Failure training can provide hands on experience with muscle fatigue. At a certain point, whatever muscle group you’re working can’t complete a full rep. But when you feel like collapsing to the floor after an especially demanding workout, that’s central fatigue telling you it’s time to hit the showers. An interesting study published online at ScienceDaily.com helps explain the mechanism involved.
The neurotransmitter serotonin is released during exercise, which helps you keep going. But when serotonin builds up to a certain level, your brain puts the brakes on the feel good effect by shutting down signals to muscles so they won’t continue working. Basically, your brain rewards hard work but protects you from taking it too far. Listen to your body.
Creatine is an organic acid naturally produced in your body by amino acids. It supplies energy to all cells, especially muscle cells where it increases the formation of ATP. Protein is also composed of amino acids, and a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looks at the safety of creatine supplementation while adhering to a high-protein diet.
Subjects loaded creatine or a placebo by consuming 20 grams per day for 5 days followed by a 5 gram daily maintenance dose. They continued this supplementation routine for 12 weeks while sticking to a high-protein diet. Assessments of kidney function before, during and after the program revealed no significant differences.
True Strength Moment: This study adds to a mountain of research conducted over several decades. Creatine monohydrate ranks as one of the most studied sports supplements. It has consistently been shown to safely enhance muscle size, strength and power while assisting with exercise recovery.
There’s at least one type of completion where muscle mass holds back your performance. Even with greater strength and more muscle, sprinters can’t win a distance race against marathon-trained athletes. According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these athletes are separated by a protein called PGC-1alpha.
Aerobic endurance-trained effort is fueled by oxygen. Anaerobic exercises like weight lifting and sprinting let muscle produce energy without oxygen. This leads to the buildup of lactate which results in fatigue. Endurance training stimulates the production of the PGC-1alpha protein which alters enzyme composition to reduce lactate production.
True Strength Moment: Both competitive and recreational athletes tend to plan their training around performance in a single sport. This research illustrates the metabolic changes training can produce. Of course, there’s nothing that says a sprinter can do some distance work. Marathoners might have something to gain in the weight room. Rounding our deficits in physical ability won’t hurt your performance.
Everyone’s favorite choice for energy is caffeine. Your options include coffee, tea, soda and performance beverages formulated for pre-workout use. Nutrient savvy athletes recognize carbohydrates as a reliable source of lasting energy, especially if you go with slowly digested complex carbs from sources like sweet potato, asparagus and brown rice. A study published in the journalSLEEP explored the impact of fats on energy.
According to researchers, protein didn’t affect energy levels, but fat consumption can decrease energy and alertness regardless of your age, gender, amount of daily caloric intake or body weight. A study of 31 healthy subjects aged 18 to 65 showed that fat consumption can weigh heavily on sleepiness even if you enjoyed a solid 8 hours of sound slumber the night before. Of course, your body needs healthy fats for a variety of functions. The trick is to avoid over-consumption.
You’ve got plenty of options for cardio day. There’s treadmill and trail running, stationary bike and road cycling, lap swimming and jumping ropes. If you’ve got rhythm and a set of drums, a study published in theInternational Journal of Sports Medicine suggests playing rock star can burn a significant amount of calories.
Researchers had 22 young men with drumming experience complete a test that compared rock concert drumming to pedaling a stationary bike. Drumming burned about 623 calories per hour while cycling burned between 20% to 25% fewer calories. Heart rate while drumming averaged 186 beats per minute. For comparison, normal rested heart rate for adults in their 20s is about 100 beats per minute.
True Strength Moment: You wouldn’t perform the exact same weight training routine for longer than 6 to 8 weeks, because you understand that your muscles will have completely adapted to the stress by that point. To make further gains, you need to change up a stale routine and force your muscles to adapt to more sets and reps, greater resistance, a different order of exercises or whatever. Maybe it’s time to apply the same rules to cardio day.