Tuesday, November 16, 2010
They come in 6 packs
The abdominals or abs can be activated from any form of trunk flexion movement conditions the abdominals. Particularly the Rectus Abdominis.
The movement may consist of spinal flexion or may combine both flexion of the spine and hip.
The question is should they be straight or flexed to reduce the involvement of the hip flexors?
Should we perform trunk curls or are full sit-ups now acceptable, as some of the less well informed sections of the fitness press have suggested recently?
Professor Mc Gill once said that “sit-ups should not be performed at all by most people”. He said this once he finish conducting a study on the spinal loading during various abdominal exercises and discovered that straight leg sit-up impose approximately 3506 N of compression on the spine. A curl-up, however was shown to produce only 1991 N of compression.
The national institute of occupational safety and health set the action limit for the low back compression at 3300 N. repetitive loading above this level is linked with higher injuries rate in workers, yet this load on the spine is exceeded with the high level of rectus adbominis and oblique activities.
Hip Flexor activity during Sit-Up and Trunk Curl
Many people false believe that by flexing the hips, the hip flexors are taken out of the trunk flexion movement.
A study by andersson et al (1995) found that higher levels of activity in the iliopsoas during sit-ups with hips flexed to 45 degrees was more as to compare to a straight leg sit up activates less.
It appears that many of the commonly held beliefs regarding the performance of abdominal exercises are inaccurate or mistaken. What is also apparent is the need for exercise professionals to have an understanding of not the level of muscle activation a specific exercise elicits in a particular muscle group, but also on how great the exercise impart on the spine.
Exercise on the abdominals must be prescribed individually, based on medical history, restriction and even age. As a exercise may be appropriate for a highly trained athlete which are healthy, robust spines may be wholly inappropriate for an individual with history of back pain and poor pine stability, and vice versa.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Pilates has gain popularity and has found to be a method of training/exercising. But before I go we talk about the exercise lets go back to the history of pilates.
Joseph pilates was born in germany and grew up in England.during the world war he worked as a nurse in a hospital. Being knowlegable on the human body and limited space he had he began to create exercises to activate area parts of our body. He invented springs and frame of hospitals beds as resistance. During the 1920 he moved to new York where he started his studio and got some popular dancers who joined the his studio as well.
Consequently his method of exercise became very popular in the dance and drama sector.
In his system, Pilates stressed the importance of using fewer sets of few repetitions of compound movements that require significant motor skill and coordination (like well-organised strength training!), as opposed to the prolonged repetition of fairly automatic movements (like modern aerobics and jogging!). His reason for this was that endless repetition of unchallenging reflexive routines tends to decrease the degree of mental involvement, whereas carefully executed sets of very few repetitions of skilled movements tend to offer a better balance of mind and body training.
As we have noted above, all of these principles were abundantly evident in the work of Sandow, Krayevsky and other early masters. The major difference is that Pilates entered the world of dance to astutely promote his commercial career there and stressed the sale of his gymnastics-derived devices, while the other fitness leaders of that era allowed clients to use anything and everything that might be appropriate for any given individual, thereby laying the foundations for all modern fitness centres anf gyms.
In one respect, we should be grateful that the Pilates adaptations of the conditioning methods of his time has now offered a way out of the frequently repetitive and mindless militaristic group fitness classes. Not that the latter cannot play a valid role in the attainment of some aspects of general fitness, but they generally tend to be rather impoverished in terms of broader mind-body enhancement of strength, power, flexibility and motor control (unless the instructor happens to be far more creative and unconventional than the average).
Moreover, the likelihood of injury in Pilates type exercises tends to be far less than in most forms of aerobics class. However, the Pilates neglect of strong ballistic movement, high impact, heavier loading and high power output movements with loaded implements in free space also create deficits in all-round human development.
Even if Pilates does not actively add weight training methods to its repertoire of activities, it would go part of the way towards reducing these deficiencies by involving some of the Specific Activation and Specific Relaxation methods from PNF, as well as some of the pattern variations from that discipline.
