Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Move or Die? Movement as Optimal Path to Strength and Well Being, Part 1

This post is an intro to why *good* movement is a big frikin' panacea to most of what ails us. No kidding. Move well; be well. In this series, we're going to look at different attributes of movement - joints, muscles, skin, lymph everything - but first, let's start with an overview of what movement seems to mean to our governing system - the "always on" part of our bodies that monitors and messages about every process in our bodies, our nervous system - and then consisder a pretty direct route to cuing up those happy messages to it via dynamic joint mobility.

Movement = well being. We are designed to move. And apparently to move at speed: our bodies are apparently designed to support running more so than even walking. Perhaps not surprisingly, Use it or Lose it for humans could be redefined potentially as Move It or Lose It.

Our physiology works on a move it or lose it principle: by Woolf's Law and Davis' Law, we get to keep only what we use, and use is determined by - yes - movement. Don't move our muscles, function degrades; don't use our bones, bones degrade, don't move the joints, joints degrade. Movement means strength, fitness, digestion, respiration, skin tone, joint health, heart health, everything health. Could it be that simple?

Everything about our beings responds best to movement: movement therefore seems to mean a big neurological thumbs up. If we are able to move, we're good to go, to flee, to hunt or to gather.

On the other hand, if our nervous system either perceives or receives a threat of any kind, movement is what pays: sore shoulder means reduced range of motion; shoes too tight so joints are compressed and less able to function as designed means less muscle power for a deadlift. Loosen up those shoes (or get rid of them), do some foot mobilization work (ankle circles; toe waves) and power is restored to the system. We react *that* quickly, as reflected in the SAID principle.

SAID stands for "specific adaptation to imposed demand." Eric Cobb, DC, c0-founder of Z-Health adds "exactly and immediately" to the SAID mix. In other words, our bodies respond exactly and immediately to what we're doing.

We see evidence of this immediacy all the time. Go to pick something up, our muscles don't wait to turn on to support that position; they do so right away, courtesy of the nervous system. We are about to go on stage to give a talk, and our heart rate accelerates right at that moment pumping more blood to our peripheral limbs; likewise hormones are released to prepare for flight to deal with the perceived threat of our anxiety. That response happens as soon as we perceive the moment of threat - which may be long before, right before or during the event.

A huge part of that immediate adaptation is the speed at which information travels through the nervous system. Most fibers are sending info at 300miles per hour. That's fast. One might almost say immediate.

Not moving = We have a Problem, Houston. Movement is so basic, so fundamental an indicator of well being, that *not* moving is, on a gross scale, a sign of illness or duress. Our movement is reduced seemingly in proportion to the degree of perceived or actual threat to the system. Our movement is reduced if we have: a broken limb, a gut ache, a head ache, if we feel depressed. Likewise, we think of aging as a process of movement deterioration: the aged are often slower, less mobile, suffer from movement debilitations - or are entirely bed ridden, just like the acutely ill.

Irony. We are, despite our awesome craniums, embodied beings. Our modern lives, however, have moved us to a place where, to our nervous system we generally operate, if ya think about it, from postures of illness: we don't move; we sit at desks; we sit in cars, trains and planes. We are more sedentary than ambulatory.

Likewise those postures often closely resemble what's know as threat response or startle positions: hunched shoulders, head lowered, legs raised towards chest (from sitting) - if our legs and hands were pushed up a bit more we'd be in total fetal posture. And the rolling up into a ball is the big threat protection posture: cover the internal organs, protect the head, eyes and ears. That's a little, er, sick, isn't it?

Response to Modern Life:
Dynamic Joint Mobility as a first step, or movement.

If we tell our bodies that we are non mobile, our bodies also respond immediately to this - as we have seen - with Wolff's Law and Davis's Law: we are rebuilding tissue ALL the time. If we continually sit slumped, the body will work to maintain that position - go to get out of it, we feel stiff. Over a long enough time, the bones remodel to better maintain that position.

A painless and effective way to counteract less mobility is to move: move every joint in the body through its range of motion - that is - through the degree of motion we can voluntarily control. Another name for moving each joint in the body in a focused way is dynamic joint mobility work.

(Eric Cobb demo'ing cross body figure 8's in the z-health Neural Warm Up 1)

There are lots of joint mobility systems out there; the one i prefer, practice and teach is z-health. I've written lots about why (article index) and here's Z-Health's FAQ, but the main reason is that the movements in the R, I and S continuum are designed to move each joint
  • really: each joint, from head to foot, precisely
  • through as many positions as possible
  • as many speeds as possible
  • with varying loads
The outcome is building up lots and lots of practice for being mobile in all these positions, means reduced likelihood of getting jammed up such that the nervous system shuts down mobility. For more info on this, you may wish to take a peek at this article on mobility and injury prevention with I-Phase.

Range of motion is a great way to see how our nervous system may be doing with our body. We may feel fine but if we go to raise our arm in front of us to beside our ear and it usually gets to beside our ear but today it's only going to beside our cheek something's up. We might not perceive what it is clearly, but our nervous system does.

Doing a few joint mobility drills will often improve that range of motion. Some joints, like the wee bones in the feet and hands don't have a great deal of motion - but they do move. They're joints for a reason - if there wasn't a need for a joint, there'd be a bone, as Cobb puts it.

(demo'ing target locations for z-health R-Phase toe pulls: alternatives to hip flexor stretches)

So smaller joint motions mean smaller range of motion, but still movements - and precise movements at that for optimal efficiency (more on efficient movement here). How to hit the target and what those targets are are important to maximize benefit of this joint librating work.

Repetition Only One Way: Bad; All ways, good. Other joints, like the wrist, pretty big obvious range of motion as we bend the hands back and forth at the wrists. But also therefore important to move those joints through those ranges of motion. Carpal Tunnel or RSI is not usually the result of too many reps, but too many reps in only ONE direction of a possible set of motions. Like typing on a keyboard - flexion flexion flexion, no extension; same with musicians. And here's one: elbows have fabulous movement possibilities but do you know some ways to move them through their complete ranges of motion in multiple directions/speeds? How often do lifters in the gym complain of tennis elbow? More than 9 times out of ten, this is the similar problem as the typing desk jockey: too many reps in one direction, exacerbated by potentially poor form with load, or just overuse.

If i could talk to the Animals - or the Nervous System...
Simple concept of why joint mobility work, like doing ZHealth R-Phase and I-Phase is so important: mechanorecption and nociception.

Mechanoreceptors populate the muscles and the tendons around joints. The give our brain information, through the nervous system of where we are in space and how fast we're moving. The other big proprioceptor around the joints are nocicpetors - nerves that react to noxious stimulus, like a cut or a kick or an impingement. If limbs are not moving well, the number of mechanoreceptors fired are way less than if they do move. Significantly. Nociceptors, which are far fewer in ratio to most mechanorecpetors are free to fire. And 1 is always louder than zero.

Signal Processing. Pain is something the brain says about a signal through the nervous system. A nociceptor may fire, but if the signal from the mechanorecptors is louder because more of these are firing, the brain mayn't interpret the action as something that needs to fire up as pain. If however the nociceptor is the only thing talking because the other mechanorecpetors in the area are inhibited from lack of mobility, then that pain signal may just get amplified.

