Lots of active adults put in a couple of miles of jogging in the morning before breakfast. The idea behind fasted cardio is forcing your body to burn fat for energy in the absence of carbohydrates. But amino acids from muscle tissue are also an option. That’s why supplement savvy individuals use BCAAs to help spare muscle tissue. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows how well essential amino acids (EAAs) help preserve muscle mass.
Sixteen knee replacement patients with an average age of 69 received 20 grams of EAAs twice daily for a week before and three weeks after their surgery. For comparison, 12 patients of similar age received 40 grams of non-essential amino acids (NAA) for the same duration before and after their knee replacement surgery. In measurements taken six weeks after surgery, those consuming NAAs lost 18% of quadriceps muscle mass compared to the 6% lost by subjects who consumed EAAs.
True Strength Moment: The EAAs provided included histidine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine along with the BCAAs leucione, isoleucine and valine. This combination not only helped subjects maintain muscle mass but helped them to become more active sooner than the subjects who received NAAs. Work some EAAs and BCAAs into your active lifestyle.
Although none of it comes easily, some muscles aren’t that difficult to develop. As any weight room regular can tell you, calves and forearms rank among the most challenging groups. But because everyone’s built a little different, hamstrings might be a challenge for some. If that’s a weak spot, you’re sure to appreciate the findings of a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Scientists measured the muscle activation of 12 experienced male weight lifters as they performed a single rep using resistance equal to 85% of 1RM. Exercises included leg curls, good mornings, glute-ham raises and the Romanian deadlift. The deadlifts and the glute-ham raise were best for activating hamstrings.
True Strength Moment: Even though hamstring activity was maximized during these two exercises, you shouldn’t neglect the rest. In fact, you might even want to add Olympic pulls and kettlebell swings to the list. Learn the right way to perform all of these movements before working them into your leg day routine.
Fast starts are important for all types of sprinting, whether the competition is on a track or in the pool. Getting out ahead early can make all the difference. According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, competitors able to produce greater maximal force quickest have the edge.
Researchers had 27 experienced 50 meter freestyle competitors perform two sessions of standing leg extensions and three simulated race starts. Lower body power and rate of force development were strongly correlated to the fastest 10-meter swim times.
True Strength Moment: Like most physical deficiencies, there’s a weight room routine for bringing up this weak spot. Swimmers and sprinters looking to quicken their pace might want to read today’s Performance Blog post at ABBperformance.com
There’s a good chance the world’s most popular stimulant is part of your favorite pre-workout formula, because it’s been shown to help increase exercise performance while reducing the rate of perceived exertion. Now the question becomes how much is enough? A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise attempts to answer that question for the bench press and squats.
Researchers gave 13 experienced weight lifters a placebo or dose of caffeine equal to 3 mg, 6 mg or 9 mg per kg of body weight. Then they measured barbell velocity and muscular power during squats and the bench press using loads equal to 25%, 50%, 75% and 90% of one rep max (1RM).
Using lighter loads (25% and 50% of 1RM), all caffeine doses significantly increased barbell velocity compared to placebo, but 9 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight was needed to increase power at 90% of 1RM. As you might expect, large doses also increased the frequency of side effects.
True Strength Moment: For a 180 pound person, 3 mg per kg of body weight is 246 mg of caffeine, or about the same as 3 strong cups of coffee. 9 mg per kg of body weight would be a dose of 738 mg. Most people would have a hard time tolerating that amount. To find the dose that works best for you, start out with a low level and gradually increase as needed. Check out today’s Performance Blog at ABBperformance.com for a caffeine study on cross-country skiing.
It’s a fairly well-established fact that supplementing with protein after resistance training triggers an increase in protein synthesis over and above what’s accomplished through weight training alone. What if you add carbohydrates to the mix? This question is examined in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Researchers found that, although the Branched Chain Amino Acid leucine needs insulin to modulate protein synthesis, there’s generally a sufficient amount in your bloodstream even without consuming carbohydrates, which promotes insulin secretion. In fact, just supplementing with leucine can boost your levels of circulating insulin.
True Strength Moment: While carbohydrates are important for replenishing levels of muscle glycogen depleted through resistance or endurance exercise, this study suggests stacking your post-workout whey protein shake with carbs won’t further augment muscle building potential. Of course, the goals of most athletes extend well beyond developing muscle size.