300

It’s hard to believe that 6 years ago, June 2014 I started my blog. Coming off of my personal trainer certification I wanted to pass on my knowledge and help spread the word of what to do to reach your goals. I wanted to take an unorthodox approach if you will. I was quite familiar with fitness blogs and I knew I wouldn’t be writing in the same style. I’m not knocking those blogs but it just wasn’t the voice for me. My goal was to write my blog in a way that resonated with people on a personal level. I wanted to incorporate personal experience, wanted my readers to feel like they are reading something from someone who understands why they are reading a fitness blog.


Not always sure

To me, it was not always easy. I find often that when I write, or when I teach I feel at the time that I am being concise, to the point, and that I have always included everything that needs to be included to get across the point of the blog. I’m not sure, no, wait, I know that doesn’t always happen. I have gotten better when I teach my students to pick up on this. Usually, I find this out by gauging the polite looks and quietness that translates to ‘I’m not sure what Sensei wants us to do’. But I do try to go back to my post the following day and read it again and fix up what I missed. This is one of the challenges I have when I write and teach. If you know anyone on the autism spectrum this may be familiar for you, along with other traits. Most times when I do this I do find areas where I could have been clearer, could have been more concise and I make the necessary edits and most times I feel good about the final product.


Growth

And then some things changed in my life. Someone who I respect deeply, someone who constantly inspires me for many reasons told me how she is vegan. I listened to the reasons why she is vegan and it was like a switch got turned on and when I thought of these reasons without biases it made sense.

It was shortly afterwards that I myself became vegan for ethical reasons. As I taught myself how to cook up awesome vegan recipes I looked into the other aspects of veganism. The lessening of the negative impact to the environment, and the benefit to our health (if it’s a whole food plant based diet).

By reading heavily on whole foods plant based diets I realized that we don’t need to harm and kill animals for health reasons. But how do I get this message out to my readers? If I start writing articles about nutrition and focus on whole foods plant based diets for sure people will call bullshit. Who is this guy to talk about nutrition?

But knowing what I know I had to write about this. I had to write about this because there is no difference on a conscious, sentient level be it a dog, a cat, a cow, a pig, a chicken, a fish. Do you know what a cow is? It’s a really big dog! Don’t think so? Spend some time at an animal sanctuary and you will see for yourself.


But I knew no one would listen to me without some credentials. So it was then that I decided to get myself certified in nutrition. And that certification had to be a whole foods plant based certification.

I looked around. I get inundated with course offerings from CanFitPro, which whom I have my personal trainer certification but they are like all the other companies offering certifications in nutrition, following the lobbyist funded programs.


So having already read the book The China Study by Dr. T. Collin Campbell and then finding out that Cornell University has an online course that he and his son is on the faculty it was an easy decision. After a bit of time, I then enrolled in the course.

An amazing course with content from top doctors and researchers in the health and nutrition field. And also the fitness field. I now had the information and scientific research to support my position that we can be healthy, extremely healthy and not harm animals at all to achieve this. This is the shift in my posts from focusing on exercises, exercising to including nutrition. Science-based nutrition and no animals are killed our hurt.


HERE we are

And here we are today. Six years later. Post number 300. I remember when I hit post 100 and could not believe that I achieved that. 100 articles. But now here we are at 300.

I hope you have enjoyed my writing, my passing on of knowledge in my unique way. Maybe you’ll stay around for the next couple hundred?

finally

What does the next six months, the next year bring to us all? We are living in unprecedented times to say the least.

I’ll keep trying to write relevant, intriguing articles for you to read. And I continue to hope it helps you to achieve what you want to achieve, for you to be even more awesome than you are.

Yours in health,

Darryl

PS: I want to thank someone who means a lot to me. Someone who opened my perspective on things. I think you know who you are. Thank you.

Be Explosive

If you are into fitness or athletics for the performance, even if only partly then you will want to add plyometrics into your workout. Want to be quicker, more agile then keep reading to find out why and how.

