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
Eccentric load
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!

Source: http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=4971669

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.

 

Safety
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!

 

 

References:
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.

Source: http://www.prosource.net/content/articles/Articles-by-ProSource/beat-fatigue-with-beta-alanine.aspx

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!

Source: http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/site/4x-vs-10×10/

Sports scientists used to think that the only way to burn fat was to do long sessions of moderate exercise, but recent studies have shown that short high-intensity training sessions also work. The fat burning doesn’t only happen during the intensive sessions, but goes on afterwards too. This is the phenomenon known as EPOC. Greek sports scientists discovered that over 65s can benefit from this way of exercising too, especially if they train with heavy weights.

The 40 men in the Greek study, which was published in Diabetes Care, were all on the heavy side, with an average BMI of 29. Although not physically active, they were healthy.

The researchers got the men to train for an hour. During the workout the men trained all of their large muscle groups, doing 3 sets of basic exercises.

The men were divided into 4 groups. The low-intensity group trained using weights of 45-50 percent of their 1RM and rested for 2 minutes between sets. The moderate-intensity group trained with 60-65 percent of their 1RM and rested for 4 minutes between sets. The high-intensity group trained with 80-85 percent of their 1RM and took 6-minute breaks between sets. The control group did nothing.

The low-intensity group burned 296 calories during the workout; the moderate-intensity group 282 calories and the high-intensity group 222 calories. The lactic acid level and concentrations of free fatty acids and glycerol [fat burning indicators] rose least during the high-intensity training session.

In the days following the training session, the adiponectin level remained considerably higher in the high-intensity group. Adiponectin is a hormone that makes muscles extract more nutrients from the blood. The cortisol level was lower in the high-intensity group than the other groups after the training session.

The high-intensity group had a raised energy expenditure [REE] for days after the test. During the period that the researchers took measurements, the men in the high-intensity group burned several hundred calories more. The energy was spent on helping the body to recover from the strength training. Almost all of this energy for EPOC is derived from fat.

“Overweight older men may benefit from training with a frequency of two to three resistance exercise sessions per week”, the Greeks conclude. “In addition, it appears that all resistance exercise schemes induce marked energy expenditure.” We take the liberty of adding that it’s training with heavy weights that drives up the calorie burning.

Source: Diabetes Care. 2009 Dec;32(12):2161-7.
Source: http://www.ergo-log.com/heavystrengthtrainingburns.html