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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Spoiled Rotten

CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING

You either don’t watch TV or you don’t read magazines if you’ve never seen an advertisement that shows some buff young girl or guy pounding out miles while running on a beach, or happily sweating profusely while cruising on an elliptical or enduring an intense Spinning class.

These young models always look extremely satisfied to be working their bodies so hard, and they also share one other common characteristic: they are already in shape! Have you ever seen a commercial for a gym or exercise device that showed a 5-foot, 300 lb person grinning from ear to ear?

This is a common example of how the media and fitness industry retailers promote the mass-confusion over cardio. The ads scream messages like, “Buy our pill, put on some sexy clothes while running on the beach, and you’ll look just as good as our models do!”

Gym owners do it, too. “Join our gym now and we’ll give you one month free! Just by joining and then attending our Award-Winning Spinning Class, you will look just like Cindy, the Supermodel we hired to do our commercial!”

It’s ridiculous how the “powers that be” portray cardiovascular exercise as some effortless activity that you can easily use to gain the body of your dreams just by purchasing their product or joining their facility.

The truth of the matter is that cardiovascular training works. The additional truth of the matter is that it can range from moderately to intensely difficult, and that it will take you weeks, months, or maybe even years of combining cardio with resistance training and proper nutrition to attain the body of your dreams.

Is that what you wanted to hear about cardio? Probably not, but it’s the truth. If you think there is some shortcut to being buff, young, tan, and in complete control of your life, then you should go turn on the TV. There is a commercial on right now that is just waiting for you to call in your credit card number!

RESISTANCE TRAINING

The hype surrounding resistance training isn’t quite as appalling as the myths about cardiovascular training, but it still exists. Regardless of what you have seen, heard, or been taught, the truth is this: everyone needs resistance training.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to be a bodybuilder or a 90-year old who can tie your own shoelaces, you need resistance training. Listing the many reasons for engaging in a consistent resistance training routine is beyond the scope of this article, but there are some myths about weight training that need to be brought to light.

1. Weight Training makes you big and bulky. Actually, the size of your muscles is determined primarily by your gender, the type and intensity of your training program, and your nutrition. If you think you will just “magically” turn into a muscle-bound athlete because you picked up a couple of dumbbells, just ask any bodybuilder how much time, energy, and raw will power goes into building his or her incredible physique. It does NOT happen by accident.

2. Using any given device or exercise will “sculpt” your abs, biceps, butt, or any other muscle. There is one thing and exactly one thing that determines the shape of your muscles, and that is your DNA. It is quite impossible to “sculpt” any part of your body – that job belongs to your chosen deity. You can control the size of your muscles, but you cannot control the shape. Anyone who says otherwise is straight up lying.

3. Resistance training is just for men. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to be healthy, strong, and have a great metabolism and energy level? Then weight training is for you. Period.

Programming Brief

Multi-joint Exercises

As a general rule you should perform complex multi-joint exercises first in your exercise routine while you are fresh. Typically, multi-joint movements require more skill and energy to perform. Such exercises include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and pull-ups. Nothing annoys me more than seeing someone perform bicep curls until their head explodes, then go right into lat pulldowns (notice, lat pulldowns, not pull-ups…anyone who does pull-ups knows better than to work their biceps beforehand).

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Such is the case when using the pre- exhaustion technique. For example, perform a set of dumbbell flys to exhaust the pectorals then going directly to a set of bench press. In this case, however, you are pre-exhausting the larger muscle group, not the smaller muscle group.

Single-joint Exercises

Since single-joint movements typically require less skill to perform and are not as taxing on the body, perform them after multi-joint exercises. Performing single- joint movements at the end of a workout session will ensure a more efficient and effective routine. Of course, there will be exceptions, which should be addressed on an individual basis.

L-Glutamine in Building Muscle

It is widespread throughout the body and plays an important role in protein metabolism. From a bodybuilder’s perspective, glutamine’s strength is its ability to reduce the amount of muscle deterioration that occurs as a result of intense physical workouts. It is therefore beneficial to those wishing to maintain existing muscle as well as bodybuilders attempting to increase lean bulk.

Failure to replace the high levels of glutamine consumed during intense exercise could result in greater susceptibility to illness due to a weakening of the immune system. In addition, glutamine stolen from the muscles to maintain the immune system must be replaced to keep those muscles building.

Glutamine’s positive impact on the immune system, liver functioning and gastro-intestinal integrity suggests that it offers much in the way of general health benefits and is not simply a supplement of value only to the bodybuilding fraternity.

Bodybuilders can benefit from taking 10 grams of l-glutamine each day, preferably taken post-workout to enhance its recuperative effects. As a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body glutamine is safe to take although ingesting excessive amounts could cause an upset stomach.

Must know about Dangerous Shoulder Exercises

Bench Press – This is a popular exercise chosen to build the chest, along with the anterior deltoid and triceps. Most teach taking the bar down until it lightly touches the chest. However, I believe this is unsafe because it exposes the anterior shoulder capsule to excessive load, in addition to compressing the soft tissue of the rotator cuff between the humerus and the acromion. Over time, with repeated bouts and heavy loads, the rotator cuff becomes inflamed.

Individuals with any anterior shoulder laxity (loose joints) or history of subluxation/dislocation are also at increase risk for rotator cuff injury or labral (shoulder cartilage) damage. Furthermore, you also have the potential to rupture the pectoralis tendon with full range pressing during heavy loads. The safe answer is to lower the bar until the upper arm is parallel to the floor (elbow bent to 90 degrees). This prevents the shoulder joint from moving into the unsafe range. The same advice applies to push-ups.

Lat Pull Downs – This is a good exercise to strengthen the back, but when done behind the head it can cause problems. Like the bench press, pulling the bar down behind the head positions the humerus in such a way that the rotator cuff can be pinched. This may depend on other factors, including the shape of a person’s acromion and degree of any present arthritis, but I still believe the risk outweighs any benefit. Not to mention that keeping the bar in front of the head still accomplishes the same movement for the target muscle, while eliminating the risk of shoulder injury. Remember not to sway during the movement, and position the body in a slightly reclined position, pulling the bar toward the sternum. Another unrelated reason not to do behind the neck pull downs is that it places undue stress on the cervical spine.

Military Press – This exercise when performed behind the neck with a bar, positions the shoulder in the aforementioned unfavorable position. Done repeatedly, the rotator cuff can become inflamed. Similar to behind the neck pull downs, you also expose your neck to unnecessary stress. It is safer to perform the exercise in front of the head or utilize dumbbells and work in the scapular plane. You must watch to avoid arching the low back and it is best to use a bench with back support to prevent this.

Dips/Upright Row – As before, the key mistake made with these exercises is allowing the shoulder to move beyond 90 degrees relative to a position parallel to the floor or perpendicular to the body. I always recommend stopping at 90 degrees to protect the shoulder capsule and the rotator cuff.