Strength Training Effects to Your Mental Health

Strength training has received a lot of attention for the many benefits it contributes to the body. For athletes, strength training lessens the risk of muscle injury while for most people, it promotes overall physical well-being. This means less risk against cardiovascular diseases and lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and pre-hypertension. Moreover, scientists have found scientific evidence that strength training is a powerful intervention to prevent and manage degenerative diseases, such as osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome.

With all its physical benefits, scientists and researchers give little focus on the mental benefits of strength training until recently. An extensive literature review published in, and the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine reveals how strength training affects your mental health. The highlights of this study specifically tackled its effect on anxiety, depression, cognition, sleep, and even your self-esteem.

strength training

Battling Anxiety

In the United States alone, around 15 percent of Americans suffer from such conditions which usually last between 15 and 30 days. Anxiety is defined as a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension over an uncertain situation and is often physically manifested with panic attacks. Anxiety is similar to fear but whereas in fear you know what you are afraid of, those who suffer from anxiety does not know what they are afraid of. Moreover, heightened symptoms of anxiety often lead to sleep disruptions, poor health, and limitations to physical activity.

Researchers have found that in the seven studies done on this topic, they have found that resistance training provides significant intervention for those who are suffering from anxiety. Furthermore, two out of the seven studies showed that high intensity training which are performed at 80 percent of 1-RM was more effective in reducing anxiety than moderate intensity training done at 50 to 60 percent of 1-RM.

Improved Cognitive Abilities

Cognition is the processing ability of your brain to gather knowledge through your senses, thought, and experience. Research done on cognition tries to determine how your brain transforms experiences and events into stored memory, which can be retrieved and utilized to perform physical and mental tasks. Along with cognition is the executive function which serves as the command and control center of your cognitive skills. Your executive function takes care of all the tasks you perform from writing a letter to organizing a trip.

There is a great amount of research which focuses on physical training and cognition using adults as subjects. One of its greatest impact is a significant improvement in memory and mental-related tasks of those who engage in resistance training. Moreover, separate studies by GNC Crazy Bulk done on resistance training and cardiovascular exercises show that these activities showed great improvement on the executive function of the subjects.

Reducing Depression

Challenges and losses are part of life we need to cope. Some of them can greatly affect us and it is normal that we sometimes feel depressed or sad. However, these feelings of sadness can become extreme helplessness and hopelessness causing mood disturbances, lack of motivation, fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia, agitation, and weight fluctuations.

In the literature review Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults, researchers have looked at 18 different studies on effects of strength training to ease depression symptoms and have discovered mixed results. Some studies show significant effect while others have little change. Further studies are needed to investigate whether the amount of resistance training plays an important role in the reduction of depression symptoms. On the other hand, however, four studies have revealed that adults who were clinically diagnosed for depression and have undergone strength training showed a very significant reduction in depression.

Fighting Chronic Fatigue

In the same review, researchers said that 25 percent of the American population have reported to be suffering from chronic fatigue symptoms. Moreover, chronic fatigue is much more common especially in people who are reported to be suffering from lasting medical illnesses or psychological disorders.

Those who are suffering from chronic fatigue often use it as an excuse to make frequent visits to their doctor or a very valid reason not to exercise at all. However, results from different random studies on exercise and fatigue show that physical training is much more beneficial than medications and cognitive-behavioral interventions. In fact, the largest improvements in chronic fatigue were of those who have undergone a strength training only program.

Catching Up on Sleep

Research have shown that an average person spends thirty percent of his or her life on sleep. Lack of sleep is detrimental not only on your physical health, but also on your mental health. When you are sleeping less than six hours every night, you are depriving yourself of sleep already. And studies show that sleep deprivation plays an important role in mental illness, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, daytime sleepiness, vehicular accidents, and stroke.

Further research indicates that a physically active lifestyle results in healthier sleeping patterns and lower risk for sleep apnea. Moreover, people who are suffering from any form of sleep disorder show around thirty percent of improvement on their sleep after undergoing a regular resistance training intervention. The results become imminent after 8 to 10 weeks of continuous resistance training.

Building Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is how you see yourself. High self-esteem is strongly associated with positive physical and mental well-being. Both theory and research have shown that people who undergo resistance training have shown improvements in their self-esteem. Even patients with cancer or depression as well as those who are undergoing cardiac rehabilitation have shown a significant boost in their self-esteem after they underwent strength training.

Final Thoughts on Strength Training and Metal Health

The mechanisms by which strength training improves mental health are still under speculations. Researchers cited that strength training can have a direct or indirect effect on a person’s mental well-being.

Moreover, strength stack with the training may improve the function of the central nervous system which, in turn, can have a positive effect on mental health. One study on the relationship between resistance training and mental health reveals that improved cognitive skills from exercise likely comes from multifactorial adaptations that involve new nerve-cell generation in the brain, an increase in neurotransmitters, and generation of new blood vessels in the brain which result in a more efficient delivery of oxygen and removal of waste product in the body.

