Explosivelyfit Strength Training

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020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

A brief snapshot of Insulin resistance and why it is important to avoid.

This condition causes the body’s muscles, fat and liver cells to improperly respond to insulin. The pancreas makes the hormone, insulin. This hormone helps the cells take in and use glucose which in turn is a fuel used by the body to function. If there is not enough circulating insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream and increases the potential for developing diabetes. It is in everyone’s best interest to have as much lean muscle mass as possible to possibly avoid this serious medical condition, especially as you get older.

One of the unwelcome conditions of aging is muscular frailty, also known as sarcopenia[1]. Without strong muscles, coordination and balance problems begin to appear. These problems may be held at bay by greater lean muscle mass. A new study reports that increasing skeletal muscle mass by as little as 10%, is also associated with an 11% reduction in the body’s resistance to insulin and a 12% lower risk of developing transitional, prediabetes or diabetes.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles look at the data and 13,644 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Since these people were involved in the study between years of 1988 to 1994, the research is somewhat old. However when the muscle mass of one quarter of the participants was compared between those with the most muscle mass and those at the bottom with the least muscle mass, those with the greatest amount of fat three muscle mass were 63% less liable to get diabetes.

After making adjustments to leave out those with diabetes, the connection between muscle mass and improved insulin resistance became even stronger. According to the study[2], “increases in muscle mass above even average levels were associated with additional protection against insulin resistance and prediabetes.”

Not only is increasing your lean muscle mass important, but also losing weight helps to improve your metabolic health. Most of us already know that the fitter you are, the healthier you are probably going to be.

[1] Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and coordination that results from the process of aging.

[2] Preethi Srikanthan, MD of the University of California Los Angeles, USA

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261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

Where you grip the bar may be the best predictor of how you will injure your shoulders. Research in England has determined that certain widths related to a person’s body size may increase your chance of becoming injured while performing the bench press. A closer look at the anatomical structure of the shoulder may help to explain why this is such a common occurrence.

The shoulder, unlike the hip joint which is a true ball and socket joint, is a semi and shallow ball and socket joint. This means the skeletal bones directly involved in the bench press motion are not mechanically secure. Unlike the hip, the integrity of the shoulder primarily relies on the muscles, ligaments and tendons to keep it intact and not the joint structures. Incidentally, in some literature the shoulder is not even considered a true joint. I consider the shoulder as a joint and as such will continue to refer to it as one.

One of the main primary structures within the shoulder is the glenohumeral joint. When bench pressing this part of the shoulder supports the weight and is subjected to the constant heavy loads of the active lifter.

While benching wide with the upper arms at or near perpendicular to the upper torso the shoulders are placed into external rotation. According to the research ‘ninety degrees of abduction combined with end of range external rotation has been defined as the “at risk position” that may increase the risk of shoulder injuries.’

Now comes the pay attention part of this article. These research findings have clearly shown that benching with a hand grip greater than or equal to ‘2’ bi-acromial widths-the distance between the acromion processes, i.e. shoulder width, is destructive to your shoulders. For the ease of conversation the bi-acromial width is basically measured at the ends of both of the collar bones.

In fact a grip width greater than 1.5 bi-acromial width increases the torque on the shoulder by 1.5 times when compared to that of a narrow grip less than 1.5 bi-acromial width.

For those of you who think that taking up a wide grip on the bar (100%-190% biacromial width) gives you additional pounds you are exactly right; it does. You may realize a slight gain of less than 5% total to your maximum with these extreme grip widths but over the long haul the cost to your shoulders may be prohibitive. At the outer ranges of width the recruitment and activation of your pectoralis major is nearly insignificant in comparison to the narrow and safer grip.

When using the narrower grip positions your triceps brachii are more involved thus making this an ideal triceps building exercise while at the same time saving your elbows from potential damage.

Summary: Constantly bench pressing with a wide grip on the bar is a prelude to an eventual shoulder injury. This is a classic case of risk versus benefit; is it worth your shoulder health to be able to bench a few more pounds?

NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal October 2007. The affect of grip width on bench press performance and risk of injury by Green, C. M. and Comfort, P.

121217 Balance out your exercise program

121217 Balance out your exercise program

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

During spring time the runners start hitting the road, especially those who are getting ready to run Bloomsday here in Spokane, Washington. While running is an admirable endeavor, it is not enough to keep your body in top physical condition. Our body needs physical and mental stimulation which is only achievable through the use of a variety of methods.

Cyclic exercise, similar to running, stresses the cardiovascular abilities thereby increasing the capacity to engage in lengthy activities through enhanced oxygen transfer to the working muscles. However, exercising in this manner will not increase the lean muscle mass composition of our body. In order to do that resistance training is necessary.

Weight training helps build strong bones.

Bone density responds directly to increases in intensities of load and site specifically to the greater pressures required to move the load. Adaptations take place within the structures of the bone that make it more resistant to the imposed loads and thus stronger.

Women in particular need this load bearing weight on their long bones, the spine and hips to stave off and help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis from occurring. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that progressively decreases the bone density which in time leaves them weakened and vulnerable to fracture.

 

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

Flexibility

Getting stronger helps in other ways too. The strength to recover from a slip may prevent a bone damaging fall. Postural muscles that are strengthened through weight training inevitably lead to improved posture and a reduced potential of lower back problems. Even though strength training is high on the list of maintaining a strong fit body other pieces of the equation are important too. For instance being flexible enough to tie your shoes or even scratch your back is an important part of living a full and healthy lifestyle.

Work the joints normal range of motion each day by following a stretching program. But be cautioned that static stretching performed before a strength training session has been found to lower the power output by as much as 8%. If you are a sprinter, thrower or recreational handball or tennis player stay away from these at the start of your activity. The proper place for a static stretch is at the end of the workout when the muscles are warm and receptive to change. Doing so before hand, is an invitation to injury.

Find a good stretching book; read up on the proper way to stretch and start applying these to your exercise program. Brad Walker’s Stretching Handbook or Bob Andersons Stretching are two of the premier ones on the market and each one has stood the test of time. Even though flexibility is important it is not the end of the line. Maintaining your balance becomes harder as we age.

Balance

Prevention begins with daily practice. Standing on one foot or with heel to toe for multiple seconds at a time (60-120) will help stave off this decline in balance. Leaning toward the floor on one leg with arms to the side or rear will change the center of gravity and will change the feel of the exercise. In each instance it is important to have the ability to catch yourself on something solid to prevent a dangerous fall from happening in the event you do lose your balance while doing these.

Of course there are many other ways to practice balance training but this article is not being written to list them all. Suffice it to say balance is a critical part of living a healthy life.

Bodily balance. A physical state or sense of being able to maintain bodily equilibrium

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

Breakfast
Not long ago I was asked to review the science on the benefits of breakfast for a cereal company. Although it is a common truism that “breakfast is good for you” I wanted to know if it remains good advice. So I plunged into 30+ research papers to see what was agreed about the first meal of the day. Here is what I learned.

A large Australian study from last year showed that breakfast was critical for school performance, boosting both literacy and numeracy skills, independent of the socio-economic group. This backed up a review of the previous 50 years of studies in school children. There is no doubt that breakfast is necessary to help you to learn new stuff. Usually not difficult with primary school kids because they wake up hungry. It is the upper high school kids we need to convince.

Breakfast habits changing
Twenty years ago just about every young kid ate breakfast, with only some older teenagers giving it a miss, rising to 15% of 19-24 year olds being breakfast skippers. Now we have nearly 1 in 4 of upper high school students missing breakfast, in Australia at least.

Two decades ago, over three quarters of adults ate breakfast. Now barely 6 out of 10 adults regularly eat breakfast, women being better than the menfolk. Why the decline? The most common excuse is “not enough time”, in other words not enough time to pour out cereal into a bowl, add milk and consume (Gee, that’s gotta take 6 whole minutes) or plonk two slices of bread into the toaster, shave/brush hair/pack lunch while you wait, then add peanut butter. Let’s see, that’s 7.5 minutes.

But then my concept of time and food differs to most people, a fact I accept and have resigned myself to, especially since the day I saw a line of cars outside the drive-thru section of a famous takeaway at 8 am on a school day.

