Deadlifting is very much in vogue. It’s fashionable to setup to the bar, and load the weights until it bends… but is it necessary?
To that end, we should ask ourselves, “Why do I deadlift?”
Reason #1: Deadlifting Makes Me Strong
Many use the deadlift as their measure of strength. However it’s important to first define what “strength” is.
For the typical gym rat, strength is usually load-based, or simply how much weight they can lift. In this context, the deadlift makes perfect sense, as it’s a stable, predictable, and easy to groove movement.
But in athletics it isn’t nearly as cut and dried. How many times have we seen wrestlers, gymnasts, martial artists, etc., that are strong in their chosen sport, yet can’t pull to save their lives?
To that end, if you’re strong in your sport and dominating the competition, does your deadlifting prowess even matter?
Before we can establish a correlation of strength to a given activity, we need to assess how accurately it challenges our body in specific measures relevant to that activity. The problem with using the deadlift is that it’s easy to mask and compensate for deficiencies in many areas. Therefore, we must question if it’s truly an accurate measure of “functional” strength, which brings us to reason number two.
Reason #2: Deadlifting is Functional
Coaches often say the deadlift carries over to many daily functions. The truth of the matter is that the deadlift has many holes in its translation to most sporting and daily functions.
The deadlift, while a free weight movement, is movement in only one dominant plane, sagittal. However, most daily and sporting activities require us to move and stabilize in many planes of motion.
Furthermore, according to back expert Stuart McGill, the majority of low back issues are not due to maximal strength issues, but rather poor strength-endurance and bad motor patterns. Because the deadlift is such a stable and grooved exercise, it’s easy to build compensation patterns that could actually be detrimental to our low back health.
Finally, concerning sporting performance, legendary biomechanics expert and one of the first U.S. coaches to spend time with Soviet sport coaches, Dr. Michael Yessis, states that the Russians found two main causes of injury:
Extreme range of motion
Leaning too hard on the deadlift for “sport performance training” can be misleading as neither of these two variables are addressed. Fact is, many coaches remove the eccentric component of the deadlift altogether.
Reason #3: It Works the Posterior Chain
The synergy of the hamstrings, glutes, and low back to produce power and strength is an extremely important component to many sports. Yet there are many ways to accomplish this other than just performing deadlifts.
The basic hip hinge component of deadlifting is vital to learn for both performance and low back health. But as we continue to add load, this basic point of deadlifting could be potentially lost.
The term “optimal strength” refers to the point in loading where the chosen lift ceases to provide a carryover to the performance goal.
This is extremely important when training athletes as trying to make an athlete go from a 450-pound deadlift to 500 pounds may come at a significant cost to their movement skills, but have little benefit to their performance.
For the non-powerlifting lifter, the same decisions need to be made in programming. Can we get the same or similar effect but with less spinal compressive movements?
Reason #4: I Like Lifting Heavy Stuff
I won’t argue this point – heck, it’s fun to lift big loads off the ground. I used to enjoy it as well, but I noticed that the heavier my loads got, the more time I had to spend warming-up, pre-habbing, doing corrective exericse, etc. It seemed as though more time was spent preparing and healing from the lift than actually training.
As a coach it can be a trap to make our clients perform the methods and drills we love to do ourselves. Yet if we start to look at our programs with a critical eye, we may be able to develop far more effective programs and still move well and be strong!
What Do I Do?
The deadlift can serve as a great base for teaching the hip hinge and developing some general strength. However, we should look to progress after we establish these patterns at appropriate loads. Progressing doesn’t mean loading the deadlift to Elite proportions, but moving to more complex patterns of movement, speed, and body position.
The Influence of Single-Leg Training
I know, no one ever wants to wear the “90-pound dumbbell single-leg deadlift club” T-shirt, but these movements may take your training and performance further than joining the 600-pound deadlift club.
At a certain point the bilateral lifts have diminishing returns. As loads get heavier, shearing forces and spinal compression diminish movement quality, not to mention increase the risk of injury. This is where single-limb movements start to really shine.
Interestingly, here the benefits of single-leg training have little to do with promoting “symmetry” but rather providing a form of asymmetrical loading.
Asymmetrical loading exercises effectively train trunk and spinal stability. As McGill notes, “Though the spine remains upright, it’s subject to enormous compressive, bending, twisting, and shearing loads.”
While we’re seeing some of these drills appear in more training programs, their versatility, progression, and complexity have yet to be maximized. The following exercises are a very good start. (I’ve also included a video at the end of the descriptions that shows how to do each of these movements.)
In the end, it’s best for you to execute good programming, starting with cycling movements and determining if deadlifts are even the answer to your training goals.