What

Plyometrics is training the body for explosiveness by focusing on the eccentric contraction of the muscle. You many not be aware but there are 3 types of muscle contractions: concentric where the muscle is contracting during the shortening of the muscle, isometric where the muscle contracts without moving and eccentric where the muscle contracts as it’s lengthening. And something else to keep in mind is that we are stronger during the eccentric contraction. If you have ever incorporated negatives into your training regiment (a great way to increase strength and muscle size) you know that you can use a greater amount of weight during the negative, or eccentric contraction motion.


Let’s look at a clear example of a plyometric, the frog jump or let’s call it a squat jump. Here’s another reason to use full range of the body when working out. It’s better to use full range even though you may be tired than doing more reps. You can think of the starting position coming off of the ending of the move. When you complete a squat jump you are landing on your feet. Now, instead of landing and standing, let that momentum lower you into a deep squat. This is where the muscles are now elongating and you are in the eccentric contraction position ready to start. Now without missing a beat, or pausing, jump with all that explosiveness you have inside.


That’s the motion. From the deep squat explode upwards and outwards and when you land, land right down into that low squat. Want to know how to do these properly? Watch some 8 – 9 year old kids who find this fun (fun names like leapfrog help with this) and you’ll see them spring along like no one’s business. Another benefit is by dropping into the squat when you land you’ll be doing your joints a favour by not having them absorb all that energy.

Try to execute each jump squat one after another in a rhythmic motion. Along with building and developing explosiveness, you will also give your cardio a great workout. If you are doing these more for a resistance training benefit than a cardio workout, then take a break as you lower into the squat to catch your breath and get a few more reps in. But, again, start the explosion from the squat, resist the urge to raise yourself up and then explode.

Options

Besides squat jumps where else can plyometrics be incorporated? If you understand the eccentric contraction, the contraction where the muscle lengthens than you can add plyometrics anywhere. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Pushups: Keeping the hips aligned with your ankle bone and your shoulders, lower slowly and controlled, pause for a second and then explode upwards. Add a clap at the top of the motion if you so choose.
  • Calf raises: Use a staircase, a large block of wood or anything solid that is stable and will support your weight as you are on the balls of your feet. Now, while on the balls of your feet, heels up as high as they go lower your heels, all the way down, feeling the calf muscles stretch. Hold it for a second and explode upwards.
  • The speed skater: This exercise I refer to as the speed skater as it reminds me of watching distance speed skating. The force is from a push off to the side from the lead foot. Let’s start with the left leg. Bending the left knee almost like a squat, bring your right foot behind and past the left side of your body. Stay loose and let your arms and hands swing to the left side also. As you bring that right foot behind and over to the left side, let your body lower, elongating the muscles, loading up that spring. Then explode and jump laterally to your right side landing on your right foot, bending the landing leg, and having the left foot come bend and over to the right side. Don’t forget to let the hands and arms naturally swing to the right side. Repeat back and forth, side to side. The motion from side to side should be smooth, allowing the body to lower itself to absorb the energy of landing. This exercise is great to help build speed and quickness moving side to side.
  • Box jumps: As the name implies you’ll need a box to do this. Start with a box approx. the height of your knees from the ground. Standing away from the box lower your body into a deep squat. Explode upwards landing on the box and again, let the body lower to absorb the energy in your muscles. Jump back down behind you and remember to not land hard, let the muscles and the movement of the body absorb the energy. If you are an advanced athlete you might want to use a box that is high as your hips to do this. Regardless of the size the key is to get that eccentric contraction and then explode. To change this up, using a smaller box you can jump side to side over the box landing, absorbing, elongating and jumping back over the box.

Finally

The more you understand how the body works the more you can do with it and the more you can mix up your workouts. Working out should be fun, something you look forward to. Try some of these workouts to see if they interest you and maybe you end up just that much faster.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Time Under Tension

Use TUT to gain strength and muscle

Like most things, our body responds to pressure, or tension if you will. And increasing the time under that tension can produce results of increased strength and muscle size.


