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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Un poids santé, ça commence au petit déjeuner

Un poids santé, ça commence au petit déjeuner
31 août 2011 - Prendre un petit déjeuner à la maison, même s’il ne consiste qu’en un fruit attrapé à la volée, contribuerait à maintenir un poids santé.
C’est l’une des observations tirées d’un sondage mené par le Consumer Reports National Research Center auprès de 1 234 personnes aux États-Unis.
Ce sondage, qui s’intéressait aux saines habitudes alimentaires, s’est penché en particulier sur deux habitudes associées au contrôle du poids : prendre un petit déjeuner et éviter les boissons gazeuses.
La journée du sondage, une majorité de répondants ont dit manger le matin. Au total, 78 pour cent d’entre eux avaient mangé, et pour la plupart ils avaient pris leur petit déjeuner à la maison (84%). À l’inverse, 22% des participants avaient tout simplement sauté le premier repas de la journée. En général, l’indice de masse corporel des gens ayant mangé à la maison était plus bas que ceux ayant mangé à l’extérieur ou qui n’ayant pas du tout mangé.
Petit déjeuner copieux ou frugal?
Faut-il manger copieusement le matin pour mieux contrôler son appétit le restant de la journée? À la lumière de récentes études, ce n’est pas si certain. En fait, s’il est une seule recommandation qui tienne, c’est de choisir des aliments contenant des éléments nutritifs et d’écouter les signaux de faim et de satiété.
Ainsi, sauter le petit déjeuner dans le but de perdre du poids se révèle une mauvaise stratégie puisque la faim (et la rage de sucre!) nous rattrapera plus tard en nous faisant craquer pour la première chose rassasiante en vue : beignet, muffin géant, biscuits, etc. Plus encore, selon la Clinique Mayo, le fait de prolonger le jeûne, après une nuit de sommeil, augmente la sécrétion d’insuline (dont le rôle est de faire pénétrer le sucre dans les cellules afin de produire de l’énergie). Du coup, le corps est davantage porté à stocker le gras, avec comme conséquence directe une prise de poids.
Quant aux choix alimentaires, plusieurs études ont noté que le petit déjeuner est souvent l’occasion de consommer des aliments appartenant à des groupes alimentaires négligés : les fruits et légumes et les produits laitiers. Ces aliments, ainsi que les grains entiers, sont également associés à l’atteinte et au maintien du poids santé. Il semble également que de manger sainement le matin prédispose à bien manger le restant de la journée.
Les choix les plus populaires au petit déjeuner
  • Fruits (42%)
  • Jus de fruits (37%)
  • Céréales (29%)
  • Pain de blé entier, rôties, muffin anglais (25%)
  • Bacon, jambon ou saucisse (19%)
  • Gruau (18%)
  • Yogourt (15%)
  • Oeufs (14%)
  • Substituts d’oeufs (8%)
Consumer Reports National Research Center
Claudia Morissette – PasseportSanté.net
D’après Consumer Reports et Mayo Clinic

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breaking Down the Pistol Squat

Breaking Down the Pistol Squat

Breaking Down the Pistol Squat
Through aging, injury, or just lack of use, the legs can atrophy from a set of invincible limbs that win Olympics and break world records to scar-covered twigs of stiffness and limited strength.
While the proclamation, "Pain is temporary, and glory is forever" is common in youthful athletes, the sad truth is that glory is temporary and pain is forever.
Abuse your legs and it will come back to haunt you. There's nothing more humbling than having a leg injury or watching one happen. A healthy, mobile person is reduced to a limping or lame figure in seconds.
There's massive debate and always will be on strengthening and rehabbing the legs. Ask ten trainers and you'll get ten methods and plenty of debate about who's right. That's the problem – their arguments seem to focus on the differences, not the similarities. I'm not going to jump into the forum wars, just offer a simple tool that has a powerful effect.
The pistol or one-legged squat is a body weight or weighted drill that requires flexibility, leanness, balance, and leg strength. It's easy for some and next to impossible for others.
Those who have an innate talent for doing them make the task look ridiculously simple. Then there are those who can easily squat over 500 pounds who attempt pistols and look like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.
The pistol is not just a circus movement to be used to impress your friends or gain rep points online. There are many upsides to becoming proficient in them:
  • No equipment is needed
  • They can be done anywhere
  • They maintain leg strength, flexibility, and health
  • The weaker leg can be brought up to strength
  • They activate the hip, knee, and angle joints. Even the feet are affected.
However, there are downsides to the pistol.
  • Loading them to increase intensity isn't always easy
  • Body proportions can limit your ability
  • They don't produce massive gains in size
  • They may not transfer strength to standard squats
  • Previous injuries may limit your ability or range of motion.
Rather than dwell on the ups and downs, let's target the best part of the pistol and make it a drill that serves us now instead of challenging us for months.

The Box Pistol

pistol Squats
The box pistol is used as an intermediate tool for accomplishing a standard full-range pistol. It's like a box squat, except progressive range of motion is used to create overload instead of progressive resistance. In other words, you slowly lower the height of the box until you're doing rock-bottom pistols.
There are two types of box pistols, loaded and unloaded. Some folks, because of body proportions, will need a load in their hands to counterbalance the body. For lighter individuals, non-weighted box pistols may be the ticket since adding any load will be too much for them to overcome if their legs aren't strong.
The leg, like the arm, is a series of joints. Wing Chun Gung Fu master, Nino Bernardo, describes the shoulder as a ball and socket, the elbow as a hinge, and the wrist as a 'universal' joint. The same structure occurs in the leg. The hip is the ball and socket, the knee is a hinge, and the ankle is the universal joint. When we practice the box pistol barefoot, as you should, the neglected muscles of the foot are also stimulated.
Balance is unique and misunderstood. There isn't whole body "balance" per se, but individual "balances." So by practicing balancing on one leg, you're only improving the ability to do just that – balance on one leg.
Regardless, attempting to stabilize on one leg is an enlightening drill. What's revealed is that there's a pronounced difference between the left and right legs. By training them individually you can minimize the disparity between them. The weakness can occur at the foot, ankle, knee, hip, or even in the torso and back. The use of a training partner, a mirror, or video can help if your problem is dramatic.
Look for a box or chair that places your thigh slightly below parallel. Most normal chairs work fine and even park benches are good. The fact is, I often recommend that my clients who work in offices get out of their chairs using the pistol approach.

The Pistol Approach

Breaking Down the Pistol Squat
  • Start in the seated position.
  • Reach forward with your hands as if you were diving in the pool and extend your non-working leg. The hip flexors of this leg will no doubt be weak and start to cramp. Stretch them between sets.
  • Now lean forward as far as possible and pinch your upper thighs together. Tension is the key.
  • Give a small grunt and drive the grounded heel into the floor. Come to the upright position with the knee and hip locked. You're not done yet. You have to lower back down and this is the tough part.
  • Reach back with your hips and pull yourself down in slow motion using the hip flexors. Do not drop! This eccentric loading is essential for the exercise.
  • When you hit the box or chair, rock back slightly to unload the hamstring, then rock forward to repeat. This unloading is essential to the exercise as much as it is in standard box squats.

Sets and Reps

Breaking Down the Pistol Squat
This is a high-tension exercise. There may be a difference from side to side with coordination and strength – just as you have a dominant hand, you also have a dominant leg.
While a strength difference between limbs can increase the risk of injury, so can a lack of endurance. Approaching this drill through low repetition/high set training seems to work the best. Remember, as you balance on one leg, the "roll," "pitch," and "yaw" of each joint is amplified. High levels of tension done frequently and relatively fresh will minimize shaky movement and create fluid, powerful execution.
There's a school of thought that has you doing pistols, and in this case box pistols, throughout the day; it's known as GTG or "Grease the Groove." Others don't like this approach and prefer a more focused "workout." Including them in your workout two to three times per week seems to make most people happy.
Adding weight is an interesting element. By holding the weight in your extended arms, you can effectively counterbalance your body to overcome a deficit in flexibility. It's more work for your leg because of added poundage, but easier for some who don't have optimal power to weight ratios.
There are two other options:
First, you can rack the dumbbell or kettlebell on your shoulder and adopt a more upright posture. This for some will be a gradual process due to adaptations in flexibility and posture.
Second, and perhaps the best, is a weight vest or backpack. This makes the body heavier without any alterations in leverage. That heavier body is balanced on one leg and now you're forced to repetitively box squat on that leg. So you're limiting the range of motion, but also making use of all the benefits of the classic box squat.

Pack Your Pistol!

A well-performed pistol squat never fails to get considerable attention at the gym, but there's more to the movement than just another cool party trick to impress your friends. Give the box pistol squat a shot. You have nothing to lose and only healthy, strong knees to gain.


Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian Split Squats

The rear foot elevated split squat (aka the Bulgarian split squat) has become my primary lower body strength exercise. I don't back squat, rarely front squat, and when I do, it's usually with lighter weights.
(Please, hear me out before you slap the wuss tag on me and search for the next "do squats and drink milk" article.)
I still love squats, but I don't think they're right for me. I've had a long history of back problems (not lifting-related), which culminated in 2005 when I had a surgery to repair a disk at L5-S1. I was just 20 years old.
I started squatting after my surgery because I wanted to make my legs bigger and stronger and had always heard squats were the only way to do it. My legs did get bigger and stronger, but my back was constantly sore. I remember always having to ice my back just to make it to the next squat day, then repeating the process all over again. There had to be a better way.
It turns out heavy squats aren't the only way to get bigger, stronger legs.

Enter the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

I'd dabbled with rear foot elevated split squats (RFESS) off and on for a few years, but I never really thought of them as a strength exercise until I read Mike Boyle's article Build Bigger Legs, One at a Time. Shortly thereafter, I got an internship at Coach Boyle's facility (where I now work), and knowing that RFESS are his bread and butter lower body exercise, I figured it'd be a good idea to get better at them.
It didn't take long for me to start drinking the Kool Aid, and I haven't looked back. My experiences thus far have surpassed even my grandest expectations. I haven't experienced any back pain since my transition from heavy squats to heavy RFESS. My biggest "problem" now is that I've maxed out the dumbbells in the gym and have had to resort to loading with weighted vests, chains, and the occasional Volkswagen Beetle (kidding).
My adoration has been bolstered by what I've observed from my athletes. We've had well over 500 athletes come through the doors in the past year without a single case of low back pain due to the RFESS. There have been a few minor complaints of knee pain that have been quickly cleared up by adjusting the distance of the front leg to the bench (usually moving farther away). Similarly, I've heard several complaints of a pulling sensation in the groin and hip flexor of the rear leg (usually shorter and/or inflexible athletes), usually rectified by lowering the height of the bench.
Nevertheless, for someone with a preexisting groin issue, I'd choose some other movement.
Still, when taking into account the sheer volume of athletes that we've had perform the exercise on a regular basis, the injury rate is remarkably low, almost zero.
It's also a very "user-friendly" exercise, meaning most people can do it well. Many lifters struggle for years learning how to squat correctly, and lots never do. Go into any commercial gym and you'll see far more bad squats than you will good ones. Often, it's due to poor form and/or mobility restrictions, both of which are correctable with good coaching, hard work, and patience.
If you're one who's hell-bent on squatting and are willing to address your limitations to be able to do them well, I applaud you. In the meantime, it still makes sense to employ the RFESS as the risk of getting hurt is far less. If you can't squat well and continue to do it anyway, you're just asking for injury.
Finally, there are those who just aren't meant to squat. For some like me, it may be due to prior injury, while for others it may just be the way they're built. Many lifters with longer femurs and longer torsos will invariably turn their squats into good mornings, transferring much of the force from the legs to the lower back, which is both dangerous and ineffective. Practice and coaching may improve their technique slightly, but for the most part it will be an uphill battle.
I realize what I just said is akin to strength and conditioning heresy. Many just can't wrap their minds around the idea that squats may not be for everyone. I'd submit that these people are probably good squatters who haven't experienced significant back pain in their lives. For those blessed souls, squats are great. I'm jealous of them. But for those with back injuries or who just can't seem to pull off a decent squat, the RFESS is a better choice.


Bulgarian Split Squats

In the back squat, the limiting factor is typically the lower back. In the front squat, it's the upper back. In the RFESS, you essentially eliminate those limiting factors and are able to hone in more directly on the legs. Moreover, because you're not loading the spine as heavily, it doesn't take as long to recover, so you're able to do them with greater frequency, potentially leading to greater strength and size gains.
It might seem that stability would be a severely limiting factor in getting strong, but this isn't the case with the RFESS, which is what makes it the best single-leg variation for building strength. In many ways, it bridges the gap between bilateral and single-leg exercises because you get the benefits of unilateral training while still getting assistance from the back leg to handle heavier loads. The back leg doesn't do much as far as lifting the weight, but helps tremendously with stabilization, allowing the front working leg to push harder. Technically, it could be argued that the RFESS isn't even a true single leg exercise at all since both legs are in contact with a fixed surface the entire time.
I don't care how it's classified. I just care if it works, and it clearly does.

Squat-less Hypertrophy?

Switching to the RFESS doesn't mean resigning yourself to a life with chicken legs. My legs have gotten bigger and stronger over the past year and a half, which doesn't seem logical until you consider that the vast majority of lifters can overload the legs much more in a RFESS than they can in a squat or front squat.
Exactly how much more isn't clear – it's hard to determine exactly how much load is being placed on the working leg during a RFESS since the back leg helps to some degree. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say the front leg bears about 85% of the load, although I'm sure it varies from person to person. It's also hard to compare the RFESS to full squats because the depth isn't equivalent since the front leg is slightly above parallel in the bottom position of the RFESS.
We could argue about the minutiae all day. In the end, just look at the numbers. We've found that on average, our athletes use about the same weight for the RFESS that they use for parallel front squats. Many athletes that struggle with squatting can actually RFESS more than they front squat!
The more experienced athletes with good squatting builds (short and stocky) usually front squat slightly more, but not much. Even the best squatters usually front squat no more than 10% of what they can do on the RFESS.
We're only starting to scratch the surface with the RFESS. Two years ago, when Mike wrote his controversial article, 225x5 was considered the benchmark. Now we have high school guys hitting those numbers and college guys doing it for close to 20 reps!

The "How To"

Bulgarian Split Squats

The key to learning the RFESS is first establishing a good setup position and then following a systematic loading progression.
  • Start by placing a small Airex pad or folded towel in front of a standard weight bench.
  • Standing in front of the pad, reach one leg back behind you and rest the top of your foot on the bench.
  • Descend under control until your back knee lightly touches the pad, making sure to keep the torso upright.
The most important thing is determining how far you need to stand from the bench, which is somewhat individual and will take some trial and error to figure out.
The closer you stand to the bench, the more it will emphasize the quads. However, standing too close may cause knee pain and make it harder to stay upright.
On the other hand, standing too far away can cause pain in the groin and hip flexor of the rear leg and lead to excessive arching of the lower back. You should feel a slight stretch in the rear hip flexor, but no pain. If you feel pain, try using a shorter bench so the stretch isn't as extreme.
When first starting out, it seems best to start from the bottom up to help ingrain good form. As far as loading, start with a light dumbbell held in the goblet position.
bulgarian squats
Stick with the goblet hold until you've maxed out the dumbbells in your gym or can no longer hold the weight. The goblet hold is great because it forces you into good posture while providing a great core workout.
Once you've run out of weight that way, start holding two dumbbells at your sides. You'll need to be extra vigilant to stay upright because the dumbbells will pull you forward. If using a 90-pound dumbbell with the goblet hold, start with two 50-pound dumbbells. Continue on until you've maxed out your dumbbells.
Using wrist straps is fine if grip strength becomes an issue, but only when absolutely necessary. Try to refrain and in time you'll have a killer grip to accompany your strong legs.
If you find yourself in a position where you've run out of weight again, there are several things you can do:
Use weight vests. This is my personal favorite, but I realize not everyone has access to them.
Use a barbell. For people with back issues, I prefer using a front squat grip because it requires less weight and helps ensure an upright torso, similar to the goblet hold. If you don't have back issues, feel free to put the bar on your back if it's more comfortable. If using a front squat grip, use the same weight as you would if you were holding dumbbells. If using the bar on your back method, you'll be able to handle slightly more weight, so plan accordingly. Any time you use a barbell, make sure to use a power rack so you can safely bail if need be.
Increase the range of motion by elevating the front leg on a small step. I love this method, but it's not for everyone. If you don't have the requisite mobility, it can wreak havoc on your hips and lower back. Start light and if you experience any pain whatsoever, try something else. I recommend no higher than a four-inch step, which will put most lifters of average height at parallel or slightly below.
Eccentrics. Slowing down the tempo on the eccentric portion of the rep will make lighter weights feel heavier, which is great for both hypertrophy and strength. I warn you though, they burn! This isn't a technique I'd recommend doing frequently. Rather, it should be employed sparingly and judiciously, no more than once every 3-4 months for three weeks at a time.
1.5 Reps. I picked this one up from Joe Defranco. Do one full rep, come halfway up, go back down again, and come all the way up. That's one rep. This significantly increases the time under tension and can be great for packing some muscle on your quads. Again, these burn. Consider yourself warned.
Jump. RFESS jumps are a fantastic way to develop single-leg power through a full range of motion.

