Gaspari Nutrition

Ron Harris


Does cardio hinder muscle gains?
11/21/2012

Q.

Ron, I’ve been doing 45 minutes of cardio after lifting for a few months now and my bpm is between 130 and 155 which at age 57 I know is a bit high. I've been doing 30-45 minutes of cardio when I don’t lift. Is this counterproductive? Am I wasting precious time? (I hate cardio work! There is no way I could get through it without an Ipod.)

A.

Not a big cardio fan, eh? Join the club! If you were an 18-year-old struggling to gain muscular bodyweight despite eating like a Sumo wrestler every day, I would say to ditch the cardio completely. For anyone with a naturally fast metabolism, any extra caloric expenditure can interfere with efforts to gain lean muscle tissue. As we age, typically our metabolisms slow down, I know that when I was a teenager, I could eat huge bowls of potato chips and packages of Chips Ahoy cookies every day, washed down with an entire 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew (regular of course, not Diet), and I always had abs. Nowadays, eating like that just a couple times a week would soon have me sporting a big old Buddha belly and a double chin. But because I do like to indulge my sweet tooth and have the occasional slice of pizza or six in the off-season, regular cardio has become an important way for me to keep my bodyfat in check. I do almost as much as you do most of the time, and I don’t feel it hurts my ability to gain muscle mass because I always eat plenty of nutritious food and supplement my meals with high-quality protein shakes like MyoFusion. But what if it did in fact stand in the way of me making 100% of the gains I am capable of? Would I cut way back on the cardio? No, I wouldn’t. As you should know, heart disease is the number one killer in the USA. If you haven’t lost a loved one to a heart attack, you know someone who has. Having a healthy heart is one of the best preventative measures against heart disease. And what’s the best exercise for your heart, which you should really think of in terms of being the most important muscle in your body? You got it – cardio! So when you tell me you are keeping your heart rate up in a higher-working zone than what most bodybuilders probably would, I say good for you. You are obviously in great cardiovascular condition if you can do that. Is it interfering with your gains? I really can’t say. But I will ask you this: would you rather drop dead of a heart attack in a couple years just to put another half-inch on your arms? Or would it be a fair trade-off to only put a quarter-inch on those guns and live another 25 years? You shouldn't have to think about that question very long!

Q.

I just wanted to ask, what can I do to get my forearms massive? They do not

seem to grow and it’s embarrassing.

A.

Calves and forearms are very much alike. Often the guys with the best calves, like Mike Matarazzo in the 90’s and more recently specimens like Flex Lewis and Erik Fankhouser, don’t do a damn thing for them. In the past, there were guys like Mike and Ray Mentzer, Steve Brisbois, Dorian Yates and Lee Priest who all had absolutely massive, thick forearms that would put Popeye to shame, yet did no direct training for them. What those men all had in common was extraordinarily long muscle bellies. The various muscles of the forearms all originate at the elbow joint. They can attach anywhere between the elbows and the wrists. The further away from the wrist your forearm muscles attach/insert, the ‘shorter’ your forearm muscles are. This essentially means you have less muscle cells to work with in the first place. That gap between your wrist and the insertion points is all tendons. All the training in the world won’t make a tendon grow much. With longer muscles that attach near the wrist, you have far more muscle tissue to build. When you have that much muscle in the forearm, it tends to become stimulated from just about anything you do. Holding on to bars and dumbbells for anything you do while training back, chest, shoulders, and arms will have an indirect effect on the forearms. Back training in particular has been known to help build some beefy forearms, particularly when one doesn’t rely on wrist straps to reinforce the grip on exercises like rows, chins, deadlifts, and shrugs. Direct forearm training with wrist curls and reverse wrist curls, using either a barbell or a cable attachment, will stimulate growth. I suggest three sets of each for 15-25 reps. The forearms are a dense muscle group, like the calves, and seem to respond best to slightly higher reps like this. I would do that twice a week, though you shouldn’t train forearms the day before you hit back. Having sore forearms will compromise your grip strength, and would have a negative impact on all your back movements. I personally find that hitting a few sets of wrist curls at the end of my biceps workout is a natural fit. Lest you become discouraged by my comments earlier about huge forearms being mainly a genetic luck of the draw type of situation, don’t give up all hope. If you don’t make any effort to improve your forearms, I can guarantee you they will never be any bigger. If you do put in some dedicated effort over time, they will grow. How much they will grow remains to be seen, so get moving!

Finally, for you fans of 212 Mr. Olympia Flex Lewis in NYC, NJ, CT, RI, and MA, you are in luck! Next week he kicks off a whirlwind tour of the Northeast USA so you can meet him and in some cases, maybe even train alongside him! Here are the locations, dates, and times:

FLEX LEWIS Northeast Tour

Tuesday 11-27-12

4:00 - 6:00

Aggressive Nutrition

3049 Ave U

Brooklyn, NY 11229

Wednesday 11-28-12

4:00 - 6:00

Supplement City

890 Bridgeport Ave

Sheldon, CT 06484

11-28-12 4:00 - 6:00

Thursday 11-29-12

4:00 - 6:00

Ocean State Nutrition

1531 Smith St

N. Providence, RI 02911

Event will be at the Gold's Gym at 200 Baldwin Rd. Warwick,RI

Friday 11-30-12

4:00 - 6:00

Cape Cod Nutrition

75 Iyannough Rd

Hyannis, MA 02601

Saturday 12-1-12

11:00 - 4:00

Cape Cod Nutrition

221 Colony Place Rd

Plymouth, MA 02360

Sunday 12-2-12

10:00 - 5:00

Train With Team Gaspari Contest

Body Worx

273 Marshall St.

Paterson, NJ 07503

To all the American readers, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Talk to you all later!

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