Apr 24, 2015

Improve your physique with turkish getups

Unless you have been under a rock for the past few years, you probably have heard of the Turkish Getup. Some physique and strength athletes shun them off since they don't feel that they build muscle and strength. I’ve got news for you… they do!

They may not be a true strength and muscle builder, but there is more to an exercise than just building muscle and strength. An exercise like the Turkish getup can be the perfect addition to your program to keep your core strong, shoulders safe and increase your proprioception. This highly dynamic movement has a huge carryover to lifting heavy things. It does this with it’s series of movements where you go from lying down to standing up with a kettlebell or dumbbell without breaking form and keeping the bell from falling.

Here’s a short list of everything that we can get from within a single getup:

  • Single leg hip stability during the initial roll to press and during the bridge.
  • Both closed and open chain shoulder stability.
  • Shoulder mobility.
  • Thoracic extension and rotation.
  • Hip and leg mobility and active flexibility.
  • Stability in two different leg patterns – lunge stance as well as squat stance.
  • Both rotary and linear stability.
  • The ability to link movement created in our extremities to the rest of our body.

Let’s elaborate a little more on a few of them that really help physique athletes:

It improve shoulder health 
By stabilizing a bell through multiple planes of motion, it requires stability in the anterior, lateral and overhead positions. Not to mention the other shoulder propping you up. The rotator cuff muscles are also called upon as you control the bell, making it an excellent rotator cuff strengthener. If you want to press heavy forever, you have to take care of your shoulder health.

It increase hip mobility
Squats, deadlifts and most other lower-body movements require a good amount of hip mobility if you want to achieve full range of motion. The TGU requires you to move through large ranges of motion without compromising your structural integrity. When you bridge the hips up high and sweep the leg through, you have no choice but to open up the hips. Keep your hips happy and mobile with TGU’s.

It strengthens your core
You would be surprised how many core muscles it requires to roll and get up and down off the ground. Mobility is one thing, but the amount of core strength it takes seems to be the limiting factor in the first part of the TGU. Think of these exercises as the “super sit-up” with function. Keep in mind the core also involves the muscles around the thoracic spine, not just the abs. The whole entire torso, i.e. the core is called upon during the TGU. When you start to do the TGU with a heavy bell in your hand, you will feel your abs working, trust me.

The quick how-to gide

  1. Keep in mind that there are books that describe how to do a proper Turkish Getup. Below is simply a quick guide to get you started.
  2. Start by lying on your side, for purposes of explanation we will assume you start on your L. side.
  3. With your L. hand grasp a kettlebell or dumbbell.
  4. With the weight in your hand roll onto your back and press the weight straight up like a bench press. The R. leg will go straight out in front of your while the L. knee stays bent with the foot on the ground.  Then move your right leg out slightly to the right for a wider base.
  5. Place the R. arm on the ground to stabilize your body at about a 45 degree angle and use your L. leg to help propel your body up off the ground. Do all of this while maintaining the weight up above you with the arm extended
  6. Next take your R. leg and kick it behind your body. If you can't do this part of the TGU then stop there and go back to the TGU to pelvic post. Once the R. leg is behind you from this lunge position stand up while maintaining the weight up in the air.
  7. Now reverse everything you just did and go back to the side lying position
  8. Start with no weight and then add weight as technique improves.

For heavy weight, alternate arms for 5 reps each side. For moderate weight, I like 2 sets of 3-5 reps.
Please don't perform reps with poor form. Quality over quantity on this one! You should have controlled breathing throughout the whole movement. You are not performing a max squat; so don’t act like it during the TGU.

Apr 17, 2015

Oral Steroids VS Injectable steroids and muscle gains

Q: I’ve been on and off steroids for years. I respond well to them even at pretty low doses (300-600mg/week), but always crash afterwards no matter what I do. Lately I’ve been trying something different. For the past 12 weeks I’ve been taking 100mg of orals (Winstrol, Dianabol, Anadrol) per week, and have slowly been gaining size (about 5 pounds of lean mass) and strength.