How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscle

building muscle

A lot of people seem confused as to how much protein you need to build muscle. With people constantly throwing numbers and estimates around its no wonder so many people have no idea how much protein they need to build muscle. There’s no doubt that protein plays it part when looking to build muscle but some estimates of how much we need each day are either way too exaggerated or extremely under-estimated. Lets take a brief look at how much protein you really need to build sufficient muscle mass.

How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscle?

To build muscle I would recommend you take in at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight coming from complete protein sources. This means that if you weigh 200 pounds you would take in at least 200 grams of protein from a complete source each and everyday. When I say complete protein source I mean a protein food that has all the essential amino acids in. Complete protein foods that build muscle include any lean meat such as beef/steak, chicken and turkey as well as milk, cheese, eggs and whey protein. A selection of these foods should always be included in your diet when trying to build muscle.

Cant I Take More Than 1 Gram Of Protein Per Pound Of Body Weight?

Sure you can. In fact, a lot of athletes find their ideal protein intake to be around 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. In my opinion though, unless you are a competitive bodybuilder there is no need to go as high as 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. I recommended 1 gram per pound of bodyweight above as a general guideline and with a good weight training routine and diet this will get you good results. Some people will naturally need more. Not everyone body will respond the same way as someone else.

If your taking in at least 1g per pound of bodyweight with a solid diet and weight training routine but still arent happy with how you are progressing try upping your protein intake to 1.5 gram per pound of bodyweight. Protein intake slightly higher than this amount can be more effective when trying to maintain muscle while cutting and losing fat or attempting to build muscle and burn fat at the same time but feel free to up your intake if your not getting the results you want.

If your still not progressing with a higher protein intake chances are you have hit a plateau. Check how to overcome a weight training plateau and be sure to learn how often you should workout to eliminate the chances of over-training and keep progress going!

Why Do We Need Protein To Build Muscle?

With so much talk and hype about protein your probably wondering why we actually need protein to help us build muscle. Proteins are known as building blocks. They are basically responsible for the building of muscle tissue, nails, skin and hair. After an intense weight lifting session your muscles will have been broken down and will need time to heal and recover. Protein will help rebuild and grow the muscle helping it to adapt to the constant stress that’s placed upon it through weight training.

Protein is not only used to help build muscle but can also be used to lose weight. Protein is known to have a high thermic effect than any other macro-nutrient. What this means is that when your body attempts to digest protein it burns more calories doing so than it would digesting carbohydrates or fats. A protein rich meal will also make you feel fuller for longer helping to fight off and stop food cravings.

How Am I Going To Get That Much Protein Into My Diet?

Now you’ve learnt how much protein you need to build muscle you’re probably wondering how an earth your going to manage to consume so much of it in a normal working day. The truth is, with a bit of planning its simple. Check out this example:

  1. Breakfast – Protein shake consisting of 1.5 scoops of whey, milk, packet of oats and fish oil. Put all into a blender for 30-60 seconds and consume with 1 banana.
  2. Meal 2 – 2 Chicken Breasts, brown rice, vegetables
  3. Meal 3 – Same as above. 2 Chicken Breasts, brown rice, vegetables
  4. Meal 4 – 1 scoop of whey protein
  5. Meal 5 – 1 chicken breast, jacket potato, vegetables and 1 glass of milk

Of course the above is just a quick example of what a high protein diet could look like. The above diet is currently what mine looks like most week days but feel free to change up the lean protein sources you eat. As you can see i eat a lot of chicken but will sometimes substitute chicken for another meat such as turkey or steak. Fish is also a great source of clean and complete protein to include in your weight training diet. I also consume eggs for breakfast on weekends instead of the traditional protein shake with oats, milk and fish oil.

Common Protein Intake Myths Your Likely To Hear

A lot of people have been miss-informed when it comes to how much protein you need in your diet to build muscle. Im going to list a couple of the most popular myths your most likely to hear when it comes to the subject of protein and how much protein we need to build muscle.

  • Protein will damage your kidneys. Eating over 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight will damage your kidneys according to many people. This statement can not be taken seriously as their is no evidence whatsoever to suggest protein is harmful to your body. Just look at the professional bodybuilders and imagine how much protein they get through each day. Very rarely do you hear of a bodybuilder with kidney problems.
  • You can only digest 30g or so of protein at a time. Again their is no evidence to support this claim. Your body can absorb a lot more than 30 grams of protein at one sitting.
  • Protein is protein no matter where it comes from. Some people believe that as long as your diet tally up to enough grams of protein it doesn’t matter where this protein is coming from. Wrong. Protein from brown rice, nuts and vegetables etc is nowhere near as effective as a complte protein source such as steak or chicken. Each meal you consume should have a complete protein source in it to help you to reach your protein intake for the day. Complete proteins have all the amino acids in to help repair, rebuild and grow your muscles.

