Friday, March 28, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News and Information You Can Use

If it's Friday, and I think it is, it must be time for some good fitness info. In this week's edition, we have a great article on using bodyweight exercises for strength and size from Jason Ferruggia, two great articles from T-Nation (one on the "Olympic deadlift" and one on cortisol), and a final article from Eric Cressey on coming back from injury to do overhead presses.

Top 20 Bodyweight Exercises for Building Muscle and Strength

Jason Ferruggia
Bodyweight exercises need to be part of your program if you want to get jacked.

But not just pushups, sit ups and high rep calisthenics.

That’s beginner stuff that won’t build any real muscle.

We’re talking about really working hard on high tension, advanced bodyweight exercises that can only be done for somewhere between five and ten reps, on average.

The nice thing about these is that they’re very natural and can usually be done pain free by most people.

They can be added to any program along with barbells, dumbbells and strongman implements.

That’s the ultimate combination for building high performance mass.

Or you can use nothing but bodyweight exercises. The choice is yours.

Below is a list of my top 20 bodyweight exercises for size and strength. 

This article from T-Nation has provided me with a new exercise I very much like, the Olympic deadlift.

The Olympic Deadlift

by Amit Sapir

Here's what you need to know...

  • The Olympic deadlift is a hybrid of the deadlift and the traditional Olympic clean pull.
  • What makes this exercise different from the traditional deadlift is that it involves a much greater range of motion. Think vertical jump, except your feet don't leave the floor.
  • Since the Olympic deadlift and the conventional deadlift share some similarities, you can transition straight into deadlifts after finishing your Olympic deads without a warm up.
  • Olympic deadlifts will build huge calves, traps, and hamstrings without working on them directly in separate exercises. They'll also improve your conditioning.
The "Olympic deadlift" is an exercise I created that's a hybrid between deadlifts and the traditional Olympic clean pull. The grip width and the starting position is the same as it is for a regular deadlift with the bar above your toes and your shoulders over the bar, but your finishing position is like the end of a clean pull where you end up on your toes and your shoulders almost touch your ears. There's also a pause at the end of the movement to put more emphasis on the calves and traps.

Cortisol is a necessary hormone in the human body, but too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Excess cortisol can result in muscle breakdown and other undesirable effects. This article from T-Nation offers a good primer on cortisol.

The Two Faces of Cortisol

by Dr. Jade Teta

Here's what you need to know...
  • Cortisol, despite its bad reputation, is required for optimal health and actually burns fat, under the right circumstances.
  • Chronically elevated or continuously suppressed cortisol can be destructive. The key is balance.
  • You WANT cortisol high while you're exercising. During exercise, cortisol works with your other fat burning hormones to increase fat release.
  • Cortisol can cause cravings for junk foods – simultaneously shutting off the goal oriented centers of the brain and ramping up the reward centers of the brain. Bad combo for dieters.
  • The three best ways to control cortisol are diet, exercise, and lifestyle. The three easiest ways to assess if cortisol is balanced is by paying attention to hunger, energy, and cravings (HEC).
How Many Calories Does Stress Have?

I'll admit, this is a silly question. You can't eat stress! But this question makes a critical point about metabolism that the entire health and fitness world seems to miss: calories don't control metabolism, hormones do. And when it comes to hormones, the stress hormone cortisol is critical.

Not only can stress hormones impact how many calories you eat in a day, they can also impact the quality of calories you choose to eat and even influence how, and where, those calories might get stored or burned from. But if all that is true, how does the whole thing actually work? And what can you do about it?

Understanding Cortisol

The best way to think about hormones is as cellular messengers. They deliver information about what's happening outside the body to cells inside the body. A good way to think about cortisol is as the 911 hormone. It sends a message similar to first responders like firefighters and police officers. Cortisol plays both a protective role and adaptation role. It works against inflammation and also releases the body's sugar and fat stores to meet the demands of stress. Anything that poses a potential threat to the body will result in cortisol being called in to help.
Eric Cressey has a developed a well-deserved reputation as the "shoulder guy." In this recent post, he shares some of his knowledge on how to get back to overhead pressing for those coming back from a shoulder injury.

How to Build Back to Overhead Pressing

Written on March 27, 2014, by Eric Cressey
A lot of people refer to me as the “Shoulder Guy.” This came about, in part, because of the “Shoulder Savers” series I authored all the way back in 2006. In spite of the fact that they’re almost eight years old now, I still get emailers and seminar participants saying that those three articles were complete game-changers.

Well, since that time, I’ve personally evaluated more than 3,000 shoulders. And, with that experience comes a lot of new expertise in the shoulder arena. Today, I'd like to share one observation I've made. First, though, I have to tell a quick story to set the stage.

My role of the “shoulder guy” was actually somewhat born out of necessity, as I have a right shoulder that is structurally a mess (bone spurs, partial thickness rotator cuff tear, and very likely a labral tear and cranky, degenerative biceps tendon). Still, I’ve managed to work around it to move some solid weight around for a guy my size, and it doesn’t give me any problems at rest unless I do something stupid – most notably overhead pressing, and even incline pressing. Still, I miss my overhead work, so I tinker and experiment with things quite a bit to see what works. Last year, I talked about how landmine presses had been working. Effectively, they’re a nice “middle of the road” between overhead work and true horizontal pressing exercises.

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