Creatine has been extensively researched and found to be a safe and useful supplement for building muscle size and strength. Like protein shakes, you won’t see results right away from supplementing with creatine. But a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests you could notice increased strength within 2 weeks.
If you’ve noticed that you’re putting on a little weight, it might not be that you’re eating more food. After you reach the age of 25, your metabolism slows by about 5% every ten years. A slower metabolism burns fewer calories. Use these tips from the American Council on Exercise to make the most of your calorie-burning potential.
Not being adequately hydrated can decrease the number of calories you’re burning by around 2%, so keep pace with your hydration needs especially during and after exercise. Drinking milk and consuming other dairy products provides calcium, which is involved in fat metabolism. The protein from dairy products also helps maintain muscle mass which is important to metabolism.
Then there’s meal planning. Eating at the same times each day helps train your body not to slow the metabolic rate to preserve energy. Crash dieters often make the mistake of greatly reducing their caloric intake, triggering a starvation mode response where your body slows metabolism to conserve energy
Exercise helps burn calories, and that calorie burning continues even when you aren’t training. In an interesting finding, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School determined the rate of calorie burning at rest fluctuates throughout the day. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.
To measure their metabolic rate independent of activity and food consumption, subjects lived in a room without clocks or windows and slept during specific times that were adjusted 4 hours later each day. This forced their internal circadian clock to operate at its own pace.
Resting energy expenditure was lowest late at night when there is a slight drop in core body temperature. Energy expenditure when your body is at rest is typically highest in the afternoon and early evening.
Vertical jump performance is important for basketball players and other athletes. There are a couple of ways to develop this ability, and a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests some approaches might be better suited to different age groups.
Researchers divided 59 male basketball players into 3 age groups and assigned subjects from each group to 16-week training programs. Some performed hang cleans and also jumped rope. Others practiced half squats and speed ladder training.
Compared to measurements taken before the program began, subjects aged 18 and older improved vertical jump performance with either of these different workouts, but subjects under the age of 17 only improved with the half squat protocol.
A pre-conditioning exercise can provide performance improvements for athletes in certain competitive situations. The effect is known as post-activation potentiation. Can caffeine enhance this improvement? A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition put the world’s most popular stimulant to the test.
Researchers had 12 professional male soccer players perform plyometric exercises and sled pulls an hour after consuming 5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. On another occasion, they received a placebo. Caffeine improved countermovement jump performance 5.07%, 5.75% and 5.40% one, three and five minutes after the pre-conditioning exercise. Jump height only increased at the 3-minute mark (4.95%) with placebo.
New research from the University at Buffalo suggests the thermal comfort of young men and women can vary during exercise and the recovery stage. Findings were published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Ten men and 10 women in their early 20s rode a stationary bike at a low intensity while wearing a neck cooling device operated by the subject. Despite similar changes in skin temperature during exercise, female subjects wanted more cooling compared to their male counterparts.
During continued monitoring after exercise, the skin temperature of men gradually returned to normal levels in about 1 hour. Although their skin temperature returned to normal in about 10 minutes, women continued to desire more neck cooling, suggesting their core temperature remained elevated.
In an interesting study of adolescent Canadian hockey players published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, scientists tested the grip strength of 690 male and female athletes between the ages of 10 and 16 years to see if there was a correlation to on-ice performance.
For males and females, grip strength increased with age at about the same rate until age 12 where males began to show greater strength. In terms of performance, grip strength in the non-dominant hand was associated with competition at more elite levels of the sport.
You can really dig down deep into the details when planning a workout, including timing how long each rep should last. But sometimes going with your intuition is a better approach.
Consider the findings of a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Twelve men with weight training experience did a pair of high-intensity workouts. One involved 3 sets at a self-determined pace. The other 3 sets were timed as 2-seconds for the concentric and 2-seconds as the eccentric part of each rep. Self-determined rep speed resulted in greater volume and muscle activation.
For many people, the three squares: breakfast, lunch and dinner are the traditional mealtimes, with maybe a little snacking in between. Can changing the timing of these eating occasions help you lose body fat? A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences suggests slightly altering this morning, noon and night schedule can have surprising results.
For 10 weeks, some subjects ate breakfast 90 minutes later than normal and sat down to dinner 90 minutes sooner than the typical time. Another groups stuck to regular breakfast, lunch and dinner hours. All subjects kept a food diary, and were allowed to eat anything they wanted.
After the 10-week intervention, subjects on the time-compressed eating schedule lost twice as much body fat as subjects who stuck to the usual meal times. They also consumed less food. Asked if they could maintain these dining hours for more than 10 weeks, 57% of subjects said family pressures and social obligations would make that difficult. The remaining 43% said they could continue if meal timing was more flexible.
Working out in the weight room every day requires some planning. For instance, it’s not unusual for strength training practitioners to split their workouts between upper and lower body muscle groups to allow enough time for recovery. But working your arms doesn’t mean your legs are taking the day off, even when you’re seated. Consider the findings of a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
Researchers had 11 male subjects perform seated arm cranks in incremental and maximum effort trials. On one occasion, they sat normally and on another had their legs secured to prevent feet from touching the floor. Maximal oxygen consumption was reduced by around 14% during the incremental stage with restricted legs. Maximum power also decreased by an average of 29% in the restricted condition.
Originally posted on optimumnutrition.com
In addition to providing energy, caffeine reduces the perception of fatigue. You can see why it’s popular with weight room warriors. But caffeine’s potential isn’t limited to strength training. A study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport looks at caffeine use by endurance athletes.
Researchers analyzed 40 peer-reviewed articles on placebo controlled trials during endurance races. They found that the effect size of caffeine’s performance enhancing benefits increases with the duration of the event.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘fasted cardio’ used when cardiovascular exercise takes place without consuming any food since the previous evening. The idea is to use the body’s fat stores for energy, but a study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests this might not be the best approach.
Researchers at the University of Bath tested the blood glucose and muscle glycogen levels of 12 healthy male subjects after an hour of cycling. On one occasion, they ate a bowl of oatmeal prepared with milk 2 hours before the workout. On another, they didn’t eat anything.
Eating breakfast increased the rate carbohydrates were burned during exercise. Not just the carbs consumed at breakfast, but also carbs stored in muscle as glycogen. Having breakfast before exercise also increases the rate food consumed after training is digested and metabolized.
What’s the right amount of protein for reaching your goals? It depends on the goal, of course. If you’re an aspiring female physique competitor, a study recently published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism offers interesting insight.
Seventeen women in their early 20s participated in an 8-week resistance training program. During this period, some subjects consumed 2.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight each day while others consumed 0.9 grams per kg of body weight on a daily basis.
Subjects on the higher protein diet gained an average of 4.6 pounds of lean mass while losing about 2.4 pounds of body fat. Subjects on the lower protein diet gained an average of 1.3 pounds of lean mass while shedding about 1.5 pounds of fat.
All subjects realized increases in strength with no differences between groups.
