Posts Tagged ‘bodybuilding’

Living in Las Vegas, Nevada affords me many great opportunities, not the least of which is being smack dab in the middle of MMA’s epicenter.  Being a rabid fan of MMA, partaking in MMA training (Specifically Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu) and having the honor of working with many of the incredible MMA athletes (amateur as well as professional) gives me a multi-dimensional viewpoint when it comes to what works and doesn’t work with MMA conditioning training.  I am humble in my approach as I feel I am forever a student of the body and I would like to believe that is what helps me to achieve great success with my clients.  I don’t pretend to know it all, but rather I voraciously pursue furthering my knowledge base by means of reading cutting edge scientific journals, attending as many relevant certifications as possible and just flat out keeping an open mind.

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Something I see happen all too often, is a random trainer calling himself a “MMA conditioning specialist” with little to no practical knowledge or experience in the field.  Training Mrs. Smith to lose 10 pounds of fat is ever so slightly different from training an elite athlete to perform at his/her peak in competition.  (Did my sarcasm show through just now?) While a lot of these trainers might have good intentions, they are sadly setting themselves and their clients up for failure by applying antiquated belief systems and training paradigms to what might be considered the single most challenging athletic endeavor out there: MMA.  These athletes need a flowing, balanced blend of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance that is tailored to their own unique physiology in such a manner that the outcome is a harmonious dynamic of purposeful movement that does the “Art” portion of the moniker justice.

A true professional MMA conditioning coach approaches their athlete with a goal of improving their structural and movement based efficiency, facilitating effective improvement in the goal based aspects of the program and all the while minimizing opportunities for injury and/or overtraining.  This requires a thorough grasp of exercise science and the ability to apply it in an individualized manner that is both progressive and periodized as needed to accommodate the athlete’s goals. The balancing of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance is of paramount importance to the MMA athlete’s success.

There are three main steps to this process:

  1. Assess the athlete for goal orientation as well as physical needs/capabilities
  2. Design the program based around the information provided by the assessments
  3. Instruct the athlete utilizing the well-designed program

If you or someone you know is thinking about working with a MMA conditioning coach, make sure that coach can answer the following questions:

  • What muscles groups should be trained? Why?
  • What basic energy sources (e.g. anaerobic, aerobic) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the types of muscle action(s) (e.g. isometric, eccentric) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the primary sites of injury for the particular sport or activity, and what is the prior injury history of the individual?
  • What are the specific needs for muscle strength, hypertrophy, endurance, power, speed, agility, flexibility, body composition, balance and coordination?

A true professional will be able to answer all these and more.

While I would never want to do anything but encourage more women to hit the gym for their own fitness goals, I do have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when it comes to some of the insanity that goes down once they get there.  Getting great results from your time in the gym really isn’t all that complex, unless you make it that way yourself.

Ladies, high five for your continued efforts to better yourselves! Along the way on your fitness journey, please try to keep a few of the following items in mind:

  1. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop working your abs all the time. Your abdominal muscles, just like all of the other effective-ab-workouts-for-womenmuscles on your body, do NOT need to be beaten down every single day. Should you challenge your core muscles?  Absolutely!  Just try to work them the same number of times per week as you would your back or shoulders.  Think Goldilocks and the 3 bears – not too much, not too little.  (Oh and stop thinking you can magically spot reduce the fat in your midsection by working your abs, cause it doesn’t work that way!)
  2. You are doing waaaay too much cardio. If you are doing 90 minutes of cardio every single day of the week in an effort to lose fat to fit into your favorite pair of jeans, you might want to KNOCK IT OFF! The truth is that while a great way to build aerobic endurance should you be entering your first 5k run, cardio will never be able to match proper nutritional intake when it comes to fat loss. You’ve heard the phrase, “Abs are made in the kitchen” right?  Well, it just might be the most profound statement out there when it comes to fat loss.  Eat better and you’ll look better.  Cut back on that cardio and put more effort into your diet.  You’ll thank me later.
  3. Stop changing your workout every couple days. I know patience is a virtue that you were not blessed with, but come on!  Stick to a routine for no less than 4 weeks before you decide it isn’t working for you.  Nobody gets results the first time they try a new program and that includes YOU, so relax and stick to the one you already have and maybe you’ll start seeing the results you were hoping for.download (12)
  4. You are doing too many exercises for your booty. Yes, I know it is one of your focal points.  Yes, I know you think “More is better.”  No, doing 47 different movements for your rear will NOT magically make you look like J-lo.  Whether your goal is to lose some fat off the rear or to build up some muscle down there, too much is exactly that: too much. (Please see number 1 above)  If you want better buns, you need to include two things in your workouts: Squats and sprints.  That’s it!
  5. Stop thinking that lifting heavy weights will make you get HUGE. Every bodybuilder out there hates you because they know the Tricep-Exercises-For-Womentruth is to build big muscles you have to spend YEARS beating the crap out of your body and stuffing your face with huge amounts of food.  Choosing to use the 30lb dumbbells instead of the 5lb ones might be the smartest thing you can do to fast forward your results.  You’ll get stronger, build a tiny amount more muscle and boost your metabolism so you can burn more fat.  If anything you’ll end up getting smaller instead of bigger.  Win!

Get out there and hit the gym ladies!  Everyone wins when you move closer to your fitness goals and that can happen sooner if you were paying attention to my rant above.

 

I suppose if you are dressing up for Halloween as Bane, it might be a good idea to strap on one of those fancy MMA high altitude simulating masks, but if it doesn’t happen to be October 31st, there is a pretty good chance all that mask is doing is making you look like an idiot.  All the rage these days, training masks that have been popularized by the psuedo-science laden MMA magazine advertisements and Facebook ads alike, don’t hold up to the stringent demands of real science. Let me drop some actual knowledge on you about these  masks so you can better choose your workout gear going forward and hopefully avoid those nasty looks people keep giving you..

bane mma mask

What do these masks promise to do for the unsuspecting user?

  • Improved oxygen uptake
  • Improved anaerobic capacity
  • Increased lung capacity

The claims by the manufacturers of these masks are loosely attributed to the mask simulating training at high altitude (because the breathing restriction aspect of the mask allows less air/less oxygen in each breath) which allegedly causes the user to have lung efficiency adaptations.

So now we know what the claims are, let’s take a look at the science to see if it supports these claims.

  • Improved oxygen uptake – This one falls apart REAL quickly. The basic principle of the oxygen deprivation mask is riding the tails of LLTH (Live Low Train High) principle…. i.e. you wear the mask only when you are training to simulate altitude. This has been proven false. In the study, “Is Hypoxia Training Good for Muscles and Exercise Performance?” authors Vogt and Hoppeler clear this up by stating, “… A common feature of virtually all studies on “live low–train high” is that hypoxic exposure only during exercise sessions is not sufficient to induce changes in hematologic parameters. Hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations usually remain unchanged with “live low–train high.”  Next…
  •  Improved anaerobic capacity – In the study “Effects of intermittent hypoxic training on aerobic and anaerobic performance. ” authors Cable and Morton found that hypoxic training (using a mask or training at altitude) had, “no enhanced effect on the degree of improvement in either aerobic or anaerobic performance.”  Damn you science!!!
  • Increased lung capacity – All right, last chance here training masks! On the third and final chance at bat, the training masks actually deliver….well…kinda.  It is true that there indeed is an increase in lung capacity due to the restricted nature of these masks, however, that increase did NOT lead to an increase in any of the important aspects of performance such as VO2MAX or anaerobic capacity. Darn!

mma mask fitness

While it might feel like I am here to bash the entire genre of altitude simulation/MMA training masks, the reality is I am just trying to be a clear voice of science founded reason on the topic.  I think it is important to note that while the above info beats down the mask’s ability to back up the claims of the marketers out there, it does actually have a very viable use for MMA athletes.  Wearing these masks makes it hard to breath and “smothers” the user so that they have to adapt psychologically to wearing them and thereby become prepared should an opponent block their breathing in a fight(this is legal to do in MMA) it won’t have as dramatic of an impact on the training mask user.  See, one good point after all!

If you don’t mind looking like a dork and you want to improve your mental game for MMA, then a training mask might be the thing for you!  Everyone else, keep on doing whatever you were already doing…

 

If you are looking for one very efficient piece of exercise, look no further than the kettlebell. Kettlebell workouts are famous for burning fat by increasing lean muscle while building balance and grace. Plus it is an amazing stress-reliever that relieves tension in both the muscles and the mind. The exercises are simple, yet effective.

When used correctly, kettleballs are wonderful conditioning tools. They can be used for various purposes such as:

  • Cardiovascular conditioning
  • Fat loss
  • Strength and stamina
  • Muscular endurance, especially the legs, buttocks and lower back

Choosing the Correctly Sized Kettlebell
When first starting out, choosing the correct size kettlebell to train with is very important. You need to pick a weight that is easy enough to handle but heavy enough to make you use your hips explosively to drive the kettlebell in to its correct position, depending upon the exercise that you are doing.

Most ladies would normally start with either a 5-10 pound kettlebell, while men would normally start with a 15-20 pound kettlebell. The size depends on the condition of the person exercising, so don’t be afraid to drop down a size to keep proper form. Initially, more repetitions are better than more weight.

Kettlebell Basic Exercises
Before you can start on a basic routine, you must first master the three basic exercises with the kettlebell. These are:

  1. The Swing
  2. The Clean
  3. The Snatch

1. The Swing
This is a simple exercise, but extremely effective using the whole body. Standing with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, hold a kettlebell with knees bent. Grip the kettlebell with both hands and lift to groin height. Ensure that your back is arched and that your head is upright. Keep the weight on your heels, bending at the knees, back straight and head looking up and forwards (as if you are going to sit down in a chair). Swing the kettlebell to the rear backwards, between the legs. The weight should remain on your heels and the shins should be vertical.

swing

It is essential that you perfect this movement because without it, you will never have the leverage to get your hips into the movement. You should feel the kettlebell pulling you backwards and your hamstrings contracting. Pushing through your feet and legs, quickly snap/thrust the hips forward tightening the glutes and abs (This motion is similar to jumping up vertically.) Do this quick snap of the hips motion while at the same time projecting the kettlebell forwards and away from the body. Keep the arms relatively straight and bring the kettlebell to waist, chest or head height, then allow the kettlebell to freely return to the start position and repeat.

2. The Clean
Hold the kettlebell in one hand. Swing it through the legs, bring it forward, and push up through the legs from the feet. As the kettlebell comes over the top of your hand to hit your forearm, grip the handle tight and also dip at the knees. This will assist you in absorbing the impact of the kettlebell. The kettlebell should lie on the forearm with your elbow tucked into the side. The wrist should be flat, and your palm should be facing inwards towards the body.

clean

The Swing will test your stamina, grip, and body coordination. The entire exercise can be carried out using one hand, switching at the top or bottom of the drill. It is important to keep core muscles tight to control the kettlebell at all times.

3. The ‘One-Arm’ Snatch
Swing the kettlebell back through the legs as you push through the feet and legs. Bring it up, snapping at the hips, sucking the floor up with your glutes. At this point, the body should be locked; the power of your drill should now have the kettlebell well on its way up. Remember: as the kettlebell comes over, dip at the knees and grip the handle to slow the kettlebell and avoid the impact on the forearm. The entire body should be locked with total tension that includes a strong core.

snatch

Kettlebells can make a huge difference in your strength, core, muscle tone and stamina. The exercises are simple but effective. Losing weight is an added bonus! Enjoy!

 

I have been working in the fitness industry for nearly 20 years and have always worked hard to seek out the best science founded information with which to develop both my clients’ and my own workouts.  One of the confusing topics I have waded through many times over is the ongoing debate in the strength training and bodybuilding communities as to whether a single set of an exercise is superior for building size and strength than training with multiple sets.  I have always worked out using multiple sets and gotten great results from that type of training.  I am, however, not so short sighted as to assume that because I got great results that it was “causation” instead of merely “correlation.”

I hear it all of the time:

Client“Jason, I started doing crunches and I lost 3 inches off my midsection!”

Me:      “Did you also change your food intake and your cardio training?”

Client“Well, yes, but it was the crunches that made me lose the inches!”

The inherent demand for logic and reason that my brain imposes on me precludes me from formulating a steadfast opinion without having done my due diligence in research first. So I offer you a look at the some of the information I have used to formulate my opinion on this much talked about debate.

The idea that a single set of an exercise might be more effective than traditional multiple set training was first popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones, inventor of Nautilus strength training equipment. It was Jones’ belief that a single set per exercise taken to the point of failure was the most effective type of training for improving both strength and size. This type of training is often called HIT or High Intensity Training and was made famous by the late Mike Mentzer (He called it Heavy Duty Training) and 6 time MR Olympia Dorian Yates. In a series of published articles circulated throughout the strength and bodybuilding communities, Arthur Jones wrote about what he believed to be the superiority of single set training.  This subsequently sparked heated debate on the issue that continues to this day.

The debate drew the attention of exercise physiologists around the world, resulting in a growing body of research data examining the issue. However, despite an abundance of research studies physiologists were not able to resolve the issue. The main problem was that the research was equivocal; some studies supported the idea that a single set was more effective than multiple sets, other studies found multiple sets produced greater increases in strength and size, but most studies found no statistical difference in results between the two training methods. In short, there was no consensus in the research.

In general most research indicates that multiple sets tend to produce somewhat larger increases in strength and size. However, the issue is that the difference in results between the two has not been large enough to definitively say that multiple sets are superior. On average multiple sets produce a few percentage points greater increase in strength and size, usually in the range of 2-10%, but this difference has not been large enough to be statistically significant (statistical significance is important to show that the results are not just a matter of chance).

With research unable to declare a clear winner the debate continued unabated. Despite the lack of consensus the physiological community generally accepted multiple sets to be superior to a single set, which drew some very vocal and deserved criticism from a few scientists.

In response to these critics a number of “meta-analyses” have been conducted by researchers in recent years to see if the conflict could be resolved. A meta-analysis is essentially a study of studies. It is a way of analyzing the results of multiple studies on the same research hypothesis to see what can be learned by looking at the entire body of research data as a whole versus the examining the results from individual studies. A meta-analysis can often more powerfully estimate the “effect size”, the true difference in results, in comparison to the smaller “effect size” of a single study. Measuring “statistical significance” is different than measuring “effect size”. The advantage of measuring effect size via a meta-analysis is that it may reveal actual differences that were missed by examining the statistical significance of the results of the individual studies comprising the meta-analysis.

Let’s have a look at these meta-analyses and see if they have finally put to rest the whole single set versus multiple set debate.

Strength Studies

The first meta-analysis was conducted by Rhea et al (4) in 2002. Examining 16 studies Rhea reported that 3-set training produced superior results to 1-set training. In 2003 Rhea et al (5) conducted another meta-analysis, this time of 140 published studies, and concluded that 4-sets produced maximum strength gains in both trained and untrained subjects. Both of these studies received some criticism due to the criteria Rhea used for study inclusion and also for his statistical analysis methods.

A third meta-analysis conducted in 2004 by Wolfe et al (6) of 16 studies found multiple sets to be superior to a single set in trained subjects and in programs lasting 17 to 40 weeks. As in both Rhea’s meta-analyses, Wolfe’s study received some criticism for his statistical analysis methods.

Aware of the criticism of the previous three analyses, Kreiger (3) conducted a fourth meta-analysis in 2009 specifically designed to improve upon the limitations of the previous studies. He examined 14 studies with 92 effect sizes measured across 30 groups of subjects comparing 1-set, 2-3 sets, and 4-6 sets. He found that 2-3 sets produced 46% greater increases in strength than 1 set in both trained and untrained subjects. Interestingly, he also found no difference in results between 2-3 sets and 4-6 sets. Performing more than 3 sets did not produce a greater increase in strength. Kreiger’s study strengthens the findings of both of Rhea’s previous studies. There were some differences between Wolfe’s findings and Kreiger’s findings in terms of the effect of volume of training but Kreiger’s study also strengthened Wolfe’s finding that multiple sets produce superior results to a single set. Finally, a 2010 meta-analysis of 72 studies by Frohlich et al (1) found single set training to be the equal of multiple set training for short training periods but multi-set training to be superior over longer periods of training.

In summary, there is now a consensus in the research literature supporting the idea that multiple sets are superior to single set training for increasing muscular strength.

Size Analysis

All of the meta-analyses cited above examined differences in strength gains; none examined the issue as to whether single or multiple-set training elicited greater muscle size gains. Increases in strength are caused by both neural and hypertrophic changes and it is possible that the superiority of multiple sets for increasing strength might be due to a greater neural effect and not hypertrophy. It is possible that multiple sets might be superior for increasing strength but not size so this issue needed to be resolved also.

In 2010 Kreiger (2) addressed this topic with another meta-analysis designed to determine if multiple set training elicited greater muscle hypertrophy compared to single set training. Examining 55 effect sizes across 19 groups in 8 studies he found that multiple sets produced 40% higher increases in muscle hypertrophy regardless of the training status of the subjects or the length of the training program. Kreiger also concluded that the 46% greater increase in strength from multiple sets revealed in his earlier meta-analysis was largely due to greater hypertrophy and not neural factors.

Interestingly, while Kreiger found no significant difference in hypertrophy from 2-3 sets or 4-6 sets he did find a trend for greater hypertrophy with 4 or more sets. One weakness of his analysis was a limited number of studies that utilized 4 or more sets so he stated that no definitive conclusion could be reached as to whether 4 or more sets was superior to 2-3 sets for inducing muscle growth.

Summary

The debate as to the superiority of single versus multiple set training has been on-going for around 40 years. High intensity training (HIT), originally popularized by Arthur Jones in the 1970s, promotes the idea that single set training is superior to traditional multi-set training for improving both strength and size. Until now research on this topic has been equivocal and unable to resolve the dispute. However, six recent meta-analyses have confirmed that multiple set training produces greater increases in both strength and size than single set training in both trained and untrained subjects.

References:

1. Frohlich M, Emrich E, Shmidtbleicher D., Outcome effects of single-set versus multiple-set training- an advanced replication study. Res Sports Med. 2010 Jul;18(3): 157-75

2. Kreiger JW., Single vs. multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Apr; 24(4): 1150-9

3. Kreiger JW., Single versus multiple sets of resistance exercise: a meta-regression. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep; 23(6): 1890-901.

4. Rhea, MR, Alvar, BA, and Burkett, LN. Single versus multiple sets for strength: a meta-analysis to address the controversy. Res Q Exerc Sport 73: 485–488, 2002.

5. Rhea, MR, Alvar, BA, Burkett, LN, and Ball, SD. A meta-analysis to determine the dose response for strength development. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35: 456–464, 2003.

6. Wolfe, BL, Lemura, LM, and Cole, PJ. Quantitative analysis of single- vs. multiple set programs in resistance training. J Strength Cond Res 18: 35–47, 2004.

7.  Trainingscience.net  Single set versus multiple sets – New research 2012

 

I am sitting at my dining room table just having finished my dinner at 10:16pm.  I am eating 1.5 cups of fire roasted tomatoes, 12 ounces of grilled salmon and 1.5 cups of grilled mushrooms, all washed down with32 ounces of whole milk.  The kids and wife are already fast asleep, so it is just me and our Chihuahua Belle sitting in the dining room light.  The reason I am still awake is because I didn’t feel too good earlier so I took a nap and when I woke up it was 7:30pm and I had yet to go to the gym.  So I slapped on my workout clothes and heart rate monitor and drove to Life Time Athletic to hammer out my Monday exercises. Tomorrow is both Valentine’s day (yuck) and far more importantly, my 1 year anniversary with my beautiful wife Roni.  You would think I would have just gone to bed after not feeling good and it being so late, but no.

I realized a long time ago that the concerted efforts I put into bettering myself are most rewarded when it isn’t convenient or easy to go about.  Anyone can go workout in the middle of the day when they have lots of energy and nothing else going on.  It takes discipline and tenacity to drag yourself to a workout when you don’t feel good, you’re super busy all day and a cozy warm bed is calling your name.

Why am I still up?  Well, you see, I still have 900 calories I need to consume to be on point for my daily allotment to achieve my goals.  Since I just ate a late dinner and my stomach is kind of full, I need to wait until it empties a little bit so I can consume my final 900 calorie protein laden meal replacement shake.  Just like Rock Balboa, I use the wonderfully nutritious raw egg as the mainstay of my meal replacements.  6 raw eggs to be exact.  12 ounces of whole milk mixed with a little creatine, a scoop of BCAAs,  some whey protein and a couple scoops of “Muscle Milk” chocolate.  Fire up the hand mixer and “POOF” a fine sipping cognac.  Well, I might be exaggerating that part, but it gets the job done. I can’t forget to take my multi-vitamin and my fish oils too.

I want my body to have all the raw ingredients it needs to repair and grow from my grueling workouts, so I will go make my shake and drink it and head to bed knowing I did what was needed to create the best possible environment for my amazing body to move one step closer to my goals.

I personally love the Bell curve and all that it represents. Take for example the people in America. On one end of the Bell curve we have the standard American: overweight and underactive. On the other side we have an athletic American: in shape and most likely overactive. What do I mean by overactive you are probably thinking? Let’s start by talking a little about how your body works.

The human body is an amazing work of art. Every day for hundreds of years, all over the planet, thousands of the world’s smartest people (doctors and research scientists) have been TRYING to figure it out. One of the most impressive things they have discovered is that the harder you work the body (within reason of course) the better it becomes! Try doing that with your car and see what happens. There is a certain amount of your physiology that is based in your parents genetic contribution to who you are, but the vast majority of who and what you are today, is nurture, not nature. What this means is that you are the end product of every single interaction with the world and the subsequent remodeling your body went through to accommodate to those interactions. Think about it for just a second. Remember when you cut your big toe on a sprinkler while walking barefoot through the park back in 5th grade? Take a look at that same toe right now and gently run your finger over that scar that you’ve carried with you all these years. Let me ask you this: why do you know that 5×5=25? It is because while sitting in Miss Larson’s class, you had to write your multiplication tables over and over and over again until the cells in your brain created and reinforced a connection that has stuck with you to this very day. You are the product of all of your life’s interactions. Interesting isn’t it?

So what does this have to do with being overactive? While our bodies are always looking to find a state of homeostasis, the truth is, our environment is ever changing so that homeostasis is a moving target. Take for example doing a push-up. The first time you attempt to do one, it is a foreign movement and you struggle to not only keep your body straight but also to push yourself up against gravity’s pull. After the challenge is over, the adaptations begin! The body recognizes that it was just faced with a new challenge and it will now seek a way to make it easier should you have to attempt it again in the future. Your brain has to establish new pathways to control the muscles more efficiently, the muscle cells use some of the freely available amino acids floating in your blood stream to build themselves a little stronger and even your blood vessels adapt to allow for greater blood flow to carry oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. This happens every day with everything you encounter as the body seeks the path of least resistance.

Not too much, not too little

The problem arises when we purposefully attempt to force our bodies to be what want. Whether this be a cosmetic change of fat loss/muscle gain or a performance goal like running a marathon. While the goals seem innocuous in their healthy appearance, they can in fact become detrimental if not worked towards in a logical, science founded manner. Work just hard enough to elicit the desired compensatory response and then rest adequately for the body to be 100% ready to go again. Sadly while the sedentary Americans err on the side of undertraining, our overzealous athletic Americans are rampantly overtraining and not allowing for enough rest time before starting again. In this case, as is with most, more is not better! I love to tell my clients to remember the age old story of Goldilocks and the three bears. If you are in doubt when it comes to “how much” as it pertains to your food or exercise, go with Goldilocks’ thought process: Not too much, not too little, just right. Simple enough, wouldn’t you agree?