Closing Thoughts

I'm certainly not anti-squatting. Fact is, if I could do them pain free, I'd probably take up powerlifting as I love moving heavy weights. And if squatting works for you, then do it.
If what you're doing isn't working, the RFESS might be the answer you're looking for. But you'll never know until you try it. What do you have to lose?


Fat Loss Nutrition

Fat Loss Nutrition
Advice doesn't have to be complicated to be effective. The simpler the advice, the more likely it will be applied in the real world, thus the more likely it will produce the desired result.
If you can't summarize your theories in less than a few minutes, then either your kohai (student) won't understand it, you don't really understand it, you're trying to sound too smart, or the material is so complex that it won't work in real life situations.
Since I'm coming close to the end of my rookie season here on T NATION, I figured I'd give you a short, practical summary of what we've covered so far regarding fat loss nutrition. Colleagues, clients, and friends have called it a Paleo-meets-Sports Nutrition hybrid approach.
Here are the Cliff Notes:
  • A Paleo/caveman-style diet is a simple template from which everyone can start. Eliminating most man-made, modern, processed, and refined foods and emphasizing natural foods that we evolved from can go a long way in improving health markers while helping achieve physique enhancement goals.
  • However, high intensity exercise creates a unique metabolic environment and changes how the body processes nutrients for 24-48 hours upon completion of a training session. If you exercise 3-5 days a week, your body is virtually in recovery mode 100% of the time. It's an altered physiological state beyond pure resting conditions, thus its nutritional needs are completely different from the average, sedentary, overweight office worker.
  • We should keep in mind that surviving in the wild during caveman times is different than achieving elite performance or physique goals in modern times. "Life extensionism" at the cost of a sickly appearance, low libido/Testosterone, and an overall lack of "bad-assery" is not what the average T NATION guy is looking for.
At the same time, an awesome physique at the cost of poor health or early death isn't what the majority are seeking either. How about an intelligent plan with some balance?
  • Just like the sedentary person shouldn't get caught up in following Food Pyramid dogma, the strength-training athlete shouldn't get caught up in following no-carb dogma. Treating sick populations (insulin resistant, obese, etc.) is not advising athletes. Targeted carbohydrate intake can help the athlete fuel, recover from, and respond to intense strength training sessions.
The athlete should look at adding back in some low fructose, non-gluten, or "anti-nutrient" containing starches (potatoes, yams, rice) into their plan.
This is my approach, based on my education and experiences. But it's not the only way. I encourage you to take some personal accountability and self-experiment to find what works best for you.
Just remember, there's more than one way to skin a cat, or more appropriately for us, to peel off body fat.

The Lost Art of Post Workout Nutrition

Fat Loss Nutrition
I've talked a lot about Paleo Nutrition specifics. This time around, lets talk about some Sports Nutrition specifics. Efficiency means starting with the most important thing first right? The key, core concept in Sports Nutrition is post-workout nutrition.
Before the rise of information overload, practical advice regarding post-workout nutrition was simple – down some damn protein and carbs as soon as you can after finishing your workout.
Lately, I've seen a disturbing trend rising amongst the gym population, particularly amongst those who fall victim to over-intellectualizing or over-theorizing everything. Turns out some scientist or evolutionary theorist somewhere stated that carbs in the post-workout period inhibit the fat burning environment created by exercise.
Thus, people are starting to believe that to maximize fat loss, you must go low carb all the time, even in the critical post-workout window.
I can hear Donnie Brasco right now,
The result is that the Sports Nutrition principle that's more important for producing physique development results than anything else, namely combining protein with carbs in the post-workout period, has been lost. These days I have to fight with people to get them to include some damn carbs in their post-workout meal.
That's crazy!
Unfortunately, a few T NATION readers have fallen under this spell. I've had to help several regular Nation readers uncover the underlying problem concerning their lack of physique enhancement results despite consistent and intense training protocols.
The #1 culprit was a lack of carbs in the post-workout recovery period. For too long, many of us have been living on "A Nightmare on Carb Street."
It's time to wake up.
What to do can be explained in a sentence: down some Surge Recovery and/or eat a post-workout meal combining protein with carbohydrates in a 1:1 to 1:2 ratio after every strength training workout. Whole food examples include fish and rice, egg/egg white mixtures and rice cakes, chicken and yam, steak and potato, etc.
If you're already doing that, you're done. You're probably getting good results and don't need to read on. The rest of this article is geared towards those who've somehow been confused into thinking that post-workout protein/carb combos are detrimental to their physique goals.
Unfortunately, the why – the science behind simple practical recommendations – can get pretty complex. However, it's a worthwhile endeavor to learn a little bit. It gives you the knowledge-base necessary to separate fact from the brown stuff that comes out of a bull's backside. It helps you stick to the fundamentals of physique enhancement and not get pulled off track by highly intelligent theorists, but equally lacking in real world practical experience.

The Problem with No Carbs Post Workout

When most people think of getting shredded, they think of fat loss only. This often results in extreme calorie/carb cuts and exercise protocols that can be counterproductive in the long-term due to the presence of a chronic catabolic environment. For example, hours of cardio a day and cutting out lettuce because it contains 1g of carbohydrate.
Short-term catabolism is beneficial, as it helps us break down stored energy nutrients for fuel, both as glycogen or body fat. But chronic, long-term catabolism is highly problematic for physique enhancement goals. This ultimately leads to muscle loss and body fat gain despite high activity levels and low food intake.
So physique athletes can't just think about "burning" stuff off all the time, even during fat loss phases. We also have to pay attention to recovery and muscle growth, or at the very least, lean muscle maintenance. Enter post-workout nutrition.
I like to think of this as the "yin & yang" of physique enhancement. We need balance in everything in life.
When one side is unbalanced, such as when a sedentary person consistently eats refined carbohydrates, insulin is chronically elevated, and there's too much "anabolic" activity – the body is always in storage mode, including storing body fat. If this isn't offset with "catabolic" activity or the burning off of stored nutrients through exercise, the net effect is "Pillsbury Doughboy-ville."
What happens when the side of that equation becomes unbalanced is a little more complicated.
If you lean too much in the other direction (i.e. performing intense activity while chronically restricting calories/carbs, especially post-workout), there are negative consequences. Most notably, a lack of physique development and body composition change despite sincere effort.
Exercise is a catabolic activity. We all know it causes microscopic damage/tears in the muscle tissue. But what some have forgotten is that this catabolic process must be offset with an anabolic recovery period for physical adaptation to take place. Muscular repair – an anabolic process – only occurs with proper nutritional intake.
If you perform high intensity strength training but don't include some protein and carbs for recovery, what you end up with is cortisol over-dominance and a constant catabolic state. This over-dominance of cortisol is compounded by two lifestyle factors:
  • Our modern lifestyles, especially those of career-driven professionals, are highly stressful. Cortisol levels are chronically high due to the stress of corporate life. You don't want to add to this negative hormonal environment with improper post-workout nutrition. Otherwise, what's intended to be beneficial (exercise) ends up being counterproductive by contributing even more to chronically elevated cortisol levels.
  • Those who lack real anaerobic fuel from carbohydrate intake often make up for it with artificial energy coming from stimulants (coffee, energy drinks, fat burning pills). Now there's considerable research that caffeine, in moderation, is beneficial for fat burning, but the key, as with most things in life, is moderation.
Needing to drink 84 oz. of coffee or 6 energy drinks just to get through the day is not moderation. It's chemical dependency. If overdone, cortisol remains chronically elevated, and contributes to the "stubborn body fat" syndrome.
This is the exact scenario that plays out with many strength-training athletes who strictly adhere to low carbohydrate diets. They're confused, thinking the low carb diet plans that are the best for sedentary populations are also the best for them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The result of this hormonal environment is the "Skinny-Fat Syndrome." Guys and gals who consistently train hard, follow the low-carb trend, think they're doing everything right, are lean everywhere else, but hold flab right around the midsection. Oddly enough, it's too low of a carbohydrate intake, and it's the refusal to offset catabolic activity with an anabolic recovery period that's keeping them fat.
These athletes may be improving performance parameters (improving strength, endurance, ability to perform a specific like max pull-ups, deadlift max, etc.), but their appearance isn't changing. In many instances, it's getting worse.
It's much easier to improve performance on a sub-par diet than it is to improve appearance. Fact is, for the person with average genetics and choosing a natural route, .
Yes, if carbs are overeaten it will inhibit the fat loss process. Chronic elevation or overproduction of insulin can of course lead to fat gain. But in the right amounts and situations (i.e. following an intense workout where insulin sensitivity is high), it can be a good thing (anabolic, anti-catabolic).
As counterintuitive as it sounds, some carbs in the diet can offset the catabolic activity of exercise (insulin is a counter-regulatory hormone to cortisol), can initiate the recovery and repair process, can help build lean muscle, and can help burn fat in the recovery period.
I've worked with physique athletes who got over their misconceptions and "carbophobia," leaned up, and reached personal, record low body fat percentages by into their diet; starting of course, with the post-workout period.

