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Showing posts with label Exercise Myths. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exercise Myths. Show all posts

What type of bow is best for weight training?

Q

"Hello!

I want to get into archery because I heard it is good for building strength. What type of bow would you recommend for building muscle?

- Kyle J."

A

Hello Kyle!

I recommend longbows if you want to get into the really high poundages and build lots of muscle. Longbows can go up to really high poundages - whereas recurve bows only go up to a maximum of roughly 60 lbs. Compounds bows can go pretty high, but they have a let off and are not that good for weightlifting because the letoff reduces the poundage once it is at full draw. eg. A 60 lb compound bow with 75% letoff will feel like only 15 lbs at full draw.

Longbows and recurves don't have a letoff and thus are better for weightlifting, and if you want to get into the heavier poundages then longbows is definitely the way to go.

If you are looking to buy a longbow in Toronto you have many options.

Option 1. Buy a bow from Basically Bows Archery on Queen Street East. Tell Gary I said hello! Gary has the best selection of longbows in the GTA.

Option 2. Commission a longbow from Mike Meusel, a local bowyer in Toronto. He made my 36lb pyramid bow "Ramses" for me.

Option 3. Shop for a longbow online. eg. howardhillarchery.com sells a variety of longbows. Expect to pay about $600, but they can also make really powerful (expensive) longbows too. For longbows over 75 lbs they charge an extra $2 per lb, and longbows over 100 lbs they charge an extra $5 - up to a maximum of 200 lbs. So if you are doing the math that is about $1150 for a super powerful longbow.

However I don't recommend you get yourself a super powerful longbow. You won't even be able to string it. You need to work your way up to that. If you are a big guy start with a bow that is between 30 and 40 lbs - make sure in the store you can draw it properly before purchasing - and practice with that bow 3 times (several hours each time) per week for 6 months.

Then get yourself another longbow that is 5 lbs heavier and practice with that one for 6 months.

If you start with a 35 lb bow and go up by 5 lb increments every 6 months (shooting even in the winter) then after 3 years you should be up to a 65 lb bow - or better, depending on your body type, adrenaline/testosterone levels (hormones that make you build muscles faster), the quality of your diet, and whether you are supplementing your exercise routine with a full body workout.

I strongly recommend archers adopt a full body workout that includes weightlifting, yoga, body weight exercises, balance exercises and even yogic breathing exercises. Such exercises will make you stronger, give you better balance, allow you to control your breathing during each shot - and better breathing gets more oxygen to your muscles.

Don't forget to stay hydrated. Water is best. Just plain old fashioned water. (I have determined energy drinks are a complete waste unless it is exceptionally hot outside and you are exercising a lot.)

Lastly I recommend drinking a whey protein shake after you return home from the archery range / after any weight lifting session.

Exercises to Treat Male Pattern Baldness - Real or Hoax?

Q

"Hello!

I read with interest your posts about nose exercises and how you can change the shape of your nose. I was wondering if you have heard anything about exercises or massages or diet plans you can do to either prevent male pattern baldness or to regrow hair where you now have a bald spot?

Thanks!

JCL"

A

Hello JCL!

I am afraid that so-called hair growth exercises are a complete hoax.

Same goes with massages. Complete hoax designed to get people to buy anti-baldness cream or similar products.

Diet plans on the other hand can help you to grow hair faster - but only in places where you already have hair.

I will tell you something I heard years ago. Most men who worry about baldness are worried that they will be less attractive to women. And YET most women don't care about baldness, what they care about is men who take care of themselves. That means exercising regularly, being well-groomed, cleanliness, nice/clean clothes, taking care in their appearance - and presumably also cleaning their home regularly and taking care of their mental well-being.

The articles JCL was referring to are:

Nose Exercises Vs Rhinoplasty

Nose Exercises - Fixing a Crooked Nose

Nose Exercises - Do you actually need them or are you being paranoid about your nose?

Understanding Weight Fluctuations

When it comes to dieting and exercising a person's weight is going to fluctuate dramatically from day to day. Weight fluctuations can be frustrating if you don't understand why it is happening, and why you sometimes seem to be going in the opposite direction.

A common myth is that exercise always equals weight loss. Except it is not always true. Often exercise equals muscle gain, which means weight gain. You might also be losing fat too, but it will be confusing as to how much muscle you are gaining and fat you are losing.

During a strict diet where a person is consuming less calories than their needs but still using the same amount of calories for their daily activities you will see constant weight loss as the body consumes fat stores to make up the difference. (During such a diet it is recommended they eat a fair bit of lean protein and supplement their diet with weightlifting in order to maintain muscle tone.)

During a less strict diet wherein a person doesn't know how many calories they are consuming then they might sometimes be eating more than they actually need and see combinations of weight loss on some days and weight gain on other days.

Note - Remember to weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast to get more accurate results. If you eat a meal, especially a large meal, weight measurements will give you an inaccurate glimpse of your true weight.

Large meals, extra water retention, binge eating are some of the biggest contributors to weight fluctuations, but there are other factors as well such as:

#1. Muscle Gain - Muscle weighs more than fat so even a little muscle gain can result in overall weight gain. This frequently happens when people are exercising, as people often gain muscle faster than they lose fat due to a combination of factors. Learn more by reading How Fast Can You Grow Muscle?

#2. Muscle Loss - It is common for people on fad diets to also lose muscle due to a lack of protein, vitamins and minerals in their diet. This can create a false sense of fat loss because your scales don't know whether you are losing muscle or losing fat. Often people gain the weight back after they quit the diet because their muscle weight can regrow at a faster weight due to muscle memory. See also Two Alternative Models for Predicting Muscle Growth.

#3. Inaccurate Scales - We've all done it at some point. We stepped on the scales and got a reading that was hugely inaccurate. To remedy this step off the scales and step on again to see if it gives the same results twice. You may need to double check 3 or 4 times to get a truly accurate reading. Electronic scales often need to recalibrate if they have been stored sideways, haven't been used for a long time, etc. Thus you need to give it some time to recalibrate.

Personal Note: I have to this myself often because I store my electronic scale sideways so whenever I plop it on the floor to check my weight I have to first wait for it to recalibrate by stepping on and off it a couple times and then finally getting an accurate reading.

Another possibility is that you have an old set of scales that uses a tension spring to measure weight, and the spring is old and worn out (and losing tension). Best option is to recycle it and buy a new set of scales.

If you have access to an old fashioned scale like the one below then absolutely use it. That is the kind of scale used by doctors because they are the most accurate.


#4. Too Much Salt / Sodium - Eating too much salt / sodium causes your body to retain more water and also more fat. Simply cutting all your salty foods from your diet can cause a sudden shift towards weight loss and fat loss. Eat more veggies and less salty foods and you can see a dramatic change. A constant over abundance of salty foods will cause your body to store more fat on a daily basis.

#5. Constipation - Nothing a quick laxative wouldn't fix. Otherwise try eating more foods that are high in fibre. Having a good bowel movement on a daily basis is definitely a good thing. Try to weigh yourself AFTER you've had a bowel movement and before you eat breakfast.

#6. Hormonal Changes - Women and men both suffer from monthly hormonal changes that can cause their weight to fluctuate. Hormonal levels can even be effected by your mood, as feelings of depression cause various hormones to be released which causes weight gain. In contrast feelings of happiness and contentment cause hormones which induce weight loss.

