Category Archives: Muscle Growth

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Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Beneifit and Risk for Men and Women

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Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for men, specifically testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), is a medical intervention aimed at restoring testosterone levels in men with low or deficient testosterone. Testosterone is a crucial hormone that plays a role in various bodily functions, including muscle mass maintenance, bone density, libido, and overall well-being. While TRT can provide several benefits, it is not without potential risks, and its use should be carefully considered.

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Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Men:

  1. Improved Mood and Well-being: TRT may contribute to improved mood, energy levels, and overall sense of well-being.
  2. Increased Muscle Mass and Strength: Testosterone is essential for maintaining muscle mass and strength, and TRT can help men with testosterone deficiency build and preserve muscle.
  3. Bone Health: Testosterone plays a role in maintaining bone density, and TRT can contribute to improved bone health.
  4. Libido and Sexual Function: Testosterone is a key hormone in male sexual function, and TRT can improve libido and address symptoms of erectile dysfunction in men with testosterone deficiency.

Risks and Considerations:

  1. Cardiovascular Risks: There has been some controversy and ongoing research regarding the potential cardiovascular risks associated with TRT. Studies have produced conflicting results, and the relationship between TRT and cardiovascular health is not fully understood.
  2. Prostate Health: There is concern that TRT might stimulate the growth of existing prostate cancers or increase the risk of prostate issues. Therefore, men with a history of prostate cancer or prostate-related concerns should be carefully monitored.
  3. Fertility: Testosterone replacement therapy can suppress sperm production and fertility. Men desiring fertility should discuss this aspect with their healthcare providers.
  4. Polycythemia: TRT can lead to an increase in red blood cell production, which may contribute to a condition known as polycythemia. This can increase the risk of blood clots and cardiovascular events.
  5. Sleep Apnea: There is an association between TRT and exacerbation of sleep apnea in some individuals.

Individualized Approach:

The decision to undergo testosterone replacement therapy should be based on a thorough assessment of an individual’s health history, symptoms, and laboratory results indicating low testosterone levels. It’s essential for men considering TRT to have open and informed discussions with their healthcare providers. Regular monitoring and follow-up appointments are crucial to assess the response to therapy, manage potential side effects, and make adjustments as needed.

TRT should be prescribed and monitored by qualified healthcare professionals, and it is not suitable for everyone. Before starting any hormone replacement therapy, men should discuss the potential benefits and risks with their healthcare providers, taking into account their individual health status and medical history.

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Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Women:

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for women involves the use of hormones, typically estrogen and progesterone, to address symptoms related to hormonal changes, particularly during menopause or after the removal of the ovaries. The goal of HRT is to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life. It’s important to note that the decision to undergo HRT should be individualized and based on a careful assessment of the woman’s health history, symptoms, and risk factors.

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Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women:

  1. Estrogen Therapy: This involves the use of estrogen alone, which is suitable for women who have undergone a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
  2. Estrogen-Progestin Therapy: This combination is recommended for women with an intact uterus to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. Progestin is added to counteract the potential increased risk of endometrial cancer associated with estrogen use alone.
  3. Bioidentical Hormone Therapy: Bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to those produced by the body. They can be customized based on an individual’s hormone levels, but their safety and efficacy compared to traditional HRT are a subject of ongoing research.

Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women:

  1. Relief of Menopausal Symptoms: HRT is highly effective in managing symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
  2. Bone Health: Estrogen helps maintain bone density, and HRT can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures associated with bone loss.
  3. Improved Mood and Sleep: HRT may contribute to improved mood, sleep quality, and overall well-being in menopausal women.
  4. Vaginal Health: HRT can alleviate vaginal dryness and discomfort associated with changes in the vaginal tissues during menopause.

