Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Want to Get Fit, Strong and Lose More Body Fat? Log Your Workouts

“I’m supposed to go 5 lbs heavier than last Friday?  I can’t remember what I did last Friday!”

“Well I know I used 75 lbs in the last workout with front squats in it, but I can’t remember if that was hard or easy…”

“How long has my shoulder been bothering me?  I don't know…forever?”

“I feel like I’m never adding any weight to the bar!”

“I ate pretty healthy today…I think.”

Be like Linda and Deanna and log your workouts...look how happy they are :)

Have you ever heard one version or another of those above sentences during a CrossFit class or your own workouts? I know I have. Logging your workouts for most of you may be like keeping in touch with that awkward relative – you don’t really want to do it, you aren’t sure you see the value in it, it sort of annoys you, but once you get in the habit of it, it’s kind of fun and helpful.

I know a lot of you aren’t logging your workouts because I have to hear some variation or another of the above sentences in class ;), and there is NO reason why you SHOULDN'T be logging!  It’s a simple action that can really help you to keep an overall picture of your fitness.  Let’s talk about ways to improve how you log, what to log, and why it matters:

1)  Record Your Weights – Logging Helps You Scale
By logging your workouts, you are recording the workout, what weights you used for exercises requiring weights, and your time (if applicable).  But that’s not ALL you should write.  Leaving notes for yourself like “Felt like I could have added more” or “Presses started burning around rep 15” can help you learn where you should start scaling wise for the next workout.

For example, let’s say you did 5-5-5-5-5 RM Front Squat (5 sets of 5 reps max each set) on a Friday at 115 lbs, you made a note that said “Front squats felt good – tight hips at first – last set was hard!”  Lets say the next time you do front squats, its 3-3-3 RM (3 sets of 3 reps max each set)!  Oh no, how do you ever figure out what weight to use?  Check your log – there it is –  you previously did 115 lbs for 5 reps so even though the rep range is different, you have at least an idea of where it should be. In this case since you'll only be performing 3 reps, you can lift heavier than 115 lbs.

After adding in some extra mobility to release your tight hips (remember those from Friday? Now you do!), you know that you can go heavier than your previous 5-5-5-5-5 RM as mentioned above, so maybe you pick 135 to see how that feels (this is of course after a few warm-up sets, don't just go to that weight from the start).  You may not get the answer right on the first try, and of course your coaches are always there to help you scale, but checking your log book is ALWAYS a great starting point to learning to set yourself up for success.

When recording your weights for the strength section of each workout, remember to record what weight you lifted for each set as you see in the below picture. This is a critical step even if its a workout where its for instance, 5-5-5-5-5 RM Deadlift (5 sets of 5 reps max (RM) each set) and you did the same weight for all 5 sets, still write out each individual set. Note: for warm-ups sets, you don't need to record the weight you did for each warm-up set though.

This is my WOD book for today's workout. You can see on the right side the notes I wrote concerning the WOD.


2)  Record Your PRs – Logging Helps You See Improvements
When you’re not keeping track of your workouts, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come in CrossFit – overall, or a specific movement.  It can been encouraging to you if you are annoyed with yourself or think you aren't improving, to look at workouts just 3 or 4 months prior and see the weights you lifted and your conditioning times.  It will remind you that you're definitely making progress.  In our log books, you can see in the picture above that thare is a box to check off if you got a PR (personal record), and in the pictures below there's a section for specific benchmark workouts such as Grace (as I did today) and the weightlifting movements such as Front Squats so you always have those numbers handy for quick reference and you KNOW when you’re going for a personal best.




3)  Record the Bad Stuff with the Good – Logging Helps Keep You Accountable 
In business, there is a saying that if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen and in regards to eating there is a similar saying that if you didn't actually cut a piece of cake and put it on a plate, there aren't any calories in it ;) We use this justification secretly in our minds a lot.

If we don’t write down that workout time that we aren't happy with, maybe we can just forget about it.  If I’m logging my food and just happen to “skip” writing down the piece of cheesecake I ate (which I will most definitely consume over Christmas :), then maybe there’s a slim chance that it really didn’t happen!!  Keeping a detailed log helps you get an overall picture of how you are performing – it is a true look at how many days you’re in the gym (oops, only 2 days last week?!), how many days a week you’re really giving your max effort (why is my conditioning not as good?), an idea of how well you ate (weird, all my days I felt lethargic at the gym were bad nutrition days!) and how you slept that day, etc, forces us to take a true examination of how committed we are being to our goals.  So, the more detailed the better.  You don’t have to log EVERYTHING you ate, but just rate on a scale of either clean, 80% good/20% bad, or off (meaning it wasn't so good).  Same with your sleep, stress levels and mood.  Start to discover patterns and what affects your workouts.

I placed an F beside the strength sets that I failed or missed that lift and didn't get it up so I can know for next time I do this same movement.


4)  Record Your Injuries – Logging Helps Keep Track of Injury Timelines
We’ve all had nagging injuries that seem to appear out of nowhere, and before you know it you can’t remember if that right wrist has been bugging you for weeks or months.  Putting a note to yourself that says “Wrist started hurting with overhead squats – maybe more mobility next time?” or “Hips felt tight today” can help you track when injuries start and when they start to feel better.  You can also start to see patterns or factors that might be affecting those injuries – wrist always bothering you on overhead days?  Knees always bothering you on days with squats?  Time to examine how you move with those tasks and how you’re mobilizing those areas.

5)  Record Your Weaknesses – Logging Nags Reminds You to Practice
After you’ve identified the two or three skills you want to work on, maybe write in your log book reminders to practice.  For me the movement I work on and that I consider my "goats" is: pistols. When you flip to a new sheet, it already says “Go do 10 pistols!”  Again, it’s easy to let practice slip by the wayside…too tired…too sore…in a rush – but having a written reminder can help you stay on track AND help you understand how many hours you have actually put into a skill before mastering it. 

6) Record Helpful Tips and Cues from Coaches – Logging Helps You Retain Coaching Cues
For the Hang Squat Clean and Hang Power Clean that we are working on this month at CrossFit, writing things down like “Keep the bar close”, “Narrower stance”, "Shrug the bar then fast with the elbows to get under the bar" are simple reminders than can help you reinforce what you learned that day and give you a jumping off point for the next time you see that movement.

Those are just a FEW reasons why logging your workouts is so important.  Furthermore, it is probably the easiest thing to do in the world. You can buy one of our log books for $20 plus tax, or you can bring your own spiral notebook in.  Let’s ALL get in this great habit and it will lead to streamlined classes, better chosen scaling, recognizing improvements, and keeping a good overall picture of your fitness.

If Emily from CrossFit does it, you know we should do it too :)




Tyron


Article has been based off an article written by CF South Bay




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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's Best for Losing Belly Fat: Aerobic or Anaerobic Training?

Lose belly fat fast and improve your health by doing strength training and high-intensity intervals. Compelling research shows that the BEST way to get rid of the belly fat is to train with hard but short bursts of exercise, a style that taps into the anaerobic energy system more than the aerobic.

There is overwhelming evidence that belly fat loss is best achieved when exercise is with a high, but varied intensity, and a relatively large volume. However, this does not mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym. Less than an hour a few days a week can produce dramatic fat loss if you do it right.

This article will tell you why you burn more fat when you favor anaerobic-style training and gives you eight reasons to favor this style of training by lifting weights and doing sprints rather than spending hours on aerobic exercise. This is what we incorporate at our boot camp in North Vancouver.

#1: Burn More Belly Fat with Sprint Intervals
D cranking out Shoulder to Overhead in an interval couplet

A large number of convincing studies show that high-intensity interval training is the best conditioning strategy for losing belly fat. In contrast, one research group that has conducted a number of experiments comparing aerobic and anaerobic training for belly fat loss write, “Disappointingly, aerobic exercise protocols have led to negligible fat loss.”

The reason anaerobic interval training works so much better is that it requires the body to adapt metabolically—your body is forced to burn fat to sustain the level of intensity being asked of it. It also elevates energy use for more than 24 hours post-workout, which has a dramatic effect on belly fat loss.

For example, a 2008 showed that a 6-week program increased the amount of fat burned during exercise by 12 percent and decreased the oxidation of carbohydrates—obviously, a favorable result for losing fat.  More impressive, a 2007 study showed that in as little as 2 weeks, active women who performed interval training experienced a 36 percent increase in the use of fat for fuel during exercise.

