Success Stories

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nutrition Tip of the Day!

You may have heard a lot of hype surrounding the flavanoid epigallocatechin gallate AKA (EGCG) the anti-oxidant in green or white tea. Researchers believe that EGCG is responsible for a number of positive health attributes.  Green or white tea can be helpful to anyone regardles of their goal.  Lets take a look at what some of the research shows.

-EGCG  increases maximal oxygen uptake in adults (VO2 Max).  In simple terms, over the long run drinking Green or White tea may help you excercise harder/longer.

-Consumption of Green Tea is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular mortality.

-There is research showing that ECGC can lower blood pressure,decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), and inhibit inflammation.

-Green tea may help prevent / improve many conditions from heart disease and diabetes to cancer!

-There is conflicting research on Green Tea and fat loss.  Lets just put it this way: green tea over time may help give you an advantage in losing weight, you are not going to suddenly drop lbs because you start drinking more green tea. If anything I would attribute the weight loss effects of green tea to its mild caffiene content (Slight appetite suppressant) and the fact that it virtually has no calories which is a great thing because we should be eating our calories instead of drinking them!

In order to see some of the health  benefits listed above.  Aim to drink three cups of green or white tea daily and skip the sugar!  Lightly sweetening your tea with honey may improve the antioxidant capacity of your tea.  Make sure that if you are caffeine sensitive or drinking it before bedtime you get the decaffeinated type!  Depending on where its grown and how its brewed green tea can vary highly in caffeine levels... but a typical cup will have somewhere between 20-45 mg or about half or a third a cup of coffee.  Remember that homemade iced tea is a great way to break the monotony of drinking just water... You can make a batch yourself by adding six tea bags of your favorite tea to a pitcher of boiled water and letting it brew for five minutes add lemon and honey until you like the taste and put in the fridge and let cool.  Iced tea like this is a great way to get antioxidants without the extra calories from sugar.

For a while researchers feared that drinking to much tea may be harmful towards thiamine and iron stores important substances in the body.   Americans seem to be fine because a diet that meets its vitamin C needs appears to protect you from the possible side effects of drinking to much tea.  This worry in my opinion is very alarmist and obviously people have drank tea for hundreds of years with no ill effects, but in case you worry anyway squeeze a bit of lemon juice into your tea and remember to eat your fruits and veggies!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Stealth Health Food

If your an athlete that wants a boost in performance, particuarly endurance you may want to experiment with beetroot juice.  A study in 2009 by Bailey et al. in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that participants supplementing with .5 liters of beetroot juice for 6 days experienced a remarkable increase in performance.

The study measured 8 males cyclist’s time to exhaustion during intensive cycling and found that the participants who used beetroot vs the placebo were able to ride for 92 seconds longer.  Also when they exercised at moderate intensity the amount of oxygen they used was decreased by 19 percent. The researchers believe beetroot juice’s high level of nitrates may be converted to nitric oxide in the body allowing better blood flow to skeletal muscles.

Like all studies there could be a number of flaws, and there is a large confounding variable.  My advice would be to experiment with beetroot juice before a week of heavy conditioning, and see if it helps.  Take one cup of beetroot juice daily for a week.  During this time make sure you record if your making progress, and mentally note whether it has any negative gastrointestinal effects.  If you don’t mind the taste or the purple color it turns your feces, then feel free to use this drink as a staple in your diet.

This study may have implications for other vegetable and vegetable juices as well.  We struggle so much in this soceity to get enough vegetables, so drinking fresh vegetable juice should not be discouraged they can be a great source of carbohydrate and help increase the PH of our blood (Our blood should be slightly basic).  For Body composition, and possibly performance benefits it is never a bad idea to eat a majority of your carbohydrates from fresh vegetable sources.

Why women should lift weights!

     All right girls the goal of this article is to break down the misinformation that holds you back from the body you deserve!  YOU WILL NOT GET BIG WEIGHT LIFTING! Let me repeat you will NOT get big and manly from lifting weights.

