An Experiment In Fatigue Management

I like lifting heavy weights. I like the feeling of the knurling and the bar in my hands or over my shoulders, so it should come as no surprise that it’s been my life’s work up to this point. Always trying to find new ways of improving my rate of progress, and often wasting my time to gain such insight, I’ve come across something that claims to “make fatigue look retarded” and allow more weight to be lifted for more reps. It’s called M-Time and it’s a curious beast indeed. Continue reading

Body Composition: Anorexics And Sumo Wrestlers Are Role Models

Now that I have your attention, let me explain that I am not referring specifically to the eating disorder and the psychological and sociological components that come with it. I am also not encouraging throwing caution to the wind and eating yourself obese. Rather, these individuals give physical proof to just how powerful food and calorie management is in both fat loss and muscle gain.

In an era of team touchdowns and high self esteem, it’s not surprising that weight loss books and articles like to blame someone else for the state of your body. Instead of encouraging personal responsibility, we’re bombarded with the notion that food additives, and specific food types are responsible for your obesity. While I agree that there are optimal foods for a body type, a notion that neutrogenomics should eventually expand upon, the fact of the manner is that we abide by the laws of thermodynamics. While caloric restriction will eventually cause metabolic slowdown, Lyle McDonald contends that the largest recorded rate of reduction is to the order of 30 to 40%. If one was living on veggies, gum, and water, they’ll surely be under this caloric burn amount. To sum it up, calories matter, no matter what this week’s fly-by-night fitness author tells you.

The second part is the bit that makes me excited, as anorexics provide insight into how anabolic food can be. The weight restoration process is the first step in establishing the physical health of a patient recovering from anorexia nervosa. While it might seem a sure thing that the initial weight regained would be all fat, considering their reduced metabolic rate, this study indicates that the weight regain is almost equal parts fat and lean tissue:

“CONCLUSIONS: Body fat estimation by skinfold-thickness equation appeared to be as accurate as underwater weighing. The refeeding program led to a significant increase in body weight, of which 55.5% was body fat.” (Emphasis mine)

“Sure,” you might say, “but what about regular, healthy people?” Well, we do have evidence to suggest that lean tissue and fat are gained when overeating:

“Forty-six percent of the 4.3-kg average weight gain experienced by these subjects consisted of lean body mass (LBM)…”

Or this study where twins were 1000 calories overfed for 100 days:

“The mean body mass gain for the 24 subjects in the 100-d overfeeding experiment was 8.1 kg, of which 5.4 kg was fat mass increase and 2.7 kg was fat-free mass increase.”

And by favorite study of all, and one of the hardest abstracts to find, shows that underneath all of that fat mass, sumo wrestlers have more muscle than even bodybuilders:

“Sumo wrestlers had a significantly greater FFM (fat free mass) than bodybuilders, who had a greater FFM than the untrained men. Six of the wrestlers had more than 100 kg of FFM, including the largest one of 121.3 kg”

One thing of note is that none of the above studies, when overfeeding the subjects, prescribed a specific exercise program. If this had been done, the nutrient partitioning effect might have improved the fat/muscle gain ratio.

So what’s the take home lesson?

1. If you want to lose fat, you’ve gotta lower your calories.

2. If you wanna gain muscle, you’ve gotta eat more than your maintenance level of calories.

3. If you cycle your caloric intake, you may be able to add muscle without adding fat (but that’s another post for another day).

Protein Sparing Modified Fast: The Hydrogen Bomb Of Safe Crash Dieting

I was 20 years old the first time I went on a diet. After years of being the skinny kid and taking up weight training, I bulked up to my highest weight and largest waist ever. 12 weeks after starting my diet I was 20lbs lighter and 5 inches slimmer; thus began my black box dieting adventures. Two weeks ago, I embarked on what is widely considered the extreme smart bomb of the diet world: the protein sparing modified fast. Continue reading

Video Games Stave Off The Freshman Fifteen

(Photo: Vidiot)

During my youth, I attempted to justify my excessive hours playing video games with the excuse that it was “improving my hand/eye coordination,” which turned out to be correct. With the popularity explosion of the Nintendo Wii and interactive games like Dance Dance Revolution, gamers are doing much more than improving coordination. A recent study indicates that it may keep the chub off your average college student:

J Am Coll Health. 2008 Mar-Apr;56(5):505-12.Click here to read Links
Energy expenditure during physically interactive video game playing in male college students with different playing experience.
Sell K, Lillie T, Taylor J.

Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.

Objective: Researchers have yet to explore the effect of physically interactive video game playing on energy expenditure, despite its potential for meeting current minimal daily activity and energy expenditure recommendations. Participants and Methods: Nineteen male college students-12 experienced Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) players and 7 inexperienced players- completed maximal oxygen uptake assessments and a 30-minute DDR gaming session. The authors recorded heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), respiratory exchange rate (RER), oxygen consumption (VO2), and total steps (TS30). Results: Experienced participants showed higher exercise HR, RPE, RER, VO2, total and relative energy expenditure, exercise intensity, TS30, and average steps per minute, and less time and steps to expend 150 kilocalories (p < .05). Conclusions: Participants with greater playing experience can work at higher intensities, promoting greater energy expenditure.

Now if all of that time improving visual attention and shedding fat could be put toward a career of some sort…hmm.

Massage: feels good and good for you

(Photo: Atlas Yoga Studio)

Being a masochistic trainer, I rarely get massages. While I’ve always enjoyed them, it always seemed easier to take a hot bath or nap to relax. It’s sometimes easy to forget that something that feels so nice is also very helpful when recovering from hard bouts of exercise. A very recent study indicates that massage is rather helpful:

Myofascial release massage favors the recovery of HRV (heart rate variability) and diastolic BP (blood pressure) after high-intensity exercise (3 Wingate tests) to preexercise levels.

So all of these years in which your girlfriend or wife was asking for a massage turned out to be them hastening their recovery. Funny how that works.

Growth Hormone Irrelevant To Athletic Performance And Recovery

Being a performance exercise supervisor I’m not only looking to maximize the physical performance of my clients but also to direct their nutritional efforts to help maximize said performance. Since more closely aligning myself with the paleo/evolutionary style of eating, it has come to my attention that certain experts recommend forgoing what is referred to in the athletic world as post-workout nutrition. The reasoning goes that post workout insulin elevation, from the carbohydrates recommended for post workout nutrition, blunts growth hormone (GH) response, reducing the amount of nutrients that get to lean tissue, thus limiting growth, which is what we’re all after. Recent research into both GH and post-workout nutrition tell a slightly different tale. Continue reading

Improve your sleep with a Japanese energy technique

(Thanks to max_thinks_sees)

I love sleep, more than perhaps someone my age should. In high school, my mother thought I had caught mono since I was napping so often and I used to openly state that I would turn down intimacy for a full night of sleep. My girlfriend is thankful that I’ve grown past this.

Later, I developed a mild bit of insomnia that kick-started my research into “body hacks” as I call them. In my searching, I learned of an ancient Japanese energy trick that puts me to sleep nearly as fast as any sleep aid I’ve ever used. It’s so simple, you might not believe how well it can work to help you drift off to dreamland.

Continue reading