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, June 29, 2014

Hang Clean For Total Body Power


Here's what you need to know...

•  The clean is the top dog in resistance programs for improving performance as it requires triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles in a coordinated, explosive pattern – a movement that simulates the triple extension in both sprinting and jumping.
•  Hang cleans will get you absolutely jacked. They not only stimulate your forearms and traps, but nearly 200 muscles in the body so that you get a huge anabolic surge and training effect.
•  Intelligently planned cleans get you absolutely shredded. Cleans, especially when performed with a full front squat or low catch, are metabolically demanding. The explosive nature and muscle recruitment requirements will leave you absolutely floored when done with proper technique and short rest.
Without question, power cleans are a phenomenal tool in your pursuit of high performance strength and muscle. The problem is, they can be difficult to learn. Most cleans are downright atrocious. You see things like starfish legs, excessive knee valgus, and a gross lack of coordination, none of which have a place in the weight room. Hang cleans, however, are a great, doable, alternative. Here's what the most advanced version (with the added front squat) looks like:

Why the Hang Clean and Not the Power Clean?

Few lifts develop total body power and explosiveness like the hang clean. I prefer it to the power clean because of its quicker teaching time and the elimination of most mobility restrictions when pulling from the floor. Classic exercises like deadlifts are best for developing pure strength, but for explosiveness and gains in athletic performance, cleans bridge the gap between strength and speed better than any other weight room exercise.

The hang clean requires movement from the wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee, and hip joints, making it a total body exercise. This makes the clean a better bang for your buck deal than just about any other exercise. The corresponding muscles that cross each of those joints must work in cooperation to accelerate a heavy resistance, stabilize the spine, and explosively transfer power. No resistance exercise requires the biomechanical and coordinative demands of the clean. As a result, this unique exercise blends sudden strength, power, and coordination to build a high performance, show-and-go body.

For Building Athleticism

The clean requires triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles in a coordinated, explosive pattern – a movement that simulates the triple extension in both sprinting and jumping. If you stumble on a sport that isn't improved through more powerful triple extension, coordination, and being able to absorb and transfer force, let me know. Until then, the Olympic lifts are a vital training tool for athletic performance.

When applied correctly with submaximal resistance (40-75% 1RM), hang cleans are a great tool for training speed-strength and strength-speed. Except for competitors in Olympic lifting and athletes being max tested in the clean, training with submaximal loads provides an awesome training stimulus without compromising technique. Unlike squats and deadlifts, cleans aren't an exercise you're able to "blast through" when fatigued because they have a high neurological demand. Freshness and optimal technique are imperative for maximal training effect, brute intensity, and strength.

Try this:
For maximum strength: 90-95% of 1RM for 2-3 sets x 1-2 reps and 2-5 minutes recovery.
For greater strength-speed: 70-85% of 1RM for 4-6 sets x 2-4 reps with 2-3 minutes recovery.
For greater speed-strength: 50-65% of 1RM 4-6 sets x 2-4 reps with 1-2 minutes recovery.

For Building Muscle

Hang cleans will get you absolutely jacked. They not only stimulate your forearms and traps, but nearly 200 muscles in the body so that you get a huge anabolic surge and training effect. Nearly every muscle fiber is engaged and firing to maximize explosiveness, stabilize the core for transfer of load, and to execute the clean correctly.

This ultra-efficient exercise ignites the central nervous system (CNS) to recruit more muscle fibers, challenge fast-twitch muscle fibers, and potentiate the nervous system to allow the use of greater training loads on subsequent exercises. Take a look at any experienced Olympic lifter and you find a jacked posterior chain with thick glutes, spinal erectors, yoked traps, and meat hooks for forearms. Whether you want yoked traps to fill out T-shirts or powerful hip extension for a faster pull and stronger lockout, hang cleans will develop a truly impressive physique.

Try this: 
4x6, 5x5, and 6x4 at 65-85% of 1RM with 1-2 minutes recovery are all awesome hypertrophy protocols.

For Getting Ripped

I'm not a fan of "cleaning" the snot out of people until projectile vomiting ensues and a highly technical exercise becomes a sloppy conditioning tool. There's an inverse relationship between lifting intensity (%1RM) and volume, and increasing both simultaneously is a recipe for injury and faulty movement patterns, not high performance. That said, intelligently planned cleans get you absolutely shredded. Cleans, especially when performed with a full front squat or low catch, are metabolically demanding. The explosive nature and muscle recruitment requirements will leave you absolutely floored when done with proper technique and short rest.

Try this: 
5x5 with 60% of 1RM with 60 seconds of rest or less.
5x5 cleans with 75% of 1RM with 90-120 seconds of rest.
Technique is still key, but don't be afraid to push the tempo. Cleans will leave the most seasoned lifters and athletes heaving, hawing, and pushing the red-line of metabolic demand.


When it comes to teaching the clean, there are many ways to skin the cat. This progression is meant to teach competence, not perfection and mastery. Mastery takes years of intense practice and scrutiny, a luxury most coaches, lifters, and athletes don't have. Instead, this will have you competently performing hang cleans during your next workout.

1. Romanian Deadlift, or RDL

This is the starting position when pulling from the blocks or hang position. Keep the chest tall and hold the bar at hip height against the mid-thigh. Brace the core and hinge the hips back rather than reaching for the ground. The bar should pass just below the knees while the spine stays welded before returning back to standing position with full hip extension.

2. Hackey Pull

Begin with an RDL position and the bar just below knee-level. Accelerate the bar as it passes the knees, aggressively extending the hips forward, "popping" the bar off the thighs. This movement teaches you to reach full-hip extension before breaking at the elbows during the pull. If the elbows bend, the power ends. The hips must extend first or the athletic carryover of triple extension is minimized, thereby reducing speed and power. If you jump forward or drop under the bar too early, you're likely missing hip extension.

Note: This is to teach hip extension, so be conservative with programming so that you don't get in the habit of bouncing the bar away from vertical. Eventually, the bar will be moving up a body that's "retreating" from it while maintaining a vertical path with hip extension. If "pop" is minimal, you're likely out of position, lining the shoulders up behind the bar.

3. Muscle Clean

The muscle clean is very similar to a hang clean, except the bar sits in a higher position above the knee. Hinge back slightly and use a short, explosive hip action to accelerate the bar vertically and rack it on the shoulders. The arms do a fair amount of work to "muscle" the weight to the shelf position. This is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between the hackey pull and a full hang clean.

4. Hang Clean

Once hip extension is engrained, complete the second pull and catch phases. As you finish extending the hips, knees, and ankles, shrug the shoulders, bending the elbows as the bar rises and transferring the "weightless" bar. As the body reaches full extension, aggressively pull the body underneath, rotating the elbows forward, racking the bar on the front deltoids in the shelf position. Loosen the grip and allow the wrists to turn upwards and the elbows to stay parallel with the ground.

5. Hang Clean With Front Squat (Advanced)

Hip extension is the primary component we're looking to maximize, but as you advance and full-extension becomes automatic, it's important to learn to drop the hips AFTER extension. With the bar racked in the shelf position, drop into a front squat, keeping the elbows up and arms parallel to the ground. After the catch and while maintaining the shelf position, drop into a front squat. Eventually, you'll learn to rapidly pull yourself under the bar during the catch phase, using a front squat to finish off the lift. In time this grooves a smoother transition into a low catch, effectively allowing higher workloads to be used and providing a greater training stimulus.

The High Pull (Optional)

The high pull is a great exercise for accelerating the bar AFTER hip extension is reached. (It also builds a thick yoke!) The problem is that it's difficult to reach full hip-extension during execution of the high pull. For that reason I prefer to train the high pull as a muscle-building exercise and use it sparingly with most athletes. Either way, it's best to experiment with the high-pull and see if your execution fits your goals.

Considerations and Common Issues

Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID): Hang cleans are a very technique-intensive lift, best programmed with optimal form and specific goals in mind. Specific adaptations occur based on the imposed demands, so if you allow sub-par triple extension and faulty technique, you won't maximize the clean and gains will be minimized. Lazy form leads to injury and bad results – eliminate it.

Missing Lifts: It happens occasionally, but it shouldn't be common. Cleans are extremely technical – consistently missing lifts will lead to faulty patterns and minimized sports performance carryover. Missing lifts is the result of inappropriate load or technical error. Avoid both for best results.

Ugly Catches: We've all seen it: A good clean until the catch, and then legs split apart and stagger, there's valgus collapse on one leg, and the trainee takes a few steps to stabilize himself and get the hips underneath the bar. Leave your ego at the door. Be intelligent with your loading and ability levels. The clean is a great tool to train triple extension and the absorption of force with proper mechanics. Treat it as such and be smart.

Predator Conditioning


Here's what you need to know...

• Perform your conditioning work like the bad-ass predator that you are. Don't run from it like prey.
• To accelerate the benefits, perform conditioning work in the post-absorptive state or after weight training.
• Adaptation is the enemy. Rotate conditioning exercises and the results will keep coming.

Cardio vs. Conditioning: There is a Difference

We could start here by listing all the studies about the drawbacks of long duration cardio and running. Then we could list all the studies that show the benefits of shorter, high intensity conditioning sessions.

There would be lots of fancy acronyms and PubMed links. You'd feel smart reading it, but most likely you wouldn't apply any of it. Plus, that would be boring. So let's make the distinction between cardio and conditioning like this:

• Conditioning prepares you for battle. Cardio makes you really good at running slowly away.

• Conditioning fires up the metabolism. Cardio extinguishing it over time.

• Conditioning makes a man look good naked. Cardio makes a man look good in lavender skinny jeans and not much else.

• Conditioning builds legs of steel. Cardio builds legs of an underfed seabird.

• Conditioning makes you lean and hard. Cardio makes you small and soft.

• Conditioning gives you an upper body made of stone. Cardio gives you an upper body made of twigs and Jell-O.

• Conditioning makes you better at any physical activity. Cardio makes you good at cardio.

• Conditioning is sex. Cardio is cuddling and a chick-flick.

• Conditioning is testosterone. Cardio is cortisol and estrogen.

• Conditioning is pecs. Cardio is man-boobs.

• Conditioning is Westside Barbell. Cardio is Planet Fitness.

• Conditioning relieves anxiety, boosts all-day energy and fires up brain function. Cardio increases anxiety and cortisol. (Runners are only happy when they run. The rest of the time they're assholes. True story.).

• Conditioning is fun. Cardio is fun when it's over.

• Conditioning is for hunters. Cardio is for Bambi's mom.

• In short, conditioning is for predators. Cardio is for prey.

That was fun. Let's move on.

Predator Conditioning

Predator conditioning, as we'll call it here because it's cool, revolves around two main principles:

Jelena Prowler

Principle #1: Avoidance of Adaptation

Strength training is all about adaptation. You lift weights and the body adapts by getting stronger, building muscle, and increasing your capacity for being awesome. You add load, adjust sets and reps, and tweak exercises to keep the body adapting because that adaptation makes you better.

But the opposite is true when it comes to energy systems work. With traditional long-duration cardio, you adapt too, and quickly. It doesn't take long before you have to run 10 miles to get the "results" that 5 miles used to get you. In short, that form of cardio makes you better at doing that form of cardio, so you have to keep doing more.

Problem is, damage incurs – physical, metabolic, and hormonal – and the "better" you get the worse you look and the weaker you become. When the unavoidable injury occurs, your cardio-adapted body stores fat like a hoarder. (More on that here.) That leads to not only stagnation but fast regression.

Predator conditioning revolves around avoiding too much adaptation, mainly by switching exercise modalities or rotating them. See, you don't want to adapt to conditioning. If you get good at it, it has essentially stopped working, leaving you doing a lot of work just to maintain previous improvements. Nothing like working hard and putting in the time just to maintain a level of stagnation, right? And just adding more of the same type of conditioning leads to all the "cardio" problems mentioned above.

The good news here is that people have an innate desire for variety. Conditioning is your chance to scratch the variety itch while keeping your weight training well-planned and progressive, as it should be.

Principle #2: Selective Workout Timing

Let's preface this by saying that whatever time you have to get your conditioning in is a good time. A tough session at the "wrong" time is far better than skipping the workout entirely. But there are two times where conditioning works even better.

The Post-Absorptive State

Girls RopesThe post-absorptive state is that time between being fasted and being recently fed. You're no longer fasted, but you're finished up with most of the digesting and the nutrients are available in the bloodstream.

"This is where fat oxidation and caloric expenditure are at their greatest," Christian Thibaudeau says. "Unlike fasted cardio, the post-absorptive period isn't catabolic to muscle mass."

Since many athletes and lifters like to do their conditioning work in the morning in a separate training session, what's the best way to take advantage of the post-absorptive state without having to get up at 3AM to eat breakfast?

Easy. Consume the right amount of di- and tripeptides, which are transported directly into the bloodstream without the need to be further broken down. Couple that with a small amount of a special carbohydrate mixture that increases metabolic rate and drives supraphysiologic levels of these di- and tripeptides into the muscle cell.

"That's where MAG-10® shines," Thibaudeau says. "It's readily absorbed. You can drink it and go do your conditioning work soon after."

In other words, the post-absorptive state induces faster fat loss than a fasted workout, with none of the catabolic drawbacks.

"I find that MAG-10® pre-conditioning boosts metabolic rate and helps me get leaner even faster. Two scoops roughly 20 minutes prior to your workout is all you need," Thibaudeau adds.

This is easily applicable in real life. Wake up, drink a serving of Mag-10®, and do your conditioning.

Post Weight Training

Not a morning person? Then simply do your conditioning work directly after your lifting session, choosing wisely among the choices we'll get to below. In short, body fat stores are more easily tapped for energy after you've already had a full weight training workout. It doesn't take much to target excess fat when you've already been going hard for an hour or so.

Predator Conditioning Guidelines

Don't expect any Draconian tempo and duration rules here. You know the difference between sucking wind and, well, just sucking. Conditioning is about short, hard intervals. Kick ass, rest a little, kick some additional ass, repeat. Like this:

1. Choose a conditioning exercise. Go hard for 15 to 30 seconds, roughly.

2. Catch your breath. Don't "rest", just wait for the black spots to fade from your vision.

3. Repeat.

4. Stop after 10 to 20 minutes.

As a general rule, 10-minute sessions are perfect for post-weight training. Longer sessions, up to about 20 minutes, are best for separate conditioning sessions in the post-absorptive state.

Exercise Selection and Rotation

Girls Rope and ProwlerRemember, don't get too "good" at one form. Avoid adaptation. The more you suck at one form of conditioning the higher the impact it will have. Conditioning isn't a competition (CrossFit aside), it's a tool for getting a job done. Focus on the goal you're after, not the tool used to get there.

Conditioning is all about variety, so it's fun and never boring. The list of exercises is endless, but here are some good ones:

Battle Ropes: This is like sprinting for your upper body. Use a variety of undulation techniques. If you can go much over 30 seconds every round, then you're either a world class athlete, you're using dental floss, or you're phoning it in. Go hard. Make noise. Leave some blood on the ropes.

Sprints: Flats, hills, glaciers, with Jim Wendler on your back, etc.

Heavy Bag Work: Beat it like it's wearing an Affliction T-shirt.

Loaded Carries.

Fast Jump Rope: Double-unders if you have the coordination.

Medicine Ball Work: One of the best exercises here is to take a 100 to 150 pound med ball or Atlas stone, pick it up and toss it over one shoulder. Then turn around and repeat. Sadly, 100+ pound med balls are hard to find in most gyms, but they're out there.

Prowler or Sled Work: push it, drag it, or throw it.

The rule here is that if you can do it while checking your iPhone, watching TV, or carrying on a conversation then it isn't predator conditioning. If it would get you kicked out of Planet Fitness, it's predator conditioning.

The goal is not to throw up, but you're on the right track if you get close to it. Train to the limit of your capacity. When you think you can't go a second longer, add five seconds (because you can, sissy), then take a quick breather. Then do it again. This will feel like the longest 10 to 20 minutes of your life, not counting that vasectomy.

Bonus Tip: To really accelerate the effect and perhaps even target abdominal fat loss, do ab work during "rest" periods.
If your knees are already buckling after leg day, don't go run hill sprints. Instead choose an upper-body based conditioning exercise. Reverse that for upper body days. Do what you want if this is a separate training session.

If you're doing conditioning work three times per week, choose a different exercise modality each session. Or, do the same exercise for a week, then switch to something new on week two. Remember, keep sucking and it'll keep working.

Kill It

We could've talked about HIIT, the glycolysis system, EPOC, fartlek, or Tabata, but predators don't sweat the details, at least not when they're hungry and see a doe in front of their conveniently forward-facing eyes.

No, let's keep it simple. Attack your conditioning like a predator. Don't run from it like prey. Hunt it down, kill it, and eat it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fasted Cardio Eats Muscle, Plus 6 More Fat Loss Mistakes



Here's what you need to know...

•  When most people attempt to lose fat, they use dumb diet and exercise strategies that make it impossible to preserve muscle, which makes them look worse and gain all the fat they lose right back, plus more.
•  Fasted cardio works, if you're using performance-enhancing drugs to protect your muscle. Otherwise it stinks.
•  If you decide to add cardio, use low-intensity work for 45-60 minutes or high-intensity work lasting 15 minutes or less.
•  Dropping carbs during the peri-workout period is one of the worst things you can do.
"Cardio doesn't burn fat. Muscle burns fat." – John Meadows
Whenever people decide to lose body fat, they make the same dumb mistake: They adopt strategies that make it impossible to preserve their muscle mass. They lose weight, of course, but they lose just as much lean body mass as fat mass. They simply become smaller versions of their unaesthetic selves. They occupy less space, the scale tells them they weigh less, and their doctor might even congratulate them for being closer to their "healthy weight," but in reality they aren't looking any better, which kind of misses the point.

The number one priority when attempting to lose fat should be to keep the muscle you have. Losing muscle mass should not be acceptable. Losing muscle will make it harder to look good when losing the fat, but it'll also make it harder to lose fat since muscle tissue is metabolically responsible for most of the fat you'll lose. Ten pounds of muscle burns 50 calories per day even at rest, so if you lose 10 pounds of muscle, you will burn 50 fewer calories per day, or 350 fewer calories per week. That can make a significant difference in the long run.

Then there's the issue of insulin sensitivity. If you have more muscle, your insulin sensitivity will be slanted more towards accruing muscle mass. A larger muscle has more insulin receptors, which makes the muscles more insulin sensitive. That means you'll tend to store more of what you eat in the muscles instead of as body fat. Lastly, when you have more muscle mass, you can lift more weight and train harder, which increases the amount of calories you burn during a workout.

As you can see, it's not only important to maintain muscle when dieting, it's vital! Here are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose fat.

1. Doing Fasted Cardio

Fasted cardio, most often done first thing in the morning, has been a popular approach in the world of bodybuilding for years... and it works, if you're using performance-enhancing drugs to protect your muscle mass. But for a natural trainee, fasted cardio is a very good way to eat away muscle mass. First of all, cortisol is at its highest in the morning (the cortisol spike is what allows you to have energy when you wake-up). If you don't eat, it will stay elevated and even increase. And if you do cardio work, which also tends to jack up cortisol output, you'll end up with a sky-high cortisol level, which is one of the best ways to lose muscle. Not only that, if it gets high enough you'll actually have a hard time bringing it down during the day (especially when in a caloric deficit). You end up spending the whole day in a muscle-wasting state!

I'm not pro-cardio or anti-cardio. Some people need it to get super lean, some don't. But I do think that people introduce it too soon in a fat loss phase (more on that later). However, if you decide to use cardio to get leaner, doing it fasted is a very bad idea. The absolute best way to get the greatest caloric expenditure over the whole day from cardio is to do your cardio in what's called the post-absorptive state. That means not in a fasted state, but not while you're still digesting either. It's a state where nutrients are available in the bloodstream and fat oxidation and caloric expenditure is at its greatest.

Look, if you do your cardio in a fasted state, the overall fat oxidation over a 24-hour period is significantly lower, probably because the metabolic rate doesn't increase or stay elevated, but also because the bout of activity causes more fatigue. You instinctively end up lowering your activity level throughout the day. There's also the issue of fasted cardio being potentially catabolic to muscle mass.

However, doing cardio after you just ate isn't better either. It'll lead to less fat oxidation and more glucose oxidation, not to mention that a lot of people have a hard time going hard on energy system work when they're still digesting a meal. The best option is to perform cardio when the body has fully absorbed nutrients prior to the activity. Unfortunately, this is really hard to do with solid food. It's almost impossible to know how fast solid food is digested. It will vary from person to person and even from time of day in the same person.

That's where a supplement like Mag-10® shines. It's readily absorbed, you can drink it and go do your cardio soon after without fear of it having negative effects, and you get all the benefits of doing cardio in a post-absorptive state. I find that Mag-10 pre-cardio also boosts metabolic rate and actually helps you get leaner even faster. One serving roughly 20 minutes prior to your cardio is all you need.

