Home 2008 January (Page 2)

Preseason Precautions for Baseball

By: Eric Cressey

This off-season at Cressey Performance, we worked with 95 baseball players from 32 high schools, 16 colleges, and 8 major league organizations.  Needless to say, it was an exciting off-season and things are finally starting to calm down.

However, as the high school baseball season approaches, I’ve gotten quite a few questions from my high school guys about how to approach pre-season and in-season training.  Here’s a snapshot of what I told them in an email to all our athletes and parents.

What to Expect in the Preseason

Most of you will show up to tryouts and realize very quickly that they are tremendously physically demanding, in most cases, as a coach want to find out quickly who has worked hard in the off-season (hopefully, you!) and who deserves a spot on his roster (hopefully, also you!).  You’ve already taken care of the performance aspect of this challenge with your hard work this past fall/winter – and now it’s time to continue that work while integrating more sprint work over these final few weeks to prepare you for what’s ahead.

However, what you need to be aware of is that research has shown that preseason practice injury rates are more than three times higher than those of the in-season and post-season period.  If this research had been done on spring sports in New England, though, I suspect that those rates would be even higher.  After all, it is still 20°F and snowing in Massachusetts less than a month before the season is set to start!

To that end, you need to make sure that you always warm up sufficiently – or else you’re at a bigger risk of hamstrings, groins, or hip flexor strains.  Our athletes include a wide variety of dynamic flexibility drills prior to moving on to some light jogs, high-knees, butt-kicks, side shuffles, cariocas, and skips prior to “opening it up” with sprinting.  These warm-ups should be continued all season.

I highly recommend that you dress in layers and not remove your sweats until you have already broken a sweat.  It’s also a great idea to wear some compression shorts underneath your regular shorts/sweats.

Sprint Mechanics

On your sprint mechanics, remember to focus on landing with your foot under your body.  Don’t “paw” the ground and try to “pull” yourself along; this is where many hamstrings issues arise.  Trust in the strength that you’ve built and focus on putting force into the ground to propel you along on the balls of the feet, avoiding heel-striking.

Guys who overstride tend to pull hamstrings more often.  Ground reaction forces (GRF) can range from four to six times an athlete’s body weight, and simply moving the point of ground contact forward a few inches can markedly impair an athlete’s ability to decelerate those GRF.  Intentionally overstriding will make you slower and more likely to get injured; warming-up sufficiently and trusting in your athletic ability will keep you moving quickly and safely.

On your acceleration work, remember “head down to the mound.”  Keep the chin tucked as you accelerate; you shouldn’t be looking up.  That big forward lean gets shin angles in the right place, and helps generate momentum to get you moving faster.

Remember that the faster your arms move, the faster your legs will move.  Hip pocket to eye socket with that arm action!

Over the Next Few Weeks

Our athletes will be doing a lot of sprint work on the turf at Cressey Performance over the next few weeks; it will be a combination of starts (10-15 yd) and upright sprinting at 70-90% of maximum speed (along with some sprint mechanics drills in warm-ups).  Ideally, you should be sprinting 2-3 times per week – but don’t get in the habit of thinking that you need to do a ton of aerobic work or treat these sessions as interval training.  Your goal should be complete recovery between sets, as you want to optimize sprint mechanics.

Again, this is not the time to go crazy and run all out!!!  Save that for when you’re stealing bases with healthy hamstrings and hip flexors in April!


Pre-season nutrition can be summed up in three words – or, one word three times:

Calories!  Calories!  Calories!

Most guys really undereat during the preseason period and wind up dropping a lot of weight – both muscle and fat.  We can lose the fat with all this added sprinting without losing the muscle by keeping quality food intake up.  If you find that your weight is dropping quickly, make sure you get the food intake up.

Treat your baseball training sessions just like you do your training sessions in the off-season.  Recognize that you need quality protein and carbohydrates during/after each session, with plenty of water.  Biotest Surge is a good option for its convenience, especially with higher-workload tryouts/practices.  Chocolate milk works well, and you can never go wrong with fruit/yogurt or fruit/cottage cheese combinations.

In-Season Training

In the professional ranks, position players often lift four times per week.  In college, it’s 2-3 sessions/week.   There’s a reason for this trend; in-season training is important!

Maximal strength is the foundation upon which power improvements occur.  Keeping strength up is important for maintaining the peak power you need for throwing, sprinting, hitting, diving, you name it.  Resistance training enhances strength, obviously – and it also has endocrine, immunity, injury prevention, and bone density benefits as well.

If you are a middle school, freshman, or junior varsity player, your #1 goal should be long-term development.  To that end, physically, you should treat the in-season as if it’s the off-season.  In other words, keep training as much as your schedule will allow!  Obviously, things get busy between practices, games, and schoolwork (and school always comes first), but just realize that this isn’t a time when you should be concerned with modifying workouts because you don’t want to sore for games or practices.  I know it sounds hard to appreciate now, but you’ll thank me years from now!

Varsity guys can get away with slightly fewer sessions if they’re more experienced athletes – but you still need to shoot for about two sessions a week.

Position players can jump in whenever schedule allows.  Pitchers should aim to lift the day after starts, whenever possible, as well as another session (generally around the same time that they throw bullpens).  I am NOT a fan of distance running between starts – or even running foul poles – but that is a rant for another day.  Suffice it to say that I think these efforts would be much better devoted to other training avenues.

In-season, frequency, not duration, is the name of the game.  You don’t have to be in the gym for hours and hour; just stick to the “meat and potatoes” exercises and you’ll easily maintain – and possibly even build on – the gains you made this off-season. And, you’ll stay healthy.  You would be amazed at what 20 minutes 2-3 times per week after practice or a game will do.

Going in to the off-season, I’m sure a lot of you had goals of throwing 90mph, hitting 15 homeruns, or stealing 25 bases.  However, while you’ll certainly achieve a lot of success on these statistical measures, the statistic with which you should be most concerned is the games-missed statistic.  At Cressey Performance, our goal is to have every Cressey Performance athlete healthy enough to play every game this season.  Many of you have put all the hard work in this off-season to make this a reality initially, but it is going to take a continued dedicated effort in-season with your warm-ups, flexibility drills, strength training, and nutrition to sustain what you’ve built for the long haul.

Good luck this season!


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Needs Assessment and Results

By: John Cowell

I doubt there are many readers out there who have gotten exactly what they want from their training. How many have ever really asked, “Why?” There are a lot of potential roadblocks to success in the gym - or anywhere, for that matter. One of the first questions I strive to answer when an athlete first comes to me is "Where is this athlete right now?"

If I put a blindfold on you, drop you off in the middle of nowhere, and then tell you to drive to your house, the first thing you’d have to do is figure out where you are currently. The same is true with training. If you don’t really know where you are, how can you possibly get where you want to go?

The initial assessment is paramount to the journey. You’ve got to know what’s going on with your body, from a mental, physical, and visceral perspective. Let me address each one individually.

I’m sure most of the readers of this article have heard of the “Westside” system. Well, I’ve never been to train with Louie Simmons or any of the other athletes at Westside, but I can tell you that the main ingredient to their success has to do more with the atmosphere and attitude of that gym than the actual training programs. There’s not much secret about what training protocols they follow, yet why isn't it that other gyms can’t stack up with their level of success?

I’ll tell you why. Everyone is so busy dissecting the “Conjugate” method or “Reactive” training that they forget to address one of the most important components of the “Westside” system - and that is the mental aspect. When you read articles by Dave Tate and Jim Wendler, they will tell you that unless you’re training at Westside, you’re not training “Westside,” and that’s because they understand how important the mental aspect is to the game.

What would you say is the genetic difference between the world class and the national class? Probably less than 1%. So what separates the two? Likely, it’s mental. Visualization of one’s goals is essential to realizing one’s goals. A lot of strength athletes could benefit from the mental exercises employed by such athletes as divers, golfers, and gymnasts. These athletes know exactly what they want to do in their minds before their bodies execute the movement.

Once you’ve got your head on straight, can the body follow? It has been said by many elite coaches that you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe. How strong is your foundation? Your body is a structure like any other and if the foundation of your building is weak and the walls and floor aren’t square, the strength of the building is limited. Now if no one ever goes in the building or the building is only one story tall, then perhaps this isn’t much of an issue. The thing is, by strength training, we’re attempting to build a skyscraper.

All movements are limited by the weakest component of that movement. In the deadlift, if your back is weak, it doesn’t matter how strong your hip extensors are. If you are limited in your thoracic extension, you will begin experiencing shoulder pain long before you ever achieve your maximum in overhead movements.

I compare this balance to that of an automobile. If you are traveling from a stop sign to another stop sign 1/2 mile down the road, you’ll be able to stay on the gas for much longer if you know your brakes and suspension are good and can stop you quickly. However, if your brakes and suspension are shot, you’ll need to back off the accelerator much earlier to make sure you can stop in time. Your body works the exact same way. You may not be aware of it, but your nervous system is. If your nervous system knows that the stabilizers of the shoulder are weak, then it will instinctively weaken the prime movers of the bench press. Make sense?

This is all probably fairly intuitive but how about the viscera? How can one’s internal organs hinder athletic performance? Consider that all of the systems within the human body require energy. From a survival point of view, what is more important: the function of the elbow or the heart? When the internal organs are in distress, then the body will rob energy from the muscles to try to restore the function of the organ.

When you eat very poorly, you not only sabotage optimal body composition; you tax your body on the inside as well. A body can only look good on the outside for so long if the inside is screwed up. If the liver is toxic and the gut is constantly inflamed due to poor food choices, alcohol and NSAID medications (for instance), the outside of the body will show symptoms. The gut will look bloated and no matter how hard the athlete tries, he or she won’t improve in performance or aesthetics.

When the liver is overburdened with toxins, it has to outsource the storage of said toxins. Do you know where the body stores toxins outside the liver? Yup, bodyfat. Now, if you keep toxifying the liver to the point that it has to store toxins elsewhere, how successful do you think you’ll be in removing excess bodyfat? The answer is, not very! Your body will hold onto the fat as a place to store the toxins until they can be dealt with. Once the liver becomes healthy, only then it can begin to metabolize the stored bodyfat.

How about cortisol? That’s the ultimate four-letter word when it comes to bodybuilding. Well, what is cortisol and why is it in our bodies anyhow? Cortisol is, among other things, a catabolic agent and a vital part of our internal defense system and can become elevated in times of extreme stress. This is a good thing - believe me. You want the body to secrete cortisol when it needs to. Cortisol is our own natural, built-in anti-inflammatory. The problem is when our body is constantly secreting cortisol due to constant sources of stress. Stress comes in lots of forms but suffice it to say, the body needs time to rebuild and if it’s so stressed all the time, it can never return to an anabolic state.

As you can see, there are many potential roadblocks to success in the gym. The key is to identify and remove these barriers. The first part of any successful strength and conditioning program is to assess the current status of the athlete. Find out what is an obstacle; is it the mind, the musculo-skeletal system, the internal organs or any combination of the above? If you take shortcuts in this process, then you are ultimately short-cutting your chances for success.

About the Author

John Cowell has been in the fitness industry as an Elite level cyclist with the United States Cycling Federation and as a fitness expert for over ten years. Since dedicating his life to training others, he has worked with some of the best athletes in the world as well as extremely complex orthopedic conditions; and everything in between! He is an author of several articles on fitness as well as a hired consultant and lecturer on the topic. He currently owns and operated Conscious Fitness (www.consciousfitness.com) in Raleigh, NC. You can contact him at john@cowellfit.com.

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An Interview with Mike Roussell

By: Eric Cressey

Mike Roussell is one of my few "go-to" guys in the world of nutrition, and you can count on hearing a lot more from him in the months and years to come.  Mike is very unique in his academic background, real-world experience, and - perhaps most importantly - the passion he brings to the industry.  Last week, I was a guest on his show (www.MaxOutRadio.com), so it seems only fitting that he gets to drop some knowledge bombs on my readers this week with an interview in our newsletter. EC: Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to be with us today.  I know quite a bit about you, but I'm sure our readers would like to hear a bit more about where you are, where you've been, and where you're going.  Tell us your life story. MR: Okay, this will probably bore everyone except my mother and my wife, but here I go. I played just about every sport growing up and eventually blew out my knee in high school. I picked up Muscle & Fitness one day while in rehab and the rest is history. I have a B.S. in biochemistry and have spent a good deal of time doing organic chemistry synthesis. After college, I went to medical school, but halfway through my first year I knew it wasn’t for me and that wanted to pursue nutrition full time. So I left medical school and got a job in a biochemistry lab along with a position that allowed me to actually develop the nutrition curriculum for first year medical students at University of Vermont. During this time, I applied to nutrition graduate schools. I’m now at Penn State studying to receive my PhD in Nutrition. During this whole academic journey, I have always been busy working with people and their nutrition, body composition, and performance goals. That’s what I love. I love seeing people succeed - helping them achieve their best body. There is no feeling better than when a client shares with you a story about how someone noticed changes in their body. You can see it in the client’s face and hear it in their voice how great it made them feel. It is special to be able to help people with that. I’m lucky. EC: All our readers can insert the obligatory “awwww” as if there were playing with a puppy. I, on the other hand, will start right off with a tough question. I just wrote a two-part article about what I learned/did differently in 2006; what were a few of your “epiphanies” last year? MR: 1. Butter is good. I realized that I don’t eat enough saturated fat. Chances are that you might not either. I’m big on olive oil, nuts, and avocados – all of which are great, but they weren’t giving me enough saturated fat. I was down at around 4% of total calories from saturated fat. I’ve doubled that now that I use butter on a regular basis. Plus, it makes food taste so good. 2. Alwyn Cosgrove is a sadist. I realized this after doing six weeks of his Afterburn II program. 3. It is important to write your goals in the present tense and keep them at the front of your mind. 4. It is really important not to blindly believe the things that you believe. I’m a big fan of fish oil and no matter how much I believe that fish oil is anti-inflammatory, we really have no idea how it works its anti-inflammatory magic. I was really stuck on the traditional way of thinking about fish oil’s mode of action, but the research says the opposite and there are a lot of people out there that refuse to see this. 5. It is better to embrace reality than fight it. Chances are you already know the answer to a problem with which you are struggling, but you don’t like it, so you are waiting for a new one. Let’s take diet, for example. Many people eat like crap on the weekends and it kills their progress. They know they don’t stick to their meal plan over the weekend, but they continue to look for the new diet, supplement, or guru that will allow them to achieve their goal. Just clean up how you eat on the weekends, and you’ll be amazed at the results. 6. You can never read too many books especially, in areas about which you know nothing. EC: I managed to escape academia, but you’re still up to your neck in it. What’s new in the lab? Have you won your Nobel Prize yet? MR: Well, over winter break, I just finished a review article on lifestyle interventions that affect HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). It is going to come out in the first edition of a new journal called the Journal of Clinical Lipidology. Basically, the best way to increase your good cholesterol is to have 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day. This will increase HDL-C by about 7%. Exercise only increases HDL-C by about 4%, and when you lose weight, your HDL-C actually goes down! However, once your weight loss stabilizes, your HDL-C will increase by about 4% from where it was before the weight loss. I’m also working on a grant for the USDA that involves giving people fish oil and monitoring various biomarkers – but I won’t bore your readers with the details. One more thing: there is a really cool type of compound called Resolvins that are created in the body when you take aspirin and fish oil together. It could be the responsible for the anti-inflammatory actions of fish oil (that means we’ve all been wrong about fish oil’s mechanism of action). There has been essentially no work in humans with these compounds, so I have some plans to do some work with Resolvins and humans subjects this spring – again, really cool stuff (in a serious science nerd way). So, as you can see, I am definitely up to my neck in academia! EC: Where are most people missing the boat when it comes to nutrition in terms of: a) general health b) physique improvements c) performance enhancement? MR: Overall, people are missing the boat with compliance and not sticking to their plan. Generally, they eat too many starches – and at the wrong times. a) General Health – Not taking high quality fish oil or getting enough of a variety of fruits and vegetables. b) Physique Improvements – Undereating. This crashes your metabolism and makes fat loss really tough. The same goes for building lean tissue. If you aren’t growing even though you “eat a lot,” you need to eat more. c) Performance Enhancement – Under recovery. Performance athletes really beat up their bodies. This places unique metabolic stressors on their system that proper nutrition can almost erase. Protein and carbs during and after a workout is a must. Total calories are also very important, but they need to be good calories. It drives me nuts when athletes put tons of effort into training but the guy behind the counter at McDonald’s knows them by name! EC: As I’ve done in previous newsletter interviews, I’m going to ask you to give me your top five training/nutrition resources for people looking to take their knowledge to the next level. MR: Here are my top five not in any particular order. I’ve actually read all of these books several times. 1. Enter the Zone, by Barry Sears – This book lays a great foundation of the effects of different macronutrients and the power of food. 2. The Anabolic Diet (now called The Anabolic Solution) – This book is a classic and definitely the most popular low carb diet in the weight lifting world. 3. Nutrient Timing by Drs. Ivy & Portman – This is a great resource on the biggest breakthrough in sports nutrition. 4. Precision Nutrition by John Berardi – John does a great job of laying out how you should structure your nutritional approach. I currently use this will all my clients. 5. Naked Nutrition – This is the nutrition manual that I just published - and I know you liked it! EC: Yes, it was fantastic.  Can you tell our readers a bit more about it? MR: Here’s the thing: personally, I do not enjoy writing out meal plans. I love doing phone consults and working with people, but making meal plans isn’t any fun. So, I decided to put the entire step-by-step system that I use to develop meal plans for people into a manual. I also go into great detail about how to adjust your meal plan depending on your goals; that is the heart of the manual. I also lay out my “Six Pillars of Proper Nutrition,” how to maximize nutrient timing, how to prioritize and plan supplementation depending on goals, and a bunch more. EC: Sounds like a definite winner and something that’s really needed. Be sure to keep us posted on its release! Where can our readers find out more about you? MR:  I have a main website, www.MikeRoussell.com, where I host my newsletter, blog, product reviews, articles, and my nutrition coaching.  They can check out the Naked Nutrition Manual here. a.link:link {font:bold 11px Arial;color:000000; text-decoration:none;} a.link:visited {font:bold 11px Arial;color:000000; text-decoration:none;} a.link:hover {font:bold 11px Arial;color:000000; text-decoration:none;} td.link {padding:2px 10px 2px 10px; cursor:hand;} font.divider {font:11px Arial; color:666666} div.body {font:14px arial; color:000000;} body {font:13px arial; color:000000;} td {font:13px arial; color:000000;} a:link {color:0000cc;} a:visited {color:990099;} a:hover {color:cc0000}
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An Interview with Mike Robertson

