Repeat it enough and it becomes the truth

Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies

Over the last 30 years or so, oil, or fat (actually they both are lipids, oil is when a lipid is in liquid state and fat is when a lipid is in a solid state) has been portrayed as the worst thing for our health that we could consume. People were being informed by the government, American Heart Association and others to stop eating fat because it leads to obesity and heart disease. Even today I think it’s fair to say most people are purchasing food marketed as being low fat, fat free. Evidence of this is the food manufactures are still making these products. Cookware is marketed as being able to reduce the amount of fat consumed in your meal.

With the reduction in consumption of fat, did weight gain subside and rates of heart disease decrease? Not really. Over the last 35 years, obesity rates in the U.S. have more than doubled. Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the U.S. The government’s recommendation to reduce fat consumption to address obesity and heart disease was wrong. For further evidence we can look at what is called the French paradox. The French have relatively low rate of incidence of coronary heart disease while having a diet high in fat.

When fat was removed from foods something had to be done to make the food palatable so sales would not suffer. What happened was the amount of sugar and sweeteners added to the products (high fructose corn syrup) were increased. Research is now showing that it’s sugar, not fat that causes heart disease. And sugar is in pretty much everything we eat from sauces, breads, salad dressings and even baby formula.

Basically fat has been demonized. And it shouldn’t have been. Another example of how governments are not doing what’s best for people. Our bodies need fat to function. Fats are used for energy, our cells and hormones need fat to function. Fats slow down the metabolism of our food so we feel full longer. Fats are needed for the processing of minerals and vitamins. It’s essential to our well being.

I didn’t intend to write that much about the history of why we live in a low or no fat age. So I’ll stop. What I do want to get into is an oil we should all be consuming because of many benefits. I thought it would be good to provide a back story regarding oil/fat. If one person has a better understanding regarding why everything is low or no fat, then it was worth it.

The oil

Having said that I am now backtracking a bit in that I need to tell you that coconut oil was also demonized back in the 90’s for being a saturated fat. Long story short, that was a long time ago, and it is no longer the case.

So what is coconut oil. Yes, it’s a saturated fat, but different. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) fat whereas most saturated fats are long change triglycerides.  So what does that mean? It means that MCT fats are metabolized by the liver unlike the long chain. This enables the fat to be used as a quick source of energy rather than being stored.

So lets get into some of the benefits of coconut oil:

  1. Can kill bacteria, fungi and viruses – Coconut oil contains Lauric acid. When coconut oil is digested, it also forms monolaurin. Both Lauric acid and monolaurin can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  2. Stave off hunger – Consuming fats as part of a meal will slow down the digestive process, and give that feeling of fullness, killing off hunger. This is even more so with coconut oil because of the fatty acids it contains.
  3. May lower risk of heart disease – Contrary to what we have been told and are being told, coconut oil, a saturated fat, improves heart disease risk factors like LDL and HDL cholesterol. Studies in both rats and humans have shown this.
  4. Bones – Coconut oil improves the absorption of important minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are important in maintaining healthy bones. Especially important for women who are at risk for osteoporosis.
  5. Slow down aging – With it’s antioxidant properties, coconut oil can help in preventing premature aging due to damage to cells.
  6. Obesity – Due to the fatty acids coconut oil contains and the effect that has on staving off hunger, coconut oil should help prevent obesity. Also because coconut oil is an MCT oil, it can increase energy expenditure compared to long chain fats which can potentially lead to weight loss over a longer period of time.

Pretty impressive for a fat isn’t it. Who would have thought that a fat is good for you? Walk through the grocery store and read most of the labels and you would think fat is bad for you. OK, that was a bit of a generalization. Fats such as hydrogenated fats, palm oil are not beneficial to your health and should be avoided. I also believe that this helps substantiate the position of all calories not being equal. We need to stop thinking that all calories are equal because it can cause more harm than good. If you have read some of my previous posts you might have read about the dangers of sugar. Comparing the damage calories from sugar can do to your health and the benefits calories from certain fats can do for your health, how could they be equal?