There’s a potentiation protocol called the French Contrast Method that practitioners use to temporarily increase vertical jump height. This could be an effective strategy for track and field as well as other athletes, and a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests it might be an effective option.
Seventeen athletes had their countermovement jump height measured before and after performing 3 sets of isometric partial squats, drop jumps, dynamic half-squats and hurdle jumps. Countermovement jump height improved an average of 5% after the first set, 6.8% after the second set and 8.5% after the third set. Maximum potentiation was an increase of 11% from baseline values.
Perception versus reality. An interesting study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compares how subjects rated the difficult of their training with the number of calories the effort actually burned.
Nine active college aged men performed a circuit of 15 reps at 10 different weight training stations using 40% of their one rep max. Then they ran on a treadmill at a speed that would equal the heart rate they reached while circuit training.
Although they burned an average of 168 calories during the circuit training workout compared to 244 calories while treadmill running, subjects rated the circuit training effort a more difficult 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 compared to the much lower 4 rating they gave treadmill running.
You’ve been told to eat your fruits and vegetables since childhood. That hasn’t stopped many adults from at least partially ignoring the advice. A Stanford University study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that when vegetables are described in exciting terms consumption increases.
On different days, beets, green beans and carrots were described in different ways at the university cafeteria. They were always prepared the same way. Indulgent phrases like “Sweet Sizzlin’ Green Beans” and “Twisted Citrus Glazed Carrots” had 25% more people choosing that vegetable compared to basic descriptions like beans and carrots. Indulgent descriptions also increased the amount of vegetables consumed by 23%.
When you’re just starting out on a fitness journey, it’s not unusual to experience muscle aches for a couple days after your first few workouts. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can also impact people who’ve taken a few weeks off or are pushing hard to reach an ambitious goal.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compares the muscle soreness after-effects of low-volume High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and continuous exercise on untrained adult male subjects.
On separate occasions, 15 men completed 10 minute-long sets at 90% of maximum velocity with minute-long rest intervals at 30% of velocity and 20 minutes of continuous exercise at 60% of maximum velocity. All experienced mild DOMS 24-hours after their exercise session, with no differences between HIIT and continuous effort.
Every 5 years, the departments of Health & Human Services and USDA publish Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
A study recently published in The Journal of Nutrition looks at what percentage of the population actually meets these guidelines.
Researchers examined 24 hour food reports submitted by 16,338 people who participated in the 2001–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
They found that other than meat, beans and total grains, most people aren’t meeting recommendations for nutrient-rich food groups. In addition, 90% of Americans over-consume solid fats, added sugars and other empty calories.
In terms of form, there might be a right way and a wrong way to do a certain exercise, but there will also be variations that have the potential benefit some active adults more than others. Consider this study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Sixty-nine active and inactive female volunteers did a set of 3 traditional push-ups followed by another set of 3 suspended push ups. While the traditional push ups resulted in higher levels of triceps muscle activation in gymnasts and inactive subjects, soccer players experienced higher levels of triceps activation with suspended push ups.
Contrast training works the same muscle groups with both resistance and power movements. Think following a set on the bench press with medicine ball throws or doing squat jumps after barbell squats. A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests this type of training is more beneficial to athletes with lower strength to power ratio.
Researchers had 22 rugby players perform 2 sets of squat jumps using 30% of one rep max (1RM) after 6 reps of half squats using 85% of 1RM. They found that peak power enhancement was not related to 1RM, but was negatively correlated to your power to strength ratio. Performance enhancements from contrast training are more likely when there’s a lower ratio between baseline peak power and 1RM half squat strength.
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “go heavy or go home.” If you’re new to the weight room or just getting back after taking an extended break, a study recently published in the journal Medicina dello Sport suggest this might not be the best advice for beginners.
Researchers had 28 men with no weight lifting experience perform 4 sets of leg presses using 60%, 80% or 100% of their one rep max (1RM). Each set was performed to failure. Ratings of perceived exertion were highest for the 100% 1RM workout, as you might expect. Subjects using this load also reported more muscle soreness 72 hours after training. Start out with a moderate load and work your way up to greater intensities.
All kinds of athletes use stretching to help improve flexibility and extend range of motion. There are a couple of ways to perform this type of exercise, and a study published in theInternational Journal of Sports Medicine offers suggestions for getting the most out of the practice.
In a review of papers that included 23 articles, researchers found that all stretching protocols improved range of motion over a long-term period, but that static stretching was superior to ballistic and PNF techniques. In another finding, optimal range of motion results were obtained not during a single session, but over time with sessions 5 days a week lasting at least 5 minutes weekly.
Endurance athletes fuel performance with carbohydrate energy. Many athletes carb load for marathons and other long-distance races. An interesting study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance looks at the impact of carbohydrate consumption in short duration cycling events.
Thirteen experienced cyclists took part in 3 experimental time trails. Each consisted of 10 minutes of steady state riding at 60% of capacity followed by a workload targeted time trial. Ninety minutes before each session, subjects were given water, a carbohydrate shake or a placebo shake matched for taste and texture.
On average, subjects reached their time trial workload target faster with carbohydrates (18 minutes, 66 seconds) and placebo (18 minutes, 53 seconds) compared to water (19 minutes, 10 seconds). Researchers attributed these differences to being psychological rather than physiological.
Numerous studies have shown creatine to be an effective supplement for increasing muscle size and strength when used in conjunction with a well-planned resistance training program. New research published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests increases in strength can be realized in as little as 2 weeks.
Young male subjects supplemented with 0.07 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight per day during an 8-week weight training program. Some got a placebo, and all subjects performed 6 different exercises 3 days per week. Subjects in the creatine group started experiencing strength gains during bench press, leg press and shoulder press exercises after 2 weeks.
At the end of the 8-week program, compared to the placebo group, subjects who supplemented with creatine showed significant increases in strength for the bench press, leg press, shoulder press and triceps extension exercises, but not biceps curls or lat pulldowns.
It’s not unusual to see the same people training in the weight room every day the gym is open. You’d think there would be a huge payoff in gains for training nearly every day, but a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests there might not be when frequency is equalized for training volume.
Twenty eight men with weight training experience took part in a 6-week program. Before and after, they were assessed for squat one rep max (1RM), bench press 1RM, deadlift 1RM and powerlifting total. Fat mass and muscle mass were also calculated.
Some subjects trained 3 days a week and some trained 6 days a week with both programs equalized for training volume. After 6 weeks, both groups showed significant increases in muscle size and strength with no additional benefits seen in 6-day-a-week training.
A number of pre-workout products include beta-alanine and this non-essential amino acid is also available as a powder. The supplement has been shown to help enhance exercise performance, and a study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests it might have potential strength and power training.
Thirty healthy subjects with weight room experience consumed 800 mg of beta-alanine 8 times a day at intervals of at least 1.5 hours for 5 weeks. Some got a placebo. All trained 3 days a week doing a 3-set circuit of back squat, barbell step ups and loaded jumping lunges. There was 40 seconds of work with 120 seconds of between sets rest the first week.
