Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Who Should LIft?

Who should lift? Who shouldn't?

Another article from a mainstream news source stating the obvious. However it is good to see this type of information out to the general public. There are still alot of people in need of the message.

All Women Should Lift Weights
Actually, everybody should be lifting weights. Here’s why.

By Lacie Glover March 23, 2015 | 9:03 a.m. EDT + More
It wasn’t long ago that we all realized just how unhealthy obesity can be, and skinny was in. Indeed, obesity is a leading cause of preventable death, and thinner people tend to have healthier vital signs and blood markers in general. But generalizations only help you understand so much about the complex notion of a healthy lifestyle.

As physiology and medicine research evolved, so has the understanding of what’s healthy. Even though you may be predisposed to one body shape or another – you can’t help that – research indicates that the healthiest bodies are those that reflect the hard work of a varied exercise routine, including resistance training.

Most People Just Don’t Resistance Train

“The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weightlifting for all adults at least twice a week, with three times a week being optimal,” says Michele Olson, ACSM fellow and professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama.

Despite what the ACSM recommends, most Americans fall short of that mark. According to a 2011 survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 29 percent of adults meet the minimum recommended weightlifting schedule. Compare that with 52 percent of adults who get the minimum recommended cardio minutes per week, according to the same survey.

That may be because the rush of endorphins that occurs after cardio exercise feels so much better than finishing a good weightlifting set. That doesn’t mean that lifting weights is any less beneficial, though.

“You burn calories lifting weights and are engaged in movement when lifting weights, both of which help forestall cardiovascular disease and help us move better with less chance of strains and joint problems,” Olson says.

Importance for Women

Weightlifting is especially important for women, even though women are less likely to make a habit of it. Whether it’s due to the tired myth that women can bulk up from weightlifting, or because they’re just less comfortable in the weight room, it could be costly.

Because women have less muscle than men to begin with, Olson says, “we need to lift weights to prevent the natural loss that occurs with less activity as we age.”

So if you’ve been avoiding lifting weights because you think you’ll get mannish or bulky? “That’s the last thing you should fret about. Women do not have the levels of anabolic hormones than men have,” Olson says, and that’s key to building larger muscles.

Fitness expert and personal trainer Joey Thurman of The Lifestyle Renovation agrees. “I do hear that still,” he says, but points to female weightlifting in competitions as proof to the contrary. In such competitions, women and teens who weigh less than 100 pounds themselves can lift two to three times their own weight, and they appear no more bulky than other athletic women.

Additionally, studies have provided evidence that weight training has similar effects on blood pressure and cholesterol as aerobic exercise. And especially in older adults, weight training has been shown to improve fitness and mood independent of cardio training.

“Studies link weightlifting to lower anxiety and better overall mental health,” says Thurman, who trains both men and women, though his clientele is primarily female.

One of the top reasons women should lift weights is because women are more prone to bone and joint issues as they age. “The muscle tells the bone where to go, not the other way around,” Thurman says. “As you increase your muscle strength, you’ll improve your posture and support your joints.”

Core training is key for balance and joint strength alike. “Balance is highly linked to strong hip and core muscles,” Olson says. “Training your core will effectively strengthen those core and balance muscles to prevent falls and lessen the stress to the knee joints.”

Weight Loss

Too much weight may wreck your joints just as much as injuries, but lifting weights can help prevent both of those. Several independent studies over the past decade have provided evidence that resistance training is just as important to fat loss and health markers as aerobic exercise.

One of the most recent studies appeared in the journal Obesity in December 2014. The large study looked at more than 10,000 men ages 40 and up. The men who did the most weight training had gained less belly fat over a 12-year period than those who did similar amounts of aerobic exercise. A similar study of 164 women was carried out in 2006, with similar results: Weight training helps keep fat at bay as we age better than cardio does.

That’s because your muscles are responsible for your metabolism, Thurman says. “The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism, and the more energy you’re going to have,” he says, and that will help carry you through more workouts.

Keeping Up Appearances

Weight training can improve your appearance in more ways than cardio can. While you can’t target fat loss in one area, you can even out your shape by hitting the weight room.

“Of course, cardio can help you lose fat, but it can’t shape your body,” Thurman says. “If your body shape is a large pear, and you do a lot of cardio to lose weight, you’ll just end up looking like a smaller pear.”

By consistently training all of your muscles, however, your body will take a more balanced appearance. Additionally, stronger muscles, especially in your core area, will help straighten your spine and improve your posture.