How to enjoy

There are a lot of ways you can enjoy coconut oil. The simplest way is to grab a spoon, dig out a chunk from the container and consume. Really. It tastes pretty good. If this is not for you, here are a some other ways:

  1. Add a couple tablespoons to your smoothie. It’s not even noticeable.
  2. Cook with it. Replace oils you would normally use with coconut oil.
  3. Popcorn. If you are into the old school way of making pop corn, a big pot,oil and kernels, use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. If you are not a big fan of the taste of coconut oil, don’t worry, it’s pretty subtle.
  4. Add it to your coffee or other hot drinks. This may sound weird, but add it to your drink and then mix using a blender. It will make it more creamier instead of oily.

Coconut oil can also be used in your hair and on your scalp, on your skin, and even to brush your teeth (it kills bacteria).

And more

If you decide to start using coconut oil try to stay away from coconut oil that has been bleached and or deodorized. To realize the benefits from coconut oil try to purchase a brand that is organic and raw, unrefined. The 6 benefits I listed are from eating coconut oil. There are also benefits we can realize from using coconut oil externally, on our scalp and hair, on our skin. You could probably replace any skin cream with coconut oil.

If you haven’t tried coconut oil, give it a try. Use it in your cooking, or eat it raw! Why not, it tastes great! And even though we hear the same message over and over on TV, at the stores, don’t believe it, it’s not the truth. Fat is not the enemy.

Yours in health,

Darryl

We ourselves must walk the path

Alone I am one voice, but together we are a tidal wave of sound.

The world of fitness has changed over the years, and will continue to change. The one thing that is constant in life is change. I think that’s a good thing. Most times change is the result of new information that provides a better way of achieving one’s goal or goals.

Let’s look at resistance training from back in the 70’s and upwards. The goal of resistance training, or body building was to get huge. Put on as much muscle as possible. No one did any cardio training because that might consume valuable calories that could go to building muscle. The gyms were dominated by men probably to a point of most gym’s having a customer base of 100% men. I think that’s why the perception today is if you do any training that involves weights you are going to get huge. Because that’s what was happening in the gyms. Were these guys strong? Yes. Were they functionally fit? No. Get them to do an activity that relied on various groups of muscle working together in a strenuous way and they would be gassed in a short time. This is generally why they aren’t on the court shooting hoops.

Fortunately over time fitness evolved into something geared more towards the ‘average’ person. TV shows like 20 minute workout, Body Break. People like Rachel Cosgrove, Susan Powter, Billy Blanks. The focus seemed to shift from working out being something that had to involve weights to being something were working out could be for everyone.  Gyms started opening that were women only gyms providing a place for women to work out with weights and feel comfortable. Fitness also started to evolve into a form that moved away from the focus being to gain as much muscle as possible to fitness becoming what I refer to as functional fitness.

Kettlebells, full body training, body weight only training, plyometric. All things that don’t require machines or movements that focus on a single muscle. Working out started to resemble normal every day movements, to a point. These movements are exaggerated for the purpose of fitness, muscle growth and increase in strength but if you were to slow down the movements you could see how they resembled things we do every day in life. If you were an avid sports player you could incorporate these exercises to gain performance in your sport and become a better, more efficient athlete.

What it’s about

Functional fitness in a sense is what it sounds like. Fitness that incorporates functional movements, i.e. movements that have a specific function that you can relate to an activity. For example if you play basketball either leisurely or as a sport, you would benefit from an increase in your vertical leap. If you take the movement of a vertical leap, bending the knees and coiling up that energy then releasing that energy as you leap, it very much resembles a burpee. The movement also resembles a squat up to the point of the explosion of energy that takes your feet off of the ground. Both exercises are great and you need both but they work the body in different ways.

We know the main difference between the squat and the burpee is during the squat our feet stay planted, and the hands are stationary. That’s obvious. The difference I would like to point out is one uses a static path of travel whereas the other is very dynamic. With the squat, we are focused on keeping our weight on our heels, head up, butt sticking out so our hips stay aligned. With a burpee as you spring up and leap off of the floor your trajectory probably isn’t going to be perfectly vertical. It may, but more than likely it is going to follow the path of how your body functions. Your leap instead of being on a 90 degree trajectory may be on an 80, or 85 degree trajectory. It may not seem to be that much of a difference but if that is the way your body travels, it may make sense to train the body on that path. With a burpee we are also incorporating our hands reaching up as high as we can. This movement will recruit muscles such as your back, shoulder, chest muscles whereas the squat doesn’t. Another point is you are working these muscles together when they are fresh but also when they are tired. They are getting used to working in all conditions and responding to these conditions.

Now we aren’t necessarily going to build strength in all these muscles when doing a burpee. But what we are doing is recruiting those muscles that we use in these activities into our workout mimicking the activity. This is the functional part. If all we do is train our muscles in isolation, how will they know how to work together? Or how will they work together well?

Another example I’ll use is the cable hip abduction. A great exercise to build our abductor muscles, muscles we use when moving laterally. But once again an exercise that isolates a muscle group. So what can we do to strengthen these muscles and supporting muscles and have it relate to a function? If you do something that requires strong lateral movement such as skating, skiing, martial arts, then you would benefit from a functional exercise. Some great exercises that are functional are lateral skaters and lateral jumps. Doing these exercises you are incorporating muscles that are used when doing the actual activity and having these muscles work together as a team.

Options

Find what it is that you feel will benefit from functional fitness. I used the example of Burpees for the basketball player but this could be applied to other things like getting out of a chair, getting things done around the house. Yeah, that’s kind of why I used a sport as an activity, much more interesting.

But you get the idea. Once you know what it is you want to strengthen, talk to a personal trainer to get ideas on functional exercises you can do to work on this area.

Another great benefit that I’ll mention is the increase in coordination. You are now forcing muscles to work together over and over, getting better each time. Look at someone who is just starting out doing Burpees and observe someone who has done 100 or 500 of them. Big difference in efficiencies between the two.

Some thoughts

If I could use an analogy I would use the following. Working muscles in isolation is like each instrument in an orchestra playing their part of the piece, but without a conductor. They are playing their respective piece beautifully, each of them. But it sounds horrible, disjointed. Now bring in the conductor and have them start over. They are playing the same piece but everyone is working together and it sounds beautiful. The same can be applied to the body. We need to train the muscles in different ways, sometimes isolating to strengthen, but we also need to train them together, to work as a team. The results will be beautiful.

Yours in health,

Darryl

We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them

What doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger.

It can be your friend or your enemy. And it can do you good and it can do you harm. It is one of the hormones that is produced when we feel we may be in danger and have to make that fight or flight decision.

Cortisol, a steroid hormone also known as the stress hormone. Like a lot of things, we need Cortisol at appropriate times as it does benefit us. But, like a lot of things, too much of it, and also produced at the wrong times can do us harm.

I want to use this post to talk about both the good and the bad of Cortisol. I think it’s important to understand how this hormone is used by our body and how we can reduce the negative impact of Cortisol.

The Good

As mentioned earlier, it is one of the hormones (the other 2 are Adrenaline and Norepinephrine) released during the classic fight for flight syndrome. We have all been there at some point in our life. Feeling physically threatened, or you are called into your boss’s office and you know it’s not for a good reason. And it isn’t always a negative situation. It can be right before an event such as an exam, or grading. Or something competitive like a race, or sparring.

It’s like there’s a lion on the loose in the room. Our heart rate jumps significantly, our senses become acute, we get that taste of copper in our mouth. Our muscles are ready to react quickly if needed. You are breathing faster and you might even be sweating. You are focused on the situation and ready to react.

Specifically Cortisol is responsible for:

  • allocating available glucose for the brain
  • creating energy from reserves
  • diverting energy from lower-priority activities (such as the immune system)
  • Blood pressure management

All this is done by Cortisol in order to survive immediate threats or prepare for exertion. Something that should happen over a short duration, not an extended period of time.

The Bad

As mentioned earlier, too much Cortisol, or producing Cortisol for a prolonged period can be detrimental to our health.

Cortisol is produced when we have a stressful situation, and most times we deal with that situation in a short time and get on with things. The body returns to a normal, balanced state. The problems start happening when we bring on situations that cause stress and that stress remains for a long period of time. Our bodies Cortisol levels are now elevated longer than they should be. Our body is now out of balance.

Cortisol has an immunosuppressive effect meaning if you constantly have high levels of Cortisol you are more susceptible to illness or infection. Cuts could end up taking much longer to heal. Cortisol also reduces the calcium absorption in our intestines making our bones weaker. Other effects of too much Cortisol are increased blood pressure and obesity.

Attack it

I wish I could provide an easy answer to deal with stress but there really isn’t one. There are things we can do to lessen the amount of Cortisol our body produces due to stress and I will go over each one:

  • Exercise – You are probably already doing this because you are aware of the many benefits of exercise. The more intensely we work out the better. When exercising we increase the amount of Cortisol our body makes. Remember, Cortisol is produced when we are stressed. Exercise is a form of stress. Highly intense training compared to endurance training produces less Cortisol and also produces Human Growth Hormone which has many benefits. Let’s quickly compare high intensity interval training to endurance training. We know Cortisol is produced during both types of exercise. But right off we know that HIIT training is much less in duration then endurance. So if your body produces Cortisol for anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes for HIIT training, that is much less than the 1,2,3,4 or more hours with endurance training. Also, during endurance training, Cortisol is produced the whole time because our body is responding to a perceived threat. It’s our fight or flight syndrome and we are flying! In a sense your body is reacting as if it’s being hunted, and it wants to survive! When endurance training and you run out of glucose to fuel your activity, your body releases Cortisol which then will metabolize muscle tissue for the energy needed. Ideally if properly fueled through the foods you eat and when you eat them, your body will also use fat for fuel. But it will always use some muscle. This is generally why endurance athletes tend to have lower amount of muscle and will also appear older than they are.

On the HIIT side of things, if we look at Tabata as an example, we are in the intense range for 20 seconds than we are back to a 10 second rest. During that 10 second rest your       body reacts in a way that there no longer a threat, and stops producing Cortisol. If eating properly and at the correct times, you should have an adequate supply of glycogen to fuel your activity and prevent your body from metabolizing muscle for energy.

Resistance training will also result in less Cortisol being produced. It will also increase the amount of Testosterone your body produces. All things that aid in the creation and maintenance of muscle.

 

  • Food – Another way to reduce the amount of Cortisol is by choosing the correct foods to eat.
    • Spinach – The magnesium in spinach will help balance the amount of Cortisol your body produces.
    • Beans – Contains Phosphatidylserine which may counteract the effects of Cortisol.
    • Citrus fruits – Try replacing carb rich snacks with citrus fruits. Vitamin C rich foods help slow the production of Cortisol.
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Along with reducing inflammation, they also help reduce levels of Cortisol. You can supplement, or you can eat foods such as flaxseeds or walnuts. If you are vegan and looking for an Omega-3 supplement you can by an Omega-3 DHA that is made from algae instead of fish oil.
    • Avocado – Great source of B vitamins and also reduces inflammation.
    • Cashews – Provides you with a great source of fat and protein and Zinc. Studies have shown low levels of Zinc attribute to anxiety and depression.
    • Garlic – So many benefits come with eating garlic. Neutralizing free radicals (free radicals damage our cells) and strengthening our immune system. And really, who doesn’t agree that garlic is awesome!
    • Oatmeal – A great source of complex carbs (try not to load it up with simple carbs such as sugar) oatmeal will cause your brain to produce serotonin. Serotonin has antioxidant properties but also helps create a soothing feeling that can help overcome stress.

 

  • Meditating – Meditating is a great way to deal with the stress in your life. It’s also a great way to relax, improve concentration, and slow aging. There are other benefits to meditation which you can find in this post.

Acceptance

There’s a lot in this post to consider. Should you stop endurance training because of the effects of Cortisol? That’s up to you. If you are going to be a miserable SOB because you didn’t get in your long run then maybe not. If you find your fitness needs are met by switching to interval type training, and resistance training (everyone should be doing resistance training, even endurance athletes) than I would recommend doing that.

I think it’s good for us to be aware and educated on the things we do, from eating to working out. Is stress bad for us? Yes and no. We now have a better understanding why. Use this information and try to see where you fit. Then decide.

Something else I want to say. There are things in our life that we cannot control. Absolutely cannot. I am going through this at my place of work right now. A major takeover that could impact me. Can I control this? Absolutely not. So I tell myself that this is something that I cannot control so don’t waste any time on it. Are there things I can do to prepare for these changes if they happen? Yes, and those are the things I focus on, put my energy into. In a sense, that helps to mitigate the stress.

It sounds easy when written down but it isn’t always easy. Eat well, sleep well, exercise and if you can, meditate. Those are four things you can do that will help tremendously.

Yours in health,

Darryl

mind over matter

Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.

I’m sure you have heard the proverbial story about strength and focus when a mom comes across their child trapped underneath something really heavy, typically a car, and they all of a sudden have super human strength and are able to lift the heavy object off of their child, saving their child from certain doom. Is this example or other examples of superhuman strength authentic? Did they happen?

There are documented cases of what is termed superhuman strength where typically someone can lift a large amount of weight when a life is in danger. So why are they able to lift more weight than they ever could in a normal situation? Some people call it the fight or flight scenario, or it is also referred to as being motivated by fear. Regardless, the mind is telling the body that there is a crisis and the body needs to react. The body reacts by the adrenal gland dumping large amounts of cortisol and adrenaline into the blood stream. The heart races, blood pressure rises and oxygen and energy are delivered to the muscles. Think of it like stepping on the accelerator of your car.

I’m sure you are thinking how this applies to fitness, working out. Don’t worry, I’m not floating some new idea where your trainer throws you into a crisis to increase the amount of weight you are using. That would be just too hard to do. What I do want to focus on is how the mind plays into this scenario.

A powerful thing

Let’s look at two measurements from a study: absolute strength, the force our muscles are theoretically able to apply, and maximal strength: the maximum force they can generate through the conscious exertion of will. This can be looked at as the force our muscles are theoretically able to apply.

Research has shown that the average person can only utilize about 65% of their absolute power when training, yet a trained athlete such as a power lifter can exceed 80%. Why is this? Is it technique, nutrition, or something else?

The research has concluded that the more intense the competition, the higher the performance will increase. If you have watched the Olympics you may have seen it where athletes are crushing their personal bests. World records smashed. I recently read an article that talks to how people tend to perform at a higher level when working out with a group. It seems that part of it is ‘we are all in this together’ mentality or the competitive attitude that they are not going to be beat by their peers.

So knowing this, the ability for the mind to increase our performance, how can we incorporate this into our workouts?

Application

When we workout, whether it’s cardio, or resistance training, are we actually paying attention to what we are doing, or are we just going through the motions?

Today when I was running on the treadmill, my mind was busy thinking about what I could write today for a post. Different ideas were going through my head, I would analyze each idea and try to expand on it. Alright, got it figured out. I know what I’m writing about today. Then as my mind came back to why I was on the treadmill I noticed I was landing on my heels during my run. I had to consciously think about landing mid to fore foot to correct myself. If we lose thought of what we are doing, we probably are not doing it as best as we can.

When you are doing a pushup, or bench press, or any other type of resistance training are you thinking about the muscles contracting as you extend your arms, or is your mind wondering off to somewhere else, waiting for the exercise to be over? It’s common for this to happen. If you look at how elite athletes train, they have many coaches. Coaches for nutrition, technique, resistance training, and it wasn’t until not a very long time ago that coaches were hired to work with the athlete to visualize their performance and to focus on achieving their goals.

Someone realized that there was a benefit in having their athlete visualize achieving their goal, blocking out any thought of not achieving the goal. Did it work? I guess it did as most professional athletes and teams have on staff sport psychiatrists.

Getting back to how this can help us train, when working out try to focus on what you are doing. Focus on the movement, the muscles involved and executing the movement. With your mind actively involved, you will perform better. You will be able to exceed your performance from last time.

Now, before you get on me for focusing on numbers since I have been known to talk about not to get hung up on numbers, this is different. Think of the performance increase you will have if you are able to recruit more strength during your workout. It’s not necessarily about the increase in weight, or repetitions. It’s about the ability to do more with your body, taxing the muscles to a higher level which will result in muscular growth and increased performance. The same can be applied to your cardio workout. When running as an example, focus on your arms, your legs, how your feet are landing, is everything working together. When running at a sprint speed, are your arms pumping up and down helping to push yourself forward. Do you feel everything working together. For me, when I do this, it’s like I can feel everything clicking, everything coming together, working as one.

Don’t be surprised if you feel like you have just had the best workout.

It’s doable

One more thing. When you head into the gym or wherever for your workout, walk in knowing in your mind that you are going to kill it. Keep that in your mind as you progress in your workout. You may be surprised at the end.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Slow and Steady Wins…

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Ok, I admit, this is probably not a title you would expect for a post on a blog having to do with fitness and health. Especially today. We live in a society that has a go go go mentality. Fast food, fast internet, texting. We live in a society where we want results now! People get impatient when a web page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, or someone will send a text and wonder why they haven’t had a reply, you know, it’s already been a minute!

Along with all this comes our expectations with fitness, and health to a lesser degree. A lot of people want fast results. Although it took them 1, 2, 5 years or longer to get to where they are today, they expect to be back to perfect health, or have that killer body within a few weeks. It just isn’t reasonable to think these things, especially if you are looking for results that will stay with you a year, 2, or 3 or a lifetime from now. In fact it can be dangerous. If you are looking for fast results, that can lead to people making dangerous decisions, such as drastic calorie reduction changes to their diet that can have long term negative impact. People will get hooked on the latest exercise regimen; Palates, Zumba, px90, etc. By no means am I disparaging these programs. If they work for you, then great! My point is people will look to these programs to get fast results, not always realizing that they are made up of techniques, methods that have been around a long time. Yes, there are methods to exercising that can increase positive results sooner, but you still need to put in the time, and work. I am a strong proponent of exercising smartly, and along with that comes putting in the hard work.

That’s one point I wanted to make about how ‘fast’ is not always the best approach to your health and fitness. The other point is how speed plays a role in our actual workout. I want to talk about how this applies to resistance training, and cardio training.

Resistance Training

Lets look at common goals and benefits of resistance training; increased strength, increased muscle size, improved coordination, increased bone strength, increased resting metabolic rate. There are more, but lets stick with these ones. Excellent goals. So in the spirit of this post, how do we get there sooner? Let’s start by not getting caught up in numbers. Getting stuck on numbers when resistance training will impede us reaching our goals, and can also be dangerous. By getting stuck on numbers I am referring to how much can I bench press/squat/etc? How many pushups can I do? Why is my friend using more weight that I am? Why am I always the last in my class to finish the pushup challenge?

Why do we do this? Because we are human! By nature we are competitive. No one wants to be last. We all grew up being told not to be last whether in sports, class, etc. Let’s look at a quote from a famous football coach:

Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

To me, this quote means something different than how it has been used over the years to motivate people, teams. I’ll tell you what it mean to me at the end of this post. But, back to the whole speed thing.

Why is getting caught up in numbers bad? Because most times it means we sacrifice technique, because to get those numbers we end up rushing through our pushups, not using full technique, we add more weight to the bar, speeding up and sometimes swinging the bar to pull in other muscle groups to help with the lift (this is the dangerous part). Ultimately we end up increasing the time it will take to reach our goals. Unbelievable isn’t it, we end up sabotaging ourselves, not even realizing it.

Slow down

Instead of worrying about numbers, let’s slow down and use proper technique. If you aren’t sure or have questions about technique for any exercise, talk to a personal trainer. A great way of slowing down is to adopt a cadence when doing your exercise. I recommend the following cadence: 2:1:4:0. I’ll explain this using pushups. Let’s start our pushups with our body on the ground. Now slowly raise your body using the first number of our cadence 2, for the count to reach the top of the movement. This is the concentric movement of the exercise. Hold for one second (2nd number), then lower for 4 seconds (the third number) being sure to lower until your arms are bent at 90 degrees. This is the eccentric movement of the push up. Now, do not rest, that’s why the last number is 0. Right back into your next push up.

A lot tougher isn’t it! I have no doubt that you will find your pushups much harder to do, and you will not be able to do as many. But that’s awesome! That’s why you do resistance training. You are training smart, and enabling yourself to get to your goal sooner! The slower pace is working your muscles harder, and it is much easier to execute proper technique, and not get injured. Try this with other exercise such as squats, lat pull downs. Remember the formula though, and which number is for the concentric and eccentric part of the exercise. If you aren’t sure which is the concentric movement, and which is the eccentric, consult with a personal trainer, and they can help you.

Cardio Training

The same principle can be applied to cardio training, such as running, cycling, etc. As I mentioned in another article, you don’t want to train cardio at the same pace, all the time. You need to mix it up. HIITS, slow long runs, tempo runs, hills, etc. But, keeping in mind that speed can be bad, when doing faster runs as an example, do not sacrifice technique for speed! You may get injured immediately, or even worse is ending up with an injury down the road due to repetitive strain because of improper technique. When you are not able to perform the proper technique, other muscles will be recruited to meet the demand, muscles that typically are not used for this purpose, thus risking injury. Posture will get compromised, excessive loads can be placed on your joints. All bad things.

When speed is ok

I love talking about training smart. The more we understand about training, the better we become, and we win! Less injuries, obtaining our goals, feeling better. Let me use my own experience as an example on when speed is ok. If you have read my bio, you know I spend time studying and practicing Karate. One of the kicks we work on is called a round house kick. A very common kick, but like anything, it can take a long time to get it to work well. A technical kick that a lot of things have to work together to perform it well. So we spend a lot of time focusing on the technique of the kick. Breaking it down into individual elements. When practicing this kick for technique, it’s a slower kick.

In my Saturday combat fitness class, we will take that kick and speed it up and get probably 3 to 4 times as many kicks on the heavy bag than when I practice this kick as a Karate student. Why? In this example from my Saturday’s class, it’s more a cardio drill than a technique drill. The purpose is to exhaust you, to get you to that point that you are so tired you may only be able to get in one more kick. So as a student in both classes, I have to understand the purpose of the drill, or exercise. This is training smart. It’s understanding the goal of the exercise.

Be slow, be smart

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” I said earlier that I would explain what this means to me. To me, winning isn’t how I do compared to others, it’s how I do compared to the Darryl from the last workout. Did I do the best I can do? It doesn’t mean I had to perform more pushups, or do more superman squats, or more round house kicks. It’s did I do the best I can do.

You can’t expect to always do better number wise (remember, don’t get hung up on numbers) because your body just doesn’t work that way. You may not have enough energy stores in your body for this workout, you may be having a stressful day, and you may not have had adequate sleep. But what you can do is do your best, everytime!

I think that’s a fair thing to ask of yourself, don’t you? You know why? Because you owe it to yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you different!

Yours in health,

Darryl

Cooling Down – Do it!

Even though most of us who exercise don’t warm up before we start, we are aware of what warming up is. But, how many of us know about cooling down? Just like the importance of warming up (read my post here), cooling down is a very important part of your workout. Your decision regarding cooling down will directly impact how you feel after your workout, be it immediately, or days later.

Why cool down?

Think of your body as your car, it allows you to move from here to there. Your driving along at 110 km/h. Would you stop your car suddenly, applying maximum pressure to your brakes, or do you gradually slow down, gently applying the brakes? Have you ever had to apply your brakes really hard, either to avoid a collision, or for another reason? Do your brakes work the same afterwards? I know myself when I have had to stop suddenly, the brakes ended heating up, and warping the brake rotors. After that, my brakes pulsed whenever applied. The same goes for your body. Working really hard then stopping suddenly puts unneeded strain on your body. This may cause problems immediately, or, years later.
The main benefits of cooling down are to prevent blood pooling, and to gently bring your heart rate back down to a reasonable level. Think about it, you have just completed an intense Tabata session, your heart rate as high as 90 -95% of your max. The Tabata session was comprised of movements that primarily involved your leg muscles, exercises such as lunges, burpees. A lot of blood needed to go to those muscles to bring oxygen to them, and to take away waste product, lactic acid as an example. If you suddenly stop, your blood pressure will also suddenly drop, and you could get very dizzy. Not something you want to happen.

Why don’t we cool down?

After an intense workout like this, the body, or mind, doesn’t want to do anything, so the impulse is to lie down and catch your breath, or just not do anything. It was a tough workout! I’m just going to lie here for a few minutes! Don’t do it! Resist the urge to stop and do nothing. Instead, walk around, keep your limbs moving and let your heart rate return back to a normal rate slowly, and allow the blood to flow from your muscles, taking away that waste.

Cooling down will help reduce muscle soreness after a workout. By not letting the blood pool in your muscles, cooling down allows the blood to continue to flow, taking away the waste material, such as lactic acid, and also to supply nutrients to those muscles, assisting in growth and repair.

How to cool down

Move! Walk around moving your arms more than you normally would when walking. This helps the blood circulating to remove waste, and to provide the nutrients needed to repair the muscles you just trained. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes. Do this before you finish off your workout with your stretching routine.

So do me a favour, and cool down at the end of your workout. You’ll thank me later for it I’m sure.

Darryl

Welcome to bFITsquared

Throughout my life I have always been active, and have had an interest in nutrition and healthy eating. I decided to take that interest and formalize it. Last year I registered for the Canfitpro Personal Trainer Specialist course that was offered at the University of Guelph. It’s a 3 day intensive course that covers everything from anatomy to the marketing aspect of a personal trainer. I wrote my theory exam in January and did fantastic. My life became very busy for the next few months, and wasn’t able to complete my practical test until just last week. Fortunately for me, I was given the opportunity to run groups of people through the exercise portion of the class where I train in Shorin-Ryu Karate. This helped to give me the confidence in working with people, and also the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to my friends and training partners. I believe this helped me to prepare for my test and it help me achieve a great mark and become a certified personal trainer.

My goal for this blog is to continue to pass on my knowledge to those looking to learn more about fitness, about nutrition, about getting the most out of the time you spend training. The body is an amazing thing and there is so much you can do with it. Most times it is knowing what to do and how to do it. A lot of people get discouraged because they don’t get the results they want to achieve. Sometimes that’s because they think they are training properly to get the results, but unbeknownst to them, they are not.

Putting in the effort is one part of it. Putting in the effort using the correct techniques and training methods is another. The former may get you the results, but the latter will. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

I am not a writer, and I don’t know if I will ever be one. I hope you can look past that, and find this blog to be valuable in the context of health and wellness. I hope you enjoy bFITsquared.

Darryl