Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"


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Too Much Of A Good Thing…Fitness Friday 41

Greetings my fitness friends, so I am just finished my exams this week and officially I can say that I have graduated with my second Bachelor of Science. Yay for being 25 with 2 degrees eh?

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As I head into my Masters/Internship this fall…very expensive Masters/Internship… -_- … My parents my be thinking this instead…

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Not art school but you get the idea

So now as I have this week and next to do a bit of relaxing and moving (gross) I want to get into a few topics with you including today’s topic…

When Something Good Becomes Something Bad

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We all know why the idea of ‘moderation’ is out there. Everything has it’s limits. Even the healthiest of things are bad when taken in excess. I wanted to re-iterate this for a few things that the bodybuilding/fitness community tends to go overboard with .

Lets do a quick short list of a bodybuilder staples that maybe they should reconsider their portion sizes in.

Cinnamon.

You a bit shocked? I have mentioned the benefits of cinnamon before, but it was pointed out to me more recently that my mindless pouring sprinkling, which was probably upwards of a tablespoon (ooppps), in my cream of rice every morning is something I need to stop doing.

We health freaks, bodybuilders and just oatmeal lovers adore us some cinnamon and while it is great for you, it actually contains a compound in it that has blood thinning property (anticoagulant). Specifically, coumarin. This pesky lil guy also can damage your liver when eaten in large quantities as well…

Unfortunately for us all, the ‘cinnamon’ that you buy in the store is not really true cinnamon. I wrote this in another blog, but the actual cinnamon, ceylon, which is found mostly in health food stores, is what you actually want to go for and provides you with those amazing benefits the most and less of this nasty compound. What most of us eat is cassia, which contains high amounts of coumarin and can then put you at risk if you’re like me and use half a bottle at a time.

So for all you cinnamon lovers out there, find you’re the real good stuff and watch how heavy-handed you are on the cinnamon shaker as a sprinkle here and another 4 sprinkles there can really add up.

Spinach

So low in calories. So great for volume. Eat all the spinach all the time!

But spinach has calcium they say. It has fiber. It has vitamin K. It has glorious vitamins!

So put it in everything right? Especially when those calories are getting a bit low for your liking and the hanger is too high for others to handle…

Check yourself.

Spinach along with other dark green vegetables have oxalic acid in them, which is a strong inhibitor of calcium. So while you think you’re getting a great dose of plant based calcium, you’re actually not really absorbing all of it. In fact, a study by Weaver and colleagues (1993) found that the foods that contains the most oxalic acid (including spinach and rhubarb) in them had a the lowest absorption of calcium. These plant chemicals can also cause kidney stones which also ain’t something you want to deal with (Durham, 2017).

Tuna

Canned tuna is easy and on-the-go friendly. Not to mention it is a great source of protein with virtually no fat (skipjack, not albacore) and no carbs. Perfect food for prep and many fitness lovers.

How do you all feel about mercury?

Well tuna (among other big fish) are notorious for becoming overly contaminated with this metal due to being one of the bigger predators, especially albacore. Mercury is often found in many species small and large, but as the larger ones eat more of the smaller ones, the overall levels in the bigger fish accumulate and therefore when you eat them, you’re getting a much larger dose.

Switch up your protein sources and the recommendation is have no more than 3 servings of those larger fish like tuna per week of this meaty fish. Also, try to stick to the white tuna varieties, as they are smaller which means they have less bioaccumulation.

For those on prep, try shellfish or, if those are too pricey for your liking, go for other white fish like haddock and hake (if you can get your hands on it) as I find them more tasty than things like cod. Also, don’t be afraid to get your fats from your proteins venture out to the other fishes too.

See Burger and Gochfeld (2004) for more information about canned tuna and their mercury content

Caffeine

Yell at me all you want about how much you need your Starbucks to survive, but there is a limit of caffeine that the body can actually handle. Apparently there is a fairly high level that is actually toxic, but when in prep you got the coffees going plus the pre-workouts and perhaps even a fat burner (ps those don’t work…) and well you have accumulated quite a bit of caffeine there…

Although mortality is rarely seen with caffeine intake, and toxicity generally only arises from doses in the gram amounts, a study by Musgrave et al (2016) pointed out the fact that some people may be at greater risk even with small doses. Those with liver (this metabolizes drugs) and cardiac issues should be especially mindful of their intake, as symptoms of excess may present themselves at lower doses than your average person.