Getting Started

When asked which exercises anyone can start with, Olson and Thurman had similar responses. Here are the exercises they recommend for everyone, but especially beginners. If you’re gym-shy or on a budget, don’t worry – most of these you can do at home.

Train your core evenly, Thurman says, which means focusing on your back muscles as much as you do your abdominals. He recommends a plank exercise, where you engage the entire core by hovering above the floor on your hands and toes. To keep proper form, line up your hands and elbows in parallel with your shoulders – don’t put your hands close together. Hold the pose for as long as you can.

Train your legs with squats and lunges, according to both Thurman and Olson; backward lunges put less stress on the knees. To keep proper form, keep your back straight and don’t bend weight-bearing knees more than 90 degrees. For squats, bend at the hip like you’re sitting down, and keep your feet flat and toes loose.

Train your upper body with any type of rowing motion, the experts say, whether it includes dumbbells or a rowing machine. Pushups are another winner, as are dumbbell curls.

Before starting any routine, you should make sure you’re healthy enough and seek advice from a professional. When you do get started, focus on keeping proper form, and worry about increasing difficulty or weight only after you’ve gotten that down. By that time, you’ll already be on your way to a healthier.
Lacie Glover

Lacie Glover is a writer for NerdWallet Health. You can follow her on Twitter @LacieJaeGlo, connect with her on LinkedIn or circle her on Google+.

It's good for every body!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Thai Teen Weightlifter

Here is a very inspirational film. It shows us the power that athletics, in this case weightlifting, can have in giving direction to our lives. The skills and discipline developed in pursuit of developing a talent can be an anchor in an otherwise tumultuous life. It also shows the motivation that some lifters bring to the platform. They are literally lifting for their lives. About 25 or so years ago, I attended a seminar in Phoenix, Arizona sponsored by the NSCA. A Bulgarian coach was touring the country and sharing the "secrets" of the Bulgarian methods. Having just finished my master's degree at the time, the course I had on "sports psychology" (as we call it here in the U.S.A.) was fresh in my mind. I asked this coach how they motivated the Bulgarian athletes to train so hard, so often. I remember that it took awhile for him to understand what I meant. When my meaning was more clear to him, he replied with a story about Bulgarian wolves who nearly starve during the harsh winters as food sources are scarce. He said that when they see a rabbit, no one has to encourage them to devour it. In fact, the hardest task would be to try and stop them. He then explained the living conditions of most of the Bulgarian lifters if they were not lifting. His point was clear. They trained as if their lives depended on it. Because indeed, they did.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

12 Things That Successful Leaders Never Tolerate

Effective Leaders usually have some scars from  fighting against the norms.

It's true that most of what we post here deals with the physical aspects of training. Stuff about lifting, fitness, nutrition, and some motivation here and there. However our purpose is to promote the Warrior spirit. Below is a super great article to that end. Without a lot of comment, we recommend it to you.

By and large, tolerance is a good trait. The differences we encounter enrich our lives and organizations. But to attain a successful life and meaningful leadership, we must refuse to tolerate the things that deplete, and ultimately destroy, us.

Start by declaring these things intolerable in yourself and those around you -- and see what changes as a result.

1. Dishonesty

Living an honest life allows you to be at peace with others and yourself. Dishonesty imposes a false reality on your life and those around you.

2. Boredom

Successful people are generally exploring something new. Life is too short for inactivity and staying in your comfort zone.

3. Mediocrity

It's easy, and a constant temptation, to settle for less. But what makes some people stand out is their willingness to make the hard choices that allow a life of greatness.

4. Negativity

Every negative thought keeps you from being your best. If you hear yourself complaining, out loud or to yourself, find a way to shut it down.

5. Toxicity

At work or at home, a toxic environment will literally make you sick. If it doesn't feel right, if it makes you tired or fills you with dread, cut yourself loose.

6. Disorganization

Clutter and disorder cause stress and affect your emotional and mental well-being. Get rid of what you don't need and keep everything else where it belongs.

7. Unhealthy anything

Unhealthy food, unhealthy relationship, unhealthy habits -- choose what you do wisely. Remind yourself that you deserve better, and then give yourself better.

8. Regrets

We all have regrets, but you can't move toward your future if you're dwelling on the past. Learn from it, right any wrongs where you can, and leave it behind.

9. Disrespect

Relationships are at the heart of success, and respect is at the heart of good relationships. Disrespect--whatever the form and whomever it's directed toward--is one of the most destructive forces you can harbor.

10. Distrust

Distrust often arrives through a succession of little compromises here and there, so be watchful. Focus on building your own integrity and surround yourself with others who do the same.

