Are bigger, stronger muscles healthier?
By: Dr. Skip Hellen ND, CNC (Health Doctor)
I was once an aspirating professional bodybuilder, I trained extremely hard 3-6 hours daily,
6-7 days a week for years building my body into what I thought at that time was
beautiful (a lean muscular physique). I increased my body mass from 175 lbs. to 245 lbs. I was extremely
strong, felt very fit but I was not optimally healthy. It took me years to
understand that while big muscles are aesthetically pleasing to many they are not necessarily
an indication of optimal health. I learned how to build my body but didn’t
understand the real principles of health and how to
achieve and maintain optimal health. I, like most today, fell for the pervasive
"milk does the body good" type advertising propaganda along with other
distortions and falsehoods designed to generate profits not optimal health. Now, 25+ years later, it appears I did little biological damage
during those naive years and I am grateful for that.
During that time I came to appreciate just how dedicated most body building
athletes are. The real
serious builders dedicate their lives to sculpting their bodies into the
personification of Greek god
like forms. They alter every part of their life to become more
muscular. Now with all the advanced sports enhancement drugs, food
supplements and training techniques, many are pushing their bodies to new heights
of muscle mass with what appears to be muscle on top of muscle combined with
extremely low body fat to extenuate muscle size, separation, and definition.
Modern day professional bodybuilders are physical monsters. As dominant that
Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his day, he would likely not even place in today's
tough professional bodybuilding competitions.
Most of these dedicated athletes adopt a high calorie, protein dominant diet to build huge muscles. While this diet does
encourage muscle development when associated with heavy weight training it
is generally not the way to achieve optimum health. Large amounts of calories and protein tends to promote
biochemical acidosis and nitrogen levels which will destroy optimum health
homeostasis not promote
It is however not generally unhealthy to increase muscle
size and strength the right way. This is especially true with advanced aged males. Moderate
muscle size and strength increases can be accomplished much easier than most realize.
Strength and muscle development is largely driven by physical demand training (especially resistance/weight training). Muscle not only atrophies quickly, it can be
developed quickly as well. While it is true one can’t go from a 97 lb. weakling to a
230 lb. strongman over night, muscle size and strength can be developed in a relative short
time frame with specific training techniques combined with proper nutrition and
biochemical management. I went from 175 lbs. to over 200
lbs. in less than a year when I first started bodybuilding. Now I know that many
scientific based books maintain that this large (25+ lb.) muscle gain isn’t possible
in less than a year, but I and many other dedicated bodybuilders are living proof it is
possible and without dangerous performance enhancing drugs (PED's). Many science books state that the maximum
muscle mass a human can build in a year is around 4-8 lbs. This is simply not true.
I recently got back to bodybuilding to naturally increase hormone production
which is frequently reduced as we age and vital for optimal health biochemical
activity. My current training program has again produced well over the science
books reported maximum gains again and I'm over 60 years of age. I have proven this theory wrong twice now, once in my
and again over sixty. In fact, strength, muscle growth, and optimal health have no
age limit anyone can achieve it with the right plan and effective execution.
Back to the topic, muscle building is driven by physical demand
and resistance. Physical stress loads within the muscle during training
sends signals to the brain that more strength is required to perform the task. These messages
are the beginning of new muscle development. I have found through my own
training experience (especially in the early stages of training) muscle
responds rapidly and becomes stronger and larger vary quickly. In some cases a
doubling in strength and significant size gain is possible in only a few weeks
with proper biochemical management.
The amount of exercise repetitions is not necessarily the answer to muscle growth rather that muscle
is stressed beyond its ability to perform. This is called, “failure” in
training circles and is one of the most important key factors to increased
muscle size and strength.
While it is true that many repetitions tend to get more blood
flow into the muscle tissue and creating the so-called muscle “pump,” pushing the muscle to
failure yields the best results if the goal is muscle growth and strength. There
are still many theories about how many sets and repetitions produce the best
results but I have made
excellent gains training with relatively few sets and reps to failure. In my opinion
the amount of sets and repetitions is less important than pushing the muscle to
failure during training. Of course it is important to warm up the muscle before pushing it to
failure but one push to failure may yield more results than several reps short
of failure so why waste the time and do
the extra work. I recommend 1-2 warm-up sets per muscle group and 3-4 sets to failure for strength and growth.
I have found that investing the time and effort in cardio
training to get the heart in top condition is time and effort better spent than
weight training if the goal is to achieve optimal health, reference my article
on “optimum cardiovascular condition” in this section. Also a little
cardio training can produce significant loss of subcutaneous, intramuscular as well as the
most health threatening visceral fat
is not only possible, it is normal with proper training technique. Keep in mind that
specific training programs and techniques are necessary for
maximum results. I recommend a blend of resistance cardio training as well to
bring the body into the highest fitness state as possible. This is the best
to optimal health and wellness. For the elderly, resistance training is required
because advancing age is frequently associated with less natural hormone
production and far less exercise. We must become more disciplined with all the
principles of health as we age not less because the body is accumulating
biological damage (doesn't work as well) or we will invite rapid aging, illness,
disease and premature death.
I want to remind all that while muscle can be attractive it must
be kept to moderation if optimal health is the goal. Internal biochemical pH
balance and cardiovascular condition is much more important to overall optimal
health than large muscles and strength. For those who are interested in maximum
fat loss and optimal metabolism as well as optimal health, read the article on
"interval training" in this section.
HELP! UHRI has produced optimal health step by step programs designed to guide you through all the
challenges of personal excellence and optimal health acquisition. Take the
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"Illness and disease are
optional, choose not to participate" ~ Dr. Skip Hellen
It’s important to understand that optimal health can only
be achieved and maintained when nutritional, physical, and mental requirements
are met resulting in systemic biological balance (homeostasis).
The following are the cornerstones of success with anything
in life, make these qualities an important part of your life strategy and you
will achieve excellence in anything you do.
character requires personal
commitment advances positive
tenacity promotes success
~ Dr. Skip Hellen
OPTIMAL HEALTH ACTION STEPS
1. (Develop) a strong sense of self respect and discipline
2. (Pledge) Take the "Declaration of Health Independence" pledge
3. (Test) Complete the health assessment test (establish a personal health baseline)
4. (Decide) Set a goal to achieve personal health excellence (optimal health)
5. (Education) Learn health principles how to achieve optimum health
6. (Heath Compass) Buy a pH litmus test kit, start testing frequently – keep a test result log
7. (Manage/Adjust) Change behavior habits for best results
8. (Commitment) Stay the course until achieving personal health excellence
9. (Mentor) Help another achieve personal health excellence
Since behavior habits and nutrition are critical components of human health and longevity,
denial, shortcuts and misguided beliefs can be very costly not only in terms of lost monetary
wealth but in compromised health leading to rapid aging, illness, disease and death.
DON’T TAKE YOUR HEALTH FOR GRANTED. IF YOU DON’T TAKE PROPER CARE OF YOUR
HEALTH, WHO WILL?
The important thing to remember is consumptive habits (foods) will form the foundation of
either optimal health or illness and disease. The old saying "you are what you eat" is absolutely
true when it comes to health.
Developing strong personal character (respect, belief, knowledge, discipline, commitment)
are the cornerstones of all personal excellence accomplishments.
Taking the "Declaration of Health Independence" pledges and adopting the behavior principles
solidifies a vital first step on the road to optimal health success. These pledge
commitments not only help develop the skills required to accomplish the goal but better define
the path to personal health excellence. The second step is purchasing a litmus test kit to
accurately monitor health progress. (see below for event test kit sale)
Perhaps the hardest part of achieving optimal health is changing
unhealthy behavior habits to
YOU provide the Courage, Dedication, Commitment and Action,
UHRI will provide the EDUCATION/KNOWLEDGE and DIRECTION
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(A litmus test kit is an absolute must for
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Sense proper health habits form the foundation
of human health and vitality, shortcuts and misinformation can be very
costly not only in terms of lost money but the pain and suffering of
compromised health and productivity, early biological degeneration,
illness, disease and death.
Proper Health Education and
Healthy Habits Form a
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