By the fifth week, volume had increased to 5 sets with 20 seconds of work and 60 seconds of between sets rest. Improvements were significantly greater for the beta-alanine group, with average power at one rep max increasing by 43% compared to 21% for placebo. Maximal strength gain averaged 51 lbs. for the beta-alanine group versus 35 lbs. for placebo.
How physically active do you think you are? According to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, the accuracy of your assessment may be influenced by where you live. Not just the weather, but the country.
Researchers tracked the physical activity levels of 540 Americans, 748 Dutch subjects and 254 from England for 7 days. All subjects were over the age of 18 and asked to rate their physical activity levels on a scale of 1 to 5. They also wore activity trackers.
Dutch and English subjects were slightly more likely to rate toward the middle of the scale, while Americans tended toward the extremes: very active to inactive. In reality, Americans were much less active compared to the Europeans with the percentage of subjects considered inactive nearly twice that of Dutch subjects.
According to fitness tracker data, 60% of subjects from the United States were inactive compared to 42% of the Dutch and 32% of the English. Subjects from all of these countries became less active as they aged.
If you use your hands to compete in your sport, having greater strength and control might give you the edge you’re looking for. Consider the findings of study on 6 weeks of wrist training published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Subjects were tested before, at 2-week intervals during, and after completing the program. Wrist joints were worked in 6 directions: Flexion, extension, pronation, supination, radial deviation and ulnar deviation. Subjects showed a decrease in motor control errors after 2 weeks of training. Maximum wrist strength increased in all 6 directions after 4 weeks.
You’ve probably heard weight room regulars debate about how much protein can be absorbed at one time. The general consensus is that muscle protein synthesis in young adults is maximized with 20 to 25 grams of protein. This finding is based on fast-digesting protein shakes and doesn’t take into consideration carbohydrates, fats or slower digesting protein sources. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looks at protein consumption per meal.
After examining a wide range of studies, researchers suggest a per meal protein target of 0.4 grams per kilogram of body weight. You would need 4 of these meals to reach 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. To put this into perspective, the protein per meal target for a 160 pound person would be 29 grams, or about what you’d get from a 4.5 ounce chicken breast.
Dynamic or high-speed training is one way to increase muscular strength. This type of training is typically done with lower resistance and a higher rep range, but a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness give you a different approach to consider.
Thirty active men participated in a 12 week high-speed strength training program. Some used 40% of their one rep max (1RM) while other lifted 80% of their 1RM. Compared to measurements taken before the program began, the low-resistance high-rep protocol improved maximal concentric quad strength an average of 23.3%. Subjects using the high-resistance low-rep routine realized an average 41.8% improvement in strength.
Highly competitive team sports athletes are always looking for an edge. In terms of explosive performance, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tried out a power training routine that has the potential to improve rate of force development by about 9.7%.
Seventeen male athletes in their early 20s did 5 sets of 4 jump squats using 40% of their 1 rep max. They got 3 minutes of rest between sets. Compared to a control condition where subjects rested before testing, power training improved countermovement jump performance by an average of 5.1% and increased reactive strength by 10.7%. These improvements peaked at 24 hours after the power training session.
Vitamin D can be synthesized through the skin from sunshine, but during the winter months you don’t have very many food sources to choose from. Taking a Vitamin D supplement is one option, but a review of studies published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association suggests Vitamin D needs sufficient levels of magnesium to be metabolized, and that could be an issue for lots of people.
It’s estimated that about half of U.S. adult population consumes a magnesium-deficient diet of processed foods. After calcium, potassium and sodium, magnesium is the most abundant mineral in the body. What can you eat to keep up with your magnesium needs? Food sources include almonds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, egg yolk, fish oil, green vegetables, whole grains and milk
Devoting time to hitting the gym and sticking to a healthy, balanced diet structured for weight loss is bound to have an impact on your significant other. A study from the University of Connecticut published in the journal Obesity suggests they can share the benefits of a successful effort.
Researchers tracked the weight loss efforts of 130 subjects and their partners for 6 months. They found that when one person successfully loses weight, there’s a good chance their partner will also shed pounds – even if they aren’t actively trying. About one third of non-participating partners lost at least 3% of their body weight over the 6 month period. Making positive lifestyle changes can have a benefit on those around you.
Experienced weight room warriors understand the value of allowing enough time for muscle recovery. How would taking 3 to 5 days off impact your path to greater gains? If your goals include getting stronger, a study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research suggests short periods of no weight training can be beneficial.
Eight men with resistance training experience took part in a pair of 4-week strength training programs. They took 3.5 or 5.5 days off after the second 4-week session. Compared to tests taken before the first program started, countermovement jump height and isometic bench press peak force were greater after both periods away from the gym. Scientists theorized these improvements might have been the result of decreased neuromuscular fatigue.
Milk contains both whey and casein protein. Whey digests faster while casein is thicker and more slowly digesting. How to put them to best use is a matter of debate, and a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism weighs in with new research on both proteins, including a mix of the two.
A group of 31 men with weight room experience took part in a 9-week resistance training program. After each training session, subjects consumed 20 grams of whey protein, 20 grams of casein protein or 20 grams of protein consisting of equal parts whey and casein.
Although there was greater availability of the BCAA leucine after consuming whey compared to casein or the protein blend, muscle size and strength gains were similar across all 3 post-workout protein shakes after 9 weeks of training.
Many types of athletes use plyometric jumps to develop greater power. What does that mean in terms of competitive performance? A study on basketball players published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness provides more detail on the kind of improvements players can expect from a pre-season plyometric program.
For 8 weeks, subjects included a periodized plyometric program consisting of 117 to 183 jumps with their regular training. Compared to a control group that stuck with a traditional basketball training program, plyometrics helped subjects increase vertical jump height, improve agility, boost maximal strength and run faster 60-meter sprints.
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As an athlete, every second counts. Every inch is crucial and can be the difference between winning and losing. That’s why speed is essential for any athlete at any level. Typically, the one who is fastest is the one who’s in a better position to win.
The great thing about these four exercises is that you can incorporate them into nearly any training program, since they’re mostly lower-body exercises and one of them you should be doing already! But if you’re not, ditch any isolation exercises you have in your current plan and add one or more of the following exercises when you feel the need for speed!
1. Power Clean
If you’ve been limiting your training to bodybuilding-style workouts, this explosive exercise is probably the best barbell exercise you’ve never done.
• Starting with your feet hip-width apart, grab the bar with an overhand grip.
• Keep your back flat and chest tall as you pull the bar off the floor.
• After the bar passes your knees, sweep the bar into your hips (making contact at mid-thigh/the hip crease).
• Aggressively extend your hips, knees and ankles to catapult the bar up to your shoulders.
2. Sled Push (with heavy weight or light weight)
Sled pushes force you to sprint – but with a forward lean. This increases the activation of your body’s largest muscle: your glutes. If you watch the short sprint events at the Olympics, you’ll quickly notice the size of the asses on the sprinters. This is pure muscle, and it generates pure speed.