What

Just to add to your fitness vocabulary of HIIT, HILIT we have TUT, or Time Under Tension. Anyone whom I’ve trained will be familiar with this in that it’s common to hear me instruct them to slow down, to add a pause of a few seconds at the lower part of the exercise. Have you ever seen anyone at the gym ripping of barbell bicep curls like no one’s business? They’re executing them at about 10 per second? Most often you’ll also see some hip action as they move the hips backward when they lower the bar and swing forward to give it that little bit of help to execute the move, usually due to too much weight or sometimes it’s because they really don’t want to work out but want to feel like they did and are trying to get it over as quickly as possible.

woman doing leg presses
Clean, proper technique will result in gains

So what is TUT. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. That person you observed in the gym doing bicep curls probably completed 10 in about 10 seconds. By increasing the duration of the strain on the muscle by lengthening the time of the set you can increase the amount of muscle breakdown thus increasing your strength and muscle size. Another benefit of TUT is by slowing down the movement your technique will be cleaner and should reduce the risk of injury.


Now, knowing this let’s look at how to properly train using TUT

How

Here are the points you are going to want to remember for your TUT training:

  • Total Duration: Try to time the duration of your sets to 30 – 45 seconds. This will ensure you muscles are getting the proper amount of stress.
  • 4/2/e/1: Keep this formula in mind. 4 seconds for the lowering phase, or the eccentric phase. 2 second pause. Explode for the concentric contraction. 1 second pause at the top.
  • Keep it flexible: This is a rule regardless of the type of workout. Never lock out your joints at the top of a movement. This transfers the weight from the muscles we are trying to strengthen to the joints and can cause injury.
  • Keep it hard: Don’t spend time in the zone where the work is easier. An example of this is when doing bicep curls. Have you noticed that when the weight comes closer to the body it gets easier? It’s usually the easiest when it is right above the fulcrum, the elbow. When you feel the load drastically reduce take that 1 second pause with the load still on the muscle then reverse the direction of the movement.
  • The eccentric contraction: Spend more time doing the eccentric contraction, the motion of the move that lengthens the muscle. If doing squats, this would be the downward motion that lengthens the quads. This will cause more muscle damage and encourage muscle growth.
  • Keep the intensity and the correct weight: Following the above tips but not being fatigued at the end of the set will not help you gain strength or muscle size. Keep the weight at the amount that will allow you to get out 8 – 10 reps. This is an ideal amount of reps for muscle growth. If your goal is to add as much muscle as possible keep the reps in the range of 6 – 8.
  • Form: Always execute clean form. When you get tired, don’t compromise your form. Stick it out and do what you can. When you compromise your form you are cheating and neglecting the muscles that you are supposed to be training. If the next day you feel muscle pain in another area that you didn’t train this is why.
purple and brown colored planet
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Intensity and speed. Follow the above guidelines and keep that intensity. Do you have to do TUT every workout? Absolutely not. Changing how we work out from mixing up the exercises you choose, mixing up the duration of the workout, incorporating different strategies such as stacking, pyramiding, etc. can bring changes quicker. This is another tool to help get you there.


Finally

Give Time Under Tension a try if you have been finding the gains haven’t been happening. And if you are finding things are becoming stagnate, the growth hasn’t been happening then maybe go back and read some of my other articles on training techniques and strategies. Muscle growth is like most things, it’s science.

Follow the correct science and the growth will happen.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Contrary to what you might hear

I started this blog back in 2014 to help educate people on fitness, health, and well being hence the name bfitsquared. My point being that it was never to be a blog on getting that beach body but instead on what you can do to live a healthy life. 2014 was also the year I became a certified personal trainer. Although for many years I researched fitness and health I thought it was time to become legit. My blogs at first focused on the physical, the workout side of health. I then thought about what could be my next goal. I decided to legitimize my passion for diet and how it affects us both in fitness and outside of fitness. After a lot of research, it only made sense to enroll in the online Cornell University certificate course on plant based nutrition. I thought it made sense that if I’m going to train people I should also have a solid understanding of how nutrition plays into performance. With over 20 experts (MDs, PhDs, RDs, RNs) and also having on the faculty Dr. T. Colin Campbell the co-author of the book The China Study it made sense to enroll in this course.