Oh, Canada! Here's a way you might model this signal processing concept. At a recent mobility seminar, i started to sing O Canada - large room but everyone heard me. No one else was speaking. I then asked participants in the room to sing - at a normal volume not shouting or anything - God save the queen - while i sang O Canada while someone at the door listened in. What song do you think the person listening heard?

Movement Sings. So movement, on one simple level - movement through the fullest possible range of motion - helps to send positive "all clear" signals to the nervous system.

Practicing movement helps the joints learn to move through their full range of motion. Here's an example. When i started doing R-Phase in Z-Health, i looked with amazement on the thoracic circles - moving *just* the upper spine in a circle - of a fellow RKC. Me doing thoracic glides just front at back: ok i'm doing them! And there was no movement. Practicing them even though it felt like nothing was happening eventually caused rather a lot to happen, to the point the other day where a master trainer said "well you have such excellent thoracic mobility this isn't a problem for you; most people need...."

One gets joint mobility the same way one gets to carnegie hall it seems: practice practice practice.

Healing off the Table: Doing it For Ourselves:

Self movement more so than manual work (being worked on by others or having limbs moved passively) engages motor learning. That self-initiated action to control a motion fires up way more of the nervous system, building new patterns of movement with each rep. This is fabulous for self-care. Practically, the number of athletes i work with and whom colleagues work with who come in complaining of shoulder pain, elbow pain or back pain, generally speaking
  • a) get their pain significantly lessened if not eliminated in a single session by getting at a movement pattern that is not firing correctly so good mobility is inhibited
  • b) are able to take care of themselves afterwards because they know and have the tools on how to reduce the problem by the mobility work, so they can get on with their strength or health or life practices
  • c) as their mobility improves, they have fewer flare ups

It's that simple. And while we've focused on the benefit of moving joints for the nervous system due to mechanorecptors around the joints, in future we can look at movement of the skin, fascia, lymph and gut that also comes into play - how mobilty assists these other movements to feel better and perform better.

In the meantime, i hope this for me unusually brief overview helps get a handle on why mobilty work may be a good practice to consider if it's not already part of your daily practice. And here's an example of controlled movement:

Full Motion: Herman Cornejo executes a seeming impossible
double tours en l’air as part of David Michalek's slow dancing project.

Next Time: threat, pain and threat modulation.

Related Posts

Algae Oil vs Fish Oil & Tips to Destress

Here's just a couple of pointers for b2d'ers.

Ryan D Andrews, RD, over at Precision Nutrition has written a nice summary of why we might want to consider algae oil in lieu of the fish stock depleting fish oil.

If you can't see the whole thing, the take aways are that fish stocks are being depleted at an alarming rate - some of this due to the 3000% raise in sales of fish oil since the start of the decade (according to the book Bottom Feeders).

Apparently the DHA/EPA levels in algae oil are great for humans - higher DHA from which EPA can be generated if we need more of it.

Various studies have looked at algae oil in many of the same contexts as fishoil:

The essential fats from algae may improve fatty acid balance and:

  • Cardiovascular function
  • Nervous system function
  • Immunity
  • Memory & concentration
  • Mood
  • Neurotransmission
  • Insulin sensitivity & nutrient partitioning
  • Body composition
While not specifically mentioned, Algae should have the same properties as fish oil if not better for anti-inflammatory effects, since these are derived from the omega 3's.

So there are some alternatives for fish oil. Including of course being, as Andrews puts it "karma lite"

De-Stress. And in celebration of the uk's National Stress Awareness week starting Nov 4, here's my 10 tips for geeks on how to de-stress. You may want to share with the geeks you love.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mobility vs Flexibility - is there a difference?

Often it seems the terms Mobility and Flexibility are used interchangeably. While related, they're different, and the differences are worth considering. It's hard to find concrete references to definitions of the terms, though. The best ones i know is that flexibility is about what a movement around a joint is possible to be, whereas mobility is about the control of the range of motion one has in an action/movement around a joint. That may seem a nice distinction, but if we look at flexibility as what's physiologically possible, and look at mobility as what we can volitionally control, then we have a perhaps better model for understanding performance, and why mobility work may be more effective than stretching or rolling for a range of issues.

The splits: mobility vs flexibility
Many people will say that doing the splits is an example of being a very flexible person. Maybe there are some cases of some people being hyper flexible, but apparently the splits are natural; not exceptional.

We see babies having no problem with the splits and all varieties of movements. Likewise, kinesiologists, chiropractors and doctors will tell us that anyone can do the splits when we are unconscious. Now why would that be? They are reflecting the physiological flexibility that is possible in that joint given its current condition (pretty relaxed).

So what happens that we lose that "flexibility" when we wake up. In the context of the definitions we have here, we'd say that our mobility is restricted. How might we address this?

The Splits as an Example of Threat Modulation.
In that seeming waking loss of mobility, partially the muscles are now contracting that previously allowed the movement.

Most training programs for learning to do the splits are about stretching - and lots of it. But what does that mean? stretching is in part a temporary condition of changing the contraction properties of the muscle; limbs will "tighten up" again. But then when we talk with some folks who stretch a lot or practice yoga alot, they say how much their range of motion has improved from their practice. Has something therefore fundamentally changed in their muscles? Or has something changed in the nervous system signalling the muscles to relax on demand better? Or have they just gotten stronger (better muscle fiber control/nervous signalling?)

Some in the joint mobility community would suggest that the ability to do the splits is more about threat modulation than stretching: it is the nervous system learning that it's safe to move into these postures. After all, the golgi tendon's job is to say it's ok to allow a muscle to assume a position - that's a nervous system response that enables muscle and tendon responses; not something that is really part of the muscle.

So if we accept the idea that we are wired for survival and not performance, and we say that learning to do the splits is a good example of threat modulation, that means that not doing the splits is detecting threat. Why would the body see the splits as a threat for some of us?

Are we able to exert force quickly if we are stretched out? Can we flee? Or does that mean there's a certain potential limitation to us if we seem to over stretch? Can we currently exercise full range of motion from that edge-of-stretch position? if not why would the CNS let us go further? Does that mean *not* doing the splits is a sign that we don't have the strength to respond from this position and so we ain't going there?

Mobility Work Rather than Stretching.
The idea of mobility work around joints - like z-health - and range of motion work - again like z-health - is that we can, leveraging properties of the nervous system like mechanoreception, demonstrate well being to the CNS to enable new ranges of motion which means better mobility which means better performance.

Just this weekend at the z-health kettlebell workshop in London, i had the privilege to work with an athlete who said he had real trouble breaking parallel in his squat. He was sure he had a tight IT, hip flexors - everything. We worked for literally about 30 secs - no stretching; just threat modulation and his butt was on the ground, first time. Why? Threat modulation. His body now perceived no threat to getting his butt down. So far that's what lengthy stretch practive has been - i speculate - in training for the splits: helping the CNS feel safer about these deep movements - that there's no threat: so PNF type stretching is a way to get that acclimatization to happen.

Dynamic joint mobility accelerates this process of acclimatisation.
No stretching required. Hence mobility improvements can be achieved rapidly for seemingly little or no direct effort: toe pulls for instance "release" what are often called "tight" hip flexors as well or better than deep lunges. How can this be that an action on the ankle lets the hip work? Systems are connected: if there is a joint mobility issue at the ankle - and its ability to flex is compromised, what's the point of letting the hamstrings relax that might compromise stability there?

