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MFW Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list

MFW Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list

(last update 2003.09.08)

The FAQ Table of Contents

This is the FAQ. If at any point you do not understand the terms used in this FAQ, they can be looked up in the bodybuilding and weightlifting dictionary

This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the author/maintainer/contributors assume(s) no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
Comments about the content of this FAQ should be directed to the newsgroup

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  1. About the group Misc.Fitness.Weights
    1. Can I advertise in
    2. Commonly encountered abbreviations
  2. I just began working out and I wanna get big. How should I start?
    1. Should I work the entire body at every workout?
    2. How many exercises should I do per muscle group?
    3. How many sets should I do per exercise?
    4. How many repetitions should I perform?
    5. How many times per week should I lift?
    6. Should I be concerned about the amount of weight I lift?
    7. What are the best exercises for a beginner?
    8. What is HIT?
    9. What is Periodization?
    10. What is a hardgainer?
    11. Where can I read more about lifting routines on the net?
    12. Which of the muscle/exercise/health magazines should I believe?
  3. I want to tone up, but I don't want to get too big. How can I achieve this?
  4. The Exercises
    1. What is the proper way to squat?
    2. What is the proper way to deadlift?
    3. Dumbbell Bench press - getting into position
    4. How do I work my abs?
    5. How do I get a 6-pack?
    6. What is the proper way to do shrugs?
    7. Can I change the peak of my bicep?
  5. Weightlifting and health?
    1. Is weightlifting beneficial for my health?
    2. Does weightlifting increase bone density and strength?
    3. My liver enzymes are elevated, but I don't take steroids or drink alcohol. What's the problem?
  6. Weightlifting and cardiovascular conditioning
    1. How important is cardiovascular conditioning to Bodybuilders?
    2. How important is cardiovascular conditioning to Powerlifters?
    3. Should I do cardiovascular work before or after the weights?
  7. Muscle strength versus size
    1. Can I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?
    2. Can I lose fat without losing muscle?
    3. Can I get stronger without gaining more muscle mass?
    4. Can I gain muscle mass without getting stronger?
  8. What should I eat?
    1. to gain weight?
      1. How many Calories?
      2. How much protein?
      3. How much carbohydrate?
      4. How much fat?
    2. to lose weight?
      1. How many Calories?
      2. Weight loss and protein?
      3. Weight loss and carbohydrates
        1. What is the Glycemic Index?
      4. Weight loss and fats
    3. Is weightlifting important to fat loss?
    4. What about those weight loss centers?
    5. What is the Isometric diet?
    6. What is the Anabolic diet?
    7. What is Bodyopus?
    8. What is the Zone diet?
    9. Dietary Protein Requirements of the Athlete
    10. Is increased protein intake harmful?
    11. Carbohydrate loading
  9. Supplements
    1. Protein powders
      1. What's the best time to eat protein powders?
    2. Meal Replacement Powders
    3. Weight gainers / "mega-mass 9 billion"
    4. Proteabolic
    5. Amino acids
      1. supplemental branched chain amino acids
      2. l-carnitine
      3. GABA
      4. Glutamine
      5. HMB
      6. KIC
      7. phosphatidyl serine
      8. tryptophan
      9. tyrosine
      10. Can amino acids cause an increase in GH secretion (ROK)
    6. Colostrum
    7. Sports bars
    8. CLA
    9. DMSO
    10. Flax seed oil
    11. Lecithin
    12. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT oil)
    13. Omega-3 fatty acids
    14. vitamin and mineral supplementation
      1. B vitamins
      2. Boron
      3. Chromium
      4. CoQ10
      5. Dibencozide
      6. vanadium
      7. zinc
    15. Creatine
    16. Hydroxy-citric acid (HCA)
    17. Glucosamine Sulphate
    18. Inosine
    19. Prohormones
      1. pregnenolone
      2. DHEA
      3. androstenedione
      4. androdiol
      5. 5-androstenediol
      6. norandrostenedione, norandrodiol
      7. cyclodiol
    20. Melatonin
    21. Tribulus Terrestris ( Endo-Pro, Tribestrone )
    22. "Super Blue-Green Algae"
    23. Shark cartilage/bovine cartilage
    24. Random vaguely Russian-sounding "supplements" from Atletika
    25. Herbs
      1. Avena Sativa
      2. Borage
      3. Capsicum
      4. Ephedrine, ECA stack
      5. Evening Primrose
      6. Gamma Oryzanol
      7. Ginseng
      8. Cordyceps (Dong Chong)
      9. Milk Thistle
      10. Saw Palmetto
      11. Smilax
      12. Yohimbe
  10. Are there any natural ways of increasing testosterone levels?
    1. Homeopathic testosterone and other homeopathic preparations
    2. Do squats and deadlifts increase testosterone production?
    3. What about sex and/or masturbation?
  11. What are anabolic steroids?
    1. What Side effects are commonly seen with steroid use?
      1. Is Lyle Alzado a good example of how steroids are harmful?
    2. Should I start my first cycle?
    3. I'm going to start my first cycle. What are the safest steroids?
    4. Where can I get steroids?
    5. Are my steroids real?
    6. What is the proper way to taper off cycle?
    7. Is bridging between cycles beneficial?
    8. Are steroids morally wrong?
  12. What about other drugs?
    1. Clenbuterol
    2. Clomid / Cyclofenil
    3. Cytomel
    4. Cytadren
    5. DNP
    6. Diuretics
    7. Growth Hormone
    8. HCG
    9. Insulin
    10. Insulin-like Growth Factor 1
    11. Nolvadex
    12. Viagra
  13. Personal Grooming
    1. Removing body hair
    2. Dealing with Chafing / Calluses
  14. Miscellany
    1. How can I get BRAWN or Hardgainer?
    2. How can I subscribe to Peak training journal?
    3. Why do so many people in m.f.w hate MM2K and Phillips?
    4. Why is everyone so hung up on scientific evidence and research studies?
  15. Document History
  16. Works In Progress -- topics requested but not yet completed
  17. Authors and credits

This FAQ was originally compiled and edited by Rifle River
Subsequent updates and maintenance by Trygve Lode (

MFW-FAQ Section 0
About the newsgroup Misc.Fitness.Weights

  1. Can I advertise in

    No. Go away.

    Seriously, commercial ads are strongly discouraged on; ads for weights-related items may be placed freely on, however. Generally, the contents of a .signature appended to your articles on the group may contain whatever you wish to put there and that may include pointers to a commercial website or mention of your products or services--however, this exception is only applicable if you're actually posting an article that is otherwise appropriate for the group.

    Noncommercial ads for personal items appropriate to the group, such as one for your old MogoFlex Ergobench 2000 are grudgingly permitted, however, note that newsgroups such as are propagated worldwide, so consider limiting the distribution of any ads of this type to just your local area and absolutely be certain that you mention your approximate location. It does no good to list your pre-owned 600-pound aerobic kickboxing simulator if a potentially interested reader has no way of knowing whether you are in the South Bronx or South Africa.

  2. Commonly encountered abbreviations

    BF - Body Fat
    BP - Bench Press /
    Blood Pressure
    DL - Dead Lift
    DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
    ECA - Ephedrine Caffeine and Aspirin
    GVT - German Volume Training
    HST - Hypertrophy Specific Training

MFW-FAQ Section I
I just began lifting and I wanna get big. How should I start?

Lift big weights (with proper form). Eat big. Avoid overtraining. Short, but intense workouts are probably the best type of workout to stimulate muscle growth while avoiding overtraining. Some people prefer low-volume High Intensity Training (HIT). Some follow a more moderate volume approach. Others prefer high volume lifting (many exercises, many sets etc.). Still another commonly followed method of training is Periodization. Advanced lifters often follow programs that are not suitable for beginners. Don't follow someone else's lifting schedule, design your own.

  1. Should I work the entire body at every workout?

    Certainly. Entire body workouts usually make the most efficient use of time. Of course, there is no reason you can't work different muscle groups on different days. However, a beginner is less likely to overtrain any individual body part if they're working the entire body in one workout.

  2. How many exercises should I do per muscle group?

    Some suggest only one exercise per muscle group. Others prefer to do 4 or 5 different exercises for a single muscle group. Keep in mind that too much enthusiasm for the weights will often lead to overtraining, so moderation is key until you discover what works best for your body.

  3. How many sets should I do per exercise?

    Some suggest that once the muscles are thoroughly warm (after performing a couple of light-weight warmup sets) you should do one all out set to failure. Others suggest that you should perform 2 to 4 working sets to failure for each exercise.

    Almost everyone can agree that if you end up doing 30 sets for any individual body part, you are definitely overtraining (assuming that you take these sets to failure) or just wasting your time (assuming you don't take these sets to failure).

  4. How many repetitions should I perform?

    When warming up you should be able to complete more than 12 repetitions with ease. On sets that are taken to failure you should fail at some number less than 12 receptions and greater than 5 repetitions. If you can do more than 12 repetitions on your working set, then the weight should be increased. Remember, there are two components to building mass - the load placed on the muscle and the time under tension.

    On the other hand, as Andy Austin used to say, "lots of muscle has been built with singles all the way to 100 rep schemes."

  5. How many times per week should I lift?

    Some beginners make fine progress training the entire body three times a week, a Mon, Wed and Fri routine, for example. Other beginners require more recuperation time and make gains training the entire body only once per week. People differ and so do individual muscle groups. Some muscles can be trained more frequently than others. Find a routine that is comfortable for you and allows you to make progress. If you aren't making any progress consider the possibility that you are overtraining (quite common) or even undertraining (less common).

  6. Should I be concerned about the amount of weight I lift?

    Initially, no. The most important thing for a beginner is to learn proper lifting technique. However, the basic principle of getting larger through weightlifting is progressive overload. You must increase the weight (load) so that the muscle will be forced to adapt to the increase in stress.
    Bouncing and moving the weight too quickly will not stress your muscles into growing and it will likely stress your joints unnecessarily. Remember, that for bodybuilders, the goal is not to lift the weight. Weightlifting, for bodybuilders, is merely a method to stress the muscles. A bodybuilder should work the muscle, or muscle group that the exercise focuses on, not try to heave the weight up by any means possible. There is a difference between lifting a weight and working a muscle, although it basically comes down to using proper form and technique. For example, if your lower back becomes stressed from doing biceps curls, you should consider paying more attention to working the biceps, not trying to get too much weight up by throwing out your back.

    Comparing yourself to other lifters is also unnecessary. Everyone starts at a different level.

  7. What are the best exercises for a beginner?

    Squat, Barbell Bench Press, Pull Up, Seated Military Press Dead Lift, Incline Dumbbell Press, Bent Over Barbell Row

    These exercises are considered the best because they are compound movements that involve moving a lot of weight while recruiting many different muscle groups. These are the types of exercises that will make you grow, not concentration movements.

  8. What is HIT?

    High Intensity Training. This is a training method which believes in minimizing the sets per exercise. No warm-up sets are done with the belief that the first few reps of the exercise is sufficient. Each set is done at very high intensity to complete failure.

    In a typical HIT workout, 15-20 different single set exercises may be done in the space of 1 hour hitting the entire body with around 2 mins rest between sets. A 'HIT Jedi' does not believe in split routines where different bodyparts are trained on different days (which allows more time per bodypart). Amongst other benefits, HIT training is a very time efficient way of training.

    The HIT (High Intensity Training) FAQ 3.0 is available at

  9. What is Periodization?

    Periodization is a training method where over a series of weeks the number of reps is dropped and the weights increased. The idea behind this is to shock the muscles into growth by varying the reps & weights.

    Part of the theory of periodization revolves around the idea that a person can't always train with 100% intensity and that the body may actually need some periods of lighter weight, variable rep training to allow for recuperation. In addition, periodization is based on the idea that not all muscle fiber types can be trained with the same rep schemes. Many powerlifters follow some form of periodization to peak for a competition.

  10. What is a 'Hardgainer'? / What is a Hardgainer routine'?

    A hardgainer (HG) is someone who has a genetic make-up which does not allow him/her to pack on muscle quickly. These type of people typically do not respond large volumes and frequency of training. It has been estimated that 60%-95% of the population are hardgainers.

    HG routines use low volumes and frequencies of training. A HG routine will usually train each bodypart no more than once per week. Compound movements (like squats and deadlifts) are favoured over isolation movements (like leg extensions or hamstring curls). Hardgainers are prone to overtraining when using high volume/frequency workouts, hence the general rule of thumb is 'less is more'.

    Frank J. Kelly and Craig Sadler's Hardgainer bodybuilding / weightlifting FAQ (11/29/1999) is available at

  11. Where can I read more about lifting routines on the net?

    There are numerous places where you can read more about lifting routines,
    like HIT and Periodization. Check out these sites:

    (the following links have not yet be checked or updated)

    "Zen and the Art of Weightlifting" It's at

    The FAQ can be found at

    MM2K bench press routine at

    Psycho Trainer's Guide to lifting.

    To subscribe to the Weights mailing list

    The Canadian Powerlifting Union page:
    has good discussions of squat/deadlift/bench form.

  12. Which of the muscle/exercise/health magazines should I believe?

    There's a profusion of muscle/exercise/health magazines out there and they often seem to contradict each other or even themselves from issue to issue. The one thing they do have in common, however, is that they put well-built guys with defined abs on their covers, usually with scantily-clad (though, in most cases, not visibly muscular) women hanging off of them.

    ...which should be your first clue that magazines are, first and foremost, in the business of making money, and that means selling issues and supporting their advertisers and owners.

    Just in case you didn't already know this, many, if not most, muscle/exercise/health magazines are owned by companies that make supplements and often gym apparel and home exercise equipment as well. Even apart from who owns them, the fact is that advertising sales to supplement companies are where most of their revenues come from; the price on the cover that you pay is just an added bonus. That doesn't mean that what they print is wrong, but it does tell you on what side their bread is buttered. For example:

    Experimental and Applied
    Sciences (EAS) owns:
    • Muscle Media
    (Robert Kennedy) owns:
    • Musclemag International
    • Oxygen
    Twin Laboratories
    (TwinLab) owns:
    • Muscular Development
    Weider owns:
    • Fit Pregnancy
    • Flex
    • Muscle and Fitness
    • Muscle and Fitness Hers
    • Natural Health
    • Shape

    You can expect to find taking (or at least purchasing) supplements given emphasis above and beyond their importance in training, and the coverage in the articles and news briefs is likely to be slanted towards whatever products are in the parent company's lineup.

    The other notable caveat about training articles is that many of the routines given would push you well beyond overtraining if you followed them. With an article on training your upper body, legs, or a full-body training regimen, that won't always be the case, but every magazine has to run at least one article every six months on Blasting Your Biceps Beyond Belief and, sad to say, the biceps just aren't that big, and they get worked in a lot of other exercises already (pulldowns, chinups, rows, as examples).

    But if you're going to write an article on battering your biceps until they're begging for mercy, you have to come up with more than a few simple exercises to write about, especially if you want to work in a bunch of cool-looking pics of biceps exercises and poses.

    Think of "muscle magazines" as decent sources of pictures and inspiration, but keep their editorial biases in mind when you read them.

MFW-FAQ Section II
I want to tone up, but I don't want to get too big. How can I achieve this?

You should work out exactly as described above with one exception: once your muscles are as toned as you want them, stop increasing the amount of weight. Performing sets of endless repetitions with extremely light weight is a waste of time. It will not make you more toned. There are only two reasons to perform more than 12 repetitions in a set: 1) you really like to warm up thoroughly or 2) you really like the feel of the pump after a high-rep set. High repetitions will not lead to toning, or hypertrophy for that matter.

Getting big is extremely difficult, especially for women. Most men and 99.9% of all women do not have the capacity to get large. If, after two years of lifting weights intensely, you become too large, you are either a genetic freak or on drugs. So many lifters want to be big and so few ever achieve it because it is so difficult. Do not worry about getting too large. Lift weights to strengthen your muscles, this will improve their tone. High repetitions will only increase the amount of time, possibly indefinitely, required to achieve your goal of being toned. Lift hard, and once you are toned, then stop increasing the weights. In addition, fat hides muscle tone. Many people can look toned just by dropping some body fat (see Is weightlifting important to fat loss?). RR

The exercises

  1. What is the proper way to squat?

    Squatting is one of the most productive if not the best exercises out there (it's called the King of Exercises by many). It is one of the most difficult to learn as well. If you are new to this exercise, please take several training sessions practicing with an empty bar or broomstick (you can do some additional work on the leg press if needed). It's very important to get your technique down cold while the weights are still light. Your small errors with small weights will turn into BIG errors with big weights. Much of the bad press the squat has received in the media is a result of improper technique and not the exercise itself. Red flags you may encounter will be pointed out and hopefully how to avoid them.

    The first thing to discuss is not foot position or width of stance, but proper trunk position. Pretend you are a soldier and the meanest, ugliest sergeant ever just told you "TEN-HUT!" You would automatically straighten up and pull your head and shoulders back. This is the proper position of the spine for the squat. IOW, your head is pulled back; your chest is raised; and you have a slight arch in your lower back. At no time during the squat should you bend over at the low back or look down. Of course you have to bend over at the hip (more on that later). You should not look up either. OK, so you got that down?

    Now, the best way to do squats is in a power rack or cage (a large rectangular rack with cross-drilled holes) so you can adjust the pins where if you have to bale, you can set the bar down without any harm. Set the pins to just below the depth you are going. They also serve as a visual cue for depth and if you go down/up crooked. Place the J hooks or posts that hold the bar for you to get under at the level of your nipple or so. Try to unrack it once to see if it's at the right height The bar should have a knurled area in the middle (if it doesn't, find another bar or another gym) so it will not slide down your back. Many people use towels or padding under the bar. Others (including me) feel this leads to some instability because the weight is "teeter tottering" on a small area on your back. If the bar is hurting you either need to add some trapezius mass, place the bar a little further down your back (it should be just above or below the sharp ridge on your scapula (shoulder blade), buy a Manta Ray, or tolerate it because it's part of the game. The Ray helps to spread the load across the shoulder, but it doesn't fit everyone well.

    Now step up to the bar. Place your hands about the same width as a bench press (unless you are doing the shoulder breaker wide-grip variety) and make sure you are even on the bar before unracking. Take a deep breath, step under the bar and unrack it Most squat injuries (according to Fred Hatfield) occur during the back up. Only take enough steps that you can clear the j-hooks or posts on the descent. Place your feet shoulder width or slightly farther apart. Think if you suspended a line from the ceiling it would brush against your medial delt and hit you in the ankle. Use the "practice" sessions to get a width that fits you. You might say many powerlifters squat with a wide-stance and they are pretty strong as a group. I'll agree wholeheartedly, but I'll also point out that the conventional squat is prob'ly more productive because you are working through a larger Range Of Motion. Learn this way and then learn the variations if you like. After you have the width right, turn your feet out at roughly a 45 degree angle. Adjust the width if need be. Now you are ready to squat.

    Take a deep breath, contract your abs and descend. It should feel like you are sitting back on a chair behind you; not going straight down. Keep your knees in line with your feet. DO NOT LET YOUR KNEES BOW IN anytime during the lift! (I have a Grade 1 knee sprain (MCL) from doing just this.) Keep the load light enough so you won't do this and gradually build up. Many people say to try to keep your shin at a 90 degree angle to the ground. This is impossible with the regular stance squat and is only possible by a few using the wide-stance variety. Try to keep your knees from going out past your toes. Alter the width if need be. Most people can and should descend till their thighs are parallel to the ground. This is actually pretty low. A very small majority of people can't and may be better stopping just above parallel. Don't give up on reaching parallel too quick. Also, to go even close to parallel, you have to bend over at the hip (not the spine, of course). However, you should always be more upright than bent over. Two methods of determining your shin/back position and depth is to either have an attentive and adept person monitor you from the side and/or use a video camera placed to the side and close enough to determine all angles. After you have descended to the bottom position, reverse your direction immediately (don't bounce at the bottom) and drive upwards. Try and pull your back up (hip extension) as hard as possible during the ascent. Brooks Kubik describes this "as if a giant gorilla had a hold of your ass and your shoulder and was trying to straighten you out." Come back to a standing position, take a breath or two (or many 8^) and descend again. Make each rep it's own little lift. IOW, make each one count even on your warm-ups. If you maintain good form in your warm-ups, you'll likely retain it for the work sets.

    Should you wear a belt or knee wraps? The former helps to stabilize the spine by increasing intra-abdominal pressure and the latter is just a way of elevating more weight. Especially if you are getting started with the squat, go without either. Use your abdomen as the brace instead of outside help. The knee wraps serve no use except to the powerlifter who wants a bigger max. They may impede the growth of structures around the knee or even cause some harm if used chronically.

    The main reason the power rack gathers dust while there is a line for the angled leg press is because squats HURT! It doesn't matter whether it's the skinny beginner using the "big wheels" on each side for the first time or the bonafide 600+ squatter stepping under an already bending bar. They both feel some pain when doing this exercise. Learn to live with it! The most productive exercises are the most painful. It's a fact of life. If you squat with proper technique and heavy (for you) poundage, you might grunt, scream, cry, hurl and/or pass out, but you prob'ly won't be injured and you'll make terrific headway towards your goals. Learn to be aggressive and focus your complete attention on the task at hand. Good luck and happy training!

    Chuck Clark SPT
    University of Louisville, KY.

  2. What is the proper way to deadlift?

    One of the most productive, but least seen exercises in the gym is the deadlift. From a technique point of view, it's a relatively simple one compared to the squat. You just stand up holding a barbell in front of you without humping your back. That's a brief, but concise explanation. However, most people are scared of the deadlift because they think it will pull, strain, or break their back. When performed in good form, however, the deadlift is one of the best erector (the muscles of the spine) and total body exercises around.

    First, learn to set up your spine and shoulder girdle as described in the "How to Squat" section. Suffice to say, you should pull your shoulders back and keep them there. Additionally, you should NEVER let your back hump over at any time during the lift. Load a barbell on the floor to the desired poundage. Make sure the area around you is free of potential troubles and the floor is not slippery. If you don't have the required strength to use 45 lb. plates on each side of the barbell, elevate the bar to mimic the height as if you were using the 45s.

    Walk up and place your feet slightly narrower than shoulder width apart with your shin almost brushing the bar. Point your toes out at an angle slightly. Reach down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip just outside your legs. Contract your abs hard, make sure your back is flat (actually with a natural arch), and pull the bar up. Be sure to keep the bar as close to your body as possible as you stand up.

    The angle to which your hip and knee joints go to is an individual matter. Length of bones and your flexibility will determine this. You should always attempt to remain more upright than bent over. When you pull the bar, make sure your hip joint straightens at the same rate as your knee. Don't straighten your knees and then try to straighten your hips. You'll hurt yourself. Also, don't lean back at the top.

    After you've stood up with the weight, take a breath, contract your abs and slowly descend in the reverse manner you came up. Do NOT bounce the barbell on the floor. After the plates touch the floor, take a breath (or many!), contract your abs and flatten your back, and pull again. Make each rep its own little lift. Practice the mvmt with light weight till you get it down before moving up in weight.

