Search

Posts Tagged ‘health’

Does jogging make you slow?

Yes and no.

If you only jog for a number of months then you will get considerably slower. I experienced this myself first hand lately. I started playing soccer again after years and years of not playing, aside from maybe one game per year.

I was still speedy in those intermittent games (so long as I wasn’t socialising the night before), no pace had been lost. My stamina had been very poor though, because I’d only been strength training, playing golf and watching my diet.

This year I wanted to also get great cardiovascular fitness as well. So I added jogging three times per week to my regime.

I’m starting to play soccer regularly now. Stamina has improved considerably on the pitch, but I can’t believe how much pace and speed I’ve lost. I can keep on going and going, but my ability to keep up intense work (work capacity) and speed are almost non-existent.

So I’ve learned from this and have added sprinting and interval work into my regime. My speed is coming back and the better work capacity should follow soon as well.

To be honest, it’s not a bad idea to build an aerobic base of stamina first, because first and foremost you need to be able to keep going and also it helps your recovery from hard sessions.

As disappointed as I was with my loss of speed, the fact is I probably gave a better overall performance than the days when I had the speed, but lacked stamina.

Even when slow, I’d arrive in goalscoring positions and get back to defend a lot more, and this gives you more chance to use your hopefully decent skills and finishing. I also had more in the tank than other players as the game wore on, and started to influence the game more and score more.

It’s not easy to go straight into a full fitness regime so maybe this was a decent approach. However, I’m happy the speed is coming back. It’s a great thing to have, not just for running, but it also hugely helps your ability in having quick feet for skills and tackling.

The plan I have now is to play two 1.5-2 hour five a side games per week and do one tempo interval session as well, to cover aerobic fitness. All other sessions will be based on skills, strength, speed, agility and flexibility.

I’m replacing all jogging with the games and a tempo interval session, which is running repeats at 75% of max for 10 seconds and resting a minute or until heart rate goes to 130 bpm, and doing this for 15 to 30 minutes depending on if it is a light or full session. This is basically aerobic training done by easier sprints and work capacity training. It’s not full out intervals, which are great for work capacity, and it’s not jogging either. It’s intervals for aerobic capacity and some work capacity.

This is what sprinters do for conditioning. They are afraid of jogging causing a loss of speed and so am I now!
However, I’m not sure jogging would have any effect on speed so long as you maintain your sprint and speed work. Some boxers and mma fighters maintain blinding speed with regular jogging on top of their speed routines, so that suggests it isn’t a problem if not done in isolation.

But it may be better for athletes that need maximum speed to stick to games and tempo intervals. It is something to consider, it may be more specific to the needs of certain types of sports. In soccer for example, it is all bursts and recovery, which is more suited to tempo intervals and outright speed training on top of games and regular training.

All in all this is something that needs consideration. If you want to build an aerobic base from scratch you are probably better starting with walking alternating with jogging and building up to jogging. However, if you also need or want speed, then beware that this cardio work alone will take all speed away (over a period of months).
Have speed work as part of your routine as well, if so required.

Why I love heart rate monitors and why you should too

Training intensity is crucial for injury prevention, optimal progress, knowing what cardiovascular system you are improving, how hard to train and many more things.

Heart rate monitors give you feedback.

They will tell you how hard to train and even how often. This is invaluable.

Based on your age and maximum heart rate you can work out the heart rate zone you should be training in. For aerobic fitness you will want to be staying in the 70-80% zone. Any higher than this for long periods on a continual basis and you run the risk of injury or burnout.

This will also derail progress because you won’t be recovering properly. You need to train hard enough, but not over do it.

With modern heart rate monitors you can even set the heart rate zones so that it beeps when you go out of a particular zone. This really helps in my experience. There’s no ambiguity.

It’s also very easy to stick to a progressive plan this way.

The best heart rate monitors I’ve used are Polar fitness watches. They are great. Also beware that most HRM’s on machines aren’t always accurate for some reason. You are better off just biting the bullet and getting a proper one.

Nowadays there are also Heart Rate Variability or HRV testers. These are really useful in indicating how well you’ve recovered and how hard to train on any given day. This is also really useful because it can be hard to know when to go all out and when to train easy. This gives you physiological markers that tell you what would be best. There is a sweetspot for the most effective training and it is enough stimulation to force adaptation but not so much to burn you out.

