Thursday, August 25, 2016

6 Ways Exercise Boosts Productivity In Your Career

When you are trying to lose weight or focusing on another health goal that generally involves exercise, finding time to show up for your workouts can turn out to be challenging enough. So if you have a career (or a business) that you have been working with in order to build this; it can turn out to be double whammy, as it is common that you put your work time ahead of your exercise time. Given here are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider.

Exercise keeps you alert and focused

Here is a quick lesson; exercise helps to increase the blood flow in the brain. And that sharpens the awareness. According to a study conducted by Jim McKenna from the University of Bristol, once an individual finishes exercising, the work performance is consistently seen to be higher when compared by the better time management and improved mental sharpness. A client of mine recently came across this experience during a long week leadership development program. And as a part of the program participants including the client started the day to day exercise, yoga, walking, or strength training.

Increased energy

The more and more you move, the more energized you feel. Regular physical activity helps in improving your muscle strength, boosting up your endurance, giving you the energy you need to think clearer and come up with new and different ideas. A good 15 minutes of moving around even just around the living room makes your body produce more and more energy on a cellular level.

Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow of some steam after a stressful day? Having a work out at the gym or a brisk thirty minutes' walk can help you deal with it at ease. Physical activity helps you stimulate various brain chemicals that may help you feel happier and relaxed. You also continue to feel better in terms of your appearance when you continue to exercise on a regular basis, boosting up your confidence and improving your self-esteem.

Tracking and limiting how much time you have been spending on tasks

You might think like all others that you are pretty good at engaging how much time you have been spending on various tasks. However, research studies conducted suggests that only 17% of the people around are actually able to accurately estimate the passage of time. A tool like Rescue Time can help the employees and the other individuals by letting them know exactly and how much time you will wish to spend on daily tasks, including social, email, word processing and apps.

Stress management

Regular exercise has generally been shown to decrease the overall levels of tension, improving sleep and boosting self-esteem in an individual. It is thought that even five minutes of an aerobic exercise can stimulate the anti – anxiety effects. If you feel that you do not have enough time to put in a full cardio work out each day then even incorporating short bursts of activity in your daily life can turn out to be beneficial. You can even try out a 15 minute walk during the lunch time, or just take the stairs rather than the lift. If you don’t want to exercise alone then you can also join a fitness centre with your friend or colleague.

Just say no to meetings

Meetings are generally considered to be one of the biggest time sucks around, and yet somehow we continue to book them without asking any questions, attend them and invite others. Everybody inevitably continues to complain about them. According to Atlassian, the average office worker generally spends more than 31 hours each month during unproductive meetings. Before booking your next meeting, do ask yourself if you can accomplish the same goal or tasks via email, phone or web based meetings, and whether they will be slightly more productive enough in the long run.

About the Author

Michael is the Marketing Manager at Ampliz, specializing in email and marketing database management software, editing blogs, case studies, and guides. Beside work he is a fitness freak and a Marathon runner. He tries to make the world just a bit more pleasant enough by working on strategies that would help them prevent and eliminate spam in terms of email marketing.

So what are your best work productivity related tips? What other tips have you come across in order to maximize your own productivity at work or in the office. Do leave your thoughts and comments below. STAY STRONG!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fasted Cardio Myth Debunked

Maybe it's time Bodybuilders start training like Cyclists

Fasted Cardio Myth Debunked

By Clint Latham – 

 Wiping the sleep from my eyes, fumbling blindly in my closet for my bibs and asking myself time and time again; “Why am I doing this........why am I doing this”. I would slowly make my way downstairs carrying my bike; just thinking that this won't even last an hour, as I try to find some way to grip any bit of motivation left from the depths of my soul. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times; especially if you are involved in the body building community. If you want to maximize fat loss, you need to wake up early and hit the cardio before a single calorie hits the pit of your stomach. But the science would actually indicate otherwise. If you lived during the late 1990’s you have likely heard of the health craze sweeping the nation: Body for Life. It was a health and fitness challenge put on by sports supplement company guru Bill Phillips. I was especially fascinated by this challenge as it was based out of my home town of Golden, CO. In Bill’s chapter on cardio he had two basic principles.
1) Hit the cardio early before eating your 1st meal
2) Perform short high intensity interval cardio or High Intensity Interval Training

