Friday, June 6, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News and Information You Can Use

It's Fitness Friday again, and this week we have an interview of Dr. Stu Phillips conducted by Brett Contreras; three articles from T-Nation on deadlifting (made simple), ab exercises (kept simple), and being an "ancestral athlete"; and finally two nutrition studies, one on L-ornithine's effect on stress markers and sleep quality (seems good) and on water cress as the ultimate superfood (really? I have my doubts).

An Interview With Dr. Stu Phillips on Muscle Hypertrophy and Sports Nutrition

Brett Contreras

Yesterday (May 26) I had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Stuart Phillips from McMaster University (click HERE to follow him on Twitter) and discuss various topics in sports science and nutrition. We talked about the hormone hypothesis, best rep ranges for hypertrophy (and load versus effort), THIS article (Mitchell et al. 2012), sarcoplasmic versus myofibrillar hypertrophy, limitations and practical relevance of his research, levels of protein intake for maximal hypertrophy, recommended supplements for maximum hypertrophy, and more.
* * * * *

Next up are a couple of articles from T-Nation.

The Simple Deadlift Program 

by Matt Kroc   

Here's what you need to know...

  • Hitting a new PR in the deadlift is surprisingly simple. Deadlift hard and heavy and then let your body rest and grow. There's no need for fancy techniques.
  • While this program should result in at least a 20-50 pound increase in 1RM, one lifter experienced a 90-pound increase.
  • You'll only deadlift once per week, preferably 3-4 days after squatting. You'll also take every fourth week off from deadlifting.
Training the deadlift is simple. Hit it hard, hit it heavy, then let your body recover and grow. There's really no need for fancy techniques like drop sets, super sets, or rest-pause sets. Regardless, you gotta' be smart. Effective programming for the deadlift involves a well-planned progression in the amount of weight used. It also addresses and prevents overtraining, stimulates hypertrophy, and reinforces proper technique.

Using the program below, it's not uncommon to see a 20-50 pound increase in 1RM over a sixteen-week training period, and I've even witnessed as much as a 90-pound increase. You'll only deadlift once per week, preferably 3-4 days after squatting. You'll also notice that you take every fourth week off from deadlifting. This is to allow sufficient recovery and prevent overtraining. Deadlifting is very taxing and the lower back muscles are often stressed heavily when squatting and during other heavy back movements so you need the break. No worries, though, you can still train the lower back muscles during the fourth week, but with different exercises like good mornings, weighted back raises, reverse hypers, and pull-throughs, keeping the reps in the 10-20 range.

* * * * *

Ab Training Made Simple 

by John Meadows   

Here's what you need to know...

  • Ab workouts should be simple, quick, and effective. In fact, you only need two exercises and perhaps a third to work the "vacuum."
  • The biggest error people make in training abs is their breathing. You need to inhale deeply before executing the movement and then as you crunch or leg raise, blow all of your air out. This forces your abs to contract.
A lot of people ask me why I don't write more ab routines. The truth is, I assumed people would find my suggestions too simple. But an ab workout should be simple, and quick, and effective. In fact, you only need two exercises and maybe on occasion a third to get what you want out of your abs.

Only Two Exercises The first exercise is primarily a "lower ab" movement where you bring your pelvic girdle toward your torso. For me, that means leg raises.
... The second exercise is primarily an upper ab movement in which you take your torso to your pelvic girdle.
* * * * *

The 10 Rules of the Ancestral Athlete 

by Ben Greenfield   

Here's what you need to know... 

  • Your ancestors have important things to teach you about work, rest, stress, movement, and diet. 
  • You don't need to quit your office job, but you do need to hack your job to simulate the hunter-gatherer lifestyle as much as possible. Stand up and get moving, desk jockey. 
  • It's okay to sometimes be hungry, sometimes fast, and sometimes eat completely random meals you'd normally never eat. 
  • You need to accept the fact that you live in a post-industrial era and that you're often exposing your body to relatively unnatural activities, foods, and environments, and you may actually need a bit of better living through science.
Last year I completed Ironman Canada. It took me nine hours and 36 minutes. That's relatively fast for an Ironman. Not "get a paycheck" fast, but fast. However, in preparing for the race, I only trained 8-10 hours a week. That's about one third of the training volume of my peers.

