Phano Paul Som of Bodybuilding.com writes

Forced Reps

First off, I wouldn’t be sharing this theory with you if it didn’t work. My training partner, Chad, and I have used this method of training and it has yielded optimum results.

I’ve convinced three other people to apply this method of training and they have seen tremendous results. So, this theory is “five for five,” and the conclusion is that it works!

It’s simple, but does require a partner who is willing to help you. I want to make sure that you know what “forced reps” are first. Forced reps are repetitions in which your muscles are too fatigued to complete the rep, so a partner helps you complete it for you.

Let’s say I’ve hit a plateau with 185 lbs for 6 reps.

What’s A Plateau?
A level of attainment or achievement in weight loss or bodybuilding where one gets “stuck in a rut”, barring further progress or noticable results. As obvious as it may seem, if you continue to do the same thing, you will continue to get the same results. Click here for tips on breaking through plateaus.

The next time I train chest, I will slap on 185 lbs on the incline press (after my warmup, of course). Then my partner will keeps his hands on the bar on each and every rep. Not only will he assist with a tiny fraction of the weight, but his hands on the bar will give you a sense of safety and confidence.

This will allow you to perform more reps. If you performed this correctly, you should have been able to bang out at least 9 reps. Bam! You’ve blasted your pecs to new heights and destroyed your plateau.


Busted Plateaus!

So, let’s say that you apply this theory and get to the point of incline pressing 250 lbs for 6 reps. On your next chest day, your partner is ill and cannot make it. You are forced to train by yourself. Being the intelligent creature you are, you warm-up and then proceed to put on a weight that is less than 250 lbs, but more than 200 lbs.

The theory is basically applying forced reps to each and every set to gain strength, confidence, and muscle mass. I guarantee that you will be able to bang these reps out with ease, even without a spotter.

To read more of this article check this out here!

Spring is in the air. And, with it, the perennial dash to lose weight, firm up and get in shape for summer, beach season … you know the drill.

But how quickly can you honestly expect to see your dieting and exercising pay off? And, more importantly, how quickly is actually healthy?

The Downside of Fast Results

In a perfect world, weight loss or, more specifically, fat loss, would be instantaneous. But that’s not how the human body works. Instead, everything from your hormones to neurologic system and signals adapt to every little change in your diet and exercise routine.

And, when you change things too drastically, like when you cut your daily food intake from 2,500 to 1,200 calories per day or try to tackle an hourlong boot camp class on day No. 1 of your gym membership, your body’s adaptations do more harm than good, says Grant Weeditz, a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Anatomy 1220 in Miami.

Your body perceives that food is in short supply, you’re starving and, in an effort to spare calories, it starts burning protein (aka muscles) for energy. “This will shut down the fat-burning metabolic processes of the body and start the downward spiral of metabolic damage,” Weeditz says. “The more you cut calories, the more you have to continually cut to see results. Avoid this situation like the plague.”

What’s more, this reduction in resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn just to live) means that fast weight loss generally doesn’t stick around for long and instead leads to rebound weight gain, explains Atlanta-based board-certified sports dietitian and registered dietitian Marie Spano. For example, in one University of California–Los Angeles review, about two-thirds of dieters who successfully lost weight ended up gaining back everything they lost – and then some – within four to five years. The psychological effect of depriving yourself or over-exercising in the name of weight loss doesn’t help you keep weight off over the long term either.

On the fitness and muscle side of things, diets that are too low in calories decrease your body’s ability synthesize new, metabolically active muscle, largely nullifying your workout efforts, Spano says. They also reduce your overall energy levels to make your workouts feel harder.

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By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

As a sports nutritionist, I consult for pro teams and privately counsel professional and competitive athletes in numerous sports, as well as fitness enthusiasts. Pros and weekend warriors definitely have different nutrition needs, but they do have one thing in common: In order to get the most out of being active, everyone needs to eat properly to help their bodies recover from the wear and tear of exercise.

Here are six rules to follow, and how to prevent overdoing it, which can cancel out the weight-loss benefits of breaking a sweat.

Eat within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise.
If you’ve had a particularly tough workout, try to eat a “recovery” meal as soon as possible. Exercise puts stress on your muscles, joints, and bones, and your body “uses up” nutrients during workouts; so post-exercise foods are all about putting back what you’ve lost, and providing the raw materials needed for repair and healing. In fact, it’s the recovery from exercise that really allows you to see results in terms of building strength, endurance, and lean muscle tissue. Not recovering properly can leave you weaker as you go into your next workout, and up your injury risk.