Likeiwise these kinds of approaches can assist the acceleration of necessary strength work associated with actually *holding* positions (progressive isometric moves) at greater and greater degrees of former compromise (see Pavel Tsatsouline's Relax into Stretch for excellent guidance on such progressions; combine with a z-health coach (list) to get there even faster.).

The site of an issue is not always the source of an issue
So also, doing general mobility work around joints helps the *whole* system to perform optimally. As with the hip flexors, and that looking at them to relax may be inappropriate where a first step may need to be at the ankles, a general joint mobility program like R-phase moves through each joint in the body. It also suggests moving at four different speeds through these joints and of course in all directions. Why?

Try an ankle circle quickly and casually, and then try to slow it down: do some parts of the movement feel dead or jerky? does it feel different in each direction? Less control at one speed or direction than another? Speeds show the degree of control one has over a joint, and how well the muscles are firing to work that movement. Improve that simple control of range of motion and speed, and whole galaxies of performance open up. Why? mobility is related to muscular control; control muscles better in a movement, the movement improves. If there is an impedement to the range of motion, too, that also means that muscles are not getting mechanoreceptor information and that part of the muscle may not fire. At all. So getting action around a joint is a Good Idea.

Take Aways:
  • Flexibility is often associated with stretching: stretch more to improve flexibility. But flexibility is, by these definitions, just the degree of movement around a joint that is possible in that joint.
  • Mobility, however, is about how we can move ourselves - what our actual range of motions are
  • By doing mobility work we are communicating with the nervous system to enable optimally efficient movement.
  • By doing mobility work we can see that better mobility in one joint can have consequences for movement around another joint (ankle tilts affecting hip/knee range of motion by acting on hip flexors)
  • The site of an issue is not necessarily the source of an issue: wailing away on a hip flexor when the limiting factor may be the ankle is sub-optimal. General mobility work lets us get each joint happy at varrying speeds and positions.
  • Mobility is about threat modulation: is it safe to move into that range? mobility work is a way to practice that safety for performance.
  • Doing the splits may be about strength as a limiting factor rather than flexibility. Get the strength, do the mobility, the MOBILITY - the control of the movement will come.

Related Posts

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Pump: What is it, Does it Work and if so How and for What Kind of Muscle Growth?

ResearchBlogging.orgAhnold reportedly loved "the pump" but what is the "pump" really in terms of muscle building? While it's easy to explain both what happens in generating a pump, and how to create a pump - it's delightfully easy - it's hard to find any evidence behind the incredible claims about why this effect is said to be "essential" to achieving growth.

What is the Pump and How Get One?
Generally speaking the pump is the feeling one gets when pushing more blood into the muscle faster than it will flow out, so for a short time, until it does flow back out to a normal level, the muscle is all "pumped" up, and feels HUGE. This is also where a lot of folks get into nitric oxide products in an effort to extend the effects of the pump. Intriguingly, nitric oxide in studies has only been shown to preserver muscle not help it grow. But that's an aside.

Getting a pump is fun. It's something i've been playing with on my arms after a hard strength workout. I drop the weight to the 12RM weight and do a couple of fast sets (perfect form of course), and then, i'll go to a 20RM for one or two sets of different curls and may only do partials to really get the sweet spot. Bi's one way; tri's the other. What fun! And whip out that measuring tape. Goodness, isn't that remarkable! Strike the pose and take the picture, you bet.

Lack of Pump = Fatigue?
Now all the above does sound easy, but apparently there are times when the pump doesn't seem to be happening. Lonnie Lowery talks about this and suggests, beyond a few high rep 20 sets, making sure the potassium levels are good, and that you're warm not cold (easier vasodilation perhaps) is a good thing. Back off periods and basic carb availability are all good too. Carbs afterall help hold fluid. In fact Lowery has a whole diet here.

Interestingly, Lowery's not making any claims it seems about whether the pump actually helps muscle building or not; he's just saying it's a really nice motivating thing to have: to be able to get HUGE. What's more interesting is Lowery's correlation to lack of getting a pump as a sign of fatigue. Hence his mainly recovery and dietary advice to get that pump back. interesting.

So is this wonderful feeling contributing to muscle growth?

Muscle Hypertrophy 101: the types of muscle hypertrophy
So let's back up a bit. What is muscle growth? We know that there are usually two kinds discussed: sarcoplasmic - the tissue/fluids surrounding muscle fibers - and myofibral - the fibers of the muscles themselves getting bigger due to myofibral growth around the fibers.

It has been argued that power type training privileges myofibril hypertrophy and "hypertrophy" strength training privileges sarcoplasmic - what some folks see as fake hypertrophy because it is non-strength aiding growth of the sarcoplasm of the muscle. This assessment may be a bit cruel. It's actually very hard to get one kind of growth without the other occurring as well. All i'm saying is that different types of strength training may privilege one form over the other, but both will occur. And a good thing too. Myofibral growth demands some adaptation of the sarcomers to support them, too.

Ok, in either case, to the best of our knowledge (because there's a LOT we don't know about hypertrophy) what causes muscles to grow? Forcing them to respond to new demands. If there's no need to adapt do they adapt? well, no. And this is why if one does the same routine forever, the body doesn't change. Folks talk about plateaus. So, we usually use load or volume or a combination of both to create the conditions for adaptation.

Now interestingly, there is work on muscle growth (the strength kind) that has been shown to occur from something called occlusion training. This is where bloodflow is restricted around a limb, and far lighter weights are then used for reps. Intriguingly growth happens.

Ok, so now that we have some background on muscle growth, let's look at how The Pump has been described to help muscle growth

The Pump - per se.
Let's take a look at how the Pump is described to contribute to muscle growth first. An un-cited article on by "muscleTech" puts it this way:
The release of nitric oxide facilitates the relaxation of the endothelial cells — smooth muscles that line the blood vessels — thereby expanding the lumen of the blood vessel (the middle space of a blood vessel where blood flows through). As the lumen expands, blood flow is enhanced, resulting in peak vasodilation. Blood plasma is the primary channel through which nutrients, amino acids, testosterone, growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are delivered to your starving muscles. Therefore, by feeding your system more blood, you transport elevated amounts of the various musclebuilding catalysts directly to your hard-working muscle cells.
Another example of how the pump powers growth is through the role of oxygen. Increasing the delivery of oxygen-rich red blood cells to your starving muscles accelerates the speed at which your system is able to cleanse itself of muscle toxins such as ammonia.

Achieving maximum vasodilation also allows your body to quickly deliver metabolized amino acids and nutrients that are derived from your pre- and post-workout nutrition, and shuttle them directly to your hypertrophying muscles — allowing for enhanced muscle recovery and growth
Wow. There's a lot going on in there. What it really seems to say is that more is better. Open a Bigger Pipe to let More Stuff through. Push through more blood with more protein, growth factor, testosterone all pushed into to muscles. That must be good right? Really? And even more fresh blood to push out "muscle toxins" would be great too, right? Hmm.

Alas, no sources in the article to support these assertions.

Another theory of the pump expressed by Jeff Anderson is that the pump actually privileges slow twitch muscle fibers. That makes sense for two reasons: lots of low weight reps is moving into endurance world, which means oxidative capacity, aerobic energy rather than anaerobic capacity/ernergy. So Mr. Anderson says that by constantly pushing blood into these fibers, the fibers themseleves adapt to hold more blood. That means more capillaries in the fibers to help shunt the blood more effectively, and they're going to be rather densely packed as their numbers go up.

