Friday, December 27, 2013

Some keys to weight control

Getting lean and fit is simple, but not easy!

With the New Year comes opportunities to make a fresh start and make changes in our habits. Probably one of the most common New Year's resolutions has to do with losing weight. Below are some "findings" that were publicized in 2013. To most of us there is nothing here that we didn't already know, with the possible exception of the dark chocolate bullet. Everything else is common knowledge among those who are serious about health and fitness. The principles are very simple, although not necessarily easy. In fact it will require some hard work and discipline. It's ironic that the fitness industry tries hard to sell the idea that health and fitness is complex; full of secret methods and special products that are essential. And if you have the right supplements, equipment, or programs, it is easy to lose weight, gain muscle, get fit,....or whatever. the reality is just the opposite. The principles that really work are simple and unchanging, but require discipline and hard work. It's not complicated, but there is no easy way to make changes in your body. Here's to a healthy and prosperous 2014!

Another year, another 365 days to unlock the secrets to sustainable weight loss - and in 2013, researchers did not disappoint. From finding the best time to eat a big meal to finding yet another reason to chow down on chocolate, here are the most interesting weight-loss news stories of the year!
1. More Sleep Decreases Junk-Food Cravings
We've been learning more and more about just how important sleep is for our waistlines; this year, researchers showed that lack of sleep can actually change how we respond to junk food. When sleep-deprived participants were shown photos of fatty foods like pizza and doughnuts, the reward centers in their brains lit up much more than those who had gotten enough sleep - proving that when you're sleep deprived, you're more likely to make less-than-optimal diet choices than when you're well rested.
2. Dark Chocolate Blocks Fat
Last year, it was red wine, and this year it's even more good news: a new study found that dark-chocolate eaters who ate more calories than non dark chocolate eaters still had lower BMIs. The study suggests that an antioxidant found in dark chocolate, epicatechin, may block your body's absorption of fats and sugars.
3. Eat More Protein, Lose More Weight
A small study published in September found that the optimal amount of protein for those trying to lose weight may be more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) set by the Food and Drug Administration. Researchers put patients on specific diets that differed in protein - groups either ate the RDA of protein, double that amount, or triple that amount. Those who ate double the RDA of protein lost more fat than muscle, which is important for keeping metabolism levels up when you are trying to lose weight.
4. A Well-Timed Big Lunch Is Key
If you find it hard to schedule a midday meal break during your hectic work day, listen up: a recent study found that late lunchers (those who ate after 3 p.m.) ended up weighing more than those who ate a big lunch earlier. The study also found that late lunchers were more likely to skip breakfast - also a no-no if you're trying to drop pounds. Since the Spanish participants ate their biggest meal at lunch, the study also suggests that front-loading your filling meals during the day can be beneficial for your waistline.
5. Start With Exercise
Losing weight requires dedication to both a healthy diet and a consistent workout routine, but if you can't quite fit both into your schedule, start with exercise first, according to a study published earlier this year. The researchers tracked inactive participants as they either started a new diet and exercise routine at the same time, started a new exercise routine followed by a new diet later on, or started a new diet followed by an exercise routine later on. While the diet-and-exercise group fared the best, the study found that those who established a workout routine first (before dealing with their diet) were more successful at sticking to both a workout routine and healthy eating plan later on - which meant more weight loss in the long run.

Beginners Guide to Strength Training What It Is and Isn't
No amount of situps or "core" work can match the results of heavy overhead work for a strong and stable midsection. Simple, but not easy.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What is the best time to workout?

Champions train whenever they can.

What is the best time to workout? Whenever you can. I know champions who have worked out all hours around the clock, from early morning to late at night, from during the lunch break to middle of the night.  Not necessarily by choice, but because that was the only time available. Myself I have been working out at 5:00am for the past 35  years. I started doing this as a college student because I was married and had several jobs and that was the only time available. Later, even as I graduated and gained better employment, I stayed with this schedule as it allowed me to get my day off to a good start as well as leave the evenings open to spend with my family.
The article below gives some pluses and minuses of different workout times. I suppose there is some validity to the suggestions, but the bottom line is we can make gains anytime if we are motivated. Most don't have the luxury of choosing the optimal times. Your body will adapt to whatever you demand of it.

By Corrie Pikul
You want to: Lose weight
You should try: Early morning
 Research from the American Council on Exercise has shown that people who exercise soon after waking tend to both be more consistent and to exercise more often than those who work out at other times of the day. Other studies have shown that a 45-minute a.m. workout can make you less ravenous for breakfast (and more prone to make healthy choices) and more likely to keep moving and burning calories throughout the day. Keep in mind that even if you wake up raring to go, your muscles will need time to warm up, so ease into the workout (doing a few jumping jacks or walking while swinging your arms should do the trick).
You want to: Get stronger
You should try: Late afternoon or early evening
You're naturally pumped up from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is due partly to testosterone, which seems to be most responsive to exercise at this time of day, but also because your body temperature is at its peak. You should feel slightly stronger, more flexible (by as much as 20 percent) and your lungs should be working at optimal efficiency, boosting your endurance capacity for tough workouts. In a 2012 study of 20 Tunisian soccer players, the athletes performed best on tests of speed and endurance at 5 p.m., and other studies of experienced swimmers showed that they swam fastest in time trials that took place in the early evening.

