Tout dans la vie est une question d'équilibre d'où la nécessité de garder un esprit sain dans un corps sain.


Everything in life is a matter of balance therefore one needs to keep a healthy mind in a healthy body.


E. do REGO

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anterior Core Training by Michael Boyle

Who do we believe?

The strength guys say something like, "Forget doing abs, just do heavy squats and deadlifts."

Don't even say the word "core" around these guys.

The functional guys say, "Lying down is not functional."

The functional guys seem to be against any core training not done standing. If we proceeded logically we would see that both groups — the strength guys and the functional guys — at least agree that all good core training is done standing.

As usual, I disagree with both parties.

In my continued pursuit of unpopularity I'm going to disagree with both the functional guys and the strength crowd. I know the Testosterone reader is saying, "But you're a functional guy." Not true. Actually, I'm a results guy. I'm a best practices guy.

Yes, my first book was called Functional Training for Sports, but I think some of the proponents of functional training have gone too far and I'm not the only one who thinks that way. I got an email recently from Matt Nichol, strength and conditioning coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matt said, "I feel like I have to apologize these days for actually trying to get my guys strong."

The truth is everybody has his or her own definition of functional training. Mine is the application of functional anatomy to training. This means I'm going to take what I know about anatomy and apply it to what I know about training.

The important thing is I'm not going to forget or dispose of what I know about training. I still think that one-leg exercises are more functional then two leg exercises because we move on one leg at a time in real life. I still think dumbbells are more functional than a bar because of the unilateral nature of dumbbells. We are unilateral machines.

Face it.

With that said, I still believe in lifting weights. I want my athletes to be strong, and to be strong you have to lift heavy stuff. Reaching with, and or waving a five-pound dumbbell in three planes of motion isn't training. It might be warm-up, but it's not training in my book.

Not what we call training.

However, this article isn't about the function debate but rather about training the anterior core, otherwise known as the abs. I think there's a compromise between the functional guys and the strength guys. The key to getting the strength crowd to listen might be getting them to read the following, which came from one of their own:

Guess what? I agree with Dan.

However, we have a small problem, we need progression. Ab wheel rollouts are tough. Too tough. That's the reason I abandoned them years ago. Many of my athletes got exceptionally sore or were unable to hold a stable lumbar spine. In fact, I actually told my athletes who had any abdominal issues (previous strains, etc.) never do them under any circumstances.

How does all this tie into the first paragraph about functional training? Well, it turns out that this is why I half-agree. The function of the anterior core is absolutely not flexion. That is where I 100% agree with the functional guys.

When does anyone ever do anything in real life that looks like a crunch? I agree with the functional folks that lying on your back doing abs is not only a waste of time but probably dangerous. Check out Stuart McGill's work. Not a lot of flexion. Look at McGill's method for causing disk damage in a lab setting: repeated flexion.

Ideally we need an anterior core, or as Dan says, "anterior chain", exercise that doesn't involve flexion.

So the key in my mind was to find a progression to get my athletes to safely do Ab Wheel Rollouts. Here it is:

Phase 1: Front Planks

If your athletes or clients can't hold a perfect plank for 40 seconds (not very long, I know), start there. Remember, a perfect plank looks just like what the person would look like if he were standing; it's not a prone crunch.

Phase 2: Stability Ball Rollouts

The Stability Ball is like a big wheel. The weaker the athlete, the bigger the ball you should use. It's essential that everyone start with Stability Ball Rollouts. I don't care how strong you think your abs are. Do yourself a favor and do Stability Ball Rollouts twice a week for the first three weeks. If you start with a wheel there's a good chance you'll strain your abdominal muscles.

Phase 3: The Ab Dolly

I know, an infomercial piece of equipment in a T-Nation article! I'm sure a few of the meatheads will call me all kinds of names on the forums. (Note to meatheads. Sticks and stones... ). Ab Dollies are a bit pricy but make a nice transition to the wheel, and I'm all about progressions that keep my athletes healthy.

In fact, while at Boston University, I purchased 8 Ab Dollys. The Ab Dolly makes the transition from the stability ball to the wheel much easier. It's a physics thing. The Ab Dolly allows the user to rest on the elbows to get a short lever rollout.

Phase 4: The Wheel

If you bought an Ab Dolly, you really don't need a wheel. Simply grasp the sides of the Ab Dolly with your hands to lengthen the lever. I like the wheel better, though, as you get better diagonals when you get more advanced, but for Phase 3 it really doesn't matter. The key is that the moving piece is now a full arms length away.

Phase 5: ValSlide or Slideboard Rollouts

The Valslide or Slideboard adds a frictional component. In the case of the Valslide, you simply rest your elbows in the two discs and initiate the rollout movement. Instead of the wheel rolling back easily to the starting position, your bodyweight creates drag. This again makes the exercise harder, particularly the concentric or return portion. You actually have to pull yourself back in.

The Valslide.

Phase 6: Bar Rollouts

I almost left these out but they actually work as a progressive resistance exercise. Start with an empty bar and add 10 lbs. a week. The bar rollouts don't change the eccentric nature of the exercise, but boy can they change the concentric!

The bottom line is that Dan John is right and all the, "Just do heavy squats and deadlifts" guys are wrong. If you never intend to run a sprint or throw a ball, your core musculature may be fine without direct ab work.

However, there's no denying the role of the abdominal musculature in pelvic control when the body is in motion. The abdominal musculature or core muscles must act to prevent the spine from going into extension. In order to do this, a specific stress must be applied. The anterior core progression gets the body to use the muscles the right way and does it in a way that can keep anyone healthy.

© 1998 — 2008 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Core Issues

Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions of Abdominal Training.

More people are concerned about their midsection than any other body part. The core comprises roughly a third of the body, yet it never receives full attention in the gym. Sporting a great set of abs is high on anyone's list. Hey, if the core is in shape, the whole body is in shape!

The "want" is there, but the "how" is another story. There exists much confusion on how to train the abdominals properly. This article will dispel many of the myths and misconceptions regarding abdominal training. As you read on, take note on how many of these core issues you have fallen prey to.

Myth # 1: Pressed-Heel Sit-Ups are the bomb as they eliminate hip flexor activation.

The Janda sit-up has recently resurfaced as an effective abdominal exercise minus the hip flexor activation. Janda thought he solved the problem of psoas activation by calling on the principle of reciprocal inhibition, which says that the nervous system, as a matter of efficiency, relaxes the muscles opposite the ones contracting.

The Janda sit-up was designed to inactivate the hip flexors by contracting the hamstrings and glutes. Janda thought he accomplished this by grasping subjects' calves and having them pull back against his hands as they attempted to sit-up. The theory was, the hip flexors are inhibited by the contraction of the opposing knee-flexor hamstrings and the hip-extensor glutes. The end result, according to Dr. Janda, is true isolation of the abdominal muscles.

Well, according to Dr. Stuart McGill, a spinal biomechanist and professor at the University of Waterloo, the opposite actually occurs!

During the Janda (or pressed-heel) sit-up, contraction of the hamstrings causes hipextension, which means that even greater hip flexion (or psoas activation) is required to complete the movement. In addition, bent-knee sit-ups actually activate the psoas more than straight leg sit-ups! This was all confirmed through EMG analysis by Juker, et al., 1998.


Myth #2: Traditional abdominal exercises work the abs through a full range of motion.

Not true. The primary function of the abdominals is to flex the trunk from 45 degrees of extension to 30 degrees of flexion. Most abdominal exercises, however, are performed either on the floor or on a decline bench, which is less than half of the range of motion (ROM).