HANDY TIPS FOR COUNTERING NEGATIVE WEIGHT FLUCTUATIONS

#1. Don't weigh yourself every day. Instead pick a day (eg. Tuesday) and always weigh yourself on that day after your morning bowel movement and before breakfast.

#2. Keep track of your weight fluctuations from week to week by tracking them on a piece of paper that you keep near your scales.

#3. Avoid large meals, parties where you might overeat, binge eating, etc the day before you weigh yourself. Also avoid salty foods, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugary treats and anything else you know is bad for you.

#4. Drink more water to bring your sodium levels down. Water also helps remove contaminants in your system from toxins, as water acts a natural detoxifier. Other natural detoxifiers include lemon juice, green tea, broccoli (although many other vegetables also work wonders), dandelion tea, fresh cranberry juice. Learn more about lowering your toxin levels.

ALTERNATIVES TO WEIGHING YOURSELF

A better way to judge your true weight is to look at how well your clothes fit. If your clothes feel roomier or baggier, then you've lost weight.

If possible try to also get monthly measurements of your body fat. This will give you a percentage of your total weight which is fat and a better idea of whether you are losing or gaining based on the percentage.

Try using fat calipers.

An old fashioned route is to use a tape measure. The tape measure will be less accurate around your middle (as you might gain muscle there if you are doing abdominal exercises) so I recommend also measuring your hips (as your body often stores fat in your buttocks instead) and keeping track of both your waist and hips measurements.

Balancing your Mirror Muscles

 Body symmetry is exceptionally important for bodybuilding and weightlifting - but what many people don't realize is that body symmetry also effects many other things too.



MUSCLE IMBALANCE = BACK PAIN

For example, did you know that pregnant women develop overly strong back muscles during the pregnancy? The reason is so they can support the extra weight of a baby and all the extra water weight, and that with time this leads to back pain - even after the baby has been born.

Now you might think, wait, why would they have back pain if their back is STRONGER? Shouldn't a strong back eliminate back pain?

Nope, and therein lies the problem. Many people don't realize that the primary source of backpain is a loss of balance between front mirror muscles and their back muscles. Often it is directly connected on a lateral level.

Examples

Small pectoral muscles = upper back pain.

Small abdominal muscles = lower back pain. (Especially since people often have weak lower back muscles in the first place.)

The reason is because the pectorals and abs are also used for balance, and if those muscles are smaller / weaker the back muscles in the corresponding mirror muscles have to work twice as hard in order for a person to maintain their balance and posture. A person with really lax muscle mirror muscles is going to have really bad posture and lots of back pain.

It is possible to have overdeveloped front torso muscles, which is exceptionally rare for the common person, but more common for bodybuilders who place too much emphasis on their front muscles because they want large pecs and abs. Since humans use their backs for so many things it is usually the back muscles which become overdeveloped and the front muscles which suffer.

AESTHETICS

Training for muscular balance is important is also important for aesthetics. Visually people are just not attractive if they have one part of their body that is abnormally large to the point it becomes grotesque.

For example people who don't exercise properly often develop a "crooked six pack" in their abdominal region - like in the photo below.



So basically there is many ways a person can screw up the symmetry of their muscles - both front and back, and also side to side.

It can be fixed with time fortunately, but it is best to take preventative measures while you are exercising so you use proper form. The use of proper form during each exercise means you won't be sloppy and then overusing one muscle compared to the other - the constant use of one muscle and ignoring its mirror muscle will always result in an imbalance over time.

On an aesthetic level bodybuilders can see their front muscles in the mirror easily, and exercises wise it is more fun to do bench presses and bicep curls. For most people however it is the opposite. They use their back for lifting things regularly, whereas weightlifters have been taught proper form and to lift with their legs more so they don't injure their back - and thus training their backs becomes a problem.

The end result is that aesthetically different people need to do different things to correct their muscle imbalances.

STABILITY / PREVENTS INJURIES

Having strong and well balanced front and back muscles means you will have better balance and stability - which is important while lifting heavy weights as you will be using your muscles both to lift the weight and to maintain balance. Having the extra mirror muscles will take up some of the effort of maintaining your balance while the other muscles do the job of lifting the heavy object.

Trying to lift the heavy object AND maintain your balance with just the one set of muscles is going to lead to injury over time due to bad posture. In my head I see a cartoon of a man falling over and the box landing on top of him because he can't maintain his balance, but this is only a literal interpretation. The reality is that overuse of one set of muscles will cause them to eventually rip - ripped muscles is normally a good thing in bodybuilding - but in this case a rip could mean ripped ligaments, which is exceptionally painful and sometimes untreatable.

Common injuries like hernias for example can be prevented by developing better mirror muscles. It is well worth it to make the effort. Do a google image search for hernia sometime and that should scare you into exercising your mirror muscles more to correct your imbalances.

FIXING MUSCLE IMBALANCES

Overdeveloped Back

The majority of you are probably reading this because you are an average person and have back pain. So the quick answer is for you to work on your pectorals, abdominal muscles and even your oblique (side) muscles.

This means doing exercises like push ups, sit ups, and side twists to build up pecs, abs and obliques. It is a relatively easy fix, takes you about 5 - 10 minutes every day and keep doing that for several months and you should have a lot less back pain as those muscles grow. (Unless you have chronic back pain caused by something else, like a slipped disk in your spine. In which case see your doctor.)

Overdeveloped Front

If you are the opposite however, someone who has been weight training for a long time and has developed overly large front muscles and neglected your back then there is a variety of exercises you can.

#1. Take up archery (archers tend to develop overly large back muscles, so this is a quick solution to your problem if your front muscles are currently overdeveloped - see Mirror Muscles for Archery).

#2. Use any kind of pulling machine in the gym. Rowing machines work well too.

#3. Be creative and use dumbbells in pulling exercises. Exercises like reverse flies. Make sure the weights are heavy enough to challenge you.

#4. Body weight exercises that use your back muscles. Pull ups, chin ups use your back shoulder muscles and your back muscles for balance.

#5. T Flies - Bend forward at the waist so that the back is very straight. Look down and with straight arms, slowly flap your arms. You may feel silly doing this at the gym so do it at home. Each time your arms come up to as high as they can go, really focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. When they come all of the way back down, focus on stretching the back and shoulder muscles forward.

#6. Yoga - Hold the poses for longer periods of time to stress your muscles more. Try
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga to get a more powerful workout.

OTHER WEIRD IMBALANCES

Biceps Vs Triceps

Pain in your biceps can mean you are overusing your biceps in your effort to get bigger - a common problem with newbs at the gym. This affliction is rare because the triceps are used in many exercises so the good news is you can easily fix it by doing more triceps exercises regularly.

Biceps may get more attention, but anyone who has been concerned over the back of the arm being flab, or just having nicely toned arms in general, will have trained their triceps.

The triceps are easy to train with exercises such as dips, overhead extension, and skull crushers but also shows results really quickly because the triceps build bulk muscle faster.

Lower Back and Abs

The lower back is probably the least trained muscle group of all. If any muscle should be trained, it is this one - but you need to exercise your abs too so you correct the imbalance without making a new imbalance.

I recommend doing abs and lats exercises FIRST during a workout so you get it over and done with. Many people do these exercises last and sometimes forget to do them. Or skip them entirely. This doesn't help them since the lower back and abs is used for core balance, and injury prevention.

Nobody is ever going to compliment you on your toned lower back, but the muscles there are exceptionally important for balance, posture and injury prevention.

Try doing alternating back extensions, either on all fours or on your belly. See photos below.




Another good one is Superman Pushups. They make look easy but they are harder than they look because most people have weak lower back muscles.



Hamstrings

Many people neglect to exercise the back of their legs. But there are man common exercises that build muscle there.

Squats
Bicycling
Lunges
Standing Leg Curls
Straight Leg Deadlift
Snap Kicks
Sprinting (especially on a sandy beach, because it works them harder)

CONCLUSIONS

Mirror muscles are exceptionally important for aesthetics, sports training, balance, strong core muscles, pain prevention and preventing injuries. I cannot emphasize the importance of Mirror Muscle Training enough. For whatever exercise goals you have set forth for yourself, you should do complimentary Mirror Muscle Training to give yourself a physical edge.

Mirror Muscles for Archery

Many archers over time develop really strong back muscles because they are using the back muscles a lot for pulling and steadying their bow.

However the problem is that as time progresses their back muscles becomes overdeveloped, their form deteriorates and they can't balance properly while performing a shot.

There is however a solution.

Push ups.

Just good old fashioned push ups targets the Mirror Muscles for archery - which in this case is the pectorals or "pecs". Push ups also build shoulder and triceps, muscles archers also use a lot, so it is ultimately a very good exercise for archers to be doing on a daily basis.

I recommend 100 pushups per day. Either 5 sets of 20, 10 sets of 10, however you get them done so long as you can do them and build up the corresponding muscles and mirror muscles.

The problem however is that many new archers don't know this - often because they're new to the sport and no nothing about sports conditioning. So they are operating under the illusion / myth that they don't need to do push ups and don't know the benefits that stronger mirror muscles will give to their form.

And this is true for many newcomers to sports. Many people who take up boxing for example don't understand why boxers often train by skipping rope - because it builds endurance, balance and feet coordination, all of which are important during a boxing match.

It is purest simple minded thinking (combined with a dose of laziness) that causes amateurs to think they don't need to do something to reach their goal. It never occurs to them that to reach (a) goal, they have to (b) train regularly and (c) do complimentary exercises. Or even (d) eat a healthy balanced diet.

Other complimentary exercises for archery...

#1. Yoga - builds balance and core muscles. Also boosts mental acuity and concentration. 20 to 30 minutes of yoga every day can give an archer a serious edge.

#2. Situps - builds abdominal muscles, which also boosts balance and is a mirror muscle for the lower back. 100 per day is a good number.

#3. Squats - builds leg muscles and boosts the balance in your legs. 100 per day.

Basically archers use almost all their body in performing a shot because they need better balance so they can steady their shot. It is true that certain muscles, like the back, shoulders and triceps are used more - but overdeveloping those muscles will cause their form to fall to pieces.

You are never too old to start a new sport

I was going through old emails earlier today and found one I had failed to answer (it was in the wrong folder).

In the email a mother was talking about signing her son up for archery lessons and said "he is kind of too old to start new sports".

I read this with quiet bemusement.

I didn't laugh out loud or anything. I was just mildly amused and a tad indignant. How is SIXTEEN too old to start a new sport?

I mean com'on, many athletes don't start their preferred sport until they are 17, 18, 19 or well into their 20s.

And there is nothing stopping adults and even seniors from taking up a sport - including a competitive sport - well into their golden years.

An elderly (and even overweight person) can easily learn to do the splits (see photo below) or any number of other activities during their older years.


They might get really into bicycles - and even fixing bicycles in their old age.


They might take up archery as a recreational sport - or even compete in archery competitions.


They might even take up boxing, martial arts or yoga.



What it really comes down to is that there is nothing stopping you from starting a new sport - and even competing in a new sport.

Age, disability, sex/gender, being overweight - these are just excuses.

Willpower and taking the first steps towards a new goal, those are the deciding factors.

Extreme Heat effects your Workout and Diet

When it gets super hot and humid in Toronto you're going to be sweaty, cranky and tired. So how do you beat the heat and still manage to eat properly and get a good workout?

Today we are going to do some ol' fashioned myth busting when it comes to exercise and eating healthy in the heat. And give you some healthy tips along the way!

#1. Is it really hot enough to fry an egg? No, not really. And seriously, would you even want to eat the egg? Stick to frying your eggs in a pan instead.

#2. Does the heat actually make you more tired? Yes. Heat is very draining on your body and it uses a lot of your active energy just to try and cool your body down. Which means if you have air conditioning you will be able to sleep better at night.

It isn't just the heat however - it is also the humidity. Which means a dehumidifier in your bedroom can also help you to sleep better. And better sleep = more energy the next day and less likely to binge on sugary foods to boost your energy levels.

#3. If you feel so tired that you are nauseous and dizzy (or suffering memory problems) you may have heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and you should get to some place cool immediately and drink some cool water. When in doubt call 911.

#4. However, heat exhaustion doesn't mean you should jump in a cold shower or a pool. The shock could knock you unconscious. Your goal should be to SLOOOOOOWLY lower your body temperature back to normal. So a dip in a cool pool - not a cold one - will help. A cool / luke warm shower is also good. Drinking lots of water (not too much all at once) will also help. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, they will just dehydrate you further.

#5. Avoid very large meals on a hot day. Binging on food will just make you more tired. Your body is already working hard to maintain your body temperature, so digesting a big meal will just put more stress on it. Aim for smaller, lighter meals - and eat snacks in-between meals.

#6. When running / jogging don't drink ice cold water. Instead drink cool water that is only moderately cold. The reason is because your body has to expend energy to warm that water up. The lost energy then makes you feel more tired than you would normally be. By drinking only moderately cool water you don't feel the energy drain as much but are still getting the cooling effect. Some marathon runners prefer to drink water which is luke warm / room temperature that way they are minimizing their energy drain as much as possible and only want the water for hydration, not for cooling them down.

#7. The more fit you are the less effect the heat will have on your body, this is true - but that doesn't make you immune to heat exhaustion, dehydration or heat stroke. If you start to notice symptoms of any of these three seek shade, a cool place and water.

#8. A handy trick is to exercise AFTER the sun goes down. You can download a smartphone app that will tell you when sunrise and sunset is in your area or check it online. (I personally use one which tells me sunrise, sunset, a detailed hourly weather forecast and the weather forecast for the coming week.)

#9. If doing any kind of weight training outside on a hot day it is best to have a partner if possible. Long list of variety of safety reasons. And the list grows longer if you are older and / or unfit. Exercise caution.

#10. Sweating a lot doesn't burn more calories. It just means your body is overheating and trying to cool down. If you feel too hot you won't be able to exercise as hard. You can exercise much harder in cooler conditions because your body doesn't have to expend so much water, sodium and energy trying to cool you down.

#11. Sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade help. Why? Because in addition to the water they also replenish sodium and calories. Gives you more energy, and the sodium means you can sweat more - which in turn cools you down physically - which in turn allows you to exercise harder because you don't feel as hot.