So you get the sense from this explanation that size noticed to hold more blood more of the time is going to make the muscle appear larger. Sarcoplasmic kind of growth?

Here's why i go more for Mr. Anderson's than MuscleTech's explanation. Our tissues are always adapting. If you squish more into them, they'll start to enlarge. So that's kinda funny - it's adding fluid (blood etc) into the muscle, but not increasing the number of myofibrils. So that doesn't sound like a strength gain; sounds more sarcoplasmic.

The Pump: can we get some science in here? Not easily.
The pump seems to work with two sides of something called hyperemia - active and reactive. The active one is caused by muscle contraction - do that a lot in exercise, eh? - which causes blood to congest in an area. Then there's reactive hyperemia - where blood that's supposed to get out is blocked - like there's a tourniquet causing yup, occlusion.

So, if there's occlusion, that means that blood is kinda stuck somewhere. That doesn't sound like blood is getting forced through to clear out "muscle toxins" or to induce the other popular concept of "muscle flushing" - sounds like it's getting stuck and stale.

If we look at "hyperemia" & "resistance training" in the science literature, we don't find stuff about muscle building. The kind of literature that's there is about the degree to which different kinds of training enhance the flow of blood or the dilation of the arteries. In other words, we generally apparently want to reduce reactive hyperemia.

Now while i've seen claims that moderate rep schemes are "are optimal to build muscle mass " because in part they "Enhances cellular hydration — greater muscle pump (called "reactive hyperemia") drives plasma and water to muscle which stimulates protein synthesis and inhibits proteolysis (protein breakdown)." i can't find any sources that explain that plasma and water driven to a muscle stimulates protein synthesis. We do know is that protein stimulates muscle synthesis. And we know that insulin stimulates protein synthesis and glucose stimulates protein synthesis. So maybe if there's all that stuff in plasma, yes we have protein synthesis stimulation. But that seems to happen whether we have high or low rep training. But again, is more more?

An Idea: the Pump Works Like Occlusion?
Mr. Anderson above proposes that the pump mainly effects slow twitch oxidative fibers because of capilarization (no strength; just mass). Dr. Lowery suggests that not being able to get a pump is a sign of fatigue - this i think is important. BUT if we look at occlusion training (which reactive hyperemia seems to be a type), then the pump should also be affecting both fast and slow twitch fibers' myofibral growth. Occlulusion, it seems, may indeed get fast twitch fibers involved more directly than without occlusion - that's a theory. Since we also see in low load occlusion training effects on strength: it goes up. SO is this kind of self-occlusion with self-selected low resistance weights to induce the effect having the same effect as a cuff? Could be - as per this review.

So, what about that pump?
Proposal 1: more is more: As far as i can tell, the suggestions are that it's supposed to help circulate good stuff in by vasodilateion, and then get the stale stuff out. Now for me - based on what i know - this seems the weakest case since we're not talking about steady blood flow in and out with the pump, but "reactive hyperemia" which means that blood is pumped in, and it can't get out again for a good half hour. There's no "flushing" if that's the case is there? Dave Barr talks about the "anabolic pump" - but again, i can't find this in the literature.

Proposal 2: bulking up with fluid. The other proposal that anderson suggests - and i'm not sure where he gets it from, but seems to make sense, is that pushing a lot of blood into the veins - especially of slow twitch fibers - is going to cause the fibers that hold the blood to adapt - get thicker, more and denser capillaries (the little gates that open for blood to flow in but not back out). SO that's just bulking up - what most folks talk about as sarcoplasmic type hypertrophy - but this seems even more particular as it's strictly related to blood volume taking up more room.
Proposal 3: occlusion causing real muscle fiber change - or not. What makes more sense to me is a combo of this adaptation of capillaries AND actual fiber change potentially caused by self-occlusion. BUT folks like Chad Waterbury, respected strength coach, are very skeptical of the pump and any correlation to muscle gain.
No, look, lots of things give you a pump but don't make your muscles bigger. One of the best exercises I know for making your calves bigger is the jump squat, which doesn't cause a pump. But if you do a set of 50 calf raises, you'll get one hell of a pump, but it won't make your calves bigger.
SO perhaps 50 calf raises aren't causing occlusion but then how could they cause a pump? I don't understand. Perhaps those calf raises do add muscle fiber but not mass? perhaps calves like abs are different? dunno. Interesting though.

Maybe, Maybe Not, It depends
As said, there's a lot that remains unknown about the whys and hows of hypertrophy. The role of the pump seems to be just as really clearly ambiguous as to whether or not it aids hypertrophy or not.

I like the correlation Lowery seems to make implicitly between achieving the pump and fatigue. That seems useful.

For myself, right now, it's fun to play with a pump well after i've completed the hard work of the strength workouts i'm doing. Whether it's doing anything functional or not, i dunno, but since there seems *some* sense to it, i'm willing to give it a bit of a go - for now.

And so... The above is not meant as an exhaustive overview of all things to do with the pump - it's just what i could find by a couple day's digging. IF there are studies that you know of that support or study the pump with respect to muscle hypertrophy, please add a comment. Will be keen to hear.

I wonder too if a study that took the same kind of athletes and one did a regular routine and the other finished with pump sets and the other didn't if that would be conclusive or that one would just say - well they other group did a bit more volume. I suppose one could vary the loads or reps. But it would be interesting to see some kind of work.

Also, i do know that just because it hasn't been researched doesn't mean there's not an effect, but as per that first "explanation" of why the pump works - supposedly - for hypertrophy - if one is going to provide physiological rationales for an effect, please just point to the mechanisms that have been shown to result in these effects - it has to be sourced somewhere. And if not, well, the best we can say is that, in some cases, there seems to be a strong correlation between pumping and hypertrophy - either sarcoplasmic or myofibral - what that mechanism is - pretty much unknown at the moment.

Again - this is just the best i can do right now to make sense of this concept. If you have more information/sources, please share.


Related Posts:

Wernbom M, Augustsson J, & Raastad T (2008). Ischemic strength training: a low-load alternative to heavy resistance exercise? Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 18 (4), 401-16 PMID: 18466185

Loenneke, J., & Pujol, T. (2009). The Use of Occlusion Training to Produce Muscle Hypertrophy Strength and Conditioning Journal, 31 (3), 77-84 DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181a5a352

Friday, October 16, 2009

RTK Heavy Press Day OWNed me: another frickin' learning experience session

I've said that so far each session of Return of the Kettlebell has been a learning experience. Usually it's been about technique. The start of this latest block, it was about reading comprehension. But no matter the type of learning, the result goes to the body - and the mind.

The first time i did the RTK pressing block i did it wrong. I did it as ETK with two kb's. Even as such, double 12's for me for five rungs, five ladders on heavy day was challenging, but it didn't hurt my brain. After this last C&J block, the ETK book arrived and so in reading it from cover to cover, rather than the Plan that is on the DVD, i noticed that my interpretation of the pressing block was in error.

I have now adjusted accordingly, such that the heavy day, the final one of the week, is double 16's. Snatching two 16's - for me- is on a whole other plane from double 12's or alternating a 16 with any other lesser size doubles work, no matter the hand.

Is this my Beautiful House?
I consider that half a year ago i was struggling to press a two consecutive left arm presses with the 16 (as part of the perfect rep quest series). Now, i'm doing DOUBLE frickin' 16's with a SNATCH at the start of each rung? When i thought about it, my brain did do a bit of a tilt. But excuse me if this is being a sissy, but again, for me, double snatching 16s is an exercise at this moment as much in intestinal fortitude as it is in strength. And also mental stickiness. By five ladders were not total 5's of 5. They were (sounding like figure skating scores) 4,4,3,3,3. Owned. Toasted. Perhaps basted.

THis is so intriguing to me: gals test with single snatching the 16 for the RKC cert, yes? so we are familiar with hiking this thing back and way up, either side. But does the physics change or what at that weight in a way that is dfferent from double 12s - and if it's not 12's for you, imagine whatever your snatch test bell is or say higher bell if it is that is at the sort of top of your single pressing for reps bent. Weird. Glad only to go there once a week. But also looking forward to seeing how this feeling changes with more reps.

Forget Something?
And speaking of mental stickiness, i'd just like to know, how many people forget to squat after the last ladder rung of a set and dash to reclaim the bells before they get all the way to the ground? Hmm? is this just me?

And may i say that on heavy day, doing those squat sets with the double kb's well i can see where someone might say it will make a man out of you. But it's really the mental toughness i think because it's doable, challenging, but not a form killer. it's a nicely balanced edge, but it's also just not nice.

KB swings for in between set Active Recovery, strength and Owning My Swing.
Continuing on from the last update, i again used a light kb to get in 100 perfect swings between ladders. I focussed on form, muscle awareness and experimented with eye position and movement for what the smoothest feel was. It did not wear me out. It was great. I'm getting in 600 swings a workout this way more or less for free, alternating standard speed with overspeed eccentrics.

I'm doing this keep the heart rate up for two reasons: one, to test the this will kill DOMS theory and two to test the Cardio Between Sets Improves Strength Gains.

I make no claims here as i will have nothing to compare against my results of not doing cardio between sets. That said, i KNOW my oxidative capacity will go up - it can't not physiologically from that kind of forced exertion. So that's nice. IT's only about 12 mins worth of cardio all told, so not a biggie, but not nothing either - plus it's 600 more opportunities every other day to own my swing.

When i get to a place where a day's RTK workout is "practice" rather than "new learning experience" i'll be sure to shout.


Related Posts

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A gal DELIBERATELY gaining "mass" (not weight). How can this be?

So, i'm female, like to be lean and ripped AND i'm trying to gain mass - a new way to say "gain weight." What is that about? If awhile ago someone had told me i'd be looking at mass going up rather than down i would have paled, horrified. So what's happened?

Two things:
  1. i've for a long time wanted defined strong and strong looking arms.
  2. But perhaps more importantly, over the past few years, i've learned how to do lean for me: i know what it takes to get lean dialed in, and have done it a couple of times - getting to the ideal weight, letting that slide a few pounds, going back. For me this has meant my weight has been consistently between 57 point something and 60k. Happy days.
So one might say i am in what seems the weird place of knowing more now about my body and how it responds to food and movement in order to explore this other side of the strength equation, commonly refereed to as hypertrophy.

So, with the release of Pavel's Return of the Kettlebell (start of a review series here)- geared at hypertrophy strength in particular- i thought i'm in a good enough place now to push on this strength side with RTK's double KB work and investigate the mass side promised with it. And i know for my NSCA CSCS text book - and every other sentient knowledgeable person on mass tells me so - this means eating to achieve a caloric surplus not a deficit. I have never eaten for caloric surplus deliberately in my life.

The result so far is a strange thing. Over the past 6-8 weeks i have been watching the scale go up AND i have not freaked out, i have not panicked, i have not broken into a sweat of fear.

Don't Panic
Part of the reason for this lack of panic is perhaps knowledge and control. I know something about what's going on, and i am doing it cautiously and deliberately. Whether it's optimally remains to be seen, but i'm ok with that, too, as the weight going up is not huge leaps and bounds.

Part of the ok'ness is also that in the knowledge side, i know how to evaluate the number on the scale from a few metrics. One of the most powerful ones is girth and the other is skin fold testing.

With Girth i whip out a wonderful gadget called a myotape, and cuff it around my biceps. Not a ton of change, but it's an honest 1/8th of an inch. And after a workout the measure is considerably greater. But we're talking post rest not post workout measures. the real stuff. I can also keep an eye on more sensitive areas like hips and waist with girth and see if this is beyond my mental tolerances or not. The best check there however is still feeling comfy in my clothes.

With skin fold measures i track what i really want to track here: improvements in lean mass. These are slower to grow than fat to be sure, but seeing weekly progress is a good thing. So far i haven't seen bigger jumps than when i've been trying to lean out and work out at the same time, but it's only been a short trial so far. The main thing is the trends are going in the right direction, and the BF% is still well within tolerable limits.

Why else am i doing this?
I want to see if i can "get arms" (and maybe some other body parts too, but arms has always been the one for me). As far as i know there's no genetic reason why my arms shouldn't respond approriately to appropriate forces for hypertrophic adaptation. However, i also want to walk the walk.

I confer with lots of folks who are more into bodybuilding than strength. The interesting demographic is young lads and post 30's gals - in my experience anyway. So while i'm giving council like "eat more to gain" where have i been on that continuum? Strength and leanness.

So i figure now is the time to fish or cut bait. I'm not going into body building, but i am experimenting with how muscle mass growth can be stimulated, fed, supported, with what one might see as the *minimal* set of moves to achieve that goal, and where RTK right now is my main mission.

For now, part of the experiment is just figuring out how to be cool like a little fonzy with this weight gain thing while the mass gain thing comes along.

The basics: how one reacts to food.

The far more challenging part at least for me and perhaps for other women too who may want more mass (as opposed to weight, dam it. weight bad; mass good - we know what we mean) - is feeling ok about seeing the scale go in the usually dreaded direction.

The take away from this for me so far thinking about it is that it's been my work in nutrition that's let me feel comfortable exploring this uncharted territory in strength and mass (mass. ha! so far i say ha! we'll see. an eighth of an inch for pete's sake! ), not the workouts.

The workouts psychologically seem the eas(ier) part. There are certain principles to which muscle reacts when stimulated appropriately. Check. But the scale? Really, i think if i didn't have those other measures, and a faith that i know how to reduce the weight again, i couldn't do this.

The Way i've Found Thinner Peace.
I'm stealing thinner peace from a fabulous book on how we react to change and how to make habits successful called the Four day Win by Martha Beck (US || UK ) - recommended. If you want to see why, i talk about habits, and the change of pain that is changing one's dietary ways and how to do this with as little brain pain as possible over here. That's potentially a first place: to know how change can work safely. And whence from there?

For me, how i got to a place of really knowing my body in terms of nutrition is with Precision Nutrition that i've reviewed over time, and have been using now, literally for years. The thing i'd like to draw attention to here are three parts of that approach that i think are relevant to this weight going up mental safety zone.
  1. - the basic baselining
  2. - the individualization plan
  3. - learning about measures
PN has a suite of 7 eating habits that it starts from . A person may decide later that they want to follow another path, but by getting compliant with this approach for a month there's a clear baseline around carb tolerance, protein uptake and good nutrition from which to begin to understand more about how one's own body reacts to food: types, amounts, timing and so on.

We're complex systems. Why wouldn't it take that kind of time to get to know how these complex mechanisms interact with complex inputs?

So i think it's great that there's a base case from which adjustments can be made. Second, once the base case is established, time to look at parameters for individualizing to get on with one's body comp goals: where start sensibly to work towards losing weight or gaining mass? how tweak either calories or macronutrients? why? how do that again in the spirit of change one thing, maintain the change for two weeks, assess.

The third part is actually having guidance on how to do girth and skinfold measures and make sense of those measures. A lot of that material is in the PN guides that come with the huge amount of material available in the program. Much more comes from the feedback of folks on the PN forum. The experts there from a diversity of backgrounds are awesome. A breakthrough for me, for instance, happened when i'd seemingly hit a plateua doing everything i thought right, and a power lifter trainer from London, Alex Gold, said, that happened to me: i hate calorie counting, but why not check in with fitday for a couple weeks to get a reality check and see what happens?

Wow. super. Did it for a month, actually, and, combined with what i knew at that point, and advice on tuning my workouts (also from PN) i had it nailed - the light turned on and i got what it took to tune my intake for that particular goal. Now i might not always choose to do that of course, but i know what it is - at least in that direction. I am so grateful for that collision of practice, reading, and the space in which to consult with knowledgeable and simply more experienced people. The photo on the left is from a time just after this tuning process.

Whither Voyager?
My modus operandi now seems to be figuring out how to use that knowledge from leaning up to muscling up (and then leaning again, leaving the mass in tact, more or less ).

What some folks may notice is that the above getting to know my physiology for food was a month here, two week tests at a time there - easily adding up to more than a 12 week body transformation. You bet. But, the point is, do it once, do it right, and the knowledge is there for well, so far, my life since then.

Diets suck. they're about temporary deprivation for the most part. They're not about skills or about self-knowledge to have confidence to take knowledge gained to new places.

With ETK (review) and the RKC cert (review), i learned a lot about single kettlebell work. Not everything, but a great foundation with solid moves that will also last a life time. Likewise i'm using that to transfer to the different beast (but related cousin) of double kettlebell work. I'm looking forward to the RKC II in feb 2010 to develop the vocabulary a bit further.

I guess the big thing here is foundations establishing a base of trust, and that trust comes from self-knowledge, and that the way to get that self-knowledge could be to hack around on one's own and hope to fall into it. Or it could be to get some good guidance, do some research, and find a space to ask questions to improve that practice.

With kettlebells it's been ETK and the RKC. With nutrition, it's been Precision Nutrition. In each case, i've gotten to a point where i'm gaining the confidence to fool around within the parameters of the space - play with a pump post the double pressing in RTK and explore IF that wiser people than I keep saying is cool.

The results of the good foundation and trust it perhaps this boldly going to a territory - weight gain - that previously would have devestated me and is now a new and if not undiscovered then potentially dangerous but with now acceptable levels of risk attached. That's likely a long winded way of saying it feels safe enough to have fun.

Does this process make sense to anyone else? hope if so, it helps :)

Related Posts

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Return of the kettlebell Update 4: C&J heels fix and Balancing the Press, Swing Sets and a Pain in the Quad

This entry (4th RTK update) is about high heels in the C&J, the peculiarity that is uneven pressing, and swinging between sets in practicing Return of the Kettlebell (RTK). Also a question about pistols, pain and mass gain.

C&J - always learning. Dang
In my last episode i'd just lost my C&J form, and got it back noticing i was doing more of a C&J GS jump in the second hop than is appropriate for the Hard Style Way. The next session solved that hop: heavier bells. Ha! Seriously. It's harder to hop on the heavy days. Lor'! Learning to keep speed going for that second hop makes a difference in a good rep and a not so good rep. It seems that because each time one does the RTK block a variable changes - no. of sets, no. of ladders, load, that there's always going to be something new to learn. This is a good thing, to be sure. But likewise, gosh. Anyone who says they need a new program - that a few moves is going to be boring - just hasn't met ETK or RTK.

Uneven Presses
The intriguing thing about uneven pressing
  • - snatching different weights and matching speed between them.
  • - matching speed between pressing sides - keeping up bone rhythm
  • - matching form per side - by the fourth set, the heavy bell starts to feel, well, heavy, and the later presses can let the pelvis slide over to give it a boost that the other side doesn't need. Temptation to do so is very strong.
Swings Between Sets?
I've been experimenting for the past few weeks on keeping my heart rate up between sets, and this for two reasons: one, it's supposed to help eliminate doms (end of this article) and two, it's supposed to help with strength gains, and i'm all for more strength gains.

Today i wore a heart rate monitor and noticed that my typical light jogging in spot or running around the place didn't get my heart up very high, so i thought, what the heck, swings.

So i did some Rannoch's 100's between sets for my 2 mins of recovery, alternating one handed and double, focusing on good clean hip snaps, as well as light overspeeds. Let me say that if you don't have a heart rate monitor, don't worry about it: doing 1oo's of any of these will keep your heart up for two minutes without wasting you.

Pistol Practice
And, just because i'd like to keep up some pistol work, and as this was light day, i got an EDT (escalating density training) set of assisted pistols in. This was done by attaching a green band to a door, and doing the squat down unaided and using the band as an assist on the way up: this was both work and let me focus on form - again with bone rhythm - especially thinking about the form of standing up straight and fast with good good form. That's cool - usually i've been so occupied with just getting up repeatedly that the difference in being able to focus on the groove of the form is pretty cool. Will be interested to see how that translates into unassisted (and gulp, loaded) practice.

What i did notice that was new is that oh, about 3/4's of the way into my EDT block my legs suddenly felt as if DOMS had just turned on about 24 hours early. So it's not DOMS. it's something else. And it's a bit of a surprise, and a rather painful one. Ow? The suddenness of going from fine to Ow was rather abrupt. Anyone?

Mass Gains - to date
It goes without saying, does it not, that strength improves on RTK with each workout? Super duper. But mass? Getting past scrawny arms? Hmm.

Gals who have worked to get lean don't often, in my experience, just surrender to adding more calories in plans of adding some mass, but i've been up for it. In the past 6 weeks, the gains have been on the scale more than on what the tape measures in my arm. Is there anything i could do better, or there just hasn't been enough time to say?

I'm religiously doing a pre and post drink as per the Nutrient Timing work i wrote about awhile ago, and am as said going clearly into caloric surplus. But Tracy Reifkinds arms remain unrivaled. That said 6 weeks may well be far too soon to anticipate real change. I shall just keep it tight, (the HS way of saying "hold my breath?") in the meantime.

Till next time...

Related Posts

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What's Flexion/Extension Eccentric/Concentric Negative/Positive - move basics

I am directionally impaired. If someone asks "do you remember if we go right or left?" and i say "left" do yourself a favour and go right. Likewise when i was trying to learn about muscle action it took me ages to unpack flexion and extension from eccentric and concentric contraction.

So for any of you folks out there trying to understand what a negative contraction in flexion might look like or if an eccentric contraction can be positive and in extension, this post is for you.

Just to start of orienteering, most stuff in kinesiology seems to refer to the midline of the body, and the body is trisected into three planes: sagittal, frontal (coronal in the image) and transverse.

