift nearly twenty tons of earth per day onto a wagon, using a shovel. It was acknowledged that the toughest agricultural workers were completely incapable of keeping up with seasoned navvies; it took a year to turn a man into a navvy, a human machine fuelled by meat and beer, the most obdurate specimen of human brawn the world has ever seen, and one of the most universally despised by the rest of society.” 2

While Brunel was lounging in Clifton, the navvies were out, drinking 15 pints of beer a day, eating a ton of meat, and building the rail lines that underpin England to this day.

That’s right. Beer and meat.

For more fun, let’s take a look at the Saxon Trio, some of the first celebrity strongmen on the Vaudeville circuit.

“For breakfast they ate 24 eggs and 3 pounds of smoked bacon; porridge with cream, honey, marmalade and tea with plenty of sugar. At three o’clock they had dinner: ten pounds of meat was consumed with vegetables (but not much potatoes); sweet fruits, raw or cooked, sweet cakes, salads, sweet puddings, cocoa and whipped cream and very sweet tea. Supper, after the show, they had cold meat, smoked fish, much butter, cheese and beer. Following this they had a chat and at one o’clock went to bed.” 3

With a 203kg two hands overhead anyhow, I think Arthur Saxon did alright without beta-alinine. Though he did drink a shake made of stout, gin, egg yolk, and sugar. 4

ad39a_ORIG-healthdrink

Probably best to not take pre workout.

The point of all this isn’t to suggest we all start replicating the navvy diet, but just to show that even in sub-optimal conditions, the human body is capable of astounding levels of muscular development, strength, and endurance.

So why the supplements? Because some of them do work. If you’ve read my posts in the past, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of the natural for its own sake. There are some supplements out there that you really should explore. However, the supplement industry itself is a clusterfuck of false advertising, snake oil, overhyped data, and broken hopes and dreams.

Part of it is the fault of muscle magazines and websites like T-Nation. Funded largely by companies wanting to advertise supplements, it is extremely unlikely to find an unbiased opinion regarding supplements from either of these sources, or an editorial advising the reader to buy a cheaper option when more expensive ones exist.

In large part though, the fault lies with the failure of regulators. In the UK, supplements merely have to be shown to be safe for human consumption according to the 1990 Food Safety Act5 and the EU’s Food Supplements Directives Act.6 So long as they don’t make medical claims (ie: cures diabetes), companies can say just about anything (ie: burns fat, increases lean mass), and there is little in the way of proof that they need to offer. Things are looser still in the US, and a recent study by the New York Attorney General’s Office found 79% of supplements tested lacked the primary ingredient on the label.7

Even more insidious is protein spiking.

Protein spiking is where a protein manufacturer adds amino acids that are cheaper than the base protein powder it’s actually selling in order to increase the product’s nitrogen content. When this is done, the company is able to lower the cost of goods. A basic test for total nitrogen is often used to quantify the amount of protein per serving, and this test can be cheated by using cheap amino acids to spike the nitrogen content. The problem is that the inclusion of odd amino acids usually has nothing to do with increasing the performance of the whole protein itself, and it usually makes key ratios such as BCAA content go down, which is a total rip-off.8

So what’s a lifter to do? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that my usual answer is to look at the evidence, but really, that’s what I’m paid to do so you don’t have to. Thus, for the next few weeks, we will be looking at what supplements actually work, with a focus on getting the best bang for your buck. In this first installment, we’ll be getting to my personal favorite organic acid, creatine.

Creatine

Good ol’ creatine. A performance enhancer, muscle builder, and nootropic. I think Kurtis Frank puts it best: “If humans didn’t make any in the body, this thing would be a vitamin.”9 It is the most studied sports supplement in existence, and yet I still have to hear an earful from my mother every time she finds out I’m using it.

Sir’s /fit/ comic

It is, however, not a steroid (organic chemistry 101 people), it doesn’t cause kidney damage even in populations with a single kidney,10 it doesn’t cause cancer and in fact lessens the side effects of the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin,11 and it probably won’t make you go bald. Probably.

In layman’s terms, creatine works by facilitating the body’s production of ATP. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the most easily accessed form of cellular energy. When a phosphate group is cleaved from ATP, it is converted into adenosine diphosphate, or ADP, and energy is released. You know that gassed feeling you get when you’re on rep 4 or 5 of a heavy set? It comes from a lack of ATP. Creatine, when stored in the body as creatine phosphate, provides a readily accessible phosphate group for the conversion of ADP back in to ATP.

Supplementing creatine:

  1. Increases power output.12
  2. Increases neuromuscular function (as measured by peak torque [+34%] and time to reach peak torque [-54.7%].13
  3. Increases muscular endurance in trained athletes.14
  4. Increases testosterone when combined with weight training more than weight training on its own.15
  5. Decreases cortisol when combined with weight training more than weight training on its own.16

So I think it’s safe to say that you should be getting your hands on some. Of especial interest to weightlifters should be point 2, since a reduction of time to reach peak torque can do loads for helping your snatch and clean.

Luckily for you, the most effective form of creatine also happens to be the cheapest. None of the fancy creatines advertised on T-Nation or in muscle magazines has ever been shown to be more effective than creatine monohydrate.17 Ordering online, you can get a 1 kilo bag of the stuff that should last more than half a year, and will come out to .05 pence per 5g serving.

A lot is made out of loading protocols and the need to cycle, but most of it is horseshit invented by supplement manufacturers looking for a marketing gimmick. Since people cycle steroids, perhaps they thought that telling people they had to cycle creatine as well because “omg the gainzZz” seemed like a good ploy. If you really want to load, or are a vegetarian, .3g per kg bodyweight a day for a week should do it. Otherwise, 5g daily, taken with a meal, is adequate.

That about covers it for this installment. In part two, we’ll be looking at protein supplements and vitamin D. If you’d like to suggest a supplement for part three, hit us up on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BristolWeightliftingClub

 

Works Cited:

1. Soteriou, Helen. Muscle supplement industry going mainstream. BBC News, 15th February, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12277808

2. http://old.qi.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=4970&start=0

3, 4. Gaudreau, Leo. THE SAXON TRIO: What they ate & how they trained. Muscle Power Magazine, date unknown.

5. Vitamins and Supplements – UK – September 2014. Retrieved from: http://store.mintel.com/vitamins-and-supplements-uk-september-2014 March 3rd, 2015

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_supplement

7. Salzberg, Steven. A Really Bad Week for the Supplements Indusry. Forbes Online, February 2nd, 2015

8. http://muscle-insider.com/content/protein-spiking

9. http://examine.com/supplements/Creatine/

10. Gualano B., et al. Effect of short-term high-dose creatine supplementation on measured GFR in a young man with a single kidney. Am J Kidney Dis. (2010)

11. Santos RV., et al. Chronic supplementation of creatine and vitamins C and E increases survival and improves biochemical parameters after Doxorubicin treatment in rats. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. (2007)

12. Kendall KL et al. Effects of four weeks of high-intensity interval training and creatine supplementation on critical power and anaerobic working capacity in college-aged men.

13. Bazzucchi I., et al. Effect of short-term creatine supplementation on neuromuscular function. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Oct;41(10):1934-41.

14. Chilibeck PD., et al. Effect of in-season creatine supplementation on body composition and performance in rugby union football players.

15, 16. Arazi H., et al Effects of short term creatine supplementation and resistance exercises on resting hormonal and cardiovascular responses Science & Sports

17. http://examine.com/faq/what-is-the-best-form-of-creatine.html

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