Muscle Talk - By International Protein

The Basics Of Bodybuilding

May 26, 2021 International Protein Season 4 Episode 4
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
The Basics Of Bodybuilding
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
The Basics Of Bodybuilding
May 26, 2021 Season 4 Episode 4
International Protein

In this episode, we debate Google's advice on the basics of bodybuilding. It's an interesting listen even for those listening who are advanced in their training.

  • Stick to free weights?
  • Include compound exercises 
  • Stick to your program
  • Bad form, good form. Use mirrors and record yourself
  • Gradually & evenly increase your weights


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






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A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we debate Google's advice on the basics of bodybuilding. It's an interesting listen even for those listening who are advanced in their training.

  • Stick to free weights?
  • Include compound exercises 
  • Stick to your program
  • Bad form, good form. Use mirrors and record yourself
  • Gradually & evenly increase your weights


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Ash Horton:
Welcome to Muscle Talk where you'll get world champion advice about nutrition and stacking on muscle. Our host, Christine Envall, she's a three-time world champion bodybuilder and IFBB professional, a food scientist, and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor, International Protein.

Ash Horton:
In this episode, we debate Google's advice on the basics of bodybuilding. It's an interesting lesson, even for those who are advanced in their training.

Ash Horton:
Okay Christine, so Google once again is giving us some answers. And people that are doing their own research, I want to just figure out whether Google's actually giving us the right answers or not, right? So one of the common things that I search for is, the basics of bodybuilding. So there's a bunch of advice that Google gives us. And I'd just like you to give your opinion on each. Is that all right?

Christine Envall:
Yeah, that's fine. Are you going to read out each one? Like frame it with the question?

Ash Horton:
A hundred percent. So the first one is, Google says stick to free weights.

Christine Envall:
Cool.

Ash Horton:
That pretty much eliminates any piece of equipment in the gym apart from free weights, right? So surely you're going to argue with that one?

Speaker 4:
Of course I am you. I haven't read what the answers to these were, because obviously we're all familiar with how Google formats and you can drop down and it gives you that little paragraph around what it is. But I would rather than say stick to free weights, I would say always include free weights, to a point. If someone's really, really a beginner, totally starting out, wants to do bodybuilding, but has not weight-trained, I would actually start them more on equipment these days, because you don't know what their strengths and what their stabilizer strength is like. You put someone on a bench press for the first time, they've got to learn coordination. And they have to learn how to control the bar, not only in a up and down motion, vertical, but forwards and backwards. If you've ever watched anyone who's never bench pressed before and the bar can travel up towards their head, down towards their stomach ...

Ash Horton:
Off to the side.

Christine Envall:
Off to the side, yeah. Like the evenness in the push. If you don't have any muscle strength tone, because perhaps you've taken up bodybuilding later in life, or you've taken up weight training. And even, I've seen in younger people who haven't done any physical activity hit the gym, all of a sudden they're having to control muscles in a 360 degree angle and it's not easy. So if you're doing a free weight and you've never done any kind of training before in your life, you are either limiting how much weight you're going to be able to use, period. Or you're leaving yourself open to having, and I'm going to call it an accident, not a training injury, as much as you can actually lose balance and end up coming a cropper with the weight going somewhere you really don't want it to go.

Christine Envall:
So I actually would start someone out to get at least some degree of strength and learning how to push on a machine, because I believe it's a lot safer. So that's just basic, basic, basic. But once you've got into it and maybe you've trained for a year or even six months, and you said, hey, I want to do bodybuilding, I would say include free weights rather than stick to free weights. Because free weights, like I say, it eliminates any kind of equipment and some body parts need equipment. It's very, very hard to even get a good exercise. Okay, yes, you can do barbell curl very easy, you can do bench press, you can do squats, you can do a lot of basic stuff. And there's definitely a need for those in your program. But hamstrings is quite difficult to do.

Christine Envall:
Yes, you can do stiff legged deadlifts, but to get a really good isolation, you normally need some kind of, at least a cable or some type of machine to work that muscle more fully. Same thing with back. Back, you can do barbell rows and you can do some really basic stuff. But a lot of the back detail needs to have some kind of machine to really work it to the angle that you want to work it to. So, the thing with bodybuilding which really differs from power lifting, is it's not about single exercises and it's not just about strength. It's about building incredible physique where everything's developed and different muscle groups need to be worked from different angles and in different ways.

Christine Envall:
And yes, you can change foot positions on a squat and do some things like that, but essentially it really limits you if you're only sticking to free weights. It needs to include free weights, have a basis of free weights, but then it needs to have all the detail and the decoration built in from different pieces of equipment. Different, very creative pieces of equipment that allow you to hit your muscle from different angles safely and under different kinds of tension because different type of machines do ... Some can be set up so you can actually change where the tension is felt. Other ones, just by the fact that it's on a cable, you can use different bands on things and really with free weights, you are stuck to gravity, weight and gravity, and how the force's exerted on the muscle.

Ash Horton:
Okay. So would you say level one is using a machine, for safety? Level two, a free weight, and then what? Level three, weights with the earthquake tight thing, is that what it's called?

Christine Envall:
The earthquake tight thing?

Ash Horton:
Ah, what do you call it? I've got the terminology wrong. When you put like a bungee or something and then you've got a weight hanging from it. What's that thing called?

Christine Envall:
Again, that is a personal preference. I managed to build my physique without using resistance bands. I have used them. I am not a fan of them much, at all. And I know that some people do like that for the extra tension that it gives. So yes, there's the step one, we talked about machines. Step two, free weights. I have seen a lot of resistance bands used, because people like to add a different kind of tension. Because time under tension is definitely a, what's the word for it? Definitely a technique that you can use to really grow muscle. As I said, me personally using bands and things like that, I feel it mostly in my tendons. I don't feel it so much in my muscle. And I just think if I was 20 years younger, I'd probably get a lot more out of it. But at a more mature age, I just have this vision of my tendons going ping, because there's too much tension.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
So you have to be mindful of that. But it's definitely a technique where you don't have to use as much weight, but you keep that constant tension throughout the entire rep. Whereas obviously with a straight barbell or something, you'll have greater tension at the bottom, greater resistance, and then as you get to the top of the movement, the tension or the resistance comes off. So people feel like, oh, nothing's happening there, but if you're also using your mind muscle connection, you're getting a really strong contraction because you're continuing to contract the muscle, even if it's not got the weight against it. So to me, it's obviously natural gravity and how it works with the body. But if you're using cables, you can change that, and then obviously using resistance bands, you can change that again. So from a bodybuilding perspective, I'm very familiar with that. What you're talking about, that's a whole different arena, that.

Ash Horton:
Okay.

Christine Envall:
Yeah, so.

Ash Horton:
Well, the next thing that Google asks or tells us to do, it says do compound lifts and movements.

Christine Envall:
Yes. That is a definite yes, must do. But again, without reading the rest of this, I have read a lot into this in terms of if you're basically trying to grow muscle, the best way to do it, and this is talking about stressing the body and how that also elicits a greater response of recovery and a greater ability to grow muscle. Compound lifts are more fatiguing for your entire nervous system, they're not just isolating a particular point. As I said also, they create a great foundation. A lot of the free weights are based around compound movements as well. It's the machines where you tend to be able to isolate a lot more. So again, they do form the foundation of bodybuilding.

Christine Envall:
And the way I would look at, say if I had four or five exercises for a muscle group, I would do at least two that were compound movements and two that were more isolatory. Or maybe I'd do three and two if I was doing five. But I would do at least two that were compound for any particular muscle group that was possible to do. Obviously when you have a hinge joint, like a bicep, compound, it's very hard to bring in other motions because you only have one way that you can move. But obviously a shoulder joint, legs, where you got a hip and a knee. Just in case people didn't know what compound actually means, compound is meaning that you're bringing in multiple joints into the motion, so it's not a single isolator. You're creating a squat, you're using your hips, bending your knees, bending your ankles, bending, goodness me, your waist's bending. Whereas a leg extension is just the hinge joint, just the knee is working the quad muscle.

Ash Horton:
Okay. Okay, so the next thing we have to do, based on Google's thoughts, is that we have to find a program and stick to it.

