Fast Twitch/Slow Twitch-Which one are you?

A lot of you have heard the terms fast twitch and slow twitch muscles.   People are either fast twitch fiber dominant, slow twitch fiber dominant, or a little mix of both.  There is advantages to having slow twitch muscle and having  fast twitch muscle and if you understand how they work you can improve your training routine.  In this post I will cover what fast twitch and slow twith muscle fibers are, how you can roughly estimate if you lean towards fast twitch or slow twitch, and how you can train those muscles.

MUSCLE FIBER  AND THEIR ISOFORMS

A muscle contracts when the actin and myosin filaments form cross bridges and slide across each other inside a myofibril.  The myosin filaments are the thicker filaments and the actin is the thinner filaments.  All muscle fiber types are characterized by one specific component myosin heavy chain(MHC).  The MHC has three main isoforms- type I, type IIa, type IIx.

TYPE I(SLOW OXIDATIVE)

Type I muscle fibers are slow twitch muscle fibers.  They are called slow twitch because they have a slow shortening speed.  The ST fibers are thinner and reddish in color.  The ST fibers produce ATP in the presence of oxygen and are more mitochondria dense.  Since aerobic metabolism is much more effiecient way of ATP production than this makes the ST fibers a lot more fatigue resistant than other muscle fiber types. ST fibers size and contraction speed make them much less efficeint for power and strength.  ST fibers are the fibers predominantly used in acitivites with long duration and low intensity such as long distance running or holding different types of posture.

TYPE IIA(FAST TWICTH OXIDATIVE GLYCOLYTIC)

Type IIa muscle fibers can produce energy through glycolytic and aerobic processes.  The ability to draw from both glycolytic and aerobic mechanisms gives this fiber type the ability to produce fast low intensity movements.  They also have a decent amount of mitochondria giving it a fast recovery and a fatigue resistant aspect to it.  Bodybuilders actually have been found to have a large amount of  type IIA fibers leading to the assumption that these fibers adapt to hypertrophy.

TYPE IIX(FAST GLYCOLYTIC)

Type IIX are the fastest contraction of any muscle fiber type.  They actually contract approximately 10 times faster than their slow twitch counterparts.  Type IIX fibers are also the quickest to fatigue because of low oxidative capacity and low mitochondria.  Type IIX fibers are white in color and have a large diameter.  Type IIX fibers are recruited during high intensity and high power output movements.  Examples of this would be olympic lifts, sprints, and other short burst high powered explosive movements.

There is even more classifications of muscle fibers but these are the ones that are the most widely accepted.

RECRUITMENT OF MUSLCE FIBERS(SIZE PRINCIPLE)

All muscle fibers are recruited by motor units.  Slow twitch fibers will be recruited by smaller lower firing rate motor units.  The fast twitch fibers will be recruited by the larger higher firing rate motor units.    Now the size principle states that small motor units will be recruited first and the larger ones last.  Even if the force and velocity are high then the smallest motor units will usually be recruited first.  The low level athlete will recruit a much smaller amount of fast twitch fibers than a highly trained athlete.

SO WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

Individuals can be as much as 80% slow twitch or fast twitch muscle fiber type.  So now your probably wondering if your more fast twitch muscle or more slow twitch muscle.  The only real way to figure this out is by doing a muscle biopsy but who the hell is really going to do that!  So there is some ways that you can get a general estimate of what your dominant muscle fiber type might lean towards.  The 80% 1rep max test is probably the most widely used.

HOW TO PERFORM THE 80% 1REP MAX TEST

Ok so I am going to tell you how to perform the test with the bench press to determine your upper body fiber typer but after you know how to do with bench press you will know how to perform the test with a variety of different exercises.

To perform the test you need to figure out what your 1 rep max is for bench press.  Dont perform the test on the same day that your figuring out your bench press max because you will be fatigued for the test.

You will perform warm up sets until you get up to 80% of your 1 rep max.  So if you can bench 300lbs you will work your way up to 240lbs.  You will perform as many clean reps of your 80% 1rep max, so basically do it till  you feel like the next rep is either going to be super slow or the next rep you’re about to perform is questionable for completion.  The lower amount of reps you can do will generally mean that you are fast twitch dominant because fast twitch dominant muscle fatigues much faster and the more reps you can do will be an indicator that you are slow twitch dominant.  Here is a complete lists of how many reps you can complete and what it means, taken out of Christian Thibaudeaus Big Black Book of Training Secrets.

1-3 reps completed-fast twitch extremely dominant

4-6 reps-fast twitch very dominant

7-10 reps-fast twitch dominant

11-13 reps-equal ratio

14-17 reps-slow twitch dominant

18-21 reps-slow twitch very dominant

21+ reps- your a god damn tortoise!  No I’m just kidding you’re slow twitch extremely dominant and could out last me in workouts till  no end.

You can use this method with squat, hamstring curls, shoulder press, etc.

You can also use common sense too, imagine that.  If you have been able to jump higher than your friends and you were more times the winner than loser in a short distance race with your friends, its probably safe to assume that you are a fast twitch dominant.  If you lift weights and you easily put on quality muscle size than you are probably fast twitch dominant.  If you can run long distances longer than most and never have been good with jumping or explosive movemens than you are probably slow twitch dominant.

HOW TO TRAIN FOR YOUR MUSCLE

One of the most frequent questions is can you  change slow twitch muscle fibers into fast twitch muslce fibers or vice versa.  Some of the research suggests that that this can happen under certain conditions.  Fast twitch type IIX can definetly turn into type IIA but slow twitch turning into fast twitch muslces is much more rare.  Interesting note about muscle plasticity is their was an experiment done on rats where scientist switched fast twitch nerves onto slow twitch muslces and the slow twitch muscles behaved like fast twitch muscles.  So the nervous system determines the way a muscle behaves even more so than the struture of the fiber.

Their might be a chance that you can change your muscle fiber type to a slight degree but lets go with a more realistic approach.  Instead of trying to change your muscle fiber type it is definetly possible to increase the size of the fibers in a muscle to take up more volume in the muscle.  Lets say your tricep is 50% slow twitch and 50% fast twitch and your trying to gain more muscle.  Your goal is to recruit those fast twitch muscle fibers and grow that 50% type II so it actually makes up the majority of the size in the triceps but the muscle fiber proportion never changes. It is still 50% fast twitch muscle fibers and 50% slow twitch muscle fibers. Since most people are not gifted with fast twitch muscle, the methods of training will address how to tap into the fast twitch muscle fibers.

PLYOMETRICS AND BALLISTIC EXERCISES

We talked about the size principle and about how the slow twitch muscles are recruited first.  The use of ballistic and plyometric exercises can actually invert the recruitment pattern of muscles and start recruiting FT fibers first.  I would suggest doing some form of PAP training which will combine lots of ballistic and plyometric based exercises with heavy resistance exercises.  Here is a link to a post I did about PAP training http://kofitness2010.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/need-a-new-workout-try-pap-post-activation-potentiation-training/

Another method of using plyometrics and ballistic exercises to change the recruitment pattern is to do some plyo push ups, push press, olympic lifts, ball throws, and jumps before you workout at a light or moderate weight.  Doing this will stimulate the CNS and help recruit the FT muscle fibers that are harder to stimulate.  Personally I prefer this method because it lets me concentrate on my lifts and does not break up the flow of my workout with the ballistic and plyometric exercises.  Both ways have their benefits.

BANDS AND CHAINS

The use of bands and chains will also greatly increase your chances of recruiting FT fibers because when you use bands and chains you have to accelerate the bar much faster.  Acceleration generates force and a lot of time generates more force than heavy weights leading to greater recruitment of FT fibers.  You can use bands and chains with heavyweight but use it with 40% or the highest 70% of your one rep max and move the bar with as much speed as possible.   Rep ranges should be anywhere from 2-5 reps.  Westside method does no more than 3 usually but for changing body composition higher rep ranges are fine.