What

science
Science, always

So, what is this post going to be about? It’s about how to help you to perform at your best. I want to take some time to talk about how our body performs from the basics of living (breathing, existing) to when we need to perform. How is it that our muscles contract, our breathing increases, and so on. What is it that facilitates these functions among others? Let’s look into the chemistry of fuel. I’m sure if you were to ask any of my students, ‘does Sensei ever say ‘It’s Science” you would get a resounding yes. I say that because it is science. When you break it down to the simplest form that is what it is. There’s this misconception about martial arts that it’s magic powder dust and old chants and when you become a black belt it’s all then magically bestowed upon you. Sorry to disappoint but it’s not. It’s actually science. But I digress. One of my goals here is that when you have finished reading this you will then understand scientifically why diets that restrict carbohydrates are not going to help you perform better. They actually do the opposite.

How

Alright, let’s get into it.

As I eluded to earlier, to do anything requires fuel. No matter how small it is, breathing, sleeping, etc. requires fuel. And ATP is the fuel for anything we do, anything. ATP is the energy currency of the body. Without ADP nothing happens, nothing.

Let’s get into this a little deeper. Our body uses 3 systems to form ATP:

        • ATP-CP
        • Lactic Acid or Glycolytic Energy System
        • Aerobic or Oxidative Energy System

Let’s look at these in greater detail starting with ATP-CP. ATP-CP and glycolytic systems are both anaerobic systems meaning they do not use oxygen. Because of this, these systems are inefficient. These systems operate on a chemical reaction that does not use oxygen. The level of intensity is so high that there is not enough time for oxygen to get to the muscles. This also limits the duration of effort to a very short period when in these zones if you will.

So I’m going to break this down further. Of the two anaerobic systems, we then break it down to ATP-CP Phosphagen system. This provides fuel for up to 10 seconds at maximum intensity. Full out, 110 percent as they used to say. That’s it. A 10 whole seconds. If you have ever worked out with me when I’m running classes you know these 10 seconds well. So what about after 10 seconds? Let’s now look at the glycolytic system. This is the system that provides fuel from 10 seconds up to 2 minutes at maximum intensity. The glycolytic system uses reactions that cause the breakdown of carbohydrates in the form of glycogen stored in the muscle cells or glucose found in the blood (carbs, nothing but carbs). Because there isn’t any oxygen we are good for only up to 2 minutes and, we end up with a byproduct called lactic acid. Ahh, lactic acid, that chemical that causes muscles to feel like they are on fire!

As more glucose is metabolized more lactic acid is produced. Lactic acid gathers in the cells and begins to lower pH becoming more acidic and starts to slow contraction speed and strength. If the level of lactic acid becomes too high it can cause temporary muscle failure and no muscle contractions can occur. This is referred to as lactic acidosis. In other words, when intensity is high you are limited to approx. 2 minutes as you will be forced to stop due to failure. But it’s not all bad news. The muscle cells can be trained to improve this energy pathway resulting in muscle cells producing less lactic acid at the same intensity. That’s awesome news! This means we can exercise longer at the same intensity! This is where hard work pays off. Keep training at a highly intense level and ultimately you will then be able to perform at that high level much longer.

So, what then happens when we reach that threshold be it 2 minutes or a bit longer? We either cease to function or we slow down and that slowing down allows oxygen to come into play. Our intensity diminishes somewhat and we slip onto another process. Let’s now look at the 3rd process.

When sufficient oxygen is available for a given lower intensity of exercise an abundance of ATP is produced. This allows us to keep performing but, at a level lower than when we were in the anaerobic zone. Let’s now look at the 2 categories that fall under the aerobic or oxidative energy system.

The first is the aerobic glycolysis system. This provides fuel for beyond 2 minutes at a reduced effort. Again, glycogen or glucose is broken down for energy and because oxygen is present we don’t get the lactic acid problems like we did when in the anaerobic, or non-oxygen zone. With the continuous supply of oxygen, the muscle cells break down glucose to produce ATP. This chemical process is very efficient and produces large amounts of ATP. Because this process uses oxygen you are only limited in the amount of ATP created by how well your cardio system works. Have awesome cardio then you can produce ATP like nobodies business. Now, onto the next.