If you overtrain you are open to injury, underperformance or adrenal burnout, and this can totally derail your training until you heal.

I use a HRV monitor called ithlete everyday. It cost £40 and comes with an app. You wrap the sensor over your index finger and plug it into your phone. The app then tells you what condition you are in today, how recovered you are and how hard to train. It is so useful.

These tools give you a better plan, one that is more enjoyable, more definite, increases performance and helps you stay clear of preventable injuries.

I highly recommend making a relatively small investment in these training monitors that will give you benefit for years to come.

Why not all research, or rather, not all interpretation of the research, is created equal.

This article is going to outline why you also have to use your own head, no matter how much of a supposed expert the person you are dealing with is.

I’m not into dogma, because it results in anything from lack of progression/innovation to downright incompetence. I always encourage people to write their own notes on any material and get their own experience. I think my writings are very well researched and tested, and they do get great results, but that’s not the point.

Every system has to evolve, get better and more accurate. Furthermore, each person who wants to master a subject can get a shortcut to the gold, but they won’t have any mastery until they’ve put their own perception and stamp on it.

For one thing you’ll have to tweak it to your own needs, goals, body, personality, capabilities and lifestyle. I really want to teach people to be their own coach.

Another big reason I do that is because that’s where the real progress and understanding comes from. When you really know the picture of things first hand you gain an extra level of motivation and vision for just how far you can get. It will also safeguard you against dogma that is inaccurate. You get a lot of experts who just rehash stuff, often information that was incorrect to begin with.

Some degree courses are teaching health and fitness information that is actually based on a business model and not science. In conventional medicine, for example, you have a setup where Doctors are taught to treat symptoms and not root causes. Plus they are using allopathic medicine, because it is the only licensed treatment. That was a policy made by government lobbies. Law was passed that you had to pay $20 million to get ‘official’ research. You can’t patent healing, natural substances the drugs are usually based on (without the side effects), penny on the dollar medicines or any other processes by which the body is aided in healing itself. Without the patent you can’t corner the market and make the $20 million back, so no one is going to do that. Also only large corporations can afford to outlay the initial $20 million anyway.

Therefore the system is not setup for the best results and science, it is setup for a monopoly and one particular type of medicine, which as it happens is very ineffective at curing people, 90% of the time. I’m not totally against pharmaceutical drugs because they can be useful, and in emergencies can save lives. However, with chronic illness they are largely a business con. They are very expensive, usually ineffective at curing, just treat the symptoms, have a lot of side effects (sometimes even causing death) and create repeat customers. I don’t want to be having a go at Doctors because in emergencies they save lives. This dogma is pushed on Doctors and they are a generally speaking a conservative bunch by nature, highly technical, strong at passing tests and carrying out the current system very well, for better or worse. There’s a lot of the worse around at the minute, unfortunately.

And not many of them are doing anything about it, but there are of course some doctors out there too who are brilliant at curing chronic illnesses as well.

We also have issues with independent research because it’s usually anything but. In 2002, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected journals of medicine, made a startling announcement. The editors declared that they were dropping their policy stipulating that authors of review articles of medical studies could not have financial ties to drug companies whose medicines were being analyzed. The reason? The journal could no longer find enough independent experts. Drug company gifts and consulting fees are so pervasive that in any given field, you cannot find an expert who has not been paid off in some way by the industry. So the journal settled for a new standard: Their reviewers can have received no more than $10,000 from companies whose work they judge.

So all the money coming into research, grants, education, medical seminars, FDA is all tied to big pharma. Plus the doctors are overwhelmingly being given this drug treatment picture in their training, a business model masquerading as good science.

Let’s get into the practicalities.

This is a typical situation: Take cholesterol issues, for example. A man goes to the doctor. The tests come back and his cholesterol is not in such good shape. The doctor tells him the only proven way to reduce his cholesterol is to go on a statin drug. This happened to a guy I know recently. I told him there was plenty of research that you could sort cholesterol issues out completely by reducing body fat, inflammation and improving fitness.  You do this with a decent diet plan, a supplement or two like omega 3 fish oil and a good workout plan. He said ‘sure I did that the last time I had high cholesterol, because the statin drugs made me feel awful before that and I went back and my tests were fine, plus I never felt better’. ‘There you go’ I said to him, I’ve seen that plenty of times myself as well.

Essentially the doctor had him on a dangerous drug proven to actually block the CoQ10 pathway, which is an important muscular energy nutrient. And guess which muscle requires it the most? Yes, the heart! Statin drugs might treat the symptoms of high cholesterol, but it’s not addressing the cause, which is inflammation (which causes arterial damage which is then repaired by cholesterol glueing it up). Inflammation is usually caused by stress, excessive adipose tissue (body fat), magnesium deficiency or a lack omega 3 in the diet.

So getting to the title of this article, not all research is created equal. The research says statins reduce cholesterol. Blood thinner medication thins blood. But they are addressing the symptom, not the cause. And they have many bad side effects. Blood thinning medication is similar in make up to rat poison, I lie you not. They actually use rat poison in the army at times during emergencies, which is fine, I mean you use what you have at the time. However, someone taking that everyday, that’s BAD science.

It’s completely missing the big picture. Conventional medicine and the west is obsessed with details (left brained) to the point that it is easily duped by business. The big picture (using the right brain) and other important details are completely missed. The Chinese and other Eastern medical doctors find this laughable, and rightly so.

You have to get to why the person has high blood pressure and address that. Otherwise, just giving a drug is going to leave the problem unabated and health degrades. Often people end up on 2-8 different drugs per day and in a nightmare situation with their health. The result of all of the above is that illness is increasing at all ages in the most ‘developed’ countries in the world (WHO statistics). It’s absolute madness, not to mention the costs involved, which is just more money going directly from the taxpayers pocket to the rich corporate owner’s coffers.

This ignorance helps the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

It’s a total nonsense. And it all starts with dogma.

Regarding fitness, there was a study published about interval training being nine times more effective than steady state (jogging or similar) for fat loss. Turns out the reality in the study and not the notes, was that the participants had lost 1mm extra at nine different points of the body. That’s a minor amount better, overall, nowhere near the claimed amount.

When we look at what the research really says and test things out for ourselves we start to work out the big picture and the details. We have first hand mastery, not dogma from someone else, who may have their own inaccurate conclusions or even an agenda. Intervals are not nine times more effective, they are slightly more effective for fat loss. Overall, however, both together is even better because you can’t do intervals too often or you burn out.

So you can have research that is twisted up or ignoring other large factors, or not taking the big picture into account and more. Also, no one can fully understand you, your life, your circumstances, health, personality etc. like you can.

Listen to people who get results and speak sense, but also be your own coach! It’s a guard against the epic fail and it’s the only way to great success!

Why most vegetable oils are not good for you

We have a diet that is imbalanced to omega 6 fatty acids, instead of omega 3. Nearly all vegetable oils are rich in omega 6. We need that too, but we already get plenty of it from food. We don’t get enough omega 3 and they are anti-inflammatory. Too much omega 6 is pro-inflammatory. Inflammation causes problems with cholesterol, cardiovascular issues, pain, joint issues and all sorts of other goodies.

That’s why fish oil is recommended so often, because it gives you plenty of omega 3’s in the direct form of DHA (which doesn’t have to be broken down).

You should also try to limit any other oils you take, because they are probably omega 6. Olive oil in a small amount is good, because it is omega 9 and those help the cell membranes, but we tend to be okay for omega 9 anyway.

Also, vegetable oils that are omega 3, like Flax seed oil, are basically useless because the enzymes needed to break them down are usually tied up with all the other fats we assimilate.

That’s why it is best to supplement with fish oil.

A good vegetable oil to use is coconut oil. It doesn’t need to be broken down and although it’s not addressing the omega fatty acid balance either way, it is a great source of energy. It enters the system straight away and actually aids fat burning. It helps the body to use fat for fuel, and especially in the first half of the day, it can also aid the body in mobilising and burning body fat (by processes described in the book).

It also contains stearic acid, as does bacon, which is very good for cell membranes.

Granma knew best when she gave you bacon and eggs.

Despite the publicity, the real science says animal fat is good for you and vegetable fats are often a problem creator. I wouldn’t go crazy on the saturated fat because although it is good for you (also good for cell membranes), too much of it can cause cell membranes to get too rigid, but that’s at a crazy amount. It’s not a huge worry. However, fish or chicken without skin is sometimes better than beef.

