The basics are the same. Our nervous system sends a signal. Groups of muscle fibers respond and contract. Muscle groups work in concert with each other to create motion in our skeleton. The action of this muscle contraction is across the hinge of any variety of joint. Using this joint as a fulcrum, the two lengths opposite the joint either increase their angle or decrease their angle.
Got all that? Ok good. When our muscles contract and result in an increased or “opening” of this angle we call it extension. When we decrease or “close” this angle we call it flexion. There are plenty of other actions that can occur. Rotation, supination, pronation… but we are going to focus on extension and flexion.
We work out with the intent of increasing the strength and size of our musculature. At that the same time that we are working on our muscles, our body is also thinking about our bone structure. Without a skeleton to provide support our muscles become practically useless. Our bicep cannot create flexion with out a joint and to structures with which to create flexion. Just like a crane is useless without a cable AND a boom, we are not able to create the movement we need without both parts. Luckily with all the time that we spend working on our muscles, our body is smart enough also strengthen our skeleton. Read More
When it comes to fitness there are very few things that are set in stone. There are so many techniques, movements, and varieties of methods. It can be argued that some may be better than others but to some extent they may all hold some value. Our bodies are wonderous devices capable of far exceeding the limits that we believe them to have. So when it comes to training and preparing our bodies, there may not be a wrong or right way, but there are things that we do know to be true and are the standing concepts with which all of this running around, lifting weights, biking, running, and pure simple hours of sweat are based on.
That being the case there are several “laws” that we do know exist and operate with out fail. The first is known as the SAID Principle. For the sake of this conversation we will acknowledge it as being a “law”. The SAID Principle is “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands”. In simple terms our bodies get better at what we make them do. Read More
And so now it comes to this. We have a basic understanding of what caffeine does and what it can do for us, now we have to breech the topic that plenty of people don’t want to hear. What are the bad effects of caffeine?
Caffeine helps us delve into our “Fight or Flight” response to help increase our alertness, cognitive ability as well as our physical performance. Caffeine increases our cortisol and adrenaline, even when we are at rest, so drinking caffeinated beverages actually cause our body to feel like it is under stress. If we are continually or routinely exposing our body to the same stress our body adapts. In this case, if we are constantly taking in caffeine then the effects of the caffeine start to become weaker. In studies, it has been found that our body almost completely adapts to the epinephrine/adrenaline effects as well as the cardiovascular effects of caffeine within about a week of regular coffee consumption. The performance boost that we get from caffeine is just that, a boost. Our body adapts to the imposed stress of caffeine and becomes resistant to its effects. Read More
Some people already do it and but everyone has at least seen it, the guy with his shaker mixing up his pre-workout before they hit the gym. We have talked about the basics of what caffeine does inside our body, but can we use it to increase our performance.
Given that we have three different energy systems, we will have to explore the effects on all three if we really want to understand how it can improve our performance. Read More
Outside of sugar, one of the next most frequently abused and misunderstood ingredients hiding in our diet is caffeine. For some it is our morning ritual to have a nice hot cup of Joe to get us started, For others it might be that caffeine that is in our favorite can of soda, or those that like to mix up a pre-workout before they hit the gym, even worse yet there those that frequent one of the many brands of energy drinks or products. What does caffeine do and what does it do for me? Lets start with The Basics.
The largest source of caffeine in the western diet is Coffee. In and of itself coffee is not that bad for us, at least not until we start adding sugars and other ingredients to counter some of the bitterness in coffee. Soda, as we read before is already packed with sugar, but then there are energy drinks. Some of the early products were loaded with sugar but now we are starting to see more “low sugar” and “no sugar”. Regardless of how much sugar is present, the caffeine is still there. Read More
Anytime I talk to individuals or groups about nutrition, I always start with one not-so-simple step. You have to GIVE UP THE CRAP. It doesn’t matter whether you want to follow a Paleo Diet, a Zone diet, or anything else, there are things we all know we should stay away from. The problem lies with all the things that pull us away from the healthy things that we should be eating. As a culture, we are being over whelmed with advertisements for food and beverages with promises of “low-fat”, “low-sodium”, “fat-free”, “reduced fat”, “No sugar added”, etc etc… These all sound great, but what we think they mean and what they actually mean are some times light years apart. We become victims of relying on our nutritional knowledge from the people who wish to sell us their products. One of the most notorious is the things that we hear about sugar.
We find sugars in just about every type of food that we consume, and we can get down to how these sugars are used in our body for energy and to support life, but the most pressing issue is excess sugar. We all know what this means without much explanation. I am not talking about fruits and veggies. I am talking about the candy, soda, and fruit drinks. The things that should not be part of our balanced diet. Oddly enough, even if you look at the Food and Drug Administration requirements for what foods can be considered healthy, Sugar is not even one of the considerations. Read More
Lets get philosophical for a moment. In the talk of fitness and the pursuit of health one thing can sometimes get left out. Its not easy, in some cases its down right hard, and its not always fun. Sometimes the workouts are hard and then sometimes devastating. Sometimes it seems easy to eat healthy, and then other times it feels like we are surrounded by temptation in the form of cookies, soda and (insert appropriate guilty pleasure here). There isn’t a party or cheerleaders when you resist the temptation or finish a workout. So why do we keep doing it? Can we learn to enjoy the “grind” and take pleasure in the process and not just the results?
Lets take a look back in history and mythology at the most epic grinder of them all: Sisyphus.
The story of Sisyphus comes from Greek mythology. He is known more for his punishment in death, than the things that he did in life. His life was interesting enough, but we will concentrate on his punishment and death. In case your are curious however. The Myth of Sisyphus
Sisyphus, for his deeds in life was sentenced to an eternity of rolling a massive boulder up a mountain, only to reach the top and have the boulder roll back down. The Greek gods felt that there would be no worse punishment than to endure an eternity of futile and fruitless labor. Read More
There is no substitute for sleep. That’s it. If you want to perform well, then go to bed at a decent time, get 8 hours of sleep each night. There is no further explanation needed. But just in case you want to know more, then here we go.
Sleeping is not being lazy. Sleeping is recovery. Too much sleeping is being lazy. Not enough sleep is detrimental to your performance, mood, stress and health. For what ever reason American culture has tried to equate working longer and sleeping less with productivity. Staying up later and later at night. Either working, partying, watching TV, surfing the internet, or what ever your late night distraction may be. The truth is that most of us are probably not getting the rest that we need. We either have bad sleep hygiene, bad schedules, or just a bad understanding of what it means to rest. Read More
In 1968, John McCallum developed a way for bodybuilders and other weight lifters to put on strength and mass. The plan was simple: squat heavy and drink plenty of milk. There were a few more details worked into it, but the premise remained. Squats were the keystone of any weight training, and milk was abundant with vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It was not an easy program, but one thing was very evident. The people that did the program and did not drink milk, fell far from those that were drinking milk.
We come into this world and our first source of nutrition is milk. Nothing better than Mama’s milk. Lets face it, when we are born we are essentially in our first bulking cycle. We eat, sleep and grow. At some point though, we are weaned off breast milk and are introduced to other varieties. It was accredited to farmer’s that we first started drinking cow’s milk. Read More