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Recomping ???

Posted on January 7, 2015 at 8:22 PM Comments comments (32)
Recomping ???

First, to offer some perspective, let’s briefly talk about bulking and cutting. Bulking is trying to gain weight, and ideally most of that weight would be muscle. When Bulking one intentionally consumes more calories than their body needs, in conjunction with weight training, in order to gain weight with the understanding that fat gain will be inevitable. The idea is to limit fat gain as much as possible while maximizing muscle gain. Cutting on the other hand is the exact opposite. When cutting, one intentionally consumes less calories than their body needs in order to lose weight with the understanding that muscle loss will be inevitable. The idea is to limit muscle loss as much as possible while maximizing fat loss.  

You can see how it's impossible to achieve these two goals simultaneously . You cannot not be in a caloric surplus and a caloric deficit at the same time. 

Now when recomping, the idea isn't to get the number on the scale to move up or down, but to improve body composition. In other words, one isn't interested in weight loss, they just want to have less body fat and improve the appearance of their physique by increasing the size of their biceps, their shoulders, and maybe decrease their waistline. 

Now this is possible with people who are untrained. In fact clients of mine will frequently tell me that their clothes fit differently after several months, but unless their diet is such that it allows them to lose weight, the number on the scale stays put. 

Also, recomping is only worthwhile if you're someone who is unhappy with a particular part of your body, or your physique, rather than how much you weigh . For instance, many dresses are sleeveless. If you're a woman who isn't over weight, you can certainly improve the appearance of your arms without losing or gaining weight, but if you have too much body fat the muscles of your arms are not visible due to the layer of fat covering them. 

In essence, if you're happy with your weight ( but not your physique ) than recomping is for you, but if you're not happy with your weight, than you need to focus on increasing or decreasing your weight. 

As for the exercises you should employ,  the rep ranges should be in the 12-15 range for three to five sets. If someone wants to improve the size of their chest, the exercises should include bench press, incline bench press, chest flyes,  and cable cross-overs. For triceps and shoulders, in addition to bench press and incline press, because those two movements hit the shoulders along with the chest, military press should also be included, and to further isolate the shoulders you can include lateral raises, front raises, and rear delts flyes.  For compound exercises ( bench press, military press, and shoulder press ) a lower rep range ( 6-8 reps, 8-10 reps, or 10-12 reps ) is fine. For back, bent over rows, lat pull downs, single arm dumbbell rows, and cable rows are compound exercises that will hit the back and ,to some extent, the biceps. 

Now isolation exercises for the biceps and rear deltoids of the shoulders are crucial due to the size of the muscle groups in the back. Just relying on compound movements for biceps and the rear deltoids is insufficient because ( since the back is such a large muscle group ) they aren't as involved in those compound movements. They're involved, and it's fine just to rely on them if your goal is simply a full body workout, but if increasing the size of your biceps or rear deltoids is your goal  you'll need more stimulation. For isolation exercises ( lateral raises, front raises, etc. ) one should stay within the 12-15 rep range. This is for two reasons. The first reason is safety. Isolation exercises involve one muscle and one joint. The higher the rep range, the lighter the weight, and the less pressure that is put on the joint responsible for flexion or extension during the contraction of muscle. The second reason is that your body is a machine that's designed to work together. When "isolating" a muscle, you're not isolating the muscle in the sense that the muscle is the only muscle that's involved in that movement. What you are doing is limiting the involvement of any other muscles that are involved in that movement. The heavier the weight, the lower the rep range, so the lower the rep range, the more other muscles will become involved. Obviously, that's not what you want.

The Benefits Of Resistance Training

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM Comments comments (14)
It’s been five years since I committed myself to become a certified personal trainer.  I began by looking for one of the premier recognized certification programs.  I wanted the best certification and training, so I committed to prepare myself to complete the American College of Sports Medicine Certification program for Personal Trainers.  I spent two years studying, attending personal training classes, participating in special preparatory workshops, getting First Aid and AED Certification, and doing extensive research into becoming a specialist in the field of personal training.  I was successful and have spent the past three years honing my skills as an ACSM Certified free-lance personal trainer.  My clients are varied, ranging from young athletes to retired seniors.
Resistance training is not the end all be all of fitness. It’s only one aspect, but it serves as a foundation. In other words, if a person is unaccustomed to physical activity, but wants to start and exercise program, they shouldn’t start jogging, nor should they start doing any type of interval training at high or even moderate intensities. They should start with weights. Lifting weights, or resistance training, strengthens you muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which will prepare your body for the various forms of stress it will undergo during other forms of exercise.  
Resistance training (RT) works for everyone.  Age is irrelevant.  What matters is commitment, consistency, and a personal trainer who views each client as unique and has the ability to customize training programs to meet each client’s unique needs.  I begin with my clients where they are and map out a program that guarantees success.  RT is not a quick fix approach, but rather a lifetime approach.   It is, in my estimation, essential to maintain personal fitness and good health as you age.
The one piece of advise I give to my clients and am now passing on to my readers is that whatever method of fitness a client decides upon, it has to be something that he or she can do for the rest of his/her life.  Most people cannot do high impact exercise or high intensity interval training (HIIT) as a way of maintaining health for a lifetime.  Some people cannot maintain an “insanity” approach as a lifestyle, but EVERYONE can do RT for the rest of his or her life.   An investment in RT is an investment in yourself and your health. 
There are a few people who can work alone and be methodical and successful, but I find in my experience that most people need a personal trainer for commitment, consistency, and sustainability.  My goal for all my clients is to help them attain, maintain, and sustain. 
How I work:
·       My fees are reasonable, and I reserve the right to be compensated up front.
·       Clients are responsible to be available for scheduled sessions.  A client may cancel a session with 24 hours notice and MUST reschedule within a week or he or she forfeits the fee.  Special accommodations are always made in circumstances over which the client lacks control.
·       The client must have space available for IHT (In-Home Training).
·       I make every session count so that your money works continually for you.
·       I employ the principles of RT using the progressive overload model so that the client is always developing muscle strength, raising metabolism and increasing fat burning capacity.
·       I recommend at least two sessions weekly.  Three sessions are ideal.  However, a client may combine his or her own personal workout sessions with personal training sessions.
RT works as evidenced by the results of a client (age 60+) with whom I have worked for one year. Prior to RT, my senior client had been diagnosed with osteoporosis and osteopenia of the spine. 
The client decided to continue calcium supplements, declined medication, and started RT in August of 2012.   The client’s 2013 DEXA SCAN showed a 3% increase in BMD (bone mineral density).  I worked with this client twice a week for one year.  RT WORKS!  It takes commitment, consistency, and a skilled personal trainer.  Results are guaranteed.

EPOC or the After Burn Effect

Posted on August 7, 2013 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (27)
Following cardio or a weight lifting session, your body continues to use oxygen at a higher rate than it did prior to exercise. This sustained oxygen consumption is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The phrase EPOC has been used to describe numerous events that occur while the body returns to homeostasis.  During EPOC, the body is in the process of returning to a pre-exercise state, so it consumes oxygen at a higher rate. This means that calories are being burned at a higher rate.
Four things occurs during EPOC:
1) Replenishment of Energy Resources: Replenishment ensues for the immediate source of energy, known as the phosphagen system, which is includes  creatine phosphate and ATP (adenosine triphosphate). In addition, lactate, a molecule produced while performing intense exercise, is being converted to pyruvate for fuel utilization. The body is also replenishing the glycogen stores that were depleted during the workout
2) Re-oxygenation of Blood and Restoration of Circulatory Hormones
During exercise metabolism, sizeable quantities of oxygen are used to break down food substrates for energy. Consequently, the body continues to utilize energy following exercise to re-oxygenate the blood. In addition, in the post-exercise period, the body restores the levels of circulatory hormones, which increased during exercise, to normal.

3) Decrease in Body Temperature:
As energy is released from the muscle tissues of the body, during exercise, heat is produced, so during EPOC, the body must burn calories in order to return to it’s normal temperature.

4) Return to Normal Ventilation and Heart Rate: Energy expenditure is greatly elevated as the body rapidly returns to a normal breathing rate. Heart rate is also returning to a pre-exercise rate.
Evidence indicates that interval training (HIIT) has a distinct effect on EPOC. Also, it appears that weight training produces greater EPOC responses than aerobic exercise such as jogging.  HIIT disturbs homeostasis more so than cardio at moderate intensity resulting in more calorie expenditure to restore the body to homeostasis. Mechanisms that cause the higher EPOC observed in resistance exercise include elevated blood lactate, and an increase in circulating catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and anabolic hormones.

Older age doesn't cause a decrease in testosterone in Men. Poor health is likely the cause

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 11:01 PM Comments comments (17)

I see a lot of ads for testosterone replacements aimed at older men. Low test levels are a common problem with aging men. Experts say that after the age of 30, testosterone decreases by 1% each year, and with that decrease, men can expect loss of muscle mass, fat gain, lack of energy, and worse of all, a loss in libido. By age 40, decreasing test levels diminish the quality of a man’s sleep
 Testosterone does decrease with age, but is this change really inevitable? It’s a fact that resistance training forces your body to release more testosterone, and the more muscle groups that a lift involves, and higher the intensity, the more testosterone your body releases in response to that stimulus. So are dwindling testosterone levels--associated with age--something that can be avoided? Research says yes.
Two study centers in Australia recruited 325 men over the age of 40 (the median age was 60) who had self-reported excellent health with no symptoms or complaints. Blood samples were taken from these men nine times over a three-month period. Men who took medications that affected testosterone were excluded from the study.
Obesity had a mild effect on test levels, the investigators reported, but age had no influence on testosterone levels.  The slight decline in blood testosterone among older men, commonly associated with nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and low sex-drive, may be caused by symptomatic disorders that accumulate during aging. Heart disease and obesity where among those symptoms.
In short, the message for patients, and their doctors, is that older men with low testosterone levels do not need testosterone replacement therapy unless they have diseases of their pituitary gland or testes.
The decrease in testosterone is not the cause of many of the problems men face as they age. The decrease is merely a symptom of poor health, so when it comes to testosterone, use it or lose it. Stay active. Incorporate resistance training into your workout routines, and make sure to include compound movements into your regimen.

Primary, Assistance & Auxiliary Exercises Explained

Posted on January 9, 2013 at 9:53 PM Comments comments (177)
Generally, there are three categories  that all movements fit into: primary, assistance, and auxiliary. Where certain exercises fit in these categories depends on the type of activity you're training for ;however, the principles behind them are fairly universal.

Primary exercises are always multi-joint compound lifts. These are the lifts many people use as a measure of strength. These movements are essential to any resistance training program because they recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers allowing you to lift the most weight possible. These compound lifts, which are the bench press, military press, the squat, rows, and the deadlift  will target virtually every muscle in your body.

The bench press targets the chest, the front head of the shoulders, and the triceps. The military press works the front head of the shoulders and the triceps. Rows target your traps and your lats.  The squat works your quadriceps, your hamstrings, your glutes, and your lower back, and the deallift targets your lower back, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.

Assistance exercises are usually still compound movements, often involving dumbbells, bodyweight, or other variations on the classic lifts. Assistance exercises help build muscle and have functional importance in sports, but they're titled "assistance" because they also contribute gains in strength on the primary lifts. You can go heavy on these exercises, but, chances are ,you won't use more weight than you use for the primary counterpart. Some examples of these assistance lifts--for the chest--are the dumbbell bench press, push ups, dips, as well as close grip bench press for the triceps. Assistance exercises that help increase your military press, would be dumbbell shoulder presses, hand stand presses, and bent over lateral raises--which help build stabilizing strength. Assistance exercises for your lats, and traps, would be single arm dumbbell rows, cable rows, chin ups, and lat pull-downs.

Auxiliary exercises are isolation movements that are best for getting a pump and bringing weaker body parts up to speed. Some examples would be front raises, lateral raises, and rear delt flyes for the shoulders. Pec deck and pullovers for the chest, and Kickbacks and Skull-Crushers for the triceps

Know the difference between the movement categories. Exercises you choose to do, when you do them, and what kind of rep/set scheme you use are critical factors in your success or failure. For auxiliary exercises, the optimal rep range is around 12 to 15 reps. Since you're isolating a single muscle with this type of lift, you're also isolating a single joint. The lower the rep range, the heavier weight. The heavier the weight is, the more pressure is put on the joints, and since only one joint involved, putting a lot of pressure on the joint increases your chance for injury. It's less risky to go heavy on compound movements when more than one joint is moving under the load. Also, the heavier the weight, the more surrounding muscle groups will get involved, so it defeats the purpose to use heavy weight, with low reps, when you're trying to isolate a muscle. 

For beginners, the rep range should be 12 to 15 reps regardless of the type of lift that is being done.

Here is the order in which you should do these lifts:

  • 1st Exercise - Primary
  • 2nd Exercise - Assistance
  • 3rd Exercise - Assistance
  • 4th Exercise - Auxiliary

Primary movements are the most important, and require the most energy, so you should do them first. Your assistance exercises should be done next, and your Auxiliary exercises--since they require the least energy--should put the finishing touches on your workout.

Lifting heavy isn't necessary for building muscle

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 3:17 PM Comments comments (130)
The common consensus is that lifting heavier weights for relatively lower rep ranges is better for building muscle than a lifting relatively lighter weights for a higher number of repetitions. Now for pure strength gains, a weight where one can only perform three to five repetitions is best, but for muscular growth, rep range isn’t really relevant providing that you’re completing at least six reps with proper form. Using rep ranges any lower than that trains your central nervous system which will allow you lift more weight; you will see increases in muscular tissue, but if you’re lifting strictly for muscular hypertrophy this rep range is less than ideal.  

 For optimal muscular growth, it’s about time under tension and muscular fatigue. It’s doesn’t matter if you lift a weight eight times or twenty-six times.When using a weight where you can only complete eight repetitions, as compared to twenty six repetitions, the tension will be greater, but the time under tension will be less. Using a weight that you that allows you to complete twenty-six repetitions will result in less tension, but the time under tension will be much greater. In the end it all evens out.  As long as the last few reps are difficult, you’re providing enough tension for muscle growth. Whether you’re using a weight where you can only complete eight repetitions, or a weight that you’re able to complete twenty repetitions, your muscle gains will be the same.     

 “The research, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, challenges the widely accepted dogma that training with heavy weights -- which can be lifted only six to 12 times before fatigue -- is the best avenue to muscle growth.”               

In the study several experiments were performed on healthy, young, male subjects in order to measure how their legs muscles responded to various repetition ranges over a ten week period. After determining the maximum weight that each subject could lift one time, each subject was instructed to train at a different percentage of  his one rep max for each leg. These three programs were as follows: one set at 80% of their one rep max; three sets at 80% of their one rep max, and three sets at 30% of their one rep max. Typically, the heaviest weights were lifted eight to twelve times; the lightest weights were lifted twenty five to thirty times.               

After the ten-week period, three times per week, the heavy and lightweight groups saw substantial gain, as measured by an MRI, with no discrepancy (in the amount of muscle gain) among the groups. The groups that used the heavier weight gained a bit more strength, which is to be expected, as the heavier the weight is (relative to a person’s strength level) the more the central nervous system is trained. Muscle gain, however, was the same. The group that trained for a single set showed about half the increase in muscle size seen in both the heavy and light groups.               

Older adults, and people who have had injuries in the past, should be thrilled with these findings as they can reap the same benefits from resistance training as their younger counterparts, or those with less of an injury history.               

Remember, as long as you’re squeezing out those last few reps you’re on the right track. 

The big five

Posted on July 1, 2012 at 11:04 PM Comments comments (4)
When it comes to resistance training, there are five exercises that should make up the core of  you routine no matter what type of resistance training you’re doing. It could be Pilates; you could be doing bodyweight exercises, but whatever you do, you better be incorporating these five lifts or your program is lacking.   

 The five lifts are : the bench press, the military press, rows, deadlifts and squats. These five lifts will target every muscle group in the body. The bench press will target the chest, the anterior deltoids and the triceps. The military press targets the anterior and medial deltoids as well as the triceps. Rows target the traps, lats, biceps, and hamstrings; deadlifts target the entire posterior chain with an emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes, and squats also work the posterior chain like the deadlifts, but the quads come into play a lot more.  Now, you probably wondering, “what about core exercises ?” Core exercises are overrated. Every compound exercise you do will hit your core. You core is targeted by basically anything you do whether it’s running, jumping, or lifting. If you don’t believe me, after a tough abs workout go do some standing barbell curls and see if you can’t feel it in your abs.   

 Focusing on these five compounds lifts will develop a balanced physique. Too many times people get hung up on isolation exercises, and too many isolation exercises can complicate things. Certain muscle groups can become neglected to some extent. When starting out concentrate on these five exercises or movements. I would even go so far as to say that beginners should only do these lifts (and nothing else) to perfect their form. This will do two things for you: the first thing it will do is give you a solid strength base. The second thing it will do is reveal where your genetic weaknesses are. Most of us have some muscles that seem reluctant to respond due to genetics. That’s where isolation exercises come into play. For example, let’s say your biceps aren’t at big as you’d like and aren’t growing at the same rate as other muscle groups. Rows will hit your biceps, but if you’ve already done rows you’ll risk fatiguing or even injuring your back if you do extra sets of rows, or any other compound pulling movement, in an attempt to stimulate more growth in your biceps. That’s where isolation exercises come in. They allow you to isolate particular muscle groups without overtraining secondary muscle groups that are involved in compound lifts.   

 Now, these five lifts can come in different forms. For example, when I refer to the bench press I don’t just mean the flat bench press. You can do incline bench presses, decline bench presses, dumbbell bench presses, dips or push ups. Exercises that can serve as substitutes for the Military press are: the standing dumbbell press, seated barbell press, the seated dumbbell press, and handstand pushups. If given the option between standing shoulder presses and seated shoulder presses, I prefer standing barbell ( or dumbbell) presses due to the extra stress they place on the core. For Rows, there are bent over rows, Pendlay rows, upright rows, t-bar rows, cable rows and lat pull downs. To make it simpler, for  upper body exercises, incorporate heavy compound pulling and pushing movements from different angles. For example, what’s the difference between the flat and incline bench press ? It’s the angle that you’re pressing the weight in relation to your body. What’s the difference between an upright row and a bent over row ? Again, it’s the angle that you’re pulling the weight into relation of your body.   It’s that simple. Deadlift, squat, and push and pull from different angles.