How To Build Muscle Safely
Building and maintaining muscle is critical for us males for several important
1) Muscle burns fat. It is much easier to gain weight with a low muscle to
fat ratio. Have you ever felt like you just can’t lose weight even when
you cut back on calories? Well, if you’ve lost a lot of your muscle
mass, what do you expect? Muscle is your body’s fat burner.
2) The evidence strongly indicates that
Weight Lifting is a long term
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3) Weight lifting builds strength and strength has now been associated with
decreased mortality. Read this important link on
Weight Lifting for more details.
4) Muscle is a confidence builder. Even a little muscle building will make
you look ten to twenty (or more) years younger. Let's
face it: flat and flabby make you look worse to most women out there and
you know it and she knows it. Just a little work with the iron and you can
transform your appearance remarkably.
5) Muscle can also keep you from getting hurt. Building up the muscles around
the knee keeps your from knee injuries. Building the lower back muscles
will keep you from injuring yourselves on the weekend.
6) Strength is important during sex. Core strength and endurance is very
important for many positions and a flabby, weak musculature isn't going to do
the trick many times.
So how does one put on muscle easily and safely? It's no secret that you
have to do strength or resistance training in order to stress the muscles and
get them to grow. And the classic form of strength training is lifting
weights of course.
Of course, you don't have to lift weights to put on muscle: just look at
the Olympic male gymnasts or the legs of speed skaters. For most guys,
though, weight training is the easiest way to do the exercising portion of
gaining muscle. Unfortunately, many guys are intimidated by weight, but it
does not have to be complicated nor overly time consuming. In fact, let's start
out with weight lifting basics
for those of you new at this game:
a) Resistance exercise, i.e. weight/machine/cable training, for 3+ sets and about
8-10 reps (covering, of course, all the basic muscle groups). There are many
variations of this including Volume, but this is the starting point for most
b) Increasing weight for #1 from week to week
c) Ample protein of at least 1 g per pound of body weight. The standard
rule of thumb is that if you weigh 180 pounds,
you should eat 180 g of protein/day. My experience is that you do not have
to eat this much. (NOTE: I recommend egg whites, grains, legumes and
beans for your protein sources with occasional low fat dairy as well.) CAUTION:
Consumption of a Pre-Workout Protein Drink or Meal
is common but potentially dangerous.
d) Consumption of about 300-400 additional calories per day than normal in order
to build the muscle tissue
d) Variation of your routine each month or two (including reps and exercises)
CAUTION: Avoid low carb diets if you want to put on muscle.
Carbohydrates have been found to be just as critical to muscle growth and
recovery as protein.  Those with adequate carbohydrates had improved
protein synthesis, which is critical for rebuilding muscle tissue. (See my page
on other Potential Dangers of Low Carb or Atkins Diets as well.)
That's it. Almost anyone of any age can put on some muscle mass using this
simple formula. It's definitely more difficult as the decades roll by, but
certainly possible. Jack LaLanne is a prime example of this. (Of course, you must make sure you have adequate testosterone
and growth hormone levels!)
By the way, you do not need to train with weights like a wild man, yelling and
screaming and punishing every muscle fiber masochistically. Some body builders
insist that "training to failure", as it is called, is the only system that will
work. In fact, the studies show quite a different story. One 2008
study showed that training to failure was no better than a system that relied on
a fixed number of reps and sets. (What really matters is muscle tension, which I
cover in more detail in my section on Volume.)
Did you know that you can raise and lower your testosterone based on the foods you eat?
And did you know that boosting testosterone through diet in the wrong way can
lead to erectile dysfunction? Read about the High
Testosterone Diet to find out how to improve both your testosterone AND your sex life.
When you're in your twenties, a basic program like the
above will leave you exploding with muscle. A 25 year old male can generally
put on ten pounds of muscle almost overnight. When the forties or fifties
(and beyond) hit, the gains come much more slowly, but they still come.
So we can all gain mass, look twenty years younger and be happy, right? Well,
the answer is "yes", but only if you do it right. there is a little
more to the story. The problem can occur with c) above:
consumption of all that protein.
