Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Dangers of Living a Sedentary Lifestyle

We often look at the benefits of exercise as if you are doing to your body good thing when you exercise' like you are earning bonus points for doing something out of the ordinary. I believe that regular exercise should be the norm, and that living a sedentary life should be something that very few people do. In light of this, I want to look at some of the dangers and health risks associated with lack of exercise and physical activity.

1. Lack of energy

My dad always said that it takes energy to make energy. Your body has the amazing ability to adapt to your environment and the actions that you take. It does this via many bio-chemical processes and one of these processes is the conservation of energy. When you don't spend energy on doing something, your body will not spend precious energy on maintaining these processes, since they are not needed. If your body was to maintain everything regardless of whether it was needed or not, we wouldn't have survived. Therefore, when you don't expend physical energy via exercise or activity, your body learns that this is not necessary and will get used to the idea of using less energy. This is why people who do not exercise have less energy and get tired quicker than people who regularly exercise. When you exercise, you are forcing your body to use energy. As a survival mechanism, your body will make more energy available to you, since it assumes that you need this energy in order to survive again in the future. When you have more energy (as a direct result of exercise), your body is more able to perform all functions that require energy, such as physical and mental performance.

2. Decreased blood flow

Your body depends on blood flow to deliver nutrients throughout the body and eliminate waste products form different tissues, organs and other body parts. Your body was created to be physically active and therefore it depends on exercise to ensure that blood flows effectively throughout your body systems. Lack of proper blood flow leads to your body not getting the right nutrients that it needs. It also prevents your body from operating in sync with itself. Hormones that are released in your system will not be as effective as they should be, because they cannot reach their intended destinations fast enough. Also, blood can pool in certain areas of the body without proper circulation. This blood can't be cleaned and ends up holding onto waste products that need to be eliminated and does not reach the places where it is supposed to pick up precious nutrients.

3. Mood complications

Your body uses a hormone called cortisol, which is a stress hormone, to communicate that the body is in danger and needs to gear up for action. This hormone sets off certain alarms in the body that tell it to limit some biological processes because it needs to be ready for the impending danger. Exercise relieves this hormone and lack of physical activity keeps the body in a 'stressed' state for longer than it should be. Build-up of cortisol can negatively affect your moods, along with other negative health implications.

Since your body does not face the physical challenge of activity, it will struggle to shut down and enter into its natural sleep cycle for recovery. These disturbed sleep patterns prevent your brain form entering the reconfiguration processes that it frequently needs and stops it from being able to 'absorb and digest' things that happen during your daily life. This can lead to depression, anxiety and other mood complications.

Exercise stimulates the release of the endorphin hormone which is gives you a happy 'high'. Since we were made to be physically active, we are supposed to experience the feel-good effects associated with this happy hormone. Endorphin deprivation has been strongly linked to depression, tendency towards addictive behaviors and negative decision making.

4. Weight loss

Regular exercise ensures that your body maintains its fat-burning abilities. When your body is permanently in fat storage mode and does not enter into fat usage mode, your fat stores become more than what your body can handle. This was not accounted for in our natural make-up, since we were made to be physically active. When we are storing more than what we can handle, we run into diseases associated with obesity like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, osteoarthritis, gout, breathing problems including sleep apnea and asthma, and bladder disease. 

5. Every organ is affected

Every organ is affected. Why? Our bodies are lazy, just like us. We were made to be lazy in order to conserve energy when we don't need to use it and only get physically active when we need to. This was nature's is of making sure that we conserve energy for the times that we really need it. We might have beaten nature by not ever needing to be physically active, but it bites us back because the lack of exercise we were designed to perform goes against our core design. Let's take a look at our liver, for example. It will conserve energy by not operating at full capacity. Exercise forces your liver to work at a more intense rate to recover and prepare your body for the next possible challenge. The same is true for your bladder, lungs, heart and kidneys.

6. Toxin build-up

Your body uses exercise to detoxify itself. When you exercise, organs are activated and blood flow increases. This promotes the release of waste products, toxins and other things that your body needs to get rid of. These are then released through your sweat, urination and bowel movements. Did you know that exercise makes your bowel movements more regular!?

I hope this gives you a better idea about the importance of being physically active. STAY STRONG!

Amount of Calories Burned Per Exercise, Activity or Sport

I've been asked many times how many calories are burned when doing certain exercises. I've decided to put together this list that shows what calories you can expect to burn by doing certain exercises and activities. Please note that a person's weight also determines how many calories are being burned per exercise, so lists are split into 3 groups: people who are 160 pounds (73 kilograms) or less, people who are closer to 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and people who are over 240 pounds (109 kilograms) or more. Calories burned are an estimate per hour of the specified activity.