Unpleasant symptoms that have been cited include:

~Tachycardia (super fast heart rate)

~Nausea

~Vomiting

~Shaking and agitation

Can’t say those sound too fun to me and obviously are a sign that you need to cool your jets on the ol’ coffee maker. The other issue is that research no this topic is still quite inconsistent and some people have seen these negative symptoms at a few hundred milligrams too.

So, although considered and widely accepted as safe in most regards, keep an eye on all your sources of caffeine, including potential hidden sources in all those random herbal supplements out there.

Fiber

Now this isn’t about to kill you but the digestive distress that you could be forced to endure may make you want to go into hiding. For a lot of people, when their macros get low start they tend to go really high with the vegetables to feel more satisfied. The problem with that is that too much fiber really is not a nice thing. Bloating, gas, flatulence (I’m being professional here..) and just general discomfort and, well, not feeling lean, all can result from excessive amounts of fiber.

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Did you know that too much fiber can also lead to mineral losses too?

So, yes you’re hungry, but do yourself a favour and don’t ring in more fiber than your body can handle.

Please keep in mind that this was geared towards people in competition prep who will undoubtably feel hunger at some point. The average person should not have this feeling as they shouldn’t have their calories lowered to the same degree even in a weight loss phase. 

This can also be targeted at vegetarians and vegans as they increase their vegetable and plant based protein consumption. Be mindful of how you feel and adjust as you need to. Try to get some of your vegetarian protein sources from things other than beans and legumes 24/7.

Artificial Sweeteners

I know I know this one also comes with a stamp of uncertainty, but from experience alone, I know that these can cause real digestive upsets. Different types lead to varying degrees of gastrointestinal upset (lets not get started on the lack of sound research for LT brain effects..) but in most cases taking in way too many of these things to lower your fat or carbohydrate intake can also lead to you looking like you’re 4 months pregnant OR will force you to live on the toilet for a bit.

It appears that some are better tolerated in adults than others (erythritol may show less adverse digestive affects)(Source) but from a subjective perspective, I know a lot of people (including myself who’s IBS HATES them) who feel bloated ingesting them and feel much better keeping them to a minimum.

So, although I focused on foods that are commonly overeaten by those in prep for bodybuilding competition or heavily into fitness, some of these are eaten quite often in the general public due to being regarded as healthy staples. These foods do provide many benefits to you, however, like almost everything, things have their limits, so I wanted to make you aware of some of the ones you may not think about.

Are you a cinnamon inhaler like me?

-Chelsea

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Citrulline Malate…Fitness Friday 38

My friends! It’s March can you believe it? Seems like it was just New Years and now we are three months in already and Spring is in close reaching distance. Guess that is what the internship/Masters application process does to you…makes time fly.

Sidenote: I saw robins yesterday! I was partially excited (cuz spring sign!) but more so concerned because this was after a full on 20-25 degree reduction in temperature in one day. Please don’t be baby-makin yet birdies!

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I’d be making that face too if it was 16 one day then I woke up to -10.In fact, I probably did look like that yesterday…

So coming back to another active ingredient in pre-workouts and also BCAA’s, I have always really wondered what this guy was good for. I mean, my coach said it was a good thing and it provided benefits, but apparently I was too busy to think about educating myself on why. I don’t like that….

I always stand for the whole ‘know what and why you are putting something into your body” philosophy and I obviously didn’t follow through with that on this one.

Time to take a scientific looky at it to settle my conscience.

Citrulline Malate

What is it?

Citrulline malate is the quite simply the combination of citrulline and malate. Pretty obvious eh? Citrulline is an important component of the urea cycle, which is where urea is formed from ammonia in the liver. This conversion is important because ammonia is actually toxic in the body if it builds up, while urea is a bit less harmful. Malate, on the other hand, is an intermediate in the  Kreb’s cycle, which is the cycle that releases energy from our macronutrients through oxidizing acetyl CoA.

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What does it do?

It has been used in the past as an aid to decrease muscle fatigue and increase functionality. Many studies have shown these effects, whether human or animal (I will present some of the human ones below), in addition to speculating other benefits such as higher clearance of ammonia from the blood post exercise, a possible role in lactate metabolism and some effect on acid-base balance. The mechanism behind all of this remains unknown at this point however.

So, although it has shown benefits for athletic performance, particularly with respect to a more efficiently functioning muscle , we don’t have a strong conclusions as to how it is doing it.

So, below I will highlight a few studies and provide their findings, conclusions and hypotheses regarding a potential mode of action.

Bendahan et al (2002). “CM ingestion resulted in a significant reduction in the sensation of fatigue, a 34% increase in the rate of oxidative ATP production during exercise, and a 20% increase in the rate of phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, indicating a larger contribution of oxidative ATP synthesis to energy production.” Their conclusion? The mechanism of CM’s action that reduces weakness and fatigue could be that it increases aerobic ATP production through providing more of the intermediates to replenish those that were lost more quickly than if you weren’t supplementing. [6g CM used]

Perez-Guisado et al (2010). Their study found that males athletes supplemented with CM saw more than 50% increases in the number of repetitions for barbell bench and a significant decrease in muscle fatigue 24 and 48 hours following the study’s training regime in a double blind, within subject study. In their research, they stated that studies have begin to speculate a role of ammonia in in “blocking cellular energy processes” and causing earlier fatigue. It has also been seen that it plays a role in NO reactions, which has been associated with recovery. Overall they concluded that the results from their study showed that one dose of CM helped with recovery and performance in high-intensity anaerobic activities with short rest times. [8g CM used]

Sureda et al (2010). They took subjects and had them cycle for ~137km with one difficult hill. All were given the same amount of food and fluid. They measured all variables (amino acids and all important exercise related metabolites) 3 hours prior to the race, 15 minutes following and 3 hours following. Overall, they found that the CM group showed a significant decease in the amount of the branched chain amino acids post race, which they said was due to the BCAAs being more effectively used for energy, than the control and higher arginine concentrations, which would contribute to many arginine derived metabolites such as nitrite, urea, creatinine and hormones like growth hormone that are beneficial for muscle growth and function. Finally, they also saw greater nitrogen availability in the CM group, which they stated could increase protein synthesis and protein concentrations in the muscle during exercise leading to better use of the amino acids (particularly the BCAAs). [6g CM used]

Overall, although I only highlighted a few interesting studies I found, I will say that the vast majority of studies I saw (which, I couldn’t have seen them all obviously…) showed significant improvements with its usage, so I have some confidence that it could provide a benefit to those who are looking (and can afford) to get a supplement that may actually do something useful and perhaps give a slight edge with recovery. Is it required to be a better athlete? Well no. Like all supplements, its not a magic powder that will give you huge energy bursts or make your recovery happen in 5 seconds. It is simply supplementing your routine and could provide some little bits of assistance and/or performance enhancements.

Happy Friday Friends!

-Chelsea


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Don’t Flatten Yourself Out…Fitness Friday 37

My friends, today…actually, scratch that, this entire week has been exhausting. So much for Reading Week eh?

So what was I doing running all over the place? Graduate school interviews…thats what I was doing. I had the MAN program (combined master/internship) at Guelph U on Wednesday, phone interview with London Health Sciences Internship yesterday and trekking it all the way to London for my interview with Brescia’s department for their combined program today.

I’m exhausted. The face-to-face ones were intense, but the Brescia one was a bit more casual and relaxed due to the group setting rather than one-on-one, which I had the pleasure of doing for the MAN program.

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Overall, its 2-2.5 hours of them probing your head with scenarios in timed stations. One after the other after the other and that is all on top of the fact that you are super nervous because these will dictate the future of your fall semester. Catastrophizing much?

Ugh.

I did it though. I didn’t die and I feel overall they went well. Now to try to relax for this weekend to let my stomach come back to normal (hello camel belly thanks to cortisol overload…)

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Anyways, I wasn’t planning on doing this today because, I’m sorry, I’m tired, but I was listening to a Youtube collab between Steve Cook and Layne Norton on contest prep myths that I just had to share.

It’s not only because right now is cutting season for the spring and summer shows, but also because so many people still fail to turn to science and simply follow some of the engrained procedures (dogmas) of the final stages of prep that really have no evidence to support their benefits.

So, for your education and entertainment, check out the video link below for the full discussion and head to my lil summary below so that you too can work at bringing your best ‘package’ to the stage if thats in the future for you.

They also discussed flexible dieting on prep, but I was more interested in the sodium/water cuts.

Cutting sodium is a no no.

Cutting water works against you.

Overall, these two things alone will leave you looking flat on your day to shine. Meanwhile, the next day you look the best you have ever looked because, well, you ate some salt and drank some water.

Why?

Quoting Dr. Norton, lets see his explanations on why these things really work against you, despite the fact they are seen as ‘common practices’ for the competitors.

So, as we all know, our body likes ‘sameness’ and it works hard to keep the body in a state of homeostasis. So, if you start to try to take things away, it has ways to bring you back to normal. Although this ability is great for situations where you are not in control and needing to ‘survive,’ these compensatory mechanisms are often NOT what you want when you are trying to look your best…aka shredded.

So one, you cut your water. When you cut water, the water is often intially lost from the extracellular space (i.e. outside the tissue/cell/muscle), not the intracellular space. That being said, when you loose that extracellular water, your body needs to re-balance that because volume is important to keep the same. So, to do this, you will end up loosing water from the intracellular space and adding water outside the cell. So a deflated muscle cell is what you end up with.

You than add to this problem by also cutting sodium because, once again, the body needs certain amount to maintain functionality. So what does it do? Your blood levels have been shown to stay the same and it’s mostly due to a few more compensatory mechanisms. Overall, if you’re not getting any sodium your body gunna loose any either, meaning you are not going to excrete ANY sodium. This is because another hormone (ADH) starts getting upregulated due to water volume changes and that causes you to reabsorb sodium and also hold water (because you cannot reabsorb sodium without water).

So these two combined simply lead to flat muscles and a watery appearance as all that water goes right to the extracellular space, which is where you want the least amount of water. Great for stage eh?

“If your muscle is not pressing against the skin, you will appear watery and not as tight as you want… Muscle tissue without water is spongy, shrivelled and just doesn’t look good”

Other issues that come along with your body being stressed…

~Bloating and general gastric upset that can lead to you not being as tight and shredded. This may be partially due to the fact that the transporters of carbohydrates in the gut are dependant on sodium. With these not working as efficiently, malabsorption of some carbohydrates can occur. Unfortunately for you, in many cases, those are than fermented which causes gastric issues. This also means that you are going to be absorbing as many of those carbs are you are eating.

~Low sodium often makes it really hard to get a pump or any vascularity going

Other interesting things he said…

~You should add carbs SLOWLY. The traditional notion is that you carb up with a huge amount in 1-2 days pre-show is not smart. It takes a bit for those carbohydrates to be digested and absorbed, so it therefore also takes time for your body to refill those glycogen stores and for you to see if you need more. You want to be in the ‘add more’ category, not the ’emergency repair mode from spill over’ category… yes?

~During peak week, there really isn’t anything special to do. You are essentially just trying not to screw up what you have worked for. DONT GO MESSING WITH MULTIPLE VARIABLES! If you’re not shredded at this point, you’re just not shredded enough. Tweaking a bunch of things during that tiny time period can either not do nothing for you or it can make you look worse simply because your body is stressed out. 

~Peak week should be about rest and loosing external stress. Yes it’s selfish, but your appearance is also the result of your emotional and psychological state. To a much more minor degree as the rest of prep, but it does count. 

Overall, these things make perfect, rational sense when you think about them and about how the body works to survive, but most don’t challenge the old and traditional ways.

Learn to go to the literature and do your own research. When you get up on stage and look better either the week before or day after, its time to get off the ‘bro-train’ and actually suffer less to look your best.

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Hope you enjoyed this lil video post. Happy Friday friends.

-Chelsea


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Betaine For Gains? Fitness Friday 36

Everyone is always looking for some kind of pill to improve their exercise performance or get bigger. This is why articles like this one

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…Get all the youngin’s running out the door to buy all of the supplements listed because 1. they apparently make you huge and 2. Brian DeCosta is a god sent and who wouldn’t want to look like him. 😉

Sorry you had to be a part of this post Brian, but I just had to chat more on this article and, well, you aren’t too bad to look at for the cover shot.

So what was one supplement on their list that is supposed to make you jacked faster?

Betaine

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So what is it?

It is a derivative of glycine (an amino acid) and due to having 3 methyl groups, it acts as a donor of a methyl group in a reaction that ends up producing creatine in the skeletal muscle. It also has been suggested to have cardiovascular protectant factors due to reducing plasma levels of homocysteine (which is a risk factor for CVD) and inflammation. Due to its role in increasing creatine, it was hypothesized that supplementing with it can have growth enhancing effects and increasing power and strength performance.

Due to these suggestions, this began finding its way into pre-workouts and even as a stand alone addition to any bodybuilders stack.

…the thing is though….

Does it actually make you grow?

Lets start with what the article stated:

Betaine seems to work by increasing the release of growth hormone and IGF-1 while blunting the exercise-induced release of catabolic hormones like cortisol. The overall effect is to increase muscle growth and decrease muscle breakdown following exercise.[2] Since betaine works much like creatine monohydrate, researchers suspect that it, too, might stimulate muscle growth over the long term.

Hmmm interesting. Well cortisol definitely has some support backed behind it…

So now, what does the research actually say?

Well, its all over the place. There doesn’t appear to be concrete conclusions about it.

Hoffman et al (2009) –> 15 days supplementation in active college males to test muscle strength, power and endurance across 3 time points. Study found no significant differences in number of reps to exhaustion (endurance) or on number of reps at 90% power OR power assessments. They did find that squat reps at 90% power increased significantly in the BET group at time 2.

Apicella et al (2012). This was once of the studies cited in the article and it did in fact show significantly lower cortisol levels post training in the BET while also showing significantly higher growth hormone.

Pryer et al (2012). BET supplementation in bike sprinters found a significant increase in sprinting power. The supplementation was only for a week however.

Hoffman et al (2011)–> 15 day supplementation with Betaine, once again, in active males (within subject study, so they each ran through a BET and non-BET treatment period==> better design) found no increase in peak concentric or eccentric force OR overall fatigue. They did, however, find a significant reduction in fatigue when compared workout 5 and 1 (was that a training adaption effect?)

So some studies say YAY and some studies say NAY so its safe to say that there is not a concrete answer on this product. If it does truly work like creatine (which has mass amounts of supporting research) than perhaps there is some merit to this guy. As of right now though, I wouldn’t be running to pick up a bottle of the stuff unless I’m not concerned about the money and I’m looking to do my own trial.

Happy Fitness Friday friends. 

PS it apparently has some gut health benefits too…hmm may need to research those for meeeseelf. betaine

-Chelsea


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Spot Me Bro…Fitness Friday 31

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So I was listening to a vlog the other day (by Ellyssa Brooks for those YT watchers) and she was discussing the types of spotters in the gym. As I listened, I thought this would be a great topic to share my thoughts on for a Fitness Friday because there comes a time in a serious lifter’s career where they’re gunna need a spot and I want you all to be able to avoid those who really can’t get the job done.

Plus I have seen and experienced my fair share of bad and horrific spotting in my 10 years of training..

The OVER spotter

Out of this one and the next one I don’t know which is worse. I guess the next because it’s risking your life and all….  In this case, your spotter doesn’t take his/her hands off the weight during your entire lift making you feel as if you did nothing.

OR in some cases where appearances are what matter, you may spout off saying you got a new PR when really it was a team effort.

The first case is really bad for female lifters. From my experience, I can tell some people until I’m blue in the face to NOT TOUCH THE WEIGHT unless it’s going the wrong way but they will still grab it the entire time.

Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I can’t do the job alone. I asked for assistance for the last 1-2 reps or just to watch to make sure I was good, not for you to help me through the whole lift.

Thanks but no thanks. 

For the second issue, this is a problem because you may have just given them a false perception of their strength. When they go to lift again, they may try to do that weight on their own and ultimately struggle, or worse, fail and get hurt.