What if you don’t fancy breakfast?
Don’t know how you can do it, frankly. Me? I can’t do without breakfast. No breakfast and I can’t do up shirt buttons, I squeeze Heel Balm onto my toothbrush and drive into oncoming traffic. I have a court order to eat breakfast by 7.30 am or face serving jail time.

You, of course, may be able to get away with it. Can I suggest that you at least have a banana, a yogurt or one of those breakfast drinks as you leave the house? With some glucose racing through your arteries you will make better decisions. Then, when you do feel hungry, eat smart, like choose a sandwich, fruit or a smoothie and not scarf some eye-level, salty, extruded snack from the vending machine. Just the term “extruded snack” should put you off.

What does it all mean?
It means what it has always meaned. Clever people eat breakfast and breakfast eating makes you clever. The evidence is pretty over-whelming.

There are plenty of choices to kick-start the day – breakfast cereals or muesli with milk, topped with nuts or a banana (my choice), wholegrain toast with peanut butter, poached eggs and mushrooms on toast, yogurt and canned fruit and you can think of more. If you buy your breakfast look beyond the cappuccino and croissant because you are worth a lot more than that. A lot more.

Selected references:

  • O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Education Research 2012; 27 (6): 975-985
    • Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22: 220-243
    • Astbury NM, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Breakfast consumption affects appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine responses to foods consumed later in the day in male habitual breakfast eaters. The Journal of Nutrition 2011; 141: 1381-1389

141117 Are the bear claws you are eating making you as grouchy as a bear?

141117 Are the bear claws you are eating making you as grouchy as a bear?

Researchers at the University of California in San Diego have found a potential link between trans fat consumption and its effects on our behavior.

They found that the fats commonly used in commercial baking and frying operations can make people both aggressive and irritable. Not only are trans fats linked to increased heart disease, they also hinder the ability of omega-3 fats in reducing aggression and irritability our bodies.

Because of this link between the omega 3 fats, aggression and irritability, the researchers felt that eating more trans fats would tend to boost these types of negative behaviors.

Not being content with just feeling this was going to happen, they tested a small group of 945 adults by examining their diets and comparing the diets with a behavioral assessment tool. This group of adults self-reported any feelings of impatience, irritability along with a history of aggression.

The conclusion of the scientists was that the greater the intake of trans fats in these 945 adults, the greater was their aggression and irritability when closely examined against the measures of the behavioral assessment tool.

This was also a significant association when compared with other known aggressive predictive tools frequently used as testing devices.

Another study, conducted at the University of North Carolina, compared the amount of trans fatty acids in the diet and the occurrences of a stroke amongst 87,025 post-menopausal women between the ages of 50 to 79.

They found that those who were eating an average of 6.1 grams a day had a whopping 39% greater risk of having a stroke than those who ate 2.2 grams per day.

It makes sense to look at the labels on the food and eliminate trans fats from your diet. This may be difficult if you like commercially made baked goods from the grocery store or donut shops such as the bear claws and other delights. Moreover, the French fries may contain an unhealthy amount of trans fats. Sometimes life just isn’t fair is it?

071117 Testing your training program

071117 Testing your training program

Do you think we are able to continually bring home world championships by not following a carefully designed workout schedule? The quick answer is NO. Every set, rep and selected exercise is considered based on the relationship to the ultimate goal-personal bests.

We use clearly established test days throughout the training schedule.

Once every four to six weeks a mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of your schedule ought to be put into effect. Is your squat lift poundage actually going up or are you stagnated? Can you Military press more now than two months ago? Is anything better now? You will not know unless you test.

Without periodic tests, you are wasting your time and energy on a potentially non-productive workout schedule. In each training session, a set goal is established or should be established. At the end of the particular series of training sessions in the mesocycle, measurable results should be obtained. If they are not what was expected, then changes to the program are necessary for further progress to be achieved.

Building into the program regularly scheduled ‘test days’ gives these direct benefits:

  • It measures the validity of the strength program design
  • It clearly indicates a benchmark day; one that will give instant feedback.
  • It will provide incentive to go onto the next phase of the training.
  • It will put in a semi rest day of low volume.

Depending on the mesocycle we test on a regularly scheduled basis all of our lifts. Consider doing so in your program and see how you stand relative to your objectives.

311017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 3/3

311017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 3/3

The problem

Nearly every newspaper or magazine on the stands has an article about the obesity problem in today’s modern society. In case you are not aware of the dangers of being overweight here are just a few of the conditions that can have a major impact on your quality of life and on your lifespan. Obesity increases your chance of developing heart disease, hypertension, type two diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and sleep disorders.

The how much 

A body mass indicator (BMI) is not the same as a body fat indicator. The BMI indicates weight compared to height and is not valid for most athletes or those who are above average in muscle density. The BMI will give guidelines to a person who is underweight, normal, overweight or obese. Being overweight is asking for trouble down the line so this must be controlled before your health begins to fail.

The common formula for BMI determination (in inches and pounds) is
BMI= (current weight expressed in pounds ÷ height expressed in inches X height in inches) X 703.

For example, a male weighing 215 pounds and standing 5’11” would use the equation numbers of BMI= (215 ÷ 71 X 71) X 703 = 29.98

The BMI gives a good indication of the amount of body fat on your body. This relationship varies depending on your age and gender. Most women will carry a higher percentage of body fat than most men will for the same BMI score. As we age, the muscle tends to atrophy due in part to a lack of use, which causes excess body fat accumulation. This does not mean if you stop exercising ‘the muscle turns to fat’ as physiologically this is an impossibility for two distinct cells to morph into different cells i.e. a muscle cell will not turn into a fat cell.

The solution

So what do you do about this turn of events in your life? The short answer is to begin to exercise, but only after speaking to your doctor about your plans. Second, find ways to reduce the stress in your life. Next, a gentle but structured exercise program is the safest way to losing your stomach fat.

If you are short of time and cannot go to the gym for a full session then do three to four ten-minute bursts of cardio throughout your waking hours on your aerobic day. On alternate days of the week do eight to ten different resistance exercises. These too can be split into shorter periods of activity spread over the course of your day.

Two days of resistance training and two days of cardio will be a good starting point towards better health. Gradually build up the intensity of your exercise sessions because intensity burns fat, not gently jogging or lifting light weights for a few sets. Get your heart rate up, breathe heavy and hard (within your target zone of course), and push the muscles into areas they have not seen in a while. In short, put something into it in order to get something out of it-like the fat in your stomach!

Try this routine out for a month and see how much better you feel at the end of thirty days.

On the cardio days do some walking, ride your bike, or even some light jogging. Remember, that when you first begin you do not have to keep up with every hot shot in the gym or on the running course. If you forget to gradually work up to it, your body will remind you of the folly of your actions the next afternoon.
Essentials of Personal Training, Baechle, T. R. and Earle, R. W. Human Kinetics 2004

Waist to hip ratio calculator: https://www.nyhq.org/diw/tools/hipcalc.html

 

241017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 2/3

241017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? 2/3 

The problem

Nearly every newspaper or magazine on the stands has an article about the obesity problem in today’s modern society. In case you are not aware of the dangers of being overweight here are just a few of the conditions that can have a major impact on your quality of life and on your lifespan. Obesity increases your chance of developing heart disease, hypertension, type two diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and sleep disorders.

The why

Recent research has found that stress actually changes your nervous and hormonal systems around so they encourage fat accumulation around the waist. This type of fat is dangerous and can lead to an increase in your chances of developing hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

The October issue of Obesity Research featured a report by Swedish scientists, which found changes occurred in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal connections.  This intricate system regulates the part of the brain that controls metabolism through the adrenal gland. They also found that men with accumulations of fat in the stomach had nervous system changes that help to keep the bodily functions in balance. These researchers believe that these brain and neuroendocrine changes happen due to a life of chronic stress.

The how

One method of determining where you store your body fat is to use the waist to hip ratio formula. Take a measuring tape from your sewing room or sewing kit and measure the circumference of your hips at the widest part of your buttocks. Write this number down and then measure at the smallest circumference of your waist, just above your navel. As you measure your waist, don’t suck your stomach in, as this will give a false reading. Letting it all hang out is the best stance here.

Divide the hip number into the waist number to determine the ratio. If the number is one or above you are at an increased risk of one or more of the diseases previously listed.

The formula is Waist ÷Hip and anything less than one is good news.

More next week.

260917 Recovering from an exercise session

260917 Recovering from an exercise session

Exercise is a way of life for many people; they stay active longer into their lives while remaining mentally and physically sharper than their non-exercising friends. An active lifestyle requires a firm dedication to living a healthy life through good food choices and exercise. Sometimes being active brings with it a few aches and pains.

There are moments though when, especially after a particularly hard training session, soreness may occur. Even though this may be a cause for concern, there are strategies that may be used to relieve some of this discomfort.

Use a cool down after your session is completed. These few minutes of less vigorous activity help your body to return to its pre-exercise status by lowering your breathing, heart rate, and temperature back to near normal numbers. This time aids in the recovery of the muscles and cardiovascular systems.

Static stretching after the initial cool down gives the muscles a chance to relax and gives you a moment or two to improve your flexibility at the same time. Stretches are particularly effective now because the muscles, tendons and ligaments are all warm and flexible; just what is necessary to be productive.

Athletes generally weigh themselves before and after training sessions. This is to ensure they are staying properly hydrated. A recreational athlete might consider doing the same for the same reasons because a loss of fluids causes a loss of mental and physical sharpness. The rule of thumb is a pint a pound. Therefore, for every pound you lose exercising you need to drink at least 16 ounces. The exception to this is for an extreme endurance athlete or the salty sweater (1), not only is water important but so are the electrolytes.

Give your muscles the nutrients necessary to repair themselves after the session. Low fat chocolate milk is ideal in this situation because it has a good balance of carbohydrates and protein in each pint. Drinking one of these within ten to fifteen minutes pushes the glycogen back into your muscles and this helps them recover faster meaning a quicker return to your favorite activity.

190917 Special strength and the athlete

190917 Special strength and the athlete

We all know that not everyone is born with the same capabilities to display awesome strength. It’s a fact of life that some of us just don’t have the right combinations of fast twitch to slow twitch fibers. However, each of us can make a difference in our strength levels through proper training schedules. How we go about setting up these training regimens is the topic of this article.

There are minute differences in each muscle fiber type, and these differences make up the ability to run long distances or to lift heavy weights. Some are nearly all fast twitch with nary a hint of a slow twitch characteristic in them. At the other end of the spectrum are the slow twitch fibers with an amazing ability to keep on keeping on. Somewhere in the middle lay the in-between fibers the type two ‘a’ and ‘b’. Not quite all out fast twitch and not fully slow twitch either.

Determining the precise ratio of fast to slow twitch fibers is in the realm of the scientists but a few easy to follow tests may give an astute coach a clue as to the direction the training program would realistically follow. Dr. Fred Hatfield, also known as Dr. Squat, came up with a useful gauge for program planning based on the individuals’ fiber makeup. Here’s the test.

Determine the one repetition maximum, without equipment, in the lifts of your choice. Now take eighty percent of that one rep max. Do as many repetitions as possible with this weight. If you are able to do four to six repetitions, and no more with good form, then you are more than likely genetically gifted with a larger amount of type two fibers-the fibers that produce high force but wear out quickly due to their lack of endurance. These fibers operate within the rapidly consumed ATP/CP energy sphere. They fatigue easily, have fewer mitochondria and few capillaries supplying them with fuel.

If on the other hand you are able to do more than fifteen then you probably, have an abundance of type one fibers. These contain a greater percentage of mitochondria, a higher aerobic enzyme capacity and much more dense capillary concentrations. They allow you to go longer but the force output possibilities are lower.

In the middle of these two extreme rep ranges, we have the seven to fourteen ranges. These individuals will have predominance of in-between fibers. Not that many fast twitch and not that many slow twitch fibers.

So what do you do with this information once you’ve found it out? If you know your trainee is a fast twitch sort of person then design the program around this aspect. Keep the reps low and the sets higher. Two to six reps for ten to four sets respectively. Keep in mind that performing four sets of six reps will be physiologically harder on the system than doing twelve sets of two reps.

If they lean more toward the slow twitch end of the continuum then have them doing higher repetitions and fewer sets.

Now that you have a brief idea of the direction you will be going with your training plans, don’t forget to add in a few higher and intermediate reps and sets schedules for those who have the majority of fast twitch fibers. Take advantage of your trainees’ strong points but don’t overly neglect the rest of the points either.

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