By: Eric Cressey

In light of all the projects on which we’ve collaborated, a lot of people seem to have come to the conclusion that Mike Robertson and I are the same person.  I guess that’s what we get for co-authoring ten articles together and co-producing the Magnificent Mobility DVD.  I figured that the best way to clear up any confusion about our unique identities would be to interview him.  If it helps, read the text below aloud, and use a Midwestern drawl for Mike’s voice, and a pseudo-Boston accent for me.  If you’re a visual learner, you might want to alternate an Indianapolis Colts hat with a New England Patriots one at the same time. EC: Hey Mike, thanks for agreeing to do this.  I know you like the back of my hand, but our readers don’t.  Fill them in a bit on your background; I’m sure you get questions all the time about how you got to where you are.  Who inspired you? MR: Wow Eric, there’s been so many people along the way, to name just one or two wouldn’t really be prudent.  However, if I had to name a few people that have significantly impacted the way I view and approach training and nutrition, I’d have to say yourself, Alwyn Cosgrove, Dave Tate, John Berardi, Mike Boyle, Joe DeFranco, Jim Wendler, Ian King, Stuart McGill, Bill Hartman, and Shirley Sahrmann. As you can tell, I’ve got everything from physical therapists to elite-level strength coaches, but all have taught me something or significantly influenced my thinking in one way or another.  In fact, I think you need to learn from as many disciplines as possible to truly understand how the body works. EC:  What frustrates you the most about this industry? MR: Two things about this industry really annoy me.  They are: 1. People who have no business training people for athletics.  These people know who they are; whether they are PTs that “wanna’ be” strength coaches, to strength coaches who just don’t know what the hell they are talking about, these people piss me off.  They typically get by with either “smoke and mirrors” training, or by yelling incessantly at their athletes to “work harder.”  While this may sound contradictory to my next point, running your athletes into the ground doesn’t make you a good strength coach; it makes you a schmuck. 2. Lazy people.  This can include people who are too lazy to train themselves, people who are too lazy to keep learning, or people that feel like others should help them “catch a break.”  I have no sympathy for people like this:  I firmly believe you create your own destiny by doing the right things and busting your ass. I always say that I could write a killer training book about training hard (the REAL key to success) and no one would buy it.  Why?  People who are already training hard know it’s the key to their success and my book isn’t going to make a difference.  People that aren’t training hard are going to think I’m full of s**t and that it’s their training or diet habits that are holding them back.  In other words, they always find some other factor that’s the cause for their failure. Simply put, hard work is the difference between people of similar abilities. EC:  What’s a typical training week look like for you? MR: Since I had my knee scoped last June, my training has been all over the place.  I was approaching (or exceeding) all my previous PRs this past December, but my body had taken on numerous compensations from the surgery.  Even though I don’t feel like I rushed back into things whatsoever, between the surgery and the actual injury that caused it four months earlier, my body was getting very good at doing some very bad things. Over the past few months, I’ve been making a concerted effort to clean up my posture and recruitment patterns so I can get back on the platform stronger and healthier than ever before.  My current programming looks like this: Tuesday:  Lower Body (typically ME work) Thursday:  ME Upper Body Friday or Saturday:  Accessory Lower Body Sunday:  Accessory Upper Body I’m currently performing a specific mobility circuit that Bill Hartman gave me on a daily basis to re-groove my squat motor pattern and get it back to where it needs to be. EC: Now, your wife is a dietician; how has that impacted the way you eat and approach nutrition with clients and athletes? MR: Well it’s definitely impacted my wallet and my waistline; when I met her I was a svelt 170 pounds! Seriously, though, I’ve always been interested in nutrition, but she has the amazing ability to meld the science and the practice.  She’s an amazing cook to begin with, so she has the ability to take the right foods and actually make them taste great.  I think too many people think that “healthy” food has to taste like garbage, and that’s just not right.  Maybe someday I’ll actually convince her to put all her recipes into an e-book for publication. Also, I think if you’re serious about training and don’t take the steps to cover your nutritional bases, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for failure.  Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, Olympic lifter, strongman, or just someone who wants to improve your physique, you have to respect the power of nutrition and supplementation.  If you don’t, please don’t expect to see exceptional results in the gym. EC: Name five people you feel everyone should see speak. MR: 1)      Alwyn Cosgrove 2)      Dave Tate 3)      Mike Boyle 4)      John Berardi 5)      Anyone who knows more about your profession than you do (even if they don’t have the same outlook as you) EC: How about books and DVDs?  What are your top ten library “must-have” choices? MR: 1) Supertraining – Mel Siff 2) Science and Practice of Strength Training -Vladimir Zatsiorsky 3) Functional Strength Coach – Mike Boyle 4) Professional Fitness Coach Program Design Manual – Alwyn Cosgrove 5) Magnificent Mobility – Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson (These guys are geniuses…or so I’ve heard!) 6) Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance - McGill 7) Precision Nutrition - Berardi 8) Gourmet Nutrition - Berardi 9) Parisi Deceleration Method - Parisi Speed School 10) Charlie Francis FAST Seminar Series EC: If you had to pick five things our readers could do right now to become better lifters/athletes/coaches/trainers, what would they be? MR: 1. Start getting some soft tissue work done! As Mike Boyle says, “If you aren’t doing something to improve tissue quality, you might as well stop stretching, too.”  I firmly agree with him on this point, and while it may cost a few bucks, it’s going to help keep you healthy and hitting PR’s.  This could be as simple as foam rolling, or as extreme as getting some intense deep tissue massage or myofascial release done.  I’ve tried it all and all of it has its place. 2. Don’t neglect mobility work! Ever since we released our Magnificent Mobility DVD, people are finally starting to see all the benefits of a proper warm-up that includes dynamic flexibility/mobility work.  However, just because you understand the benefits doesn’t mean squat if you aren’t doing it!  Take the time to get it done before every training session, and even more frequently if need be. < 3. Understand functional anatomy Again, you and I (along with many others), have preached this for quite some time, but I’m not sure enough people really understand how the human body works.  Hell, I think I do, and then I get into some of these intense anatomy and PT related books and find out tons of new info! Along these same lines, if you don’t understand functional anatomy, you really have no business writing training programs, whether they’re for yourself or for others.  That may sound harsh, but for whatever reason people read a couple copies of Muscle and Fiction and think they can write programs.  I’ve fixed enough broken people to know that very few people can integrate the functional anatomy into what amounts to functional programming (and no, that doesn’t include wobble boards, Airex pads, etc.). 4. Train to get stronger While I’m all for all the other stuff that goes into training (proper recovery, mobility work, soft tissue work, conditioning, etc.), I think too many people want all the bells and whistles but forget about the basics.  GET YOUR ATHLETES STRONG!  Here’s the analogy that I use: performance coaches are asked to balance their training so that the athlete: a) improves performance and b) stays healthy.  What I see right now is a ton of coaches that focus on all this posture and prehab stuff, but their athletes aren’t really that much better anyway.  You have to work on both end of the spectrum. Think about it like this:  Let’s say you have this huge meathead that’s super strong but has no flexibility, mobility or conditioning, then throw him on the field.  He may last for a while, but eventually he’s going to get hurt, right?  You haven’t covered the spectrum. But what’s the opposite situation?  We have the coach who focuses on posture, prehab, etc., and the athlete has “optimal” muscle function but is weak as a kitten.  Are you telling me this kid isn’t at a disadvantage when he steps on the field or on the court?  Again, you haven’t covered the spectrum. In other words, feel free to do all the right things, but don’t forget about simply getting stronger; as you’ve said, it’s our single most precious training commodity. 5. Keep learning! I’m not going to harp too much on this one; simply put, you need to always be expanding your horizons and looking to new places for answers.  There’s a plethora of training knowledge out there, and what you don’t know can come back to haunt you.  I believe it was Ghandi who said, “Live like today was your last, but learn like you will live forever.”  That’s pretty solid advice in my book (and hopefully the last quote I’ll throw in!) EC: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your training and professional careers?  Looking back, what would you do differently? MR: It may sound cheesy, but I don’t look at mistakes as mistakes; I look at them as learning opportunities.  First and foremost, I wouldn’t have tried to learn to snow ski at the age of 27!  This little stunt has set me back almost a year of training and left me with 20% less shock absorption in my left knee.  Not the best idea, if you ask me. But, instead of looking at it solely as a negative, it’s caused me to really re-examine my own training and thought process.  As well, I really dug in so I now have a much better understanding of the knee, as well as how to rehabilitate knee injuries (and what causes them).  So while I could piss and moan ‘til the cows come home, the fact of the matter is I’m really not much worse off and I have a much better understanding of myself and the human body. EC: Where do you see yourself in a few years, and how would you like to be remembered way down the road? MR: Ideally, at some point I’d love to have a training facility geared toward athletes.  Whether it’s my own or partnered up with the right people doesn’t really matter.  This would not only allow me to do what I’m passionate about, but give me a solid place to train myself.  Every day I train at the commercial gym here in Indy a little part of me dies. However, I must admit I really enjoy all the “extra-curricular” stuff I do as well: writing articles, producing info products, and giving seminars.  I feel like the personal training/performance coaching allows me to keep in touch with what works and allows me to affect people on a small, intimate scale.  On the other hand, the extracurricular stuff opens the doors to a huge number of people, all of whom can directly benefit from the things I’ve learned.  In my eyes, it’s the best of both worlds. As for being remembered, I just hope a person or two out there does remember me!  The best thing anyone can say about me is that I influenced their life or athletic career for the better.  I genuinely love what I do and the people with whom I work, and I think people can feel that whether it’s me coaching them, writing for them, or speaking to them at a seminar. EC: Feel free to use the space below to shamelessly plug all of your products and services. MR: Well I’m sure we’ve talked about it ad nauseum, but if you haven’t picked up a copy of our Magnificent Mobility DVD, you need to get it done NOW.  You’ll never look at warming-up the same!  You and I also have a huge seminar coming up in June at the Peak Performance facility in NYC, and I’m sure it’s going to turn some heads as to how people evaluate and train their clients.  Finally, I’m not even going to get into our “little book” until we make some headway! Next, Bill Hartman and myself are working on the Inside-Out DVD and manual, which will cover a lot of upper body concepts that I don’t think many people have examined.  Bill is an amazing PT, so I really feel this is going to do for the upper body what Magnificent Mobility does for the hips. Finally, feel free to come check out my website and sign-up for my FREE NEWSLETTER, which is sent out monthly.  You can check out my website at www.robertsontrainingsystems.com, and you can sign up for the newsletter by sending me an e-mail at mike@robertsontrainingsystems.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line. EC: Lots of stuff on the agenda, and I’m sure that it’ll all be top-notch.  Thanks for taking the time, Mike. MR: Thanks a ton for having me, EC!
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An Interview with Michael Stare

By: Eric Cressey

As you’ve probably already surmised by now, I’m always looking to meet new physical therapists who are effective at bridging the gap between healthy and injured athletes. The sad truth is that just as there aren’t many trainers/coaches who really understand musculoskeletal dysfunction and the resulting pathology, there aren’t many PTs who really understand what an athlete puts his/her body through on a daily basis. Let’s just say that I’m lucky to have found Mike Stare, and it’s just my luck that he’s right up the road from me here in Massachusetts. Mike is a brilliant PT and trainer from whom you can expect to hear a lot more in the months and years to come; we’re already brainstorming on some projects together. Here’s a small sample of the great information Mike has to offer; as I told Mike, I think it’s some of the best information we’ve had in any interview at EricCressey.com thus far.

EC: Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to join us today. Before we get cracking with the interview, could you tell us a bit about who you are, where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going?

MS: I’m a Physical Therapist and a CSCS, practicing with Orthopaedics Plus in Beverly, MA, as well as Director of Spectrum Fitness Consulting, also in Beverly.

My early years as an oft injured and undersized athlete landed me in the orthopedists’ office far too often. After a serious neck injury from football, I found myself in Physical Therapy for several weeks. That experience really opened up my eyes and I decided that I wanted to pursue a career as a PT.

I studied kinesiology at the University of Illinois, and began working as a personal trainer for the division of campus recreation. I also worked with the spinal cord athletes there, and had an opportunity to travel to the 1996 Paralympic games to work with spinal cord injured athletes. I moved East to pursue a Masters of Science in Physical Therapy at Boston University. I continued to work as a personal trainer with the Boston Sports Clubs and obtained the CSCS while I was in grad school. I also had the opportunity to help develop and teach a training curriculum for the trainers at BSC.

After graduation, I worked in an outpatient rehab hospital where I saw the full spectrum of conditions. I treated a C5 quadriplegic who was more athletic the most people I know, a lady who had both legs amputated from her pelvis (best pair of arms on a 60 year old I ever saw and a heart of gold), bodybuilders with overuse injuries, chronic low back pain - you name it – I saw it. It was a phenomenal learning experience, but I knew that I needed to focus in order to hone my expertise. So I choose to concentrate on orthopedics, and jumped on board with Orthopaedics Plus.

I returned to graduate school part-time while working full time as a clinician to finish my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and then completed a two-year fellowship in orthopaedic manual therapy. That was an invaluable experience; I learned from what I truly believe to be the greatest minds in Physical Therapy.

I had moved away from personal training while pursuing my post-graduate studies, and I really missed it. As a clinician, I grew frustrated with the fact that many of my patients were seeing me for injuries or conditions that could have been prevented if they had received the proper training or education. I thought I was going to lose my mind if I saw another 16-year-old girl with excessive genu valgum and the glute strength of a mosquito limping in after ACL reconstruction waiting to get back to her three soccer leagues.

I decided that I needed to provide a service that would not only help people recover from their injury, but also reduce their injury risk and enhance their performance and health. As a result, in partnership with Orthopaedics Plus, I formed Spectrum Fitness Consulting this past January. We focus on providing personal training services, as well as sports conditioning for young athletes. Our studio is located adjacent to the PT clinic, which facilitates me working as both a clinician and a trainer.

We are rapidly growing and have some excellent new programs coming soon. I’m looking forward to finding some quality trainers to help us grow, as well as expanding our reach throughout the North Shore region, developing more of a web presence, and hopefully perform some research in the near future For now, I’m trying to stay focused on getting things done right, keep my head from spinning off, and enjoy hanging out with my new baby and my wife as often as possible.

EC: The first chapter of your memoirs is now officially complete; congratulations! Moving on…you’ve done quite a bit of research on preventing elbow injuries in young pitchers; what have you got for us?

MS: Last fall I had the opportunity to mentor a Doctoral Student from BU. We found some great info about elbow and shoulder injuries in young baseball pitchers. Among some of the most notable findings:

· Injuries in young pitchers most often involve the growth plates, as opposed to the rotator cuff, labrum, or ligaments commonly seen in adults

· The growth plates are the weakest link in the joint complex in young pitchers.

· Growth plates in the elbow are open until about 16 and until 19-22 in the shoulder.

· Injury to the growth plate is very difficult to detect, except in severe cases. Thus, early and appropriate response to pain is critical.

· Pitch counts and pitch types are associated with risk of elbow and shoulder injury. Researchers from the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) have given specific recommendations for pitch type and count based on their findings. For example, a sample of 476 9-14 year olds who threw curve balls had a 56% increased risk for shoulder pain and those who threw sliders had an 86% increased risk for elbow pain. A sample of 330 9-12 year olds showed increased incidence of elbow and shoulder injury occurred with:

1) Those who threw >75 pitches/game or 600/season

2) Pitched in multiple leagues

3) Experienced arm pain during the season

4) Pitched less than 300 pitches per season.

EC: Very interesting; we often hear about throwing too much as being a problem, but some kids were actually having problems from not throwing enough pitches and then going out to “turn it loose?” In other words, is that 300-600 pitches/season number precedent for a “golden pitch count rule?”

MS: No, I don’t consider it as a golden rule. Rather, it should provide a basis from which coaches, clinicians, and researchers can begin to establish the boundaries between what is too much stimulus for a developing arm, and what is not enough stimulus to facilitate enhanced motor skill and optimal conditioning.

