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IM Ask Us Anything #2

Expert advice for over-40 athletes about training, supplementation, nutrition, hormones, and more.
By Jay Campbell and Jim Brown
 
Chris: Are there any benefits to doing cardio sessions immediately after my strength training as opposed to one single 60-minute cardio-only session? My goal is fat loss.
Overall, if you get cardio in, it will add to your calorie deficit, ultimately leading to fat loss. There are a couple of things to consider. If you start cardio with glucose in the bloodstream, you must train through it to get into burning fat. If you do fasted cardio, you are cutting through a little time to get into fat-burning mode (when waking up) due to lower blood sugar (reduced insulin signal), as your body will burn fat preferentially. This assumes you’re not doing high-intensity exercise (like intervals), which demand glucose, forcing your body to break down proteins to accommodate the energy demand. We personally like to perform 15- to 20-minute cardio sessions post-weight training. We have always felt this helps recovery and keeps metabolism elevated, in addition to managing body-fat levels. When we are dieting, we will add another 30-minute session either before bed or fasted upon waking.
 

 
Sam: Please comment on the shortcomings of a traditional 5×5 program for older individuals.
For strength alone it can be effective; however, for muscular hypertrophy … not so much. If we’re talking about an older person, 38 and above, the tendons and ligaments just aren’t as pliable. You also don’t possess the same amount of synovial fluid in your joint capsules that you had in your late teens and twenties. What this means is that subjecting those same tendons to heavy loads isn’t the best choice. Taking these factors into account, it’s why we have always recommended a higher rep range for an aging athlete. If you’re an individual whose

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Training For Mental Toughness

By Eddie Avakoff
 
Sure, muscles look great. And isn’t it nice to be the one at the squat rack with more weight on the bar than anyone else? Well, as great as those tangible feats are, there are also some not-so-tangible qualities that many strive to achieve in the gym. And the one I’d like to talk about today is mental toughness.
Mental toughness is something that’s difficult to directly test. Of course, there are endurance events like a triathlon or the famous World’s Toughest Mudder, but I think strength sports such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, strongman, et cetera all require mental toughness of their own unique caliber.
Mental toughness shows itself in many different styles: A powerlifter needs to psych himself out into knowing he’s going to lift that PR, just as a young lady needs it to grind her way though 75 miles of a 24-hour mud obstacle race. And it’s no different than a bodybuilder having the fortitude to walk onstage in front of thousands of critical eyes and flex his muscles for others to judge—talk about mental toughness!
In order to build mental toughness, one must first embody the following characteristics:
PERSISTENCE
The thought of doing something over and over again does not scare you. Even in the result of failure, you try to improve and test yourself again. Get knocked down? You get back up and fight!
DRIVE
You are ambitious. Mediocrity is not an option—in fact, it scares you. You hold a constant desire to improve until you are the best. Drive best shows itself when you achieve a hard-earned goal. Instead of complacency, you raise the bar and begin to work for a bigger and greater goal.
FOCUS
When there’s a task at hand, everything else is blocked out. Distractions don’t exist to someone extremely focused. You simply plow right through the

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Over-40 Fitness

Expert advice for over-40 athletes about training, supplementation, nutrition, hormones, and more.
By Jay Campbell and Jim Brown
Many people stop lifting weights when they get in their 40s, believing that the Iron Game is meant for young people. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, the older you get the more important weight training becomes for maintaining strength, body composition, optimal hormone levels, vitality, and overall quality of life. In this new column, our over-40 fitness experts will help you train your age. That is, wisely but with intensity and purpose. Jay Campbell is a longtime Iron Man columnist and author of the book The Definitive Testosterone Replacement Therapy Manual: How To Optimize Your Testosterone For Lifelong Health And Happiness. Jim Brown is a bodybuilding expert and trainer who has helped thousands of people achieve their goals.
Dennis: What does being sore after a workout represent? If I’m not sore in the specific muscles I trained, was my workout productive?
Jay and Jim: To us, being sore is a very useful diagnostic tool. We adjust workout intensity and volume based on current recovery ability. If training for hypertrophy, we can all agree that some soreness in the muscle trained is generally good. The more times we can train a muscle the more we can induce protein synthesis. This forces the body to change in response to current demands. Doing this over and over enables more growth to occur.
Let’s say you work legs once a week and destroy them (defined as it’s difficult to sit on the toilet). Will you recover fully in seven days? A better question is: Would you see more growth by working that muscle just enough to force adaptation? If you can do that twice a week, you should grow that muscle group faster.
In general, when

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THE LION ROARS

Expert advice to your questions about training, nutrition, recovery, and living the fitness lifestyle.
By Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes
 
Brandon: I’ve read anti-inflammatories inhibit recovery from exercise. Does this apply to all anti-inflammatories or only certain kinds? I’m concerned I might be limiting my muscle gains, since I take them a lot to manage the pain from old injuries.
Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes: Great question! Some years back, there were rodent studies that demonstrated a significant reduction in hypertrophy when they were given NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) versus a placebo. For the rodents, the hypertrophy gains were diminished by about 50 percent.
However, the same results never panned out in humans. One study that seemed to “prove” that NSAIDS inhibited muscle growth as never replicated again, which generally means the study results are bunk. Other studies later showed an increase in muscle hypertrophy, but these studies also used untrained or elderly subjects, so that has to be considered as well.
Overall, the current body of evidence is murky and I can’t say that it isn’t possible that taking NSAIDS could inhibit muscle growth. At the same time, though, if you consider the anecdotal evidence, there hundreds of thousands, likely millions even, of recreational lifters who use NSAIDS, and they have all built muscle mass. I can personally attest to knowing many professional physique athletes who use NSAIDS, and I cannot say it has hurt their muscular development in the slightest.
So at this point in time, I feel comfortable saying that they are safe to take and won’t hurt your gains.
 
Blake: What supplements do you recommend? I’ve been training for six years, and I’ve made gains in muscle mass and definition, but I’ve started to question if all the supplements I’ve gotten have really done anything significant. I went on a “stag vacation” for a

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THE LION ROARS

Expert advice to your questions about training, nutrition, recovery, and living the fitness lifestyle.
Chris: Is there an ideal length/method for fat-burning cardio? I’ve been mixing basketball, biking, and walking for 30 minutes a day. Should I be doing more or something different?
Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes: Over the course of a fat-loss phase of dieting, I’d generally recommend refraining from using cardio as means for fat loss for as long as possible. Once you begin using it, though, cardio for burning body fat is a question of sustainability more than it is any single method of cardio being “best.”
If you’re using cardio to sustain a calorie deficit, then aerobic cardio is generally going to be the most manageable. It’s low impact, can be done a variety of ways, and is the least depleting energy-wise.
If you’re trying to rapidly increase body fat loss  however, and want to tap into stored fat in the most time-efficient way possible, then interval training or high-intensity interval training would be your best options. Intervals and HIIT can create a powerful metabolic effect, but these workouts are very draining and generally can’t be done more than three times a week.
Thomas: Are there any supplements that I can take help to burn body fat, other than caffeine?  
AJAC: Yes, absolutely there are. While fat loss is a question of diet, it would be short-sighted to say that there are no supplements that can speed up the process. As a disclaimer, there is no quantifiable way to say “how much” any of the following supplements increase fat burning in the real world, but they definitely work. This is also not medical advice of any kind. That prefaced, the following are very effective fat burners.
Yohimbine—Yohimbine done with fasted cardio can be a powerful fat-burning tactic, but be aware:  Yohimbine

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