Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nitric Oxide Boosters: Want To Increase The Intensity of Your Workouts?

Spending a week at Olympia in Las Vegas resulted in me having to buy a new suit case and filling it with 40 pounds of supplements various manufacturers wanted me to try and paying $50 for the right to fly it home.  The least I can do is try each and every one of them and review them for you here.

I am going to divide the reviews up by type of supplement and this first one - Nitric Oxide -  will evaluate three different brands.

So, what is "NO?"  NO stands for nitric oxide.  Nitric Oxide is a free form gas that is produced in the body and is used by the body to communicate with other cells in the body. To produce this gas, enzymes in the body break down the amino acid Arginine.  Nitric Oxide is a molecule consisting of one atom of nitrogen and one atom of oxygen. The production of Nitric Oxide occurs when the amino acid L-arginine is converted into L-citruline through an enzyme group known as Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS). 

Now that we have the chemistry behind us, what does NO actually do?  In short, it causes increased blood flow which serves to deliver more nutrients to muscles, thus helping them become larger when subjected to stress.  In some cases, they also cause what I'll call a "euphoric" feeling for period of time after ingesting.  I like to describe the effect to audiences like this:  "It makes me feel 20 years old again -- for about 50 minutes."  

Like creatine, this supplement has been scientifically shown to increase endurance and size.  So, it is something that those who tolerate it well may wish to consider.  I, for one, never enter a gym without a bottle containing an NO enhancer.  

Here are three I have used and each is worth considering:

1.  White Flood. This was the first NO enhancer I took on the recommendation of my son who is out ahead of the game on these kinds of things.  Indeed, I still take it.  It is manufactured by Controlled Labs, it works, and after a year and a half, White Flood still works for me and I have not become tolerant of it, that is where I don't get any benefits using the same dosage.  I will warn you that you can (and probably will) get a little "jittery" for several minutes after taking it.  This is a natural and harmless side effect from the Beta-Alanine contained in White Flood.  For me, it is usually good for 45 - 60 minutes of a full-bore workout.  

2.  Hemo-Rage.  I got this at Olympia.  It is manufactured by Nutrex Research and a 2010 supplement award nominee.  It is touted as one of the more powerful NO enhancers.  I used it yesterday before working legs and I can honestly say it was my best leg workout in a year.  I can barely walk today - literally.  Unfortunately, I can't say it was all because of the Hemo-Rage.  I changed a few things in the workout, went deeper into my squats and hacks, and was mentally ready for legs after watching the Olympia competition.  I can sure say that Hemo-Rage didn't hurt anything and I seemed to stay alert and motivated during the entire workout -- about 20 sets of upper legs and 6 sets of calves.  No jitters like I sometimes feel with White Flood.  Hemo-Rage also contains some creatine, unlike White Flood, but I take my creatine separately anyway so that part is kind of "more of the same" for me.  Bottom line?  I'll use Hemo-Rage again soon in order to determine whether the leg-shred was due to Hemo-Rage or just plain rage.  ;)  If it is the Hemo-Rage, I'm a convert!  
Stay tuned . . .

3.  Black Powder.  This is hyped product manufactured by MRI and is used by some of the "hard core."  Like Hemo-Rage it was nominated for a 2010 supplement award.  I used it this morning and it came through.  While it was an off day for me - just 12 sets of traps and 10 sets of abdominals today, I felt stronger in general throughout my workout and felt that I could lift a lot more than I was lifting in the trap portion of the routine.  I felt my energy was was moving up throughout the routine and I did not feel fatigued at the end of the session.  This one deserves another try in a big body part workout, which I will be doing in the future after I cycle through all the samples and review them here, all with a view to naming "the best of the best."

When To Use:  BEFORE you start your workout, or at least drink half before you begin your working and then sip the other half during your workout, and then switch to water.  It takes about 10 minutes to gain the effect and then you should start working out.  The key is not to stop working out until you are done.  There is no time for chit-chat on NO.  It doesn't last forever -- sometimes you'll get a bump for an hour; other times it is gone in 40 minutes.  It doesn't wait for you.  It doesn't care if you're working out or chatting up the pretty gal next to you.  Personally, I like to take half of it in the 10 minutes before I begin my workout (driving to the gym) and then start sipping the rest during my workout, usually finishing about 15 minutes into the routine and then switching to pure water.  You can experiment and should.

Caution:  With any product containing amino acids, taking too much is a possibility. Dosing with too much Arginine can lead to diarrhea, weakness and nausea. Unfortunately, dosing guidelines have not been established, so it is best to do what is known as "tolerance mapping." Take a small dosage for one week, note the benefits and the side effects, and increase the dosage until the benefits are maximized and the side effects minimized. Over time the two will converge and you will hit the optimal dose for your body.

