Friday, May 9, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News and Information You Can Use

It's Friday, so it's time for another Fitness Friday post. There is a lot of good stuff this week, so pour some coffee, shut your office door, and get ready to be educated from some of the best minds in strength and fitness.

To begin, here are three articles from T-Nation - ridding ourselves of stubborn body fat, the problems with exercise science programs in most universities, and deadlifting 101, from a guy with an 800+ lb deadlift.

How to Burn Stubborn Body Fat

by Dr. Jade Teta

Here's what you need to know...
  • Spot reduction can occur, but on a very small scale. Attacking stubborn fat and spot reduction are two different things.
  • Stubborn fat is physiologically different than other fat. It has a high density of alpha-receptors compared to betas, is more insulin sensitive, and receives less blood flow than less stubborn fat.
  • Dieting by eating less and exercising more is by far one of the major blocks to permanent change. Supplements such as green tea extract, forskolin, and yohimbine HCL can help with stubborn body fat, once you get your diet in order.
The other day I was perusing some popular health and fitness pages on Facebook . One discussion was from a person asking a question about "targeting stubborn fat". The page administrator answered the question this way: "You can't target certain areas of the body. It's simply impossible. The body burns fat from all over. Spot reduction has been proven a myth."

And the truth is? The page administrator is wrong on both accounts. First, you can certainly target stubborn fat, and spot reduction has been proven to occur.

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The Problem with "Exercise Science"

by Mark Rippetoe

Here's what you need to know...
  • Most university-level programs do not equip their graduates to function beyond the commercial gym pin-setter level.
  • Barbell training, the most basic and effective method for improving strength and conditioning, is either not taught in most programs or so poorly taught that it leaves students unable to get real results with their clients and athletes.
  • Many studies that make it into the hallowed "Literature" draw conclusions based on unrealistic, silly methodology and puny weights. It's clear the "exercise scientists" conducting these studies do not use barbells beyond a novice level, if at all.
  • To get a real education, study a "hard" science, plan for much self-education, compete in your field of interest, and coach lots of other people... for years on end.
I talk to lots of kids who are interested in becoming strength coaches. I get e-mail about this every week, and we talk about it with people who attend our seminars every month. Most are in school for an "Exercise Science" degree, at either the graduate or Masters level. I have two important observations:

1. The university-level programs are so uniformly bad that everyone who comes prepared to pass our barbell training and coaching course has done the preparation themselves, with no help whatsoever from their coursework at school. As far as I know, there are so few college-level programs that actually equip their graduates to function beyond the commercial gym pin-setter level that I cannot tell you the name of a single school that does the job adequately.

2. These people come to our Level II seminar, and the most frequent comment from them is something to the effect that "I learned more in your 25-hour course than I learned in the past 4 years of my Exercise Science program at [name any university].
Thank you THIS much [stretches arms wide and hugs me]." I understand that people don't go to college to learn how to lift weights. I know that Brooks and Fahey must be read and understood, that some approach to understanding cardiopulmonary topics must be taught, and that testing and measurements are sometimes important if quantification is necessary for the Physical Therapists.

But I also know that any college-level program that calls itself "Exercise Science" or "Biomechanics" or "Exercise Physiology" or any other trendy permutation of PE should at least prepare the student to function in a situation where the coursework can be applied in a real-world scenario, beyond what would be expected of a self-taught trainer in a gym, and that this is the expectation of the student who enrolls there. Most of these people graduate from the typical PE program quite literally unequipped to show a client the most basic weight room exercises and, more importantly, completely unable to put this client on an effectively-designed program that improves physical capacity over the longer term. The ones who can have learned how on their own.

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Heavy Deadlifting 101

Tips from an 810 Pound Deadlifter by Matt Kroc

Here's what you need to know...
  • With deadlifting, you don't need fancy techniques like drop sets, super sets, rest/pause, etc. Keep training simple with rep ranges of 1-10 reps.
  • Smaller, thinner lifters tend to typically perform better with the Sumo style while larger, thicker lifters tend to be stronger in the conventional style.
  • Conventional deadlifting is preferential for bodybuilders, has a greater carryover to everyday movements outside the gym, and is more applicable to increasing performance in other sports.
  • It's important at the beginning of the lift to move the bar away from the floor as fast and as explosively as possible as the momentum gained from this will aid greatly in completing the lift.
  • If the bar moves in towards you as it leaves the floor, then you're setting up too far away from the bar. Conversely, if the bar moves out away from you, you're setting up too close to the bar.
Deadlifting is the base upon which all real back strength is built. There's not a more raw or true to life exercise. You bend over and pick up something heavy. That's it. However, the deadlift's simplicity is also the reason it's so effective. It stresses every major muscle group in your posterior chain, but none more so than your back. It works your back from the base of your erectors to the top of your traps and everything in between.

You can always spot a guy with a big deadlift. He has powerful, yoked traps and a back thickness that you can't obtain any other way. Ronnie Coleman and Johnnie Jackson possess two of the thickest and most powerful looking backs to ever step foot on a bodybuilding stage and it's no coincidence that they're both capable of deadlifting in excess of 800 pounds.
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From Eric Cressey's blog, a brief video on understanding and managing joint hypermobility.

Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body: Why Do You Feel “Tight?”

Written on May 6, 2014, by Eric Cressey

Next week, Mike Reinold and I will release our newest resource, Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body. We're super excited to introduce the third installment of our popular series, and thought you might like a little teaser of what to expect. Here is an excerpt from one of my webinars, "Understanding and Managing Joint Hypermobility:"

Keep an eye out early next week for the release of this resource!

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From Tony Gentilcore's blog, an article on the joys of the goblet squat, and an intensity adaptation he calls "goblet elevator squats" - looks brutal, which means I will need to try this soon.

Exercises You Should Be Doing: Goblet Elevator Squats 

As far as “fool proof” exercises are concerned, you’d be hard pressed to do much better than Goblet squats.
I’d toss in an obligatory “it’s so easy a cave man can do it” joke here, but, well, shit, I just did.
Time and time again I’ve seen someone with some of the worst squatting technique you can imagine (Think: knee valgus, rounded back, my corneas perpetually bleeding), only to see them squatting flawlessly in a matter of minutes when coaching them up on the Goblet squat.
Likewise, almost always, whenever someone complains about how much “squatting hurts my knees,” I can get them performing them pain-free with a little cueing and attention to detail.
I like to call it “pulling a Dumbledore,” because it’s borderline magical in their eyes.
It makes complete sense when you think about though.

- Give them an anterior load to force them engage their core musculature more efficiently and to provide more stability.

- Cue them to SIT BACK (keeping their feet flat, however placing the brunt of their weight into their heels), while simultaneously pushing their knees out (t0 open up the hips).

- And then teach them to “finish” with their glutes at the top, and not only do they see drastic improvements in their technique (and depth), but it feels effortless and less painful.
That said, even though the natural progression is to (eventually) move towards barbell variations, sometimes it’s advantageous to stick with Goblet squats in the interim and make them more “challenging.”

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And finally, from Breaking Muscle, a look at the back squat vs. the overhead squat.

Science Compares the Back Squat to the Overhead Squat

Doug Dupont: Contributor - Health and Fitness News

The overhead squat doesn’t get enough attention in some circles and may be overemphasized in others. Some people consider it inferior to bigger lifts like the back squat, whereas others emphasize its advantages as a superior core exercise. A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research addressed this controversy.

In the study, researchers took a group of rugby players who were experienced lifters and had them perform back squats and overhead squats at 60%, 75%, and 90% of their three-rep max. Their squats were studied by electromyography (EMG) in order to analyze the amount of activity in their muscles. The researchers focused on trunk and lower body muscles, but also looked at the anterior delts.

Technically speaking, the overhead squat outperformed the back squat for the anterior trunk muscles, as measured by the EMG activity of the rectus abdominis and the external oblique. However, the authors of the study were quick to note that the differences were a small, albeit significant, 2%-7% difference. Due to the small percentage, they concluded that the claims of superiority of the overhead squat for trunk musculature are therefore false.

However, let me play devil’s advocate for a minute here. First, up to a seven-percent improvement is not to be discounted. That’s a big difference when it adds up over time. Second, experience level with the overhead squat is a big factor. Few people are as practiced with it as they are with a back squat, which can affect results like this. Third, overhead squat loads were smaller. This study focused mostly on relative weight, meaning the percentage of one rep max, so the back squat loads were higher. When they compared pound for pound, the overhead squat had higher EMG activity in every muscle except the gluteus maximus, and only during the concentric phase.

Back squats, on the other hand, can be lifted with greater loads. While the overhead squat may be better for the anterior trunk, the study found the back squat was better for every other lower body and trunk muscle when compared at relative loads rather than absolute. The only other muscles they tested were the anterior delts which, not surprisingly, were hit much harder on the overhead squat.

The researchers also compared both squats to traditional core moves like sit ups and planks. The rectus abdominis and the external obliques both showed much greater activity from the core moves. By contrast, both kinds of squats hit the erector spinae much harder.

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