Richard James Ahern's Blog

Fitness, Nutrition and Unchained Muscle!

Tag: Deadlift

5 Worrying Signs You Have LOW TESTOSTERONE!!

If you’re a man interested in bodybuilding or fitness, you’ll know the importance of the steroid hormone Testosterone (T). It is essential for male health, fertility, building muscle and losing fat. Think you may have low Testosterone (T)? The only way to know for sure is to go to your doctors and get tested but here are five signs you may have low T:

  1. Lack of Muscle Growth and increased Fat Gain – This is an obvious one! If you’re training hard in the gym and eating right with plenty of protein but not gaining muscle, this could likely be down to you having low T. If you’re also struggling to lose fat, this again can be down to low T. If you have low T, this likely means you have high levels of the female hormone Oestrogen and high levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, both these hormones can cause the body to store fat and make weight loss difficult!
  2. Lack of Energy – If you’re constantly tired and lack energy, this can likely be down to low T. Testosterone gives men a sense of wellbeing, motivation and aggression. Although aggression can of course be a negative emotion and destructive, it can be channelled in many positive ways to achieve your goals. When it comes to weight lifting, a little bit of aggression towards those weights goes a long way and if you don’t feel aggression in the gym, you likely have low Testosterone.
  3. Depression – Men with Low T are very susceptible to depression. Like mentioned earlier, Testosterone gives us a sense of wellbeing and motivation. If you’re feeling down and lethargic, antidepressants might not be the solution and perhaps you should look into getting your hormones tested instead.
  4. Difficulty Sleeping – Testosterone keeps us men healthy and has many functions in the body. If you know anyone who has been put on Testosterone injections, they will probably tell you how they now sleep like a baby. Many guys who take a zinc and magnesium supplement before bed time find it improves their sleep. This is very likely down to the fact that zinc and magnesium are key to helping your body make Testosterone!
  5. Lack of Sex Drive – Testosterone is the male sex hormone. It gives men a sex drive, that’s one of its main purposes! Remember going through puberty and having a raging sex drive as a teenager? Well that’s because your Testosterone was very high! If you have a low sex drive and have trouble getting erections, this is one of the clearest signs you have low T.

Are you showing any signs of Low Testosterone? Well don’t worry, there are many solutions. You can of course go to your doctor and discuss your possible options, this is your best option if you think you have seriously low Testosterone. However, you can increase your Testosterone by making some lifestyle and diet changes. You may simply need to cut down on alcohol, stop smoking or get more sleep at night. You may be deficient in a particular nutrient such as zinc, magnesium or vitamin D, which you can easily supplement with. It’s hard to know exactly what’s going wrong and that’s why it’s best to take a shotgun approach and completely optimise your body for maximum testosterone production! That’s why I designed my Hormonal Manipulation Plan, to optimise your testosterone and other vital hormones through diet, training, lifestyle and supplementation for improved health, muscle gain and fat loss! You can purchase it HERE, but it comes FREE with every full price clothing order from www.UnchainedMuscle.uk !

This blog is brought to you by Unchained Muscle, bringing you hardcore gym clothing so you can work out in style! Visit www.UnchainedMuscle.uk to check out the range!

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The Absolute FASTEST Way to Gain MUSCLE!!

Let’s talk about building muscle, everyone wants to know the fastest way they can have big arms, wide shoulders and bulging pecs, so I’m going to tell you how! Remember though this is the fastest way to build muscle but not necessarily the best way, there are a few drawbacks.

Let’s start with diet, as this is the most important thing you need to focus on to grow. To gain muscle the fastest way possible, forget about having abs, to build muscle fast you’ll going to have to come to terms with the fact that you’ll gain some fat. You need to be in a surplus of calories for your body to put on new muscle tissue, aim for at least 1,000 calories over maintenance to gain the most. Protein needs to be high, around 1-2g per lb of lean body mass but carbs need to be higher! Carbs will give your body the energy to grow, for the quickest weight gain at least 60% of your calories should be coming from carbohydrate sources such as oats, rice, pasta and potato. Don’t neglect fats though as they are key for your boy to produce lots of testosterone, focus on getting a good range of all the different types of fat including saturated. Three meals a day won’t cut it, aims for 5-7 meals a day, including a post-workout protein and carbohydrate shake. Of course, following all this advice will also make you gain fat, but that’s the sacrifice you make if you want to pack on muscle size in the fastest way possible! Eat big to get big!

Training wise it’s simple, think COMPOUND! Compound exercises are where more than one muscle is being worked at a time and where more than one joint is moving such as squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, pull ups, dips and lunges! Compound exercises make you grow, they stress the body far more than isolation exercises leading to a massive surge in anabolic hormones that will make you big! Curls are a great exercise, but believe me, deadlifts and squats will get you bigger arms! Focus on stretching and squeezing the muscle with each rep to cause the most hypertrophy and aim for 8-12 reps per set. Going heavy on compound exercises will help but going lower than 6 reps per set will only help you gain strength rather than size. Form is key, bring each muscle through a full range of motion, if you cheat on your reps, you are only cheating on your muscle gains!

Lastly, remember to rest, take a few rest days per week and get plenty of sleep. Muscles don’t grow in the gym, they grow when you’re resting!

This blog is brought to you by Unchained Muscle, bringing you hardcore gym clothing so you can work out in style! Visit www.unchainedmuscle.uk to check out the range!

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Cortisol: Why it’s Killing Your Gains!!

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I love talking about hormones when it comes to building muscle and losing fat because I think they play a very important role in how your body looks! In this post, I’m talking about the hormone cortisol.

Cortisol is a stress hormone; our bodies produce it when we are under stress. This could be a stressful job, lack of sleep or working out for too long!

The problem is cortisol is your worst enemy when it comes to building muscle and losing fat because quite simply it turns your muscle into fat! More accurately it burns your muscle for energy turning it into glucose which can then stimulate an insulin response and potentially store that glucose as fat. Cortisol seems to have a strong effect on making us store fat specifically around our mid-sections, so it will hinder your goal of having a six pack too! Cortisol has also been linked to low testosterone levels and high oestrogen levels in men, leading to a whole host of problems.

So, by now I’m sure I’ve made you really hate this hormone and you’re now wondering how you can reduce it and keep it to minimum. Well first, think about it logically, it’s a stress hormone, so avoid stress! So, minimise stress, get plenty of sleep and don’t work out for longer than around 1 hour are the best ways to keep cortisol at bay.

Additionally, if you’re on a diet, don’t cut your calories and carbohydrates too much as this puts the body under a great deal of stress! Never lower calories lower than your BMR when trying to lose fat. Foods and supplements can also help you reduce cortisol levels, vitamin c and glutamine have been shown to reduce cortisol levels! Since cortisol is linked to testosterone levels in men, anything that can increase your testosterone will reduce your cortisol as well!

So guys, the take home message of this post is stay chilled out and don’t stress, it won’t get you anywhere and will just cost you muscle and gain you fat!

For the ULTIMATE guide on how to optimise your hormones so you can build muscle and lose fat effortlessly, check out my Hormonal Manipulation programme!

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The ONLY 3 Training Methods for Muscle Growth!!

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When it comes to training for muscle growth, there are 3 methods you can use in the gym, they all involve using some kind of resistance, may this be weights or cable machines. In this post I will cover them and how you can use them to get more gains than ever before!

Micro Tearing the Muscle – This is the most effective way to grow your muscles, this is the principle of hypertrophy training. By lifting relatively heavy weight in a controlled manner using a full range of motion for around 8-12 reps is the best way to cause micro tears in your muscle fibres. So essentially you are purposely damaging the muscle, hence the soreness, so when you leave the gym your body will repair these micro tears and grow back your muscle fibres BIGGER and STRONGER for next time! Focus on stretching and squeezing the muscle with each rep to get the best results!

Lifting Heavy Weight – Strength gains can often be the result of improved nervous system control but very often a stronger muscle is also a bigger muscle. So lifting heavy weight will challenge your muscles and will likely cause them to grow, lifting heavy also elicits an anabolic response inside the body, so you produce more testosterone and growth hormone which will result in overall growth!

Pumping the Muscle – When you train a muscle for long enough your body pumps more blood into that muscle to feed it with oxygen and nutrients, this is known as the pump. Often training in a higher rep range with lighter weight will get the best pump (15-20 reps), you will know when you get a good pump as the muscle will feel tight, look bigger and burn! The reason this makes the muscle grow is quite simple, you are FEEDING it! The blood carrying all the protein you’ve eaten throughout the day is directly taken to that muscle for growth, on top of this, pumping a muscle will release more growth hormones inside the muscle and also stretch the facia of the muscle which will allow for easier future growth!