I am hoping this will produce more permanent gains; less estrogen conversion to worry about and it shouldn’t suppress my natural testosterone. Do you have any knowledge of the efficacy of low-dose long-term use of anabolics?

A: Given that most of the oral anabolics have less estrogenicity than the standard of reference (testosterone), you should find that size is better maintained at the conclusion of a cycle compared to injectable testosterones, as you are holding, and as a result will be excreting, less water weight. When all is said and done, you’ll seem to hold more of the weight you gained on oral anabolics simply because more of what you gained was quality muscle (not water bulk) in the first place.

Anadrol is an exception among your list as it is highly estrogenic. Given the doses you are using, however, I suspect you will not notice this trait much, and (in line with what you stated) should be noticing some modest but measurable gains in strength and lean muscle mass. In the end you’ll probably gain more lean mass on a formidable dose of testosterone, but again, the difference between your on-cycle bulk weight and your off-cycle retained mass weight will be more noticeable on a cycle like this too.

If my math is correct, you are taking about 15 milligrams of oral anabolics per day. I don’t want you to be mistaken into thinking this is a “very low” dose. O.K., by some of the standards of excess today it may be considered low, but in a clinical sense it most certainly is not. Winstrol is given at a dose of 6 milligrams per day or less most commonly. When Dianabol was widely prescribed in the U.S., the common application was 5 milligrams per day. Aside from Anadrol, the doses you are taking are outside of the therapeutic range, and enough to present significant gains in lean tissue, as you have noticed. In fact, during the 1960’s and ‘70s fifteen milligrams per day was a common dose for athletes and bodybuilders.

This level of use is also more than sufficient to suppress natural testosterone production, so you still going to have to deal with some type of crash at the conclusion of this cycle, even if it is less pronounced due to less water retention. As such, a proper PCT (Post-Cycle Therapy) program is probably a good idea to look at.

The main concern I have with this practice is the fact that you are applying a sufficient dose of c-17 alpha alkylated oral steroids each day, and it is continuing for a significant amount of time. The usual cutoff point is 6-8 weeks. Immediately, I would question what your serum lipids are doing. How are you HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels responding to this cycle? As you may know, oral c-17 alpha alkylated steroids present much more toxicity to the body than injectable testosterones (and related non-alkylated steroids).

They tend to greatly shift the HDL:LDL balance in an unfavorable direction (increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease), and place some strain on the liver. While I wouldn’t be go so far as to say this type of practice is outright dangerous to your immediate health, I would most certainly recommend that you take caution. With any oral cycle, especially one going on for a prolonged period of time, you should be getting periodic checks on your lipids, liver enzymes, blood pressure, and general markers of health. If you find the drugs are placing too much strain on your body, they probably aren’t worth it.

If you find such is true in your situation, you’d likely be much better off looking back at the old standby injectables liketestosterone and nandrolone, which present no significant liver stress and have a much lower negative effect on serum lipids – crash and water retention be damned.

Apr 10, 2015

IGF-1 - The Hormone: Insulin-like Growth Factor-1

IGF stands for Insulin-like Growth Factor, named so due to its structure being very similar to the hormone insulin, and is one of a group of hormones call somatomedins. Growth hormone (GH) and IGF-1 share many similarities in their modes of action, and this is in part due to the fact that binding of GH to certain GH receptors results in a signalling cascade that leads to the generation of IGF-1. It is through this route that GH exerts its proliferative (proliferation of cells basically means cell growth) effects. Like GH, IGF-I enhances protein anabolism. Individuals who are normally fed and are administered both IGF-I and GH see no enhanced protein anabolic effect over either compound alone, however in calorie-deprived subjects, GH and IGF-1 appear to work synergistically to enhance a more positive protein balance. The current trend of thought and research suggests that IGF-1 mediates the protein-anabolic actions of GH in humans. IGF-1 also has properties including the transport of amino acids into cells and inhibition of protein degradation.

