Sweat It Out

25 06 2018

I have heard many of my clients and other people tell me that they don’t sweat. They don’t even glisten. Some people I know would rather die than sweat. The thought of being damp with their own droplets of bodily fluid makes them gag. Why are we so against this natural occurrence?

What are you really excreting out of those pores when you perspire? I’ve heard that you can sweat out toxins and cleanse your body of all the waste to which it was subjected. There are spas and fitness clubs that promote a relaxing treatment or workout where you can rejuvenate your whole body by creating a gentle sweat that purifies the entire system. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Maybe this is what those that I spoke about above are so opposed to. But come on, why wouldn’t you want to be healthier with a gentle shine?

Some of us would love to just sit in a sauna or under the sun and sweat out some of those carcinogens that we inhaled and ingested during our recent barbecue. Unfortunately, you could swim in your own pool of sweat (gross, I know) and those toxins would still be floating in your body. Our body is comprised of 60% water and when we sweat, our moist skin is soaked with just that; water.1 According to an article published from the National Geographic, we also sweat out minerals and trace amounts of toxins.2 “But wait a moment, didn’t you say you don’t sweat toxins,” you may ask. Yes, because the amount of toxins and waste that may leave your body through your sweat glands are so minimal that it wouldn’t make a difference how much you sweat. So if you want to be very black and white, yes, we do sweat out toxins. However, if you expect to detoxify your body of all pollutants with any form of exercise or spa treatment, good luck.

So what is the point of producing this salty aqueous solution that so many of us feel we can live without? Have you ever looked under your car after you’ve driven it with the A/C turned on? Notice the drip of liquid that comes from the middle of your undercarriage? Don’t worry you’re not losing transmission fluid. Your car was producing a byproduct, water, to keep you cool. You can probably guess where I’m going with this. Yes, you’re body is a big A/C system and when you’re hot and need to cool down, you also drip the same byproduct. Without sweating, you’re body overheats which can lead to heat strokes. Those who suffer from Anhidrosis, a condition where the body has the inability to sweat normally, are at risk of overheating.3 (Side note: I’m pretty sure all those people I spoke with and train who stated they don’t sweat don’t suffer from Anhidrosis) Therefore, when we exercise to an intensity that burns up a lot of calories, we must start to cool our body down, hence we sweat.

In conclusion, sweating, though not great as a detox method, is critical in keeping us alive by cooling us down. An added benefit for those who want to gage their workout intensity and make sure they’re exercising to the right intensity to see improvements; if you’re not sweating, pick up the pace. You should be perspiring when workout out or you’re not working hard enough. Once you begin to sweat, keep that intensity or burn more calories by notching it up a bit. Since we are losing water as we exercise, hydration is essential. Remember to drink water throughout the workout and rehydrate when you’re finished. One tip to know how much water to drink is to weigh yourself before exercising and then right after exercising. For every pound you lose, drink an additional 16oz to 20oz of water.4
What are you waiting for? Go sweat it out.

References:

  1. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.htm
  2. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/sweating-toxins-myth-detox-facts-saunas-pollutants-science/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anhidrosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20369400
  4. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/water-for-exercise-fitness#2




Leg Day: Don’t Leave Home Without It

14 05 2018

When it comes to leg day, I would rather run an extra five miles. The thought of knowing that tomorrow will hurt when I sit down or walk down stairs doesn’t excite me one bit. Yet, that’s why we do it right? No, not the part where you feel like your lower extremities are mutilated. I mean the sit down and stairs part. Without leg day, you would not only look like a chicken, but you may regret it later on in life when you start crying out like Bubba in Forest Gump, “I can’t feel my legs! I can’t feel my legs!” (Wait, we might be doing this already after leg day.) What I’m trying to say is that if we don’t strengthen our legs, we’re prone to future weakness that can lead to not being able to sit down, stand up, or even walk, let alone climb stairs.

You may say, “but Doug, if you run that extra five miles, aren’t you building up your leg strength that way?” The simple answer; no. If I need to push my car home because it dies just a hundred yards from my driveway, running five more miles isn’t going to give me the right kind of strength to get my car home. Ok, that’s an extreme example, but you get the idea. Your body not only needs muscular endurance (running), but it also needs muscular strength (weights), hence, leg day.

