November 21, 2014

November 21, 2014 Leucine...REALLY works.

So here is my promised Leucine post. I'll try and keep it as brief as possible, starting with the actual results I've experienced, and then talk briefly about the science behind it.  Part of my research about fitness type stuff is about supplements. I'm notoriously skeptical, and this bears out in practice, as probably 85% of things I've tried have no discernible effect.  This also makes sense since 85% of supplements are complete hog-wash with no actual science to back them up.  While researching my last cut and deciding what I wanted to do for it, while looking at the ECAY stack I did, I also read quite a bit about leucine, and it seemed like there was actual research to back up the claims.  I didn't want to try too many new things at once, so I deferred the leucine til after this cut was over.  I've been taking it for just under 3 weeks now, and the results: wow.

One of the criteria I use for evaluating supplements is how large the effect of it is, since I'm just a single person, and a slight effect could just be random chance.  The results here were not small.  Let me give you an example: Let's say you usually squat on Mondays, and you're sore Tuesday and somewhat Wednesday.  Every now and then for whatever reason you end up still ever so slightly sore on Thursday. For whatever reason, you didn't recover as fast that week.  You know those weeks. Here's the thing.  Since I started taking leucine, the sorest I've been the day after a workout is the equivalent of those random extra days of recovery where you can barely even tell. Barely noticeable.  I haven't taken more than one day to recover from anything.  There have been days where after a particularly brutal workout I am not even sore, and I'll try and remember if I actually got my workout in the previous day. It's that big of a difference. I'm sitting here right now, and if you whacked me on the head and erased my memory I couldn't even tell you that I deadlifted yesterday, I'm not even sore in the slightest. I could alternate squatting and deadlifting every single day for a week at this point, and I doubt I'd even be that sore by the end.  It's that good.

About a month ago I played in a football game, and posted here about how I could barely move the next few days.  I played again about 10 days ago, and actually played more this time. I was dreading the next morning, especially since I had to get up early and wouldn't be able to get a full 8 hours sleep.  The next morning I could barely tell I had basically done 40 sprints the night before. I played dodgeball the next day and didn't notice a thing.  I've run 1100m sprinting workouts, which I haven't done at all this year really.  I wasn't even sore/fatigued the next day.  I've been hammering myself for the last week to really try and test it, and I haven't accumulated any muscle soreness or fatigue at all.  I'm not even taking a ton.  5G post workout with my usual carb influx (I also take 5 before sprinting as well, since it's so brutal, so 10G that day).  That's it.

So what's the science behind it?  As always, if you want to check it out for yourself, Examine is a great go-to source for a scientific research aggregator.  So Leucine is one of the essential amino-acids, meaning you have to get it from your diet.  An amino-acid is just something that protein gets broken down into once in your body. Basically it boils down to three main points.  First is that Leucine stimulates protein synthesis more than any other amino acid. Protein synthesis basically means protein is being put to 'work' on building/repairing muscle. Here's a quote from a research article by Jeff Volek

When a complete protein (one that contains all the amino acids) was consumed, protein synthesis increased. When just essential amino acids were consumed without non-essential amino acids, the same increase was noted indicating non-essential amino acids are not required to stimulate protein synthesis. When only BCAAs were consumed, there was again the same increase in protein synthesis. Finally when just leucine was consumed, protein synthesis still increased to the same magnitude. These findings provided strong evidence that leucine was the driving force behind the ability of dietary protein to stimulate protein synthesis.

The second important fact is that Leucine activates mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). MTOR is basically an activator that turns on your body's ability to make muscle.  In other words, it's not only an important factor in muscle, it's also critical to increasing the  process by which this occurs.  Third, leucine helps stimulate the secretion of insulin, about as much as Yohimbine, which may be why there are studies showing supplementation with leucine while dieting results in up to 25% greater fat loss, while also being associated with simultaneous greater retention of muscle mass.  The great thing with leucine, is that even in those eating sources of it, supplementation is still shown to have a great effect.

Alright this ended up being way longer than I intended, but seriously, you have to try this stuff if you're seriously pursuing athletics.  Maybe your results won't be as dramatic as mine, maybe they'll be even more dramatic, but the bottom line is: it works. It works very very well. 

November 21, 2014 Lower / Olympic Lifts


  • Snatch-Grip Deadlifts: 365*1 405*1 425*1 435*1
  • Hanging Power Snatches: 115*3 135*3 135*1 -exhausted from SG Deadlifts
  • Hanging Power Cleans: 135*3 155*2 -same
  • Suitcase Carries: 65*40 65*40
I realize that with benching I'm doing harder variants for a few weeks, then retesting my max on it with an actual arch, and not paused.  I kept my max at 300 for the whole cut this time by doing that. No idea why I didn't think of doing that sooner for deadlifts. I'm going to try snatch-gripping for a few weeks, then seeing what regular deadlifting feels like.  If it works out like benching my regular deadlift should go up appreciably. 

November 20, 2014 Dodgeball!


  • Dodgeball: 90 minutes

Felt great...loving Leucine, need to write about this soon. 

November 19, 2014 Upper Body


  • Bench Press, Paused, No Arch: 225*1 240*1 250*1 265*1
  • Pendlay Rows: 135*3 185*3 205*2
  • Seated Press: 135*3 155*3 175*2
  • Sternum Pullups: 25*3 25*2 25*2
  • DB Reverse Flyes: 25*6 25*5
Great session, benching felt good.  Threw in some Pendlay rows as well.  Going to go back to Push Presses now that my shoulder feels much better than it did about 5 weeks ago. 

November 18, 2014 Lower Body


  • Sumo Squats: 315*1 345*1 365*1 380*1
  • Front Squats: 225*1 245*1 265*1 275*1
  • Good Mornings: 185*2 205*1 225*1
  • Dead Bugs: 10, 10
Great session. Good depth on stuff, felt really great. Kept good mornings a bit lighter and really locked down form on them. Felt great. 

November 20, 2014

November 17, 2014 Sprinting


  • 110m: 10
  • Total: 1100m

Great session, wanted to put some good work in. Have tights to wear on my legs finally after 3 years so I can sprint in colder weather. 

November 15, 2014 Basketball


  • Basketball: 30 minutes
Played some basketball for my MBA program tournament. Good times. I haven't played in ages. I think I may buy a ball and start playing some on Saturdays.  I miss it. 

November 14, 2014 Upper


  • Incline Bench Press: 225*1 235*1 245*1
  • Sternum Pullups: 8, 6, 5
  • Seated Press: 135*3 155*3 165*2
Quick session, wanted to just keep everything awake.