You’ve probably seen pictures of bodybuilders with huge chains draped over their shoulders. Although this makes for a memorable image, there are some physiological benefits to working out with heavy chains. Researchers at Ohio State University and Texas A&M suggest what might and might not be achieved through chain training.
Compared to traditional barbell weight training, the addition of heavy chains helps build lower body strength, but not power. Also, the technique didn’t seem to have much of an additional impact on upper body strength or power.
True Strength Moment: As you raise the barbell, more links in the chain come off the floor to gradually increase the load. Team sports athletes might want to work some chain training into off-season leg day efforts to see if greater strength develops.
Your body can’t produce essential amino acids. They can only be taken in through diet. Although protein can be used for energy, your body prefers to use carbohydrates which get broken down into sugars faster than proteins are broken down into amino acids. So how long does it take for essential amino acids to stimulate protein synthesis? A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that it takes about 90 minutes.
Researchers had 16 healthy young male subjects consume 15 grams of essential amino acids all at once or in intervals spaced out over a span of 45 minutes. Although the different dosing strategies produced different increases in blood levels of amino acids, muscle protein synthesis was stimulated 90 minutes later in both cases, and this effect continued for 180 minutes after amino acid consumption before returning to normal levels. Now you have a timing strategy to apply to your training.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) combines what’s typically a period of all-out effort with low to moderate intensity active recovery. These sets of intense to moderate effort can help you realize what you’d get out of a long steady state cycling session in about half the time. But do you have to go all out? A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine examines the effects of different approaches.
Researchers had 15 experienced cyclists engage in 3 intervals consisting of 3 minutes work with 3 minutes active recovery. On one visit to the gym, the 3 minutes of effort was all out. Based on that intensity, scientists programmed a computer to pace individual efforts at 85% of maximal oxygen consumption. A third trial was self-paced.
True Strength Moment: Ratings of perceived exertion were greatest for the all-out effort, and power output was lower during a 4 KM time trial after that session. If you’re tapering for competition, self-pacing your HIIT training in the lead up might help you arrive at the starting line fresh.
Doing cardio on an empty stomach, usually first thing in the morning, is supposed to help you burn more body fat than eating before your run, ride or swim. But is this scientific fact or just another popular gym myth?
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared the effects on 20 young female subjects who adhered to a hypocaloric diet for a month. Half of these subjects put in an hour of steady state cardio exercise 3 days a week without eating since the previous evening. The other half eat breakfast before training. All adhered to a diet designed to burn more calories than consumed. At the end of the program, both groups lost weight and reduced fat mass.
Conclusion: There were no significant differences between groups. As long as you’re cutting calories, having a small, balanced meal before training might outweigh the benefits of not eating first.
Challenging your fitness level with a series of all-out sprints on a stationary bike is a great alternative to treadmill running. It’s also likely to get you in and out of the gym faster. But how well do you know yourself in terms of estimating recovery? A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research put self-regulated recovery to the test.
Fourteen males in their mid-20s performed a series of ten 6-second all out cycle sprints using 7.5% resistance. Recovery between sprints was self-regulated. The next time these subjects went to the gym for the same workout, their previous recovery time was decreased by 10%. There weren’t any differences in peak power output, mean power output or fatigue between trials.
True Strength Moment: After a couple of familiarization sessions, most people can accurately pace their recovery, but they tend to allow too much time since cutting 10% off their estimated requirement didn’t alter performance. Pushing yourself a little harder might be the path to greater gains.
Ready to pump some iron? Not so fast! While many of you probably skip a pre-workout snack, it’s extremely important that your body has the right combination of protein and carbs to provide a steady stream of energy during any kind of exercise. Not sure what to eat? Below, we’ve listed ten snacks (great for those on the go!) that are sure to give you the fuel you need before your workout.
Bananas: Bananas are rich in fast-acting carbohydrates that provide energy while you workout, while the supply of potassium maintains muscle and nerve function. For an extra kick and quick supply of protein, add some peanut butter.
Oatmeal: Oats are packed with fiber, which help the release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream. This steady release of carbohydrates gives you the boost you need before you exercise. Traditional oatmeal not your thing? Pair the dish with some sliced fruit to give the oats some flavor.
It’s been said that the typical person can lose almost as much muscle mass as body fat on the typical diet. Of course, you don’t consider yourself typical in any way. But to play it safe for post-holiday dieting, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests supplementing with this stack of nutritional support.
Researchers enrolled 80 obese older adults in a 13-week program where they were restricted to 600 calories a day. All subjects engaged in resistance training three times each week. Some recovered with 21 grams of whey protein stacked with leucine and vitamin D ten times weekly while others got a calorie-matched control drink.
Both groups lost body weight and fat mass with no significant differences between groups. However, those in the whey group gained about a pound of muscle mass while subjects in the control group lost about the same amount.
True Strength Moment: During this weight loss program, the whey group consumed about a gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day while the control group only got about 0.85 grams. Over 13 weeks, it appears this might have made the difference between building up or losing a pound of muscle mass.
Although instantizing powdered protein for easy mixing and isolating undesirable elements out of the formula are fairly recent advancements in sports nutrition science, consuming whey protein is not a new phenomenon. According to research published in the journal Scientific Reports, Europeans have been drinking milk from cows, goats and sheep for 5,000 years.
Scientists used mass spectrometry techniques to discover beta-lactoglobulin in ancient dental plaque samples across the continent. This is a prominent protein found in whey, which is a component of milk.
True Strength Moment: It appears that the benefits of dairy protein have been known for thousands of years. Whether or not these ancient milk drinkers enjoyed their beta-lactoglobulin after demanding physical effort isn’t known, but that’s recognized as an ideal timing strategy for exercise recovery.