Richard James Ahern's Blog

Fitness, Nutrition and Unchained Muscle!

Tag: Fitness Recipes (page 1 of 2)

3 Reasons Dieting and Cardio is Making You FAT!!

Let’s lay down some truth, dieting and cardio certainly CAN make you lose fat, no doubt. However, done wrong, which is easy to do, it can make you GAIN FAT and WRECK your metabolism. The body has an amazing ability to adapt, it has a need for equilibrium (balance) and will do anything to keep the status quo. To change your body, whether it’s losing fat or gaining muscle we have to almost trick our body into making this drastic change. Here’s 3 ways the body adapts to dieting and cardio and how to counteract it!

  • Eating less slows your metabolism. When you start cutting calories and eating less your body senses this and starts lowering its metabolic rate to conserve energy as it thinks it’s starving. This is a natural survival mechanism. The longer you diet, the slower your metabolism can become and eventually can cause you to put on weight. To stop this, you should never cut your calories below your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and incorporating weekly cheat meals or refeed days will trick your body into keeping its metabolism high and therefore burning plenty of calories.
  • Steady cardio such as jogging will burn calories, obviously. However, done in excess the body adapts and will start slowing its metabolism to conserve energy. You’ll have to do more and more to get the same fat burning effect. This is why you should incorporate weight lifting and high intensity cardio into your routine. High intensity exercise such as weight lifting and HIIT cardio will shock the body, build muscle and ultimately boost your metabolism so you burn fat when you’re resting!
  • Dieting and cardio stresses the body. When the body is under any type of stress it produces a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is your enemy as it makes your body burn muscle for energy and makes your body store fat, particularly around your waist. Supplements such as glutamine, test boosters and vitamin C will help counteract cortisol but the best thing you can do is stop over-stressing your body! Keep your workouts short and intense and don’t starve yourself, it’s that simple!

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5 Fat Burning Supplements That WORK from Experience!

If you haven’t been following me on Instagram (you should be!), I have been dieting hard and losing fat to get shredded and ripped! I have been trying lots of different fat burning supplements so I can see if they work or not, so here’s my list from experience of the ones that WORK and are worth taking alongside a good diet and exercise regime! This is not medical advice, I do NOT recommend any of the following supplements, this is MY OPINION only and is for entertainment purposes only.

 

  • Caffeine! A classic stimulant and one of the best fat burners. Caffeine raises your heartrate, boosts metabolism and stimulates adrenaline production. All of which help with the breakdown of fat and help you burn more calories whilst resting. Don’t underestimate caffeine, it’s a powerful stimulant and you should always take care and never take too much. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, fat burners, pre workout formulas and can be also be bought on its own in powder or pill form. I’m a big fan of coffee and drink loads when I’m dieting and losing fat, check out my blog post on coffee HERE!

 

  • Green tea/green coffee! Both of these are a great source of natural caffeine and will boost your metabolism making you burn more calories! They are also powerful antioxidants. When dieting your body produces a lot of free radicals which can damage your cells, antioxidants help your body ‘mop up’ free radicals and prevent what is known as oxidative damage! I have used both to burn fat and keep my energy levels up!

 

  • Yohimbine HCL! This is a controversial stimulant, in some countries it is illegal but in others you can get it over the counter as a supplement. Like caffeine it boosts your metabolism and makes your body release more adrenaline whilst also suppressing appetite. What is particularly interesting about Yohimbine is that it is an alpha blocker. Our stubborn fat has a lot of alpha receptors which make it hard to lose, Yohimbine blocks these and helps your body release its stubborn fat to be burned. Taking it whilst doing fasted cardio is the most effective and is what I have done to burn my stubborn fat!

 

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine! This is a very bio available form of the amino acid carnitine. Carnitine carries fatty acids to the mitochondria of the cells to be burnt for energy. So quite literally carnitine is an essential component of the fat burning process. It’s naturally found in the body and food but supplementing with it has been shown to enhance fat loss and I have found it’s worked well for me!

 

  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine! A bio available form of the amino acid tyrosine. Although not a stimulant itself, it does have a stimulatory effect by helping the body make adrenaline. Adrenaline mobilises fat stores and burns them for energy so massively helps with fat loss! Tyrosine is a pre-cursor to adrenaline and your body needs it to make adrenaline. I use N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine in my pre-workout and I find it improves my energy, mood and fat loss!

 

From my experience, all of these fat burners work well alongside a good diet and exercise regime, most of them are stimulatory based as I find these work the best. A lot of non-stimulatory fat burners in my opinion are a waste of money. In particular, I have tried CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and Raspberry Ketones and have found little improved fat loss from them. Each to his own though, remember everyone reacts differently to different things!

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How WATER Can Get You Ripped!

When it comes to fitness and bodybuilding everyone thinks about their training, their protein needs and their supplements. What they tend to neglect is how much water they are drinking.

Water plays a huge role in how we build muscle, lose fat, perform in the gym and how our bodies look! After all everyone knows most our body is made of water so it’s importance cannot be overexaggerated!

The metabolic functions of our cells all take place in a water based environment therefor staying hydrated can massively help with fat loss and a better hydrated muscle will be stronger, recover faster and ultimately grow better!

Staying hydrated will also help prevent injury, a dehydrated muscle is much more likely to be strained or torn when trained!

What a lot of people don’t know is how water intake can drastically change how your body looks on a DAILY basis! When there is a lack of water, our bodies go into ‘drought’ mode and start storing water as there is a shortage. Some of this water will be stored under our skin which will hide your muscle definition and six pack. You may suddenly think you have gained fat but in fact its water that’s making you look soft and bloated!

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will signal our bodies that there is plenty of water coming so there is no need to store it and hence our bodies will flush the water from under our skin and we will look more ripped and toned than ever before!

For most active people, I recommend drinking around 3-4 litres of water per day, if you live in a hot country or exercise excessively you may need to drink more!

Stay hydrated, look your best and be healthy!

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BlackMP Supplements and a Gift to my followers!!

If you haven’t already heard, I am proud to announce that I am now sponsored by BlackMP supplements! I have been using their flagship product the BlackMP Living Concentrate and Living Powder for a few weeks now so I want to write about what I’ve noticed since starting it and then offer you guys an incredible discount if you wish to try it too!

BlackMP concentrate and powder is the healthy alternative beverage, infused with soil based probiotics, Fulvic and Humic Acid, 77+ Trace Minerals, electrolytes and a PH of 10, so will alkalise the body! No calories, No Sugar, Nothing artificial, GMO, Gluten and Dairy Free and suitable for vegans! I have never come across a product quite like it myself with so many benefits packed into one supplement!

What I love about it most is it’s suitable for EVERYBODY, whether you’re into general fitness, hardcore bodybuilding, strength training, fat loss, nutrition or just general health it will benefit you greatly!

I take it every morning when I wake up and as soon as I drink it I feel energised and ready to go, I don’t even need my usual morning coffee! It’s improved my performance in the gym but also my metal clarity has improved and my concentration, which allows me to work harder for longer! The probiotics will greatly help you digest your food, particularly protein and better protein breakdown means more amino acids will be available for muscle growth, this will lead to improved strength and even improved fat loss!

My partner has been using the concentrate as well as myself. She’s suffered with stomach issues for a while now with many trips to doctors but nothing really working. Since using BlackMP she’s noticed a HUGE improvement and feels so much better. A lot of health issues arise from stomach problems but BlackMP gives your gut the fuel to function properly and at its best!

I could write so much more about the benefits of this unique product but I don’t want my blogs to be too long! So, I strongly encourage any of you to try this product and reap the many benefits, so all my followers get a very special and MASSIVE 50% discount off BlackMP supplements (excluding bottles) using my unique code RJ50 at checkout!

Visit www.blackmp.tech to check them out and get yours! Remember use coupon code RJ50 for 50% off!

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Why Coffee is AMAZING at Burning Fat!!

I love coffee, I love coffee so much! A lot of us love coffee, it tastes good, it wakes us up, gives us energy, gives us focus and lifts our mood! What a lot of people don’t know is that coffee helps us lose fat when we are on a diet!

This is assuming you don’t have any sugar or syrups in your coffee that will cause an insulin spike. When dieting it’s best to have your coffee black, no milk, no sugar and therefor no calories. I love my coffee black, I wouldn’t have it any other way, I know a lot of people don’t but if you want to burn fat fast then you need to consider having your coffee black.

So why is it amazing at burning fat? Well first, as you may have noticed coffee supresses your appetite, you don’t feel hungry once you’ve had a coffee, this is obviously great when dieting as it kills your cravings for food!

Coffee contains caffeine which is found in many fat burners, this is simply because caffeine gives us energy and boosts our metabolism! The caffeine in coffee will boost your metabolism so you will burn more calories while resting and therefor burn more fat! The caffeine in coffee stimulates a hormone called adrenaline, adrenaline makes our body mobilise its fat stores ready to be burned if energy is needed, so again helping you burn fat!

I often find when dieting that I have less energy and less focus than usual, which is understandable since I’m eating less but this doesn’t help when I’ve got lots of work to do and lots to get done! I find that coffee focuses my mind and gives me that boost I need to get stuff done even when I’m on a strict diet!

Like I said, I love coffee, and so should you!

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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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 Key to CANNONBALL Shoulders!!

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In the next couple of blog posts, I’m going to cover how to train each muscle group to its full potential and get the absolute most growth you can get! Introducing the Key series!

So today is the key to getting cannonball shoulders! Shoulders have always been an important muscle group to me, I’ve always wanted wide shoulders as I think that’s what makes a physique stand out! Shoulders also assist in most upper body exercises so strong shoulders will help your chest lifts and most of your back lifts too!

The shoulder muscles also known as the deltoids are formed of three separate muscles, these are the anterior deltoid (front), medial deltoid (middle) and the posterior deltoid (rear). For developed and strong shoulders all three of these need to be trained.

Dumbbell shoulder presses are my number 1 shoulder exercise; they target all three heads of the deltoid and work each deltoid independently as you’re using dumbbells rather than a barbell. As always use a full range of motion and feel the stretch in the shoulders at the bottom of the lift. Performing these standing also gives you a great core workout!

For shoulder width, the medial deltoid is the most important muscle and the best way to train this is with lateral raises. Pro bodybuilders love this exercise as it’s the only way to isolate the medial deltoid to give you that wide look! A lot of people cheat on this exercise and swing the dumbbells up, use a light weight and focus on squeezing the muscle without swinging the weight!

Presses are the best shoulder compound exercise you can do, but to isolate each head use front raises for the anterior, lateral raises for the medial (see above) and reverse flyes for the rear. This way you can be assured that you have completely trained all deltoid heads to their absolute limit and get the most growth possible!

Also try barbell clean and presses, these are a great exercise for shoulder power and work the traps as well as all three deltoid heads to give you an awesome shoulder workout!

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The BEST Protein Source!!

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Protein is a vital nutrient if you’re into bodybuilding and fitness, that’s because our muscles are made of protein and to build our muscles we must eat protein, simple! Proteins are made from chains of amino acids, there are 22 amino acids found in our body, 9 of these are known as essential amino acids which we must get from our diet, our body can make the other non-essential amino acids from the 9 essential ones if necessary.

So when we are looking for a good protein source it’s important that it contains all 9 essential amino acids, this is why animal protein is important as it contains all 9 essential amino acids, so eggs, dairy, red meat, chicken and fish are all complete protein sources. Plant proteins are known as incomplete protein sources as they don’t have all 9 essential amino acids, so are not so good for muscle building purposes.

But what is the BEST protein source? Well as long as you’re eating complete protein sources you will generally be good to go however for those who want the absolute best protein sources we look at something called the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). This is a method of evaluating protein quality based on the amino acid profile and our ability to digest it. Sources are given a score between 1 and 0, with 1 being the highest and therefor the best source of protein. There are only 4 protein sources with a score of 1 and they are:

  • Eggs
  • Whey (milk protein)
  • Casein (milk protein)
  • Soy protein

So there you go! So another reason to love eggs but also a reason to consider buying protein powder! These 4 protein sources are all easy to digest and have a great amino acid profile. Beef comes pretty close to a score of 1 with a score of 0.92 but not quite as good as the top 4!

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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!

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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!

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