These terms simply make it easier to talk about direction of a move. Eg a forward bend is mainly an action in the sagittal plane. A lateral raise is in the frontal. One might then say ok, what of your moves is working transverse? This is a big deal as transverse is associated with rotation and rotational power is important. internal/external rotation. oy.But i digress. The main thing is that there's a midline of the body. We'll see that in action.

To hold something, muscles contract. That's it. The interesting thing is that muscles can contract in different states - usually one of three states.
Concentric - the muscle is shortening. Like a biceps curl (the curling phase)
Eccentric - the muscle is lengthening while contracting - like overhead triceps extension (the lowering phase)
Isometric - a contraction is happening without any muscle lengthening/shortening.

Joints have a lot of ways of being described as moving: rotation, elevation and depression; adduction (towards the midline, latin ad, to, towards), abduction (away from the midline - latin ab, from), and the more familiar extension and flexion. To these can also be applied anterior, posterior, medial and lateral. Or front, back, towards the middle towards the outside (where the body is the reference point).

Let's look at just the two most commonly discussed terms in the workout room, flexion and extension.

Extension, generally, is increasing the angle in a joint. So standing up from a squat is both knee and hip extension.

Flexion, by contrast, is decreasing the angle in a joint. So the top of biceps curl is flexion around the elbow joint.

Negatives and Positives
Another name for Eccentric contraction is a Negative. And concentric is a Positive. Why they're called that, i dunno. I'm guessing that that's because the challenge is often perceived to be in the lift, and we move something from a starting position to a finished position, and going from a finish to a start is seen as the flip side or negative.

I prefer eccentric/concentric because of the different types of effects due to different types of actions.

We're stronger in the negative phase of a move - consider how much easier it is to lower a piano than to lift one.

Interestingly eccentric contractions are less well understood than concentric contractions, but what we do know is that eccentric contractions are strongly correlated with DOMS - delayed on set muscle soreness (more on DOMS here).

Putting muscle and joint movements together

So now we have a rough vocabulary for muscle and joint action. Let's try a couple of descriptions.

In a march or sprint step practice, when the knee comes up this is an example of hip flexion as the angle at the hip socket is narrowed via the femur coming towards the pelvis. The aptly named hip flexors group of muscles will be contracting to make this move possible - to pull the joint angle together.

If the knee is likewise bent as in a marching step, there's knee flexion too. If the knee straightens out, however, as in a kick, we have knee extension with hip flexion. In this case, the knees are being pulled into extension by the quads concentrically contracting, too.

Kick that straightened leg all the way back - like the tail end of a sprint stride, and there's hip extension - where the hamstrings and glute actually contract to keep the leg from flying off in a sprint.

To see eccentric contraction, we can look at the ever popular biceps curl with flexion around the elbow. As we lower a weight, we are working against resistance, letting the joint angle increase to lower that object under control.

So we could now do an anterior lunge - moving the lunging leg to the front. And we'd know that the anterior lunge foregrounds knee flexion - the hamstrings and related flexors concentrically contracting to shorten and so pull the tibula/fibula towards the femor. We could talk about anterior and posterior glides of the head where we affect a "chicken neck" to move the cervical spine past the front midline of the body and then pull it in the opposite direction towards behind the midline of the body.

So we have eccentric and concentric contractions, negatives and positives being the same; flexion and extension and some directions - and the midlines of the body.

Perhaps this is all one to you and easy peasy - but for anyone else out there who struggles with directions - hope this helps.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Wait till After Eating to work out?

You may have been told wait at least forty minutes until after eating to work out, or to go swimming. And maybe we all kinda think we know why - if we work out on a full stomach, we'll just hurl. Hmm. Maybe.

Apparently one of the actual reasons for this invective to wait is more about blood supply. When we eat, our gut gets very active. That means a lot of the blood supply is being focused on our digestive system. You can see what's coming: exercise means that the blood supply is being wanted by our peripheral system (as we saw in the article on warm ups).

Likewise the hormonal responses around food digestion (load on the endocrine system) are different than the ones that get triggered for exercise.

So eating and working out close by each other is putting two rather opposing demands on our digestive and endocrine systems. By giving digestion a chance to do its thing, the body is more at liberty to manage the demands of our thing when we want to work out.

Sorta makes sense.

An interesting thing for peri-workout nutrition is that some fuel seems fine to ingest prior to a workout: fast digesting hydro-whey, fast carbs like dextrose, and creatine, can be taken on "right before" a work out. Some folks top up with energy drinks during a work out. So the energy requirements to process some of these fuels must be low relative to whole food.

Personally these kind of facts make it easier for me to plan how to work out and why to practice a particular way. I can calm down i guess around whether now is the right time to move or not. Maybe that's just me, but hope it might be a useful wee factoid for you, too.

Return of the Kettlebell Update 3: Totally Losing It - the Jerk

Have you ever lost it in a practice? Like lost your form by trying to think about what you are doing? that's what happened to me today. I wish i had today's RTK practice on tape as an object lesson in self-confusion. I totally lost it with what the heck i was doing in the jerk part of the C&J.

After doing the C&J happily for rounds of RTK, i started thinking about the form on the DVD vs mine. In particular i got thinking about the second dip: was i in fact doing a second dip? where was it? Where on earth did this thought come from? The result was rather odd in terms of form (i say smiling to myself). Double bottom dips with no press up. Triple hops with the bells already at the top. I'm sure there were other variants leading to utter perplexity. one set was so pooched i abandoned it to get a mental break and reset some circuits. Between sets i just kept practicing the form naked to get my groove back.
The Look, the hand grip, the jump
I think what's happening is that as i get different parts of the C&J zoning, like the looking down in the second dip (Eric Cobb is quoted in RTK as advising this - which i found after last week kinda getting that. cool) and i introduce a new refinement, occasionally i come unglued.

Here's an example. After looking carefully at the images and text for the RTK grip for the jerk and viking push press, i finally click that it's different than the press and start trying to adopt it. That part is fine, surprisingly. But that grip change comes right at the transition from the clean into the first dip of the jerk and i think that's where it all went, to quote the president in Dr. Strangelove "well, a little funny" today. The change point caused what had been a pretty seamless transition to unseam, and become what matthew chalmers calls "seamful" - and not in a good way.

I have no great analysis or take aways from this experience today - just witnessing that it happened. I guess my happiest moment was the feeling of maturity in abandoning a set that was going completely duck butt up rather than trying to force it to get back together.

That comes from the SAID principle and also not wanting to rep into my nervous system more reps of a whacky wrong pattern.

So i wish you joy of your double kettlebell work. I think i am actually gaining some mass on my arms - a unique experience where every 1/8th of an inch counts, durn it.

I'm also following the pre/post protein/carb/creatine peri drink council of the previously discussed reseasrch on nutrient timing, and am likewise experimenting just a wee bit with really light weight post recovery from the last RTK set to do one fast occlusion inducing set for triceps on C&J day or biceps on pressing days. It may make no difference. Too many variables to tell, but it's fun, and the peri drink definitely lets me dig into the sets more.

And speaking of digging into sets? Chalk is good. I find that by the fourth ladder of the third set on medium day, and sooner on heavy with the C&J's, the handles are so sweaty that keeping them from sliding and banging around my wrists is not possible. The difference a little bit of chalk makes to a clean clean is well worth it. Me i use climbers chalk in a chalk sock from REI, put it in a hefty bag so it doesn't go all over the place, stuff my hands in the bag and grab the sock a few times in each hand. voila.