There are also warnings about dietary cholesterol, but blood cholesterol gets high from inflammation and not directly not from diet.

Diet does play a large role, but indirectly.

The main cause of inflammation is excess body fat and an imbalance of too much omega 6 in the diet (not enough omega 3). Plus, excess body fat is ironically not caused by too much fat in the diet, but too many carbs. Body fat is stored via insulin, which is stimulated by carbs. Carbohydrates are bad if not used correctly. They are what we need to watch and the omega 6 vegetable fat, not the animal fat.

The best diet for health and fat loss is described very well at www.precisionphysique.com/carbbackloading.html

Why building the mind-muscle connection is important to any sportsperson, bodybuilder or gym goer

It’s important because this unseen aspect of training will increase your results.

What is the mind-muscle connection? It’s basically how many nerves are going between your brain and your muscles, and how well grooved the pathways are.

If there are more neurons and connections in your brain for handling certain muscles, then they will function better, contract with more force, fire faster, with more control, coordination etc.

A lot of this is built simply by regular training. If you lift weight you are building the mind-muscle connection to make it stronger. You are building the physical structure in muscle fibre, but you are also building the skill of strength. Your brain is also adapting to get better.

The same goes for any type of training. You have to perform technique a certain amount of times before it is second nature. That’s all neuromuscular adaptation, the neurons getting a blueprint for how to do a movement (using muscles). Anyone who’s trained for a decent amount of time, eventually gains a supra awareness of their body, ‘the mind is more in the body’. It may be noticed as simply feeling muscles contract, but it is a powerful perception and a sign of increased ability.

Furthermore, we can amplify the connection with certain exercises, and it adds a lot to results.

For example, using ballistic exercises not just builds more speed, but it is also very helpful to strength training and general performance. This is because deliberately firing muscles faster is a mental focus that builds the mind-muscle connection. It’s not uncommon for people to increase their bench press 100lbs from adding ballistic training for the chest and shoulders. A lot of this is due to engaging and growing fibres not hit in heavy resistance training, but it is also largely to do with neuromuscular adaptations.

We know it is also nerve power increase because using a different focus during strength workouts also increases lifts quite a bit.

Long term, these practises will make a very noticeable difference. We outline exactly how to put this in a program in our book, Precision Physique: Training (module 2).

How to grow a body part

This might seem like a strange title. Why not just say ‘how to build muscle mass?’

Well, that’s too general for some people’s purposes. Some people only want to grow certain body parts for sporting or aesthetic reasons.

So, can it be done? Yes, absolutely. You use exercises that target a certain body part and follow the rules of of mass building.

In building muscle size it is all about using high resistance and fatiguing the muscle. There is quite a bit of debate as to exactly how to do that, but the generally accepted wisdom is that you need to use 8-20 repetitions and not a lot of rest in between; 40 seconds to 2.5 minutes.

What we generally advise is to start with a weight where you can do 12 reps to failure (after a warm up set of 10 with a weight 50% or so lighter), take 40 seconds rest and do 4 sets with the same weight. You’ll probably end up at about 8 reps on the 4th set. Over a few weeks you will be able to do more reps. When you can do 20 reps on the first set with that weight, that’s when we advise going up to a weight you can do 12 reps with and start the process again.

This will keep the sets in the 8-20 repetition bracket, at a challenging and progressive resistance for you and will provide a lot of muscular fatigue. Any body part you do this with will start to grow and increase in size.
Other body parts can be exercised in the same way or differently. Muscle building is specific in that way, it’s about what is being hit and how.

What are good body measurements?

There are actually body measurements that are ideal for your height and gender.

And they are attainable long term for anybody with the right training and diet.

They are also not the stereotypes you often see on the front of a bodybuilding or fashionista magazine. Those dudes are often too big and the girls are often too skinny.

That’s not just what I am saying, that is what the maths is saying as well. There is a number throughout nature called Phi, or the perfect ratio. It is the design number. It is in everything from seashells, to plants, to animals, to humans. It is also used in roads, buildings, credit cards, cars, cereal boxes and lots of other things to make them structurally sounder, more visually appealing and to sell more.

Nearly all the great physique statues are on these numbers as well. We discuss the numbers in depth in our book, Precision Physique.

The extremes don’t look right, it is commercialism to try to get people after the unattainable (and actually undesirable), so they will keep buying magazines, the supplements they own, the clothes they advertise and so on.

The young people who are hell bent on getting the drug induced physiques in the pictures end up shooting steroids or with eating disorders. Not good.

So it is not just interesting information to talk about the correct health and physique goals, but it is actually very important information.

There’s nothing worse than a lean girl thinking she would look better if she was skin and bone. Her health, life and even appearance will end up in bits.

The idiots who perpetuate this madness (in the images and articles they write) need to be called out. Hopefully then eventually everyone will be aware of it and then no younger people will want to buy the stupid mags anymore (until they start publishing good material).

Is High Intensity HIIT Cardio Better For Fat Loss Than Steady State Cardio (Like Jogging)?

It is better for fat loss, but not as good as using both.

They both have pluses and minuses when it comes to burning body fat.

High intensity is great at releasing body fat and steady state is great for burning it off so that it doesn’t go back to fat storage.

Either type of cardio will burn body fat, under the right circumstances.

However, from the research and our experience HIIT is superior for fat loss because it encourages sugar to be converted into glycogen and put into carbohydrate storage in muscles. It encourages this more than sugar being converted into fat and put into fat stores. It also does this more than steady state cardio.

That’s not to say steady state exercise encourages fat storage. That’s not true either, it’s just not as effective for changing body composition.

But using both will give you the best results. HIIT is better for teaching the body to mobilise fat, and steady state is better at teaching the body to use fat for fuel. You can also do more steady state than HIIT, which means you can train more by using both, leading to greater results.

A lot of people are trying to suggest that steady state is bad for you. It’s not. Any bad results are due to overtraining, plain and simple. Too much of anything, too often, is bad for you. With steady state, overdoing it just takes longer to show up and does so in a more subtle fashion than usual, and that’s where the confusion comes from. Problems that arise from steady state overtraining are also nearly always accompanied by a lack of resistance training and excessive prolonged calorie restriction.

Using a well designed program and good tests to see when you need rest, will avoid this problem. We have a top quality cardio program in our book Precision Physique: Module 2 training, which covers all types of cardio in the one program. We also make sure you don’t overtrain.

If you do cardio correctly it is a very good fat loss strategy. And if you are strategic in using all types of cardio, then the results are even better.

How much recovery do we need between resistance workouts?

The recovery we ‘need’ between resistance workouts depends on various factors.

It depends on the intensity of the last workouts; stress, sleep, age, recovery ability, other exercise, workload, illness and more. In other words, recovery is ever changing.

Luckily, we are very adaptive and all is not lost if you go back to the gym too soon. You can just do what you can, or, if you feel it is counterproductive, you can take an early bath. Either way, sooner or later you will be able to improve your workout results when your body has adapted and recovered to the stimulus you put on it.

A good rule of thumb is that you should be progressing over a few weeks. If you aren’t then you’re either overtraining or undertraining. You also need to pay attention to how you feel. If training is negatively affecting your sleep or your other activities then it is being overdone. Overtraining will also make it a lot harder to progress your gym work as well. It’s not all about working hard to get better. You also need to know when to back off.

If you are undertraining you will feel a bit flat in the gym, not stimulated enough. If you don’t give the body enough reason to adapt, then it won’t, and your results will also stay the same or worsen.

You only need to have a rough idea of how long it takes you to recover. And you only get that by experience.

You will also need to keep an eye on how your body (and results) respond when you change your routine (add more sessions, or add a new type of training).

For example, if I train with partial repetitions (in my strongest range), I can use double the weight. This is far more intense on the nervous system, trains the connective tissues harder and also takes longer to recover from.

But I won’t always train this way because training sporadically also has disadvantages. One of them is you lose your hormonal and blood flow response to training, which is also good for health, athletic performance and well being. I use both normal strength training and partial reps, but I have to understand how I will recover from each one.

Over time I’ve learned how often to train and with what intensity, to keep progressing.

Hopefully this information will speed up your learning curve. However, you will only learn how you recover and adapt to exercise through experience.