Tuesday, December 27, 2011

13 Surprising Facts About Testosterone

Testosterone makes a huge impact!
Here is nice and concise article about the effects of testosterone on "normal people". Of course there are always "outliers" who are born with levels outside of the normal range and then there are those so driven by the need to succeed that they chemically alter what nature has provided. It is a very interesting topic and not nearly so simple as politicians and governing body adminstrators make it seem. There are natural and legal ways to maximize your testosterone potential as was indicated in one of our earlier posts.
There is subtle interplay between testosterone and behavior — in both men and women.
When most people hear the word testosterone, they think of aggressive behavior.
There is a link between the two — at least in competitive situations, such as with a peer or for a sexual partner.
However, there appears to be a subtler interplay between testosterone and behavior in other types of situations — —in both men and women.
Here are a few facts about the "male hormone."
Women in love have more
Women in love have higher testosterone for the few months after a relationship starts than women who are single or in long-term relationships, a small Italian study suggests.
The opposite is true for men; those newly in love have lower testosterone than men flying solo or with a long-term partner.
As with early passion, though, the changes don't last. When the researchers tested the study participants again one to two years later, the differences had disappeared.
It can shrink your belly
Men whose levels of testosterone are below normal may lose their spare tire when treated with testosterone.
"Most of the studies show there's a reduction of abdominal obesity in men who are given testosterone," says Adrian Dobs, MD, a professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore.
Because the long-term effects of testosterone therapy have not been well studied, however, it is generally only recommended in men with below-normal testosterone levels and symptoms such as fatigue, muscle or bone-mass loss, or sexual dysfunction.
Making money affects it
Young men who are futures traders get a testosterone spike on days when they make an above-average profit, British researchers found.
And on the mornings when men's testosterone levels were higher than average, their average afternoon profits were higher than on their low-testosterone days, suggesting a possible cause-and-effect relationship.
More experienced traders showed an even stronger tie between testosterone and profits.
Too much can shrivel testicles
In men, taking steroid hormones such as testosterone as performance boosters can cause testicles to shrink and breasts to grow. For women, it can cause a deeper voice, an enlarged clitoris, hair loss from the head, and hair growth on the body and face.
In both genders, steroid abuse can cause acne, mood swings, aggression, and other problems.
Men working with an experienced doctor to treat low testosterone or women taking small amounts of testosterone under medical supervision are unlikely to have testosterone-overdose symptoms.
Sports fans get a winner's boost
In the run-up to a competition, whether it's wrestling or chess, a man's testosterone levels rise, studies have shown.
After the game, the winner's testosterone will increase even more. And fans' hormone levels seem to mirror those of their athletic idols. In a group of 21 men watching a Brazil vs. Italy World Cup match, the Brazil fans' testosterone levels increased after their team won, but the Italy fans' testosterone fell.
Fat can lower testosterone
Obese men tend to have lower testosterone than thinner men, Dr. Dobs says. It's not clear why, she adds, although one possible reason is that obesity promotes a state of widespread inflammation in the body.
"When there's fat cells, there's a lot of inflammatory factors," she says. "These inflammatory factors have been associated with suppression of testosterone synthesis."
Hands reveal hormone secrets
In men and boys, the right pointer finger is shorter in relation to their right ring finger than it is in girls.
This has even been found in other five-fingered creatures, such as rats. Scientists have found that the difference is a clear marker for fetal exposure to testosterone. The higher your testosterone level before birth, the lower your pointer-finger-to-ring-finger ratio.
Men with the lowest ratios made the most money and stayed in business for the longest time, according to the U.K. study of traders and testosterone.
It's hard to measure accurately
Men are often diagnosed with low testosterone after a single test. This is a big problem, says Neil Goodman, MD, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
"If I take blood on a guy and I send it to three labs, I'm going to get three different levels," he says.
Efforts are underway to standardize blood tests. In the meantime, testosterone should be checked more than once, Dr. Goodman says, and done in the morning when testosterone is highest.
It's not the fountain of youth
It would be great if an aging man's vigor, muscle power, and sex drive could be restored with testosterone.
But it is not clear whether therapy will do anything for the 75 percent to 80 percent of men over 65 who have normal levels of testosterone.
Men with below-normal levels, however, may get a boost in libido, sexual function, and bone mass from supplemental testosterone. And it may help diabetic men with low testosterone build lean muscle mass.
Taking it doesn't cause prostate cancer
It has long been thought that taking testosterone increases the risk of prostate cancer. Testosterone treatment can boost levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, a nonspecific marker for prostate cancer, which may lead to more prostate biopsies and more prostate-cancer diagnoses, Dr. Goodman says.
There are now, however, major questions about whether it's worthwhile to treat—or even diagnose—prostate cancers in older men, given that they're common and often slow-growing.
Low levels are linked to sleep apnea
Men with sleep apnea are more likely to have low testosterone, and treating sleep apnea can help return it to normal.
But if a man with sleep apnea is diagnosed with low testosterone alone, taking the supplemental hormone can worsen sleep apnea. That's why it's crucial for men with low testosterone to get a thorough workup by an endocrinologist so underlying conditions that can cause low testosterone, such as sleep apnea or pituitary-gland tumors, don't go undiagnosed, Dr. Goodman says.
It may hurt men's hearts
In 2010, researchers halted a study of testosterone therapy in older men because of a higher rate of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack in the group taking testosterone instead of placebo.
The reason isn't clear, but caution should be used in prescribing testosterone to older men in poor health, Dr. Goodman says. Declining testosterone in men is associated with health problems, but this doesn't mean giving older men testosterone will extend lifespans, he says.
Too much may kill brain cells
It's only known to happen in a petri dish, but Yale researchers showed that nerve cells exposed to high levels of testosterone were more likely to self-destruct. The hormone boosted a "cell suicide" mechanism known as apoptosis, which, under normal circumstances, is supposed to help the body wipe out cancerous or otherwise abnormal cells.
And the higher the testosterone level in the dish, the shorter lived the cells were. Exposure to low levels of testosterone, however, had no effect on the cells.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Too Busy to Workout?

