The Evolution of Fitness and Data Tracking

The Training Zone Part 1

Everyone knows the importance of training at the appropriate intensity to improve the body’s ability to transport oxygen and metabolize food during exercise, but there is a lot of conflicting information about the appropriate exercise intensity for competitive athletes like cyclists and runners. Many athletes are under the mistaken assumption that they can accurately determine their exercise intensity based on “knowing their body” also known as perceived exertion. So what is the appropriate intensity level for training? The answer will depend on where you are in your annual training program. For simplicity's sake we can divide the annual training program into two basic categories: Aerobic Base Training (ABT) that should…
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Branched Chain Amino Acids for Improved Strength and Endurance

Branched Chain Amino Acids aka BCAAs are made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Amino Acids are what all proteins are made of, and essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body – they must be consumed in your diet. Branched Chain Amino Acids BCAA’s make up 40 percent of the daily requirements for all nine amino acids. As the name implies BCAAs have a branched chain that simplifies the job of converting each amino avid into energy during intense exercise. The make up about 35 percent of all muscle, and the more BCAA’s a muscle contains the more they will be used for energy…
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The Single Leg RDL

The Single Leg RDL The Single Leg RDL – Romanian Deadlift – is one of the most important corrective exercises you can do to help self-identify and correct muscle imbalances that are the most common cause of movement dysfunction and injury. Like a bilateral RDL the Single Leg RDL is hip hinge exercise and the hip hinge is one of the key functional exercises everyone should do along with squats, lunges, pushes, and pulls. The best way to do this exercise is barefoot in front of a mirror where you can see your whole body throughout the entire sequence of the exercise. Ideally you should be on a firm and…
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The Importance of Movement Tempo in Resistance Training

Tempo is the speed of movement for a resistance training exercise and there are four distinct phases for each exercise. Tempo directly determines time under tension which is a very important variable in resistance training. The first phase is the time spent on the eccentric phase of the movement (where you are lowering the weight and the muscles are lengthening) like when you lower a dumbbell from the top position to the fully lowered position in the bicep curl. The second phase is any time spent pausing at the end of the eccentric phase like holding your body an inch off the ground in the bottom of a push-up. The…
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Squats and Anatomical Variation Among Individuals

Squatting is one of the fundamental movement patterns everyone should train, but it is very important to understand and consider the effect that individual variations in limb length and anatomical variances can have on exactly how each person can and should squat. Everyone cannot and should not squat the same way! Many trainers and individuals try to squat in “perfect” form with feet flat, no heel lift, feet pointing forward, with back upright and straight with butt to the grass but this is not only not possible for some people – it can actually get them hurt! One of the biggest factors determining how an individual can squat is the…
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The Nitrate and Nitrite Myth: No need to fear bacon, salami, or lunch meats

Many fitness and health professionals say that bacon, ham, salami and other foods containing nitrates and nitrites can cause cancer.  However, is this really true? The original study that connected nitrates with cancer risk has since been discredited after being subjected to a peer review.   In addition there have been several major scientific reviews that found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers, or even evidence to suggest that they may be carcinogenic. Last, but certainly not least, there is actually plenty of research showing that nitrates and nitrites may not only be harmless, they may be beneficial, especially for immunity and heart health. The fact is that…
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Single Leg Balance Exercise – Improves more than balance!

Standing on one leg and balancing sounds like a pretty simple test, but many people cannot manage to do it for just 20 seconds without holding onto something or touching the lifted foot to the ground to maintain balance! So who cares right?   Well, a new study published in the journal Stroke suggests that inability to stand on one foot may be the sign of some serious brain issues.   Researchers at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University in Japan tested over a 1,000 people (average age 67) to stand with one leg raised and their eyes open for up to 60 seconds. Then – they used an MRI…
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Preventing and Recovering from Hamstring Injuries

Hamstring tears can be incredibly debilitating and have put an end to many athlete’s careers.    Once you experience one they tend to recur frequently so prevention is critical.  Of course, hamstring injuries are a problem in all walks of life from weekend warriors to professional athletes to sedentary folks. What Causes Hamstring Injury? The cause of hamstring injuries is still not well understood although there are some key suspects: Low levels core muscle strength Hamstring muscle inflexibility Quadriceps and hip flexor inflexibility Ankle inflexibility Greater quadriceps versus hamstring strength Poor running mechanics Age -- older equals more susceptible Previous hamstring, knee or pubis injury Inadequate warmup Fatigue Age and previous…
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The Pros and Cons of Training on Unstable Surfaces

Training on unstable surfaces owes most of its development to rehabilitation where it originated.   There are many unstable training surfaces including physioballs, foam pads, inflated rubber disks, and Bosu’s .   These surfaces are used on the training floors of most gyms.   The idea behind unstable training is that inconsistent motion stimulates sensory apparatus in the muscles and joints leading to increased sensory input and increased muscle activation.   In addition these movements cause muscles on both sides of the joint to co-contract.    Co-contraction occurs to some extent during virtually all movement.   When we significantly increase co-contraction the result is increased joint stability. Increased co-contractions from unstable training can be very useful…
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CrossFit: Dangerous or Effective?

Anyone who spends time Googling CrossFit will find it described as the most effective training system available while others claim it is the most dangerous training system out there.   So what gives?    The reality is that just because two gyms call themselves “CrossFit” and have CrossFit Trained and Certified Coaches does NOT mean that the experience is consistent between different CrossFit locations. There are many CrossFit locations that place a premium on client safety and carefully evaluate all clients prior to any workouts in order to understand their unique fitness level, injury potential, and movement profile in order to plug each client into programming that not only does not hurt…
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