2007 Mr. Olympia Winners

The results for the 2007 Mr. Olympia contest are finally in….

Jay Cutler wins Mr. Olympia again for his second title in a row

Jay cutler 2007 olympia

Victor Martinez placed 2nd:

Victor martinez 2007 olympia

Dexter Jackson places 3rd:

Dexter Jackson 2007 olympia

Effect of Ejaculation (Sex) on Bodybuilding Gains

The question on whether ejaculation (or sex) before workouts will effect their strength or muscle gains, is a common question for many bodybuilders. Athletes have also have been debating this question for years. Some believe that ejaculation before an athletic event will help their performance, while others believe it should be done after or even abstained completely. In this article I will discuss the hormonal effects of ejaculation on the body and when (or if) it should be avoided

Effects on testosterone during sexual arousal and ejaculation:

Testosterone level have been found in research to rise in humans after sexual stimuli (such as sexually explicit pictures). One study like this was published in New Scientist 22 Aug 98 11, done by Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Urban Ethology in Vienna. 10 men and 10 women viewed a 15 minute pornographic film. Men's testosterone levels increased 100 percent afterwards, while women's was 80 percent.

Another study published by Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1993;18(3):205-18 used sexually arousing films on 9 males. LH levels (stimulates testosterone production) and testosterone levels increased within 10 minutes of sexually arousal. Other studies have also shown, other types of stimuli may also increase testosterone levels and agression, such as holding a gun.

Studies dealing with testosterone levels and it's effects during sexual acts and ejaculation, seem to be mostly done on animals.  One study done on rats by the Instituto de Neuroetologia, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Ver., Mexico showed that after 2 ejaculations there was a steep rise in serum testosterone and remained higher even after 4 ejaculations in a row. Another study was done on stallions and mating by the Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche Veterinarie, Sez. Clinica Ostetrica e Ginecologica Veterinaria. They found that testosterone levels rised 10 minutes after mating and then again 30 minutes into it. Cortisol levels also increased during the mating.

A study by Department of Pharmacobiology, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados was done on rats to measure sexual satiety and androgen receptors. The rats were measured after a sexual encounter. They measured the testosterone levels afterwards and found no change. They also measured a drop in angrodren receptor density, in the MPOA-medial part of the brain. This receptor density returned 72 hours later. It appears from this study, the lack of sexual desire post ejaculation, may have been from changes in the brain, not from changes in testosterone.

A study by the Department of Reproductive Biology, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa found that testosterone levels stayed the same or rised, after various types of sexual encounters in male rats. The more experienced rats had a large increase in testosterone post-ejaculation, which remained even 24 hours afterwards. The sexually inexperienced rats however, had little change in testosterone post sexual encounter. This study suggests that sexual experience and execution, may play a role in the rise of testosterone.

Long term testosterone levels from abstaining ejaculation:

The only study I could find measuring testosterone levels of men who didn't ejaculation for extended periods of time, was research done by chinese researchers, J Zhejiang Univ Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;4(2):236-40. The study was done on 28 men who were told to not ejaculate for entire week. It was found that for first 6 days testosterone levels did not change. However, on the 7th day of abstaining, testosterone levels jumped up by nearly 50%. It then declined quickly after that day, therefore abstaining from ejaculation had no long term rising effect.

Summary:

What do these studies on animals and humans tell us about the relationship between testosterone and sexual activity? Many people have always assumed that after sexual activity, males experience a drop in testosterone levels. There is no research we could find that points to a significant drop in testosterone post-ejaculation. In fact research tells us that the opposite seems to be true. Men will have significant jumps in testosterone levels from sexually arousing stimuli(and certain other types of stimuli). The research also suggests that sexual encounters and ejaculation, will not effect and may increase, testosterone blood levels.

Viewing sexually arousing material, without ejaculating, before working out should be beneficial for improving workouts.  Ejaculating before working out, would probably not be ideal, since ejaculation also releases endorphins(pain killing) natural hormones in the body. This would in turn effect your strength and energy before your workout.

The chinese study also suggests that abstaining from ejaculation will not increase your Testosterone levels long term and hence, not improve your bodybuilding gains.  Recent studies are also showing a significant drop in prostate cancer risk, for men who more frequently ejaculate. According to current research, ejaculation (or sex) is not going to lower your testosterone levels, in either the short term or long term.

Weight Training Routine Based on Muscle Fiber Type

The skeletal muscle tissue is composed of two main types of muscle fibers. There is some subtypes, but the main ones are Type 1 (slow twitch) and type 2 (fast twitch). Both are very different metabolically, structurally, and how they function. The amount of fibers of each type, varies widely in each person and even between each muscle part. Type 2 are the large muscle fibers that are known for power and for contributing to most muscle growth.

