Monday, December 26, 2016

The Health and Fitness Benefits of Cold Showers

Just talking about a cold shower makes people nervous so why in the world would anyone deliberately subject themselves to one?  As it turns out there are some very real health and fitness benefits to subjecting yourself to the cold in a deliberate process.
One of the biggest benefits is building will power and emotional resilience  When you do something you are resistant to every day you develop mental strength and discipline.    Cold showers can also train you to be more resilient in the face of stress in your life in general.   If you stick with it you will not only learn to tolerate it you will become used to it and be able to relax even with cold water pouring all over you!
Another benefit is that your body actually ramps up its innate production of anti-oxidants!   In this study, , cold water swimming measurably ramped up swimmers production of anti-oxidants as an adaptive response to cold exposure!
Needless to say an early morning cold shower will totally wake you up and increase alertness!
Cold showers also improve skin and hair quality – cold causes increased blood flow to the skin
Cold Showers can accelerate fat loss – all mammals (including humans) have two types of fat – brown fat and white fat.    White fat is what we all hate and too much can cause all sorts of metabolic issues.   Brown fat aka BAT for “Brown Adipose Tissue – is just the opposite.   Brown fat actually burns calories – that’s right!  The reason for brown fat is to generate heat through calorie wasting so it is our best friend when it comes to burning fat at rest.  Cold showers activate brown fat.   In fact, in a Scandinavian Study, researchers found that exposure to chilly temperatures caused a 15-fold increase in the metabolic rate of brown fat in their healthy adult volunteers. They figure that if a way could be found to activate the typical person’s stores of brown fat, it would burn off at least 9 pounds of regular (white) fat a year.
Cold Showers can help naturally increase Testosterone Levels and Boost Fertility – heat on male genitals definitely decreases testosterone production which is why the male genitalia are located outside of the body.  Conversely cold increases testosterone production. A study at USCF showed that men stopped taking regular hot baths showed a sperm count increase of up to 491%.
Cold Showers also improve circulation – by increasing blood flow to your organs to keep them warm.
Cold showers can also improve immunity – studies have shown increased activation of white blood cells from cold exposure.
Cold showers can even potentially help relieve depression – they increase norepinephrine which is an excitatory neurotransmitter and there is even some research on this subject:
But how do you get started with cold showers? It is not as hard as you think!  First you can get the benefits without starting with cold water.    You can start with a warm or hot shower then finish with 2 – 5 minutes of cold.    Start with whatever you can tolerate and gradually build time until you can comfortably stand 5 minutes.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

How much rest time should you take between resistance training sets?

One of the most common questions about weight training aka resistance training is how long should you rest between each exercise set?     If you take a look at the relevant research concerning this topic there are some good answers.

For a long time, researchers believed that shorter rest periods were better for increasing muscle size which was thought to occur because of increased levels of metabolic stress by not allowing complete recovery.    However, research done in 2015 shows that using longer rest periods actually results in better results for both increased muscle size and increased muscle strength.     It is thought that this occurs because longer rest periods allow a higher training volume (more repetitions of each exercise).

Another aspect to consider is whether most of your workout uses compound exercises (compound exercises use multi-joint exercises using more muscle mass such as a chest press vs a pec dec or pull-up vs an Lat Pullover).      In a 2012 study researchers found that with shorter rest periods workout volume decreased for both single-joint and multi-joint compound exercises.       However, the decrease in volume in workouts with short rest periods tended to be significantly greater with multi-joint compound exercises vs single-joint exercise (29% reduction in volume with multi-joint as compared to 15% with single- joint exercise). So for strength routines focused on compound, multi-joint movements increased rest time is probably a good idea.

Another study which looked at the effects of rest interval length on training volume discovered another important item:    reduction in training volume occurs mainly between 1 and 2-minute rest periods.    The percentage difference between 2 and 3-minute rest periods is much smaller, except when doing 5 or more sets of an exercise.     So, for people doing 3 – 4 sets per exercise, 2 minutes is a good rest interval, but if doing 5 or more sets you should probably extend the rest interval to 3 minutes.

Another important piece of information is that recreational lifters who self-determine rest periods tend to rest just under 2 minutes between sets meaning that for most lifters doing 3 to 4 sets of several exercises whose goal is increased muscle size and strength you probably do not need to time your rest intervals and can go just go by feel.

