Monday, July 31, 2006

One Rep-Max Workout Calculator

One Rep-Max Workout Calculator

Enter in the number of reps you can do with a certain weight and it'll estimate your one-rep max (1RM).

This way, you don't have to give yourself a hernia for no really good reason.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

About Creatine

Here are some bits I found on creatine:

"Dietary creatine supplementation (20-30 g/day for 4-6 days) has been reported to increase muscle creatine concentration by as much as 50% and enhance muscle performance during intermittent high-intensity exercise bouts (2-4, 10, 12, 13, 15). The performance-enhancing effect of creatine may result from increased muscle creatine availability that sustains the initially rapid rate of PCr resynthesis further into recovery and increases available PCr during later exercise bouts (3, 12, 15). No studies have investigated the effects of creatine in older persons who, because of intrinsic deficits in muscle energy metabolism, may benefit from creatine supplementation." Journal of Applied Physiology

"Enhanced muscle mass / strength
"Multiple studies suggest that creatine may improve muscle mass and strength in men and women, particularly when accompanied by increased physical activity. However, studies of creatine in athletes have disagreed with each other. Although many experts believe that creatine may be useful for high-intensity, short-duration exercise, it has not been demonstrated effective in endurance sports. Benefit may be greatest when levels of creatine prior to supplementation are low, and in specific sub-populations such as older men. Creatine monohydrate supplementation did not improve body composition or muscle strength when given before knee surgery, nor did it enhance recovery in one study. Of the approximately 300 studies that have evaluated the potential ergogenic value of creatine supplementation, about 70% report statistically significant results while the remaining studies generally report non-significant gains in performance. Due to methodological problems with available studies, a firm conclusion cannot be reached.""

"Annual consumption of creatine products is estimated to exceed four million kilograms (8.82 million pounds). Use of creatine is particularly popular among adolescent athletes, who are reported to take doses that are not consistent with scientific evidence, and to frequently exceed recommended loading and maintenance doses."

Although teens may be taking creatine to bulk up, what actually happens is that your muscles draw water away from the rest of your body. The bulking up you experience is often the result of the extra water stored in your muscles, not increased muscle mass. You don't gain extra strength from water. But you may get seriously dehydrated from the redirection of your body's water to your muscles."

Energy Effect
"A number of studies have examined the effect of creatine supplementation on performance. The consensus appears to be that, while not increasing peak force production, creatine can increase the amount of work done (8%) in the first few short duration, maximal effort trials. The mechanism of this enhancement is not yet clearly documented, but is most likely by increasing the available PCr pool."

Dosages for creatine, especially those from clinical trials

Toxicology reference

"Creatine modestly improves athletic performance and appears to be relatively safe."

"Side effects [of creatine] include stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and muscle cramps. High doses of creatine may be associated with kidney, liver or heart problems, and even high blood pressure, although definitive links to severe illness haven't been established.

Some say it works, others don't. Regardless, there is no strong evidence that oral creatine supplementation improves performance that translates into growth (hypertrophy).

Stay hydrated
This one's almost too easy, but drinking plenty of water not only helps you burn fat, but also builds more muscle. "All creatine does is force fluid into the muscle," says Hays. "Your body will do that itself if there's enough water available."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Rule for Bodybuilding #19

19. The nutrition component of bodybuilding is as important as lifting weights hard with good form, followed by rest.

Let's review nutrition. The Merck Manual is a good resource on nutrition and exercise. Their overview of nutrition in concise.

Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are called metabolic fuels. The common term is "food."

There are 10 essential amino acids that must be eaten from food because the body cannot make them. This can be done by combining the protein in foods like (beans and rice) or (beans and corn). There are two essential fatty acids: linoleic acid and linolenic acid. Glucose (sugar) is not considered "essential" but the brain must have a constant supply of glucose and the best way to get glucose is from [ideally whole grain, low glycemic index] carbohydrates. Excess carbohydrates, just like excess protein, ends up stored as fat.

Protein = 4 calories per gram
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram.

Metabolic fuels provide energy to do work and to simply survive. To make a familiar analogy, the body's energy need is like a cup of water. This cup has a small hole in the bottom, a drip, so the cup needs refilling throughout the day. Pour too much water into the cup and it simply overflows. Likewise, excess metabolic fuel leads to an undesirable result: storing surplus energy from overflow, as fat. Snacks (mini-meals) do not fill the cup but add more water (energy) to it. When the cup is empty (no food) for long periods (skipping meals), the metabolism begins to slow in preparation for famine, and the body begins storing as much fat as it can.

Learn to fill your cup throughout the day without overfilling it.

I can tell you that a double cheeseburger with bacon with super-size fries and drink does not fit in the cup, no matter how much you weigh.

The goal then, would be to learn to fill the cup throughout the day (6 meals, some are mini-size) without it overflowing. Some foods lead to greater feelings of "fullness" and these foods have a higher satiety index: "If you've ever wondered why you fill up on a bowl of oatmeal but can eat three doughnuts before feeling satisfied, the reason is the comparative satiety levels of these foods."

Protein should make up around 25% of the day's total calories, and so carbohydrates (and lesser amounts of fats) make up the other 75%.

Bodybuilders should consume 0.7 to 1.0 grams of protein per lb. of body weight, per day. Too much protein is harmful if one has existing kidney problems. But let's agree that 1.5 is a lot of protein, maybe like eating 2 entire chickens in a day. 1.0 is the upper limit among dieticians for protein.

If you visited a registered dietician, one of the activities you would do is a nutrient analysis, that is, to record everything that you eat in the course of a single day, writing down what each food is, and how much of it you ate. You would do this for at least a week, to get an idea of your nutritional trends.

The sooner the analysis is done on the journey, the better. There are helpful sites like this one that can make it easier. Especially monitor the amount of protein you're eating; keep track of it so you can know what daily quantity of protein worked well and what didn't. There are also fee-based services to do the same thing.

Many bodybuilders say that they didn't see big (or any) benefits from training until they figured out the nutrition part for themselves. I'm included. I didn't realize that I was supposed to be eating almost 3500 calories a day; I was eating much less than that.

If you haven't seen big benefits, even after months of lifting, the nutrition component of your training needs attention.

More resources:
Nutrition, Wikipedia
the Nutrition Source web site maintained by the Dept of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health
The American Dietetic Association

What are negative calories?
Recent scam using irrelevant scientific jargon to make their product seem legitimate.
"Refugees taught how to eat American food" Are Americans taught how to eat American food?

Monday, July 17, 2006

New Rule for Bodybuilding #18

18. Individual results vary simply because some people exercise and others do not.

Every fad diet and diet center usually have a disclaimer: "Individual results will vary." "Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle." Individual results vary simply because some people exercise and others do not.

Simply exercise, and there is no need to pay weight-loss profiteers. Their appeal is to make exercise appear optional. But it's not that way in reality. Some people embrace exercise without too much thought, others think too much and label it as too difficult, shroud the idea in anxiety, and then avoid it. Accepted or denied, physical activity is for everybody. You are a somebody. Therefore exercise is for you. That's Aristotelian physical education. :)

Before humans figured out agriculture and developed a way to store surplus food, we ate all day long, throughout the day. Humans were like other animals that forage. Eating was survival, and most of the day was spent doing necessary things in order to live. Life then was, compared to today, very difficult. It was day-to-day uncertainty and eating hand-to-mouth. Doing the necessary things to live required doing work, physical activity, "exercise," and doing it all day long. Your career options were either hunting or gathering or not living.

Things are a bit different today. If the extent of the day's physical activity is limited to: walking from house to car, car to office, [work], office to car, car to house...weight gain is guaranteed. Even after agriculture came along, survival still required a lot of work, till machines and technology began to make differences in the late 1800's. Exercise appears optional in our modern world, but it is necessary. Whether one chooses to or not, is a different subject.

This is not bad news. This is good news! Why? Because if you don't get regular physical activity and you've felt down-in-the-dumps, now you have a glimmer of why that is so. Now you can take steps to fix the problem. Is how you feel imporant? Is it a priority? Yes, it is--how you feel is priority #1, consciously or unconsciously.

The weight-loss industry has figured out that many people consider "exercise" the foulest among dirty words and many will pay [lots of] money for an "answer" to get around doing what is entirely necessary, healthy, and beneficial for normal human function. There is no magic bullet that or quick-fix that will get this handled for you.

Even if they made a pill that miraculously melts bodyfat away to almost nothing, you would still feel lousy from not exercising. There is only one person who can take care of it, and that's you.

Weight-loss profiteers and certain sorts of opportunists are driven to feed people false notions about exercise being optional. They are just selling what people are wanting. Here is a fun example: a soda that is claimed to lead to weight loss.

And if their weight-loss schemes don't work for you, then whose fault is it? It's yours, not theirs. If you don't get what you paid for, it's still your fault. You're the one who gets to leave with a feeling of "failure" because their product (scheme + "exercise is optional myth") did not get you lasting results. But remember: individual results may vary. If you do succeed, you'll likely give them the credit for your diligence and persistence, especially by word-of-mouth advertising for them, for free.

If they did have great success rates, that's the first thing you would hear about in their commercials. The success rates of their customers are not clearly public, probably for a reason other than client anonymity. The best thing they offer people is a little nutrition info and tips about changing your [bad] habits. You can get that for free on the web.

