the masses of muscle and performance enhancing supplements out there, if I only had a choice of taking one it would be glutamine. This is one of the few products that can be taken on its own and provide substantial benefits. The role of glutamine is to promote recovery from strenuous workouts, modulate protein synthesis, fight catabolic effects of cortisol which will lead to a decrease in muscle mass, and plays a role in the function of the immune system. These benefits are all vital to adding solid muscle to your frame. But even if you’re not going for mass glutamine will certainly help you preserve muscle when dieting or leaning out.
In knowing the effects of glutamine we see that its main purpose is a recovery aide more so than enhancing performance (though the two somewhat go hand in hand as your energy levels will suffer if you aren’t fully recovered). The best times to take it is after your workout and before bedtime. Most labels recommend one serving at a time which is usually about five grams. But do you know any hard core bodybuilders or weight lifters that actually follow the label? I’m not advising you to detour from what the label says but I personally feel that seven to eight grams per serving will do, which is an extremely rounded scoop. Many post workout formulas include glutamine in their propriety blend, but probably nowhere near the recommended dose of pure glutamine.
The Benefits of Natural Bodybuilding Techniques
Natural bodybuilding techniques are those methods that enable one to build muscle without the use of artificial-and often illegal-injected or ingested substances. The most common class of artificial substances used for this purpose are anabolic steroids which, despite strong warnings from health officials, continues to be used by bodybuilders who want to see fast results from their workouts.
But there is a terrifying risk in choosing steroids over natural bodybuilding techniques.
Health Risk of Steroid Abuse
Anabolic steroids are artificially produced testosterone, a male hormone. Because it is a male hormone, this drug increases strength, energy, and muscle mass. Bodybuilders, and other athletes, are attracted to steroid use because of its purported-and often very apparent-muscle enhancement effects in a very short period of time and for a relatively small amount of effort. (In general, those who take steroids are able to build significantly more muscle mass as compared with those who follow strictly natural bodybuilding techniques).
But the health risks related to steroid abuse cannot be overstated. Some of these risks include:
Heart attack. Steroids have been shown to have at least three different effects on the heart: (a) they can lower the good type of cholesterol (HDL) and raise the bad type of cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. (b) they can raise the blood pressure and (c) they can literally damage the heart by enlarging the left ventricle.
Prostate cancer due to steroid’s tendency to enlarge the prostate gland
These and many other health effects of steroid abuse (up to and including death) should give one pause before choosing this method over natural bodybuilding techniques. But there is one more aspect to consider.
Steroids-a Temporary Fix
Despite its much-vaunted ability to “pump up” an athlete quickly, steroids have another reputation that is not as well recognized-they are a temporary fix. Indeed, the muscle that steroids build so quickly will just as quickly diminish once one stops taking steroids, say experts.
This is why many athletes suffer from long-term steroid abuse-to maintain its muscle-enhancing effects, they must continue taking this synthetic hormone. Continued steroid abuse then leads to higher risks of adverse health effects.
It would appear, then, that the only benefit of steroid use is this temporary advantage, but this advantage is accompanied by serious (and often irreversible) effects upon the user’s physical and sometimes emotional health.
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Benefits of Natural Bodybuilding Techniques
In contrast to steroids, natural bodybuilding techniques offer a number of benefits to bodybuilders and other athletes. Some of these benefits include:
An absence of unhealthy side effects
Long-lasting results with respect to enhanced musculature, which do not dissipate as is the case with steroid use
Workouts are positive reinforcers, as compared to excessive testosterone use which interferes with the release of endorphins
In general, however, there is not much of a difference between natural and “unnatural” bodybuilding techniques. The types of exercises and training routines are the same in both cases. However, one’s training schedule will likely change. Since steroids speed up the repair time of the muscles, those that use these synthetic hormones are able to have more intense, and more frequent, training sessions as compared with those who use natural bodybuilding techniques.
According to Iron Magazine, “[t]he trick with weight training is that you need to actually rest more than you need to train. When you train with weights, you are breaking down the fibers in the muscles of your body.” In order to successfully build muscle, it is necessary to rest those same muscles the day after training. Thus, if you work the muscles of the upper body one day, do not work those same muscles the next day. A good training technique, therefore, is to work different muscle groups on alternate days.
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