Muscle fiber makeup is one reason why people have "lagging" muscle bodypart and why some struggle to put on muscle compared to others. Each fiber responds best to different types of training. The type 2 slow fibers respond best to low reps, very heavy weight, with long rests. Type 1 does better with light weight, many repetitions, and little rest. When lifting a weight, you are going to use both types to some degree. For example, heavy weights will recruit most of the slow type 1 fibers, but few of the faster type 2 fibers.

Unfortunately, our fiber type for the most part, cannot be changed to a significant degree through training. We can get some of the other subtypes to "act more" like type 1 fibers through training, but it's limited. It makes sense that if each muscle fiber is in different distrubution between each bodypart, we should use specialized training for each muscle.

One reason why you almost never hear bodybuilders discuss training each muscle part differently, is because it is very complicated to gear training around each muscle. You will first have to find out which type each muscle part is composed of(through training) and then use different training for each part. It can get complicated and most bodybuilders figure it will all "even out" in the end, if they just train all the muscles the same way. Most bodybuilders have done some muscle fiber type specific training, like with squats and shrugs at higher reps. It is taught among bodybuilders because they are told these muscles respond better to high reps.

The most sensible and methodical training routine for gearing around muscle fiber type, is one I found by Frederick Hatfield. Ph.d. He is also known as "Dr. Squat" and a well known author in excercise physiology, including the well known "20 rep squat". You can find his detailed technical writeup on muscle fiber type training here.

Negative (eccentric) reps compared to positive(concentric)

The positive (concentric) and negative(eccentric) portions of a rep, appear to have different effects on muscle growth. Understanding why one does it better than the other, could help us gear our workout routine for optimal muscle growth.

Studies on eccentric and cocentric rep training:

University of Alabama at Birmingham did a study on 10 male and female subjects, who did 8 heavy sets of squats per workout. One workout they did concentric, the other eccentric only contractions. They measured the amounts of IGF-1, IGFBP-4, and Androgen receptors in the muscle. The negative rep stimulated IGF-1 and lowered levels of IGFBP-4(which binds to IGF-1 to make it inactive) better than the concentric. The positive rep increased androgen receptor density (making it more responsive to testosterone) than the negative. From this study, we can see that eccentric reps induce growth more by IGF-1 and the positive mainly from testosterone.

Another study was done at UC Irvine by Ken Baldwin and other scientists, to find the chemical reactions behind eccentric contractions. They also found that they had a significant increase in IGF-1 over positive reps, but also in increasing MGF(mechano growth factor) and the lowering of Myostatin(an important chemical that regulates muscle growth).

Other effects of negative reps:

Besides the differences in hormonal and chemical actions, there is other reasons why eccentric portions of the rep
might be more effective than concentric. Eccentric contractions probably cause more muscle growth, due to the fact they cause more microtrauma on the muscle fibers. The positive portion of the rep causes very little muscle tearing damage compared to the negative portion.

Other possible benefits of negative parts of the rep, may be in the ability to stimulate hyperplasia muscle growth and muscle fascia stretching
.

Should we do eccentric only training then?:

One might conclude that it is best to do eccentric only training since it is more effective. However, eccentric only training is taxing on the system due to the increased muscle damage it causes.   It  would quickly lead to overtraining, without a subsequent drop in set volume. Doing half negative rep workouts, are also inconvenient and most bodybuilders prefer to be able to use the entire rep range. One alternative would be to modify your regular training routine instead, by lowering the volume slightly and emphasizing the negative portion of the reps more.   Negative emphasize training cannot be used indefinitely because your body will adapt (plateau) to it after a period of time, like with all training techniques.

Bromelain

What if there was a supplement that made the protein in your diet more effective and easier to digest? A group of digestive enzymes called Bromelain appears to be that supplement.

What is bromelain?

Bromelain is the name of protease enzymes(protein digesting) from the pineapple plant stem. It may also include some other substances grouped with these enzymes naturally found in the stem. Most of the bromelain is in the inedible stem, so eating pineapple won't help as much as supplementing with it.

How does bromelain work?

The two major enzymes in bromelain break protein down in the body. This helps handle large amounts of protein, when the human stomach may not be able to handle it at once. Bromelain is best taken together with your high protein meals.

Does bromelain really work?

Yes. Bromelain has been is used as a common meat tenderizer for years. Meat tenderizers work by breaking down protein in order to make it softer.

Benefits of taking bromelain:

Digesting protein better means you get the benefits of more protein in your diet, which is increased muscle gains. Most people have some trouble digesting large amounts of protein to some degree. If you get gas and bloating, bromelain will help you digest it better to eliminate these side effects.