    The first muscles to usually fatigue during the lift are those associated with gripping the bar which are mostly located in the forearm. Most people will tell you to use an mixed grip (one palm forward, one palm back). This can create some torque imbalances that may give you problems later. Especially when you are starting out, keep to the pronated or hands-over grip and let your grip muscles catch up. If you must use the mixed grip, alternate which palm is forward each set or each session. The least attractive option is to use straps. Straps take the work off of the grip muscles and arguably make the deadlift less productive. Use chalk if it is feasible to help hold the bar.

    As in the squat, some people can't truly descend to the bottom position in the deadlift safely. Don't give up very quickly on making this low spot. If you can't, don't despair. Place some pins in the power rack to where when you place the barbell on them it's just above where it would be on the floor. Try out the mvmt. Elevate the pins till it feels right. If this doesn't help or having to pull the bar that's out in front of you gives your back fits, you might want to give a Gerard trap bar a try. This is a diamond shaped bar that you stand inside of and deadlift. The line of force is through you instead of out front. This makes for a more safe and therefore productive exercise than the regular version. You can have a look at the Gerard trap bar at .

    As in the squat, the deadlift is a very productive and, hence brutal exercise. Don't be scared of it, though. Tall and lanky people who usually have great trouble squatting or benching can usually move up quickly in poundages in the deadlift. This exercise is more than just a back exercise or a "thickening" exercise, it's a total body exercise. Too much in weight training is put into isolation. The big movements ARE the most productive. The deadlift works you from finger to neck to toe. Treat it with respect and it will help you realize your goals quicker than without it. Good luck and happy training!
    University of Louisville, KY.

  3. Dumbbell Bench press - getting into position

    From: John M. Williams <>
    Subject: Re: dumbbell benchpress - how to get in/out of position?
    Date: Sat Jul 13 22:34:38 MDT 2002 (gwailoh) wrote:
    >i'm finding it awkward to get get in and out of position, unless i
    >just let the DB's drop to the ground. Makes it hard to take a rest
    >between sets, and feels dangerous.
    >What do you guys do? Is there a sequence of movements that makes it
    >easier to lift & maneouver the weights until you are in position? or

    Unless the dumbbells are extremely heavy, start by standing with them resting against the front of your thighs, sit on the bench, then lie down and "kick" them up into position onto your chest. After the last rep, lower them close to your waist and reverse the process.

    If the dumbbells are too heavy for that, there are a couple of other things you can try:

  4. How do I work my abs?

    Use weight for resistance. 100 reps of any exercise is a waste of time. Crunches are good because they focus on the abs. I view crunches as an isolation movement. Compound movements are usually better, so I actually recommend sit ups (especially incline) with weight held on the chest. Yes, sit ups work the hip flexors and other muscles as well, but these muscles are critical to movements like the squat, deadlift and other serious compound movements. Who wants weak hip flexors anyway?

    The High-Intensity Abdominal Workout:

    For those who are obsessed with their abdominal muscles, are willing to spare no expense to develop them, and want a hard-core, high-intensity, low-repetition abdominal workout, there IS an answer.

    The primary problem with this method is the fact that the required equipment is [a] rather expensive, and [b] since the late 1980s, rather difficult to find. You will need an "inversion table" with "gravity boots." For those unfamiliar with such devices, a brief explanation is in order. "Gravity boots" are padded, metal collars which are clamped onto your ankles and which have a strong metal hook that protrudes from the front, directly over the foot. An "inversion table" is designed for use with gravity boots. It is like a vertical army cot with two bars spanning the foot end, one below the feet, and one above the feet. It is attached to a stand by a single pivot hinge on each side. After fitting the gravity boots, you step onto the inversion table with your feet on the lowest bar and the hooks of the boots locked beneath the upper bar. Then, you simply throw your weight backwards, causing the table to pivot approximately 180 degrees on its hinges, leaving you suspended by your ankles, completely upside-down. Please note that a good inversion table will pivot beyond perpendicular, breaking contact with all parts of your body other than your ankles; some of them will not reach full perpendicular, leaving you mostly inverted but still laying on the surface of the table. The latter is not well suited to this type of exercise.

    Once inverted, you can perform a normal "crunch" routine. The complete inversion of your body will provide extreme resistance which will result in the much-desired abdominal "burn" long before the number of repetitions required when doing crunches on the floor or on a slant board. However, a few suggestions on technique will be helpful:

    (1) Do NOT hold your hands behind your head; clasp them across your chest. Your neck should be held in a relaxed position, with your head back, "pulling" yourself forward with your shoulders, not your head. When you find yourself able to do more than 20 repetitions, you may clasp a weight plate to your chest to add resistance, increasing the size of the plate each time you can exceed 20 repetitions.

    (2) Although it will be slightly difficult, bending slightly at the knees will decrease stress on your back. However, even with your legs fully extended, you will find that the usual back stress experienced during traditional crunches is almost non-existent when performing "inverted" crunches.

    Aside from the increased resistance in using this abdominal workout, there are a few other advantages:

    (1) No "tailbone rash." The usual abrasion caused by constant friction on the sacral spine area during traditional crunches no longer exists. Your back does not contact any solid surface; therefore, no friction.

    (2) No "head banging." There is no solid surface to come into contact with your head, either. That is why you can easily hold your head back during this routine without worrying about striking it on the floor and without the need to support it in any way.

    Abdominal Training FAQ

  5. How do I get a 6-pack?

    Everyone has a six-pack of abs. The ability to see them is completely dependent upon body fat levels. If you want to show off a washboard stomach, then drop the body fat. Spot reduction is a myth. Hundreds of situps or crunches will not "bring out" the abs if they're covered in fat.

    If you want to increase the strength of your abdominals (and every lifter should), then perform abdominal exercises with WEIGHT. 100 reps of any exercise is a waste of time.

  6. What is the proper way to do shrugs?

    Shrugs should be performed in a straight up and down motion. Keep the head in an upright position, looking straight ahead, not at the floor, not at the ceiling.

    Rolling the shoulders does not stress the traps any better. In fact, it may be harmful. Rowing movements can effectively work the traps when the shoulders are pulled backward. However, rowing movements call for moving the weight perpendicular to the body in order to stress these muscles during this movement. During shrugs the weight is not in a position to provide resistance against a backward movement. Therefore, a shrug should be done straight up and down.

    Barbells or dumbbells can be used, although dumbbells provide for a more natural shrug.

  7. Can I change the peak of my bicep?

    In a word, NO! Everyone from Peewee Herman to Ahnuld has their own individual genetic shape. You can't change it. This extends to the shape of the muscle bellies as well. Some people have very long and flat muscle bellies and some have peaky, short muscles. Most people are somewhere in between. The biceps brachii is a two headed muscle that runs from the shoulder to across the elbow. It functions to supinate and flex the forearm. The 2 heads run parallel to each other and it's debatable whether one exercise will target one over the other when sufficient weight is used. You can't preferentially contract one area of a bicep head over the other, either. The innervation of a muscle (or muscle head in this case) is made so that if one motor unit (motor neuron and the muscle fibers it innervates) fires you'll get a very weak contraction all over the whole muscle. As more motor units are called into play the weak contractions (all over, of course) summate and you get a strong contraction.

    Also, you can't stretch one part of a muscle over any other part because you either move the muscle attachments closer together or farther apart. So, what do you do? You just merely focus on making your arms larger: increase the size of the muscles. This will give you the illusion of having peakier or longer biceps. Doing the "mass" or big movements will go longer to giving you big arms than endless sets of curls. Also, you're going to have to increase your bodyweight significantly to make any real gains in bicep mass. It's much easier to put an inch on your arms when you've put on 20 lbs of muscle.

    Chuck Clark SPT
    University of Louisville, KY.

MFW-FAQ Section IV
weightlifting and health

  1. Is weightlifting beneficial for my health?

    Yes. Muscle is what moves us and it's something we all lose as we age. The loss begins about age 25 resulting in about a 10% loss by age 50. Between the ages of 50 and 80, people lose about half their strength and about 40% of their muscle. The exact mechanism causing this change is unknown, but it is thought that it is related to altered interactions between muscle cells and motor nerves.

    Muscle loss leads to a lower metabolic rate and, thus, weight gain unless Calorie intake is reduced (which rarely happens). Age associated muscle wasting can lead to a number of problems where older people may not have the strength to lift loads, rise from a chair, or carry out the daily activities required for independent living.

    Weight lifting or resistance training can actually prevent this muscle loss. So far, strength training is the only method shown effective at slowing this loss of muscle. Aerobic exercise does not stem muscle loss. Physiologists indicate that, ideally, a person would begin weight training before age 50 (those of us at mfw would suggest by age 20). The benefits are not restricted to older members of society. Interestingly, studies have shown that 87 year old men and women experienced a 90% increase in strength over a 10 week period of resistance training. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart pains or any heart or circulatory condition, it is essential to check with your physician before beginning.

    Strength training has been shown to increase bone-density in post-menopausal women, helping to prevent bone fractures. In addition, weightlifting can improve neural control of muscles which can prevent the types of accidents that often cause bone fractures in the elderly.

    In addition, weightlifting can contribute greatly to the control of body fat. Therefore, weightlifting can be very beneficial for those who have a tendency towards obesity. As more studies are done, more and more beneficial effects of weightlifting are becoming evident.

  2. Does weightlifting increase bone density and strength?

    Yes. studies have consistently shown that a weightlifting program will increase bone density and strength, and that training with greater intensity and heavier weights will do so more than training with lower intensity and lighter weights. These benefits have been seen regardless of the ages, sexes, and prior levels of training:

    Bone mineral content of junior competitive weightlifters.
    Virvidakis K, Georgiou E, Korkotsidis A, Ntalles K, Proukakis C.
    Int J Sports Med 1990 Jun;11(3):244-6

    On the occasion of a recent Junior World Championship we measured, by single photon absorptiometry, BMC (Bone Mineral Content) in 59 young competitive male athletes (aged 15 to 20 years) from 14 countries. [...] Our results suggest that junior competitive weightlifters have an increased BMC, well above the age-matched controls' mean. It seems that the vigorous exercise of weightlifters tends to fade out any race or age-related BMC differences.

    The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review.
    Layne JE, Nelson ME.
    Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999 Jan;31(1):25-30

    Both aerobic and resistance training exercise can provide weight-bearing stimulus to bone, yet research indicates that resistance training may have a more profound site specific effect than aerobic exercise. Over the past 10 years, nearly two dozen cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have shown a direct and positive relationship between the effects of resistance training and bone density.

    See also the note on protein consumption and calcium at Is increased protein intake harmful?

  3. My liver enzymes are elevated, but I don't take steroids or drink alcohol. What's the problem?

    While the aminotransferases are often referred to as liver enzymes, these enzymes are actually found in numerous tissues and their numbers often increase from exercise-induced trauma.

    These numbers are a good marker for people who drink alcohol constantly, or consume oral anabolic steroids. If the numbers are 100 times higher than the normal range in the aforementioned people, there's a good chance their livers are hurting.

MFW-FAQ Section V
Cardiovascular conditioning and weightlifters

  1. How important is cardiovascular conditioning to bodybuilders?

    Very important. First, cardiovascular conditioning is very important for health, but bodybuilders rely on it to help shed fat so they can show off the physiques they have built. Some argue that they burn enough calories from intense weight workouts, making cardio unnecessary. While this may be true for people with fast metabolisms, it is not true for a large percentage of the population. Recent studies have found that long duration, repetitive use of muscles (like biking, rowing, skiing or jogging for 10 minutes or longer) causes changes in gene expression that greatly increase the quantity of certain proteins within these exercised cells (mainly slow twitch fibers). These proteins not only have the potential to lead to better health, but they can greatly enhance the fat burning done by these muscle cells. To turn your body into a blast furnace, do some cardio exercise regularly. In addition, regular cardio work may also provide for better blood flow to muscle cells, which may provide for better lifting in the gym.