Think beyond protein.
Protein is a building block of muscle, so it is important post exercise, but an ideal recovery meal should also include good fat (also needed for healing muscles and joints), as well as plenty of nutrient-rich produce, and a healthy source of starch such as quinoa, sweet potato, or beans. These foods replenish nutrients that have been depleted, and provide energy to fuel your post-exercise metabolism. A great post-workout meal might be something like a smoothie made with either pea protein powder or grass-fed organic whey protein, whipped with fruit, leafy greens, almond butter or coconut oil, and oats or quinoa, or an omelet made with one whole organic egg and three whites, paired with veggies, avocado and black beans.

Keep it real.
The phrase “you are what you eat” couldn’t be more true. Nutrients from the foods you eat food are the foundation of the structure, function, and integrity of every one of your cells. Your body is continuously repairing, healing, and rebuilding itself, and how healthy your new cells are is directly determined by how well you’ve been eating. In short, your body is essentially one big miraculous construction site that’s open 24/7. So even if you’re lean and you burn a lot of calories, avoiding highly processed food and eating a clean, nutrient rich, whole foods diet can help you get the most out of all of your hard work, including cells that function better, and are less susceptible to premature aging, injury and disease.

Don’t overcompensate.
If weight loss is one of your goals, it’s important to not overestimate how much extra food you “earned” working out. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to “eat back” all of what you’ve burned. For example, in a one-hour elliptical session, an average woman burns about 490 calories. A large salted caramel Pinkberry contains 444 calories, and a 32 ounce high-protein pineapple smoothie from Smoothie King clocks in at 500 calories. Even if you don’t splurge on treats like these, you may be tempted to sneak a little extra almond butter, or be less mindful of your oatmeal or fruit portions, and those extras can add up. And if you’re going to be eating a meal within an hour of finishing up a workout, you don’t also need a post-exercise bar or snack.

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Exercise May Slow Brain Aging By 10 Years For Older People

MINNEAPOLIS – Exercise in older people is associated with a slower rate of decline in thinking skills that occurs with aging. People who reported light to no exercise experienced a decline equal to 10 more years of aging as compared to people who reported moderate to intense exercise, according to a population-based observational study published in the March 23, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“The number of people over the age of 65 in the United States is on the rise, meaning the public health burden of thinking and memory problems will likely grow,” said study author Clinton B. Wright, MD, MS, of the University of Miami in Miami, Fla., and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective, helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer.”

For the study, researchers looked at data on 876 people enrolled in the Northern Manhattan Study who were asked how long and how often they exercised during the two weeks prior to that date. An average of seven years later, each person was given tests of memory and thinking skills and a brain MRI, and five years after that they took the memory and thinking tests again.

Of the group, 90 percent reported light exercise or no exercise. Light exercise could include activities such as walking and yoga. They were placed in the low activity group. The remaining 10 percent reported moderate to high intensity exercise, which could include activities such as running, aerobics, or calisthenics. They were placed in the high activity group.

When looking at people who had no signs of memory and thinking problems at the start of the study, researchers found that those reporting low activity levels showed a greater decline over five years compared to those with high activity levels on tests of how fast they could perform simple tasks and how many words they could remember from a list. The difference was equal to that of 10 years of aging. The difference also remained after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain health, such as smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure and body mass index.

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When Dr. Michelle Johnson scribbles out prescriptions, the next stop for many of her patients is the gym, not the pharmacy.

Doctors treating chronic health problems increasingly are prescribing exercise for their patients — and encouraging them to think of physical activity as their new medication.

In one such program run by a health center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, primary care physicians, internists and psychologists prescribe access to a gym for $10 a month, including free child care, classes and kids programs. Providing affordable gym access for patients ensures compliance, said Gibbs Saunders of Healthworks Community Fitness, a nonprofit gym in Dorchester that has partnered with several health care providers to help low-income residents fill their exercise prescriptions.

Executives at the Whittier Street Health Center say low-cost access to a gym is important, since many residents’ income is low and 70 percent of those they treat suffer from chronic problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.

Life expectancy in Roxbury is 59 years — well below the national average of 78.8 years.

“Exercise is not a new medicine. It’s really an old medicine,” said Johnson, who prescribes exercise to patients at the Roxbury-based health center. “But you know, I think we’re now coming to the point of understanding how important it is.”

Monisha Long, who is morbidly obese and suffers from hypertension, got a doctor’s prescription for exercise and says she’s gotten visible and dramatic results after more than two years of regular workouts.

“I lost well over 150 pounds, and I’ve been keeping it off for the past couple of years,” she said after working out on an elliptical machine at Healthworks.

And Long cites other, less-visible benefits.

“I’m more energized,” she said. “As far as my energy, I feel like I’m stronger. I feel like I’m less tired. I feel like I can do almost anything now.”

