Shari Duncan

Natural Bodybuilding

Vibram FiveFingers – Discover the Alternative.
Shari

by on Jun.13, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

It has 5 fingers.  It may just be the perfect workout glove; for your feet.

So many of us struggle with posture, balance and proper body mechanics not just in everyday activities but also when we train.  Although we work hard to maintain correct form and execution, it becomes challenging if alignment is off center. Risk of injury increases and strength, speed and agility may suffer.  Many of the exercises we perform in and out of the gym rely on flexible yet stable support from our feet and legs. Most traditional athletic shoes unfortunately, do not provide a sense of control. Of course, traditional footwear is necessary for

In (and out) of the gym: Increase Balance, Improve Posture while strengthening muscles in feet and lower legs.

In (and out) of the gym: Increase Balance, Improve Posture while strengthening muscles in feet and lower legs.

protection, safety and security but experts believe these same shoes that we wear day in and out also serve as a “cast” for the foot. And over time, they in fact weaken our foot and leg muscles, leaving them underdeveloped and more prone to injury.   It is important that the foot be stimulated and exercised in its natural state as often as possible.

So in my personal quest to improve my own center and develop a stronger base, I have discovered the Vibram Five Finger Shoes.  These funny looking shoes have been around for a couple of years. I was actually introduced to them over a year ago by a fellow bodybuilding friend and immediately dismissed them as ridiculous. Said to him, “no way would I ever”!  But as I looked into ways to improve my situation, the more these “five finger shoes” began to make sense.  They are unlike any other conventional footwear in that their design mirrors flex points and silhouettes the foot to propel the body forward and promote a more natural gait.

Here’s what the official website has to say about 5 finger footwear for use during fitness training:

FiveFingers footwear not only provides a sure-footed grip to enhance torque during power moves, it’s untrathin sole enhances feedback and lowers your center of gravity to improve balance and agility. FiveFingers will allow your foot to move naturally, flexing easily with every move you make. Its five individual toe slots lets your toes to separate gently, allowing you to use them as your natural stabilizers and providing unrivaled balance and increased muscle stimulation to your feet, ankles, and lower legs.

6 Key Reasons to Wear or Train in Vibram FiveFingers:

1. Strengthens Muscles in the Feet and Lower Legs – wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.

2. Improves Range of Motion in Ankles, Feet and Toes – no longer ‘cast’ in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.

3. Stimulates Neural Function Important to Balance and Agility –when wearing Vibram FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information

My new shoes... Black, of course

My new shoes... Black, of course

to the brain, improving balance and agility.

4. Improves Proprioception and Body Awareness – those same neurological receptors heighten body awareness, sending messages about body mechanics, form, and movement.

5. Eliminates Heel Lift to Align the Spine and Improve Posture –By lowering the heel, our bodyweight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spine alignment.

6. Allows the Foot and Body to Move Naturally, Which Just FEELS GOOD.

http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/indexNA.cfm

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The PERFECT Squat: How low should you go?
Shari

by on May.10, 2010, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding

Squatting below parallel is not bad for your knees….should I say again?

Okay…. squatting below parallel is not bad for your knees. This is a myth you probably have heard a lot. Some will advise you to do Partial Squats, staying above parallel, to avoid knee injury. This is wrong information. Wrong. If your knees hurt when you squat, it is more likely due to poor form… read on.

Among various sports (Power lifting, bodybuilding etc) and among online forums and across gyms, there are vast differences of opinion over this question.  Those with the loudest voices are often those at opposite ends of the spectrum: from the” ass-to-grass activist” to the squatting-below-parallel-is-bad-for-your-knees believer. In reality, most people will be able to reach a squat depth somewhere between the two extremes.

The simplest lesson to bear in mind is that you should squat as low as you can with good form. This means your back is flat or slightly arched, heels are on the floor, knees are above toes and not collapsing inwards, chest is up and not tipping too far forwards.

Again… Squatting below parallel is NOT bad for your knees. Squatting with improper form is.

A proper squat is to go as low as you can... while maintaining GOOD form throughout the movement

Aim to go as low as you can... while maintaining GOOD form throughout the movement

Your knee joint is strongest in a fully flexed or full extended position, not the positions in-between. Partial Squats (above parallel) only strengthen your knees & quads, not your glutes & hamstrings. This causes muscle imbalances & consequently injuries. The deeper movement balances and engages muscles on either side of the knee and as a result, the forward/backward forces acting on the knee.

Deep squatting is not only difficult and demanding; it is also humbling because much less weight can be moved than in partial squats. A great deal of force (and mental focus and  physical stamina) is required to push up from “the hole” (the bottom of the squat).

So even if you are not there yet, the goal should be to squat below parallel. Keep practicing form, form, form.  Over time, balance, flexibility and technique will improve.  If you find that you have balance issues with a tendency to fall forward, there are many other exercises and training tools that you should consider incorporating into your leg training sessions. One of the best is a variation of the squat known as the GOBLET SQUAT.

GOBLET SQUAT:

This exercise trains your body to remain more upright as you squat down, allowing you to avoid tipping forwards.  goblet squats were invented by Dan John a couple of years ago to teach his student athletes how to squat well and to teach them to squat between the legs, rather than with the upper body stiff at the hip.

Use a moderately heavy dumbbell or kettlebell and hold it in front of you like a goblet. This will force you to keep your chest raised as you squat down.  Lower your body between your legs, with a relatively wide stance. In order to increase your range of motion you will need a weight that is heavy but not too heavy – say, a weight that you can squat 6-10 times without technical failure. If the weight is too light it won’t push your body that little bit further into the stretch. Keep the goblet object close to your chest.  Your elbows should be between your knees at the bottom, not on top or to the side of your knees.

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WATER: The most powerful of all Supplements
Shari

by on May.01, 2010, under General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding, Supplementation

Plentiful and Inexpensive….but too often overlooked and underutilized.  Have you had your 8 today?

If you are not drinking your water, you are missing out on an essential element of sports nutrition.  Getting enough water into your body cannot be stressed enough; it is necessary to maintain good health, stamina and fuel for building muscle.

So why is water so important?

The human body cannot make or store water so it is necessary to drink water throughout the day to replace what is eliminated. Water makes up makes up 60-70 percent of body weight and is involved in almost every bodily process. When you work out, you may lose 4 cups or more of water through perspiration.  Of course , type and intensity of the workout and climate are factors into the amount of water lost through exercise.

Water flushes out toxins and other metabolic waste products from the body. Bodybuilders and others on high protein diets must take care to get in extra water to reduce stress on the kidney and liver. Adequate water also aids in digestion, nutrient uptake and it primes the body for fat loss.  If water consumption is in short supply, the body will begin to “hoard” it and store it which will make your skin look soft and “puffy”.  When you drink plenty of water, you will retain less water, making you look less bloated and more “ripped!!

Water not only serves to lubricate the body but is also essential as an insulator and protector of joints. It is actually a shock absorber for the joints that get stressed even on a regular

The MOST powerful of all Supplements..  Drink Up!

The MOST powerful of all Supplements.. Drink Up!

day, but even more so when you start resistance training or bodybuilding.  Drinking plenty of water ensures that the joints are surrounded by plenty of synovial fluid, which is the lubricating fluid surrounding your joints and assisting in movement. Water also serves as a protector for the tendons, so if you continue exercising while becoming dehydrated, you could be causing damage to the tendons. They need lubrication just like any moving parts on a piece of machinery.

How much water?

Everyone should drink about 8 glasses of water a day. Experts maintain that you should drink 0.6 ounces of water per day per pound of weight. (Body weight in lbs x .60).  So a 200 lb man would require 120 oz of water every day.  If you workout; or are involved in sports, plan to increase your daily consumption.

Be certain to hydrate before, during, and after physical activity.  Within an hour or so of training, drink a few glasses of water so you start well hydrated. While training you can drink a glass or so of water for every 15 minutes you train, especially if you’re sweating it out.

Dehydration is more common and can be more serious than you might think which is why it is important for you to be able to recognize the symptoms. It is most important to learn to avoid the onset of dehydration by simply keeping yourself well hydrated.   One easiest way to know if your are hydrated is to notice the color of your urine.  Dark colored urine is a first sign that you may not be taking in enough water.

Know the signs of dehydration

  • Your throat begins to feel sore and your voice may turn hoarse.
  • A burning sensation in your stomach.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • You develop a headache or migraine.
  • Dry mouth, and/or lips
  • You feel tired.
  • Your hands may feel cold.
  • Your skin feels dry.

To prevent onset of dehydration, begin drinking water first thing in the morning and drink steadily throughout the day.  Sipping, not gulping.  Be more conscious of you water intake when outdoors or involved in physical activity.

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Weight Training Injury?…. Key to Recovery, Keep Active
Shari

by on Apr.21, 2010, under Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding

No need to turn into a couch potato if you get injured.  Look for alternatives, get back out there and keep fit!

Injuries are an unwelcome reality when involved in sports.  As we train, over train and push through plateaus, we’re bound to stumble across some injuries. They come in all shapes and sizes, and range from muscle tears to tendonitis. Failure to warm up, sudden cooling off, overload, improper movement and poor nutrition all contribute to weight training injuries. It is important to learn how to differentiate the positive pain of deep muscular burn from the warning pain of injury.

Many small injuries can be managed by Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (R.I.C.E.) Also elevating the limb helps restore blood flow to the injured area.

R I C E.... Remember this to treat minor sports injuries

R I C E.... Remember this to treat minor sports injuries

No matter the type of injury you have, there are usually alternative exercises that can be done while still resting the injured area   For example, if you cannot perform weight bearing activities during the initial rehab phase, try doing upper body interval workouts, and / or stationary cycling. What’s important is to remain physically active and maintain some level of fitness so when the recovery period is complete you are ready to return to action as soon as possible.

If the injury is serious and not responding to first aid measures, medical intervention is recommended.

When time is lost in the gym, it not only limits you physically but also affects you psychologically .  The challenge is to keep as safely active as possible. Physical rehabilitation  not only helps the body recover and regain strength but just as importantly helps in alleviating frustration and in keeping a peaceful frame of mind.

Be sure that medical clearance has been given before resuming activity in the weight room. Most physicians and training coaches believe in resuming activity as soon as possible. Depending upon the nature and severity of the injury, it is vitally important to maintain some degree of the pre-existing fitness level. Take it slow, gradually working back to your routine, focusing on getting blood flow back into the injured area.

The best way to prevent any sport or gym related injury is to stretch properly and execute the exercises with strict form.

Train Smart! You can do several things to minimize injury at home or in the gym:

  • Don’t lift weights that are too heavy for your stage of training,
  • Do use a spotter or buddy to help whenever you are lifting heavy.
  • Do lift with appropriate technique for the exercise, and
  • Don’t utilize potentially dangerous exercises unless you are sure you can handle them
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Banana Yogurt Pudding – with a PUNCH!
Shari

by on Apr.11, 2010, under Healthy Snacks, Natural Bodybuilding, Recipes, Whey Protein Recipes

This pudding packs a punch!   ~24 grams of protein per serving; 23 carbs and only 5 grams of fat.

When cutting carbs  pre-contest, I am continuously searching for ways to make high protein, low sugar alternatives of my favorite snacks.  This is one version of banana pudding that is good enough to enjoy anytime, not just during contest prep.  It is made with fresh bananas, greek yogurt and natural peanut butter; so it is not only ohh so good, it is ohh so good for you too!

In a medium bowl mix together:

Banana Pudding with a double protein punch - Greek Yogurt & Vanilla Protein Powder

Banana Pudding with a double protein punch - Greek Yogurt & Vanilla Protein Powder

1/2cup greek yogurt (plain)

1/4package sugar free banana pudding mix

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 Tbsp Naturally More Peanut Butter (or PB of choice)

1/2 ripe banana, mashed (save other half to top pudding)

Cinnamon

(Optional) – 1 packet Stevia or Splenda

Gradually stir in approx 1/2 cup  milk  until mixture is of pudding consistency (I use light Soy)

Top pudding with remaining banana slices and sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

Place in Freezer for approximately 20-30 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours until well chilled.

OPTIONAL: Top with 1/4cup granola, if desired

MAKES 2 SERVINGS.

Nutrition Information per Serving:

Calories: 215

Protein: ~24 grams*

Carbs: ~23 grams

Fats: ~5 grams

* ( Macros may vary based on brand of Protein Powder or type of milk product used)

Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt

GREEK YOGURT

Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and is also higher in protein and lower in sugar than traditional yogurts you may have tried.  It has a much thicker and creamier consistency as well. It is an excellent breakfast, lunch or snack food.  try it mixed with granola, fresh fruit, or honey.

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from Green Tea to Ephedra… Fat Burners are NOT all Created Equally.
Shari

by on Apr.09, 2010, under Natural Bodybuilding, Supplementation, Weight Loss

Supplementation with fat burners can help you achieve your desired results- BUT only with a disciplined diet and regular exercise program.

I am often asked to recommend a fat burner by those struggling to get lean quick, and I often hesitate before doing so.  Fat burners and thermogenic supplements can assist with desired fat loss but remember, they are called SUPPLEMENTS for good reason.  There are no magic pills and there is much debate on their effectiveness.  There are many natural products

Green Tea~ a natural choice

Green Tea~ a natural choice

available such as green tea and guarana that contain fat burning and thermogenic properties, as well as chemically enhanced weight loss pills that may work more quickly but may also produce undesired side effects and/or become addictive.   Most natural fat burners can be found in health food stores.

A good fat burner contains certain herbs and chemicals that will do three things:

  • Burn stored fats resulting in increased energy
  • Stimulate the metabolism to “burn” stored fat
  • Suppress the appetite

With the correct lifestyle, fat burners can provide significant benefits. But they also can be misused. If you choose to supplement with a fat burner, avoid these common mistakes:

1)      DO NOT exceed recommended servings.  In fact, I recommend that first time users take less than the recommended daily serving initially to assess tolerance.  Most fat burners contain caffeine and/or other stimulants that may produce undesired feelings of nervousness, or jitters.

2)      Fat burning supplements are intended to be taken short term to stimulate the metabolism.  Even if the product you choose consists of all natural ingredients, you will develop a tolerance to it over time. Once your body gradually becomes accustomed to these stimulants, it will cease to respond.    Remember, that they were designed to assist you in reaching a short term goal and not to be incorporated as part of your daily diet long term.

3)      No two products are exactly the same.  No two metabolisms are the same either.  Basically, this means that what may work wonders for your best friend, may not be the best choice for you and your body. If you decide to incorporate an fat burner/thermogenic, you should approach it with an open mind and find the product that works best for you.

Fat burning supplements may very well be a worthwhile investment if you research and choose your products carefully and only use in conjunction with a healthy program of diet AND exercise to maximize the results.

The best weight loss supplement for you will be dependent on your individual goals and the path you wish to take in order to achieve those desired results.

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PROTEIN POWDERS – Deciphering all those Labels
Shari

by on Mar.20, 2010, under General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding, Supplementation

The need for adequate protein in the human body is second only to the need for water …

and is one of three macronutrients used by the body for energy.

You are working out and trying to eat better,  & you recognize that protein is necessary if you are serious about achieving results. Sometimes it’s tough to get enough protein each day from whole food sources though. But  increasing your daily protein intake while on a resistance training program will help to increase lean muscle mass.  Protein foods are also  thermogenic which means it takes more energy to digest protein. Our bodies must work 30% harder  digesting protein foods then to digest and process carbs and fats.

There are so many protein powder supplements available and choosing the right one can be confusing at best.  All proteins are not created equal. Hopefully this will provide a little insight to help you determine which form (or combination) of protein supplements will best meet your specific needs

The most common types of protein powders used are:

  • Casein
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Whey

WHEY Protein:

Whey comes in three popular forms: Whey Protein Isolate, Whey protein Concentrate, and Hydrolyzed Whey. Whey is derived from milk and is the most commonly used protein supplement. It contains nonessential and essential amino acids, as well as branch chain amino acids (BCAA). Whey is easily absorbed by your muscles and is extremely safe to use. Whey protein is not appropriate for those who have a milk allergy or who cannot tolerate lactose.

Fast digesting proteins, such as whey act quickly to help regulate bodily nitrogen levels and are recommended as a post-workout protein source.

Concentrate Versus Isolate:

Whey concentrate is whey in its natural form while isolate protein goes through an additional filtration process to produce a finer powder that allows for quicker digestion. Most whey products found on supplement shelves are made up of whey concentrate, mixed with a small portion of whey isolate.  Generally isolates are 90%+ pure protein.  Whey concentrates contain 70-8o% protein.  Comparing the two, whey protein isolate is more expensive than whey protein concentrate because of its higher quality and BV (biological value). Whey protein isolate contains more protein and less fat and lactose per serving.

Whey protein isolate is the highest yield of protein currently available that comes from milk. Because of its chemical properties it is the easiest to absorb into your system. With its high concentration, it appears that an isolate protein would be the obvious choice over a concentrate. But the isolate is more expensive and ts extra concentration may not justify its extra cost. This is an individual decision.

Regardless of what type of whey you select, whey in all forms is quickly digested and therefore the best time to capitalize on wheys quick absorption is to consume it is during or immediately after training.

Hydrolyzed Whey (also called peptides), are powerful proteins that are more quickly absorbed than any other form.

Assorted fast, slow, and timed released blended proteins available in many flavors.

Assorted fast, slow, and timed released blended proteins available in many flavors.

These proteins are potentially the most anabolic for short-term protein synthesis. Supplement with hydrolyzed whey 15 minutes prior to a workout, during a workout and/or immediately after a workout.

CASEIN Protein:

Casein makes up 80% of total milk protein and is slowly digested. It has a “thick” taste compared to whey and is considered an efficient source by those trying to build muscle.  A slow digesting protein provides a long term stream of protein and amino acids, meant to assist in keeping a positive nitrogen balance for longer periods of times. A slow digesting protein is a great choice for in between meals or before bedtime.

SOY Protein:

Soy protein is derived from soy flour. Of all the vegetable proteins, soy is the most complete protein. Similar to whey protein, soy protein has two types, the concentrate and the isolate, with the isolate being the purer, more expensive form. It is a fast digesting protein that has an average amino acid profile. Because of this, it is not the most desirable protein source for those looking to build muscle. Soy protein is ideal for those who have dairy allergies.

EGG Albumin:

Really is the Incredible Edible..and most complete protein source

The "Incredible Edible"..really is a most complete protein source

Egg protein is made from the egg white. It is considered the most perfect source of protein because it is complete in essential amino acids, branch chain amino acids and glutamic acid. The body completely and easily absorbs it, and it is fat free.  Because of its characteristics, egg protein is used as the standard against which all other proteins are measured. It is popular in bodybuilding circles because of a higher essential to non-essential amino acid ratio, and because egg whites contain less cholesterol then egg yolks. Eggs are often considered the king of natural food proteins because of their high essential amino acids levels. Egg protein is the best alternative for those that are lactose intolerant.