I saw this article today and I like it. Political views aside, it is good to hear that the President of the United States and his wife think fitness is important enough to make time for it. That is what I have been preaching and trying to live myself for the past 30+ years. Personally, I arise at 4:20am daily (except holidays and weekends) and get in a workout. I began this habit when I got married as I didn't want to miss family time by taking my workouts when I could be with my family. Doing it early pretty much guarentees that there will be no interuptions or emergencies that will interfere. It is also a great way to begin each day. I feel energized, alert, and ready to accomplish something. After 30+ years of doing this, I find that while my body has adapted to the early  morning start, I am still not as strong in the mornings as I am later in the day. On the rare occasions when I work out later I find I am stronger, but it all relative and as my morning strength improves so does my afternoon strength. Others who just can't get into the morning routine find success with late night workouts. Whatever works for you, but do it. Don't let a busy schedule be an excuse to vegetate. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Make time for exercise in 2012.
(CNN) -- Personal trainer Cornell McClellan was working out with President Obama one morning when he had a revelation.
"Being a personal trainer is just like being the president," McClellan told Obama, whom he has trained for 11 years.
That certainly got the president's attention.
"We're faced with similar things," McClellan said. "We have people that come to us, and they've created conditions or situations that maybe we've had nothing to do with, and immediately they want us to change it. Even if they don't do what they're supposed to, they're upset with us when it's not changed. So I thought our jobs were pretty similar."
McClellan spoke at last month's American Council on Exercise conference in San Diego, where he thanked fellow personal trainers who donated their time to help military families get fit.
McClellan splits his time between Chicago and Washington, where he helps the Obamas and key members of the administration stay in shape. The imposing former martial arts guru is one man in the world who can tell the president what to do -- at least when it comes to exercise.
"If we're short on time, we try to mix things up," he said. "We'll try to make sure there's some high-intensity stuff. We might do some weights, throw some cardio in there and throw some plyometrics in there with abs. We go from one thing he needs to another, because his time is short."
The president is in tiptop shape age 50. Obama passed a physical exam in October with a healthy body mass index and normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The doctor wrote that Obama was in "excellent health and 'fit for duty.' "
"I was very pleased," McClellan said. "We joked about it."
And McClellan is no doubt pleased with Michelle Obama's much-coveted arms, which are so admired that they have spawned exercise DVDs with titles like "Arms of a First Lady" and "Totally Toned Arms: Get Michelle Obama Arms in 21 Days."
Although it's easy to say that the presidential couple can get in shape easily because of their resources such as personal trainers and professional chefs, it's not just about that.
McClellan said busy people can realistically integrate fitness into their lives because it's a mental thing.
"He is the busiest man in the world," McClellan said of the president. "I don't have to prod him."
The excuses -- too busy, too little time -- just don't fly with McClellan.
Long before the White House, the Obamas made their health a priority.
Michelle Obama came to his Chicago gym 14 years ago, and her husband joined about three years later. Before she became first lady, she would go to McClellan's gym as early as 4:45 a.m.
It's about a mindset, McClellan said.
"People have to first understand the benefits," said McClellan, who serves on the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. By exercising and reaping its benefits on health and stress relief, he said, "it is how we can maintain these busy lives, and how we can sustain them."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jacko Gill Training-Some Comments