                She does not look like a man, but this sexy lady could probably beat one up.

            The myth that women can get bulky has been long standing and has no basis in reality.  The fact of the matter is that females do not have the proper hormonal environment to get big and bulky.  This does not mean to say they cannot build muscle, in fact as they build muscle they will appear leaner and more toned. 
            What isn’t a myth though, is that lifting weights over time will give you that lean sexy physique, make you lose fat in those troubled areas, make you a lot stronger, and improve your bone density.
            Many women get disappointed because they put hours and hours of time into cardio each week, only to be disappointed by their results.  Since results never seem to show this way they then turn to their diet and start drastically lowering calories (starving).  This compounds the problem because now instead of losing fat they begin to lose fat and any muscle that they had at the same time.  What ends up happening is that you run and diet and eventually become a skinnier version of your old self.  How many girls run and run and find that there whole body starts to get skinny except there stomach and love handles!?
            Running yourself into the ground is not the way to lose fat.  The way to do that is through a balanced approach between a smart diet, resistance training, and cardio.
            Most importantly out of the three above is dieting.  You cannot out train a bad diet no matter what you do.  Getting your diet in check is the number one step towards getting that shapely body you have wanted.  The next biggest factor is weight lifting, yes you heard me correctly weight lifting is MORE important than cardio. This is because weight lifting is muscle sparing, as you shift into a caloric deficit (dieting) your body will be forced to lose fat exclusively!  Lifting weights in combination with your diet will give you that toned look you desire.  I want to clarify that we aren’t talking about little pink dumbbells here.  Lifting weights that challenge your muscles for 5-12 reps is ideal. Heavy resistance training to build the muscle, so that you can diet down and show it.
            Finally once you have your diet and resistance training down then and only then should you add cardio, because it is the least important factor for achieving your ideal physique.  And there is no need to spin your wheels running for hours on end.  When trying to lose fat it is not the calories that we burn during exercise that must be focused on.  Instead we are trying to build a consistent calorie deficit over the course of a week.  For instance you could burn about 500 calories running for an hour.  Or you could just cut out five hundred calories from you diet a day which depending on your diet means cutting out a bagel and substituting those cookies you’ve been eating for a handful of berries.  Which is harder???
            The point is this. To get the best results turn your mind towards your diet as opposed to your cardio.  Next get a good balance between cardio and resistance training.

Use this program to get the toned body you desire- it can be modified depending on your level of fitness (read notes below).  Consistency in your diet and resistance training will give you best results.

Barbell Squat 3*8
Lunge 2*8
Jump rope 10 minutes
Plank on elbows and toes work up to a minute

Pull up 3*8
Deadlift 2*5
Inverted row 3*8
Reverse flies 3*10
Bicep curl 2*8
Hammer curl 1*8

Dumbbell Bench Press 3*8
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3*8
Dips 2*8
Lateral raise 2*8
YTW 3*10 (minimal weight)
Pushups 3*8
Body plank work up to a minute

Hit the weights and watch your body transform week to week you wont believe your eyes.


This is a simple Legs Push Pull routine for weight training.  It can be done before or after some cardio work.  Depending on your current training level you can make changes to make it easier/harder.  Most gyms have assistance machines for pull-ups and dips, you can modify pushups to make it easier etc.  If you have never squatted or lunged before use bodyweight at first and build your way up to using resistance.  Get a trainer to show you correct form.  Good form is a must and you should take your time to learn it in order to keep your self-safe.  If you are obsessed with doing abs you can do your own work on the leg day.  It is important to note that just like any other muscle the abdominals grow during rest and should not be trained everyday of the week.  Rest between sets should be between 1-2 minutes.  This workout should take no longer than 45 minutes including a proper warm up.  Use weights that are challenging to you, and make sure that week to week you either increase the amount of weight you do on an exercise or the number of reps you can get with the same weight.  Adding weight to the bar is the best indicator that you are building muscle and intensity is key.  Make sure to check with your doctor if you are fit for activity.  If you are obese or new to activity start little and work your way up over time and get moving.  This workout does not seem that challenging but if you keep adding weight to the bar it becomes difficult in no time.  If you have any questions post in the comments below ill try to answer them as quick as possible.

Your ability to recover from this workout will determine how much cardio you can do in a week.  I would suggest doing twenty minutes of intense cardio three days a week in addition to this weight training.  Changing your forms of cardio will keep it fun and help you avoid injuries.  Try swimming, cycling, kickboxing etc.  Push yourself during cardio and you will get more accomplished in less time.  Make sure that you are taking at least one day a week to do NO ACTIVITY, and if you are dieting at least two days.  Once again it is not worth worrying about the calories burned during exercise! Diet will be responsible for at least fifty percent of your progress, followed by weightlifting. Stayed tuned for an article on how a simple no stress diet can give you that toned physique you are looking for.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How much DYA BENCH?

I remember a while ago one of my buddies said a personal trainer told him not to bench because its bad for shoulder health!  This Personal Trainer had good intentions but was very misinformed.  The Bench Press just like with any exercise done incorrectly can place you at an increased risk of injury.    You should recognize that Bench Pressing with good form using a program that is balanced is a great way to pack on slabs of muscle and lots of strengh to your upper body.   To learn about a safe way to bench read on...

Bench Press Body Placement: The first step for a safe and effective bench press is to line up the bench. A lot of gym’s do not have the free weight benches bolted to the floor and get misaligned through daily use. A lot of gym goers overlook this and in some ways it can be insignificant, but by making sure the bench is straight it will allow you to more easily position your body. It is not 100% important to line the bench up perpendicular to a wall but it is something that I have learned to do that makes it a lot easier to get my body in the right position. It is up to you what you line the bench up with, but try to pick something and do that every day you get on the bench. Some gyms will have the free weight bench bolted, which means you will be lined up already.  
Once the bench is lined up how you want, check to make sure that if the barbell is resting securely. A quick shake will tell you if for example a peg is fully locked in. Doing this is extremely important for users at all levels because normally when you rack the weight you want it to stay racked rather than have your weights slide off, or worse have it drop on you. After loading your weight sit on the front of the bench with your back to the bar. When you look down at your legs they should be roughly at a 45 degree angle to the bench (this is where it helps to have things lined up with the walls). You then want to square up so that your shoulders are parallel with the bar. Take a deep breath so that your chest is out and your shoulders are back, there should be an arch in your lower back. This is the position you want to maintain when you lay back onto the bench. Lay back and adjust your butt as necessary so that you can reach the following appropriate position under the bar. 
When you are under the bar you want to line yourself up so that your eyes when looking straight ahead are roughly centered on the bar, basically if a line was drawn vertically down from the bar it would hit your eye. It is okay to be a little bit below or a little bit above depending on your torso size, but by doing this when you take the bar out to where you will press it you will have clearance from the rack, and the bar will go right to where you want to perform the exercise while putting minimal strain and potential for injury on the shoulders, as well as clear the rack so you do not hit it while performing the exercise. 
There are many ways to grip the bar to perform a proper bench press, and those will be explored further in another segment. The golden rule however is symmetry, as long as you have symmetry you will be safe, the width of your grip will depend on what your goals are. Almost all barbells have two strips on them where the bar is not knurled. What ever width you decide, make sure each hand is grabbing the bar in the same spot in relation to these strips. For example I grip the bar 2 fingers in from these smooth patches.  