If you've been toying with these movements for a while and don't feel much benefit anymore, try what I call the Sicilian Crunch. (See the end of the article for instructions.) You must have a solid base of core training before attempting this advanced movement. It's one of those "let's play with the lever arm" type of exercises in which better leverage occurs during the weaker, concentric action and then all hell breaks loose during the stronger, eccentric action.

Unless you want to topple backward and send the Swiss ball flying into the juice bar, I'd suggest anchoring your feet under a sturdy support. Also, take advantage of the spherical nature of the Swiss ball or AbMat to achieve full range of motion.

Myth # 3: We are the Hollow Men!

The popular act of drawing in the navel or "sucking in your gut as if you're putting on a tight pair of jeans" should definitely be abandoned; unless there's a specific reason to do so (i.e., motor re-education) as it tends to detract the emphasis from other muscles.

It is necessary to keep the core tight without the aid of a belt, but overemphasis on the transversus abdominis (or TVA for short, which is basically the internal girdle that keeps your organs from spilling out) can negatively affect performance.

The advice to activate the deep abdominal wall was well intentioned, but unfortunately you can't extrapolate information from a pathological population (i.e. low back-pain patients) and apply it to healthy individuals — it just doesn't work that way!

I tried this approach with several clients early in my career. The report from most of them was that it felt uncomfortable, almost as if their lungs were being pushed out of their throat while squatting. The body doesn't lie; if something doesn't feel right, don't do it!

I remember Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin once commenting on this practice. "Why rob the neural drive from the extensor chain by drawing in the navel?" he asked. It didn't make sense to me, either.

Abdominal & lower back guru Dr. Stuart McGill recommends that you brace the abdominals — as if you're about to accept a punch — but don't suck 'em in if you want spinal stability. And after adopting this method with my own clients: no more complaints and performance started to improve.

Louie Simmons and Dave Tate of Westside Barbell (these guys are renowned for producing world-caliber strength athletes) have stated numerous times that if you want to increase core stability, do the opposite — push out your gut! Yet despite all the evidence against it, there are still coaches and personal trainers who continue to endorse abdominal hollowing on practically every movement. Ultimately, the decision is yours.


Myth #4: To breathe or not to breathe. Is there even a question?

Should you hold your breath throughout a set? Or should you inhale during the eccentric portion of a lift, and exhale during the concentric? Or is it the other way around? Do the rules change if you suffer from chronic halitosis?

Forget about it. I think strength coach Charles Staley put it best when he stated that we breathe quite well by instinct alone. Messing around with this could negatively affect performance.

I never discuss so-called "proper breathing" when demonstrating an exercise because, like Staley, I feel that it detracts concentration and will negatively affect performance. It's hard enough trying to concentrate on technique, you just confuse people when you add special breathing instructions. Let it come naturally — you'll see that they will naturally hold their breath when they exert themselves.

Both McGill and Siff agree that the common recommendation of exhaling upon exertion (or raising of the weight) and inhaling on the lowering is a mistake. Much like the discussion of the TVA and abdominal hollowing, Siff states that the "careful instruction as to the technique of a given exercise will automatically result in the body responding with the optimal muscle recruitment strategy throughout the duration of the movement." This also applies to breathing. Let it occur naturally.


Better Results Requires a Better Ab Workout

So now that we know the most common myths and misconceptions associated with abdominal training, let's get down to brass tacks and address what really matters.

Step 1: Get your upper and lower abs in order.

A classic argument is whether abdominals should be divided into upper and lower classifications. One camp says that they are one muscle — there is no such thing as an upper and lower part. However, research has shown that you can selectively recruit different segments of a muscle depending on the type of exercise you do, and how much weight is used.(Antonio, 2000)

The lower abdominals have the most complex recruitment patterns and are the weakest; whereas, the upper abdominals are much stronger and easier to train. Thus, perform your abdominal exercises in the following sequence:

Step 2: Take advantage of the abdominals' role as stabilizers.

If you want to build a serious set of abdominals, routinely perform the following exercises and their variations: squats, deadlifts, chin-ups and standing military presses. These multi-joint movements require a strong contribution from the abdominals to stabilize the core, particularly when heavy loads are used. It is not uncommon to hear people complain of abdominal soreness a day or two after performing multiple sets with a decent weight of the chin-up or standing military press exercise — the pre-stretch will tap into fibers you never thought existed!

Your abdominals act as a natural girdle, or weight belt if you will, when performing all exercises, particularly squats and deadlifts. These muscles act as a bridge between your upper and lower body and are heavily recruited as stabilizers.

Isolation exercises like pullovers, curls, and even triceps pressdowns also require a good degree of core stability; however, the loads used are relatively low compared to the big 4 mentioned above. In fact, isolation becomes virtually impossible if large loads are used and, in many cases, the tension developed in the stabilizers will equal or even exceed that of the prime movers! So, you see, the abdominals can be trained quite effectively indirectly as stabilizers. The physiques of top Olympic weightlifters will attest to that.

Step 3: Train right for your fiber type.

If you've been doing tons of reps of wimpy little abdominal exercises like you're auditioning for Caribbean workout, then it's no wonder that you're stuck in a rut. The abdominals are composed of primarily Type II or fast-twitch (FT) fibers. The Rectus Abdominus, the so-called "six-pack" muscle, is comprised of 54% FT fibers. (Colling, 1997) Here's what I suggest to really tap into these high threshold fibers:

Putting It All Together—The Enlightened Man's Ab Routine.

You get all that? Well, it was only three steps; so if I did lose you, it also likely takes you three hours to make minute rice. Next time try doubling your Power Drive® dosage before logging onto TMUSCLE.

Anyway, the following is a sample routine that will target your abdominals effectively and efficiently. No more 50 rep sets for you — it's time to start training your core like the ferocious little fast twitch muscles they are.

A1) Lean-Away Chin-Ups 6 x 1-3 @ 5-0-X-0, 120 secs.

Add weight to chin/dip belt, clear chin at top, lean back as you come down by pushing the bar away and make sure to go all the way down at the bottom.

A2) Standing Military Press 6 x 1-3 @ 5-0-X-0, 120 secs.

Clean the weight up to your shoulders, stand with your legs straight (yes, that means knees locked) and arch your back slightly to maximize pre-stretch.

B1) Dragon Flag 4-6 x 4-6 @ 5-0-X-0, 90 secs.

This is similar to the move in Rocky IV, minus the ambience that training in a barn in Siberia can only provide. Yelling "Drago!" between reps adds to the training effect.

Lie on your back on the exercise bench. Your lower body should extend off the bench so that your entire body remains in a straight line. Bend your elbows over your head and grasp the sides of the bench with your hands. Your neck and spine should be aligned and you should be looking directly upward toward the ceiling.

Raise your entire lower body upward toward the ceiling. You can point your toes and keep both of your legs as straight as possible. When you reach a vertical position, do not extend your legs any farther. At this point they should be perpendicular to the ceiling and the floor.

Tense your abdominal muscles. Hold them this way while maintaining your elevated position. To stay balanced, your body will need your abs to remain very tight.

Lower your body back to its original position. To make the exercise harder, stop just short of allowing your lower body to touch the bench. Do not allow gravity to pull your body quickly back to the ground, but rather use your abdominal muscles to gently lower your legs.

For a video demonstration, please check the video at right.

B2) Sicilian Crunch 4-6 x 4-6 @ 5-0-X-0, 90 secs.

Laying supine on a Swiss ball, keep a dumbbell high on your chest as you crunch upward. At the top of the movement when you are sitting upright, extend your arms straight overhead with the dumbbell. Make sure that you have a good grip on it—if the dumbbell slips onto your head, it could ruin the set (and your haircut). Then, slowly control the movement downward.

Keep your arms slightly bent and in line with your torso while lowering. It should feel like every fiber of your abdominals is ripping apart! Enjoy that feeling as you perform five sets of 4-6 reps at a 5010 tempo (i.e., 5 seconds to lower, no pause at the bottom, 1 second to raise and no pause at the top), taking three minutes to rest in between each set. Try to keep the total time under tension below 40 seconds and really exaggerate the eccentric action in a slow, smooth, controlled manner.

If you would like to finish off with a couple of sets of Ab wheel rollouts for as many reps as possible, be my guest. Make sure to work the legs and back/hip extensors during another workout. Rolling out of bed the next day should offer an unpleasant surprise!

Nothing in strength training is engraved in stone, but if you want your abs to look like they were chiseled out of rock, be inquisitive. There exist far more myths and misconceptions about abdominal training than any other body part. To find the real answers, you must address the core issues!


Antonio, J. Nonuniform response of skeletal muscle to heavy resistance training: can bodybuilders induce regional hypertrophy? J. Strength Cond. Res. 14(1):102-113. 2000.

Askem, JV. The Romanian Deadlift.

Barron, J. Lessons from the Miracle Doctors – A Step-by-Step Guide to Optimum Health And Relief from Catastrophic Illness (E-book).

Casler, J. Abdominal Hollowing continues! Supertraining Group, 2003.

Chek, P. Benching and Breathing. Weight Training Posts (compiled by Tom Griffin), 1997.

Chek, P. Scientific core conditioning correspondence course. C.H.E.K. Institute. 1998.

Colling, R. Distribution of Human Muscle Fibre Type. Exercise Physiology 552, 1997.

Cresswell AG, Blake PL, Thorstensson A. The effect of an abdominal muscle training program on intra-abdominal pressure. Scand J Rehabil Med. 1994 Jun;26(2):79-86.

Dickerman RD, McConathy WJ, Smith GH, East JW, Rudder L. Middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity in elite power athletes during maximal weight-lifting. Neurol Res. 2000 Jun;22(4):337-40.

Goldenberg, L. Strength Training Q&A. Ironman Magazine. June 2000, Vol. 59, No. 6, pg. 150.

Juker D., McGill, S., Kropf P., & Steffen T. (1998) Quantitative intramuscular myoelectric activity of lumbar portions of psoas and the abdominal wall during a wide variety of tasks. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 30: 301-310

McGill, SM. Achieving Spine Stability: Blending Engineering And Clinical Approaches. 4th Interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back Pain & Pelvic Pain. Montreal, Nov. 2001.

McGill, SM. Enhancing Low Back Health Through Stabilization Exercise.

Fitness Leader Guide

McGill SM. Low back exercises: evidence for improving exercise regimens. Phys Ther. 1998 Jul;78(7):754-65. Review.

McGill, SM. Low Back Injury: Improving Prevention Strategies and Rehabilitation Approaches. Ontario Kinesiology Association Seminar, 2001.

Narloch JA, Brandstater ME. Influence of breathing technique on arterial blood pressure during heavy weight lifting. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1995 May;76(5):457-62.

O'Connor P, Sforzo GA, Frye P. Effect of breathing instruction on blood pressure responses during isometric exercise. Phys Ther. 1989 Sep;69(9):757-61.

Siff, MC. Abdominal Hollowing vs Lifting Practice. Supertraining Group, 2003.

Siff, MC. Breathing Technique. Supertraining Group, 2002.

Siff, MC., Verkhoshansky, YV. Supertraining 4th Edition. Denver, CO: Supertraining International, 1999.

Supertraining Forum (originally moderated by Dr. Mel Siff).

Zatsiorsky, VM. Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1995.

The Get Lean Quick Scheme

The Sicilian Crunch

Core Issues

Janda sit-up. The subject contracts the glutes & hamstrings by
pulling the ankles back against the wood platform.

If the core is in shape, the whole body is in shape!

The Dragon Flag.

About John Paul Catanzaro

John Paul Catanzaro, B.Sc., C.K., C.E.P., is a Certified Kinesiologist and Certified Exercise Physiologist with a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private gym in Richmond Hill, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. For additional information, visit his website at or call 905-780-9908.

Check out John Paul's DVD, Warm-Up to Strength Training, for some powerful techniques to increase strength and improve performance. It has received a thumbs-up from many experts including Drs. Eric Serrano, Mark Lindsay, and Ken Kinakin as well as Olympic strength coach, Charles Poliquin. Visit www.StrengthWarmUp.comfor more details.

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Exercises You've Never Tried Vol 20

Back in 2002, the first Spiderman movie was the top box office draw, President Bush fainted after choking on a pretzel, and TMUSCLE launched the first installment of Exercises You've Never Tried.

It kinda brings big manly tears to our eyes, ya know? All the pain we've caused, the limp-inducing DOMS, the exquisite microtrauma.

Ah, memories.

High time for another one, don't you think? If your progress has stalled or you just need a new challenge, here are ten fresh movements to help you fill out that snazzy new TMUSCLE shirt!

#1: The Mid-Range Partial Dumbbell Bench Press

Want the best pump of your life while at the same time activating the highest percentage of motor units? Then take a tip from Coach Nick Tumminello and try mid-range partials.

Here's how to do them with the dumbbell bench press. In a nutshell, don't go all the way down and don't go all the way up; stick to the mid-range. Your elbow angles will be roughly 135 degrees at the top and 90 degrees at the bottom.

The tension and burn here are going to be intense, so be prepared. Also, there's no stretch-shortening reflex at the bottom of each rep. Put all that together and you might have to use less weight at first than what you normally would. It's okay, we won't point and laugh. (Much.)

#2: The Double Down Pulldown

You know that to hit most of the back muscles, you need to do both a vertical pulling movement (pulldown or pull-up) and a horizontal pulling movement (a row variation.) The pulling angle of a pulldown or rowing motion significantly impacts the portion of the back that receives the most stimulation. So here's a unique movement we picked up from Christian Thibaudeau that combines a parallel pull and a perpendicular pull into one menacing exercise that stimulates the entire upper back.

A lever-type machine works well here; we used a Hammer Strength high row in our video. Why? According to Thibs, "The handles start far enough from your torso that you're able to lean forward significantly in the starting position. This forward lean will ensure that the lats are maximally stretched and that the pulling line remains as parallel to your torso as possible."

Here's how it's done. From that starting position, pull the weight down while keeping the same torso angle. Squeeze the contracted position for one or two seconds, and then lean back while keeping the handles in the same position. From there, pull the weight toward you again and hold the contraction for another one to two seconds.

If your machine doesn't allow you to get into the right positions, just drop the seat and "hover" like a chick in a dirty bathroom.

#3: The "Crazy Bell" Bench Press

Here's a crazy-ass little training trick we've seen pop up in several top powerlifting gyms. In fact, we know a few state record holders who swear by it.

Basically, this is just a few weight plates (or kettlebells) attached to a barbell with bands (see pic.) TMUSCLE contributor Craig Weller notes that the effect here has to be felt to be truly understood. He says benching with this set-up feels like having a wild animal tug on the bar as you move it.

How's it work? This benching method can be thought of as an injury preventer. The unstable, dynamic load places a huge emphasis on stabilization muscles as the entire shoulder girdle must fire maximally to keep the bar path tight and stable throughout the press.

It's also a great tool for lifters with shoulder issues and can be used to build work capacity in pressing movements. "With advanced lifters," Weller notes, "it's a novel stimulus that can force further neural adaptations and eventually greater strength."

Now, don't be a dumbass and injure yourself with this injury-prevention exercise. That would be embarrassing. Go light at first to get the hang of it, use a spotter, and only use this technique for the bench press. (It's just too tricky for the deadlift and squat.) Just focus on gripping the bar as hard as you can and maintaining maximal tightness throughout your body.

If you don't have bands and spare plates, just hang a few hungry babies and/or angry midgets from the bar. Same effect.

#4: Dip Shrugs

Breaking News! There are methods to build your traps besides standard shrugs and upright rows! Yes, for reals. Here's one of them: the dip shrug.

Hop onto a set of dipping bars. Hold yourself up by keeping your arms fully extended and locked. Let your body sink down between your arms. From there, push yourself up, trying to bring your chest as high as you can. Remember, the arms remain locked the whole time.

And if you're a real bad-ass and/or show-off, try the shrug dip in the L-sit gymnastic position.

#5: Sumo Deadlift Shrugs

And here's one more new way to build beastly traps. Position yourself as if you were going to perform a sumo deadlift: wide stance, hands inside the legs.

Lift the bar to mid-shin. From there, perform a shrug — try to bring your shoulders up — while keeping the exact same stance.

Yeah, people will stare. But in a few months they'll be staring at your big-ass traps!

#6: Ab Choppers

Here's a great "core" exercise from bodybuilding coach Scott Abel.

Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands. Spread your feet about shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back, as if you were preparing to jump, and start the movement with the ball or dumbbell between your legs and as far back as you can reach. Now pull it upward as fast as you can until your arms are fully extended overhead. Immediately squat down for the next rep.

Abel notes: "You can do any number of variations. Change the angles by going from vertical to horizontal or diagonal. With cables or tubing, you can go high to low or low to high."

When you're doing diagonal chops — low to high or high to low — you can pivot on one foot to extend your range of motion. That involves both the front and rear oblique systems. The best benefit of doing choppers with a pivot is the simultaneous inclusion of both the anterior and posterior oblique systems.

And remember, the key here is speed. You want to emphasize acceleration and deceleration.

#7: The Push-up Pyramid

Yeah, push-ups are boring. And it's easy to out-grow them, so to speak.

Still, the classic push-up remains a favorite of coaches like Chad Waterbury, who uses it to train his athletes for explosive strength. Nick Tumminello adds that the push-up is often misunderstood and underutilized.

So how do you sex up the push-up? Try this pyramid challenge we picked up from Chris Cooper, CSCS.

Start in a push-up position. Do 1 rep, pause at the top for two seconds, do 2 reps, pause for two seconds, do 3 reps, pause for two seconds. Try to get up to 10 reps, and then work your way back down. You'll think this is easy, until you're about halfway through. That's when the real fight begins!

Our favorite variation is to pause for two seconds in the bottom position instead of top. Ouch.

#8: The Constant Tension Alternate Curl

Want to take advantage of muscular tension, isometric potentiation, unilateral-enhanced neural drive, and other big words and phrases? Then check out this "new" way to curl!

Start with both arms in the fully flexed position — the "top" of the curl. Lower (eccentric phase) the working arm while keeping the non-working arm flexed. Curl up the working arm until both arms are once again flexed. Then switch arms and do the same thing. You keep on alternating this way until the set is completed.

The benefits, according to Coach Thibaudeau, are:

1. The biceps are under constant tension. While the non-lifting arm is "waiting its turn," it's still contracted isometrically.

2. You're performing a unilateral dynamic movement.

3. You're preceding the dynamic action by an isometric one.

The downside is that you can't use as much weight, so you won't create as much muscle damage. This is why it's important to use this exercise as a secondary biceps movement, after a heavier exercise.

Like it? Want a variation? Use the same technique with dumbbell preacher curls.

#9: Partial Overhead Press

This one steals a page from Olympic lifting (an overhead press), combines it with a powerlifting technique (a limited range of motion, or ROM), and ends up with a kick-ass triceps exercise for size and strength... the partial overhead press.

To begin, perform a basic, standing overhead press using the same grip width and foot stance you'd use to do a complete set. From the lockout position, lower the bar until it just grazes the top of your hair, or the top of your chrome-dome for you poor, follicly challenged lifters. Press it straight back up, and you've done one rep.

The complete ROM is from your scalp to your arm's full extension... that's it. By keeping the movement shorter than a full overhead press, the focus stays on the triceps, while still allowing the use of heavy loads.

The subtle key to this exercise is to keep the bar directly overhead, in line with the ears, as opposed to pressing slightly in front of the body and looking upwards, like you'd do with a traditional military press. This helps to further disengage the delts and makes the triceps work that much harder.

#10: MacGyver's Glute-Ham Raise

Some lucky bastards have a glute-ham raise machine in their gyms. Others have good training partners and can perform the "natural" glute-ham raise. But some of you have neither, so what are you going to do? Just walk around with weak hams and a droopy ass? Heck no, you're going to go MacGyver instead!

Find yourself a pulldown machine or similar, adjust the lap pads, and — to the shock and horror of the ACE-certified personal trainers — start performing glute-ham raises!

The key here is to keep your torso tight and lower it slowly and under control. Your posterior chain (low back, glutes, and hams) should be screaming.

When you start nearing parallel, you're going to hit the floor. That's okay, just catch yourself smoothly in a push-up position, absorb the impact, and fling yourself back up. As soon as you can, contract the glutes and hams, letting them do the rest of the work, pulling you back to upright.

If the ACE-certified trainers give you shit, judo-toss them to the floor and use your muscular ass to pop their heads like bubble wrap.


Ten new exercises and nineteen more Exercises You've Never Tried articles in the archives. That should keep you busy for a while!

Models: Andrew Barker, Tim Smith
Location: Gold's Gym, Abilene, Texas

Exercises You've Never Tried #20

Setting up for the "Crazy Bell" Bench Press.

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

10 Meals That Are Proven to Make You Happier

1: Chocolate Anything

Eat truffles, load up on antioxidants. Dessert never sounded so sweet.

Don't beat yourself up about indulging in a brownie or two when feeling down in the dumps. Multiple studies have revealed that chocolate (gasp!) is actually healthy in moderation. Although it's still high in calories, chocolate contains a myriad of beneficial nutrients that help regulate mood. The sugar that gives chocolate its rich taste helps increase serotonin levels, while the fat content releases mood-elevating endorphins [source: Carper]. Top it off with the stimulating effects of caffeine and antioxidant levels higher than even berries, and chocolate becomes a heavyweight mood-influencer. To avoid paying the price in the waistline area, however, indulge in just one or two pieces each day of the dark variety, which is more heart-healthy than milk chocolate.

2: Beef Stew with Veggies and Potatoes

When it's cold outside, nothing feels quite as good in your belly as piping-hot soup. But the comfort factor doesn't stop there. Lean red meat is an excellent source of tryptophan and protein, both of which are critical to mood regulation. Dial down the unhealthiness quotient by trimming any excess fat before putting the meat in the Dutch oven or slow cooker. It's also a health-conscious move to prepare the dish with stewed tomatoes or a beef broth rather than fat-laden gravy. Toss in a few serotonin-enhancing potatoes and some vitamin-rich vegetables to create an all-around satisfying meal for your taste buds and body.