IGF-1 has been shown both in vitro and in vivo that it does not possess the lipolytic (fat mobilising) effects that GH exhibits, probably because there are no functional type-1 IGF-1 receptors found in adipocytes. This may come as a surprise to many bodybuilders who seem to swear by the fat-loss properties of IGF-1 use; however it is highly unlikely that this arises through direct IGF-1 mediated lipolysis.

With regards to carbohydrate metabolism, IGF-1 acts much like insulin (no surprise there), and administration of IGF-1 tends towards a hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) state. Surprisingly though, this does not appear to be completely via the insulin receptor, but probably in addition by way of its own IGF-1 receptor. IGF-1 is thought to be extremely important in the overall action of insulin on skeletal muscle. IGF-1 results in improved insulin sensitivity, which is an important point to bear in mind for the bodybuilder who may already use or wish to use insulin. In other words, if you do use IGF-1 and you have not previously used insulin, don't start using it. If you are experienced with insulin and start to take IGF-1, insulin dosages may wish to be lowered as well as increased carbohydrate intake especially after insulin administration.

Use of IGF-1

IGF-1 is not a substance that inexperienced bodybuilders should consider using. Several years of anabolic steroid use is recommended before starting a course of IGF-1, and of course one must be aware of the hypoglycaemic effects of IGF-1. There are other serious risks that can occur with the use of IGF-I, such as increased risk of cancer, accelerated growth of tumours and enlargement of intestinal organs. For these reasons, it should be re-emphasised that for the inexperienced and novice bodybuilder, IGF-1 should not be taken lightly.

Due to the very short half-life of normal IGF-1 (<10mins) and its highly sensitive and unstable properties, plain (wild-type) IGF-1 is rarely used. Rather, an analogue of IGF-1 referred to as Long R3IGF-1 (LONG™R3IGF-1) is the preferred substance of choice. This analogue has had a substitution for the amino acid arginine (R) at position 3 (hence 'R3') for glutamine, and has been increased in length (hence 'long') by 13 amino acids. Basically these modifications to IGF-1 result in a peptide with lowered binding affinities for proteins that regulate IGF-1, thus increasing the potency of the IGF-1. The other advantage of Long R3IGF-I is its half-life being increased from minutes to several hours. Thus the user can get away using a much smaller amount of Long R3IGF-1 and administration does not have to be as frequent.

Dosages of Long R3IGF-1

Dosages of Long R3IGF-1 range from 20mcg up to 120mcg, although I would never recommend over 80mcg. A good starting point is 20-40mcg, however most start at 40mcg. Unlike GH, users report that the effects of Long R3IGF-1 are seen in a much shorter space of time, and a typical course length would be 4 weeks on, but some users go up to 50days on, 50days off. Many people use Long R3IGF-1 in combination with the end of a steroid cycle/beginning of and throughout post cycle therapy (PCT), and see increases in LBM as well as decreases in fat throughout this time. 1-2lbs of clean LBM every 2 weeks is not uncommon.

Long R3IGF-1 should be injected ideally post workout (PWO) on training days, although a morning/PWO split is also a good option. Long R3IGF-1 is best injected intramuscularly, and users often do this in a bilateral sense PWO in the muscle group just used, e.g. after training biceps one might inject 20mcg into one bicep and 20mcgs into the other. Injecting 5 days on, 2 days off is another common method employed. Although there is no direct scientific evidence of localised muscle growth, it has been suggested that IGF-1 receptors are upregulated specifically to the surface of cells that have undergone strenuous exercise, thus the reasoning for site-specific injections. Many users claim to see site-specific growth, however this as of yet cannot be validated as Long R3IGF-1's mode of action.

Side effects of Long R3 IGF-1 include in some cases severe headaches, nausea, possible hypoglycaemia and accelerated growth of existing tumours. For this reason I would discourage usage to anyone with a personal (or family) history of tumour growth/cancer.

How long is the stock solution stable for under these storage conditions?

Liquid stability data shows that Long R3IGF-1 is stable for 3 years (-20°C to 37°C). Therefore, the stock solution should be stable at 4°C for 3 years.