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Let me break it down for you. Your muscles have two types of fibers; slow twitch and fast twitch. You may have also heard of them called white and red fibers. Our bodies contain both sets and most of us have more of one type, however, we must remember that we do have both kinds. When we lift weights or perform resistance training, we’re primarily targeting our fast twitch muscles. These are the muscles that allow us to get off the toilet, sit down without collapsing into the chair, and climbing that flight of stairs. If you want to stay independently functional (not having to use a walker or worse a wheelchair) I would suggest continuing with leg workouts, or if you haven’t started one yet, it’s not too late; even if you’re in your later years.

I would like to explain the purpose of the major leg muscles and then identify the five exercises that I feel are the best to target all of them.

Gluteus (Glutes)

These are the muscles of your butt, tush, rump, whatever you want to call your backside. These muscles consists of your gluteus minimus and maximus. Their purpose is to help your thigh extend backwards and for your hip to straighten back up from a flexed position (think standing up from a chair).

Quadriceps

The quadriceps consists of four muscles (obviously, right?); vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris. (Click the link above to find each muscle labeled) Just a quick side note. I have heard from a couple of people who I have worked with and met in passing that some trainers have told them that they have a “teardrop” muscle which only certain people can have. I don’t know what the point of this statement was, but I would like to set the record straight. Everyone has the “teardrop” muscle in their quadriceps. This is otherwise known as the vastus medialis (red colored muscle in diagram). If someone tells you that you’re one of the few that have that muscle, please enlighten them.
The purpose of the quadriceps are to extend your lower leg below the knee (ex. Kick a ball). It also allows you to lower yourself into a seated position.

Hamstrings

The hamstrings consist of three muscles; semitendinosus (green), semimembranosus (blue), and biceps femoris (red). The hamstrings contract the lower leg backwards.

Gastrocnemius (Calf)

The gastrocnemius, a.k.a calf muscle, allows you to rise your heels off the ground. To note, many people have an overactive gastrocnemius, especially if you’re someone who wears high heels.

Working all these major muscles of the leg will keep you moving in the right direction; literally. Here are the five best leg exercises to target these muscles.

  1. Dumbbell/Barbell Squat
  2. Prone Hamstring Curl
  3. 4-Way Lunge
  4. Deadlift
  5. Weighted Bridges

Even though I would prefer to run five extra miles than kill my legs with weights, I know the benefits of having strong legs. There isn’t any other way to get my legs to gain strength to get up and walk out of my house. So yes, if you want to leave your home fully capable on your own, don’t forget leg day.





Support the Tick Off Ninja and Lyme Disease Research

2 05 2018

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I have been training for a shot at American Ninja Warrior. In addition, my wife, Katie, has been recovering since July of 2016 with a relapse of Lyme disease. What you may not know is how Katie has been effected and others who suffer from Lyme disease.

May is National Lyme Awareness month (green is the awareness color). To help spread awareness, and support those battling with Lyme disease, Katie and I have created a fundraising campaign to help researchers find a cure for Chronic Lyme disease which Katie is currently battling.

You can watch our campaign video below. I hope that you will support our efforts by purchasing a shirt and help us reach our goal of at least 50 shirts! Each shirt is $25 with 100% of the proceeds being donated to Johns Hopkins Lyme Research Center. The center has conducted various Lyme disease studies including better diagnosis protocols and treatment options. You can learn more about the center at https://www.hopkinsrheumatology.org/specialty-clinics/lyme-disease-clinical-research-center/

You can purchase the shirt at http://www.bonfire.com/tickedoffninjalyme.

Shirt sizes do run small so I would suggest ordering a size up for both men and women shirts.

Thank you for all your support and please share this with others.





Challenge Your Core

19 04 2018

When asked to identify one’s core, most people will point to his or her abs. The core muscles are more than just the rectus abdominal which are the “six-pack” of the stomach. The core muscles can include the gluteus maximus and minimum, hip complex (iliacus, psoas, pectinus), abdominals (rectus, transverse, and obliques), erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, multifidus, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Although there is no specific definition for the “core”, we have to get away from thinking of the core as just your abdominal region.

