One of the best tools we have at our disposal at Workout Anytime is the reACT Trainer. Staff who know how to use the product properly and teach others to use it can make a great impression on any member or guest and help to differentiate their club from competitors.
Although the reACT Trainer is a lower body and core trainer it is easy to create full body circuits using the reACT Trainer along with the key upper body movements including:
Horizontal Press (chest press of some type)
Horizontal Pull (Row of some type)
Vertical Pull - (some type of vertical pulling movement)
Here is a sample reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit:
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Sunday, September 17, 2017
One in five people older than 70 suffers from cognitive impairment which will progress to dementia and death in half of these people within five years. So it is very important to address all the modifiable risk factors for cognitive impairment. One of these risk factors is elevated homocysteine which is a strong, independent risk factor for Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Heart Disease.
One of the longest and most comprehensive studies ever done showed that one in six cases of Alzheimer’s Disease can be caused by increased homocysteine levels.
In order to process homocysteine properly the body needs adequate levels of Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6. A double-blind randomized controlled trial showed that the reduction of homocysteine by B Vitamins can slow the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in people with mild cognitive impairment which is often the first step towards Alzheimer’s Disease.
Another study showed that B-Vitamins can reduce brain loss in areas prone to the Alzheimer’s Disease process.
Other Benefits of B-Vitamins
B-Vitamins as a group are incredible important to a wide range of cellular and metabolic functions from energy production to production of hormones. Benefits of optimal levels include increased energy, improved mood, reduction of allergy symptoms, help preserve vision, help to maintain bone strength, and help prevent heart disease and stroke.
How do I get B-Vitamins?
Although it is possible to get the RDA of B-Vitamins through diet alone it requires a carefully planned diet and for vegetarians it is very challenging because there is no vitamin B-12 in vegetables. Milk, yogurt and cheese, along with eggs, are the only vegetarian food items that naturally contain significant levels of vitamin B12.
In addition many people have conditions which prevent optimal absorption and cellular uptake of certain B-Vitamins such as Folic Acid. Each of the key B-Vitamins come in several forms with some being much more active and effective than others. When everything works right the body can convert other forms to the active forms, but there are many things that interfere with this process.
For example Intrinsic factor produced in the stomach is what allows the intestines to absorb this vitamin. Not everyone produces intrinsic factor so common sources of B-12 are not effective.
Also since B-Vitamins are water-soluble excess amounts are easily and safely excreted so taking a high quality B-Vitamin Supplement or Multiple Vitamin with activated forms of B-Vitamins in adequate amounts is the safest way to cover yourself. In addition, although each B-Vitamin performs critical functions in isolation they also work together to optimize many functions so taking a complete B-Vitamin Supplement is highly recommended.
What are all the B-Vitamins?
B- Vitamin Active Form Inactive Form
B-1 Benfotiamine Thiamine
B-2 Riboflavin-5-phophate Flavin Monocleotide
B-3 Niacinamide NAD
B-5 Panthothenic Acid None
B-6 Pyridoxal-5-phospate Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
B-7 Biotin None
B-9 Methyltetrahydrofolate aka Metafolin Folic Acid
B-12 MethylCobalamin Cobalamin
Can you take too much of the B-Vitamins?
For certain ones the answer is yes! You should not take in more than 800mcg of folic acid supplement. Too much can mask a condition called pernicious anemia. Multiple Vitamins and B-Complex Supplements will contain 400 – 800mcg and more from diet is not a problem.
For vitamin B-6 intake above 200mg per day is not recommended. Again multiple vitamins and B-Complex will generally contain less than this amount and more from food is not an issue.
Regular “Niacin” can cause significant skin flushing and itching, but this is harmless although it can be very uncomfortable. Extremely high dose niacin can be used to treat high cholesterol levels but the regular form that causes flushing can also cause liver issues at high levels. This is also true of “time-released” forms. The best form for use for cholesterol is “Flush Free Niacin” aka Inositol Hexiniacinate as it will not cause these issues. NAD (Nicotinomide Adenine Nucleotide) is very safe but there is no reason to take more than 10mg per day.
As always do not take any supplement when pregnant without consulting your registered health care professional.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Using a tubular foam roller to literally roll over tight areas of muscles and tendons is known as “Myo-Fascial Release”. While it seems counter-intuitive applying steady pressure to muscles and tendons with an emphasis on trigger points (areas of tightness and soreness) has been proven to be a highly effective method for improving mobility.
Since you are in complete control of the amount of pressure applied and how long it is applied you can customize the experience based on your level of sensitivity. Key areas to focus on include the hamstrings, calves, gluteal muscles, latissimus dorsi muscle, and even low back and hip flexors if done with caution.
You can use a tubular foam roller, and they are made in varying levels of firmness from soft to very firm. In addition, there are variations that include a textured surface of varying levels from small to large finger like projections. You can also use balls such as a lacrosse ball, baseball, or tennis ball in a similar fashion. NOTE: the smaller and firmer the object the more pressure it will tend to apply so proceed cautiously.
The technique is to position the foam roller on the floor (on a firm but not hard surface is best). Then position the muscle/s you are targeting on top of the foam roller. For example, for the calf sit on the floor with your target leg extended so that it is on top of the foam roller with the lowest portion of the calf on top of the roller.
Use your hands to lift your butt slightly off the floor to allow you to apply pressure down onto the foam roller. Then literally roll forward slowly over the foam roller paying attention to any trigger points where you notice sensitivity or tightness.
When you find a sensitive area slowly roll back and forth on the spot until you feel it release. With a little experimentation you will learn how much pressure and speed work best for your physiology.
Self Myo-Fascial Release/Foam Rolling is a great way to start a workout and does a great job of safely improving mobility before a workout and is also great to do between workouts.
Contraindications to Foam Rolling
Pregnancy – during pregnancy ligaments become lax and pressure anywhere on or near the abdomen is to be avoided at all costs so best to skip foam rolling when pregnant.
Osteoporosis – soft bones and additional pressure are not a good combination so best to avoid foam rolling without a physician’s permission if you have moderate to severe osteoporosis.
Intervertebral Disc Issues – anyone with disc problems in their spine should be cautious with foam rolling because pressure in the wrong areas can create problems so again get guidance from a medical professional if you have an disc issues in your spine.
Inability to support bodyweight on arms or legs – foam rolling cannot be done safely if a person lacks the strength to support their bodyweight on their arms and/or legs.
For a pictorial guide of various foam rolling exercises to target specific body parts click here: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/foam-rolling/
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Energy drinks have become a staple for many people, and there is lot of controversy about whether or not they are safe to drink. Like most things the devil is in the details when it comes to energy drinks.
One of the first points to consider for energy drinks is their sugar content. Sugar is something the vast majority of people could do with consuming less not more. People who drink energy drinks with high levels of sugar are taking in a lot of extra calories - up to 200 calories for large energy drinks with sugar. This not only contributes to weight gain and slows or prevents weight loss – it can also wreak havoc on the millions of people with outright diabetes and the many millions who are on their way to diabetes due to insulin insensitivity from too much sugar intake and not enough exercise.
Although sugar/carb free energy drinks do not have the issues associated with sugar described above – artificial sweeteners are clearly not healthy. Now like all things it is all about the dosage consumed on a regular basis so someone having a single beverage with artificial sweeteners daily is very different than someone having four!
Another important consideration is the “energy” ingredients contained in the drink. The most common ingredient is caffeine and the typical energy drink contains about 200mg of caffeine or the same amount you get in a large coffee. If you are an adult and accustomed to caffeine this will provide an energy bump but will not send you into convulsions!
However, it is all about your size and your experience with caffeine. The more you take in caffeine the more accustomed you become to it, and larger individuals can safely consume higher quantities for obvious reasons. Moderate caffeine intake - 300 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day -- carries "little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits," conclude researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvalis, writing in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition in March 2006. This equates to 2 average size energy drinks per day.
Yohimbine is another potent stimulant so adding this together with caffeine can cause big problems – particularly in those with existing high blood pressure.
N-methyltyramine, Octopamine, and synephrine are other stimulants. As with Yohimbine best to steer clear of any energy drinks containing any of these ingredients!
Most energy drinks include amino acids like L-Phenylalanine and/or L-Tyrosine. These amino acids act as precursors used by the body to produce excitatory neurotransmitters and hormones. So they can amplify the effects of caffeine. NOTE: for people with Phenylketonuria (commonly known as PKU) phenylalanine can be dangerous but there is a mandatory warning on all energy drinks containing this substance.
Another common energy drink ingredient is the amino acid taurine. Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. The best food sources are meat and fish. Excess taurine is excreted by the kidneys. Taurine promotes cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, electrolyte balance, hearing function, and immune modulation. Authors of a 2012 study actual made the following statement concerning Taurine: “Considering its broad distribution, its many cytoprotective attributes, and its functional significance in cell development, nutrition, and survival, taurine is undoubtedly one of the most essential substances in the body.” So Taurine is not toxic either.
Another popular ingredient is Glucuronolactone which is added to “aid in detoxification”. Interestingly enough there actually is some science supporting this claim. More importantly it does NOT seem to be toxic in moderate doses used in most energy drinks. Like the amino acids mentioned above glucuronolactone is produced in the body naturally so it is not foreign to cells. There is an urban legend that this ingredient causes brain tumors but this is just that – a legend!
Most energy drinks contain the following B-Vitamins in significant doses:
Niacin – Niacinamide
B-2 - Riboflavin
B-6 – Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
B-12 - Cyanocobalamin
B-5 - Pantothenic Acid
B-Vitamins are water-soluble meaning excess will simply be excreted in the urine, and not having enough B-Vitamins can cause serious issues because B-Vitamins are essential for energy production and many other functions in the body.
So Why All the Concern?
Like all stimulants – energy drinks can be abused with potentially serious consequences. Heavy intake (3 or more per day) can cause nervousness and anxiety and heart palpitations. For those with anxiety disorders, heart disease, or high blood pressure this is a real concern. Anyone with a heart arrhythmia should check with their physician before taking any type of stimulant including caffeine and energy drinks.
Certain energy drinks like “Redline” which contain multiple stimulants have very specific directions to only consume half a small bottle with a warning that should scare most people. It is very easy to forget and consume a whole bottle and put yourself in a very uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening situation.
Always look at serving size, dosage and ingredients and start with smaller intake. Gradually increase intake.
Last but not least stimulants can ruin your sleep – so be very careful not to take them past Noon. Also if you start to develop sleep issues cut back your intake of all stimulants – this almost always helps! Remember stimulants are not a substitute for rest, sleep, healthy diet, and exercise!