Get More From Your Workouts

photoThere’s nothing worse than busting your butt with the weights or on the trail and having very little to show for it, right?   If you’ve been working out for a while now and you’re getting mighty tired of seeing gains at a snails pace, or worse yet you’ve run into that inescapable plateau, take a trip back down fundamentals lane for a nice fresh surge of satisfaction……

1.  Muscles still follow the stress, rest/recovery cycle; if you are not working your muscles hard enough, or incorporating adequate rest/rebuild time and nourishment you will not see any progress – period.  Once you’ve broken those babies down properly you have to remember to invest in the material to overbuild what you had.  Forgetting meals or snacks is as bad as forgetting a workout.  Its simple math..

2.  You should use your creativity when planning your routines.  Just as in Tony Horton’s “muscle confusion” idea, you have to find ways to keep your muscles in a stressed state with every workout.  The body overcompensates in it’s growth to eliminate the stress in the next session.  So this also means that you must continually add to the stress/build cycle so you must revisit those “confused muscles” with some regularity.  Use an intelligent split program.  Incorporate adequate rest days in between each hard workout to allow for growth and nervous system compensation.

3.  Don’t forget supplementation!  I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to down a few capsules than to crank out 10 more deadlifts….   Supplementation can give you the edge you need to bust out of a rut.  And they provide many other health benefits (such as immunity) to justify their necessity.

Notice the ones in the picture above.  They are layed out left to right in order of their best application.  Coffee, Beta-alanine, Rhodiola all stimulate greater exertion and workout energy.  (Isnt that the name of the game?)  These are best taken 30-40 minutes before the session.   If you are serious about your fitness you should really invest in a can of whey protein.   It is the quickest way to replenish and restock your muscles for growth after exercise.  It also strengthens your immunity.  Coq10, B vitamins and lipoic acid are all essential to energy generation.  They really do make a difference if you use them regularly.  Magnesium and the herb Boswellia are very effective in relieving the joint and muscle pain incurred with a hard workout.  Well worth the investment.

4.  Get that sleep!  Sleep is the most important time for muscle growth.  Growth hormone is at its highest and the body concentrates on repair and revitalization at this time.  See some of my earlier posts on how to get that good nights sleep if you are having trouble doing so.  Magnesium and rhodiola can also soothe stress before bedtime to make it easier.

So keep these tips in mind if you are frustrated in your workout program.  The chances are you are missing one of the fundamentals if you aren’t progressing steadily.  There’s no magic –  But if you’re on the right track you can bet there’s gonna be a lot of excitement!

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Power Breakfast with TASTE

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Did you have a hard workout last night but you want something more substantial than a smoothie for breakfast?  Are you headed out the door for work but want a real meal in a hurry?  Here’s the healthiest and tastiest one I’ve found to fit that bill.  It covers all the bases: high protein dose (@25 g),  complete spectrum vitamins and minerals, fiber, omega 3s –  and you can prepare it in less than a minute.

I call it a bowl of cereal on steroids.  I decided to put this mix together in answer to my boredom from the whey/chia shake I was having every morning.  Not being a big fan of cereal grain, it took me awhile to find this brand –  Post Great Grains.  It met my first criteria – low sugar, no HFC’s (high fructose corn syrup) and also NO added “natural flavors” which are merely hidden MSG and other “brain depleting” chemicals.  Very important to me.  Second, and equally important I found that it simply tastes better than many of the bland, clearly sugar-based ones out there.

I can also delay my daily supplement pile as this blend provides 25 – 50% of my vitamin/mineral complex, and a healthy dose of omega 3 from the chia. I now take my coQ-10, vit D, lipoic acid, and other sups at later meals which have a greater concentration of fat for their absorbtion.

This is a meal that stays with you, and gets you off to a healthy start.  If you are pressed for time during the day and may thus become an unintentional victim of the fast-food syndrome, at least you know you’ve got that healthy base in.  And if you are a weight lifter feel free to  load up the whey that you sprinkle on.  It complements the taste rather than clashes with it.     Bon appetite!

 

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Fitness Goals in Perspective

Fitness examples

Look at the two athletes posed on their respective magazine covers; which one appears to be in the better physical condition?  Obviously it’s the man on the right, right?  Heck, the guy adorning the UFC magazine almost looks like the “before” picture to him!

Well looks can be deceiving my friend.  Though our man on Muscle & Fitness is certainly in excellent shape, you might be surprised to know that the other guy – Chris Weidman, UFC middleweight champion of the world,  could very likely  blow him away in any form of fitness test they attempted.  If  you’ve experienced any form of MMA training, you can attest to the fact that it is one of the most gruelling form of workouts.  And that’s before you even start grappling!

Again, I have absolutely nothing against Crossfit and other form of high intensity training.  I perform many of their routines in my own program.  However, even back in the 90’s when I did almost 2 hours a day I dreaded the jiu-jitsu sessions where we would “roll” all out to practice a routine.  Rolling is essentially wrestling, and no matter how fit you might be  30 seconds of hard grappling will leave you in a quivering heap on the floor.  Believe me – or just simply try it yourself!

Of course forms of intense training like these are not usually undertaken to develop a “cut, sexy physique” – ala our friend on the cover.  We perform these to build and maintain our strength and/or to compete in strenuous competitions.  If you simply want to look good, lose weight or otherwise improve your health or longevity a much more moderate program will suffice.  Like they say, any exercise is good exercise.  And even if you don’t look like a champion your appearance will still improve dramatically.  At any rate, on the flip side – being a bit pudgy and in good condition is much better than merely being slim.  As discussed in my post a couple weeks back our body types vary and some will remain either heavy or lean regardless of what they do.  ( I gave up trying to look like the guy on the right somewhere around 1982. :)

By the way, Chris Weidman was clearly not pumped up in that photo.  I suspect it might have taken place right after an exhausting cage match.  The guy is a monster and a machine when he closes the gate!    (If I had used a picture of lightheavyweight contender Mark Hunt for this comparison – a man many clinicians might call obese – you’d of thought I was out of my mind!)

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5 Simple Steps to Age REDUCTION

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Antiaging has gotten a LOT of attention in recent years and it stands to reason.  As baby boomers and people of other countries slide inexorably into that “gray areaof life they naturally seek out anything they can find to lessen the effects.  I say why not take it a step further and opt for some Age Reduction instead?  Here are 5 tried and true ways to turn back the clock and put yourself back into that body you had 15 years ago.  (where you belong!)

1.  Stop chasing miracles.  Age reversal requires informed, systematic and consistent application, not a pie in the sky grasping for straws approach.  That doesn’t mean that it is difficult – remember the phase “work smarter not harder”?  You can find angles to accomplish this all over this website.  On the other hand, when someone touts the “New, incredible miraculous diet supplement!” little red flags should pop up, because this is clearly a sales pitch – you’ll notice that they end their “breaking news” with a call to order right now!  Have you ever heard a scientist report that way?  Vow right now to not fall victim to great miraculous anything, to demand solid research to back your expenditures.

2.  Cultivate a positive attitude about fitness.  A physically fit person in his sixties is as healthy and can perform  as well as an unfit person in his forties.  Other than a few gray hairs and wrinkles he looks just as well too.  But it goes way beyond that.  Beginning and continuing in an exercise program actually reverses many biological earmarks of aging – diminishing hormone levels such as DHEA and Testosterone, brain size and function,  telomere and other genetic “timers”;  and of course your bone/muscle body mass composition and other factors are all radically improved.  A simple commitment of 30 minutes every other day can dramatically change your body and your outlook over time and you will amaze yourself with the results.  Here you can find plenty of ways to motivate yourself to fitness.

3.  Use a little Mental Jui-Jitsu about dieting.  The key points of a dietary age reduction plan are to seriously cut back on calories, limit processed foods, cut down on sugar, and add more nutritious fruits and vegetables.  The simplest way to do this?  Use the power of substitution in your menu planning.  At the supermarket purchase apples instead of potato chips, ice water for soda, etc. What you have in the cabinet at home is what you’ll be eating.   This girl here has a plethora :) of ideas for cutting calories with substitution.

There are many powerful benefits to be realized with calorie restriction.  It affects genetic and cellular age timers on a fundamental level and is the only proven way to dramatically increase lifespan.  But just as in exercise you might not want to overwhelm yourself with too large a cutback. Better to just start with a few simple food items and gradually build to it as you see the results pile in (or off!)  (Don’t worry that “serious calorie cutting can lower your metabolism, raise cortisol and put you into starvation mode” etc.  There is a bit of truth to this, but over time you will still lose the most weight.  Just look at calorie starved people in prisons). 

4.  Take age reducing supplements.  In addition to covering the shortfalls of the typical diet these can replace the diminishing levels of certain chemicals necessary for life.  They can also limit the destructive accumulation of AGES and other waste products.  Other supplements (and foods) can mimic the effects of calorie restriction and over time provide actual age reduction and life extension.  They’re inexpensive and all you have to do is swallow them!   A broad spectrum multivitamin, extra Vit D, B vitamin complex, Co-Q10, Lipoic acid, and fish oil are all essential to any age reversal plan.  Here is a more comprehensive list.  They are all well accepted the world over and backed by solid research and application.

5.  Get adequate rest.  While many harp on the total number or hours of sleep required, the depth and quality is far more important.  7 restful hours is superior to 8 or 9 fitful ones.  Nature has ensure that the greatest benefit is in the first 3 hours, that is where sleep is deepest, and when growth hormone spurts and melatonin are most prevalent.  For this reason I don’t recommend taking medications before bedtime, unless you must for that meds effectiveness.  Most medications inhibit growth hormone release.  If you are having difficulty getting a good nights rest you might try this post here.  Sleep is essential for everything from mental function through immunity, it is a critical component of your age reduction plan.

There you have it, hope to see you on board!

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Don’t Worry About “BMI” Scales – Just Hit The Weights!

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Referring to the ubiquitous BMI calculator, at 5’9″ and 170 lbs  I am classified as an overweight individual,  sob.   ;)   I can’t understand it – I’ve worked out religiously all my life and my body fat is only about 8 or 9%, what am I doing wrong??

Jokes aside, in my opinion the Body Mass Index is just a slim hairs breath above useless.  The only reason the charts have any value at all is because – since such a small % of people exercise regularly (about 25%),  the chart creators figured that nearly everybody was fat, so  “why don’t we just see how much!”

We all know that body composition varies greatly from person to person.  Large boned people (endomorphs) and muscular ones (mesomorphs) all slide over to right in the chart; this along with the person’s activity level should carry a lot more bearing.  Now a study has leant some veracity to this obvious statement.

A study published recently in Scientific American  followed 3600 seniors for a decade and found out that body muscle mass was a better predictor of longevity than body mass index itself.  In fact, losing weight itself (except in cases of obesity) was not really important at all – particularly for the truly aged.  This backs up other studies that showed that being slightly overweight was not a health risk, so long as the person stayed active of course.  My conclusion is that a sedentary lifestyle at an ideal weight is no insurance policy, its better to be a pudgy endomorph who hits planet fitness 4 times a week!

How do you stand up to the great, almighty, empirical life predictor?  Here it is:

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I’m actually more of an ectomorph myself, that makes this chart even more unrealistic.

Warren

 

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Is Aging A Disease?

ancient one

(warning – philosophical rant ahead)

Is aging a disease??    This question has been floating around quite a bit in the media lately;  it really is an important question and not merely a fun topic to bandy about in the philosophical circles.  –  How we classify aging to a profound extent determines the way the medical community addresses it.  And in my humble opinion their current protocol only treats the symptoms instead of the causes.  In other words they are painstakingly patching the myriad holes in a leaky old boat instead of taking the time to fix it right. *

So how do you feel about it?  Is aging a disease, or is it simply a perfectly natural, normal, (I can’t say healthy) progression designed by the almighty or the wondrous infallable model of nature?  I say that it is a disease.  And it’s the worse possible one imaginable.  If you calmly and coldly analyze it,  I think you’ll find that there’s no real disputing this conclusion!

To make the call we first have to ask, what are the characteristics of a disease?  Obviously it must be something debilitating, very often fatal, an insidious condition that we will strive valiantly to overcome.  It nails us with a host of nasty, painful severely limiting consequences:    If a disease if far flung enough we will consider it an epidemic as it poses a threat to all concerned.  Does aging fit these criteria?

The other important designating trait of a disease is it’s status as abnormal.  You can contract it, that is you can suddenly get the thing,  and usually unexpectedly.  In this regard aging certainly is not a disease, because it is a so called rule of nature – as normal as any other biological action.

But unfortunately some interesting hypothetical scenarios can undermine the validity of this latter argument.  Lets take a look back a few centuries.  In the not too distant past people rarely expected to live past the age of sixty.  That was thought of as very old – very aged.  Yet now people blow right by this milestone and usually aren’t considered aged until they pass seventy at the very least.  Often when someone dies in their mid eighties we wonder “what happened to the poor guy?”  And who is to say that this shifting reality of advancing lifespan and aging is going to stop in the near future? **

Now imaging this scenario – it’s the year 2035, the average life expectancy has reached 115.  If you were approaching that great age and your son suddenly died at the age of 90 would you think it was because of natural causes?  Has he lived a full normal life??  What about the flip side of the coin – what if an incurable deadly disease suddenly struck  everyone who attained the age of 50, would you then have to designate it as normal and not a disease because it was universal?  It was the norm.  All a perfectly natural plan of nature, right?

What I am illuminating by this is the importance of placing the weight on the first discriminating factor – the harm that the phenomenon causes.  Whether it is a normal, so called immutable phenomenon that affects everybody shouldn’t carry as much weight as the fact that it acts as the worst possible disease out there – it is currently 100% fatal.

But the real tragedy of it is that if we were to look at aging as a disease, to address the underlying causes of the diseases inherent with aging we would eventually be able to cure aging itself, and illiminate all those horrible consequences.

Yes, we absolutely would.  Our bodies are not composed of magical fairy dust.  We are atoms, molecules and elements like any other form of matter.  And over time with the ever progressing understanding of science we will eventually know enough to alter the mechanics of our biology enough to make the change.  It has never stopped yet.

Of course, there are those who incredibly think death is a good thing – so we don’t overpopulate the earth.  I say why not truly respect life by trying to keep people living and watch carefully how many new ones you add to the mix instead???  Makes a bit more sense.  But that is a subject to bandy about in those philosophical circles!

Warren

* (I don’t mean to disparage the well-meaning and very substantial efforts of doctors and researchers.  I am only challenging the current focus of the overall effort.)

** If  some insist that the evidence of deaths universal nature implies that it is some “divine edict”, or simply “meant to be” ,  I say that the fact that we can change our lifespan as we have implies that overcoming these limitations is our true destiny!

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60 Second Testosterone Booster

choppin

 

Explosive weight training and other forms of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) have long been known to increase testosterone, but if you want to experience a real pump of this volatile hormone why not give it a go at some old fashion wood chopping?  I incorporated this into my own workout about a year ago – I have no shortage of fallen trees, and so have been painstakingly reducing them to tiny chips.  The results have been very surprising.  Chopping wood is almost addictive.

A study conducted last year (Evolution and Human Behavior)  showed that vigorously chopping logs can boost testosterone more than other forms of exercise.  It  even outperformed competitive sports like soccer.  Why is this?  I suspect it is because of the primal nature of this activity.  When you put your back into it – and your legs, arms and shoulders – you really dig in, gouging that log as if it were some enemy or prey you want to overcome.   Its very easy to experience full exertion in a matter of seconds.  I can even sense a difference in this activity vs lifting weights to exhaustion, sprinting or other ways to “knock yourself out”.  And the benefit to your core is just as great as that to the upper body.

Of course there are other possibly more convenient ways to simulate the motion. I have seen trainers in MMA or in Crossfit swinging a sledge hammer at a tire to get the same result.  There might even be additional benefits to supporting muscles with juggling that heavy sledge, but I have tried this and can tell you that it just aint the same.  There’s something about digging that blade into the wood.  You can brace yourself and really explode into frenzied motion.  ;)

Why not add it to your routine?  I do two short sessions of about 30 seconds at the end of my usual workout.  The first one at a moderate level (you can twist something if not careful)  and the second at full wild animal intensity.  Be sure to chop from both sides, alternating and from directly overhead.  When you’re done you will feel an upper body pump second to almost nothing else.  Give it a try and see for yourself!

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