I think all of us who enjoy the throwing events have been amazed and impressed by Jacko Gill and his accomplishments. What an amazing athlete! Count me as a Jacko Gill fan. It is great to see someone from New Zealand on the world stage along with Valerie Adams and the All Blacks. I have a son-in-law from New Zealand, and although I have yet to visit, would love to someday. Below is a video segment that he posted on Youtube of his training and judging by the number of views, many of you may have already seen it. (There are numerous other videos of him training and throwing also.) It is certainly interesting and impressive. It also seems to have stimulated great results and who can argue with that? Never the less, as someone who has been down the road quite a ways, although never having achieved Jacko's level of accomplishment, I would offer a few comments.

I love his effort, enthusiasm, and the way he uses the environment and equipment available to him. I love the fact that he seems to do most, if not all, of his training at home. It bears testimony to my belief that facilities have nothing to do with success. I love the idea of training hard with minimal equipment and using what you have around you. I would advise Jacko to get some guidance and input on his lifting technique, particularly in the quick lifts such as Cleans and Snatches. He is young, strong and explosive, and seemingly durable right now. But I can foresee injury and break down in the future if some technical aspects are not corrected. I would work on his low back position in his pulls from the floor and the rack or receiving positions at the finish. I am also a big fan of full range squatting movements. I do not buy the idea that we don't bend that far when throwing, so why squat deep? For a detailed explanation, see the Dec. 2011 issue of MILO. On page 53 Oliver has a great article on the value of full range movements. Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to all and best wishes to Jacko for continued success. I love his attitude and wish him the best.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Consider me OLD SCHOOL

Consider me OLD SCHOOL

I like to bench press as much as any weight room meathead. It’s a vanity thing, the first thing everyone asks when they find out you lift a few weights is; how much do you bench? I like being able to have a respectable number to throw out there and let the jaw dropping gasp pump up my ego. But come on, who is anybody kidding, how useful (or “functional”) is laying on your back and vertically pressing a weight 20 inches away from your chest (probably 10 if you’re a big chested super wide-grip powerlifter and let’s not even talk about bench shirts)? If you can bench press your bodyweight than at least you know you can push yourself off the floor if you get knocked off your feet.

Don’t get me wrong, real men and real strength athletes press. They just don’t do it lying on their back. It is called overhead pressing and there are a lot of useful variations. In light of 21st century trends I have grown to hate the term “functional,” but I can’t think of anything more “functional” than moving something from shoulder level to overhead (other than from the floor to overhead). From the initial press, to the overhead support of the weight itself, every muscle in your body is activated. I read an article the other day claiming there to be no better upper body lift than the bench press. “What other upper body lift requires a good amount of leg drive, sufficiently activates the lats, delts, pecs, and tri’s (authors note: I can activate the same muscles pushing myself up off the toilet after a heavy squat workout), is stable enough to allow for the hoisting of huge loads, and is specific to many sports due to the horizontal pressing nature of the lift?”, the author asks.

I am fine with people wanting to bench press, but what bugs the heck out of me is when they try to promote it as some great God sent “functional” lift that is applicable to almost all sport and everyday life (that’s strength training whoredom).  Let’s be real here, how is lying on your back and pressing a weight specific to anything that is real? I am not anti-bench press. It can be a great assistance exercise (I prefer a close grip though). But if you want to do something “functional,” I think that overhead pressing 300lbs beats laying on your back and pressing the gold standard 400lbs any day, especially for an athlete of any sport. Honestly, when is the last time you saw a sport played while lying down?

And it is interesting to note that most people’s bench press would probably benefit greatly from increasing ones overhead strength.  

Now enough of the ranting, let’s look at some great overhead pressing variations:

Overhead Supports:

Military Press:

Push Press:

Push Jerk:


Dumbbell Press:

We're not talking about 35 pounders here either.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Muscle Foods

Part II:

This is the second part of a three-part series on my top choices of foods that build muscle. Intense hard work in the weightroom is only a piece of the equation in the quest for huge muscles, power, and strength. Although moving freakishly large amounts of weight around the gym is crucial, it will all be for not if you don’t supply your body with the right nutrients it needs to grow. Especially good quality protein, which is the foundational nutrient for building muscle. So here are my top choices of foods that will immensely benefit you in your quest for muscle-building greatness.