This is where fat comes into play. If you are doing something that is low on the intensity level your body will utilize fat as the product of choice to create ATP. Fatty acid oxidation is the process of creating ATP when the intensity level is low and there is enough oxygen for the chemical process to work. Fatty acid oxidation requires a large amount of oxygen but, it produces the most amount of ATP. Running a marathon, or some other event that has an extreme duration than the body will more likely be using fat and oxygen to create ATP.

Also, at rest, gardening, walking at a comfortable pace or any low intense activity will be utilizing fat for ATP. But, because energy demand is low the amount of fat needed is low. Remember, fatty acid oxidation produces the largest amount of ATP so less fat is needed to create the ATP needed when intensity is low. This is why the message of working out in the fat-burning zone a number of years ago didn’t do anyone good. Sure, work out in the fat-burning zone if you have 2 hours to kill every workout. Not many people have that amount of time 3 – 5 times a week.

Speaking of the fat-burning zone, let’s look into one more reason why working out intensely is beneficial to us. It’s called EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC is used for ATP replenishment, amongst other things, and resynthesis of a small portion of lactic acid to glycogen. But, most of the glycogen is restored from dietary carbohydrates. Yes, carbs. But what if you don’t eat carbs because you are on that Keto diet? I want you to think about that. Did you see any of the 3 processes our body uses to create energy, ATP, use protein as a fuel source? Did you see how these processes use carbs in the form of glucose and glycogen with respect to moderate and intense exercising? And if you think you’ll use fat for the fuel source then get ready to put aside at least 2 hours each time you work out to burn enough fat to make a difference. The more intense the workout the more time you are in EPOC. The reason there is EPOC is to get the body back to a level state. If your exertion during your workout was moderate to low, your body may only need several minutes to recover. But, if your workout was intense, a tough one, it may take up to 24 hours to get the body back to a steady-state due to a larger oxygen deficit. And during this 24 hour period, your resting metabolic rate is higher burning more calories at rest. It’s important for you to keep this in mind with respect to rest, recovery, and nutrition. The more you are on top of these things the better your body will recover.

Lastly, none of these systems are exclusive, all systems work together. But, the predominance of one system over the other depends on the intensity of the workout.

Why

Why is it we look at carbs as bad? It’s evident our body needs carbs, complex carbs for fuel. To quote someone I know, ‘It’s science!’. You cannot deny the scientific evidence on how our body creates fuel, ATP, to do the simplest things like exist!

Finally

I hope this helps you in your journey in becoming fitter, healthier, and basically enjoying life. Now, the next time someone espouses to you the benefit of the keto diet, refer them to this post. Then let them argue against science if they dare.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

Do nothing that is of no use

Miyamoto Musashi – The Book of Five Rings

The title of this post is a quote from the Book of Five Rings, or Go Rin No Sho in Japanese that was written by Miyamoto Musashi almost 400 years ago. Written in approx. 1645 but still applicable today. Continue reading my post to understand why.

What

Keep doing the things you enjoy

How we do things can be very important. If you are an elite level athlete how you do things can result in a win or loss. In elite level competition, the winner is sometimes determined by hundredths or even thousandths of a second. And if competing in your chosen discipline is how you earn your living that can result in a  gain in thousands or even millions of dollars or a loss. For the rest of us, the difference can be continuing to do the thing we like to do or prevented from doing these things because of injury, of loss of motivation. Let me explain further by breaking this out into 2 categories:

        • Motivation
        • Injury

Let’s talk about motivation. I’m going to tell you a story that may help make this clearer. A number of years ago I signed up for an introduction to running clinic being offered at my workplace. The clinic was advertised as a way to dip your toe into the water of running, a way of educating yourself on how to run and possibly finish up by running a 5k race. The first day we all suited up in our running gear and then went out and ran a mile, or attempted to run a mile. Most of us, pretty much all of us, had not run a mile in quite a while. Months, maybe years for some of us since the last time we ran or even did something physical that would tax the cardiovascular system heavily. We put on our shoes, shorts, and t-shirts and went out and ran a mile. Some of us did. Not everyone completed the run and not everyone came back for the next class. If I were to be blunt in describing this I would say our instructor broke some people. Unintentionally but that is what happened. She took a group of office workers mostly in their 30’s or 40’s and had them run hard for 1 mile. I look back at this day with much clearer eyes, much more educated eyes and I can respectfully say that was the wrong way to run a clinic. How can I say that? If the goal is to get more people passionate about running and to then help them learn how to run and then continue to run that did not happen. If you were one of the people who did come back it was due to sheer determination to continue and not quit.

We tend to be motivated to continue to do things when we feel good about what it is we are doing. Seeing and feeling results can also build or maintain motivation for most people. Some, not many, are motivated by negative experiences, negative peer pressure, or competition. The classic example of someone driven to succeed to prove everyone wrong which usually means prove their parents wrong, or prove their ‘friends’ wrong (friends who think they are motivating you by putting you down are not really friends, lose those toxic people in your life). And is motivation out of fear, or hate healthy? What consequences come with that?

So how would I run that first day of the running clinic? I would probably follow a proven approach of running and walking. I would also assess my students and off of that determine the run/walk interval. 1 mile converts to 1600 metres approximately. So I might try 400 metres running followed by 100, or maybe 200 metres at a quick walk. That works out to approximately 3 intervals. This gives the students an opportunity to run and then also get their breath back if you will and also an opportunity to gear up for the next interval. Also, it’s not going to be overly taxing. And in the end, everyone ran a mile and can walk away proud of that fact. Motivated for the next class to learn how to improve and motivated to run again.

At the beginning of any activity that is new, we should treat that in the manner that it is new. Are you better at your job today than when you first entered your profession? Absolutely!

If you do things that are of no use, are an impediment, create disinterestedness, build incuriosity than you will not continue. You need to do things and only things that build confidence, curiosity, passion, drive. Those things that fulfill you. Only then will it become something that you will want to continue with. Do only the things that are of use.

learn to run
Proper technique can reduce risk of injury. Credit to sporlab

Let’s move on to the second point. Before I forget, I have broken this into 2 points but there are more. Perhaps I’ll expand on some of the other points in an upcoming post. From years of coaching in the personal training industry and also instructing in martial arts, I have seen many examples of this. People failing to properly warm up, failing to listen to their teacher, failing to adequately rest, failing to properly cool down, failing to use proper technique. I can continue but this should make the point.

Do things that are of use

If you look at the quote ‘Do nothing that is of no use’ it also infers the opposite. Do everything that is of use. The incorrect technique will lead to injury. Let’s take running as an example. All of us know how to run just like we all naturally learned how to crawl, walk, and then run. We know how to run instinctively because we had to run away from predators, in short distances to safety if possible, thousands of years ago. It was for survival. But that does not mean we know how to run 5km’s every day, a 10km race, marathon, or an extreme endurance event.

Although as human beings we have a body that is built almost perfectly to run long distances (Kenyan’s would run for days tiring out their prey before killing them) most of us don’t know how to run properly. The majority of people who have not had proper training think that when you run you land on the heel, then roll forward and push off of the toes. I think most people believe this because if you look at a pair of running shoes the heel is extremely cushioned. Why would you not land on the heel with all that cushioning? Now, go by a pair of minimalist shoes and try that. Shortly into the run you’ll have to stop due to intense pain.

So if I have running shoes that are greatly cushioned what is wrong with landing on the heels? Without going too deep into it, it’s the body position when you do this that can lead to other injuries such as in the knees, hips, back, shoulders. If we are such good runners because we naturally know how to run then why do so many people get injured? Repetitive stress injury is one reason. Constantly doing one thing such as running is not healthy for your body. The body will strengthen certain muscles, the muscles doing the work, and the other muscles, usually the muscles opposite the ones doing the work are not getting worked out as much. Muscle imbalances build up and this also leads to injury. Also, the muscles that are primarily being used are used in a certain way, a certain range of motion. If you look at running the hamstrings and quads are not engaged in nearly the full range of motion they are capable of. This is one reason why I’m a proponent of incorporating variety in your workouts.