To synopsize, avoid fasted cardio when you're trying to lose fat and are not using an anabolic aid. The best way to do that is with a serving of Mag-10 in your body. That will preserve your muscle mass and will have the greatest impact on your fat loss over a 24-hour period.

2. Lifting Lighter Weights for More Reps

Maintaining or even gaining strength is the absolute best way to make sure that you're not losing muscle mass. If you keep pushing big weights, it'll force the body to keep its muscle since it will see it as necessary for survival. If you reduce the amount of weight you're lifting, the body will "assume" that you don't require as much strength and that it's okay to lower your muscle mass. Why? Because muscle uses a ton of calories every day and the body will see it as expendable.

Then there is the second part of the mistake: increasing reps. Often times this is done to "cut up" a muscle. Too bad that's impossible to do. You cannot get a muscle more cut. You can only make it bigger or smaller. To get more "cut" you need to get rid of the fat while keeping the muscle large and full. Some people aren't stupid enough to think that lifting lighter weights for more reps works, but they still perform higher reps simply to burn more calories and accelerate fat loss.

In my experience that's fine, provided that you did your heavy lifting already. However, if you overdo the reps, you can indirectly decrease your muscle mass by impairing recovery. When your caloric intake is reduced, your capacity to recover from training is already handicapped, so adding the burden of increased volume can lead to regression in both performance and muscle size. The moral of the story? You should do everything in your power to at least maintain your strength when dieting down, and this will not happen if you stop lifting heavy to focus on doing more pump work.

3. Doing Moderate Intensity, Steady State Cardio

If you decide to add cardio to your fat loss regiment, you have two options and both are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You can go low-intensity (walking) or high-intensity (sprints, intervals, etc.). It's a hormonal thing. Moderate intensity/steady state cardio – the type that most people are doing when trying to lose fat – will increase cortisol levels the most. The activity is just intense enough to stimulate the release of cortisol, and also long enough to elevate it significantly.

Low-intensity cardio, however, in the form of taking a one-hour walk in the park or something, will not be intense enough to stimulate much cortisol release. In fact it might actually lower cortisol levels by having a relaxing effect. High-intensity work, on the other hand, might lead to a lot of cortisol being produced, but the duration of the activity isn't usually long enough to lead to a large elevation.

My recommendation is either to use longer, low-intensity work (a relaxing pace at which you can sustain a conversation) for 45-60 minutes, or high-intensity work lasting 15 minutes or less. That's why I love loaded carries. Three to five minutes is all you need to get an amazing fat burning effect with basically zero negative impact on muscle mass. In fact, it can help you build some muscle!

4. Cutting and Doing Everything Right From the Start

heavy-floor-pressLosing fat and changing your body is an emotional issue; we want that dream body and we want it right now! That mindset leads to our fourth mistake: starting out way too abruptly. I've seen people start their diet out with less than 50 grams of carbs and fat per day for a total of roughly 1200 calories. Add to that doing 90 minutes of cardio per day (sometimes 120 minutes spread into two daily sessions), doing circuit training in the gym, and using a powerful fat burner formula.

Great. But how long do you think someone can sustain that? More importantly, how long do you think it will take your body to adapt? My experience is that the body will adapt to that level of deprivation and activity level in 4 to 6 weeks and fat loss will come to a screeching halt... and that is if you can make it to 4-6 weeks! You'll feel depressed, have unbearable hunger pangs and zero energy to train, and basically stop enjoying life. And then there is the muscle loss from such an excessive approach.

So what happens when fat loss stalls with this approach? What can you do to get it started again? You have nothing left to cut from your diet, and unless you can afford to devote your whole agenda to training, you can't ramp up the activity any further (you won't have the energy anyway). You will basically be doomed. You'll still lose some fat, but progress will be so slow that there is no way you'll be able to handle it long enough to reach your goal.

Avoid being excessive from the start. Use the dietary and cardio strategy to allow you to lose fat at an acceptable rate and train to maintain or increase your strength. The more conservative you are while still getting good fat loss results, the more room you'll have to play with when fat loss slows down.

5. Increasing Training Volume and Doing More Exercises

When someone wants to get ripped he naturally tends to add exercises to his program. He does that because he believes that doing so will help him "carve" the muscle by working it from as many angles as possible. Well, you cannot carve, shape, or cut a muscle. You can only make it bigger or smaller. So right off the bat adding exercises will not work for the purpose of shaping or carving a muscle.

Can you make it bigger by adding more exercises? Sure, if you're in a caloric surplus, but when in a caloric deficit your body will have a hard time just maintaining the muscle mass it already has. So adding a significant amount of muscle will be very hard to do if you're a natural lifter. Since you won't be in a physical state conducive to building new muscle tissue, adding more exercises will only make you burn more fuel. And as I mentioned, this might actually make it harder to recover from your training, which isn't something we want when trying to preserve muscle mass.

Now, some people swear that adding exercises makes their muscles larger. This is more likely due to inflammation of the muscle tissue (which will naturally tend to increase when dieting since it's harder to recover), which can make the muscles feel and even look swollen. But that won't last long and it won't take much time to start losing your capacity to get a pump, and that's the first sign that you're about to start losing muscle. The idea is to focus on the big money lifts to maintain your strength. You correct muscle imbalances and lagging body parts when you're in a caloric surplus, not when you're dieting down.

6. Getting Rid of Workout Nutrition Carbs

This is probably the most common problem. I've even been guilty of it myself! For a long time carbs were the enemy of fat loss. That was especially true during the low-carb diet craze a few years back. Nobody was as carbophobic as I was. So I do understand the impulse to suddenly stop taking in peri-workout carbs (before, during and post-workout) when dieting down.

Listen, a proper peri-workout formula like Plazma™ that contains fast acting di- and tri- peptides and functional carbs is your absolute best insurance policy when it comes to preserving (or even increasing) muscle mass when dieting down, so dropping carbs is one of the worst things you can do. If anything you should increase your peri-workout nutrient intake when dieting down. Go ahead and reduce carbs and calories for the rest of the day to get the maximum fat burning effect possible, but leave the peri-workout window alone!

Don't be afraid of peri-workout carbs (especially the highly-branched cyclodextrins in Plazma since they actually have fat burning effects) as they won't be stored as fat or reduce your rate of fat loss. In fact, they'll increase your rate of fat loss by allowing you to train harder and keep your metabolic rate higher.

7. Doing Cardio Before Going to Bed

I don't see this as frequently as many of the other mistakes, but it deserves a mention. This was popular in some bodybuilding circles when it got out that Ronnie Coleman was doing it when preparing for the Mr. Olympia. Again, not to talk bad about pro bodybuilding, but steroids change your physiology. For example, steroids/androgens and cortisol share a cellular messenger. Without giving you a physiology lecture, it means that the more androgens you have in your body, the less impact cortisol will have on you.

Doing cardio – especially moderate steady state cardio – will elevate cortisol levels, and in the natural hormonal cycle of humans, cortisol has to be at its lowest before going to bed. Having a high cortisol level when going to bed will make it much harder to go to sleep and much harder to have a restorative sleep episode. It will also turn your sleep period into a 7 to 10 hour-long catabolic episode, which isn't a good mix if you value your muscle mass. To maintain your muscle, recover faster from your training, and optimize your hormonal levels and cycles, avoid evening/night cardio.

It's Simple...

1. Keep lifting heavy on the big basic lifts.
2. Do not add extra exercises.
3. Do not try to burn more calories via weight lifting.
4. If you decide to do cardio, choose low-intensity cardio, high-intensity/short duration cardio, or loaded carries and make sure to be in a post-absorptive state. Also, avoid doing cardio at night.
5. Do not try to correct lagging muscle groups when in a caloric deficit. The best you can do is maintain your muscle or increase it slightly; you can't make drastic changes at this point.
6. Don't ditch your workout nutrition carbs. In fact, increase them!
7. Start conservatively. Do just enough to maintain a good rate of progress (a loss of 2 pounds per week, for example) so that you keep some weapons in store for when fat loss slows down.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fasting activates your body's 'survival' mode, boosting your immune system

by PF Louis 

(NaturalNews) Scientific research is finally validating the ancient health and healing practice of fasting. The Telegraph recently reported that scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered that fasting "for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system,
even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as 'remarkable.'"

Researchers suggest that the mechanism behind this phenomenon is that "starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection." And fasting "'flips a regenerative switch' which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system."

Tech Times recently quoted key findings from the same USC study. Valter Longo, corresponding author of the study and a professor at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, stated: "When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged."

Longo added, "With a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."

Tech Times reported, "The fasting, whether for two or four days, drives the human body into a 'survival' mode in which it begins using up stores of sugar and fat and also breaks down old cells."

The Times of India came out with an article titled "Fast 8 days a year to boost immunity." It also reported from the same California study that fasting forced the body to initiate stem cells to "regenerate and rebuild the entire system."

The researchers were quick to warn that, although fasting has proven benefits, it should be used judiciously and that more clinical research is needed, as prior research results were mixed.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are generic, undifferentiated source cells, which are the basis of all specific cell types such as muscle cells, blood cells and so on. They come in two varieties: unlimited and limited.

Unlimited stem cells, also called embryonic cells, can develop into any type of cell or tissue. Potentially, these cells have the ability to reverse and restore any type of injured or diseased cells or tissues.

Research into unlimited stem cells has been focused on the development of profitable synthetic drugs that can mimic these cells. A major advantage to unlimited stem cells is that they can be replicated outside the body in a lab.

Currently amidst controversy, unlimited stem cells have been developed from fertility clinics' discarded three-day-old embryos. Unlike limited stem cells, these cells exist outside the body and can be developed into any kind of needed cell or tissue type.

Limited stem cells, also known as adult stem cells, have for some time been successfully used to repair specific organs and tissues based on where these cells originated.

A major disadvantage is that not all organs or tissues have these limited stem cells, which can be difficult to secure. Another disadvantage is that limited stem cells cannot be grown in a lab and must be taken directly from the body, immediately frozen and then directly transplanted into the patient.

Fasting - an ancient medical practice

Medical fasting is the practice of abstaining from solid food for a specific and predetermined period of time in order to obtain a variety of therapeutic benefits, both preventive and curative.

In fact, fasting has been used therapeutically for thousands of years. Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine, advocated its use and taught his disciples that fasting activated the body's ability to heal itself.

Around 500 years ago, Paracelsus, an illustrious Swiss German Renaissance physician who founded the Western discipline of toxicology, proclaimed that "fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within." Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old healing system from India, has long advocated fasting and its therapeutic benefits.

In Europe, medically supervised fasting has been traditionally used to heal and restore patients' health. It continues to this day in special healing spas, especially in Germany. Some experts estimate that the majority of Americans store between five and ten pounds of toxic substances in their bodies.

Sources for this article include:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Top 5 health benefits of eating mangos


by Raw Michelle 

(NaturalNews) The juicy, tropical flavor of mangos are enjoyed by many, but there are other benefits of eating the fruit beyond its flavor. In fact, June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables month, and according to, June is also National Mango Month. All the more reason to hone in on this healthy fruit!

Aside from the delicious taste, mangos are full of health benefits.

Top 5 health benefits of mangos

1) May prevent certain cancers. Discoveries have found that mangos contain a large amount of polyphenols, which play a role in fighting free radicals and protecting against cell damage, which could lead to cancer (1). Specifically, it's been found that many of its compounds have the ability to combat breast and colon cancer cells. Furthermore, mangos have high levels of flavonoids like beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, which help protect against oral cavity and lung cancers (2).

2) Help eye and skin health. Mangos have a high vitamin A content, which is good for helping to keep bones, skin and eyes healthy. Eating one cup of mangos provides the body with approximately 35 percent of the vitamin A needed for optimal functioning (3).

3) Help reduce blood pressure. Because this fruit has good potassium levels, yet is low in sodium, it's considered ideal for those looking to lower blood pressure (2).

4) Boost brain health. Improve mood and overall brain ability with mangos. They have large amounts of the vitamin B-6 as well as glutamine acid which helps to improve neurotransmitter function, so the brain remains healthy while also benefiting from improved memory and concentration (4).

5) Better heart health. According to the Institute of Medicine, women should have 25 g of fiber daily, at a minimum (3). One cup of mango as more than 2.5 g of dietary fiber, and eating it along with other fiber-rich foods contribute toward meeting that goal. As with all high fiber diets, heart disease risks are lessened.

Mango fun facts

It's also interesting to note that there's more to the mango that what's ingested. Many fun facts abound when it comes to this fruit including legend that says Buddha used to meditate under a mango tree, are thought to be a gesture of friendship in India, and that they're related to pistachios (5).

Mangos are brimming with health and fun history!

Sources for this article include:






Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The 5 best ways to resist belly fat as we age

by Aurora Geib 

(NaturalNews) Have you ever asked a real estate agent what's the most critical factor when it comes to selling a house? Their answer was probably something you've heard before: "Location, location, location." Well, oddly enough, when it comes to our health and being even a little overweight, that same, worn out real estate proverb is true, as well. Study after study has shown that where our bodies store fat is nearly as important as how much extra weight we're holding onto. People whose bodies store more fat in their mid-sections face higher risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes and even premature death than those who store extra weight in other ways.

Apples versus pears

Just knowing you should strive to be pear-shaped instead of apple-shaped doesn't make it any easier to fight that expanding waistline. You need tools. And aging adds its own set of challenges. Some people find that the battle of the bulge gets harder as they get older. After all, our metabolisms start to slow, and arthritis or other health conditions may make it harder to stay as active as we once were.

While cutting calories and adding regular, low-impact exercise -- such as swimming or biking -- are two great first steps, there are other, very specific things you can do in your fight against unwanted belly fat. Here are the 5 best ways to resist belly fat as we age.

  1. The cortisol connection - Cortisol has been called the stress hormone. Part of our natural fight-or-flight mechanism, cortisol is released by our bodies when we're sick, frightened or even feel a lack of control over events in our lives. High cortisol levels have been linked with an impaired immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure and even memory loss. Worse still, if you're trying to slim your waistline, cortisol tells your body to lay down belly fat. A study published by the National Institutes of Health (1), "Stress-induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women," found that, when women were subjected to stressful situations, those who felt the least control over the situation released the most cortisol and gained weight in the abdominal region in response. Relaxation techniques -- such as meditation or yoga -- in response to stress can lower those toxic cortisol levels and keep added weight off your waistline
  2. Supplementation - Many vitamins and minerals have been found to have an impact on weight gain. This is especially significant for older people. As you age, it's harder for your body to get all the nutrients that you need from your food. This makes supplementation even more important than ever. Vitamins and minerals that have been shown to aid in weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy weight include vitamin D, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
  3. Aim for whole grains - The benefits of whole grains cannot be disputed. They stabilize blood sugar levels, stave of hunger pains and lower cholesterol, all good news for anyone hoping to maintain a healthy weight. And, since weight gain of any kind often means belly fat, the more whole grains you add to your diet, the slimmer your waistline is likely to be. Oats are a great whole grain choice. According to The World's Healthiest Foods (2), oats are not only high in fat-fighting fiber but also a good source of magnesium, chromium and protein.
  4. Drink more water - We've all heard the old saying, "Drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day." It turns out, drinking enough water every day may be even more important as we age, especially if we want to lose weight. A 12-week study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (3), with middle-aged and older participants, showed that participants who drank 500 ml of water before each meal lost 44 percent more weight while on a low-calorie diet than those on a low-calorie diet alone.
  5. Get enough sleep - You may already associate not getting enough sleep with the health of your immune system or your ability to concentrate, but a follow-up study reported by SCIENCE Natural News (4), shows a strong connection between sleep and weight gain. The study showed significant weight gain among study participants who reported the least amount of sleep. To stave off overall weight gain and resist belly fat, put getting a good night's rest at the top of your "to do" list.






Monday, June 9, 2014

20-Minute Muscle Builder

Quick Barbell Workouts for Busy People



Here's what you need to know...

•  You can build muscle and strength in as little as 20 minutes a day if you know what you're doing. Twenty minutes of well planned, focused training will lead to significant improvements in your physique and work capacity.
•  This program only requires a barbell and, ideally, a bench. You'll only do four basic lifts. They're split over two training days and you'll go back and forth between them throughout the week.
If you have access to a barbell and have 20 minutes a day to spare, I can make you bigger and stronger. I have plenty of clients who work inhumane hours, yet all of them train 4 to 7 days a week and all are making significant progress. I'm fed up with people who make excuses not to train. I couldn't care less if someone doesn't want to hit the weights. To each his passion. However, I do get pissed off when someone complains about not being able to build a good physique because he doesn't have time or that he's too tired. If you really want it, stop being weak and make time to train.

The thing is, you don't need that much time to work out. You can build muscle and strength in as little as 20 minutes a day (or even less) if you know what you're doing. Twenty minutes of well planned, focused training will lead to significant improvements in your physique and work capacity. Tell me that you don't have 20 minutes to devote to training! Here's a very simple program that will get you stronger and more muscular if you give it all you've got.

The Program

The plan is very simple. It only requires a barbell and, ideally, a bench. We'll use four basic lifts only. They are split over two training days and you go back and forth between them throughout the week.

The lifts are:

1. Deadlift
2. Military Press
3. Bench Press
4. Bent-Over Barbell Row (torso kept parallel to the floor)
The groupings are as follows:

Workout A
A. Deadlift
B. Military press
Workout B
A. Bench press
B. Bent-Over Barbell Row
It's crucial that you know your maximum (1RM) on those four lifts. I don't want a sloppy max, either. I want the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a technically solid repetition. This maximum will be used to calculate the weights you will use on the first week. Then the loads will be adjusted depending on your results.

After warming up (2-3 warm-up sets at the most), do 4 total sets per exercise:

Set 1: 5 reps with 80% of your maximum
Set 2: 1 rep with 90% of your maximum
Set 3: 1 rep with 92% of your maximum
Set 4: The maximum number of reps you can do with 60% of your maximum. This number should fall between 15 and 20
The important part to remember is how to adjust the load from workout to workout. What determines if you can go up in weight at the next session is the result of the fourth set. It's simple: When you reach 20 reps on the fourth set, you go up in weight the next workout. Until you can reach 20 good reps, the load used for your 4 work sets remains unchanged.

For example, let's say that your workout looks like this:

5 @ 240 pounds
1 @ 270 pounds
1 @ 280 pounds
17 @ 180 pounds
You'd keep 240, 270, 280, and 180 pounds as your work set weights the next time this workout comes around. When you're able to hit 20 reps on that last set, you increase the weight in the following amounts:

Deadlift: 10 pounds for the first 3 sets, 20 pounds for the fourth set
Military Press: 5 pounds for the first 3 sets, 10 pounds for the fourth set
Bench Press: 5 pounds for the first 3 sets, 10 pounds for the fourth set
Bent-Over Barbell Row: 5 pounds for the first 3 sets, 10 pounds for the fourth set
For example, if your bench-press numbers look like this:

5 @ 240 pounds
1 @ 270 pounds
1 @ 280 pounds
20 @ 180 pounds
Then the next time you do bench, your weights would go to:

5 @ 245 pounds
1 @ 275 pounds
1 @ 286 pounds
Maximum number of reps @ 190 pounds

Frequency Is King

BenchIn my experience, training frequency is a lot more important than volume. This is especially true if you're using a very low volume/training time approach like this program. A lot of people ask if they can change exercises every workout. For example, instead of doing Workout A (deadlift/military press) three times during the week, they'll ask if they can do that workout just once and then use other movements like a squat, incline bench press, or barbell curl on the other sessions. No, you can't! The program simply will not work if you use different variations of the exercises at every workout. You must progressively overload the same movement to force the body to adapt and build muscle.

It's simple:

Days 1, 3, and 5
Military Press
Days 2, 4, and 6
Bench Press
Bent-Over Barbell Row
Don't try to get cute. Simply work hard at pushing the weights up on those four lifts and you will grow.

How It Works

This program looks deceptively simple, but give it a shot for a month and you'll be shocked. If you work hard you will get everything you need to grow. The sets using 80-92% of your max will activate the nervous system and make your muscles denser and harder looking. Those sets will also get you stronger. The set of 5 will also contribute to hypertrophy and the set of 20 will further stimulate hypertrophy.

The cool thing is that these workouts aren't draining and they could in fact be done even more frequently if you want to (e.g., Workout A in the AM and Workout B in the PM, every day) and you'd make fantastic gains without feeling fatigued.

Possible Adaptations

I typically don't like to stray away from my systems, but here are three ways you can adapt this system to different situations:

1. You can do a longer workout, but you can't get to the gym that often.

Let's say that you can spend 40-60 minutes per day on your training but that you can only hit the gym 3 days a week. Remember that frequency is king with this program – you want to hit each lift often. If you can only go to the gym 3 times a week, then you should do all four lifts at every workout. This will allow you to hit all four movements three times per week. The best order to do this is as follow:

1. Bench Press
2. Deadlift
3. Military Press
4. Bent-Over Row

2. You want to train twice a day.

I personally like to do multiple short sessions during the day. I feel that if you can afford to do that, you'll get the best possible gains. If you want to do this, perform the A workout in the AM as your first training session and the B workout in the PM as your second session.

3. You want to also get leaner.

I suggest adding Tabata kettlebell swings to the end of the workout. Simply do as many KB swings as you can in 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, and then start the next round of 20 seconds. You do this for 4 minutes straight. A 20 or 24-kilogram kettlebell will be adequate for most guys while a 16-kilogram kettlebell should work for most women.

Cardio Kills

How Running and Endurance Training Can Shorten Your Life



Here's what you need to know...

•  There are benefits to regular exercise, but as far as heart health and longevity go, marathoners may be no better off than the guy on the couch.
•  Research has suggested that free radical damage from long and frequent cardio workouts is especially detrimental to cardiac and skeletal muscle.
•  The long-term effects of chronically elevated cortisol such as you see in endurance athletes have nearly as detrimental an effect as oxidative stress with respect to disease, showing associations with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and in fact all causes of mortality.
•  Many mistakenly blame food for putting our bodies into an acidic state, yet conveniently forget that their 2-hour run that same morning results in an acidic environment with a higher likelihood of causing damage.
•  If you love running or endurance training, you might want to find a new hobby.
Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise daily continues to be the standard recommendation for improving overall health and longevity. This is why it's common for most to select running, cycling, swimming, or any other form of endurance training as their predominant form of exercise. It also appears to be standard practice to set a goal of completing a marathon or triathlon in order to stay motivated. If some cardiovascular exercise is good, then more must be better, right?

Wrong. Exercise becomes damaging when it's excessive. Unfortunately, when your method for getting fit is moderate-intensity cardiovascular training or steady-state endurance exercise, that excessive line is crossed more frequently than not. Don't get me wrong, there are benefits to regular exercise and daily movement, but as far as heart health goes, marathoners may be no better than the guy on the couch, and as far as longevity goes, they may be worse off.

Gunked Up Arteries

The human body is extremely adaptable, which means diminishing returns in progress are inevitable unless a unique or more challenging stimulus is repeatedly introduced. Those selecting running, cycling, or swimming as their method for "getting fit" must continuously go farther or train harder or more frequently in order to experience any benefit from exercise. Five miles last week becomes 8 miles this week, and quickly reaches 30-40miles/week for those with aspirations of completing a marathon or triathlon. As the endurance athlete seeks more miles and higher speeds they put additional stress on their body, which results in excessive free radical production, cortisol secretion, lactate accumulation, and inflammation.

Nearly every type of workout – aerobic or anaerobic, high-intensity or low-intensity, isometric or isokinetic – produces free radicals (or reactive oxygen species), although the amount generated, and whether there's corresponding oxidative damage, depends on the workout design and delivery (mode, intensity, duration). A model developed in 1992 by M.B. Reid suggests that free radicals are generated faster during strenuous exercise than any buffering agent can handle. Above the optimal threshold, antioxidants are outnumbered and harmful oxidative stress prevails. This leads to muscle dysfunction and muscle loss, along with damage to proteins, lipids, and even DNA.

free-radicalsSome argue that higher levels of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) from exercise are beneficial because they increase the body's internal production of antioxidants. However, science has demonstrated that there's a breakeven point where the accumulation of free radicals overburdens any antioxidant defense. Sadly, most that choose cardio as their method for staying healthy or getting fit consistently surpass this point.

The oxygen requirement during exercise is a determining factor in the number of free radicals generated. Consistent movement for greater than 45-60 seconds is predominantly aerobic, meaning oxygen is required to produce energy (ATP). Conversely, short and intermittent (or anaerobic) exercise does not use oxygen to produce energy. Not only does this suggest higher free radical production during aerobic training, but unlike the anaerobic energy system, the oxidative stress (or cell damage) takes place inside the mitochondria. Since mitochondria are the dominant producers of free radicals, skeletal muscle has one of the highest concentrations of mitochondria, and muscle represents the largest organ in the human body, this is a BIG problem.

The oxygen demands during aerobic exercise produce considerable damage within muscle cells that leads to eventual cell death. Essentially, the muscle cells are "oxidized," and once destroyed they unfortunately can't be replaced. Research from as early as 1987 has suggested that free radical damage from long and frequent cardio workouts is especially detrimental to cardiac and skeletal muscle. As Dr. James O'Keefe discusses, endurance training causes "structural cardiovascular changes" and "elevations of cardiac biomarkers" that appear to return to normal in the short term, but when taken on as a regular activity results in "patchy myocardial fibrosis... an increased susceptibility to atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, coronary artery calcification, diastolic dysfunction, and large-artery wall stiffening."

Dr. O'Keefe and other researchers have suggested that it's common to see extreme variations (5-fold) in atrial fibrillation when elite level endurance athletes are compared to non-runners, and other studies have found troubling medical anomalies such as:

• Impaired Cardiac Contractile Function
• Decline in Peak Systolic Tissue Velocity
• Cardio Myocyte Damage
• Myocardial Fibrosis
• Cardiac Arrhythmias
• Poor Left Ventricle Function
In April of 2014, The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association published research showing that "long-term male marathon runners may have

paradoxically increased coronary artery plaque volume." And in another study, the researchers compared a group of sedentary men to men that competed in at least one marathon annually for 25 years. Compared to the inactive group, the runners had nearly double the total plaque and calcified plaque volumes, and almost 1.5 times the non-calcified plaque volume.

Not surprisingly, the marathoners in the study from Missouri State had lower resting heart rates, BMI (Body Mass Index), and triglyceride levels than the sedentary group. The fact that "all looks good on the outside," is potentially the most frightening thing. This can be seen in the cardiovascular health of ultra-endurance athletes and cardio kings and queens who continuously put their bodies through a pounding. These guys and girls aren't just running farther than everyone else, they're running more consistently and faster.

The Cardio Dead Pool

Generally, many (including me) have idolized these individuals as we couldn't envision ourselves doing one marathon, let alone two in a row on a Saturday afternoon. However, as the evidence suggests, duration and intensity have a profound effect on free radical accumulation. Despite the natural increase in antioxidant production, the adjustment is short-lived and serious damage ensues over time. This resulting heart damage may have played a part in the early (or near) death of several famous ultra-endurance and marathon runners:

Micah True (Caballo Blanco) One of the ultra runners featured in the popular book, Born to Run, died in 2012 at 58 years old of Phidippides cardiomyopathy – an enlarged heart from chronic excessive endurance exercise.
Alberto Salazer Won three New York City Marathons and one Boston Marathon between 1980 and 1982 but had a near fatal heart attack at 49 years of age.
Jim Fixx The man credited for popularizing jogging and author of the best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running, died of a heart attack at 52.
One study, from the European Heart Journal, looked at marathon runners, triathletes, alpine cyclists, and ultra triathletes who competed in races lasting 3, 5, 8, and 11 hours respectively. Dysfunction in the right ventricle after the race was least in the marathon runners (3 hours) and highest in the ultra triathletes (11 hours). Although it's been suggested that sudden death during marathon training only occurs in 1 in 100,000 people, the majority of those fatalities are from a cardiovascular event. As Dr. O'Keefe writes:

"If we went out for a run right now and you ran hard... by 60 minutes something starts happening... the free radicals blossom, and it starts burning the heart. It starts searing and inflaming the insides of your coronary arteries."
If that weren't bad enough, excessive free radical accumulation and resulting oxidative damage increases your risk of degenerative disease and accelerates aging. Anyone with a goal of living a long and disease-free life should avoid instances that promote excess free radical production, as the damage that ensues is at the root of many chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and many more.

Telomeres Shorter Than Tom Cruise

Although the free radical theory of aging is still considered a hypothesis, it's been proven that DNA damage to mitochondria increases our disease risk. Telomeres are found at the ends of chromosomes that protect DNA and the length of these tiny caps can determine our rate of aging. One analysis of skeletal muscle from a 90-year-old man revealed that only 5% of his mitochondrial DNA was full length, while that of a 5-year-old boy was almost completely intact. Our telomeres shorten during normal cell division, but if they get too short, chromosomes get damaged, cells stop dividing, and our ability to repair tissue is inhibited.

Numerous studies have found that short telomeres are associated with older cells and an increased risk of mortality and disease, and longer telomeres are associated with younger cells and a higher resistance to disease. The exact cause of telomere shortening is still up for debate, but the leading hypothesis points to chronic stress. The researchers believe that excess exposure to stress overwhelms anti-oxidant protection, resulting in cell damage – specifically to DNA and the telomeric region. Not only does oxidative stress cause DNA damage, but it appears to disrupt the enzyme responsible for telomere elongation (telomerase), meaning any chance of future repair and growth is inhibited.

Enough Cortisol to Kill a Moose

Another harmful byproduct generated during aerobic exercise is cortisol. Similar to free radical accumulation, its concentration is determined by intensity and duration. When our bodies are under stress, cortisol helps to increase the concentration of glucose in our blood so there's readily-available energy for our muscles to utilize. Cortisol secretion is a natural response to stress and it's a good thing when released infrequently and for short periods as it helps the body deal with the threat to homeostasis. However, when we're exposed to chronic and consistently elevated cortisol for extended periods of time, we experience long-term consequences.

Unfortunately, prolonged endurance training causes the body to release an abundant amount of cortisol. Research from 1976 in The Journal of Applied Physiology showed no increase in cortisol secretion after 10 minutes (at 75% intensity), but cortisol doubled after 30 minutes. Another study, this one from 2011, analyzed the cortisol levels in 304 amateur endurance athletes and the average additional secretion above the control (in white in the graph below), was 42%!

Athletes who ran more kilometers per week, trained for more hours, or took part in more competitions over the year exhibited higher hair cortisol levels.
Intensity seems to play just as important a role, as 80% exercise intensity for 1 hour produces high cortisol levels while exercise at 40% intensity for 1 hour actually lowers it. With an activity like walking, cortisol is removed faster than it can be secreted, yet, as individuals looking to get fit, we're consistently told to train harder, run farther, and burn more calories.

Likewise, when cortisol is elevated, Testosterone is inhibited, meaning that consistently elevated cortisol lowers Testosterone. Cortisol increases steadily throughout a workout, while Testosterone levels peak at 20-30 minutes. That means the longer the exercise bout, the more unfavorable the Testosterone-to-Cortisol ratio (T:C). A better T:C ratio promotes muscle growth and tissue repair, while a higher proportion of cortisol leads to muscle and tissue loss.

In a nutshell, cortisol burns muscle (catabolic) and Testosterone builds muscle (anabolic), and unfortunately the increases in cortisol from endurance training leads to the former. Other than muscle loss, chronically elevated cortisol leads to injuries, sickness, and inflammation in the brain, reproductive system, intestinal tract, and heart. The elevated inflammatory markers experienced after aerobic training are much higher than those tested after alternative forms of exercise. The long-term effects of chronically elevated cortisol have nearly as detrimental an effect as oxidative stress with respect to disease, showing associations with the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and in fact all causes of mortality.

Blood so Acidic it Can Clean Grease Off an Engine Block

Lactic acid is another problem associated with endurance training. Large amounts of it are produced during exercise that's beyond a certain intensity or duration, which increases oxygen and acidity (lowers pH) inside and outside muscle cells. This accumulation of lactate depends on a balance between production by the working muscles and removal by the liver and other tissues. If exercise is continuous, lactate production persists while removal declines.

Lactic acid is of relevance to health and longevity because it lowers pH. The act of simply running for a few minutes drops our normal pH of 7.4 to 7.0. Continuing or repeating the same activity can lower it to 6.8, which is considered the lowest tolerable, survival pH. Many mistakenly blame food for putting our bodies into an acidic state, yet conveniently forget that their 2-hour run that same morning results in an acidic environment with a higher likelihood of causing damage.

To handle an acidic meal, the kidneys regulate pH by excreting more or less bicarbonate. This buffering system (to bring pH up) is hampered during exercise as it can take several hours to initiate. Unlike acidic food, which only affects the pH in urine, exercise lowers pH in extracellular fluid and blood. This lactate build-up not only adds to the stress put on our cells, but arterial pH disturbance alone has been associated with life-threatening rhythmic disturbances of the heart. As written in 2002 in The Journal of Internal Medicine:

"Although acids and bases are present in foods, the major threat to bodily fluid pH is acids formed in the metabolic processes."

Alternative Choices?

If you're looking to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, heart disease, and diabetes, daily low-intensity movement will cut your risk in half without increasing stress (walking, in fact, reduces stress) or promoting oxidation. Just 30 minutes of walking 5 times per week has been shown to reduce death risk by 50%!

If performance is your goal, you're better off doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Short sprint intervals produced equal aerobic improvements (VO2 max, lactate threshold, aerobic power) and better fat loss when compared to moderate intensity jogging, and that was with 1/18th the time commitment!

If you're in search of a six-pack, your time is better spent lifting weights and eating right. When you work out to build muscle (not burn calories), you burn more energy throughout the day. Any new muscle needs energy just to exist, which means an increase in the number of calories burned, even while sedentary. Unlike resistance exercise, aerobic training does not produce significant positive changes in muscle size or strength, only producing favorable increases in endurance capacity. A strong, muscular physique is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but research suggests that strength and muscle mass are the two most important biomarkers for health and longevity.

And lastly, if you love running... I suggest finding a new hobby. I love eating chocolate and drinking wine, but that doesn't mean I'm consuming them 5 times a week for 3 hours at a time. In all seriousness, anything you love about running (endorphins, alone time, camaraderie, competition) can be experienced elsewhere, while potentially increasing your lifespan instead of knowingly shortening it.