I don't have amazing genetics and I don't use illegal performance enhancing drugs; nor was I wearing roller skates for the run. I simply live my life by a defined set of rules that give me an optimum amount of strength, stamina, and health that allow me to do things like an Ironman triathlon at the drop of a hat. I call these "The 10 Ancestral Athlete Rules."

Why "ancestral"? Look at it this way: Your ancestors wouldn't have planted their ass in a chair for 8 hours a day and then, at the end of that day, driven a car to the gym, wandered in, huffed perfume and deodorant under fluorescent lighting, and destroyed themselves for an hour with a chunk of perfectly symmetrical steel or iron. Instead, they would've engaged in light, low-level physical activity throughout the day, such as hunting, gathering, foraging, etc. They would have slept more, stressed less, and then occasionally run from a lion or lifted heavy stuff, often outside and in unpredictable situations.
So here are my rules for living like an Ancestral Athlete....
 * * * * *

Finally, two nutrition studies:

Randomised controlled trial of the effects of L-ornithine on stress markers and sleep quality in healthy workers

Mika Miyake, Takayoshi Kirisako, Takeshi Kokubo, Yutaka Miura, Koji Morishita, Hisayoshi Okamura and Akira Tsuda  [Author Affiliations ]

Nutrition Journal (2014, Jun 3), 13:53 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-53 

Abstract (provisional)


L-ornithine is a non-essential, non-protein amino acid. Although L-ornithine is contained in various foods, the amount is usually small.

Recently, studies have shown that orally administered L-ornithine reduced the stress response in animals.

From these findings, we speculated that L-ornithine may play a role in the relieve of stress and improve sleep and fatigue symptoms in humans. Through a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, we asked if L-ornithine could be beneficial to stress and sleep in healthy workers.


Fifty-two apparently healthy Japanese adults who had previously felt slight stress as well as fatigue were recruited to be study participants and were randomly divided into either the L-ornithine (400 mg/day) or placebo group. They orally consumed the respective test substance every day for 8 weeks. Serum was collected for the assessment of cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S). Perceived mood and quality of sleep were measured by the Profile of Mood States (POMS), Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS), and Ogri-Shirakawa-Azumi sleep inventory MA version (OSA-MA).


Serum cortisol levels and the cortisol/DHEA-S ratio were significantly decreased in the L-ornithine group in comparison with the placebo group. Also, anger was reduced and perceived sleep quality was improved in the L-ornithine group.


L-ornithine supplementation has the potential to relieve stress and improve sleep quality related to fatigue, both objectively and subjectively.

The complete article is available as a provisional PDF. The fully formatted PDF and HTML versions are in production. 

* * * * *

This last one is a little misleading because the authors discount the health-protective qualities of the phytochemicals in berries and other colorful foods.

Watercress tops list of ‘powerhouse fruits and vegetables.’ Who knew?

By Lenny Bernstein
June 5, 2014

(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Anyone who’s paying attention knows it’s a very good idea to eat green, leafy vegetables and colorful citrus fruits. Over time, research has shown their association with reducing cancer and chronic disease. In fact, most of us know that we should be consuming multiple helpings of these foods each day. (Here is a handy calculator from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that helps you figure out how much you need.)

But which vegetables are best? Fads come and go as quickly as that kale in your fridge. One day it’s broccoli, the next cabbage. And how do you compare the benefits of vegetables versus fruits?

Researchers at William Paterson University in New Jersey have done all of us a big favor by producing a list of 41 “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” ranked by the amounts of 17 critical nutrients they contain. Published Thursday in the CDC journal “Preventing Chronic Disease,” the foods are scored by their content of fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and other nutrients, all considered important to public health.

Atop the list? Watercress, long known as a superfood because it packs large amounts of a wide variety of these important substances, with a score of 100. The next five in the elite category: Chinese cabbage (91.99), chard (89.27), beet greens (87.08), spinach (86.43) and chicory (73.36). The full chart is below.

No comments: