Don’t Fear the Weight Room

Some women still fear the weight room.  The existing myth is that lifting weights will lead to women having big, bulky muscles or looking too manly.  Ideas like this give resistance training a bad name.  As trainers, we have to remember that men and women are physiologically different. The increased muscle mass that is acquired by men is due in large part to testosterone.  While it’s true that women secrete and deliver testosterone just like men do, they do so at much lower rates and volume.  This allows for women to build tone lean muscle and increase metabolism to enhance weight loss.  Many times the main objective for women to start an exercise program is to lose weight and look better, but there is more to it.  We have to remember that resistance training has various benefits that will help women’s health, both now and in the future.  Looking tone and fit is great, but what else can exercise do for women?  Looking great is always a plus, but resistance training may also decrease day to day stresses from our fast paced lifestyles.  Stress is a very important factor, which may lead to decreased motivation and eventual increase in body fat storage.  Studies have shown that proper exercise can reduce stress dramatically.  Another important factor for women is bone mineral density (BMD).  Women are at a higher risk of low bone mineral density than men, due to a higher level of estrogen.  A consistent moderate resistance program can increase BMD in women and dramatically reduce the possibility of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis.  The proper resistance training program can also increase posture, balance, flexibility and stability for all ages.  These are all very important aspects to our daily lives, but for many women, it becomes all about looking better.  How is exercise going to do this?

What is Metabolism?

Sure, running on the treadmill will help women lose weight, but so will every other daily activity we are engaged in.  Whether it’s walking, eating, or even sleeping, our bodies are using calories to function properly.  Losing weight all depends on the intensity and duration of what we are doing each day.  As mentioned,  running on a treadmill will help us lose weight more than walking, and walking will help more than sleeping, but if there were an easier way, we would do it…right?  Luckily there is.  It’s all about our metabolic rate.  Our metabolic rate (or basal metabolic rate BMR) is closely related to resting metabolic rate (RMR) and measures the total amount of energy expanded while at rest or sleep.  The term thermogenesis refers to the measure of total energy exhausted as heat disposal.  As we age, a decrease in BMR will coincide with the amount of lean body mass that we possess.  New scientific research has shown that aerobic exercise alone doesn’t correlate with an increase in BMR, but anaerobic does due to maintaining lean body mass.

Cardio vs. Weight Training

We’ve discussed the physiological differences that cardio (aerobic) and resistance training (anaerobic) play in exercise via metabolism.  Anaerobic exercise may contribute to an increase of metabolism, but aerobic exercise is important too.  Aerobic training is very important for the cardiovascular system (“heart health”).  Some people have trouble combining the cardio and resistance training.  There are important factors that a trainer must know before incorporating cardio and resistance training together.  First, if the trainee wants to increase power and strength then including cardio exercises can be detrimental.  This is due to an increase the muscle capillary density, increased number of mitochondria (both help in oxygen consumption to keep the muscle going), and a possible change in fiber type (type IIx to type IIa to type I).  Inversely, a trainee that wants to increase their aerobic power can achieve this by combining both cardio workouts with resistance training.  This will allow for an increase in aerobic power due to an increase in VO^2 Max.  VO^2 Max is the amount of oxygen exchange within a muscle for adequately supplying and keeping the muscle cells functioning properly (contributing factor may also be stroke volume SV).  For weight management the optimal goal is to combine both types of exercise by using circuit training.  Circuit training will allow a trainee to increase their aerobic and anaerobic power by incorporating moderate to high intensity (keeping the heart rate up) exercises with resistance training.

Frequency of Weight Loss

Weight loss can vary.  Some people go on extreme crash diets and lose 8, 10, or even 12 pounds a week.  Depending on the trainee, losing this much weight this quickly will almost certainly be put back on in the long run.  Furthermore, some may be able to safely and effectively lose 4 pounds a week, while another may only be able to lose 1 to2 pounds a week.  This all depends on the trainee’s starting weight.  A good table for measure can be a 1% rule (1% loss of starting body weight per week).  If a trainee’s starting weight is 150 pounds then a maximal weight per week should not exceed 1.5 pounds a week.  Whereas, someone with a starting weight of 300 hundred pounds may affectively lose 3 pounds per week.  The 1% rule can adequately allow for weight lose without becoming macronutrient deficient.  Macronutrients are the three essential nutrients that consist of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats).    When people attempt some of these “fad” crash diets they ultimately fall short in the proper percentages of one of the three essential nutrients.  This may put the body in a particular nutrient deficiency that may change the body’s physiological chemistry.