• Load your pushing sled with the desired weight.
• Take an athletic posture, leaning into the sled with your arms fully extended, grasping the handles. Push the sled as fast as possible, focusing on extending your hips and knees to strengthen your posterior chain.
3. Back Squat
Squats are no secret for building leg mass, and as such, they’re a staple for any sprinting athletes. Even if you’re not spending time at the track or on the football field, the back squat is essential.
• Grab the bar with a grip that’s comfortable for your shoulders.
• Unrack the weight, brace your abs and push your hips back to descend into the squat position.
• Squat until your thighs are parallel (or slightly below parallel) to the ground.
• Keep your knees in line with your toes, chest up and back flat as you push through your heels to stand up.
4. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
The split squat has been a staple that has generated powerful athletes for decades. Although it looks like a single-leg exercise, it uses both legs. In fact, The split squat is very similar to the back squat, but slightly more hip-dominant.
• With dumbbells at your sides and your back foot elevated on a bench, squat while keeping a straight back and tall chest.
• Push through your heel to extend your front knee and hip back to the starting position.
During a workout, you’re taking the final set to failure. How accurate is your estimate of the reps it will take to get there? An interesting study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research analyzes estimate accuracy on different exercises with male and female subjects with varying levels of weight room experience.
Eighty-one volunteers performed 10 sets of 10 reps using 70% and 80% of their one rep max. They did both chest presses and leg presses. After a set of each exercise with each load they estimated reps to failure on the next set.
Subjects were better at estimating reps to failure on the chest press compared to the leg press, where the estimates of males were generally more accurate than those of female subjects. Weight room experience wasn’t much of a factor in estimating reps to failure.
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Coffee with a donut is a classic pairing, and recent research from Cornell University offers interesting insight into why they seem to go so well together. Findings on how caffeine might temporarily reduce your perception of sweetness were published in the Journal of Food Science.
Volunteers drank decaffeinated coffee with sugar added. Some cups were dosed with 200 mg of caffeine to simulate a strong cup of coffee. Asked to describe their level of alertness after drinking coffee, subjects could not tell if their cup contained caffeine or not. But the subjects who got the caffeinated brew rated it as tasting less sweet than subjects who had the regular decaffeinated coffee.
Using machines can make weight training safer, especially when you don’t have a training partner to use as your spotter. Of course, the movement won’t be exactly the same as using the traditional barbell. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared traditional deadlifts to a walk-in style deadlift machine.
Subjects performed conventional barbell deadlifts using a pronated grip and tried both ball of foot and toe alignment in the deadlift machine. Although the walk-in machine allowed a more upright trunk angle, potentially reducing stress on the lower back, it also shifted muscle activity away from the glutes to the knees.
After strength training, a whey protein shake can help kick-start muscle recovery. When you get done with a run, carbohydrates help replace the energy your body used to fuel the effort. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism looks at how both nutrients affect fat oxidation.
Twelve recreationally active women took part in an incremental 23 minute bike ride where the effort ranged from 30% to 80% of maximal oxygen consumption. Then they exercised for an hour at 75% of capacity. After this workout, subjects received 20 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbohydrates or a placebo.
Whole body fat oxidation doubled during the second trial and the rate of fat oxidation while subjects were at rest wasn’t significantly different between protein and placebo conditions. Carbohydrate consumption did reduce the increase in fat oxidation after exercise.
Recovery can be defined as the process of returning to a normal state of health, mind or strength. Although a great workout may only take about an hour or less, our bodies feel the effects anywhere from 24 to 48 hours afterwards. Whether you’re trying to boost your recovery from a workout or just your day-to-day life, here are a few things to consider!
1. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER!
The first line of defense is pretty straightforward, and that’s water! Most of us would like to think we’re drinking enough water throughout the day, although that’s not always the case. Ideally, the average active person should be drinking anywhere from 3 to 9 liters of water a day, and sometimes even more! Our muscles are made up of over 70% water, and without proper hydration, protein synthesis can be slowed drastically. One way to take note of your hydration levels is to check the color of your urine. Ensure the color is a light yellow to clear yellow. Getting into the habit of tracking water is crucial and will help control your mental and physical fatigue during the day.
2. GET 6 TO 8 HOURS OF SLEEP EACH NIGHT
Now some of you live very busy lives. If you’re not at work, you may be at home spending some quality time with family or friends. You may have to tackle other day-to-day tasks that simply have to be done. Regardless of how busy life can be, we can’t forget about a good night’s rest. During your time asleep, the body is allowed its biggest opportunity for mental and physical recovery. Your body simply cannot perform when it hasn’t had the proper rest. Whether it is a little nap throughout the day or being strict with an earlier bed time, do your best to ensure you are getting a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and be certain to make sleep a priority.
3. VARY YOUR TRAINING INTENSITY AND TAKE TIME OFF
This brings us to another method that some find hard to follow when on a strict training regime, and that is varying your training intensity and even taking some time off from the gym. Remember, your full-on, hardcore training can be very taxing to your nervous system and your joints. Taking a break once in a while can do your body some real good! This is easily applied after a few weeks of hard training in the gym. During these previous weeks of intense training, your body may also have been exposed to a lack of rest, hydration and other recovery essentials, leading to decreased gym performance and slower recovery time outside of the gym. Taking a good five days off from lifting weights every six to eight weeks will allow your body to play catch up in all forms of recovery, refreshing your joints and your central nervous system. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel the first time back at it!
4. MAKE PROTEIN A PRIORITY!
As the saying goes, you are what you eat! What you choose to fuel your body with before and after a workout will dictate your performance in the gym, as well as your recovery outside the gym. Make sure you are consuming the right amount of protein – at least 1g per pound of bodyweight. Pre- and post-workout nutrition can vary depending on the time of day the workout is taking place, but the majority of your protein and carbohydrate intake should be consumed in and around your weightlifting workouts. NITRO-TECH® 100% WHEY GOLD is a great way to ensure you’re consuming enough protein each day to fuel protein synthesis and muscle recovery. It’s powered by whey peptides, and the science shows that whey peptides can promote rapid recovery from exercise and even support an insulinogenic response for improved nutrient delivery! This means you are getting an ultra-pure, rapidly absorbed and quickly digested protein that allows you to recover faster, build more lean muscle mass and get better results from your training sessions!
5. UTILIZE SUPPLEMENTS
Once your sleep, nutrition and hydration are consistent, you will see a large improvement in your overall recovery. This is the time when supplementation becomes most effective. A protein powder is one of the simplest ways to take advantage of the anabolic window post-workout. Aim to consume anywhere from 25g to 50g of protein immediately post-workout, followed by a high-protein and high-carbohydrate post-workout meal, about an hour afterwards. Also, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) should be consumed during your workouts. Take 2 scoops of Amino Build® Next Gen (my favorite is Icy Rocket Freeze™ flavor!), mix it in a water bottle with cold water and sip on it throughout your training session. This powerful amino formula contains a researched 4g dose of leucine to jump-start protein synthesis and has even been shown to boost strength! Overall, supplements are simple and effective way to fuel the body on top of a solid, consistent diet and training regimen. When all of these recovery essentials are used in unison, you will be surprised how much your body can accomplish! When your body is well rested, you can work hard and train harder! Now, let’s work!
It’s not unusual for weight room regulars to look forward to their turn on the bench press. Squats are another story. A study recently published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests recovering from a leg day workout might not be the same as when your work upper body muscle groups.
A dozen healthy young males performed 5 sets of 2-minute maximal voluntary contractions using knee extensor muscles. They got 8 minutes of rest between sets. On another day, they did the same workout using elbow flexors.
The average decrease in a subject’s ability to contract muscles was 12% greater after training leg muscles. White total fatigue was greater on legs, peripheral fatigue was greatest when working the elbows.
With High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), busy adults can get a good workout in about half the time it takes with steady state cardio. That’s an attractive benefit, especially when you consider how many people say they just don’t have time to exercise. New research from Iowa State University suggests the intensity aspect of HIIT can be a drawback.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only 3.2% of American adults meet the recommended guidelines of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week moderate-intensity activity. The World Health Organization recommends a total of 150 minutes of exercise each week
Convincing less active adults to step up their game with HIIT sounds great until you consider research published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. The study compared subjects who started with vigorous exercise and then decreased intensity with subjects who took the typical approach of starting out slow and gradually increasing intensity. The intensity increasing group went into each session remembering a negative experience while the group that decreased training intensity expected to feel good after future workouts.
There’s been quite a bit of research on the benefits of green tea. Now a new study published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests the polyphenols found in black tea might also help with weight management.
In lab mice, green tea polyphenols are absorbed into blood and tissue. But black tea polyphenols are too large to be absorbed in the small intestine. Instead, they stimulate the growth of gut bacteria that alters energy metabolism.
Researchers found that both green and black tea polyphenols promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in rodents. With both types of tea, they found more digestive system bacteria associated with lean body mass and less associated with obesity.
Some people like a rare steak while others want theirs well done. The protein in that meat doesn’t really change, but a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that cooking can influence the bioavailability of amino acids for older adults.
On separate occasions, 10 volunteers between the ages of 70 and 82 consumed beef containing 30 grams of protein. For one meal, the meat was cooked at 135 degrees for 5 minutes which is considered rare. The next time, it was cooked at 194 degrees for 30 minutes.
After eating, there was a lower concentration of amino acids in blood with the rare cut compared to the well-done preparation. This was associated with decreased protein synthesis. This effect isn’t the same with younger individuals where the degree of cooking doesn’t really alter amino acid bioavailability.
Being overweight can certainly have a negative impact on your health. But what about the actual cost in dollars? A study published in the journal Obesity suggests the actual cost of obesity can include both medical care and lost earnings.
Using computer models, researchers determined that an obese 50 year old with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels can cost more than $36,000 in medical expenses and lost productivity during his or her lifetime.
On a positive note, if a 20 year old lost enough weight to go from obese to overweight, two-thirds of the lifetime costs of obesity could be saved. Likewise, if a healthy but obese 70 year old achieved similar weight loss, the lifetime cost would be cut by about 40%.
Some people have a specific amount of water or sports drinks they want to consume each day. Others drink when their coach tells them to, or just drink when thirsty. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness examines the habits of 253 athletes from a variety of different sports.Subjects were asked to complete fluid intake questionnaires. The range in age was 8 to 63 years. About 3% of subjects competed in international competition with another 34% participating at the national level. The remaining subjects were regionally active. Of those responding, 150 reported fluid intake below recommended levels while 23 consumed fluids at or above published exercise hydration guidelines.
Many types of athletes alter their training in the run-up to a big event. This reduction in training is often referred to as tapering. If you’re a competitive powerlifter, consider the findings of a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which explores the tapering practices of Croatian open-class champions.
Researchers interviewed 10 successful powerlifters. On average, these athletes decreased training volume by around 50% using a step or exponential approach while maintained or increasing training intensity which peaked about 5 to 8 days before competition. During the final week, training frequency was reduced by about 50% with the final session 2 or 3 days before competition.
Taper strategies were identical for the squat, bench press and deadlift. The idea is to maintain strength while reducing fatigue. Nutritional intake, foam rolling and static stretching all received extra attention during the taper.
It’s not unusual to see athletes rolling different muscle groups across a foam cylinder. Is there anything to this practice, or is it just another fad? A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows what foam rolling can and probably won’t do for recovering muscle groups.
Thirty-seven men raced forty 15-meter sprints. For the next 4 days, hip range of motion, hamstring muscle length, vertical jump height and agility were tested. Some subjects performed foam rolling each day before testing while others didn’t. Although there was no effect on hip range of motion, hamstring length or jump height, agility was less impaired in the foam rolling group compared to subjects who didn’t use this simple tool.
There’s an old saying that ‘you are what you eat’. Looked at another way, if you’re working hard to improve your fitness, will diet preferences be influenced by your progress? New research from the University of Missouri suggests that eating habits might change with regular exercise.
Researchers gave a group of male and female lab rats access to an exercise wheel. Another group could not exercise. All rodents were given 3 types of food to choose from: high-fat, high-sugar and high-cornstarch, all matched for the same amount of protein.
Rodents that didn’t exercise preferred the high-fat food over other options. Male rats that exercised only ate half the amount of high-fat food that inactive rats ate, but consumed greater amounts of sugar and cornstarch options. Female running rats preferred the high-fat diet. Whether this effect works the same in humans is unknown.
Satiety is a feeling of fullness. It can be influenced by different types of food, and also by your expectations. Consider the findings of a new study presented at a meeting of the British Psychological Society that suggests what you eat might not be as important as what you think you ate.
Researchers prepared 3-egg omelets for 26 people. Some were told they had a 2-egg omelet while others believed their omelet was made with 4 eggs. Subjects who were convinced they has a smaller omelet reported being hungrier 2 hours later and consumed more pasta at lunch compared to subjects who were told their breakfast was larger.
If you are looking for a meal replacement that maintains your caloric intake high so that you can cut down on your meals.
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Endurance training improves metabolic health by promoting the development of new blood vessels. Resistance training builds muscle, and a study recently published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests the effort can also leads to small vascular adaptations.
Researchers assigned 36 males in their early 20s to a 12-week resistance training program. Some received protein supplements while others got a placebo. Weight training increased muscle fibers, with greater gains seen in the protein supplementing group.
After the second week of training, the capillary to muscle fiber ratio increased significantly, suggesting blood vessel development took place along with muscle growth.
A physically fit man is typically stronger than women of the same level fitness, but women have the upper hand when it comes to muscle endurance. Consider the findings of a study from the University of British Columbia conducted in collaboration with the University of Guelph and University of Oregon.