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How to Train Harder and Stay Injury-Free

Training is good. Training hard is better. But training consistently is the key to drastic, lasting change to your health, performance and body composition. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can (potentially) disrupt that consistency. Work, family, commutes and social gatherings can all upend your schedule — often suddenly — leaving you a day late and a workout short in the gym. But the most sinister impediment to an undisturbed workout schedule is injury.

When we say “injury,” we’re not referring to the joint aches and muscle soreness that are part and parcel of an intense love affair with the iron. We are referring to soft-tissue injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments — both acute and chronic — that require ample rest to heal. But while those tissues convalesce, the rest of your physique suffers: Muscle is lost, fat is stored and lungs return to stasis. And the worse the injury is, the longer the recovery time (read: the doughier you stand to become).

The good news is that you can fortify your muscles and joints against these types of injuries by simply taking a few pre-habilitative steps before and after workouts. Some of these tactics can even drastically (and immediately) improve performance and enhance recovery. Put another way, you’ll be able to train harder more often with less chance of injury.

1. Stop stretching before workouts
Stretching is still cool. Just not in the way that it’s been taught by generations of short-sighted PE teachers. In fact, the long-held practice of static stretching has been found to decrease performance while offering no greater protection against injury.

Studies have shown that static stretching before training can negatively impact strength. A better bet is dynamic stretching, which calls for you to perform several range-of-motion exercises that increase your body’s core temperature, excite your nervous system and generally prepare your joints and muscles for the work ahead.

Dynamic stretching routines vary greatly, but the goal should be to spend three to five minutes working your way up through a series of activities of increasing intensity. Before squats, for example, you may follow a progression like this, doing each activity for 15 to 20 seconds: jogging in place, jumping jacks, high-knee running in place, partial body-weight squats, full body-weight squats and squat jumps.

If you’ve done it right, your heart rate should be elevated and you should have a light sweat going. Researchers have found that this type of warm-up improves strength and flexibility — virtues that help reduce injury risk.

2. Do a specific warm-up
When you’re done with your dynamic warm-up, it’s time to get specific. Using the squat example again, this means getting under the bar and performing a few light sets, generally in a higher-rep range. This helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and joints that you’ll be working, but, more importantly, it helps to engrain proper movement patterns ahead of your heavier work.

This brain training ahead of your working sets helps you work out more efficiently, limiting the small deviations in form that can send you to the trainer’s table. Take advantage of these sets by focusing on every part of the movement, and do as many sets as you think are necessary before piling on the plates.

3. Stretch it out
Like we said, stretching is still cool, but timing is everything. After your workout is the time to sit and hold some static stretches with the muscle groups you’ve trained. Warm muscles are more limber than cold ones, meaning that you’ll get a truer stretch with less risk of injury at this time.

You should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and up to 90, the top end of which has been shown to improve flexibility. Breathe slowly and deeply on each stretch, getting a little “deeper” into each stretch upon exhaling. Static stretching post-workout also can help speed recovery and has been shown to reduce (not eliminate) next-day muscle soreness.

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Should I Feel a Burn After Weightlifting Workouts?

Weightlifting is an activity that builds up your muscles as you resist an opposing force or weight. If you use enough weight to increase your muscle size, you will typically feel a “burn” as your muscles reach their working capacity. You can also experience soreness when your muscles break down and repair themselves in the period following your workout.

Muscle “Burn”

When you lift heavy weights, your body gets the energy to support your activity by breaking down a substance called glucose. When glucose breaks down, it forms another substance called pyruvate. As you continue working your muscles, pyruvate turns into another substance called lactate, or lactic acid, which lets you keep lifting for a little longer. However, lactic acid also builds up rapidly in your muscles and triggers the “burn” commonly associated with weightlifting. This sensation acts a signal from your muscles to stop working and rest your body.

Building Muscle Tissue

Weightlifting triggers small-scale damage in the tissues of your affected muscles, according to Young sub Kwan and Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico in the article “How Do Muscles Grow?” In turn, damage to your muscle fibers triggers activity in nearby cells called satellite cells. These satellite cells fuse to each other, as well as to your injured tissue. The cells that fuse to your tissues rejuvenate your existing muscle by filling in for damaged cellular structures. The cells that fuse to each other form new protein structures called myofibrils, which in turn add extra muscle tissue and muscle mass.

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Lose Weight

(CNN) If you are intensifying your running regimen in hopes of losing weight, you might be running around in circles: There is a limit to how many calories we can burn through exercise, a new study suggests.

The grim message comes from a small study of a group of 332 adults living in the United States, Jamaica and Africa, some of them more sedentary and some more active. A team of researchers measured their activity level for seven days using an accelerometer, similar to the kind in the Fitbit and other wearable devices, and also measured the number of calories the participants burned over the week.