The research from ASMI and others is merely revealing initial data about factors that correlate with shoulder and elbow injury, not cause the injuries. Pitch counts are a convenient way to quantify arm stress, but they are far from perfect. The research regarding this topic is still very new and continues to evolve. Pitch counts are just one of the many factors related to increased risk. I think focusing on a firm pitch count for the season may be a problem in that it relieves the coaches, parents, etc., of responsibility of considering other variables that may also indicate increased risk, essentially, providing a false sense of security.

It still isn’t clear why pitching less than 300/season was associated with risk of arm injuries. Perhaps those who threw less had less skill, and thus imposed greater stress upon their arms. Maybe they were less conditioned. Or perhaps, as you mentioned, they progressed their volume of throwing too quickly. The higher risk with throwing greater than 600 seems more obvious – perhaps it was just too much?

Regardless, I think the problem is not simply about too many pitches or too few pitches in games over the season. There seems to be a trend towards kids playing in less informal settings, and more often in competitive settings. This has some significant implications. Less informal play means less opportunity for honing the motor skill of throwing. Motor learning is best developed by practicing frequently, in small chunks of time, at initially lower intensities. This is what is typically done through informal play.

There is a big difference between how you throw in a competitive game situation versus while practicing or playing catch with friends. Thus, kids are in more frequent situations that place higher stresses on the arm, while spending less time improving their motor skills. Given this trend, I think it becomes clear why the incidence of arm injuries is one the rise.

Improving their conditioning and responding to the early warning signs of injury would substantially offset this higher risk. Combined with coaches focusing more on teaching the skill of throwing, while gradually increasing the volume and intensity of throwing, the incidence of arm injuries could be greatly reduced. Rather than just focusing on the pitch count, I suggest coaches and parents also simply rate velocity and control each inning, as well as observe any other signs of a change in mechanics or taking more time between pitches. This will be more effective than just quantifying pitch count.

EC: Great stuff – sorry to interrupt. What else have you got?


· Certain flaws in pitching mechanics will predispose the shoulder or elbow to greater stress. For example, excessive shoulder rotation at initial contact of the stride leg, and a more cross body horizontal arm follow-through leads to increased torque on the elbow.

· The humerus rotates up to 7000 degrees per second in from late cocking phase to acceleration phase, and the arm experiences a distraction force of up to 1.5 the athlete’s bodyweight during the deceleration phase

· Clinicians and surgeons are reporting a 5-6 fold increase in pitching related elbow and shoulder injuries in youth pitchers. I’ve seen too many kids devastated by realizing that their throwing careers are over at age 15, recovering from their second arm surgery. There’s too much information out there; we need to apply it.

EC: Agreed! So why aren’t more trainers and coaches putting this information into practice?

MS: Although we found some great info about kinematics, kinetics, and epidemiology, there was very little information about conditioning or training strategies. It was implied by almost every researcher, but never thoroughly discussed. That is were my “Young Guns” program comes in. Our program will be the only that I’m aware of that will emphasize not only the preventative strategies via pitch count, pitch type, and throwing mechanic alterations, but also implement specific conditioning strategies. As with so many other conditions, the ability to generate and translate force through out the entire kinetic chain, as well as efficiently decelerate, correlates with improved performance and reduced injury. I think this reasoning applies perfectly to throwing athletes, and they should be trained accordingly.

EC: Great stuff; I’m sure it’ll be fantastic. How about correcting injuries once they’re in place? Any rehab tips for those who already have bum elbows?

MS: The injured tissue must be identified first. This is especially important for young athletes, as growth plates are particularly vulnerable. Treating a growth plate injury will be much different than treating a lateral epicondylopathy. Seeing an orthopedist who specializes in elbows and shoulders – together with a PT with a manual therapy background – is your best bet.

Next, identify the cause of the problem. It’s always easier to investigate a crime closest to when it was committed. The irritating factors must be modified or avoided.

Look at the shoulder, thoracic spine, and hips for mobility deficits. Inadequate mobility at any of the joints along the kinetic chain can result in greater compensatory mobility demands upon the more vulnerable elbow joint, leading to excessive strain and ultimately injury.

If soft tissues of the elbow are involved, such as is the case with tendonopathy of the common extensor (lateral epicondylopathy) or common flexor (medial epicondylopathy) tendons, deep tissue massage is very effective. It doesn’t feel so good initially, but it works. Usually, you can do it yourself; just follow the tendons starting about ½ inch from the origin, and deeply massage with small amplitude parallel and perpendicular to the tendons.

Joint mobilization is also very effective at restoring normal mobility and promoting joint healing – but you’ll need a skilled therapist for that. For less acute injuries, very high repetition, low load exercise can be effective at improving tensile qualities and promoting healing.

The common practice of applying ice shouldn’t be overlooked. Ice massage is very easy and effective. Freeze water in a Dixie cup, peel back the edges, and rub the effected area for about 5-10 minutes.

EC: My favorite part is that you never recommended non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). We know we’re dealing with degenerative, not inflammatory conditions, so these interventions have little merit aside of pain relief, which is better accomplished with ice anyway. All those NSAIDs are just inhibiting the healing process and giving people a false sense of good health, leading them to throw the tissue back into the fire much too soon. Would you agree? (You’re not allowed to disagree, for the record; this is my newsletter!)

MS: I absolutely agree, and not just because I fear being chastised like your friend Hugo from a few newsletters ago! Soft tissue injuries have often been labeled as tendonitis, the –itis suffix inferring an inflammatory pathology. However, histological studies consistently fail to find markers indicative of inflammation with these conditions, leading to the increasing use of the appropriate term tendonopathy instead. This is more than a semantics issue. As you mention, taking an anti-inflammatory to treat something that does not have an inflammatory pathology may yield unnecessary risks and hinder healing. Recent research has demonstrated impaired bone healing in conjunction with NSAID usage. This is particularly important if bone pathology is suspected, as often is the case with young pitchers having a high incidence of growth plate injuries

EC: This has been fantastic stuff, Mike; thanks for taking the time. Where can our readers find out more about you?

MS: It’s my pleasure Eric, anytime. I can be reached at mike@spectrumfit.net, and your readers can learn more about Spectrum Fitness Consulting, the Young Guns program, and myself at www.spectrumfit.net.