Researchers had 8 men and 9 women matched for their levels of fitness flex their foot against an array of sensors 200 times as fast as they could. The speed, power and torque of their movements were recorded along with fatigue. Male subjects were faster and more powerful, but also fatigued more quickly than female subjects.
By: Saquan Mitchell, MuscleTech Ambassador
One of the first body parts that gets noticed are your arms. While arms are a relatively small muscle group in the body, they are the most coveted. The arm consists of two major muscles: the biceps brachii and the triceps brachii. When training arms, most people tend to forget about the triceps and focus on the biceps. However, without the triceps development, massive arms are not possible.
Here are some of the best exercises to target these muscle groups and develop your arms.
Best Exercises for Biceps
|Barbell Curls||3 x 12|
|Spider Curls||3 x 8-12|
|Hammer Curls||4 x 10-15|
|Alternating Dumbbell Curls||3 x 10 (slow and controlled)|
|Chin-Ups||3 sets until failure|
Best Exercises for Triceps
|Dips||4 x 8-12|
|Triceps Rope Pulldowns||4 x 8-12|
|Skullcrushers||4 x 10 (heavy)|
|Triceps Pushdown Machine||3 sets until failure (superset with tricep kickbacks, light weight)|
For each exercise try to increase the weight you are using for every workout by 1 to 5 pounds. At the same time, make sure you are able to maintain near-perfect form. Work on decreasing your rest breaks between sets on your higher volume sets. This will force your body to become more efficient at utilizing fuel. If you follow these steps, work hard, eat right, use the right supplements and sleep well, you will have massive arms in no time!
|Want that extra arm pump? Compliment this workout with Platinum 100% Creatine! Creatine acts as a phosphate donor pool to hard-working muscles, allowing you to train harder, for longer. That means real gains in size and strength that can’t go unnoticed!|
You’ve probably heard the term runner’s high. It’s usually associated with long distance running. The release of endorphins in the brain is behind this effect. A new study conducted at the University of Turku shows that endorphins are also released during High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Using positron emission tomography, researchers determined that HIIT significantly increased the release of endorphins compared to a steady state moderate intensity 1-hour run. Scientists theorized this might help your body compensate for the physical and emotional stress of intense exercise.
Hitting the weight room is only one aspect of the muscle building process. You also have to take rest and nutrition into consideration. A study recently published in The Journal of Nutrition helps illustrate nutrition’s importance for maintaining and building lean mass.
Twenty-four healthy older men were given a drink containing 21 grams of leucine-enriched whey protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fat and 800 IU vitamin D each morning before breakfast for 6 weeks. Some received a placebo.
Rates of protein synthesis were higher for subjects receiving the whey and vitamin D supplement compared to those who got the placebo. The supplemented group also gained more lean mass.
You’ll find active adults with a variety of different goals working in the weight room to develop bigger muscles. If you’re in the game to get stronger, you might be interested in the findings of a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Thirty-eight volunteers with no weight training experience took part in an 8-week program that included chest press and leg extension exercises. Some did a high-volume protocol involving 4 sets of reps to failure using their 8 to 12 rep max (RM). Others conducted a simple 1RM test where subjects attempted up to 5 maximal reps.
Although muscle size and endurance increased more for subjects in the high-volume training group, increases in 1RM strength were about the same for both groups.
Most American adults only get about half the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber. A new study published in the journal Science provides interesting insight into how consuming dietary fiber might influence the bacterial environment of your digestive system.
Researchers found that dietary fiber produces a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate that signals cells in your intestines to maximize oxygen consumption. This action helps restrict levels of harmful bacteria.
The Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are valued by all types of athletes. Studies have shown that these essential amino acids can help with muscle recovery, but findings vary. A review of controlled trials published in the journal Nutrition takes another look at the potential of BCAAs.
Analyzing 8 different studies, researchers came to the conclusion that BCAAs can reduce creatine kinase for up to 24 hours. Levels of this enzyme become elevated after exercise-induced muscle damage. This suggests that supplementing with BCAAs is better for exercise recovery than rest alone.
Your calorie burning efforts during exercise don’t end when you step off the treadmill or stop pedaling a stationary bike. The process continues with elevated resting energy expenditure. A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise examines the extended calorie burning effects of moderate intensity continuous aerobic exercise and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Researchers assigned 33 untrained female subjects to 8 to 16 weeks of moderate intensity steady state exercise at 50% of capacity or HIIIT with bouts reaching 84% of exercise capacity. Then they completed a single session. Calorie burning measurements were taken for 23 hours with controlled food intake.
Subjects burned 64 calories more than they would have without exercise after a session of moderate intensity cardio and 103 calories more after interval training. Resting energy expenditure was increased for around 22 hours after both forms of exercise. The effect is nullified when you don’t train for more than 60 hours.
Resistance training builds muscle and can also burn calories. Not just while working out, but also by increasing your resting metabolic rate. This resting rate typically makes up the majority of the day’s total energy expenditure. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness compares the effects of training with a light to moderate load and heavy load weight training.
Eighteen overweight women in their 30s did high reps with low to moderate weight or a linear periodization of 3 to 6, 8 to 10 and 13 to 15 reps with heavy weight. Both groups trained 3 days each week for 12 weeks. Resting metabolic rate increased by around 8.5% with low to moderate resistance and 10.5% with a heavy load. Interestingly, only 62% of subjects stuck to the light to moderate load workouts while there was 93% adherence to heavy weight training.
People who love to lift typically don’t look forward to cardio day. That’s also the trend among runners and cyclists on the days they set aside for strength training. A study from the University of Utah looks into this separation of performance traits using lab mice.
Researchers observed how effectively some mice protected their territory by fighting off other mice. They also measured the running efficiency of mice using a treadmill.
Rodents that were successful fighters burned more oxygen while running compared to less successful fighters. Although there weren’t significant differences in body mass between runners and fighters, scientists theorized there might be small physiological differences.
You might have heard that stretching can have a negative impact on physical performance. Does this happen with all types of stretching, and how long does the effect last? A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness offers insight into these questions.
Over the course of 3 days, researchers had 12 male taekwondo athletes sprint 20 meters before and after 3 types of stretching exercises: static, ballistic and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). Sprint times increased after all types of stretching, and the effect lasted for 15 to 20 minutes with static and PNF techniques. Sprint times recovered after only 5 minutes with ballistic stretching.
As a general rule, you should allow at least 48 hours for each muscle group to recover from weight training. Exercising different muscles on different days is one way to work around this schedule, but a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests super sets might require a different approach.
Twenty-five physically active men performed 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps max on 4 different exercises: 2 targeting the legs and 2 for the shoulders. Some did super sets while other subjects separated these exercises. Super sets generated higher muscle activity as well as markers of muscle damage. Researchers concluded that 5 days was not enough time for complete muscle recovery.
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Stretching after training is a great way to jump-start the recovery process and could actually speed your muscle growth. Right after training is an ideal time because your muscles are pumped, and manually stretching helps them expand the connective tissue and fascia that surrounds the muscle. This can also improve their shape and enhance muscle separation – here are some key stretches for all your muscle groups.
Trying to guess accurate portion sizes for different foods can lead to consistent underestimating, which can make weight loss or weight management more difficult. Here are some serving size measuring tips offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You’ll need a full set of measuring cups or spoons, ranging in size from half a teaspoon to 2 cups. Then get a food scale that includes a tray or cup. Start practicing on dry foods. Items like peanuts and cereal. Measure out exactly what an ounce or half a Cup looks like. Don’t forget about liquids. Most glassware holds a lot more than a standard 8-ounce (1 Cup) serving.
What does a 4-ounce serving of chicken breast look like? Use the scale. The more you practice, the easier it’ll be to divide typically larger restaurant servings into the portion sizes you’ve planned into your daily diet.
The phrase ‘working up an appetite’ can apply to manual labor as well as physical exercise. Overweight people wanting to get into shape and lose weight might worry that the work they put in at the gym might increase food cravings. A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise compares the effects of steady state and interval training on obese subjects.
Researchers assigned 46 inactive obese subjects (30 women and 16 men) to 12 weeks of moderate intensity continuous training or high intensity interval training. Both groups trained 3 times a week. Feelings of appetite and hunger hormones were measured before and after the exercise intervention, and also before and after a standard breakfast. Although feelings of hunger increased with exercise, there was no difference between steady state and HIIT groups.
Track and field athletes have a couple different options for warming up before training or competition. One popular protocol involves dynamic stretching, and a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine recently tested its potential on 12 healthy volunteers.
Subjects applied four 30-second sets of dynamic stretching to ankle joints. Measurements taken before and after the warm up showed increased range of motion immediately after stretching. The effect lasted for 15 minutes without changing the mechanical properties of muscle tendons.
To get in more days of training and allow adequate time for recovery, weight lifters often split their workouts between upper and lower body muscle groups. You can also split training sessions between pushing and pulling movements. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance compared the force production characteristics of three pulling compound movements.
Researchers had 16 men with weight room experience stand on a force plate while doing reps of the hang power clean, jump shrug and hang high pull. They found that jump shrugs produced the highest relative peak force and greatest rate of force development. Jump shrugs also produce different force-time characteristics during the final stage of the movement.
You’ve been told to eat your fruits and vegetables since childhood. That hasn’t stopped many adults from at least partially ignoring the advice. A Stanford University study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that when vegetables are described in exciting terms consumption increases.
On different days, beets, green beans and carrots were described in different ways at the university cafeteria. They were always prepared the same way. Indulgent phrases like “Sweet Sizzlin’ Green Beans” and “Twisted Citrus Glazed Carrots” had 25% more people choosing that vegetable compared to basic descriptions like beans and carrots. Indulgent descriptions also increased the amount of vegetables consumed by 23%.
“Help me! I can’t get more fit despite the fact that I eat healthy food and workout daily. A large portion of my dinners incorporate lean meats and loads of veggies. Alternate foods I eat are organic products, low fat dairy, nuts, beans, and entire grains. Once in a while eat food that contains sugar or a cheat meal. Why can’t I make any progress and get more fit?
A few things come into the scene when we tackle this:
First of all, you should track the quantity you eat and drink and not only the quality.
Every person has a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) which is the number of calories your body metabolizes while sedentary (in rest). This BMR decreases with age, and therefore the number of calories you consume should decrease respectively.
Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
Calculating the BMR allows you to know the right amount of calories to consumer per day, and according to your goal (lose weight or gain weight) you decide how much calories to add or take out.
Using the BMR above, and depending on the activity level, we can calculate the caloric need:
To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
For example, if your BMR is 1745, and you are sedentary, multiply your BMR (1745) by 1.2 = 2094. This is the total number of calories you need in order to maintain your current weight.
Once you know the number of calories needed to maintain your weight, you can easily calculate the number of calories you need to eat in order to gain or lose weight:
Another important factor is selecting your macros. Always try to get enough protein. Fabricate your dinners and snacks around a decent wellspring of protein, and go for 0.7 to 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight every day. For example, if you weigh 90 kgs and need to get to 85 kgs, utilize 85 kgs to figure the 0.7-1 gram rule.
Depending on your goal, take a look at your calorie intake and mark it by 500 kcal less. For example, if you burn 2000 kcal per day, plan your meals to target 1500 kcal per day. This deficiency in calories will keep you feeling lighter and help you maintain your weight and body composition through the years.
Remember every 1g protein = 4 kcal, 1g carbohydrates = 4 kcal, 1g fat = 9 kcal.
Calculate all your food to meet the desired intake of calories daily.
Finally, try to have five to six small meals a day, making sure you eat properly but not till fullness.
It’s not unusual to ache for a couple days after a demanding workout, especially if you’ve taken some time off from regular training. The condition is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests 200 ml of watermelon juice enriched with 3.3 grams of citrulline and 22 mg of ellagitannins from pomegranate concentrate can help.
Nineteen young male subjects consumed one of four beverages before a session of squats. The watermelon/citrulline/pomegranate combination helped increase peak force an average of 3% and reduced muscle soreness compared to placebo. Subjects who used the 3-ingredient stack reported no muscle soreness after 48 hours.
Depending on your sport, being able to jump higher can be a significant competitive advantage. Athletes who want to elevate their game often turn to plyometric box jump type exercises. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looks into what 8 weeks of plyometric training has to offer.
Ten men and women in their early 20s were evaluated before and after 8 weeks of plyometric training. The program helped increase countermovement jump height by an average of 12%. Muscle contraction time was reduced along with muscle tone.
Resting too long between sets can reduce the effectiveness of your power development workout. It’s also an easy way to annoy people waiting their turn on the equipment. If you’re not sure how to plan this element of your weight training, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research offers some guidelines to consider.
The peak power output of 18 men and 20 women was used to group subjects by strength. Then all subjects did 5 sets of bench throws for 8 reps using 40% of their 1 rep max.
Factoring in reported rates of perceived exertion, ability to maintain power output and muscle soreness 48 hours after training, stronger subjects only needed 2 minutes of between sets rest while weaker subjects required 3 minutes.
A good night’s sleep is an important component of muscle recovery. Not getting enough sleep can also dull your focus. But what effect does sleep deprivation have on strength? A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness takes a look using young Karate athletes as volunteers.
On separate occasions, subjects took selective attention and muscle strength tests after a normal night’s sleep and a night of no sleep. Testing took place around 9 AM, Noon and 5 PM the following day. The time it took to apply maximum force increased and activation time decreased during middle of the day and evening tests after a night with no sleep.
Researchers have tested caffeine under a variety of individual performance and team sports conditions. What about women who want a boost in the weight room? A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness investigates caffeine’s potential on a circuit of popular resistance exercises.
