Social Acceptance of Mediocrity

Social Acceptance of Mediocrity

I read this article the other day and thought it was just plain awesome. I wanted to share it with everyone to hopefully encourage people to exercise and stay active.

“I have a list of sayings that make my blood curdle, and “hey now, at least they’re up and moving” is close to the top of that list. We’ve all heard it before and probably have said it ourselves, but if you think about it, it’s depressing to see how that saying has become a norm nowadays.
           We now live in a society where doing the bare minimum required to keep your heart beating is supposed to earn you a pat on the back and a sugar-free cupcake (don’t worry, its only 100 calories…guilt free!). Since when did getting off the couch and moving around become an acceptable form of exercise? You may say, “Hey, at least they are moving around”, and yes, you’re right, that is the least they can do–but the problem is that they shouldn’t be stopping there.  Getting off your ass should be the thing you do when you wake up, not the physical highlight of your day.
90% of the time, I hear this saying when discussing those who walk as their main form of exercise. Sorry, but walking 15 minutes is NOT a workout; it’s a warmup for your warmup. Just for comparison, Alexander’s army marched over 5000 miles from Thessaloniki to the Indus river. That isn’t even counting the stops at tourist attractions or the journey home.
How long would this take you at 15 minutes a day?
Seriously, what happened to the grit that people used to have? My grandpa would call those people “the old breed”. When he lived in Africa, he would run 9 miles to school and 9 miles home everyday, with no shoes. See if you can get one of your fellow Americans to do something remotely intense for even 9 minutes before crapping out, but not before they congratulate themselves for at least “getting off the couch”.
Folks, you shouldn’t be fine with doing the least amount of work. Putting in the least amount of effort will get you the least amount of results. It shouldn’t be enough to simply walk around, you should be challenging your limits almost daily. I understand if you have a debilitating injury that limits your mobility, but most people don’t have debilitating injuries, they are just bloated and lazy.”
Directions on walking, in case you forgot.”
Conclusion
I really enjoyed reading this. I see this in the gym all the time. People get dressed in their “workout gear”, grab a sugar loaded gatorade, and sit on the bike and pedal at a slow to moderate pace for 15-20 minutes before calling it a day. 100 calories-burned later and mission accomplished. I get the same reaction when i talk to people about this. “well, at least they are in here trying”. I would much rather have people burn 100 calories playing with their kids or doing something active in the community then doing a moderate cardio routine like this. However, we live in a lazy society where convienience and luxury take priority over physical well being and activity. Do yourself a favor and surround you and your family with a group of people who live an active and healthy lifestyle so they hold you accountable when you say you are going for a 15 minute stationary bike ride and claim it to be a “workout”.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,
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GAME DAY NUTRITION

GAME DAY NUTRITION

The idea for this blog came about from a call I got from a professional athlete this week who told me their “nutritionist” recommended fig newtons, vanilla wafers, and carbo-loading with pasta when suggesting things for this professional team to eat. WOW!

The average American consumes 20 pounds of pasta noodles each year — and most of it is the refined white stuff.

Most athlete’s  eat close to 10 times this much with their generic “pre-game” and “post-game” pasta dishes that have become common place in many athletic diets. In my experience in collegiate and professional hockey, we were served processed-white noodles 5 times during a weekend series! (Thursday night, Friday pre-game meal, Friday post-game meal, Saturday pre-game meal, and Saturday post-game meal). Looking back it is no wonder why sometimes I felt bogged down or felt like I had a tough time recovering. It’s obvious to me that “refueling” and “preparing” my muscles with starchy and processed-white noodles, that are stripped of almost all their nutrients and minerals due to the amount of processing they go through. probably wasn’t doing the trick. To top it all off(literally) I would dress these noodles with high sugar/high sodium/artificial sauces that spike your blood sugar and send your insulin levels on a roller coaster ride. My question is, why do athletes continue to “carbo-load” with these types of food?

Key Points

  • Glycogen is the key energy source your muscles use during most sports activities. These glycogen levels are filled up and stored up to 48 hours before your event. What you eat the day prior and night prior to your game or event is as/more important than what you eat on game day. Your game day meal is intended to supplement glycogen levels, keep you satiated, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • What you eat means nothing if your muscles aren’t properly hydrated. Again, the day before is just as important. Aim for 1/2  your body weight (lbs) in ounces from just water.
  • Allowing time for digestion is vital but eating too far an advance will cause you to feel hungry before/during the game. My suggestion is to aim for a medium to large meal 4 hours before game.
  • Your meal should consist of 50% carbs, 25 % protein, 25% fat.
  • 60-90 minutes before the game consuming a simple carbohydrate such as a piece of fruit will help provide extra energy that will be available during the game.

Typical Pregame Meal

The Problem

1. The Size: Processed carbohydrates like pasta noodles don’t keep you satiated. In order to feel full from pasta you have to eat a lot. This problem is amplified in athletes  because they generally have a huge appetite and require mounds of pasta consumed to meet their needs.

2. The Composition: Standard pastas are made with refined wheat flour. During the refining process, the nutrient-rich outer bran shell and inner germ layer are removed from the grain, leaving just the starchy endosperm. This process strips the wheat of much of its fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, leaving you with a much weaker product, nutritionally speaking. Some nutrients, including iron and a handful of B vitamins, are added back during manufacturing (hence the term “enriched flour”), but these represent only a fraction of what is initially removed from the grain.

3. The Carbohydrate Complex: Pasta is a simple carbohydrate. It breaks down to sugar in your body quickly and often does not satisfy your appetite as long as a more complex carbohydrate such as sweet potatoes. Whole wheat pasta takes a bit longer and some has a protein content that keeps you satisfied longer. This is why many athlete’s who eat pasta find themselves getting hungry before or during the game. Yes, a carbohydrate is a very important macro-nutrient  supplying your body with glucose, which is the favored fuel for your muscles, brain, and central nervous system. Choosing a carbb that will deliver a steady stream of glucose to your body will help regulate your energy levels.

4. The Toppings: Most Pasta is cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils and topped with a canned Alfredo or marinara that is loaded with sugar, sodium, and other artificial ingredients.

5. Your Body’s Ability To Adjust: Most conscious and high level athletes try and eat a clean diet made up of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Filling your body with refined pasta noodles for an entire weekend can send your body into shock and cause digestive issues. Your digestive system can react negatively to the amount of processed food that has been consumed because it is used to otherwise whole/natural foods. This can cause bloating, stomach issues, and have lethargic implications.

What To Eat Instead

Complex Carbohydrates From Unprocessed Sources

Quinoa-A healthy complex carb that is actually a seed and can be made a complete protein when paired with other foods.

Amaranth– Technically, it’s not a grain; it’s the fruit of a plant. And that’s the reason it contains a more complete protein, and more of it, than other traditional grains.

Barley & Steel Cut Oats– A great option in the morning of a game day that will deliver a steady supply of glucose throughout the day.

Legumes– Black beans, chickpeas, and lentils are all great options for complex carbs that also provide a steady supply of protein and fiber.

Starchy Vegetables- Foods like sweet potatoes and squash that are usually shunned by low-carb lovers are  acceptable for athletes who will use the large amounts of carbs from these whole foods as energy for game time.

All Vegetables- Getting your carbohydrate sources from whole foods such as vegetables will ensure you are receiving the adequate vitamins, minerals  and nutrients that accompany natural-base carbohydrates. Unlike refined flours and pastas,which are stripped of most of the essential vitamins and nutrients that provide your body with energy, vegetables are natural foods from the earth that are identifiable for our digestive system and wont cause any gastrointestinal problems that are associated with many processed foods.

Lean Meats– While protein takes longer to digest, it will keep you satiated during the game and provide your muscles with a steady influx of protein to help with muscle recovery and muscle maintenance.

Great Examples

1. Chicken Breast with baked sweet potatoes and green salad.

A Pre-Game Meal for the Phillies

2. Chicken breast with Quinoa and asparagus.

3. 2 pieces of cod over a mixed green salad with carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.

Conclusion

Many athletes still dont understand what they need to properly fuel their bodies. Unfortunately many of the nutritionists and chefs that cook or prepare meals for this demographic don’t understand macro-nutrient profiles of foods either. My suggestion to all the athlete’s and people I talk to is ask questions and do your own research. If a nutritionist recommends to eat pasta on a game day ask them why and see what kind of answer you get. Unless you are running a marathon or playing a double header soccer game I never recommend “carbo-loading” with pasta. Most sports, like hockey, require shorts bursts of energy over a 2 hour time period. Eating 200 carbs in the form of pasta for a pregame meal is excessive for most athletes who wont even come close to tapping into all that stored glycogen from a large pasta meal. Keep it moderate and substitute some of my suggestions listed above. Remember, each athlete has their own individual preferences and requirements. Adjust your needs as you see fit and experiment with different foods to see what makes you feel the most energized and helps you recover the fastest.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,

Transitioning Your Workout Routine From Summer To Fall

Transitioning Your Workout Routine From Summer To Fall

This week’s post was written by guest blogger Jim Rollince who’s fitness and nutritional goals parallel my own. He is the head of the creative writing department at gymsource.com and I want to thank him for his time.

Now that the warmer weather is coming to an end, many people are confused about their workout routines.  You might have spent your entire summer swimming laps in the pool or using treadmills in an air conditioned gym just to stay cool.  With the weather changing to a cooler temperature, many exercise fanatics are finding it difficult to transition.  Believe it or not, autumn is one of the best seasons to workout.  There are quite a few benefits to exercising in this season and there are also a lot of different workouts that you can do to take advantage of the changing temps.

One of the major benefits about working out in the fall is that the temperatures outside are a lot more tolerable.  If you enjoy running or walking but have been forced to use home gym equipment because of hot temperatures, now is your time to get out into the fresh air and enjoy your exercise in a new environment.  Switching your environment when working out is essential for staying on track.  People, in general, tend to get very bored rather quickly.  This can be a recipe for disaster if you are trying to establish a steady and solid workout routine.

Another benefit for working out in the fall is that you will find it easier and more enjoyable to workout.  Just imagine yourself taking your daily hour walk, but this time you are walking in a beautiful park that is laden with autumn leaves.  The weather is cool, but you have your warm sweater on to keep you cozy.  This whole scenario will make you hungry to exercise and it will make your at-home treadmill seem boring and useless.  One way to really enjoy the fresh, crisp new weather is to take a gorgeous nature hike.  Find a hiking trail near your home and dedicate a full day to enjoying its beauty.  You will really be able to see the changes of the season when taking a hike.

Autumn really allows you to enjoy your exercise regimen more so than any other season.  If the weather outside is getting a little too chilly for your liking, do not hesitate to use treadmills, ellipticals or other equipment at home.  Instead of using an air conditioner, conserve energy by opening up some windows and smelling that delicious autumn air.  Fall is a great time to also explore your town or city.  The temperatures are just right for walking or jogging a local park or simply taking a walk down your road.  Looking at all of the fall decorations and holiday decor will also help to make your workout a little more interesting.

In general, you should take advantage of the changing season and make sure to change your workout routine with it.  Get some comfy and heavy workout clothes and do your exercises outside as opposed to staying cooped-up in the house.  You will find that you are actually looking forward to the fall weather and not missing summer all that much.

My Take

I think Jim makes a compelling argument for training in the fall. My experience in the fitness industry has shown that people tend to work out the hardest and most dilegentely from January to April due to New Years resolutions and preparing for beach season. My thoughts are with new seasons should come new challenges and goals. Personally, I intend to use the fall to try to put on a few pounds of healthy muscle. Setting fitness goals and tracking progress will help you to stick with a routine and ensure you don’t ruin everything you worked for in the spring and summer.

The main section of this article that resonated with me was the exercise outside portion. I have made it a weekend staple to wake up early on Saturday mornings and go for a run with a few friends on our football Saturdays. Running around campus and dodging the early tailgaters makes for great scenery and can turn a 30 minute grind into a 15 minute leisurely jog. So, my challenge to readers is find your own “Saturday morning run” that you actually enjoy and make it a routine.

 

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,

The Truth About Chewing Gum

The Truth About Chewing Gum

One of America’s favorite passtimes and quick fixes for bad breath, chewing gum is a daily ritual for millions of americans. Ever wonder what is in the gum you are chewing or what effect it has on your health?

Quick Stats

  • More than 100,000 tons of chewing gum being consumed every year.
  • Every year over 374 trillion sticks of chewing gum are made.
  • In the next 5 years, over 1 million metric tones of chewing gum will be produced.
  • The Chewing Gum Industry is profitable market. The world’s chewing gum industry is estimated to be worth approximately US $19 billion.