Please note that these are estimates and personal results may vary

Estimated calories burned per hour for people who weigh 160 pounds (73 kilograms) or less:

  • Rope jumping/ Skipping:                       861 calories per hour
  • Running (8 mph speed):                         861 calories per hour
  • Tae Kwon Do:                                        752 calories per hour
  • Swimming (high intensity):                   715 calories per hour
  • Stair treadmill:                                       657 calories per hour       
  • Running (5 mph speed):                        606 calories per hour
  • Basketball game:                                   584 calories per hour
  • Football (touch or flag):                        584 calories per hour
  • Tennis (singles):                                    584 calories per hour
  • Rollerblading:                                        548 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (high intensity):                      533 calories per hour
  • Backpacking:                                         511 calories per hour
  • Ice skating:                                            511 calories per hour
  • Racquetball:                                          511 calories per hour
  • Skiing (cross-country):                         496 calories per hour
  • Hiking:                                                  438 calories per hour
  • Rowing (stationary):                             438 calories per hour
  • Skiing (water):                                      438 calories per hour
  • Swimming (light/moderate intensity):  423 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (water):                                  402 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (low intensity):                      365 calories per hour
  • Elliptical trainer (moderate intensity): 365 calories per hour
  • Resistance (weight) training:                365 calories per hour
  • Softball or baseball:                              365 calories per hour
  • Golfing (carrying clubs):                      314 calories per hour
  • Skiing (downhill):                                 314 calories per hour
  • Walking (3.5 mph speed):                     314 calories per hour
  • Bicycling (10 mph speed for leisure):   292 calories per hour
  • Volleyball:                                             292 calories per hour
  • Yoga (power):                                        292 calories per hour
  • Canoeing:                                              256 calories per hour
  • Bowling:                                                219 calories per hour
  • Dancing (ballroom):                              219 calories per hour
  • Tai Chi:                                                  219 calories per hour
  • Walking (2 mph speed):                        204 calories per hour
  • Yoga (hatha):                                         183 calories per hour

Estimated calories burned per hour for people who are closer to 200 pounds (91 kilograms):

  • Jumping rope/ skipping:                       1,074 calories per hour
  • Running (8 mph speed):                       1,074 calories per hour
  • Tae Kwon Do:                                      937 calories per hour
  • Swimming (high intensity):                 892 calories per hour
  • Stair treadmill:                                     819 calories per hour
  • Running (5 mph speed):                       755 calories per hour
  • Basketball game:                                  728 calories per hour
  • Football (touch or flag):                       728 calories per hour
  • Tennis (singles):                                   728 calories per hour
  • Rollerblading:                                       683 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (high intensity):                     664 calories per hour
  • Backpacking:                                        637 calories per hour
  • Ice skating:                                            637 calories per hour
  • Racquetball:                                          637 calories per hour
  • Skiing (cross-country):                         619 calories per hour
  • Hiking:                                                  546 calories per hour
  • Rowing (stationary):                             546 calories per hour
  • Skiing (water):                                      546 calories per hour
  • Swimming laps (light/moderate intensity): 528 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (water):                                  501 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (low intensity):                      455 calories per hour
  • Elliptical trainer (moderate intensity):  455 calories per hour
  • Resistance (weight) training:                455 calories per hour
  • Softball or baseball:                              455 calories per hour
  • Golfing (carrying clubs):                      391 calories per hour
  • Skiing (downhill):                                391 calories per hour
  • Walking (3.5 mph speed):                    391 calories per hour
  • Bicycling (10 mph speed, for leisure): 364 calories per hour
  • Volleyball:                                            364 calories per hour
  • Yoga (power):                                      364 calories per hour
  • Canoeing:                                             319 calories per hour
  • Bowling:                                               273 calories per hour
  • Dancing (ballroom):                             273 calories per hour
  • Tai Chi:                                                 273 calories per hour
  • Walking (2 mph speed):                       255 calories per hour
  • Yoga (hatha):                                        228 calories per hour

Estimated calories burned per hour for people who are over to 240 pounds (109 kilograms) or more:

  • Rope jumping/skipping:                           1,286 calories per hour
  • Running (8 mph speed):                           1,286 calories per hour
  • Tae Kwon Do:                                          1,123 calories per hour
  • Swimming (High Intensity):                    1,068 calories per hour
  • Stair treadmill:                                         981 calories per hour
  • Running (5 mph speed):                          905 calories per hour
  • Basketball game:                                     872 calories per hour
  • Football (touch or flag):                          872 calories per hour
  • Tennis (singles):                                      872 calories per hour
  • Rollerblading:                                         818 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (high intensity):                       796 calories per hour
  • Backpacking:                                          763 calories per hour
  • Ice skating:                                              763 calories per hour
  • Racquetball:                                            763 calories per hour
  • Skiing (cross-country):                           741 calories per hour
  • Hiking:                                                    654 calories per hour
  • Rowing (stationary):                               654 calories per hour
  • Skiing (water):                                        654 calories per hour
  • Swimming (light/moderate intensity):    632 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (water):                                    600 calories per hour
  • Aerobics (low intensity):                        545 calories per hour
  • Elliptical trainer (moderate intensity):    545 calories per hour
  • Resistance (weight) training:                  545 calories per hour
  • Softball or baseball:                                545 calories per hour
  • Golfing (carrying clubs):                        469 calories per hour
  • Skiing (downhill):                                  469 calories per hour
  • Walking (3.5 mph speed):                      469 calories per hour
  • Bicycling (10 mph speed for leisure):    436 calories per hour
  • Volleyball:                                              436 calories per hour
  • Yoga (power):                                        436 calories per hour
  • Canoeing:                                               382 calories per hour
  • Bowling:                                                327 calories per hour
  • Dancing (ballroom):                              327 calories per hour
  • Tai Chi:                                                  327 calories per hour
  • Walking (2 mph speed):                        305 calories per hour
  • Yoga (hatha):                                         273 calories per hour

I hope that list serves as a valuable guide to help you choose the right activity that can meet your body transformation goals. STAY STRONG!