Now, I get it. I get how people get hooked to doing one thing. I was one of those people who fell in love with running. My long runs would typically consist of runs ranging from 20km’s to 40km’s depending on the week. That feeling you get from the endorphins and hormones being released can be incredible. But you have to incorporate other training that will in the end give you a well rounded balanced body. I’ve run into people who when they find out I train in Karate they tell me they used to do Karate until they got injured doing it. Unless it was due to sparring or another underlying issue I guarantee it was due to incorrect technique. How do I know? Because I educate myself on these things, on how mechanics of the body work to produce power and how improper mechanics will cause injury. Also, I’ve been to Okinawa a number of times training with Okinawan’s who are in their 70’s and 80’s and they are training and doing the same things much younger people are. If Karate killed your body how is this so?

Finally

Fitness should be something for life. Things you enjoy doing should be things you do for your life. Just like eating. Look at the history of fad diets. They all end up in failure, they are unsustainable. Whereas you look at one group of people that have the largest amount of centenarians (Okinawans) and they historically eat a diet comprised of 85 – 90% complex carbs.

Do nothing that is of no use. Think about this, deeply. And if you don’t know what it is that is of no use, that’s ok. Everyone at one point is a beginner. That is why there are experts in these areas; personal trainers, running coaches, swim coaches, sensei’s, etc. Invest in yourself. Why wouldn’t you do that? I guarantee that you’ll be glad you did now, and years and years from now. Don’t eliminate those things that are of no use and it will probably be a short trip.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

First I’m gonna make it

…then I’m gonna break it

Increasing muscle mass and or strength is not magic by any means, it is science. Which is great because sometimes it seems that way like we need some magical potion.  The good news is once you have an understanding of the science you can then apply it and start making the gains you are looking for, ‘these are the gains you are looking for’. Just like the title of this post (credit to Echo and the Bunnymen) first you are gonna make it and then you’re gonna break it.

How

Ok, yes, genetics do play a role. But we can’t change that so let’s not worry about it.

Weights
Heavy lifting

Stress: Our muscles respond to stress, stress that causes damage (breaking down) to our muscle fibers. You have probably felt this the next day after a workout when trying to use your legs after a hard leg workout and you do all you can to avoid stairs. Now, excessive muscle pain the next day or 4 days later is not good as you might have seriously damaged muscle tissue but some uncomfortableness is what you want. This then causes the body to respond and put into process different mechanisms to facilitate muscle growth if the environment is right (more on that in a bit).

Tension: Without putting a load onto your muscles you won’t see growth. And, it has to be an increasing load. If your body has already adapted to the load you are using the load is not enough. The load needs to be greater than what your body is used to. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you squatted 250lbs last time that you need to do at least the same amount the next workout, especially if that amount is new for you to squat, it means the load should be great enough that you are challenged.

Also, try to switch up how the load is applied. Your body will adapt to the same load over time and growth will not happen. This is why we increase loads. But, other things can help too such as number of sets, type of exercise, decreasing the duration of your break between sets, switching from free weights to a machine, pyramids, etc. One more thing, the amount of time the muscle is under stress also plays a role in muscle growth. People tend to rush through their routines. My god if I see one more person bouncing through their pushups I’m going to lose it, ugh. Slow down and keep clean technique and also reduce the risk of injury.

Diet: The more food you consume that is whole food and not processed the more growth you should see. Our body needs the nutrients it requires to rebuild itself from the damage we inflicted on it. Whole Foods plant based will provide your body all that it needs to repair the damage and as an added benefit you’ll feel better and have more energy. Trust me, I know. A colleague of mine switched to eating more whole foods that are plant based and he can’t believe the energy he has.

Rest: You need it although it’s not always there. Let’s talk about 2 types of rest, muscle rest and physical rest. Muscle rest refers to that you need at least 48 hours of rest after working out that muscle group. Did legs today, give your legs 48 hours off. Muscles need time to recover which means time to grow. And let’s talk about you. You need rest too. Without adequate rest you will put your body into a state of being over trained which leads to being tired, feeling run down, lack of focus, getting sick and your friends avoiding you.

Finally

Change up your workouts frequently, eat well, properly stress your muscles and rest. Science. No magic. Then sit back and watch the gains happen.

Yours in health,

Darryl