ACCELERATE WEIGHTS WITH SPEED

I know a lot of people have said lift slow and feel the muscle.  Gym science is bitch becasue for the most part they are wrong.  Slow eccentrics is good to some point but strive to accelerate the bar on the concentric action. Slow eccentrics should only be trained for short periods but for the most part lower the weight with control and then move it with the intent to move it as quickly as possible.  Even if it is a super heavy lift, move the weight with the intent to accelerate the bar as fast as possible.  Why?  You will recruit more high threshold motor units which is key to recruiting those fast twitch muscle fibers.  Lifting the weights with the intent of speed increases the intramuscular tension and that will also lead to greater muscle gain.  Last but not least lifting with the intent to accelerate the weights will increase calorie expenditure and boost insulin sensitivty.  Both of those aspects make it beneficial for weight loss.

LIFT HEAVY

Yes! Females included! Dont be scared and lift some god damn heavy weights because it will recruit high threshold motor units.

WRAP UP

Add some plyo’s, ballistic exercises,  bands, chains, intent to accelerate and you should see changes in strength, muscle tone,and size.  Sprinters tap into a large amount of muscle fibers and usually have lean, hard, muscular physiques because of the fast movements they have to perform.  Physique training is starting to change and lean towards more performance oriented training .  It is time to evovle your training and use new improved methods.  In with the new and out with the old.  Until next time.

KO

Any fitness questions or interest in training in person or online can contact me at kofitness2010@gmail.com

Train Like A Pro pt. 3-Resistance Training Methods Used by Athletes

Now for the fun stuff!  When I say resistance training I’m mostly talking about the weights.  I literally could write a whole book on each type of method, so I am going to cover a variety of different methods with a brief basic overview.  Ultimately by the end of the post you should have a basic idea of how you can incorporate this in your own fitness routine.  All of these training methods are for athletes and fitness enthusiast who have had a good amount of experience with weights.    Newbies will get a lot out of basic weight lifting methods because it is a brand new stimulus to their body but the post will give them some interesting insight to more advanced training methods.   I can guarantee that if you been working out for years and have reached that evil word plateau than this post will help you get past that plateau.

 

STATIC HOLDS(ISOMETRICS)

Static holds and isometric training have been used by athletic trainers for many years.  Isometrics consists of holding a position in a exercise for a given period of time.    Here is a list of why this is effective method for sports and fitness.

  • Increases intramuscular tension(the amount force needed inside a muscle to overcome a weight or produce a movement)-this will lead to hypertrophy gains and strenth gains
  • Increase myogenic tone -myogenic tone is your muscle tone-  Performing isometric exercise will give a more toned and harder appearance to your muscle
  • Motor unit recruitment- will increase the amount of motor units that you recruit even more so than eccentric and concentric actions
  • Creates metabolic stress-since  oxygen is cut off during a isometric contraction the muscles will produce lactate which will lead to greater IGF 1 and GH production.  IGF 1 and GH are key to inducing muslce mass and lowering bodyfat
  • Isometrics increases strength within 20 to 30 degrees from the point the isometric contraction is held at

Almost every athlete or fitness nut wants some of the benefits on this list.  Their are many different type of methods that you can use but I am going to list  2 major ones that you will be able to incorporate in your routine.

QUASI-ISOMETRICS

Quasi isometrics is a dynamic strength exercise with a static/isometric hold during some point of the movement. The Hoffman method is where you push a weight against a immovable object for a certain period of time.  An example of this would be to start a barbell squat on a pair of pins and have another pair of pins a foot above the bar  in the power rack .  You would proceed to do a squat until you hit the pins and you would push against the pins as hard as possible for a given amount of time..  You would want to pick points that your the weakest.  If you have trouble popping out the bottom of your squat than put the pins towards the bottom.  You cna use this with almost any major barbell lift.

Hoffman Method of Quasi Isometrics -

Another type of quasi isometrics is the holding version.  The holding version is performing a dynamic strength movements and performing isometric holds at certain points of the movement.  An example of this would be doing a squat and at the bottom part perform a static hold and then proceed to complete the squat.  I have amazing results with my clients and myself with both of these quasi-isometric methods.

Here is a link to a hoffman isometric squat but you should push against the pins for a longer period of time than shown on the video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbBsQJvqe3o

EXPOLSIVE-STATIC DYNAMIC EXERCISES

Explosive static dynamic exercises are when you start out a dynamic movement with a isometric hold and then do either explosive reps or a ballistic exercise such as jumps.  Here are 2 different ways you can perform explosive-static dynamic exercises

  • If you were to do bench press than you would use about 80% of your 1rm and hold it at a weak point for a certain amount of time.  You would then rack the bench press and proceed to unrack weight until the weight equalled 60% of your 1rm.  Immediately after this is done you would then go on to perform 3 to 6 explosive reps of the bench press moving the bar as fast as  possible.

 

  • The second method  uses a isometric hold in a part of a movment followed by a ballistic movement.  We will use the squat for this example.  If you were to perform a squat with about 30 to 50% of your 1rm you would pause at the bottom of the squat for a certain amount of time.  After the hold is finished you would explode out of the bottom of the squat jumping in the air.  I really like to use this method for a lot of athletes I train because a lot of sports involve being in a static position and then exploding out of it.  Examples of this would be when your waiting to get a rebound from a missed shot, exploding out of a three point stance in football, attempting to perform a double leg take down against the cage while someone is trying to resist you, you get the drift

 

HOW LONG SHOULD I PERFORM STATIC HOLDS

The length of the hold does matter in terms of the goals you are trying to achieve.  If you are trying to achieve strength goals than perform hold for 6 seconds with 70-80% of your one rep maximum.  If muscle hypertrophy or body composition is your goal than perform the holds for 20-30 seconds.  The longer hold will cause a larger amount of metabolic stress leading to hypertrophy gains.

ACCOMMODATING RESISTANCE

Accommodating resistance is used to adjust to the natural strength curve of a lift.  A normal lift will only maximally stimulate the weakest part of the lift.  As the bar goes up on the bench press the leverage becomes more advantagous towards the top, so the top of the lift is never fully stimulated.  Since accommodating resistance gets stronger towards the top it stimulates the full lift.

The other aspect of accommodating resistance is that it makes you much more explosive.  If your lifting a weight especially at high speed than the body will slow down the lift towards the end.  An example of this would be when performing squats.  As you pop out of the hardest part of the squat your body will naturally practice deceleration to stop itself from giving shock to the joints a.  When you perform that squat it really only performs true acceleration at the bottom of the lift and the rest of the lift is deceleration.  Since accomodating resistance gets heavier as the lift approaches the end of the movement, it allows the body to accelerate the whole time during the lift.

The two most poplular methods of accommodating resistance are bands and chains

CHAINS

Chains are used for a abrupt loading effect.  When you go to the bottom of the lift the chains are completely deloaded on the ground.

 

When the chains go up the weight increases as more links of the chain comes off the floor which makes you have to accelerate the bar with more explosive force.

 

BANDS

 

Bands are similar to chains in that they increase weight as they stretch out but bands have another aspect to them that chains do not.  Bands cause overspeed eccentrics.  Overspeed eccentrics is basically the bands speeding up the negative part of your lift.  The overspeed eccentrics will increase the stretch reflex function of the human body which will cause an increase in explosive strength and overall power production.

 

HOW TO USE BANDS AND CHAINS

You can use bands and chains for bench, squat, cleans,  deadlift, and many other lifts.  In the periodization post I will go over how to use them for dynamic effort and maximal effort days.  If your trying to break past some plateaus for hypertrophy gains then use the chains and bands with a good amount of weight for about 5 to 8 repititions.  Also for bands do not use for more then three weeks since it really increases the eccentric load and the eccentric load causes the most tears to the muscle fibers, so you want a recovery period.  Also this  will fatigue the central nervous system which will ultimately lead to plateus or even loss of gains.

 

Here is a link to band box squats from the strongest gym in the world westside barbell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEqq2TKoBzY

 

 

ISOKINETICS

 

Isokinetic devices are machines that are set to a constant speed no matter how much force is placed on the machine. It basically predetermines the velocity that you would be moving at.  Since the speed is constant it has benefits for rehabilitation because even if the force a person is producing gets weaker due to fatigue the machine will automatically adjust to the force output by the person.

 

The problem with isokinetics is that the angular velocity of movments are typically low and only one joint movement is used in a machine.  Isokinetics also have a different acceleration and deceleration patterns then normal lifting movements and natural body movements.  Isokinetics has probably the best use for swimming and rowing because the force and velocity is similar to the force and velocity used in swimming and rowing.

Here is a link to a isokinetic lat pulldown machine-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEqq2TKoBzY

 

WRAP UP

Obviously their are many more resistance methods out there such as olympic lifting but I wanted to explain some of the ones that you may have not seen or may have seen but had no idea why a athlete was using those methods.  Once again just a reminder that these methods are to be used by athletes and fitness junkies that have a good handle on most major lifts.

 

Thanks for reading

KO

Training for women- what you might be missing

Women’s training should not differ to much from men on a whole but there are slight differences that need to be taken into account.  I will explore some of theses differences and how they relate to your workout.  I will give you a couple of tips to help you design your workout programs such as exercises, sets and reps, so you can manipulate them to your advantage. I tried to include things that are missing the most in a woman’s workout routine.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO LIFT HEAVY! YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE A MAN!

90% of women I train are afraid to lift heavier weights and are afraid they will get huge man muscles.  Don’t worry its not that easy. Hormones is one of the major factors that dictate why women cannot get as large as men.  Women’s androgen(hormones that maintain and develop male characteristics) levels are lower  than men.  Testosterone is the main androgen that controls the size of muscles, shoulder girth, and strength.  Testosterone is 10 to 20 times lower in women, so on a hormonal level it is almost impossible, unless with the intervention of steroids, for women to gain muscle mass of a man.  Also women have smaller muscle fibers than men which is another physiological difference that will not let women get larger muscles.   Lets go over some benefits of strength training with heavier weights.

  • In order to acheive muscle tone you need to activate high threshold motor units so it can recruit various type 2 muscle fibers(fast twitch muscle fibers).  Type 2 muscle fibers are the muscle fibers that will be more visible and women are less efficient in recruiting type 2 muscle fibers.  Heavier weights will stimulate faster growth of type 2 muscle fibers.
  • The weight of heavier weights increases bone density and reduces calcium loss which will reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Increasing muscle mass will increase resting metabolic rate which will make it easier for a woman to keep a overall lower level of body fat
  • Using heavier weights increase the intensity of a workout which in turn leads to a overall larger calorie burn.
  • Heavier weight will cause important neural adaptations which is important because women are less neural efficient than men.
  • Building a wider shoulder base will give a appearance of a smaller waist.  Remember appearance is an illusion.

 REPS-AND EXERCISE TYPES

  • Women use a few more reps than men. Men typically use 1-5 rep max for strength and women should use 3-6 reps for strength, men use 5-10 rep max for hypertrophy but women should use 7 to 12.  Women do not recruit the muscles as well as men so more reps need to be used to get the same training effect.
  • Use multi joint exercises such as squat, deadlift, bench, etc because it causes more stress on the skeletal system and it will cause greater calcium storage inside the bone. Isolated exercises should still be used but just not the main focus of a workout
  • Studies have shown that in untrained males and females, that leg strength is equal but upper body strength is much greater in men. So females should work their upper body to a greater degree.  Also females lose upper body muscle fiber gains quicker because females type 1(slow twitch muscle fibers) dominate which creates a more rapid detraining in females.
  • Females that have been training for a while and have good exercise techniques should incorporate plyometrics, cleans, push presses, and other explosive and ballistic exercises to increase neural efficacy.

WOMEN MORE PRONE TO KNEE PROBLEMS, PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

Women have a larger Q-Angle because structurally women have wider hips. When the Q- angle is larger it cause knee instability and knee valgus which cause PFP and makes you at greater risk for the things like acl tears.  Some good ways to combat knee instability is to work your vastus medialis and your glute medius.

The vastus medialis is crucial to stabilizing the knee.  The vastus mediais is most  worked at the last part of leg extension, like the top of a squat. So some good exercises to activate the vastus medialis are walking lunges, leg ext and throwing in double  partial reps at the top, side step ups, lunges with the front foot elevated on a box and  lunges or squats where you go down quarter way twice and then go down full way which would be one rep. Incorporate some of these exercises in your routine to save your knee and also to develop some nice wheels.

The glute medius is another muscle that will help women stabilize the knee because it helps stop knee valgus by externally rotating the femur.  Glute medius is one of the stabilizers in lunges but it is activated more when the leg abducts(movers away from the body).  One of the best exercise for the glute medius is tube walking.  You wrap the tube around the bottom of both feet and hold the handles of the tube with the tubes criss crossing and take 12 to 20 steps laterally going both directions for 2-3 sets. Another good exercise to target the glute medius is the leg abduction machine(the machine where you sit down and the resistance is when you spread your legs open) but instead of doing this sitting up straight bend foward with your chest and face looking foward, this will target the glutes much more effectively.

glute medius

MENSTRUAL CYCLE AND TRAINING

Certain studies have showed that women who exercise have less problems with premenstrual symptoms but if overtraining occurs, extreme caloric deficit, or the combination of both can cause menstrual abnormalitie such as amenorrhea(the absence of menstrual bleeding).  Some studies have indicated that female athletes perform the best between the immediate postmenstrual period and 15th day of the menstrual cycle.   Day 1-5 of the menstrual cycle can include symptons of greater fatigue, joint laxity which could lead to more risk of injury, and increased low back pain. Right at the premenstrual period reaction time is reduced along with agility, may feel like workouts are more exerting, and more joint laxity.  I also wanted to note that athletic records have been broken during every part of the menstrual cycle so the way someone performs during certain parts of the menstrual cycle is individualistic.  Sometimes you might feel like your workouts are lagging and you might be questioning why, so don’t forget to keep in mind that it might be your menstrual cycle.

OTHER FACTS AND TIPS FOR WOMEN

  • Increase glute activation-if your doing squats do it with a wider stance and go lower to stretch the glutes which causes more muscle recruitment, leg press go deeper without compensating your back position and have your legs wide and heels at the top of the leg press, lunges do them deeper to stretch the glute.
  • Make sure to work your upper back- most women have protracted shoulders which usually is caused by upper back weakness so do face pulls, reverse flys, 45 degree wide grip lat pulldowns. Improving you posture will instantly improve your sex appeal.
  • Why do I hold more fat on my butt and hips?- It might all be in the hormones because women who have high levels of estrogen carry more fat in the butt and hips.  Some people take supplements to reduce estrogen to combat this problem.
  • Why do I have the pooch?-Hormones can again be the answer because low levels of estrogen and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol cause abdominal fat, so relax and don’t be a stress case.

Alright that’s a wrap.  Thanks for reading. Get that ass into shape.

body transformation 101

meBody transformation is one of the main goals for those who exercise as well as people putting on their first pairs of running shoes. I am going to go over some basic body composition goals such as muscle building, weight loss and definition.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t know a bench press from a squat or if you been exercising for years, there is always something to learn, Keeping an open mind and letting go of some preconceived notions that you have about exercise will benefit you greatly.  Lets get started with some basics

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In order for your body to change you have to battle the process of homeostasis.  If you want your body to lose weight you have to give it a reason to lose weight.  Your workouts have to create a stimulus that will force the body to adapt.  When put under certain stresses it will adapt to those stresses which will cause body composition changes.  This is why people see results when they first workout but quickly plateau because their body adapted to the workout stimulus. Hopefully by the end of this post you will have some new tools to force your body to make some new adaptations. One thing that you cannot avoid no matter what your body composition goal, is hypertrophy (muscle building).

SCIENCE OF HYPERTROPHY

This is for all my serious workout nerds and personal trainers that want to sound like they are a lot smarter than they are.

There are two types of hypertrophy contractile (myofibillar) hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Contractile hypertrophy is the increase in contractile proteins which basically means an addition of sarcomeres.  Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is increase in muscle size by increasing the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid (collagen,glycogen,etc).

Contractile hypertrophy has been shown to make up about 5% of muscle mass. Contractile hypertrophy is also called functional hypertrophy because it is believed to come from more functional or performance based activities like sports and olympic lifting but since we’re talking about body composition, the majority of your training should be aimed towards sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

Here is a list of things that induce  hypertrophy when you are actually lifting weights.

  • Mechanical Tension - The tension placed on muscle fibers from a stimulus such as weight. There must be enough tension on the muscle fiber to induce hypertrophy otherwise your efforts will not produce adaptations.
  • Metabolic Stress - The build up of metabolites such as lactate and hydrogen ions. Anaerobic threshold work will cause metabolic stress.
  • Muscle Damage – Damage to the muscle fibers from a workout.
  • Recruiting High Threshold Motor Units - A motor unit is the motor neuron and its band of fibers. High threshold motor units are the larger motor units that recruit the larger fast twitch muscle fibers. These muscles  that are more prone to hypertrophy and strength.

HYPERTROPHY WORKOUT TIPS

Typical weight lifting workouts consist of 5-12 reps, 3 sets, with a training split such as chest and back, and do the same exercises over and over again. Here are a couple of basic variations that you can use to break those plateaus.

  • Extended sets. Ex. do an exercise for a 8 rep max,  take a 10 sec break and then do the exercise and go to failure. This will make you recruit more motor units by exhausting every muscle fiber possible.
  • Control your rest intervals. Ex. you can start out for the first week taking a 90 sec rest between sets, and decrease rest intervals 15 to 20 seconds a week until you reach 30 to forty seconds of rest between sets. Rest interval manipulation will put your body under more metabolic stress and decreasing rest intervals have showed a difference in hormonal response.
  • Slow eccentrics. Lately people have really hated this method but it is effective way to place the body under mechanical tension. Eccentric is basically the negative action of a lift. Ex. if you are doing a bench press the downward portion of the bench press is the eccentric action. Remember that muscle damage is one of the key components to hypertrophy and eccentric actions cause most of the muscle damage in a lift. So go slow on the downward but always do the concentric action (the up part on the bench press or the overcoming part on a lift) with maximal force and speed because it causes you to recruit more motor units.
  • Pre fatigue. This method is another way to exhaust as many muscle fibers as possible. If a person displayed weak chest muscle then they could pre fatigue their chest with flys before they do a bench press to recruit and fatigue more muscle fibers. Do an isolated movement of a weak body part and then follow it with a compound movement that involves the same muscle of the isolated movement. You can also do this the other way around by doing the isolated movement after a compound movement, this is called post fatigue. If you want to really exhaust the muscle do pre and post fatigue.
  • Stretch the muscle. When training for hypertrophy try to do a large range of motion that will actually put a stretch on the muscle. This will actually recruit more motor units which will help you maximally stimulate the muscle group you are working on.

This is a very brief intro to hypertrophy workouts.  I could literally write a book on this but I am going to end it here and move onto weight loss and definition.

WEIGHT LOSS

Weight loss is a frustrating ordeal, especially if you only follow the scale.  Instead of weight loss you should try to aim for body fat reduction and a drop in body measurements.  The scale weight will eventually go down but it will frustrate you because it might be down one day and might go up two days later.  It is important to get a proper body fat measurement.  I suggest going to a place that does hydrostatic weighing because it is much more accurate then bioelectrical impedance (the device where you grip the handles) and skinfold calipers (the device used to pinch and measure skinfolds on several different sites of the body).  Also see how your clothes fit and take measurements every month.  I will go into much more detail in later posts about how to do measurements and body fat testing but lets keep it moving and actually talk about what your ass is gonna do when you get in the gym.

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HIIT (high intensity interval training)

High intensity interval training is basically doing a high intensity exercise with either a short rest or a low intensity exercise.  A very simple example of this would be to do an all out 100m sprint followed by a 400m walk for 3 rounds non stop.  High intensity interval training is effective because it uses different energy systems.  Studies have shown that interval training decreases body fat more than steady state cardio and also decreases abdominal fat more  in overweight individuals (key word overweight).  Interval training also raises whats called EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) which is basically how many calories you burn after a workout.  HIIT training is definitely something I incorporate into every weight loss program I set up for clients.

Examples of a HIIT workouts

  • 12 dumbell squat thrusters, 12 burpees, 15 kettlbell swings, 1o push presses for 5 min for 3 rounds with 1 min break. You can try to increase how many rounds you can finish in that 5 min period each after each 1 min break. Also you can decrease the rest interval every week by 15 sec to make the demand even more rigorous on your body. Remember to stop your body from plateauing you have to introduce it to new adaptations periodically.
  • If you want to do a treadmill interval that is really simple then you can do 1 min  sprint 3 min walk for 30 min.
  • Create your own circuit. Choose full body exercises, choose exercises that are challenging to the breath. Stay away from exercises that are to0 similar in your circuit (squat thruster followed by regular squats would not be the best choice). Keep most of the exercises standing, only use prone exercises if they require total body stabilization (push ups, moutain climbers, renegade rows etc.

OTHER IMPORTANT WEIGHT LOSS TIPS

  • Pick up your daily physical activity level whenever you can. Take the stairs, park your car further away, just get your ass moving. My sound simple but it will add extra calories burned throughout the week.
  • Gain muscle. Yes you have to build muscle to reduce body fat because it will raise your bmr( basal metabolic rate) which means you will burn more calories at rest.  Muscles use up tons of calories which is why you see some people who have lots of muscle and eat like crap and still maintain their physique.
  • At least workout 5 hours a week. Studies have shown that people have way more success with working out 5 hours a week.

TONING UP

  • Once again train to get some muscle mass.  Lots of people say to me “I don’t want to look like those guys on the magazine.”  I just laugh inside because I just find it funny that people think that if they start lifting they will not be able to stop their muscle growth.  Trust me you never will have that problem. I think people don’t understand the arduous journey to just put on 10 pounds of muscle.
  • Women, don’t be afraid to lift to gain muscle because you don’t have the androgens to gain massive amounts of muscle. Also if you widen your shoulder base it will give the illusion of a smaller waist.  You have to use heavier weights, one of the main reasons why women who just want to get that so called “toned look” fail.
  • Do not abuse cardio. This is the hardest thing for most people to accept.  Most people do too much cardio for weight loss which will make you lose lean muscle mass and shoot down your metabolism.
  • Lift with a combo of heavyweights (1-5 rep maximums), moderate weights (6-12 rep maximums), and lightweight (12 and above maximums). I will explain more in later posts.

me

NUTRITION

Alright I’m just gonna tell you a few general nutrition tips that I tell clients.  Some of these tips will be for weight loss, muscle building, and general health.