In fact, if you are fairly well versed in the principles and procedures of PNF, and you are able to modify the traditional Knott-Voss activities to include pulley machines, some gymnastics apparatus, dumbbells, elastic bands, physio balls and a variable bench, you will be able to offer a very extensive form of challenging and productive training that Pilates will struggle to rival. If you are willing to include a few methods from the world of resistance training (Weightlifting, Power lifting and Bodybuilding) and martial arts, then your system will go far beyond what Pilates can ever offer.
Before anyone extols the originality and uniqueness of all that Pilates used in his training system, we have to recall that a very sincere Pilates inadvertently came upon or adapted patterns and procedures that mirror some of the methods used in PNF and weight training, as pioneered by other hugely influential fitness gurus who grew up in the European arena of late 19th and early 20th century training. This does not diminish its value, but it simply serves to place his training methods in a far more balanced light.
After all, there are still those who state categorically that
The very idea of coordinating or balancing body and mind was itself little-appreciated in the early 20th Century by most physical fitness gurus. At the end of the 20th Century, the concept of introducing ’spirit’ into the exercise equation still stretches the limits of appreciation of many fitness trainers and students.
This could not be further from the truth, as we have noticed in examining the fitness world into which Pilates was born. If anything, the fitness leaders of that time were more holistically inclined than the average fitness instructor of today (e.g., see Webster “The Iron Game”, 1976).
In his 1945 book of exercises, entitled “Return to Life Through Contrology”, Pilates wrote that “Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities.” Again, absolutely nothing new at the time. These words simply repeat what Sandow and several of his colleagues had said way before Pilates methods were being taught.
An oft-repeated claim is this: “You will feel better in 10 sessions, look better in 20 sessions, and have a completely new body in 30 sessions.” ( Joseph H. Pilates). If we examine this, it is equivalent to 10 weeks of three times a week of periodised modern strength training, which, in the same space of time easily can produce the same results as Pilates. If it doesn’t, then there is something seriously wrong with your training!
SOME PILATES RESEARCH
While searching for some published research on Pilates methods, I found this website and thought “at last, something!”, but my initial hopes waned the moment that I read these articles.
These articles are fixated on comparing ‘normal springs’ with the ’special’ Pilates springs used on his ‘Reformer’ machine and offer no information whatsoever on the allegedly special physiology behind Pilates. In addition, here some extracts that reveal significant defects in the calibre of the research:
***While the acceleration due to gravity is fairly constant over the surface of the earth, any movement against gravity involves acceleration, which means that resistance changes throughout the range of motion. Although springs offer resistance which increases directly with extension, training against gravity with or without weights can also increase resistance anywhere in the range of movement where you try to accelerate the limb or load. Movement at every stage of joint motion involves muscle shortening, so what this remark has to do with “coinciding with shortening of the muscle” is anyone’s guess.
***This last sentence reveals that the author has never undertaken any biomechanical research, nor does he appear to know that, if the Force-Time curve is a complete rectangle, the acceleration and deceleration phases to and from some apparently constant peak force are vertical lines and the acceleration in each case must be infinitely large. Even if the curve is obtained on an isokinetic dynamometer, the acceleration and deceleration phases cannot be vertical lines.
***How does work become “lost” in the elastic resistance case? If we wish to be pedantic, and the movement starts and ends in the same place, then no external work is done, be it against gravity or springs. If we wish to consider internal metabolic work, then his analysis is inappropriate and incorrect. Even if we can calculate it accurately in both cases, the work done depends on the magnitude of the external resistance, not simply on what arrangement is used to produce the resistance. More significant is the fact that there are action-specific neuromuscular programmes that will distinguish between the training effects of springs and inertial resistance.