Women’s Resistance Training Program Design

A proper program design should be specific to the person being trained.  Each trainee will begin at a different level based on their condition, so a tailored exercise program is crucial with the adequate amount of progressions for optimal results.  Each exercise program should begin with some sort of active/dynamic warm-up to help promote proper muscle activation for the following workout.  To circuit train affectively, three to four multi-muscle functional workouts can be grouped together to optimize increased heart rate and aerobic and anaerobic power output.  Between 2 to 4 sets and 10 to 15 reps of approximately 3 or 4 exercises should be performed in a continuous cycle with little rest (30seconds to 1 minute after completing each cycle of the 3 to 4 exercises).  Each group of three to four exercises may primarily target different areas of the body.  After the warm-up, the first group of exercises may focus on legs.  The second group may focus on the upper body, and the third may focus on the core muscles.  This exercise structure can help save time and effort with a busy schedule and may also maximize overall fitness results.  Ending each workout with a form of static stretching may also be a good idea.  Static stretching AFTER exercise can keep the joints from getting too tight.

 

References

Copley, J. Strength Training for Weight Loss. Weight Lifting is Better then Cardio and Dieting.

April 13, 2008. suite101.com

 

News Medical. What is Metabolism?  October 23, 2012

News-Medical.net

 

Squash Program

The training of athletes, squash players in particular, require a multidimensional approach. This includes strength and conditioning training as well as the sound principles of injury prevention.  Squash is a sport which requires a lot of repetitive movements and full range of motion in every joint. The goal of this program is to discuss proper biomechanics, the importance of flexibility, outline proper training techniques, and discuss how nutrition affects performance.

Biomechanical Evaluation

It is important to evaluate the body as a whole to detect weakness and any joint dysfunction. To avoid overuse injuries screening for muscle imbalances is an extremely important part of any training program. The rationale behind it is that there are detectable and correctable abnormalities of muscle strength and length.  These imbalances can affect basic movement patterns such as running or swinging a racket and lead to unexplained musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.  Once detected, a specific functional rehabilitation program can be implemented.  This can include but is not limited to soft tissue release, corrective exercises, core strengthening through tri-planar movements, and balance and flexibility training. Our focus is on restoring function and stability by correcting irregular muscle patterns and treating the body as a whole.

Flexibility

Flexibility and balance are the two most important concepts to build a solid foundation.  Moving incorrectly will hinder the body’s ability to create maximal force which will undoubtedly affect your game and workout. Repetitive incorrect movements actually shut muscles off and create synergistic dominance, reciprocal inhibition and altered neurological pathways which will greatly inhibit your form. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), active and dynamic stretching should be part of your program. We find that most athletes move incorrectly due to poor flexibility and balance. Most squash players have very tight hips, shoulders and pecs. You need to stretch just about every day especially after a match or practice. If you do not stretch you will have a short lived career riddled with injuries.

Core Training

Core training needs to be specific to squash and should include balance and proprioceptive exercises. Sit-ups, bicycle crunches, and leg raises should be eliminated totally from a squash program. According to research, these types of exercises further tighten the hips which are already prone to tightness. These floor exercises also put tremendous torque on the spine irritating disks and do not recruit as many abdominal muscles as you might think. Athletes do not play squash lying down on their back, so why train that way.

Training should include core stabilization and tri-planar exercises, which mimic movements specific to squash.  Training with medicine balls and using chopping motions with balance devices are a much better idea.  The core is the center of all movement so it should be trained in a way that is optimal for each individual.  Building a strong core creates a solid base for supporting your body through specific movements.   A weak core will increase the risk of injury and can lead to loss of power on the court. You need to set up the training environment that challenges balance and proprioception specific for squash players. Implementing cuing exercises will improve motor skills and promote proper movement patterns.

Poor balance and flexibility create wasted movements and will inhibit the body’s ability to decelerate properly and change direction explosively.

Strength and Power Training

This is the most overlooked aspect. All athletes can benefit from strength training and should do at least 2 days a week, even during their respective seasons. The exercises should relate directly to squash and incorporate full body movements targeting weak links. You should be training using multi-sets, mixing resistance with endurance training. It is crucial to train at a high velocity since squash is a fast sport.

You need to establish core strength and proper movement patterns before moving onto plyometrics and explosive exercises. Plyometrics should be added only after a full body movement analysis is performed. All too often, athletes perform plyos without being able to move properly.