Risks and Considerations:

  1. Breast Cancer Risk: Long-term use of combined estrogen and progestin HRT has been associated with a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer. The risk appears to decrease after discontinuation of therapy.
  2. Endometrial Cancer Risk: Estrogen-only therapy in women with an intact uterus can increase the risk of endometrial cancer. Adding progestin helps mitigate this risk.
  3. Cardiovascular Risks: The relationship between HRT and cardiovascular health is complex and not fully understood. Some studies suggest potential cardiovascular benefits, while others raise concerns about an increased risk of certain events.
  4. Blood Clot Formation: HRT, especially oral forms, may increase the risk of blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism.
  5. Stroke Risk: Some studies have reported a small increase in the risk of stroke in women using HRT.

Individualized Approach:

The decision to undergo HRT should involve a thorough discussion between the woman and her healthcare provider. Factors such as age, overall health, personal and family medical history, and individual symptoms should be considered. Regular follow-up appointments are crucial to monitor the response to therapy, assess potential risks, and make adjustments as needed.

Women are encouraged to make informed decisions about HRT after discussing the potential benefits and risks with their healthcare providers. HRT is not suitable for everyone, and alternatives or lifestyle modifications may be considered based on individual circumstances.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2023 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

MirrorAthlete TRX Suspension Trainer System Product Rating and Review

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TRX Suspension Trainer systems/packages are absolutely a must have piece of exercise equipment for any fitness enthusiast, or someone looking to lose weight and stay fit healthy at home, or on the go. TRX suspension products are affordable, extremely durable and nearly every exercise can be performed using one. They can be used in small room space and easily adapts for outdoor exercises through specialized anchor straps. I love my TRX Suspension System and Use it routinely. I highly recommend the product” [Marc Woodard, Fit Healthy Lifestyle Consultant].

Marc Woodard using TRX Pro 4 in his garage gym.

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MA Rating ????? Excellent

“Incredible results in just 20 minutes. TRX gives you the power to hit fitness goals at home and on the go. Our digital workouts teach you EASY Core Strengthening Exercises that Build Muscle, Burn Fat, Increase Endurance & Improve Flexibility—making you Train, Look & Rapidly-Feel like a Powerful Professional Athlete now” (TRX Go Suspension Trainer System 2021). Easy to anchor for outdoor/indoor use.

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MA Rating ????? Excellent

“One bundle, everything you need – The all-in-one bundle includes all the gear you need for full body workouts anywhere you want, anytime you want! Includes All-In-One suspension trainer, Indoor/Outdoor Anchors, a 35-Page Full-Color Workout Guide, a TRX X-Mount wall anchor, 4 different strength Exercise Bands and our best-selling TRX Shaker bottle (TRX All in One Home Gym Bundle 2021)

MA Review: TRX Suspension Trainer systems/packages are absolutely a must have piece of exercise equipment… so versatile and useful. We can’t image not having a TRX in our exercise equipment arsenal. The quality and usefulness and exercise application of this product receives our highest rating. We have tested this product at our home office and find it also to be very light weight, easy to pack and take on the road. No need to pay for gym memberships on the road, or look for exercise space in a hotel room. This product works for nearly every indoor and outdoor exercise application.

“If we could give any TRX product or bundle a higher rating – I would [Marc Woodard, Fit Healthy Lifestyle Consultant]

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Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2021 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Covid19 Provides a Lifestyle Change Opportunity Using Customized Fitness Programs at Home

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I’m often asked, what’s the best way to get in shape and lose weight in the era of Covid19? The first thing that comes to mind, you must find an exercise activity program that’s relevant for you. After many client consults throughout the years, it’s not surprising to learn – If you don’t connect with an indoor/outdoor aerobic exercise acivity passion, it will be more challenging to achieve a set fitness goal(s) that can be sustained to live the lifestyle and build the ageless body you need, want and deserve now… regardless of the current environment! 

To optimally increase energy and become more active to lose weight and strengthen the body, one should start by increasing aerobic exercise daily. To be successful at daily aerobic exercise, you’ll need to find an aerobic activity of interest that motivates you to move more and stick with it. Once you do this, the will power to stay the course WILL happen in a short period of time.

Most aerobic and anaerobic exercise routines/programs center on a 3 to 5 day per week frequency at 30-60 minutes in duration. Personal fitness goals on average look to achieve weight loss, muscular endurance and body tone and increased range of motion and mobility.