The idea was that the body had been fasting all night while you slept; reducing blood sugar levels, decreasing muscle glycogen stores and further decreasing insulin levels. Thus if you hit the cardio before your first meal the body would have no choice but to use fat as its primary fuel source. Sending the body's fat burning potential into high gear. Ever sense countless cyclists, bodybuilders and anyone else has been looking to cut weight; they have been clawing their way, tired and hungry, through high intensity cardio in the hopes of shedding a few extra pounds. As I traveled the country to the world's biggest bodybuilding events - The NY Pro, the Arnold and the Olympia - I would hear this time and time again. You've got to do your cardio fasted if you want to burn fat. It is as if it had been inscribed into the 10 commandments. As I would head down to the hotel gym in the morning for a spin, I would see countless bodybuilders knuckling the cardio equipment in the hopes of shedding a few extra ounces of fat, being so tired and hungry that they could barely keep a steady pace, let alone reach the intensities required for High Intensity Interval Training. Could this really be the best way to burn fat? They looked absolutely miserable. As I started to get back into the racing scene, a friend and training partner (Gareth Thomas - the national triathlon coach for the UK) used to always harp on me before our rides. "How many grams of carbs have you eaten?" But I always brushed him off. Here I was working with some of the fittest people on the planet, who can get to 3% & 4% body fat and your telling me to eat!? Yeah right! But that's when I got curious. We have bodybuilders performing fasted cardio and we have cyclists cramming as many carbs as possible. Yet both are extremely lean. What's the truth? How does the body oxidize fat?

The human body does not operate within a vacuum

The body is constantly adjusting its use of fat or carbohydrate depending upon a variety of factors. Kent Hansen, in his study, The Effects of Exercise on the Storage and Oxidation of Dietary Fat, found, "Generally if you burn more carbohydrates during your workout you will burn more fat post workout". While research does show that fasted cardio can increase the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue, this only occurs at very low levels of intensity. In the study Regulation of plasma fatty acid oxidation during low- and high- intensity exercise, "Our data suggests that, in addition to sub-optimal FFA availability, fatty acid oxidation is likely limited during high-intensity exercise because of direct inhibition of long-chain fatty acid entry into mitochondria." If a bodybuilder performs HIIT, they may see an increase in fat mobilization but that does not mean an increase in fat oxidation. This results in all those fatty acids being re-packaged and stored back into the adipose tissue. After all that suffering you put it right back where it came from! Furthermore Jeffery F Horowitz in his article in the American Journal of Physiology, found that; “When trained subjects exercised at 50% of the their maximum heart rate, an intensity that equates a slow walk, there was no difference in the amount of fat burned - regardless of whether the subjects had eaten or not.” These results continued to be the same until the subjects, that were fasted, exceeded the 90 minute mark. Only then did the fasted cardio begin to show favorable results. Thus what are we left with? The body will burn more fat cells when fasted at a lower intensity, but the volume has to be longer than 90 minutes. Anything shorter and it's a wash. And if we try to increase the intensity there is an inhibition of fatty acids being able to enter the mitochondria.  

Why Bodybuilders should think like an Endurance Athlete

As a competitive cyclist my goal for each workout was to make my engine bigger, stronger & faster. The way to do this is to increase the size and density of your mitochondria. Mitochondria are what produce ATP and is the only place in the cell where fat can be oxidized. It is the cell's fat-burning furnace. The more mitochondria my body has, the bigger my engine and the faster I can ride. Think about it like a car. If you have a V12 and a 4 cylinder engine both sitting at idle, which one is going to use more gas? The V12, right! Thus we would be better suited to turn our bodies into a V12 mitochondria machine so that we are constantly burning more fat cells. The study: An acute bout of high-intensity interval training increases the nuclear abundance of PGC-1α and activates mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle found that low volume, high intensity interval training increases mitochondrial biogenesis. Within 24 hours of maximal intensity exercise, new mitochondria were being formed. I preach to any new cyclist I work with to always eat before their rides. Why? Because without the fuel to fuel your muscles, you can't reach the intensity levels required to produce the enzymes that lead to mitochondria growth. I know countless bodybuilders that will preach, “You got to eat before you lift bro! You need to fuel those muscles.” Then why doesn't the same principle apply to high intensity cardio? You need to fuel the muscles to perform at a high level in order to induce growth. In this case, increase mitochondrial growth and fat burning potential. In the same study they found that a combination of both endurance and resistance exercise causes a significantly higher degree of mitochondrial biogenesis then endurance exercise alone. Bodybuilders have the resistance training part down but what about the endurance? Most bodybuilders I know cannot wait for their cardio sessions to be over. In fact most of them dread cardio. Enter the popularity of the high intensity interval training workout. It's short and sweet. We also know that one of the best ways to cut fat is calories in vs calories out. As bodybuilders get closer to show prep they begin cutting calories drastically to start leaning out. Now it is even more important that our mitochondrial engine is huge; we want to run the fat tank on empty. When performing an HIIT workout at the correct intensities, the body uses roughly 75% carbohydrate and 25% fat. The body, fully stocked full of glycogen stores, has roughly 90 mins worth of fuel for a moderately intense workout. In order to maintain optimal levels of glycogen, a daily carbohydrate intake of approximately 3 to 5 grams per pound of lean body mass is recommended when accumulating between 1 to 5 hours of training daily. If a bodybuilder has been cutting and especially limited their carbohydrate intake, they are already running on empty before they hit the gym.