5 Hormones Directly Involved with Strength Training

Many bio-mechanical and chemical changes occur in the body as a result of exercise. We are going to look at some of the hormones involved as a result of weight training.

1. Testosterone

Testosterone is released as a result of weight training; and regular weight training will increase the long-term production of testosterone levels. Don't worry ladies: weight training won't turn you into a man. In fact you already have testosterone running through your veins right now! The increased testosterone release will increase your strength, energy and focus levels and also your ability to burn fat. The higher the intensity and the more muscles involved with the specific exercise, the greater the testosterone-boosting effect will be. For example, squats and deadlifts will release more testosterone than bicep curls or calf raises.

2. Human growth hormone

Growth hormone (for short) is another hormone released during exercise that has a great host of benefits. This hormone helps to regulate sleep, increase the rate at which your body can recover (from exercise and illness) and even helps to burn fat. Just like testosterone above, more growth hormone is released with compound weight exercises (exercises that involve more than one muscle group). 

3. Increases insulin sensitivity

Your body stores energy in your muscles in the form of glycogen. When you do weight training, you use up the glycogen stores in your muscles. These glycogen stores are converted to sugars for the energy needed for muscles to constrict and release. After exercise, your body starts to replenish these glycogen stores by taking glycogen out of your bloodstream and re-storing them in your muscles. This action increases your insulin sensitivity and is one of the reasons why exercise combats diseases like diabetes.

4. Cortisol

Cortisol is one of your stress hormones. When you are stressed at work, for example, your body releases cortisol as a response. This hormone is supposed to prepare your body for the physical work that it needs to do to get out of what your body perceives as a dangerous situation. Exercise (both aerobic and anaerobic) provides great stress relief because of the way it works with cortisol. By doing something physical, your body feels like the stressful situation has now been avoided and cortisol levels can decrease. If you don't exercise, these cortisol levels can accumulate and wreak havoc in your body because your body is constantly preparing for some type of physical action because of the cortisol release but never ends up doing the physical activity needed to release the cortisol. Also, highly intense or a prolonged duration of exercise can stimulate the release of cortisol. This is not a good thing if your main goal is muscle growth, because cortisol is catabolic. When your body is in a catabolic state, it will break down muscle for short-term energy as a survival mechanism. In order to stay in an anabolic state (the state your body needs to be in to build muscle), don't exercise for too long and get muscle-building nutrients into your body as soon as you can. This assures the body that the perceived danger is over and that it can start rebuilding in preparation for the next challenge. Most people recommend keeping workout times at a maximum of 90 minutes, but I simply increase rest times in between sets to curb cortisol release.

5. Endorphins

Endorphins are known as the happy hormones. They are released as a bodily response to pain. This is what makes eating chilies or getting tattoos addictive: the endorphins released as a response to the pain can be addictive. Your body releases these hormones to soften your pain and help you stay on top of things. In survival, this would be important in making sure that you still have the will to fight or live after being in a physically challenging situation. Endorphin release can be addictive and the mental 'high' you get after working out is what many people look forward to, including me. I love the feeling that I am on top of the world and that I have really succeeded in getting further in life when walking out of the gym. This is also why some people struggle to take enough rest days. I have sometimes experienced withdrawal, or 'sad' feelings, when I am a few into a vacation, because my brain is not getting its regular endorphin fix that it so patiently looks forward to. This is also a great motivation for people just getting into exercise. I always tell people that if you stick with exercise long enough, you will actually start enjoying it and looking forward to it. First you hate exercise, then it's not that bad, then it's just something you do every day, then it becomes something you look forward to and finally it becomes something you don't want to live without. The secret is sticking it out until you get to the last stages. Endorphin release from exercise makes it a great method of addiction recovery. Studies have shown that exercise increased success rates in people fighting addiction, because they are mentally forced to focus on something else and the endorphin release gives them a sense of relief and a small piece of the 'high' they have been craving.

Looking at the relationship with hormones and exercise just gives us more reasons why exercise is so great for you. STAY STRONG!

Speed Up Sickness Recovery

Getting under the weather is not pleasant at all. It stops you from achieving those power workouts that you've been hitting hard recently and the amount of weight loss you can experience in mere days are absolutely terrifying. Here is a list of things that you can do to get yourself back on track as soon as possible.

1. See your doctor!

This step is extremely important. What could be mistaken as the common flu could be something else. For example, I once went to the doctor to get a sick note to get off work. I would not have gone if I didn't have to, because it was obviously typical flu. Once there, the doctor told me that I had a variation of flu that was floating around at the time that affects the heart. He told me that I must be careful not to increase my heart rate too much for a few weeks, since some athletes had died from exercising while having this sort of flu. Now I would not have exercised when I was still sick, but I would probably have gone to sit in the sauna to help my body sweat the stuff out. The doctor told me that doing that could have permanently damaged my heart. Yikes!

2. Sleep

Try to get as much sleep as you can. If you are lucky enough to score a few days off work, sleep whenever you feel tired. Don't worry about trying to keep up a certain sleep schedule right now. Also, don't stress too much if you can't sleep. Sometimes, being sick interrupts the sleep cycle. This is okay, don't worry about it. Stressing about the fact that you just can't fall asleep is likely going to make you more depressed. If you can't sleep, lie in bed and watch a movie or two, or browse your phone until you do get sleepy.

3. Rest

Give your body enough time to get over itself. Either drastically decrease physical activity or don't do any exercise at all for a few days. The sooner you get better, the sooner you can push for greater gains.

4. Stay hydrated

People always tell you to keep super hydrated when you are sick. This is because it helps your body to heal itself. When you are dehydrated, your body has to deal with that as well as being sick and its processes cannot run as well as if you were properly hydrated. Extra water also helps the body clear toxins and other impurities from your system, making way for a quicker recovery. Take note that fevers (increased body temperature as your body's response to try and sweat out the germs) can increase water requirements, since fevers dehydrate you quicker. Proper hydration also helps to combat nausea.

5. Stay positive

Although slight depression often accompanies illness, staying positive can help you heal faster. Try not to worry about work, losing the muscle you've worked so hard for or the fact that you are not being productive right now. You will get everything back once you feel better again. Rather try to enjoy the fact that you have an excuse to rest and kick back for a while. Positivity has been shown to speed up recovery.

6. Glutamine

Glutamine is a great amino acid that helps the body to speed up recovery. This works well for muscle recovery, but also speeds up healing from sicknesses as well. Take a teaspoon of glutamine powder twice a day with a glass of water to shorten your down time.

 7. Vitamins

This might be an obvious one, but now would be a great time to make sure that you are taking your multivitamins.

8. Recovery foods

Weird enough, chicken soup actually does help people recover from illness. Fruit and vegetables high in vitamin C like oranges and lemons also help to give your immune system a boost.

9. Green tea

Green tea also has great effects for your immune system. The small amounts of caffeine will also give you a little bit of energy if you need it. This is great if you can't get off work or have things that you need to do and can't get out of it. The mood-elevating effects will make you feel a bit better as well. Try not to have green tea if you are planning to sleep soon afterwards though, because the caffeine content will hamper your sleep cycle. I would have a cup after waking up in the morning once I feel that I am not going to be sleeping for a while. Mix in a little bit of honey to ease a sore throat, since honey is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-septic.

10. Give it time

Ironically, the more you try to rush things the longer it will take for you to start feeling better. Don't worry too much about your current state and use this as a good excuse to go on a series binge.

Being sick is not nice, but it is something that all of us go through. Give your body the space it needs and you will start feeling better before you know it. STAY STRONG!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Benefits of GABA

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a supplement used as a precursor to human growth hormone. In other words, GABA is a legal supplement that people take to increase natural growth hormone production, similar to how tribulus is used to increase natural testosterone levels.

GABA is a naturally-occurring element in the body, meaning that your body already has this supplement in its system at all times. It is a neurotransmitter that obstructs nerve impulses in the brain. This might sound like a negative thing, but it is not. By blocking nerve impulses, it helps your brain avoid going from extreme highs to extreme lows. GABA shortages are therefore linked to anxiety, uneven mood waves and even physical pain.

Supplementing with GABA can show the following benefits:

1. Improved sleep

Growth hormone (which will increase with GABA supplementation) helps to regulate sleep. Taking this supplement will help you fall asleep quicker and will ensure that your body goes through the processes that it needs to go through during sleepy time. I often recommend taking a GABA supplement before bed if you don't have much sleep time that day and need to squeeze as much benefit out of every sleep hour you have left.

2. Improved mood

Since it blocks nerve impulses, it helps to prevent roller-coastal feelings from one extreme to another. Many people take it to help combat anxiety. They have also been successfully used during periods of increased mental or physical stress. It produces feelings of calmness and tranquility.

3. Improved physical performance

Since it is closely related to growth hormone production, taking this supplement will help your body to recover from illness and injury. It also boosts muscle growth. The more growth hormone your body has, the better it is able to rebuild and recover from exercise. This leads to great physical performance.

4. Helps with pain

It also helps with pain management since it blocks nerves within neurotransmitters. In fact, some people use it to soften the effects of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).

5. Increasing concentration levels

Once again, its ability to block nerve impulses comes into play here. It is also used to treat attention deficit disorders like ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

6. Burn fat

By speeding up the body's metabolic processes, this supplement helps the body to burn fat more efficiently and on a larger scale.

7. Lowers blood pressure

This is another benefit of blocked nerve impulses. By doing so, your will automatically decrease its blood pressure.

Where to get GABA

Since it is a popular supplement with bodybuilders because of its ability to increase muscle recovery, you can find this supplement at almost all supplement stores. You can also find them at most chemists.

Be warned

Check with your medical practitioner before using any new supplements

Check with your doctor to see if using this supplement will be safe for you. For example, it does not work well with some medications and should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding. Using this supplement has been linked to increasing height in some studies.

Do not use too often

Since your body makes GABA on its own, using these supplements could decrease your body's natural production of the chemical. I would personally only use this supplement during times of anxiety, when I need to speed up recovery, to speed up the healing process during illness and when I can't get enough hours of sleep. Give your body a break and let it learn how to create and regulate this chemical naturally.

What do you think about GABA? Have you used it before and what have your experiences with the supplement been? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. STAY STRONG!

Why We Should Eat Raw

We should eat more raw food for a variety of reasons. Read on to see why eating raw is beneficial.

1. Digestion

One very important reason why we should eat raw food is because it helps with digestion. Mankind often uses an external digestive system: kitchens, factories and appliances. These almost always make food a lot easier to digest. This might sound like a good thing, but it is not. If you eat so much processed food that your body does not need to do much work in the digestion process, your digestive system almost forgets how to digest natural food. I knew of someone who drank nothing but protein shakes for a very long time to lose weight quickly. They did indeed lose a lot of weight, but struggled to eat real food after the diet. Your body makes digestive enzymes that break down foods. Each person has different digestive enzymes, because these colonies in our gut change and adapt to our diets. If we eat foods that does not require these digestive enzymes, they start to die off and we gradually lose our ability to properly digest naturally occurring food. Some scientists controversially state that if there was suddenly nothing but raw food to eat, the human race would die out. Don't let those good enzymes in your gut die. Maintain proper digestive health by eating a good variety of foods, including raw fruit and vegetables.

2. Micro nutrients

Cooking and processing food destroys the micro nutrients that the food contains. Micro nutrients are the things that our bodies needs in smaller quantities than protein, fats and carbohydrates. These are further split into micro nutrient groups like vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phyto-chemicals, and antioxidants. Vitamin C and Vitamin B 1, 5, 6 and 9, for example, are destroyed when subjected to heat from baking, boiling or processing. Also, some nutrients are damaged when subjected to oxygen. This would not be a problem if we ate our food as nature gave it to us. Some essential oils are also destroyed by heat, whilst normal oils, like plant oils, become dangerous to humans over a long period of time. Studies have found a direct correlation between heated oil consumption rates and diabetes, cancers, and obesity. These foods were not made to be processed.

3. Fiber

Fiber is also an extremely important aspect of our diets. Fiber is basically the stuff that you can't digest, so your body passes it through your system. This action is what makes fiber so valuable, because the body uses it to attach other waste products to. If you aren't eating enough fiber, then your body ends up storing the waste products that it would usually throw away with the fiber in your tissues. 

4. Supplements don't cut it

Studies have shown that vitamin C helps to increase the immune system's ability to fight decease. Studies have also found that vitamin C isolated on its own in the form of a supplement carries a much lower positive effect in the body. In some cases, studies could not find any correlation between supplemented vitamin C and immune support. We are starting to learn that we need certain micro nutrients together with others to help with our health. The problem is that there is still so much to be discovered. The good news is that nature gets it right! The best form of vitamin C is still fresh fruit and vegetables, by far.

As a general rule for health, the closer you get to nature; the healthier you will be. You don't have to totally exclude processed foods from your diet (although some processed foods should be excluded), but making sure that you get enough raw food items will help keep you healthy. STAY STRONG!

Benefits Of Push Ups

Push ups have been a favorite exercise for many people across the globe. They have become so popular because they are easy and effective, don't require equipment and can be done almost anywhere without much space. Here is a list of reasons why push-ups are so great.

1. Body-weight exercise

Push ups are a body-weight exercise, which means that they use your own body weight as a resistance, instead of many exercises that require separate weights. Body-weight exercises (like pull ups and dips) are extremely beneficial because they feel very natural to your body's muscular mechanisms. Because this exercise feels more natural, there is a decreased risk of injury and your body can easily adapt by increasing its fitness levels and muscle composition as a response.

2. Compound movement

Push ups are compound movements. This means that it is an exercise that uses more than one muscle group. Push ups stimulate your chest, triceps and core muscle groups. They also use your legs as stabilizer muscles, even though they are not worked as hard. Because of this, one exercise is working more muscle groups in a single movement.

3. Variable degrees of intensity

Another benefit of push-up exercises is the fact that you can control how difficult they are. If you are quite unfit, you can do 'girl push ups', which are push-ups with your knees fixed on the floor. You can also do other variations of push-ups once you build up your strength by expanding or decreasing the width between your hands (wide width focuses more on chest muscles, while a smaller width focuses more on your triceps). You can increase the intensity by doing clap push-ups or elevating your feet.

4. Releases growth hormone levels

Since push ups are compound exercises, doing them will release muscle-growth hormones like growth hormone and testosterone. Don't worry girls: the amounts and effects of this won't turn you into a boy.

5. Increases functional strength

Functional strength refers to strength that you can actually use in real life. Push ups will help increase all your pushing movements. Since push ups require strength from your core (abdominal, oblique and lower back muscle), you will also have better posture and be at less risk of getting back pain. Since your core is stronger, you will also be able to generate more power during other exercises and sustain less injury from sports.

6. Helps with muscle growth and definition

Push ups are a great way to build and define your chest muscles and triceps (back of your arm). They will also define your core and leg muscles over time.

7. Increase fitness

Regularly doing push ups will increase your fitness level. The fitter you are, the more you can do. As you start from a low number and increase the amount of push-ups you can do in one exercise, your fitness will improve. As you get to greater numbers, you cardio-vascular performance will also get better as your heart learns to pump blood more efficiently into your body and your lungs get better at converting oxygen into energy.

8. Burns calories

Push ups burn calories, which help in reaching your weight loss goals and teaching your body to use fat stores as a form of energy. Since they are compound exercises, they burn more calories than exercises that only involve one muscle group (like bicep curls).

9. Easily traceable progression

You will be able to easily see the rate at which your body increases its fitness levels by referring to the amount of push ups you can do in one go.

Other great at-home, body-weight exercises:

Does this motivate you to do more push ups? Let me know in the comments below. STAY STRONG!

Wearing Workout Gear More Than Once

Washing your clothes every day can sometimes seem like a waste of time, water, money, electricity and energy. Is that sometimes the case and can you stretch out your wash times a little more?

Some say that you should wash your gym clothes after every use, whilst other brag that they wear them for up to a week before throwing them in the wash bin. What is 'normal' depends largely on what you have been told by the people around you. What is 'right' or 'okay' depends on a variety of factors:

1. Type of Clothing

Here's a no-brainier: socks and undies need to be washed every day. Since these are susceptible to sweat, hold sensitive body parts and can often carry nasty germs and fungi; do the right thing and take it off every day. Wearing the same undies can lead to nasty smells and marks that can turn off everybody. Wearing the same socks can invite fungi like athletes foot. But what about other types of clothing like tee-shirts and pants? Read below to see what factors indicate these:

2. Sweat and Moisture

People that sweat more than others need to wash their clothes more regularly. This prevents the spread of unwanted germs and smelly odors. If you sweat a lot during your exercise routine, you should do the same. Moisture is also a big factor on its own, because of its ability to spread germs. If you are in a humid environment that makes clothes moist, make an appearance under the rain or grace the sauna with any items of clothing on: throw it in the wash bin. Oil production also comes into play here. You might not be getting your clothes very moist, but oils can also harbor germs and impurities that you don't want hanging around on your clothing. If your clothes keep dry for a long time, you could probably squeeze out a little more show time from your clothes before their clean-me-now retirement.

3. Ventilation 

Clothes that aren't well-ventilated will also breed germs and non-pleasantries. Air flow helps to keep clothes fresh and clean. This is a good point for the how-long-do-I-wash-my-towel dilemma. If your towel gets enough air flow and dries out quicker, it is probably good for a few more days. Towels that stay wet need to be washed more often. After my shower, I pop my towel in the sun and let it dry out. This lets me use the same towel for an entire week. If I can't dry it out in the sun, I chuck it in the wash. If your poor clothes are locked in a gym bad or your hot car for a long period of time after use, you need to wash them more often.

4. Environment

This is also a very important factor. If you or your clothes are subjected to environments that pose greater germ risks, they need to be washed more often; even if nothing seems wrong. For example, clothes and come into contact with much of your gym's locker room should be washed more often to prevent the spread of stuff like athlete's foot, stinky germs and other fungi.

5. Personal Preference

Did you know that in the olden days, people almost never changed their clothes? Nowadays, we are under the impression that we need to rewash our clothes every time we wear them. After considering the above factors, decide on what works best for you. If your clothes start stinking, they should have washed already and you really need to wash them more often. If they are fine for a few days: what's the harm?

What do you guys think? I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments below. STAY STRONG!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dealing With Depression From Exercise

We're talking about people who are at an emotional breaking point because of exercise. Don't worry, there are solutions! Depression from exercise hits almost everybody who takes fitness seriously (if you've never experienced it, then you are either not doing it right or are too green in the game). But firstly:

Make sure that exercise is causing the depression!

This is extremely important. The cause of depression is too often blamed on something else that is not actually the cause. Make sure that exercise is the reason for feeling depressed. For example, it might be something else like your financial, social or family issues that you are blaming exercise for. It may also be age, lack of sleep or even memories of the past that are starting to resurface. If you are not sure, you should see a psychologist to help you figure things out. They might be expensive, but totally worth it when your happiness depends on it. Also, trial and error works well. For example, try clocking more doze time to see if you weren't sleeping enough. I'll carry on assuming that you are 100% sure that exercise is causing your depression.

Before I go on to list why exercise can cause depression, it should be duly noted that exercise is in fact one of the best ways to combat depression. People who are less active are more at risk of suffering from depression and it is listed as one of the top ways to kick the black hole. Just as water is essential but can also drown you, exercise is necessary for optimum health and happiness; but can have its toll on mental health.

Reasons why exercise might cause depression, with solutions

Just one of those days

If this is the first time that you felt depressed during or after exercise, there is a 99% chance that it is just one of those days. We all have great, horrible and 'standard' workout days. On average, the bulk of your workouts should feel like standard; clock-in, clock-out days. On the odd occasion, you will have that great workout day when you feel like you can do so much more and end up smashing all of your previous physical limits. Equally, you will experience a few bad days when you wonder why you even walked into the gym. 

The Fix

Realize that this is normal and that it happens to everybody. I've had a terrible workout day that made me wonder what I was doing wrong and the next day I was back to normal. Your body works in waves, instead of a straight line. It is impossible to increase your performance every single day. If it was just one of those days, just push through till the end of your workout and come back tomorrow stronger. If you are not sure if it was just one of those days, and you have only been experiencing this recently, push through it for a few days and see what happens. If it lasts for longer than a week, it might be something else. Why a whole week? Sometimes you can just have a few bad days in a row. Your body works much like the graph below.
Read more about having a bad gym day and what to do about it.

Too young in the game

If you just started exercising recently, you probably just need time to get into it. Before exercise, your body was used to the amount of energy you expended in your daily life. Now that you are exercising, your body needs to get used to creating and using up more energy. It is not going to learn that overnight.

The Fix

Give yourself time to ease into things. Make sure you get enough rest (especially sleep), reward yourself for sticking to it and ensure that your body has the nutrition it needs to adapt. Drastically changing your diet and starting an exercise regime all at once could be too much for your body to cope with. In this case, I would suggest easing up (but not totally dropping) one of the two to allow your body to re-calibrate. It is normal to feel drained for the first while that you start exercising. It might only take you an hour or so to do your workout, but it is taking your body a whole lot longer to adapt. Give it time and don't give up.


You will be surprised how much nutrition impacts your body. It can affect your energy levels, sleep patterns, ability to recover, mental capacity and even those emotions. The emotional link with food is what causes so many people to have various food addictions. If you are experiencing depression from exercise, it might be because you are lacking certain nutrients. When your body does not have the energy that it needs in the form of calories, its energy levels drop. This causes a chain reaction that can lead to depression as well as other symptoms. What makes things more difficult is that fact that your body requires more energy from food because you are using up more energy by exercising. Many bodybuilders face a cascade of negative emotions when they are on a serious cut before a bodybuilding show, because they drop their caloric intake far below what their body needs to drop as much fat as possible in the shortest amount of time. During the process, they know that the negative emotions they are feeling come with the territory. Try going through the gruesome processes that the professionals undergo to polish up and look the best on stage and you'll see what I mean. Anyways, back to you. What if you've been eating the same thing you always did? Can your blues still be caused by nutritional reasons? Of course! This can especially happen if you have increased the intensity, duration and frequency of your exercise regime. You are spending more energy and teaching your body to adapt at a faster pace, but you are still giving it the same nutrients that you did when you started.

The Fix

If you think that nutrition might be the reason that you are experiencing workout woes, try adding more food to your diet or making smarter choices. Make sure to add the right food stuffs and determine if you need higher levels of protein, carbohydrates, fats or micro nutrients (the ones you get from fruit and vegetables). If you are trying to lose weight instead of building muscle; add more protein to your diet and don't eliminate carbohydrates completely. If you have a lot of fat that you are trying to metabolize, stimulants like caffeine can help to assist the body to break up and use fat for its energy requirements. I recommend that you don't use stimulants as a long-term strategy, though, because your body will adapt over time and the stimulants will lose their desired effect. Instead, you might end up depending on them to feel normal, instead of using them to boost your goals.

Over training

When last did you give your body a decent rest? If you have been working out non-stop for too long a period, your body won't have the time it needs for deep recovery. Depression is one of the major symptoms of over training, along with decreased physical performance and a weakened immune system. 

The Fix

Take a few days off and see if you feel better. Sometimes a good rest week is all you need to get your body ready for the next level. Don't worry about losing progress if your body is over trained. If over training is the case, you will come back even stronger and more capable than when you left!
If rest days drive you crazy, read about the perfect rest day here.

You've hit a plateau

We call it a plateau when you are no longer seeing any changes as a result from exercise. This can happen when you can't increase your performance or when your body isn't changing anymore. Plateaus can be extremely demotivating and can lead to depression when you feel like you are putting in the work but aren't getting any results. Plateaus can be a real nasty thing to face and are usually caused by doing the same thing over and over again. Eventually, your body adapts to the stimulus and decides not to respond anymore.

The Fix

There are a variety of things that you can do. Try changing your intensity, duration, diet or method. For example, you can do the exact same exercises, just with higher or lower reps under different weights. One of my favorite sayings is, "The best program is the one you haven't done yet".
Click here for more ways to beat your plateau


If you aren't getting enough sleep, you aren't giving your body the time it needs to recover and adapt. Because your body is not ready for the next day, you are piling on more damage that it just can't keep up with. Depression might be your body's way of telling you that it needs to log all of the work you've been putting in and it just isn't given the chance. If you are battling to sleep well, you might be over-tired; but chances are higher that you might have a nutritional imbalance, could be overtrained or are lacking something else, like other daily needs (too much stress at work?)

The fix

Prioritize sleep. Add an hour a day for a week and see if you feel better. Also, look into making sure that you have an optimal sleeping environment. Aim for a dark and silent room, good temperature and start getting yourself in 'sleep mode' an hour or two before its time. If you jump straight off a bright computer or cell before closing the covers, your brain will take longer to realize that it's sleepy time and shut down.


You could start associating exercise with negative emotions because you've lost your motivation and see exercise as a must-do that is actually a waste of time and energy. You might no longer see the point in why you put so much of yourself into exercise.

The Fix

This is one of the major reasons why it is important to set personal goals. Both long-term and short term goals are important. Take pictures and/or record performances. Give yourself reasonable time frames to beat these goals and celebrate them. Think about how far you've come from where you started. Add another element to your exercise regime to make it fun: add a social element by inviting friends or book yourself into a competition that you can't back out of. Create a picture journal of your transformation and share it on social media.

 Just like everything in life, we have our ups and downs. If winning was easy, it wouldn't be winning. Don't quit, just be smart. STAY STRONG!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Absorption Rates Of Different Protein Supplements

Finally: you have access to a list of protein sources that are sorted by the rate at which they are absorbed.

Before we start: What does absorption mean and why does it matter?

Although this might seem obvious to most, I thought that it might be a good idea to include in case there are a few readers who did not know why absorption rates are so important. The absorption rate is the rate at which the protein that you digest enters into your bloodstream and is available for the body to use for protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process where your body takes the protein that is available to it and turns those protein building blocks into protein. Different forms of protein take different amounts of time before they are ready to be used to form new muscle. Knowing which protein sources work faster or slower will help a lot in determining which protein to use and when. For example, using a fast protein will be best for a meal before a workout; because faster protein absorption means that your body has the broken down protein resources it needs to start repairing and growing muscle. If you are using a slower protein in this case, your body will still be digesting and breaking down this protein so it will not be ready to be used when you need it. Also, faster proteins are needed as a post workout straight after your workout. This is because the 'anabolic window' only lasts for about 90 minutes, according to most. This anabolic window term refers to the fact that a large part of your muscle growth (as a result of exercise stimulus) depends on the nutrition that you have straight after (up to 90 minutes) after your workout. The sooner after your workout that you get the precious resources that your body needs to build muscle, the more it will be able to do so. This might sound like a small difference in the grand scheme of things, but if you get a small advantage because of this every day; it will build up over time to make a very big difference. Because you want your body to have broken down protein readily available for your muscles to rebuild as soon as possible at certain times (like before or after a workout), absorption rate makes a big difference. Slower absorption rates can provide advantages as well. For example, you would want to have slower absorbing protein sources before you go to bed. That way, your body has a ready-to-use protein for a longer period of time during your sleep cycle. Imagine if the protein you take before bed is all used up before it's time and your body is left empty for the rest of your sleep. That is a lot time that you spend in a state of missing building blocks to do so. If you can have protein available in your system for a longer period of time, your body will have the access it needs to usable protein for longer so that it can spend more time building muscle. There are other reasons why absorption rates matter, like when you are using a protein supplement as a meal replacement. When you want to lose fat and feel fuller for longer, you would use a slower absorbing protein so that your body takes longer to use up the food it has before feeling hungry again. Conversely, people that need to eat more regularly but struggle with appetite will use protein that is quicker absorbing; so that it is all used up and they are ready to digest more food sooner.

Protein Supplements by Absorption Rate


Protein peptides are made specifically for this purpose. Peptides are proteins that are scientifically broken down into smaller pieces so that it is easier for the body to digest and use. This reduces the time between digestion and usage. Peptides are commonly sold to endurance athletes more than bodybuilders. The reason for this is mainly because of price. Because of the extra (and costly) processing needed to make peptides, they aren't very financially viable for bodybuilders that require protein on a larger scale. Alternatively, peptides work well for runners and other aerobic athletes because only small quantities are needed. These athletes use peptides during races when the body is breaking down from stress. Because peptides are so easily absorbed, their bodies are able to recover and rebuild DURING the race or event. Additionally, runners only need smaller quantities of these when they are using them because they're goal is to reduce muscle breakdown during a race, instead of building or increasing muscle mass.


Whey protein is the most popular protein supplement by far. Reasons for this include its fast absorption rate and relatively cheap price. Whey protein is derived from dairy (milk). Did you know that there are three common forms of whey? These three forms are whey concentrate, whey isolate and whey hydrolysate. Whey concentrate is the most natural form of whey, and is the primary form of whey once it is derived from milk. Whey isolate is whey concentrate that is further processed to increase the protein percentage. Whey hydrolysate is whey isolate which is processed once again in order to break it down further for faster absorption. These are listed below, also according to absorption. ALL of these three forms are translated into usable protein faster than the other protein supplements that follow.

Hydro Whey

Hydro whey (why hydrolysate) is the fastest absorbing protein form of the three. It is also the most processed and therefore the most expensive of the three. Not many supplement brands sell whey hydrolysate on its own because of the higher price that comes with the extra processing. Hydrolysate can often be found mixed with the other two forms of whey protein in most post-workout drinks.

Whey Isolate

Whey isolate is the second fastest absorbing whey protein. It is a processed from of whey concentrate which is made and sold because of its higher protein purity. When whey concentrate is further processed to increase the protein percentage, it becomes whey isolate. Pure whey isolate protein forms can be found on their own more easily than whey hydrolysate because it is often used as an extreme cutting meal replacement. This is because the carbohydrate content of whey isolate is extremely low (almost non-existent) and it is almost totally made up of pure protein.

Whey Concentrate

Whey concentrate is the most natural form of whey protein, made directly as a result of concentrating the protein content of milk. It is therefore the cheapest of the three (since it takes the least processing to produce), but is also the slowest absorbing whey. Because of its price, whey concentrate is often the biggest component of whey protein blends.

Milk Isolates

Milk isolates are a combination of all the protein components that can be isolated from milk. While whey is the fastest absorbing and casein is the slowest (both come from diary sources), milk isolate has attributes of both of these. Part of milk isolate protein will be absorbed quite quickly while other parts of the isolate will take longer to absorb. This makes milk isolate a good source of protein for people who want fast AND slow absorbing protein from a single protein source (as you could always mix one source with another to have a combination of absorption attributes).


Soy protein is a protein supplement that is isolated from a plant source. Because it comes from a plant, it is a lot cheaper to make and therefore often serves as a 'filler' protein that supplement companies use to increase the protein content of their products without spending too much money. Soy is a good source of protein on its own and makes for a good meal replacement, but cannot beat the quickness of whey and the steadiness of casein.

Egg Protein

Egg protein is obviously protein that comes from egg (mostly made from egg whites). This is also a good source of protein, but neither digests at the fastest nor slowest rate. Like soy, this makes egg protein a good meal replacement because it is biologically ready for the body to use at a quick rate, but doesn't run out too quickly.


Out of all these, casein is the slowest digesting protein source. One of the reasons for this is because it forms a kind of gel-like substance in your gut. This makes it harder for the digestive system to digest and will stay in your system for longer. Casein is often sold on its own for people to take before bed, as a feel-fuller-for-longer option and as a component in meal replacements to even out the rate of absorption. Casein therefore has its own advantages, but it NOT recommended as a post-workout supplement. 

Did this help you with the information you wanted? Let me know in the comments below. STAY STRONG!