You want to: Sleep better
You should try: Just after waking up
 Exercise at any time of the day will help you sleep better than no exercise at all, found the National Sleep Foundation, but there are a few reasons why working up a sweat in the morning might make for an even more restful night. First, sleep experts say that exposure to daylight soon after waking (during a run, bike ride or even a drive to the gym) has the effect of putting a time stamp on your brain: It reminds it when you woke up and when you need to power down at night. Health researchers at Appalachian State University have also found that morning exercise reduces blood pressure and causes an additional 25 percent dip at night, which has been correlated with better sleep. Despite these benefits, exercise can't substitute for sleep, so make sure your Zumba class doesn't cut into your seven mandatory hours.

You want to: Reset your body clock
You should try: Midafternoon
 Your natural circadian rhythm can be thrown off by traveling between time zones, switching to a night shift, viewing artificial light in the evening (when the brain expects darkness) and even getting older. To find out if exercise has any effect on a broken body clock, scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, performed a series of experiments on mice who had been bred to have a malfunctioning sense of time. They found that exercising at any time of day helped the mice get back on schedule, but it was most beneficial for the mice to run during the afternoon (or the equivalent of a rodent's afternoon)-not in the morning, as the researchers had expected. While midday workouts haven't yet been proven to be better than morning workouts for jet-lagged humans, it's not a bad idea to cancel lunch and head to the gym instead.
You want to: Set a personal record (and smoke the competition)
You should try: The same time, all the time

Ever notice how there are workouts when everything just seems to click and you feel almost bionic? That's how you want to feel during a competition, and you'll have a better chance of that happening if you work out at the same time every day. Whether you choose to train at 6 a.m., noon or 6 p.m., the timing must be consistent so that you can rule it out as something that could affect your performance. Then you can act like your own coach, analyzing your workouts and looking for rogue factors that tend to throw you off (your pre-race snack, your stress level, the amount of sleep you got the night before). You'll have your routine down by race day, and you'll know you did everything you could to put your best self on the starting line.

Lidia Valentin Lidia Valentin of Spain makes a lift in the Women's 75kg during the Weightlifting LOCOG Test Event for London 2012 at ExCel on December 11, 2011 in London, England.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

China: Here Are Some Great Things About Toxic Air

The truth is good enough to speak for itself when it comes to Chinese weightlifting.

I have always been fascinated by China. Today they are certainly a power in the world of weightlifting. I also happen to love Chinese food, at least what we call Chinese food here in the U.S.A. But I'm glad that our government always tells us the truth. You know, how we can keep our health care plans and how they really aren't gathering information on us through the internet or cell phone records. Oh well. Maybe we are not as different as we might  think we are. One thing is for sure, whether in training or in life, think for yourself. Open your eyes and ears and trust what they are telling you. When I was a child, my mother read to me the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. I hope that I can always see things as they really are and will have the wisdom and courage to call the emperor naked when necessary. Below is an interesting article about the Chinese govt. trying to sell a suit of invisible clothes to it's people......

China's state-run TV tries to put a positive spin on toxic haze. Nice try, guys, nice try
By Emily Rauhala / Beijing Dec. 09, 2013
You can’t make this stuff up. On Sunday, with swaths of eastern China shrouded in a polluted haze, Chinese state media decided to release a list of five “surprising benefits” of smog. Here, courtesy of Wang Lei, an editor for China Central Television’s website, are five good things about bad air:
1. It unifies the Chinese people.
 2. It makes China more equal.
 3. It raises citizen awareness of the cost of China’s economic development.
 4. It makes people funnier.
 5. It makes people more knowledgeable (of things like meteorology and the English word haze).
I’d like to think the piece as well-intentioned satire. Perhaps it was. But the article, which has since been pulled, was followed by another piece of pollution promotion. On Monday, the Global Times published a piece that said air pollution might help the Chinese military by obscuring sight lines, reducing the effectiveness of surveillance and weapons systems.
For the most part, China’s netizens were not impressed. “It is a public tragedy that half of China is engulfed in smog, wrote one. “We should not entertain ourselves by this tragedy.” Wrote another: “The smog weather makes CCTV much stupider. They always treat us as fools.”
But there was a rare point of agreement on item No. 4. China’s official attitude to smog is, indeed, a joke.
— With reporting by Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

Friday, December 13, 2013

Some Lifting Inspiration

Amazing specimen, amazing lifter. This video shows that he was once a beginner like all of us. The video may not show on our site for some reason, but if not, it will link you to Youtube.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bruce Lee: Martial Arts Pioneer And Innovator

