Robert’s Blogs

Byrobert

It’s Time to Legalize Steroids…Just like Alcohol, Skiing, Motorcycles, Bad Relationships and Coffee

Whenever I see an athlete getting caught using steroids I end up having the same repeated gutted response… they looked physically superior at winning!

Why the vilifying disgust at performance enhancement drugs that do in fact make you bigger, faster and stronger? Shouldn’t we be striving towards the combination of science, nutrition and exercise to reach full athletic potential? And shouldn’t the choice be available to you?
So, I’ve estimated 2 possible reasons why steroids (testosterone replacement therapy for simplified reasons here) get all the hate.

1) Steroids are dangerous 2) It’s cheating…. Let’s tackle both of these…

1)Toxically unsafe: If dangerous is a real validated reason and let me preface but what I mean, when I say, steroids should be legal. I’m not suggesting putting vials of testosterone in the same aisle as Ben-gay at our local pharmacy. The kind of legalization I’m talking about is by doctor prescription(accepted legally in sports) like Adderall. You know that safe, non-addicting speed drug that all the kiddos love. Who knew before the year 2000 there was such an epidemic of 18 yr. old girls in deathly need to shop and text faster. Ask yourself a question…who is more likely to be carless with the development of the human body: athletes who are focused on winning physical arduous competition by using their bodies. Or young adults, who are looking to stay up late while eating fast food and cramming for final exams. The plethora of legal paths one can take which leads to a sickened physical state is not exactly slipping through the cracks of legislation.
Cigarettes, soda, fast food, tanning beds, no sleep, alcohol, prescription drugs, physical contact sports are all legal. Heck I’ll even throw in motorcycles! Why are motorcycles legal? See my point? Everything that has great reward comes with risk of side effects or some negative effects. Skiing is risky, it’s all risky!

And it should be the right of athletes to choose the risk, just like it’s the right of non-athletes to also consume the risk with bad lifestyle and non-healthy choices. As this famous survey suggest …50% of athletes will agree to take a drug that helps them win a gold medal but kill them 5 yrs later. I say give them those rights just like you give smokers the right to inhale themselves to death. We risk all the time, we want to risk, nothing great happens without risk.

2)Cheating: Hmmm…so consuming anything in your body that enhances your performance that’s not sanctioned by USADA is considered cheating? Let me break this down to you. Life is unfair and there will always be circumstances that give advantages one over another. All athletes who are winners have an unfair advantage, that’s why they win! Whether it’s better training, trainers, training facilities, diet, genes, healthy relationships, luck, etc. It’s all advantages the losers didn’t seem to poses at the time. Floyd Mayweather will always have the unfair advantage in a boxing ring, he has it all. Should Floyd be banned? And don’t you even think about it Conor McGregor!

It’s a deliberate assault on sports medicine by an older generation that doesn’t understand sports science like athletes. The so called banned substances in the US are designated by special interest’s groups and lobbyist as being too harmful. These good Samaritans are the same vultures who are paid by liquor, tobacco and pharmaceuticals companies to make our livers, lungs and minds melt away while our muscles are well preserved. They have their own agenda and believe me, it’s not about keeping us from getting sick. Like I, pointed out at nausea anything you do worthwhile has risk, elevated level athletics carries its own risk involved. Testosterone therapy in the UFC (mixed material arts organization) was once legal. It helped increase low hormone levels in fighters but has since been banned due to safety concerns and non-using fighters being at a disadvantage.

Think about the logic here…in this sport you are legally allowed to knock your opponent out cold! Does anyone realize how unsafe a knockout is? Again, does this sport sound safe or fair? What about American Football? Go see the movie Concussion and let me know how healthy concussions are to anyone’s health. But God forbid testosterone should be given to relive the horrible effects of training and concussions as Dr. Gordon points out on the Joe Rogan podcast. Yeah, you heard that right, concussions repeated for over an extended period decease the natural testosterone in the body which leads to poor training, fatigue, rage and depression. So not taking steroids gives the other fighter the advantage. Instead of getting an antidote to play longer and better with limited ill effects of brain damage we are forcing athletes to be more at risk during and later in life.