The purpose of the core muscles are to provide balance and stability to your body(1). No matter if for sport performance or daily function, the core muscles help support the bones and increase ease of movement. The core also aids in keeping our posture in alignment. Picture the folks who are bent over from the waist and always looking down because their muscles in their backs aren’t strong enough to hold their spine in alignment. Also, if you’re an athlete or a weekend warrior, that core needs to be strong to get you through the sport or you’ll end up with some back, hip, shoulder, or foot pain. Yes, a weak core can also cause pain at the other end of your body!

If I ask you to think of some core exercises, you’ll probably come up with a bunch for your abs, specifically for your rectus abdominis, a.k.a “six-pack,” but can you come up with some exercises other exercises to challenge your core? Don’t forget that your body moves in three dimensions so exercises should also involve the three planes of movement; frontal (side to side), sagittal (front to back), and transverse (rotational).

Give your core a challenge with the following exercises. Disclaimer: If you have any health restrictions, please check with your physician before attempting any of these exercises. Also, check with a certified Personal Trainer if you are unsure of your technique. 

Rotational Side Plank with Hip Drop
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Start with your elbow or palm under your shoulder while lying on your side. Lift your hips up off the floor so as much of your side is not in contact. Taking the opposite arm, rotate and reach down and through the space created by the floor and your side. Return back to start and then lower your hip toward the ground. Before it touches, pause and lift the hip back up. Repeat for 8-12 reps, then switch sides.

Quadripeds
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Start in a pushup position with your feet shoulder width apart (you can adjust width to make it easier or harder; wider = easier, narrow = harder). Lift your left arm up in front of your body by your head while at the same lifting your right leg up. Pause for a second and then lower back down. Switch arm and leg lift and repeat for 12-20 reps.

Bicycles
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Lying on your back, extend your legs out with your heels just off the floor and hands behind your head. Begin to bring your right knee up toward your chest as you take your left shoulder (not elbow) and bring it up towards your right knee. Make the timing of this so that the knee and shoulder comes up at the same time. Return the leg and shoulder back down toward the floor at the same time. Then repeat the movement with the other side. Perform 12-20 reps.

Deadlift
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Yes folks, believe it, because this exercise is a total core exercise! I put this last because in order to get the benefits and not injure yourself, technique is paramount. Please use a certified Personal Trainer or Strength and Conditioning Coach if you are performing this for the first time.
Start with legs shoulder width apart. Grip a barbell with hands just outside of your legs (use an over-under grip if needed). Keeping your back straight and shoulders over your arches, push down with your heels to lift yourself and the bar up until you are standing straight up. As you lift the bar, keep the bar close to your legs and keep your back following your path upward so that the back doesn’t hinge forward from the waist. Pause a second at the top and lower yourself back down in the reverse order.

References:
1. “Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles“ Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751





Battle the Ropes

10 04 2018

Once in a while I need to get in a quick ten to twenty-minute workout between clients. With the limited time, I don’t want to waste it on moving from one machine or bench to another, nor do I want to fight over the free weights. Coming up with a workout that involves some added resistance, but doesn’t include a lot of equipment takes some creativity. I could go with a personal favorite, the TRX suspension trainer, and add a weight vest, but it doesn’t help if you don’t have a weight vest. In times like these I turn to…(fade in angelic music and point spotlight on) battle ropes.

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I’ve come to respect the simplicity and effectiveness of battle ropes. This bundle of threaded, nylon joy has what it takes to get my heart pumping and my muscles burning. With only one piece of equipment, I’ve turned a twenty square foot area into my battle arena. It’s me versus the rope and I’m determined to sweat it out till the end. Believe me, all you need is twenty minutes to feel accomplished. Keep reading and I’ll explain how you can equip yourself for a great match with the battle ropes.

Arm Yourself
If this is your first time swinging battle ropes be prepared for your arms (as well as the rest of your body) to be sore. The thickness of the ropes cause your forearms to work harder as they grip tightly to swing the ropes at various speeds. This constant grip will tax the forearm’s muscular endurance, so it’s a good idea to give yourself more rest time between sets. In addition, you’re constantly moving your arms which will expend more energy in your shoulders, biceps, and triceps. You’re done when your arms are done, so warm them up really well. If you don’t, good luck trying to swing the rope with you teeth.

Concentrate to the Core
Your abs and back should stay engaged throughout the entire movement phase. One common error is to round the back because the rope is pulling you forward as you swing the rope. This can cause back pain and possible injury. Another reason you have to start slow and get the rhythm down before speeding up the cadence of the swings. If you lean forward, remember to hinge from the hip and not from the waist. Perform planks and deadlifts to create a solid core that will hold your body upright and withstand the blows of the rope.

Get a Leg Up
Even though battle ropes look like an entirely upper body workout; don’t be fooled. Similar to any explosive movement, the lower body generates the power that you see when someone is making waves or slamming the rope in all directions. Aquring a good strength base in your legs will help make it easier to control the rope’s movement. Don’t focus on using machines to get the strength though. Exercises like lunges, squats, lateral lunges or sumo squats will get your legs conditioned to go the extra rounds.

It’s All About Rhythm
So now that you have the strength and endurance to pick up the rope and swing it, the final part is making the movement smooth like a fine tuned machine. Focus on the midsection so that the hips can move freely, while engaging the abs and back. Let the shoulders relax so each wave that comes out of the rope is fluid. Tightening up the arms and shoulders too much will result in a choppy and irregular waveform. Think of counting in your head, “1,2,1,2,1,2.” You can also use a power song or a song with a heavy down beat to keep your rhythm. Whatever you do, don’t force the muscles to move sporadically.

Now that you’re ready to go a round with the nylon beast, keep in mind that it does take time. Don’t get discouraged if you lose the control of the rope. Just remember to stay relaxed and hang on tight. You might find that you’ll be a champ at this like you are with your fitness goals.

For a great total body blast, try the following workout.





Cut the Crap, Not the Carbs

11 10 2015

Cut the crapEver since Time magazine and many other media outlets published articles and ran segments about the actual misconception of fat consumption and the link to obesity, I have encountered more people in the last year following low-carb diets. Although, the science behind the logic is sound and there is research backing this new trend, what is reported in many of these short blurbs for the layman have left out some important information. This article will discuss how this information can be misinterpreted by the general audience in believing that if they were to cut out many or all carbs from their diets, they would be healthier, and ultimately, for the people I see, thinner.

In June of last year, I pulled out my subscription of Time magazine from my mail slot and read the cover, “Eat Butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.” I perused the article later that week and was fascinated to read that research showed a higher correlation between eating a low-carb diet and weight loss versus eating a low-fat diet and weight loss (1). The logic sounded right. If one consumes too many carbohydrates, the body will convert some of the excess to fat. Therefore, if we didn’t have any excess carbs in our system, then there would be no need to convert it into fat. In addition, if there aren’t enough carbohydrates in our system to use for energy, then we’d start utilizing our fat stores. Bada bing, bada boom, instant weight loss.

The general public hears this and all of a sudden there is a line out the door for the latest low-carb cook book. The worst scenario is the person who just stops eating carbohydrates all together in hopes that they can continue this lifestyle. The problem we face is that this type of diet is not realistic. The key point that the research highlights that the general public might have missed when reading or listening to all the news about the study is that the participants of the study changed their eating habits to a basically healthier diet of high quality carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Neither groups were eating french fries, Twinkies, fried chicken, or drinking Coke Zero. Yet the average American consumes 31% more processed foods than fresh foods (2).

The fact is we use carbohydrates as our primary source of energy (a.k.a. fuel). Without it, we would fatigue quickly and not be able to function as efficiently. Our brains and muscles need carbs to fuel our thoughts and movements. It is recommended by the Dietetic Guidelines for Americans that we aim to get 45% – 65% of our total daily calories from carbohydrates. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, 45% – 65% of that would be a range of 900 to 1,300 calories (divide that by 4 to find how many grams that you would need = 225g – 325g/day). Carbohydrates are not only found in grains, starches, and sugar, but also in fruits and vegetables. According to the CDC, the latest data that was complied between 2009-2012 showed that the average American male was consuming 48% of total calories from carbs and females were consuming 50.7% of total calories from carbs (3). WAIT A MINUTE HERE! That’s within the guidelines that we should be consuming. How can that be correct if the newest study is showing that we’re gaining weight because of our increased carbohydrate intake?