  2. Powerlifters?

    Powerlifters who are unconcerned with the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise may still need to do some regular cardiovascular exercise. Too much cardio work would be absolutely detrimental to their goal. However, insufficient cardio exercise may limit their potential as a powerlifter.

  3. Should I do cardiovascular work before or after the weights?

    Cardiovascular exercise before lifting weights can serve as a very good warmup. Unfortunately, this may leave you too fatigued to give intense effort to the weight workout.

    Weightlifting before cardiovascular exercise may help the body go into "fat burning" mode faster because the weightlifting depletes glycogen stores. Unfortunately, after lifting a person may be too tired to have an effective cardiovascular workout.

    The general consensus is that, for general fitness, it doesn't matter what order you do your exercise. However, strength athletes should prioritize the weightlifting first, performing the cardio later.

    Lyle McDonald and RR

MFW-FAQ Section VI
Strength and size

  1. Can I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?

    This is very difficult. It can be done in some unique circumstances, but for the most part it isn't possible. For example, novice lifters can sometimes gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Also, people returning from long layoffs can sometimes add muscle and lose fat at the same time. However, experienced lifters who are working out consistently can't do both at the same time. If you want to do both, you should choose one goal (either fat loss or muscle gain) and work towards that goal for a few months. After some success towards that goal, you should then change over and try to accomplish the other for a few months. Be single-minded in your focus towards that goal. When trying to lose fat, you should be unconcerned if you lose a little muscle as well. Likewise, if you're trying to add muscle, you should allow the addition of a small amount of fat.

  2. Can I lose fat without losing muscle?

    No, this can't be done. Most dieters will lose 1 pound of muscle for every 3 pounds of fat lost. Steroid-aided athletes can only take this ratio up to about 1:8. Muscle loss when dieting is inevitable. Try to minimize it, but focus on the goal of fat loss.

  3. Can I get stronger without gaining more muscle mass?

    Yes, it is possible. Gaining strength without gaining muscle mass is common in novice lifters and people who are returning from long lay-offs. Older lifters can sometimes improve strength through improvements in lifting technique.

    However, once these avenues have been exhausted, the only way to improve strength is through and increase in mass.

  4. Can I gain muscle mass without getting stronger?

    No. This is why so many bodybuilders, appropriately, train to get stronger. If you get stronger, you will get larger. This doesn't automatically mean, that when comparing to different individuals, the larger person is stronger. It simply means that if you take your existing muscle mass and then increase it, it will necessarily be stronger.

    In response to this question, Fred Hatfield once said "just lift the damn weights!"

What should I eat?

There are some good nutrition and training FAQs located at
Also there is the Training-Nutrition mailing list - to subscribe

  1. to gain weight?

    There are three macronutrients (food consumed in large amounts to meet energy and other physiological requirements) that you must consume daily: protein, carbohydrate and fat. Bodybuilders often focus on protein (which is the largest constituent of muscle cells after water) because, after all, "you are what you eat." However, the most critical factor for weight gain is total Calorie (one Calorie = one kilocalorie) intake.

    1. How many Calories?

      Those attempting to add muscle to their frames should consume at least 15 to 20 times their body weight (in pounds - kg x 2.2) in Calories per day. 25 times your body weight should be the upper limit in Calories consumed for weight gain diets, but these are usually for steroid-assisted athletes.

    2. How much protein?

      Approximately 15 to 20% of those Calories should come from protein. Bodybuilders are rarely deficient in protein. Common sources of protein include milk, eggs, red meat, chicken, beans, rice, pasta and nuts.

    3. How much carbohydrate?

      Approximately 60 to 65% of those Calories should come from carbohydrates. The healthiest diets usually involve a wide variety of carbohydrate sources starting with vegetables and fruits. Other sources of carbs include rice, pasta, baked potatoes, oats and breads. These are common carbohydrates consumed on weight-gain diets.

    4. How much fat?

      Approximately 20% of those Calories should come from fats, preferably vegetable fats, although some animal (saturated) fats will inevitably be consumed by those who regularly eat meat.

  2. to lose weight?

    1. How many Calories?

      Someone trying to lose body fat should consume between 10 and 15 times their body weight in Calories per day. A common goal is to consume about 250 Calories fewer than you would normally require, and exercise to burn off an extra 250 Calories. At this Calorie deficit of 500 Calories per day, a person will lose about 1 pound of fat per week. A person should never lose more than 2 pounds per week. The faster the weight is lost, the more likely muscle will be lost instead of fat. Other health problems are also associated with drastic weight loss.

      Another, more precise method:

      1. Estimate your BMR at 11 x bodyweight in pounds
      2. Estimate maintenance Calories by multipling BMR by:
        • 1.2 - for people confined to bed
        • 1.3 - for sedentary people
        • 1.5-1.75 - for normally active people
        • 2.0 - for extremely active people
      3. Consume 10% less Calories than maintenance.
      [ William Lau ]

      When it comes to dividing the calories between protein, carbohydrates, and fats, don't start by figuring out the precise percentages (unless you're following the Zone Diet), start with your body's nutritional requirements:

      Keeping your protein intake at around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight is even more important when dieting, and your caloric deficit should come from reducing carb and/or fat intake, not protein intake. There is no one caloric ratio you have to shoot for.
      [ Bob Tokyo ( ]

      Your body doesn't know from percentages of anything. Your body knows from requirements in terms of g/unit weight.

      As others said, you need protein at ~1 g/lb lean body mass while dieting (or massing). that's on an absolute scale, not a percentage scale. whether that makes up 20% or 50% of your total calories will depend on your total calories.

      So protein gets set at that level regardless. Then worry about the other numbers. But just keep in mind that the percentages can be terribly misleading.

      [ Lyle McDonald ( ]
    2. Weight loss and protein

      The daily protein intake necessary to prevent lean tissue losses and (ideally) allow for muscle mass and strength gain is estimated to be about 0.8 grams per kilogram in sedentary individuals and 1.6 to 1.8 grams per kilogram in highly active individuals. Optimal protein intake for maximum growth in non-dieting individuals is likely even higher. [ Lemon PW, "Beyond the zone: protein needs of active individuals." J Am Coll Nutr 2000 Oct;19(5 Suppl):513S-521S ]

      The protein requirements of dieters are certainly not less, owing to their increased tendency to burn both dietary and tissue protein for fuel.

    3. Weight loss and carbohydrates

      Carbohydrates are starches and sugars such as those found in bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, fruits, non-diet soda pop, Twinkies, crackers, and breakfast cereals. The traditional division between "simple" and "complex" carbohydrates is largely meaningless and often misleading when compared to the body's own responses to different kinds of foods. The Glycemic Index of foods is a far more useful measure of their real-world effects.

      1. What is the Glycemic Index?

        Glycemic Index (GI) is a rating system for carbohydrates based on how quickly the sugar enters the blood stream and the degree of insulin response induced. GIs were initially established to help diabetics regulate insulin levels following meals. Carbohydrate sources with low GIs generally enter the blood stream slower or cause a smaller insulin response. This can be beneficial for those trying to lose fat as well as those who are diabetic.

        Note that the Glycemic Index is measured for a standardized 100 gram sample of a carbohydrate-rich food eaten in isolation and on an empty stomach. Consumption of any carbohydrate-rich food along with proteins and/or fats will reduce its effective Glycemic Index and any insulin "spike" induced.

        Rick Mendosa maintains an extensive list of the glycemic indices of foods at

      Unfortunately, though the names have been changed, the foods that you'd always thought were bad for your diet still are. Foods rich in sugars are particularly to be avoided, with non-diet sodas and fruit juices sharing a particular talent for sneaking loads of calories past the lips of the unwary dieter.

      It is likely beneficial to consume multiple meals per day, like six, instead of just three. One reason is that multiple meals will reduce the amount of carbohydrate eaten at any one time, causing a smaller insulin response at each meal and maintaining a more constant insulin level throughout the day. Much evidence indicates that high insulin levels encourages the storage of fat.

    4. Weight loss and fat

      A dieter should consume about 20% of their Calories from fat. The primary source of fat should be vegetable sources while minimizing the intake of saturated fats from animal sources. There are essential fatty acids. Linoleic acid is obtained from just about every source of vegetable fat. Linolenic acid, and other omega-3 fatty acids, are more difficult to obtain, but they are found in walnuts, flax seed, borage seed and some fish oils.

  3. Is weightlifting important to fat loss?

    Yes. As outlined above, a loss of muscle mass causes a decrease in metabolic rate and subsequent weight (fat) gain. Inevitably, dieters undergoing Calorie restriction will lose some of their muscle mass. This loss of muscle will slow down the metabolic rate causing them to resort to further Calorie decreases (or increases in physical activity) in order to continue losing weight.

    Weightlifting can actually prevent some of this muscle loss, and if new muscle is added to your frame, you will actually burn more Calories when you aren't even exercising (the other 23 hours in the day). Successful weight loss requires permanent dietary and exercise changes, but the goal of fat loss is more likely to be successful when weightlifting is combined with proper diet and aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise.

  4. What about those weight loss centers?

    Weight loss centers are usually viewed as a temporary fix and they rarely contribute to long-term management of body fat. People will usually visit the center for a while where their meals are controlled and they are regularly weighed and measured for body fat. However, once the person stops visiting the center, their eating patterns do not resemble the meals of the controlled environments and people often lose motivation without the regular weigh-ins to monitor their progress.

    Successful elimination of body fat comes about through long-term changes in diet (decrease Calorie intake, eat healthier foods) and a long-term commitment to exercise.

  5. What is the Isometric diet?

    Some people find other types of diets useful. The isometric diet, by Dan Duchaine, involves eating 1/3 of Calories from protein, 1/3 from fat and 1/3 from carbohydrates. On this diet, Dan also encourages the consumption of low to moderate GI carbs.

  6. What is the Anabolic diet?

    The AD is a cyclical ketogenic diet which provides a way to gain muscle whilst losing fat, sometimes at an astonishing rate. During the week no carbs are ingested (less than 30g per day), fat and protein make up the daily calories. On the weekends the diet switches over to a normal low fat and very high carb regime.

    The diet works in the following manner. In the absence of carbs (during the week), the body switches to ketone bodies (from fat breakdown) for an energy source - this is ketosis. Ketones have been shown to be protein sparing. The high levels of ingested fats also trick the body into a faster metabolic rate. On the weekends when huge amounts of insulin spiking carbs are ingested, the body is put into a highly anabolic state. Fat spillover is minimised due to the carb depleted muscles absorbing most of the excess blood sugar. Hence, fat loss is maximised during the week with minimal muscle loss and conversely on weekends muscle gain is maximised and any fat spillover is minimised.

    Weekday food choices include bacon and eggs, steak, salmon, full fat mayo, cream, butter, sausages - you get the picture. A 1:2 protein to fat ratio is recommended, hence the high fat content.

    See the following site by Jeff Krabbe for more info.

  7. What is Bodyopus?

    Bodyopus is very similar to the anabolic diet except that it focuses on losing bodyfat quickly while minimizing lean tissue losses and includes the use of various pharmacological agents.

    Mysteriously, Bodyopus was published without an index, but Robert Ames was kind enough to write one. A plain-text version is available at and an HTML version is located at

  8. What is the Zone diet?

    The zone diet, by Barry Sears, is an extremely Calorie restrictive diet that involves maintaining a protein to carbohydrate ratio of 0.75 and encourages the consumption of low glycemic index carbohydrates. In theory, this type of diet should reduce the insulin response after meals containing high-glycemic foods. Subsequently, Sears believes that this lower insulin response should help reduce body fat.

    A recent study found that after long-term (30 day) consumption of low-glycemic foods, the body can alter insulin secretion to reflect values similar to those observed following the consumption of high glycemic foods.

    In addition, another study found that, despite decreased insulin secretion, there was no significant fat loss above that observed in a high insulin secretion group. There are problems with both of these studies, but they do raise serious questions that have yet to be answered with respect to the zone diet.

    First, almost all studies examining the glycemic index of food have followed the subjects for only a number of hours after the meal, or for only a few days. Insulin responses have not been examined after long-duration consumption of low glycemic index foods. This leaves the question, will the body adapt, in the long run, to low glycemic diets by secreting some predetermined genetic quantity of insulin?

    Second, while insulin certainly encourages the storage of fat, one obvious question remains. Can reducing insulin levels by changing to a low glycemic index diet actually result in fat loss, independent of further Calorie restriction?

    In addition, weightlifters usually have some of the best glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity around, raising another question. Will this type of diet be beneficial for weightlifting, or any, athletes? Due to the extremely Calorie restrictive nature of this diet, I (RR) do not recommend it for weightlifters trying to gain lean mass.

    Those trying to lose fat may find the recommendations of the zone diet to be very beneficial for fat loss. The basics of the diet revolve around low-glycemic vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and dairy products as food sources containing the ideal carbohydrates. While all the claims have not yet been born out by research, the Zone diet is a sound approach to nutrition. RR

    The Zone diet is from the book "The Zone" by Barry Sears. It is a low Calorie, low saturated fat, moderate carbohydrate, moderate protein diet, with 40% of the Calories from carbohydrates, 30% from (mainly mono-unsaturated) fats, and 30% from protein. It is similar to Dan Duchaine's IsoMetric Diet. Most people who have tried it report good results at losing fat while preserving lean mass. People trying to gain lean muscle have had more mixed results. Further information can be obtained by going to and following the links from there.

    For weightlifters, 3 effects on the Zone diet are generally reported. 1) You can't get a pump. 2) It takes a lot longer to recover between sets. 3) You're a lot less sore the day after a workout.

    [ Russell Swan ]

    See also The Zone page

  9. Dietary Protein Requirements of the Athlete

    Common wisdom is that the dietary protein requirements of athletes exceed that of sedentary individuals, but this topic remains a contentious one with a very wide range of recommendations and a few outspoken individuals even going so far as to deny that athletes have any greater requirement at all or that increased protein consumption is harmful (see the following section, Is increased protein intake harmful? ). One of the best-known researchers on the subject is Peter Lemon, who writes:

    Protein and amino acid needs of the strength athlete.
    Lemon PW, Applied Physiology Research Laboratory, Kent State University, OH 44242 (Int J Sport Nutr 1991 Jun;1(2):127-45)

    The debate regarding optimal protein/amino acid needs of strength athletes is an old one. Recent evidence indicates that actual requirements are higher than those of more sedentary individuals, although this is not widely recognized. Some data even suggest that high protein/amino acid diets can enhance the development of muscle mass and strength when combined with heavy resistance exercise training. Novices may have higher needs than experienced strength athletes, and substantial interindividual variability exists. Perhaps the most important single factor determining absolute protein/amino acid need is the adequacy of energy intake. Present data indicate that strength athletes should consume approximately 12-15% of their daily total energy intake as protein, or about 1.5-2.0 g protein/kg.d-1 (approximately 188-250% of the U.S. recommended dietary allowance). Although routinely consumed by many strength athletes, higher protein intakes have not been shown to be consistently effective and may even be associated with some health risks.

  10. Is increased protein intake harmful?

    In a word, no. Several studies have indeed shown that reduced protein intake is beneficial for individuals suffering from kidney disorders, but this does not imply that a diet high in protein is harmful for individuals with healthy, functioning kidneys.

    Increased protein intake does, however, also increase calcium excretion; this is not generally a problem, because it can be compensated for by increased calcium intake, either from food or from supplements. Many high-protein foods, including milk and cheese, contain more than enough calcium to compensate for any increase in calcium excretion due to their protein content. Even if your diet is high in protein but not high in calcium-rich foods, calcium supplements are widely and cheaply available in pill form.

  11. Carbohydrate Loading

    Carbohydrate loading is the technique of depleting muscle glycogen stores, usually through a combination of diet and exercise, followed by a period of consuming a diet rich in high glycemic index carbohydrates. Muscle cells with depleted glycogen stores will take up and store carbohydrates from the bloodstream much more rapidly than undepleted cells and if glycogen stores are refilled rapidly, this "window" of increased uptake will last slightly longer than it takes to return glycogen stores to baseline levels, leading to more glycogen being stored in muscle tissue than would ordinarily. How much? according to one study:

    Persistence of supercompensated muscle glycogen in trained subjects after carbohydrate loading.
    Goforth HW Jr, Arnall DA, Bennett BL, Law PG (J Appl Physiol 1997 Jan;82(1):342-7)

    Human Performance Department, Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, California 92186-5122, USA. Several carbohydrate (CHO)-loading protocols have been used to achieve muscle glycogen supercompensation and prolong endurance performance. This study assessed the persistence of muscle glycogen supercompensation over the 3 days after the supercompensation protocol. Trained male athletes completed a 6-day CHO-loading protocol that included cycle ergometer exercise and dietary manipulations. The 3-day depletion phase began with 115 min of cycling at 75% peak oxygen uptake followed by 3 x 60-s sprints and included the subjects consuming a low-CHO/high-protein/high-fat (10:41:49%) diet. Subjects cycled 40 min at the same intensity for the next 2 days. During the 3-day repletion phase, subjects rested and consumed a high-CHO/low-protein/low-fat (85:08:07%) diet, including a glucose-polymer beverage. A 3-day postloading phase followed, which involved a moderately high CHO diet (60%) and no exercise. Glycogen values for vastus lateralis biopsies at baseline and postloading days 1-3 were 408 +/- 168 (SD), 729 +/- 222, 648 +/- 186, and 714 +/- 196 mmol/kg dry wt, respectively. The CHO-loading protocol increased muscle glycogen by 1.79 times baseline, and muscle glycogen remained near this level during the 3-day postloading period. Results indicate that supercompensated muscle glycogen levels can be maintained for at least 3 days in a resting athlete when a moderate-CHO diet is consumed.

    Carbohydrate loading is potentially valuable to both the bodybuilder and endurance athlete, by increasing muscle size and fullness and by increasing intramuscular energy stores to be used in a subsequent athletic event. Because glycogen storage requires the simultaneous uptake of water by muscle cells, carbohydrate loading also has the potential for drawing in any excess extracellular water, which makes the skin appear thinner and brings out muscular detail. Care must be taken to drink sufficient fluids at any time when glycogen stores are being replenished, because if too much water is taken up without adequate intake, electrolyte imbalances and cramping may result.


See separate document, MFW FAQ, Section VIII. Supplements

MFW-FAQ Section IX
Are there any natural ways of increasing testosterone levels?

Unfortunately, even if there are natural ways to increase testosterone, the body tends to adapt to that change. It is unlikely that natural supplements can actually result in observable benefits.

  1. Homeopathic testosterone and other homeopathic preparations

    You may be wondering how one can legally sell testosterone and how homeopathic "testosterone" might be effective when taken orally, like testosterone isn't. The secret lies in the basic principle of homeopathy, which claims that the "essence" of a substance remains even when it is diluted to the point that none of the substance in question actually remains in the solution. As such, these are basically just particularly expensive vials of distilled water and will do everything for you that drinking a tiny vial of water would, thus getting around the legal and biochemical limitations of actual testosterone.

  2. Do squats and deadlifts increase testosterone production?

    I suspect it's much simpler. If you do exercises, with really heavy weights, that stress the entire body, then the entire body grows to adapt to that stress. You can do isolation/concentration movements 'til you're blue in the face, but once you place a bar on your back (with some really heavy weight on it) and squat down using every muscle in your body to support that weight, then your body has a serious stress to adapt to. RR

    I'm going to back this statement. This is the main reason any power lifter does overloads. My PR in the squat is 525, so I put 600 on the bar and simply hold it. In laymen's term's it's simply getting used to the weight. That is my advice for powerlifters. For any other athlete, this advice may be different. Train for what you do! Not for what increases limit strength.

    Frederick C. Hatfield II, MS,SSC1
  3. What about sex and/or masturbation?

    Neither masturbation or sexual intercourse is likely to worsen your athletic performance and recovery or lower testosterone levels. Engaging is sex or masturbation *during* a lift could potentially be dangerous and, in any case, you should always observe good gym etiquette and clean up any equipment afterwards. If you do have sex in the gym, be aware that other gym members may complain if you haven't brought enough to share with them too.

    J Endocrinol 1976 Sep;70(3):439-44 Endocrine effects of masturbation in men. Purvis K, Landgren BM, Cekan Z, Diczfalusy E
    The levels of pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA), androstenedione, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), oestrone, oestradiol, cortisol and luteinizing hormone (LH) were measured in the peripheral plasma of a group of young, apparently healthy males before and after masturbation. The same steroids were also determined in a control study, in which the psychological antipation of masturbation was encouraged, but the physical act was not carried out. The plasma levels of all steroids were significantly increased after masturbation, whereas steroid levels remained unchanged in the control study. The most marked changes after masturbation were observed in pregnenolone and DHA levels. No alterations were observed in the plasma levels of LH. Both before and after masturbation plasma levels of testosterone were significantly correlated to those of DHT and oestradiol, but not to those of the other steroids studied. On the other hand, cortisol levels were significantly correlated to those of pregnenolone, DHA, androstenedione and oestrone. In the same subjects, the levels of pregnenolone, DHA, androstenedione, testosterone and DHT in seminal plasma were also estimated; they were all significantly correlated to the levels of the corresponding steroid in the systemic blood withdrawn both before and after masturbation.

    Psychosom Med 1999 May-Jun;61(3):280-9 Cardiovascular and endocrine alterations after masturbation-induced orgasm in women. Exton MS, Bindert A, Kruger T, Scheller F, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M, Department of Medical Psychology, University Clinic Essen, Germany.
    The present study investigated the cardiovascular, genital, and endocrine changes in women after masturbation-induced orgasm. Healthy women (N = 10) completed an experimental session, in which a documentary film was observed for 20 minutes, followed by a pornographic film for 20 minutes, and another documentary for an additional 20 minutes. Subjects also participated in a control session, in which participants watched a documentary film for 60 minutes. After subjects had watched the pornographic film for 10 minutes in the experimental session, they were asked to masturbate until orgasm. Cardiovascular (heart rate and blood pressure) and genital (vaginal pulse amplitude) parameters were monitored continuously throughout testing. Furthermore, blood was drawn continuously for analysis of plasma concentrations of adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH), beta-endorphin, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), testosterone, progesterone, and estradiol. RESULTS: Orgasm induced elevations in cardiovascular parameters and levels of plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline. Plasma prolactin substantially increased after orgasm, remained elevated over the remainder of the session, and was still raised 60 minutes after sexual arousal. In addition, sexual arousal also produced small increases in plasma LH and testosterone concentrations. In contrast, plasma concentrations of cortisol, FSH, beta-endorphin, progesterone, and estradiol were unaffected by orgasm. CONCLUSIONS: Sexual arousal and orgasm produce a distinct pattern of neuroendocrine alterations in women, primarily inducing a long-lasting elevation in plasma prolactin concentrations. These results concur with those observed in men, suggesting that prolactin is an endocrine marker of sexual arousal and orgasm.