Bromelain vs. Aminogen:

Aminogen is a synthetic protein digestive aid on the market. is the other protein digestion aid. You can read more about it in a previous article of mine: Does Aminogen Work?

Other health benefits of Bromelain:

Bromelain appears to be an anti-inflammatory and has been used over the years to help with a wide variety of inflammatory conditions.

Side effects of Bromelain:

Do not go outside the recommended dosages, as it will increase your heart rate beyond the normal dosages.

Does Aminogen Work?

A few years ago on one bodybuilding forum I used to visit, there was a prominent mod who started advocating supplementing with Aminogen. The company behind aminogen, has many claims and research behind it. But does aminogen really work or is it all smoke and mirrors?

Aminogen claims:

The company behind aminogen claims it's a proprietary synthetic enzyme, that helps breakdown protein during digestion, making it easier to absorb. According to them, aminogen leads to more absorbed protein and nitrogen retention, ultimately leading to more muscle and strength gains. They also claim that aminogen will help against the negative effects of undigested protein, such as gas and bloating.

Aminogen research:

The company has research showing Aminogen works, such
as increasing nitrogen retention, and saying there was a 250% increase in branched chain amino acids. The problem with all this is, who did these studies? It looks to me like the company themselves did(or sponsored) the study. Who is going to trust a study by the supplement company that makes them? Aminogen is a proprietary name, meaning it has no real scientific meaning and therefore we can't find any studies on this supposed "enzyme" since we don't know what it is.

Remember how I mentioned that prominent member who was advocating Aminogen? He also was a distrubutor of Herbalife, which happens to make aminogen also. He obviously had financial motive for advocating Aminogen.

Final thoughts:

I can't say for certain if Aminogen works or not, for the purpose of actually breaking down protein. There is no way to research the compound "Aminogen" since we don't know what exactly it is(if anything important). We would have to rely on user feedback to find out. If Aminogen works, it should help reduce digestion problems, by aiding the breakdown of protein. If you don't have any digestion problems when taking protein and aminogen together, then it works as claimed in regards to breaking down protein. If you have a lot of problems digesting your protein it might be worth a try, to see if it eliminates those side effects.

However, increasing the digestibility of protein with Aminogen, is not going to automatically increase nitrogen retention, in fact probably just the opposite. Whey protein has low nitrogen retention because it is digested very easily. Hydrolyzed whey protein, has even less nitrogen retention time because it's in a more broken down form of protein. There is some evidence that increasing protein in your diet, may increase muscle mass, which is the reasoning behind aminogen claiming it also. However, you could get the same effect by simply increasing protein in your diet, without using the expensive Aminogen supplement.

Imodium (loperamide) a Cortisol Blocker?

Sometimes bodybuilding supplement science comes from the most unusual places. A few days ago, someone wrote me asking about Imodium (an over the counter anti-diarrhea drug) as a potential cortisol blocker. At first I thought it was a joke, but I actually started searching around and was surprised at what I found.

What is Loperamide?

Loperamide is the active ingredient in the over the counter product Imodium(and a few other brand names). Loperamide is part of the class of opioid receptor agonists. There is no potential for drug dependance or CNS overdose as it only acts on the intestines. However, it can cause dependance and even euphoria at high doses, so caution should be taken.

Why would loperamide be applicable to bodybuilding?

During my research, I discovered study after study where loperamide reduced cortisol levels. Blocking cortisol has become a new fad in the bodybuilding and supplement industry. Cortisol is a nasty hormone and excessive levels cause muscle loss, fat gain(visceral fat), overtraining, and health problems.

Here is the summary of just one study of loperamide on cortisol levels from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 1992.

So what does this mean in laymans terms? For most people, loperamide will lower body cortisol levels significantly. However, it won't help if you have the excessive cortisol levels due to disease cushing's disease or other medical problems of your pituitary.

Final thoughts on loperamide:

Loperamide seems to give the impression of being a potential miracle supplement for bodybuilders. But there are some serious things that will stop it from ever catching on for widespread use. The biggest problem with imodium AD is it can cause dependance and slowing down waste removal in the colon. Slowing the flow of the colon long term, by using something like imodium, would lead to increased risk of colon cancer(a very fast spreading deadly cancer) and other diseases. Not to mention it would be a very uncomfortable experience being more susceptible to constipation.

I don't see imodium AD(loperamide) as a useful cortisol blocker for bodybuilders, at least not for consistent long term use. If it is to be used, it should only be done in recommended dosages for very short periods of time, once in a great while. Of course, also make sure you take plenty of fiber supplements during it's use.

Carnosine

Carnosine supplements have been around for decades, promoted as a anti-oxidant. But does Carnosine actually play a very significant role in the body for bodybuilders and athletes? The answer may surprise you.