Fat stimulates testosterone production and anyone who has ever attempted to build muscle knows what testosterone is, so no definition is needed here. But what most people don’t know is how testosterone is created and what are the best ways to naturally stimulate its increased production in the body. Your body’s ability to produce testosterone depends greatly upon your dietary fat intake. For years doctors and major health organizations have been feeding us facts on the benefits of a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet and how it will help you live longer, be healthier, solve all your problems, and make your life better (sarcasm intended…lol). So if you’re into that, this article is not for you and I would suggest that you read no further because I am here to tell you that fat is good and should be a major part of your diet (big part). This article will be all about fatty foods! But here comes another caution, this is not a lunch pass to your nearest McDonalds dollar menu either. Sorry to disappoint any of you junk food junkies out there. But what this article will do is bring to light the important role that fat has in testosterone production and building muscle, along with an overview of the best sources of fat to include in your diet.

First let me back track a little bit, I mentioned earlier that testosterone didn’t need a definition, but I am still keenly aware that there are many that don’t know what this wonder hormone actually does. So here is a brief description of testosterone and why having lots of it is beneficial to you.

Testosterone is a steroid hormone or androgen that appears in the blood and is produced by the testes (ovaries in women). Testosterone has been show to play a major role in muscle development (and in maintaining lower body fat levels), bone development (also helps in the prevention of osteoporosis), increased sperm count, sexual drive and function, the development of secondary sexual characteristics (puberty), as a mood elevator (low testosterone has been found to be associated with low self-confidence, depression, etc.), and as a memory enhancer. So whatever your age or stage of life, testosterone plays an essential part in your overall health and well-being.

So now, how is fat and testosterone related? Fat contains cholesterol, which your body converts to testosterone.  When LH (luteinizing hormone) is released from the pituitary gland in the brain, it triggers the production of testosterone from cholesterol. That’s pretty plain, straight forward, and simple. Your body needs fat to produce the wonder hormone of testosterone. So if your diet consists of less than 20 percent of your calories coming from fat, you are limiting the amount of testosterone your body can produce, which is very bad, since you are then limiting the amount of muscle you can therefore build (as well as hurting your self-confidence…lol). So it is a safe assumption to say the more fat you eat, the more testosterone your body produces (there are genetic limits).

But let us keep in mind that not all fat is created equal. Unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should make up most of your daily fat intake as opposed to saturated forms of fat. But then again, don’t completely ban all saturated fat from your diet, as some saturated fat is also needed and even necessary. But when it comes to saturated fat, some sources are better than others.

So now to the nitty gritty on the best food sources for muscle building fat:

1. Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat and it has been found that cholesterol from olive oil converts more easily into testosterone than other forms of fat, making place for the argument that olive oil is possibly the best source of testosterone boosting fat. Thus I decided to put it first on my list. In fact, in a recent animal study on Lipids, Argentinean researchers found that olive oil increases the production of testosterone. To summarize their findings, let it suffice to say they found that olive oil helps the testes absorb more cholesterol and thereby increase the amount of testosterone able to be produced. So you can optimize your testosterone production by making olive oil a main source of your dietary fat. Olive oil also has lots of valuable antioxidants that aren’t found in other food oils. Hydroxytyrosol, the main antioxidant found in olives is believed to play a significant role in the many health benefits credited to olive oil. These benefits include but are not limited to helping prevent or lower the risk for certain cancers, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by helping lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raise “good” cholesterol (HDL), and also reduce the risk of diabetes and osteoporosis. Olive oil is also rich in vitamin E, which we mentioned in our Muscle Foods Part I article as a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy lifting workouts because it helps lower levels of a cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor-a, which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness. For the full benefits of this muscle building and testosterone boosting fat, stick with the extra-virgin variety because it contains higher levels of vitamin E.

2. Fish

With fish you truly get the best of all worlds when it comes to muscle building nutrients. Not only is fish packed with protein, but it also contains high levels of testosterone boosting fat. And when it comes to fish, Salmon is champion (Tuna a close second). Salmon contains around 25 grams of protein per 3.5 oz serving and is loaded with monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s have been shown to decrease muscle protein breakdown after your workout and help improve recovery, so popping a few fish oil tablets after your workout wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Salmon is also a great source of vitamin D, which we mentioned in our previous Muscle Food article as being linked in recent studies to muscle strength. While Salmon may be deemed champion, you can’t go wrong with buying, cooking, and eating any type of fish. Look for wild caught fish when you can as they contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids then their farm raised, corn/grain feed counter parts.  And lastly, for those who either hate fish, find it hard to get, or just heavy on the wallet, supplementing some fish oil into your diet can go a long way in reaping the same benefits of eating fish.

3. Natural Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is another great source of testosterone boosting fat that comes at a cheap price tag (before the peanut shortage this year). Peanuts contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (but be sure to stick to all-natural peanut butter if you can). And although not a complete source of protein, peanut butter does contain some protein, about 7 grams of protein to two tablespoons of peanut butter. Peanut butter also contains a nice variety of notable vitamins and minerals, such as resveratrol, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid

4. Avocados

Avocados are a personal favorite of mine. The more I learn about them and their benefits, the more I have come to appreciate their value in a muscle building diet. They are most definitely a fruit of the Gods (yes, believe it or not an avocado is actually an oil-berry fruit). Eating an avocado is like eating a whole meal, you get a complete source of protein (they contain all amino acids essential for humans; like the egg standard), healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. One medium sized avocado contains about 365 calories, 31 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein. 75% of an avocados calories come from fat, the healthy “oleic acid” kind of monounsaturated fat. And they are a vitamin E powerhouse. Another really cool fact to note is that avocados have about 35% more potassium than a banana. They are also rich in B vitamins, vitamin K, and insoluble and soluble fiber. Combined with cottage cheese they make an awesome protein packed muscle building guacamole, which combined with some good chips makes a great snack.

5. Eggs

Eggs get a lot of bad rap from doctors and health experts for being cholesterol heavy, but remember how testosterone is produced. When LH (luteinizing hormone) is released from the pituitary gland in the brain, it triggers the production of testosterone from cholesterol. Eggs are a good source of testosterone friendly cholesterol, and remember, dietary cholesterol is not bound to blood cholesterol. Eggs also contain high amounts of protein, and next to whey, are the most bio-available source of protein out there. Which means it is utilized faster and more efficiently than any other whole food protein source. Each egg comes loaded with at least 6 g of protein. They also contain high levels of retinol (vitamin A), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, vitamin B12 (necessary for breaking down fat and for muscle contraction), choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus,  and potassium. The egg is also one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D (which has been linked to muscle mass and strength in recent studies). 

6. Almonds

Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats and contain very high levels of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, which is the form of vitamin E that is best absorbed by your body. This is important for your muscles because vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy lifting workouts, which means your body will start to recover and grow more muscle faster. Almonds are another plant-based food packed full of protein (although not a complete source). A 1/4 cup of almonds contains about 8 g of protein. Almonds are also rich in fiber, B vitamins, and essential minerals. One of these minerals, magnesium, is known to play a role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, most specifically in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. A 3.5 oz serving, or about 2/3 cup contains about 578 calories, 20 g of carbohydrates, 12 g of fiber, 51 g of fat, 22 g of protein, 26.22 mg (175%) of vitamin E, and 275 mg (74%) of magnesium.

Some More Lifting Humor

This is an older clip, but if you haven't seen it yet, it's pretty funny. Almost as funny as bench shirts and squat suits.

Enjoy the journey, lift heavy,  and try not to pull your arms off.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Energy and Sports Drinks

The most important qualities of a champion don't come in a bottle and are not for sale.
Following are two interesting articles dealing with so called energy and sports drinks. What I see are alot of would be athletes looking for a magic bullet or formula that will give them "super powers". "Energy drinks" don't fit the bill. A truck load of caffiene doesn't make up for a poor diet where real lasting energy and ability to focus are concerned.  For those who dehydrate to make a weight class or train hard in hot weather, pickle juice is an interesting idea. Personally I am glad to see that chocolate milk is recieving alot of support as a great recovery drink for strength/power type training. It's long been one of my vices.