11. Anger

We all feel anger, and in its place it can move you to action. But holding onto anger is paralyzing and accomplishes nothing. Learn to direct anger toward problems, not people, and then get over it.

12. Control

Don't worry about the things you can't control. Focus your energy where it can do good, and learn to let go of the rest.

Pay attention to the difference between the things that are truly positive in your life and the things you just let happen.

Remember, you are sum of what you tolerate!

By           Lolly Daskal

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What Diet Soda Does to Belly Fat

60's Vintage Weider advertising featuring Dave Draper.

Here is an nutritional article that is very relevant. Here on the reservation we consume more soda per capita than any other population group. There is a variety of reasons for this. Not the least of which is that safe, reliable sources of water is a relatively new luxury here. Combine that with the lack of electricity and therefore, refrigeration, it only makes sense that canned drinks became popular. As bad as sodas are, I have had several elders tell me that they are probably better than drinking the water in some areas. Likely there is some truth to that. As the years progressed and diabetes became epidemic, curbing the appetite for soda has become a priority with health care providers. However, in an effort to do so, I have seen many well meaning health professionals encouraging people to substitute diet sodas instead. On the surface this may seem like a good idea. After all, they are sugar free and sugar is the enemy,.....right? As we can read below, diet drinks are not a good choice either. They bring their own truckload of problems. So, what should we be drinking? I love water. 8 or more glasses a day is a great plan. Milk is also a good choice although many natives are lactose intolerant. Fruit juices are not a whole lot better than sodas. Homemade fruit smoothies made in a blender are also great. Add some protein and it's even better. Learn to drink water and eat good food for flavor.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who drank diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda. The study analyzed data from 749 people ages 65 and older who were asked, every couple of years, how many cans of soda they drank a day, and how many of those sodas were diet or regular.

Those answers ended up being extremely predictive of abdominal-fat gain, even after the researchers adjusted for factors like diabetes, smoking and levels of physical activity. People who didn’t drink diet soda gained about 0.8 in. around their waists over the study period, but people who drank diet soda daily gained 3.2 in. Those who fell in the middle — occasional drinkers of diet soda — gained about 1.8 in.

That change in waist circumference is especially concerning because it highlights an unfortunate truth about weight distribution: the belly is a bad place for extra pounds. The kind that pads the abs from the inside, called visceral fat, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease, inflammation and Type 2 diabetes.

These results, which the study authors call “striking,” add to the growing body of evidence that no- and low-calorie sweeteners may come with health concerns. Though scientists are still puzzling through the mechanisms by which diet soda seems to have the unintended consequence of weight gain, they have some ideas. Sugar-free sodas contain substances that sweeten up soda at 200-600 times the sweetness of sugar.

"Regular sugar has caloric consequences," says the study's senior author Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. And one of those is that it triggers satiety — a sense of fullness or satisfaction. "Your body is used to knowing that a sweet taste means you are ingesting energy in the form of calories that, if you don’t burn them off, is going to convert to fat," she says. Artificial sweeteners, however, confuse our bodies and weaken the link in our brains between sweetness and calories. That, Hazuda says, can lead to weight gain and cravings for sweeter and sweeter treats.
There may be something else at work. A recent study in mice showed that artificial sweeteners actually changed the gut bacteria of mice in ways that made them vulnerable to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance — both of which can lead to weight gain. And other mice research suggests that artificial sweeteners are associated with a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin, Hazuda says. Leptin is the hormone that inhibits hunger.

The Calorie Control Council, an association that represents the reduced-calorie food and beverage industry — including alternative sweeteners — disagreed with the study's findings. "The use of low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs) in weight management has been shown to be beneficial," the group said in a statement. "While approaches to treat obesity in older individuals is controversial, diet modifications can be a successful part of a weight-management program for older adults."

Researchers in the new study found that belly-fat gain was most pronounced in people who were already overweight. "People who are already at cardiometabolic risk because they have higher BMIs are really in double or triple jeopardy," Hazuda says. "When they think they’re doing something good by drinking artificially sweetened beverages, it’s actually totally counterproductive."

Water is a great choice!

Monday, March 16, 2015

5 Success Rules from Arnold

I first saw this picture of Arnold on the cover or Muscle Builder/Power magazine back in about 1967 or so.

We have had several posts, about Arnold here in the past. Some were critical, most positive. While he is definitely a flawed hero, his influence on the field of weight training and exercise is undeniable. His amazing physique has inspired a generation of trainers, myself included. His accomplishments in the world of entertainment, business, and politics is also a lesson in achievement. As a great man once said, "No success can compensate for failure in the home." We feel bad for Arnold on that count. But as another great leader said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." I'm not picking up any rocks to throw. When he talks about how to maximize your potential, I pay attention. I like this interview below. It is just a bare bones summary, but it points out that the road to success is paved with failures. Success is not avoiding failure. It is learning from failure, not getting discouraged by it, and persisting in spite of it.

Following is a summary of  Arnold Schwarzenegger being interviewed by Tony Doherty at the Arnold Classic Australia.

Here is a quick summary of five success rules he talked about.

1. You won’t always have victories, losses are part of the process.

2. A loser is the one that once knocked down never gets up.

3. Failure will make you stronger if you take responsibility.

4. Two important things about goal setting: One, if you will first encounter the naysayers,  ignore  them. Two, make sure the goal is grandiose.

5. From his former father in law: tear down the mirror you are looking into, you will then see who you can help.

Pictures like these inspired a generation of young men to train.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Building Muscle as We Age

Training properly allow us to enjoy life as we age.

This article is all too obvious, but I admit that it served as a reminder to me  that successful aging requires some adjustments to training, something that I have not done as well at as I could have. The idea of going light has been the hardest for me to adapt to. I have now logged 6 decades of life and have been training consistently for nearly 5 of them, I love training and have to be careful not to overdo it. If I'm not careful I find myself sore and beat up rather than energetic and pliable. As the author states, embracing lighter days makes a huge difference although it took a major mind shift to allow myself to do that. It doesn't mean that older athletes can't still lift some heavy weights. It's just that we can't do it day after day and there are some lifts that some individuals have to modify or forego at some stages of life. Everyone is different in their genetics and in the wear and tear that they have endured, so adapting training with age will vary greatly. The key is being honest with yourself and training to feel good right now, not being a slave to numbers and insisting on maintaining a certain workload, intensity, or volume of training. Learn to listen to your body. I don't know anything about the author, Christian Finn, but he presents some good (un)common sense here for us "mature" athletes.

If you're over 40, you probably have more “stuff” going on in your life than you did at 21, making it difficult to focus on eating right and training regularly. And the enthusiasm you once had for exercise—especially if you haven’t seen the results you were hoping for—may have waned, too.

You might feel that your body can’t handle the kind of punishment you used to dish out in your early twenties, and that it takes longer to recover than it used to.

But none of this matters. With the right type of training, you can still build muscle and get strong well into your forties, fifties, and beyond.

University of Oklahoma researchers compared people of different ages who followed the exact same program for eight weeks. They found that guys between 35 and 50 years old built just as much muscle as those between 18 and 22 years old.

DEXA (duel-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scans showed that the college-aged men gained around two pounds of muscle, while the middle-aged men put on 2.5 pounds of muscle.

Moreover, strength gains in both the bench press (7 pounds for the college-aged men and 14 pounds for the middle-aged men) and leg press (55 pounds for the college-aged men and 40 pounds for the middle-aged men) were similar in both groups.

The basic rules for building muscle as you age are mostly the same. Yes, the number of times you’ve traveled around the sun will affect the speed at which you make progress. But your age isn’t something you can change, so there’s no point worrying about it. You just need to train smart.

People of different ages respond to training in much the same way. It’s only the size of your results and the speed at which you attain them that varies.

So if you’re entering your forties, fifties, or even sixties and want to build muscle without injury, you can still make great gains by applying a few simple rules to your training program.

Embrace the Light

If you lift heavy all the time, you'll start to notice little aches and pains in your knees, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

Eventually, those minor niggles will get so bad that they'll interfere with your training. It will take weeks—maybe even months—before they clear up and you can train properly again.

Luckily, the solution is very simple: If going heavy on certain exercises causes you pain, just go light instead.

Despite what some people might say, you can and will build muscle using lighter weights and higher reps.

In one study, high reps and light weights (3 sets of 30-40 reps) stimulated just as much muscle growth as heavy weights and lower reps (3 sets of 10-12 reps).

Doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions to failure promotes similar gains in muscle size as 7 sets of 3 repetitions with a much heavier weight.

Japanese researchers found that taking a light weight and lifting it slowly increased both muscle size and strength to a similar extent as heavy training at a normal lifting speed.

So mix it up. Heavy weights, medium weights, and light weights can all can be used successfully to gain muscle.

Keep Moving

The standard approach to dealing with an injury is to rest. But with some injuries at least, you may be better off moving.

Specifically, a form of resistance exercise known as eccentric training has been shown to work extremely well for the treatment of tendon pain in both the elbow and Achilles tendon. In some cases, it works better than surgery.

In one study, Swedish scientists studied the effect of heavy eccentric calf training in a group of 15 middle-aged recreational runners that had been diagnosed with Achilles tendinosis, which refers to a degeneration of the tendon’s collagen in response to chronic overuse.

They had been in pain for an average of 18 months. Subjects were told to go ahead with the training even if they experienced pain, and to stop only if the pain became disabling.

At the start of the study, the pain was so bad that it kept them from running. But after 12 weeks of daily eccentric training (3 sets of 15 repetitions twice per day), all the runners were back at their pre-injury levels.

A control group of 15 runners with the same diagnosis and duration of symptoms was treated conventionally. The conventional treatments were unsuccessful. All patients in the control group ended up having surgery.

In a group of subjects in their late forties with tennis elbow, the addition of an eccentric exercise known as the Tyler Twist to a standard physical therapy program led to a “marked improvement” in symptoms.

They did 3 sets of 15 reps daily for approximately 6 weeks. The treatment was effective in the majority of patients.

Similar results were seen in a group of men and women suffering from golfer’s elbow, even after all other treatments—physical therapy, cortisone injections, and pain killers—had previously failed.

There’s also some intriguing research to show that regular heavy strength training works just as well as eccentric training for the treatment of tendon pain.

The study, carried in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, compared three different treatments: corticosteroid injections, eccentric single-leg squats, and heavy slow (6 seconds per rep) resistance training.

Again, the researchers in this study emphasized the fact that pain during exercise was “acceptable” but shouldn’t get worse once the workout was over. At 12 weeks, all three treatments produced similar results.

But it was a different story after six months. Specifically, the eccentric and resistance training group maintained their improvements whereas they deteriorated in the corticosteroid group.

NOTE: If you’re injured, the first thing I’d suggest you do is get it checked out by a therapist rather than trying to sort it out yourself. And if what I’m telling you contradicts what they’re saying, take their advice and not mine.

Stimulate, Don’t Annihilate

It’s all too easy to tell yourself that the reason you’re not gaining muscle is because you’re not training hard enough. While lack of effort is certainly one reason why people fail to build a decent amount of muscle, it's not the only reason.

There are plenty of people out there who train extremely hard yet make little or no progress despite all they're effort.

Walking out of the gym feeling like you’ve just gone several rounds with Kimbo Slice might leave you thinking that your workout has been an effective one. But if it’s not part of a structured plan that moves you towards a specific goal then much of that effort will be wasted.

If you keep on pushing your body to the limit in every workout, several things will happen. In the evening you will have that “wired but tired” feeling where you want to go to sleep but you can’t. You’ll find yourself staring at the ceiling wondering why you’re still awake at 2 a.m. You’ll wake up the next day with your heart pounding, just as tired as you were the night before.

Trivial things that you never even noticed before will start to annoy you. You’ll feel anxious, moody, irritable. Worst of all, your results in the gym will dry up and you will gradually start to get weaker.

You need to train hard enough to stimulate progress, but not so hard that it has a negative impact on the quality of your other workouts.

Hard work is a tool used to stimulate a physiological improvement. It’s a means to an end, rather than the end itself.

Blast and Cruise

Your body isn’t a machine. It needs a rest now and again. Do this by including a “cruise” week (also known as a deload) for every 3 to 9 weeks of hard training.

Three weeks of intense training followed by a light week is a fairly widely accepted practice, although it’s not based on any research evidence that I’m aware of.

It’s not strictly necessary for everyone to deload after three weeks. But if I told you to deload “when you feel like it,” you probably wouldn't do it at all. And your body wasn’t designed to go “all out” for 52 weeks of the year without some kind of break.

In general, the closer you are to your genetic potential (i.e. the upper limit of what you’re capable of in terms of size and strength), the more often you’ll need to deload. Those who are farther away from their genetic potential will be able to reload less frequently.

Stretch What’s Tight

Static stretching has been heavily criticized in recent years. That’s because it doesn’t do a lot of the things it’s supposed to. Most of the research out there shows that stretching has little effect on muscle soreness, and doesn’t appear to do much for injury prevention either.

However, if you find that certain muscles feel a little “tight” (the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, and gluteals are the usual culprits), or there’s an “asymmetry” in flexibility (i.e. one leg feels substantially tighter than the other) then it’s worth experimenting with some static stretching to see if it makes you feel any better.

If you want a simple prescription for flexibility, aim to stretch any “tight” muscles for a total of 60 seconds per day.

Stretching for 60 seconds has been shown to improve flexibility more quickly than a 30-second or 15-second stretch in a group of subjects aged between 65 and 97, all with “tight” hamstring muscles. What’s more, participants who stretched for 60 seconds remained more flexible for longer than subjects in the other groups.

One stretch lasting 60 seconds or six stretches lasting 10 seconds work equally well when it comes to increasing flexibility. Regardless of the length of a single stretch, the key to improvement seems to be total daily stretch time.

Don't get discouraged if your flexibility hits a ceiling, though. Like most things, flexibility is influenced by your genes.

There’s a gene called COL5A1, which is linked to your hereditary level of flexibility. One version of the gene means you’re quite flexible, the other means you’re not. Which means that the rate at which your flexibility improves, as well as the point at which it stops improving, are not entirely under your control.

Three Is Enough

There is no correct training frequency that works for all people, all of the time. Nor are there rigid guidelines that determine exactly what your training routine should look like at any stage of life.

You may be doing just fine on a program that involves lifting weights 4 to 5 times a week. If that's the case, keep doing it.

However, from the studies I've read and my experience with clients, a program that involves lifting weights no more than three times a week is best for anyone in their forties. It allows for more recovery time, and keeps big, demanding exercises like the squat and the deadlift away from each other in your programming.

Take Your Time

Many in their late teens and early twenties will walk straight into the gym, do a few arm circles, and then jump straight into the heavy stuff. If you’re over 40, this approach will get you injured sooner or later. You have to make the time to warm up properly.

The exact warmup that you do will depend on what your workout looks like. It will also vary from person to person, depending on the environment you’re training in, how strong you are, and so on. So let me walk you through how I do it.

I like to start each workout with around 10 minutes of low-intensity cycling on an exercise bike. A rowing machine will also do the job just fine. This helps to raise your body temperature, which appears to be one of the main reasons that exercise performance is better in the evening than it is in the morning.

The amount of time you spend doing this will depend on the environment you’re training in. If it’s very warm, you might be able to get away with a few minutes on the bike or rowing machine. If it’s cold, you’ll need to spend a little longer warming up.

While I’m on the bike, I’ll open my training diary and write down what I’m about to do. This helps to clear my mind and gets me focused on the workout to come. Having a plan written down means that I don’t need to think about anything. All I need to do is follow the plan and focus on training as hard as I can.

Next, I move straight to my first exercise—usually one of the compound lifts, such as the bench press or squat —and perform 15 reps with an empty bar. Then, I progressively increase the weight over the course of several sets.

All of this helps to prepare the joints, the muscles, and the nervous system that controls those muscles for the heavy work to come.

While a good warmup can reduce the risk of injury and improve your performance, it doesn’t need to last forever. Foam rolling, dynamic activation drills, and various “alignment” exercises can be useful at certain times and for certain individuals.

Don't just copy what other people are doing—choose things that are actually helping your own body and workout.

Pick Your Battles

Some people have a bone structure that makes them better suited to certain exercises than others. You might not be built for deep squats with a heavy barbell across your shoulders, deadlifts from the floor, chinups from a straight bar, or bench pressing through a full range of motion.

If you’ve got short arms and long legs, for example, it'll be a lot harder to deadlift from the floor without rounding your back compared to someone with long arms and short legs.

But that doesn’t mean you should give up on the deadlift. Just do rack pulls instead, using a starting position that allows you to maintain normal spinal curvature.

If your wrists hurt when you’re doing chinups from a straight bar, use a suspension trainer. This allows your wrists to move freely rather than being locked in the same position throughout the movement.

If the bench press hurts your shoulders, try the floor press, where you stop the bar 2 to 3 inches off your chest. Or use dumbbells with your palms turned in and elbows moved closer to your body (this one simple tweak is often enough to get rid of shoulder pain almost instantly).

And don’t worry if you can’t squat “ass-to-ankles” without losing the arch in your lower back. Squatting to parallel, or even slightly above parallel, is good enough. Studies have found that you don’t need to train through a full range of motion to make your muscles grow, especially if doing so causes you pain.

There are some exercises that will hurt no matter what. If so, don’t be afraid to ditch that exercise and find a similar one that doesn't. There is no single “must do” exercise that can’t be replaced with something else.

Christian Finn is a UK-based trainer who analyzes fitness and nutrition research at Muscle Evo .

Sometimes it's better to let people wonder how much you can lift.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Could the 40-yard dash become a thing of the past at the NFL Combine?

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
 Will we no longer see quarterbacks like Jameis Winston run the 40?

This article appeared recently.....

I hope so. I would ditch the 225lb. Bench Press for Max reps as well. While I agree with the conclusion here, I don't agree with the alternatives presented. Just who in the NFL runs in a straight line for any significant distance? Only a receiver who got behind the defensive backs or a running back who broke through the line of scrimmage, or the poor defensive players who are now chasing them! Offensive Linemen don't need to run anything over 5 yards most of the time. It's the first 3 steps that count at almost any position. It's also the ability to change direction quickly without loss of speed. I would suggest a short shuttle run as the best speed test for most players. A 20-30 yard zig zag around cones might make sense for a receiver, while a defensive back might do the same pattern back pedaling.
The 225 for reps bench has long been a pet peeve of mine. Football is a great example of a sport that uses the ATP-PC energy system exclusively. The average play last 6 seconds or less, there is a 30 second break between plays. At the higher levels of competition players specialize on either offense or defense. Therefore they spend half the game waiting on the sidelines. Frequent substitutions are used at skill positions. I realize that recently the "hurry up" style came into vogue via the successes at Oregon. This changes the dynamics for some teams, but it's still an ATP-PC based activity. 
The game is played standing upright. (only poorly skilled players land on their backs)Why would a test of upper body strength-endurance done lying done have any value for predicting football success? Answer: It doesn't. I have seen several research studies in the NSCA Journals that suggest that the bench press for reps as done at the combines has no correlation to football success. I would suggest that pushing a weight sled for short distances would be a more reliable strength test. 
So how and when did these irrelevant tests get started? I'm not sure. I read that the legendary coach Paul Brown first used the 40 yard dash back in the 50's. I hear that the bench for reps started as it was convenient and relatively safe. So what if it doesn't matter for anything I guess. As the article below states, today these tests are perpetuated just because we have always done them. How's that for logic? I heard the late Al Davis of the Raiders never used the combine data, he just looked for guys who could play football. What a radical idea! Attitude, football savvy, and determination are not easily measured but count for at least 95% of football success in my opinion. The combine will continue, however, because of tradition and because there are a whole bunch of people who make a living off of promoting it, training athletes for it, selling products that are related to it...etc. 

Could the 40-yard dash become a thing of the past at the NFL Combine?
Matt Birk, the NFL's director of player development, hinted at the league making changes to the testing drills that have become a staple to the annual event.
"That's a project we'll be working on this offseason," Birk told ESPN on Friday. "Once we look at the data that was gathered in-game this year, it may be important to know how fast a wide receiver or defensive back can go 60 yards. Maybe for an offensive lineman it's only 20 yards.
"We can actually see that in-game: How far are these guys running? What are the real or improved measures of importance and value as it relates to evaluating players and whether or not they should be drafted in the first round or the sixth round?"
The NFL has used these drills to measure prospects for decades. But Birk thinks it's time for a different approach.
"We run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. Why? The only reason anyone can ever give you is, that's how it's always been done," Birk said.

Another dinosaur that should be extinct!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Genetics of Being Injury-Prone

This guy has better genes than his old man!

This article falls under the "DOH!!!" category. Of course genetics is a large factor in injuries. I guess if risks can be identified and quantified, then this would have some value. My own personal experience has been that sometimes the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I wanted badly to distinguish myself as an athlete. I can't imagine that anyone could "want it" more. I worked very hard and learned all that I could along the way. I ate better and trained more diligently than most of my competitors and as good and hard as any. While my best efforts paid off in improved results, I found that some of my competitors could train sporadically and live on pizza and beer and still manage better results than me. I also found that I could train so hard and so often that my body would break down. My desire and pain threshold allowed me to override common sense and the ability of my body to recover. My pattern was train like crazy until an injury slowed me down, then, recover and repeat the cycle. My spirit was ready, but my body just could not handle the stress.
I'm not complaining. I learned alot along the way and was able to achieve a level well above the average. As I became more mature, I also realized that each of us does ultimately have a genetic "ceiling" that no amount of hard or smart work can defeat. However no one knows where this ceiling is until they have given it their best effort over a long period of time. There is joy in the journey and no effort is wasted.  But, we need to realize that we are not all created equal when it comes to physical durability and potential.

Researchers are beginning to understand how DNA makes some athletes more likely to get hurt.

IAN MCMAHAN FEB 20 2015, 10:30 AM ET

Injury is a fact of life for most athletes, but some professionals—and some weekend warriors, for that matter—just seem more injury-prone than others. But what is it about their bodies that makes the bones, tendons, and ligaments so much more likely to tear or strain—bad luck, or just poor preparation?

A growing body of research suggests another answer: that genetic makeup may play an important role in injury risk.