Additional data from the CDC indicates that the average American has been consuming on average 335 kcal from added sugars in processed foods which has been the cause of a decrease in natural macronutrients (carbohydrates) and weight gain (3). The US population as a whole is not meeting the recommended daily intake of vegetables and fruits (4). Only 24% of Americans meet the recommend fruit intake, and only 13% meet the vegetable recommended intake.

So that brings me back to the study on the low-carb diet. When the participants were placed on a low carb diet, they were asked to eat only 30% of their total daily calories deriving from carbohydrates, but those carbs were to come from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. They were not consuming refined or processed sugars in their diets. French fries, diet Pepsi, Whoppers, Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, and endless pasta were not on the menu. If you’re going to follow a low-carb diet, which as proven can reduce weight and risk factors for disease, the key is to eliminate the highly processed and sugar laden foods we enjoy eating and not the healthy carbs.

As you can see, Americans are eating the recommended allowance of carbohydrates, however, the quality of our food selection is not up to par with what we should be consuming. We need better carbs rather than fewer carbs in our diets.

References:
1. “Low-carb versus low-fat: Best diet for weight-loss, heart health” (2014) retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/low-carb-versus-low-fat-best-diet-for-weight-loss-heart-health/
2. “Americans eat more processed food than, well, anyone” (2010) retrieved from http://grist.org/article/americans-eat-more-processed-food-than-well-anyone/
3. CDC Diet/Nutrition retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/diet.htm
4. CDC Adults Meeting Fruit and Vegetable Intake Recommendations – United States, 2013 retrieve from http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6426a1.htm




Train Mentally and Physically to Improve Brain Function

28 03 2015

This post was intended to be published in February, however, other priorities trumped this one.

Scrabble and anagram type word puzzles are two games that I enjoy immensely. I would say that I look forward to the comic section of newspapers not for the comics, but for the game Jumble. This is where you have to rearrange letters of five different words and then using the encircled letters of the solved words, create a set of words to answer the question at hand. This pastime allows me to ward off early stages of dementia as research has indicated. However, newer studies also suggest that my time in the gym and on the streets pounding the pavement have similar affects on my neural pathways and can assist in reducing the likelihood of memory loss.

For decades, scientists had believed that our brains are at the mercy of time. As we aged, they believed that the neurons within the synapses of our minds would slowly deteriorate and those pathways that allowed us to carry simple tasks like memorizing the name of your best friend would be lost forever. We lived within the false pretense that our minds would slowly degenerate until we were on our death beds peering out through our tired eyes at strangers. No one in their right mind would wish this upon themselves and luckily there are ways to prevent it from happening.

Articles in the recent decades have acknowledged the use of games such as crossword puzzles, word searches, and Memory to improve the brain’s ability to stay focused and retain the pathways for information to flow. Attention and memory improving apps for tablets and smart phones have littered the search engines. Websites developed specifically for improving brain function such as Luminosity have also surfaced. These types of games all are great for keeping our minds flexible.

At first, neuroscientists had believed that each component of the brain was designed to carry out one function. In the unfortunate event of an accident such as a stroke, the damaged part would be permanent and the corresponding function associated with the part would no longer happen. The mentality was “use it and lose it” as we aged. Recent studies have now disproved this myth and through mental and physical activity, the brain has the ability to adapt and create new pathways to provide function to a damaged area. With this new insight to the neuroplasticity of our brains, the new rule is “use it or lose it,” (which I must say,  sounds awfully familiar.)

What’s surprising about our brain’s plasticity is how exercise positively impacts the brain. Regular “exercise triggers the release of ‘neurotrophic growth factors’—a kind of brain fertilizer, helping the brain to grow, maintain new connections and stay healthy” (Doidge, N., 2015). When we exert our bodies mentally or physically our brains must adapt to the new stimuli and create new pathways to keep the brain plastic for new information. This phenomenon in turn reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Exercise has also been linked to an improvement in the symptoms of Parkinson’s patients. With vigorous exercise, the patients recorded higher connectivity of the neurons which sent signals from the brain to the person’s limbs.

No matter how you exercise, remember one thing: your workouts today will provide you the memory to last your lifetime.

 

Reference:
Doidge, N. (2015) Our Amazingly Plastic Brains. The Wall Street Journal retrieved on March 27, 2015 from http://www.wsj.com/articles/our-amazingly-plastic-brains-1423262095