About carnisine:

Carnisine is naturally found in food in small amounts. When it is digested it is broken down by the carnosinase enzyme into the two amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. Once back in the muscle they are then converted back into carnosine.

Carnosine research:

Why do we care about all this? Well two studies, in 95 and 98, showed that carnisine seems to be in much higher concentrations in type 2 fibers. One was done by Harris, the same researcher who helped discover the potential of creatine. These type 2 fibers are responsible for power and significant muscle hypertrophy. Research indicates that carnosines role in the muscle on PH levels may help performance. In other words you can workout longer and harder.

The amino acid beta alanine that carnosine initially converts to, before getting converted back, is actually now a popular bodybuilding supplement. You can read more about beta alanine in a previous article of mine: beta-alanine

Which is better, beta alanine or carnosine?

Since carnosine gets converted to beta-alanine in the body and there seems to be plenty of histidine naturally in the body, you should be able to supplement with either beta alanine or carnosine, and get similiar benefits. One side effect of taking beta alanine instead of carnosone instead however, is that high doses of beta alanine can cause a prickling sensation on the body. Beta alanine is the preferred supplement as it is cheaper and available in bulk powder.

Forskolin

Forskolin is now commonly stacked in many fat loss supplements.Is there any scientific evidence to support that forskolin works for fat loss?

About forskolin:

Forskolin is the name of the active ingredient derived from the Coleus forskohlii plant. It has been used for centuries as a herbal medicine for treating many different diseases.

Research studies on Forskolin:

There is many studies supporting forskolin as a fat loss agent. One study published in Obes Res. 2005 Aug;13(8):1335-43 was done for 12 weeks on obese men, 15 taking forskolin and 15 placebo. Results of the study showed 250 mg of 10% forskolin extract twice a day had a larger increase in lean mass, reduce fat,s erum free testosterone levels, and bone density, compared to control.

Studies have also been able to find the exact role of forskolin in burning fat. Forskolin's fat burning properties, are the result of it's action on cAMP.

What is cAMP? It stands for cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP.). It is an important compound that plays a role in dozens of basic cellular functions and signal pathways in the cell. Increasing cAMP, causes an increase in thyroid, insulin secretion, and fat burning. Forskolin apperas to have more action on the body then just with cAMP too.

Other benefits to forskolin:

Forskolin increases in cAMP cause the relaxation of the smooth muscles. This is probably why forskolin is showing benefit for the following conditions; high blood pressure, angina, cramping, digestive problems, and asthma.

Site Enhancement Oil

Site enhancement oil (also known for short SEO) has become more common use among the hardcore group of bodybuilders. Many pro-bodybuilders are now also using it in limited quantites. How do SEOs cause muscle gain and is it dangerous?

What is site enhancement oil?

Site enhancement oil are oils used by bodybuilders to be injected into muscle parts. The goal is to emphasize certain muscles or bring up lagging parts for symmetry. Synthol (brand name) was the first product to come out and is often used as the generic name for site enhancement oils. Since then other companies have come out with site enhancement oils. SEOs will gradually leave the muscle, taking years to leave it completely.

Who uses site enhancement oils?

Some pro-bodybuilders are suspected of using SEOs, but since it is still frowned upon even in pro-bodybuilding, it is not publically admitted. Greg valentino an amateur bodybuilder, is an example of someone who overabused SEOs and now looks ridiculous.

How does site enhancement oil cause muscle gains?

There is a few theories out there. There is no actual research on the issue, so we are only left to decide which theory is the most probable. The first theory is that the oil exclusively causes the size. They then assume that once the oil is gone, that the muscle gains are lost too. This is probably not true, based on the reports of bodybuilders who have used it. There seems to be a more permanent component that causes the muscle gains.

The other theory is that it causes muscle growth due to scar tissue. I found this on wikipedia, which isn't a reliable source anyways(since its all volunteer by many average people's input). While scar tissue may be a side effect, I highly doubt it contributes to most of the muscle gains.

The most reasonable theory out there is, SEOs cause muscle growth due to muscle fascia tissue stretching. The injected oil causes the muscle fascia tissue to stretch significantly, that we know from basic anatomy. The question is, does this stretching of the muscle fascia actually facilitate muscle growth? You can read more about muscle fascia stretching and how to stimulate it in workouts in a previous article of mine: Muscle Fascia Stretching

Side effects of using Site enhancement oils:

Using SEOs is very dangerous. If it accidentally gets into a major blood vessel it can cause many serious problems, including stroke. The long term leakage into the body is also a concern of health. While not as effective, it would be safer to naturally stimulate the muscle fascia in your workouts. To see what happens to someone who grossly abuses SEO, see a previous article of ours on Greg Valentino.


Next Page »