The researchers found that the participants who moved more also burned more calories, but only up to a point. The most active people hit a plateau and did not burn any more calories than their less-active peers.

Although the researchers did not look at the specific activities that participants were doing, the level on the accelerometer at which calorie burning peters out would be achieved “if you’re walking a couple miles a day, like to work and back, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and trying to exercise a couple times a week,” said Herman Pontzer, associate professor of anthropology at Hunter College, and lead author of the study, which was published on Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

The study is in step with a growing body of research suggesting that burning a bunch of calories is a less realistic weight loss strategy than we might have thought, or hoped. “We can’t push the calories out [value] around too much,” Pontzer said. “Our bodies work very hard to keep it the same.”

It might be time to shift that standard public health message: To lose weight, simply exercise more.

“We would say that ‘If you want to lose weight, you probably ought to focus on changing your diet and watching how much you eat.’ Exercise can help and it’s really important [for health in general], but they are two different tools,” Pontzer said.

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Cardio

Why is it that cardio is always the hot topic of fitness discussion and seems to be the fix all solution to burning fat?

As we have all learned and I have written about in the past that cardio is not the fix all solution when it comes to body compositional changes anymore. New times have rolled in and we have tons of research studies proving that weight lifting is far more superior for fat loss and body compositional changes. But, even though we have these new findings, people still don’t get it and people still want to sit on the bikes reading magazines about Kim Kardashian’s divorce for hours and hours. Do as you please, but I know I’m one of those types of people that want to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to training. This leads me to write about what is the right type of cardio for you?
I will be doing a comparison on HIIT cardio vs LISS cardio, since these two forms of cardio are used the most. By the end of this article you will have a really good idea of what kind of cardio is right for you and how to effectively use it.

What in the world do these crazy acronyms HIIT and LISS mean?

HIIT stands for High intensity interval training, which consists of short sprint intervals coupled with low-moderate intensity work. An example of this would be a 30 second sprint followed by a 4 minute steady pace walk to cool down and bring your heart rate back to normal and then repeating it. LISS stands for Low intensity steady state cardio, which consists of purely low-moderate intensity work. An example of this would be walking on the treadmill or riding the bike and being able to hold a conversation (we tend to see a lot of this at gyms).
Now that you have a basic understanding of the two forms, let’s dive into some more detailed stuff.

LT & AD

Why testing the lactate threshold (LT) and anaerobic threshold (AT) is a good idea? The AT and LT are extremely powerful predictors of performance in aerobic exercise (cardio). There are 2 ways that muscle can burn glucose (blood sugars) and that is through aerobic work (with air) and anaerobic work (without air). For example, long bouts of LISS cardio is considered aerobic work and weight training or HIIT cardio can be classified as anaerobic work. The AT and LT are a great test for HIIT and LIIS cardio because it gives a great predictor of which type of work produces ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). ATP is a quick burst of energy that we get in our muscles when we contract them (Ex: every time you do a bicep curl, you are getting a quick burst of ATP). HIIT produces better changes in exercise capacity as opposed to LISS cardio. High intensity training will hit the AT and LT, that’s what causes the body to make metabolic changes. When you are doing LISS, you are considered below the AT and LT.

A simple test is being able to hold a conversation while doing cardio. When doing HIIT you are above the AT and LT and when you are above the AT and LT you push for greater improvement in metabolism which thus leads to better fat loss over time.

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Weight Training

Everyone knows that weight training makes you stronger; however, certain types of weight training can produce dramatically different results. Some types of weight training will increase your maximal strength, whereas others will improve endurance. There are even methods of weightlifting that will do little for you in the way of strength and endurance even though they produce significant superficial results. By know some of the different types of weight training, you can pick the one that best suits your needs.

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders train in a specific manner to achieve a specific goal — making their muscles bigger. They tend to lift in the eight- to 12-rep range and only train one muscle group per day, per week. This type of training is the best for making your muscles larger but not necessarily stronger. That’s not to say bodybuilders aren’t strong, but they just aren’t as strong as some other athletes because their goal is aesthetics, not athleticism.

Power Lifting

Power lifting is the best type of training for maximal strength — what many people would consider “brute” strength. A power lifter’s goal isn’t appearance, it’s strength. Power lifters focus on lifting an extremely heavy amount of weight for only a few repetitions.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is when you do a number of exercises in quick succession, usually lifting a light amount of weight for a high number of repetitions. For example, doing 20 bench presses, 20 squats and shoulder presses with little or no rest in between. This type of training is ideal for burning fat, increasing endurance and making some gains in strength. Circuit training is popular among fighters because it simulates what your body goes through in a wrestling, boxing or mixed-martial arts match.

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