Timing rest intervals becomes more important for advanced resistance training such as Power Lifting and Bodybuilding, but for most of us we can just go by how we feel!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ketogenic Diet Guide

One of the most popular dietary approaches is called the Ketogenic Diet.    Although it seems new the fact is that this approach has been around for many years – initially it was popularized because it was proven to be a highly effective treatment for epilepsy.
Just a warning upfront – the Ketogenic diet is NOT for everyone.    It is VERY different and it will take your body a good 2 weeks to a month to adjust to this major shift in eating patterns.  That being said once you do – you will likely feel phenomenal and notice more energy, better mental focus, and improved exercise endurance.
This approach causes a major metabolic shift forcing your body, including your brain, to use ketones for fuel which are derived from fat.    It quite literally ramps up fat use, but it is a big adjustment for some.
Who should NOT try this approach?
People who cannot eat fats such as people without a gall bladder or with gall bladder disease.
People who really dislike fats and cannot imagine not eating lots of high sugar and starch foods such as pasta, bread, rice, fruit juices et.
People being treated for any disease including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, etc. - unless under the supervision of a physician
Who is this approach good for?
People interested in maximizing fat burning and minimizing appetite
People who want to optimize endurance and minimize bodyfat levels
There are two ways to do it:
Slow adjustment over time – results less quick but less challenging
Or just jump right in
For a great beginners guide to Ketogenic Diet click here:
Best book to really understand the power and health benefits of this approach once your body adjusts to it:     The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living – Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney can buy it Amazon or anywhere and here is their website:
If you want to embrace this approach download the CRON-O-Meter food tracking app. To track your intake of protein, fats, sugars, starches, and fiber along with net carbs (total carb minus fiber).   It is available for android or iphone. 
Keys to Success:
Ideally you really keep your macronutrients tight at 70 – 90% fat, 10 – 20% protein, and 5% carbs – the chronometer app will help you get a handle on this.
You must count EVERY gram of sugar and starch and fiber you eat.  Fiber is non-digestible so has no caloric or metabolic impact.    Higher fiber intake is important, and one of the keys is avoiding sugar and starch while increasing your intake of fiber – see lists of foods to avoid and foods to eat below.
It is VERY important to NOT eat low fat – 70 – 90% of your calories MUST come from fat.   If you try to eat low fat and eat low carb all you eat is protein – you will feel HORRIBLE – not good for you! 
Water intake is very important – try to drink your bodyweight in ounces of water – you will get rid of a lot of water which is all good but you need fluids!!!
VERY important to eat PLENTY of salt – your body will dump salt like crazy so either use salt liberally or consider drink 2 – 3 bouillon cubes per day in hot water.   This can make the difference between feeling good and feeling lousy!
Supplement that can really help make the transition easier:  
Potassium and Magnesium Aspartate – best brand is Twinlab CellsMins – Potassium and Magnesium Advanced Mineral Transport
Organic Psyllium Fiber – mix into a shake
Shake Recipe
Organic Whey Protein (Jay Robb is great stuff)  – one serving/scoop 20  25 grams of protein – Strawberry flavored which comes in single serve packets as does Vanilla and Choclate.
Organic Half and Half – Quarter to half cup – remember you NEED fat on this diet!
OR Organic Cream – quarter cup
Water or Unsweetened Blue Diamond Almond Coconut Milk – want low or no carb.
You must reduce your intake of Sugar/Starch to less than 50 grams per day.   The lower the better and under 30 grams is even better – will help you make the shift FASTER!
Remember ALL starch turns into sugar so it is exactly the same thing metabolically! So this effectively means eliminating all of the following:
All sweets and deserts
Fruit Juices
Most fruits – small quantities of strawberries or blueberries or blackberries but most other fruit has tons of sugar
Potatoes and other root vegetables high in starch
No beer and stick with dry white wines or Vodka with a zero-sugar mixer for           alcohol
No crackers or cereal or pretzels – no grain!
No soda
No Corn
No Milk – can use cream and half and half as per below
No breaded/fried foods
No peas
No lima beans
FATS- are important to eat liberally!
Butter – want to buy and use grass fed organic butter such as Kerry Gold
Cream – organic only
Cream Cheese – full fat organic only
Avocado - organic whenever possible
Half and Half – organic only
Olive Oil - organic is always preferred
Coconut Oil - as above organic whenever possible
Cheeses – just full fat cheeses with no sugar/starch in them!   As above it is always better to choose organic cheeses to avoid contaminents.
VEGETABLES – Also important to eat liberally!
Tomato – raw
Brussel Sprouts
Okra – nothing breaded or fried
Green Beans
Cauliflower (RAW)
PROTEIN – 50 – 100 grams per day – excessive protein intake is not helpful
Meat – preferably grass fed organic and EAT the fat as well – very important you do NOT try to eat low fat on this diet – you need fat because it will become your preferred fuel
Shellfish – all good but nothing breaded and no added carb – fine to use butter!
Chicken – nothing fried or breaded!
Fish – stick with Alaskan Salmon or Salmon that says “Wild Caught Only”
Smoked Oysters
Cod – no breading
Red Snapper
Eggs – organic only – in any way you like them
Full Fat Organic Peanut Butter – but has some sugar/starch so count ALL of it!
Macadamia nuts – THE BEST – pure monounsaturated fat
Brazil Nuts
Mixed nuts
Sample Day’s Meals:
2 Tablespoons of Medium Chain Triglycerides from a product called Brain Octane – a very clean, easy to burn fat – about 130 calories all from fat – no taste whatsoever and immediately absorbed – really boosts energy!
Shake – either EAS Myoplex Ketogenic – OR the shake  described above – these are about 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs and about 400 – 500 calories
Snack – Full Fat Cheese – Cheddar usually and/or walnuts or almonds
Chicken (dark meat for fat) or Salmon (4 – 6 ounces smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese)
Snack – Bacon
Salmon with spinach, broccoli
Atkins Frozen Meals for quick meal in a pinch.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Training on Unstable Surfaces