The UNDER spotter

Either they forget they are spotting you or are really determined to see if you can pop a vein trying to lift that weight up themselves when they are failing. This also includes a kickup help. I don’t know how many times I have asked someone to help me with the initial kickup and they than just stand there…

Thanks for watching me struggle, nod at you like I’m asking for help, and you still stand there. -_-

If someone asks you to spot them, they are assuming that if the weight is coming down on them you will help them out. Don’t be the hard ass or the distracted/clueless spotter who just stands there and lets them fail. PAY ATTENTION!

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The UNEDUCATED spotter 

The one who agrees to spot you but has no idea what they are doing.

Example: When someone tried to killed me when spotting my decline dumbbell chest press. When helping a person kick up the weights, DO NOT grab the dumbbell portion of the DBs. This type of spot led to the DB falling inward and putting too much force on my tiny wrists and they fell…on me…ON A DECLINE!

Hello 40lb weights to face.

Thanks to the fact that I know to tuck my chin and turn away or my face may have been a bit more colourful leaving than it was coming in.

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The SNEAK ATTACK spotter

You know when you don’t ask for a spot but magically someone appears anyways? Yeah, they just slide themselves behind you and will say “just helping ya out.”This may be more of a girl problem but for me personally, I apparently freak people out when I lift a weight up so they feel the need to jump in a save me…when I don’t need saving.

Thanks for ruining my set brraaaahh

If they don’t ask, don’t jump in. That is all. Unless they are clearly failing, than it’s more of an act and talk later…

The BUDDY spotter

You know when you ask your ‘bro’ to spot you and he decides to do everything but pay attention to you. Text. Snapchat. Stare at the wall. Whatever, and lets you do your own thing and than maybe, just maybe help you out when you fail.

This is mostly directed at guys…

Guys, if you’re with a buddy in the gym, make sure if you ask them for a spot that they are actually into lifting and are not just there for the social hour. Your life will thank you later. OR, don’t and you and your crushed face will end up on their snapchat.

So some final tips…

For the person doing the spotting

~Say no if you know you can’t lift the weight in a case of an emergency

~Ask how they want to be spotted

~Say no if you’re not sure how to spot properly or if you never have spot someone

For the person being spotted:

~Tell them specifically what you want and how you want them to do it. Wrists vs. elbows. Help up? Etc

~Come into the lift knowing how many you can approximately do. They are there to help IF NEEDED, again this is not a team effort. If the arms of your spotter are flexing or straining, they are doing too much work.

Also a few things to keep in mind..

Squats. This is a tricky topic. Some say never to spot a squat because it’s too dangerous. Some say you can. I say, yes, but with a few important things to note.

~DO NOT SPOT FROM THE BAR or do that stupid “I’m giving you a hug” spot. Most of the time a squat fail that can cause the most harm comes from the core failing. In this case, they may come back at you with the bar and all. You want to spot from the ribs to support the core.

~With that in mind, you should be large and/or strong enough to be able to support the person squatting and their squat weight

~Do not even attempt to spot a squat if you feel uneasy about it at all. I have heard of people being crushed trying to spot a squat, so don’t make yourself part of that group.

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Just no.

I hope the next time you ask for a spot, you are now more prepared to make a good choice. Just because a guy is big doesn’t mean he’s a good spotter. Be aware of how people lift and act in a gym as that will be a good indicator as to who will do it right.

-Chelsea


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Circus Performers Need Not Apply…Fitness Friday 9

I’m not one to insult others and I’m not meaning to sound judgmental but I’m a human being and, well, sometimes your mind just naturally has a WT actual EF moment…

Many of these moments can be experienced in the gym setting and I happened to witness one such performance a few days ago that inspired the topic of today’s post.

Quality Over Innovation

Specifically, you don’t need to show your skills of multitasking in the gym…

We have all seen them.

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#GymFail memes are everywhere.

I can’t say there isn’t some truth in some of these because there are some very creative individuals in the gym where many of these have originated from.

Take the incident I mentioned earlier. So try, try very hard, to picture this:

Guy on exercise ball.

He is in the smith machine rack.

He’s doing leg lifts. Yes lying on the exercise ball..

While ALSO holding onto 135 on the bar unracked.

Is your brain cramping yet?

Mine was spasming just a tad and then watched as a personal trainer looked at him and then continued to keep walking…

#PTFail for real.

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Anywho, my point with sharing this is I wanted to understand what he was trying to accomplish.

Was he thinking this was a new and inventive way of training his core?

Working on stability?

I really have no idea.

Whatever he thought, it was clearly not working as he was rocking all over the place whichever option above was his motivation, it was not successful.

The thing is you have to think about when training is what you’re trying to accomplish. Yes inventive can be great sometimes, but just as often (or more often..) it can just get out of hand and really not work the muscle group you’re targeting at all and simply make you look like an idiot (…not that you should care what others think) or worse, cause you to injure yourself.

So on the topic of quality, I think that when you see or think up an interesting new exercise, think about how they are working towards your goals. To better explain this, let me give you some examples.

1.Benching while holding a static leg lift. 

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I think this can be okay if you’re looking to burn out and/or add a bit of challenge to a lift later on in your workout. If I bench with my feet on the bench or off the floor at any point it’s not when I’m benching my max. Instead, it’s to add a bit more challenge to a superset or burnout set.

You cannot possibly hit your max with your feet off the ground. Your focus is not on the chest, you’re slightly off balance and the lack of grounding really hinders your power. So if your goal is to hit a new PR, keep those feet on the ground.

2.Renegade Rows

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Great exercise for a burn out! It works the whole body and is a great core stabilizer and strengthener because you have to hold a plank while doing a dynamic movement. Like I said, this is great for what it is, a compound to increase the heart rate while challenging the core and maybe exhausting the back once it’s fatigued a bit first.

This is not the exercise to start off with to increase your ‘back gains.’ Once again, with all that is going on, you won’t be able to lift as heavy as you would if you were to take that stability component out. Stick to barbell rows to build that back and burnout or work stability using this exercise.

But more core activation is better!

Take this from the “core queen,” you don’t need to add a balance and/or core component to everything you do. As I have mentioned, if strength is your goal, then don’t limit yourself with adding movement and instability. You need to be tight, braced and have full concentration on that lift to reach maximum strength.

If you want to be more functional then perhaps some of these may be a good option for you as they mimic everyday moments better. Do we bench with strict form in real life? No.

But then again, the more functional and compound kinds like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc all have core activation built right in, so are these inventions really necessary?

WTF-Gym-18

Different goals means different exercises. Always remember that.

And please, PLEASE. Safety over everything!

Happy Friday Friends 

-Chelsea


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Burn Baby Burn..All Da Fat. Fitness Friday 7

My friends,

What do you think one annoying thing about our generation is?

For me I think it’s the lack of respect and general politeness. No, this isn’t mean to say that I think EVERYONE my age is disrespectful and has no manners but it is a trend I see more and more and it’s…annoying.

The other day for instance, I held the door open for this guy walking behind me (maybe the same age or slightly older then me). Well, not only did he basically schmooze his way through the door, but he didn’t say a word and didn’t even grab the door!

Like no worries bud, I’m just here to hold the door for you and make sure your Royal Highness behind gets through the door unscathed.

Geesh.

holding door

Sorry rant over. That’s just one huge pet peeve of mine.

Anyways, onto the main topic which is…

Fitness Friday! 

This weeks topic is something I’m not sure many people would dabble with but if you are like me and watch da ‘Tube, you have probably heard quite a lot of people in prep use them.

CATEGORIES-FAT-BURNERS

I honestly see no use in them. Waste of money in my opinion and here is why I say that. Let me break it down mmmmkay?

What are they supposed to do?

Quoted from a paper done by Jeukendrup and Randell (2011):

The term ‘fat burner’ is used to describe nutrition supplements that are claimed to acutely increase fat metabolism or energy expenditure, impair fat absorption, increase weight loss, increase fat oxidation during exercise, or somehow cause long-term adaptations that promote fat metabolism.

Basically, many are advertised to “melt” the fat from the body. Need a quick fix get rid of that stubborn fat? Take a fat burner.

Who takes them?

Often, as I mentioned, you tend to see them a lot in bodybuilding competition preps. In fact, out of the list of supplements that bodybuilders tend to use, during a cutting phase (weight/fat loss phase) fat burners were found to be up to 20% of the total money spent on supplements and females were much more likely to have them in their ‘stack’ (Brill and Keane, 1994). In fact, it was found that up to 66% of females (vs. 45% of males) were using them during a cut in a study done by Brill and Keane (1994). Although this study was older, I would be quite shocked if the numbers went down. Instead, it wouldn’t surprise me if the numbers went up as that push for the leanest physique possible has not reduced in any way.

So if they are taken mostly by those in prep, why write out it for the public?

Well because we are very influenced by who we watch. Also, image is becoming more and more of a health hazard these days and it seems that this drive for thinness leads to many ‘everyday’ individuals taking extreme measures to try to gain an edge.

I want to debunk the notion that fat burners will lead you to achieving your leanest self and also show you that they can actually be harmful.

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Jeukendrup and Randell (2011) –> Mechanisms of fat burners. 

So now that I have basically said that they are crap…let me present you with some more research because I can’t just be all talk right?

Jeukendrup and Randell (2011)

They did a review on some of the common fat burners on the market and here’s what they had to say:

~Caffeine: Has been shown to increase fat oxidation, resting metabolic rate and thermogenesis in studies. Although this has been found, they noted that the effects of this substance alone may not be potent enough to cause any major increase in weight loss. Instead, it appears that weight loss may only occur if other stimulants were added to the mix (they noted a study introducing ephedrine to the caffeine group).

This caffeine-ephedrine mix is something I have seen used before, please do not. They are both stimulants and can stress the heart. 

~L-Carnitine: This is something that your body makes naturally and helps to shuttle fatty acids to where they need to go to be oxidized (or broken down). The thought is that if you take more, you will burn more fat. This has not been supported in research. The muscles do not increase in their concentration after taking a supplemental form and therefore have no increased effect on oxidation rates.

~Green Tea Extract: Hello Dr. Oz….Anywho studies are very mixed here. If there are increases in the oxidation rates, they may be confounded with other things likes caffiene intake. Also, another issue with studying the effects of green tea extract is the active ingredient concentrations may vary and that may also have an effect. Specially mentioned was the interest in the levels of EGCG, or a specific type of catechin polyphenol. Studies found that when levels of this particular active ingredient were higher, oxidation rates at rest were higher. The issue is the amounts were quite large in most of these studies and they are not sure if caffeine was needed or not to show this effect.

~CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): This appears to be a new favourite on the market. It is an isomer of the Omega-6 family of fatty acids and is said to have an increased effect on lipolysis, fatty acid oxidation, decrease lipogenesis, etc. Animal studies have shown promise but it is really not the same story in humans. Of the few studies that have been done on humans, the best is a modest change in body composition (specifically this study listed 0.05kg loss/week and is that really only from the CLA?), so really, is it worth your money?

Bondi (2009) took a look into athletes and had a few things to say about the supplement industry…

~Athletes who need to lose weight may want to use fat burners to expedite the weight loss. The majority of these products are useless; however, some may be harmful, such as ephedra, which is a central nervous system stimulant.

~Caffeine was not found to be a thermogenic and green tea extracts are often compounds of both phytonutrients (EGCG) + caffeine and still their effectiveness is extremely limited.

~Other products with claims to burn fat (but don’t) are Chitosan (13), L-carnitine (21), and Chromium (22).

 You said they were possibly harmful?

Krishna (2011) –> described a case of liver failure in a young women with no liver issues previously due to severe hepatotoxicity, with a particular focus on Usnic acid. Many feel that more ‘natural’ products can’t cause harm, but they can in fact show some adverse consequences if taken irresponsibly or mixed with other supplements. Green tea extracts have even shown adverse liver effects in when in capsule forms.

Bonci (2009) –> Listed the potential harmful effects of too much caffeine including more mild ones like irritability, jitters, etc to more severe such as tachycardia, tremors, and so forth.

So, what do you think? Some of these things may have some limiting effects long term, but most are so understudied that we have no idea what they do. From the studies we do have, they don’t show much (and are the things involved?) and if they did the doses are high. The other issue is that higher doses can cause toxicity issues and unfortunately I see these types of products as things that would be abused by people.

My take. Don’t waste you money, and quite frankly, avoid.

Thoughts?