Remember, the really cool kids aren’t the ones hitting deadlift PR’s – they’re the ones achieving their training goals.
For a closer evaluation of your training regime, see one of the many skilled trainers at Platinum Fitness today!
A diet containing complex carbs – read ‘lots of dietary fibre’ – makes rats with a dodgy pancreas slimmer and more muscled, we wrote a few days ago. A similar diet has the same effect on mice with a normal pancreas, researchers at the Children’s Hospital Boston discovered. What’s more, carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to absorb made the animals more physically active.
The researchers divided a group of male mice into two groups. Both groups were given a diet that consisted for 60 percent by weight of starch for a period of 40 weeks. In the control group the starch used consisted entirely of amylopectin; and in the experimental group it consisted of 40 percent amylopectin and 60 percent less easily absorbed amylose.
The difference between amylose and amylopectin lies in their structure. Amylopectin is a branched chain. The digestive enzymes can loosen the glucose molecules from the amylopectin at different locations at the same time and absorb them. This process goes pretty fast. Amylose, on the other hand, is a straightforward chain of glucose units.
To be digested the units have to be loosened one by one, and that takes time. Most of the glucose molecules are not absorbed by the body.
The sugar chains that are not absorbed form an ideal medium for beneficial micro-organisms in the large intestine to feed off. These convert glucose into short-chain free fatty acids. Researchers suspect that the positive effects of fibre – fibre is a collective noun for all carbohydrate chains that your small intestine can’t digest, and which are partially or wholly fermented in the large intestine by micro-organisms – are partly a result of the work of the short-chain fatty acids. These are thought to boost the metabolism a little.
The starch combination had no effect on body weight, but it did affect fat mass. That means that they built up more lean body mass.
The researchers came up with two partial reasons for the positive body recompositioning effect of the slow carbs. The respiratory quotient [RQ] of the mice that ate slow carbs was lower. That means that they burned a little more fat and less carbs. But perhaps a more important factor was that the mice moved more.
The researchers registered the mice’s movement by placing light-sensitive sensors in their cage, and the mice that ate slow carbs moved more. So they were more physically active. “Higher levels of physical activity are characteristically associated with greater lean body mass”, the researchers suggest cautiously. Between the lines you can see that they don’t think that that little bit of extra exercise in the SAC mice doesn’t explain their different body composition. Nevertheless, the increase in physical activity is in itself interesting.
“A low glycemic diet could increase spontaneous physical activity level, a possibility that might have important implications for the prevention and treatment of obesity and promotion of physical fitness”, the researchers conclude.
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Nov;295(5):E1126-31.
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have shown that people with a good vitamin D supply are at lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus. The study, which was conducted in cooperation with the German Diabetes Center and the University of Ulm, will be published in the October edition of the scientific journal Diabetes Care.
New tests performed on participants of the KORA study have shown that people with a good supply of vitamin D have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus, while individuals with lower concentrations of vitamin D in their blood have a higher risk. This effect could be attributable, amongst other things, to the anti-inflammatory effect of vitamin D. The result of the study, which was conducted at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in cooperation with Dr. Christian Herder of the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf and Dr. Wolfgang König, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology at the University of Ulm, could have direct consequences for the prevention of this common disease.
“Vitamin D deficiency is relatively widespread due to our modern way of life and the geographical latitude of Germany. In the winter months, in particular, people often do not receive adequate supplies of the vitamin because of the lack of sunlight,” explains Dr. Barbara Thorand of the Institute for Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. “If follow-up studies confirm our results, a targeted improvement in the supply of vitamin D to the general public could at the same time reduce the risk of developing diabetes.” The human body can produce vitamin D itself if it has sufficient exposure to sunlight. The UVB radiation in natural daylight splits the precursor of vitamin D, 7-dehydrocholesterol, in the skin and forms provitamin D3. Further vitamin D synthesis occurs in the liver and kidneys. In addition, the supply can be improved by eating specific foods, such as oily fish, eggs and milk products, or by taking vitamin D supplements.
More than six million people in Germany suffer from Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and the number of undiagnosed cases could be equally high. Up to now, there has been no cure for this common disease. Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of glucose metabolism. It is characterized by a loss of insulin action and a drop in the levels of the hormone produced by the body. The mechanisms that trigger the disease have not yet been fully clarified. However, it is known that diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. The objective of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to understand the mechanisms that cause common diseases and to develop new approaches with regard to their diagnosis, therapy and prevention.
For more information about how this and other supplements can enhance your training regime, be sure to contact one of our personal trainers today. Not a member? Take advantage of the 50% off voucher now!
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen – German Research Centre for Environmental Health.
B. Thorand, A. Zierer, C. Huth, J. Linseisen, C. Meisinger, M. Roden, A. Peters, W. Koenig, C. Herder. Effect of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D on Risk for Type 2 Diabetes May Be Partially Mediated by Subclinical Inflammation: Results from the MONICA/KORA Augsburg study. Diabetes Care, 2011; 34 (10): 2320 DOI: 10.2337/dc11-0775
Fatigue resistance is very important for muscle growth. After all, the less you tire, the more reps and sets you can complete, and the greater the drive for muscle growth. There are number of supplements on the market that claim to decrease muscular fatigue, but none have received more scientific support than beta alanine. Here is a primer on the research backed benefits to beta alanine supplementation.
What is beta alanine and where does it come from?
Beta alanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid, meaning that it is not involved in synthesizing proteins. As a dietary source, foods don’t generally contain beta alanine in high concentration. Rather, it is formed in the body by the hydrolysis of di-peptides (i.e., carnosine, anserine, and balanine) when we eat protein-rich foods (like fish, chicken, and beef). The liver is also capable of synthesizing beta alanine from pyrimidine neucleotides, through uracil and thymine degradation.
Fatigue resistance is very important for muscle growth. The less you tire, the more reps and sets you can complete.
How does it work?
Carnosine is produced in skeletal muscle from beta alanine and histidine, where beta alanine is the rate limiting factor; thus, when beta alanine is available in surplus (i.e., supplemented) it elevates the body’s muscle carnosine levels. In fact, it has been shown that dietary supplementation of beta alanine for only 4 weeks can increase muscle carnosine levels by more than 60%.
Scientists were first motivated to understand how elevating muscle carnosine levels may help exercise performance based on the following: 1) animals who have a great capacity for prolonged high intensity exercise also have high intramuscular carnosine levels; and 2) carnosine levels are relatively higher in fast-twitch versus slow twitch muscle fibers. Since then, research has also found that bodybuilders have elevated carnosine levels in quadriceps (vastus lateralus) muscle.
The main mechanism by which high muscle carnosine levels aid in muscle function and performance is through its ability to significantly buffer skeletal muscle pH (acidity) during high intensity/fatiguing exercise. Since one of the primary causes of fatigue during exercise is metabolically mediated decreases in pH (or acidosis), then it follows that increased intramuscular carnosine levels would be beneficial to bodybuilders. It must also be mentioned that muscle carnosine also acts as a potent antioxidant and metal chelator. As such, through its effects on free radical scavenging, many scientists hypothesize that high carnosine levels prolong neuromuscular excitation-contraction coupling.
In resistance trained men, 4-weeks of beta-alanine supplementation led to a 22% increase in the number of reps they could complete during an experimental resistance-training session (compared to a placebo group).
Beta alanine and fatigue resistance
Since beta alanine acts to increase muscle carnosine levels and buffer changes in pH, then it follows that its erogogenic potential would be most apparent during high intensity exercise where there are increases in lactic acid. In one study, beta alanine supplementation was shown to improve anaerobic threshold and increase the power output achieved at lactate threshold. In a congruent study, it was observed that women who took beta alanine had an almost 14% increase in the ventilatory threshold during maximal cycling exercise. These data indicate that beta alanine supplementation leads to a great decrease in acidity in muscle cells, which allows you to workout harder with less lactate build-up, thus delaying fatigue. In resistance trained men, 4-weeks of beta-alanine supplementation led to a 22% increase in the number of reps they could complete during an experimental resistance-training session (compared to a placebo group). Additionally, in football players undergoing a strength-training regimen, 30-days of beta alanine supplementation, resulted in significantly higher training volume and lower subjective indices of fatigue compared to those who took a placebo.
Finally, studies have also shown that beta alanine supplementation can delay neuromuscular fatigue. Research has shown that 28-days of supplementation can increase the work capacity at fatigue threshold. Interestingly, a subsequent study conducted by the same research team showed no effect of creatine supplementation on decreasing neuromuscular fatigue; thus, illustrating that this effect is unique to beta alanine supplementation. These benefits of beta alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue are likely due the enhanced antioxidant effects from the resulting elevated carnosine levels.
Beta alanine and sports performance enhancement
A recent study looked at beta alanine supplementation on rowing performance in elite level rowers. Rowers either took 5g of beta alanine or a placebo and were evaluated during a 2000 m rowing ergometer test. The researchers found that those who took beta alanine completed the 2000 m test 4.3 seconds faster than those who took the placebo. The performance benefits in the beta alanine group correlated with up to 45% greater carnosine content in their calf muscles. In another investigation, elite cyclists were given either beta alanine (2-4g) or a placebo for 8 weeks and tested on cycling sprint performance after a 110-min simulated endurance road race. It was found that average power and peak power (during sprinting) increased by 5 and 11% respectively in the beta alanine group compared to placebo.
Beta alanine and body composition
It should come as no surprise that training with beta alanine supplementation has been associated with improvements in body composition. After all, with delayed or decreased fatigue and increased training volume, your training sessions become more laborious. In a recently published study, it was found that those who completed a high intensity interval training program combined with beta alanine supplementation had improved gains in lean mass and fat loss compared to those who trained while taking a placebo. In an earlier study, researchers found stacking beta alanine with creatine led to synergistic increases in lean body mass in college football players undergoing a resistance-training regimen.
This amino acid is generally safe to take in moderate doses; however high single doses (>800 mg) have been shown to cause tingling/numbness (paresthesia) in hands and skin that disappear within an hour of ingesting. One other concern is that high doses of beta alanine may create an osmotic gradient that can decrease the body’s taurine levels (taurine is important for the maintenance of healthy heart function). As such, using a moderate dosing schedule will assure that you get all of the performance benefits, with no side effects.
As you can see, beta alanine is an interesting ergogenic supplement that has received a ton of scientific investigation over the past 5 years. Although there is little to no evidence showing its direct effects on anabolism or strength gains, there is an abundance research illustrating its positive effects on fatigue resistance.
For more information about how this and other supplements can enhance your training regime, be sure to contact one of our personal trainers today. Not a member? Take advantage of the 50% off voucher now!
Van Thienen R, Van Proeyen K, Vanden Eynde B, Puype J, Lefere T, Hespel P. Beta alanine improves sprint performance in endurance cycling. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Apr;41(4):898-903.
Artioli GG, Gualano B, Smith A, Stout J, Lancha AH Jr. Role of beta alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73.
Derave W, Everaert I, Beeckman S, Baguet A. Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training. Sports Med. 2010 Mar 1;40(3):247-63.
Baguet A, Bourgois J, Vanhee L, Achten E, Derave W. Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance. J Appl Physiol. 2010 Oct;109(4):1096-101. Epub 2010 Jul 29.
Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Ross R, Kang J, Stout JR, Wise JA.Short-duration beta alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res. 2008 Jan;28(1):31-5.
Stout JR, Cramer JT, Zoeller RF, Torok D, Costa P, Hoffman JR, Harris RC, O’Kroy J. Effects of beta alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids. 2007;32(3):381-6. Epub 2006 Nov 30.
Hoffman J, Ratamess NA, Ross R, Kang J, Magrelli J, Neese K, Faigenbaum AD, Wise JA. Beta alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2008 Dec;29(12):952-8. Epub 2008 Jun 11.
Hoffman J, Ratamess N, Kang J, Mangine G, Faigenbaum A, Stout J. Effect of creatine and beta alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46.
Harris RC, Tallon MJ, Dunnett M, Boobis L, Coakley J, Kim HJ, Fallowfield JL, Hill CA, Sale C, & Wise JA (2006). The absorption of orally supplied beta alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids 30, 279-289.
Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, Harris BD, Sale C, Boobis LH, Kim CK, & Wise JA (2006). Influence of beta alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids.
Tallon MJ, Harris RC, Boobis LH, Fallowfield JL, & Wise JA (2005). The carnosine content of vastus lateralis is elevated in resistance-trained bodybuilders. J Strength Cond Res 19, 725-729.
Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O’kroy JA, Torok DJ, & Mielke M (2006). Effects of 28 days of beta alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion. Amino Acids.
Gaining a large amount of fat can take years, so it should come as no surprise if losing it isn’t a quick process. Leaning out requires long-term changes in lifestyle, from stress management to exercising to eating properly. But what is eating properly? To this multi-headed question, we need to bring more than one answer.
Do Calories Matter?
Whereas water is the main culprit behind daily fluctuations, the weight you gain or lose in the long run depends primarily on your caloric intake. If you eat more than you burn, you gain weight; if you eat less than you burn, you lose weight. But is this weight fat or muscle? Most often, it is both, but how much of each depends on both exercise and diet composition (fat, protein, carbohydrate, and alcohol).
Do Diets Work?
Hypocaloric diets (diets based on caloric restriction) all promote weight loss. Yet they often fail. Why? Because most people quit. Either they find the diet to difficult to continue or, having reached their goal, they decide they don’t need to diet anymore. In either case, they return to their old eating habits.
Unfortunately, fat cells have a slow turnover rate. They don’t immediately die when you starve them; they just shrink. Feed them again and you’ll find it quite easy to regain whatever weight you lost.
Which diet is the best for me?
The one that works for you. Some people swear by intermittent fasting; others will tell you that you should eat many small meals. Both are valid options. What matters, at the end of the day, is how much calories you have consumed. The best diet for you is the one you’ll stick to.
Of course, it is easier to stick to a diet that doesn’t make you ravenous. To promote satiety, you should favor foods rich in protein or with a high water content (fruits and vegetables). Although fat also promotes satiety, it has the downside of being calorically dense: A tablespoon of olive oil has the same caloric content as small potato!
Another benefit of protein is that it helps build muscle (when you eat more calories than you burn) and helps preserve muscle (when you eat fewer calories than you burn).
What about the latest fad diet?
Most fad diets have two things in common: They restrict food choices, which makes it easier to count calories, and they’re very low in carbohydrate, which results in rapid weight loss—in the form of water.
How does that work? Very simply. Our body first stores carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. Only when our glycogen stores are full does the spare carbohydrate we consume get stored as fat. But what happens when we don’t supply our body with enough carbohydrate to replenish our glycogen stores? The water that was used for storage gets excreted.
Shedding several pounds in a couple of days can be exciting, but don’t be fooled: It’s only water. On a reasonable, healthy hypocaloric diet, you can expect losing one or two pounds of fat a week.
If I’m restricting calories, how do I stay out of starvation mode?
When a body enters “starvation mode,” its resting metabolic rate drops. It uses less energy for its most basic needs, and fat loss slows to a crawl. This could be scary, except that it largely doesn’t happen.
Starvation mode is something of myth, which started after a notorious experiment that literally starved its subjects. If your diet has you fasting for several days, then yes, you may experience a sharp drop in resting metabolic rate. You will also lose a lot of lean mass as your body starts cannibalizing your muscles for the protein it needs to insure its most vital functions. The smaller changes in energy expenditure resulting from caloric restriction, however, don’t have such a drastic effect.
Eating for weight loss is a bit of an iterative process: You estimate your caloric needs, then you adjust your estimate according to how your weight evolves from one month to the next (or one week to the next, but certainly not one day to the next!).
Finally, a weekly cheat meal isn’t going to ruin your diet. In fact, such a “refeed” may even help you stick to your diet by making it more bearable.
Is saturated fat bad for me?
There is some evidence that saturated fat may be less than ideal. Not a really strong statement. There is stronger evidence that unsaturated fats are beneficial, though, so if your diet is limited in fat, better eat less saturated fat and more unsaturated fats.
Are carbs bad for me?
It depends on your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, you need to eat less, and it is better to cut on carbohydrate than on protein or good fats. That said, and contrary to what some people would like you to believe, none of the macronutrients (protein, fat, or carbohydrate) are intrinsically bad for you.
So what is eating properly?
There is more to eating properly than what we’ve discussed here. Eating properly also means getting enough fiber and micronutrients (notably vitamins and minerals) through a wide selection of mostly unprocessed foods. But when it comes to gaining or losing weight, the answer is simple. If you want to gain weight, eat more than you burn. If you want to lose weight, eat less than you burn. In either case, consume 1.0–2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day (0.45–1.00 g/lb/day). And don’t forget to exercise and see a Platinum Fitness Trainer today!
Source: Examine.com is a Canadian company that runs an online encyclopedia focused on health, nutrition, and supplementation. The Examine.com team includes scientists, editors, and peer reviewers from multiple academic and research institutions. View all Articles by Examine.com
Supplements compete for the spotlight, with breakthrough ingredients like the latest creatine, nitric oxide stimulator or designer hormone often pushing the older and less glamorous ingredients to the side and into forgotten, invisible and nearly irrelevant status. Yet being out of sight and out of mind doesn’t mean being unimportant. In the case of zinc, a gray-blue metal that hardly gets any spotlight, the maxim has never been more true. It may not occupy the spotlight, but it’s one of the most important supplements for bodybuilders.
Although zinc is a small and unassuming mineral, it’s a powerhouse—the real workhorse of all minerals—that produces massive and noticeable effects.
Here’s what it does:
- Fuels testosterone production
- Strengthens your immune system
- Heightens your brain function and the mind/muscle connection
- Fortifies your prostate
- Testosterone production. Zinc is best known because it fuels testosterone production, keeping your count high so that you can train hard and build muscle.
- Immunity.Training hard seriously stresses your immune system and makes you sweat. While hard training is good for you, provided that you employ a rock-solid recovery strategy, sweating can cause you to become deficient in zinc because you lose the mineral through perspiration.
Your immune system uses zinc to make more than 300 enzymes and amines that spark millions of chemical reactions in your body—including those that cause muscle growth. While heavy workouts stimulate oxidant production—reactive oxygen species, or ROS, that can damage your muscles, organs and DNA—zinc is a powerhouse antioxidant that scavenges your body for those harmful oxidants, protecting you from damage and keeping your immune system strong.
Brain sharpness and the mind/muscle connection. Muscle building is as much about muscle as it is about mind—as much about brain as body. Your brain is heavily concentrated in zinc, and zinc is important for keeping your brain sharp and efficient, so it plays a big role in the generation and transmission of brain signals for optimal muscle contraction.
The mind/muscle connection needs one specific brain chemical: dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that gets you focused, energized and makes your mind/muscle connection as strong as the iron you’re lifting. Zinc keeps dopamine measures high during times of stress—like when you’re training—increasing your ability to build quality muscle.
Prostate health. If you’re a male, your prostate is critically important, regardless of your age, fitness or previous health history. The fact is, you need a healthy prostate even if you don’t pound out rep after rep in gut-busting workouts. With most bodybuilders, the prostate doesn’t get much attention for the same reason zinc doesn’t: It’s out of sight and out of mind. Well, that doesn’t mean your prostate is unimportant. In fact, it needs to be healthy if you want to grow serious muscle.
Your prostate has the highest zinc concentration of any body tissue, and zinc plays a critical role in keeping it healthy the way that it keeps your immune system healthy—by scavenging for, and protecting you from, harmful oxidants that can damage your tissues and DNA—damage that can eventually lead to prostate cancer.
Thirty-three percent of men have prostate problems by age 50—and the percentages are unknown for bodybuilders. By getting enough zinc, you can protect your prostate, keeping it healthy and in top form.
How much zinc do you need? The current recommendation is 15 milligrams for men and nine milligrams for women daily—but bodybuilders need more, sometimes much more, depending on the intensity and frequency of training. Toxicity is a concern, so it’s best to get your zinc from foods. Here’s a quick list of foods that contain muscle-building zinc.
Oysters, 100 grams, 16 milligrams zinc
Chicken, 100 grams, 2.7 milligrams
Beef shank, 3 ounces, 8.9 milligrams
Pork chops, 100 grams, 2 milligrams
Plain lowfat yogurt, 1 cup, 2.2 milligrams
Wheat bran, 100 grams, 16 milligrams
Whole-meal bread, 40 grams, 0.8 milligrams
Cashews, 1 ounce, 1.6 milligrams
Pumpkin seeds, 20 grams, 1.3 milligrams
Baked beans, half cup, 1.8 milligrams
For more information about how you can integrate Zinc into your supplement regime, see one of the knowledgable Personal Trainers at Platinum Fitness. Be sure to join today if you’re not already a member.
Q: If 4×10 [as in the 4X technique] is so effective at achieving both power and density for developing maximum muscle mass, why would one bother with 10×10? You wrote that a trainee should stay on 10×10 for only three to four weeks since doing it longer may compromise the power component. If you believe 4×10 is clearly superior, why waste time on 10×10?
A: Well, 10×10 is a pure-density shock tactic that can produce big gains in muscle size quickly—and you do it only on one key exercise for each bodypart. That means it takes only 10 minutes to thoroughly and completely blast a muscle into the endurance-component growth zone—but we recommend the pure-density approach only for a four-week shock phase.
Because 10×10 is all density, it’s ideal to use it for a time after six weeks of multi-angular power-style training—which is what most trainees do all the time.
That’s precisely why so many people respond so well to 10×10 density training—because they’ve been on methodical power-oriented workouts for so long. That’s due to the common misconception that only heavy weights build muscle mass. Not true. A change to pure-density training can instantly create new muscle gains, specifically in the sarcoplasm of the 2A mass fibers. Nevertheless, 10×10 can be monotonous after three to four weeks, so I recommend moving to something else—like 4X.
4X is more balanced, giving you power and density. You use a heavier weight than for 10X10 because you do only four sets with 30 seconds’ rest between them. If you get 10 reps on your fourth set, you add weight to that exercise at your next workout.
Standard 4X sequences, just like 10×10, can become monotonous. That’s one reason we’ve been experimenting with 3X pyramids—adding weight on each set with a 30-second rest between sets. Those provide more power with two weight increases and lower reps on each successive set—10, nine, seven. It’s more power-oriented than standard 4X.
If that’s still not heavy enough to satisfy your need for power-style training, you can always alternate a power-style workout with one that has more density-oriented sets. That, as well as many more power-density training methods are explained in our new free e-book, Secrets to Ultimate Muscle Growth, available at X-Rep.com and IronManMagazine.com. I’m mentioning it a second time because it contains so much critical information about how muscles grow and the type of training that builds extreme size. As I said, it’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose—and loads of muscle to gain.
See a Platinum Fitness trainer today for more information and to have your current routine examined. Not a member? Click here and join today!
Nutrient timing is based upon the premise that providing nutrients— primarily protein and carbohydrate— at a certain time in relation to an exercise bout will lead to greater adaptations to training, compared to getting your nutrition haphazardly. Most believers are convinced the ideal time is after intense training.
A recent review and position paper by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) looked at nutrient timing in relation to exercise performance, glycogen repletion, and training adaptations (body composition, muscle mass, and muscle fiber size).1 One conclusion was that ingesting a carb + protein supplement after training promotes greater increases in strength and more favorable changes in lean mass and fat mass.
Nutrient timing has been embraced by most everyone as crucial, but is it?
Most of us in the gym can’t wait to grab the post-workout supplement after our workout. We’ve read it’s critical immediately following our workout, or is it? Let’s look at a couple studies that examined nutrient timing in athletes and novice fitness enthusiasts.
One study took 23 non-competitive, young (early 20s) Australian bodybuilders with an average of three years of experience and matched them for max strength (1 rep max; 1RM). Half of the group then took a carb + protein + creatine monohydrate supplement (40 percent protein from whey protein isolate, 43 percent dextrose, and 7 percent creatine monohydrate) just before and just after training (four personal training supervised sessions in the mid-late afternoon/week for 10 weeks). The other half took the same supplement twice daily on training days (same training regimen as pre-post group), yet before breakfast and before sleep (a.m.-p.m.) on the same training days.
If you accept that the subjects in the a.m.-p.m. group didn’t eat or drink anything for 1-2 hours after they trained— for 10 weeks— then the results for the pre-post group are distinctive: greater lean mass gains and fat mass drops; greater 1RM in squats and bench press; bigger muscle fibers and more contractile protein (not just muscle protein); higher muscle creatine and glycogen content. Again, this is the only study using resistance-trained subjects AND where timing is compared. Admirably, the lead author of the study disclosed that he is a consultant to AST (disclosure is not common— trust me).
Another study looked at 30 northeast American college football players (late teens/early 20s), with an average of almost six years of resistance training, and three powerlifters were assigned to either 1) take a liquid protein supplement pre-post, 2) take it in the a.m.-p.m., or 3) take a placebo supplement. All three groups followed a 10-week supervised training regimen (four sessions/week). The liquid protein supplement delivered 42 grams of protein (enzymatically predigested beef collagen, whey protein isolate, casein) and 2 grams of carbs.3 Unlike the prior study, the subjects took the supplement every day during the 10 weeks.
After 10 weeks no significant difference in body comp or any measure of squat or bench press performance was seen between any of the groups, including the placebo group. Modest improvements in strength and power were seen in the two supplemented groups, but they were not significantly greater than the placebo group.
Why the different results between the only two studies done in resistance-trained subjects putting chronic nutrient timing in the hot seat? The first study used bodybuilders who took in about 30 percent more calories (mostly from carbs, not including the supplement), weighed less, and were much leaner. The bodybuilders also were taking in about 10-25 percent more protein at the beginning of the study than the football players. The bodybuilders also supplemented with carbs and creatine monohydrate in addition to protein.
Despite the football players/powerlifters getting the protein supplement every day for 10 weeks, there was no difference. This is not a revelation— more protein does not automatically beget more muscle mass. What may be the revelation is that supplemental calories/carbs may make a difference when protein is at the ceiling of intakes.
As it stands, nutrient timing-mediated muscle and strength gains in resistance-trained men is superior for whey protein isolate + dextrose + creatine monohydrate.
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Anthony Almada (B.Sc., M.Sc.) has worked within the dietary supplement industry since 1975. He has a B.Sc. in physiology and nutritional biochemistry minor from California State University, Long Beach, and an M.Sc. from Berkeley. He has been a co-investigator on over 60 university clinical trials, ranging from arthritis to muscle building and fat loss. Anthony Almada is a member of the executive board of ISSN, and is a fellow of the ISSN.
1. Kerksick C, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2008;5:17.
2. Cribb PJ, Hayes A: Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2006;38:1918-25.
3. Hoffman JR, et al. Effect of protein supplement timing on strength, power and body compositional changes in resistance-trained men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, (published online advance of print; accessed 13 March 2009).
People with four healthy lifestyle behaviors — not smoking, physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and eating five servings of fruit or vegetables a day — live an average of 14 years longer than people with none of those behaviors, a new British study contends.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council looked at 20,000 men and women, aged 45-79, who filled out a questionnaire about the four health behaviors. The participants, none of whom had known cancer or heart or circulatory disease, filled out the questionnaire between 1993 and 1997 and were followed until 2006.
For each of the four healthy lifestyle behaviors, a participant received one point.
After they factored in age, the researchers found that participants with zero points were four times more likely to have died over an average period of 11 years than those with four points.
Not smoking, exercising, moderate drinking, eating veggies could add 14 years…
In addition, the study authors concluded that participants with a score of zero had the same risk of dying as someone 14 years older with a score of four. This was independent of body-mass index (BMI) and social class.
While the findings need to be confirmed in other populations and an analysis of how these combined health behaviors affect quality of life is needed, the researchers said the results suggest that these four healthy lifestyle behaviors could markedly improve the health of middle-aged and older people.
The study is part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), conducted in 10 European countries. EPIC is the largest-ever study of diet and health.
There is strong evidence that individual lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and physical activity influence health and longevity, but there has been little research into their combined impact, according to background information in a news release about the study. Making Platinum Fitness part of your lifestyle can help one of these factors. An active, fit lifestyle directed by one of our professional fitness trainers will help you enhance your longevity and promote a fit lifestyle and Live Limitless!
The study was published in the journal PLoS Medicine.
It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even so, if you’re like many people, you skip it anyway. Recent research now conventional wisdom has been correct. The conclusion of researchers at the University of Missouri who studied the topic is that people who eat a balanced breakfast, especially one high in protein, experience less hunger throughout the day, which means less snacking and fewer bad calories.
The dieters in a cognitive behavioral program for weight loss and maintenance often come in skipping breakfast. They say they don’t have time; they aren’t hungry in the morning; they would rather save their calories for later in the day. First, they should do problem-solving to help them find the time. Second, they need to respond to sabotaging thoughts that are likely to get in the way of their adopting the new habit of having breakfast.
When dieters say they don’t have enough time in the morning, they need to consider which a.m. tasks they can omit, postpone, do the night before, delegate to other people or spend less time on (at least temporarily, until breakfast becomes an easy routine). Sabotaging thoughts often get in the way:
• I don’t want to get up earlier.
• I can’t leave dishes in the sink.
• My kids won’t like it if I ask them to make their own lunches.
• I’d rather pick out my clothes in the morning.
• I can’t ask my spouse to help out with the kids.
It’s then helpful to create written responses to these kinds of thoughts that remind them that it’s unrealistic to believe that continuing to skip breakfast will lead to success — after all, it hasn’t in the past. There may, in fact, be a physiological reason why people who struggle to lose weight tend to eat too much later on in the day. And the changes they make to free up time for breakfast will soon become second nature.When dieters say they aren’t hungry in the morning, it’s important to find out what times during the day they are hungry, and what their eating patterns are like.
It is likely that these dieters consume most of their calories in the evening, often eating right up until they go to bed. No wonder they’re not hungry in the morning.
But according to research (and clinical experience), skipping breakfast may indeed lead to less control over eating later on. Try an an experiment for at least a couple of weeks: eat a protein-rich breakfast and then monitor your day and evening eating. You’ll end up with the same conclusion: eating (a balanced) breakfast really helps you eat more reasonably for the rest of the day.
Another important reason to eat your morning meal is if you’re one of those that workout in the morning. Eating before exercise is mandatory for (you) performance athletes to get the most out of your workout, recovery, and the results. Therefore, ingesting part of your daily calorie allotment before exercise is a practice everyone should do. Eating before training can:
• Fill energy stores before a workout
• Break the fast to boost metabolism and continue a constant flow of nutrients
• Increase workout performance: high intensity training burns two to three times more fat immediately post-exercise, thus greater total fat throughout the day
• Enhance recovery to improve maintenance or growth of muscle which also adds to your metabolic rate
• Increase daily non-exercise movements by never staying in a less energetic/fasting state beyond rising in the morning
It takes calories to burn more calories, but don’t add extra calories – simply take the total daily calories you are allowed and distribute them properly throughout the day based on your activities.
The bottom line is make sure you eat the most important meal of the day, breakfast.
Leidy, H. J., Lepping, R. J., Savage, C. R., & Harris, C. T. (5 May 2011).
Neural Responses to Visual Food Stimuli After a Normal vs. Higher Protein Breakfast in Breakfast-Skipping Teens: A Pilot fMRI Study.
Obesity Journal, (1-7). doi:10.1038/oby.2011.108