Doctors warn of cardiac risks for young athletes
The Gatorade cooler and the coffee pot in the locker room have competition.
From youth playing fields to major-league clubhouses, caffeinated energy drinks such as Red Bull and its scores of cousins have become a familiar presence in sports.
"The bottom line is, it's a long season. You're going to do what you have to do, whether you feel like you have to jump into a cryogenic freezing tank or a hyperbaric chamber or drink a Red Bull," said Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson, a World Series starter who says he has never used alcohol or drugs but consumes energy drinks socially and to prepare himself to pitch. "I see nothing wrong with drinking Red Bull."
Some athletes and industry officials compare the beverages to a cup of coffee.
But doctors and other experts increasingly warn of misunderstandings about energy drinks' contents, lax labeling requirements and the risks of high doses of caffeine -- particularly to young athletes.
In June, a clinical report in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, warned that "stimulant-containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents."
In October, the National Federation of State High School Associations cautioned that caffeinated energy drinks -- often confused with such products as Gatorade, a fluid-replacement drink -- should not be consumed before, during or after physical activity because they could raise the risk of dehydration and increase the chance of potentially fatal heat illnesses. The organization also warned of possible interactions with prescription medications -- including stimulants used to treat ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In Orange County, Calif., at least four high-school football players were taken to the emergency room last season with persistent tachycardia, or rapid heartbeats, said Michael F. Shepard, a team physician and member of the California Interscholastic Federation's state medical advisory board.
"All four had had super-caffeinated drinks," Shepard said. "If you add dehydration or flu or muscle-building supplements like creatine to that, there can be an increased risk of fatal cardiac arrhythmia.
"These four kids all did fine," Shepard said. "But the heart's a muscle, too."
At issue is a dizzying array of products with widely varying levels of caffeine, sugars, carbohydrates and other additives, including herbal supplements.
Red Bull, which in 1997 became the first such drink on the U.S. market, has been surpassed in national sales by Monster energy drinks in what is now a $7.7 billion industry, according to the trade publication Beverage Digest. Rockstar energy drinks rank third.
Most of the best-selling energy drinks contain about 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces, though they are often sold in containers as large as 20 to 24 ounces. Other more extreme products abound, some of them in mix-your-own powders or concentrates, in strengths researchers say range from about 50 to 500 milligrams per serving. At their maximum strength, energy drinks contain about 300 milligrams more than the 2-ounce shots of 5-hour Energy frequently seen near checkout counters.
Beverage industry officials contend that their products are not dangerous when used in moderation by healthy people.
"Regulatory agencies around the globe agree that caffeine is a safe ingredient to use in food and beverages," said Tracey Halliday, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association. "When it comes to energy drinks, the amount of caffeine in most mainstream energy drinks is about half that in a cup of coffee in a coffee shop, if you compare ounce to ounce."
A 16-ounce can of the top-selling energy drinks contains about 160 milligrams of caffeine. A 16-ounce cup of Starbucks' robust Pike Place Roast contains 330 milligrams, though critics say a hot drink is sipped more slowly than a cold beverage.
Researchers complain that identifying caffeine content and other ingredients is difficult for consumers because U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations do not require products marketed as dietary supplements -- as many energy drinks are -- to adhere to the same labeling requirements as food and beverages.
Canada moved last month to limit the caffeine in energy drinks to no more than 180 milligrams in containers up to 20 ounces. In the U.S., cola-type drinks are limited by the FDA to 71 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving. But no such limit applies to energy drinks marketed as dietary supplements, and manufacturers are not required to list the caffeine content or all ingredients on the label, sometimes opting for the term "energy blend" or "proprietary blend."
"They regulate a can of cola," said John P. Higgins, a sports cardiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and co-author of a 2010 article on energy drinks published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. "These are like a free-for-all."
Additives such as the herbal supplements guarana, green tea and yerba mate can boost the effective level of caffeine. Less common additives such as yohimbine and bitter orange can increase heart rate, cause changes in blood pressure and interact with certain antidepressant medications, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Monster, the U.S. leader in sales, does not list the amount of caffeine on its can, although independent sources place it at about 80 milligrams per 8-ounce container, or 240 in Monster's 24-ounce can. The drinks are manufactured and distributed by Southern California's Hansen Beverage Co., which declined to comment, saying it does not respond to news media inquiries.

Causes, effects debated

The FDA, which quashed the controversial practice of manufacturers including caffeine in alcoholic drinks such as Four Loko by issuing warning letters to four companies in 2010, has not acted on petitions by academics and other experts to limit caffeine or change labeling requirements for energy drinks. (Four Loko is now sold as an alcoholic beverage that does not include caffeine.)
"Those petitions are still within the FDA and still under consideration, and the agency can't comment," said Susan Carlson of the FDA's office of food additive safety.
Nationally, emergency-room visits associated with energy-drink use increased more than tenfold from 1,128 in 2005 to 13,114 in 2009, according to a report released last month by the federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Forty-four percent involved combinations with other substances such as alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs, which the American Beverage Association said made energy-drink consumption "potentially irrelevant." However, more than half of the visits didn't involve another substance.
Most adverse reactions involve people who consumed two to eight energy drinks or more than 200 milligrams of caffeine, said Higgins, co-author of the Mayo Clinic report.
The exhaustive review of studies on energy beverages by Higgins and Houston exercise physiologist Troy D. Tuttle noted the risk of such effects as insomnia, nervousness, nausea, rapid heartbeat -- and in more rare cases, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias and cardiac arrest, particularly in people with underlying medical conditions. The review also cited four documented cases of caffeine-associated deaths involving individuals who had consumed energy drinks.
"For a healthy person, probably one is not going to kill you. But we don't know," Higgins said. "I think it's the combination of things in these energy beverages," he added, cautioning about interactions. "A lot of athletes drink coffee."