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Maximum Muscularity II

by Eric Cressey and Tim Skwiat In Part 1, Tim and Eric set forth the dietary framework for Maximum Muscularity. Now, training and supplementation take center stage. * Add Fuel to the Fire...On non-lifting days, we highly recommended that you perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in place of the resistance training. The fact that HIIT is most heavily reliant on muscle glycogen during exercise does not mean that it is an inefficient method of exercise for fat loss. On the contrary, HIIT is a much more efficient means of achieving fat loss than steady-state aerobics. Otherwise, you wouldn't see so many non-spandex deserving aerobics instructors with greater than 30% body fat! When the post-exercise period is factored in and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is taken into account, the total amount of fat and calories burned as a result of the HIIT is actually greater than with its lower intensity counterparts (20-22). And, let's not forget that in given the right work: rest ratio, you'll almost always perform more total work with HIIT than steady-state aerobics. Tremblay et al. found that subjects who performed a HIIT program showed a ninefold greater decrease in the sum of six subcutaneous skinfolds relative to a group of subjects that performed an endurance training program (23). Additionally, interval training is considered to be superior to steady-state, submaximal cardiovascular activity in improving VO2max (24). We know what you're thinking: "Why should I worry about VO2max? I lift weights; VO2max is only important for spandex-clad cyclists!" Well, even if being a more functional lifter (or athlete, if that's your cup o' tea) isn't reason enough to value VO2max improvements, you will still be interested to know that a greater VO2max value has been associated with increased thermic effect of food (25). That's right - jack up the VO2max, and the dozen Krispy Kremes that "accidentally" vanish in your presence are less likely to be stored as body fat. As if all these benefits weren't enough, let's consider the explosive nature of HIIT work. Typically, your ball-busting work periods are in the 10-30 second range, a timeframe that closely approximates the duration of most strength training sets. In other words, you'll be training the same energy systems (ATP-PC and fast glycolysis) as in strength training (13). And, less scientifically, picture yourself digging deep to propel yourself forward during a sprint. Now, think of the last time your hip and knee extensors kicked in as fired out of "the hole" during a set of squats. You can bet that training your explosiveness will carry over to such performances. Finally, when you notice how insanely sore your hams, glutes, quads, calves, obliques, and lower back are after your first sprinting session, you'll be convinced of how effective HIIT can be in promoting muscle growth. Okay, now that you understand why HIIT beats steady-state aerobics like a redheaded stepchild, let's consider the mode and structure of your HIIT sessions. There are plenty of options available: cycling, elliptical trainers (preferably with arm motion included), rowing, jumping rope, and boxing. However, ask any HIIT-aficionado, and he'll tell you that sprints are king! That said, the table below summarizes some HIIT guidelines to adhere to regardless of your mode of choice. Note: Because we are using interval training for physique enhancement rather than purely for performance improvement, these selections depart from traditional interval training protocols. At the very least, they represent the shortest end of the spectrum in terms of rest intervals, as total recovery should not be reached before the onset of the next work interval.
Work Period Rest Period Work: Rest Ratio Repetitions Duration
10s 50s 1:5 15 15:00
15s 45s 1:3 15 15:00
20s 40s 1:2 15 15:00
30s 60s 1:2 10 15:00
These guidelines are, however, very general; you'll need to modify them slightly based on your fitness level. With that in mind, suppose you do three HIIT sessions per week. You might opt to do all three at a 1:5 work: rest ratio the first week, and then switch to a 1:2 ratio for the second week. Or, you could add another interval each week. Finally, you could perform each session for the week at a different intensity. That's one of the beauties of Maximum Muscularity: flexibility. Just be sure to change your protocol of choice every few weeks. Following the bout of HIIT, a brief (i.e. 5-15 minutes) session of low-intensity aerobics might work to enhance fat loss. It appears that inadequate blood flow to adipose tissue during high-intensity exercise is the culprit behind reduced fat oxidation (26). As a result, immediately upon cessation of high-intensity exercise, there is a marked increase in the concentration of plasma free fatty acids (2). By exercising at an intensity that relies primarily on the use of plasma fatty acids (i.e. less than 60% of heart rate reserve), you will maximize adipose tissue lipolysis and fat oxidation. On HIIT days, the same schedule (i.e. time of training) need not be followed, but the same diet plan should be preserved. Again, it?s important to remember that high-intensity aerobic exercise (i.e. HIIT) is very heavily glycogen-dependent and can be much more depleting that resistance training. Significant glycogen depletion can occur with a mere 15-30 minutes of exercise performed at very high intensities (i.e. 90-130% of VO2max), which is similar to the protocol that is followed in HIIT-style training (12). Therefore, you should not be at all leery about maintaining your carbohydrate intake after HIIT sessions. We recommend one complete day of rest from exercise per week. On this activity-free day, you should focus on consuming mostly meals of protein, fats, and fibrous veggies, as described above. That said, on this day, a breakfast of protein and carbs is warranted in most cases, particularly for those who are focusing on gaining muscle mass. Lastly, if your primary goal is muscle growth, you may choose to limit the frequency of HIIT to 1-2 sessions per week. Additionally, for these same individuals, the frequency of the lower intensity aerobic sessions may be reduced or the sessions themselves shortened. With HIIT completing the training mix, here's what your sample split might look like:
Upon Rising HIIT Weight training*
Monday: 20-45 minutes --- Late Afternoon
Tuesday: 20-45 minutes --- Late Afternoon
Wednesday: --- Sprints ---
Thursday: 20-45 minutes --- Late Afternoon
Friday: 20-45 minutes --- Late Afternoon
Saturday: --- Sprints ---
Sunday: Relax. Kill, cook and eat furry woodland creatures.
*Note: Weight training sessions may be followed by 5-15 minutes of low-intensity aerobics. *Topping off the Tank...Some individuals may find that after a period of time following these guidelines that glycogen stores are not adequately topped off. Increasing the carbohydrate content of the protein and carb meals and/or increasing overall caloric intake can circumvent this dilemma. However, these increases are not feasible for some, particularly those in a hypoenergetic state who are using this plan as a vehicle for fat loss. That said, many individuals might find that a day of higher carbohydrate intake is needed once every 6-12 days. Obviously, this is a very broad range due to individual differences, so it may take some trial and error (start with every twelfth day). As a rule of thumb, the leaner you are, the more frequently you should carb up. Rather than engaging in an uncontrolled overfeed (consisting of refined, processed, sugary carbs), simply increase the number of protein and carb meals. These meals should be very similar in composition to those that you utilize on a daily basis (healthy carb sources). We encourage you to implement this day of reglycogenation following a weight training session; ideally, the training session would be performed early in the day (i.e. after one protein and fat meal) and be followed by 3-5 protein and carb meals containing 60-100g of carbohydrate each. Total carbohydrate intake will vary based on frequency of reglycogenation periods (i.e. degree of depletion) and activity level on that particular day. To maximize glycogen restoration, a carbohydrate intake of 3-5g/kg of lean body mass is a good starting point; more or less may be optimal. All in all, you'll need to pay close attention to your response to varying levels of carbohydrate intake, as well as varying frequencies of high-carb days. You will, however, still see comparable results if you opt to incorporate the increased carb intake on a rest day (breakfast should be the largest meal, and carb should slowly be tapered off as the day progresses). This higher carb day will prove beneficial in that it will be very anti-catabolic and will fill up muscle glycogen stores. More importantly for some, it will help to quell any possible mental cravings. Implementing the reglycogenation strategy in a relatively glycogen-depleted state will actually make possible more glycogen storage than if glycogen is restored on a daily basis (27). More glycogen = more energy. More energy = harder training. Harder training = more muscle and less fat. *Supplements...Although the Maximum Muscularity plan does not require extensive supplementation, several supplements will increase its efficacy. With that in mind, we recommend: 1) BCAAs: These anti-catabolic amino acids will definitely prove valuable in the morning before the fasted-state activity and during your regular HIIT sessions. Xtreme Formulations' ICE is an excellent choice in this regard, as it also offers an appreciable dose of glutamine. 2) Nootropic: Marc McDougal outlined various nootropic supplements recently in his article, "This is Your Brain on Drugs". It goes without saying that many of these agents will enhance focus throughout the day ? especially during training sessions - and will help to create the vision of Maximum Muscularity that will keep you going! 3) Glucose disposal agents, particularly R-ALA: These are excellent complements to the protein and carb meals following training as well as the periodic high-carb days. We highly recommend R-lipoic acid (R-ALA) at a dosage of 100mg per 50g carbohydrates consumed in a meal. The capsules should be taken 20-30 minutes prior to the meal. In general, the brands of regular old-school ALA are racemic mixture products; they include both the R+ (naturally occurring form) and S- (synthetic form) isomers. R-ALA has proven more effective than its synthetic counterpart in promoting appropriate glucose disposal in skeletal muscle (28-30). This natural form is, however, pricier, so if cost is an issue or you just happen to have some old stuff kicking around, rest assured that the racemic (traditional) mixtures of ALA will still prove valuable (28,31,32). In short, with improved glucose disposal and enhanced insulin sensitivity, you'll be storing more carbs as glycogen and promoting anabolism. 4) Yohimbine: Increasing circulating catecholamines via supplementation or exercise results in elevated thermogenesis. Unfortunately, circulating norepinephrine (NEP) is not selective in the receptors to which it binds. While NEP binding to beta receptors stimulates thermogenesis, bindings to alpha 2 receptors trigger a negative feedback response that inhibits further NEP release. Because alpha 2 receptors are activated at low catecholamine levels (32), this phenomenon is most applicable at rest. Therefore, full-force thermogenesis may never be in effect! One way to overcome the alpha-inhibition of lipolysis is to ingest ephedrine and/or caffeine to increase circulating catecholamines, although this potential solution only reduces alpha-induced inhibition of lipolysis to a moderate degree (33). Yohimbine, as a selective alpha 2 receptor antagonist, is the key to maximizing lipolysis (34). By binding and antagonizing alpha 2 receptors, yohimbine inhibits the NEP negative feedback loop. Therefore, by maximizing circulating catecholamines, you also maximize thermogenesis and lipolysis. An added benefit of yohimbine is increased peripheral blood flow (35,36). Blood flow to adipose tissue is necessary to transport free fatty acids in the bloodstream (after the breakdown of triglycerides in adipose tissue) to tissues for oxidation in the mitochondria. Activation of the alpha receptors (via NEP) causes vasoconstriction, and, consequently, less blood flow, to peripheral tissues (37,38). In this respect, yohimbine's ability to inhibit the activation of alpha receptors provides maximal peripheral blood flow. Note: We are speaking of the yohimbine alkaloid from the yohimbe herb (similar to ephedrine being the active alkaloid in ephedra). Therefore, we recommended that you choose the hydrochloride version (i.e. Yohimbine HCl) over the herbal yohimbe in order to ensure purity and avoid unknown side effects of other alkaloids in the same family. If you choose the to go the herbal route, be sure to verify that you are dealing with a reputable company that lists the standardization for yohimbine on the label. The appropriate dosage for Yohimbine HCl is 0.2mg/kg (35,36), with smaller dosages providing less favorable results. A final word of caution: insulin completely blunts the lipolytic actions of yohimbine. Therefore, you should only ingest it before the low-intensity aerobic sessions and at times well separated from carbohydrate-containing meals. 5) Green Tea: This tasty beverage not only gives you a versatile option from water, but it also offers several other benefits of which you can take advantage. Green tea is now being recognized for a plethora of health benefits including those as an anti-oxidant, cholesterol lowering, antidepressant, capillary-strengthening and lipolysis-enhancing agent. As mentioned above, it may also act as a glycemic modifier in that it slows carbohydrate absorption. However, there?s even more exciting benefits than that. Recent research demonstrated that subjects who supplemented with a green tea extract containing 90 mg epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and 50mg caffeine three times daily resulted in a 4% greater energy expenditure and significantly lower respiratory quotient (i.e. greater fat oxidation) compared to subjects that consumed 50mg of caffeine alone or subjects that received a placebo (39). The fact that the subjects receiving the green tea extract experienced these benefits and the caffeine group did not clearly illustrates the inherent benefits of the EGCG, which is thought to be the most pharmacologically active catechin polyphenol in green tea. In light of this data, we recommend drinking 5-10 cups of green tea daily, either decaffeinated or caffeinated depending on the timing of ingestion. Obviously, these supplements should serve as an addendum to your everyday supplements: multivitamin, antioxidants, protein powder, EFAs, and creatine. Beyond these specific recommendations, feel free to include other supplements as your budget allows. Conclusion The physique enhancement strategies set forth in the Maximum Muscularity plan are based on thorough evaluation scientific literature and anecdotal evidence. You'll be optimizing the hormonal milieu to control catabolism and anabolism, manipulating macronutrient and caloric intake for various activities, and paying close attention to nutrient timing as it relates to substrate utilization and storage. Beyond just offering an avenue to aesthetic improvements, Maximum Muscularity is a long-term perspective that enables you to achieve and maintain optimal health status regardless of the short-term goal. Rejoice, Rugged-Brethren! The old-school days of uncomfortable overfeeding followed by painstaking underfeeding are over! The stratagem to getting Huge and Ripped is now reality more than ever. All you have to provide is the determination and effort. References 1. Romijn JA, Coyle EF, Sidossis LS, Gastaldelli A, Horowitz JF, Endert E, & Wolfe RR. Regulation of fat and carbohydrate metabolism in relation to exercise intensity and duration. Am J Physiol 1993 Sep;265(3 Pt 1):E380-91. 2. Rasmussen BB, Holmback UC, Volpi E, Morio-Liondore B, Paddon-Jones D, Wolfe RR. Malonyl coenzyme A and the regulation of functional carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 activity and fat oxidation in human skeletal muscle. J Clin Invest 2002 Dec;110(11):1687-93. 3. Sweetman, SC (ed). Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference. Pharmaceutical Press: London, 2002. 4. Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, & Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50. 5. Horowitz, JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO, Coyle EF. Lipolytic suppression following carbohydrate ingestion limits fat oxidation during exercise. Am J Physiol 1997 Oct;273(4 Pt 1):E768-75. 6. Montain SJ, Hppoer MK, Coggan AR, Coyle EF. Exercise metabolism at different time intervals after a meal. J Appl Physiol. 1991 Feb;70(2):882-8. 7. Nair KS, Halliday D, & Garrow JS. Thermic response to isoenergetic protein, carbohydrate or fat meals in lean and obese subjects. Clin Sci (Lond). 1983 Sep;65(3):307-12. 8. Day JL, et al. (1978). Factors governing insulin and glucagon responses during normal meals. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1978 Nov;9(5):443-54. 9. Schade DS, & Eaton RP. Modulation of fatty acid metabolism by glucagon in man. I. Effects in normal subjects. Diabetes. 1975 May;24(5):502-9. 10. Dorgan J, et al. Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr 64(6): 850-855. 1996. 11. Howarth, NC, E Saltzman, SB Roberts. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39. Review. 12. Lowery, L. Temporal Nutrition, Part 1. Testosterone Magazine. 21 Mar 2003. http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/253temp.jsp. 13. Baechle, TR, & Earle, RW. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning: 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics, 2000. 14. Essen-Gustavsson B, & Tesch PA. Glycogen and triglyceride utilization in relation to muscle metabolic characteristics in men performing heavy-resistance exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;61(1-2):5-10. 15. Keizer HA, et al. Influence of liquid and solid meals on muscle glycogen resynthesis, plasma fuel hormone response, and maximal physical working capacity. Int J Sports Med. 1987 Apr;8(2):99-104. 16. Bourghouts LB, & Keizer HA. Exercise and insulin sensitivity: a review. Int J Sports Med. 2000 Jan;21(1):1-12. Review. 17. Zhang J, & Kashket S. Inhibition of salivary amylase by black and green teas and their effects on the intraoral hydrolysis of starch. Caries Res. 1998;32(3):233-8. 18. Lee YS. The effects of various intensities and durations of exercise with and without glucose in milk ingestion on postexercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1999 Dec;39(4):341-7. 19. Parker DC, & Rossman LG. Human growth hormone release in sleep: nonsuppression by acute hyperglycemia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1971 Jan;32(1):65-9. 20. Phelain, JF, Reinke E, Harris MA, & Melby CL. Postexercise energy expenditure and substrate oxidation in young women resulting from exercise bouts of different intensity. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Apr;16(2):140-6. 21. Bahr R, & Sejersted OM. Effect of intensity of exercise on excess postexercise O2 consumption. Metabolism. 1991 Aug;40(8):836-41. 22. Smith J, & McNaughton L. The effects of intensity of exercise on excess postexercise oxygen consumption and energy expenditure in moderately trained men and women. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1993;67(5):420-5. 23. Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, & Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8. 24. Gorostiaga, EM, Walter CB, Foster C, & Hickson RC. Uniqueness of interval training at the same maintained exercise intensity. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 1991;63:(2)101?107. 25. Hill JO, Heymsfield SB, McMannus C 3rd, & DiGirolamo M. Meal size and thermic response to food in male subjects as a function of maximum aerobic capacity. Metabolism 1984 Aug;33(8):743-9. 26. Samra JS, et al. Effects of epinephrine infusion on adipose tissue: interactions between blood flow and lipid metabolism. Am J Physiol. 1996 Nov;271(5 Pt 1):E834-9. 27. Goforth HW Jr, Arnall DA, Bennett BL, & Law PG. Persistence of supercompensated muscle glycogen in trained subjects after carbohydrate loading. J Appl Physiol. 1997 Jan;82(1):342-7. 28. Streeper RS, Henriksen EJ, Jacob S, Hokama JY, Fogt DL, & Tritschler HJ. Differential effects of lipoic acid stereoisomers on glucose metabolism in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol 1997 Jul;273(1 Pt 1):E185-91. 29. Saengsirisuwan V, Kinnick TR, Schmit MB, & Henriksen EJ. Interactions of exercise training and lipoic acid on skeletal muscle glucose transport in obese Zucker rats. J Appl Physiol 2001 Jul;91(1):145-53. 30. Moini H, Tirosh O, Park YC, Cho KJ, & Packer L. R-alpha-lipoic acid action on cell redox status, the insulin receptor, and glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Arch Biochem Biophys 2002 Jan 15;397(2):384-91. 31. Jacob S, Henriksen EJ, Schiemann AL, Simon I, Clancy DE, Tritschler HJ, Jung WI, Augustin HJ, & Dietze GJ. Enhancement of glucose disposal in patients with type 2 diabetes by alpha-lipoic acid. Arzneimittelforschung. 1995 Aug;45(8):872-4. 32. Jacob S, Henriksen EJ, Tritschler HJ, Augustin HJ, & Dietze GJ. Improvement of insulin-stimulated glucose-disposal in type 2 diabetes after repeated parenteral administration of thioctic acid. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1996;104(3):284-8. 33. Arner P, Kriegholm E, et al. Adrenergic regulation of lipolysis in situ at rest and during exercise. J Clin Invest. 1990 Mar;85(3):893-8. 34. Goldberg MR, & Robertson D. Yohimbine: a pharmacological probe for study of the alpha 2-adrenoreceptor. Pharmacol Rev. 1983 Sep;35(3):143-80. Review. 35. Berlan M, Galitzky J, Riviere D, et al (1991). Plasma catecholamine levels and lipid mobilization induced by yohimbine in obese and non-obese women. Int J Obes. 1991 May;15(5):305-15. 36. Galitzky J, Taouis M, Berlan M, Riviere D, et al. Alpha 2-antagonist compounds and lipid mobilization: evidence for a lipid mobilizing effect of oral yohimbine in healthy male volunteers. Eur J Clin Invest. 1988 Dec;18(6):587-94. 37. Millet L, Barbe M, Lafontan M, Berlan M, Galitzky J. Catecholamine effects on lipolysis and blood flow in human abdominal and femoral adipose tissue. J Appl Physiol. 1998 Jul;85(1):181-8. 38. Ruffolo RR, Bondinell W, Hieble JP. Alpha- and beta-adrenoceptors: from the gene to the clinic. 2. Structure-activity relationships and therapeutic applications. J Med Chem. 1995 Sep 15;38(19):3681-716. Review. 39. Dulloo, AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, Mensi N, Fathi M, Chantre P, & Vandermander J. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5.
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Maximum Muscularity

By Tim Skwiat and Eric Cressey Typically, whenever a trainee aspiring to improve his physique utters, "I want to gain muscle and lose fat...", he is immediately greeted by eager critics from opposite ends of the spectrum. First, there are those experts that pounce on the opportunity to suppress such a bold quest. They proclaim that such a task is doomed for failure, and simply respond with an unscientific, "You can't. Choose one or the other." In contrast, there are those that say that such a mission is rather simple. While the former cynics are just downright ignorant, the latter faction is just as useless, offering no other advice than one must train hard and eat right. Uh, duh! With that in mind, we'd like to introduce a plan that we feel will lead to what many call the Holy Grail of Bodybuilding: Maximum Muscularity. The term "Maximum Muscularity" elicits a beautiful vision of the classic physique of someone like Arnold or Serge Nubret. Maximum Muscularity isn't just about being ripped...yet of beanpole proportions, nor is it just about being huge--yet uncomfortably rotund. Rather, Maximum Muscularity is fusion of the two: being Ripped and Huge; it's about becoming a walking, super-sized anatomy chart. It's about pushing the envelope of one's capabilities to add muscle and lose fat. In a broad sense, the ultimate goal of Maximum Muscularity is to gain muscle mass and lose fat mass. However, the principles of Maximum Muscularity also apply to gaining muscle while keeping bodyfat constant OR to losing fat while maintaining all hard-earned muscle--both scenarios involve a drop in percent body fat. The context in which you view the aforementioned goals is paramount to the realization of these favorable scenarios. Rather than asking "How do I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?", we ask you to ponder, "How do I gain muscle and lose fat in the same training period?" Our reasoning is very simple; at any given moment in time, the body is either in a state of anabolism (i.e. tissue-synthesizing: muscle or fat gain) or catabolism (tissue-destroying: breakdown of triglyceride, glycogen or protein stores). This is not to say, however, that one cannot control the shift from anabolism to catabolism or vice versa at various times throughout the day. With the Maximum Muscularity protocol, you will do just that. This approach departs from the traditional Bulk and Cut scheme to which so many trainees adhere. This plan is especially well suited to those individuals who tend to store fat easily and gain more fat than muscle during traditional bulking cycles; it can and should be applied year-round and for long-term purposes. In short, there is absolutely no need to deviate from the Maximum Muscularity plan, as it is easily adapted to suit any physique goal and provides great versatility. Gaining muscle and losing fat in the same training period is the culmination of diligent training and dietary practices. Paramount to achieving this lofty goal is the creation of a superior anabolic state and enhanced insulin sensitivity through various dietary and training measures. From a nutritional standpoint, you'll be paying specific attention to nutrient timing and energy intake to capitalize on and manage your body's hormonal milieu in order to promote muscle gain and fat loss. Likewise, your training protocol is of paramount importance to providing the anabolic and metabolic stimuli necessary to accomplish such a mythical feat. That said, here is a summary of the Maximum Muscularity principles: *(Optional) Kickstart your day with some low to moderate activity (i.e. aerobics) before your first meal of the day. You're going to watch SportsCenter anyway, right? Why not jump on a treadmill or bike for 20-45 minutes while taking in the "Plays of the Week?" On the other hand, if infomercials and cooking shows suit your fancy, then we recommend you shell out five payments of $49.95 for "Saggy Man Breasts for Dummies;" you probably aren't cut out for Maximum Muscularity. This activity is, of course, optional and by no means needs to be done indoors. Intensity should be kept at 40-60% of heart rate reserve. At this low intensity, the majority of energy will be derived from plasma fatty acids (i.e. broken down from adipose tissue) (1) and will give your metabolism a brief kick in the pants without sacrificing precious lean body mass (1). Prior to these low-intensity sessions, one can utilize stimulants (i.e. caffeine and ephedrine) and other fat mobilizers (i.e. yohimbine). These implements will enable you to maximize adipose tissue lipolysis without worrying about any unfavorable consequences in terms of insulin sensitivity and glucose disposal, as these sessions will not be followed immediately by carbohydrate-laden meals. The half-life of caffeine is broadly defined as 3-7 hours, depending on dosage and activity (exercise decreases this time period) (3). Assuming that you are leaving adequate time (i.e. 5 hours) between your morning java wave and any carbohydrate-containing meal, consumption of caffeine in the morning should not be problematic. Also of note, researchers have noted a 3-4% increase in metabolic rate in the 2.5 hours following ingestion of 100mg caffeine (4). We don't know about you, but we're all for maximizing our metabolic rates during the time of day where lipolysis is highest! *Stoking the Fat-Burning Inferno...Consume protein and fat meals (a small amount of carbs from fibrous, low-calorie vegetables is encouraged with these meals) in the hours leading up to training. The caloric value of these meals should be at or slightly below what you would be eating at these times during a traditional maintenance phase. This allows you to keep insulin at bay and blood glucose stable, thus permitting an optimal environment for lipolysis. Ingesting a substantial amount of carbs, and the resulting insulin response, inhibits lipolysis both at rest (4) and during exercise (5,6). This same elevation in insulin will also suppress release of growth hormone (GH)), another critical player in our quest for Maximum Muscularity. Since most of you work jobs that demand little high-intensity activity, your energy needs will be most efficiently met by the metabolism of fat. Because fat can provide 2 ? times as much energy as carbohydrate per gram, it is the optimal substrate at low levels of oxygen consumption (e.g. napping at work or during class). Protein and fat meals with very few carbs are beneficial in several other regards in these low-energy expenditure scenarios. First, such meals keep blood glucose and insulin levels stable, thus ensuring that you avoid episodes of hormonal hunger and dulled mental acuity that are associated with unstable blood glucose, insulin, and serotonin concentrations. In addition, the thermic effect?the amount of calories burned in order to process foodstuffs--of protein is about twice that of carbohydrate and more than three times that of fat (7); thus, by eating more protein, you'll be burning more calories! Also, protein and fat meals stimulate the release of glucagon (8), which ensures that fatty acids are released into the bloodstream for oxidation (9). Furthermore, protein and fat meals--along with ample amounts of fiber from low-carb, fibrous veggies that accompany these meals--slow digestion and offer far more satiety per gram than carbohydrates. By setting fat intake at a minimum of 0.5g/lb LBM, you'll be supporting endogenous testosterone levels and all the good stuff (e.g. libido, strength) that goes along with them (10). Assuming that you're balancing out your mono/poly/saturate intake, you'll also be deriving some cardiovascular health benefits (among others). While you're probably at least somewhat cognizant of the myriad of benefits of polyunsaturated fats--namely omega-3s--it is critical that you do not overlook the formidable cardioprotective benefits of monounsaturated fats (i.e. olive oil, mixed nuts, etc.). Be sure to get plenty of fibrous veggies (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, spinach) with these meals for fiber and other important nutrients. Howarth et al. recently demonstrated a decrease of 10% in daily caloric intake and a loss of 4.2 pounds in subjects that consumed an additional 15g of fiber daily over a period of four months! (11) We encourage you to emphasize whole-foods whenever possible to maximize satiety and the thermic effect of your feedings. We want to reiterate the fact that Maximum Muscularity emphasizes maximizing nutrient intake via whole-food sources. * Maximum Muscularity and Density...There are countless solid training programs to suit your goals; there's no excuse for not having the aforementioned anabolic stimulus for impressive size and strength gains. When choosing a program, however, recall that some styles of training are less suitable for improving glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Specifically, the aforementioned carbohydrate metabolism factors are negatively affected by training that focuses on heavy negatives/long eccentrics (12). In light of the fact that we're constantly striving to maximize these critical factors and use them to our advantage, you'll definitely want to adapt your training accordingly (i.e. lowering carbohydrate intake during training periods that emphasize eccentrics, if you choose to include them at all). Ideally, you should be in the gym for 3-5 sessions per week. An added bonus of training in the late afternoon is that you increase the likelihood of maintaining constantly high testosterone levels throughout the day. Testosterone levels are typically highest in the morning and gradually decrease as the day progresses; by interrupting this decline with exercise-induced increases, you may be able to overcome this aspect your body's natural hormonal milieu (13). The importance of the resistance-training component of the plan cannot be overemphasized. However, it's beyond the scope of such a comprehensive article to prescribe a new routine or training program. Rather, we direct you to consider the works of Charles Poliquin, Ian King, Don Alessi, Brian Haycock, Charles Staley, Dave Tate, Christian Thibaudeau, Chad Waterbury, Joel Marion, and John Romaniello. * You may find it advantageous to follow up your resistance training session with 5-15 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, preferably a full-body mode (i.e. Elliptical trainer or jogging). The purpose of this aerobic session is to gorge those muscles that were just trained with blood. This massive blood flow will assist recovery by: 1) removing waste products from the muscles, 2) transporting nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, and 3) shuttling metabolic by-products (i.e. lactic acid) from the muscle to the liver for recycling (i.e. gluconeogenesis). Two added benefits: more energy expenditure and glycogen utilization, which creates a greater glucose economy, allows for more carbohydrate to be eaten in the recovery period, and enhances glucose uptake and skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity- critical factors for improvement in body composition. Be forewarned, though, that even at low and moderate intensities, if the aerobic components cause the exercise sessions to carry on too long (i.e. greater than 75 minutes), they may very well do more harm than good over an extended period of time. As such, it's important to keep you resistance training sessions to 60 minutes or less. Several factors, however, are contraindications (in most cases) to performing post-training aerobic activity; most notable among these factors are excellent pre-existing insulin sensitivity and high volume strength-training programs. * The High-Octane Refuel- Resistance training can be heavily reliant on muscle glycogen and carbohydrate for fuel (14), while intense interval training can be even more taxing on the body's carbohydrate reserves (15). Therefore, during and after the training bouts are the most opportune times to capitalize on excellent insulin sensitivity and enhanced glucose uptake where you desire it most: skeletal muscles (16). Here's where individual differences strongly come into play; this portion of the plan needs to be altered according to one's training and physique goals, as carbohydrate recommendations are going to be vital to achieve optimal results. Most individuals either handle carbs well or poorly. Likewise, most individuals are primarily geared toward fat loss or muscle gain. With respect to the latter case, we have stated that the primary goal of this plan is to accomplish both. Nonetheless, choose from the following recommendations relative to your primary training goals and carbohydrate tolerance. For those individuals with poor insulin sensitivity and a predisposition to easy fat storage, a single meal of protein and carbs should be consumed following training. While it is well established that liquid nutrition (e.g. Relentless, Vendetta) is an excellent choice as a post-training recovery meal, this meal can be either whole-food (i.e. solid) or liquid (i.e. Relentless). Due to the fact that carbohydrate is restricted to a single meal, one may opt for a food source over a liquid source. In the event that the whole-food route is chosen, one should consume BCAAs and glutamine (i.e. ICE) during training. This meal should contain approximately 50g of carbohydrate (about 0.6-0.7g/kg lean body mass) and adequate protein to meet daily needs. Alternatively, if you are looking primarily to pack on slabs of ripped muscle and/or handle carbs very well, then we recommend you approach the mid/post-training window more aggressively. It goes without saying that nutrition during and immediately after training is optimal for building muscle. With this in mind, we recommend that you consume a serving of Vendetta or 1/2 serving of Relentess during and another one-half serving of Relentless immediately after training. You lean folk have already established outstanding insulin sensitivity and are in the quest of the optimal anabolic/anti-catabolic environment. Therefore, approximately one hour after the post-training liquid meal, we recommend an additional protein and carb meal. This meal is not for the timid or carbophobics; rather, the carbohydrate content of this meal should range from 1.0-2.5g/kg of lean body mass. This is a rather large range, but our recommendation is to push the envelope; if you are hesitant to utilize such a carb intake, begin with the lower end of the range and gradually add over a few weeks if fat gain is not apparent. The protein content of this meal should be 0.5-1.25g/kg of lean body mass. The carb sources in all of the whole-food protein and carb meals (either one or two) should be comprised of low to moderate GI/II sources (i.e. oats, yams, whole-grain/mixed-grain bread, beans, fruits, etc). Also of benefit to lower the glycemic and insulinemic response to the carbohydrate would be to include extra fiber (i.e. veggies) and a high quality vinegar or lemon juice. Consume plenty of water with your high-carb meals?as well as throughout the day?because for every 1g of glycogen stored in the muscle, 2.7g of water are stored along with it. We advise you to drink at least 24 oz. of water/fluid with each meal. Adding lemon juice to your H20 is also a good idea, as doing so will not only offer flavor without calories, but also because it may act as glycemic modifier (i.e. lower glycemic response). Drinking decaf green tea may also help to slow down carbohydrate absorption (17), as well as provide other excellent benefits (see below). We offer further advice in the supplement section as to how you might be able to further increase muscle glucose uptake and improve the insulin response to the meal. * You should consume protein and fat meals following the last protein and carb meal and continue them until the next training session. Make sure that at least two hours have elapsed after your last protein and carb meal before resuming protein and fat meals. However, there is no problem in ending the day with a protein and carb meal. These carbs will not interfere with fat loss (18) and will actually decrease recovery time. Contrary to popular belief, there seems to be NO inhibition of sleep-induced growth hormone release with acute hyperglycemia (19). Nevertheless, if you are still concerned over the issue of growth hormone release and insulin, then allowing about 90 minutes after eating the meal to go to sleep should be adequate to calm your nerves. To these individuals who train later and consume the protein and carb meals as their last (i.e. going without a meal for 90 minutes before sleeping), we strongly recommend a serving of Ultra Peptide upon awakening in the middle of the night. There's no need to set an alarm, though. Just drink an extra liter of water before you hit the sack and you-ll wake up on your own. With these recommendations in mind, a sample day's diet might look something like this: Breakfast: Eggs/Egg whites with Salad, olive/flaxseed oil, fish oil, vinegar, lemon juice Mid Morning: Turkey, broccoli, nuts, vinegar, lemon juice Lunch: Tuna, spinach, olive/flaxseed oil, vinegar, lemon juice Mid-Afternoon: Steak, green beans, fish oil Train: Appropriate pre/mid/post training drink (e.g. ICE, Vendetta, Relentless) Dinner:
For those prioritizing growth and those with good carb tolerance: Chicken, Yams, Salad, vinegar, lemon juice or For those prioritizing fat loss and those with poor carb tolerance: Steak, salad, olive/flaxseed oil, vinegar, lemon juice
Before Bed: Cottage Cheese, Xtreme Ultra Peptide, Natural Peanut Butter 2AM trip to the can (optional): Xtreme Ultra Peptide *Note: Protein intake should be set at 4.0-4.5g/kg of lean body mass In Part 2, Tim and Eric will discuss how to integrate training into the dietary considerations outlined above. References 1. Romijn JA, Coyle EF, Sidossis LS, Gastaldelli A, Horowitz JF, Endert E, & Wolfe RR. Regulation of fat and carbohydrate metabolism in relation to exercise intensity and duration. Am J Physiol 1993 Sep;265(3 Pt 1):E380-91. 2. Rasmussen BB, Holmback UC, Volpi E, Morio-Liondore B, Paddon-Jones D, Wolfe RR. Malonyl coenzyme A and the regulation of functional carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 activity and fat oxidation in human skeletal muscle. J Clin Invest 2002 Dec;110(11):1687-93. 3. Sweetman, SC (ed). Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference. Pharmaceutical Press: London, 2002. 4. Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, & Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50. 5. Horowitz, JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO, Coyle EF. Lipolytic suppression following carbohydrate ingestion limits fat oxidation during exercise. Am J Physiol 1997 Oct;273(4 Pt 1):E768-75. 6. Montain SJ, Hppoer MK, Coggan AR, Coyle EF. Exercise metabolism at different time intervals after a meal. J Appl Physiol. 1991 Feb;70(2):882-8. 7. Nair KS, Halliday D, & Garrow JS. Thermic response to isoenergetic protein, carbohydrate or fat meals in lean and obese subjects. Clin Sci (Lond). 1983 Sep;65(3):307-12. 8. Day JL, et al. (1978). Factors governing insulin and glucagon responses during normal meals. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1978 Nov;9(5):443-54. 9. Schade DS, & Eaton RP. Modulation of fatty acid metabolism by glucagon in man. I. Effects in normal subjects. Diabetes. 1975 May;24(5):502-9. 10. Dorgan J, et al. Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr 64(6): 850-855. 1996. 11. Howarth, NC, E Saltzman, SB Roberts. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39. Review. 12. Lowery, L. Temporal Nutrition, Part 1. Testosterone Magazine. 21 Mar 2003. http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/253temp.jsp. 13. Baechle, TR, & Earle, RW. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning: 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics, 2000. 14. Essen-Gustavsson B, & Tesch PA. Glycogen and triglyceride utilization in relation to muscle metabolic characteristics in men performing heavy-resistance exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;61(1-2):5-10. 15. Keizer HA, et al. Influence of liquid and solid meals on muscle glycogen resynthesis, plasma fuel hormone response, and maximal physical working capacity. Int J Sports Med. 1987 Apr;8(2):99-104. 16. Bourghouts LB, & Keizer HA. Exercise and insulin sensitivity: a review. Int J Sports Med. 2000 Jan;21(1):1-12. Review. 17. Zhang J, & Kashket S. Inhibition of salivary amylase by black and green teas and their effects on the intraoral hydrolysis of starch. Caries Res. 1998;32(3):233-8. 18. Lee YS. The effects of various intensities and durations of exercise with and without glucose in milk ingestion on postexercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1999 Dec;39(4):341-7. 19. Parker DC, & Rossman LG. Human growth hormone release in sleep: nonsuppression by acute hyperglycemia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1971 Jan;32(1):65-9.
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Let it Flow: A Quick Lesson in Optimal Experience

By: Nate Green

Psychology has always fascinated me. At the deepest level, I figure if you can understand how people think—what motivates, aggravates, and incapacitates their total progress, whether in the gym, the kitchen, on the field, or in any faculty of life, really—it’s easier and more exciting to coach them while having a significantly more powerful impact on their overall performance.

So, like EC and his somewhat scary, lustful quest for knowledge obtained from training, coaching, and business books, I’m pretty much a psychology whore—except I’m a much higher grade prostitute than Eric “dirty boy” Cressey – but don’t tell him that!

It’s with this in mind that I would like to introduce an interesting “smack-your-forehead-obvious-but-rarely-elaborated” concept to you: the process of flow.  Coined by renowned psychologist, Mike Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “cheeks sent me high”), flow describes a state in which one is so completely engaged with a favorable, enjoyable task that time seems to stop.

Now, while that may sound all well and good, Csikszentmihalyi is careful to differentiate between pleasures and enjoyments as they pertain to flow.  While pleasures are seen more as consumption oriented activities that satisfy biological needs—bodily pleasures such as delectable tastes, soothing sounds, orgasms, and the like—enjoyments (or gratifications) are categorized as building psychological capital. Simply put, enjoyments, while they may not bring about intense bodily pleasures at the moment, cause us to invest in absorption and a feel a greater sense of accomplishment in retrospect.

Here are the components of flow:

  • The task is challenging and require skill
  • We concentrate
  • There are clear goals
  • We get immediate feedback
  • We have a deep involvement
  • There is a sense of control
  • Time stops

As Dr. Martin Seligman points out in his book Authentic Happiness, “…flow is a frequent experience for some, but this state visits many others rarely if at all.”  I believe that those of us into this whole “fitness thing” experience flow on a much more regular basis than the average individual.  Whether we’re gasping for air after our last set of squats, taking our third lap around the track, or sinking into a hot, Epsom salt bath, I think it’s safe to say that fitness enthusiasts, whether athletes or weekend warriors, are constantly engaged in a sort of flow continuum.

Take a look back up to the list of components.  Which ones describe the way you feel while in the gym or playing your sport?  All of them?  Good.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine not being dedicated to lifestyle that brings about such high ‘psychological capital’.

Seligman writes, “While we moderns have lost the distinction between the pleasures and gratifications, the golden age Athenians were keen on it.  For Aristotle, distinct from bodily pleasures (eudaimonia) is akin to grace in dancing.  Grace is not an entity that accompanies the dance or comes at the end of the dance; it is part and parcel of a dance well done.”

That’s good stuff.

However, while both Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi separate pleasure from flow, I beg to differ slightly.  While they’re both incredibly intelligent and renowned psychologists, I have reason to suspect that their physical conditioning may not be quite up to par with their “mental muscle.”

Now, if you have Dr. John Berardi’s Precision Nutrition program (which you should), you know all too well that your meals can be both pleasurable (with the right spices and food combinations) and gratifying (with the right macronutrient balance and other healthy effects).  And, if you’ve ever been under hundreds of pounds of iron, you know that the cold bar against your hands just feels right, the way it bends just looks cool, the inhalation of chalk dust just smells, well, chalky. But along with those simple pleasures come the other enjoyable consequences (consequences can be defined as either negative or positive) associated with weight training: better body composition, proper and realistic goal setting, and increased psychological capital and motivation to just set the bar higher.

If you get a “rush” or a “high” from training, good for you; now you know that you’re also building a strong foundation of good habits, strength in every respect, and a strong base upon which you can build.  When the bar hits the ground, inhale deeply and let the whole experience flow right through you.

Just don’t forget to exhale.

About the Author

Nate Green is a member of the Advisory Team for Maximum Fitness magazine, holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and is a NFPT certified trainer who works with clients in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana.  He is currently reading everything on which he can get his hands, constantly pestering industry professionals for advice, and preparing to make a splash in the fitness realm. You can contact Nate at nategreen03@hotmail.com.

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An Interview with Eric Cressey: Part II (LBC)

By: Erik Ledin of Lean Bodies Consulting

EL: Dynamic warm ups, mobility exercises, soft tissue work/foam rolling, static stretching – who should be doing this and with what kind of frequency?

EC: Well, everyone needs mobility and good soft tissue quality.

If they’re serious problem areas, then daily – or even multiple times daily – is the best bet. Others might just go with rolling a few times a week with mobility work prior to all training sessions. The majority of my clients spend about five minutes rolling and working with a lacrosse ball four times a week prior to their dynamic flexibility warm-ups. We also incorporate mobility/activation drills in between sets of compound exercises.

EL: A lot of it is relatively "new,"- at least to the physique conscious individual. Why should a physique conscious individual, training for aesthetics, worry about this stuff?

EC: Good question - and I've actually received the same inquiry from a few people now. In a word, longevity. Here's my (admittedly-biased) take on things:

If you've read stuff from Mike Robertson, me, and several others from similar schools of thought, I hope one message you've taken away from the articles is that the ordinary weekend warrior would be a lot better off if (s)he'd train more like an athlete. The strength work athletes do helps you move bigger weights and build more muscle while burning more calories to stay lean. The movement training keeps you functional and helps you with energy system work to keep your body composition in check. The mobility work keeps you healthy and functional so that you can stand up to all the challenges in your training programs without getting injured.

Additionally, from a fat loss standpoint, think about what happens when you improve efficiency: you recruit more muscle fibers, therefore creating a bigger “metabolic disturbance” (to quote Alwyn Cosgrove). Deadlifts will give you more benefit if your glutes are firing, and you’ll get more out of chin-ups if your lower traps are kicking on all cylinders. And, improving efficiency will keep the body away from technical breakdown with high-intensity interval training and metabolic-oriented resistance training circuits, decreasing the risk of injury.

Here’s a great example – a client of mine who was featured in the Boston Globe for her inspirational story:


Steph went from a size 20 to a size 2– and prepared for a fantastic showing for a first-timer at the Boston Marathon. What this article doesn’t touch on much is how many injuries she had when we first started; it was like triage! Mobility and activation work was absolutely necessary to get Steph healthy (and keep her healthy enough) to make it possible for her to do what it takes to prepare for the marathon.

She got lean with proper diet and a combination of lifting, sprint intervals, hill work – with threshold runs and once weekly long, slow distance runs thrown in for the sake of necessary aerobic adaptations (I wouldn’t include these with a pure fat loss client). However, she couldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for the “money in the bank” she got from the mobility and activation work; it indirectly helped to get her lean.

EL: The elliptical machine is a very common piece of cardio equipment in the gyms these days. I think it's taken over stationary bikes, step mills and even the treadmill as the most used piece of cardio equipment in the gyms today. Is it an effective tool?

EC: I don’t vilify it like many others in the industry, as I’ve seen it prove useful for people coming back from knee problems, back pain, shin splints, and the like. I always like to have a low-impact option available for people for cardio, and this fits the bill nicely (heck, I use it myself a bit). Granted, the calculators on these machines drastically overestimate calorie burn because they don’t take into account the momentum utilized, but who cares how many calories you burn during the session? It’s about effort and the post-exercise oxygen debt you accumulate.

Still, like almost every piece of cardio equipment, the elliptical doesn’t allow for full range of motion, so you need to complement it with mobility work and some more full range of motion energy systems work (e.g., sprinting). EL What are the most common program design mistakes you see in training programs today?

EC: There are a ton. Here’s the tip of the iceberg, in no particular order:

1. Excessive volume

2. No fluctuation of training stress

3. Foo-foo exercise selection

4. No attention to injury prevention/prehab

5. Not understanding how to take deload periods appropriately

6. Plain ‘ol ugly exercise exercise (it’s the how, not just the what)

7. Too many machines and not enough free weights

8. Poor training environments/bad lifting partners

9. No attention to recovery/regeneration protocols

10. Thinking that it’s JUST about lifting and cardio

EL: The MMDVD is a great resource for lower body dynamic warm ups and mobility work. But with over 30 exercises contained in the video, could you provide any insight as to how one might go about choosing exercises that are most suited to them?

EC: Honestly, the best way to go about doing things is to try the movements out and see where you are the most “restricted.” For instance, most females will do fine with high knee walks and not have to worry about them. Then, they’ll try lunging variations, pull-back buttkicks, and alternating lateral lunge walks and notice that their hip flexors, quads, and adductors (respectively) won’t let them get the range of motion they need.

In general, though, they all need to be doing supine bridges and birddogs along with the above three variations relatively frequently, and the rest can be mixed and matched so as to provide variety. Mike, Bill Hartman, and I are exploring the idea of pulling together some comprehensive templates people can use on this front.

EL: Where can people read more of your articles?

EC: They can check out my website, www.EricCressey.com, where we have a free weekly newsletter. I also publish a near-daily blog at http://ericcressey.blogspot.com/.

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An Interview with Eric Cressey: Part I (LBC)

By: Erik Ledin ofLean Bodies Consulting

EL: First off, thanks for agreeing to the interview. We've known each other for a number of years now. I used to always refer to you as the "Anatomy Guy." You then became know for being "The Shoulder Guy" and have since garnered another title, "The Mobility Guy." Who is Eric Cressey?

EC: Good question. As you implied, it's the nature of this industry to try to pigeonhole guys into certain professional "diagnoses." Personally, even though I specialize in athletic performance enhancement and corrective exercise, I pride myself on being pretty well-versed in a variety of areas - endocrinology, endurance training, body recomposition, nutrition, supplementation, recovery/regeneration, and a host of other facets of our industry. To some degree, I think it's a good thing to be a bit all over the place in this "biz," as it helps you to see the relationships among a host of different factors. Ultimately, I'd like to be considered a guy who is equal parts athlete, coach, and scholar/researcher.

All that said, for the more "traditional answer," readers can check out my bio.

EL: What are the three most underrated and underused exercises? Does it differ across gender?

EC: Well, I'm not sure that the basics - squats, deadlifts, various presses, pull-ups, and rows - can ever be considered overrated or overappreciated in both a male and female population.

Still, I think that single-leg exercises are tremendously beneficial, but are ignored by far too many trainers and lifters. Variations of lunges, step-ups, split squats, and single-leg RDLs play key roles in injury prevention and development of a great lower body.

Specific to females, we know that we need a ton of posterior chain work and correctly performed single-leg work to counteract several biomechanical and physiological differences. Namely, we're talking about quad dominance/posterior chain weakness and an increased Q-angle. Increasing glute and hamstrings strength and optimizing frontal plane stability is crucial for resisting knock-knee tendencies and preventing ACL tears. If more women could do glute-ham raises, the world would be a much better place!

EL: What common issues do you see with female trainees in terms of muscular or postural imbalances that may predispose them to some kind of injury if not corrected? How would you suggest they be corrected or prevented?

EC: 1. A lack of overall lower body strength, specifically in the glutes and hamstrings; these shortcomings resolve when you get in more deadlifts, glute-ham raises, box squats, single-leg movements, etc.

2. Poor soft-tissue quality all over; this can be corrected with plenty of foam rolling and lacrosse/tennis ball work.

3. Poor core stability (as much as I hate that word); the best solution is to can all the "turn your lumbar spine into a pretzel" movements and focus on pure stability at the lower back while mobilizing the hips and thoracic spine.

4. General weakness in the upper body, specifically with respect to the postural muscles of the upper back; we'd see much fewer shoulder problems in females if they would just do a LOT more rowing.

EL: You've mentioned to me in the past the issues with the ever popular Nike Shox training shoe as well as high heels in women. What's are the potential problems?

EC: When you elevate the heels chronically - via certain sneakers, high-heels, or any other footwear - you lose range of motion in dorsiflexion (think toe-to-shin range of motion). When you lack mobility at a joint, your body tries to compensate by looking anywhere it can to find range of motion. In the case of restricted ankle mobility, you turn the foot outward and internally rotate your lower and upper legs to make up for the deficit. This occurs as torque is "converted" through subtalar joint pronation.

As the leg rotates inward (think of the upper leg swiveling in your hip joint socket), you lose range of motion in external rotation at your hip. This is one of several reasons why females have a tendency to let their knees fall inward when they squat, lunge, deadlift, etc. And, it can relate to anterior/lateral knee pain (think of the term patellofemoral pain ... you've got restriction on things pulling on the patella, and on the things controlling the femur ... it's no wonder that they're out of whack relative to one another). And, by tightening up at the ankle and the hip, you've taken a joint (knee) that should be stable (it's just a hinge) and made it mobile/unstable. You can also get problems at the hip and lower back because ...

Just as losing range of motion at the ankle messes with how your leg is aligned, losing range of motion at your hip - both in external rotation and hip extension - leads to extra range of motion at your lumbar spine (lower back). We want our lower back to be completely stable so that it can transfer force from our lower body to our upper body and vice versa; if you have a lot of range of motion at your lower back, you don't transfer force effectively, and the vertebrae themselves can get irritated. This can lead to bone problems (think stress fractures in gymnasts), nerve issues (vertebrae impinge on discs/nerve roots), or muscular troubles (basic strains).

So, the take-home message is that crappy ankle mobility - as caused by high-top shoes, excessive ankle taping, poor footwear (heel lifts) - can cause any of a number of problems further up the kinetic chain. Sure, we see plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinosis, and shin splints, but that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can happen.

How do we fix the problems? First, get out of the bad footwear and pick up a shoe that puts you closer in contact with the ground. Second, go barefoot more often (we do it for all our dynamic flexibility warm-ups and about 50% of the volume of our lifting sessions). Third, incorporate specific ankle (and hip) mobility drills - as featured in our Magnificent Mobility DVD.

Oh, I should mention that elevating the heels in women is also problematic simply because it shifts the weight so far forward. If we're dealing with a population that needs to increase recruitment of the glutes and hamstrings, why are we throwing more stress on the quads?

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