#12. If you're tempted for a beer on a patio, try to stick to just one beer. None is better, but if you fall to temptation try to limit yourself to one and then have a glass of water with it. Same goes with coffee and other caffeine drinks. Alcohol and caffeine dehydrates you because you end up using more water from your body just trying to flush the toxins from your system. (Which is why you will feel the need to urinate later after drinking alcohol or caffeine.) Exercising immediately after having alcohol is not recommended, but if you do try to rehydrate yourself by drinking a fair amount of water before, during and after the exercise.

#13. Your body adapts over time to hot weather. It is why we get sunburns on our arms for example and later our arms become more resistant to sunburns. It is in our genetics that we adapt to summer by getting sunburns a couple times and by the time we have a good tan going we don't burn as easily - but you can still get a painful sunburn if you aren't careful! So use sunscreen, wear a hat and avoid long exposure to the sun.

#14. Your blood vessels and sweat levels also adjust to the weather. You will start craving more salty foods and this is normal - the sodium in the salt replenishes your ability to sweat and keep yourself cool.

#15. A health tip for women and men. Antiperspirants contain aluminum in the form of toxic chemicals like aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly - a chemical proven to cause lymph node and breast cancer in both women and men. If you are going to use an antiperspirant try not to use so much - or switch to deodorant instead.

Women who wear antiperspirant regularly have significantly higher chances of developing lymph node and breast cancer. In contrast most men use deodorant instead, which doesn't prevent sweating and instead just masks the smell - and thus men have significantly lower chances of lymph node and breast cancer because they aren't using antiperspirants as much as women do. This doesn't mean men cannot get cancer in those body parts, it just means that most men don't use antiperspirant and thus have lower chances. A man who does use antiperspirant regularly will have the same chance of developing lymph node and breast cancer as a woman who uses antiperspirant regularly.

Also your body is going to sweat anyway. Swiping some toxic chemicals on your armpits isn't going to stop you from sweating from head, neck, chest, arms, belly, back, legs and so forth. In its efforts to cool your body down your body will simply sweat from all available pores anyway.

How to do the Splits

Flexibility training isn't something that most people do. But it is something I would personally would like to do more.

Keeping in mind that I have no background in dancing, gymnastics or acrobatics. I am more or less just an average guy who is into exercising a lot. (Although I do admit I sit cross-legged quite a bit so I might have a slight advantage.)

Thus learning how to do the splits is a technical challenge for anyone who wants to practice stretching and flexibility exercises.

MYTH BUSTING

#1. The first thing I want to do is point out that ANYONE can do the splits if they practice flexibility exercises - even men and overweight people. Flexibility has very little to do with what sex you are or what size you are. It has nothing to do with age either. For this reason I have chosen a variety of images which disprove any myths you might have about flexibility. Sex, age, size, race, etc have nothing to do with your ability to be flexible. It is purely a matter of stretching exercises.

93-year-old woman doing the splits.
#2. Learning to do the splits doesn't take as long as you think. It should take roughly one to three months to reach the point where YOU can do the splits. But you will need to be diligent about doing your stretching exercises every day and I do mean EVERY DAY.

#3. You might think "Oh yes, men can do the splits, but they'd have to be a martial artists already or a really good athlete who is already super flexible to do the splits." Yes, it is true, many martial artists and athletes can do the splits - but only because they have trained themselves to do them. You have to get away from that way of thinking where you think A (natural ability) causes B (flexibility), when in reality it is C (practice, practice, practice) that is responsible for improved flexibility. You might also think that men with lots of muscle and / or fat cannot do the splits. In which case I invite you to browse the various photos on this page.

Man doing the splits
Overweight Older Man doing the Splits
Now that I have proven how it can actually be done lets get down to what exactly is the splits.

THE SPLITS - DEFINITION

A split is a stretch that completely extends the legs so that they and the base of the torso are flat on the ground. There are TWO kinds of splits. You can do a split with your torso facing over one leg - known as a Side Split - or with your torso facing forward - a Front Split.

Usually people start by learning front splits because it is slightly easier and takes less time to learn how to do them. The amount of time it takes you to learn to do a split depends upon your physical fitness, diet, metabolism, coordination, age and flexibility - but it is not impossible for you to learn regardless of any of those factors. Most people can build up to doing a front split in a month. If you have any injuries that effect your flexibility, consult your doctor before beginning training.

HOW TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO DO THE SPLITS


#1. DAILY BUTTERFLY STRETCHES

Perform daily butterfly stretches. These stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

Remember to repeat daily! I know I am beating an old drum here, but remembering to do these stretches daily is a huge benefit to your ability to improve your flexibility.

#2. STRETCH YOUR KNEES AND LEGS DAILY

Stretch your knees and legs daily. While kneeling, put one foot in front of you on a mat, stool or other sturdy item elevated a foot off the ground. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees. Extend your other leg back behind you. Then push your hips forward until you feel your muscles stretching. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 times daily.

#3. STANDING LEG STRETCHES

Stretch your legs while standing. This helps improve balance and flexibility. While standing place one foot in front of you on a mat or other sturdy item about a foot off of the floor. Keep your back foot flat on the ground. Then extend your arms forward to touch the toes of the front foot and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Repeat 10 times each side every day. However many flexibility experts say that the more frequently you perform this stretch, the better your balance and flexibility will become - so in theory you could do a lot more than 10 per day. However if you start to feel any extreme pain I recommend stopping immediately.

#4. ATTEMPT TO DO THE SPLITS

Don't expect to do the splits the first time or even the 20th day or the 30th day. Many people can do them by day 30, but lets pretend for a moment that you skipped doing your stretching exercises for a few days then you will have slower results.

Other factors such as diet, metabolism, etc will slow you down a bit, but basically anyone should be able to do the splits by day 90 of doing the stretches.

During your attempt stand up and spread your legs slowly to the ground into a split while supporting yourself using a stable chair or ballet barre. Go down as far as you can without experiencing pain or shaking legs. Hold the position for three to five seconds and repeat the stretch five times daily. This stretch (even if you fail) helps you improve muscle memory, flexibility and balance, all of which are important for splits. You will gradually be able to lower yourself closer and closer to a split.

It just takes time and daily practice.

CONCLUSIONS

If you were paying attention and doing some math you may have noticed it only requires 5 + 10 + (10 x 2) + 5 stretches each day to do the splits. It is a total of 40 stretches per day. Takes you about 5 to 10 minutes per day.

But the results are amazing regardless of what size or shape you are.

With time you could even do super flexible things you normally expect of dancers and gymnasts.

Don't think that just because they are young and skinny that you can't do it. You can. It just takes time, practice, diligence, a little willpower and 40 stretches per day.


Just 40 stretches per day.



Overweight Man doing the Splits
Elderly Woman doing the Splits
Bodybuilder doing the Splits

Do Hot Saunas burn Fat? Myth Busting

No.

It is true that people lose weight while in the sauna. But it mostly water weight and sodium, which your body quickly replenishes when you drink water and eat anything with salt in it.

Sweating, by itself, does not burn fat. It doesn't even burn calories.

It is true that many people exercise, their muscles overheat, and they get very sweaty because their bodies releases sweat in an effort to cool them down.

The problem however is that excessive sweating can lead to dehydration, heat stroke - and even death. What happens is once a person sweats out a lot of their water reserves they have so little water left in their system that if they overheat they will start to feel the effects of heat stroke. Mild heat stroke causes confusion, headaches, dizziness. Severe heat stroke can cause a person to faint, and if left untreated it can kill them.

The problem with saunas is that due to the heat and humidity sweating doesn't actually cool the person down. So a person can overheat in a sauna very easily - and fainting is not uncommon.

All of this is exacerbated by the myth that people can lose weight by sweating a lot in the sauna. Sweating doesn't burn fat. It removes water and sodium ( and it is good for the pores ), which the body quickly replenishes later when you drink and eat - often causing the dehydrated person to over-drink and over-eat.

The Benefits of Saunas

- Good for cleaning the pores.

- Kills bacteria (the sweat kills bacteria on the skin).

-  Sweat flushes away toxic metals from the skin.

- A good way to heat up after being outside in the winter.

But burning fat is not one of the benefits.

Hearing Loss from Bodybuilding?

Q

"Hello! Have you ever heard of anyone developing hearing loss from bodybuilding / weight lifting?

- Jake H."

A

No, I can't say that I have.

However with the wide plethora of supplements and steroids available to the bodybuilding industry I would not be surprised if some of the more illegal steroids have side effects that include hearing loss.

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to drugs that have not been properly tested and have been deemed to have dangerous side effects.

However the hearing loss could just be caused by something else and falsely attributed to weightlifting.

For example the older people get the more likely they are to experience hearing loss. 33% of elderly people between the ages of 65 and 75 experience some form of hearing loss. Above the age of 75 the percentage goes up to 50%. Thus if a person at the age of 68 took up weightlifting later in life, and became really serious about it, and then started experiencing hearing loss at the same time, they might falsely think their hearing loss was somehow connected to the new love of weightlifting.

To my knowledge there is no medical connection between weightlifting and hearing loss - but that doesn't mean a person can't develop hearing loss due to another cause. It would therefore be logical to start by eliminating other possible causes before we start pointing fingers.

THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS

#1. Genetic factors - Is there a history of hearing loss in your family? This is entirely possible when you consider 50% of people encounter hearing loss over the age of 75. Even people who have no history of hearing loss in their parents or grandparents may still have inherited a recessive gene.

#2. Excessive Exposure to Loud Noises over a Longer Period - What kind of work or home environment do you have that might expose you to loud noises? eg. If you work in a noisy factory and have been doing so for years, and you don't wear ear protection, you could suffer hearing loss.

#3. Buildup of Earwax / Medical Conditions - Some people build up earwax faster than others and it interferes with their hearing over time.

#4. High Intensity Sound - A single loud burst of sound can also cause hearing damage if its exceptionally loud.

#5. Tumor, Abnormal Bone Growth, Ear Infection - Some of these could be permanent or temporary. Depends on the precise cause. An audiologist could provide more info.

#6. Ruptured Eardrum due to Unknown Cause - Sometimes accidents just happen and we have no idea why.

#7. People who are into boxing and wrestling can sometimes suffer hearing loss. Many boxers and wrestlers also encounter other problems like blindness, mental impairments, speech difficulties, respiratory problems, and paralysis. A hard knock to the head can damage the bones inside the ear and cause some extent of hearing loss. Boxing can cause all sorts of damage to your ears.

Symptoms of hearing loss are pretty easy to spot. The muffled quality of sounds, listening to things at a higher volume that others complain, asking people to repeat themselves louder.

NOTE: If you experience complete hearing loss in one or more ears, or constant dizziness, then you should contact a doctor immediately.

Treatment really depends on the cause and severity. If its just earwax, then you can just remove the earwax - possibly by visiting a doctor and getting a medical wax removal procedure. The use of hearing aids is more for people who have severe damage.

And then there is Cochlear Implants - which is a whole other subject. CIs is a surgically implanted electronic device also referred to as bionic ears that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Even people who are born deaf can sometimes be given a sense of sound thanks to these implants. They are not cheap however - costing anywhere from $45,000 to $125,000. A cochlear implant will not cure deafness, but is a prosthetic substitute for hearing.

If you really think you might be suffering hearing loss (regardless of whether you think it is caused by weightlifting or some other cause) then I recommend speaking to an audiologist. I know of an audiologist in Vaughan who works for Omni Hearing, who offers free hearing tests. So at least it won't cost you anything to have your hearing tested in the event you feel you are suffering hearing loss.

But with respect bodybuilding and hearing loss? I would say that is a myth until proven with some kind of scientific study.


12 Exercises for Building More Sensitive Ears using Hearing Exercises

I have consulted a number of sources, including audiologists, who say it is impossible to regain your ability to hear better. The vast majority of them - well nigh all of them - say that hearing loss is permanent.

However having suffered hearing loss when I was a child, and regaining some of my hearing over the past 22 years, I must affirm that I think the scientific community is WRONG when they say it is impossible to regain some measurement of hearing.

To explain this I will be doing two things: 1. I will be trying to be as scientific as I can when explaining my ideas; 2. Some of my explanations will be based on conjecture and hypothesis, so I saying this now as an informal disclaimer so that people understand that some of my ideas may not scientifically accurate, but are instead based on my first hand experience. I was also be basing some of my exercises further below upon my research into zen and yoga techniques designed to improve hearing.

When I was 12 years old a shotgun shell went by my left ear and was so loud it caused hearing damage. I was temporarily deafened in my left ear. (There is a long story about how this happened, but I will spare you the details.)

I am now 34 and during that the last 22 years I have had my hearing slowly improve over time. Initially it was very quick. I went from being temporarily deafened to simply "severe hearing loss" / almost deaf in my left ear.

By the time I reached university in 1999 my hearing had improved somewhat, to the extent that combined with my perfect hearing in my right ear I was able to function most of the time. I would regularly need to ask people to repeat themselves because of my hearing difficulties, but I was able to cope 99% of the time.

Since graduating in 2003 my hearing has continued to improve over time, to the point that I would now describe myself as having only moderate to light hearing damage in my left ear.

However several questions remain... Did my ears physically heal over the past 22 years, or did my brain simply get better at interpreting the sounds it was receiving? I think it is a bit of both. I believe there was some initial healing process, wherein part of the damage to my ears was permanent - and the other part was simply temporary. It was the temporary aspect which healed up more quickly. After that had healed however I believe my brain has learned to compensate and use what little hearing I have in my left ear and has slowly improved with time.

Which brings me to why I think audiologists are wrong when they say it is impossible to improve your hearing using hearing exercises. They are only thinking in terms of permanent hearing damage - they are completely ignoring temporary hearing damage, and they are completely ignoring the possibility that the brain can learn over time to compensate and "hear better" based on what data it is receiving from the ears.

So yes, based on my personal experience you can improve your hearing over time - the trick is to heal any temporary damage to your ears, and to attune your mind so the hearing ability you do have is used to its full potential.

12 Hearing Exercises for Building More Sensitive Ears

Note: The first three are really more maintenance issues, so you don't cause further damage to your ears over time.

#1. Routinely check for a build-up of earwax.

Some hearing loss can be caused by excess wax in your ear canal. Snap a photo of your ear with a camera, or have a friend look into your ear with a flashlight. If you see impacted wax, do not touch it. Trying to dig it out yourself will only make it worse.

If the blockage isn't severe, try to wash it out yourself. (Note: Only do this if your eardrums don't have tubes or holes in them.) Use an eyedropper to put a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide in your ear to "soften" the wax. After a day or two, use a rubber-bulb syringe to gently put warm water into your ear. Tip your head to the other side to let the water (and wax) drain out.

If the blockage is severe, call your doctor or audiologist and make an appointment to have it removed.

#2. Make sure you don't have an ear infection.

If your ears are in extreme pain, see a doctor immediately to make sure you don't have an ear infection or ruptured ear drum. If these conditions are left untreated, they can permanently damage the hearing in your inner ear.

#3. Take measures to stop any further hearing deterioration.

Reduce your exposure to loud, sustained noises. If noisiness like this is part of your job try wearing specialty ear plugs or changing jobs. If you wear earbuds or headphones to listen to music, keep the volume low or moderately low. When encountering loud sustained noises protect your ears with your hands and move further away from the source of the noise. Try to reduce your exposure to high volumes overall, and you'll reduce future hearing loss.

#4. Don't talk so loudly.

If you have lost a significant portion of your hearing, speak in a slightly softer tone than you think you need to. It's common to overcompensate and talk loudly if you can't hear your own voice very well, but if other people can't hear you, they'll tell you to speak up.

#5. Use your hearing more.

Your brain's pathways are like rocky trails, gravel roads and highways. If you use part of your brain more often the extra activity (traffic) on those mental pathways will strengthen and expand. This is why blind people often have very acute hearing and sense of touch - they have been forced to use their hearing more and thus their mental pathways controlling the interpretation of sound has been rapidly expanded.

This is not going to turn you into some kind of superhuman listener (like the blind comic book hero Daredevil), but it will allow you to improve your ability to hear things - even despite minor or moderate hearing damage.

#6. Learn to identify sounds / Auditory Indexing.

According to Zen monks learning to identify sounds is one of the first steps in learning to better control your sense of hearing. The practice is known as "Auditory Indexing". Without identification a person can become confused, overwhelmed or frightened by the sounds they are hearing. By learning to identify which sounds are which they can hear the sounds, but tune out those sounds they recognize as being too far away, not a threat, of little interest, etc.

An hearing exercise you can do at home is to listen for sounds you cannot identify, and once you find a sound that you don't recognize go and see what it is. Memorize that sound. Start over again and listen for other sounds you don't recognize.

#7. Learn to control your mind and avoid distractions.

A person who is distracted by random thoughts will not notice sounds that are nearby them. Learning to control distracting thoughts is a complex process and first requires a person to let go of their mind before they can learn to control it. I strongly recommend reading the book "The Unfettered Mind", which is a small collection of essays / letters by the Zen monk Takuan Soho and deals directly and indirectly with the topic of how to control your mind. In the book Takuan Soho references Japanese swordplay (kendo), but that can be used as a metaphor for any task.

#8. Listen for your own heartbeat.

This is difficult for even people with perfect hearing to do, but it can be done. The sound of heartbeat is there, but it is being muffled by numerous other sounds. Late at night, in a quiet room it is a much easier task to hear your own heartbeat - but with practice a person can listen for their heartbeat even in a crowded room.

If you get bored of listening to your heartbeat you can also listen to your breathing, your stomach/digestive organs, and even the sound of yourself blinking. If that seems like too much of a challenge try making very quiet sounds with your feet or fingers - such as rubbing your fingers together - and listening / concentrating on that sound.

#9. Extended Hearing Exercise.

This exercise has its source in tantric yoga. To do this sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Imagine a series of circular ring emanating around you at fixed distances.

First listen to all sound coming from within a 3 feet radius of you. Identify each sound that is closest to you. Ignore sounds that are further away, even if they are louder, so that they become background noises. Each time you concentrate on a new sound briefly identify what it is. Footsteps, conversations, mechanical noises, the rustle of leaves, the buzz of insects, the sound of running water, the distant roar of the city.

Next expand your hearing range to 10 feet and concentrate on the sounds found within this range. Continue expanding in circles around you to include the surrounding room, the building, your neighbourhood and the distant sounds of the world beyond.

#10. Listen to music.

When listening to music - such as an orchestra - identify which musical instruments are making what sounds. Learn to tune out the sounds of the other instruments and only listen to the one instrument. Challenge yourself to try and listen to only one of the musicians at a time.

#11. Test your limits.

The human eardrum can hear sounds anywhere between 16 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Extremely low (bass) sounds or extremely high pitched sounds cannot be heard by the human ear.  High pitched sounds like a dog whistle can only be heard by a variety of animals because the frequency is so high its beyond the range of human hearing - but that doesn't mean you cannot attempt to hear similar high pitched sounds.

Testing the limits of your hearing may require the help of an audiologist doctor, in which case I can recommend an audiologist in Vaughan who gives free hearing tests.

#12. Hypnosis.

According to a variety of researchers people in a state hypnosis can hear sounds from extreme distances, such as the case wherein a hypnotized person could hear a constant hissing sound at 230 yards (0.21 km), whereas a non-hypnotized people typically could not detect the same hissing sound until they were within 30 yards of the source.

This suggests that experimentation with hypnosis and hearing could prove to be highly beneficial for someone who wants to retrain their brain to hear noises more acutely.

BONUS: Audio Calibration!

During this exercise the listening person stands in the middle of a room and imagines him or herself to be at the centre of a clock face: directly to the front would be Twelve O'clock, directly behind is Six O'clock, ninety degrees to the right is Three O'clock and so on.

A second person moves about stopping at random and calling out “Now”. The listener must then guess the direction and distance. So for example, if the second person is standing six feet directly behind them the correct answer would be; “Six O'clock/six feet”. When a correct answer is a point is scored, if incorrect, the second person says the correct answer so that the listener can associate the correct answer with the immediate auditory experience.

Once the listener can get 9 points out of 10 then they go to the next level of difficulty, for which the listener and second person come up with a slightly more difficult task - possibly by changing the volume of the sound, the distance to the speaker, the preciseness of the distance, adding extra background noises, etc.

CONCLUSIONS

Don't listen to what the audiologists are saying that you cannot improve your hearing. If you have only minor or moderate damage to your ears then there are plenty of ways to rewire your brain so you can function without full hearing capabilities. I managed to do it and my hearing only seems to be getting better the older I get.

Customized Personal Training Programs

I think North America's obesity epidemic has started to scare people into exercising more and being more health conscious. The problem is that there is so much false information being pushed by people, often just looking to sell their book, gadget or DVD - or just trying to make a name for themselves.

Thus I have a beef with the hotshot personal trainers who are trying to push their own vision of how they think people should be exercising - pushing their own biased agenda, geared towards sales.

Meanwhile us grunt personal trainers are doing the opposite - We create personalized training programs which are customized for the individual. Each program is unique and each personal trainer will have a different approach to how they help out their client, depending on their client's needs and desires.

Yes, its true, the fitness industry has exploded in North America over the past ten years as the Obesity Monster reared its ugly head... And exercise is now considered a pillar in the average person's weekly wellness regimen. (Because apparently people before the rise of cable TV and internet didn't need to be reminded to go outside and exercise.)

But just because its so high demand now doesn't mean hotshot celebrity personal trainers should be pillaging anyone foolish enough to give them money - and to do so by spreading false information that their exercise program / routine is special and is "one size fits all".

No exercise routine is one size fits all. Want to know how I know? Test it out on teenagers and see how many of them get bored in the first 5 minutes.

Creating a customized and personalized approach to exercising for the individual client is all about what personal training is supposed to be.

And its cultural too. What works in Toronto may not work as well in a different social setting where people have different priorities and customs.

The same goes with gyms.

Gyms will look very different depending on the cultural setting. A gym in Toronto will look very different from a gym in Beijing or Sri Lanka or Athens.

Many people still picture a gym or health club with a bunch of beefcakes on the free weights, acting all macho and betting on who can benchpress more. Plus the weight loss hopefuls on the treadmill, and ladies with 2 lb dumbbells in step class at the aerobic studio. Complete stereotypes, largely fueled by the advertising industry during the 1980s.

But each gym is different. Some gyms are more like yoga studios. Some are boxing studios. Some gyms have pools and saunas. Picking a gym that is closest to you is not really making a choice. Its just convenient. A gym that has all the facilities and equipment you want however makes a big difference in how often you will go and exercise.

And by the same token, personal trainers do the same thing. If your trainer makes the activity fun for you and challenges you then you will keep coming back for more. If they don't then you will eventually quit and/or find a different trainer.

And that is really a wise thing to do. Shop around and find the personal trainer that works for you.

Times have Changed

With the implementation of age appropriate exercises, personal training, more options and better programming, fitness has finally shed its image as an activity for people who are body obsessed narcissists, and is recognized for its other benefits such as stress management, vitality and longevity.

The industry has also been helped along by a not-so-gentle push from family doctors urging their patient's into the gym, by prescribing fitness to cure everything from reoccurring colds, high blood pressure and depression.

It has reached a point that if I walk down Yonge Street in Toronto its almost impossible for me to not see someone carrying a yoga mat strapped to their back.

And thanks to higher gasoline prices the number of cyclists on the road keeps going up.

Personal trainers can customize fitness programs based on age, goals, strengths and limitations - and how much fun you want to have while exercising. Trainers will work one-on-one with couples, children, the elderly, groups of friends and even entire families.

Even though you and your family / friends may have different goals, the personal trainer can compensate by giving you exercises that work on your combined goals and different exercises you can do simultaneously or when you are not with the trainer in person.

Having a customized approach makes a big difference for whether you succeed. Don't fall for any snake oil salesman selling an "one size fits all" exercise routine because you are not "one size". You are you and you are ever changing and unique.

Weightlifting During Pregnancy + After Having Kids

Many women are now weight training seriously in ever-greater numbers. As a result it is inevitable that many will become pregnant and worry about how best to adapt their training to the demands of pregnancy and childcare.

The good news is that active women with normal, low-risk pregnancies do not have to give up their beloved weight training in order to keep themselves and baby healthy.

Years ago there wasn't much clinical research research on this topic, but there has been a lot more research in recent years and we have some good news on the topic.

The 1994 bulletin of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that there is no data to indicate that pregnant women should limit exercise intensity and lower target heart rates because of potential adverse effects.
In 2001 the Canadian guidelines were updated to indicate that regular exercise has a number of benefits and few drawbacks for pregnant women.

Ideally women should be fit and active before getting pregnant, so if you are thinking of conceiving, begin an exercise program now. Better sooner than later!

Here are some tips!

#1. Do not begin a new exercise program during pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to make any drastic physical changes.

#2. Stick to your current exercise routine. Don't become sedentary just because you are a few weeks pregnant.

#3. Around the 7th or 8th month you may wish to avoid highly strenuous activities. Switch to lighter weights or easier exercises.

#4. After giving birth you may wish to step up your routine to include more cardio and weightlifting, if you have the time. Ignore the old wives tales that exercise will cause you to sour the milk, your uterus will fall out, etc. Those are just nonsense.

“Muscle conditioning” exercise (i.e. weight trainng) is very low-risk and safe. Just ignore the myths.

Studies have shown no increase in acidity of breast milk after moms exercise. Regular postnatal exercise reduces or eliminates most of the unpleasant postpartum symptoms of physical and mental stress, depression, and so forth, as well as promoting a faster recovery. Postpartum exercise also helps promote insulin sensitivity.

#5. Exercise with your kids. Children of moms who exercised before, during, and after pregnancy were shown to be relatively leaner themselves five years later. Your kids are watching you and pick up your good habits.

#6. Don't Give Up After Having Kids. Many women cease exercising after having children. The two primary reasons for quitting exercise are significant weight gain during the pregnancy (which can be remedied) and the demands of care from children - who will themselves want to run around as they reach the walking age.

#7. Daddies Can Exercise Too! Your kids keep getting bigger... use them as weights! You will get stronger as they get older!



#8. Government Child Care and similar support systems for pregnant women can enable them to continue to exercise during and after pregnancy. You can find time to do these activities thanks to government help.

#9. Later in the pregnancy avoid exercises which involve lying on the back, or pressing against the stomach, or excessive bending forward. You may need to modify or eliminate those exercises.

#10. Avoid excessive head movement, such as stiff-legged deadlifts, if they cause nausea or dizziness. Avoid prolonged periods of standing. Balance will eventually be a concern, so in the second and third trimester, reduce and eventually eliminate Olympic lifts and perform demanding overhead lifts while seated.

#11. Avoid training too much. There is a lot of research into women training too much (or too little) and this resulting in a low birth weight. A higher birth weight means a healthier baby. Women who exercised more than 5 times weekly and fewer than 2 times weekly were both at risk for having lower birth weight babies. Aim for a happy medium of 3.5 times per week.

#12. Keep a Journal! Record eating, training, workout reports, notes on how you feel, heart rate, recovery, etc.

Common Concerns During Pregnancy

Joint Laxity

This is a crucial issue for weight trainers. The body “softens” connective tissue in order to prepare for delivery. Great for pelvic expansion during the crucial moments, not so great for folks trying to keep

their kneecaps stuck to their legs during training. On the plus side, strong muscles help to hold things together and improve overall stability, so strength training will be helpful as long as care is exercised.

Overheating

Another significant issue for weight trainers. Dress to stay cool, drink lots of fluids (even though you’ll feel like you have to pee every ten minutes), get a fan on you if possible, and monitor the situation

during your training sessions. If you need a break to cool down, take one. Oxygen will be less available to you, and you will find that in later months of pregnancy, the baby presses upwards on your diaphragm, making it harder to breathe deeply.

Nutrition

Good nutrition is essential during pregnancy, but hey, you knew that didn’t you? It is often difficult for female athletes to accept the inevitable weight gain that occurs during pregnancy, but this isn’t a time to diet or be nutritionally stingy. You may notice wild fluctuations in blood sugar (and sudden cravings), so try to eat at regular intervals and not go more than a couple of hours without a snack or small meal. In the first trimester you may be limited in what you can tolerate, and formerly appealing things may make you feel sick, but this is usually restricted to the first three or four months. You may experience an increase in appetite, including nearly uncontrollable cravings for carbohydrates (mmmm... donuts). This does not signify weakness or gluttony on your part; let the hormones do their work and get a balanced diet as best you can.

Don't enter pie eating contests however. That is just silliness.

Vitamin Supplementation

There is also a lack of research on the effects of Creatine during pregnancy, so don't use any.

Avoid caffeine, thermogenics and stimulants.

Hormonally-based substances, including prohormones, is a huge no-no at this time.

Fish oil is a highly recommended supplement for pregnant women, but there still needs to be more research on that topic.

NOTES

Medical supervision and ongoing monitoring = Regular checkups and keeping your doctor up to date with any symptoms.

One of the most common problems encountered by pregnant women is back pain. Their center of gravity shifts and extra weight is added over nine months. Women tend to slouch the shoulders and arch the lower back to compensate for these changes, which of course leads to discomfort due to bad posture. A strong abdominal column as well as a strong back gained through weight training before pregnancy can alleviate much of this problem, so resistance work geared to this need is helpful. Bodyweight exercises, such as unweighted squats, present a useful alternative as the pregnancy develops, as do exercises which take some weight off the joints, such as swimming or cycling.

Postpartum urinary incontinence - After giving birth, many women notice problems with mild to moderate urinary incontinence during exertion, such as squatting or deadlifting. Kegel exercises are a must during pregnancy and after delivery. Avoid caffeine, go to the bathroom before your workout, wear a pad, and remember that there are a lot of other women out there experiencing the same thing.

You may also notice hemorrhoids which are aggravated by lifting. Normal and treatable.

Sleep. Naps are good for you and your baby.



Sweating Hard + 10 Exercise Myths

Everyone enjoys a good sweat during their workout (myself included). It feels great and the sweat cools you down. but sweating doesn't necessarily mean you are getting the best workout for your body.

Sweat is simply a cooling mechanism that is designed to cool your body when your internal temperature rises. We sweat in a sauna, and when eating spicy food, but that's not a good workout, is it?

When a person exercises, the body responds to the exertion, rather than the amount you are sweating. For example weight lifting is one of the best forms of exercise for a long term metabolic increase, defining the muscles, and providing all around benefits in terms of aesthetics, practical training and prevention for injury and disease in later life. But the sweat you are sweating during weightlifting is no more valuable than sweating while suntanning yourself at the beach. Sweat doesn't burn calories.

Swimming is a great example of a high exertion, sweat-free exercise. You don't sweat while swimming because water does the job of cooling you down.

Exerting your body means challenging yourself and using functional exercises that not only gets a person in great shape but also assist with body awareness, which assists in tuning the body for daily activities. Not to mention injury and chronic condition prevention. By gaining balance, co-ordination and increasing bone density, even if you do say, slip on the ice while skating (but you won't because you have such great balance and co-ordination!) your body will be able to better handle the fall with stronger bones and connective tissue.

Some sweaty exercises like running and cycling can cause you to lose a lot of sodium in the process so remember to take an energy drink like Powerade or Gatorade with you.

Don't use energy drinks like Cheetah Power Surge and similar crap with ginseng flavouring or lots of caffeine. The caffeine just dehydrates you and the flavouring is just that - flavouring. No nutritional benefit.

10 Exercise Myths

#1. Spot Reducing Exercises Don't Work

So you want to get rid of your flabby stomach fat and you want to do it by doing sit-ups? HA! Sorry, but spot reducing exercises don't do that. Sit-ups builds muscles in your stomachs, making your stomach look even bigger. If you want to reduce fat go running, cycling or swimming. Do cardio!

#2. Your cardio machine is NOT counting the calories you're burning.

Unless the machine knows your weight, height and your body fat percentage then it really has no clue how many calories you are burning.

#3. Women will NOT Bulk Up and look like Men by Lifting Weights

Lifting weights doesn't cause women to bulk up the way men do. Two reasons. First, female bodybuilders use steroids to bulk up like that. Second, female muscle tissue is different from men's - a difference of quality vs quantity. Women's muscle tissue can lift more per gram than male muscle tissue and is more resistant to ripping. Male muscle tissue rips easily and then due to higher testosterone levels men build new muscle tissue in-between the old ripped tissue. Women who lift weights will build extra muscle, but because of the type of muscle tissue they are building they won't bulk up the way men do.

#4. Heart Rate Monitors do NOT measure Exertion

Heart rate monitors do not measure how much exertion you are doing. Various exercises effect your blood pressure less than others, despite requiring more exertion. Instead your own body is better at telling you how much exertion you are doing. One way to do this is the TALK TEST. The talk test can measure how intensely you're working out depending on whether you can talk in full sentences, short phrases or if you're barely able to muster a few words.

#5. Your Weight Fluctuates Day to Day

You eat, you drink, you sweat, you urinate, you take a #2. Your weight fluctuates a lot in a single day, and thus measuring your weight on scales every day is not going to see much in terms of change. Check your weight at a specific time of day once per week (eg. Friday morning before breakfast) and then record the changes.

#6. High Intensity Exercises still DO burn fat

There is a myth going around that it is better to do low intensity workouts because they burn more fat and less carbs. This is only partially true. It is true that the more intensely you exercise, the higher proportion of carbs you burn. You may burn less fat, but the total amount of calories burned is higher and that is the bigger picture.

And if you don't burn the carbs it just gets stored as fat anyway. So it doesn't really matter if you are burning fat or carbs, because carbs ends up becoming fat if you don't use it. So you might as well do higher intensity exercises if you have the energy / motivation to do so.

#7. Protein Shakes do NOT make a replacement for real food.

You're actually better off eating real food because you get more nutrients and vitamins from eating a normal healthy meal. Protein shakes are really just meant to be used as supplements on top of a regular healthy diet.

#8. Going to the Gym does NOT Negate eating poorly.

Its actually the opposite. Bad diet negates your efforts at the gym and will hold you back because you won't be getting the nutrients to replace muscle tissue you ripped at the gym. If you go to the gym and then pig out on ice cream later you aren't just hindering yourself, you are hurting yourself because that is muscle tissue that won't regrow properly since you failed to eat a healthy balanced meal.

#9. No Pain, No Gain is NOT a way to measure exertion.

Some people think that they have to be in pain all the time while exercising otherwise they aren't achieving anything. Complete myth. Feeling discomfort during a workout is okay. Feeling pain after a workout happens sometimes if you over-exert yourself. If you are in a lot of pain you should NOT be exercising. Stop doing that before you pass out or injure yourself.

#10. Stretching does NOT prevent sports injuries.

There is a growing body of research which shows that stretching before exercising does not prevent sports injuries. The best time to do stretches is actually AFTER a workout, or DURING a workout to relieve muscle tension.

If you want to do anything before a workout do a series of warmup exercises, such as high knee jogs, walking lunges and similar warmup exercises. Keep the stretching for your mid-workout break or after the workout.

Having better flexibility does help prevent injuries, but stretching before a workout doesn't prevent such things from happening. Stretching after a workout helps stretch out ligaments and maintain your flexibility. Its meant to be done AFTER the workout.
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