Marketing to the young
Yet another issue raised by doctors and researchers is the marketing of energy drinks to young people, particularly through sponsorships of athletes and extreme sports. New York's Major League Soccer team is the Red Bulls, owned by the drink company. NASCAR driver Kyle Busch endorses the drink NOS, and Monster has a stable of lesser-known athletes and bands.

Meet The New Sports Drink: Pickle Juice

When it comes to folk remedies, professional athletes are miles ahead of the game. Whether putting butter on a burn or rubbing dirt on a cut, they'll do just about anything if they think it'll help them get through a game.
Including drinking pickle juice.
The practice of downing cucumber brine isn't a new one. It's been used for decades and got media attention back in 2000 when Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder credited pickle juice as the secret weapon that helped his team stomp the Cowboys in Texas Stadium. On that day, temperatures on the field soared above 110 degrees -- the perfect conditions for a cramp-fest.
But the Philadelphia players, dosed with the neon elixir, avoided the crippling injury and won running away, 41-14.
As it turns out, this is one of those rare occasions where the science caught up to the practice.
A study done last year at BYU proved the efficacy of the folksy curative. Subjects exercised to the point of mild dehydration and had cramps induced. Those who drank pickle juice felt relief within 85 seconds, almost twice as fast as water or other sports drinks.
"Pickle juice is a natural source of sodium as well as other electrolytes," says Buccaneers team nutritionist Kevin Luhrs. "Sodium is a component of sweat. The rationale is that sodium from the pickle juice helps replace sodium losses from sweat and even helps retain water in the body."
Although Luhrs said he doesn't use pickle juice with any Buccaneers, he says the practice is common around the league. Dez Bryant reportedly loves it. Jason Witten even endorsed a bottled version called Pickle Juice Sport back in 2006. Packers defensive end Jarius Wynn used to swear by it.
"I used to drink pickle juice in high school to keep the cramps down," Wynn says. "It was good when I was young, especially playing in the South where is gets really hot."
Wynn has switched to coconut water or other electrolyte-laden
drinks. But Pickle Juice Sport founder Brandon Brooks says he provides his product to nearly two dozen teams and more than 100 professional athletes.
His sales are up so much (54 percent from last year alone) that he can't produce enough of the drink to sign on with any more large retail outlets.
Now with the science to back it up, pickle juice appears to be here to stay. It probably won't hit the shelves of 7-Eleven anytime soon, but the curious can simply grab the jar of dills from the refrigerator door next time they wake up with a knot in their calf.
Makes you wonder if a shot of olive juice might be good for more than just martinis.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Honoring Our Warriors

We have had some past posts on the Navajo Code Talkers.

Below is an article that recently appeared on the CNN website.
We on the Navajo Nation are proud of these Warriors and honor them again on Haskestrength.

Chester Nez as a young Marine recruit.
 Chester Nez was barely out of his teens when he joined the Marines in a role that would help the United States and its allies win World War II, a role that stayed secret for decades.

Nez was one of 29 members of the Navajo tribe that developed a military communications code based on the Navajo language. It was that same language that Nez and his friends were forbidden to speak when they were students at government-run boarding schools for Native American children.

Military authorities chose Navajo as a code language because it was almost impossible for a non-Navajo to learn and had no written form. It was the only code the Japanese never managed to crack. The code talkers themselves were forbidden from telling anyone about it - not their fellow Marines, not their families - until it was declassified in 1968.

Nez and his fellow code talkers found themselves in the very thick of the battlefield, transmitting and receiving messages about troop movements, enemy artillery locations, and calls for food, equipment or medical supplies as bullets whizzed past their ears and shrapnel sliced into the earth near their foxholes. Nez served during some of the most brutal engagements in the South Pacific, including Guadalcanal, Guam, Peleliu and Bougainville. They worked in teams of two, one relaying and receiving messages while the other cranked the portable radio and listened for errors in transmission. In the heat of battle, they might be at work for 24 nonstop hours, cramped into small holes dug in the earth.