I should say that I have no gripe with people making money. But their business practices might benefit from being straightforward and honest, "do not pay till you sign a contract wherein you agree that you will exercise and give it a persistent effort." If they did this though, potential customers would simply laugh at their sales pitch and realize they can do as much on their own.

If a friend asked you to help him or her lose weight, you would do what most people would do, and that is to create a line of food for them to purchase from you--a paid subscription to your delightful treats--all of their meals would come from you--maybe for all time? Kidding aside, creating for them, a dependence on you, is not really "help." Weyt Watchers is the devil!

Anyway, wouldn't you more effectively help your friend out by teaching them skills (at the gym)(during non-peak hours)? Well surprise, because you are that best friend of yours! A friend who will not let you down, who won't let you get away with settling for less than you deserve! HOoray! :)

A lot of times we believe something will "work" because we want it to work. It's time to let go of that (particularly effective) marketing trick and look at things the way they are. There is no workaround to exercise.

Sign a contract with yourself.

Here is the form.

Here is insurance that you will follow through.

Here are 20 tips to keep you motivated.

Here is "21 Ways to Stick to a Workout: Simple solutions for our favorite excuses."It is far easier for me to just go to the gym and hit the weights than deprive myself of food or invest in false hopes or hand over money for nothing.

Even walking will do.

Here are great tips on getting started.

In return you get to:

Look better naked
Feel better period
Improve self-esteem
Have more energy for other activities
Get out of the house
Enjoy yourself

Of course, 'Feel better' belongs at the top of the list. But I'm shallow. :) Anyway, it's my blog and I'm not changing the title :)

*plus* you get:

Benefits of regular exercise

  • Reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity
  • Keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible so it's easier to move around
  • Reduces some of the effects of aging
  • Contributes to your mental well-being and helps treat depression
  • Helps relieve stress and anxiety
  • Increases your energy and endurance
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Helps you maintain a normal weight by increasing your metabolism (the rate you burn calories)

If you want to look differently, then changing your menu, or starving and depriving yourself, or taking diet pills, etc, will not do it. Even if diet pills do lead to weight loss, the weight comes right back if you stop taking the pills: it's like the pills are a subscription to "looking better," not ownership.

If you know where you want to go, be wary of those on the side of the road that try to sell you an easier way to get where you are already headed.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

New Rule for Bodybuilding, #16 Part 2

First, there is discomfort; disturbance; getting fed up. "That's it. No more." Part 1 is a self-honest decision that follows a period of intense "pain." [Emotional] pain motivates us to pay attention to things that we take for granted. A lot of decisions are like this--they come around a turning point when we’re paying more attention.

A realization that exercise is a requirement. Accepted or denied, regular physical activity is for everybody.

A realization that you don't have to give up anything you already enjoy. If you don't want to radically change your diet at first, then don't. You don't have to become a saint of fitness, but you will eventually get there if it is a long-term goal. It may not be the most efficient way to do things, but at least you won't feel like you're making a major sacrifice. I didn’t make many changes to my nutrition when I started out; it would have been better if I had. I ended up discovering that I needed more calories to build muscle than I was eating. So it is more effective to make some dietary changes from the start. There is a menu called the "Abs Diet" that involves a lot of eating. 10 myths about dieting

An effort:
Find a health club that has what you want. Take a tour. Group fitness classes and yoga options are nice

Employers sometimes get discounts for employees

Many gyms now offer monthly memberships or less-than-a-year contracts. This is good for people who may want the variety of working out at different locations. Depends on the individual.

I pay about $50 month at a family-run gym, that was the rate when I signed up years ago. The equipment is not state of the art, but that also means that it's usually quiet and uncrowded in the weight room. It doesn't have to be state-of-the-art, but shouldn't have ancient machines that no one uses, either. Check out the condition of the restroom too

Set out 4, maybe 5 days out of your week to go to the gym and lift for 30-45 minutes

Do your weekly lifting routine no matter how "boring" "stupid" or "ineffective" it seems to you

Do it for 12 weeks, 90 days, one season, and it’s a habit.

A habit. The difference between fit and non-fit people is that they have a habit of working out. When they don't workout, they don't feel as good.

Make it into a habit. When you exert yourself and just mess with your own comfort zone out of pleasure, it feels great. Endorphins and stuff. Any habit is hard to break. Including your daily lifting sessions where you laugh at how badly your muscles are burning. The burning = growth.

Buying a machine for your own home may mor may not be a good idea for you. Personally, I get a charge out of lifting around other people. With others doing the same, helps me appreciate better what I am doing. Some could likely benefit from lifting in privacy, likely the very internally motivated and driven. If you decide to buy a machine, check the classifieds first. Try Craig's List. There is always a B@wflex for sale. I'm sure they work, but I wouldn't be sure about learning to enjoy it. You may love it or hate it. Don't pay full price if you're planning to find out.