The Bodybuilder's Worst Nightmare

Muscle tissue is made up mostly of protein which, in turn, is made up of amino acids. Normally, your body does not use protein to produce energy. If you run out of glycogen stores and no glucose is available, however, your body will then break down its own muscle tissue to release amino acids. These amino acids are sent to your liver, where they are converted to glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. When your body starts to use muscle tissue for energy, you lose muscle mass. Starving without any glycogen left in the muscles to fuel their cardio efforts, bodybuilders still hit the treadmill in the hopes of shedding more fat. What's really going to happen is your body is now going to use the protein in that hard earned muscle to fuel your HIIT session. Think about a Tour De France rider. (If you're asking what the TDF is, it's like the super bowl of bike racing) Why are they so dang skinny? They burn so many calories during the race that they cannot eat enough to restore glycogen stores. What happens? The body starts eating the muscle. A bodybuilder is doing the same thing to a lesser degree during the cutting phase. The question becomes, why not have 20-40 grams of carbohydrates pre-cardio, to be able to hit the intensity requirements needed to build more mitochondria and save that precious muscle mass? You will be a constant fat burning machine and not have to sacrifice any muscle mass! In my Ride to 75 programs for new cyclists, one of the key principles is fuel. We want to ride to lose weight. Cycling for Weight loss requires that we build a big mitochondrial engine to be 24/7 fat burning machines. Now it is never a good idea to make a major change before a big show. However, you can start focusing on building your engine between shows by fueling your HIIT workouts which will burn more fat cells. You will also have to suffer less in cutting. If you or someone you know who is interested in achieving happiness and health on two wheels please share with them, Cycling for Weight Loss, the FREE resource guide here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stop giving children sugar

There has been a culture in society that dictates that it is okay to give children sugar, because they like it. Is it really all in the name of innocent fun or are we actually causing more harm than good?

Sugar addiction

Sugar addiction is a worldwide epidemic that affects every country in the world. It has been called the world's deadliest addiction, killing more people than illegal drugs and other diseases. Some believe that more than half of the western world's population may have an unhealthy addiction to sugar. By allowing children to eat sugar-filled sweets; laden with other harmful colorants, artificial flavors and toxins, are we subconsciously teaching them how to become sugar addicts?

Some people probably think that I am going too far in this post. If we lived in a world where unhealthy foods were not the norm for those who can't even make decisions for themselves yet; would obesity, diabetes, heart failure and other related diseases are as prevalent as they are in adults?

Imagine two children who were born exactly the same: identical genetics, lifestyles, social groups and disciplines. Now imagine that one of them follows the same typical diet as what is considered normal. Imagine that the other child is raised on a diet that consists of nothing but healthy, wholesome food 99% of the time like fruit, vegetables, diary, meats and grains in balanced proportions. Which child do you think would get the best marks in school? Which one would be the healthiest and get sick less often? Which one would do better at whatever hobbies and sports they chose? Which one would get the least pimples in puberty and which one would turn out to be the best looking? Ultimately, which one is most likely to make the healthiest life choices in adulthood and which one would be the happiest in life? Which one of these two children got the best chance at the best possible life?

I'm not saying that parents don't care for their children. I'm saying that they don't know how badly a sugar filled diet will actually affect them. The problem is that we raise our children according to the way everybody else does. It has become the norm to have cake and sweets at birthday parties and other events, for children to be rewarded with sugar and for children to drink carbonated drinks when they are thirsty. I can remember all the different kinds of sweets I used to have regularly at school and at home. Whenever I visited my grandparents' house, I got to choose 3 sweets out of the 'sweetie bowl'. I remember all the sweets we used to buy from the shop at my school, and my sports teams were given nice sugary treats every time we played against other schools. It was the norm.

Perhaps now would be a good time for you to pause for a moment and do a quick search on the negative effects of sugar and the other additives commonly found in sweets on childhood development. 

Health has become a choice

Here is one of the biggest problems in the world: health has become a choice, not the norm. Those who follow healthy diets have chosen to do so. Eating healthy is not a standard. You either eat a healthy diet, or eat like a 'normal' person. Has this got anything to do with the way we were raised? If eating healthy was the standard, wouldn't everybody be doing it because that is what they know, instead of mainly for other reasons like weight loss or disease control? Then again, is eating healthy was the standard; would anyone need to 'diet' for weight loss? And how much disease would actually trouble the western world?

Spotting the 'crazy' in the 'normal'

  • Ask a parent what their child's favorite sweet is, then ask what their child's favorite vegetable is. 
  • Vegetables are the things we need to finish quickly on the plate, but sweets are the things we can have fun with.
  • Have you ever seen a parent say 'hmm, yummy!' when giving their baby their first taste of cake? They are saying that because they expect their child to like the taste, not realizing that they are actually suggesting that their baby should like the taste.
  • Children are told to finish their greens, and then have a choice of desert afterwards. The healthy stuff becomes the work; the unhealthy stuff becomes the reward.
  • Look at cafeterias in schools. What kind of food is offered to children there?
  • How often are sugars present at fun childhood events, and which foods have the most interesting colors and shapes?
  • A child runs to a parent and says, 'I'm hungry'. How often will the parent say, 'there is an apple in the food bowl'?
  • At the age of 7, compare the number of different sweets a child has tasted to the number of different fruits they have ever tried.
At the risk of sounding negative, if this article has made you think twice or given you a new perspective, it was well worth the write! STAY STRONG!

Supplement Basics

This article is intended for the beginner who wants to amplify their bodybuilding efforts by starting to add supplements to their bodybuilding routines. The information contained here is very basic and therefore won't be of much value to most bodybuilders who already know what supplements are working best for them.

First things first: supplements are not essential

Supplements are not essential. It is possible to get all the nutrients you need for muscle growth from food. Supplements, as per the name, were originally made to supplement the diet to make up for any shortfalls in nutrition a person might not be getting from their current diets. They are also convenient. It is easier to drink a protein shake to give your muscles what they need straight after a workout than to eat a chicken and a loaf of bread on your way home from the gym. They also help to achieve a person's caloric goals. For example, a person needing to increase caloric intake can do this much easier by adding a mass gainer (high in calories) to their diets and a person looking to decrease calories (for fat loss) can take a low calorie (and low carbohydrate) protein shake instead of a meal which would typically be high in carbohydrates and fats. They are also cheaper regarding macro nutrient content. Gram for gram, it is cheaper to consume protein from certain nutrition shakes then other sources like meat. 

Do not depend on supplements only

It is not healthy to leave food altogether and use supplements only. Firstly, a lot of nutrients can only be found in real food. An apple, for example, has a great variety of minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants and other micro nutrients that are not found in supplements. Supplements are mostly made to be easily absorbed by the body. When you stop eating normal foods regularly, your digestive system gets used to easily digested, powdered foods and will (after a period of time when it has only been using powdered nutrition) struggle to digest normal food.

Supplements are not steroids

There is a big difference between supplements and steroids. Do not expect them to do the same thing. Supplements sold in stores are not as potent, but do not have the same risks and side effects as steroids.

Can you take supplements if you are under the age of 18?

Yes you can, but not all supplements are considered safe for people under the age of 18. It is not recommended for people under the age of 18 to use creatine, testosterone boosters or high levels of caffeine and other stimulants. Meal replacements, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are fine for younger people to take, as long as they don't have the other stuff. Some argue that under 18's should not take a supplement at all because they don't need to, though. As with all age groups, supplements cannot replace a healthy diet, but add to it.

Supplement timing

Here are the most common times for people to use supplements.

Pre workout

Pre-workouts are usually mixed with water and used half an hour before exercise. They are usually high in stimulants like caffeine and are used for energy, to increase endurance and strength during exercise, to increase muscle pumps and to amplify a workout's ability to grow muscle. Ingredients often include creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, HMB, nitric oxide boosters, testosterone boosters and vaso-dilators.


These supplements are used during a workout. This is also usually in a juice-like form, mixed with water. They are used to re-hydrate, give energy, and keep the body in an anabolic (muscle building) state, reduce muscle break down and increase endurance. Common ingredients for these include electrolytes, amino acids, carbohydrates, sugars, creatine and beta-alanine.