Consider the problems with some of the proteins:
1. Beef. Range fed beef cooked
with low heat is very healthy in many ways. But even under those ideal
conditions, it will probably have significant saturated fat, which will cause most urban dwellering
males trouble in terms of heart disease and
erectile dysfunction. I cover all of this in greater detail in my
Beef and Eggs link and this link on
the Great Diet Smackdown.
2. Chicken, Turkey and Egg Yolks.
According to David Chilton, author of Inflammation Nation, these foods are
loaded with inflammatory messengers. Flooding the body with these often overloads our systems,
helping to lead to the recurrent inflammatory state that is
so common in western societies and has been shown recently to be one of the root causes of our current epidemic
of autoimmune and heart diseases.
3. Fish. Most fish, be it
farm or fresh, is loaded with Mercury, heavy metals and PCB's. It simply is
not safe to eat more than once (or at most twice) per week.
Milk / Casein. Watch out for milk protein. Dairy
has been implicated as being a strong risk factor for
And a recent animal study shows that casein, a.k.a. milk protein, actually
lowered the Nitric Oxide levels of lab animals. I know of
no studies that directly correlate dairy with erectile dysfunction, but you do
not want to rely on anything that lowers your precious Nitric Oxide levels. 
That leaves us with egg whites and maybe some low fat dairy - not too
much because of the Protate Cancer connection - for our day-to-day use.
So how much protein do we really want? Well, first of all, several studies have shown that higher protein levels, actually higher
protein/carbohydrate dietary ratios, are associated with a decrease in testosterone.
One study demonstrated that a low-protein diet (10% of total energy) was associated
with higher levels of testosterone compared with a diet higher in protein (44% of
total energy).  And another study ten years later verified
the same thing.  But it should
be pointed out that a more recent study  showed that SHBG was improved - SHBG binds to
testosterone which is bad - which should improve free testosterone, the kind of
testosterone that is available to build mass.
So what is the answer? Well, if you want to put on muscle I would point
out that the most critical time for protein is right before your workout and
right after. This is the rule of thumb: eat some protein and carbs
right 45 minutes before your workout and 45 minutes after. You want enough
carbs to stimulate insulin, which pushes amino acids and nutrients into your
muscle cells, and enough protein so that you have a ready supply of amino acids
available to build those new muscle fibers.
Again, many studies have shown that it is protein (and some carbohydrates) pre
and post workout that really count. One recent study actually fed weight
lifters every fifteen minutes during a two hour workout and found that it
reduced protein breakdown by 8 percent and increased protein synthesis - and
that is what you really want - by 33 percent.  Of course, it is
impractical for most of us to eat throughout our workouts, but this underscores
just how critical protein availability is to build muscle mass.
So, assuming you want to put on some muscle mass, you definitely need to add
this practice to your regimen if you haven't already. What proteins should
you use? In my opinion, the best and most safe is egg white. 3-4
before and after will do the trick and you will notice the difference. (Do
not forget some carbs along with it.)
Whey is the darling of the bodybuilding world as you may already
know. However, if you use whey, I recommend undenatured or
biologically active whey, which I document in my link called
Yes Whey, in order to avoid excitotoxins.
So how you handle protein during your non-workout times of day? Well, you have two ways to go, which I outline
below. I have tried both and put on muscle with both, but
recommend the first if you are suffering from heart disease or erectile
dysfunction in particular. The latter option, though, is excellent as
I. Ornish (Low Fat) Diet.
I tried an Ornish Diet, which is a quasi-vegan diet
found that I put on several
pounds of muscle while building the line down the middle of my abs. I had not seen
that since my college days! Again, this kind of healthy lifestyle is what
you need: building muscle, lowering fat, getting good abs and cleaning out
your arteries! The Ornish Diet allows egg whites which is basically
pure protein. (Although it is never stated, protein powder would probably
be allowed as well as long as it does not have any fat.) So put on some muscle and get in shape and don't kill
yourself while you're at it!
is primarily a vegan diet, although not in the militant sense of
the word since it allows egg whites, and so one trick I did was: avoid
fruit and always use whole grains, beans and legumes which are pretty high in
protein. (I do have Pomegranate Juice
and blueberries every day, however.) For more information, read my
link on the Ornish Diet and the
Great Diet Smackdown (Part II). And, by the
way, the Ornish Diet also appears to stop
Prostate Cancer dead in its tracks.
Remember that the Ornish Diet, because it is low fat and high
fiber, will probably lower your testosterone somewhat as I cover elsewhere on
the site. However, it will also clear out your arteries, increase Nitric
Oxide output and improve endothelial function, all of which are critical for
erections. If you are suffering erectile dysfunction or heart disease,
this diet is something you should strongly consider to heal yourself of the
decades of abuse you put your cardiosvascular system through.
I also want to point out that I tried an Ornish Diet, which is a quasi-vegan diet
that actually reverses arteriosclerosis, and found that I put on several
pounds of muscle while building a six pack on my abs! I had not seen
that since my college days. Again, this kind of healthy lifestyle is what
you need: building muscle, lowering fat, getting good abs and cleaning out
your arteries! (I emphasized grains, legumes, beans, whole wheat bread and
egg whites - all of which have a respectable amount of protein and are low fat.
I weigh a little over 150 lb and get a little over 100 g of protein in a day
using this technique.)
II. Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean
Diet is a proven cancer and heart disease fighter. The
also is pro-testosterone production and will definitely improve erectile function. In other words,
the Mediterranean Diet will preserve and protect both your life, your hormones AND your sex life.
But the Mediterranean Diet does not emphasize protein. (Animal protein is a minor
part of the Mediterranean Diet.)
So pick either one of these diets, exercise seriously and, if you feel the need,
supplement some egg whites and/or whey protein. You can quietly take
comfort in the fact that all the balls-to-the-wall body builders eating high fat
beef, chicken and egg meals day and night will pay the price in a decade or two
with massive arteriosclerosis and erectile dysfunction. (Please read this
link on Muscle Madness to screw your head on straight if you
are a Muscle Freak
or Gym Rat. Some muscle is good, but you have to be careful or your penis
and heart will pay the price.)
It is worth noting that this is exactly what
Jack LaLanne did, i.e. basically ate a vegan diet and supplemented
with egg whites. And he is in his mid 90's doing very well with no cancer or
heart disease. The remarkable thing about Jack LaLanne is that he performed incredible
feats of strength through his early 70's and had incredible musculature even
through his 80's. Imagine a guy with biceps that would make any guy at the gym
proud - that was Jack LaLanne in his mid to late 80's! There's no reason that we
cannot achieve a significant measure of his success, especially since he
followed almost every principal advocated on this site: frequent
exercise, a (slightly modified) Mediterranean or Ornish Diet and an
active, upbeat pro-testosterone attitude toward life.
But, above all, remember: the goal is to build a little muscle, protect your
heart AND keep youthful hormones levels....
CAUTION: New research shows that aerobics/cardio should always be done after weight training. A recent study out of Japan  has potentially uncovered the fact that weight training actually stiffens arteries - and you
don't want stiff arteries if you want anything else to be stiff if you know what
I mean - unless followed by cardio or aerobics. Furthermore, weight training without
cardiovascular training leads to decreased Nitric Oxide production from the endothelium,
which is bad - very bad. Intense weight training leads to very high, albeit
brief, blood pressure levels.  These pressures may
"stun" the lining of our blood vessels and arteries and possibly even do long term
damage. Again, do NOT do aerobics before your weight workout - do it after.
This will nullify any negative effects on the endothelium of the weight training.
(Note: Some studies have not shown weight training in a negative fashion,
but it is best to play it safe. ) News Flash: A recent study showed that
intense weight training hardened the arteries but did not seem to damage the
endothelium. To test this, they immersed the weight lifters foot in icy
water and then measured artery expansion in the neck. 
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