The Inhibition of Fat Burning Myth

Fat Loss Nutrition
The biggest argument I hear against carbs post-workout is that they'll inhibit optimum fat burning. This may be true at other times of the day, under normal physiological conditions, but it's not true in the unique environment created by intense strength training.
As bodybuilding nutritionist Chris Aceto accurately stated, carbs have a "metabolic priority" in the post-workout period. The strength training athlete cycles periods of glycogen depletion with glycogen restoration, and in the post-workout period, even a high carb intake doesn't get stored as body fat.
Again, the prevailing confusion in our industry is due to dietary principles that are great for sedentary populations being extrapolated and applied across the board, even with athletes.
In the post-workout period, the main priority of ingested glucose is to refill depleted glycogen stores. As this is happening, fatty acids fuel normal resting energy requirements.

That's A Wrap

There's a lot more we can talk about regarding this topic, such as the effect of carb and protein levels on the free Testosterone:cortisol ratio in response to exercise, changes in glucose transporters, and the glycogen synthase enzyme in response to exercise, etc.
But these are all more about the then the to do with post-workout nutrition. For now, follow my advice and return to the simple: take in some protein and carbs post-workout, even when prioritizing fat loss. You may need to cut the carbs at other times during the day, but you shouldn't cut them in the post-workout period.


1. Kimber, et al. Skeletal muscle fat and carbohydrate metabolism during recovery from glycogen-depleting exercise in humans. J Physiol. 2003 May 1;548(Pt 3):919-27.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Substances protégeant de l'asthme identifiées dans le lait cru

BALE - Les enfants qui boivent du lait cru ont moins fréquemment de l'asthme ou des allergies. Une grande étude européenne sous direction suisse a identifié les substances impliquées. Les chercheurs déconseillent toutefois d'en boire à cause des risques de listeria.

Ces travaux, publiés dans le "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology", ont porté sur 8334 écoliers suisses, allemands et autrichiens. L'équipe de Georg Loss et Charlotte Braun-Fahrländer, de l'Institut tropical et de santé publique de l'Université de Bâle, a demandé aux parents s'ils donnaient à leurs rejetons du lait cru, pasteurisé ou upérisé (UHT).

Les scientifiques ont également fait une prise de sang à 7606 enfants afin de déterminer s'ils souffraient d'asthme, allergies ou rhume des foins. Finalement, ils ont identifiés diverses substances contenues dans des échantillons de lait provenant de 800 ménages, telles que bactéries, graisses ou protéines du petit-lait.

Fort effet protecteur

Résultats: le risque d'asthme chez les enfants buvant du lait cru était réduit de 41% par rapport à ceux recevant toujours du lait acheté en magasin. Les allergies était 26% moins fréquentes, le rhume des foins 49% plus rare.

Le lait cru provenant de la ferme mais chauffé avant consommation n'avait pas d'effet protecteur, ont constaté les chercheurs. Les substances impliquées étaient donc manifestement tuées durant le processus, a expliqué à l'ats Georg Loss.

De précédentes études avaient déjà mis en évidence l'effet préventif du lait cru, mais c'est la première fois que les substances impliquées sont identifiées plus précisément. En comparant les échantillons analysés avec les réactions allergiques, les chercheurs ont conclu que les protéines du petit-lait étaient en cause.

Déconseillé d'en boire

Un taux élevé des ces protéines allait de pair avec un risque d'asthme réduit pratiquement de moitié. D'autres études seront toutefois nécessaires afin de déterminer laquelle ou lesquelles de ces protéines produisent un tel effet, précise M. Loss. Des recherches avec des protéines de petit-lait isolées ont montré une action sur le système immunitaire.

Il n'en reste pas moins que les scientifiques déconseillent de boire du lait cru, qui peut contenir des bactéries dangereuses comme la listeria. Les parents ne devraient pas l'utiliser pour la prévention de l'asthme chez leurs enfants, souligne Mme Braun-Fahrländer. Le lait pasteurisé ou UHT est plus sûr.

Créer un lait sans danger et protégeant des allergies est encore un objectif lointain, selon la spécialiste. Il s'agira d'abord d'identifier précisément les substances actives et ensuite de développer une manière d'éliminer les microbes tout en préservant les composants utiles.
ATS : 21 septembre 2011


Monday, September 19, 2011

Deadlifting for MMA

Deadlifting for MMA

Deadlifting for MMA
Iron-world historians believe the deadlift may be the world's oldest strength training exercise. In less civilized times, deadlifts were performed with rocks, logs, and other formidably heavy objects as feats of strength in primitive strongman competitions.
By the 19th century, aspiring lifters started to use the deadlift as an exercise to build strength, muscle, and power. Today the deadlift, along with the bench press and squat, is one of the contested lifts in competitive powerlifting and is a strength training staple.
Yet despite such noble pedigree, few recognize the important role deadlifts can play in a Mixed Martial Artists' strength and conditioning program.
A casual search on the Internet will reveal videos of fighters performing increasingly exotic activities, leaving the impression that MMA conditioning programs have taken a turn toward a Coney Island sideshow.
While some of these routines may have their place in a MMA fighter's strength and conditioning routine, the deadlift remains the most effective exercise for building the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, adductor mangus and lumbar erectors), which is crucial for almost all physical movements in MMA.

Functional For Fighting

Deadlifting for MMA
The deadlift's basic action is picking a weight off the ground, forcing the posterior chain to lift a load that's in front of the body. A strong posterior chain is essential for executing explosive fighting movements, from shooting a double leg takedown to delivering a knee strike from a clinch, and enables a more explosive hip throw or 'heavier' hips when sprawling to prevent a takedown. This is the definition of real-world "functional training."
Deadlifts are also highly effective for building power and are one of the simplest ways to enhance rate of force production (RFD), or how quickly a person can develop tension in a muscle. This is important for any type of striking or grappling movement and in many situations specific to the cage, ring, or mat.
The nature of the average mixed martial arts bout is one in which the fighter will alternate between extended periods of moderate energy output and short bursts of explosive activity.
The majority of an MMA fight is spent jockeying for an advantageous position by trying to create openings to implement one's technique. This working for position is seen at all ranges (striking, clinch, and grappling). From the striking range, a fighter may be feigning to set up an overhand right, from the clinch a fighter may be looking to establish a deeper underhook, and from the grappling range a competitor could be slowly adjusting his hips to set up a sweep from guard.
These activities of continuous moderate energy output are disrupted when a fighter must quickly develop tension in a muscle by throwing that overhand right, using that underhook to attempt a takedown, or exploding from the bottom position to go for a sweep. Therefore, enhancing rate of force is crucial for the successful execution of all explosive movements found in MMA.
One way to increase RFD through the deadlift is compensatory acceleration training (CAT), popularized by Dr. Fred Hatfield in the 1980s. CAT is done with the assistance of resistance bands and chains that increase tension as the weight is lifted off the ground, so the resistance is heaviest at the top where most are the strongest.
This type of training is called accommodated resistance and complements the strength curve of the lift, allowing for maximum strength to be built.
Check out the following video for an example:
If the athlete doesn't lift the weight fast enough, he won't successfully complete the lift, as the tension is increasing. Think about a Thai kick, a double leg takedown, or an arm bar from the bottom; in each case the hips accelerate as you progress through the movement. This is the deadlift providing functional training for MMA.

Get A Grip

Deadlifting for MMA
You shouldn't be using straps when you deadlift as it's the ultimate exercise to increase grip strength. Increased grip strength is a very helpful adjunct for all martial arts that involve throwing, grappling, or holding an opponent, but the importance of a strong grip is especially important in an MMA fight.
With the MMA glove inhibiting hand movement, grip strength must compensate for the decreased dexterity in the fine motor skills of the fingers, most evident when fighters are battling to finish or defend a rear naked choke. Ultimately, the hands transfer power from your body to an opponent, and grip strength can make you or break you in fighting.