Sports aside, what if I just want to look good? Should I be prevented from doing that? Well again, are you prevented from all the other things like plastic surgery that pose risk? Are tanning beds illegal? What about making it illegal for the government and private colleges to legally give out student loans to innocent students who will never be able to pay them back? Should that be illegal? Or should it be lesson learned it was your choice? I choose the latter all day…

Now back to sports… Suppose I’m having a big sports event coming up and a week before my girlfriend breaks up with me. I’m a mess! I can’t concentrate! One would argue this is giving the other team an unfair advantage, right? Point is should my team be allowed an extra 2 points? You would agree and say, it’s my choice to let it get to me, bad luck, whatever the case may be…but the risk was mine to date someone who might hurt me. The risk in taking steroids is like everything else in life you may get hurt but you may reach your full potential from it as well.
Geez now that I’m all stressed out… I need to ride my motorcycle to the sky slopes after my cup of coffee and cigarette. cause that’s my right!

Byrobert

BSX Wearables can’t read minds…

BSX Wearable Technology

Measuring lactate threshold has been around for years now and is nothing new. I remember studying the topic in graduate school in 2007. Basically, lactate is a chemical by -product of aerobic exercise. It’s simple…the harder you train aerobically the more lactate you produce and once the threshold has been reached performance is decreased. The body runs out of options to convert lactate into reusable energy and will shut down all exercise bio systems.

The good news: unlike ATP(energy currency =muscles-shorts bursts exercises) stores which are depleted after all out efforts in about 10 seconds (think of sprinting), lactate threshold (upper oxygen -lungs long output exercise)can be maintained for about 45 -60 minutes before reaching Deacon 1(what kid didn’t like War-games growing up?).
Training near Defcon 1 can only last for so long, before aerobic activity has been compromised. When this occurs oxygen and lungs are out and now ATP stores and your muscles are in anaerobically. This can only last for so long before the missiles are fired and your body waves the flag. I guess having a President Trump, War has percolated into my conscious mind…yikes!

BSX founder Matt Fitzgerald claims that wearing his calf monitor can improve performance by reading blood variances of lactate and lets you know when you have reached your optimal training zone (lactate threshold)…yeah about that….sounds good on paper but there is an important missing link here…The Mind!
Lactate levels don’t mean much if your mind gives up before lactate threshold…I see it all time, the mind gives up before the body and as of yet…there are no tests to date that will significantly monitor brain activity, neurotransmitters and hormones to determine mood and motivation. At least, not in a practical matter (fitness wearables), opposed to a lab.

Not saying BSX wearable tech is not a good start but it is hardly the end of the story when scoping out training zones. Clearing the mind and mentally getting in the zone and staying in zone should always be on all athletes and coaches minds. Self-doubt, crippling fear, break-ups, loss of loved ones, loss of interest, poor sleeping patterns, anxiety etc… There may be a bigger reason why someone can’t seem to get to next level and could have nothing to with lactate threshold.

Byrobert

In and Out Workout Theory…

In and Out Workout Theory…by Robert Saladino MS, CSCS

Muscles get bigger while you rest and sleep, not in the gym. Current studies regarding resistance training suggest sessions lasting as long 3-4 hours per day, 5 – 6 days each week, provide no greater benefit compared to training 1-1.5 hours per day, 3 -4 days each week. Sorry Arnold, I love you but without the magic sauce, The Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding just makes for good fiction. I’m realizing more and more the benefit of short brief workouts. The human body can only take so much punishment before it actually starts to regress. While the more is better principal is true for money (sometimes) it doesn’t apply when discussing overall fitness levels. When we’re under physical (intense workouts lasting more than one hour) or emotional stress our bodies consume glucose at an extremely high rate. To keep our blood sugar levels in a homeostasis state the catabolic stress hormone cortisol is released. This hormone causes gluconeogenesis (making glucose from non-carbohydrate sources) to be performed on your muscles. It does this by breaking down muscle tissue and releasing amino acids into the blood stream. Once in the blood these protein compounds are shuttled into the liver synthesizing glucose. This ensures that our brain gets a sufficient amount of glucose to keep functioning properly. While it’s a pretty efficient system to keep us alive and thinking properly, it wreaks havoc on those muscles all of us need to burn calories. So, unless you want to run the risk of losing some of your hard earned muscles, shorter workouts is usually a better choice.

Again, it’s important to keep in mind; the workouts need to be short (max 45 min) and intense (reaching muscle failure). These 2 concepts must go hand and hand to achieve maximal results. When you push your muscles to muscle failure (can’t perform another rep) lactate acid builds up in the body. This raises human growth hormone and testosterone naturally in the body. Both of these hormones are catalysts for muscle growth. I have been performing the following routine for the past 2 yrs and the results have been nothing short of remarkable:

Chest/Day 1

Back/ day 2: always on Tuesday

Arms/ Day 3

Legs/ Day 4 : always on Thursday

Repeat Day/Day 5

Off weekends…

Arms/Monday starts new cycle…

Legs are always done on Tuesday and back on Thursday. Studies show these muscles contain the most fast twitch muscle fibers and need the most rest between sessions. Chest, shoulders and arms are always rotating through a 5-day rest cycle, appearing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedules. Weekends are full rest days. From the example displayed above, Chest was performed on Monday, following a 5-day rest for Chest; the next chest session will fall on Friday. If you keep repeating the cycle, you will always have enough rest for your muscles to get stronger and bigger. The variety factor is also present as Monday, Wednesday and Saturday are never the same workout.

The workouts should never go past 45 minutes…
The exercises should be free weight type movements, which produce the greatest amount of muscle mass and burn the most calories. Some examples are; Dumbbell chest press, dead lifts, military presses, squats and dumbbell curls.
2 -3 working sets per exercise, 3-4 different exercises per body part
30 seconds rest between sets: anything longer and you might be recruiting the same muscle fibers over and over again. The short rest periods forces new muscle fibers to take over the workload while allowing the exhausted fibers to rest. Once rested the working fibers will get recalled again and again without any of the reserves being called into the play. The more muscle fibers that get recruited the more muscular development you will achieve.
Reps should fall into the range of 8-12, lower reps build strength and power and higher reps produce muscle endurance and hypertrophy.

Again… In and Out is the game, if you really want to increase the intensity try these golden oldies

Force Reps: perform a set to failure (can’t do anymore) and then have someone help you just enough to perform additional 2-3 reps.
Giant Sets: perform 3 sets of 3 different exercises for the same body part in a row without taking a rest.
Rest and Pause: Perform 1 set to failure, decrease the weight by about 10 pounds, wait 10 seconds and perform another set, repeat for 5 total sets.
Super Set: Perform 1 set of 1 exercise for 1 body part and then immediately perform 1 set for another body part, similar to the giant set, except you are involving 2 different body parts: for example bench press followed by the front pull downs.

This is not a body building routine, but to be honest, body builders know something about gaining muscle, that’s what they get paid to do! Some of these concepts are in-fact from famous body builder routines. Muscle is an active tissue that burns calories, makes you stronger and keeps you looking physically fit. Try In and Out Workout and you’ll be on your way to a fitter you.

first published in 2010

Byrobert

5 Myths About Weight Loss….

Myth 1: Cardiovascular training is the best way to lose weight
Fact: While cardiovascular training is important for burning calories, and maintaining a healthy heart(maybe). The best training protocol is a combination of both resistance and cardio training. Studies in which subjects who participated only in endurance training displayed a transformation of type 2 muscle fibers into type 1 muscle fibers. This is a big deal when you consider type 2 muscle fibers are the fibers responsible for building bigger muscles. Type 1 fibers are endurance fibers which lack the ability to enlarge. Bigger muscles will translate to burning more calories because a certain portion of your calories are needed to maintain muscle mass.

Myth 2: You need to stay away from carbohydrates when trying to lose weight

Fact: If eaten in excess any calorie regardless of the source will be stored as fat. Carbohydrates are turned into glucose which is the only energy substrate your muscles will use for muscle contraction. You can’t exercise intensely without an adequate number of calories coming from carbohydrates. Good sources are brown rice, oatmeal, yams and vegetables. These carbs are considered low on the glycemic index, which is a scientific way of determining how rapidly your blood glucose rises when certain carbohydrate foods are digested. If your blood glucose rises too quickly and the glucose is not readily used or stored in muscles, it will be stored as fat.

Myth 3: You need to drastically lower calories to see inches come off

Fact: In-order for a person to lose a pound of fat there needs to be a decrease of 3,500 calories (weight equivalent of one pound). That would only account for 300-500 less calories per day if you wanted to lose one pound a week. This would only be 3-4 slices of bread a day, not much at all. And in reality you actually need to consume more calories when exercising regularly. When I see people following limited calorie diets the only thing I really see is unhealthy looking individuals living quietly in desperation for real food. They just don’t seem right.

Myth 4: Weight loss Supplements will help you burn fat faster when working-out

Fact: Most of these products just don’t work and are dangerous to one’s health. They artificially raise your heart rate and metabolism. The safest and cheapest way to increase metabolism is by exercising. If you exercise correctly and burn more calories than you take in, I don’t care who you are…. you will lose weight! And that is scientifically tested in real life human studies.

Myth 5: No fat is the key to success

Fact: Staying away from certain food categories(FAT) will only last for a short time. In the end, most dieters actually gain more weight back. Studies have shown that dieting of any kind doesn’t produce long lasting results. Hence there is a new diet book every month that promises to be the only one that works. Now let me speak to all the men out there…Saturated fat is not the enemy, it actually makes you healthier and keeps your testosterone in check. All steroid hormones have a structural backbone of a 17-carbon fat molecule called “gonane”, this makes them fat-soluble hormones. Yes that’s right, Saturated fat fats(butter, coconut oil, lard, cacao butter, palm oil, red meat, dairy products) keep “man chemicals” alive and well in our bodies but Polyunsaturated fatty-acids fats doesn’t…these include soybean oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, cottonseed oil, fish, margarine. Monounsaturated fats are also great as well these include olive oil, argan oil, avocado. Again, think butter, eggs, meat = 300 Leonidas or cookies, potato chips = these guys

But keep in mind there seems to be a point of diminished returns, and this is simply because you also need to leave some room for carbohydrates and protein. Eat sensibly with meals spread out 4-5 times a day with some fat, some carbs and some protein with proper portions throughout the day. These portions are according to your level of energy input vs output.

Not brain surgery but just common sense…I mean…

first published in 2009

Byrobert

Sets,Reps,Weight and Ego…

It’s the age old question that’s been surrounding the exercise community for decades… how many sets and reps should I perform?

Rep ranges should be based on the primary goals of the individual.
For example, if my goal is hypertrophy (bigger muscles) and my 1RM of the bench press is 300 pounds, then I will need to lift 67-85% of those 300 pounds; 300 – 65% = 201 pounds, which I should be able to lift for around 12 reps.
If one the other hand a person desires more strength, than performing max reps of 6 or less should be implemented in his or her current program. This is preciously why most strength and power lifters albeit stronger than bodybuilders don’t necessarily have that defined muscular look.

Most people in general want to look more muscular and toned which is why rep ranges of 8-15 are ideal.

Training Goal, Load (% 1 RM), Goal Repetitions

Strength, 85, Less than or = 6
Power, 80-90, 1-2
Hypertrophy, 67-85, 6-12
Muscular Endurance, 67, Greater or = 12

It’s important to keep in mind all reps should be performed using full concentric (shortening of muscle) and eccentric (lengthening of muscle) movements.
How many sets should I perform?
The training status, goals, and age of the individual effect how much volume should be implemented in a given program.
Training Status

Studies show that beginners (3 months or less workout experience) display gains in muscular strength and hypertrophy when performing single set exercises (one exercise per body part). When the neuromuscular system adapts to the stimulus a higher volume of 3-6 sets per exercise for the intermediate (3-6 months workout experience) and advance (1+ year workout experience) trainer is advocated.
How many exercises per body is enough?

The intermediate and advanced trainers have the luxury of being able to personalize their workouts because they have more experience. Trial and error run the ship here. Try experimenting to see what works best for you. Some individuals do well with 3-4 different exercises per body part, working 3-5 sets; others perform only 2 sets of 2 exercises for each body part. The saline idea here is getting past the beginner status, so that the neuromuscular system has had time to adapt to resistance training, and runs less of a risk of overtraining and injury. Once the body has adapted more sets, and more intense training methods can be implemented into an exercise program.

How many times a week should I lift weights?
Frequency should be based on training experience:
Resistance Training Frequency Based on Training Status

Training Status, Frequency Guide Lines(sessions/week)
Beginner, (3 months or less experience) 2-3
Intermediate , (3-6 months experience) 3-4
Advanced , (1+ year experience) 4-7

How long should I rest between sets?

Rest period lengths are based on training goal:
Strength and power movements which use heavy loads require full rest periods of 2-5 minutes. Hypertrophy training is based on the concept of starting a set before the previous muscle fibers have recovered. If exhausted muscle fibers have not recovered than new muscle fibers will be recruited which will result in bigger more defined muscles. This is one of the reasons why power lifters don’t look like body builders. The more muscle fibers that are recruited in a muscle will result in the muscle becoming bigger (hypertrophy). Muscular endurance training as the name implies allows your heart rate to remain elevated. Resting less than 30 seconds between sets should accomplish this goal. Due to the cardio nature of these workouts the loads are not heavy enough to produce true hypertrophy results.

Training Goal, Rest Period Length
Strength, 2-5 min
Power, single/multiple effort 2-5 min
Hypertrophy, 30s-1.5 min
Muscular endurance, 30s

Age Factors

The following guide lines should be followed for the youth and older adults
• Older (over 65) and younger (under 17) individuals should perform fewer sets (no more than 12 per workout) compared to adults
• Warm ups and stretching should be performed before and after workouts
• Learning proper technique with light loads(50% or less of 1RM) should be implemented before increasing loads
• Workouts should not occur in succession, allow 48-72 hrs between sessions.
• Seniors should be pre-screened by a medical doctor before any type of exercise program.
• Youth should be encouraged to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.

Although some in the fitness field may advocate one system over the other. I have learned there are no absolutes when it comes to exercising. Take for example the person who performs 3 sets of 10 repetitions to get bigger muscles (hypertrophy). Although not performing the ideal rep range of 6 for strength, this person with proper nutrition will no doubt still get stronger. Again the tables and advice located in this article are only broad views and are not written in stone. Try different ranges of sets and reps, every couple of weeks to see what works best for you.
Definitions
• Concentric: A muscle contraction in which a muscle shortens and overcomes a resistance, as in the upward movement of the biceps curl.
• Eccentric: A muscle contraction in which a muscle is lengthened by the resistance, as in the downward movement of the biceps curl.
• Hypertrophy: Increase in both gross muscle size as well as individual muscle size resulting from training. The most sort after effect of exercise (bigger muscles).
• Isometric: A muscle contraction in which tension in the muscle increases but there is no shortening or lengthening of the muscle.
• Muscular Endurance: The ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions (usually 12 or more) against a resistance. Getting the burning feeling in muscles best describes it (designed for the toned muscle look).
• One rep max (1 RM): the greatest amount of weight that can be lifted for only one repetition. A percentage of 1 RM is used to determine the number of reps one can perform.
• Overtraining: A state in which fatigue during exercise bouts causes a reduction in physical performance. The root of overtraining is likely excessive frequency of volume or intensity coupled with poor nutrition and lack of proper rest.
• Power: Measured by the formula work equals force times distance divided by time. A combination of strength and speed.
• Repetitions: An individual completed exercise movement that includes the concentric and eccentric portion of the exercise.
• Set: A group of repetitions of a given exercise movement done consecutively, without rest.
• Strength: The use of muscular force to move an object, speed and distance are not factors of strength.

“To set goals is to constantly remind yourself of where you’re going and what you’re doing. All goals need to be reviewed regularly. You need to asses whether goals are adequate in the face of changing circumstances or sometimes even realistic or possible. You may need some smaller goal steps along the way that gradually approach where you want to go.” -Don Talbot

First Published in 2009

Some graphs are From Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning by National Strength & Conditioning Association. Copyright 2000 by Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. http://www.humankinetics.com/

Byrobert

Cardio vs Strength Training….

While cardiovascular training is important for burning calories and maintaining a healthy heart(maybe). The best training protocol is a combination of both weight resistance and cardio training. Studies in which subjects who participated only in endurance training displayed an actual transformation of type 2 muscle fibers into type 1 muscle fibers. This is a big deal when you consider type 2 muscle fibers are the fibers responsible for bigger muscles. Type 1 fibers are endurance fibers, which lack the ability to enlarge. Bigger muscles will translate to burning more calories. This is due to the fact that a certain portion of your calories are needed to maintain muscle mass. That muscle mass comes from training the entire body with weight resistance training in a rep range of 8-12. When using the prescribed rep range you enlarge type 2 muscle fibers. When only cardio is performed you are only training legs and only recruiting type 1 muscle fibers.

It’s also important to keep in mind that when cardio is at an elevated level (over 60% of max heart rate) it only burns glucose not fat. This depletes your glucose levels which results in your body finding other ways to make glucose (the only energy substrate used by muscles for force contraction). Fat (triglycerides) and protein (amino acids) can both be broken down to make glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis (making glucose from non carbohydrate sources). It’s not really known what will be broken down first, fat or protein; the body will use what ever is available at the time. The concern is when the body does decide to breakdown protein and use the amino acids for fuel; it comes from muscle tissue, which is never a good thing.

Again, I’m not against cardio as if it’s all evil, but weight resistance training should be a priority while cardio should be kept to a minimum. Bigger, stronger muscles are the key to a fitter you. Let’s say you only train cardio and reduce your calories. After 2 months you lose about 15 pounds. Most studies show that when weight loss is due to a reduction in calories at least 25% of the weight loss comes from muscle. Now when you stop dieting, you will gain the weight back, but this time it will be 100% of a fat gain. You have done nothing to build back up the lost muscle tissue, so it adds up as you having more fat on your body. Now let’s add weight resistance into the equation. You have lost 15 pounds but this time you have lost 15 pounds but actually gain 5 pounds in muscle that will ultimately lead to an increase in metabolism. So on paper you only lost 10 pounds but in reality you spared muscle loss and actually gained new muscle.

This is one of the reasons why some people get disappointed when weight training for the first time. The scale can be deceiving if you don’t under stand the physiology of weight resistance exercise and how it effects the body. I mentioned an increase in metabolism through weight training. Studies show that weight training in the 8-12 range can increase metabolism up to 36hrs after exercising. That means if you worked out Monday morning at 7 am you will still be burning calories at 5 pm after work on Tuesday. Cardio displays no such effects, it only increases metabolism during the actual exercise, not after. Here are some guidelines that will help you not over do it as the summer season is upon us:
· Limit cardio to no more than 1-3 times a week

· Cardio is best performed on non weight resistance training days, this prevents overtraining

· Sessions should not go past 45 minutes, anything longer and amino acids from muscle tissue might be used for fuel

· Cardio, dieting and calorie reduction without weight resistance training, spells a loss in muscle tissue which actually lowers metabolism

· If you enjoy cardio and want to do more, you must consume adequate amounts of calories from carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

My take, stick with strength training and use cardio as a way to break away from the normality of the weights…3x strength + 1x cardio weekly….

Things turn out best for those people who can make the best out of the way things turn out. It’s not the situation, it’s your response to the situation. The reality in your life may result from many outside factors, none of which you can control, or can you? Your attitude, however, reflects the ways in which you deal with what is happening to you. Life at any time can become difficult. Life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how you adjust yourself to life. You cannot always control your circumstances. But, you can control your own thoughts. There is nothing neither good nor bad, only your thinking makes it so. -Shelley Taylor Smith,
First Published in 2008

Byrobert

Breaking Plateaus….

Breaking Plateaus

Have you ever felt as if you have stopped making progress in your current exercise brick wall? Whether it’s gaining muscle, losing weight or adding strength and power, everybody at some point or another has hit a brick wall in their training.

The answer is short and simple….. Anytime you present a new stimulus into your training, your body protects itself by adapting (advancing physiologically) to the current program. For example 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week may have led to a 5 pound decrease in bodyweight. Now you can’t seem to lose anymore weight. The problem is adaption has occurred and your body has become more physically fit. You may need to increase the intensity or add more cardio days. Either way new stimulus means new training effect, which means your body feels the effective of the stimulus and displays improvement. This is why when you first started working out; regardless of the program you made incredible gains.

The trick is to always come up with different ways to break away from the norm and try something new. The mind also adapts just like your body and it can experience staleness as well. It’s not always the physical aspect of training but something as simple as going to a new gym or changing the time your workout and can be just the doctor ordered. There is a mind = muscle connection that gets you prepared for your grueling workout. If your mind is somewhere else(boredom) your muscles might want to tag along for the ride. Try these plateau busters…

· Increase the intensity: whether its lifting weights, cardio or sprinting, try to better yourself in every work-out. For example if you do 3 sets of 12 reps with 50 pound dumbbells why not try 3 sets of 12 reps with 60 pound dumbbells, again your body will not be accustomed to the 60 pounds and will be forced to grow new muscle.

· Decrease the intensity: I realize this may seem counterproductive but plateaus may be based on going too hard for too long (burn-out syndrome), try taking a step back and lower the intensity, your joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and most of all your mind will thank you for it

· Change the order of exercises: instead of always performing the bench press first in your chest routine try dumbbell flies first, followed by the bench press.
· Vary training modalities:
1. perform entire week of just machines
2. perform only full body workouts 3 x week
3. use body weight exercises for 2 weeks = pushups, dips, chin-ups and abs,
4. use high reps(the ultimate ego punisher), nothing lower than 25 for 5 straight workouts.

· Change health clubs: this may seem less important than the others but nothing beats a new environment with new machines, weights, music and fresh faces. Again your mind will love the breakaway from the mundane scene day after day.

· Change the time of your workouts: If you workout only in the morning, give the night-time slot a shot, again something as simple as this may be all you need to stimulate yourself.

· The following are some advanced techniques that some bodybuilders swear by
1. Force Reps: perform a set to failure (can’t do anymore) and then have someone help you just enough to perform an additional 2-3 reps.
2. Giant Sets: perform 3 sets of 3 different exercises for the same body part in a row without taking a rest.
3. Rest and Pause: Perform 1 set to failure and then lower the weight by about 10 pounds, wait 10 seconds and perform another set, repeat for 5 total sets.
4. Super Set: Perform 1 set of 1 exercise for 1 body part and then immediately perform 1 set for another body part, similar to the giant set, except you are involving 2 different body parts: for example bench press followed by the front pull downs.

. LASTLY…TAKE SOME TIME OFF…PERFORM NO EXERCISE AT ALL FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK…IF YOU HAVE THE INTRINSIC MOTIVATION NEEDED YOU’LL MISS THE WORKOUTS AND BE FIGHTING TO GET BACK IN THE GYM…

Try these gems out for size and new growth will be just around the corner!
First published in 2008

Byrobert

See, Chew, Swallow and Enjoy…

” As a man ought to eat in an half hour, they shallow in 3 minutes, gulping under the table, which when a chuck of meat is thrown to it, shallows it before you can twice” – Brigham Young (1801 -1877)

Food’s contact with saliva is not just important because it helps to lubricate the food. The saliva contains enzymes that contribute to the chemical process of digestion. Carbohydrate digestion begins with salivary alpha-amylase released by chewing motion as it breaks down some of the chemical bonds that connect the simple sugars that comprise starches.

Additionally, the first stage of fat digestion also occurs in the mouth with the secretion the enzyme lingual lipase by the glands that are located under the tongue. Protein digestion begins in the stomach. Gobbling down food quickly causes incomplete digestion which can lead to bacterial overgrowth. The undigested food becomes fodder for bacteria causing them to multiply in the colon. This can lead to an array of problems including flatulence, fatigue, stomach pains and other symptoms of indigestion like small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO).

An important note to remember is all of us have a certain number of bacteria in the small and large intestines. They aid in the healthy digestion of the body. It’s only when there is an overgrowth in the small intestine that we start running into problems. If food fragments are too big there will be less surface area for the enzymes to extract vital nutrients. This leaves you with a lot of calories but little nutritional value.

Seeing is Believing

The poorly understood cephalic stage of digestion occurs when you first see, smell and taste food. This starts the digestion juices flowing even before food has entered the stomach. In clinical studies the enzymes chlecystokinn, somastostatin and nerotension all have been found to increase over 50% just by seeing and smelling certain foods. In addition, certain taste receptors can signal the stomach to release hydrochloric acid to aid in the absorption of animal meat. To prevent malnutrition, fatigue, obesity and symptoms of SIBO, take your time when eating your 5 smaller meals throughout the day.

Don’t Juice veggies or fruits….

I know you feel cool using a Vitamix blender but as I mentioned above, chewing releases salvia enzymes that help breakdown the fibrous material in all those greens and sweets. Again, if you are in a hurry of course blend them but in general for optimal nutrition it’s best to see, chew, swallow and enjoy….

You are what you eat or should I say you are what you chew….

Byrobert

Why Warm Up?

The basis of the warm up is to elevate the core body temperature so muscles become more pliable. Muscles are like elastic rubber bands, the hotter they are the suppler they become. It also holds true the colder a muscle is the more difficult it will be for the muscle to contract/shorten and extend/lengthen. It makes sense that if your body is warmer you are less likely to injure yourself while exercising. Studies show as body temperature rises ultimate strength and greater strain (ability to deform and stretch before tearing begins in muscle) can be found in muscles. Strain increase in cellular metabolism translates to more blood flow and oxygen are available to the working muscles.

Warming up also prepares the nerve impulses to be enhanced with more sensitivity of nerve receptors. This sensitivity means the muscles/nerve connection will be enhanced and have a greater ability to fire faster impulses during the workout. Warmer muscles are more apt to produce an increase in range of motion.

There is a physiological benefit as well that many fail to recognize. The body has a delicate system of defensive sense organs called proprioceptors, mainly the muscle spindle and Golgi tendon organ. The muscle spindles are in the muscle tissue itself and are responsible for letting you know when your stretching the working muscles too far. The Golgi tendon organ as you might have guessed is a tendon organ that senses when an excessive amount of tension develops. When tension is too high the Golgi organ shuts off muscle contraction to protect the working muscle. These sense organs are elevated through proper warm ups.

Finally, there is a mind-muscle connection that needs to be addressed. Going straight into heavy exercising can have detrimental effects on performance by not preparing the mind properly. Warming up is the vehicle of relaxation and concentration just before intense exercise. Think of Leonidas right before going into battle…This is where we hold them, this is where we fight! Getting into beast mode is part of the battle especially with more and more intense workouts.

So, the next question is what is a warm up? Any light cardio movement such as a stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, and walking in place for 3-5 minutes will be enough to raise your temperature.

Dynamic warm ups can also be a valuable tool against injury. These movements mimic whatever exercise your about to perform except on a much lower intensity. For example: a dynamic warm up of the bench press would be 1-2 light sets of 10-20 reps with a weight that feels light even upon reaching the last rep. If you want fewer injuries always remember to warm up properly.

“Boundaries are often set by other people for us, but we all have the power to reject those limits. If someone says you can’t achieve something try it anyway… you never know what is on the other side of the boundary” – Alyson Annan, Australian Hockeyroos Cap

first published in 2008

Byrobert

Water Still the Best Option…

If you are someone that enjoys exercising you must stay Hydrated. Drink fluids (water) all day long. Try drinking 8-10 ounces of fluids every 2-3 ½ hours daily. Water helps flush the fat and toxins out of your body, while keeping the skin (largest organ in the body) looking great. Despite the popular trendiness of drinking electrolyte sports drinks, you probably don’t need them. As the name implies electrolytes are substances in the body that act like electrically conductive mediums for muscle contraction and nerve conduction.

The problem is sodium (an electrolyte) concentration in sweat ranges from 0.46 to 2.3 g/L. The average American takes in about 4 to 6 g daily. Well enough to replace what would have been depleted during exercise. Potassium, magnesium and calcium (the other important electrolytes) do get lost in sweat, but at such a slow rate, it has no effect on the average person who trains for only 30-60 min daily.  Electrolyte imbalances due occur if:
 
·        Intense continuous exercise is employed for over 5 hrs.
·        Exercise has begun in a dehydrated state
·        Vomiting and diarrhea has transpired.

 Here are some simple tips: drink at least 1pt of fluids, 2 hrs. before any activity that causes sweat to occur. During the activity try taking big gulps of very cold fluids. Studies show that gulping colder fluids actually increases absorption.  A very simple way to determine whether or not you have enough fluids in your system is to check your urine. Don’t worry! I’m not going to suggest drinking your own urine like some people do. I can’t even imagine!  A well hydrated person will have a clear, light yellow color in their urine. A dehydrated person will have a very dark, brown color in their urine. The dark color means your kidneys are working over time to flush out wastes from your system.

You might ask what all the fuss is about. A dehydrated person might experience the following:
 
Reduced blood and plasma levels= the heart works harder to supply muscles with nutrients (read The Greenies article to find out why plasma levels are so important)  
Increase blood lactate levels(high lactate levels causes muscle’s to fatigue and subsequently forces people to stop exercising)
Reduced muscle blood flow= effects high power muscle movement in sports
Poor muscle contractions during physical activities

Water as a cell Volumizer…   

Studies show the contractile proteins actin and myosin are only able to fully contract when muscle cells are well hydrated and actually display weaker contractions by not being optimally aligned when dehydrated. Water acts as the perfect cell volumizer.
Antioxidants Supplements may be harmful…. 

Antioxidants Sports drinks?

Exercise causes an increase in oxidative stress along with free radicals (molecules with an unpaired electron that can damage DNA and normal cell production). There is also a defense mechanism in the body that increases antioxidants naturally. If antioxidants are supplemented in the form of sports drinks after a hard workout, the body has no need to manufacture it’s own. Leading to a decrease in normal antioxidant levels in the body. NO YOU DON’T NEED IT, SAVE YOUR MONEY!
    
Again, water is the best fluid out there and it’s free!!! I choose the brand name that has lasted for years in my house, good old fashioned tap water. Tap water goes through more stringent testing than the fancy bottled water people pay $2.00 a pop for. Here’s to your health!
 

“Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.”
– Constance Newman
First published in 2008