Train hard; diet harder!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Photos From The 2010 Olympia

I won't torture you with my photos . . .

Here are 180 of them taken by a professional.

Highly recommended:

Train hard; diet harder.


Travel: How To Get On A Plane And Not Get Off Sick

Returned to San Miguel last night . . .

The week at Olympia in Las Vegas was terrific -- learned a lot, saw a lot, and as always, I just like Vegas.

The only downside to the trip started at the beginning the trip -- a woman seated directly behind me on the flight from Houston to Las Vegas was coughing, sneezing -- she was clearly sick.
And, she made me sick.
This happens more than occasionally and leads me to the conclusion that traveling is not healthy.  In addition to catching a cold or the flu, there is the issue of exercise, or the lack thereof, the impact of changing time zones on sleep, and the seating which, unless you fly first class everywhere you go, is bad for posture and the back.  
Like most of you, however, a good deal of my earnings are the result of traveling, so I travel.   
How best to travel and not get sick?
Contrary to popular opinion, you're not likely to get sick from someone 10 rows away from you on the plane.  Rather, the risk of onboard transmission of infection is mainly restricted to individuals with either personal contact, or seated within two rows of an infected passenger on flights longer than eight hours, according to Dr. Mark Gendreau, senior staff physician at Lahey Clinic and author of a recent study on medical issues on flights.
Typically, airplane air – about half from outside and half recycled after being passed through filters – enters at the top of the cabin. From there, the ventilation system keeps it from flowing forward and backward in the plane, limiting it mostly to the immediate row, before exiting through grilles in the cabin floor, which means not everyone breathes the same air.
Tips to staying well . . .
1.  Do not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth during the flight.  (Infection occurs when viruses or bacteria are sprayed from infected people in droplets from a cough or sneeze. The pathogens can then be picked up when passengers touch their tray table or the arm of their seat, and then rub their eyes).
2.  Wash your hands frequently or use a sanitizing gel during flight.  
3.  Stay hydrated in the arid cabin environment.  (I've found that if I'm in coach class they are never going to bring me enough water to stay hydrated and so I bring a 2-liter bottle of water with me.)
Even with these precautions, you may find someone seated in the same row or next row who is sick.  In the future, no more Mr. nice guy.  I'm going to ask to be reseated and I'm not going to be hesitant about saying why.
More on traveling and staying healthy in future blogs.
Train hard; diet harder.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 7: Olympia: Seminar

Today ends the 2010 Olympia experience . . .

At 11 a.m. we attended a seminar put on by the winners of the various competitions.

There were a few good tips but mostly it was an opportunity for these champions to express their feelings about winning in a misunderstood sport.

This afternoon we did a final bit of shopping and we're off to watch Bill Maher tonight and on an early plane in the morning.

I'll give some thought to what I learned that is worth sharing over the next couple of days and share it in this blog.

In the meantime, thanks for following.

Train hard; diet harder.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 6 (Post-Show): Olympia: Jay Cutler Takes His Fourth

Back to the condo from the Olympia show at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas . . .

It was all I'd hoped for . . .

A close contest -- Jay Cutler retained his title, followed by Phil Heath, a close second, and Branch Warren, who placed third.

Many thought Phil won it, but when its close, the tie goes to the champion and that's what happened here.

Most memorable from this evening was seeing all 12 Olympia winners on one stage at one time.  Actually, it was 11 of 12 with the 12th (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sending a videotape.  From 1965 until today, there have only been 12 winners of this Superbowl of professional physique competition.

Until recently, not even the very best could make a living at bodybuilding and most professionals still can't.  It means they have the dedication and commitment to do it even though most are working day jobs.  It means they love what they do and that's a rare gift.

Tomorrow will be the last Olympia event -- a seminar given by some of the competitors on training and diet.

We'll be there and report back what we learn.

Train hard; diet harder.


Day 6 (Pre-Show): Olympia: Expo Day 2/Samir Bannout/Jamie Eason

Got up this morning.  Have a cold.

While I like getting to where I'm going, I hate travel.  People get on planes sick; they know they're sick; they know they're going to get you sick, and they don't care.

Well, being in shape has a lot of advantages, one of which is I can pretty much ignore the cold, which is what I'm trying to do.

We went to the gym this morning -- arms.  Good workout.

Then, after a meal in the room we went to the Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center.  Even bigger than yesterday.  Fortunately, with the VIP passes, we got free run of the place for 30 minutes before the public made their way in.  Picked up some knee wraps.  Kelly got a rag or two and we loaded up on t-shirts for our friends at the home gym in San Miguel.  We have 20 pound bag full of free supplements we collected, too.  Plus what we ate while we were there . . . I'm going to have some penitence to pay next week . . .

At the Expo, I met Samir Bannout, the "Lion of Lebanon" who won Mr. Olympia in 1983.  A very nice guy, generous with his time . . .

Walking the convention center, I looked up and saw Jamie Eason -- one of the better known figure models around.  She, too, was kind and as cute as her photos . . .

Makes me want to stop staring at the floor . . .  ;)

Got photos from the pre-judging this afternoon.  Jay Cutler is in the battle of his professional life this year.  Phil Heath looks awesome.  For those with Facebook, these are likely 6 of the top 10 . . .

Did cardio early afternoon followed by some time at the pool.  The Vegas sun is, in a word, HOT.  

Then enjoyed a major protein infusion at an Asian buffet mid-afternoon and now we're back in the condo getting ready to head over to see what we came here for -- the men's Olympia finals.  

More later . . .

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 5: Olympia: Shoulders, Expo and Frank Zane

Big day today in Las Vegas.

Cardio this morning first thing.

Then to the convention center for the Olympia Expo.  It's a huge giveaway -- supplements, magazines, and lots of contests.  Walking down an aisle I saw Frank Zane.  He was a hero of mine back in the 70's, a three-time Mr. Olympia.

Then to Gold's - Sahara for a challenging shoulder/trap routine.  Here's a photo of this hard-core gym . . .

Then off to a late lunch, back to the hotel for a couple of hours in the sun by the pool and then off to a show tonight.

But tomorrow night is the real show -- Mr. Olympia.  More then . . .

Train hard; diet harder.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 4: Olympia: Press Conference and Meeting The Guys

Today was an off day from the gym and a good thing -- we were busy all day.  We did cardio this morning before going to the Olympia press conference but after that it was full speed ahead until now -- about 10 p.m. Las Vegas time . . .

The press conference featured all 22 contestants -- everyone had a chance to speak.  And, I was impressed for the most part.  Most outside physique competition believe the body building culture is all about ego, but you would have never guessed it hearing these competitors speak.  Except for one rookie, the word of the day was humility.  Each expressed gratefulness to be able to compete at this level, acknowledged that on any given day anyone of them could win, and importantly, that they didn't think about the others and what they were doing or had done, but only about bringing their own best to the show.

After a little sushi and shopping this afternoon, it was back to meet some of the guys this evening, including Jay Cutler (current Mr. Olympia) and Dexter Jackson (Mr. Olympia 2008).  Both were gracious and, while confident, nothing was assumed.  Both are quiet and serious.

Tomorrow begins the Expo -- we will be there first thing -- everything new will be on display, including foods, supplements and equipment.  A lot of the former champions will be there pitching for whoever is paying them at the moment and it is good to revisit history with them.

Until tomorrow, good night.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 3: Olympia 2010: Legs/Gold's Sahara

Getting into the groove now . . .

Worked out this morning at Gold's Sahara here in Vegas.  This is the gym Jay Cutler is using (and has used for years).  He lives in Las Vegas and he's preparing to defend his Olympia title.  It was legs for us today.  I have to admit I felt small, very small, around a lot of the guys (and a few of the girls) working out this morning.  These are the best of the best.

But, regardless of size, Gold's Sahara is hard-core and has some great equipment.  I'm convinced that Icarian makes the best leg machines around, including leg press and hack squat machines.

Meals up until this evening, pretty normal.

Went over to the Orleans Arena early this afternoon, picked up our VIP passes and met some people involved with the Olympia production.  Nice folks.

Back to the hotel.  Early dinner tonight at Joe's Stone Crab in Caesar's Palace.  Last night we dined at Shibuya (sushi) in the MGM.  Great meals, both.  Definitely double-cardio tomorrow . . .

Will attend the first Olympia press conference tomorrow.  Looking forward to watching the big guys try to psyche each other out even though I know it is more for show than real.  These are all professionals, years of experience, and nothing much phases them.  All of them have everything it takes to win -- like  PGA golfers, they all hit all the clubs in their bag.  It's a matter of fine points now, very fine points that will separate the top 6 from the rest of the field.

Before it is all said and done, we'll be back at Gold's Sahara to watch some of the competitors get in their final workouts.  Even though I've come to know what to expect, I'm still staggered by the weight most of the guys can handle.  What provides we older guys comfort is that most of the competitors are not 20-somethings.  In fact none of them are.  Most are in their late-30's and early 40's.  I'm convinced there is no way to win Olympia (man or woman) younger than the mid-30's.  Why?  Just not enough years in the gym to build the kind of physique necessary to be competitive at that level.  To the end of age, we saw a guy at Gold's today -- had to be near 70 -- about 215 pounds, no fat.  Which just proves that it can be done.  Success in this realm just requires what anything worth having requires -- dedication, focus and a lot of hard work.

Tomorrow I'll let you know what goes at the Olympia press conference and then Friday it's full-bore all the way through Sunday morning.  There is lots coming your way . . .

Train hard; diet harder.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Olympia: Day 2: Back/Planning

Got up this morning and did cardio.

Back upstairs, meal, relaxed a little, and then went to the gym to train back -- 20 sets today, good workout, different equipment.

Walked most of the day around the Strip in Vegas.  Did Meal 4 at Denny's -- 3 orders egg whites and 2 whole wheat pancakes.  Checked out the Aria which we had not seen before.

If legs were not slated for tomorrow morning, I would think seriously about double cardio today -- not because the diet has been off but because the flying smooths me out, that is I'm holding a lot of water.  I'm not big into diuretics and so I've found upping the cardio can help break water retainage.

But legs are tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it.  We're going to work out at the Gold's Gym where Jay Cutler trains (current Mr. Olympia) and I want the experience to be memorable, that is strong.  I've found that if I trounce cardio the afternoon or evening before legs I can't handle as much.  I want the legs  to be fresh in the morning.

Took a nap about 3:30 p.m.  Slept an hour.  Feel better.

Planned out the Olympia experience which begins tomorrow when we pick up our VIP passes.  

Now we are deciding on what's for dinner and where.

Last year we at Joe's in Caesar's Palace -- great seafood.  May go there again.

Have also heard good things about "Stacks" in the Mirage.

Either way we plan on eating clean.

More tomorrow.

Train hard; diet harder.



Monday, September 20, 2010

Olympia - Day 1 - The Challenges of Travel

Typical travel day . . .

Got up at 6 a.m.  Driver picked us up at 6:45 and arrived at the airport in Leon at 8:30.

Flight to Houston on time at 9:30.  2 hour layover there.  Then 3 1/2 hours to Vegas.  

Considering the time change, got here at 4 p.m. (6 p.m. CST).

Bus to car rental.  Turn on GPS.

At last of the chicken breasts prepared last night for the trip on the way to Target for a few groceries and then on to Whole Foods for the rest of the "essentials" - egg whites, Ezekiel bread, cottage cheese, bottled water, coffee, and a salad and some prepared fish for dinner.

Back across Vegas to the MGM Signature on the strip where we have a condo for the week -- quick dinner in the room and then at 9 p.m. CST -- off to the gym.  

Not the greatest workout, but beats nothing for sure.  And that's the hard part -- to stay disciplined, to get it done.  Not just go through the motions but to give everything you have, or at least everything you have left.

Back up to the room and finished off the fish.  Now a little yogurt for "dessert" and off to bed.

Tomorrow will be back on schedule -- early morning workout and early evening cardio.  

Olympia "weekend" starts on Wednesday and moves into full gear Thursday.

Will provide the play by play in this blog as we move through the weekend and the weekend.

Take care.  Train hard.  Diet harder.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Trip to 2010 Olympia Begins . . .

Technically, it begins tomorrow morning early.  We have a 9:30 a.m. plane to Houston and then on to Las Vegas, arriving there about 3:45 p.m.  Then headed to the MGM Signature where we have rented a condo, put our things away and head to the gym.  Which brings me to . . .

RULE NUMBER 1:  NEVER MISS WORKOUTS.  At home we workout about 8 a.m., but when on the road, we workout when we can.

Today is prep-day.  That means getting the usual things in bags -- clothes, swim suits, etc.  But it also means our workout gear -- gloves, belts, straps.  Which brings me to . . .

RULE NUMBER 2:  DON'T USE BEING ON THE ROAD AS AN EXCUSE FOR ANYTHING.  Take your stuff with you.  Your workouts out there need to be as good or better than those in your gym at home.

We also are packing food to get through the long travel day tomorrow.  I cooked half a dozen chicken breasts on the grill, put them in freezer bags and in the refrigerator.  I'll pull them out on our way out the door in the morning and we'll eat them throughout the day.  Same thing with a couple of sweet potatoes.  They travel well cooked.  We refilled our supplement boxes with our vitamins, minerals, etc. for 8 days.  And, we packaged up enough Syntha-6 and Casein protein to get us through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  The show actually begins Thursday and we'll be able to replenish supply there.  We've been to Vegas enough to know how to find Whole Foods and restaurants where we can eat clean throughout the week.  Which brings me to . . .