Deadlift Variations

There are many deadlift variations, the two most common being the conventional and sumo techniques. In the conventional deadlift the feet are hip width apart, arms just outside of the legs, the barbell is on the ground and lifted to a fully erect position. In the sumo deadlift the hands are inside the legs and the legs are much wider than shoulder width apart.
The conventional deadlift has a much greater dynamic correspondence to fighting than the sumo deadlift and is a more effective posterior chain builder. However, the sumo deadlift can't be dismissed for fighters looking to build more quad strength as well as adductor strength (the 'squeezing muscles' in the legs).
Many MMA fighters have long ignored the adductors, but an increase in adductor strength will enable a more powerful guard and tighter submissions. Any submission that requires the squeezing of the legs together (straight arm bars, knee bars, and triangle chokes) will improve with stronger adductor muscles.
Strengthening the posterior chain with the deadlift may even reduce the chance of injury. Strength coach and TNation contributor Eric Cressey states that weak hamstrings can greatly exacerbate the chance of an ACL injury (one of the most common injuries among wrestlers and MMA fighters), patellofemoral pain, and many other problems in the hip, lower back, knee, and ankle.
Machines like leg curls won't sufficiently strengthen the posterior chain, and can lead to overuse injuries as stabilizer muscles go unused and movements are in a fixed plane of motion.

Technique Notes

Some reminders for proper deadlift technique:
  • Push through the heels
  • The middle of the foot should be directly under the bar. The shins must be touching the bar.
  • The back is in extension. Don't round.
  • The shoulder blades should be directly over the bar. The shoulders are actually in front.
  • The elbows must remain in full extension throughout the movement.
  • Lower the bar in the opposite way the bar was lifted in terms of hip and knee angles.

The MMA Fighter's Deadlifting Program

Deadlifting for MMA

Pre-MMA Training Camp Deadlift Limit Strength Routine

Week 1

BCAT deadlift*60%63
CSumo deadlifts55%25
DBent over rows38
FMixed grip chin-upsMax310
GGlute ham raises38

Week 2

BCAT deadlift*60%83
CSumo deadlifts58%25
DBent over rows37
GGlute ham raises38

Week 3

BDeadlift against mini-bands max13
CCAT deadlift*55%33
DSumo deadlifts65%24
EBent over rows36
HGlute ham raises38

Week 4

BSumo deadlifts50%41
CLat pulldowns38
EGlute ham raises26

Week 5

BCAT deadlift*75%52
CSumo deadlifts70%33
DOne armed row36
GGlute ham raises38

Week 6

BReverse band deadlift maxMax31
CLightning deadlift *50%42
DSumo deadlifts72.50%33
EOne armed row36
HGlute ham raises37

Week 7

BLightning deadlift *50%42
CSumo deadlifts75%33
DOne armed row36
GGlute ham raises37

Week 8

BSumo deadlifts50%41
CLat pulldowns38
EGlute ham raises26

Week 9

Serious Exercises for Serious Results

Deadlifting for MMA
It's very important for fighters to pick functional training exercises in the true sense of exercise science, not just passing Bosu and vibration-inspired fads. Deadlifts work virtually every muscle in the body and act as a powerful catalyst for muscle growth, provided sufficient calories and protein are consumed.
Lastly, don't overlook the favorable spike in the natural production of growth hormone and Testosterone a solid deadlifting session can elicit.
With the deadlift you've found a way to gain overall body strength, work the posterior chain, aid in muscle gain or fat loss, work forceful hip and knee extension, build grip strength, and increase mental toughness and overall speed. Include them in your holistic approach or get left behind!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

5 Great Lessons

5 Great Lessons

Dan John Strength Coach
I'm a big Dan John fan.
I've been one for many years. I read Dan's first book, From the Ground Up, and his second, Never Let Go, long before we finally met. I've also read many of his published articles at T NATION along the way.
Recently, I started listening to the audio recording of his Intervention seminar and my appreciation for what Dan John brings to the strength and conditioning table has grown even more. He inspires while he educates, and it's that inspiration that prompted me to write this article.
Dan John gets it. He's walked the walk as an athlete and as a coach for nearly 30 years. And it shows.
Here are a few pearls of wisdom that I've taken from Dan's books and seminars. The key to being a great coach is to never think that you're too good to learn and change. As you'll see, there's no one better to learn from than Dan John.
1. If It's Important, do It Every Day. Reading Dan John is a funny thing. Sometimes it takes a while to get the meaning behind what he's talking about. When I first read this concept I thought, "Man, Dan is losing it! You can't squat every day!"
As I continued to read, I realized that we're talking patterns, not lifts. The message was I took this to heart and now ensure that my clients' programming includes some type of single-leg knee dominant exercise and single-leg hip dominant movement every day.
In Dan's words, we do a squat and a hinge every day. For us, it might mean that on an upper body training day we split squat or lunge and do reaching one-leg straight leg deadlifts as a warm-up. The take home point is, we make sure we're doing legs and core work every day.
2. Loaded Carries. I had Dan as a guest speaker for our annual Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning Winter Seminar this year. The big thing I took from Dan that day was the importance of loaded carries. Stuart McGill had already convinced me that carries were just moving planks, but even though I liked the idea, we hadn't really incorporated them. When Dan was done, I'd officially drank the loaded carry Kool Aid.
This year we added suitcase carries and farmers walks in as a "rest" between our sets of sled pushes. Was it the perfect place to put them? I'm not sure, but we had our athletes out on a long length of turf and it made sense. This was a case of simply looking at another great coach's program, comparing it to ours, and correcting an obvious weakness.
3. Goblet Squats. I doubt that Dan invented the goblet squat or even the term "goblet squat." I only know that he was the first person who exposed me to – and sold me on – the idea.
Dan John Strength Coach
One weakness in Dan's early writings was a lack of video or pictures. Back then Dan would go on and on about goblet squats and I'd look at the page thinking, "I have no flippin' idea what he's talking about." Keep in mind, youngsters, that this was before message boards, YouTube, even TNation.
I remember finally getting around to trying goblet squats in my business in the summer of 2010 after years of hearing Dan go on ad nauseum about their supposed greatness. I went into our facility and instructed our coaches to switch the worst squatters from whatever type of squat we had them attempting to goblet squats. Some were trying to learn to front squat, others were simply bodyweight squatting.
The addition of the dumbbell in the goblet position was nothing short of a miracle. Every single athlete, all chosen for his or her lack of squatting technique, improved dramatically. I was sold – so sold that we decided the first loading position for any athlete in any squatting movement would be the goblet position.
4. Standards. I'm a numbers kind of guy, so I love the idea of standards. This was another gem that I'd taken from Dan's talk at our winter seminar that was reignited in my mind as I listened to the Interventiontape during my drive in to work.
Dan has a way with words. In Intervention, he uses the line I thought it was funny. I also thought it was brilliant. Dan's "standard standard" is simple:

Dan John Strength Coach
Many readers will take issue with this, but if you train athletes this couldn't be truer. The reality is that if you can bench press 300 pounds, you can also front squat it and clean it. If you can't, the reason is simple. You aren't trying hard enough.
Dan goes on to provide a standard for high school football:
While not overly impressive numbers, they do add up to a good athlete who's spent some time in the weight room doing the right things.
Dan went on to describe one more standard in the loaded carry category. If you can farmer's walk your bodyweight (split between two dumbbells) for 50 yards, you're pretty strong.
Standards. You can argue them till you're blue in the face, but the fact is, they make sense. I also have a standard with my Boston University hockey players, although slightly different.
If my guys can do that, I know they're working hard in all areas. If they're exceeding the bench in the hang clean and RFESS, all the better. I always tell my guys,
Our last standard?
The chin-up is the combination of bodyweight plus the weight on the dip belt. If you can do this, you're unlikely to get a shoulder injury and are also quite strong. Our average player will do 1 chin-up in a test situation with 90-120 pounds attached.
5. Reps. The last bit of Dan John wisdom relates to the idea of reps. Dan has what he calls The Rule of 10.
In Dan's world, the Rule of 10 applies primarily to the deadlift, clean, and snatch. According to Dan, a good workout in these total body lifts calls for 10 reps. It could be 5-3-2 or 2x5, but the total is 10 reps.
Dan goes on to say that in what he calls "half body lifts" (bench press for example) you can do up to 25 reps, but to me the rule of ten can apply to every lift. In an 80-20 world, 80 percent of the workouts should have sets adding up to 10 reps. 20 percent of the time could be higher or lower.
Dan notes that most classic workouts tend to total about 25 reps. However, my feeling is that after warm-ups most good workouts still come down to about 10 good quality reps.

The Big Takeaway

Dan John Strength Coach
There are lot of books and reading you can be reading, whether it's business, self help, or even boring old strength and conditioning. My advice is to read some Dan John. There's plenty there far beyond the iron and dumbbells to make you a better lifter, coach, and person overall. After all, thirty years of experience is one heck of a deep well to draw from.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Discover the best ways to melt your middle and chisel a rock-hard core

By Adam Campbell, Posted Date: September 8, 2011

The fitness industry is a crazy business, especially when it comes to abs. For example, if you want to reveal your six-pack, you generally have two product choices.