We have had a few posts on Bruce Lee on our site before. I remember being amazed by his speed, agility, and explosiveness as I watched his movies as a teenager. I often wondered if it was really possible to do some of things he did or if it was a filming "trick". He was amazing. As the video below highlights, he was much more than a movie "star". He was a true pioneer of physical training and did things that were far ahead of his time. I often wonder what influence he would have had on the current state of the "fitness industry" if he had lived longer. Even though he left us way too soon, he left behind a legacy of pushing past the possible to doing things that have never been done before.
Bruce Lee is immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but to characterize him as a movie star is a woefully inadequate description. He was a game changer, a innovator, a pioneer. He was largely responsible for introducing Chinese martial arts to the Western world. Then he fundamentally changed martial arts through his approach -- "using no way as way" -- and training methods that seemed radical in the 60s and 70s, but became the standard that is still respected to this day.
Here's more about how Lee carved his own path and why it continues to inspire followers more than 40 years after his passing:

Monday, December 9, 2013

More Complexes

We've had several posts on complexes, the combining of several movements to drill technique, for conditioning, and for mental toughness. Below is a nice video from California Strength that shows some complexes in action. Good stuff.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Mental Switch

The more we compete, the faster we learn the mental attitudes needed. Some athletes have the advantage of starting young.

Below is a great article by Matt Foreman, author of a great book, "Bones of Iron" that we featured on our site before. I totally agree with Matt. It took me several years as well to get control of my emotions and to be able to focus when needed while relaxing and not wasting nervous energy. It is a skill that some rare athletes seem to be born with, but most of us have to develop with practice and experience. Of course this
starts with an awareness of what is happening mentally and why. I believe on of the keys is perspective and balance. When any competition is important enough to compete in, then it deserves our best effort. Otherwise the investment of training time and preparation cannot be justified. However when we prioritize and balance our lives in such a way that our competitive outcomes do not make up the whole of our identity, then we can relax and enjoy the journey and focus our efforts at the time we are competing without it interfering with the rest of our life. Train hard, live well, and when it's time to compete, flip the switch and live in the moment. When it's over, reflect and move on. Athletics should enhance life, not dominate it.

All great athletes have a mental switch, and it should be your goal to get one too.

Think of a light switch in your house. You flip it, and the lights turn on. Pretty simple, right? Well, a mental switch is in your brain. When you flip it, your mind goes to a state of perfect concentration, intensity, and confidence. The most experienced athletes usually have really effective, powerful mental switches. They can make themselves internally sharp with a snap of their fingers, just by recognizing that they’ve got a job to do and it’s time to get it on. They can be having a conversation and maybe a few laughs, and in a matter of a few seconds they’re ready to rock and roll. They recognize the task in front of them and apply the right level of inner strength to it. Then, after they’ve taken care of business, they can flip the switch off and relax.

Like most things, this takes a long time to develop. I had a hard time with it when I was young, I can tell you that. I used to be one of those guys who spends a couple of hours, or maybe even the first half of the day, getting psyched up for a meet. My lifting was serious stuff, so I thought I needed to do some kind of complete psychological transformation before I hit the platform. I would go somewhere by myself, listen to some good devil music, and try to get as jacked up as possible. I can’t say it worked that well. Instead of taking myself to weightlifting nirvana, I just spent a lot of time getting really tense, nervous, and agitated. By the time I got to the warm-up room, I was an irritable prick that nobody liked. And if I lifted like crap in the meet (which I often did), forget about it. I was ready to start throwing orphans into wells.

I figured out that I don’t perform well when I’m not happy. Do you ever find that? Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me if weightlifting is a way for me to release all my daily frustration and anger. For some reason, people think lifting weights is like some kind of colon flush for rage and hostility. It’s never been like that for me. First of all, I don’t walk around pissed off all the time, so I don’t come to the gym with any anger that needs to be released. Second, I’ve found that I always lift better when I’m in a good mood. So the psyching method I used of going off by myself and working my brain into a cranked-up frazzle usually had the opposite effect from what I was going for. Instead of taking me where I needed to be, it took me farther away from it.

Maturity and experience took care of everything. As my career progressed, I just calmed down and developed an ability to switch into the right mental state when I needed to. It’s a weird combination of relaxation and intensity, which are two things that don’t seem to go together when you first think about it. I don’t know if any of you follow boxing, but welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao is a pretty good example of this. I’ve seen this guy walk to the ring for a title fight literally laughing and horsing around with the crowd. Keep in mind, this is minutes before he steps into the ring to trade hands with another world-class prizefighter who wants to pound his skull into garden mulch. He’s got a big smile on his face, looking more like he’s at a birthday party than a fight. But then the bell rings, and he becomes a punching turbine that destroys anybody they put in front of him. He’s probably got the best mental switch in the world.

When you get this mastered, your lifting career is going to get a lot easier. I’m not just talking about meets, either. This is something you’ll be able to apply to daily training too. It’ll make life fun because you can lift without anxiety and angst, and you’ll be able to perform successfully when you need to. Your mentality will become, “I have a job to do and I know how to do it, so let’s go to work.” And you’ll be able to summon this up whenever you want it.

Have fun and enjoy the journey. Win or lose, learn from the competitive experience.