Sunday, August 28, 2016
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Sunday, August 14, 2016
One of the key tenets of exercise physiology recently got turned on its head. For years exercise physiology students were taught that improving oxygen delivery to muscles was one of the keys to improved athletic performance and work capacity.
It was established that oxygen delivery to muscles could be improved through several different processes such as increased lung capacity allowing lungs to take in larger quantities of air and oxygen; the heart becoming stronger allowing it to pump more blood to the muscles which carries oxygen; or increasing the amount of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood which allows the blood to carry more oxygen to the muscles. But It had been assumed that the fundamental amount of energy a human can create using a given amount of oxygen remained constant so all improvements came from the ability to deliver more oxygen to the muscles.
A 2009 study shattered this assumption! The study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661447 ) looked at 8 men who were given either 2 cups of beet root juice or 2 cups of black currant drink as a placebo for 6 consecutive days and completed a series of moderate-intensity and severe-intensity exercise tests on the last 3 days. Something amazing happened: the men taking the beet root juice showed the ability to do the same amount of work with 19% less oxygen consumption and their time-to-exhaustion was extended by 15.7% compared to the placebo group! Before this study there was no known substance that could increase energy creation based on a given amount of oxygen delivery! To see a great video describing this study click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSaCZD9DsS0
Since this time many studies have confirmed the positive impact beet juice can have on human physiology, and several companies have developed beet products based on beets grown to maximize their content of Nitrates which are responsible for most of the benefits! Nitrate aids your body in producing more Nitric Oxide which helps to open your blood vessels prior to and during exercise. This allows you to get more energy from a given amount of oxygen so your muscles feel stronger for longer and your time to exhaustion increases! This can allow you to train harder for a longer period of time!
There are other substances such as the amino acid arginine that can increase nitric oxide levels but this requires a complex process. However Nitric Oxide can be formed from dietary nitrate in a much simpler process that does not require any co-factors like Nitric Oxide creation from arginine.
Beetroot Health Benefits
Beetroot is an excellent source of iron and folate, both of which are key nutrients for everyone but particularly woman!
Helps lower blood pressure
Contain betaine, which has been shown to have significant anti-cancer properties and is effective in inhibiting the formation of cancer cells and in particular colon and stomach cancer.
Helps relieve constipation
Helps detoxify the liver
How do I get the benefits?
If you like beets eating them can provide the same benefits as beet juice and cooking them does not reduce the benefits either! If you want the maximum benefits there are now several companies making beet root powders that mix easily with water or juice, and several of these companies use specially grown beets that have extremely high and consistent levels of Nitrate. There are several companies including “Beet Elite” https://neogenissport.com/ that produce powders available in black cherry flavor for those who do not like the taste of beets. You can also mix the powder into a smoothie with frozen berries. It is best to ingest it an hour before exercise.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Workout Density refers to how much total work you do in a given workout, and there are several different strategies to increasing workout density. Tracking and progressing density is one of the key ways to insure you continue to make progress in your workouts. In addition most of us are time crunched and the more we can get done in shorter period of time the more likely it is that we will get our workouts in.
One of the ways to increase density in our workouts is to use super-sets where we pair two exercises that work non-competing muscle groups. For example doing a super-set with a set of chest presses combined with a set of leg curls allows you to pack more work sets while still allowing muscle recovery. If your focus is strength you still want to allow a short break between the two different exercises in the super-set but as soon as your breathing slows down (30 seconds or less) you are good to go to the next set.
Another technique is to create combinations of complimentary exercises such as a dumbbell or barbell clean immediately followed by a front squat. Other examples include:
Dumbbell thruster where you squat with dumbbells at shoulders and then overhead press the dumbbells at the top and repeat.
Dumbbell lunge to dumbbell single arm shoulder press
Renegade row where you do a push-up holding dumbbells and do a single arm dumbbell row in the top of the push-up position.
Dumbbell bench press followed immediately by dumbbell pullover
The key is making sure the two exercises you are combining flow together well.
Another technique is using complexes of exercises. Complexes are different from combinations because in this case you complete a set of a given number of repetitions of a given exercise before moving on to the next one. A complex can consist of two– five exercises such as this one:
Dumbbell Snatch – 5 reps
Dumbbell Rows – 5 reps
Dumbbell Lunges – 5 reps each leg
Dumbbell Straight Leg Deadlift – 5 reps
Push-ups – 5 – 10 reps
Then you take a brief rest and repeat the complex for a set number of times.
Another excellent strategy is to use Post-Activation Potentiation or PAP for short. PAP involves pairing a heavy strength exercise (like a squat) with a high velocity power exercise (like a jump) which results in a more forceful muscular contraction during the power movement. The key is to use a relatively high level of resistance in the first movement WITHOUT going to fatigue such as doing 5 repetitions in the squat using a 10RM weight followed by jumps. The idea is to prime the pump - not fatigue the targeted muscle groups!
There are two keys to effective PAP training:
First, make sure the heavy initial exercise mimics the power movement. So doing a heavy bench press followed by a jump is not going to work!
Second, during the initial heavy exercise it is important to try to move the weight quickly during the concentric phase of the exercise. As long as you attempt to move the weight explosively – even if it does not move fast – you are increasing your rate of force development which is the key.
PAP is not for beginners and it is important to maintain perfect form during each exercise, but assuming you are ready for PAP it can dramatically improve your strength and power.
Some the best PAP complexes include:
Pairing a squat with a jump – can be a back squat, dumbbell squat or hex bar squat – key is that it is relatively heavy.
Bench Press paired with a plyo push-up or weighted ball thrown.
Sled push followed by a Sprint.