Increased muscle bulk and strength gains are typically secondary to weight loss programming requests for a majority of people interested in bodybuilding and sports.

Covid19 has changed the way we exercise and sustain our health. Home gym investments are replacing gym memberships. Aerobic home use equipment, like anaerobic equipment with multiple cable pulley positions allows you to easily change the angle of resistance to increase strength and body tone gains and is preferred over gym equipment located indoors. Learn more about home use aerobic equipment now! At: https://amzn.to/3hGMhu1

Anaerobic activity is defined, where strength, power and high muscular intensity effort and THR is within 80-90% cardio-muscular endurance effort. Whereas aerobic exercise intesity of cardio-muscular effort can be correlated to: low-medium [50-70% THR effort). THR is often used to monitor heart beat rate/min at the carotid (neck) or radial (wrist) artery at rest, or new technolgies can monitor THR on the fly.

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Target Heart Rate (THR) tells us when to increase or decrease exercise intensity to stay within the fat burning zone “to burn more body fat weight” and achieve the best weight loss or other fitness goal results, stay within the fat burning THR to achieve the objective.

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Science shows us that aerobic exercise intensity of effort at ~50-60% THR zone is the fat burning “sweet spot” to burn more fat and reduce body weight (see THR Zone chart above).

How does one determine and build an individual fitness program that will work long term? Many individuals have self-learned through time how to build a program that works for them and have developed a daily fitness habit. However, those who’ve not had success at this approach for lack of resources, or whatever may require the services of a professional fitness trainer to help customize a personalized fitness program that becomes a daily habit.

Who do I consider a professional fitness trainer? An undergraduate [exercise and health sciences] that is certified and experienced in fitness profiling, which should also include: habits and behavioral change strategies, diet and current lifestyle analysis and fitness goal orientation, general health and medical history analysis and postural and body type analysis, etc. Thereafter, capable of analyzing the data to build a fit healthy habits and lifestyle change program that includes a customized fitness program. This will provide the healthy lifestyle change program direction to set and achieve the desired fitness results relevant for the individual. 

For many Americans the number one fitness goal is weight loss. 

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All too often, confirmed by past clients… those who jump on other fitness and diet program band wagons hope to receive the same weight loss and body building results. It is often thought if one follows anothers program, they’ll receive the same fitness results. Sometimes this strategy works – but all too often it fails because it’s not right for every body type, fitness level, medical condition, lifestyle, environmental situation, will power, motivation, etc. 

What ever training method or process programs others use to achieve a fitness goal – It won’t work for everyone in the same way all the time. Why? Plain and simple, we’re all wired differently. For example, what exercise activities would best compliment your ability to stay the fitness goal course? Is it the same as your next door neighbor? Likely not.

I’ve seen people buy a gym membership, purchase home exercise equipment they rarely use and/or work out with a buddy that pushes them too hard… , then get too sore, or hurt themselves. Since it was a bad experience they drop out of the program because they began their fitness training program without analysis of current lifestyle habits and environment and fitness levels and goals, etc. 

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Increasing exercise intensity is important if the fitness goal is to increased fitness levels and performance above and beyond the norm. But one must ease into muscular endurance and stength intensity effort if it’s been awhile since one has exercised. If you’ve been sendentary for a while, start your exercise with a daily walk to get the muscle memory and circulatory systems and balance conditioned for a faster walk pace. Once you become conditioned to increase exercise activity… there is an intensity of effort, or sustainable “sweet spot” relevant to your fitness goal.

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Those involved in intermural or professional sports activities who condition themselves at higher intensity levels can sustain those levels at a competitive levels outside of a gym by using a weighted workout vest. Professional athletes often train above 85% THR intensities conditioning themselves for a muscular endurance and/or strength event. Outside of gyms athletes often train by adding more weight to their bodies to increase intensity of exercise effort to increase performance results.