***Without indulging in another scientific analysis of further inaccuracies in this extract, it is interesting that training on most Pilates machines, especially the gliding seat, spring-resisting ‘Reformer’, ironically also fail to reflect what happens in ‘real life’! The author continues to proliferate the misbelief that the only necessary and sufficient condition for general and rehabilitative conditioning is sport specific movement. Were this to be true, the use of all forms of resistance and supplementary training would be entirely redundant.
SOME PILATES WEBSITES
The following site proliferates the myth that Pilates training somehow produces a Pilates-specific type of longer, leaner muscle and that all strength training aims at increasing hypertrophy:
The proof in the above article? – Anecdote, hearsay and belief, relying on the very misleading idea that all strength training must involve bodybuilding bulking methods.
http://www.shapeshift.com/Articles/time.htm (Some Time Magazine rave trivia on Pilates)
Some final Pilates sites:
http://www.shapeshift.com/articles.htm (Popular Glossy Magzine articles on Pilates)
http://www.shapeshift.com/Articles/mnf.htm (Pilates for Weightlifters and Athletes – filled with many errors about pelvic stabilisation and use during heavy lifting
In fact, if Pilates teachers were to learn more about what advanced strength training is about, they could raise Pilates methods to far greater heights. If any of them are genuinely curious to learn some of the methods of integrated West-East strength science, then let them examine references such as the following:
Zatsiorsky V “Science and Practice of Strength Training” 1995
Siff MC & Verkhoshansky YV “Supertraining” 1999
Bompa T “Theory and Methodology of Training” 1983
Yessis M “Secrets of Soviet Sports Fitness & Training” 1987
Studies and research adopted by DR Mill Stiff
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I need a vibrator!!
The Power Plate became a big hit in the UK in 2006. I have noticed that it has gained popularity in the Asian market, particularly in Singapore. Madonna used it, but she was fit and well not because of this machines. She had been working hard for the last 20years before this machine even existed.
How Vibration Training May Work
When an individual stands or exercises on a platform that vibrates vertically at a frequency of between 25 to 40 Hz, the repetitive vibratory waves stimulate the musculoskeletal system to produce the physiological adaptations we know as training gains. The precise mechanism responsible for such gains is not fully understood and there is considerable debate as to whether the adaptation is due to physiological, neurological or hormonal factors.
Dispute of Vibration Training Claims
There is no evidence that has found few or significant performance gain. Performing barbell squats and using barbell squats on force platforms have been found to have no or insignificant difference.
Instead, several physiological hazards of vibration training were found. Medical problems such as sensory motor control, postural regulation, spinal reflexes and cardiac and respiratory rhythms are some negative consequences. Other long terms hazards include increased risk of lumbar spine and other musculoskeletal injuries.
People are finding way to trim down the fats without having to do the work at all. The truth is that the PowerPlate is just another gimmick.
If you visit the Power Plate website, you can read about all the research that is supposed to provide the scientific proof that the Power Plate is an effective method of exercise. If you actually read the research, you will see that the claims made in support of vibration training are not supported by the research, and/or that the research is flawed/incomplete to the point where it is meaningless.
In their recent study, WVB (whole vibration body) was used to compare 3 groups. One group was dieting based on calories per intake; another was doing aerobic activities and the last one was working on diet and vibration on Power Plate. Effect of Long-Term Whole Body Vibration Training on Visceral Adipose Tissue: A Preliminary Report Dirk Vissersa,b.c An Verrijkenb,c Ilse Mertensc Caroline Van Gilsc Annemie Van de Sompelc,Steven Truijena Luc Van Gaalb
First of all, calories-in-calories-out is far outdated as a way to monitor one’s diet. If I were to take 2 pieces of rich chocolate cake and say it contains 1000 calories, does that mean my so called diet is fulfilled? Secondly, aerobic activities have been found to help in weight loss, as it requires increase in muscle mass to lose adipose (fats) and it also produces insulin which causes us to get even hungrier thus causing us to eat more. I have to disagree with the research as the methodology of study is far outdated. When we diet this way, we do not lose fat but lose muscle.
If you want to do a research, why do it in sure favor that the other results will be negative?
Accelerated training is what sells and guarantees muscle soreness. Muscular soreness is caused by eccentric movements and movements that our bodies are not used to. If you were to sleep in the wrong sleeping position and thereby experience muscle soreness, does that mean you had a good workout in bed as well?
If you ever have the extra money and are looking for the best way to lose weight, the truth is there is no easy way out. You’ve just got to work for it!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Stretching was found to be one of the most crucial and feel-good activities. Many a time, standing up and stretching our backs a little after sitting for long, will make us feel good. But the question is, how good is stretching, and what are its benefits?
Since the craze of Pilates and Yoga, many have found stretching to be comforting. Some may even feel sore after doing a certain amount of stretching. Over a period of time of stretching each muscle, one would believe that they have increased their flexibility by being able to achieve a better range.
Flexibility is defined as the ability to move a joint through its entire range of motion. We often see a gymnast on television or a street performer with hyper-mobility. This is due mainly to pure genetics. But this may not necessarily be a gift that we want. Let me tell you why.
When we stretch till we feel a slight burn and sometimes even a slight pain, and we think that it is our muscles we are stretching, our understanding of it is totally wrong. When we stretch till we feel pain, what we are doing is actually stretching our tendons and ligaments.
In a matter of time, our tendons and ligaments lengthen and we feel that we have achieved better flexibility due to the greater range of motion. When our ligaments and tendons are loose, the chances of dislocation of the bone are much higher. Which is why once a person has dislocated his shoulder or knee for the first time, dislocation of it in the future is much more likely to happen. As we age and lose strength, we lose more stability of the ligaments thus increasing the likelihood of mild dislocation.
Indeed, stretching based on an action of full range of motion makes sense. But to aspire to reach a greater range than that of a normal one, is just plain ignorance, considering the amount of damage it may cause in the future.
While the ligaments hold the joints snuggly in place, the muscles acting through the tendon actually move the bones. The tendons across the joints behave like pulleys, allowing the bones to move relative to one another.
The warnings of coaches and other fitness gurus, instructing us not to lift weights as our muscles will lose flexibility, is sadly, a misconception. As it turns out, muscular strength actually enhances flexibility. Why? Because trained muscles are stronger, more supple and have improved circulation. They are better hydrated and thus have the ability to exert a greater amount of force across the joint, allowing full range of motion while maintaining the integrity of ligaments, hence producing optimal stable flexibility.
Brigham Young University professors and exercise physiologists, Clayne Jensen and Garth Fisher, reported that among athletes, Olympic weight lifters were second, behind gymnasts, in an overall score of a number of flexibility tests. Think of it, swimmers, figure skaters, javelin throwers all could not beat the flexibility of the weight lifters.
Could it be Yoga? Pilates? A regimen of painful stretching exercises? No, the secret is, greater muscular strength, stronger ligaments and tendons allow the joint to move easily through their entire range of motion.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Clearly, running will give you greater endurance for running. Similarly, a rower would have better endurance at rowing if he trains for rowing. You become good at what you do.
On average, at least one death occurs at every marathon. Most of the time, the cause of death is heart attack. This goes back to the history of the Greek Olympic Games. The modern Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., bringing news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message "Niki!" ("victory"), then collapsed and died, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon.
He died! Because of an over-strenuous activity of his heart.
Dr Kurt J Harris MD wrote an article concluding that the chances of clacification plaque forming was a lot higher in those who perform aerobic activity.
This was what he said:
“A given runner, in the German study, could be predicted (by MRI) to be more likely to have had a heart attack than a person with the same age, height, weight, smoking history, etc., who was sedentary. Take two subjects who otherwise look the same from a risk standpoint (which we know is kind of worthless anyway) and the sedentary one is more likely to have healthy coronary arteries.
And if compared to a person of the same age and sex, the runners in the German study had about the same chance of having had a heart attack, but this was despite being less likely to be obese, hypertensive, smoker etc., all those things that cardiologists tell us "cause" heart attacks.”
Like runner Jim Fixx, a fitness buff, who clearly died way earlier than he was supposed to, as compared to inactive Winston Churchchill. We can’t train our hearts and lungs and compare cardiopulmonary fitness to improvement of cardiovascular of our heart. Same goes with a marathon runner who has very good cardiovascular fitness but dies of a heart attack. On average there is a death at every marathon competition. Does this particularly mean that the people who died were unhealthy? Mind you, some were even world-class athletes.
We can train our muscles but not train our heart and lungs and then compare it to better health.
Here’s another article that further supports this statement (http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ACC/19091):
ATLANTA -- A group of elite long-distance runners had less body fat, better lipid profiles, and better heart rates than people being tested for cardiac disease, but, paradoxically, the runners had more calcified plaque in their heart arteries, according to a study reported here.
patients who were undergoing the same scan for symptomatic or suspected heart abnormalities
By Ed Susman, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today
nical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and
The Over-rated Vo2Max
Vo2Max is defined as the maximum oxygen consumption, or the aerobic capacity.
It is the bench press of endurance athletes, the trophy of gauging how endurance athletes compare lung capacity and being personally better in terms of so-called “fitness”.
It is true that certain evidence was found that Vo2Max studies have a relation to cardiovascular improvement. Nonetheless, Vo2Max is still an outright over-rated way of gauging one’s fitness.
Again, it has a lot to do with genetics. If u get an amateur athlete who trains really hard and does a Vo2Max analysis, he wouldn’t be anywhere close to an elite athlete who has not trained in years.
When u train, you better your Vo2Max but does that mean you’re healthier. No doubt, a better Vo2Max translates to better efficiency in transportation of oxygen supply, there is, however, no correlation of efficiency of transport of oxygen in the blood supply to muscle and benefit towards the heart.
You have as good a heart and lungs as whatever Nature has given you. Nature has designed them to last a good long while. Each of your organs has a limited capacity. When you exceed the capacity, there is a perception that your heart and lungs are out of shape.
As we age, we lose muscle mass and activities that you used to do become harder to achieve. You feel like your heart is pounding every time you get up to try to do something, but that is not because your heart and lungs have become weaker. It is because your muscles have become weaker and need strengthening. As we age, we lose muscle mass. If you strengthen your muscles again, you will be able to walk that flight of stairs, you maybe even able to run again. All you need to do is to strengthen those muscles.
“Strength is not everything, but without strength, you are nothing.” - Werner Kieser. Let strength training be the foundation, for whatever exercise or sports you decide to do.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I may sound a little biased in the things I suggest, mainly because I look into the evidence and research-based articles and books which prove otherwise. I am not a big fan of conventional wisdom but at the end of the day, it is indeed a “RED FLAG” in what we’ve been taught to belief and what we know to be ‘true’.
When Too Much is Too Much
It was said once that too much protein is bad for the kidney, too much carbohydrates causes diabetes, too much fats causes high cholesterol. So what should we consume then, if everything seems to be detrimental to our physical health?
Well, this was what I found. Saturated fats are good for us. We need to consume more fats, especially saturated fats, to prevent heart disease. It all makes sense as when human beings were consuming more fats decades ago, the rate of occurrence of heart disease was significantly lower.
Then what about cholesterol and the thickening of the arteries with lipids of the calcification of the arteries lobs? Cholesterol is divided into two types - HDL (the good stuff) and LDL (the bad stuff).
LDL is basically ‘bad cholesterol’, but it has not been well-defined. LDL, when consumed, is broken down into small cholesterol - VLDL or Very Low Density Lipoprotein, the fluffy LDL. In meat, we get a lot of LDL, such as through the fats from steak. Being fluffy, they do not go through our arteries and thus do not cause calcification (clogging) of the arteries. A piece of steak that undoubtedly contains LDL, is also rich in HDL. This ensures a balance of both types of cholesterol as the HDL content in a piece of fatty steak is higher than the LDL content. Besides, this LDL is really quite harmless to our bodies due to the fact that it is fluffy.
However both HDL and LDL play an important role in our bodies:
- Regulates hormones and protects against heart diseases
- Aids in Vitamin D production
- Acts as an antioxidant.
- Is necessary in mothers’ milk for breast-feeding
- Is used to repair damaged cells
And the list goes on…
What I am trying to say, is that, don’t dismiss “cholesterol” as bad for our bodies, don’t forget the good it does for us.
So, who’s the bad guy?
It's vegetable oil and carbohydrates that are causing the problem.
I know a little about the energy system and how it works. Basically, carbohydrates (CHO) are broken down into glucose and are later joined by the krebs cycle, protein breaks down into polypeptides and later amino acids go through the oxidative deamination transmission. And fats on the other hand go through the triglycerides into the beta oxidation process
What We Were Taught
Without going into too much detail, let’s discuss some lessons based on what we were taught in schools and universities.
Fats are divided into many based, the use of fats basically called the triglycerides which are then used in our bodies as part of the energy system.
Gary Taube’s “Good Calorie, Bad Calorie” explains our body’s response to insulin. When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies have to increase its secretion of insulin. As we all know, insulin increases the blood sugar (glucose) in our blood. Glucose burns and produces energy immediately, and then burns off. Later, we get hungry because our body is again, in lack of sugar.
An Alternative Source of Energy - Fats
CHO has always been known as essential towards providing us with energy. Wouldn’t be tired and lethargic without CHO?
Well, if we rely on fats for energy, our energy level becomes stable. Insulin doesn’t come into play in our bodies and our bodies will not be confused by a sudden surge in sugar level. There is no spike of sugar in our blood and we are therefore able to maintain a more consistent energy level.
Ketones Bodies and Ketosis
In order for acetyl CoA, produced by the beta oxidation, to enter the kreb cycle, a sufficient amount of oxaloacetate is needed. Oxaloacetate is converted to glucose (non-carbohydrate form). When oxaloacetate is converted to glucose, it is used as energy.
When we consume carbohydreates or sugar in any form, be it pasta, rice or even fructose sugar, our bodies can only keep a certain amount in muscles and liver as glycogen, after which insulin automatically relies on conversion of the sugar into fats.
The Truth About Cholesterol - Heart Disease or Arthrosclerosis
This is what we have been thought about the prevention of heart diseases and how it occurs.
Step1: We consume a lot of food that is high in cholesterol.
Step2: High blood cholesterol causes atherosclerosis.
Step3: Atherosclerosis clogs up our vessels causing a clog in our arteries and resulting in
coronary heart diseases.
Should I Avoid Animal Fat if I Have Had a Heart Attack?
A research was conducted, comparing 2 groups of people and their types of diet.
One group was taking a lot of saturated fat, meat and eggs daily. Another group ate a lot of vegetables and refrained from consuming fats. The study lasted over 20 years and what the researchers found was that there was no doubt that the people who ate a lot of saturated fats had high cholesterol. Nonetheless, the group that did not eat saturated fats died earlier and some even reported to develop heart disease.
The study proved that saturated fats never did promote heart disease. In fact, it assisted and prevented heart problems. Cholesterol was just an indicator that researchers got off athletes. Naturally, athletes have low-saturated fats content in their bodies. They are indeed fit, but not particularly healthy. The reason I say this is because even athletes at the elite level were found to be getting heart attacks. There needs to be a distinction between ‘fitness’ and ‘health’.
With low cholesterol levels, how is that even possible? This clear example proves that cholesterol level is not the right way to gauge a person’s health. Calcified plaque is what causes heart attacks. Calcification on your arteries clogs the arteries which then causes heart attacks.
Summing It Up
Cut down on your carbohydrates. If possible, keep to a diet consisting entirely of saturated fats, and you will have a better chance of reducing the likelihood of a heart attack and it will also help in weight loss.