Friday, May 2, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News and Information You Can Use

In this edition of Fitness Friday, we have an article on squat challenges; short, effective workouts; hip thrusts (two pieces from different sites); and the research reality of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

A few pieces from T-Nation start things off this week.

4 Squat Challenges You Must Conquer

by Ben Bruno   

Photo Credit: Gavin Simpson

Here's what you need to know...
• Every now and then it's fun to put on your big-boy panties and test your mettle.
• Gym challenges need rules because there's a very fine line between pushing yourself hard and being reckless. The former will teach you a lot about yourself and show you what you're truly capable of, while the latter will get you hurt.
• It's best to choose self-limiting exercises whereby there's far less potential for form breakdown. These challenges will focus on the front squat.
There's nothing like a good challenge to increase your work capacity and let you know what you're made of. Of course, you don't want to crush yourself every time you hit the gym and it's certainly best to spend the majority of your training following a well thought-out, reasonable program. If all you do is random challenges where you're constantly beating the crap out of yourself, your training will quickly deteriorate into the dreaded "C" word, and by that I mean clusterfuck, not necessarily CrossFit.

But every now and again it's fun to ditch the script, put on your big-boy panties, and just unleash hell. After all, how do you know what your limits are if you never push them? That being said, gym challenges need rules because there's a very fine line between pushing yourself hard and being reckless. The former will teach you a lot about yourself; the latter will get you hurt. I'm all for hard training, but you still need to be smart about it.

With that in mind, it's best to choose self-limiting exercises whereby there's far less potential for form breakdown, so instead of testing yourself with things like Olympic lifts, barbell deadlifts, and back squats, think front squats, sleds, farmer's walks, etc.

I'm going to share four front-squat challenges in this article, and they aren't for the faint of heart. Before you begin, you'll want to start the workout off with a squat-specific warm-up to prepare yourself for what's to come. Get in the bottom position of the squat with your hands pressed together like you're praying and your elbows touching the inside of your knees so you can push your knees out and get a good stretch in your groin and hips. Now, while you're down there, cough five times. That should help get all the sand out of your you-know-what. Now you're ready to rock.
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More Muscle in 10 Minutes A Day

by Chad Waterbury

Here's what you need to know...
• All you need is a heavy kettlebell and a doorway pull-up bar to add some serious muscle.
• Alternate between the swing/pull-up and goblet squat/one-arm push-up combo 4 times each day. It'll only take 10 minutes each day.
• With HFT (High Frequency Training), you don't need to train with balls-to-the-wall intensity every workout to stimulate muscle growth. Just add circuits into your current training plan and get ready to add lean body mass across your upper body and legs.
Do you want to add new muscle mass across your entire body? If so, we've got a solution for you. Pick a doorway in your house that you walk through frequently and install one of those home pull-up bars. Then set a heavy kettlebell next to it. Honestly, it's all you need to add a full-body, high-frequency training (HFT) plan into your life.

Doing that will be the best technique you ever used to add muscle. Plus, if you slack off, you'll feel riddled with guilt on a daily basis because you'll constantly be reminded that your ticket to new muscle is right in front of you. I mean, do you really not have the time to knock off 10 swings and 5 pull-ups as you pass through that doorway a few times each day? Or 10 goblet squats and 5 one-arm push-ups?

I think you do. In fact, I know you can do it, and you will gain muscle. Look, if every guy who's short on muscle mass would alternate between the swing/pull-up and goblet squat/one-arm push-up combo four times each day, there'd be a lot more muscle in this world three months from now. And it would take a grand total of about 10 minutes of time per day.
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Bigger, Better Glutes

Master the Hip Thrust

by Bret Contreras

Here's what you need to know...
• If you want to transform your backside, your weapon of choice should be the hip thrust.
• The hip thrust might be intimidating or embarrassing at first, but professional athletes and physique competitors are using it to strengthen their glutes and build their strength, speed, and power.
• There are technically 1,728 different hip thrust variations, but stick mainly to barbell, band, and single-leg variations.
• Your goal should be to do 10 hip thrusts with at least a 1.5 times bodyweight, with advanced lifters aiming for double bodyweight for 10 reps.
I've made a career out of transforming backsides. My weapon of choice is the hip thrust. While my routines always include a wide variety of glute exercises, including the squat, the focus is always centered on hip thrusts. In my experience, hip thrusts do the best job of building the glutes, they're easy to learn, and they're well tolerated by the vast majority of lifters. I even use relative 10RM hip-thrust strength (10RM hip thrust divided by your bodyweight) as a way to gauge my client's glute building progress, in addition to the tape measure. Let's cover various aspects of hip thrust performance and programming so you can start thrusting your way to a better butt and increased performance.
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Speaking of Bret Contreras, he also had a guest post on Eric Cressey's blog.

Squats vs. Hip Thrusts: Which is Better?

Written on April 16, 2014, by Eric Cressey

Today's guest post comes from Bret Contreras, author of the recently released 2x4: Maximum_Strength.

Many strength coaches, personal trainers, and strength athletes claim that the squat is the best exercise for promoting gluteal muscle development. Recently, the hip thrust has stumbled onto the scene, and its reputation for building impressive backsides has gained traction.

There is currently no published research examining the gluteal hypertrophic effects of squatting or hip thrusting, yet anecdotally we’re aware of their glute-building potential. While nobody can say for sure right now which is best for gluteal growth between the squat and the hip thrust, I hope that by the end of this article, you’ll be convinced that both exercises should be employed for optimal glute development.

Hypertrophy Science

According to hypertrophy researcher, Brad Schoenfeld, there are three primary mechanisms to muscle growth. The most important mechanism appears to be mechanical tension. A close second in terms of importance appears to be metabolic stress. Finally, we have muscle damage, which appears to be of slightly lesser importance. As it currently stands, we don’t know for certain how to optimize these three stimuli in our programming in order to maximize muscle growth. The way I see it, until more is known, we should do our best to hit every base in our training. Therefore, we want to perform exercises that create the most tension in the glutes, produce the most metabolic stress in the glutes, and create reasonable amounts of damage in the glutes. How do squats and hip thrusts fare in regards to the three mechanisms of muscle growth?

Let’s take a deep look at what happens biomechanically and physiologically in the glutes when we squat and hip thrust.
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From Built Lean, this is an interesting article on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a loom at the research and unproven claims about this unique lipid.

CLA Supplement Research Review: Benefits & Risks

by Charlie Seltzer, MD | May 1, 2014

CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid. It is a naturally occurring trans-fatty acid made from the omega-6 class of essential fatty acids. Since it is not man-made, you should view it differently from classic “trans-fats,” which are almost certainly bad for your health. On the other hand, CLA may actually be health-promoting, though as I will discuss below, the research is far from conclusive.

CLA is comprised of at least 28 isomers (different structural forms of the same molecule), and certain specific isomers may have different effects on the human body. However, since essentially all of the available CLA supplements contain a mixture of isomers, we will look at CLA as a whole instead of specific isomers.

What Is CLA Supposed To Do?

Supplement companies claim CLA can fight cancer, decrease body fat, increase lean muscle tissue, lessen symptoms of asthma, fight high blood pressure and heart disease, enhance bone density, improve insulin sensitivity, and boost immunity. Based on this marketing, it is easy to see how you may view CLA as a miracle supplement. However, it is smart to look incredulously at these claims and the research is a lot less exciting than the theoretical benefits.

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