Sensible Training

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I think a day does not go by without someone asking me a question on training or another telling me why there training regimen is the best. And, if I really want to make things worse, I just have to step out of my office and peer around the corner into the weight room and watch as people hoist and throw weights around as they follow some program that they got out of some bible of a fitness magazine. I might get lucky and see one or two guys moving things in a controlled fashion, maybe someone I worked with, but those days are rare. I better not stop and give advice to anyone, because usually the trainee‘s ego gets in the way of any constructive conversation, and what do I really know…They have been working out for years, on the same split routine, so it must work.

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Funny thing is that when my computer breaks, I call the computer people. Now I have a bit of knowledge on how to fix electronic things, and have dabbled with computers, but most likely I would screw things up, so I defer to the experts. But when it comes to exercise and training it seems that everyone is an expert. And experts in this realm are formed not by their knowledge base or understanding of the human body, but instead they are experts because of the size of their arms and chest. And if they really look good, they might get hired at a health club, get certified online, call themselves a personal trainer (a more glorified expert), and make loads of money training and instructing. It‘s a cycle, and it happens everyday and has become the backbone of the health club industry..

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Does having a large chest, big arms or broad shoulders make you knowledgeable about training? Or could it just be good genetics, which is 90 percent of the game anyway. Arthur Jones once said ― ”If you wish to learn to train a racehorse, don‘t ask the racehorse how to train.” Yet go to any gym today and watch guys flock to the big guy in the corner. The thought process is that he must know what he‘s doing because he looks that way. Questions are asked, and the next thing you know guys start following what the big guy does hoping for similar results. Over and over, again and again. If I train like him, I can one day look like him.

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It never ceases to amaze that some of the most educated people that I have ever met cannot understand basic bio-mechanics and physiology or have some general common sense when it comes to training and general exercise. Even professionals with degrees cannot comprehend basic ideas, processes, and theories. For some they believe that if it’s not written by the great governing bodies (ACSM and NSCA), that it cannot be right or work because they would have thought of it. Or where is the research study to back it up?. Do researchers even understand what high intensity is? So what do most trainers and educators do - prescribe more exercise, because more is always better.

People who are educated about training, physiology and such know that when it comes to training and getting stronger -- ultimately everything WORKS. But there are guidelines to follow that may help one achieve their goals and maximize results:

First, less is always more when it comes to training. Forget the marathon training sessions, the endless sets and repetitions. All they lead to is repetitive stress injuries and eventually over-training. Keep those workouts session brief and engaging. Don‘t stop and watch TV in between exercises or read a magazine. Train with a purpose. Get in the gym and get out.

Second, be critical with form or style. When in doubt move those weights slower not faster. Slower is harder, safer and more productive. Take a look around your club. Watch the sloppy form and explosive heaving that occurs. Remember strength is built over time, not demonstrated for show.

Third, keep it simple. Forget trying to concoct crazy workout schemes and plans.. Stick to the basics.. Break the body up into different planes horizontal and vertical and pick basic movements for each plane. Also focus more on compound movements, as they provide more bang for your buck. Train controlled with your repetitions and train with maximum intensity.

Finally, be progressive over time and work as hard as you possibly can on each exercise each workout. As time goes by decrease the volume of exercise some, do not add more.

Sounds simple and sensible and it is if you follow it. But what do I know, I do not look like Joe bodybuilder, or Hulk for that matter ... just an average fit guy, so I must not know anything worthwhile. Maybe I could make a better career fixing computers or something.

TAKU’s NOTE: For more awesome information about training, Check out this weeks podcast episode #24 featuring Sunir Jossan. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area stop by the Personal Edge, and find out what sensible hard training is really all about.

REPETITIONS FOR DEFINITION AND BULK

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Q: Is it better to concentrate on performing  high repetitions for definition and low repetitions for bulk?

A: Both of these assumptions are incorrect. Ninety-nine percent of muscular definition has to do with a person’s lean muscle and overall body fat level, which is primarily a result of genetics, and calories obtained from one’s Personal Eating Plan.

If you are attempting to lose body fat, a) strength train regularly (to keep metabolically expensive muscle), b) eat fewer calories spread out over 3 to 5 feedings each day (speeds metabolism and creates a calorie deficit) and c) be disciplined not to eat if feeling hungry between feedings (indicates your tapping fat storage sites).

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High repetitions have virtually no effect on muscular definition. If you desire greater definition, you must reduce your percentage of body fat by adhering to a balanced low-calorie Personal Eating Plan. All other factors being equal, body composition can be improved if one a) gets stronger, b) stays lean. But even then your potential definition is limited by your genes.

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Muscular bulk or size is best produced by intensive exercise that lasts at least 30 seconds, but no more than 70 seconds. Using our recommended repetition guideline of 3-5 seconds to lift and then 3-5 seconds to lower the weight, a typical repetition of an exercise takes between 6-10 seconds to complete. Simple multiplication reveals that 6 second reps would permit sets of 5-11 reps where as 10 second reps would permit  sets of 3-7 reps.  For optimal results I recommend that you experiment with slow controlled repetitions while performing sets using the above guidelines.

TAKU’s NOTE: This is a question that often comes up in the Gym. Check out this weeks podcast episode #23 to hear one women’s journey to new levels of strength and Fitness.

Secrets to Performance Enhancement: (Part Three)

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Caffeine

Caffeine is a common substance in our culture. For many it is an indispensable part of their daily lives when consumed in the form of coffee, tea and related beverages. Add to this the recent surge in the popularity of “energy” drinks such as Red Bull and the seemingly hundreds of copycat beverages and you can see the prevalence of this simple yet powerful substance. Putting the pure love that so many seem to have acquired for the comforting taste and soothing aroma of fresh brewed coffee aside for a moment, let’s look at what caffeine may or may not do for us as athletes or just health-minded fitness enthusiasts.

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A quick search for caffeine on the internet will produce literally millions of hits. If you refine your search you will quickly and easily find research which points to the good, the bad, and the ugly of caffeine. Remember, although caffeine can be a naturally occurring substance found in many different plants (over 60 at last count) it is classified as a drug by the F.D.A. (among others) due to the potentially profound effect it may have on the central nervous system. As with just about any drug there are three ways to play with caffeine; you may use it, misuse it, or abuse it. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons one may or may not choose to use caffeine.

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The good:

For years (probably thousands of years if not longer) caffeine in its natural forms has been used as a stimulant to increase alertness and combat fatigue. Caffeine can have a profound impact on athletic performance improving both endurance events by increasing the time it takes to reach fatigue, as well as power related events through increased arousal and acute increase in momentary strength output.

From a basic health standpoint caffeine intake increases the release of catecholamine’s (adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, dopamine), and related hormones and can also increase free fatty acid (FFA) mobilization from fat cells. This means that caffeine, through its impact on Dopamine, may increase feelings of pleasure and well–being as well as help your body use fatty acids as fuel. Recently there have even been studies which suggest that long-term caffeine ingestion actually lowers the risk of developing type II diabetes and several large studies have shown that caffeine intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD) in men (studies in women have been inconclusive.)

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The Bad:

Some “experts” claim that coffee (or caffeine) should be avoided because of the insulin response that ensues. What they are trying to imply is that caffeine use may inhibit the way insulin acts or reacts in the body and somehow interfere with the delicate hormonal balance that allows the body to burn fat etc. This is shown to happen with acute intake in some cases. Depending on personal sensitivity, caffeine misuse may also lead to interrupted sleep patterns, irritability, and other minor unpleasant side effects.

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The Ugly:

Long term caffeine use in high doses may cause a number of unpleasant syndromes to occur including extreme sleep pattern disruption and even anxiety disorders. In acute overdose situations something called caffeine intoxication may occur. A higher intake of caffeine (more than about 4 cups a day) may be associated with miscarriage and should therefore be limited or avoided during pregnancy.

After extended and consistent ingestion the body may become attenuated to the effects of the caffeine. This may bring about several unpleasant side effects. The first is that higher doses will be required to attain the desired effects. There also seems to be a break over point where increased intake will fail to provide the former level of stimulation that was previously achieved when taken less frequently and in smaller amounts. The second is the potential for a withdrawal reaction to occur which may include symptoms such as headache, irritability, an inability to concentrate and stomach aches. These symptoms may appear within 12 to 24 hours after discontinuation of caffeine intake, peak at roughly 48 hours and usually last from one to five days.

So what now?

Caffeine is probably the most-used legal drug in the world. According to some studies, 90% of adults in North America consume products that contain caffeine on a daily basis. This does not include the increasing number of younger people who consume caffeine in the form of sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee beverages.

Like any drug, caffeine may be used, misused, or abused. Each person must decide for themselves if caffeine (whether in the form of beverages such as coffee, tea, or energy drinks or in another supplemental form) is something they enjoy. Further, as an athlete or fitness enthusiast one may explore caffeine use to determine it’s potential benefit to their personal performance levels. Most important of all, if one decides to experiment with caffeine as an ergogenic aid or for other reasons, keep in mind the potential risks listed above and strive to discern gradually your own tolerance levels.

The moral of the story is that athletes (and regular folks) can use caffeine and/or coffee to their distinct advantage for performance and body composition improvement. In addition, regardless of the population in question, coffee can actually improve insulin sensitivity over the long-term, which is likely due to its various beneficial non-caffeine phyto-nutrients. As with most drugs or drug like substances use caffeine intelligently and in moderation and you should enjoy the potential benefits while reducing the risk of any negative side effects.

TAKU

TAKU’s NOTE: Elements of this article were compiled from excerpts from the book “Knowledge and Nonsense” The Science of Nutrition and Exercise chapter 3. 

Strength Training for Athletes

Primary Goals of the T.N.T. Athletic Strength & Conditioning Program:

By TAKU

By TAKU

1.    Reduce the likelihood and severity of injury – Keeping athletes healthy and on the field of play is imperative to the success of a team. Thus, the primary goal of all strength and conditioning programs should be injury prevention. This goal includes both reducing the likelihood and severity of injury occurring during athletic performance and also eliminating injuries occurring in the weight room. A strength training program must emphasize areas that are prone to injury as a result of competing in any number of athletic endeavors. Performing potentially dangerous exercises in the weight room to prepare for potentially dangerous activities in competition is like banging your head against a wall to prepare for a concussion.

2.    Stimulate positive physiological adaptations – Physiological changes resulting from a proper strength training regimen include an improvement in strength and the ability to produce force, improved power / explosive capacity, achievement and maintenance of a functional range of motion, and an improvement in body composition.

3.    Improve confidence and mental toughness – An extremely valuable byproduct of strength training may be improved confidence and mental toughness. Intense workouts will expand an athlete’s tolerance for physical discomfort. Most athletes who pride themselves in proper strength training will compete harder because they have invested time and energy to physically prepare for competition.

Our program has been prepared to meet the following objectives:

  • Increase and maintain functional range of motion

  • Increase and maintain total body strength levels for improved performance and reduced likelihood of serious injury

  • Increase functional muscular mass – which will enhance your ability for greater power output

  • Keep your percentage of body fat at an acceptable and efficient level

  • Improve muscular endurance

  • Improve your cardiovascular / cardiopulmonary efficiency

  • Improve your quickness and speed

  • Potentially make you mentally and physically tougher

  • Prepare you to win

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Muscular Strength / Power

Function Dictates Prescription:

The function of a particular muscle structure dictates what exercise will be performed to target that muscle structure. This means that we must first think about the role or purpose of a given muscle before we can decide what exercise we will use to train it.

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Muscle Groups

It is important to understand the major muscle groups of the body, what they do, and how we can train them. We will break the body up it to the following groups:

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Neck.

Shoulders.

Chest.

Back.

Arms.

Legs.

Midsection.