The Importance Of What To Eat After A Workout

what to eat after workout

You have just finished a grueling workout where you pushed your body to the limit. Muscles have been strained and broken down, energy levels are depleted, and you feel on top of the world! So what to eat after a workout like this? As far as your body is concerned you should be immediately refueling with high quality nutrients. But it is always best to know the reason behind doing anything.

So, what is the point to post workout supplements?

Resistance training or endurance work both put a certain degree of strain on your body. Muscle tissue is typically stressed, levels of glycogen are reduced (among others), and free radicals continue to move around and will attack muscle cells continuing muscle damage and breakdown. While that breakdown is the goal during training, post-training you immediately want to start the recovery process which rebuilds you into a stronger, more fit version of yourself as said many fitness guru like on the The CC ORG health and fitness website.

Timing is Everything

The first 30 to 60 minutes after a workout is a specific period of time in which your body is ready to shift into an anabolic state (where tissues grow and heal) if it has the proper energy available. This is a very specific time that doesn’t occur elsewhere in the day. By not taking advantage of this opportunity, studies have shown that gains and recovery will not be as dramatic. So why waste all the effort at the gym by not starting recovery quickly?

What you Take In

It’s not just when you eat, but also what you eat that spurs the most amount of recovery and tissue rebuilding response. Amino acids (protein) are critical at this stage along with good carbohydrates. You will also need to include fluids with electrolytes in the after workout plan. Multivitamins and other daily supplements, unless post-workout specific, should not be included at this time because it is better to regiment those each morning at a specific time.


The most popular and effective option is the protein shake for post-workout refueling. Most shakes have at least 20 grams of protein which gives you the amino acids your body needs to promote effective recovery. There are also some carbohydrates included but using a milk based shake will increase that a bit more. In addition a piece of fruit can add an extra kick with some simple energy that can be quickly absorbed by your body. You can top that off by sipping an electrolyte stocked drink like Gatorade or similar type to replenish your body’s fluids. Another good alternative is a juice shake with a protein powder addition or specially formulated carbohydrate drinks with amino acids included for post-workout recovery.

All of the above options are good choices. Due to how much faster liquids are absorbed by the body it is easier to get these important nutrients into your body quickly to make the limited window. Unfortunately that window does close rather quickly and between the time it takes to prepare food and consume it, drinking a shake ends up being a better, more efficient way to start recovery.

The Best Ways To Slow Down Your Metabolism

slow down metabolism

In most cases, you’ll start reading about all the different things that you can do to boost your metabolic rate and burn fat faster.

But, it’s not very often that people talk about the other side of the coin – things that could potentially be slowing down your progress and causing you to see less than optimal progress.

It’s important that you do consider both sides of this equation however as not only do you need to make sure that you are doing what you can to enhance your metabolic rate, but you also need to be sure you’re doing what you can to prevent it from slowing down.

It really doesn’t do you all that much good if you’re doing things that increase your metabolism if you’re also doing things that slow your metabolism down as well.

Then they would just counter balance each other, leaving you pretty much where you were in the first place.

Let’s have a quick look at a few of the best ways to slow your metabolism down so you know precisely what you must be avoiding.

Crash Diets

The very first way to kill your metabolism incredibly quickly is to go on a crash diet plan. Crash diets, that is, diets that are incredibly low in calories and provide hardly enough to even sustain life, are not going to do your fat loss progress any favors whatsoever.

So many people come to believe that crash diets are the fastest way to see weight loss success. Nothing is furthest from the truth.

While you may get some initial weight loss on them, you won’t get the long-term fat loss that you’re after. In fact, you won’t even lose much body fat at all.

Instead, you’re going to shed lean muscle tissue along with water. Is that what you really want?

Since you’ll be consuming so few calories, the body will take this to mean you’re trying to starve it and in response to this, it’s going to slow down your metabolism further.

The fewer calories it burns, the greater the chances are that it will stay alive.

This slow calorie burn means it becomes harder and harder for you to continue to see fat loss success, and you’ll eventually just end up falling off the program entirely.

Use a more moderate calorie deficit instead. You’re going to see far better results that way over the long haul and also enjoy the process that much as well. Crash diets are not a fun time – they’ll leave you drained for energy and hating every hour of your life while on them.

Very Low-Carb Diets

The second good way to kill your metabolism fast is to use a very low-carb diet for an extended period of time. You don’t necessarily have to use a crash diet to see a decline to your metabolic rate. Low-carb diets can be just as detrimental because carbohydrates are the primary nutrient that is associated with good thyroid gland function.

If your low-carb diet is not providing at least 100 grams of carbs each day, there is the potential that it will cause a metabolic decline.

To avoid this from occurring, either add brief higher carb periods back into the diet plan at periodic times – every two weeks or so, or else add more carbs around times that you workout when your body will use them as a fuel source anyway.

This will help to keep your thyroid gland up-regulated so that your metabolism keeps humming along.

Lack Of Sleep

Moving along, lack of sleep is the next big issue that you need to be concerned over. How could sleep influence your metabolic rate you might think?

It does – in a major way. Those who aren’t getting enough sleep at night – at least seven or eight hours, are not going to have as strong of metabolic rates and may also struggle to control their hunger more as well.

If you often find on those restless nights that you are really struggling to say no to continually reaching for a snack all throughout the day, this is very likely why.

Low levels of sleep will significantly impact your hunger regulation, so it’s really in your best interest to make sure that you are getting enough.

Long Duration Cardio Exercise

Next up on our list of worst things that you can do that will immediately decrease your metabolic rate is to do plenty of long duration cardio exercise.

This variation of cardio is just going to cause the body to burn up lean muscle tissue, which then means that you’re going to burn fewer calories each and every hour during the day.

Your lean muscle mass is highly metabolically active, so it’s the type of tissue that you must make sure you’re maintaining as you go about your diet program.

Avoid long duration cardio activity and do interval training instead.

High Stress Lifestyle

Finally, the last thing that you should be avoiding if you want to sustain a higher metabolic rate is making sure that you keep your stress levels low.

Stress is going to cause the body to release the hormone cortisol, which can then also eat away at your lean muscle tissue, further lowering your metabolic rate.

So while stress won’t decrease the metabolism directly, indirectly it definitely can.

So keep these quick tips in mind. If you’re serious about fat loss success, it’s imperative that you aren’t committing any of these fatal errors. Focus on avoiding these and doing all the things you can to boost your metabolism such as eating a high protein, unprocessed diet, getting enough sleep, performing heavy weight lifting, and making sure to consume green tea daily.

If you do that, you will be burning more calories each and every day, making fat loss feel far easier.

The Benefits of a Cardio Workout


Put simply, Cardio (cardiovascular) exercise is anything that elevates or increases your heart rate. Cardio exercise increases your circulation and blood flow throughout your body. Cardio exercise is an important component of any balanced exercise routine. There are SO many health benefits of doing cardio exercise.

Here are just a few:

1. It improves your fitness

Cardio (or aerobic) exercise like powerwalking, jogging, swimming, riding – improves your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles. It also helps your muscles become more efficient at using that oxygen. The more you exercise your heart, the better and more efficient it becomes, which in turn reduces your risk of having a heart attack.

2. It helps with weight loss

Combining cardio exercise(the more intense the better), eating right and doing regular strength training you will lose weight.

3. Can help to reduce your blood pressure

When you improve your fitness, you can reduce high blood pressure, which is a one of the major factors that contributes to heart attack or stroke.

4. It can increase your levels of good HDL cholesterol

The good cholesterol (HDL), removes deposits of bad (LDL) cholesterol from your blood and sends it to the liver to be excreted from your body. Having excess LDL cholesterol is linked with heart disease, because it blocks the flow of blood to your heart. By improving your cardio fitness, you boost the levels of HDL cholesterol in your body.

5. Helps build strong, healthy bones

When you do weight bearing exercise, like jogging, you put your bones under stress. In response to this, your body increases your bone mineral density to make your bones stronger – this is great for keeping osteoporosis at bay.

6. Helps to make your immune system stronger

Taking part in regular exercise, including cardio you are stimulating the production of cells in your blood, that helps to fight off bugs (bacteria and viruses), therefore helping to build a strong immune system.

7. Gives you the feel good hormones

Doing cardio exercise can lead to the release of the feel good hormones, otherwise known as endorphins – this is the chemicals in the brain that produce a sense of happiness and wellbeing. As an off shoot of this, cardio exercise can also help relieve stress, improve self-confidence and self-esteem.

8. Helps you sleep better

Doing cardio activity, especially in the morning, helps to set your body clock so that you are wide awake during the day and sleepy at night.

9. It will increase your stamina & gives you more energy

When you are doing cardio exercise, you might feel tired while doing it, or right after the activity, but in the long term, you will be increasing your stamina and reduce fatigue, but also giving you more energy!

But don’t forget, eating right and doing conditioning and strength work is just as important as cardio. Doing all three of these, will ensure you are as fit and healthy as possible – while making you tone up and lose weight as well. Bonuses all round really!

If you want some cardio exercise ideas, here are some for you:

  • Power walking
  • Jogging/running/sprinting
  • Bike riding
  • Swimming
  • Skipping
  • Jumping, hopping
  • Step ups
  • Aerobics
  • Boxing
  • Rowing
  • Bush walking
  • Skiing
  • Roller blading