Sunday, December 12, 2021

A Safe, Healthy Approach to Gaining Size and Strength - Ken Mannie

Ken Mannie, head strength conditioning coach at Michigan State University for 25 years . . . 

See if you can find things to apply (possibly modify) from this short article. This particular article is not aimed at b-building types who seek to create paper thin skin over a maximum quantity of muscle tissue in specific areas that create an illusion when carefully presented under specific lighting. It does, however, contain some advice for anyone who's not of that ilk, someone who lifts to get stronger and wants to put on some solid bodyweight while doing so.  

Here's a thought on getting big and strong: Let's do the right things. 

Let's get back to the basics of healthy eating, hard and smart training, and lifestyle habits that are conducive to physical growth and development. 

It has been said that we are what we eat. One thing is certain: a sound nutritional plan is paramount to recovery from physical stress and for steady gains in muscular size. 

Nutrition-speak among athletes revolves invariably revolves around protein. Make no mistake: Protein is inextricably linked to muscle maintenance and growth, especially after the stimulus and muscle protein catabolism resulting from strength training. 

However, in conjunction with protein intake is the need to refuel the body's depleted muscle glycogen levels. This, in turn, will spare much of the protein intake for muscle repair rather than divert it to energy replenishment. 

Here are a few basic, sound, and proven high performance nutritional checkpoints: 


Replenishing muscle glycogen in a timely fashion is critical to recovery and growth immediately following intense exercise. Approximately .5 to .7 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight should be consumed as soon after the practice game as possible. 

Example: A 200 lb. athlete should ingest at least 100 grams of carbohydrate within the first two hours after competition, and continue this regimen for up to six hours. The main focus should be on the higher glycemic index carbs, as they will more readily contribute glucose to the bloodstream. Foods or drinks that rank 40 or lower on the glycemic index are better pre-game choices, as they introduce glucose to the blood at a steadier, more evenly paced rate. 

Recent research indicates that protein should also be introduced to the system in conjunction with the carbohydrates. A practical and workable recommendation for post-event protein consumption is approximately 20-30 grams of high quality protein. 

Protein Protocol

If you peruse the muscle mags [and various video channels] you will be falsely led to believe that it is beyond the scope of man's intelligence to consume enough daily protein to coexist with the rest of the earth's inhabitants. That is, of course, unless you thin out your wallet by bulking up on the endless assortment of mega-this and mega-that elixirs that are stacked to the ceiling. As a young, aspiring athlete, I probably consumed enough of the then-popular Bob Hoffman Protein Pills to kill an elephant ten times over. At that time (mid-60's), we didn't receive one iota of educational information of sound, safe, and sensible nutritional practices. It was literally every man (and child) for himself as we tripped and stumbled our way to weight gain, indigestion, and constipation. 

Here's the bottom line on protein: It should comprise approximately 15% of the daily caloric intake. Sure, it may be slightly higher for athletes during long, intense competitive periods. But even then, we are not talking about an impossible mission. Protein embodies any number of what are called amino acids. The body needs 21 amino acids to build tissue, though not all proteins contain the entire series. Nine of the 21 are termed "essential" because we must obtain them from food. The remaining 12 are coined "non-essential" -- not because we don't require them, but due to the fact that our bodies can make them, if necessary. 

Dairy products, fish, poultry, beef, and other animal sources are called complete proteins because they are infused with 8-9 of the essential amino acid complex. If your diet is relatively high in this assortment of quality proteins, you are most assuredly meeting -- if not exceeding -- your daily protein requirements. The human body has difficulty assimilating more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, and it really doesn't require more than that -- even in the case of highly active athletes breaking news . . . ,you are not a "highly active athlete" because you do a handful of lifting sessions a week]. Most recommendations are in the .7 to .9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.

Go Low Fat

There are some caveats to the protein scene, especially concerning saturated fat content. While you cannot completely eliminate saturated fat from these sources, wiser choices can assist in controlling it. Examples: When ordering beef, ask for lean or round. Poultry and fish (especially salmon, mackerel, and herring) are better choices than beef and pork, but they can all be used wisely in moderation. Including fish in the diet on occasion introduces the healthier, unsaturated fats in the form of the omega-3 and omega-6 families. [Note: I know there was a lot of emphasis placed on fish oil caps and the lot of it for a while there, previous to people finally realizing that the oil in the caps is not quite exactly all it's purported to be and doesn't have anywhere near all the effects promised, er, implied, er . . . Some even went so far as to, much as it is with the protein stuffing in supplement form mentioned earlier, take as much as possible until diarrhea is caused, then cut back a little. These people are hilarious! Oddly enough, these the often same folks who will say about training, "More is not necessarily better." None are ever taken to task on the for-shite advice they offer or offered in the past. Ya gotta love it. I do. I love the free market and its connection to certain of Darwin's theories, as well as the "fitness" industry's childlike use of the simplest, bluntest forms of basic propaganda construction.] 

Beware of heavily marbled red meats, as that is a visible indicator of high saturated fat content. Dairy products should be of the low fat, skim milk, or non fat powdered milk varieties. Additionally, cheeses should be picked from selections made with skim milk. 

Eat Your Veggies, Fruits, and Whole Wheat Grains

Eat your greens, don't forget your beans and celery. Eat a bunch of these. Magnificent with saurkraut. Eat a grape, a fig, a crumpet too, you'll pump 'em right though you. Eat your shoes, don't forget the strings and socks. Even eat the box you bought 'em in. Garbage truck, mmmmmmmmm mouldy garbage truck. Eat the truck and driver and his gloves. 

Moving on . . . 

You really can't get enough of them! They are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Water is nature's finest supplement. It's especially important for athletes, who must replace the enormous amounts of fluid they lose in workouts and games. As little as 2% dehydration (that's 2 lbs. in a 200 lb. athlete) can impair performance and be the genesis of serious health problems if not addressed. Sports drinks on the par with Gatorade also provide the body with much needed carbohydrates and electorlytes. [Note: don't be that goon carrying around a galloon jug of water everywhere you go. Stop it! There's other ways to show the world you're a moron, ways that are at least funny. Again, the same story . . . absurd amounts of protein supps, fish oil just shy of shitting yourself, water by the gallon. Just buy a hat that says halfwit and save yourself some money when trying to prove to the world that you're a horse's ass. Thanks!]

So, the next time one of your players asks about protein supplements, tell him to make a triple decker turkey breast sandwich on whole wheat bread with tomato, a slice of low fat cheese, and low fat mayo. Add an apple and a glass of juice and he's just consumed a very healthy snack. It will cost less, provide much more nutritional value, and tase a whole lot better [than any smores flavored protein powder swill advertised by a roid junkie in fucking orange tinted tights with a huge goofy grin on his moronic puss and balls the size of wee marbles. Fuck all those fools. But do be quick about it owing to the FACT that they have a tendency to fuck themselves up quite nicely all on their own.]

My good friend Dan Riley provided his players with a nutritional "self test' to help both coaches and players troubleshoot any deficiencies that might exist in their diets. I would strongly suggest that all coaches give this to their athletes as a teaching aid and for dietary counseling purposes. 

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No matter what your base approach to strength training involves, an indisputable tenet of hypertrophy in muscle tissue indicates that tension must be created and maintained in the targeted area for the duration of the set. 

In other words there comes a time when your athletes must engage in strength training techniques that require all-out, or near all-out efforts to complete the assigned range (e.g., 6-8 reps) or target number (e.g., 8 reps). This is a very metabolically demanding method of strength training that provides a high level of stimulation to muscle tissue. 

When is an athlete ready for this type of training? From an age standpoint, an athlete in his freshman year of high school should be physically ready to partake of this type of training, providing he has an adequate training background.   

We would wait until the athlete has been oriented in your current program and has been training with some degree of consistency and proficiency for several months. 

Obviously, on certain movements, such as barbell squats, barbell/dumbbell bench press and incline press, and a short list of others, caution is the operative word when attempting these last few, most intense reps. Taking these particular exercises to the point of complete muscular fatigue is neither recommended or sensible.

With practice, excellent oaching, precise documentation, and a generous allotment of common sense, a workable weight can be married to a rep assignment that elicits a great muscular effort within safe boundaries. Some free weight movements and most machine exercises can be performed in this manner. 

The beauty of the high tension approach is that it doesn't need to be performed on every training day. Once a week, or even bi-weekly bouts will extract noticeable gains. The coach's (that's you if you train yourself, idiot) coach's base methods can be executed on the other weekly training days. Here are some points on implementing a high tension workout. 

 - Choose primarily multi-joint exercises -- those that enable more than one joint recruit the larger, more size-receptive musculature (e.g., deadlift, squat, pulldown, rows, chinups, dips, various machine pressing and pulling movements, etc.) 

 - Through trial and error or a percentage of an estimated maximum (approximately 75-85%) choose a weight that allows for 6-10 reps. 

 - Perform the reps in a fashion where the positive (raising) phase is executed with enough force to generate steady movement, but not so rapidly as to lose control. Execute a more controlled negative (lowering) phase to heighten the intensity and prolong the tension within the targeted musculature.

 - If the weight selection is correct, the last few reps should be very difficult to perform without deterioration in technique. Excellent exercise techniques are crucial, regardless of the movement being performed. [Note: if you realize you are performing an exercise in a way that's basically ugly and goofy, well then work on your performance technique with a lesser weight. No, it won't "make inroads" into your "recovery" in any substantial way, and it shouldn't take you too long to remedy the errors of your ways with a little patient, thoughtful fucking practice. Look, if practicing technique with just enough weight to recreate the actual performance of the exercise under full-poundage resistance wipes you out, well, maybe you've chosen the wrong little hobby, Sport]. 

 - 15 to 20 total sets can be performed, in any arrangement you prefer. Multiple sets of the chosen movements can be executed, or more exercises with reduced set schemes can be incorporated. Over time, a mixture of multiple set and limited set routines can be rotated for variety. 

 - Recovery periods between sets can range from 2-3 minutes in the initial stages, and be gradually reduced to 1 minute as the athlete adjusts and adapts to the metabolic intensity of the workouts. 

The Right Way is a proven, safe, ethical game plan for long term success and a long, healthy life when it's time to be an older man.   

Enjoy Your Lifting!


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