3: Sweet Potato Souffle

sweet potatoes
Yams yield good moods.

Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, are packed full of energy and mood-boosting vitamins and minerals. Like many other mood-influencing foods, sweet potatoes boost serotonin production. Sweet potatoes act as a referee of sorts because they contain carotenoids, which are responsible for insulin regulation. Correctly managing insulin helps us avoid sugar crashes that cause irritability. The miracle food also contains potassium, which has been shown to reduce mood swings, increase energy levels and lessen tension [source: Melone]. Although many dieters malign carbs of all shapes and sizes, low-carbohydrate diets have been linked with a reduced desire to exercise and increased fatigue in overweight adults [source: Magee]. The health quotient for this popular holiday dish can be amped up by cutting back the amount of butter used in preparation and by including walnuts, which are an excellent source of tryptophan.

4: Chili and Cornbread

Whether you get your protein from animal or plant sources, your body just can't function without it. For meat-lovers out there, chili is a great source of protein, especially when it's prepared with lean ground beef. Lean beef contains high levels of B6 and tryptophan, the proven mood-regulator. An even healthier option for your chili recipe is ground turkey.

Pack your chili full of beans: black, red, pinto and other types you like. Beans are a terrific vehicle for ingesting selenium and increasing levels of magnesium, a deficiency of which has been linked to depression [sources: Magee, Melone].

The perfect complement to this wintertime favorite is cornbread, which contains gluten, known for its ability to stimulate endorphin production [source: Cohen].

5: Banana Split

banana split
You don't have to pass up ice cream. Just load up the low-fat version with fruit toppings.

This ice cream parlor favorite can easily be modified into a less fattening and more nutritious version. The two main components -- ice cream and bananas -- are both rich in B vitamins, which are effective depression-thwarters [source: Carper]. Bananas also contain high levels of tryptophan. This amino acid aids the body in the production of niacin, which in turn produces serotonin [source: BBC].

Obviously, the ice cream portion of the banana split is the biggest culprit when it comes to sugar and fat content, but ice cream enthusiasts need not forego this popular comfort treat entirely. Modifying your choice makes it easy to include ice cream in the occasional menu. Numerous light or reduced-fat and low-sugar ice creams abound in your grocer's freezer section. And thanks to major strides in the ice cream industry in recent years, low-fat ice cream tastes surprisingly close to its full-fat brethren [source: Magee].

6: Mashed Potatoes and Turkey

Turkey and mashed potatoes need not be reserved for Thanksgiving, thanks to the mood-boosting vitamins and minerals this main dish and savory starch contain. Potatoes are complex carbohydrates, and eating them actually increases production of serotonin. That's why ingesting complex carbs helps people calm down, even when they're feeling stressed or overwhelmed (as many of us do during the holidays) [source: Magee]. Turkey is also credited with being one of the top feel-good foods because it contains many nutrients that stave off depression and maintain good moods. Because turkey can make people feel sleepy (it packs a might wallop of tryptophan), try serving iron-rich spinach or other leafy greens on the side to provide a much-needed energy boost.

7: Spaghetti and Lean Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballs
Make that spaghetti even healthier by using whole-grain pasta instead of white.

We've already spelled out the benefits of whole-wheat pasta: It's high in folic acid and helps increase serotonin levels. Ambitious chefs don't have to let the nutritional gains end there, however. Meatballs or sauce made with lean beef are great sources of protein, selenium and B6, the vitamin that facilitates serotonin production [source: Martha Stewart]. Try serving this Italian favorite alongside vitamin-packed spinach, broccoli or a leafy green salad. All are believed to be powerful mood-enhancing foods. When done right, spaghetti and meatballs can be transformed from a guilty pleasure into a healthy meal. (No word yet on any beneficial effects of that classic Italian dessert, tiramisu.)

8: Scrambled Eggs and Oatmeal

For good reason, breakfast is widely touted as the most important meal of the day. Studies have shown repeatedly that eating a healthy, balanced breakfast results in a good mood, increased energy and improved memory skills. Remember those helpful B vitamins found in dairy products? Eggs are also rife with the critical substance. Serve a couple of eggs on the side of folate-rich oatmeal for a filling and nutritious breakfast. The folic acid found in oatmeal is powerful because it produces a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which many studies have linked with increased pleasure. Whole-wheat toast or whole-wheat pancakes are other grain options with high amounts of folate [source: Martha Stewart].

9: Salmon and Brown Rice

Experts consider salmon a superfood. Are you eating enough oily fish?

Although most of us wouldn't consider salmon a comfort food, it's certainly one of the most nutritionally beneficial foods available. Experts agree that the numerous vitamins and minerals present in salmon qualify the fish as a superfood; furthermore, they recommend that everyone strive to consume two or three servings of salmon or other fish per week.

Multiple studies have linked depression to imbalances in omega-3 fatty acids, found abundantly in fish [source: Melone]. Scientists believe omega-3s are responsible for managing brain signals that regulate mood. In fact, studies have revealed that people in cultures who consume more omega-3 rich fatty fish suffer from depression less frequently than populations that eat fewer servings of fish. Because omega-3 can't be produced by the body, it's critical to incorporate fish, eggs or cod liver oil into your diet [source: China Daily]. Brown rice is an ideal dish to serve with salmon because it contains high amounts of selenium, low levels of which have been linked to poor moods [source: Magee].

10: Macaroni and Cheese

Although the boxed variety of macaroni and cheese is a childhood favorite, the homemade kind is really the best way to go when indulging in this comfort food. The dairy products standard in this recipe (milk and cheese) contain high levels of vitamin B, which has been shown to heavily impact the brain. In fact, studies indicate that depression can often be lessened when a deficiency of folic acid (a type of B vitamin) is corrected. Similarly, normal levels of riboflavin (B2), B6 and thiamine (B1) have been proven to boost mood in multiple studies [source: Carper]. Coupling the mood-enhancing effects of dairy with multigrain macaroni helps the meal pack a powerful punch.

If you've sworn off pasta, consider this: Carbohydrates increase serotonin and endorphin levels, cranking up good mood vibes and energy levels simultaneously. Experts recommend switching from regular pasta to the multigrain variety because it counts toward recommended daily servings of whole grains [source: Cohen].




Noms communs : quinoa, ansérine quinoa, riz du Pérou, petit riz du Pérou.
Nom scientifique :
Chenopodium quinoa.
Famille :


  • On le trouve souvent moins lourd que les autres grains.
  • Il resplendit dans les salades.
  • Il se prépare en deux temps trois mouvements.

  • Sa teneur en protéines est particulièrement élevée.
  • Il est riche en manganèse, en fer et en cuivre.

Profil santé

Contrairement au riz et au blé, le quinoa n’est pas une graminée. Il est plutôt considéré comme une « pseudo-céréale ». Le quinoa gagne à être connu, car il contient une grande quantité de protéines de haute qualité, des acides gras polyinsaturés et de nombreux micronutriments. Grâce à sa composition nutritionnelle, quelque peu différente de celle des autres céréales, et son goût unique, son inclusion au régime alimentaire permet d’apporter de la variété au menu.

Principes actifs et propriétés

Les produits céréaliers sont d’une grande importance pour notre alimentation. L’une des recommandations alimentaires de Santé Canada pour la santé des Canadiens conseille de donner « la plus grande part aux céréales, pains et autres produits céréaliers ainsi qu’aux légumes et aux fruits »1. Le Guide alimentaire canadien pour manger sainement tient compte de cette recommandation et insiste sur le choix de produits céréaliers à grains entiers ou enrichis2. Les autorités américaines, de leur côté, recommandent qu’au moins la moitié des produits céréaliers consommés soient à grains entiers3.

Ces recommandations sont basées sur les résultats de certaines études épidémiologiques qui indiquent que la consommation de grains entiers serait reliée à un risque moindre de maladies cardiovasculaires et de diabète4, de certains cancers5,6 et d’obésité7,8. Ces effets bénéfiques seraient reliés à la synergie entre les nombreux composés contenus dans les produits céréaliers à grains entiers, tels les fibres, les antioxydants, les vitamines et les minéraux. Comme la majorité de ces composés sont contenus dans le son et le germe9, on a avantage à consommer les céréales les moins raffinées possible.

Fibres alimentaires. Une portion de 125 ml de quinoa contient une quantité de fibres qui se rapproche de celle d’une tranche de pain de blé entier ou de celle de 125 ml de riz brun cuit. Les types de fibres retrouvés dans la farine de quinoa pourraient améliorer la digestibilité et l’absorption de cette « pseudo-céréale » dans le gros intestin10,11. De façon générale, une alimentation riche en fibres solubles peut aider au traitement des maladies cardiovasculaires et du diabète de type 2 en normalisant les taux sanguins de cholestérol, de glucose et d'insuline12. Les fibres insolubles, quant à elles, permettraient de maintenir une fonction intestinale adéquate. Une alimentation riche en fibres serait aussi associée à un plus faible risque de cancer du côlon12. Finalement, même si elles ne contiennent pas de calories, un apport élevé en fibres totales apporterait une plus grande sensation de satiété12.

Protéines. Le quinoa contient environ 15 % de protéines et sa composition en acides aminés est mieux balancée que celle de la majorité des autres céréales, telles que le millet, le sorgho, le riz, le blé et le maïs10,13-15. Les protéines servent surtout à former, à réparer et à maintenir en bon état les tissus, comme la peau, les muscles et les os. Elles servent aussi à la formation des enzymes digestives ainsi que des hormones. L’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (OAA) a observé que les protéines du quinoa, avec ou sans saponines16 (voir plus bas pour la définition des saponines), seraient équivalentes, en ce qui a trait à la qualité, à celles contenues dans le lait en poudre entier14,17. Cependant, ceci ne signifie pas que le quinoa peut remplacer le lait et les produits laitiers dans une alimentation équilibrée. Le quinoa et le lait proviennent de deux groupes alimentaires différents, chacun apportant des nutriments essentiels à l’organisme. Le quinoa est riche en acides aminés essentiels. On dit d’un acide aminé qu’il est essentiel lorsque l’organisme ne peut le fabriquer lui-même et qu’il doit être fourni par l’alimentation. Le quinoa a une teneur élevée en lysine, un acide aminé souvent manquant dans les produits céréaliers comme le blé et le maïs. Le quinoa a aussi un bon contenu en méthionine, en cystine, en arginine, en histidine et en isoleucine, ce qui en ferait un complément parfait pour les légumineuses, qui ont une faible proportion de certains de ces acides aminés essentiels15,17,18. Le quinoa a un faible pourcentage de prolamines (sorte de protéines), ce qui indique qu’il est sans gluten et donc intéressant pour les gens qui souffrent de la maladie coeliaque15. Dans une étude portant sur la satiété, la consommation de quinoa avant un repas n’a pas produit d’effet plus rassasiant que la consommation d’une quantité semblable de riz, malgré un contenu plus élevé en protéines (ainsi qu’en fibres)19. Certains macronutriments dont les protéines ont un effet rassasiant plus important que d’autres20-23. Le quinoa, vu son contenu élevé en protéines, pourrait donc potentiellement avoir un effet sur la satiété et donc sur la prise alimentaire comparativement à d’autres céréales. Cette hypothèse mérite d’être étudiée davantage.

Nutriments les plus importants

Voir la signification des symboles de classification des sources des nutriments

Excellente source Manganèse. Le quinoa est une excellente source de manganèse pour la femme et une bonne source pour l’homme, leurs besoins étant différents. Le manganèse agit comme cofacteur de plusieurs enzymes qui facilitent une douzaine de différents processus métaboliques. Il participe également à la prévention des dommages causés par les radicaux libres.

Bonne source Fer. Le quinoa est une bonne source de fer pour l’homme et une source pour la femme, leurs besoins étant différents. Chaque cellule du corps contient du fer. Ce minéral est essentiel au transport de l’oxygène et à la formation des globules rouges dans le sang. Il joue aussi un rôle dans la fabrication de nouvelles cellules, d’hormones et de neurotransmetteurs (messagers dans l’influx nerveux).

Bonne source Cuivre. Le quinoa est une bonne source de cuivre. En tant que constituant de plusieurs enzymes, le cuivre est nécessaire à la formation de l’hémoglobine et du collagène (protéine servant à la structure et à la réparation des tissus) dans l’organisme. Plusieurs enzymes contenant du cuivre contribuent également à la défense du corps contre les radicaux libres.

Source Phosphore. Le quinoa est une source de phosphore (voir notre fiche Palmarès des nutriments Phosphore). Deuxième minéral le plus abondant de l’organisme après le calcium, le phosphore joue un rôle essentiel dans la formation et le maintien de la santé des os et des dents. De plus, il participe entre autres à la croissance et à la régénérescence des tissus et aide à maintenir à la normale le pH du sang. Finalement, le phosphore est l’un des constituants des membranes cellulaires.

Source Magnésium. Le quinoa est une source de magnésium. Le magnésium participe au développement osseux, à la construction des protéines, aux actions enzymatiques, à la contraction musculaire, à la santé dentaire et au fonctionnement du système immunitaire. Il joue aussi un rôle dans le métabolisme de l’énergie et dans la transmission de l’influx nerveux.

Source Zinc. Le quinoa est une source de zinc. Le zinc participe notamment aux réactions immunitaires, à la fabrication du matériel génétique, à la perception du goût, à la cicatrisation des plaies et au développement du foetus. Il interagit également avec les hormones sexuelles et thyroïdiennes. Dans le pancréas, il participe à la synthèse (fabrication), à la mise en réserve et à la libération de l’insuline.

Source Vitamine B2. Le quinoa est une source de vitamine B2. Cette vitamine est aussi connue sous le nom de riboflavine. Tout comme la vitamine B1, elle joue un rôle dans le métabolisme de l’énergie de toutes les cellules. De plus, elle contribue à la croissance et à la réparation des tissus, à la production d’hormones et à la formation des globules rouges.

Que vaut une « portion » de quinoa?


Quinoa cru, 20 g (donne environ ½ tasse (125 ml) de quinoa cuit)




2,6 g


13,8 g


1,2 g

Fibres alimentaires

1,4 g

Source : Santé Canada. Fichier canadien sur les éléments nutritifs, 2005.

Des saponines dans le quinoa

Les saponines sont des substances végétales produites principalement dans les plantes. Elles sont considérées comme étant des facteurs antinutritionnels, c'est-à-dire des substances qui nuisent à l'absorption et à l'utilisation par l'organisme de nutriments importants, tel que le fer16,24. C’est pour cette raison qu’elles doivent être éliminées avant la consommation25. Le quinoa présent dans nos supermarchés contient très peu de saponines puisqu’il en a été débarrassé par lavage.

La présence de saponines n’a pas que des effets néfastes. Des études indiquent des effets bénéfiques de différentes saponines sur la santé (antiallergique, anti-inflammatoire, prévention du cancer, hypocholestérolémiant...)25-27. Cependant, la majeure partie de ces études étant faites chez l’animal, de plus amples études chez l’humain s’avèrent nécessaires.

Les saponines ont aussi un intérêt pharmacologique, car elles pourraient modifier la perméabilité de l’intestin grêle et ainsi aider à l’absorption de médicaments spécifiques15,24. Les saponines du quinoa n’auraient pas d’effet négatif sur la qualité nutritionnelle des protéines du quinoa14. Les résultats d’une étude démontrent que le profil en acides aminés du quinoa était très similaire avant et après le lavage, ce qui pourrait signifier que le processus pour enlever les saponines ne modifie pas la composition en acides aminés des graines de quinoa. Pour extraire les saponines du quinoa, on doit tout d’abord polir les grains par frottage et ensuite les laver à l’eau16.

Un grain riche en huile

Avis aux végétariens
Le quinoa est doté de diverses caractéristiques nutritives à privilégier par les végétariens. Parmi celles-ci se retrouvent le fer, le zinc et la vitamine B2. De plus, le quinoa est riche en protéines végétales (15 %) de haute qualité. Sa teneur en protéines est plus élevée et sa composition en acides aminés est plus équilibrée que celles des autres céréales courantes10.

Lorsqu’on le compare à d’autres céréales, le quinoa a un contenu relativement élevé en huile, ce qui est une autre de ses caractéristiques nutritionnelles importantes. Son contenu en huile représente une moyenne de 5,8 % de sa masse à l’état naturel15. Les acides gras essentiels (acides linoléique et alpha-linolénique) représentent 55 % à 63 % des lipides présents dans cette huile. Malgré les hauts taux de ces acides gras essentiels, qui causent l’oxydation, l’huile extraite du quinoa est relativement stable à cause de son haut taux de vitamine E15,28.

Le quinoa contre l’anémie

Le quinoa est un aliment riche en fer non hémique (fer des végétaux) (1,85 mg de fer pour 20 g de quinoa). Il s’agit donc d’une bonne façon d’inclure plus de fer dans l’alimentation, spécialement pour les gens souffrant d’anémie. Il est à noter que le fer contenu dans les aliments d’origine végétale (comme le quinoa) est moins bien absorbé par l’organisme, comparativement au fer contenu dans les aliments d’origine animale. De plus, pour une meilleure absorption du fer non hémique, il est préférable de consommer soit au même repas, soit une heure avant ou après le repas, des aliments contenant de la vitamine C (par exemple des agrumes, des fraises, du cantaloup, des kiwis, du poivron, du chou).

Le quinoa, exempt de gluten

La maladie coeliaque touche environ 4 personnes sur 1 000 en Amérique du Nord. Les gens atteints de cette maladie souffrent d’intolérance permanente au gluten, une protéine qui se retrouve dans le grain de plusieurs céréales. Cette protéine est toxique pour les gens coeliaques et sa consommation peut entraîner des symptômes intestinaux, comme une malabsorption de plusieurs nutriments. Le traitement de cette maladie consiste à exclure totalement le gluten de l’alimentation. Puisque le quinoa n’en contient pas, il serait un aliment intéressant pour les personnes intolérantes au gluten. Par contre, une attention particulière doit être portée, car le quinoa peut être contaminé par des céréales contenant du gluten, dans les champs, au cours du transport, de la manipulation des grains ou au moment de la mouture. Il est donc important de choisir des farines et des produits alimentaires certifiés sans gluten, ces produits étant les plus sûrs. Malheureusement, tous les aliments sans gluten n’arborent pas ce symbole, d’où l’importance de savoir bien lire les étiquettes pour discerner les sources potentielles de gluten.

Section Profil Santé
Recherche et rédaction
: Stéphanie Gendreau, Dt.P., nutritionniste, Institut des nutraceutiques et des aliments fonctionnels (INAF), Université Laval.
: Hélène Gagnon et Jasmine Coulombe, étudiantes en nutrition, Université Laval.
Révision scientifique
: Véronique Provencher, Dt.P., M.Sc., candidate au doctorat, Institut des nutraceutiques et des aliments fonctionnels (INAF), Université Laval.
: Louise Corneau, Dt.P., M.Sc., Institut des nutraceutiques et des aliments fonctionnels (INAF), Université Laval
mai 2006)

Le quinoa au fil du temps

Le terme « quinoa » vient du quechua, langue parlée par les Incas. Il est apparu en français en 1837 par le biais de l’espagnol.

Question de genre
En France, le terme « quinoa » est souvent employé au féminin, tandis qu’au Québec, il est toujours masculin.

On pense que la domestication du quinoa s’est faite en même temps que celle du lama, il y a 6 000 ans à 7 000 ans dans les Andes de l’Amérique du Sud, la plante et l’animal vivant en mutuelle dépendance depuis des temps immémoriaux. D’autant plus que le quinoa était, et est toujours, l’une des rares plantes à pouvoir survivre dans le milieu inhospitalier de l’Altiplano andin, où vivait le guanaco, ancêtre du lama. Enrichi par le fumier des animaux, le sol des enclos primitifs construits par les premiers éleveurs agriculteurs constituait un milieu idéal pour la germination des graines de quinoa qui avaient échappé au processus de digestion. Dans ces conditions, la plante croissait rapidement et devait donner d’excellents rendements, ce qui n’a certainement pas échappé aux humains en quête de grains pour se sustenter.

Plante sacrée des Incas, qu’ils qualifiaient de chisiya mama, littéralement « graine mère », le quinoa a largement contribué à l’expansion de cette grande civilisation. Toutefois, les Espagnols considéreront le grain indigène avec mépris et en interdiront la culture au profit de celle du blé et de l’orge. Si bien qu’au cours des quatre siècles suivants, il périclitera, ne persistant que dans les endroits incultes et éloignés des centres de décision de l’administration espagnole. Encore aujourd’hui, il est la principale source de protéines pour la majorité de la population dans l’Altiplano Sud de la Bolivie. En effet, sur les 25 000 familles qui y vivent, on estime que près de 20 000 en dépendent entièrement pour leur subsistance, à l’exclusion de tout autre type de culture ou d’élevage.

Dans les années 1970, les Occidentaux prennent conscience de la nécessité de modifier leurs habitudes alimentaires et découvrent le précieux grain des Incas, dont la teneur en protéines et, surtout, la qualité de ces dernières, surpassent celles des céréales classiques. Si bien que sa consommation augmente progressivement en Europe et en Amérique du Nord, tandis qu’en Amérique du Sud, en dehors de quelques régions éloignées, on observe le phénomène contraire.

De nombreux facteurs sont invoqués pour expliquer cette situation, notamment le fait qu’il en coûte moins cher d’importer du blé des États-Unis et du Canada que de produire du quinoa sur place, et que ce dernier souffre toujours d’un problème d’image. En effet, malgré sa richesse nutritionnelle, il reste, dans l’esprit des consommateurs, un grain de troisième ordre. D’où la décision récente des gouvernements de la Bolivie et du Pérou de subventionner des programmes d’aide alimentaire dans lesquels il tient une plus grande place, et de le valoriser comme authentique produit du terroir auprès de la classe moyenne.

Dans ces deux pays, on produit commercialement de la farine, des tortillas, des flocons, des préparations à crêpes et des grains soufflés. Impanifiable, sa farine permet tout de même d’enrichir le pain à hauteur de 30 %, tandis qu’elle peut entrer pour 40 % dans la composition des pâtes alimentaires et pour 60 % dans celle des biscuits. On songe d’ailleurs à l’établir dans les pays d’Afrique où la malnutrition est chronique.

Le quinoa est aujourd’hui cultivé dans d’autres pays, notamment aux États-Unis et au Canada, et des expériences sont en cours pour le cultiver en Europe. Toutefois, certains affirment que le Quinoa Real, qui est produit dans le climat hostile de l’Altiplano bolivien, est de loin le meilleur.

Usages culinaires

Bien choisir

On trouve, dans le commerce, des grains de quinoa, de la farine (crue ou grillée), des flocons ainsi que diverses préparations boulangères. Les pâtes alimentaires à base de quinoa contiennent habituellement d’autres grains, comme le blé et le maïs.


Les grains vendus en Amérique du Nord et en Europe sont généralement débarrassés des saponines que contient l’écorce, mais il est important de les rincer tout de même à grande eau afin d’éliminer tout résidu de ces substances, au risque qu’elles donnent un goût amer au plat. Rincer jusqu’à ce que l’eau soit limpide.

Cuisson : deux parties d’eau ou de bouillon pour une partie de quinoa. Cuire environ 20 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que le grain soit translucide et que le germe blanc forme une spirale visible à l’extérieur du grain. On peut faire griller les grains à sec dans une poêle avant la cuisson à l’eau, ce qui fera ressortir leur saveur.

Apprêts culinaires

Le quinoa peut remplacer les autres grains dans pratiquement toutes les recettes, par exemple le boulghour dans la salade de taboulé, la semoule de blé dans le couscous ou le riz dans le risotto. Voici quelques autres suggestions.

  • L’ajouter aux soupes, par exemple, cette soupe aux champignons : faire dorer des tranches de champignons de Paris et de shiitakes et les réserver. Faire revenir des oignons et du céleri, ajouter du quinoa et cuire deux minutes. Ajouter des dés de pommes de terre et des rondelles de carottes, du bouillon, sel, poivre, thym, et cuire jusqu’à ce que les pommes de terre soient tendres. Ajouter les champignons et garnir de persil.
  • L’intégrer dans les soufflés, omelettes, quiches.
  • Tomates farcies : mélanger quinoa cuit, fruits séchés mis à tremper une heure dans l’eau, raisins frais fendus en deux, amandes hachées, vert de ciboule, épices (cardamome, muscade, poivre noir, graines de coriandre moulues, gingembre en poudre). Mettre à refroidir quelques heures, puis farcir les tomates de ce mélange.
  • Pilaf : faire sauter des oignons, des poivrons rouges, verts et jaunes, du céleri, des carottes et de l’ail; ajouter du quinoa, revenir quelques minutes, puis ajouter de l’eau ou du bouillon. Garnir d’amandes effilées et d’origan.
  • Farcir une volaille d’un mélange de quinoa cuit, noix rôties à sec, oignon, ail, champignons et céleri revenus dans l’huile d’olive, assaisonnée de sauge, de romarin, de thym et de persil. Pour varier, mettre moitié quinoa, moitié riz sauvage.
  • Salade de pâtes de quinoa à l’orientale : cuire les pâtes en suivant les instructions et les refroidir sous l’eau. Rôtir à sec des graines de sésame; blanchir des pois mange-tout et les rafraîchir sous l’eau; faire revenir des morceaux de poulet dans l’huile jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient bien cuits. Mélanger tous ces ingrédients avec les pâtes, des amandes effilées, de l’ail et du gingembre hachés, de la ciboule émincée et une vinaigrette à base d’huile d’olive additionnée d’un peu d’huile de sésame, de jus de citron, de sauce soya, de miel et de piment fort.
  • Burgers de quinoa : lier les grains cuits avec un oeuf et de la mie de pain, ajouter des carottes, de l’oignon, du céleri et de l’ail émincés, former des galettes et cuire à la poêle. Servir avec un coulis de tomate ou de poivron, ou une sauce au yogourt, à l’ail et au persil.
  • Préparer un chili sans viande avec du quinoa, des haricots rognons, des tomates, de la poudre de chili et des légumes (carottes, oignon, céleri) émincés.
  • Salade amérindienne : quinoa, grains de maïs sucré, pois verts, tomates, piment jalapeno, coriandre hachée.
  • Quinoa à l’indienne : faire revenir des échalotes et du gingembre frais dans l’huile d’olive. Ajouter le quinoa ainsi que des épices moulues (cardamome, cumin, Cayenne, coriandre), de l’eau ou du bouillon, et cuire dix ou quinze minutes. Faire griller des pignons à sec dans une poêle et les ajouter, avec des raisins secs, au quinoa cuit.
  • On peut en faire un pouding sucré, selon le principe du pouding au riz ou au pain.


Conserver les grains au frais, au sec et à l’abri de la lumière, et la farine au réfrigérateur ou au congélateur.

Écologie et environnement

Des saponines à laver et pour laver
Les saponines présentes dans l’écorce du quinoa jouent un rôle de répulsif contre les insectes et les oiseaux. Mais elles ont un goût amer. On les élimine donc après la récolte. Toutefois, l’eau de traitement qui est chargée de ces substances pollue l’environnement, si bien que des chercheurs se penchent aujourd’hui sur les moyens à prendre pour les récupérer. On sait, par exemple, que traditionnellement, les Indiens se servaient de l’eau de rinçage du quinoa comme shampoing.

Il y a une quarantaine d’années, un groupe de personnes de Riobamba, ville commerciale située en plein coeur des montagnes et hautes vallées de l’Équateur, mettait sur pied une radio communautaire (ERPE ou Escuelas Radiofonica Populares del Ecuador) à visée éducative et culturelle. Manquant de ressources, ses promoteurs décidèrent de la financer en cultivant du quinoa biologique sur une terre de quelques hectares. À cette époque, ce grain avait pratiquement disparu du paysage équatorien et ne figurait plus au menu depuis belle lurette.

Les animateurs parlèrent de leur expérience sur les ondes et, en peu de temps, ils furent inondés d’appels téléphoniques de la part d’auditeurs souhaitant obtenir de l’information sur la culture biologique du quinoa. Entre-temps, ils firent la promotion de leur produit dans les foires commerciales, suscitant un vif intérêt à l’étranger. De simple radio communautaire, l’organisme se transforma en entreprise de conseil technique et agricole auprès des cultivateurs et mit sur pied l’un des réseaux d’achat et de vente les plus importants du pays. De 1997 à 2002, le nombre de familles équatoriennes qui cultivaient du quinoa pour ce réseau passa de 220 à 4 000, tandis que la récolte, initialement de quelques milliers de kilos, atteignait les 700 tonnes. Aujourd’hui, l’ERPE est pleinement accréditée par un organisme de certification biologique allemand et compte vendre ses produits dans toute l’Europe.

En récompense de ses efforts, l’ERPE recevait, en 2000, le prix Slow Food pour avoir rétabli en Équateur une culture indigène qui avait disparu et permis aux petits paysans du pays d’en vivre dans le respect de l’environnement.

Sections Le quinoa au fil du temps, Usages culinaires, Conservation, Écologie et environnement
Recherche et rédaction :
Paulette Vanier

Coordination du contenu : Josiane Cyr, Dt. P., nutritionniste

Fiche mise à jour : mai 2006


Note : les liens hypertextes menant vers d'autres sites ne sont pas mis à jour de façon continue. Il est possible qu'un lien devienne introuvable. Veuillez alors utiliser les outils de recherche pour retrouver l'information désirée.


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