Timing is Everything

I always see those dedicated souls in the gym. They are there religiously, week in and week out, but their bodies never seem to change. They never improve – not one little bit! Come on, you know the ones I am talking about? Hey, one of ‘em might be you.

Think about it, when is the last time you made phenomenal changes to your body? How long have you been training – months, years, decades? Most people, if they took up a hobby and made little or no improvement after 5 or 10 years, they would give the bloody thing up! So it amazes me why so many people settle for little or no result from their workouts.

Do you ever wonder why you don’t produce the changes you’re after, even though you have stuck at it for months or years at a time? I’m going to let you in on a little physiological secret you are probably neglecting.

In the short three months I have worked for AST I must have read at least 400 to 500 published journals dealing with every aspect of building better health and a better body. Muscle metabolism, the impact of insulin, various exercise programs, amino acids, nutritional formulations and just about every other area of physiology to enhance my understanding of this modern day challenge.

If I could sum up all that I have learned over this period it would be this: It’s what occurs or more likely, doesn’t occur within the few hours after you workout that has the greatest impact on muscle growth. The time period right after exercise is the most critical in regard to effecting changes to your body, and people just don’t know how to take advantage of it. Timing is everything in life and, making improvements to your physique is no different. In fact, I think it is the golden rule.

Fact #1: Creating the growth stimulus.

You must understand, exercise, in any form, is merely a stimulus, a stress signal.10 It’s how we harness and take advantage of that stimulus that determines the results we get. Whether you’re male or female, weight training, particularly heavy resistance training, is the most potent stimuli for producing or signaling the precise hormonal and metabolic responses that are necessary to produce the changes we desire.2,7,8 This is why we train! However, that’s all it is – a stimulus. Nothing magical.

Fact #2: The law of physiological adaptation.

On a cellular level, a simple example of this is the increased glycogen storage seen in the muscles of endurance athletes. Regular depletion of muscle glycogen via endurance training causes the muscle to try to adapt and store more glycogen for next time. Over time this produces a physiological “over compensation” in the muscles ability to store and accumulate glucose/glycogen. Highly trained endurance athletes posses much higher stores of glycogen than sedentary people and weight lifters only because they regularly deplete their muscles of this fuel through endurance training. This triggers the overcompensation/adaptation process.

Weight lifting per se does not create this large degree of glycogen depletion unless you train for three hours doing hundreds of sets and reps. In which case you are an idiot and there is no point in saving you! However, different types of exercise deplete muscles of different fuels and substrates. Weight training depletes cells of different energy substrates, creatine and specific amino acids such as branch chain amino acids and glutamine precursors. These are utilized more than others in this type of work.3,4 An overcompensation or increased uptake of these components would most likely trigger potent anabolic mechanisms while reducing catabolic effects.

It is not the training that produces tight abs or bulging biceps! It is the physiological end product – the level of adaptation that determines the results. And this is entirely up to you.

Do you think I’m kidding, or just over exaggerating? Let’s look to more science.

More than any other type of exercise, weight training is the most potent at stimulating anabolic hormones, amino acid transport, and muscle protein synthesis (the over riding mechanism that builds muscle). Weight training ignites up to 100% increases in these anabolic pathways for up to 24 hours after a workout. Nothing else does this. Not even anabolic steroids!

Studies of muscle protein kinetics demonstrate that these dramatic increases do not result in net increases in muscle. The catabolic (muscle breakdown) response induced by resistance training almost counteracts, or equals the increases in protein synthesis rates. Weight training restrains net muscle protein loss over time, however, it needs to interact with other factors, namely nutrient provisions to promote net increases in muscle.

Okay, just eat a healthy diet before and after your workout right? Simple! Ah, no. That’s why we don’t have a nation of “hot bods” strutting around gym floors.

Weight training dramatically increases protein synthesis and amino acid transport to the active sites, but this always occurs at the immediate expense of other muscle proteins.6,13

There are two distinct amino acid pools within the body and both are located in skeletal muscle.18 The first is the smaller free pool. It’s around 1%. The other is the larger, bound amino acids in body proteins.18

The small amounts of amino acids in the free pool appear to be responsible for the metabolic influences of all amino acids in the body.5,6 The amount of amino acid moving through this free pool each day is many times the actual free pool size.5 The large increase in amino acid transport rates witnessed as a result of training (100% for up to 24hrs)41is provided exclusively by the free amino acid pool.18 However, the size of this small free pool is tightly regulated and never altered.5,6,18 Its immediate and constant replenishment is by degradation or breakdown of bound body proteins.18 You are robbing one muscle group to pay another and therefore going nowhere.

Protein digestion and absorption studies demonstrate that if you did sit down to a healthy meal right after you train, absorption of amino acids to the active site, depending on the protein source, could take between 4 to 6 hours. Even the amino acids in casein (liquid milk) can take 2-4 hours for absorption. This is way too long! Way too much protein breakdown has occurred by then.

By utilizing a few simple rules of physiology in concert with the precise timing of exercise and nutritional intake, it is possible to manipulate your cellular metabolism to greatly enhance muscle growth beyond the norm. In fact, two people can train identically and have the same nutritional intake and the individual incorporating these timing techniques will see far better results.

My research is confirming that proper substrate timing in relation to weight training is turning out to be the key to switching on the anabolic signals for enhanced muscle growth. Remember, weight training alone is catabolic – it breaks down muscle. However, weight training in combination with proper and supra-natural nutrient intake provides the catalyst and substrate support for a very active anabolic – muscle building – cellular environment.

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