If you are not conditioned to exercise above 70-85% THR, you”ll likely have a bad experience and/or you’re New Year’s resolution may go right out the window. If you are beginning an exercise program, or it’s been awhile since you trained, stick to a basic aerobic and anerobic exercise program. Then work your way up from there.

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For the novice, it is recommended a 1:1 session and orientation to exercise programming by a certified fitness trainer. I highly recommend purchasing a seasoned and certified fitness trainer that includes fitness and dietary profiling and physical assessments to build the BEST customized fitness and healthy lifestyle program that’s right for you. Especially if you’ve failed previously at a fitness goal, or have been out of the exercise circuit for a long period of time, or have not been able to stick with any other form of exercise or weight loss program. The cost of these professional services is usually reasonable for the time spent and information gained in programming and follow up consultations. 

A good trainer will balance a variety of aerobic and anaerobic exercise activities inside/outside of the gym environment to help you maintain motivation and will power to stay on target.

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On the same, or alternate days you may also make a commitment to participate in a low-to-high impact aerobics activity independent of anaerobic exercises… . Such as participating in instructor lead classes, i.e., Spinning (stationary bike), Zumba [dance moves of salsa, reggaeton, mambo, flamenco, rumba and hip-hop], Yoga, or boot camp exercise classes. Or sign up for a swimming, ballroom dance, or competitive intermural sports (indoor racquetball, basketball, squash, etc.). 

Or instead of organized fitness instructor led classes – typical with gym membership, you may be more comfortable, or interested in engaging within a self-paced DVD instructed exercise activity at home; and mix up outdoors on alternate days with other types of aerobic exercise: walking, jogging, biking, etc.

There is also stationary aerobic exercise equipment found in most gyms with membership. Its becoming more convenient during the era of Covid19 – to invest in home equipment at a reasonable cost… Learn more about the variety of exercise equipment for home use and how it can help you achieve your fitness goal. E.g., stair-stepper, treadmill, recombinant bike-steppers, cross trainer elliptical, etc. 

There is a lot of home aerobic exercise equipment choices one could invest in. Simply choose one aerobic activity you would love to do daily. Brisk walking, jogging or running will accompish the same weight loss, tone and other fitness goals through increased aerobic intensity effort. Find an aerobic exercise activity you’ll stick with and don’t look back. If interested in home use exercise aerobics equipment, learn more now! At: https://amzn.to/2Fw4MnK

What is elliptical? These are aerobic stationary exercise machines that simulate stair climbing, rowing, walking and running and increase range of motion without causing extreme stress on weight bearing joints. Thereby reducing the likelihood of injuries and optimizing the fat burning benefits within the THR – while toning core muscle groups. 

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People recovering from injury often rehabilitate themselves at a low intensity pace on these types of machines. But don’t underestimate their usefulness. Resistance can be set to provide an intense workout to lose more body fat while toning muscles and optimizing cardiovascular and muscular endurance performance and results. 

For intermediate and advanced exercise enthusiasts, if you’ve been working out for years and feel like you’re physical performance, or competitive advantage, or fitness goal is stagnant – you may need the services of a fitness trainer that specializes in competitive task specific/or sports profiling and assessment. A professional sports trainer can help design and develop a program that’s relevant to achieving the desired competitive advantage and overall sports goal. Sports trainer specialists can design a task specific exercise program to get you to the next competitive level. 

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Regardless of experience, fitness level or lifestyle change goals, once you become exercise and activities conditioned, don’t be afraid to take your intensity of exercise effort to the next level. Weekly – Try increasing intensity of effort through increased duration and frequency of weekly exercise. You will then burn more body fat weight as you sustain 60-70% THR – get stronger and leaner and look and feel better. Continuous body toning and shaping improvements WILL occur through a sustainable customized fit healthy lifestyle plan and program that’s right for you.

If you want to sustain a fit healthy and active lifestyle for the long haul, professional customized fitness programming provides the road map that’s right for you and will keep you on target. Learn how to live an active lifestyle and build the body you need, want and deserve! Click Ageless MirrorAthlete “Overweight and Unfit No More” and learn how to build a program in the privacy of your home Now.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2014-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.