The last time I gave advice to a bodybuilder was in 1981. I was a freshman in high school, and I told a friend's brother to "slow down his reps." I thought that was good information, seeing as how I had just read it in article by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well, this guy put the weight down and kneed me in the thigh so hard I couldn't walk for an hour. Twenty-six years later, I can still hear him clear as day asking me, "Who's BIGGER - me or you?"
If ever there was a significant emotional event in my life, that was it. I gave up bodybuilding that day and set my sights on being an extreme sports athlete. Over the past 26 years, I have climbed mountains, jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, surfed every tropical storm to hit the East Coast (until I got married), and wrecked my mountain bike at speeds faster than most dare to think about. Today, at age 40, I'm working on my blue belt in Brazilian Jujutsu with legendary professor Pedro Sauer.
Why am I telling you this? Because years ago I learned something that has helped me in every aspect of my physical performance and, more importantly, my ability to recover from the abuse I put my body through for all those years. If ever there was a sport that needed to hear what I'm saying, it's the sport of bodybuilding.
So let me ask you: Do you think you know enough about bodybuilding to continue to make steady gains, stay healthy, and recover from tendonitis? Because I can tell you by the time you reach 40 you're going to wish you had listened to me. I'm about to break a 26-year silence and share with you three very powerful tactics every bodybuilder not only needs to know but employ on a regular basis.
One thing I have learned working with elite athletes is that you can't tell them to stop doing their sport. Try telling a runner to stop running or a bodybuilder to stop working out. Yeah, right. But I can tell you how unexpected limitations develop that will hinder your ability to make gains and recover from injuries.
One of the main reasons why most bodybuilders hit a wall and develop injuries is that they don't allow their muscles to recover 100 percent before they work those same muscles again. Ideally, as the body goes through the recovery process, it should lay down nice elastin and collagen tissue. Instead, with insufficient recovery time, it starts to use fibrin, which is bad - very bad.
Here's how it works: If your body is overstressed, it instinctively tries to protect itself by using fibrin, which is very strong, to achieve that added element of stability you need. In the beginning, that extra fibrin helps your muscles recover. But over time - and I'm talking months and years - that same fibrin will stop you in your tracks.
When your body adds fibrin, it's like adding rebar to concrete; it makes something that is already strong much stronger. The downside is that you lose mobility and start to develop postural imbalances. You also lose "contractibility," which is another way of saying strength.
And that's where many of your problems start. You see, fibrin is scar tissue similar to what you will see on a scab, and you do not want a scab on any of your connective tissue. Here's why:
Of the six reasons why you do not want excess fibrin in your body, number six is the most critical as it relates to your ability to get bigger and stronger. Blood flow is key. It affects every aspect of your recovery - not just from injury but from each workout.
Let me help you understand what I'm talking about when I say we have fibrin in our blood vessels that can slow, hinder, or even prevent the blood from getting where it needs to go. I searched long and hard to find this incredible image (left) of red blood cells caught in a web of excess fibrin. The fibrin is causing a physical restriction. If you look closely, you can see that they're stuck. Ultimately, those red blood cells cannot get into the capillaries to oxygenate and nourish your muscles so they will do the work you want them to do. Without that little bit of extra blood, you can say good-bye to that last rep.
I hope you can you now understand how excess fibrin can restrict blood flow, prevent you from achieving your best, and prevent you from recovering as fast as you want. The problem is, the excess fibrin is systemic, meaning it extends throughout your body and in and around all connective tissue. To get more blood flow, your heart has to work harder to get more blood where it's needed. This is bad. It's called high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, I do not have an image of how excess fibrin becomes scar tissue in muscle, tendons, or ligaments - but, believe me, it's there. And you'll feel it.
1) Heat things up to get it moving
Get your ass into a hot tub or sauna at least two or more times per week. You see, heat does two things: one, it relaxes the muscle, which allows the blood to flow easier; and, two, it causes the blood to come to the surface of the skin to try to cool the body. When this happens, more blood travels through the smallest vessels you have, thereby improving your body's overall circulation.
2) Unbind your muscles
This technique became popular back in the 1980s. A guy named John Parrillo came up with something called "fascia stretching," which allowed some bodybuilders to add more than an inch in diameter per muscle group just minutes before the competition. Nowadays, the big boys do on a weekly basis for consistent gains and rapid recovery.
Fascia gives our muscles form, and when our fascia is too restricted, it limits the ability of the muscle to expand and fill with blood, limiting the amount of blood for the pump and recovery.
My suggestion is to find a qualified massage therapist who can perform cross-friction massage and myofascial release techniques on you. One thing to remember is that if you are fascialy bound down, these techniques will hurt like hell and you'll be sore for up to four days after. The good news is that once you're free, you're free. Trust me, the results will be profound.
3) Let nature clean your pipes
The third technique is to use systemic-proteolytic enzyme, an enzyme that breaks down excess fibrin throughout your body, including your blood vessels and your muscles. Nothing else in the world can naturally break down the excess fibrin in your blood vessels and remove the scar tissue in your connective tissue.
The fact is your body is constantly regulating fibrin. But as you get older (late 20s), your body will have fewer and fewer enzymes available to do the job. And when we train hard, there are simply not enough enzymes to keep up with the demand to regulate fibrin. That's how the build-up of fibrin start and how the limitations begin.
Like most injuries or diseases, the accumulation of excess fibrin in our bodies is a process, and the removal of that fibrin is also a process. One thing that makes enzymes unique among all other supplements is that we know they work.
These enzymes are not measured in milligrams but in what are called "fibrinolytic units," which is the amount of fibrin they break down in a set amount of time.
So, if you know the fibrinolytic units of a product, you know how much clearing or removal you will get. This will help you compare products.
But, don't be surprised if you've never heard of systemic enzymes, because there are very few companies in the world that sell them. They are somewhat expensive, but they possess exactly what you're looking for: the ability to naturally increase blood flow.
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