A review article recently published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine emphasizes that research on the genetics of sports injuries “holds great potential for injury prevention for athletes at every level.” The authors, from Stanford University’s department of developmental biology and genetics, believe that genetic testing also gives athletes valuable information that might increase their competitive edge.

Stuart Kim, one of the study’s authors and a professor of genetics at Stanford, says his interest in sports injuries began almost by accident. “I initially intended to study the genes associated with the large size of NFL lineman, but the athletes weren’t really interested in finding out the genetic reasons why they were so big,” Kim says. “But they were extremely interested in figuring out what injuries they were more likely to sustain.”

Genetic information can be valuable for amateur athletes, too—regardless of skill level, someone about to join a recreational basketball league or a tennis club would be well-served to know if they’re at risk of blowing out an ACL or tearing an Achilles. Each year, around 2 million adults go to the emergency room for sports-related injuries, many of them acquired during pickup games or matches in recreational leagues.

"The athletes weren’t really interested in why they were so big. But they were extremely interested in what injuries they were more likely to sustain."
Within the field of sports-injury genetics, some studies have focused on variations in the genes that control the production of collagen, the main component of tendons and ligaments. Collagen proteins also form the backbone of tissues and bones, but in some people, structural differences in these proteins may leave the body’s structures weaker or unable to repair themselves properly after injury. In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2009, South African researchers found that specific variations of a collagen gene named COL1A1 were under-represented in a group of recreational athletes who had suffered traumatic ACL injuries. Those who had torn their ACL were four times as likely as the uninjured study subjects to have a blood relative who had suffered the same injury, suggesting that genetics are at least partially responsible for the strength of the ligament.

The same COL1A1 gene has also been linked to other soft-tissue injuries, like Achilles-tendon ruptures and shoulder dislocations. In a review article that combined the results of multiple studies on the COL1A1 gene, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2010, researchers concluded that those with the TT genotype—one of three potential variants of the gene, found only in 5 percent of the population—are extremely unlikely to suffer a traumatic ligament or tendon injury.

However, because of the vast complexity of the human genome, it’s highly improbable that a single variant within a gene can determine a person’s genetic risk for a given soft-tissue injury. Researchers agree it’s much more likely that these injuries, like complex conditions such as obesity or type 2 diabetes, are influenced by multiple genes. 

The COL5A1 gene, another one associated with collagen production, has been linked to a higher risk of injury of the ACL and Achilles tendon, as well as greater susceptibility to exercise-induced muscle cramping. A 2013 study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that specific variants of COL5A1 were strongly correlated with muscle cramping among runners in the Two Oceans Marathon in South Africa.

Researchers have also identified genetic markers associated with bone-mineral density, an important measure of bone strength that provides clinicians with information on a patient’s risk of fracture. One gene combination, investigated in a 2010 study in the journal BMC Genetics, was associated with a nearly four-fold increased risk of stress fractures among army recruits. A separate study, published in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine in 2009, found that osteoporosis in older women and increased rates of stress fractures in young women also tend to run in a family.

After a Rice University football player with sickle-cell anemia died in 2006, the NCAA began screening players for the condition.
Thus far, though, collegiate and professional sports have made only limited use of genetic testing. After a Rice University football player with sickle-cell anemia died in 2006 from complications related to exercise in the heat, the NCAA began screening players in 2010 to help those with the condition take the proper precautions. And Major League Baseball, after several high-profile instances of identity and age falsification among recruits from the Dominican Republic, began genetic testing in 2009 to verify the age of prospects in Latin America. (Some believe the MLB’s practice may violate the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, which prevents insurers and employers from considering genetics in their hiring decisions; because the NCAA does not employ its student athletes, it hasn’t faced the same criticism.)

As with other types of genetics research, some are worried that the information discovered by these tests could be used unethically—in this case, that it could lead to discrimination against certain athletes. “Assessing genetic information on injury risk should be dedicated to the benefit of the athlete or individual, not the organization,” Kim says.

But the largest market for sports-injury genetic testing may be the general public. A growing number of companies like 23andMe, Pathway Genomics, DNAFit, and Stanford Sports Genetics offer genetic tests that can tell the average consumer about his or her risk for sports injuries, including ACL ruptures, stress fractures, osteoarthritis, and spinal-disc degeneration.

Knowledge of genetics alone won't keep athletes from getting hurt. But it may, at the very least, reveal those at higher risk and help minimize future problems.  “We are still in the dawning age of genetic testing,” Kim says. “But new research is being conducted on a much greater scale that we hope will help us identify where and how genetic information can be used to avoid injury.”
And this one!

So does this one!
And her too!
And this one!

They all improved on their genetic inheritance!