Christine Envall:
Yeah, absolutely. Now again, without reading their detail, you've got to find the right program. But even if you don't have the right program, anything that you do, you do need to stick to. So whatever it is that you've chosen, is the program that you're going to do. One, you need to do it consistently. So if it's a program ...

Ash Horton:
How long?

Christine Envall:
Well, first I was just going to say if it's a program that says four days a week, you need to do the four days. You can't do, oh, I'm going to do three and maybe I'll do four. You have to consistently do that right program. I would say you'd need to do it for a minimum of six weeks.

Ash Horton:
Mm hmm (affirmative).

Christine Envall:
But having said ...

Ash Horton:
A maximum of?

Christine Envall:
A maximum of forever because ...

Ash Horton:
Surely you'd want to change it up a little bit over time?

Christine Envall:
Well, that's where this whole process is, yes, you want to switch your exercises in and out, but I'm actually not a fan of going, okay, completed that program, now I'm going to throw all of those exercises out and bring in a whole bunch of new exercises. So say if you're doing five exercises, I would never swap out five exercises for five new exercises. I would swap out, and again, I'd probably keep my main compounds or I would maybe switch from doing a dumbbell version to a barbell version and from a barbell back to a dumbbell. But I would always keep in, for example, flat bench press in some form, whether it be dumbbell pressing or barbell pressing and switch between those. It's more your isolatory exercises that I would switch in and out.

Christine Envall:
As far as the actual program, in terms of how many sets you're doing, how many reps you're doing, depending on where you're at. So if you're at the very, very base level, then yes, you would potentially bring in extra sets. But there's a point. If you're doing three sets and you move up to doing four sets, you don't keep on going. And then doing five sets, six sets, seven sets, eight sets of the same exercise. It's a very short range of variation. So essentially the structure of the program can be kept the same for years, but switching out specific exercises, depending on what it is that you're trying to build.

Christine Envall:
Because remember in bodybuilding, you're trying to build the perfect physique. So you might find that you have a weakness, you need to build up your inner thighs, so your work on that. And then you build that up and then you realize that you want more hamstrings, so you want more hamstring peak or something. So you're working on that or you want to bring up your delts. So what it is you're focusing on tends to change. So in terms of where you're putting your priorities, that will change as you assess your physique. But it's such a gradual transition, but the basic structure of, if you're doing four days a week or five days a week, and you're doing total number of sets. You might do four sets per exercise, and you're doing four exercises, that basic structure doesn't really need to change for multiple, multiple years.

Christine Envall:
Eventually you will hit some kind of plateau, but you might bring in on one body part, extra exercises, or you might put more focus on that, or you might switch around which days you're doing it with. But we're talking on a much, much broader timeframe.

Christine Envall:
From what I believe works, and this is from 30 years of weight training competitively, being at the top of my game for a long time. My programs weren't dramatically changing on a month to month basis. They were very much, if you looked at a five-year period, how they were from the start to the end were very, very different, but the changes within that five years were quite slow, between that. It might be adding an extra exercise on a particular body part. But essentially whether it's five days a week or six days a week, that basic structure of your program, in essence, doesn't really change that quickly. That's what I mean, you probably change when you find that it's really, really not working for you anymore. And then you need to create a change and do something different. But yeah, as I said, it's, the exercise moves in and out, that's to me, it's still the same program. It's just different exercises as required.

Ash Horton:
Okay.

Christine Envall:
Does that answer?

Ash Horton:
It does.

Christine Envall:
Yeah?

Ash Horton:
Yep. Okay, so the next ...

Christine Envall:
So stick to it forever. No, stick to it till it doesn't work. But no, just micro changes within what the macro structure of your program.

Ash Horton:
How often would you do the micro changes?

Christine Envall:
That would be on six to eight weeks. So, like I say, switch in and out different exercises for that same body part.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
Probably eight. Eight is pretty good.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
As we get older and we get into talking about your periodization and that type of de loading phases, again, that might be anywhere from eight to 12 weeks. So you might time it in with something like that. But that's advanced, more advanced.

Ash Horton:
Okay. The next thing it says, don't train every day.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. That's an of course. That's an of course. And again, this comes back to your program. If you've picked a program and again, progressively as you go into it, you may find that four days a week is okay. And then as you want to develop more, you want to put more emphasis on a particular body part. So that's where if we want to talk about this changing of program, yes, you will make more changes in probably the first two years, because you will progress from doing three days a week to doing four days a week, to doing five days a week, to doing potentially six days a week, depending on where your focus is and how you split your body parts up. But then once you hit that level, and it may be a five day a week program, that's where you will then stay in that phase for a much longer period of time.

Christine Envall:
But that first bit is finding what's optimal for you and finding where, basically where your gains and your effort are balanced. You're not putting a lot of effort for no gains. So, that's where the resting comes in. Obviously don't set up a seven day a week program for weight training. Not sure where that ever came from, but you definitely need to give that time to rest. And that's something that, in the initial phases, you probably need more rest because you're new to it, and there's a whole bunch of changes happening, both in your central nervous system as well as your muscles.

Christine Envall:
Then as you get fitter for it, and you get more, your nerves and your muscle contractions and how your nerves fire, get more used to it, then that point in time there, you could probably need less rest. And then you'll go through, as you get older, you need more rest. So it will go through various phases. But how you structure your program and put more emphasis onto a particular body part on a particular day, means that, that body part's not necessarily getting worked again as frequently. Absolutely rest in between your sets and then also between your workouts is super important.

Ash Horton:
The next one is, train every muscle group, or sorry, each muscle group every week.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. Or twice a week. And this is the other thing where, again, in the beginning, if you're younger and you're starting out, oftentimes twice a week is the optimal, or at least twice in an eight day cycle. And that'll come back to how you set your program up to make sure that you're actually doing that. So once a week, I find, is suitable as you get older, but if you're younger and fresher to it, I find that's actually not enough, because the muscle starts to de train. Now, in bodybuilding, the muscle size is there in relation to obviously doing heavier weights, but also for the fact that you're actually doing the weight, there's a volumization that happens in the muscle, which attributes to a lot of it. And I know as a female, when I was weight training, that if you had a week off from doing your normal heavyweights, you de volumized.

Christine Envall:
You didn't drop weight, but you shrank. And that was basically the de volumization of the muscle. So to keep at that level, you did need to keep that constant hitting the muscle, and twice a week seemed to be the thing.

Christine Envall:
As I got older, got over 40, once a week seems to be quite fine, but I'm doing a lot more exercises per body part. So there's also that trade-off too where you might choose to do less exercises per workout, and definitely do everything twice a week. So it's kind of two ways of approaching that. But once a week, definitely. Twice a week, preferentially, depending on where you're at in your bodybuilding lifespan.

Ash Horton:
Okay. The next thing is, learn correct form.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. That seems fairly obvious, yeah. If you're doing it wrong, then you're missing out.

Ash Horton:
So, where do you learn correct form?

Christine Envall:
Okay.

Ash Horton:
YouTube?

Christine Envall:
That's a really, really good question actually these days, because there is a lot of garbage out there, to be honest. Like every man and his dog has a YouTube channel, has a Instagram, and he's showing people what to do. In the old days, we looked at magazines. Now those things I don't think exist anymore. But we looked more towards professional bodybuilders, people who'd done the time, so to speak, in terms of they proven that they could get the results from own bodies. So because there is so much information out there, I would definitely be looking at someone who has achieved what it is that you're trying to achieve. And look to them. Now that's not to say that people who haven't built great bodies don't have an exercise physiology background or something like that. So I would look at the credentials of who's giving the information. If the person themselves has been training for less than a year, which there's a lot of those people out there giving advice, I would stay right away from that.

Ash Horton:
It's probably a good opportunity for you to actually do something on YouTube, or, I don't know, some sort of something that can train people how to do this.

Christine Envall:
There could be something in the works, Ash.

Ash Horton:
Could be.

Christine Envall:
And we're working on it. But yeah, definitely. Yes, so it is a space where I do have opportunity to do something, because things that I take for granted that people know, I have done some training groups in the past. And again, I think that people know how to train, because I had a really good, solid foundation in that. Yes, the magazines were available and you could look and you knew if it was in the magazine, it was pretty much reliable, because they weren't just putting whatever in there. They made sure that they talked about correct form. And I also was fortunate enough to come across people in the gyms. Because it was less people in the gyms, are the ones that knew and kind of floated to the top of who you noticed, knew what they were doing. And you're in good hands. Now, because it is so flooded, it is really hard for people to know what is just bad form, good form. If something's feeling ...

Ash Horton:
Plus they can't really see what they're doing. I mean, you've got mirrors all around, don't get me wrong, but a lot of the time you need someone to almost look at you and [inaudible 00:19:31].

Christine Envall:
Yeah. And a thing there would be to video tape yourself. Video tape. Record yourself on your phone.

Ash Horton:
Showing your age.

Christine Envall:
Yes, absolutely, absolutely. Because even myself, I think I'm doing something a certain way and then I'll record myself and kind of go, yeah, not quite going as deep as I thought I was there or my arm's too far back, or I've gone higher than what I thought I needed to do. And this is where, it's not on here, but I would say, train in front of a mirror as much as possible. So people think, oh, they're vain. What are all these bodybuilders flexing in front of the mirror, training in front of the mirror? It's so important that you do see the form that you're using. If you're doing any kind of dumbbell movement, like shoulder pressing and things like that, it's really important that you can see yourself because, again, it's to get that evenness.

Christine Envall:
And that's what I talked about at the start. Using a machine where you're locked into being even, and then taking the step to doing something where your two arms are able to operate separately. And naturally you'll find that you have different strengths in both arms. And you need to actually see what you're doing to know that you're pressing evenly and that one's not at a slight angle or going higher than the other one. Or one's coming forward or your elbow's coming forward on something. So it's all of that that you do need to take advantage of and correct yourself as you go. Or have a training partner who can do similar. I say training partner, because, again, in the old days, people were reliable. Other people might want to choose a PT. That can be expensive. But if you can get a reliable source of information.

Christine Envall:
And I will plug Branden here, because I know Branden Ray, Branden M Ray's, his Instagram, he puts out a lot of great information about training. It is advanced level, because it is very much more beyond the basics. He's at that level of looking at very, very specific movements, which are not normal movements that you would see, to really create a specific result for targeting a specific muscle group. But definitely I would look at the credential of the person. Who's doing it? If they look like their body's maybe not the greatest, but they have some kind of degree in exercise physiology, they're not going to do anything which harms you. But I think you made a really, really key point there, Ash, where a lot of the time what we're doing and what we think we're doing, are two totally different things.

Ash Horton:
Okay. And the next one is, gradually increase the weight.

Christine Envall:
Yes. Gradually, and evenly, I would add to that. Because gradually is a broad term. If you're starting out and it feels easy for your 10 reps, then you shouldn't gradually creep back up. You push up until you find that level where it's becoming a bit of a strain to work that. But when you're going up incrementally, you don't want to be doing, for example, let's say you do 50 kilos on your bench press, or something. Your next step from there would be probably 60 kilos, it's not going to be 100 kilos. It has to be in relation to what you're doing at that time and go up in an increment that makes sense, not massive jumps. Or that you do 50 kilos on one set and then you do 70 kilos on the next set and then 72 kilos. And then 80. You try to make those increments more even.

Christine Envall:
And I don't really have a scientific basis other than I believe that, that consistent, incremental evenness just seems to work with how all your receptors in your muscles and also in your brain seem to be able to deal with that incremental, not random jumps. It can be a shock if your body's, it's almost like it sets itself for a particular weight. And mentally you know what the next increment's going to be. But if it's randomly out of that, you shock your whole body and you potentially can injure yourself. And ...

Ash Horton:
And I think we've talked about that before, about free weights and how some gyms have free weights with too much of a gap between each weight increase.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. It makes it very, very hard to go up in weight when the jump is too big, because ...

Ash Horton:
What is too big?