MFW-FAQ Section X
Anabolic steroids

Steroids are a very large class of compounds which occur in all animals. The steroids used by athletes are mostly androgenic steroids: steroids which act like testosterone. The steroids used to treat inflammatory disorders (e.g. prednisolone, cortisone, beclomethasone, budesonide, dexamethasone and dozens of others) are corticosteroids and do not have anabolic effects.

Testosterone in the male is produced mainly in the testis, a small amount being produced in the adrenal. It is synthesized from cholesterol. The regulation of its production may be simplified thus: the hypothalamus (part of the brain) produces gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) which acts on the anterior pituitary to increase the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). LH acts on the Leydig cells in the testis, causing them to produce testosterone. FSH, together with testosterone act on the Sertoli cells in the testis to regulate the production and maturation of spermatozoa. Testosterone in turn acts on the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary to suppress the production of GnRH, FSH and LH, producing a negative-feedback mechanism which keeps everything well-regulated. The small amount produced in the adrenal (in both sexes) is regulated by secretion of adrenal corticotrophic hormone (ACTH), also secreted by the pituitary.

Testosterone, and its metabolites such as dihydrotestosterone, act in many parts of the body, producing the secondary sexual characteristics of the male: balding, facial and body hair, deep voice, greater muscle bulk, thicker skin, and genital maturity. At puberty it produces acne, the growth spurt and the enlargement of the penis and testes as well as causing the fusion of the epiphyses (through its conversion to estrogen), bringing growth in height to an end. It plays some role in maintaining the sexual organs in the adult, but only a low concentration is required for this.

The normal production of testosterone in the adult male is 4 to 9mg per day. The normal plasma concentration is 22.5nmol/l, of which 97% is protein bound. Most is excreted in the urine as 17-ketosteroids, but a small amount is converted to oestrogens.

Various analogs of testosterone are used in medical treatment of testicular failure, hereditary angioedema, anemia, severe endometriosis and a few other conditions. Testosterone itself is given by injection. Oral preparations such as methyltestosterone, fluoxymesterone, mesterolone and stanolone are sometimes used, but they cause substantially more liver damage than injectable or rectally administered preparations because they are absorbed from the gut and transported first to the liver (like most things taken by mouth), where they reach quite high concentrations and are extensively metabolized before circulating to the rest of the body.

Many other analogs have been developed with more anabolic effect than testosterone. These include such famous names as stanozolol, nandrolone, ethyloestrenol and oxymetholone. They all have substantially the same effects as testosterone: retention of sodium, potassium, water, calcium, sulfate, and phosphate, increased muscle synthesis in response to exercise and possible increases in aggression and or libido.

They act on the hypothalamus and pituitary to suppress the production of GnRH, FSH and LH, causing a virtual cessation in the production of natural testosterone in the testes and also reducing or stopping the production of spermatozoa. This effect does not always reverse when the artificial androgens are stopped.

Cancers of the prostate are frequently dependent on testosterone (hence their treatment by castration) and they may progress very rapidly in the presence of high level of androgens.

A percentage of testosterone is converted to estrogen and some artificial androgens have some estrogen effect as well, causing enlargement of the breast tissue behind the nipple (gynaecomastia). This is occasionally seen naturally in pubescent boys and a small percentage of the adult male population. This effect may be reduced by drugs which inhibit the binding of estrogen to its receptors: e.g. clomiphene, cyclofenil and tamoxifen or drugs that block the enzyme, aromatase, that converts testosterone to estrogen.

So are they safe? The approval and use of any drug is a matter of deciding whether the therapeutic benefits from its use are worth the adverse effects. No drug is safe; acetaminophen (paracetamol) causes some very nasty fatal poisonings, aspirin causes rare cases of devastating skin reactions. Problems occur with every pharmaceutical and it is usually dose dependent. However, the concensus is that they save enough lives and alleviate enough problems to more than compensate for the bad effects. In therapeutic doses, steroids result in few side effects.

Androgenic steroids have a fairly limited use in medicine. They are effective in males with testicular failure and are occasionally used in osteoporosis and as an appetite stimulant in severely wasted patients. In the past they were also used to treat anemia, however, more effective treatements now exist for this disease. In these cases the benefits clearly outweigh the risks for the patient. Using them for essentially cosmetic or frivolous reasons doesn't produce much of value to compensate for the risks associated with their abuse.

Using drugs under medical supervision doesn't make the drugs any safer, it just gives a greater chance that the adverse effects may be picked up sooner, and it decreases the chances that an abusive quantity will be used.

James Mitchell (with modifications by Rifle River)

See also The Anabolic Steriod FAQ

  1. What Side effects are commonly seen with steroid use?

    First, there are many different anabolic steroids and based on how the body handles them, they have very different side effects. Some steroids have virtually no side effects and to lump all anabolic steroids into one category (in terms of benefit or harm) shows a lack of understanding with respect to their pharmacological action.

    In therapeutic doses, 100 mg deca-durabolin per week for example, very few side effects are observed. Unfortunately, most athletes will not restrict their use to therapeutic doses.

    What happens when athletes take some of the harsher anabolic steroids in abusive dosages? Numerous side effects can result while on steroids including acne, increased sex drive, impotence, liver problems, aggression and psychological dependence. Other side effects, including gynecomastia (bitch tits), high blood pressure, other cardiovascular diseases, baldness, stunted growth in adolescents, and enlargement of preexisting prostate tumors can persist even after steroid use has stopped. Female steroid users, in addition to the problems listed above, can have virilizing (masculinizing) symptoms when using the harsher, androgenic compounds, including amenorrhea (which is reversible), clitoral hypertrophy, deeper voice, excessive growth of body hair, loss of scalp hair and alterations in skin texture (which frequently aren't reversible). Not all of these conditions are caused by all anabolic steroids. Some of the harsher anabolic steroids will only cause these problems for a certain percentage of the users, above certain dosages. Some of the milder anabolic steroids cause almost none of these side effects. Therefore, it is a mistake to state that all steroid users will come down with these side effects. Any such silly statements will be readily flamed on m.f.w. Most of the side effects of steroid use result from the conversion of testosterone to estrogen or dihydrotestosterone. Some anabolic steroids do not undergo this conversion. These steroids will have fewer side effects.

    Commonly, guys will post a question to the group asking if they should be concerned about side effects, like gyno, when taking 200 mg/week of deca-durabolin. This demonstrates a lack of understanding with respect to the side effects of anabolic steroids. This person should do more reading on the subject before proceeding because deca undergoes very little aromatization to estrogen, making the chances of gyno quite small, especially at such a low dose.

    A more valid question that is often asked is will 250 mg/week of testosterone make nolvadex necessary during a cycle to prevent gyno. Testosterone will convert to estrogen readily. However, gyno and many of the side effects of testosterone, don't show up at such low doses. In fact, testosterone has been shown to be relatively safe up to 600 mg/week FOR SHORT DURATION USE! Those interested in this should read the July 4. 1996 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine regarding the harmful and beneficial effects of testosterone.

    For more information on specific steroids, their effects and side effects, such books as the World Anabolic Review (800-294-6181) or the Anabolic Reference Guide (800-615-8500) should be consulted.

    1. Is Lyle Alzado a good example of how steroids are harmful?

      No, anecdotal information is inadequate for drawing conclusions (see question on scientific research). In addition, Lyle died of a rare form of brain cancer that is only seen in patients with immunodeficiencies. This does not indicate that Lyle was HIV positive. There are many causes of immunodeficiencies. However, no other steroid user, who is immunocompetent, has died from this same form of brain cancer, casting doubt on the hypothesis that Lyle's steroid use caused his cancer or his death.

  2. Should I start my first cycle?

    If you are under the age of 20 you shouldn't even consider the possibility. Teenagers are already experiencing an anabolic spurt and the risks far outweigh the benefit. Many anabolic steroids have the potential to stunt your growth, so that is something every teenager should consider if they have any expectation of becoming a professional athlete where short people have a much lower probability of success.

    If you live in the US, Canada or other countries where steroids are strictly regulated, you should consider the consequences of breaking the law.

    If you have only been lifting weights for a few years, you should consider that inexperienced weightlifters rarely show benefits from the use of steroids.

    If you think that you will only use the milder anabolic steroids, you should consider that just about everyone who uses the more dangerous steroids started out that way. Cycles of deca and primo turn into cycles of anadrol and testosterone. These compounds can be psychologically addictive, and the desire for more is a dangerous game.

    If you think that you are capable of self-administering these compounds, you should consider how much you really know about human physiology and pharmacology. What would you do if you hit a nerve with your needle? What would you do if you get an abscess or infection? How would you know if your liver or kidneys were suffering? Is there a doctor around who can run blood tests to monitor your health?

    If you think that you can handle these drugs, you should really think about what it will mean to come off cycle. How will you taper or ween yourself off? The desire to stay on these compounds can be overwhelming. I know guys who go on and never come off. The potential for damage from this practice is astounding.

    If you think that you want to start a cycle, you should consider what exactly is your goal. At age 25 you may want to look better, but at age 35 or later you'll begin to become concerned about your health. Is the risk of problems, such as cardiovascular disease, which take some time to develop worth the risk, when your looks can improve dramatically through weightlifting without anabolic steroids?

    If you think you're ready, you should consider that many guys use steroids and make very few muscle gains because the potential for using them incorrectly is enormous. These people are increasing their chance of suffering the side effects and they aren't even achieving the main effect (putative benefit) because they don't know how to use them properly, workout properly and eat properly. The potential errors that can be made are extensive. See lists in the World Anabolic Review and the Anabolic Reference Guide for common errors.

    Once you have thought about all this and have extensive knowledge in this area wait another year before beginning. This will allow you plenty of time for more thought and it will demonstrate your dedication to the iron. Decisions of this magnitude should not be made quickly. As I always tell a pushy salesman, "if I have to decide today, the answer is no."

  3. I'm going to start my first cycle. What are the safest steroids and inwhat doses should they be used??

    Self-administered steroids are rarely ever safe. In addition, black market steroids can contain virtually any substance - it's like playing Russian roulette. And, if you don't know which ones are safer than others, this indicates you don't have enough information to begin a steroid cycle. You must be well-educated in this area before you begin. Otherwise, it will be very easy to make mistakes. Always consult your physician before adding any drug to your system. Make sure that your physician monitors you while you are on that drug.

    Injectable steroids are far easier on the liver in general than oral preparations. Of course, sterile technique and clean (new) needles and syringes should be used for injection. Any injection carries the potential risk of bacterial infection. Sharing needles can increase the risk of spreading viruses including HIV, Hepatitis C and others. Fake steroids often result in infection because the products are often made in a non-sterile environment. It is also possible to cause an embolism from inadvertent intravenous injection. In addition, it is possible to impale the sciatic nerve during a gluteal injection which can be extremely painful.

    Some of the milder anabolic steroids include deca-durabolin, equipoise, primobolan and oxandrolone. Some of the harsher anabolic steroids that result in more harmful effects include testosterone esters, anadrol and dianabol.

    When considering dosage, most lifters base their dose on total mg/week. Whether it is deca or test, the most important consideration is the total mg/week. The question these users have to address is how much risk are they willing to take? Obviously, the higher the dosage, the greater the risk they're tkaing. In addition, these users often decrease their risk of harmful effects by using a higher percentage of the milder anabolic steroids listed above. Those users who choose to take a greater risk will use a higher percentage of the harsher steroids listed above. For example, some guys might choose to do 800 mg/week. If all of that 800 mg is test, the risk of harmful effects is much greater than if these guys used 250 mg test in conjunction with 550 mg of deca (which is a safer anabolic steroid).