So there you have it, every time you step into the gym and pick up a weight, think of these 3 principles, if you’re not tearing the muscle fibres, challenging them with heavy weight or pumping the muscle then you’re NOT going to grow!

Video on this to come soon so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube!

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How to Add Up to 100 Pounds to Your Bench and Deadlift Instantly!!

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In this blog I’m going to tell you how to add 100 pounds to your bench press and deadlift, this also can apply to other exercises too but I’m focussing on these because they are what most people want to get stronger at. For some it won’t be 100 pounds, it depends on what your current technique and knowledge is like but for most beginners the tips and tricks in this post will add HUGE amounts of weight to your lifts!

General Training Advice – To increase your strength you need to go heavy! The best set to rep range is 5×5, so 5 sets of 5 reps on the relevant exercise, on the last rep you should be really struggling and it should take everything you’ve got to complete that last rep, if it doesn’t then you’re going too light! Warm up first before going to the 5×5 with a lighter weight to make sure you don’t injure yourself. This is the best training method to increase strength.

General Diet Advice – Lifting heavy takes energy, you need to fuel your body. To increase your lifts, you need be eating a caloric surplus, so you are eating more calories than you are burning. I suggest you eat around a 1,000 calories surplus if you’re really serious about gaining strength. Most of these calories should be coming from carbohydrate as carbs are what the body uses for energy but also ensure you’re eating at least 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass for optimal recovery.

Ok, so now the nitty gritting tactics on how to increase your bench press and deadlift:

Deadlift –

  • First of all, always deadlift on a hard solid surface. Don’t deadlift in trainers, either wear proper lifting shoes or go barefoot!
  • Wear a belt, a lifting belt will stabilise your lower back and core and can easily add an extra 20 pounds to your deadlift.
  • Keep your feet aligned about shoulder width apart and ensure your knees and ankles are aligned. Bad technique can really affect your chances of a good lift.
  • Back needs to be flat when lifting with no arch, use an underhand-overhand grip if you struggle with grip strength. Correcting your technique can easily add 50 pounds to your deadlift.
  • Drive with your hips, your hips and legs should start the lift, think of it like a leg press and you’re pushing down on the floor as hard as you can with your legs. The power to start the lift comes from the legs, not the back, this makes a huge difference to how much you can lift.
  • Keep stretching your hamstrings, I have tight hamstrings and it has really affected my deadlift and has led to me getting lower back injuries. However, since I’ve started stretching my hamstrings regularly my deadlift weight has shot up!
  • Try deficit deadlifts, if your weak point is getting the weight of the floor try some deficits for a few weeks then come back to regular deadlifts. Deficits are where you stand on a platform when deadlifting thus making the weight lower on the ground and increasing the range of motion.
  • To increase your deadlift, you need strong legs and back so any other exercise which targets these muscles will help. Squats, Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, lunges, bent over rows and pull ups will all help you increase your deadlift.

Bench Press –

  • Make sure your grip is optimal, this makes a massive difference, too narrow will put too much strain on the triceps and too wide will only engage the chest. You want a grip that will engage as many muscles as possible to get the biggest weight up, this is usually slightly wider than shoulder width, but experiment and do what you feel gives you the most power.
  • Put a slight arch in your back when benching, there is nothing wrong with this and all power lifters do this, it will add pounds to your bench press instantly!
  • It’s not just about chest! You need strong shoulders, triceps and even lats for a big bench. Shoulder press, narrow grip bench press, and pull ups will all help your benching power!
  • Train with dumbbells! Dumbbell bench press is more challenging that barbell bench press, so go heavy with the dumbbells and when you come back to the barbell you’ll see a big difference.
  • Keep the bar above your nipples. This is the optimal position that you will get the most power from, it can vary from person to person but keep this in mind as a general rule.

So there you go, here’s a load of tips and tricks to increase your bench press and deadlift instantly as well as general training and diet advice to gain overall strength!

Video on this to come soon so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube!

Check out the rest of my blog posts and articles as well as share, comment and subscribe!

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