Christine Envall:
It's so individual to each person. And it depends on the muscle group, because again, it relates back to what are you doing? So that's why I use that example of the 50 kilo bench press. That would be, let's say that's like a plate a side. You would potentially go up by 10 kilos, as your next increment on that. But if you were already starting on a hundred kilo for a squat, you'd potentially got by 20 kilos. So about a 20% would be a good increment. And that's when you're doing any kind of drop set work. And that's normally the increment that you work in is like roughly as close to 20% of whatever your baseline, either your ending weight or starting weight. Whatever your baseline weight is, that 20% is normally a good guide.

Christine Envall:
If you want to be on the side of safety or you're a little bit more cautious, then 10% would probably be good. And particularly if you're starting out. But that's something that you'll really get a feel for as you go. And that's why the weight stack machines, you normally go up by one plate. If you're super strong and you're starting off quite light, then some people might jump up by two plates at a time. And that might be their increment. But they kind of keep it even That's generally where people go, they go, okay, one more plate, one more little plate and work it up like that. But they're starting off on a weight which is substantial enough that they're, for increments from there is heavy enough for them. But that's something, again, it's so individual to each exercise, each piece of equipment, each body part, and then each fitness level.

Christine Envall:
So somebody might do a 10%. Someone else might do a 20% and someone else, goodness me, might be really strong and do a 30, 30, 30. So that's all the things that you need to work out as you go. But increasing the weight gradually is to me within the workout, in terms of that progressive overload. But then over a period of time, you're aiming to go higher so that once you hit that, your 10 reps on your highest, heaviest set and you do that comfortably, then it's time to go up. But you go up in that increment where your second set becomes your first set weight. And it all just tracks up like that. If, however, you've been training for a really, really long time and it actually gets quite hard to get stronger, then sometimes even just that two and a half kilos, like a tiny, tiny little increment is enough for your body to register. And I would take that gain over no gain, rather than use ego and say, oh, but I have to go up by 20%. If it's two percent, it's still two percent.

Ash Horton:
Mm hmm, okay. And last but not least, be cautious.

Christine Envall:
That's ...

Ash Horton:
Is that the right attitude?

Christine Envall:
Yes and no. I think that links back to the previous one, where you don't want to be going crazy. And doing 50 kilos and trying to stick 100 kilos on and wondering why you hurt yourself. So there's cautious in that way. Cautious to me also means, you're trying to gain size, do you be cautious about how quickly you do bulk? And again, this comes back to age and if you're younger, you can be a little bit more wild with your extra calories and how quickly you put that weight on. But if you're older, then perhaps you want to be a little bit more cautious, because there's other health things to bring into consideration.

Christine Envall:
So I think it depends what you're actually referring to. If they're talking about training and using correct form and not doing stupid things and thinking that because you see a person exit the gym, doing such and such a weight that you're going to go try that. Because how many times have we seen that on Gym Fail Nation? Where the person's gone in and stuck four plates on the squat, and you're looking at this person, going, they don't even know what that feels like on their back, let alone try to actually go down with it. And next thing you know, poof, they've hit the ground.

Christine Envall:
So I think in terms of that, be cautious as in, don't just look at somebody and try to be a hero and do what they're doing. You've got to really bring it back to where you're at and not do crazy things, like try to swing weights up if you're not sure of what you're doing or what you can actually handle. Because it's the accidents that'll cause you the injury. Cautious is a bit of an unusual one. But I think with all things, yeah, you don't want to go crazy eating a whole bunch of food, which, you don't know what you're doing. You don't know what you need or taking, pre-workouts, triple the dosage that you're supposed to take and things like that. So I guess it's be cautious about the information. Actually that's what I believe be cautious is. Be cautious who you listen to, which comes back to that, who's giving you the information?

Ash Horton:
So don't listen to Google, listen to Christine Envall.

Christine Envall:
Of course.

Ash Horton:
Listen to Muscle Talk.

Christine Envall:
Listen to Muscle Talk, yeah.

Ash Horton:
Alright, let's wrap it up. Thank you, Christine.

Christine Envall:
No worries, Ash.

Ash Horton:
Words of wisdom. If you like what you've heard, leave us a review and recognize that these bodybuilding tips from International Protein, they're free. So show your support by becoming a loyal International Protein customer, the best supplements money can buy. So jump online, hunt down our product and hit that Buy Now button.