Potential Health Benefits of Chewing Gum.

Chewing gum improves memory

Some suggest that chewing gum can help in improving memory and enhance cognitive powers.  Research studies show that people who chewed throughout standardized tests produced significantly better scores than people who did not. Some attribute this to an increase in the stimuli produced in the area in our brain linked to memory, the hippocampus, when you continuously move your jaw.  Chewing gum can also increases blood flow to the brain. Some studies have reported that blood flow to the brain increases by as much as 25 to 40 percent during gum chewing. Also the act of chewing speeds up our heartbeat and blood pressure just enough to wake up both left-and right hemispheres to work together.

Check out this site for one of the first studies showing actual evidence of this. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2039-chewing-gum-improves-memory.html

Chewing gum reduces symptoms of stress

Research has shown that the rhythmic motion of chewing gum has a stress-reducing effect because relaxed and satisfied feelings. Psychiatrists and psychologists believe that chewing gum can help reduce tension and help to release nervous energy. Chewing gum may provide an outlet for frustration and irritation while also increasing alertness and concentration.

For more on this http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/119826.php

Chewing gum helps to manage weight

With a low-calorie count (5 to 10 per serving), chewing gum is an inexpensive snack. According to some studies, adults who chewed gum ate 36 calories less of the snack than adults who did not chew gum. Both regular and sugar-free chewing gum helped adults to eat less by helping to curb their appetite. The physical act of gum chewing may help to reduce your cravings for high calorie snacks. Some reports show that chewing gum can burn around 11 calories per hour. (IE not to be used in place of actualy exercise)

Chewing gum improves digestion

Chewing gum helps to improve intestinal motility and also helps to increase saliva flow which promotes more frequent swallowing. This helps to prevent reflux of acid from the stomach back into the throat.

Chewing gum improves oral health

The results of scientific research demonstrate that chewing gum is good for oral health and teeth specifically. Chewing gum increases saliva, which is the most important component of oral health and powerful protector of the oral cavity. Stimulated saliva corrects a potentially harmful environment using its high concentration of buffers, minerals and antibacterial components. That helps to flush sugars, food debris and decay-causing acids out of the mouth. Chewing gum also freshens breath, whitens teeth by reducing stains and preventing stains from accumulating and reduces plaque.

Potential Health Risks of Chewing Gum

The basic make up of gum: gum base, softeners, sweeteners and flavorings. Ever wonder what makes up the sweetener and flavoring part?

The Ingredients

Sweeteners are added to gum to give it that sweet flavor. Those ingredients are usually sugar, corn syrup and even beet juice. Sugar is probably the healthiest off all sweeteners. Sweeteners such as  xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol and aspartame are also used, which have been linked to several long-term health effects that are also found in diet sodas.

Some gum ingredients are suspected to be carcinogens or have been linked to various health conditions. Sugar can cause cavities and lead to health issues such as diabetes, while aspartame, a popular artificial sweetener, has been linked to cancer, diabetes, and neurological disorders. Chewing gum containing such ingredients can have dangerous and long-lasting health effects.
What about Sugar-less or Sugar-free gum?

 Sugar-free chewing gum has a number of dental benefits. Sugar free chewing gum doesn’t cause tooth decay. It demineralises tooth enamel and has an antimicrobial effect. Those who chewed sugar-free gum after eating had fewer cavities than those who did not. HOWEVER, Sugar-free gum often contains either aspartame or sorbitol, the first being  potentially toxic and increasing your hunger, and the second becoming a  dangerous laxative in large doses. For me, it’s very similar to comparing soda to diet soda.

Jaw Related Issues
One of the most common health issues related to chewing gum is muscle fatigue due to overuse of the jaw muscles. This is known to lead to chronic headaches. The action of chewing gum can also cause unnecessary wear on the cartilage in the jaw joint. Frequent gum chewers may be more likely to develop problems in the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ

My suggestion
Most health nuts will advise you to switch to something outrageous like licorice root, parsley, or chewing on a natural tooth pic. I actually believe the benefits outweigh the negatives in terms of chewing gum. I suggest looking for a gum sweetened with erythritol ( a natural sugar alcohol which has recently gained popularity because of its inclusion in a few mainstream stevia based sweeteners),stevia, or lastly xylitol at a natural foods store. Identifying products with no sugar additives or artificial sweeteners is important with all food selections and should not be any different for gum. While it is more expensive, this type of gum is more safe and less likely to cause adverse health effects. Make your pack last twice as long by chewing half a piece a day versus a whole piece.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.
From South Bend,

5 Tips For A Great Early Morning Workout

5 Tips For A Great Early Morning Workout

I never used to be an early bird. Sleeping in used to be a priority in my life. If I had to be somewhere at 9, chances are I would wake up at 8:50, throw on some clothes and goin order to savor every last minute of sleep. Over the last few years (with some help from the everyday 6 AM college hockey workouts we had) that routine has drastically changed. Now, I wake up and get my workout done before my day even starts. There are  physical and mental gratifications to have your workout completed. It provides a platform to  jumpstart your day and get you off and running… literally. My blog this week can be found here www.builtlean.com/2012/08/28/early-morningworkouts

Let me know if you have any comments or questions. For more of my articles on this website checkout www.builtlean.com contributor page.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Nutrition In Sports

Nutrition In Sports

My blog this week comes in the form of an interview I did regarding nutrition in youth sports and for professional athletes. Take a look and enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G8zkT5HpQQ&feature=youtu.be

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Best Exercise To Lose Weight

Best Exercise To Lose Weight

I get this question all the time from people trying to shed pounds and body fat. The answer is, there is really no miracle exercise that magically removes body weight and unwanted fat. However, some exercises are better than others in terms of burning calories which will give you a more efficient fat burn as well. For instance, a barbell squat will activate more muscles and require more energy expenditure than a bicep curl.

What to look for

  • Full body exercises that require the use of large muscles groups such as your quads and chest tend to burn the most calories.
  • Anytime you use major muscle groups to complete an exercise your smaller/stabilizer muscles are automatically activated creating an efficient and complete full body exercise.

The Best Example I Can Think Of

Once a military specific exercise, burpees have become a widespread staple throughout the fitness community due to the fat burning potential while still being able to maintain lean muscle mass. Full body exercises such as burpees can increase your lean body mass which can help to boost your metabolism which will create a greater post workout calorie burn, also known as the “afterburn” effect. Personally, I think a burpee is a great exercise because it can help activate your fast twitch muscle fibers. The explosive squat involved in the exercise will help recruit those fast-twitch muscle fibers and force them to grow. Burpees can also  increase muscle endurance if performed for an adequate duration such 1 minute intervals.

How To Do It

  • Start standing straight in an athletic position
  • Lower yourself in squat position with hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Kick your feet back to a pushup position.
  • Perform a full pushup
  • Immediately return your feet to the squat position.
  • Leap up as high as possible from the squat position.

Variations

Burpees With Dumbells

Burpees with medball

Conclusion

Studies have shown that high intensity exercises, like burpees, burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training exercises. They’ve also been shown to speed up your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. The great thing about burpees is, not only are you preforming strength movements that will activate large muscles and stimulate growth, but you also tap into the endurance and conditioning aspect of traininig because of the nature of the exercsie. I was first exposed to burpees when I trained with a good friend who was attending west point and still maintain that burpees to exhaustion are one of the hardest evercises that are out there. They are also extremely versatile and can be performed in a small area and they require no weights. Like i said before, there is no miracle movement that will give you that coveted six pack. However, if there was, this would be it.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Top 5 Reasons To Drink More Coffee

Top 5 Reasons To Drink More Coffee

Are we coffee addicts?

  • 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day.
  • Americans drink over 3 cups of coffee per day on average (regular 8 oz. cup)
  • 65% Americans drink coffee with breakfast
  • The U.S spends $40 Billion on coffee every year
  • Coffee is the second most valuable commodity in the world behind oil

Why is this beverage so popular and is it healthy? Here are some reasons to continue to have a cup of JOE. 

1. Coffee Can Lessen Your Risk Of Diabetes 

  • 25.8 million children and adults in the United States(About 8.3% of the population) have diabetes.
  • Antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid and magnesium found in coffee can improve sensitivity to insulin and may contribute to lowering risk of type 2 diabitie.s
  • In a recent study conducted by the Harvard school of public health subjects  who drank more than six cups of caffeinated coffee per day reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent compared to men in the study who didn’t drink coffee.
  • In 2009, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that people who drank the most coffee seemed to have the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That study reported that with each cup of coffee consumed daily, the risk of type 2 diabetes dropped by 7 percent.

2. Coffee Can Boost Your Metabolism

  • Caffeine, the best know ingredient in regular coffee, can raise blood sugar and increase energy expenditure in the short-term
  • Some studies suggest coffee can increase metabolism by 10%
  • Be aware that  a sugar-filled, flavored coffee can up calorie count and might actually slow down your metabolism (thanks to the sugar), shich seems a bit counterproductive.

3. Coffee Can Enhance Fat Oxidation

  • Caffeine increases the level of circulating fatty acids. This has been shown to increase the oxidation of these fuels, hence enhancing fat oxidation.
  • Caffeine has been used for years by runners and endurance people to enhance fatty acid metabolism. It’s particularly effective in those who are not habitual users.
  • Coffee can also enhance lyposis-the ability to burn fat. (see study below)

4. Coffee Boosts Performance And Can Decrease Fatigue

  • Caffeine is the most versatile and effective ergogenic aid (i.e. something that enhances exercise performance).
  • A prominent exercise physiologist, David Costill, Ph.D., performed the ground-breaking study on caffeine and exercise 26 years ago.He took nine competitive cyclists (two females and seven males) and had them bike until exhaustion at 80% of V02 max. (Note: V02 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is a measure of how well your cardiopulmonary system functions).
  • Each subject consumed coffee containing 330mg (between 1-3, 8 ounce cups) of caffeine 60 min before the exercise or a placebo (decaffeinated coffee). Following the ingestion of caffeine, the subjects were able to perform an average of 90 minutes of cycling as compared to an average of 76 minutes in the placebo trial. This reflects an 18% increase! They also found that subjects burned more fat (aka lipolysis) as shown by measurements of plasma free fatty acids, glycerol and respiratory exchange ratios. In fact, fat oxidation or burning was significantly higher (107% greater) during the caffeine trial (118 g or 1.31 g/min) than in the placebo trial (57 g or 0.75 g/min). Also, the perception of effort was much less in subjects after consuming subjects indicating that exercise felt easier.(3)
  • Caffeine, which helps muscles use fatty acids for energy and blunts the effect of adenosine, can extend the time before muscles fatigue.

5. Coffee Can Increase Mental Alertness

  • Coffee contains a significant amount of caffeine, a widely used central nervous stimulant.
  • Our brain is the first organ affected by caffeine, where it interferes with the action of the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine has a calming effect on the brain, so the result of its interaction with caffeine is increased alertness and wakefulness.
  • Caffeine affects the adrenal glands, stimulating the release of two adrenal hormones, cortisol and adrenaline — also known as hydrocortisone and epinephrine. These two hormones act to increase alertness and awareness.

What to drink

  1. Medium roast/filtered coffee
  2. 100% Arabica Beans
  3. Unflavored
  4. No additives
  5. No Sugar and No Cream

Conclusion

As you can tell, most of coffee’s benefits come in the form of antioxidants and its number one ingredient, caffeine. I have always been a proponent of eating and drinking things in their most natural state. That is why I will always suggest or recommend black coffee over a caffeine supplement such as an energy drink, energy shot, or energy powder. With little to no research about the energy drink market and their side effects, ( especially the long-term health effects) your best bet is to stick with coffee.

Final Thoughts

I never used to be an early riser. Ever since I started drinking coffee about 3 year ago I have found it much easier to get out of bed knowing I am going to have a great breakfast followed by a cup of coffee. Beyond the health benefits, coffee gives people something to look forward to on those cold rainy mornings. There is also the social aspect of coffee drinking that is added bonus. With the prevalence of phones, internet, and TV, having a cup of coffee with a friend, family, or stranger gives you a chance to put your technology dominated life on hold and have a good ole fashioned conversation over a healthy beverage.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

High Reps vs Low Reps: Which is Better?

High Reps vs Low Reps: Which is Better?

The concept is Simple: High Reps should be performed to tone and lose fat and Low reps to build muscle and bulk up right? Not so fast. New research and studies have shown that both men and women can benefit from doing High reps/Light weight and Low reps/Heavy weight. The key is fatigue. My blog and the rest of this article can be found on http://www.builtlean.com. Here me and Builtlean Owner Marc Perry teamed up to write a great article this week. Check it out at http://www.builtlean.com/2012/07/19/high-reps-vs-low-reps/.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

 

The Newest Fitness Fad; Exercising Barefoot

The Newest Fitness Fad; Exercising Barefoot

Our feet are the only part of our anatomy that touches the ground to transmit all the force that we spend so much time developing in the rest of our body. Think about that –  the only part of our anatomy to touch the ground when we run or jump – and most of us spend little to no time developing strength, mobility and proprioception in the feet.”

Although a growing trend, this training technique is nothing new.  There are many pictures from the ‘70s of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his buddies training barefoot.  Not only a more natural way to train, going barefoot or minimalist provides some very real performance advantages.Bunions, corns, hammer toes, Achilles shortening, athlete’s foot, and ingrown nails are just some of the issues associated with training in shoes.

The Science

The architecture of the hand and the foot are almost identical. So what would happen if you had incredibly weak hands? If you have incredibly weak hands then you can’t pick anything up and if you can’t pick anything up then the arms, back and legs can’t get strong –  and it would be easy to see that if the arm isn’t strong then it’s also more susceptible to injury. It only seems right that the same principle applies to the foot.

The Benefits

No Heel-The lift caused by the heel of a traditional shoe alters the body’s center of balance on its vertical axis.  This shifts the weight slightly forward and as a result the body compensates by exaggerating the lumbar curve.

Uneven Cushion-When weight is applied in the direction of gravity (such as in the case of squats) the foam compresses unevenly and inconsistently introducing an element of instability into the lift.  This can lead to less weight per lift. As the lifter attempts to move the weight against the pull of gravity (as in the case of a deadlift) the compression of the cushioning fails to transfer all of the lifters energy to the ground or lifting platform which robs the lifter of the full benefit of his or her efforts.

Increased Balance And Posture-There is no substitute for the bare foot when it comes to improving posture.  Proper posture leads to improved technique which allows you to lift more weight more efficiently and more safety.

Yoga Like Benefits-One major difference can be seen in yoga class. The feet of those who have been performing yoga barefoot for a lifetime are different than those who may have just begun. Well-formed arches and un-cramped toes are often the results of barefoot training.

No More Shin Splints– The subtly raised heel and the added arch support of the average training shoe change the natural mechanics of the foot. In short, time spent in a raised heel unnaturally tightens the calf muscle and lengthens the shin muscle. Calf cramps and shin splints are often directly caused by shortened calves and lengthened shins.

Reduced Joint Pain– Artificially supported shoes can force unnatural pressure into the knees, spine, and even neck. One way to naturally strengthen the arch and shin, relax the calf, improve overall ankle stability, and promote proper muscle alignment is to train barefoot.

Less Impact– “People who don’t wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike.” “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike.

Negatives

The Shock Factor-Suddenly going barefoot or wearing a minimal shoe can be quite a shock to the foot and require a slow adaptation phase. Like anything exposing new movements and training regiments at full force can cause injury overuse.

Why Fix What Isn’t Broken-If you have no problems and no pain, do you really need to change anything?

Gym Rules-Many gyms don’t allow you to train barefoot

Dirty And Unsafe Surfaces– Shoes can provide protection from glass, dirt, and other random debris that can cause foot damage. But lets be honest, if you drop a weight on your foot than you are going to be hurting either way.

Blisters-Almost everyone who switches to a minimal shoe or starts going shoeless will find themselves battling blisters for the first few weeks until calluses are formed.

Conclusions

It seems petty but strengthening your foot is an essential part of strengthening the entire lower limb. I think the hand analogy describes it best. What would happen if you had incredibly weak hands? If you have incredibly weak hands then you can’t pick anything up and if you can’t pick anything up then the arms, back and legs can’t get strong. It seems like the same principal should apply to the foot. That is why I  am recommending that people give this a shot. I have always been an advocate of eating things as they are found in their natural state. I have the same ideas towards exercise. Whether it is choosing the treadmill over the elliptical, free weights over machines, or barefoot over shoes, always go with the most natural form of sutff. Start off by incorporating a few exercises and build up to an entire barefoot workout. If you are a germ freak and can bare the weird look of them, give Vibrams a shot  http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/index.htm.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin