Sunday, July 29, 2012

Benchmark II

Finally got a video shot!

I've lost two pounds since the last one.  Although to be fair, my weight has fluctuated a bit in between--I've been between 153 and 156--not sure what that means since it kinda looks like I'm getting bigger.  Oh well, whatever it is seems to be working!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Drink Your Protein-Infused Cocoa, Peter!

As you might expect, all calories are not created equal--it really does matter which of your favorite neverfoods you're eating--yams, mamee apples, banana squash?  In the same way, protein is not protein "no matter where it comes from."  The "trace" proteins in starches, nuts and dairy are not exactly the same as the proteins from chicken, eggs, beef, pork, and seafood.  While avoiding these proteins is not necessary, or even advisable, it should still be noted that they are not direct substitutes for "real" protein. So while some attention to detail is necessary in ensuring that inordinate amounts of trace proteins are not consumed, thereby altering the total daily intake value, trace proteins can still be a balancing force in the diet and help maintain a positive nitrogen balance, when not relied on for protein alone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Work It, Just Not Too Hard

Tendonitis and tendinosus are two very common symptoms of overuse.  They are slightly different, yet overlapping; meaning that one could very well be misdiagnosed as the other, and vice versa.  In most cases, varying degrees of both would occur in the same individual, even in the same injury.  For most people, these are symptoms of chronic over-use, but for a few, these can simply be the aches and pains associated with a new training regimen.  In untrained individuals, some initial joint pain is to be expected, in addition to the usual delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  When new training elements are introduced, or when a sharp increase in activity occurs, acute tendonitis and tendinosus are common--untrained skeletal muscle and connective tissue exhaust more quickly than trained tissues, so even a daily workout will seem like over-use to a muscle that is accustomed to doing nothing. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Pitfalls

Watch out for these!

1.  The Couple's Slide
You've been training almost every day for an hour or more for the past few months, and not only are you finally seeing some improvement, you met someone too!  Of course you want to spend all your free time with them, and what's one missed workout anyways?  You guys are going out to dinner together all the time too, mostly because you don't live together and it's fun.  Suddenly you're 6 months into the relationship and your boyfriend is starting to comment on your muffin top.  What happened?  It's called the couple's slide, and it is the most prevalent form of "growing together."  It's a form of laziness and affection--but don't be fooled!  It takes a lot of work and thickening of the skin to become training partners, but even just going to the gym together to train separately is better than sitting on the couch cuddling.  Why?  Because you can do that later when the gym is closed!

2.  Complacency
You're a few weeks into your summer diet and it's going really well.  So well in fact, that you're considering easing up on yourself a little.  A few weeks later you haven't made any progress, but at least you're holding steady, right?  Wrong.  Keep going!  Know why there are so few ripped people wandering around the beach?  Because it's a fucking pain in the ass to do, that's why.  This goes for intensity level too.  Don't forget that intensity level should always be re-evaluated--like all values.  

3.  Grading on a Curve
Never compare your progress to others'.  Not only does constant self-evaluation lead to inaccurate perceptions of reality, it also causes a relaxing of standards.  It's not enough to look good "compared to the average person," because let's face it, the average person is a physical train wreck.  Why not be an example of human perfection instead?  Besides, you know that B+ was only a B+ because even the smart kids got their face pwned. 

4.  Peer Pressure
It may sound cheesy, but how many of you haven't had junk food pushed on you by friends or coworkers?  We've all heard it: "Oh come one, you're not going to get fat from just a little bit!" or "Are you sure you can't have any?" or "Wow, you're really neurotic about your food, aren't you?"  Being comfortable with non-participation is important in many aspects of social interaction, but when it comes to diet, training, and other lifestyle choices, it's imperative.  Sticking to your guns isn't hard once you and everyone around you gets used to you refusing the food they offer: they know it's not personal, and most of the time, they will respect you for it.  But really, who cares either way?  There is no one more valuable to you than you!  

Friday, July 06, 2012

Under Pressure

Funny thing about jargon, you only understand it if it's your jargon.  I realize that I throw some phrases out there that are self-explanatory to me, but may be completely indecipherable to everyone else.  Like when a DJ friend asks me about uptempo and I'm like, "Wtf is uptempo?"  Or when my training partner is talking computer stuff with another nerd and all I can hear is, "My computer is really fast and cool--literally!"  It happens in the gym too.  "Mind-muscle connection," "positive nitrogen balance," "working weight."  We all throw these kinds of terms out there and expect others to understand them without explanation.  Maybe we bodybuilders, as a community, are just trying to make it sound more complicated than "Me lift heavy thing!  Me grow strong!"  At any rate, today I will be explaining the time-under-tension principle.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

That Cheating Heart

When it comes to diets--specifically contest prep, but the theme applies generally--there are two basic techniques that are used.  Most diets fall somewhere along this spectrum.  One on hand, you have the "cycling" technique, where two to three moderately low carbohydrate days are cycled with moderately higher carbohydrate days, maintaining a deficit on all days.  This means that even on "high" carb days, the dieter will still be consuming less than what would be required for maintenance.  On the other end of the spectrum, we have the "cheater" style of dieting.  This is a depletion, or "keto," diet.  Ketosis is the term for the physical state in which an individual has high concentrations of ketones in the blood, caused by the body's inability to provide further energy from stored glycogen.  Ketones are produced in the liver during prolonged fasting or starvation.  Ketones combine with the byproducts of beta-oxidation and can then be incorporated into the Krebs cycle, which I discussed briefly here.  Ketones are not restricted by the blood-brain barrier in the same way albumin-bound fatty acids are and so can bring energy to the brain when sugar is not available.  "Ketosis" is used colloquially to describe a "depleted fat-burning" state.  A diet focusing on sustaining a depleted state in order to burn fat would generally also focus on lowering the intake of carbohydrates and maintaining a high calorie deficit for prolonged periods, usually one week.