    What dosage a user chooses is completely up to that individual and the risk they're willing to take. However, they should recognize the risks associated with various dosage levels. Many first time users try 200 mg/week. Many experienced users push 2000 mg/week (10 times more). Some bodybuilders have been known to use 5000 mg/week, although this is certainly a waste of the pharmaceuticals. Many first time users will notice good gains between 200 and 400 mg/week. Experienced users often get good gains between 600 and 800 mg/week. Unfortunately, harmful effects, such as gyno, often show up when users take 750 mg/week or more (this does not mean gyno will not show up at lower doses, just that it occurs with low frequency at lower doses). So, many guys build great physiques, never exceeding 700 mg/week. Of course, Dan Duchaine once said "you give a guy 2 grams of anything a week and he's going to grow."

    For those who would like to understand more about steroids they should read the following books: World Anabolic Review (800-294-6181) and Anabolic Reference Guide (800-615-8500).

  4. Where can I get steroids?

    If you are looking to use steroids for athletic or aesthetic purposes, doctors can not, and will not, prescribe them for you in the United States, Canada and several other countries. 95% of the items on the black market are fakes. Attempting to obtain steroids from someone you met on the net is STUPID. They could be law enforcement looking to make a bust, or they will simply take your money - they won't even waste time with a fake product.

    People often obtain the drugs in countries where the regulations are not as strict while visiting or through mail order. Others obtain them from veterinary supply houses. Or they are obtained from that really big guy in the gym. :->

  5. Are my steroids real?

    Make sure that the substance in question doesn't have a picture in the World Anabolic Review or the Anabolic Reference Guide. No serious steroid user should be without at least one of these manuals. They provide pictures of various real and fake steroids. If a picture of your steroid is in this book, people will be frustrated with the question. In addition, these books give several guidelines for determining if it's real. If it is not in this book, you may ask the group. However, it is very difficult to answer these types of questions without actually seeing the product and usually people will only answer with the standard guidelines.

  6. What is the proper way to taper off cycle?

    Do not use anabolics that aromatize or suppress endogenous testosterone for a taper. Any substance that suppresses endogenous test production will be very harsh for coming off cycle. A proper taper can help avoid psychological addiction. Substances like deca-durabolin, equipoise, laurabolin, primobolan and proviron are commonly used for tapering. The two best compounds for tapering are probably primobolan and proviron.

    Here is one way that people taper: After all testosterones, dbols, anadrols and other harsh androgens clear out their system, usually three or four weeks is sufficient - shorter time periods are fine if the substance has a shorter half-life, begin HCG for one or two weeks. They then follow the HCG with clomid (never the reverse) for one or two weeks. The next week they begin use of primobolan (which doesn't suppress the axis). After a couple weeks they drop the primo and use clenbuterol for two weeks. Throughout the duration of the taper, proviron is sometimes used because it is an anti-aromatase, an androgen, and it doesn't suppress the axis. For more information see the World Anabolic Review (800-294-6181) and Anabolic Reference Guide (800-615-8500).

  7. Is bridging between cycles beneficial?

    No, it is very dangerous. When you decide to use small quantities of steroids between cycles, you must recognize that you are not between cycles. You have gone on steroids permanently. This is a very drastic move and one that should not be contemplated lightly. Many pro bodybuilders go on and stay on. Consider the serious health ramifications of this decision.

    But, you say, you'll only do 50 or 100 mg of deca a week to bridge. This is a mistake and a waste of juice and androgen receptors. This won't have too many harmful effects associated, but this will prevent androgen receptors from ever returning to normal levels. So, when a person decides to go back "on-cycle", they get few benefits from the higher dose steroids because their receptors are still down-graded. At this point the person begins to question if the steroids are real because they aren't seeing an effect. Bridging is a demonstration of how steroids can be psychologically addictive. Guys say they're off cycle, guys say they aren't psychologically dependent, but they still have to take a shot every week.

    Some of the guys who get the best gains from their cycles are the ones who only do one 10 week cycle a year. The entire rest of the year their training is causing an increase in androgen receptors. When they finally hit these receptors with juice, they are primed for action.

    Bridging is a mistake. It is far more detrimental to progress than people believe. If a person decides that they are going to go on without coming off, they will not get any benefit from bridging with small quantities. Pros that go on and don't come off use serious quantities year round. Don't risk your health by going on permanently. Some would argue that it is worth the risk if the person could earn millions of dollars as a result of the steroid use. These people are definitely not choosing bodybuilding as their sport.

  8. Are steroids morally wrong?

    Moral arguments against the use of steroids usually fail miserably. One assumption made in this argument is that everyone has a common morality which is certainly false. Second, people often forget that even over-the-counter drugs have harmful effects and that legal status is often determined by political ideology, not by the safety of a drug. For example, alcohol and nicotine both have inherent side effects, but their overwhelming demand, and other historical reasons, have led to their legality in a democratic society, not their relative safety.

MFW-FAQ Section XI
Other drugs

Caution is always advised. Use any drug under the care of a qualified physician. Advice on the net may come from an actual MD or a 13 year old kid posing as a MD. Their writing can look quite similar when they both use Times Roman, size 12, fonts.

  1. Clenbuterol and Albuterol (salbutamol)

    Clen and Al are beta-adrenergic agonists, like ephedrine, used for the treatment of asthma. However, they do not activate beta1 receptors which are found on the heart. This alleviates the potential for rapid heart beats and arrhythmia associated with ephedrine. Although many people report rapid heart beats in the first couple of days of use.

    On the other hand, both clen and al will activate beta2 receptors more strongly than ephedrine resulting in more side effects and a greater desensitization of receptors. In addition, the half-lives of these two compounds are longer than ephedrine, especially clen which has a half-life between 48 and 60 hours.

    These beta agonists can aid in fat loss, however, there use should be kept very short. In addition, these compounds are often used 2 days on, 2 days off for a 2 week period followed by at least two weeks off the substance. Clen is commonly taken between 60 and 120 mcgs in divided doses per day. The potential for side effects is quite large. The side effects include headaches, dizziness, tremors, nausea and insomnia. Long term use of these substances could potentially result in chronic thyroid insufficiency. Clen is not available in the US and albuterol is prescription only. And, no, your albuterol INHALER will NOT help you lose fat. This is because the inhaled drug will not act systemically. Albuterol does come in tabs, but the inhaler version is much more common. Yes, clen comes in tablet, liquid and powder forms.

  2. Clomid (clomiphene) / Cyclofenil

    Clomid causes a rise in LH Releasing Hormone (LHRH) meaning that it will stimulate the endogenous production of LH. Therefore, it is useful alone when coming off cycle (just as HCG is useful). Or, it is useful to follow HCG treatment with clomid treatment (never the reverse). Clomid also has some mild antiestrogenic properties.

    As with HCG, the body will have to adjust to the absence of the exogenous signal. Therefore, efficient tapers of cycles will follow clomid therapy with primobolan, proviron or clenbuterol.

    Cyclofenil is very similar to clomid, acting both as an antiestrogen and gonadotropic stimulant.

  3. Cytomel

    Cytomel will also cause the loss of fat. It will also cause the loss of muscle if you aren't simultaneously using steroids. Cytomel is the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3). Its immediate side effects are very similar to those of clenbuterol listed above. Its use can result in chronic thyroid insufficiency which will make you either obese or dependent upon the substance for life. Competition bodybuilders regularly use this substance. It would be interesting to find out how many bodybuilders who no longer compete, yet require T3 because they have developed chronic thyroid insufficiency. Cytomel is not something to play around with.

  4. Cytadren

    Cytadren is a cortisol blocker that actually blocks the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone and should inhibit the synthesis of all endogenous steroids, including testosterone. It is very useful for steroid users tapering off cycle to block high cortisol levels (which may result from the high androgen levels) as the body is fighting to get its own testosterone levels back to normal. Cytadren has been blamed for some joint problems. It is unknown if this claim is based on fact. In addition, cytadren was blamed for Andreas Munzer's death. However, Andreas did not have an autopsy and the exact cause of death is unknown.

  5. DNP

    2,4-Dinitrophenol makes the production of ATP less efficient causing a person to burn more Calories. If you take too much (which is easy to do), DEATH can result. The other side effects seem superfluous in light of this fact. The effective dose and lethal dose are only separated by a factor of 6. This is too close to play with. In addition, the effects tend to be cumulative, so it's very easy to obtain a much higher effective concentration in the body than the person realizes.

  6. Diuretics

    Diuretics are drugs that (normally) increase the amount of urine excreted causing a person to become dehydrated. Bodybuilders often use diuretics during competition to show off their muscles better. Diuretics can be quite dangerous. They can cause electrolyte imbalances which can lead to death. The death of Momo Benaziza is attributed to diuretic use. When used in moderate quantities, they pose little harm. Diuretics can not make up for poor dieting.

  7. Growth Hormone

    "The Food and Drug Administration, after receiving 6 reports of benign intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri) in patients treated with recombinant growth hormone, actively identified an additional 17 affected patients in the United States or abroad. Benign intracranial hypertension was also reported in three patients with resistance to growth hormone who were treated with insulin-like growth factor I, the primary mediator of the actions of growth hormone. ... Twenty-one patients had headaches or visual changes, and all 23 patients had papilledema when first examined" [A].

    A. Malozowski S, Tanner LA, et al. 1993. Growth Hormone, Insulin-like Growth Factor I, and benign intracranial hypertension. NEJM. 329:665-666 (letter).

    In addition, the reports in the trenches are that growth hormone does not add that much to a cycle. On the other hand, many people claim that they had their best cycles while combining growth hormone with anabolic steroids. The evidence just isn't in on this one yet. However, for the most part, growth hormone results in a lower frequency of side effects than anabolic steroids. Of course, this may be a function of the price and that people can't afford enough GH to cause serious problems.

  8. HCG

    Human chorionic gonadotrophic hormone acts like Lutenizing Hormone (LH). In men it stimulates the testes to produce testosterone. This is very useful for steroid users who have shut down their endogenous production of testosterone through their use of exogenous androgens. HCG should be used for only 2 week periods with at least 4 weeks inbetween use.

    Be aware that despite its usefulness, the body still has to adjust to the absence of the exogenous LH (HCG) when coming off the HCG cycle. Other compounds should be used at this time, like clomid, clenbuterol, proviron or primobolan.

    Some guys mention significant hair loss and gyno as common side effects from use of HCG.

  9. Insulin

    Too dangerous to even consider. Use only if your doctor informs you that you are an insulin dependent diabetic. If you accidentally take too much, it could kill you. Pro bodybuilders are using this, but this is unlikely to be the explanation for extra gains. Insulin can easily make you fat. Stick with anabolic steroids, they are known to work.

    The following studies show that insulin does NOT stimulate protein synthesis in vivo (in the body, as opposed to in a test tube). The conclusion in #1 was that increased doses of insulin, aminos, or both do not affect protein synthesis in the heart, and that the effects on skeletal muscles were inconclusive. In #2 the conclusion was "insulin failed to stimulate skeletal muscle and liver protein synthesis, even when major plasma substrates (glucose, amino acids, and potassium) were replaced."

    1. McNulty PH, Young LH, Barrett EJ. 1993. Response of rat heart skeletal muscle protein in vivo to insulin and amino acid infusion. Am J Physiol. 264: E958-65.

    2. Tauveron I, Larbaud D, et al. 1994. Effect of hyperinsulinemia and hyperaminoacidemia on muscle and liver protein synthesis in lactating goats. Am J Physiol. 267:E877-85.

    Insulin is anti-proteolytic and it decreases the concentration of IGFBP-1 in the blood [3]. IGFBP-1 inhibits the activity of IGF-1. Therefore it is conceivable that insulin could be ergogenic in combination with other substances. The main thing to remember is that while insulin may be anabolic for fat, it is not anabolic for protein in vivo. It is only anti-proteolytic.

    3. DiPasquale MG. 1995. Drugs in Sports 3(1):14.

    Robert Ames

  10. Insulin-like Growth Factor 1

    IGF-1 is both myotrophic and neurotrophic as established by in vitro studies. However, its effects on muscle mass in vivo are unknown. IGF-1 has been shown to have similar effects as growth hormone in GH deficient children. This has led some researchers to suspect that the actions of GH are mediated by IGF-1. However, there are too many unknowns in this field of research. It is extremely expensive as well. It is an unnecessary risk. Stick with anabolic steroids (or drug-free training) because they're known to work, and their harmful effects are well-understood. Word has it that those who have used IGF-1 are dissatisfied with the results.

  11. Nolvadex (tamoxifen)

    Nolvadex is an anti-estrogen used to slow the rate of growth of breast cancer. Because of the action of aromatase converting testosterone to estrogen in men, gynecomastia (bitch tits) can develop. Anti-estrogens can help prevent the development of gynecomastia while a steroid user is on cycle. Anit-estrogens can prevent the development of gyno, but they can't make it go away. Some people claim that gyno reduces slightly when off cycle, or when taking nolvadex.

    In therapeutic doses in females, the incidence of nausea and vomiting is around 25%.

  12. Viagra (sildenafil)

    brand name of sildenafil, a selective type 5 cGMP phosphodiesterase inhibitor, which enhances nitric-oxide-dependent vasodilation in the corpus cavernosum, thus increasing erectile response in males suffering from impotence. Note that viagra does not initiate or increase sexual drive or desire or affect testosterone levels.

    Viagra might help you get it up in the bedroom (if you're having problems in that department) but it won't help you get the weight up in the gym.

Personal Grooming

  1. What is the best way to remove body hair?

    Shave! Many people have tried every product out there. They continue to shave because nothing is more effective. A small percentage of people have success with the no-shave products. If they don't work for you, or you can't stand the smell, become intimate with your razor.

  2. Dealing with Chafing / Calluses

    The short form: "just give your hands time to get used to lifting the weights."

    Some people have tried using lifting gloves, but most people experience better results from letting their hands get used to it. (On a personal note, I [Trygve] do use lifting gloves when doing sumo-style deadlifts, not because of the bar, but to protect the back of the supinated hand when it rubs against my thigh.)

    "It will get easier, honest. Eventually you'll be wrapping your hands around knurling that's like several rows of shark's teeth, and not even noticing.

    "Grooming tip: buy a foot file, like a pumice stone or other rough file, and use it to file your calluses every day in the shower. After the shower, apply a heavy duty moisturizer. You'll still have the thickened skin to protect your hands, but it'll be smooth and almost soft."

    - Krista, Glamour Advisor to the Choads <>

    . . .

    "Just tell [your girlfriend] that they're ribbed for her pleasure! ($1 to Lyle)"

    - Nina [ ]


  1. How can I get BRAWN or Hardgainer?

    CS Publishing Ltd.
    PO Box 1002
    Connell WA 99326

    Brawn is $18.95 + $3.50 p/h

    Hardgainer is $25 for 6 issues (12 months)

  2. How can I subscribe to Peak training journal?

    330-686-0184 $13.95/yr

  3. Why do so many people in m.f.w hate MM2K and Phillips?

    When Bill Phillips first started putting together educational materials (and they were educational) for bodybuilders who was one of the first, very honest, people in the business. His newsletter and books pointed out that professional bodybuilders do use drugs, rather than hiding the fact as many publications attempt to do. Bill brought honesty back to bodybuilding. He recognized that steroids were used and that the claims for supplements were rarely founded in fact. However, Bill's tactics began to change, presumably as he recognized the potential for monetary return. He also began to hype supplements claiming some were as good as steroids. Unfortunately, he was doing the very thing he had previously exposed as, virtually, fraudulent - making false claims with respect to products that will earn him money. In addition, Bill began claiming that certain athletes are 100% drug free, when, in fact, these athletes had used steroids in the past. Granted, they may have ridded their bodies of exogenous steroids, but the long-term effects of these hormones can provide benefit for some time after their use has stopped. For this reason, many people view his 100% drug free claims as misleading as well. People began disliking what Bill has become compared to what he once was. Some still argue that his magazine is one of the better ones around. At least he still recognizes that pro athletes use drugs and he encourages natural lifters to choose natural role models.

    Furthermore, a few people in mfw have been paid by Bill, or his enterprises, as employees in the past. Some worked as freelance writers while another worked with the supplement company. Some of these people left Bill's employment dissatisfied with the circumstances. Some believe they were treated unfairly by Bill or his associates.

    One way or another, Bill was once highly respected and now he is viewed on a similar level with the majority of magazine publishers who are supplement pushers. Some people on mfw do not hold this opinion and they still believe that Bill's publication is one of the best bodybuilding mags around.

  4. Why is everyone so hung up on scientific evidence and research studies?

    When anyone makes a claim about anything (whether it be the alien-driven spacecraft that landed on their front lawn, or the latest miracle muscle-building supplement) a very simple question can be asked. Is the claim true or false?

    How would a person go about verifying if a claim is either true or false? Early philosophers liked to think about something (introspective method), believing that logic could lead them to the truth. However, this often fell short. The introspective method was improved upon by use of the observational method. People would observe something closely and then make conclusions about the truth or falsity of a claim. However, this method has inadequacies as well.

    These inadequacies were never more evident than with Hans the counting horse. Yes, you could ask this horse to count to 5 and it would stamp its hoof five times. You could tell it to multiply 5 and 5 and it would stamp its hoof 25 times. The horse was amazingly accurate, even more so than some schoolchildren. Scientists from all around came to observe Hans and his counting abilities. They too were amazed when their mathematical questions were readily answered by the horse. Hans would perform this incredible task for just about anyone who would ask him a problem (not only could he count, but he could understand language too!).

    However, some more skeptical scientists had a hard time believing the stories. So, they decided to determine if this claim was true or false. They suspected that the horse was relying on some sort of signal from the person asking the question. After all, the person asking the question usually knew the answer. It turns out that Hans was responding to facial and body cues given by the asker of the question (no small task of learning in itself). When Hans could not see the person when he was counting out his answer, he would get it wrong every time. In addition, if the person asking the question did not know the answer, Hans would not come to the right answer.

    What does Hans the counting horse demonstrate? Hans shows how the observational method can be very misleading. People were willing to attribute his skill to a mental capacity that horses do not have. However, Hans' skill lay in his ability to read people's reactions to his actions. The people who observed Hans jumped to a false conclusion because many things were happening at once. When there are multiple potential causes of something, it is very difficult to differentiate which was responsible for actually causing the event to occur. For this reason, it is very difficult to distinguish which claims are true or false.

    The scientific method works to distinguish truth from falsity and actual causes from simple correlations. The scientific method is not always right, it is sometimes inadequate and the people doing the investigations often make mistakes. However, the inadequacies of the scientific method do not negate it's usefulness. In addition, its inadequacies do not indicate that the other methods - introspection and observation are necessarily better. These other methods are simply more misleading than the scientific method. The scientific method is the best method for understanding and describing the world around us.

    So, when Joe Bodybuilder takes supplement X and grows larger, he can't make the conclusion that X made him grow larger. How did he know that his training wasn't the cause? How did he know that his nutrition wasn't the cause? Most importantly, how did he know that his belief in X wasn't the cause? These questions can't be answered with anecdotal observations. And, since one anecdotal observation is inadequate, multiple anecdotal observations do not make the conclusion any more adequate, it's just multiple inadequacies. For this reason the scientific method is critical for unraveling the differences between a true and false claim.

    That said, even scientific studies published in respectable, peer-reviewed journals can be wrong. In fact, many studies turn out to be wrong. Initially, research studies will show both sides of an issue to be true. So, it's very easy to find scientific literature to support almost any claim that you wish. However, the scientists conducting this research begin to discuss the limitations of the methods they're using, they improve the techniques and experimental design and eventually several well-done, quality studies convince the scientists that they should agree with one side over the other. How can you determine whether a study is of good or poor quality? Well, this takes much practice at the task itself. However, there are some basic guidelines or questions to ask. Does the study involve fewer than 30 subjects per group? Studies with few subjects can easily mislead because small samples often lead to strange, false results. Does the study have an adequate control group? Were the experimental and control groups similar enough at the start of the study? Were statistics performed properly, or were they abused? What was the study really testing? Did it test what the authors wanted to test, or did it miss the mark? Was the study performed blindly, where the researchers and subjects did not know the treatments. The list of questions and potential mistakes goes on and on.

    Now, think about all these mistakes that can be made which make a scientific research study come to a false conclusion. If it is that difficult for science to actually make a claim - AND HAVE IT BE TRUE - think how much more difficult it is to make a claim and have it be true in the absence of quality scientific evidence. The chance is very small. This is why people often rely on the scientific method and a healthy skepticism (which requires that someone have good evidence to state that something is either true or false).

    People make claims all the time that turn out to be false. Simply considering these guidelines of how we know that something is true or false can help you avoid making these same mistakes. This should also give huge insight into the falsity of the advertising claims on bodybuilding supplements. Most of the products include fantastic claims that have absolutely no backing except the smiling face of a huge, juiced-up bodybuilder. This can, in no way, constitute a true claim. On the other hand, many companies are starting to test their products in scientific labs. However, we must remember all the rules listed above for why a research study can lead to a false conclusion. Just because a supplement has a research study supporting it does not necessarily mean the claim is true. Often, the researchers are funded by the supplement company and their salaries are dependent upon positive results. Also, supplement companies will often throw away those studies that don't support their claim. In addition, basic errors can be made in the study which are difficult to detect by the average person. It all boils down to the fact that it's very difficult to make a claim and actually have quality evidence supporting the contention. It requires a lot of hard work, honesty and impartiality.

    Occasionally bodybuilders in the trenches will notice something that science is not yet aware of. For years, many scientists doubted that anabolic, androgenic steroids actually work. For political reasons some medical representative organizations maintained a public position that there was no evidence that AAS worked. However, the anecdotal evidence indicated otherwise. Careful experimentation has since confirmed that steroids do work. So, these other methods of obtaining knowledge aren't worthless. In fact, we rely on the observational method daily. The key is to pay attention to what the bodybuilders in the trenches are saying. If it looks interesting, it should be examined and researched, not discarded immediately. Most of these anecdotal findings turn out to be false, but those that are true can often lead to exciting new ideas that scientists hadn't even thought of. So, keep your eyes open as you lift hard, but maintain an even skepticism to protect your pocketbook.

Document History

Revised section VIII.15 creatine to reflect the results of more recent studies.
Added section 1.12 Which of the muscle/exercise/health magazines should I believe?
Split off the section on Supplements to a separate document
updated some sections, notably tribulus terrestris to cover recent studies on its effect on training and performance
added sections on Dietary Protein Requirements of the Athlete, Is increased protein intake harmful? and Carbohydrate loading
Fixed several dead or moved links, began linking to Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, and Exercise Dictionary ( ); added "in progress" section.
Fixed a minor typo, added a section on prohormones (full text to follow shortly)
Converted document to HTML, added index, checked some of the references, fixed a few typos.

MFW-FAQ Section XV
Works In Progress -- topics requested but not yet completed

Authors and credits

I'll be back....

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