RULE NMBER 3:  YOU CAN EAT CLEAN ON THE ROAD IF YOU WANT TO.  No excuses; only a lack of preparation and commitment can stop you.

Over the next week, I will blog regularly about the goings on at Mr. Olympia Weekend.  You can find out more at

Have a great week!  Train hard; diet harder!


Jim and Kelly

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Week Until Olympia . . .

Kelly and I will be attending Olympia weekend in Las Vegas again this year, leaving a week from today.

Learn more about it at:

Should be a great show -- Jay Cutler will be trying to win his fourth title but there are some younger guns closing in.  I will report daily from Vegas on this blog starting September 23rd.

I saw an interesting article I'll share on why salads aren't always the way to go, especially in restaurants.  Here are five salads that are worse than a Burger King Whopper -- some by a long shot!

We're back in the home gym now for another week.  We had a tough chest routine today -- sometimes you do OK but really struggle.  Today was one of those days.

Adding muscle is the name of the game at the moment.  Once I return from the Olympia show I'll start cutting again.  We have a beach trip coming up at the end of October and I want to look like I should be at the beach with no shirt on.  ;)
Train hard; diet harder!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Opportunities On the Road: The Last Three Gyms

Back home tonight  . . . but before getting here, however, I worked out in 3 more gyms in Texas:

1.  L.A. Fitness (North Arlington) - Totally unlike the Irving, Texas L.A. Fitness I wrote about in an earlier blog.  This had a good vibe, a good mix of people, a few hard-core (including my son who pulled 8 reps at 405 on the deadlift).  Good equipment, but it still had an antiseptic feel, and I'm not sure I could make a regular habit of L.A. Fitness.  

2.  Gold's Gym (South Arlington) - I've worked out in this gym before and like it a lot.  This is the gym my brother has worked out in for years and it has an almost perfect mix of modern and old-time hard-core.  In the latter regard, it has a horizontal leg press machine, i.e., leg presses from flat on your back.  I could barely walk the next day.  The free weights are in a room all their own.  Lots of heavy duty equipment here, not much fancy.  Only downside is the cardio equipment -- most of the elliptical trainers are worn out.

3.  Cleburne Fitness Center (Cleburne, Texas) - This is a small town gym in a small town south of Ft. Worth, Texas.  Decent equipment but an old vibe from mostly older people, some of whom want to talk more than they want to work out.  I worked out alone here and it reminds of the importance of a workout partner.  Arnold said that a workout partner was the most important asset in his success as a bodybuilder.  I believe it.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to getting back into my home gym, Fitness International.  Lots of people I know and it is a friendly place which I find to be a real asset.

The point of this series?  Look at opportunities to work out in new and different gyms as just that -- opportunities.  Experiment with new equipment even if what you normally use is sitting right there.  I always find that I get more sore using different equipment than I can using what I'm used to.  And that's a good thing.

Train hard; diet harder!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Opportunities On The Road - Legs at Gold's Gym - Arlington, Texas

In the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, my favorite gym is, and has been for some time, Gold's Gym off Interstate 20 in Arlington.  Again today I was not disappointed . . .

Wednesday is leg day and it is important to line up the best equipment for the biggest body part.

At this Gold's they have what it takes, including three of my favorite leg machines:

1.  Icarian Plate Loaded Standing Squat - this mimics the barbell squat without as much danger of injury.

2.  Horizonal Leg Press - there is no manufacturer's name on this but it is a great piece of equipment.  You lie flat on the floor on your back (there is a pad) and push straight up against a plate loaded press.  These used to be popular back in the days of Pumping Iron and I don't know why most gyms got rid of this killer piece of equipment.

3.  Icarian Standing Face In Calf Machine -- on an angle, this pin-loaded machine supports the entire front of  your body as  you do calf raises.  Really smokes them!

This gym (which is my brother's home gym) has the right vibe, a good mix of fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders, and has the best equipment pound for pound as I have seen in any gym, and that includes Gold's Venice Beach.  Perhaps the only improvement that needs to be made is the cardio equipment.  It is old and looks and feels that way. 

It was a trek over there this morning but well worth it.  Tomorrow morning is shoulders and we may use the hotel gym as a test to see if we can get a full-bore shoulder routine.  If not, I may drive over to Arlington again.  I just can't get enough of this club. 

Thanks to Ken and Mauri for the invite and to the club's friendly staff who made us feel welcome. 

Until tomorrow, train hard; diet harder.