The exercises performed can be grouped into the following:

Multijoint Lower body – ex. Squat, Dead-lift, Leg Press

a. push – ex. Bench Press, OH Press, Dips

b. pull – ex. Rows, Chin-ups, Recline pulls

Single joint – ex. Arm Curls & Extensions, etc

Progressive Overload

The physiological basis for any resistance training program is the overload principle. The overload principle states that a system must be stressed beyond its current capacity in order to stimulate a physiological response… that response is an increase in muscular strength and size. The goal should be to use more resistance or perform more repetitions each time you strength train. The overload principle is the single most important part of a resistance training program. Without overload, a resistance training program is of little or no value. Our goal is to safely and efficiently facilitate overload.

Intensity

Intensity of exercise is the most controllable factor in any resistance training program. Despite what the majority of the population believes, magical set rep schemes, barbells and one repetition maxes have little or nothing to do with obtaining results. Training with a high level of intensity is what stimulates results. A trainee cannot control how he / she will respond to a resistance training program; that response is controlled by genetics. There is no evidence to suggest that low reps with high weight will produce muscular size and strength and high reps with low weight will produce toned muscles. This is a common assumption with no scientific backing.

Brief and Infrequent

Because high intensity exercise is so demanding on the physiological systems of the body, only small amounts can be tolerated. Only a limited amount of exercises can be performed in a workout and only a limited amount of workouts should be performed per week. An excess of volume will cause over training and will lead to little or no results. Because of these facts, our training sessions last only 15-45 minutes and are performed only one, two or three times per week*.

*Volume prescriptions are based on the individual athlete, sport and in-season / off-season demands pf athletic training.

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How Many Sets?

In the past we assumed that the number of sets you performed determined whether or not you produced the best results. Through experience we’ve learned it’s not how many sets you perform. The key is how you perform each set. You can gain strength completing one set or ten sets. It’s also possible to gain no strength regardless of how many sets you perform. Do to our hectic lives, and over-loaded work schedules, most non-professional athletes barely have enough energy to recover from the stress of the daily grind, let alone have time to squeeze in a workout. Your goal as a Strength coach must be to have your athletes perform as few sets as possible while stimulating maximum gains. It must be a priority to eliminate non-productive exercise. Once you have warmed up, why perform a set that is not designed to increase or maintain your current level of strength?

Repetition Performance

The prescribed protocol will often dictate how the repetitions for a set are to be performed. However, there are some performance techniques that are common to all repetitions regardless of the protocol. Always change directions from concentric to eccentric in a smooth fashion allowing the muscles to do the work, not momentum. Never jerk or throw a weight. When a weight is jerked or thrown, momentum is incorporated to move the resistance. When momentum is used the load is taken off of the muscles and less muscle fibers are recruited thus limiting the degree of overload.

Never twist or torque body when performing a rep. The athlete should be instructed to maintain proper positioning, posture, and form. If a protocol does not dictate a specific rep speed, rep speed should be as follows. Raise weight under control taking approximately 3-5 seconds; pause in the contracted position; lower weight at the same speed as the raising of the weight. If in doubt, move slower, never faster. Never sacrifice form for more reps or more resistance. It is not the amount of weight or the number of repetitions performed that matters; it is how the repetitions are performed that matters.

Explosive Training

None of the workouts we will be using contain traditional “explosive” exercises. It is important to understand why we do not implement these exercises. A traditional explosive lift, such as the power clean, does little if anything to build strength, does nothing to develop speed or explosiveness, and is extremely dangerous. Explosive lifts incorporate momentum… when momentum is used to throw a weight, the load is taken off the skeletal muscle, thus, reducing fiber recruitment. In order to develop speed and explosiveness, an individual must train in a slow manner that allows the muscles to raise and lower the resistance… thus leading to fatigue of the targeted muscular structure and leading to the recruitment of more fast twitch muscle fibers.

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Specificity

Skills are specific. They do not transfer. Do not attempt to mimic a skill performed on the field in the weight room. Throwing a weighted baseball is a far different skill then throwing a conventional baseball. As soon as you add resistance to a skill it becomes a new skill. A different neuromuscular pattern is recruited. In his text, Introduction to Motor Behavior: A Neuropsychological Approach, author George Sage states, “Practice of nonspecific coordination or quickening tasks will not transfer to sport specific skills.”

Example of a Strength Training Program

All workouts include both warm-up and cool-down activities as well as neck, grip and mid-section work.

BASIC FULL-BODY PROGRAM:

  1. Leg Press or Squat 15-20

  2. Leg Extensions or lunge 8-12

  3. Leg Curls or “triple threat” 8-12 (leg curl may be Prone, Seated or Standing)

  4. Calf Raise 8-12 Barbell, Dumbbell, Machine, (Seated or standing)

  5. Chest press 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  6. Push-up

  7. Back Row 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  8. Shoulder Press 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  9. Chin-ups / Reverse Grip Pull downs 8-12

  10. Dead Lift 12-15 Dumbbell, machine, Trap Bar, or straight bar.

  11. Dips / Triceps Extensions 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

  12. Bicep Curls 6-10 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

That’s it. Brief Intense, Infrequent. Remember your goal as a strength coach is to prepare your athletes as best you can while doing no harm. Keep it simple. Keep it safe.

TAKU’s NOTE: For more on safe efficient, and effective training programs for athletes check out this weeks podcast episode featuring Michael Bradley Head S&C Coach for FSU Basketball

Secrets to Performance Enhancement

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Do you want to lose body fat, gain muscle, and feel more alert and energetic every day? Would you like to feel more productive at work and at play? Would you like to improve your concentration and memory? Well I can tell you the secret that may help you accomplish all of the above and more.

What is the secret you may ask? Is it some new wonder drug, or the latest super supplement from the eastern bloc? Is it a weekend with Tony Robbins or some other self-help Guru? No. All you need to help you get the most out of your fitness is SLEEP.

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That is right sleep. Could it be that easy? Well for many of us it is not. Many of us find it difficult to get enough sleep these days. This lack of one of our simplest and most precious commodities may be what is keeping us from achieving our fitness goals.

There are many types of stress in our daily lives. There is work stress, relationship stress, financial etc. Stress is caused by both emotional and physical stimulus. We have a finite amount of recovery ability in our body and although we view exercise as a positive thing in our lives, it still adds to the pool of stress that we deal with on a daily basis.

Most of us know that to get the most out of our exercise plan we need to expose our bodies to new challenges and then allow the body to adapt to these challenges. This adaptation takes time and resources. If we overload our bodies with too much, too fast, too soon, we break down and become sick and or inured. If how ever, we give our bodies the time needed to adapt,

We slowly but surely get stronger and more fit over time.

Sleep is our bodies’ natural repair and replenish cycle. When we get enough we are able to recover fully from the strain of not only exercise but also all the other stimuli we face daily. Too little and we start to break down.

Let’s look at a few ideas on how we may improve our ability to sleep, naturally.

  • Stick to a bedtime. While this may seem obvious to most adults, going to bed and getting up at the same time, even on days off from work, is an essential key to obtaining a quality nights sleep.

  • Have a comfortable mattress and pillow. You mattress and pillow are essential tools in helping you get a good nights sleep. Preferences vary from person to person, but there are many options including air mattresses, which adjust for firmness as well as new memory foams and other high tech and low-tech options.

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Both of these are stimulants and can keep your brain wired. Keep in mind that chocolate has small amounts of caffeine, so if you like chocolate desserts eat them at lunch instead of later in the day.

  • Avoid large amounts of food or liquid within three hours of bedtime. Large amounts of food or liquid in your stomach before bedtime may result in heartburn, acid reflux and multiple trips to the bathroom.

  • Make your bedroom cool and dark.  Turn down your thermostat so your bedroom is a few degrees cooler then the rest of the house. Also, reduce the amount of light in the room to create a dark, comfortable environment.

  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise 30 – 60 minutes a day can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.

  • Avoid long naps. Daytime naps may take away from your ability to sleep. Limit your day time sleep to less then one hour and eliminate naps after3 PM. This will help ensure a good nights sleep.

  • Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol may be relaxing but it will deprive you of REM* sleep. Constant deprivation of this type of sleep can result in depression a mood disorders.

  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn on relaxing music, take a hot bath within 80 minutes of bedtime, or pull out a fun book. Such activities aid in relaxation.

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So, there you have it. Some simple tips on how to get a more restful nights sleep. Try incorporating some or all of these ideas into your sleep routine and you should reap the benefits of a well-rested and fully recovered body, mind and spirit.

TAKU

Secrets to Performance Enhancement: (Part Two)

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In our first installment we talked about the importance of rest and recovery and how just getting a little more sleep can go a long way to improving our success in achieving both our athletic and aesthetic goals. In Part Two we continue our series and bring to you information on one of natures key nutrients, WATER.

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For athletes and regular exercisers maintaining a constant state of hydration is essential to performance as dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Being dehydrated by as little as 2% can cause endurance to drop by up to 7% and can decrease power output as well as cognitive ability. According to a recent study dehydrated exercisers worked out almost 25% less than those who drank water before and during workouts.

Health care professionals such as Nancy Clark, MS, RD recommend that physically active people should drink more than the standard eight glasses per day. Water is the most important nutrient in the body and makes up 70 percent of muscles and 75 percent of the brain. Oxygen is the only thing the body craves more than water.

Water plays an essential role in eliminating toxins and waste products, regulates body temperature, and helps to maintain proper muscle tone–all extremely important functions to Athletes / fitness enthusiasts. For proper hydration, Clark suggests about 3-4 quarts of water per day, which will assist you in reaching your Athletic / fitness goals.

HOW MUCH WATER IS REQUIRED:

There isn’t a “recommended daily allowance (RDA)” for daily water intake. Part of the reason is the difference in physical activity, age, present physical condition, living in a hot or dry climate, and diuretic medications all contribute to fluid loss and a greater need for water. In addition, a diet rich in fiber, high in protein, or taking a supplement such as creatine** requires an increase in water consumption. It’s estimated that healthy adults require at least eight to ten cups of water each day. The following formula will provide you with a more precise amount of water necessary for your daily needs.

The formula is .5 times your weight in pounds to get the number of ounces divided by 8 to get the number of glasses. Example: 115 lbs x .5 = 57.5 ounces. 57.5 divided by 8 equals 7.2 glasses. Often, we replace fluids by consuming beverages such as milk, fruit juices, coffee, tea, and sodas. Our bodies will extract the water from these sources through digestion and metabolism.

DEHYDRATION

Dehydration can be defined as the loss of water and essential body salts (electrolytes) that are needed for normal body functioning. Water makes up about 60 percent of a man’s weight and 50 percent of a woman’s weight. This proportion has to be kept within a narrow limit to attain a proper balance in the cells and body tissue. In a dehydrated state the body is unable to cool itself, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water the body will lack energy and muscles may develop cramps.

Usually, by the time action is taken, dehydration has already set in and damage may have occurred. Physical signs can range from fatigue, loss of appetite, heat intolerance, and low quantities of dark yellow urine. Severe dehydration can cause muscle spasms, high body-core temperatures, and complete exhaustion. According to Dr. James A. Peterson the easiest way to determine if you are hydrated is to check the color and quantity of your urine. “If your urine is very dark in color and limited in quantity, you need to consume more fluids.” The best way to counter the possibility for dehydration is to frequently drink plenty of water. It is also of great importance to make sure that you drink the highest quality of water available to you.

For healthy people under normal circumstances, thirst is a reliable mechanism to indicate the body’s need for more fluid. “However, your thirst doesn’t tell you exactly what to drink. It just tells you that you’re thirsty,” says Kenneth G. Berge, M.D., associate medical editor of Mayo Health Oasis. “Of course, billions of dollars are made by persuading you to reach for a soft drink or something like that, when really the best choice usually is water.”

You may have heard that you need at least eight glasses of water per day. This quantity won’t hurt a healthy adult. But Dr. Berge says such one-size-fits-all answer fails to tell the whole story about the body’s necessary balance of fluid intake and loss. Humans normally lose about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movements. What is lost must be replaced to maintain a fluid balance. Dehydration poses a particular health risk for the very young and the very old.

Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are actually dehydrating because they increase urine output, so don’t count these as fluid replacements.

 

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Ten Tips for Proper Hydration

  • Drink at least eight to ten 8-ounce servings of water each day. The more active you are, the more water you need to replenish lost fluids.

  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. By the time you feel thirsty, you have probably already lost two or more cups of your total body water composition.

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Convenience is a must, so carry a bottle of water with you as you commute to work, run errands or enjoy a day at the beach. While at work, keep a bottle of water on your desk, or visit the office water cooler and take a water break rather than a coffee break.

  • Don’t substitute beverages with alcohol or caffeine for water. Caffeine and alcohol act as diuretic beverages and can cause you to lose water through increased urination.

  • Once you start exercising, drink water throughout your workout. Keep a bottle of water with you and take frequent water breaks.

  • Don’t underestimate the amount of fluids lost from perspiration. Following a workout, you need to drink two cups of water for each pound lost.

  • Start and end your day with water. Your body loses water while you sleep, so drink a serving before bed and again when you wake up.

  • Common colds and the flu frequently lead to dehydration. Keep a large bottle of water next to your bed so you can sip it throughout the day without having to get up.

  • Cool water – not carbonated beverages or sports drinks – is the best fluid for keeping hydrated when it’s warm outside. Cool water is absorbed much more quickly than warm fluids and may help to cool off your overheated body. If you’re going to be away from home or outdoors, make sure you keep a bottle of water close by.

  • Make sure your children drink enough water. Children need water to balance their intake of other beverages – especially during activities. Packing bottled water in a child’s lunch instead of juice or regular soda can also help prevent childhood obesity.

TAKU

TAKU’s NOTE: The above information was compiled from the following sources:

Proper Hydration: The Key Ingredient To Your Athletic Success
By Rob Wilkins

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters distributed in the United States.

It’s Everywhere…

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SUGAR…It’s Everywhere. Lately I’ve been focusing my attention more and more on nutrition. Being a health and fitness guy I already had a keen interest in the importance of developing a healthy Personal Eating Plan. In fact I’ve designed, implemented and updated comprehensive P.E.P.’s for countless athletes and clients in the past. Only recently however have I truly started to more closely research sugar and it’s impact on total health and wellness.

Rather than rewrite ton’s of information that already exists, I am going to highlight some resources for you so that you may do some digging, and come to your own conclusions.

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One very helpful web-site I’ve discovered is SUGARSCIENCE.ORG

I suggest you start your exploration there. If you’re a NetFlix subscriber, I recommend the documentary titled “FED UP”.(which may also be rented on YouTube for $3.99)

The scientific team at SugarScience.org recommends keeping all added sugars below the recommended limits of 6 teaspoons/day (25g) for women, and 9 teaspoons (38g) for men. The W.H.O. sets recommendations for total daily sugar intake for both men and women. The numbers may surprise you. In general the recommendation is no more than 5-7% of daily caloric intake.

Start tracking your daily intake and see how close (or how far off) you are to these recommendations.

Do yourself a favor and cut down on your sugar intake.

You’ll be glad that you did.

TAKU

TAKU’s NOTE: This is a follow up on our podcast episode #19 “Should I go on a Diet?”. In it we talked a bit about processed sugar and why we think you should do your best to remove it from your P.E.P. I have been telling people for years that “BIG SUGAR” is a lot like “BIG TOBACCO”. The SUGAR pushers have been actively involved in a disinformation campaign for years. Newly discovered documents show that the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to shape the debate around heart disease, sugar and fat. If our podcast didn’t help convince you to limit or remove processed sugar from your P.E.P., check out this article in the New York Times: How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat

Functional Isometrics: Part Two

By TAKU

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In Part One of this article we learned about some different forms of strength training and discussed their similarities and differences including Isometrics and Functional Isometrics. In part two we will take a closer look at how to incorporate these concepts into a your workout program. I will also introduce the concept of Static Contraction training an ultra brief, intense and efficient workout system based on the Functional isometric concept.

Exercise Example:

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Lets take a look at the execution of the Bench Press using the Functional isometric training style discussed in part one.

Step One: First you will need a good Power Rack / Cage or Smith Machine with multiple height adjustments. Set the safety pins at a position about even with the bottom of your range of movement. Load a weight that is about 50% of your current max. If you rarely or never perform 1RMs then estimate from a 5-10 RM using an RM calculator. You will then position yourself under the bar and get yourself set in a good, solid, pressing position (do I need to explain how to properly bench press?). Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the bottom pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Two: Raise the pins to the mid-range or sticking point of the movement. At this point (if you are not already there) add enough weight so that you are at or near your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Three: Raise the pins so that they are just a few inches away from your lock-out position (4-6 inches). At this point (depending on how your other sets have gone) add enough weight so that you are at or slightly above your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

When performing these types of sets you want to strive for maximum efficiency. The more accurate your records the less weight adjustments you will be required to make. The goal is for you to know exactly how much weight will challenge you in each range, for each movement. This may take a week or two to figure out. Once you have your weight dialed in for each movement, you should perform no more then one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in each of the three positions.

I often cycle Functional isometrics into my own strength training program for several months at a time. I find these types of workouts to be very challenging and extremely effective and efficient. I will load up for the exercise I am going to perform and start with the weakest part of the range first. I then do one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in that position. I raise the weight to the next part of my ROM and after a brief rest, complete another 6-10 second contraction. One more adjustment, one more contraction, and I am done for that exercise. I find I can complete and entire full-body workout in as little as 20 minutes. This is possible because I know exactly how much weight to use for each movement which makes set up quite simple.

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For Ultimate Efficiency

There are thousands of athletes and general fitness enthusiasts around the world who use a type of Functional isometrics termed Static Contraction training as their only form of strength training. In this style you perform just one, all out contraction in the strongest range for each basic pushing and pulling movement. As I mentioned earlier in this article, this style of training is easiest to perform with a dedicated device such as those produced by ONE REP GYM however terrific results can be had using conventional equipment as well.

With just a little practice and dedication you can learn to fine tune the specific ROM of each exercise to produce amazing results in just a few minutes per workout. Static contractions performed in the strongest range, using one all-out contraction, for as little as 6-10 seconds, can produce rapid improvements in muscular strength and performance. Now those of you who are really paying attention may be saying “hey, what about the joint angle specificity problem you mentioned above? For many people The 15-20 degree carryover on either side of a specific joint angle is more then enough to supply usable functional strength for all activities. For some blessed with what is termed a type “G” strength curve, training in just about any part of ones ROM will produce results throughout the entire ROM (This is a genetic attribute and not subject to change).

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The bottom line is that when performing functional isometrics using the Static Contraction method, one may complete a brief, intense workout in just 3-5 minutes (not including set up, breakdown and rest). Individuals who regularly use this style of training will often rest and recover for 7-10 days (sometimes more) before the next session. For those who feel that they do not have time to strength train, Static Contraction training my be the tool you have been searching for.

Now get to it!

TAKU’s NOTE:. Functional isometrics are a great tool to have in your tool box. Whether you decide to buy and use a dedicated machine or to incorporate these into your regular weight workouts, I highly recommend you give Functional isometrics a try. Don’t be surprised to find your strength shooting up to new heights in a few short weeks.

References:

  1. Graves, J., Pollock, M., Jones, A., Colvin, A., & Leggett, S. (1989). Specificity of limited range of motion variable resistance training. Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise, 21(1), 84-89.

  2. Knapik JA. Mawdsley RH. Ramos MU: Angular Specificity and Test Mode Specificity of Isometric and lsokinetic Strength Training. Journal Of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 5:58-65.1983

  3. Kitai, T., & Sale, D. (1989). Specificity of joint angle in isometric training. European Journal Of Applied Physiology And Occupational Physiology, 58(7), 744-748. doi:10.1007/bf00637386

  4. Jackson, A. (1985). Strength Development: Using Functional Isometrics in an Isotonic Strength Training Program. Research Quarterly For Exercise And Sport, 56(3), 234-37.