“When bombs dropped, generally we code talkers couldn’t just curl up in a shelter,” Nez wrote in his book. “We were almost always needed to transmit information, to ask for supplies and ammunition, and to communicate strategies. And after each transmission, to avoid Japanese fire, we had to move.”

Now 90 years old, Nez is the only one of the original 29 Code Talkers still living, and his recently published autobiography, “Code Talker,” written with Judith Schiess Avila, is the first and only written in a Code Talker’s own words.

CNN: Why was it important for you to tell your own story instead of someone writing it for you?

Nez: I told my story at length to Judith Avila, and she recorded it and then wrote it down. It was important that the story come from me, since I want this memoir to accurately depict my Navajo people and the contributions made by the code talkers. Judith and I reviewed the book “Code Talker” together many times to ensure this accuracy.

CNN: What do you think is the central lesson of this book?

Nez: My wartime experiences developing a code that utilized the Navajo language taught how important our Navajo culture is to our country. For me that is the central lesson: that diverse cultures can make a country richer and stronger.

CNN: How did becoming a code talker change your life?

Nez: Our Navajo code was one of the most important military secrets of World War II. The fact that the Marines did not tell us Navajo men how to develop that code indicated their trust in us and in our abilities. The feeling that I could make it in both the white world and the Navajo world began there, and it has stayed with me all of my life. For that I am grateful.

CNN: What Navajo word best describes your life, and why?

Nez: Hozoji - that is a word with religious implications meaning kindness and good will. It is part of the Right Way of life – something I have tried to live by. [The “Right Way” is a tenet of traditional Navajo spiritual belief that says a person must find balance between individuals, self, and one’s world, and live in harmony with nature.]

CNN: Do any of your grandchildren or great-grandchildren speak Navajo?

Nez: My own children do not speak Navajo, although my daughter-in-law, Rita Nez, speaks it well. We enjoy talking Navajo to each other. My great-grandson, Emery, took a class in Navajo in summer school. I liked that.

CNN: Do you think the contributions of Native Americans get enough recognition in this country?

Nez: Yes, I think our country is doing much better at recognizing the contributions of all cultures. The recognition of the code talkers came late, but it has been good for my Navajo people. I hope that this type of recognition continues across cultures.

CNN: Is there anything you’d like readers to know that I haven’t asked about?

Nez: In developing our code, we were careful to use everyday Navajo words, so that we could memorize and retain the words easily. I think that made our job easier, and I think it helped us to be successful in the heat of battle. Still, I worried every day that I might make an error that cost American lives. But our code was the only code in modern warfare that was never broken. The Japanese tried, but they couldn’t decipher it. Not even another Navajo could decipher it if he wasn’t a code talker.

Chester Nez now at age 90 with the interviewer and author, Judith Avila.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Bench Press Humor

Merry Christmas!
 For only $325.00 American dollars you can buy this "shirt" and with a few friends to help you get into it, you can bench press more than ever.  Right Now!
Please, give me a break!
 Is there a real athlete out there who would actually spend over $300.00 to artificially bench more than he/she is capable of?
It seems to me that the market for this is limited to ego-inflated, confidence challenged wannabes, or maybe just idiots.

Alpha GPCMetal Jack Bench Shirt

* New PRO bench shirt is designed on the basis of Ace shirt.

* The collar is wider and there are many sturdy seams on the front panel making the shirt more functional.

The angle of the sleeve and front panel causes the shirt to work all from the chest to lockout position.

* Select your shirt size so that the sleeves are tight.

* The shirt is easy to adjust and "jack up".

* Dress-up is also easier because of the bands on the back of the shirt.

Price: $350.00

NOW: $325.00

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some Bench Press Humor

Believe me, I am not anti-bench press, but I do believe it is way, way overated and over used in many strength and conditioning programs here in the United States. The bench press is a great upper body exercise when used in the context of a well designed program. In our last post you could see even the great olympic weight lifter Vasily Alexeev using it in his training. I am fed up with the guys who come into the weight room and first thing, park themselves on a bench and begin benching for a solid hour or more and never lift a bar off of the floor or squat. I am sick of seeing guys who can bench 400 lb. but can't lift 200 lb. over head. I don't believe that anyone will ever convince me that it has a place in the NFL combine. Benching 225 lb. for max reps for Amercian football? What a joke. The NSCA has published several studies in their research journal discrediting the validity of the combine tests for predicting actual football success. But I guess we shouldn't expect football coaches to be experts on training. After all, football coaches are hired to run universities, not train players. Right Joe?  I'm not sure which segment below is more ridiculous, the parody or the reality of a bench press competition with "gear."