Automatically Induced Restoration - seems to work
One more thing? post these C&J sets i'm tired. I really do find even half an hour after my workout with the holosync recovery beats stuff to be restorative. I've been using that consistently for half hour to an hour after the workout and it seems to let me come back to functional level for the rest of the day. I listen to the beats and read light crap or just stare. It's a great down time recharge. I find that there is a difference between just trying to sit and read for half an hour or so and using the holosync cd's. The latter seems more effective.

So that's my totally dorky catch up on RTK for today. Amazing stuff this double KB work.

Related Posts

Sunday, October 4, 2009

B2D Readers: b2d slight reorg & invitation for you

Hello b2d readers, grok'ers, folks who've subscribed by reader or email, and folks dropping by. Just wanted to let you know i've reorganized b2d a little bit to make it into what i hope will be a more efficient resource for you: adding Related posts to the end of articles for browsing a larger context, adding standing article indices to make browsing b2d easier, and casting an open invitation for your queries.

Related Posts
lately, i've been adding links at the end of new posts to other sources of info related to that post to provide a broader context. As i hit previous articles, i'm working on inserting related posts into older articles, too.

The main change to b2d has been to create several standing indices of b2d articles. They seem to have gathered around about 5 topics, soi've moved and extended the rather truncated article listings that used to be in the right hand column into these persistent reference pages, on these five topics:
  • vibram fivefingers - from fitting to wearing and the neural adaptations in between
  • z-health - what is it, what are the various certs/dvds/phases about and its application
  • kettlebells - firing the lats, press clean up, vo2max work and so on
  • general fitness - mainly research overviews and reflections
  • nutrition (forthcoming)
While i'm a wee bit surprised at how things have clustered i guess they show things i'm passionate about here - like getting into flexible, foot freeing shoes - and how this movement connects to so much else. While the z-health work shows a commitment to mobility for neurological communication and performance benefits, just freeing our feet alone - doing nothing else - seems to have immediate benefit. Blend in a little mobility and even more benefit.

Related to these more neurological emphases are the more pragmatic fitness and nutrition articles. These are in the large, i think, articles that review research literature around best practice. Within fitness, the remarkable mechanism of the kettlebell, the practice of which seems to lead to so much incredible performance self-knowledge is its own topic. That's one place i feel a little more comfortable reflecting on my own experiences, and hope they may prove useful for others, too.

These new indices are listed in the right hand column, under "b2d Article Indices" just a wee bit of a scroll down from the top of the page.

Search & Browse Too.
While the new "it's in here somewhere" Google-based blog Search makes it easy to find articles you suspect are in b2d, the article indices are planned as ways to let readers browse around a bit to get a sense of what's in b2d - they're not likely exhaustive but indicative.

They'll stay fresh as i'll update them regularly as newer material is posted.

This standing list of article lists also saves some space on the right hand column so that the column can be scrolled through a little more effectively too, i hope.

Other ways of browsing are by the month links at the bottom of the right hand column. IF you're curious to the road dug so far a person can click on the earliest month/year posted. I think the article indices may be easier to browse for content however.

Invitation to B2D readers: what's your question
More than anything, each index comes with an invitation: if you have a query about one of the index topics, and it's not covered in the articles in one of the related indices, please post a query in a comment for that index.

For instance, if you have a kettlebell question that's not covered in a b2d article in the kettlebell index, please post a question in the comments, and i'll put it on the stack for an article, or try to reply on the spot - i have the happy good fortune to know far more knowledgeable people in these topics than myself and will be pleased to try to find a reply.

Thanks again for visiting &/or subscribing to B2D.


B2D General Fitness Practice Article Index

Thinking about general fitness from mobility work to deadlifting to how freeing your feet is one of the best things we can do for our well being. What does the research tell us about dealing with DOMS, or about optimizing the mitochondrial benefits of cardio, or about warm ups (and whether we need one). This index will stay current with these and other topics touched on in b2d.

The idea is just to have a page that makes it easy to scan through headers of articles b2d has covered in this space.
One on nutrition will be coming soon to complement the others listed below on
  • kettlebells
  • vibram fivefingers (what can i say?)
  • z-health neurological mobility training

If you have a question about general physical well being and training practice not discussed here, and you think it might be good for a b2d article, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Muscle Building, Hypertrophy and THE PUMP - what is it?

How many reps for hypertrophy: why that's the wrong question.

Z Health: What is It

Atheletic Body Type: Check Your Goal Which one is yours? The day this article was posted it became the most hit page ever in one day on b2d. I'm not sure why.

Respect the Fat - a quick review of how fat gets used for fuel in the body.

The P90X critique and alternatives series.
Really my goal in this was less about a critique of P90X than how to think about whether or not a particular program will match one's goals. And how to assess if what's on the label is what's in the tin
  • part 1: considers muscle confusion and the various X workouts - should they be X'd? do their names really mean what's under the label?
  • part 2: getting ripped and what that means in terms of 1) getting lean and 2) getting defined. We also consider who can "get ripped" when following the p90x and does one really need P90X's 7 hours a week+ to achieve that goal?
  • part 3: alternatives to p90x (a) diet & p90x (b) workouts.

"The Pump" - what is it, how to get one and what does it/might it do?

DOMS part 1 - what is delayed onset muscle soreness and what doesn't work (you may be surprised.

DOMS part 2 - what works to offset what parts of DOMS

Warm Ups: what are they and (why) do we need one?

Arthrokinetic Reflex: the eyes have if for fast strength improvements.

Rannoch's 100's - it's always possible to find 100.
Lance Armstrong Dynamic Simple Strength Training.

Bones and Pistols
How to develop bones and pistols - both inspired by Adam T. Glass
Movement Assessment: what it is and why have one
This one's looking at an assessment to help address movement-related pain, but can equally apply to checking movement for general performance benefit
What if we were no longer how we defined ourselves - like strong?

Lance Armstrong training

6mins to fitness 1 - research
6mins to fitness 2 - application

Icing - safe and effective for what?

Running Shoe types - any effect on injury? how bout no?

Occlusion training
- benefits for strength training - but super for rehab?

Electrical Magnetic Stimulation - for rehab and muscle adaptation

Elite Fitness Rings - gymnastic rings make pull ups FUN

Stand up or Lie down to work out

Plastic vs Elastic - two different attributes that support human performance

Renegade Rows - awesome excercise

How and Why to FREE YOUR FEET!!
One of the most important things i've found about health improvement. Considering a quarter of the bones of our body are in our feet, letting them move turns out to be a good idea.

Pull Ups, how to do One or 101
This article looks at the muscles in pull ups as well as the various approaches that have been used to help people get their first or multiple pull ups - there's bound to be an approach that will work for you.

Does Cardio interfere with strength? how 'bout "no"?

Colds - Dealing with one before and after it starts

Sunscreen Will Kill You - and other single factor myths.

Rest and Recovery Periods: How Long and What For?
This is an article i did for Dragon Door on how rest periods relate to the type of strength one wants to develop - or the type of muscular adaptation one wants to foreground - as much as reps or load do.
Complexity is Not Evil

Exercise Doesn't Work Without Diet - Really

Deadlift Resources

Yoga for Back Care, References

Warrior Diet: Reviewing its Science Claims

Myth Busting: Women are afraid of Bulking Up.

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