Monday, November 28, 2011

Strength Training Guidelines

Strength training is probably one of the most underrated aspects of any good fitness routine. Everyone should all incorporate some form of strength training into their routines at least 2-3 times a week. Women are especially wary of strength training. While the mass guidelines will allow you to build muscle mass, it's easy to lift for pure strength, or endurance as well. These guidelines may or may not work ideally for each person, but they are a good base to start a new program around. There are 3 mains focuses of anyone looking to start a strength training program, each with a different purpose, and slightly different programming.
  • Mass - This is also called Hypertrophy training, and is what people normally associate with strength training. If you're looking to have bigger muscles, this is the plan for you. 60-80% of your estimated 1 Rep Max* I'll outline how to figure this out at the end of the article. 60-80% of 1RM, 6-12 reps per set, for 3-6 sets. You should aim for 3-5 minutes of rest between strength exercises. 6-12 repetitions develops a balance of strength, muscle size, and endurance 

  • Strength - This is the focus of someone who's wanting to get stronger, but remain around their current weight without gaining a lot of muscle mass. Boxers, and Mixed Martial Arts fighters would benefit from this type of training. 80-90% of your 1RM, 1-5 reps per set, for 1-5 sets. This primarily develops strength, with more impact on muscle mass and none on endurance.

  • Endurance -  This should be a area of focus for anyone. Endurance training with weights is a great way to workout all the bodies different energy systems. Using a ideally light weight is best when training for endurance. These workouts may border on cardiovascular, although the added resistance makes for a great anaerobic workout as well! 40-60% of 1RM, 15-20 reps per set, for 2-4 sets. The exception with endurance training is the rest period, which should only be 1-3 minutes.
This should be a good basic guideline for strength routines for just about anyone. These workouts can be done with free weights, body weight, or machines.. the principles and guidelines stay the same for each principle.

1 Repetition Maximums are the maximum amount of weight that you can lift one time, this practice can be risky for beginners to weight lifting. I recommend using this formula.

1RM = ((Number of Reps / 30) + 1) x Weight Used
For example, if you were to lift 185 pounds 6 times, you calculate your one rep max as follows:
1RM = ((6 reps / 30) + 1) x 185 pounds
1RM = (0.2 + 1) x 185 pounds
1RM = 1.2 x 185 pounds
1RM = 222 pounds

For body weight exercises the 1RM can be a timed test to perform as many repetitions as you can of a specific calisthenic exercise (push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups) If you can do 100 Push-ups in 2 minutes, then a endurance workout for Push-ups would be 40-60 Push-ups, then rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat that 2-4 times.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Benefits of Paleolithic Eating.

I'm sure most of you have heard about the Paleolithic period from your time spent in school. It had a 2.5 million.. yes million year duration just ended 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. A Paleolithic diet is a very similar diet to what our ancestors would have eaten. It's filled with root vegetables, lean meats and fish, and fruits and nuts while cutting out things like refined sugar, grains, legumes, and salt. . While you may ask yourself why you would want to eat like a caveman? There's many benefits that aren't attained from the modern diet. 
  • Our bodies haven't changed much since the dawn of the agricultural era, So why should our diet? The introduction of grain products, especially refined grains (white bread, white rice, cereals) has shown an increase in auto-immune diseases in humans. When farmers want to fatten a cow up, what do they feed them? Grains. This also causes many cows to develop intestinal diseases over time, although most are sent to the slaughter before the diseases are allowed to develop detrimentally.
  • The Paleo diet is high in fiber. Fiber reduces the chance for constipation, helps to lower cholesterol and lowers your risk for heart disease and diabetes. It's also a vital component in weight loss.
  • The food on the Paleo diet are very nutrient dense. They provide vitamins and minerals that aren't abundant in many of the modern foods. Many people now a days take a one-a-day supplement or something similar. You can bypass this by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables! 
Humans didn't start to refine grains and sugars at the start of the 1900's with the industrial age. If you look at the genetic perspective 100,000 generations have survived eating a diet similar to this.. and THRIVED! 500 generations utilized agriculture, 10 generations have followed the industrial age, and only a handful of generations have been exposed to fast food/process foods. If you're wanting one of the secrets to living a healthier and more energetic life, EAT LIKE A CAVEMAN!

Here's a Paleolithic Food Pyramid to help you. 
I know this diet won't be for everyone. You can still focus around eating healthy, while still keeping things like dairy products and grains in your meals. Try switching to whole grains, instead of processed grains like white bread, and white rice. Wheat Bread is a good alternative, and 100% Natural Wheat Bread is ideal. Brown rice is delicious when it's cooked with the right proteins and vegetables. If you're trying to lose weight you can switch to low-fat or fat free milk although I recommend sticking with whole milk if you're trying to gain muscle. Eating healthier doesn't have to be hard, there are many different options and combinations of healthy foods.It's a good rule of thumb for healthy eating to remember to stick to the outside aisles in the grocery stores. This is where most fresh produce, meats, and dairy products are located.