Training on unstable surfaces owes most of its development to rehabilitation where it originated.   There are many unstable training surfaces including physioballs, foam pads, inflated rubber disks, and Bosu’s .   These surfaces are used on the training floors of most gyms.   The idea behind unstable training is that inconsistent motion stimulates sensory apparatus in the muscles and joints leading to increased sensory input and increased muscle activation.   In addition these movements cause muscles on both sides of the joint to co-contract.    Co-contraction occurs to some extent during virtually all movement.   When we significantly increase co-contraction the result is increased joint stability.

Increased co-contractions from unstable training can be very useful in the treatment of ankle instability and lumbar spine injury.  The fitness industry has adopted the concepts of unstable training from rehabilitation.  However, when we use a concept developed for rehabilitation we need to carefully evaluate how and when to use this approach in a healthy or athletic populations.

For example many trainers have clients perform shoulder presses while sitting on a physioball or standing on Bosu to increase core muscle activation.  However, this does not produce the desired result.  Studies show that doing shoulder presses on an unstable surface do NOT increase core muscle activation versus the same exercise done on a stable bench.

The reason for this result is that balanced vertical forces in alignment with the spine do not increase core muscle activity -- regardless of instability of the surface the exercise is performed on!  However the use of asymmetrical loading, like doing a one sided shoulder press, does increase core activation, but this is not increased further by being on an unstable surface.

Horizontal limb movements also increase core activation, but there is not a lot of evidence that adding an unstable surface increases this benefit.

When it comes to lumbar stabilization, research shows that exercises done on balls in a horizontal position (face up or face down) do increase core muscle activity.  So exercises like crunches, bridges, push-ups and push-ups on an unstable surface will result in increased core activation. 

When it comes to absolute force production performing exercises such as bench press or squats on an unstable surface significantly decreases force production and do not assist in the development of absolute strength.    So when training for increased strength -- performing exercises on stable surfaces is a better choice.   This same thing is true when working on increasing sprinting speed because training on a highly unstable surface increases ground contact time and force production which inhibits acceleration.  However, doing specific drills on a firm surface that provides slight rebound as PART of a sprint program can produce benefits. 

The other consideration when using unstable surfaces like a Bosu is that lifting mechanics are significantly altered, and researchers have suggested that training on highly unstable surfaces can actually increase the risk of knee injuries in certain populations!  This is not to mention the risk of injuries from hopping, jumping, and leaping on and off of unstable surfaces.

So the question is:   What role should unstable training play in developing programming for apparently healthy and athletic populations who are not injured?    Research suggests that a combination of unstable and stable training will provide the best results.     This brings up two more questions:

                Which should come first stable or unstable?

                What level of instability should be used with each particular person?

The answer to the first question is dictated by the rules of proper progression.   The three primary phases of stabilization training include: 
·         “Static” Stabilization (foundational)
·          “Dynamic” Stabilization (strength/endurance)
·          “Ultra-Dynamic” Stabilization (power)

Within each phase:
·         Start with bilateral strength development in stable environments because it is safer and will increase strength more.  
·         Next progress to stable single limb challenges
·         Then progress towards hopping and jumping skills in a stable environment
·         Then apply that new strength and power to tasks involving postural control on unstable surfaces.  

When it comes to how much instability to use with each person the answer will depend on the goal of the exercise and the ability of the individual.    So ideally you will use different levels of instability according to the goal of the exercise and the ability of the individual!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Importance of Matching the Fitness Assessment to the Client’s Goal

The primary purpose of doing an assessment with a new personal training client is to establish a baseline to measure progress against over time.   Implicit in this purpose is that the measurement must be a reliable indicator of the client’s goal.      
For example, if a client’s goal is to “get lean and long muscles but not get too big” as fitness professionals we know that in our world that means maintaining or slightly increasing muscle mass while reducing bodyfat levels.     
As such a relevant assessment for this particular goal would be body composition analysis.       As important as the assessment itself is -- helping the client understand how the assessment relates to their stated goal is even more important!
For example, clients come to us with preconceived beliefs about weight and appearance such as the belief that losing weight is the same as losing fat.     As fitness professionals we know this is NOT the case, but it is very important that we get the client to understand this so that they accept the validity of using body composition to assess their progress versus scale weight!
In this example use of pictures such as those showing 5lbs of fat and 5lbs of muscle (see below) or even better having actual physical models the client can hold and touch can really help to insure the client is on the same page with us.

The default assessment of most trainers is body composition, but this is not the best assessment for all goals.    For those clients whose primary goal is performance related such as lifting heavier weight, jumping higher, running faster, running longer, etc. a body composition test is NOT the right choice.   In these cases a specific performance related test such as a 1RM test of the particular lift they are focused on improving would be a much better choice.     Or in the case of an older client’s goal to avoid injury and prevent falls the Functional Movement Screen and/or a functional balance test would be a better baseline and ongoing assessment.      Again the key is that the client understands the relationship of the assessment and believes it is a valid measure –  if not they will not buy in to you or the program you give them!
The take home message is to always match the type of assessment you are using with each client to the client’s goal.      In addition do not assume that the client will automatically see the connection between the assessment and their goal.    Take the time to explore and understand the client’s beliefs as they relate to their goals, and educate the client on how and why a particular assessment is the right one for them and their goals!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Exercise for the Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease

One of the greatest fears of older adults is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).     AD is devastating to the victim and the victim’s family.    Although there is no cure for this disease, there are ways to minimize the risk including regular exercise.

While some level of memory loss is a normal part of aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, is a sign of more substantial memory loss and linked to AD.   The good news is that there is research showing that exercise can improve memory and brain function in older adults with MCI!

A University of Maryland study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed a 12-week program of moderate exercise improved memory recall and neural efficiency in a group of older adults (average age 78) with MCI.    No drug has ever shown results like these!

In the study two groups of inactive seniors did an exercise program on a treadmill guided by a personal trainer.    One group had MCI while the other group did not.  The amount of exercise was consistent with the recommendation for a weekly total of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise – meaning it is not so strenuous that you cannot carry on a conversation while doing it.  

Tests and imaging were done before and after the 12-weeks of exercise.  The tests showed a significant improvement in neural efficiency meaning it did not take as much work to recall or recognize a name.   Since one of the hallmarks of MCI is a big decline in remembering names this improvement is significant.

The results of this study suggest exercise may reduce the need for over-activation of the brain to recall something.    This is great news for the thousands of Americans looking for something they can do to preserve normal brain function and memory as they age!

In another study done by one of the same researchers four groups of people were studied based on their classification as being at low or high risk for AD and having low or high activity levels.  Specifically, the research measured changes in hippocampal volume.   Loss of hippocampal volume is a specific part of AD directly linked to loss of memory.   In addition, there are no known treatments to preserve hippocampal volume in people who may develop AD.

Of the four groups studied only those with a high genetic risk who also did not exercise experienced a loss of hippocampal volume over the 18 months of the study.  All the other groups, including those who were at high risk for AD but who were physically active, maintained the volume of their hippocampus.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Health

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) required for digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, visual acuity, memory, proper cell division and function, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, etc.    They are essential meaning your body cannot manufacture them so they must be consumed as part of your diet or as a supplement.
Another class of essential fatty acids are Omega 6 fatty acids which also perform a wide range of essential functions.    However, it is very easy to get enough Omega 6 fatty acids and in fact the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids has become completely unbalanced as part of the modern lifestyle, and this is having direct and severe health consequences!
Omega 3 Fatty acids come from either plant or animal sources including:
Many fish
Canola Oil
Animal based sources of Omega 3 contain (fatty fish, fish oil and krill oil) primarily contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chained PUFA consisting of 22 carbons and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which has 20 carbons.
Plant based Omega 3 fatty acids shorter-chained PUFA consisting of 18 carbons. They are completely devoid of DHA and EPA.
Functions of Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are integrated into cell membranes and produce a broad class of extremely powerful chemicals called “Eicosanoids” and among these specifically Prostaglandins.     These chemicals produce a myriad of effects but long story short Omega 6 fatty acids produce inflammatory chemicals while Omega 3 Fatty Acids produce anti-inflammatory chemicals.  Both are necessary for good health, but because of modern diets and an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio that is way out of balance virtually everyone needs to find ways to decrease the intake of Omega 6 fatty acids and increase Omega 3 fatty acids.
As the chart below shows not all Omega 3 fatty acids are the same.  
ALA requires three steps to be converted to EPA or DHA which are the direct precursors to the Anti-Inflammatory Biochemicals that produce key benefits throughout the body.     These steps are controlled by three enzymes and when a person is deficient in any of these three enzymes this conversion does NOT take place.    Unfortunately, the majority of people have deficiency of Delta-5 Desaturase.   So plant sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are not effective.
 Typically, less than 1 percent of the ALA is converted to EPA. Some studies have found the conversion rate to be as 0.1 to 0.5 percent. Conversion is also dependent on having adequate levels of other vitamins and minerals.   So, while a tiny amount of the ALA you consume can be converted by your body into long-chain omega-3, it's a highly inefficient strategy and nowhere near as helpful as supplying "straight" DHA and EPA from marine sources.
 It is important to know that you should NEVER take flax oil or use ground flax seed unless it is freshly ground because the highly perishable ALA will be oxidized. If you have any throw it away immediately.

Effects of Plant Based Omega 3 vs Marine Based Omega 3
After eating a meal of salmon or taking krill or fish oil (marine sources of Omega 3 fatty acids), the fatty acid level in your plasma (blood) will remain elevated for more than three days afterward.   These fats are not typically used as food for energy
ALA from plants is rapidly absorbed, peaking a couple of hours after ingestion. Within 10 hours, they're gone. These fats tend to be used as fuel!
So, Omega 3 fatty acids from plants are simply a source of energy — while the long-chain fatty acids, those with 20 and more carbons, especially EPA and DHA, are structural elements that actually make up your cells. This is a MAJOR difference between plant- and animal-based sources.
EPA and DHA have many biological effects, most notably anti-inflammatory activity and communication within the cell and between cells.
Another tell-tale sign suggesting the importance of EPA and DHA is their half-life, which may be as long as 60 days for DHA. Your body tends to accumulate and hold on to it and not want to let it go.
EPA is used up much faster, in part because it's a smaller molecule, but also because it behaves differently from DHA.
EPA and DHA are Essential for Good Health
DHA is especially important, as it is a component of every cell in your body, and it's particularly crucial for your brain. More than 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA, and the development of a normal brain in a fetus is dependent on the availability of DHA. All other omega-3 fats are found only in trace amounts in your brain, including ALA, regardless of how much ALA you consume.  

There are specific transporters for long-chained omega-3s in your blood-brain barrier, the placenta of pregnant women, which transport these molecules in a very precise way into the cell membranes where they belong. No such transporters exist for ALA from Flax or other sources.

Therefore, the key is obtaining your Omega 3 fatty acids from animal sources NOT plant sources!

Two Key Sources of Animal-Based Omega 3 Fatty Acids

There are two primary animal sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids: fish oil and krill oil.  Krill are plankton that feed on algae and concentrate Omega 3 from this source.
Both fish and krill oil contain EPA and DHA. However, there are important differences between these two marine sources. One of the most important differences is the fact that krill oil is bound to phospholipids.
Fatty acids are water soluble, but they cannot be transported in their free form in your blood — they require a lipoprotein carrier. Most fatty acids are bound to esters, which do not travel efficiently in your bloodstream. Krill oil is an exception in this regard.
Fish oil is bound to triglycerides and methyl esters: which must be broken down into DHA and EPA. About 80 to 85 percent is simply eliminated in your intestine.
Krill oil is bound to phospholipids: which allows the omega-3 fats to travel efficiently into your body resulting in a much higher level of bioavailability meaning you absorb more of it. Studies have shown that Krill Oil is up to 48 times more potent than fish oil.   This means you need far less of it than fish oil.

Krill oil also has natural astaxanthin: Since omega-3 fats in marine oils are polyunsaturated they are highly vulnerable to oxidation and going rancid. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that protects high perishable Omega 3 Fatty Acids and is not found in fish oil.  Tests reveal that krill oil remains undamaged after long exposures to oxygen for many hours. Fish oil goes rancid after a single hour. Krill oil is almost 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage than fish oil.

Krill contains phosphatidylcholine: when you consume fish oil, your liver has to attach it to phosphatidylcholine in order for it to be utilized by your body. Krill oil already contains phosphatidylcholine, which is one more reason for its superior bioavailability. Phosphatidylcholine is composed partly of choline, the precursor for the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Choline is important to brain development, learning and memory. In fact, choline plays a vital role in fetal and infant brain development and is particularly important if you are pregnant or nursing.
Superior metabolic influence: Krill oil is superior to fish oil when it comes to having a beneficial influence on your genetic expression and metabolism. Genes have "switches" that can be flipped on and off, which control virtually every biochemical process in your body, and nutrients like omega-3 fats control these switches.
Essential Fatty Acids help to direct metabolic processes such as glucose production, lipid synthesis, cellular energy, oxidation and more.    Krill oil:

◦ Enhances glucose metabolism in your liver, whereas fish oil does not
◦ Promotes lipid metabolism; fish oil does not
◦ Helps regulate the mitochondrial respiratory chain; fish oil does not
◦ Decreases cholesterol synthesis, whereas fish oil increases it
So, krill oil can help lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels and increase your energy production, whereas fish oil does neither.

Contaminant-free: Unfortunately, most fish are full of mercury and other heavy metal contamination, courtesy of widespread pollution. Antarctic krill is not contaminated. Krill is harvested from cleaner Antarctic waters. In addition, because krill are extremely small and feed on phytoplankton they have virtually zero levels of harmful mercury and heavy metals.
Balancing Omega 3 to Omega 6 Fatty Acids

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<
As you increase your intake of animal-based omega-3 fats, the EPA and DHA content in your red blood cells increase. As your omega-3 ratio increases in the cell, it displaces omega-6 at a ratio of about 1 to 1. While you need some omega-6 fats, we tend to get FAR too much of it these days. One big culprit is soybean oil. Soybean oil is highly prevalent in western diets – it is cheap and full of toxins!   Our intake of soybean oil rose 1,000-fold between 1900 and 2000.
Dosage Recommendations for Omega 3 Fatty Acids
One of the best ways to get your Omega 3 Fatty Acids is eating cold water fish such as Alaskan Salmon aka “wild caught salmon”.    If it does not say this, then it is farm-raised and has low levels of Omega 3’s and is chock full of contaminants!
For supplementation Antarctic Krill Oil is the preferred form but look for brands that do NOT use hexane for extraction!  500mg per day is a good starting dose and adjust based on your response.   Contraindications include being on any kind of blood thinning drug! 
Omega 3 Levels and Carbohydrate Intake
Another factor that dramatically influences Omega 3 Fatty Acid levels in cell membranes is the amount of sugar and starch you eat regularly.   Remember at the end of the day it is all about the content of Omega 3 fatty acids that get incorporated into your cell membranes!   Part of this is determined by the type and amounts of Omega 3 you take in along with how much Omega 6 Fatty Acids you take in, but that is not the whole story by a long shot!
One of the biggest factors controlling fatty acid metabolism and levels of fatty acids in cell membranes is the amount of sugar/starch in the diet.   Low carbohydrate diets with less than 20% of daily calories from sugar and starch can result in increased Essential Fatty Acids in cell membranes.    Specifically, with a sufficient reduction in sugar and starch intake levels of Omega 3 fatty acids go up in tissues!    This occurs through a complex series of metabolic switches that result in a slowdown in the destruction of Essential Fatty Acids!
Bringing it all together!
So, to optimize the health benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids increase your intake of Wild/Alaskan Salmon and/or take a high-quality Krill Oil Supplement.    And to really reap the benefits consider dramatically limit your intake of sugars and starches.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Resistance Training – More than Just How Much Weight You Move!

Although the amount of resistance you use; how many repetitions of each exercise you do; and how many total sets you perform in a workout are important – there more variables to consider when designing an effective resistance training program.
Its not just about what you are lifting – how you are lifting it is equally important.     Here are some of the key movement variables to consider:
What is your movement speed and is it constant or does it change and what are the effects of changes in movement speed or acceleration and deceleration during an exercise?    As a general rule of thumb slower, controlled movements are safer and generate more time under tension for a muscle group.   However the deliberate use of higher velocity movement or explosive movements can be very beneficial if done correctly using good form.
Body Position including placement of feet, position of the torso and hands during an exercise?    Small changes in the position of your hands, feet and body can dramatically change what muscles are used.   For example a squat done with feet and hips externally rotated will result in very different loading than a squat with feet and hips straight or only slightly rotated out.
Where is the load and line of resistance relation to your body?  When using free weights of any kind (dumbbell, kettlebell, sandbag, etc.) gravity will pull down directly to the ground in a straight line from the load, and depending on the position of your body will determine which muscle/s are being challenges. If using a machine of any type the line of resistance is not always straight up and down because many machines use pulleys which redirect the force of gravity on a weight stack in differing directions.         
What is the position of the resistance/load that you are using?  For example doing a squat with a bar on your back is very different than doing a front squat with a bar in front of your shoulders and completely changes the emphasis of which muscles are producing the movement and the stabilization requirements of the other muscles such as torso muscles.  Holding resistance on one side or the other such as single arm overhead press creates very different loading than using two arms at one time.      Even doing the same exercise with dumbbells versus barbells substantially changes the loading and challenge.
What plane/s of motion are you moving through during each exercise and how does this relate to the activity or sport you are training for?   The bulk of exercises most people think of are done solely in the sagittal plane meaning the movement is forward/backward or up or down.   However the body also moves side to side and rotates not to mention movements that involve all three planes of motion.     For example a squat with an overhead press can be done solely in the sagittal plane – you squat down holding the weight at shoulder height and then at the top press it overhead.    If you take the same movement but rotate the body to one side as you pivot one leg to facilitate the turn you introduce rotational movement which really changes the exercise substantially.
How stable or unstable is the resistance/load you are using?  Using a fixed object such as a dumbbell, kettlebell or weight ball as resistance is very different than doing the same exercise with a less stable form of handheld resistance such as a sandbag.    Unstable loads dramatically increase the challenge of an exercise requiring substantially lower loads for the same metabolic response.
How stable or unstable is your base of support during an exercise?  Try any exercise on the beach in sand versus a stable surface of any kind and you will immediately get the point here!
Change any one of these variables and you have a whole new exercise not to mention changing more than one at once and/or also changing the amount of load you are using.  In general do NOT change everything at once but you can easily create variation in your program by adjusting more than just your sets, reps, and amount of resistance used!
As you can see there are a lot of different things to consider when it comes to strength training program design, and this is one of many reasons to work with a knowledgeable personal trainer!