  • Eat starchy carbs or higher GI foods (glycemic index is a rating scale of how carbs affect blood sugar)  1-2 hours after you workout for weight loss because your body is more receptive to carbs post workout.
  • Increase green vegetable intake by eating a serving of vegetable with every meal, at least 5 servings a day. Like mom used to say, “eat your damn vegetables!”  Their filled with phytonutrients, fiber, antioxidants, you get the picture. Vegetables have been linked with the reduction of cancer, stroke, heart, disease, and etc.
  • Pick up protein intake. Whether you’re building muscle mass or trying to lose weight, you should definitely pick up your protein intake. Protein is the building blocks to muscle and protein tells the body to release a chemical called cholecystokinin which reduces appetite and helps you reach satiety (the state of feeling full). Also protein raises whats called the thermic effect of feeding (TEF) which is the calories your body burns in the process of digesting food. Thermic effect of protein is close to double that of fat and carbs.
  • Make sure you have protein with breakfast. Most people eat a super high carb breakfast which cause heavy insulin and glucose spiking which leads to weight gain, fatigue, and hunger craving later in the day.
  • If your trying to gain muscle try to eat healthier foods instead of shit all day and try to eat 18 to 22 calories per pound of bod weight. I will go over much more complex lean mass gaining diets in later post so you don’t have to look like you became a professional eater to gain 5 pounds of muscle.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight I would suggest  not to go under 9 calories per pound of body weight per day. If you go to low on calories you body will start to think its going into starvation and will combat this by slowing your metabolism.  Androgen levels and thyroid levels will decrease which will make cortisol rise and cortisol is one of the key factors in weight gain.

Ok that is it for this post. In later posts I will talk about, training for athletes, energy systems. low carb diets, lean mass gaining diets, hormones and the effect they have on body composition and performance, heart rate training, increasing strength, increasing 40 times, and even controversail subjects like steroids  Thanks for reading

KO

Insulin and Weight loss

Controlling insulin levels is probably one of the most important aspects when it comes to losing bodyfat.  A lot of hardcore fitness nuts will already know a lot of the things on here but for a lot you controlling insulin levels might be the thing that you are missing in your search to get shredded or to lose weight.  Everyone who has a weight problem is insulin resistant to some extent so getting a handle on insulin can almost guarantee you to shed a few pounds.

FUNCTION OF INSULIN

Carbohydrates and proteins cause rises in blood sugar after ingested.  Carbohydrates much more so than proteins. when your blood sugar reaches a certain level it signals insulin and the insulin attaches to cell walls essentially opening the door for glucose to enter the cell and be used for energy.  Insulin is also a fat storage hormone giving insulin the ability to store nutrients as fat.  Insulin has many different functions but these are the ones that are concerns for changing your body composistion.

INSULIN RESISTANT(metabolic syndrome)

Insulin resistance develops when cells do not respond to insulin.  The cells not responding to insulin leads the body to produce more insulin because your body still has to transport the blood sugar so it see’s producing more insulin as the answer.   This can lead to several health problems including but not limited to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, diabieties, low hdl level, and weight gain.  Higher insulin levels overstimulate the appetitie centers in the brain and makes the body lean towards storing nutrients as fats instead of converting it to energy.

INSULIN SENSITIVITY

Insulin sensitivity is how well your body reacts to insulin.  If you have good insulin sensitivity then insulin will attach to cell sites and transport the glucose into the cell.   If you have good insulin sensitivity then your body does not need to produce large amounts of insulin.  Insulin sensitive people tend to be able to eat more carbohydrates without gaining weight.

Now genetics does determine to some extent your insulin sensitivity but you can still boost your insulin sensitivity.  By boosting your insulin sensitivity your body will increase the use of nutrients for energy and will help with excessive insulin production.

INCREASING INSULIN SENSITIVITY AND DEACREASING INSULIN RESISTANCE TIPS

  • Exercise- A single bout of exercise can increase glucose uptake at least 40%.  It increases insulin sensitivity up to 72 hours after a exercise session.  So keep that glucose disposal rate and insulin sensitivity high by getting several workouts in a week.
  • Green Tea-Green tea and green tea extract have a antioxidant in it called epigallocatechin gallate(EPCg) that increase thermogenesis.  This will increase the rate calories are burned.  It also aids in glucose tolerance and boosts insulin sensitivity .
  • Cinnamon extract-studies have shown cinnamon extract to improve insulin sensitivity and promote glucose metabolism
  • Reduce stress-If your stress levels are high then your body will produce cortisol.  Cortisol will produce more insulin and also have a catabolic affect on muscles.
  • Reduce bodyweight- If you reduce your bodyweight by 10% then your body will increase its insulin sensitivity.
  • Fish Oils-Improve insulin sensitivity,lipid profiles, and muscle metabolism
  • Avoid processed foods-processed foods usually lead to large insulin spikes and if your trying to lose weight you want to avoid excess insulin at all costs
  • Less Carbs-Since carbs affect insulin levels the most, proteins affect it less, and fats not at all or barely. Eating a higher protein diet with little carbs and more fats will reduce your insulin production.
  • Lessen fructose and sucrose-both of these have shown to alter insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism in a negative way.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Newbie

If you’re on the overweight side and  just starting your path to weight loss then start out with exercise 4-6 times a week.  Keep it simple with the eating and eat a meat protein and a serving of green vegetables with  a small amout of healthy fats every meal. Cut out juices and soft drinks. If you can adhere to that 90% of the time you will see drastic results in a short amount of time.

I workout often and eat clean but just not there yet!

If this is you than you probably are a dude who wants to define that six pack or a woman that wants that little pooch to go away but just cant get there.  If you seem to react badly to carbs and never tried a ketogenic diet than a ketogenic diet might be your answer.  Ketogenic diets have worked wonders for some women that I train that had a stubborn little pooch.  If you react pretty well to carbs than you will probably want to do a carb cycling diet with a higher amound of carbs then most on your carb days.  I will make a post in the future of how to set up carb cycling/ ketogenic diets and strategies for success.

Also do all the little extras like green tea, fish oils, reduce fructose, reduce stress because the more experienced person will need to use every little bit he/she can  I would like to note that carb cycling and ketogenic diets should be done only if you have been dieting or working out for a substantial amount of time.

WRAP UP

My goal was to have a little something for everyone who is trying to lose weight or get that six.  The goal of weight loss can be emotionally draining and frustrating but if you can stay displined and put in the time you will succeed.  This has been just a small  introduction into insulin but hopefully it gave you some insight.

Thanks for Reading

KO

Train Like a Pro Athlete Pt. 2-Running Technique and Linear Speed

The majority of athletes I train are usually involved with sports that require running. All the athletes that I train that are involved in field sports or court sports will go through some linear speed and running technique drills.  The main emphasis in improving running speed is increasing stride frequency and increasing stride length(to a certain point).  A majority of the post will be dedicated to improving those aspects because ultimately that will increase your speed but also increase your overall technique.   Anyone who runs will benefit from some of the info on here even if your just the mom that loves to run around the neighborhood.  The first thing I want to cover though is the 3 different phases of the running a stride.

3 PHASES OF A RUNNING STRIDE

DRIVE PHASE

Drive phase is when the foot is in contact with the ground(Usain Bolt up top).  The point of drive phase is to create the maximum amout of  push off the ground.  In the drive phase the foot should be pushing with the ball of the feet not the toes.  Pushing off the toe will decrease the power of your drive.  Explosive push off the ground during the drive phase will also increase your stride length which I stated before is one of the keys to improving linear speed.

RECOVERY PHASE

Recovery phase is when the leg swings from the hip while the foot clears the ground(Usain up at top).  This is the point where the front foot gets closer to touching the ground and the back foot closes the knee angle.  During the recovery phase you should not try to stomp and force your foot to the ground.  The leg has to be relaxed so the foot can have a natural contact with the ground.

 PHASE

The support phase is when the runner’s weight is carried by the entire foot.  If your running at high speed you should be landing on the outside edge of the ball of the foot.  If your jogging you should be landing middle foot or between the arch and the heel of your foot.  If you land directly on your heel then your overstriding.  Heal to toe running is just the wrong way to run. People who are running long distances like marathons will do a flat foot landing t because it saves energy.

RUNNING POINTERS

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR ARMS

The speed  that your moving your arms can account for 15% of your running speed.  So the more powerful and quicker your arms move the faster your running speed will be.  But there is acctually a specified way to move your arms.

  • arms should not bend more than 90 degrees while your running.
  • arms and hands can go towards the center line of your body but should not cross the center line of the body
  • elbows should not flare out
  • when your arms swing foward your hands should reach about eye level.
  • when you swing your arms backwards the hands should go behind the body or close to going behind.
  • Do not rotate your torso back and forth because this will decrease your speed.
  • If your running long distance like half marathon then your arms should not go above your chest or behind your body.  The arms should be very relaxed because you are trying to save energy.

LIFT THOSE KNEES UP

Almost every person who I see for sports performance almost never lift their knees high enough when they run.  I think the problem with this is that when a person thinks about going fast they just think about going foward so lifting their knees up hgiher seems counterintuitive.  The femur bone should be close to parallel to the ground when lifting the knees this will set up the body in a better position to have more force output in your drive phase.  Also when you lift your knee your foot should be dorsiflexed.  If your in a long distance run don’t do this because it will decrease energy but if you are racing towards the finish line or just trying to beat a personal record for your jog around the neighborhood then apply this when your sprinting.

METHODS TO INCREASE STRIDE LENGTH AND STRIDE FREQUENCY.

ALTERNATING and SINGLE LEG BOUNDS

Alternating and single leg bounds develop explosive and reactive leg power for almost any sport.  The sinlge leg bounds will help with having more forceful drive phase because it will help increase power production on the contact portion which will increase stride length.  Also it teaches the neuromuscular system where to accentuate force.  A lot of athletes have the capability to run faster but they waste energy by using force at the wrong times and not relaxing at the right times.  Do not muscle your run.  There is a lot of variations on bounds but here are a few.

Alternating bounds  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wBYb62P7Jo

Single leg bounds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXCOmTTqVQY&feature=plcp

RESISTED RUNNING DRILLS

Resisted running is using a apparatus to create resistance while running.  Resisted drills increase force production during the drive phase of running.  It also strengthen the hips for flexion and extension.  Resisted running drills will either increase stride frequency, stride length or both.  When doing these drills it is important not to load  the resistance too much because if the resistance is too great then it can actually change the sprint mechanics not just while your running with resistance but even without it.. But after saying that! It is ok to use heavier resistance with towing methods because it forces you to lean foward while your dragging a sled, tire, or whatever you choose, so this puts your body in a similar position of the acceleration portion of a run.  There are other cases for using heavier resistance but I just wanted to give you a basic outline.  The resisted running drills include parachute runs, sled runs, band runs, sled pushes, uphill runs, etc.

Parachute runs to me are the best resistance method when your actually in the upright position reaching or at top speed because research has shown that the parachute has the least amount of  effects on the sprint mechanics but like I said before I really like using towing devices with more resistance to practice acceleration and driving power especially for sports like football.

APPLICATION FOR  FITNESS  and THE NON-ATHLETE

Resisted runs are one of the most physically taxing exercises you can do in your life.   When it comes to sports it is used for the outcome of speed but for the general fitness person it is a great tool for getting your ass in shape.  This is a great anaerobic threshold exercise.  If you do intervals then try interval sled runs to give your body a new stimulus.  A new stimulus will force the body to make new adaptations where as doing the same interval you been doing can actually do the opposite because the body will always find the easiest path of resistance and learns how to do the same exercise in the most energy effiecient way possible.  Also resisted running is a leg builder especially prowler pushing and towing devices.  Believe me when I say this but you will hate your life after doing resisted sprints.  Lastly it is ok to increase the resistance for general fitness because maximal speed is not your main goal.

Sled running http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9OgP1e4v9A

Parachute run http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOURprdfoTQ

Resistance bands  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOURprdfoTQ

ASSITED RUNNING

The assisted running is the exact opposite of the resisted running.  The assisted sprint will have a force that will be pulling you foward or a force pulling you up to lighten your body weight.  Assisted sprints make you run faster than you would be able to normally.  The assisted sprints forces your body to stride longer and more frequently.  Assisted sprints should be executed to the point of where the sprinter is not leaning backwards when they run.  In some sports facilities they have a treadmill where a device attaches to you from a base above the athlete  pulling the athlete in a upward manner to reduce the athletes bodyweight.  The lighter body weight gives you the ability to move faster  which has postive affects for speeds.  When your body moves faster your nervous system adjusts to the faster speeds.  Essentially assisted sprints tells the neuromuscular system what it feels like to go faster and eventually your body will move faster without the assistance because of that information.  Assisted or overspeed drills include but not limited, bands, towing going the other direction, and downhill running with a slight decline.

Treadmill with assistance from above http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pIUt4wfTTM

Towing overspeed method http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pIUt4wfTTM

WRAP UP

If you are competitive at some sport than hopefully you found this beneficial in some way.  If your just a fitness enthusiast that loves working out then incorporate some of these things into your routine.  Why?  Because it is a new stimulus to the body.  Resisited runs, assisted runs, and bounds help to tell the body to recruit fast twicth muscle fibers.  Fast twitch muslce fibers are the visible muscle fiber.  Also it might be working different energy systems than your used to which can also lead to new body composition goals such as weight loss.  Last but not least it will bring a nice welcome refreshing change to your workouts.

Until Next Time

KO

Train Like a Pro Athlete pt. 1

Its been a while but I’m back. This blog will be on how to improve athletic performance through strength and conditioning methods. It doesnt matter wheather you are a football player, tennis player, pro athlete, or just an avid runner that wants to improve their running times, there will be general information for all types of athletes.  I also wanted to give you a enough knowledge how to incorporate athletic training methods to your workout even if you are not a athlete. Train like a pro athelete will be a five part blog because it has to many elements to cover in just one post.

Part 1 will be importance of warm up

Part 2 running technique-how to improve anytype of running

Part 3 resistance method- isokinetics, accomodating resistance, traditional weights, and how to apply them

Part 4 plyometrics

Part 5 periodization- it will give you a good idea of how to organize  your training.

DYNAMIC WARM UP

I start out every athelete with what is called a dynamic warm up which is basically dynamic stretches, ballistic movements and  sports specific movements. I not only have athletes do this before training sessions but I also have them do it before competitions.

importance of warm up

  • activates CNS and increases nerve center activity
  • mobilizes glycogen reserves
  • enhances the capillary system in lungs and skeletal muscle leading to improved energy function
  • increases core temperature
  • prevention of injuries

Increasing core temperature in my opinion is the most important thing on the list and is the basis of how long your warm up lasts.  If your core tempature rises to around 100 degrees then the hypothalumus will signal the body to increase blood volume so it can take the warmth in the blood to the skin to cool off and combat a hyperthermic state.  The blood traveling to the skin also brings heat to the muscles.  This is the reason why massaging local muscles is not a good warm up because the core needs to be warmed up in order for the blood to warm up.

Core temperature has beneficial effects on the CNS. An increase in temperature even in just one single neuron increases speed reaching proprioceptive stimulation and information volume.  Once again this will only occur if the temperature rise is endogenous.  Being in a high heat environement will actually have a negative impact on the CNS for sports performance.

DURATION

There is a connection between increased core temperature and performance in short work maximal power.  39 degrees celcius to 39.5 degrees celcius is the temperature that is optimal for maximal performance.  The duration of the dynamic warm up should be about 20-25 min because that is the length it takes the core temperature to rise to those optimal numbers.

DYNAMIC WARM UP EXERCISES

A light aerobic exercise for about 5 min is how I usually start most of the athletes that I have trained.  I will start with a light jog, some light figure eight stepping, light lateral runs, etc. This is a good jump start to get the body to increase core temperature.

After that I have athletes do dynamic stretches.  Dynamic stretches are basically active stretching movements where you hold a stretch to the point where the muscle stretches lightly for a breif time( 1-2sec) and then you proceed to another position.  Some of my favorites are lunge walk with twist, lateral lunge walk, inch worms, t -stretch, and walking high knee pulls.  But if I had to only choose one dynamic stretch to do before a sporting even it would have to be the worlds greatest stretch because it stretches so many different areas in a short amount of time.

worlds greatest stretch link  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laAUgSuHs3s&feature=related

inch worms link   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr-HHgxXTqg&feature=related

lunge with twist link  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr-HHgxXTqg&feature=related

After dynamic stretching I like to have atletes do light ballistic exercises to stimulate the central nervous system and also to reduce the negative effects of dynamic stretching such as remaining tension from holding positions.  Examples of this are leg swings front and back, leg swings left to right, toy soilders, light medicine ball throws, and arm swings.

leg swings link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsEQnFhQ3WQ

The end of the dynamic warm up I  have athletes do a few sports specific exercises before a practice or event.  It could be 25 to 50 yard quick sprints if playing a field sport, it could a  jump shot drill before basketball practice, and hip escapes before jiu jitsu tournament.  This will prepare the body to take on more vigorous movements of practice or competitons.

WHY NO STATIC STRETCHING?

As you can see their is no static stretching involved in the dynamic warm ups.  I don”t do static stretching for warms ups because it has the exact opposite effect that you want it too.  Instead of preventing injuries, it increases injuries by causing micro injuries to the muscle fiber.  It also has been shown to decrease force production of the muscles which will decrease the performance of any sport.  An example of this is when athletes statically stretched their hip flexors led to a reduction in their 40m times.

Dynamic stretching has shown the opposite.

  • It has shown to increase the afferent impulses to joint proprioceptors which will lead to overall quicker, stronger, and more coordinated movements
  • Decrease passive muscle tension
  • Improvement in blood circulation
  • Improvement in the condition of trunk muscles

HOW TO APPLY DYNAMIC WARM UP FOR THE AVERAGE JOE

Let me first say that if you are new to fitness then do these dynamic exercises  controlled and very carefully .  Also choose exercises that are fairly simple to do in warm ups.  Exercises involving lots of proprioception(balance) should maybe be avoided at first or under the guidance of a trainer.

Ok so if you are the regular fitness enthusiast then this is how you would incorporate dynamic warm up.

  • use common sense- If your doing a upper body day than doing quick sprints would be a bad idea.
  • If your doing a hard HIIT circuit day that is balls to the wall then go through a very  thorough warm up.  If you have sprints in your circuit than include some leg swings and quick sprints
  • If your gonna do a upper body workout do push ups, inch worms, some light lat pulldowns, and ball throws.  Do specific light exercises for example: If your doing a lot of pressing actions such as bench press or shoulder press than warm up with light tricep extensions since pressing actions use the triceps heavly.
  • If your trying to do better on a long distance run time than include worlds greatest stretch, walking high knees, and leg swings into your dynamic warm up.

Hopefully this gave you a basic idea of  some warm up protcols trainers use to train athletes.  I also hope that it maybe gave you some insight on how to incorporate some of these principles in your warm up program.  Look for part 2 running technique.  Until next time.

Need a new workout? Try PAP (Post Activation Potentiation) Training!

I know a lot of people out there want to change up their routine but really don’t know how.  You maybe looking to better your performance, better your physique, or you may be just god damn bored of the same thing all the time.  If you are experienced with, squats, deadlifts, bench press, plyometrics and have experience lifting towards max effort, then PAP might be a good change of pace and effective method for you.  PAP training can be one of the most intense workouts you can experience and also can improve athletic endeavours such as vertical leap.  Also it trains a lot of different adaptations all at once, so if you have many different workout goals but not a lot of time this might be perfect for you.

BASICS OF PAP

The basic premise of PAP is to use a exercise that increases the muscle function of another exercise.  Using exercises that enhance the CNS(central nervous system) is key to PAP training.  One example is to do a heavy back squat followed by squat jumps.  The heavy back squat increases CNS activity which increases the power and height of the squat jump.  This type of training is sometimes referred to as complex training.

SCIENCE OF PAP

If you do not give a F of why this method works on a scientific level then move on because you will feel like you wasted a minute of your life but if you want to geek out, then cool. There are 2 main theories to how PAP works:

Theory 1

When Maximal Voluntary Contractions(lifting a close to maximal or maximal lift) are performed then their is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains.  phosphorylation basically helps the process of ATP production.  ATP is a molecule that supplies energy for all human cells including muscle cells.. The binding of myosin and actin filaments inside muscle cells is what causes muscles to contract.  Myosin and actin filaments during maximal voluntary contractions become more responsive to calcium ions . Calcium ions are critical to muscle contraction because calcium ions bond to troponin. Troponin is a protein linked to actin which blocks myosin from forming crossbridges with actin filaments.  The calcium ions bonding to troponin causes troponin to get out of the way allowing crossbridges to form between the two filaments.  PAP helps create more cross bridges in theory.  Greater cross bridges lead to stronger contractions.  All these things combined improve motor unit recruitment, rate coding,  and tetanus of a motor unit, just to name a few. Which basically means quicker and stronger muscle contractions.

Theory 2

The second theory involves the Hoffmann Reflex (H-Reflex), named after the scientist (Paul Hoffmann) who first described it. The H-reflex is an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by the Group Ia afferent muscle nerves (specialized nerves conducting impulses to muscle. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle.

 Other Notes

Basically performing a certain exercise can enhance the subsequent exercise.  This happens because the first exercise enhances the CNS.  The CNS controls voluntary muscle contraction.  The more awake the CNS the better your performance will become.  This effect of using a exercise to potentiate another last anywhere from 5 to 30 min afterwards.  PAP training is mostly associated with performance but if used correctly it can enhance body composition.

PAP SAMPLE WORKOUT(VERY BASIC)

Day 1  quad dominant day

Heavy Squat for 3 to 5 reps  (it has to be heavy enough where if you did one more rep it would not be a clean rep) followed by 8-10  squat jumps. Do for 3-5 sets with 3-5 min break in between.  The more advance you get you can reduce rest intervals.

You can do supplemental quad exercises after this, such as short step lunges, leg presses, step ups, for 8 to 12 reps with 30 to 45 second breaks around 3 to 4 sets

Day 2 push dominant

Bench press 3-5 reps heavy followed by 8 medicine ball chest tosses or explosive push ups with hands against the bench. Same sets and rest interval set up as day 1.

Follow up with tricep and shoulder exercises.  same set, rep, and rest interval set ups as day 1

Day 3 hip dominant

Heavy Deadlift for 1-5 reps followed by 8 DB or KB swings.  Same amount of rest and sets as day 1

Supplemental exercises such as hamstring curls, long step lunges, and stability ball leg curls, same sets, reps, and rest as day 1

Day 4

5 pull up max(use weight belt and add weight if you have to.)  followed by 10 medicine ball slams.  Same rest and sets

Supplemental exercises, bentover rows, seated rows, bicep curls, and lat pulldowns. Same sets, reps, and rest as day 1

This is a super basic complex.  Complexes can be way more complex and in depth but this is a good place to start.  Also doing an explosive exercise before a heavy exercise can ramp the CNS and in theory cause more motor units to be recruited which cause better muscle activation leading to a more effective workout.  I chose those sets, reps, and rest in the supplemental exercise to give a good growth hormone response to your workout.

WHO SHOULD DO PAP?

PAP training was orginally done to improve explosive performance for athletes.  Their is a lot of evidence saying it does work better on highly trained individuals and individuals who have a larger amount of fast twitch muscle fibers(my next post is going to be how to determine your muscle fiber type).   But I think it is great to use for anybody who has a fair amount of workout experience.  Because

  • It could help your performance- who doesn’t want to perform better in anything
  •  stimulates the CNS- it can lead to the recruitment of more and larger muscle fibers
  • adds a athletic aspect to weight training-  after a while weight training can seem stale adding a athletic aspect can be a nice change of pace
  • possiblity of increasing explosiveness-this has the potential to make you stronger and to possibly increase the overall muscle recruitment of your weight lifting in general
  • Adding a fat burning element-  It adds a fat burning element if you decrease your rest intervals,  you will be gasping for air if you do PAP with short rests.
  • good way to condense your workouts- since it targets metabolic stress, mechanical stress, explosivenes, heavy weights, cardio, it really is a great method if you can’t go to the gym a lot and work many different aspects of training.

I know a lot of people have heard of this before since it has been around for years but hope it was new for some of you.  That is it for now.  Until next time.

KO

reps,sets,load,frequency, and how to use them to break plateaus

anatomy-of-muscle-3

I been talking a lot about hypertrophy(building muscle) so I’m going to post  variations on manipulating reps, sets, rest, load, and frequency.  I will go over the science and theory of why they work so you can get a better understanding of how the various changes in the workout variables cause physiological changes.  I think if you know the science behind your workout it sometimes mentally makes you feel more focused because it makes you feel like you are not just following something with blind faith and wondering why the hell you are doing a workout.  The first thing I’m going to start off with is workout schemes that use rep manipulation to induce muscle growth.

REP MANIPULATION WORKOUTS

  • Slow Eccentric Forced reps-  Eccentric(a.k.a negative)portion of the lift is what usually causes the most trauma to muscle fibers which in turn leads to hypertrophy with the proper recovery.   The slow eccentric forced reps also increases growth hormone because regular forced reps alone increased growth hormone levels 3 times the amount after training than standard workouts in one research study.  You will need a spotter to perform this technique.  So you would take a exercise like bench press and perform it for a standard hypertrophy rep amount until failure(5 to 10 reps till failure usually) but when you reach that failure point you will not rack the bar.  Your spotter will help lift the bar up and then you will proceed to lower the bar slowly down approx. 3-5 sec without the help of your spotter but your spotter will help you on the way up so you can complete the rep. You will do the slow eccentric reps for 2-3 reps.  The reason you can do the eccentric with no spotter is because the eccentric portion of the lift can always bear more weight.  Use this for 3 weeks at the most because it is very damaging to the muscles.

  • 100 reps- You are going to take 20 to 40% of your 10 rep max and perform it for 100 reps on an exercise for 1 set. Your basically trying to find a weight that you will be able to perform for 60 to 70 reps and then you proceed to take a rest for however many reps you have left.  So if you have 35 reps left then you will have 35 seconds rest, if you eek out 15 more reps then you have 20 left and you get to take a 20 second break.  Keep repeating the process until you reach a 100 reps.  You can do this for 1 set for every exercise in your workout for 2 weeks or you can sprinkle it in your normal workout routine and do one workout that is completely 100 reps training.  Doing this many reps increases capillary density of the muscle this will create a more anabolic environment to because it delivers hormones, nutrients, and oxygen to the muscle.  It also flushes out waste products which aids in recovery.  Last but not least it recruits and fatigues a wide array of muscle fibers because it first recruits slow twitch muscle fibers but when they begin to fatigue it recruits fast twitch muscle fibers to help aid in muscle contraction.

SET MANIPULATION

  • Small Angle Training- Many muscle fibers when you perform a workout go untouched leaving the muscle unstimulated.   The muscle fiber has to be stimulated in order for it to grow.  Their are many reasons why muscle fibers do not get recruited but one of the main reasons is because the exercise selection you choose does not put your body into the most advantageous body position for certain muscle fibers to be stimulated.  How small angle training works is each set has barely any break in between sets and you basically change either the angle of the exercise or the grip width or position of each set so you have better chances of hitting more muscle fibers because you worked it from so many angles and grips.  Example set:

 Set 1- high incline fly-6-8 reps

Set 2-low incline fly 6-8 reps

Set 3-flat incline fly 6-8 reps

Set 4- slight decline fly 6-8 reps

Set 5-large decline fly 6-8 reps

try to do short as rest possible and minimal weight change as possible in between sets

progressively raise the volume for 3 weeks start off with 1 round of this ,2 rounds the next week, 3 rounds the next, and a deload week.

LOAD MANIPULATION

  • Oxford Method-This method is great for producing anabolic hormones like IGF-1 and growth hormone because it thoroughly recruits and fatigues muscle fibers.  The way to do the oxford method is too first do some warm up sets and then do your first working set at a absolute 100% 10 rep max(10 rep failure).  Your second set is another 10 rep max but make a small weight reduction so you can actually reach a 10 rep max.  The third set is once again a 10 rep absolute balls to the wall max with a small weight reduction from the second set.
  • Heavy and Light Method-This method incorporates using a heavy exercise done with low reps to recruit high threshold motor units so you can train fast twitch muscle fibers, followed by the same exercise done with lighter weights and higher repetitions to recruit slow twitch muscle fibers and to increase capillary density which I already mentioned the benefits previously in this post.  An example of this would be to do shoulder press heavy for 4 sets 4 reps and then do shoulder press again for 2 sets 20 reps.

FREQUENCY MANIPULATION

  • Feeder Workouts-In this method you would work a body part hard and heavy one day like 5- 10 reps and work the same exact body part the next day with less sets, lighter weight, and more reps.  The theory is that the first day is your typical induce muscle damage-high mechanical tension day but the second day is  what separates this from your normal training routine.  The second day shuttles amino acids, anabolic hormones and oxygen to the muscles worked the day before. Muscles are also flushed of waste product to help recovery.  Since the workout is lighter with higher reps it hydrates the muscles cells which cause them to stretch which can cause hypertrophy.  Also a study has shown that on the second workout day cortisol levels were lower and testosterone was higher, creating  an overall better anabolic environment.  Example:

Day 1

Bench press 5 sets, 5 reps heavy

Incline bench 5 sets 5 reps heavy

Incline flys 3 sets 10 reps heavy

Next Day

Flat DB press 2 sets 20 reps

Incline DB press 2 sets 20 reps

Cable flys 2 sets 20 reps

SIDE NOTES

As you can see just simple tweaks can really change a workout. Remember that you should really not use any training modality more then 3-4 weeks because that is usually how long it takes for your body to adapt to a stimulus and start plateauing off, especially the more advanced you are at lifting.  Also try to make sure you pick a program that is different from the last one.  If you were doing a program that was a lot of lighter weight higher reps for the last month then incorporate a program that focuses on heavier weight.  If your really advanced you can start incorporating methods on a weekly or even a daily basis sometimes but that is for a later post.  Alright I’m tired of typing! Thanks for reading!

KO