Interval training is so effective for fat loss because it taps into different energy pathways than aerobic exercise. Simply, aerobic exercise tends to burn carbohydrates first and activates pathways that are degrading to muscle, whereas high-intensity exercise such as weight lifting and sprinting will burn a greater percentage of fat, enhance the body’s production of enzymes involved in fat breakdown, and activate pathways that lead to muscle development.

The other reason anaerobic intervals are superior for belly fat loss is that they increase excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) a huge amount. A 2006 review showed that protocols that are more anaerobic in nature produce higher EPOC values than steady-state aerobic training because the trained muscle cells must rest and restore physiological factors in the cells, which translates to a lot of energy expenditure.

#2: Lose Belly Fat With Sprint Intervals: The Proof
Kate doing a great job on the Overhead Squat...a great core and fat loss exercise.

The following are examples of the superiority of anaerobic interval training for belly fat loss from the research:
•    A 12-week high-intensity interval training program produced a 17 percent decrease in belly fat in overweight young men. Subjects lost 1.5 kg of belly fat and 2 kg of total fat, while building 1 kg of muscle. Fat burning was increased by 13 percent due to the 3-day a week program of 20-minutes of cycling in which the subjects sprinted for 8 seconds and then did 12 seconds of recovery, repeating these intervals for a total of 60 sprints.
•    The same 20-minute cycling interval program produced 2.5 kg of fat loss in young women in 15 weeks, and the majority of the fat loss come from the legs and abdominal area. The sprint intervals were compared to a steady-state aerobic program that produced no fat loss.
•    A 16-week study had trained athletes perform either a sprint interval protocol or steady-state running four days a week. The sprint interval protocol varied each day, but an example of one of the workouts used was 10 intervals of 30-sec sprints with 90 seconds rest. The sprint interval group lost 16 percent or 1 kg of visceral fat as well as 2 kg of total fat, compared to the endurance group that lost no belly fat, but did lose 1.4 kg of lean mass. The belly fat loss appears to be small, but be aware that subjects were lean, trained athletes to begin with and had less belly fat to lose than overweight subjects.
•    An 8-week interval program using both high- and moderate-intensity intervals decreased belly fat by 44 percent in middle-aged men with type 2 diabetes. Subjects increased quad muscle size by 24 percent and improved insulin sensitivity by 58 percent—a dramatic improvement that highlights the other mechanisms involved in belly fat loss (muscle building, insulin health & blood sugar management).

#3: Sprints Take Less Time than Aerobic Exercise
Ardy doing an awesome job on the Front Squat...good form Ardy!

Not only do sprints help you lose MORE belly fat, they help you lose it FASTER and with LESS training time. Repeatedly, studies show that more fat loss is achieved in high-intensity programs that use 20 to 25 minutes of training time than those that use 45 or 50 minutes of aerobic training time.

Scientists write that anaerobic intervals are overwhelmingly preferable to aerobics for producing belly fat loss, and that the estimated optimal dose of aerobic exercise necessary to lose belly fat appears to be 3,780 calories expended per week. This is an enormous volume of exercise that would require 1 hour of moderate intensity aerobic cycling 7 days a week to burn 550 calories a day so that you could lose even a pound a week!

In less than half the time you can get better results with anaerobic training. A 1994 study is indicative of this: Participants did either 20 weeks of aerobic training or 15 weeks of intervals (15 sprints for 30 seconds each) and lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.

What is so interesting about this study is that the energy cost of the aerobic program over the whole study period was 28,661 calories, whereas for intervals it was less than half, at 13,614 calories. In less time, the interval group lost much more weight—nine times more weight. How do researchers explain it?

Aside from greater fat oxidation and higher EPOC, hormone response plays a major role…

#4: Sprints Improve Hormone Response for More Belly Fat Loss
All smiles from Kate on the Floor Wipers...gotta like the core work on this exercise.

Sprint intervals and anaerobic exercise in general improve your entire endocrine system. Both training modes enhance the cells’ sensitivity to insulin, making anaerobic training a successful treatment for diabetes.

Perhaps most important, anaerobic exercise also elevates growth hormone (GH) —a powerful fat burning hormone that helps restore tissue and build muscle—much more than aerobic training. GH is released by the body in greater quantities in response to physical stress above the lactate threshold, which is the reason heavy, sprints are so effective.

Another hormone called adiponectin that is released from fat tissue during exercise also helps burn fat. Emerging scientific evidence shows that any time you perform forceful muscle contractions, adiponectin is released, and then your body produces a substance called PGC1 that is like a “master switch” that enhances muscle and metabolic functions, thereby burning belly fat. Naturally, anaerobic training is most effective for increasing adiponectin and PGC1 to burn fat since sprints and especially weight lifting require extremely forceful muscle contractions.

#5: Strength Train to Lose Belly Fat
D doing a smashin' job on the Front Squat!  Good job D.

To get a lean, trim your midsection and lose belly fat, you need to strength train with a high volume, using large muscle groups, and short rest periods. This metabolically intense type of training is fantastic for increasing GH and aiding belly fat loss. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym!

You will get results from a resistance training program that includes the following components:
•    Multi-joint lifts such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, step-ups, chin-ups, and chest presses in every training session. Add isolation exercises only if you have extra time.
•    Train with a higher volume—work up to more than 4 sets per exercise. Shoot for 24 to 32 total sets per training session.
•    Train with a higher intensity—include some training in the 70 to 85 percent of the 1RM range.
•    Include short rest periods (30 to 60 seconds) and always train a “finisher” that requires near maximal effort for more GH response (25 reps of squats or 2 minutes of leg presses, for example).
•    Count tempo for every lift so that you apply a specific amount of tension to the muscles. In general, opt for longer (4 second) eccentric tempos and short or explosive concentric tempos.
•    Shoot for 3 to 4 hours of total training time per week, which includes resistance training and a few short sprint sessions.

#6: Anaerobic Training Produces Less Cortisol For More Belly Fat Loss
Alain doesn't like high cortisol levels so he strength trains ;)

Cortisol is the stress hormone that is elevated when you are under both physical and psychological stress. Research shows cortisol is chronically higher in endurance athletes—one study found that aerobic athletes had significantly higher evidence of cumulative cortisol secretion in their hair than controls.

In addition, cortisol is generally elevated more following aerobic training than anaerobic training. Part of this has to do with the fact that strength training and intervals do elevate cortisol, but they also elevate anabolic hormones such as GH and testosterone that counter the negative effects of cortisol.

If GH and testosterone are not elevated, cortisol overwhelms tissue, having a catabolic effect that leads to gradual muscle loss and fat gain. By doing aerobic training without strength training, you will lose muscle, lower your metabolic rate and gain fat.  Worst of all, high cortisol causes chronic inflammation, which lead to belly fat gain over time—all-around bad news!

#7: Anaerobic Training Is More Fun & Less Boring than Aerobic Exercise
All smiles after a good workout at The Maker's Body Boot Camp

Intervals and strength training take less time and provide much more variety than aerobic training. Not only are you doing many different exercises in a strength training session, but you are pushing yourself to reach new personal bests. When you see how it can transform a fat belly into a lean, cut midsection, you will be that much more motivated to continue!

In addition, although sprint interval training can be mentally challenging, it only requires a short workout and many trainees find intervals less boring than endurance exercise. Plus, most people enjoy feeling powerful and fast from going all out. Get a training partner to help push you through the hard parts and know that by working hard but smart, you will reach your fat loss goal.

#8: Mix It Up with Modified Strongman, Varied Strength Protocols & Sprints
Martine mixes it up by using Misty as additional load...good job Martine!

A few more anaerobic training suggestions include the following:
•    Try modified strongman training: Do sled training, tire flips, and a heavy farmer’s walk to lose belly fat fast.
•    Mix up strength training protocols with circuit training and supersets that use very short rest periods. For example, do supersets with 10 seconds rest when switching from the agonist to the antagonist exercise and 60 seconds between sets. Or, do a “death circuit” of heavy, high volume deadlifts followed by split squats followed by lighter high volume squats with 10 seconds rest between exercises.
•    Try a sprint training workout in which you do 20 second all-out sprints with 10 seconds rest in 4 sets of 4 intervals. Rest 3 to 4 minutes between sets.
•    Try hill or stair running in which you sprint up as fast as possible and jog down—repeat immediately. Do 8 to 16 reps.
•    Try a sprint-endurance workout with six to eight 200-meter sprints (about 30 seconds each) with a 3 to 4 minute recovery.

Charles Poliquin is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists in 17 different sports, world record holders in 10 different sports, and professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UK Premier League. He has lectured or consulted for a variety of high-profile organizations such as the US Secret Service, Walt Disney Corporation and the World Swimming Congress. More info visit his website at http://www.charlespoliquin.com.

References
Irving, B., Davis, C., et al. Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008. 40(11), 1863-1872.

Boudou, P., Sobnngwi, E., et al. Absence of Exercise-Induced Variations in Adiponectin Levels Despite Decreased abdominal Adiposity and Improved Insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Men. European Journal of Endocrinology. 2003. 149(5), 421-424.

Macpherson, R., Hazell, T., et al. Run Sprint Interval Training Improves Aerobic Performance but Not Maximal Cardiac Output. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011. 43(1), 115-121.

Strasser, B., Arvandi, M., et al. Resistance training, Visceral Obesity and Inflammatory Response: A Review of the Evidence. Obesity Reviews. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Ismail, I., Keating, S., et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Aerobic Vs. Resistance Exercise Training on Visceral Fat. Obesity Reviews. 2012. 13, 68-91.

Heydari, M., Freud, J., et al. The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity. 2012. Published Ahead of Print. Boutcher, Stephen. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity. 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Kraemer, W., Volek, J., et al. Influence of Exercise Training on Physiological and Performance Changes with Weight Loss in Men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1999. 31(9), 1320-1329.

Schuenke, M., Mikat, R., et al. Effect of an Acute Period of Resistance Exercise on EPOC Implications for Body Mass Management. 2002. 86, 411-417.

Hottenrott, K., Sebastian, L., et al. Effects of High-Intensity Training and Continuous Endurance Training on Aerobic Capacity and Body Composition in Recreationally Active Runners. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2012. 11, 483-488.

Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J., et al. Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism. Metabolism. 1994. 43(7), 814-818.

Trapp, E., Chisholm, D., et al. The Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training on Fat Loss and Fasting Insulin Levels of Young Women. International Journal of Obesity. 2008. 32(4), 684-691.



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Monday, November 12, 2012

Top Ten Foods for Fat Loss & Body Composition - North Vancouver Boot Camp

Use these ten foods in your diet to support fat loss and get the physique you desire. Assuming you are training regularly, including these foods in a high-protein, relatively low-carb whole food diet will help you get and stay lean, while feeling energized and motivated throughout the day.

These ten foods will help you lose fat because they support your body to do one or more of these five things:
•    Increase the body’s use of fat for energy, shifting it to burn fat instead of carbohydrates.
•    Decrease chronic inflammation and improve the sensitivity of cells to insulin so that blood sugar from carbohydrates is used for energy or stored as muscle glycogen and doesn’t turn into fat.
•    Improve the body’s internal detoxification system to enhance elimination of waste products and toxins that slow the metabolism.
•    Support tissue repair and increase the body’s resting metabolic rate so that more energy is burned when food is broken down.
•    Improve the endocrine response to food—there are many effects of this, including lower insulin and cortisol, better elimination of excess estrogen, and higher leptin, which blunts feelings of hunger.

#1: Cold Water Fish: Salmon, Whitefish, Mackerel, Sardines & Anchovies
These cold water fish are high in the omega-3 fats that improve insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation. The effect is of getting the majority of dietary fat from omega-3 fats is fat loss and improved body composition. For instance, a recent study of healthy adults showed that taking 4 grams of omega-3s a day for 6 weeks significantly increased lean mass and decreased body fat. Other studies have shown an association of a better body composition in people who eat more than 5 servings of cold water fish a week.

Take Away: Get the majority of your dietary fats from foods that are high in omega-3 fats. Cold water fish is a great place to start, and grass-fed and wild meats can increase your intake. Eat a serving of one of these high-protein sources at every meal.

[A product that I use that provides high quality omega-3 fats is IsaOmega Supreme by Isagenix. I take 2 capules per day that come in their Ageless Essentials with Product B packs (you can also get IsaOmega seperately on its own). For more info on Ageless Essentials with Product B click here and for info on IsaOmega Supreme click here.]

#2: Nuts: Walnuts & Almonds
Nuts are high in antioxidants, protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and research shows that supplementing the diet with them can significantly improve body composition. They not only increase the metabolic response to eating, but they increase feelings of satiety and blunt hunger—the hormone leptin has been found to be higher in people who eat nuts daily.

Walnuts may be the healthiest nuts because they are typically eaten raw with the skin on, which increases their antioxidant content. Almonds also top the list of fat burning nuts because of their high protein and fiber content, and they contain a lot of vitamin E that supports detoxification.

Take Away: Eating a serving of nuts a day in conjunction with a high-protein, low-carb diet can produce significant fat loss and help you feel satisfied.

#3: Whey Protein
Whey protein, which can be found in dairy products and taken as a supplement [as in a meal replacement], is a super food for body composition because it enables the body to repair tissue and burn fat. It also enhances the body’s internal antioxidant system by increasing something called glutathione.

Research shows that exercise performance and fat loss are enhanced when the body’s glutathione levels are higher during strength training. For example, in one study that had men take 22 grams of whey protein daily in conjunction with a strength training program had them lose more body fat than a group that only strength trained and didn’t supplement with whey.

Take Away: Supplement with whey protein daily to increase your metabolic rate, antioxidant status, and support tissue repair.

[The whey protein that I use is IsaPro by Isagenix. I will either take it plain with water or add a scoop of it to my IsaLean Meal Replacement to increase the protein content.  For more info on IsaPro click here. For more info on IsaLean Shakes click here.]

#4: Berries: Blueberries, Strawberries & Raspberries
Besides being delicious, berries are great for fat loss because they contain fiber, antioxidants, and have been shown to blunt the amount of insulin the body produces in response to eating them with high-carbohydrate foods. Raspberries, in particular, contain a unique antioxidant called ellagitannins that have been shown to improve the brain’s sensitivity to leptin, making you feel less hungry.

Take Away: Get multiple servings of berries daily. Throw in a serving of the superfruits mango, pomegranate, and tart cherries for variety—all three convey similar benefits as berries and food scientists have called them all “anti-obesity” fruits.

#5: Avocados
A recent review of foods that can treat obesity and prevent diabetes wrote that the “avocado has tremendous antioxidant capacity,” and has been shown to completely eradicate chronic inflammation related to high body fat in mice. Adding avocados and pomegranates to the diet of the mice allowed for them to lose fat and have better insulin sensitivity over time.

Take Away: Selectively include avocados in your diet. Depending on other fat intake, eat them a few days a week. One avocado contains 250 calories, 10 g of fiber, 15 g of monounsaturated fat, 4 g of protein, and 20 essential nutrients.

#6: Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegetables
The cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower help the body clear excess estrogen—both naturally occurring and chemical estrogens such as BPA. By a variety of mechanisms, compounds in these veggies can interact with the genes involved in estrogen binding, while clearing estrogen from the body.

In addition, research shows that the high fiber content of these veggies will delay carbohydrate absorption, favorably modifying the glucose response. Their inherent high fiber brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food. Dark green vegetables usually have a large antioxidant content as well such as chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, etc.

Take Away: Shoot for multiple servings of cruciferous vegetables daily. Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, collards, arugula, radish can be eaten raw, added to salads, or steamed. Raw food are better for fat loss, but the key is to eat them daily, so if cooked is more palatable, go for it.

#7: Eggs
Eggs are an excellent protein source and they also provide a nice dose of choline, which protects the liver from accumulating fat and is the precursor to the energizing neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Increasing acetylcholine levels can increase growth hormone, which is a potent fat burner. Plus, eggs are very filling, and you get a nice boost in metabolism on account of the thermic effect of  their high protein content.

Incorrectly feared due to their cholesterol content, eggs haven’t been found to elevate serum cholesterol. The body actually uses the cholesterol to produce testosterone and other androgenic hormones, and it improves the integrity of muscle cell membranes. One study showed that eating 12 eggs a week didn’t increase LDL cholesterol at all, and when exercise was done, the high egg intake improved the participants’ ratio of good to bad cholesterol to the same degree as a group that ate no eggs.

Take Away: Eat eggs a few days a week to increase your protein and choline intake. Avoid eating them daily because this has been shown to cause intolerances to eggs.

#8: Coffee & Green Coffee Extract
There is compelling evidence that coffee increases your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories, and it can help shift the body to burn fat rather than glucose for energy. In addition, we know coffee enhances the body’s defenses against reactive oxygen species, can help modulate blood sugar, and may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The fat loss effect of coffee drinking hasn’t been studied extensively, but one study showed drinking 500 ml of coffee daily for 4 weeks produced 2.5 kg weight loss in overweight subjects. Perhaps more effective, green coffee extract, which comes from the bean before roasting and can be added to any beverage, has been shown to produce significant fat loss: One study compared the effect of giving participants a high-dose green coffee extract (1050 mg), a low-dose (700 mg), or a placebo for 6 weeks and found that the large dose resulted in an average 8 kg loss in body weight and a 4.4 percent drop in body fat—very impressive. The low dose and placebo produced no changes in body composition.

Take Away: Using green coffee extract and drinking coffee can help you lose fat in conjunction with a healthy diet. They aren’t a weight loss solution, but a nice addition to a complete fat loss diet. Green tea provides similar benefits as coffee if it is your beverage of choice.

#9: Kimchi
Kimchi, a fermented Korean food made from napa cabbage, onions, garlic, and fiber, has been shown to aid digestion, improve insulin sensitivity, and produce fat loss. A recent study showed that overweight subjects who ate 100 grams of kimchi at every meal for 4 weeks produced significant fat loss and decreased body fat by 1.5 percent. Blood pressure and blood sugar control were both lower by the end of the study.

Take Away: Include kimchi and other fermented foods [sauerkraut, pickles, olives, kombucha tea, kvass, etc.] in your diet daily for better health and fat loss. Get kimchi at an Asian food store or Whole Foods. Make sure there is no MSG in the ingredients though.

#10: Vinegar
Vinegar aids the body in storing carbohydrates as muscle glycogen rather than storing them as fat. In addition, studies show eating vinegar as a seasoning with meals can improve pancreatic function, and lower the insulin response to carbs. Even if you just add vinegar to your salad or cruciferous vegetables, it can lower the insulin response to your whole meal, leading to a more moderate elevation in blood sugar.

Take Away: Balsamic and white wine vinegar are some of the most delicious vinegars, but you can add any kind to your meal daily and get the fat loss benefits.


Charles Poliquin is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists in 17 different sports, world record holders in 10 different sports, and professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UK Premier League. He has lectured or consulted for a variety of high-profile organizations such as the US Secret Service, Walt Disney Corporation and the World Swimming Congress. More info visit his website at http://www.charlespoliquin.com.

My additions in brackets.

References

Vinson, J., Burnham, B., et al. Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Linear Dose, Crossover Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of a Green Coffee Bean Extract in Overweight Subjects. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Obesity. 2012. 5, 21-27.

Onakpova, I., Terry, R., et al. The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Gastroenterology Research and Practice. 2011.

Kotyczky, C., Boettler, U., et al. Dark Roast Coffee is More Effective than Light Roast Coffee in Reducing Body Weight and Restoring Red Blood Cell Vitamin E and Glutathione Concentrations in Healthy Volunteers. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2011. 55 (10), 1582-1586.

Noreen, E., Sass, M., Crowe, M., Pabon, V., Branauer, J., Averill, L. Effects of Supplemental Fish Oil on Resting Metabolic Rate, Body Composition, and Salivary Cortisol in Healthy Adults. 2010. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 7(31).

Smith, G., Atherton, P., Reeds, D., Mohammed, B., Rankin, D., Rennie, M., Mittendorfer, B. Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Increases the Rate of Muscle Protein Synthesis in Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. 2010. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 93(2), 402-412.

Sheikholeslami Vatani, D., Golzar, F. Changes in Antioxidant Status and Cardiovascular Risk Factors of Overweight Young Men after Six Weeks Supplementation of Whey Protein Isolate and Resistance Training. Appetite. 2012. 59, 673-678.

Devalaraja, S., Jain, S., Yaday, H. Exotic Fruits as Therapeutic Complements for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolic Syndrome. Food Research International. August 2011. 44(7), 1856-1865.

Johnston, C., Steplewska, I., et al. Examination of the Antiglycemic Properties of Vinegar in Healthy Adults. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010. 56(1), 74-79.

Vislocky, L., Pikosky, M., et al. Habitual Consumption of Eggs Does not Alter the Beneficial Effect of Endurance Training on Plasma Lipids and Lipoprotein Metabolism in Untrained Men and Women. Journal of Nutrition and Biochemistry. 2009. 20(1), 26-34.

Vadivel, V., Kunyanga, C., et al. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption with Special Reference to Body Weight Control. Nutrition. Tweet This

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ten Reasons Why Runners Should Include Weight Training


If you like to run and have been struggling to increase your mile pace or need a boost in short sprint speed for the final kick, strength training is the answer. Athletes in endurance sports such as swimming, cycling, rowing, or skiing cross-country will also benefit from strength training.

The right strength training program will also help you lose fat—lightness is always a benefit for runners—and prevent injury. It will also improve your endurance and can help prevent injuries. Strength training also provides protective health benefits such as better insulin sensitivity and higher antioxidant status, making it essential for all runners.

If you’re already strength training and not seeing results, it may be because you’re not doing the right kind of training—that is, there may be something wrong with your protocol such that you’re not triggering adaptations. Luckily, the research tells us what you need to do whether you run 5Ks, marathons, triathlons, or just run for fun.

Take note of a few things before we get into the ten greatest benefits of strength training:

If you’re running to lose weight, strength training is a must. You’ll see results much faster. Strength training will boost your metabolism and improve your insulin health and blood sugar levels in addition to supporting hormone response for fat burning.

Don’t be scared by the idea of heavy lifting. If you are an elite runner and you do not want to increase body weight by gaining lean mass, don’t worry. You won’t gain muscle mass from lifting. The science behind this is revealed in #4.

Recreational runners probably won’t increase body weight from training either, assuming you do a decent volume of running. With the right weight lifting program, you will lose fat. If you want to gain muscle mass, and “get big,” endurance running is probably not a good choice.

Older individuals benefit just as much as young runners from strength training. Lifting weights has been shown to lessen the gap between young and old in terms of strength and speed endurance.

This article is for runners but will apply to most endurance athletes. In some cases I present research using athletes from sports other than running such as rowers and cyclists. These are general conclusions that can be drawn from these studies and applied to most endurance sports because they are based on physiology.

Top Ten Reasons Runners Should Strength Train

1)    Get Faster
Strength training will make you faster. Whether you are a short distance runner (800 meters to a mile) or a longer distance runner (mile on up), you’ll find your pace increasing when you start strength training. Strength training will increase leg strength and improve your body’s efficiency to use energy and oxygen.

Increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently is a primary goal of endurance training, and it is measured by VO 2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake. Simply, if you can decrease the amount of oxygen needed to run at a certain speed, you’ll be able to sustain a fast pace for a longer time and likely be able to run faster overall.

A study that tested the effect of a maximal lower body strength training program on elite runners found that they improved running economy by 5 percent. Even more impressive, they increased the amount of time they could run at their maximal aerobic speed by 21.3 percent. The weight training group also did regular endurance running during the eight week training program, and researchers compared their gains in running speed and work capacity with a control group that only performed regular endurance training. The control group showed no improvements indicating that for elite endurance athletes, strength training may be the magic component to allow them to improve.

Similar studies of elite cyclists show similar performance results. In a study using Danish national team cyclists, half of the team performed a strength training program and half the team served as a control group. The maximal strength program resulted in improved performance in both a 5-minute sprint trial and a 45-minute endurance trial. The strength training group went 5 percent further in the short 5-minute time trial and 8 percent further in the 45-minute trial.

Researchers suggest increased coordination, neural drive, and strength gains all play a role in making these endurance athletes faster since none of there’s no evidence of hypertrophy, or an increase in muscle size or body weight.

Take away: Strength training will improve your pace and make you faster overall. A maximal (heavy) strength program for the lower body will produce best results.

2)    Have A Better Final Kick
A heavy lower body strength training program will make you faster because you’ll be able to generate more force when you kick off the ground. Combined with better running economy and the ability to use energy more efficiently, you’ll have a better final kick.

One reason strength training will increase your speed is that you’ll increase your proportion of type IIA muscle fibers that fatigue slowly and are able to produce speed and power. The type II fibers are the “fast-twitch” fibers and sprinters have a large concentration of them because their training triggers the development of these fibers.

Muscle fiber research is still emerging but we know that the type I and II fibers are on a continuum that include at least seven different “types,” of which type I fibers are the most aerobic and least powerful. Type IIX are the most powerful and most quickly exhausted. The interesting thing is that with training, you can shift the proportion of these fibers based on the type of training you are doing. Combining endurance exercise with strength training provides the best stimulus for the muscles and yields the most impressive results for speed and endurance.

In the study of Danish national team cyclists, researchers found that the athletes who strength trained increased the proportion of type IIA muscle fibers in the quadriceps from 26 to 35 percent and decreased type IIX fibers from 5 to 0.6 percent, a favorable shift for endurance performance.

There’s limited research into muscle fiber shifts in recreational athletes, but studies suggest that strength training will produce more favorable fiber types for speed endurance in non-elite runners as well.  There is some evidence of a small increase in muscle size, particularly type II fibers in recreational runners, but this occurs with a decrease in body fat and has not produced a substantial increase in overall body mass.

Take away: Strength training will increase your speed. You’ll have a better final kick with more fast, fatigue-resistant muscle fibers.

3)    Decrease Body Fat
Strength training will help you lose fat. The bulk of energy that is burned in the body comes from your resting metabolic rate, which is a function of the proportion of lean muscle to body fat. Body fat slows that metabolic rate and produces various substances that make you fatter, including aromatase (turns testosterone into estrogen) and adipokines (slow metabolism). Muscle and lean tissue improve metabolism instead of hurting it, meaning to be a better runner (and have a better looking body), you want more muscle and less fat.

Experienced and elite runners will know that it is hard to lose fat unless you do large amounts of high-intensity training. People often point out that elite runners are “thin” and have a low body fat percentage. This is true, and they tend to do a very large volume of running at a high intensity. For those of you who are interested in getting lean without increasing your distance or intensity, strength training can help.

For instance, in the study of Danish national team cyclists, the strength training group decreased body fat by nearly two percent and had no change in body mass after the 16-week training program. The group that only did their regular endurance training decreased body fat by 0.5 percent. Other studies have elicited more dramatic results.

A study of collegiate female soccer and volleyball players found that an intense circuit training strength program produced a decrease in body fat of an average of 5.7 percent, which is substantial for a group of elite athletes. This study was interesting because it based the intensity on heart rate rather than the amount of weight lifted. Participants in the high intensity group maintained heart rate at an average of 151 beats per minute by performing vigorous intervals in between sets. The weight lifted was 50 percent of maximal, and participants performed an average of ten repetitions per exercise. This protocol also produced increases in strength. Speed, running economy, and endurance were not tested.

Take away: Strength training will burn fat and decrease your body fat percentage making you lighter and faster.

4)    Have Better Body Composition
Strength training will enhance your overall body composition. Research shows that if you program properly, you don’t have to gain muscle mass. It’s possible to develop a protocol to get you in shape for endurance exercise and gain muscle with the right nutrition and supplementation, but that is another article for another day.

A common concern for competitive endurance athletes is gaining body mass with strength training. Even lean muscle gains have been a concern because elevated muscle mass is thought to be detrimental for optimal endurance sports where muscle forces are generated to support the body mass against gravity. This issue could be debated since gaining strength and muscle mass in the legs will certainly make you faster if your training protocol is for relative strength. But, for simplicity, I will assume that you are doing a large volume of endurance training, which means that the most you can hope to get out of your strength training program is increased speed and endurance with decreased body fat.

It’s well established that endurance exercise creates a catabolic environment that degrades muscle and bone and shifts the proportion of muscle fibers to type I. Strength training will counter this muscle degrading process and result in strength gains but the anabolic environment will be blunted. In a review of the effect of maximal strength training in elite endurance athletes, researchers Aagaard and Andersen write that “concurrent training can diminish the muscle hypertrophy that normal occurs with strength training,” but increases in performance and strength are still observed.

This is due to the increased proportion of type IIA muscle fibers, but also to an increase in different gene signaling pathways involved in muscle growth and loss, which appear to cancel each other out. Despite no growth in the cross sectional area of muscle, concurrent strength and endurance training increases the ratio of capillaries to muscle fiber area, which improves oxygen delivery and free fatty acid uptake. Greater free fatty acid uptake results in a reduced rate of glycogen breakdown, meaning that endurance athletes are using energy more efficiently, which improves performance.

Take away: Strength training is safe for athletes who don’t want to gain muscle mass. The catabolic/anabolic processes “cancel” each other out. Strength training increase fiber type proportion, neuromuscular function, and fuel utilization for better performance.


5)    Prevent Injury
Strength training will help you get rid of nagging injuries or chronic pain and help prevent future injuries. It will also help you correct structural imbalances that increase injury risk and lead to improper motor patterns. For example, the non-dominant side of the body is often weaker, which will throw your stride off, as will problems with your feet such plantar fasciitis or bunions.

Equally, muscle imbalances within each limb can cause problems for runners. For instance, the vastus medialis obliquus is a common weak link in the quad, and weak calves are thought to contribute to shin pain. Include both unilateral and bilateral leg exercises to avoid imbalances and prevent injury. Single-side training has also been shown to improve sprinters’ speed, and endurance athletes can benefit too

A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed how single-leg “pitcher” squat, also called rear-foot elevated squats or bulgarian split squats, produced significant strength gains that rival those made from regular back squats. Including a training cycle of “pitcher” squats placed extra stabilization demands on the neuromuscular system since the athletes’ weight distribution was biased to one side of the body.

Additionally, forward lunges and step-ups are excellent lower body exercises that will help equalize strength and power between the legs and are excellent for runners. Take note that strength training can also decrease chronic pain and minimize aches and joint discomfort from continually pounding the pavement. Heavy strength training triggers protein synthesis in the connective tissues and will also increase bone strength.

Take away: Strength training improves structural balance and can help prevent injury and chronic pain. Feel better when you run!

6)    Strengthen Your Core With Traditional Lifts
Strength training with traditional lifts such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and chin-ups will increase your core strength. Better core strength will help you avoid back pain and make you faster. Research shows that multi-joint movements are best to train the core musculature and improve the transfer of power from the arms to the legs.

One group of researchers recently found that core strength for running is best trained with squats and Olympic lifts, but if you don’t perform the snatch and clean and jerk; squats, chin-ups, deadlifts, and push-ups will strengthen your core.  Additionally, if the lower back, gluteals, or hamstrings are weak or imbalanced, glute-ham raises and back extensions are ideal.

Take away: The best way to build core strength for runners is to perform traditional lifts.

7)    Increase Antioxidant Levels and Decrease Oxidative Stress
Endurance training has been shown to produce a high level of oxidative stress that can lead to chronic inflammation. Strength training will counter both acute oxidative stress, and help you avoid the long-term debilitating impact of this stress.

Scientists and athletic coaches have become concerned about the negative health effects of endurance training because of the daily physical stress that it causes. The inflammatory response to intense endurance training is well documented and some coaches and athletes have attempted to counteract it by taking antioxidants. This is a good strategy since we are inundated by free radicals from our environment and poor dietary choices, but throw strength training into the mix, and you will be much better off.

A moderate to heavy strength training program has been shown to increase antioxidant status and counter oxidative stress. In #4 we looked at how strength training can counter the muscle degrading effect of endurance training, and it can minimize the inflammatory response of intense, repeated physical stress. The stress hormone cortisol is the culprit and it damages cells and tissue in the body and accelerates aging. Strength training will offset this, making you healthier, stronger, and faster.

Take away: Strength training protects runners from the repeated damage of oxidative stress by raising antioxidant levels.

8)    Better Reproductive Health
There is evidence that reproductive health suffers for both men and women from endurance training. Strength training is one strategy to prevent this. A recent study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that intense endurance exercise provokes low testosterone and diminished sex hormone levels in men, which translates into poor reproductive health and low fertility. Previous studies have found similar impaired fertility in women who perform endurance exercise, a common symptom of which is dysmenorrhea or impaired menstrual cycles.

Strength training can help because it will improve hormone levels and counter the oxidative stress from cortisol and related catabolic hormones that cause inflammation and damage to the reproductive organs. Researchers suggest there is a happy medium to reproductive health such that individuals who like to run can improve their endocrine profiles and support fertility and health with strength training. On the flip side, a sedentary lifestyle will also impair fertility, and poor health.

Take away: Strength training will improve reproductive health and fertility in men and women who run.

9)    Better Insulin Health
Insulin health refers to how sensitive your cell receptors are to the hormone insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas in response to glucose in the blood stream. Glucose comes from carbohydrates, a large portion of many runners’ diet, making the maintenance of insulin health a high priority for runners.

You want to improve your insulin sensitivity because doing so will support a faster metabolism and better energy levels. Insulin health is a component of performance because it is involved with helping your body process energy along with speeding recovery from intense endurance training by aiding in the replenishment of glycogen stores.

If your cells are insulin resistant, you will have a slower metabolism, have poor performance, and be at risk of developing diabetes. You will also have greater amounts of oxidative stress, which damages cells, cause inflammation and accelerates aging. As mentioned in #8, oxidative stress is already a problem for runners and endurance athletes, meaning you don’t want to exacerbate the problem by causing more with high levels of insulin.

Strength training is a well known strategy for diabetes prevention and for improving insulin. A recent study in the journal Nature showed how during exercise—any time you perform muscle contractions—the body produces a hormone called irisin that will improve insulin health. With strength training, you intensely and repeatedly contract the muscles producing extreme force, thereby producing even more irisin, which in turn greatly promotes insulin sensitivity.

Take away: Strength training improves insulin health and helps you recover from running by aiding in replenishment of energy stores.

10)    Best Results With Heavy Lifts and Varied Tempo
Perform a strength training program that includes heavy lower body lifts for best results. Runners often make the mistake of performing resistance training programs that are geared toward increasing muscular endurance instead of strength. This will not make you faster.

Naturally, if you are new to strength training, you will need to develop base levels of strength, and a muscular endurance program may be appropriate. It’s necessary to achieve basic strength and flexibility in the hips and ankles so that you can properly do squats and deadlifts with good technique.

Once you’ve got the basics down, you will get the most out of your strength workouts by lifting heavy—above 80 percent of the maximal amount you can lift. The only research studies that haven’t produced gains in running pace and speed are those that used too light of a load or were for too short of a time period—less than eight weeks.

To get the most out of your strength program, perform multi-joint, ground-based lifts such as squats and deadlifts. Step-ups and lunges are also essential. Although, a more advanced technique, lifting with a varied or slow tempo will also provide benefits to runners. Tempo training, or the variation of the amount of time spent on the up and down phase of a lift, is a great way to provide a new and different stimulus to the muscles. If you feel you’ve hit a plateau or want to try something new, consider varying your tempo—it will challenge your weaknesses and make you faster and stronger.

Take away: Runners new to lifting should develop base levels of strength and flexibility. Then, it’s time to lift heavy and vary tempo to turn weaknesses into strengths.

Charles Poliquin is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists in 17 different sports, world record holders in 10 different sports, and professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UK Premier League. He has lectured or consulted for a variety of high-profile organizations such as the US Secret Service, Walt Disney Corporation and the World Swimming Congress. More info visit his website at http://www.charlespoliquin.com.

References:
Aagaard, P., Andersen J., et al. Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance Capacity and Muscle Fiber Composition in Young Top-Level Cyclists. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Vaamonde, D., Silva-Grigoletto, M., et al. Physically Active Men Show Better Semen Parameters and Hormone Values than Sedentary Men. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Skoluda, N., Dettenborn, L., et al. Elevated Hair Cortisol Concentrations in Endurance Athletes. Psychoneuroendocrinology. September 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Sunde, A., Storen, O., et al. Maximal Strength Training Improves Cycling Economy in Competitive Cyclists. Journal of strength and Conditioning Research.2010. 24(8), 2157-2165.

Phillips, S., Das, E., et al. Resistance and Aerobic Exercise Protects Against Acute Endothelial Impairment Induced by a Single Exposure to Hypertension During Exertion. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2011. 110(4), 1013-1020.

Storen, O., Helgerud, J., et al. Maximal Strength Training Improves Running Economy in Distance Runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008. 8(6), 1087-1095.

Davis, W., Wood, D., et al. Concurrent Training Enhances Athletes’ Strength, Muscle Endurance, and Other Measures. Journal of strength and Conditioning Research. 2008. 22(5), 1487-1495.

Deus, A., Oliveira, C., et al. Metabolic and Cardiac Autonomic Effects of High-Intensity Resistance Training Protocol in Wistar Rats. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. November 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Bostrom, P., Wu, J., et al. A PGC1-Dependent Myokine that Drives Brown-Fat-Like Development of White Fat and Thermogenesis. Nature. January 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Reynolds, Gretchen. Exercise Hormone May Fight Obesity and Diabetes. The New York Times. 11 January 2012.

Shinkle, J., Nesser, T., et al. Effect of Core Strength on the Measure of Power in the Extremities. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. January 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Okada, T., Huxel. K., Nesser, T. Relationship Between Core Stability, Functional Movement, and Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. January 2011. 25(1), 252-261.

Wilson, J., Marin, P., et al. Concurrent Training: A Meta Analysis Examining Interference of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. October 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Baker, Daniel. The Effects of an In-Season of Concurrent training on the Maintenance of Maximal strength and Power in Professional and College-Aged Rugby League Football Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2001. 15(2), 172-177.

Bell, G., Syrotuik, D., et al. Effect of Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training on Skeletal Muscle Properties and Hormone Concentrations. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2000. 81, 418-427.

Aagaard, P., Andersen, J., et al. Effects of Strength Training on endurance Capacity in Top-Level Endurance Athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010. 20(Suppl 2), 39-47.

Sharrock, C., Cropper, J., Mostad, J., Johnson, M., Malone, T. A Pilot Study of Core Stability and Athletic Performance: Is There a Relationship? International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. June 2011. 6(2), 63-74.

Jones, M., Ambegoankar, J., et al. Effects of Unilateral and Bilateral Lower-Body Heavy Resistance Exercise on Muscle Activity and Testosterone Response. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Cakir-Atabek, H., Demir, S., Pinarbassili, R., Bunduz, N. Effects of Different Resistance Training Intensity on Indices of Oxidative Stress. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. September 2010. 24(9), 2491-2498.


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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Strength Train To Live Longer - North Vancouver Boot Camp

Perform a strength training program to live longer and lower your risk of disease. Numerous studies have linked physical activity levels with less risk of developing a serious disease. A new study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that intense physical activity such as strength training can help us live longer because it has protective effects on body.

The study was a meta-analysis of all previous studies on the connection between physical activity and mortality rates as classified by cause of death and age at death. The analysis included more than 1.3 million individuals and identified a very strong relationship between performing regular intense vigorous exercise for a duration greater than 150 minutes a week and longevity.

The study came to a clear finding on longevity, intensity, and frequency of exercise. People live longer if they train hard four or five days a week. They appear to live longest and be healthiest if they train for at least 300 minutes a week at an intense level.

The study classified physical activity in multiple ways. For example, researchers looked at death rates in relation to how much “daily living and occupational activity” people did and found a very small health benefit from activities people did in their jobs or around the house such as gardening or cleaning. The benefit of performing daily living physical activity was greatest for women, but showed no benefit for men. Scientists don’t hypothesize why women benefited from cleaning the house and gardening, but it may be due to a lack of data on men who performed this sort of physical activity.

Moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week resulted in a lower mortality risk of 10 percent over not exercising at all, while intense exercise produced a 22 percent drop in death rate. When people exercised hard for the longest time (300 minutes a week) they lived the healthiest longest lives and had a 39 percent lower risk of morality than those who did not exercise.

The takeaway from this study is that more exercise at a higher intensity is better. Be aware that “intense” or “vigorous” exercise as classified by this study as greater than 6 METs (some of the studies classified it as much higher but 6 METs was the cutoff), which is not a level that most serious strength trainees or athletes would consider very intense. For best results, perform a periodized strength training program that speaks to your goals and helps your body adapt. Training more than four days a week for at least 50 minutes is a good goal to shoot for that will provide longevity benefits.

Strength training is preferred over steady-state aerobic training (very important) because it will build muscle, may strengthen bones and connective tissue, and fights inflammation that is linked to greater disease risk. Everyone should strength train (side note: I even got my mom into it :) and in only a short time she already notices she's stronger and her left hip doesn't bother her...maybe she'll be at boot camp one day ;), but performing exercise you enjoy and will continue to do is the priority. If you prefer vigorous walking, running, cycling, swimming, or some other physical activity, do that, and you’ll live longer.


Charles Poliquin is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists in 17 different sports, world record holders in 10 different sports, and professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UK Premier League. He has lectured or consulted for a variety of high-profile organizations such as the US Secret Service, Walt Disney Corporation and the World Swimming Congress. More info visit his website at http://www.charlespoliquin.com.

Reference:
Samitz, G., Egger, M., et al. Domains of Physical Activity and All-Cause Mortality: Systematic Review and Dose—Response Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies.  International Journal of Epidemiology. 2011. 40, 1382-1390.



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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lose Weight This Fall: Top Five Supplementation Tips For Optimal Body Composition


Lose fat fast by supplementing with nutrients that will help your body be a fat burning machine. Best body composition results will come if you strength train, are active on a regular basis, and round out smart eating with key supplementation. Although the supplements covered in this article will help anyone and everyone with body composition, you really need to focus fat loss around a training program and clean eating as well.

This article is the last part in a three part series of fat loss tips. Just as I mentioned in the previous articles, it’s very difficult to out-train a poor diet, and it’s impossible to out-supplement a poor diet if you don’t train.

There is no magic pill that will melt fat from your body without causing serious damage to health, but you will definitely have better fat loss results by supplementing with key nutrients. Yes, there are all kinds of unique nutrients that you may want to cycle into a well-planned diet and strength training program to cut fat, but those are not the point of this article either. This article will give you my top five supplement strategies for optimal body composition and fat loss.

The Run Down on Supplementation for Fat Loss
The point of supplementation is to help you avoid deficiencies that may arise from even the best, well planned diet. Supplementation to support fat loss is based on the desire to assist the body in the following physiological mechanisms:
1)    Help the body use the fat stores you have for fuel
2)    Increase insulin sensitivity and glucose health
3)    Elevate protein synthesis
4)    Detoxify and remove toxins
5)    Support optimal hormone levels for fat loss

Tip #1: Take Omega-3 Fish Oil
If you only take one supplement, it should probably be omega-3 fish oil unless the majority of your dietary fat intake is from omega-3 fats. Yes, you must supplement with fat to lose fat! There’s evidence that omega-3s are anabolic and will build muscle too.

Omega-3 fats are so important because all the cells in the body are made up of a double layer of fats, and the fat that makes up those layers dictates how well your metabolism will work. If the cell layers are made up of healthy omega-3 fats, they will be more sensitive to insulin. This allows the cell receptors to bind more easily, which improves energy use and fat burning. If your cells are made up of unhealthy fat, they will not bind with insulin easily, which leads to fat gain and elevated cortisol—the stress hormone.

Studies show that supplementing with omega-3s significantly increases lean mass, while decreasing body fat at the same time. Omega-3 fish oil improves the body’s testosterone-to-cortisol ratio by lowering cortisol and it turns on the fat burning genes, while turning off the lipogenic or fat storing genes. For example, one of the reasons people lose muscle mass and have poorer brain function as they age is that the gene signaling pathways that tell the body to start protein synthesis or make connections in the brain no longer “turn on” unless certain nutrients are present. Two of the most important nutrients are omega-3 fats and high-quality protein.

Research studies into omega-3 intake are few but there is evidence that even a small dose of 1.8 grams of fish oil a day for three months can increase fat burning by 22 percent, which suggests that long-term fat loss would be significant. Other studies have shown 2  to 4 kg drops in body fat from taking 3 grams a day of fish oil for three months, which although not huge, would certainly be more dramatic if paired with exercise and a careful diet.

I typically recommend taking 1 to 1.5 grams of omega-3s per percent of body fat for quick weight loss. This means that if you have 20 percent body fat, you would take at least 20 grams of  omega-3s a day. If you want to take a conservative approach, start with 1 to 2 grams and gradually increase. Let it be said, that I have seen the most dramatic fat loss with larger doses.

(A product that I use is IsaOmega Supreme by Isagenix. I take 2 capules per day that come in their Ageless Essentials with Product B packs (you can also get IsaOmega seperately on its own). For more info on Ageless Essentials with Product B click here and for info on IsaOmega Supreme click here.)












Tip #2: Take a Probiotic
Take a probiotic to lose fat fast. Probiotics aid digestion and support gastrointestinal health so that the body detoxifies better. A probiotic will help you lose fat, have more energy and feel better. Probiotics are the tiny bacteria that naturally occur in the gut, but they can be easily overwhelmed by unhealthy bacteria like E. coli, chemical pollution such as heavy metals, oxidative stress, or high cortisol.

It’s very difficult to lose weight if you don’t have a healthy gut for two interrelated reasons. First, more than half of the neurotransmitters that send messages from the brain to cells and hormone receptors throughout the body are made in the gastrointestinal lining. If you have unhealthy bacteria in the gut, it will negatively influence the production of neurotransmitters, leading to poor cognitive function, low mood, and low motivation. Lack of motivation and poor energy will leave you with a lack of drive to exercise and eat well. Low mood and depression can also frustrate your fat loss goals.

The second reason gut health is essential is that it will improve digestion and help you feel better. You will feel more energetic because your neurotransmitters will be firing at optimal levels, and your metabolism will be supported so that nutrients get absorbed and used by the body in an effective manner.

Probiotics are very effective at aiding the body to detoxify because increasing the amount of good microflora in your gut will significantly increase glutathione, which is the number one internal antioxidant in the body. When you have more glutathione you will be healthier, leaner, and much more resistant to chronic disease.

(A product that I personally use is HMF Forte and HMF Intensive by Genestra brand. Forte provides 10 billion colony forming units per capsule and Intensive provides 25 billion. If someone has gut issues I would recommend 2-4 weeks on Intensive, taking 2 capsules per day and then transition to Forte, taking 1-2 capsules per day indefinitely.)














Tip #3: Take BCAAs and Whey Protein
Boost protein intake throughout the day by taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and whey protein. Research shows that eating a large dose of high-quality protein multiple times throughout the day is associated with lower body fat percentage. For example, a recent study found that people who reached a high-quality protein “threshold” that was defined as at least 10 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) more often during the day, had less visceral belly fat and less total fat.

High-quality protein is necessary because you get more bang for your calorie buck by eating this kind of protein since it contains more EAAs per gram of protein. Greater EAA and protein intake helps maximally stimulate protein synthesis, raise metabolic rate, and make the cells more sensitive to insulin.

For the fastest, healthiest fat loss, it’s best to approach protein intake from a number of angles. First, you should eat high-quality (grass-fed) animal protein at meals because this will provide omega-3 fats and other nutrients like carnitine, creatine, and carnosine that support body composition and performance. Second, supplement with a protein such as whey after training and if your protein is lacking at meals. Third, take BCAAs during and after training to boost total amino acid intake and lose fat. Research shows that in a large study of 4429 people, those with higher BCAAs in their diets were leaner and had much less chance of being overweight than those with lower BCAA intake.

(The whey protein that I use is IsaPro by Isagenix. I will either take it plain with water or add a scoop of it to my IsaLean meal replacement to increase the protein content.  For more info on IsaPro click here. For info on Brached-Chain Amino Acids click here.)














Tip #4 Get Enough of the Big Three: Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D
Get enough zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D—these nutrients are extremely important for fat loss and metabolism. If you are low in any one of these three, which you probably are unless you make an effort to supplement with them, your fat loss attempts will be blunted.

Adequate vitamin D in the body will increase fat burning directly, but it also suppresses the production of enzymes that cause the body to store fat. There’s evidence that higher vitamin D suppresses hunger and increases insulin sensitivity, leading people to eat less. Magnesium also makes the cell receptors more sensitive to insulin, and this mineral has been shown to be inversely linked to body fat—higher magnesium means you’ll be leaner. But the real benefit of raising your magnesium levels is on physical performance, sleep, and cardiovascular health.

Magnesium calms the nervous system and helps regulate heart function, which is why raising magnesium will help you sleep better. Research shows that raising daily magnesium intake to 500 mg can lead to less anxiety in subjects who suffer from insomnia, thereby allowing them to sleep better. An added benefit of less anxiety and better rest is less of the stress hormone cortisol, which hinders fat loss when elevated.

Zinc also plays a primary role in insulin health by improving the production of enzymes that protect the cells, and it helps detoxify inflammatory biomarkers that get in the way of metabolic function. Low zinc can cause numerous other health problems including poor brain function, cancer, and heart disease.

To ensure you get enough of the Big Three, it’s best to supplement with each nutrient separately for the following reasons:
•    Most people need to take 2,000 to 5,000 IUs of vitamin D a day to ensure their levels are above 30 ng/ml, which is a minimal healthy level. Some people will benefit more from a higher dose taken twice weekly. For best results, get your level tested and supplement accordingly.
•    It’s best to take a blend of different magnesium forms such as magnesium bound with fumarate, glycinate, taurate, and ororate. These forms are better metabolized and more effective in the body than cheaper forms such as magnesium oxide.
•    Depending on how low your zinc level is, you may be able to rely on a multi-vitamin for it, but those with abysmally low levels should supplement with zinc for a few months, and then get their levels tested because this is a nutrient that can build up to toxic levels.



Tip #5: Support Detoxification with B Vitamins and Methylated Folate
Support detoxification and fat burning by ensuring you have adequate B vitamins. Although there are a bunch of fat-burning nutrients I could recommend for the last tip—carnitine, taurine, alpha lipoic acid, green tea, coffee, fenugreek—none of those will be as beneficial if you don’t get enough B vitamins.

B vitamins are necessary to detoxify environmental toxins and excess hormones such as estrogen. People who eat a high protein-diet or take extra BCAAs increase their demand for B vitamins, which takes away from the pool needed for detox and may inhibit weight loss. Vitamin B6 is necessary for proper protein metabolism, the use of muscle glycogen for energy (critical for athletes), and the detoxification of hormones such as cortisol.

Additionally, a majority of the population is genetically predisposed to be unable to process folic acid or B9 effectively. If you have this genetic variation, you will need a methylated form of folic acid that can bypass the problem. Low B9 can lead to poor detoxification and high levels of homocysteine, which put you at risk for cardiovascular disease.

B6, B12, and B9 also promote the removal of estrogen down a pathway that is less likely to cause cancer. Effective removal of estrogen will help with fat loss because higher estrogen levels correlate with higher body fat. Plus, the enzyme aromatase, which turns testosterone to estrogen in the body, is higher if you have more body fat.

Once you have the B vitamins covered, research shows that other nutrients such as green tea, magnesium, and alpha lipoic acid are that much more effective for fat loss because the building blocks for detox are in place. Start with a B complex that includes a methylated B9 for best results.

Charles Poliquin

Charles Poliquin is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists in 17 different sports, world record holders in 10 different sports, and professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UK Premier League. He has lectured or consulted for a variety of high-profile organizations such as the US Secret Service, Walt Disney Corporation and the World Swimming Congress. More info visit his website at http://www.charlespoliquin.com.

Information in brackets added by myself, Tyron.


References
Loenneke, J., Wilson, J., et al. Quality of Protein Intake is Inversely Related with Abdominal Fat. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2012. 9(5).

Qin, L., Xun, P., Bujnowski, D., Daviglus, M., Van Horn, L., Stamler, J., He, K. Higher Branched-Chain amino Acid Intake is Associated with a Lower Prevalence of Being Overweight or Obese in Middle-Aged East Asian and Western Adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010. 141(2), 249-254.

Soares, M., Murhadi, L., et al. Mechanistic Roles of Calcium and Vitamin D in the Regulation of Body Weight. Obesity Review. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Prasad, Ananda. Zinc Deficiency. British Medical Journal. 2003. 326, 409-410.

Ortega, R., Rodriguez, E., et al. Poor Zinc Status is Associated with Increased Risk of Insulin Resistance in Spanish Children. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012. 107, 398-404.

Nielsen, F.H. Magnesium, Inflammation, and Obesity in Chronic Disease. Nutrition Review. 2010. 68(6), 333-340.

Andreasen, A., Larsen, N., et al. Effects of Lactobacillus Acidophilus NCFM on Insulin Sensitivity and the Systemic Inflammatory Response in Human Subjects. British Journal of Nutrition. December 2010. 104(12), 1831-1838.

Kadooka, Y., Sato, M., et al. Regulation of Abdominal Adiposity by Probiotics (Lactobacillus Gasseri SBT2055) in Adults with Obese Tendencies in a Randomized Controlled Trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010. 64, 636-643.

Noreen, E., Sass, M., Crowe, M., Pabon, V., Branauer, J., Averill, L. Effects of Supplemental Fish Oil on Resting Metabolic Rate, Body Composition, and Salivary Cortisol in Healthy Adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010. 7(31).

Smith, G., Atherton, P., Reeds, D., Mohammed, B., Rankin, D., Rennie, M., Mittendorfer, B. Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Increases the Rate of Muscle Protein Synthesis in Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010. 93(2), 402-412.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Women (and Men) Should Strength Train

You Won't Get Bulky. 
Remember: your bodyweight depends on the amount of calories you eat & expend. Strength training will make you gain muscle & lose fat. But you'll stay at the same bodyweight unless you start eating more.

Women have lower testosterone levels than men, roughly 10 times less than men. Muscle mass & strength depend on your testosterone levels. The only way women can get as muscular as man is by using steroids or pro-hormones. Men generally do produce enough natural testosterone (the ultimate muscle-building hormone) to get big, and most of us still have trouble building a significant amount of muscle. Just imagine how difficult it is to bulk up for a woman.

Check out this woman bodybuilder:

Brenda Smith’s killer leg workout: The closest she gets to a real movement is the lunge, but even her squats are assisted. She’s obviously not interested in learning actual athletic movements or developing real strength; she only cares about stoking that PUMP coursing through her veins.

Look at the bodybuilders’ bodies, their workouts, and their focus. Notice anything? They’re solely focusing on individual muscles to the detriment of the whole. There’s no catlike athleticism, nothing that indicates actual functional strength. Leg extension machines don’t exist in nature.

By doing strength training you will NOT look like this, do not worry:


Strength Training Benefits for Women. 
  • Less Fat. More muscles results in decreased body fat at the same bodyweight.
  • Balanced Physique. Many women are skinny in the upper body & bulky in their legs. Strength training will balance your physique.
  • Increased Bone Density. Lifting weights prevents osteoporosis.
  • Blood Circulation. Helps combat cellulites on thighs & glutes.
  • More strength. Pregnancy, holding baby, householdery,... gets easier.
  • Fun. Women really like sports, especially when they have fun while getting results.
  • Physical Activity. Whether it is strength training or something else: you need physical activity to stay "sane".
How Women Should Train. 
Same as men. Same exercises. Same sets & reps. Same programs. If your goal is toning up & losing fat, strength is your tool.

Focus on getting stronger on the Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, Overhead Press & Pull-up such as we're doing in our classes.

Women's Results. 
The difference in testosterone levels will influence the results you'll achieve as a woman. In general:
  • Increased muscle mass. But less than a man.
  • Decreased body fat. 16% for women is the same as 10% for men.
  • Increased strength. But again less than a man.
In terms of physique, look at these women. They're athletic, in shape & not bulky. Their secret is simple: training hard, consistently & eating healthy.






10 Benefits Women Can Gain from Training with Functional Movements at High Intensity, i.e. Strength Training are:
  1. You Will Be Physically Stronger.
    Increasing your strength will make you far less dependent upon others for assistance in daily living. Chores will be easier, lifting kids, groceries and laundry will no longer push you to the max. If your maximum strength is increased, daily tasks and routine exercise will be far less likely to cause injury. Research studies conclude that even moderate weight training can increase a woman’s strength by 30 to 50 percent. Research also shows that women can develop their strength at the same rate as men.
  2. You Will Lose Body Fat.
    Studies found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. As your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism, and you burn more calories all day long. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day. That can really add up.
  3. You Will Gain Strength Without Bulk.
    Researchers also found that unlike men, women typically don’t gain size from strength training, because compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. You will, however, develop muscle tone and definition. This is a bonus.
  4. You Decrease Your Risk Of Osteoporosis.
    Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modeling) by 13 percent in six months. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be a women’s best defense against osteoporosis.
  5. You Will Improve Your Athletic Performance.
    Over and over research concludes that strength training improves athletic ability in all but the very elite athletes. Golfers can significantly increase their driving power. Cyclists are able to continue for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Skiers improve technique and reduce injury. Whatever sport you play, strength training has been shown to improve overall performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.
  6. You Will Reduce Your Risk Of Injury, Back Pain and Arthritis.
    Strength training not only builds stronger muscles, but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. A recent 12-year study showed that strengthening the low-back muscles had an 80 percent success rate in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. Other studies have indicated that weight training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.
  7. You Will Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease.
    Weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. When cardiovascular exercise is added (like in Boot Camp!), these benefits are maximized.
  8. You Will Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes.In addition, weight training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes is a growing problem for women and men. Research indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilization in the body by 23 percent in four months.
  9. It Is Never Too Late To Benefit.
    Women in their 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training and studies show that strength improvements are possible at any age. Note, however, that a strength training professional should always supervise older participants.
  10. You Will Improve Your Attitude And Fight Depression.
    A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program, all important factors in fighting depression.

PS. Check out our program at www.MakersBody.com and receive $50 off your first month.


References:
Mark's Daily Apple: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/strength-training-women/#axzz28Ayftcsf
Stronglifts.com: http://stronglifts.com/strength-training-for-women/
CrossFit816: http://www.crossfit816.com/of-particular-interest-to-women




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