1. The too-easy-to-work method.
You know this better as "5-minute abs!" or some such hype. But if this approach were really effective, even Chris Christie would have a washboard.

2. The so-hard-it-has-to-work method.
Think 60 to 90 minutes of exercise, 6 days a week. Now if you have the time and energy for this kind of regimen, we commend you. But plenty of people are missing one or the other. And that's just reality, not a cop-out.

So we wondered: Could there be an ab-sculpting program that actually works and is doable for most people? For the answer, we turned to Mike Wunsch, C.S.C.S., and Craig Rasmussen, C.S.C.S., creators of Men's Health's newest fat-loss plan, 24-Hour Abs! The answer: "Absolutely," says Wunsch, who teams up with Rasmussen to design the workout programs at Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California. "That's exactly how we make our living."

One important fact about Results Fitness: Even in a recession, this Southern California gym has expanded. Twice. Why? Because its trainers have developed a fat-loss formula tailored specifically for busy people. (Read: mostly everyone.) The requirements are simple: 30 to 40 minutes a day, 3 days a week. So how do these trainers do it when so many others have failed? They threw out the old guidelines. The new ones they've created are based on 21st-century science and the methods that work best with their clients. Now you can benefit, too.

Don't target your abs to lose fat
Back in 2002, we reported that it would take 250,000 crunches to burn a pound of fat, according to estimates from University of Virginia scientists. We're pretty sure those researchers published that statistic to make a point. But after almost a decade, the point still may not have hit home. "I'm amazed at the number of people who think that simply doing ab exercises will make their belly disappear," says Rasmussen. "That is probably the least efficient way to reveal a six-pack."

Do work every single muscle
"Muscle is your body's primary fat burner," says Rasmussen. Your muscles require energy to contract, which is why you burn calories when you exercise. But resistance training, unlike running or cycling, also causes a significant amount of damage to your muscle fibers. And that's a good thing. "Your body has to expend energy to repair and upgrade those fibers after your workout," says Rasmussen. "And a single total-body weight-training session can boost your metabolism for up to 2 days."

So you shouldn't neglect a single inch of your body. That goes double for the legs, a body part that plenty of men either train just once a week or simply ignore. Case in point: Syracuse University researchers determined that people burned more calories the day after a lower-body resistance session than the day after they worked their upper bodies. Why? Because your lower half houses more muscle. The upshot: "A busy guy's smartest approach is to train his entire body every other day," says Rasmussen. "That allows you to elevate your metabolism maximally all week long, even though you're working out only 3 or 4 days a week."

Don't start your workout with crunches
"You can do lots of crunches and situps and still have a weak core," says Wunsch. "We see that all the time." The reason: Classic ab moves like crunches and situps work the muscles that allow you to flex (that is, round) your lower spine. True core exercises, on the other hand, train the muscles that prevent your spine from rounding. They also allow you to transfer force from your lower body to your upper body (in a golf swing, for example), and vice versa. Core exercises target the same muscles that crunches do, but they also include your hip and lower-back muscles. So what's a true core exercise? One that trains you to keep your spine stable and in its natural alignment. Besides the plank (more on that in a minute), scores of exercises qualify, including the side plank, mountain climber, and even the pushup.

Do start with core exercises
"We test everything in our gym," says Wunsch. "And we've seen that people achieve far better results when they do core exercises at the beginning of their workout instead of at the end." The reason: By training your core when your muscles are fresh, you achieve the fastest gains in strength, says Wunsch.

That's important for the average guy, Wunsch and his colleagues have found, because the core is the limiting factor in almost every exercise. "A weak core is what keeps most men from lifting more weight in the squat and deadlift and just about everything else," says Wunsch. "If we focus on strengthening their core first, they'll ultimately be able to lift heavier weights, which allows them to work more muscle and burn more calories. We're thinking about long-term success." To find out how your middle measures up, see Is Your Core Weak?

Don't spend hours on your core
While 5 minutes of exercise a day isn't enough to reveal your abs, it is about the right amount of time to dedicate to targeted core training. "We've found that just 2 to 4 sets of one or two core exercises is quite effective," Rasmussen says. "Our goal is to make you stronger, not more tired." A 5-minute core routine prior to weight training has a side benefit, too. "It revs up your core muscles so they fire better as you do other exercises," Rasmussen says.

Do master the plank
Flip through any issue of Men's Health and you'll probably find some version of the plank. This exercise may appear boring and easy—after all, you look like you're simply holding a pushup position but with your weight supported on your forearms instead of your hands. "The plank is easy only if you're doing it incorrectly or don't know how to make it more challenging," says Wunsch. What's more, he adds, the plank is key because it teaches you to make your core stiff. "That's a skill you need for almost every exercise."

So how do you perfect this exercise? Start by assuming a plank position, and then have a friend place a broomstick along your back (as shown on the previous page). It should touch your head, upper back, and butt; this indicates that your spine is in proper alignment. If the stick doesn't make contact at all three points, simply adjust your posture until it does. That's the position you need to hold.

Don't waste a second on the treadmill
"If you have only 30 to 40 minutes to devote to a workout, then every second has to count," says Rasmussen. "In those cases, our clients do zero running." His contention is that you can achieve faster fat loss with resistance training. How so? First, drop the assumption that running burns more calories than lifting does. A University of Southern Maine study found that a single set of a weight-training exercise torches as many calories as running at a 6-minute-mile pace for the same amount of time. So for every second you spend lifting weights, your body is expending high amounts of energy.

There's also the metabolism boost of weight training. "Resistance training has a much larger metabolic impact than long-distance running does," says Rasmussen. "Plus, your body is being given a stimulus to gain strength and build new lean tissue." One last efficiency benefit: Lifting weights through a full range of motion can improve your flexibility as well or even better than static stretching does, according to a University of North Dakota study.

Do keep your body moving
"Our goal is to pack as much physical work as possible into whatever time our clients have," says Wunsch. To that end, he and Rasmussen frequently implement supersets and circuits—strategies that save time without sacrificing results. To understand why, you'll need a few quick definitions.

Straight sets: This is a traditional weight-training routine, in which you complete all the sets of a given exercise before moving on to the next.

Alternating sets: These involve alternating between exercises that train your body using two noncompeting movements. For example, you pair an upper-body exercise that works the muscles on your front side—a pushup or bench press, say—with a lower-body exercise that emphasizes the muscles on your back side--the deadlift, for example. The idea is that you work a group of muscles with one exercise, but instead of sitting around for a full 2 or 3 minutes while that muscle group recovers, you perform an exercise that doesn't heavily engage those same muscles. As a result, you can cut your rest time in half or eliminate it completely.

Circuits: These are similar to alternating sets, except that they involve three or more exercises. You can rest after each exercise in the circuit, or only after the last exercise.

How much time can these techniques save? A 2011 Spanish study found that men who trained with circuits achieved the same gains as those who trained with straight sets—yet their workouts were 42 percent shorter. But that's not to suggest you should hit the showers early. No, it means circuits and alternating sets can help you squeeze more total sets into the same sweat session. To try it yourself, use the chart below as a guide; combine your exercises diagonally into alternating sets or circuits. Shown here are general movements, but you can use any variation of these exercises.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

40 Years of Insight Part 2

40 Years of Insight, Part 2

40 Years of Insight, Part 2

I have a box in my storage room that contains all my training journals. Besides sets and reps, I toss in what's going on in my life. Often, I find long essays about the future, lists about "what works," and funny little tidbits about my life that I would've quickly forgotten had I not wrote them down.
It hit me when I picked up this box the other day that I've been recording workouts since 1971, five years after first picking up a weight. That's forty years! I started to think about the lessons I've learned and, before I knew it, I had a list of forty lessons that I had to learn the hard way.
One thing that Laree Draper, wife of former Mr. Universe Dave Draper, finds interesting about me is that I sit in the front row at conferences. Each year I go to camps, clinic, workshops, conferences, and gatherings. I buy nearly every new book and DVD on the market. I read and comment on a lot, although as a rule I only comment after I read something and only universally after I've tried it.
Now, this might seem counter to Lesson 20 , but as the saying goes, an intelligent person can hold conflicting opinions in his head.
Here's the thing: I appreciate Mike Boyle's insights about single-leg training. Why? Because I've listened to him talk about it three times. I like his logic, I like his decision making process. Moreover, I also like the hour-long conversation we had discussing this topic.
I strongly believe in spending money to get exposed to the cutting edge of what's going on in the field of strength and conditioning. I read and reread books, magazines, eBooks, and blog posts, trying to cut away the extraneous and hone the message.
It costs me money to do this. And I'm okay with that.

This is so obvious I'm embarrassed to write it. I've had the opportunity to sit with some fairly high level bodybuilders and train with some of the best of all time. I can promise you that the training tools of the elite bodybuilders are basically the same weapons you use in the gym.
When it comes to diet, though, you need to listen up. There's this thing called "protein" and that seems like the only thing you need to think about when cutting fat. Carbs and even fat becomes a misty island far off in the distance that one may or may not see again for a while.
These guys are serious. My friend Lance once described his sodium loading cycle for an upcoming contest and it was like sitting in the front row of a chemistry class, except I'd missed the first few months. He lost me at "hello." Lance was eating chicken breasts, which isn't surprising, but also a hefty amount of fish. Now, to call this "fish" is a reach as there was no salt, no seasoning, and really no nothing.
One of my coaching principles is "success leaves tracks." If you really want good advice about fat loss, talk to a competitive bodybuilder. Avoid the weekly magazine advice you see at the supermarket check-stand and get some real information.
This one is near and dear to my heart. I've an unbending training principle that's as old as medicine. "First, do no harm." I think any coach, program, or training system that injures people is wrong. If you're an athlete in a sport that has an age or year ceiling (high school or college eligibility) and you lose a year to an injury, you don't get that back.
My doctor said something interesting. If you're 75 and have a major joint repair, its purpose is to literally to help you go to the toilet on your own. At 55, the same surgery might ensure a quality of life that will keep you young. At 15, this surgery is a tragedy for an athlete and one may never be able to compete again at the higher levels of sport.
Recovery from injury and surgery may take tremendous resources to attain. Besides the financial toll – which can be overwhelming – there's a physical and emotional toll from injuries. I've been on crutches several times in my life and there's not a single aspect of life that's easy on crutches. From bowel movements to escalators, every action and move has to be thought through before attempting it.
Again, sure, you can get injured, but you may not have another recovery. In high school, my mom and sister could help out if I was hurt. When my daughters were little and I had wrist surgeries, I had to buy shoes without laces because when my wife wasn't around, no one was there to tie them!
Plan your training with intelligence and foresight. Train hard, but try to avoid things that can't be fixed without a surgical team.
40 Years of Insight, Part 2

There's no question that running hills or doing Tabata front squats is the "best way" to heat up your system, burn fat, and make the world a safer place. However, I think we've lost sight of the importance of "easy," especially in the fat loss race.
The Tabata protocol comes out to 3:50 minutes a week, as the last ten-second rest doesn't really mean anything. And you can make progress in those four minutes. However, don't throw out the importance of long, easy cardio like walks or heavy hands. A long walk won't hit your fat stores like a furnace or whatever the ad copy says, but it will give your body a chance to recover and perhaps find some gentle, easy ways to lose the muffin top.
The principle here is to move away from "either/or" in strength and conditioning. My career has been built on the idea that "everything works, for a while" and while Tabatas might be fun to watch, there's nothing sinful about a nice long walk. Moreover, like hiking, long walks tend to be more open ended, and rarely does one look at the watch worrying about "getting it all in."
Keep those tough HIIT workouts, the hill sprints and the hard stuff, but don't forget to keep those long lazy "workouts" as part of your palette.
Train hard, but enjoy competition. Compete hard, but enjoy your training. One key point that must be kept in mind always is to judge a workout or competition as "good" or "bad" solely on that single day.
I often tell my new throwers, "Sorry, you just aren't good enough to be disappointed." Judging one's worth as an athlete over the results of a single day is just idiocy and will lead to long-term failure. Epictetus, the Roman Stoic philosopher tells us, "We must ever bear in mind – that apart from the will there is nothing good or bad, and that we must not try to anticipate or to direct events, but merely to accept them with intelligence."
If that's too complex, I have a favorite story.
A farmer had a horse and a son. One day, the horse died. All the neighbors said, "Oh, how bad." The farmer said, "We'll see." The next day, the neighbors got together and bought the farmer a new horse. They all said, "That's a good thing." The farmer said, "We'll see." The following day, the horse threw the son while trying to break the horse. The son broke his arm. The neighbors all said, "Oh, how bad." The farmer said, "We'll see." The next day, the army came into the town, drafted all the young men, save the son with a broken arm. They all died in the first battle. The neighbors said to the farmer, "Oh, how good it was for your son to have a broken arm." The farmer said, "We'll see."
So, get in the gym and train. Finish your plan and shower off. Then, be sure to come back and do what Woody Allen says and "Show Up!"
40 Years of Insight, Part 2
When I was in the ninth grade, one quarter of my training was the military press, and I made progress. Then I dropped it. My progress stalled. When I met Dick Notmeyer, literally everything was over my head and I made progress again.
As I aged, I dropped the overhead stuff and everything went to my belly. I started up with one-arm kettlebell presses and my waistline shrunk back in weeks to a reasonable girth.
If Janda was right and certain muscles weaken with age (and he is, trust me), a quick study of that group should give you an idea of why you should press.
There's no question that one-arm overhead presses work the obliques better than all those odd side bends and twisties I see in the gym every day. Now, you might argue that the glutes don't work, but try to press one-handed anything over 100 pounds with a sleepy butt. I've tried it many times and I think I may have done it once.
When in doubt, press overhead.
I hate workouts like 10 sets of 10. For one thing, I never remember what set I'm on. I know I'm supposed to use matches or cards or something, but I'm old and never remember them, either.
I like ladders. A ladder is a series of reps that usually go up. The first set is always easy as the reps and load are low. The last set seems hard, but it's odd because you feel like you recover in an instant. The standard ladders are:
1-2-3-1-2-3. You do a single, rest, a double, rest, a triple, rest, a single, ad infinitum!
And my favorites:
I love 2-3-5-10 for hypertrophy. If you do that cluster five times, that's 100 quality reps and you'll storm through the doubles and the triples with practically no rest. You'll finish strong and pumped.
2-3-5-2-3-5-2-3 is my favorite variation of the standard 5 x 5 protocol. Again, how quickly you get through the reps and the ease of adding more plates is a pleasant surprise.
I know of no easier way to add volume than to do ladders.
40 Years of Insight, Part 2

These are mantras I repeat to myself and to my athletes. I've won National Championships in lifting and throwing on the very last lift or throw. I do it with so much regularity that Don Bailey, a good friend and fellow thrower, has told people I do it on purpose for "the theater." It's not true, but I do like the point.
It always works well in training. Charlie Francis, the late, great sprint coach, would end workouts when his athletes got a personal record in anything. His idea was "there you go – you peaked – now rest." That is an extreme, but I wish I would've known this when I was younger. Injuries tend to show up when you want to add just a little more to your lifetime best. Learn to celebrate success and keep improving over the long haul.
This skill has to be practiced. You have to draw a line in the sand and say, "This is it. This is the last thing I do today and it's going to be my best effort." Now, I know most lifters don't do this, but I also know that most don't make any gains!
Always strive to leave practice and workouts "on top."
This is a new idea for me. After a hard workout, come back the next day and, at a low level, move through the basic patterns of the human body in a kind of movement massage. The loads are light, the reps are unimportant, but the movement is key. With an adult, I often recommend up to three of these easy recharge workouts a week. It can be as simple as doing the basic patterning movements.
Follow with an easy walk. It doesn't have to be much, but you'll thank me as your mobility, flexibility, and patterning improve without much residual soreness.
Dick Notmeyer smiled and nodded as I told him about my weightlifting career. I thought I'd done it all. I had a big bench and could do pull-ups with the best of them.
Dick stopped me. "Here, you're going to do snatches and clean and jerks." That was basically it. For two years, I did the Olympic lifts in the summer sun and foggy blindness. It was rep after rep after rep. And I made tremendous progress.
When Pavel came out with "Power to the People" and suggested five days a week of deadlifts and side presses, a few brave souls took on the challenge and expanded their work capacity. His "Program Minimum," of nothing but swings and get-ups, is still my "go to" recommendation for someone exploring the goals of general conditioning.
In the book, "Beyond Bodybuilding," he sets up a hypertrophy program consisting of five days a week of deadlifts and bench presses under the direction of deLorme and Watkins, the founders of what we now call progressive resistance exercise.
I'm a fan of minimal workouts. The biggest reason is there is no wiggle room for "coulda, woulda, shoulda." The very essence of this training idea is "do this!" It's not the kind of training for someone who needs music, TV, Internet, and conversation during sets. Folks, it's dull work – actually, it's work.
Every so often, try two weeks of just two movements. Make the combination cover the bulk of the body and strive for mastery of the movements. It can change your career.
40 Years of Insight, Part 2

My friend, Josh Hillis, notes that when a woman can do three pull-ups and deadlift or squat 135 for five, almost universally they're around 19% bodyfat, which is what he calls "Rockstar Hot." Since he told me this, I've been carefully watching the physiques of women, although to be honest I've been doing that since early puberty.
There's another issue. Women who can do three pull-ups and show some numbers on the barbell can also go out after a clinic and have a good time. Recently, a top female physique contestant told me at a bar that, "Oh, I can go out and party and not watch every single bite when I'm not peaking." Unlike the "skinny fat" women who you normaly see in the weekly magazines, this woman was strong enough that when she trained her body had to gather up a lot of resources to adapt and recover.
What does this mean for you? I've seen it many times at workshops and clinics. The skinny, weak guys bring their own weighed chicken breasts and magic protein bars for the whole day. When we do something physical, they fade into the corn rows. The big, strong guys who've never seen a strongman event will jump in and flail around dangerously close to death and dismemberment, but fight the good fight with the anvil, axle, or stone. Then, they eat passionately and without apology.
In other words, as Brett Jones taught me, absolute strength is the glass. Everything else is the liquid that goes into the glass. The bigger the glass, the bigger everything else can be for you.
So get stronger and eat more without freaking out about it.
Twice at the Olympic training center, we were asked to take some time to do an "autobiography." Really, we simply listed the best and worst of our athletic career. We were allowed to add life events, too.
I still have my lists. They're odd to look at from a decade-plus distance, but I still smile when I see "Turkey Day Football" and "Picked to Start for Brentwood," and "Winning hit in 1967" mixed in with performances that are worthy of national ranking. I don't want to address the "Worst" list, but that was the point.
After a fairly long wait for everyone to finish, we were asked to look at the lifetime lows.
"Put your finger on it," we were told. Now, look at the high side and see if there's a match.
Just do it.
Incredibly, for the bulk of us, every low, every "worst moment," lead directly over to a best moment. We have to keep Lesson 25 in mind (don't judge everything), but the lesson was clear. Our lows are often the steppingstone to the greatest moments of our lives.
I've used this little exercise for my athletes and in my classrooms. Sadly, there are some who argue that they have very few "best" moments. It should come as no surprise that these timid souls often have no "worst" moments either.
I have an extremely damaged tiny spiral notebook. It's red and falling apart. Since 1973, I've been keeping quotes in here that inspire me.

Paul Anderson

Positive mental outlook
Honest hard work

Dick Notmeyer

Bill Koch

Winston Churchill

I also include training programs from people that I admire and odd snips of ideas that still are forming in my head.
Here's one final one.
I wrote that as a senior in high school in my English class to answer something along the lines of, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I was lucky to have the magazine "Strength and Health" growing up. It wasn't just bodybuilding information; this magazine really respected all areas of strength. So several times a year I could read about throwers or football players. An article on a discus thrower named Gary Ordway came at a great time in my life as I'd embarked on an attempt to be a thrower and they listed his workouts. I'll only list his top lifts in his preseason workout:
As a kid inclining under 100 pounds, the direction was clear. I needed to get stronger. I knew the path – lift weights.
To be a strength athlete, you have to engage in a progressive program to lead you to your goals. The nice thing about lifting is the numbers are crystal clear. I'm benching 95 and you're benching 405. I have to get stronger!
This is why I still like the Olympic lifts and the deadlift for comparing generations. The O lifts and the DL have essentially stagnated for the past twenty years. Certainly there are amazing lifts, but there's been less than stellar improvement across the board.
My good friend, Marty Gallagher loves to point out that outside of gear (in this case, squat suits, squat briefs, bench shirts, wraps and the like), there's been almost no progress in powerlifting. Yes, there are exceptions, but like O lifting the sport has slowed to a crawl.
Find out what the best are doing. Look at what you're doing. Now shrink the gap.
This is a criticism that gets tossed in my face sometimes. I'm a snob, a prude if you will, when it comes to track and field. I love reading how this magic program, device, or herb is the "do all and be all." Fine. Take your profits, invest in some athletes, and prove it at a track meet.
The response is always something along the lines of, "Well, this isn't sports specific," or, "Track depends on perfection of biomechanics." Okay, fine.
It's easy to convince someone that a weight "feels lighter." It's not so easy to add three feet to the shot put or drop time off the 200-meter sprint.
If your idea does work for sprinters, throwers, and the rest of track and field, I'm going to sit in the front row and take notes. Even if I disagree with everything you say, if you get it right in Track and Field, and probably swimming, too, you're right and I'll listen to this grand scheme.
This looks like a rant, but it drives me crazy. Moms show up to practice and ask, "Are the boys hydrating?" No, first perspiration, then hydration.
The area from your hips to your shoulders is now the "core." Today, Grandma asks me if discus throwing "builds your core." Is shot putting "functional?" To play a one-hour game of soccer – or 20 minutes of standing and 40 minutes of picking daisies – my daughter used to get a sports drink, an orange, cookies, and a treat. This was to counteract the incredible efforts of a group of seven-year-old girls who usually forgot which goal to kick the ball towards.
I'm tired of it. Let's bring an end to this pseudo-quasi-scientific language that's permeating youth sports, recreation, and fitness. American children are getting fatter at a rate that no one predicted twenty years ago and yet parents flock around their kids like paparazzi around this week's latest Lindsay Lohan scandal.
It's called "water." Deal with it.
I have an axiom when asked for advice. "Well, in four years, you're going to be four years older no matter what, but if you go to college, you'll have your degree." Or, "In thirty years, you're going to be thirty years older no matter what, but if you save ten percent of your income, you'll have a comfortable retirement."
The longer you put off something like "squat mastery" or eating clean, the more you'll regret it later. Now, I don't know when and what's going to happen, but life seems so much easier when you master the basics, make yourself a slave to good habits, save ten percent of your income, and nurture quality relationships "now" versus "later."
Get the degree, finish the thesis, buy good insurance, see your dentist twice a year, and do all the boring things of life as often as you can. Trust me, your health – financial, physical, spiritual, and emotional – will benefit from taking care of business early on.
Some of the athletes I first worked with are now sneaking up on age fifty and two are already over the half-century mark. Whenever we talk, the most common "gift" that I bestowed on them was this understanding to get Ôer done.
40 Years of Insight, Part 2

Aerobic dance continues to flourish in community centers. There's a lot of "woos" as you walk past. What you don't see is progress. For the record, if I took the introductory class, I would get the workout of a lifetime. Why? Because I would suck at it! Fat loss exercise, however, and it breaks my heart to say this, is about being completely inefficient.
Aerobic dance and most of the TV offers work for a few weeks. Then, you get good at it and progress stops. This is why I like the kettlelbell swing for fat loss. It's a massive body move that eats up a ton of energy and you move nowhere. In fact, as you improve, you probably attack the movement harder, causing you to still move nowhere.
Len Schwartz's HeavyHands was the same principle. You load up a couple of dumbbells in each hand and go for a walk. With these big pumping arm movements, you waste a ton of energy up and down and turn an easy walk in the park to an extremely wasteful use of energy. And you burn fat.
I love the combination of swings and push-ups, or goblet squats and push-ups for fat loss. The secret to fat loss is that wonderful pause after finishing the push-up when you have to get back up. It would be "better" to press as that would save you energy, but in this case, that's "bad."
For fat loss exercise, discover things you're terrible at and do them. If you've never skated before, pad up and see how a quarter mile can ruin you for hours. As you get better technically, find something else! It's the polar opposite of getting good at a sport or skill, but this is why consistent fat loss is so elusive for most people.

I said this at the Test-Fest in Washington, DC, and it still holds true. I've argued for years that taking a weekend to listen and learn is far better than doing the "same old, same old" thing in the workout.
And as I said that at Test-Fest, a guy walked in with his wife beater, his belt, and his little bag filled with gym gear. I couldn't have planned it better. There's a need for all of us to humble ourselves and open up to some new ideas. You probably should hang on to 80% of what you know, but be willing to throw out that other 20% and fill it with something that will get you to the next level.
This sounds similar to "put your money where your mouth is," but there's more to this. I think the hotel bar after the talk or the lunch between sessions or the hallway outside the conference is an opportunity to grow in ways you can only imagine.
You might get a chance to fill out a napkin (don't lose that napkin) with a training program from one of the great names in the iron game. You might get invited to something like a dinner or a party and meet people that will change your life. You must go to these events to understand the idea behind the ideas you see presented here at TNation.
It's a rare day I don't think of my mom and dad, Coach Ralph Maughan, some of my heroes, and some of my friends who are no longer alive. I carry on, as best I can, but it's becoming woefully obvious to me that my torch is burning dim and I'll be passing it along sooner than later.
That's why I write. That's why I keep lists. That's why I answer the same questions over and over and over again.
Our time on this precious earth is short. Good health and a measure of strength can help you live a better quality of life. And that's the greatest lesson of my life.