Is Long R3IGF-1 stable?

Re-test date for freeze-dried peptide is 3 years. Liquid formulation stability studies have recently been completed. It is stable for 3 years (-20°C to +37°C). We have data indicating stability in media at 4°C for 1 year.

Apr 3, 2015

Post steroid cycle therapy and How to Keep Your Gains

As bodybuilders, the first thing we need to understand is what is going on with our bodies when we’re taking anabolic steroids. Exogenous anabolic hormones (or derivatives of anabolic hormones) are being brought into your system. This causes the body to take a number of responsive actions. The first and foremost (as you already know) is increased muscle mass. Unfortunately, other things are also going on that aren’t so great.

When an enzyme or hormone is brought into the system, chemical balances shift around to attain a certain equilibrium. In a nutshell, your body will increase production of estrogen, cortisol, and other hormones in response to heightened testosterone levels, while simultaneously slowing (or completely stopping) natural production of testosterone. Biologists call this negative feedback.

Natural testosterone production relies on a feedback system; when your brain detects that natural testosterone levels fall below a certain point, it signals the testes to produce more testosterone. This is called the Hypothalamic Testicular Pituitary Axis (HPTA). Natural testosterone production happens when the hypothalamus gland in the brain detects that testosterone levels in the blood go below a certain point (this point can vary with individual people). When it detects this, it sends a message to the testicles to tell them to start producing testosterone. When there is enough testosterone released into the system, the process stops until levels fall again. This process happens all the time during a normal day (assuming you have no medical condition that interferes with or prevents it).

Why is this important?

When you take anabolic steroids your body detects that your testosterone levels have risen and it switches off natural production while levels remain high. If natural production is switched off for a long time, such as a typical cycle, it can take some time before the body starts to produce it again naturally. In some cases, natural production can be extremely difficult to restore.

The longer you are on-cycle, the more likely you will have problems re-starting natural production (this is what users call “shut down”). The longer you are in this state, the more muscle mass you will likely lose and the harder it may become to restart natural testosterone production. This is the reason that it is important to recover your own natural hormonal levels quickly and lose far less of the gains you worked so hard for on the cycle. High estrogen levels play an integral part in Post Cycle therapy (PCT). That’s right, you want to welcome high estrogen with open freaking arms, but there’s a trick to it. And that trick is the almighty SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator).
SERM’s: the foundation of post cycle therapy.

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators are the foundation for any proper post-cycle therapy plan. A post cycle therapy plan without them isn’t a PCT plan. The purpose of a SERM is to block the negative effects estrogen, while your hormone levels go back to equilibrium.

Types of Post Cycle Therapy drugs?

Typically, people will use any or all of these drugs (Tamoxifen, Clomiphene and HCG) to help restart natural testosterone production. It is not advised to start post-cycle therapy until your testosterone levels drop below your natural level.

The different SERM’s:

1)Tamoxifen (Nolvadex):

  • Reputation: Most popular SERM for post cycle therapy
  • Pros:  Effective for gyno prevention.
  • Cons: Heptatoxicity
  • Popular Dosage (for a 4-week cycle): 40/40/20/20
2) Clomiphene Citrate (clomid):

  • Reputation: Second most popular. Usually taken the first week or so to speed up Testosterone recovery with Tamoxifen being taken the whole therapy.
  • Pros: Better than Tamoxifen for HTPA regernation. Less heptatoxicity.
  • Cons: Less effective against gyno. Can cause emotional issues.
  • Popular Dosage (for a 4-week cycle): 100-200mg/100mg/50mg/50mg

3) HCG(Human Chorionic Gonadotropin):

  • Reputation: Used in conjunction with SERMS. Best results seen in medium to long cycles.
  • Pros: Used to stimulate testosterone production in men.
  • Cons: Not to be used with signs of gyno as it can worsen the situation.
  • Popular dosage(last 4 weeks of cycle): 2000 IU/week, with 500 IU 4x/week, or 250 IU/dayor 500 IU every other day (these come to 1750 IU/week)