Endurance training

All of your cardio and endurance training should be on court, since that is where you perform. Running 5 miles is of no use to a squash player, since the court is only 32×21. Interval training should be the staple of your program. For example, set up cones on a squash court or measured area and have athletes run to the cones and explosively change direction while rotating. It would not be a bad idea to do a 30-40 min weight session and then play a practice game. This method, called pre-exhaustion, can be effective for endurance strength because in a real game you are never doing prior weight training.

Riding a bike doesn’t make you better on court either. It is an acceptable exercise for a cool down or an infrequent change of pace but should by no means be substituted for court work. You stand during squash so why sit when you train? You should not even sit between points.

You should be training according to time. The average match is about 45 – 60 min but can be up to 90 min with short rests of 10-15 sec between points and 90 sec between games. A boys point is about 30-50 sec and a girls is about 20-30 sec. If you play multiple opponents you have about 90-120 min rest. So, it is important to train in the same time frames that the game demands. Would it make sense for a boxer to train 2 min rounds and 1 min rest, when a round is 3 min with 1 min rests or to only do 2 or 3 rounds in training sessions? You need to predominately tax the anaerobic and lactic energy systems. Running and most cardio is aerobic so training that way limits carryover greatly. Research proves that too much aerobic activity is actually detrimental to sports training.

Nutrition

This is the absolute most important aspect to any training program. Poor nutrition will hinder performance no matter what sport you play.

  • Water
  • Calcium/Potassium/Magnesium
  • Pre workout carb loading facts
  • Pre game carb loading facts
  • Restoring glycogen stores after a match or workout
  • Importance of multiple meals
  • Use of supplements
  • Use of BCAAs during long matches

Recovery between multiple games

You will get about 2 hrs rest. During this time, you need to stretch and rehydrate with carbs to replenish glycogen stores and some protein (BCAA). Gatorade in any form is not recommended, drink something with natural electrolytes and carbs. Zico makes coconut water, which has more potassium than 10 bottles of Gatorade. An organic protein bar or some type of easily digested form and fruit is also a good idea for long days.

Rest

It is necessary to rest. Working out is not good for you every day regardless of how it is done. The body needs to recover, more is not better. Over doing things leads to injury and only hampers results.

 

 

 

The Negative Effects of Gatorade

Gatorade has long been a popular sports drink, especially for kids, and is marketed as an electrolyte replacement drink for athletes.  Electrolytes are substances that contain free ions and conduct electricity1.  In the human body, electrolytes are responsible for regulating nerve and muscle function, blood pH, hydration, blood pressure, and damaged tissue repair1.  Some examples of electrolytes that are in our bodies are sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride1.  The levels of electrolytes in our blood change when water levels in our body change.  When we sweat, we lose mostly sodium and potassium, which must be replaced in order to maintain the proper balance in our bodies1.  According to ACSM, two pounds of sweat contains an average of 800mg of sodium (ranges between 200-1600mg) and 200mg of potassium (ranges between 120—600mg)2.

Gatorade has three different lines of sports drinks: G2, Gatorade Protein Recover, and Gatorade Thirst Quencher.  All Gatorade products have a list of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, with many of these ingredients being forms of sugar or artificial sweeteners.  In fact, sugar is the second ingredient after water which means that Gatorade products are comprised mostly of sugar and water.  In fact, Gatorade Thirst Quencher has a whopping 14g of sugar, coming mostly from sucrose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup. “The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance come from added sugars.  For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day and no more than 150 per day for men (or about 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men)3.”   This is about 24g of sugar for women and 36g of sugar for men.

Excessive sugar in the diet can be very bad for your health. It is important to try to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet.  Sugar that is naturally occurring in fruit and milk is perfectly fine however it is the added sugars that need to be decreased.  Consumers need to beware because sugars are hidden in many different kinds of foods, such as salad dressings and crackers4.

One negative consequence of excessive sugar intake is weight gain and obesity.  Sugar is very calorie dense, and as stated before, it is added to numerous foods and drinks4. Additionally, eating a lot of sugary foods displaces more nutritious foods in the diet. These foods don’t provide the same satiety as healthful foods and therefore, cause overeating4.  A second issue with added sugars is that they increase the risk for higher triglycerides, lower HDL, and higher HDL, which contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease4. Lastly, sugar contributes to tooth decay4.

The G2 line of Gatorade has fewer calories and less sugar but it does contain sugar alcohols.  Sugar alcohols are a type of reduced-calorie sweetener5 that provides fewer calories than regular sugar.  They do increase blood sugar levels but less dramatically than that of regular sugar5.  On a positive note, they do not cause tooth decay. Sugar alcohols can have some negative GI side effects though, such as bloating and diarrhea6

Another huge problem with Gatorade is the amount of food additives and colorings added to the products.  For example, one additive is monopotassium phosphate, which is not only used as a food additive, but also a as a fertilizer and fungicide7.  It is a bit scary to be ingesting an ingredient used to fertilize plants.  Additionally, some flavors of Gatorade contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a food additive used as an emulsifier in drinks with citrus flavoring10.  Bromine – part of BVO – is an element found in flame retardants9!  Some research shows that it may build up in the body leading to thyroid problems, memory loss, and skin and nerve problems9.  It has been banned in Japan and Europe10.  In January 2013, Pepsico announced they had plans to remove BVO from Gatorade; however, there are no current plans to remove it from Mountain Dew10.

Gatorade is also filled with many food coloring, such as blue 1 and red 40.  Many studies have showed a link between children and hyperactivity due to food additives11.  In fact, 35 years of research has shown that many children with ADHD show significant improvement in their symptoms when they eliminate artificial food colors from their diet12.

Many popular athletes endorse Gatorade and some may actually use it to replace electrolytes during sporting events and training.  Gatorade isn’t completely bad; it does replace sodium and potassium and help restore electrolyte balance and hydration status.  Athletes are paid to endorse products, but many do not do their due diligence to find better and healthier alternatives.

A Better Alternative:

If you are looking for an electrolyte replacement drink, there are better alternatives available.  Thorne Performance, a line of supplements geared towards athletes and their needs, has created, Catalyte, an electrolyte and energy restoration complex.  Catalyte is all-natural and does not contain calories, sugar, additives, or caffeine. It is also gluten and soy free.  Catalyte comes in a lemon lime flavor and the product is easy to mix.  In fact, the Catalyte powder formula contains vitamins and minerals that, when mixed with pure water, makes a tasty electrolyte supplement that helps repair and rebuild muscle.

References:

  1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php
  2. sportsmd.com/SportsMD_Articles/id/395.aspx
  3. http://www.rivercityraces.com/files/user/Electrolyte_Replacement.pdf
  4. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Sugar_UCM_306725_Article.jsp
  5. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/sugar-alcohols.html
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_alcohol
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopotassium_phosphate
  8. http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2323-sugar-bad.html
  9. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bvo/AN02200
  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brominated_vegetable_oil
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864801
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21127082

Skinny for the Summer

To get that ideal “beach body,” you need to eat right AND exercise. One cannot exist without the other. Rather than obsess over crazy workouts or counting calories, the most important change you can make to promote weight loss is to alter your environment and your habits in order to make weight loss and health second nature. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “the key to changing habits is to understand how change really occurs. And for the most part, it occurs by design, not by accident or wishful thinking. It occurs by transforming the unconscious choices we make every day, shifting them so that the automatic, easy, default choices become healthy choices, not deadly ones.”

The old adage, “you are what you eat,” is key when discussing diet. While the amount of food is important, the types of foods we eat are just as important.  Sugar is toxic and it is very important to limit foods with extra sugar in order to see weight loss.  Many people have food cravings and find change to be extremely difficult.  As stated before, in order to change your eating habits, you must change your environment. Do not keep candy, chips, and sugary items in your house. Place fruits and nuts within easy reach. Make fruit more accessible by cutting it up and displaying it. Do not go to the sections of the grocery store where you may be tempted to buy unhealthy items. Similarly, try to avoid restaurants or shops where you have a weakness for their unhealthy choices. Serve meals in portions, put away leftovers, and use smaller plates so you can  eat less. Find new recipes online and keep condiments handy in the house to flavor food. Also, plan your food and snacks in advance so you never have to “cheat” and so you are never left hungry and have to grab something unhealthy. Change is possible if you have a plan!

Similarly, you need to have a plan for exercise. Make sure to set aside time to go to the gym and workout. Make it a priority and schedule it into your calendar. Exercise should be easy, so find your obstacles to working out and create a solution to them!  Also remember that cardio is not enough to change your body; resistance training is necessary to boost your metabolism, increase muscle mass, and burn fat. Work with a personal trainer to learn how to safely exercise and have him make you a routine to follow. Change your current habits and start your routine to see results!

It is all about having the motivation, ability, and a trigger to change. We live in an unhealthy world, so we need to create our own healthy environment and design it to make it easy to do the right thing. That is how we create health and it is the key to success in weight loss and transformation of mind and body.