Protein Blends:

Protein blends combine several types of proteins such as whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg protein, casein protein, and soy protein. When choosing a blend, you receive the full spectrum of proteins with the varying rates of absorption from the different types of protein, which make them a good all around choice for most individuals.

Using a blend creates an anabolic effect from the whey and an anti-catabolic environment from the casein. The best time to consume this type of “timed release” or “sustained release” protein is outside of the six hour post workout window.

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Hurts so Good?… Post Workout Muscle Soreness
Shari

by on Feb.27, 2010, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Strength and Agility Training

Muscle soreness is an unavoidable side effect of strength and endurance training.

After a hard workout, most people begin to experience soreness in the body parts trained within 24-48 hours. This type of pain is called “delayed onset muscle soreness” or DOMS and can last several days to a week. The primary cause of DOMS, according to most exercise physiologists, is from tiny tears that occur in the muscle as a result of high intensity exercise – especially resistance training.  DOMS is a normal and expected outcome of physical exercise.  The only way to eliminate DOMS is to avoid exercise.

When you work out you literally “tear down” muscle tissue fibers.  (These are microscopic tears -& very different from the medical definition of a torn muscle). During the days after the workout, the muscle begins to rebuild itself. However, the muscles must be given enough time to recover and as well as adequate nutrition. This rebuilding process creates a “new” muscle that is bigger and stronger than before. This is how the cycle of building lean muscle occurs.

It is important to differentiate between the burn felt during/after the workout from the pain of an injury. Soreness should not become debilitating or prevent you from participating in sports or performing daily tasks.  This type of “good sore” is a sign that the muscles were worked – & that muscle tissue was broken down during your training session. As a result, you will begin to become stronger and your muscles will grow.

DOMS is greatest, but not exclusive, to beginners new to exercising. Over time, the body will adapt to the workload imposed on it and the less sore you will feel.   If you continue to repeat the same workout over and over again, it will eventually cease to make you sore. AND you will cease to make any progressThis is why it is important, no

Dramatic changes to workout routine & intensity will bring on DOMS!

Dramatic changes to workload & intensity will bring on DOMS!

matter how long you have been training to change up your workout routines often.  Progressive overload is key getting stronger and building muscle.

Each time you “shock your body” with a new workout program, new exercises, new techniques you’ve never used before or in a long time, expect the soreness to return. Sometimes the amount of soreness from a change in your routine can be severe. So remember to go easy the first day on a new program and build intensity gradually or you may push over that line from “good sore” to “bad sore”.  Severe muscle soreness probably means you overdid it, which will happen from time to time.  In most cases is not reason for alarm.

Reducing the Effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

If you train intently, you will be sore post work-out.

The goal is to reduce the DOMS effects and keep to your workout schedule.

WARM-UP/ STRETCH – The benefits of warm up before and post workout stretch are numerous and should never be overlooked or their value underestimated.  Warm up and cool down properly and build your workout program gradually to minimize DOMS.

REST:  Remember, a little soreness is expected; it is a sign of a good workout and eventually the soreness will go away.  Rest and allow the muscle groups worked to recover for a couple of days before working them again.

MASSAGE/ Hot Bath / Heat / (heating pad) will sooth sore aching muscle and reduce inflammation and pain.

WATER:  Drinking extra water helps to flush toxins and other byproducts of muscle breakdown that occur during heavy exercise.

VITAMIN C /E – antioxidants are proven helpful in dealing with muscle soreness and recovery. Your muscles produce more free radicals during exercise. Supplementation with antioxidants C & E will slow down the oxidation process, which in turn reduces fatigue and soreness.  A healthy supply of these nutrients help to minimize pain the day after a workout and will speed the healing process.

SUPPLEMENTATION:  Glutamine and BCAA’s (Branched-chain Amino Acids) are known to assist in muscle recovery and repair.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES: – (Ibuprofin) – like Motrin will alleviate symptoms for sure. I usually try to use these as a last option to the ones mentioned above.

PROPER NUTRITION: The fuel we give our bodies have a significant impact not only on performance but also in the muscle building and recovery process.  While proper nutrients will not prevent or give instant relief from muscle soreness, it is essential for the muscle repairing process. By consuming the right balance of nutrients before, during, and immediately following workouts, you can minimize the amount of muscle protein breakdown incurred during workouts and maximize the rate of post-exercise muscle protein repair and rebuilding. This principle is known as nutrient timing and is topic that will be discussed more in depth in future blogs.

**If soreness persists many days, or you suspect an injury, see a doctor. Otherwise for mild to moderate exercise related soreness, some combination of rest, anti-inflammatory, hot water/heat, massage, and drinking plenty of water will handle it.

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Facts about OVERTrAINING….
Shari

by on Feb.14, 2010, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding

Over-training occurs when we strive to improve performance and train beyond the body’s ability to recover.

Many athletes train too hard and too long. Over training takes place when muscles are not given the necessary recovery time. Unfortunately the desire to improve often results in over training. Many spend way too much time in the gym. When their efforts fail to give them results, they increase their workout time. And when that doesn’t work, they increase it more and eventually become frustrated, deciding that they just can’t build muscle no matter what they do. But, what is so difficult for many of us to grasp is that muscles will not grow or become stronger without sufficient recovery time.  —In fact, quite the opposite takes place. Performance suffers, and often injuries occur.

training log

Keep a training and nutrition log to monitor gains and progress

Athletes strive to push to maximum ability in order to improve. However, when training exists without allowing  for recovery time,  muscles stay in a stressed condition. It is normal for muscles to be sore when worked hard but be aware that there can be a fine line when balancing training intensity and overtraining.

In order to maximize and obtain desired results, it is vital to plan rest cycles into your training plan. This will help prevent overtraining. During the rest period:

  • eat carbohydrates
  • get a full night’s sleep
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • eat carbohydrates

Adequate rest cycles helps the body fully recover glycogen storage in muscles and liver, and enzyme systems within the muscle cells. During the rest period these systems overcompensate for the workout, which (if you have sufficient rest) causes your muscles to increase strength. The recovery period is very important to avoid overtraining muscles.

The Dangers of Overtraining

Simply stated, overtraining is when the body becomes overwhelmed by the demands being placed on it and is often referred to as “burn out”.

Muscles must be given time to heal. Recovery time varies by individual and the intensity of the workout. If your muscles seem to stay sore, take a break from training.

When the body incurs more damage than it has the opportunity to repair and rebuild, we become in danger of overtraining syndrome.  The goal of weight training is to initiate small tears in muscle tissue with the expectation that the body will then repair and rebuild that tissue to be stronger. These tears are necessary to stimulate muscle growth but they are, even if just temporarily, muscle damage.

If the body is not allowed the opportunity to adequately repair this damage,  overtraining ensues. OTS (overtraining Syndrome) is a progressive condition. If the training cycle continues beyond the body’s repair capabilities, OTS will continue to advance and further averting gains in the gym.

Symptoms of Overtraining:

Train Hard ...But Rest & Recovery is Vital for RESULTS!

Train Hard ...But Rest & Recovery are Vital for RESULTS!

Be receptive to the symptoms of muscle overtraining. Some of the signs are:

  • increased fatigue
  • physically tired
  • exercising often but not improving
  • chronic and persistent sore muscles
  • pain in tendons when moved
  • lower resistance to colds, sore throat
  • easily angered; depressed

How much rest does the body need?

The rate with which the body can properly repair and rebuild muscle tissue will vary by the individual.

Determining the correct training volume and intensity, eating the right foods, and getting the right amount of rest and recovery are all factors to be taken in to consideration.

To avoid OTS, give the body the opportunity to repair the damage

You must give the body adequate rest.

Supplementing with glutamine has also been shown to speed up recovery.

The intensity in which you train impacts how much recovery time you need. If the ultimate goal is to increase muscularity and gain mass,  then training must be done with maximum intensity. That said,  and done correctly —  a mass gain training session places great stress on the body.

To achieve maximum muscle gain, you must respect the value of adequate rest to the muscle building process. To work past a plateau, increased training can sometimes be effective but just as likely; backing off may be the answer to restarting muscle growth.

Proper nutrition is vital to recovery for strenuous workouts. Diet plays a huge role in any muscle building program. It helps regulate hormone levels, provides energy, and provides the raw building blocks used to create new tissue.  A couple of very important things to consider: Don’t skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast is very catabolic, and can promote muscle loss. Don’t allow too much time between meals – eat small, frequent meals. If you’re trying to build muscle mass, you have to constantly feed your body quality foods so that it never has the chance catabolize muscle tissue. Eat every 2-3 hours to ensure that your body remains in an anabolic state.

Rest and recovery is essential when it comes to avoiding over-training. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep nightly, and try to keep to a consistent schedule. As for recovery time, incorporate days off between weight training workouts. Try to have one rest day between strength-training sessions, and do not train the same muscle groups on consecutive days.

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Don’t Forget to S T R E T C H !!
Shari

by on Jan.09, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Natural Bodybuilding

Stretching can be done anytime, anywhere.   Consider all of the benefits of stretching and why stretching really matters.

Flexibility for many is a goal in and of itself. Being able to take a joint through its full range of motion allows for more freedom of movement. Fitness activities like yoga and stretching concentrate on flexibility.  But so many of us overlook stretching as an integral part of our fitness programs or consider it a waste of time.  Experts agree however, if you want to achieve peak physical condition,  you need to stretch.  It is a powerful part of any exercise program. Most aerobic and strength training programs inherently cause muscles to contract and flex. Stretching after exercise promotes equal balance. Stretching also increases flexibility, improves range of motion of the joints and boosts circulation. Stretching can even promote better posture and relieve stress.

Benefits of a regular stretching program:      

Reduced muscle tension

Increased range of movement in the joints

Enhanced muscular coordination

Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body

Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)

As stated before, Stretching improves flexibility. The most common forms of stretching exercises are static, sustained movements that are slow and controlled. Static stretches are thought to be safe for most people. They involve a slow, gentle stretch of the muscle that is held in a lengthened position for 10 to 60 seconds and repeated about three times.

Another type of stretching exercise is called dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves gradual increases in your range of motion and speed of movement with a controlled swing (not bounce) that reach the limits of your range of motion in a controlled manner. You never force this type of stretch. Examples of dynamic stretching are slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.

Dynamic stretching exercises improve flexibility required in most sports and are often performed after a warm up before aerobic exercise training. Dynamic stretching exercises include 10 to 12 repetitions of the movement.

Some people practice ballistic stretching exercises. Ballistic stretching uses momentum in an attempt to force a joint beyond its normal range of motion. Bouncing-type stretches are ballistic and very different from dynamic stretching because they try to force a greater range of motion. Be cautious, as there is an increased risk of injury (from overstretching the muscles, tendons or ligaments) with ballistic stretching

Stretching is important for people of all ages and fitness levels.  When range of motion increases, limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs. Post-exercise stretching can also aid in workout recovery, decrease muscle soreness, and ensure that muscles and tendons are in good working order. The more conditioned muscles and tendons are, the better they can handle the rigors of sport and exercise, and the less likely that they’ll become injured.

Flexibility and Strength Training


If you lift weights, it’s even more important to stretch, and the best time to stretch is right after a workout. Stretching should not be done as a warm-up to an activity as you could injure your muscles if stretching them when they are cold. At least 3 to 5 minutes of cardiovascular training is recommended to warm up the muscles sufficiently. Stretching of fatigued muscles can increase flexibility and improve muscle building. Static stretching helps loosen muscles, removes lactic acid and prevents the muscle tissues from healing at a shorter length after a heavy workout.

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