I think the reason few people keep their New resolutions is because sometimes we set goals and have no real plan on how to arrive at the goal. "I resolve to lose 15 pounds" says nothing about how you're gonna do it. A better resolution is, "I resolve to make fitness a habit and by going again and again." This is a decision. Therefore excuses and rationalizations (to go back on the decision) that may come up now or in the future are already ruled out. At the time you made the decision you felt so strongly about it that no excuse would have been good enough for you to back down. You may not (will not) feel as strongly about the decision later because that is naturally what happens when you're no longer focusing hard on the issue and it's those times when excuses and stories sound like "good reasons." But they're not; just keep that in mind.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Rule for Bodybuilding #17

17. Lift hard.

After enough emphasis about learning to do the exercises correctly, start lifting hard. One thing about life is that we're always learning; even when we're not actively choosing to do so. Learning is a part of daily life, not something done while seated in a classroom. We usually learn from our mistakes better than when everything goes as expected. You may be learning by using light weights but that still doesn't mean you're guaranteed to do them correctly.

Don't wait too long before lifting hard. A couple of weeks should have been enough. Lifting hard is a necessary part of learning correct form so there's no reason to put it off. Every exercise is a movement against resistance. The more challenging the resistance is, the better your muscle gets at working to counter the resistance. The resistance must increase to get the benefits of adaptation. Either lift harder, rest less between sets, or change your workout for a month or two. If you're not even breaking a sweat, you might as well go play a game of hoops, at least you might get a workout that way.

If a tennis player only plays against terrible players, it gets boring after only a couple of wins; there is no improvement; when compared to playing against a better player.

If there were no problems in life, it wouldn't be life. We have character which we build through dealing with resistance (problems and challenges) and it shapes who we are or become. If you never dare to leave your comfort zone, life begins to get very boring: no improvement, no growth, no satisfaction.

Lifting weights that are too light is the same way. The weights must be heavy enough to be challenging; so that one minute of rest, maybe two, is required before the next set. If you get back to your resting breathing rate... and just sit...and wait...and wait...then you're a powerlifter, not a bodybuilder. Being just short of breath is ideally the way the entire workout should go. When I break out of my comfort zone, I feel good. Endorphins and stuff.

My rest during leg workouts: when I've almost caught my breath after I've stopped panting hard. That's how I know it's time for the next set. When I work out upper body, I time out 30 seconds to 1 minute, I try to vary it. Sometimes, I just "run the rack," by doing sets without rest except to change weights: by decreasing weight for dumbbells, for every set. It is essentially one giant set with no rest, but challenging the muscles differently. At other times, I have to consciously remember to rest for a minute or two.

Run the Rack

Save time on the last dumbbell exercise in your workout. Instead of doing three sets of shoulder presses, biceps curls, or any dumbbell move, start with a weight that's about 50 percent of what you usually use to do 10 to 12 repetitions. Perform the exercise six times, then quickly grab the weight that's one increment heavier. Continue working your way up in weight until you finally find one that you can't lift six times using proper technique. Then reverse this process by grabbing a slightly lighter weight and completing as many repetitions as possible, even if you can only manage a few. Keep moving down the rack until you're left using the lightest set of dumbbells possible.

Friday, July 07, 2006

New Rule for Bodybuilding #16 Part 1

16. There is only one difference between fat people and fit people, well, only one that really matters.

Is it that fat people are lazy and the fit are not?

Is it that fit people were born fit and will always be fit?
There are likely few people who are obese and don't really care to do anything about it and never will care. The majority probably think to themselves often that things could be much better; maybe they obsess about it. Many make futile 'attempts' to lose weight by skipping meals but then eventually gorging, feel a familiar twinge of guilt then starve till the next gorging, all the while slowing down their metabolism to a near standstill.

There are likely very few people who were born to be fit and in great shape; there are many "skinny" people who couldn't run a mile in under 10 minutes. Most chain smokers I've seen are really skinny.

Plus, "[t]he dirty secret among former high school and college jocks is that many don't remain active as adults. In their glory days they were the fittest among their peers. But as adults many are overtaken by nonjocks"

Is it lack of motivation vs. diligence and endurance?
No, that's a stereotype.

Is it hormonal? Genetic?
Maybe for some, but there is medicine for thyroid problems.

Is it gender?
No. Men do not have a "higher metabolism" compared to women. That's BS.

Is it luck? Is it what diet center you attend or who you know?
Absolutely not.

So what is the difference?

The difference is...[drumroll]... one group of people experiences an event and the other does not. An event? The event goes something like this: