Friday, March 14, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News and Information You Can Use

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be MANY Fitness Fridays to come - the plan is to make this a weekly thing beginning today. First up today, three stories from T-Nation, followed by an article on caffeine use by athletes from The Atlantic.

Conditioning Stations for Fat Loss

by Dan Blewett | 03/05/14

Here's what you need to know...
•  Station training is partner friendly, mixes different stimuli, can be done indoors or outdoors, and allows you to do more locomotive exercises.
•  Simply choose two exercises and set up dedicated areas 10-40 yards apart. You'll perform an exercise at one station and then perform a locomotive exercise to get to the other station, where you'll perform the second exercise.
Conditioning is usually pretty monotonous. We get sucked into a routine, and "routine" is exactly the problem. Variety, however, is a great thing for both physique and sanity. Enter station training.

What is Station Training?

Find a clear area. Choose two exercises and set up dedicated areas 10-40 yards apart. You'll perform an exercise at one station and then perform a locomotive exercise to get to the other station, where you'll perform the second exercise.
Read more.

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6 Challenges You Must Accept and Beat 

by Dan John | 03/03/14

Here's what you need to know...
•  You need challenges to find out what you're made of. Especially you, keyboard warrior.
•  You should at least be as strong as a high school football player and be able to bench, front squat, and power clean 205.
•  Once you load up a bar with your body weight and do 50 squats, you'll never again complain that your regular squat workout is too tough.
•  Other challenges, like the snatch challenge and the farmer's walk challenge, will help you discover your training gaps.
Part of the problem with the modern internet warrior who claims a 750 deadlift and a body fat percentage of four percent is that he's never truly challenged. Many who want to train like a Spec Ops ninja might not even be able to survive basic boot camp training. Folks, we need challenges. Let's start with the basics and then slide up a bit.

First, let's at least be as strong as a high school football player. Can you bench, front squat, and power clean 205? That's become the standard for most schools in the past few years. If you're not yet there, strive to at least meet these metrics:

• A body weight bench press
• A body weight power clean
• Somewhere in the realm of a double body weight deadlift
But let's take it up a notch. I have a number of challenges that I've offered my athletes through the years. Some suck and some have no value, but some can change your life. I have no idea what specific benefits you'll reap from meeting any of these challenges, but I do know this: Each of these will make you better at whatever else you do.
Read more.

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Unconventional Trap Bar Exercises


Here's what you need to know...

•  Trap bars are great for deadlifts and shrugs, but there are plenty of awesome, lesser-known exercises that you can use it for.
•  The trap bar is possibly the best thing you can use for single-leg loading. It gives you unlimited unloading capacity and it's much easier to hold than dumbbells.
•  The trap bar can also be used for pressing movements and serves as a great shoulder-friendly alternative to barbell pressing.
•  Traditional barbell rows often place undue stress on the lower back, plus most people cheat their ass off on them. Try split-stance rack rows with the trap bar instead.
When most people think of the trap bar – also known as the hex bar or shrug bar – they think of trap bar deadlifts, shrugs, and maybe farmer's walks. Those are certainly good uses for it and any of them make getting a trap bar well worth the investment, but there are also a slew of lesser-known exercises you can use it for that can really expand your arsenal. It's actually a surprisingly versatile tool that allows you to train hard and crush your muscles while taking some stress off your joints.

Having an oversized rackable trap bar like the Dead-Squat™ Bar opens up even more possibilities, but if that's not an option, you can always get creative. Here are some of my favorites . . .
Read more.

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How Athletes Strategically Use Caffeine

Caffeine has become the performance-enhancing drug of choice in competitive sports. Using it in precise ways, and not excessively, seems most effective.

Murray Carpenter | Mar 13 2014

Andy Clark/Reuters

Every year, many of the planet’s fittest athletes converge in Kona, Hawaii for the Ironman World Championship. It is a brutal triathlon: a 2.4-mile swim in the Pacific swells, followed by a 112-mile bike ride on a road flanked by lava fields, topped off by a marathon. You have to earn the privilege to race at Kona, and even that isn’t easy.

The 1,900 athletes competing in 2012 had taken the top few spots at qualifying triathlons all across the world. Most were jacked up on caffeine, the world’s most popular performance-enhancing drug.

Sarah Piampiano was among them. Though just a first-year pro, Piampiano had already won an Ironman race in New Orleans and was the second American woman at the 2012 Ironman U.S. Championship in Manhattan. The day before the Kona race, Piampiano was relaxing in a friend’s house, high above the endorphinated madness down in town, drinking a calorie-rich smoothie and telling me about her caffeine strategy. "Caffeine is critical, particularly if you want to perform and have any success at the top level."

Piampiano is not a caffeine addict. She has maybe two cups of coffee in a year, because she is sensitive to its effects. It makes her jittery. But on race day, she uses it thoughtfully and systematically to optimize her performance. She uses energy gels made by Clif Bar, one of her sponsors, to integrate calories and caffeine into her race-day nutrition plan. Before the race, she usually takes a gel with 50 milligrams of caffeine. Then on the biking leg, she takes 50 milligrams per hour. And that increases later in the race.

Piampiano uses Clif Shot Blocks, which are “kind of like gummy bears,” when it is easier to chew. She also has several energy gels—which have the consistency of thick honey and come in foil pouches—to use during the run. Throughout the day, she tries to take about 300 calories per hour and augments that with increasing doses of caffeine.

“As you get further into the marathon, your energy supplies are depleted and you just really start suffering; that’s why I start increasing the amount of caffeine I take. At the end of the marathon, you need that energy kick,” she said. And Piampiano said caffeine is an essential tool for an elite triathlete. “It’s critical, particularly if you want to perform and have any success at the top level.”
Read more.

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