Eight women with at least a year of weight training experience performed hack squats, bench press, knee extensions and pull downs to exhaustion on 2 separate occasions. During one workout, they received a placebo. They got 6 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight 30 minutes before the other training session. Caffeine increased reps to exhaustion and had a tendency to improve strength.
It’s no unusual for 20 and 40 meter races to be won by fractions of a second. What can you do to shave about half a second off your best time? A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests plyometric jumps using a weighted plate.
Two days apart, 10 male track and field athletes raced 20 and 40 meters. On one occasion, after their usual warm up, they did jumps holding a plate weighing 24.7 pounds. They didn’t use this experimental treatment on the other race day. The jumps decreased finish time by an average of 0.459 seconds in the 20 meter event and 0.405 seconds for the 40.
All water that has been exposed to oxygen is oxygenated, but some water bottlers have increased the levels of oxygenation with oxygen gas. There are athletes who consume this type of water with the idea that it might improve athletic performance. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looks into the subject.
Experienced male runners drank 3 bottles of oxygenated water during a 30-minute rest period, another bottle while running a 5,000 meter time trial and 2 more bottles during 30 minutes of passive recovery. Compared to runners who got a placebo, runners who drank oxygenated water experienced faster lactate clearance during recovery. There were no differences in time trial performance or muscle tissue oxygen saturation.
If strength and power are important to success in your sport, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research might be of interest. The paper compares the effects of 6 weeks of bench press training with or without the use of elastic bands.
Twice a week, 16 youth league rugby players took part in strength and power development training. Some used elastic bands to deliver 20% of the load on the bench press. Velocity and power were measured at 35%, 45%, 65%, 75%, and 85% of one rep max (1RM) before and after the program.
Both groups increased velocity and power. Variable resistance training with bands produced greater increases in bench press 1RM. Increases in velocity and power were greater at heavier loads for the variable training group compared to lighter loads, where there were smaller differences between groups.
Around the world, many adults consume less than the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. This can increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looks into whether people increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when trying to lose weight.
Analyzing results from 100 participants in the Australian Eating Survey, researchers found little change in fruit and vegetable consumption while subjects were on a weight loss diet. Men tended to increase fruit consumption, and the amount of fruits and vegetables men ate tended to predict their success with weight loss. It didn’t quite work the same way with female subjects.
Weight loss is primarily accomplished in the kitchen and the gym. The idea is to burn more energy than you consume over a period of time. But it’s always interesting to read the latest peer-reviewed research on this topic, and a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition put two common supplements to work in cool temperatures.
To investigate the thermogenic effects of green tea catechin and caffeine, researchers determined the brown fat activity levels of 15 healthy male subjects. Brown fat is generally activated at around 66 degrees. They were given a placebo or a beverage containing 615 mg of catechin with 77 mg of caffeine twice daily for 5 weeks in this cool environment. Caffeine slightly increased energy expenditure, but the combination significantly increased calorie burning for the 9 subjects with metabolically active brown fat.
Your body’s response to a session of weight training will vary by a number of factors. Some you have control over. Others you don’t. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests whole body resistance training in the morning might produce a different hormonal response compared to afternoon or evening training sessions.
On separate occasions, 10 men with weight room experience trained at 7 AM, 1 PM and 5 PM. Workouts consisted of 6 upper and 6 lower body exercises for 3 sets of 10 reps. Blood samples were collected before training, 3 minutes after finishing and 48 hours later. Hormone production increased after all workouts. Testosterone was highest before the morning training session, and only the morning workout decreased cortisol and the increased the testosterone/cortisol ratio for up to 48 hours. This might create a more favorable environment for muscle adaptation.
Some research studies use weekend warriors as subjects. They usually call them recreationally active. Other studies use subjects with significant weight room experience. They are typically referred to as trained.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research measured the validity of a classic fatigue test from the 1970s that used recreationally active men. It found that fast-twitch muscle fibers used for short bursts of strength, like sprinting and weight lifting, were associated with quicker quadriceps fatigue.
In a reexamination of this finding, 15 trained men in their early 20s performed maximum knee extensions to calculate peak torque and quadriceps fatigue after 30 and 50 reps. Peak torque in the trained men was 46% greater than the recreationally active subjects. Quad fatigue ranged from 53% to 72% with no relationship between muscle fiber type.
Intense training breaks down muscle tissue. It’s build back stronger with rest and amino acids from protein. But it might be possible to negate the damaging effects of prolonged exercise before the recovery phase. Consider the findings of a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
Fifteen elite soccer players between the ages of 15 and 18 were assessed before and after consuming cocoa, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Blood samples revealed high levels of muscle damage, which cocoa consumption decreased by 23% to 39%. Cocoa consumption also reduced oxidative damage by around 26%.
Caffeine has been shown to help with exercise performance, but its effectiveness varies depending on the type of exercise and conditions of the study. Research recently published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism investigates caffeine’s impact on running performance at 115% of capacity.
Eighteen recreational male runners in the late 20s and early 30s took a graded exercise test one hour after consuming 6 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight or a placebo. Time to exhaustion for caffeine supplementing subjects was 11.3% higher compared to placebo. Running time ranged from an averaged 130.2 seconds with caffeine to 118.8% with placebo.
When you hydrolyze a protein, you break larger pieces down into smaller pieces. What might this process offer active adults who incorporate hydrolyzed whey into their supplementation strategy? A study published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition offers some interesting findings.
Researchers gave 56 men with weight training experience a 30 gram serving of whey protein concentrate or hydrolyzed whey concentrate twice daily for 8 weeks. During this time, subjects performed 2 upper body training sessions and 2 lower body training sessions each week.
After the training period, upper body one rep max (1RM) increased 4% to 7% and lower body 1RM increased 24% to 35% with no significant differences between groups. Subjects who got hydrolyzed whey concentrate lost an average of 6% body fat. Subjects who received a carbohydrate placebo gained around 4.4% body fat.
We’re all a little different in terms of physiology. That’s why some people have an easier time building muscle and losing fat compared to others. In addition to these individual differences, what we eat can have an impact on the maximal rate of fat oxidation during exercise. Consider the findings of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers used indirect calorimetry to determine the maximal fat oxidation rates of 305 healthy adult subjects. The average maximal rate of fat oxidation was 0.55 grams per minute. After analyzing dietary intake in the 4 days leading up to testing, they found carbohydrate consumption had a negative association with fat oxidation and fat consumption had a positive association. The variability was around 2.6%.
It goes without saying that pushing heavy stacks of plates is going to have an effect on your heart rate and blood pressure. And it makes sense that the impact will vary between upper and lower body exercises as well as for unilateral and bilateral movements. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looks at these differences using 15 men with weight room experience.
Subjects performed 3 sets of 10 reps biceps curls, barbell rows and knee extensions using 80% of their 10 rep max. Each exercise was performed bilaterally, unilaterally and with alternating limbs. Heart rate and blood pressure increased significantly from pre- to post-workout. There was a greater cardiovascular response for upper body exercises compared to lower body movements and for bilateral compared to unilateral.