To sum up, when you are ready to take the bar off the rack here is a checklist to run through:  

1. You are square with the bar 
2. Your legs are at roughly a 45 degree angle from the bench on both sides 
3. Your eyes are approximately level with the Bar 
4. Your chest is out and lower back is arched so that your shoulders and butt are both in constant contact with the bench 5. Your hands are gripping the bar symmetrically

Nutrition tip of the day

Today I wanted to shed some light on cinnamon.  I believe spices are an important part of any diet regardless of your goals, they bring tons of flavor without the added fat and sugar.  Here are some reasons you should include cinnamon in your diet besides the fact that it tastes great.
- Cinnamon has high antioxidant properties
-Cinnamon has been shown to lower fasting serum glucose, tiracylglycerol, and LDL- and total cholesterol concentrations in diabetics.
-The addition of cinnamon to a meal delays gastric emptying, and lowered blood glucose concentrations after a meal.
-Over the long term it may increase fat metabolism, and favorably effect glycogen synthesis.
Recipe of the day:  Try adding a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon to your oatmeal, with a tablespoon of honey, a handful of walnuts, and a half cup of blueberries.
About 440 calories, 8 grams of fiber, and ten grams of protein

Vanity and Performance

I wanted to address an interesting phenomena in athletics today.  That is the tendency for athletes or anyone in this society to want to look like a bodybuilder.  Now I will acknowledge that a high strength to weight ratio is important for most athletes... but looking good naked is not a requirement and should not be the focus of a training program.
            Athletes competing at all different levels are sabotaging their performance because they have conflicting goals.  The problem presents itself when an athlete restricts himself to a diet and training program that is not aligned with their current goal (Gaining or losing Weight).  An example of this would be if an mma fighter trying to compete at a high level going on a low carb diet in a quest to get abs.  Or if a baseball player in search of attaining more home run power starts lifting five days a week.  Ask yourself have you ever restricted yourself from certain food groups in order to change your body?  Have you worried to much about vanity, when in reality you should be worrying about performance?
            For the recreational athlete looking to get a better body this may not be a problem. A recreational athlete does not need to train very hard in the first place and therefor does not require the caloric intake of those in serious training.
            Let me assure you that any serious athlete in training will need to eat to support their training and recovery.  Making changes to your body takes serious effort and a very specific approach that does NOT coincide with athletic performance.  The reality of the matter is that serious athletes must train a specific way.  Athletes need not develop large muscles or obtain a six-pack, they do not need a high bench press.  Athletes must instead train and eat in a way that develops athletic ability, power, and speed.  Unless a body composition problem is directly impacting your performance (ie: an overweight marathon runner) vanity should be the last thing you worry about.
            But why cant an athlete do both? Why would it be a bad idea for an athlete to lose weight while in training?  The answer lies in the physiology of our bodies.  When taking in less energy then your body needs to maintain your weight, the body turns to stored energy to survive.  The energy stored in your muscle, and fat all are “tapped,” into in order to sustain body functions.  Over time while training this energy is depleted.  Even with adequate food and rest your body may not be able to replenish it optimally.  Further more in heavy training your central nervous system becomes taxed, and needs time to recover.  Loosing weight while doing heavy training can leave you at a greater risk for muscle loss, a decreased immune system, and increase your chances of injury.  After a while of training on a low calorie diet you can seriously impact your bodies ability to recover and may experience negative mental side effects as well, such as a loss of motivation.
Fedor Understands Training shouldnt be about looking like the situation!

            Gaining weight can lead an athlete down a just as troublesome path if gaining muscle becomes the prime goal.  In order to gain weight the muscles need to be stressed consistently with a caloric surplus.  The energy you devote to gaining weight (lifting weights) may ultimately ruin your athletic performance.  Week after week an athlete is not going to be able to sustain heavy workouts, conditioning, and skill practices it will become simply to much.

In summary,
-Athletes often sabotage their performance when they focus on vanity instead of performance goals.
-Athletes must decide what their primary goal is when they train.  An athlete seeking to reach the upper levels of competition should focus more on skill and performance rather then vanity goals.
-Athletes should focus on gaining or losing weight in the off season, because the central nervous system is compromised during heavy training. 
-If you choose to try and change your body composition during the season there is a very specific way to diet and train in order to maximize both processes as will be discussed further.