Post workout

Post workout supplements are the most common, supplying immediate nutrients that a muscle needs to recover and grow straight after exercise. People trying to lose weight will mostly opt for high protein and low carbohydrate shakes; and people looking to gain mass will mostly opt for high carbohydrate and moderate protein shakes. These shakes are similar to hick milkshakes and are usually mixed with water or milk, depending on caloric goals. Common ingredients for these are protein, carbohydrates, creatine, testosterone boosters, amino acids and fats.

Before bed

Supplements used before bed are usually slow release proteins like casein, so that the body has a steady inflow of protein to feed muscles during a long period where nothing will be consumed for the body to use. They can also include testosterone boosters, glutamine and growth hormone boosters to speed up recovery.

Meal replacements

Meal replacements, as per the name, are supplements used in the place of a meal. These are used due to costs, convenience or better management of macro nutrient balances like decrease carbohydrate or increased protein intake. These are often in the form of shakes and bars. They are also taken as snacks (between breakfast and lunch; or between lunch and dinner).

Remember to keep whole foods in your diets, especially foods that are rich in fiber and micro nutrients. Supplements can also be costly, so choose wisely and try a few brands and products out to see what works the best for you. STAY STRONG!

Monday, August 15, 2016

High Fat Diets: Just Another Fad

Are high fat diets really the best way to lose weight that the world has seemingly just discussed? The answer is a resounding NO! Trends come and go. There was a big anti-fat movement years ago. Now it has changed to the anti-carbohydrate movement. Both movements (or trends, rather) promised better health and weight loss. Before you jump on the anti-carbohydrate bandwagon, consider a few of the points below/

Carbohydrates are macro nutrients

There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat, 4 calories in one gram of carbohydrates and 4 calories in one gram of protein. For those of you who would like to know, there are 7 calories in 1 gram of alcohol (and no, this is NOT a macro nutrient, wink wink).

Carbohydrates are good for you

Carbohydrates are good for you and should not be banned from our diets. This excludes sugar (the simplest carbohydrate), which should be brought to an absolute minimum except for fruits and vegetables or used to spike blood sugar before or after exercise. Our bodies break carbohydrates down for energy faster than fats and proteins. They are a great way to fuel up before exercise and refuel straight afterwards to put the body in recovery (muscle building) mode as soon as possible. Carbohydrates are also broken down into glycogen which is stored (along with other places like the liver) in the muscle, which attributes to their size. The more glycogen a muscle contains, the larger it is. Carbohydrates are not bad, but western diets almost always contain too much of them. The problem is therefore not carbohydrates, but the proportion in which they are consumed.

Fats are good for you

Fats are not bad for you either, except for plant oils used in extreme heat like deep frying. When plant oils are super-heated (like they are when they are used to fry things), they become very unhealthy for the human body. They contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels, create unhealthy heart environments, increase risk of diabetes and can lead to obesity. Fats are more calorie-dense than carbohydrates but take longer to be broken down in the body for energy. Fats also keep you fuller for longer than carbohydrates. Fats are great in the morning because they take longer to break down so that you feel fuller and it therefore takes longer before the body starts to hunger for more calories. Because the body craves less for longer as a result of a fatty breakfast, it learns to break down its own fat for energy instead of relying on the quicker energy release from carbohydrates.

Protein is good for you

At the risk of being doctor obvious; protein is good for you, too. It cannot be stored in the body (except for in muscle mass, a storage we do NOT want to tuck into) and therefore should be accompanied by fats in the morning, when your body has not had any protein for hours of sleep. Your body needs protein to grow and build your body and muscles. Protein is also beneficial straight after your workout so that your body can recover and start the recovery/rebuilding process. High protein, low fat and low carbohydrate diets are okay for short periods of time to drop fat quickly, but can't be sustained for long periods of time because your body will start to break down muscle for energy.


As you should be able to see from the three points above, the key to a healthy diet which supports your goals is proportion. There should be a healthy balance between all three macro nutrients. Focus on eating fats and protein in the morning, protein and carbohydrates around (before and after) exercise and a balance of all throughout the day, depending on your goals.


This is my personal guess as to why trends are often swaying between high carbohydrate and high fat diets. Unfortunately, protein is more expensive than both carbohydrates and fats. Furthermore, the healthier foods are more expensive than the less healthy foods. This makes sense when you look at how well carbohydrates that trick the body into thinking that it is a protein are sold. Examples of these are beef and chicken flavored chips and noodles. People might be satisfying their cravings for more protein with cheaper versions which are actually carbohydrates or fats.


The best way to drop weight is to drop total calories consumed to levels below expenditure (the bodybuilding industry has been saying this for years). You can do this by increasing caloric expenditure, decreasing calories consumed (through diet) or a combination of both. It is important for optimum health to keep a good balance between carbohydrates, fats and proteins without completely avoiding any of them.

The real culprits to avoid are sugars, super-heated plant oils, additives and processed foods; not entire macro nutrients like carbohydrates or fats. Keep everything in balance and focus on having fewer calories than what is expended instead of excluding a food group that your body needs. STAY STRONG!

The Central Nervous System

The central nervous system is like the electrical circuit system that runs your body. It controls all muscle movements and is responsible for neurological messages that get passed from the brain to the rest of the body. The central nervous system is important to bodybuilders because it determines the amount of stimulus a muscle can take, plays key role of muscle recovery and growth and sets the physical bar as to how much a person can train before reaching a level of over training. The more you train, the greater your mind-to-muscle control becomes. This means that you can consciously force your muscle to perform at a higher percentage of its maximum output than before. The most common risk for bodybuilders regarding the central nervous system is over training.

Over training the central nervous system

Every time you exercise, you overload your central nervous system. It will grow stronger as a response to this, just like how a muscle grows as a response when being stimulated. However, the central nervous system does not get enough rest, unlike muscle groups, because it is 'trained' every time we work out. For example, in a 5 day split you might only work the chest muscles once a week, but you are working the central nervous system 5 times a week. The rate of which the central nervous system recovers is often (almost always) at a slower rate than it is stimulated through intense training like weight lifting. This means that over time, the central nervous system will have a cumulative stress that it needs to recover from. This is one of the main reasons why it is recommended to take a rest week every two months.

Signs of an over trained central nervous system

If you have the following symptoms, there is a high probability that your central nervous system is being over trained.

Decreased immune strength

You immune system and your central nervous system are two totally different systems, but they are very closely interlinked regarding the extent to which they affect each other. It is common for you to notice that your immune system is low before noticing that you central nervous system is causing the weaker immune response. A stronger central nervous system (because it stimulated to improve via exercise) supports better immunity, which is one of the reasons why people who exercise get sick less often. If you are getting sick more often than usual, it could be that your central nervous system is the one that needs a break.

Decreased physical performance

If you simply can't do what you usually can in the gym, even though you have been doing the exact same thing, it could be the central nervous system as it gets weaker from more stimulus than rest. Of course, the central nervous system is not always the cause of this symptom alone. It could also be a lack of sleep, poor diet and supplementation, stress etc.

Longer recovery time

The central nervous system has such a great role in muscle growth and recovery that when it gets weaker, it impacts your muscle directly. If it is taking your body longer to recover from the same exercise, the central nervous system probably needs a break. This symptom is not always present in cases of central nervous system over training though, as muscle often get more time to recover than the nervous system does.

Muscle twitches

Muscle twitches are common and occur with almost everybody; even people who don't exercise at all. It is also hard to figure out what they are caused by because it could be a variety of things like stress, muscle damage, hypertrophy (muscle growth), atrophy (muscle breakdown), a lack of minerals or a whole host of other possible reasons. It is, however, a common symptom associated with over training or stress of the central nervous system.

Energy levels

Energy levels are very largely determined by your central nervous system. Stimulants like caffeine actually stimulate the central nervous system in order to provide your body with more energy. Decreased energy levels are a good indicator that your central nervous system needs to recover.


Because energy levels are closely affected by your central nervous system, your mood will be affected as well. Symptoms of mood changes from a weakened central nervous system can be anger or frustration, depression or sadness, lack of motivation or will power and decreased 'zest for life'.


The central nervous system requires sleep to recover. If you find that you need more sleep or are more tired during the day, it could be a symptom of central nervous system over training. Some people also experience trouble falling asleep as a result of central nervous system over training.

Boosters and hampers

Other things can also affect your central nervous system. Stimulants like caffeine will temporarily boost it, but too many stimulants over long periods of time can negatively impact your central nervous system as it is forced into a roller coaster of up-down-up-down motions without being able to naturally regulate itself. Minerals and electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium are needed by the central nervous system to function properly. Glutamine can also help support and speed up recovery of the central nervous system.

Look after your central nervous system and it will look after you. STAY STRONG!


Isometrics refers to working a muscle without moving it. Tensing your muscles is an example. We've all heard some of the big boys at the gym tell us that flexing the muscle group you have just worked in the mirror at the change rooms afterwards helps the muscles to grow even bigger. This is actually true because it further stimulates the muscle to grow and increase your pump. The pump in itself is beneficial because it causes the blood vessels to widen, increasing the amount of nutrients that can enter the muscle and increases the amount of waste products (like lactic acid) that can leave the muscle.

Isometric training already incorporated into your training session

Here are a few ways that you are probably already using isometric training:

Isometric exercises

Planks, which work out the core (abdominal, oblique and low back) muscles, are an isometric exercise because they work the muscles while they stay in the same position.

Stabilizing muscles

Muscles are also worked in an isometric fashion in lifts that require movement, but the stabilizing muscles aren't moved during the lift. For example, the core during push-ups, deadlifts, pull ups and squats does not move but is stimulated. Another example is the biceps, forearms, trapeziums and shoulders during dead lifts.

Isometric holds

You perform an isometric hold when you pause at the peak of your lift, like holding for one or two beats at the top of your bicep curl. Isometric holds have been touted as a great way to increase total time under tension and squeeze maximum muscle stimulus out of every rep.

Benefits of doing isometric training on its own

Here are a few reasons why doing isometric training in addition to your usual weight training routine can be beneficial:

Prevent and recover from injury

Isometric training is a great way to recover from joint injury because it does not require movement of the joint but still stimulates the muscle. For example, squeezing your hands together as hard as you can in front of your chest will still stimulate your chest muscles put will put less strain on your shoulders if you are recovering from shoulder injury.

Increase muscle strength during a specific range of motion

For example, if your chest muscles are at their weakest during the lowest part of the bench press (when the barbell is closest to your chest); you can increase the strength of your chest at this range of motion. You can do this by holding heavy dumbbells for as long as you can in this specific position for a few sets without moving them. This will increase your chest strength at this point, helping the outcome of your overall lift.

Shaping the muscle

Isometric lifts can shape muscles in order to achieve their best aesthetic look. For example, holding a dumbbell curl when the bicep is fully lengthened will develop the bicep in such a way that I will look longer. By performing an isometric hold when the bicep is fully contracted (shortened), it will make the bicep 'pop out' more.

Some people argue that you can develop the same amount of muscle mass through isometric contraction as normal weight lifting and there are numerous stories online of people who claim to have developed muscle this way. This is, however, a debated topic and we cannot verify whether this is true or just hype.

Well now you know what 'Isometrics' is all about, you know why the guys are posing so hard in the mirror and you have a few more options when it comes to injury and muscle shaping. Keep in mind that intense isometric holds do momentarily increase blood pressure as you tense your muscles as hard as you can. Keep pushing and be the best you can. STAY STRONG!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rest time between sets

The truth is that different rest times can all build muscle. The best time between sets is probably the rest time you haven't been doing, because changing something as simple as rest times can shock your muscle into further growth.

The benefits of longer rest times between sets

If you typically rest for shorter periods (less than a minute) between sets, here is a list of reasons why resting a little longer might increase muscle growth.

Increased strength

Longer rest periods give your muscles more time to rest and recover, immediately increasing the amount of weight they can move and decreasing the rate at which they fail from set to set. Since more weight is moved and total time under tension (the total time the muscle is contracted against a weight) is increased, the muscle will receive more stimuli.

Less energy tax, more muscle tax

By resting more, your energy production systems are used less. This gives the body more resources and more energy to spend on building muscle tissue. More energy can be spent on generating power and building muscle, with less calories being spent on restoring cardio-vascular channels and refilling glycogen systems.

Great for bulking

As in the point above, more calories can be spent on muscle tissue instead of energy recovery. Also, glycogen levels within the muscle won't be drained as quickly as they are during shorter rest periods.

Less stress on the central nervous system

Since greater resting times will stress energy systems less and focus more on muscle tissue, the central nervous system will receive less stress. This means that you will be able to train more and be at less risk of over training. 

Keeping clear of a catabolic state

When the body is put under physical stress it releases cortisol, a stress hormone that holds onto fat cells and breaks down muscle tissue as a survival mechanism. The body does this because when it is stressed it thinks that its survival is at stake so it will rather break down muscle (which is more easily broken down than fat) to get quicker energy to get out of the alleged situation of danger as quick as possible. This is called a catabolic state, when the body breaks down muscle to feed itself. It is often advised not to train for longer than 90 minutes because longer training periods can put the body into this state. Since resting for longer periods does not stress the energy and central nervous systems as much as shorter periods, you will be able to train for much longer periods of time before the body will start breaking down muscle.

I like to take longer resting periods when I have more time I can spend in the gym and want to focus more on increasing the amount of weight my muscles can handle.

The benefits of shorter rest times between sets 

Having shorter rest periods have their benefits too. Here is a list of reasons why you should balance your programs out with shorter rest times as well:

Burns more calories

By taking shorter rest breaks, you are involving the cardio-vascular and energy systems during your weight training session as well. This means that more calories are burnt. This makes shorter rest periods a great strategy for a fat burning session (and therefore, a cutting routine).

Greater glycogen stores equal greater size

Shorter rest periods drain glycogen stores quicker than longer rest periods. The body will adapt to this by increasing the amount of glycogen stored in muscle fibers. The more glycogen stored in a muscle, the greater its size.

Increased metabolic rate

Since your energy systems are stimulated more, the body will adapt by increasing its metabolic rate. This will increase the rate at which the body burns fat for energy naturally, but also increase the rate at which muscle recovery takes place.

More damage, less time

Shorter rest times allow you to destroy your muscle in a quicker amount of time than longer repetitions. When you have limited time in the gym, this will make you more efficient at fully stimulating muscle growth in the shortest possible time.

So there you have it: both longer AND shorter resting times between sets can be beneficial to muscle growth. If you typically train using the one style, try mixing it up to shock your muscle into further growth. STAY STRONG!

Could you be drinking too much water?

Can you drink too much water? We are often told that we don't drink enough water and need at least two liters per day for optimum health. Well, it turns out that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, even when it comes to drinking water. While it is absolutely necessary to make sure you drink enough water daily, here are a few points to take into consideration to make sure that you aren't overdoing it.

Loss of micro nutrients

Water helps to detox your body by removing toxins that are built up from the air we breathe, the food we eat and other toxins that are built up in the body (like lactic acid from muscle fatigue). Water is also used by the body to regulate micro nutrients (such as water soluble vitamins and minerals). Sodium, potassium, and magnesium; for example; are lost through sweat and urination. Every time you urinate, you are losing some sodium. Most people living western lifestyles and eating typical western diets have sodium levels that are too high because they consume too much sodium (from salt) and drink too little water, but drinking too much water can drop sodium levels too low (especially if you have naturally low blood pressure or already follow a diet low in sodium). Sodium is needed in the body for many functions like muscle contraction, blood volume and blood pressure regulation. Some people advise that you should not drink so much water that your urine is completely clear, but aim for a balance where the urine is slightly colored. This, according to some, ensures for a balance where the body is hydrated yet not losing too many essential nutrients.

Too much water and your kidneys

Your kidneys are responsible for filtering water levels in your body. Drinking too much water all at once can put strain on the kidneys. This is usually not of much concern or something that most people should worry about, but keep this in mind when you try to get all of your entire 'daily water requirement' in at one shot. People with kidney malfunction are often given limited fluids to avoid extra strain on the kidneys. An average adult's healthy kidney system can handle up to around 15 liters of water a day (more than almost anybody would ever drink), so the effect of over hydration over a longer period of time on the kidneys is generally not of great concern.

Too much water and the brain

When lots of water enters the blood from drinking too much water, cells in other organs and muscles can stretch to accommodate this. This is not possible with the brain, because cells are more tightly packed. Over hydration can hurt the brain because of this. Headaches from over hydration can occur when too much water is drunk at once, but headaches from under hydration are more common within the western community.

The thirst argument

We have all heard that thirst is an indication that your body has already entered into a dehydrated state. Some doctors, researches and sports specialists argue that thirst is not as bad as it is often made out to be and that it is instead a good indicator, or regulator, of when to drink more water and when not to. Who is right? Decide for yourself.

This does not mean that you should not drink water!

Water is vital to human survival. Drinking too little water is more common than drinking too much. It is also more dangerous to consume less water than necessary than too much. Do not avoid drinking water when you are thirsty, in hot or humid conditions, exercising with a high intensity, sweating a lot or feel like you need it. Water is not only released from urination and the skin when we sweat, but also from the lungs as we breathe as well (see that water vapor when we breathe in cold surroundings?)

So there you have it: too much of anything can turn into a bad thing, including plain old water. Never push your body past what it can handle. Make sure you replace nutrients that are lost through water like electrolytes after strenuous activity or anything that causes major water loss. Your body will thank you. STAY STRONG!