Antioxidant supplements continue to be touted by many fitness professionals as a nutritional panacea. In case you’re not aware, antioxidants are the body’s scavengers. They help to defend against damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) — unstable molecules that can injure healthy cells and tissues — which are produced in abundance each day during the normal course of respiration. The main culprit: oxygen. Every time you breathe, oxygen uptake causes ROS production. Environmental factors such as pollutants, smoke and certain chemicals also contribute to their formation. Their production have been linked to a multitude of ailments including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer. Not surprisingly, exercise is associated with substantially greater ROS production given that it substantially inreases oxygen consumption. This has led to the supposition that antioxidant supplements are especially beneficial for hardcore exercisers.
Here’s a short-course in how the process works: Your body is made up of billions of cells held together by a series of electronic bonds. These bonds are arranged in pairs so that one electron balances the other. However, in response to various occurrences (such as oxygen consumption), a molecule can lose one of its electron pairs making it an unstable free radical. The free radical then tries to replace its lost electron by stealing one from another molecule. This sets up a chain reaction where the second molecule becomes a free radical and destabilizes a third molecule, which becomes a free radical and destabilizes a fourth molecule and so on.
To prevent rampant ROS production, your body has a sophisticated internal antioxidant system. Various antioxidant enzymes combine with antioxidants from the foods you eat to help keep ROS at bay. There are dozens of known antioxidants including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid, and carotenoids, amongst others. Although these nutrients are readily obtainable from food sources, it is often postulated that it’s virtually impossible to consume adequate quantities from your daily diet, thus making supplementation mandatory. In theory, supplementing with antioxidants would seemingly make sense since a greater availability should allow for greater protection against ROS. Question is, does theory translate into practice?
I first became interested about the topic a dozen or so years ago. A friend gave me a book to read called The Antioxidant Miracle, which as the title implies touted the wonders of antioxidant supplementation. The book piqued my curiousity. I delved into the research. Lo and behold, the claims seemed legit. A large number of studies showed positive effects of supplementation on a wide array of health-related benefits. What really caught my attention was a review by Dekkers et al. in the journal Sports Medicine, which discussed favorable results of antioxidant supplements during intense physical activity. The article went on to conclude that “human studies reviewed indicate that antioxidant vitamin supplementation can be recommended to individuals performing regular heavy exercise.” At the time, I wasn’t very savvy as to the complexities of research. I jumped on the antioxidant supplement bandwagon.
Fast forward several years. Larger randomized controlled trials were conducted. The findings of these studies were at best decidedly mixed, with a majority showing no health-related benefits from supplementing with antioxidants. Alarmingly, several meta-analyses reported that there may even be an increased supplement-associated risk for cancer, stroke, and all-cause mortality. An objective evaluation of the current literature would make it difficult for even the most ardent antioxidant proponent to make a case for improving well-being by supplementation.
What’s particularly interesting to me as an exercise scientist is emerging research suggesting that antioxidant supplements may actually have a *detrimental* effect on training-related adaptations, particularly those associated with muscle hypertrophy. At issue here is the distinction between chronic versus acute ROS production. Evidence does show that chronically elevated levels of ROS can impair muscle function and even bring about muscle wasting conditions. Understand, however, that exercise upregulates the body’s antioxidant defenses. This ultimately helps to reduce chronic elevations in ROS without the need for supplementation.
On the other hand, acute production of ROS during a workout has been implicated in a variety of exercise-related adaptations including enhanced muscle remodeling. ROS production has been found to promote growth in both smooth muscle and cardiac muscle, lending credence to the supposition that these substances may have similar hypertrophic effects on skeletal muscle as well. The mechanisms have yet to be determined, but studies show that ROS can function as key cellular anabolic signaling molecules in the response to exercise. What’s more, there is evidence that they help to mediate the activity of satellite cells, which are responsible for aiding in repair and regeneration of muscle fibers. I have covered these topics extensively in my recent reviews of the roles of metabolic stress and muscle damage in exercise-induced muscle hypertrophy. By suppressing ROS production, antioxidant supplements may inhibit these hypertrophic effects and thus impair the growth and repair process. Indeed, preliminary studies indicate a negative impact of supplementation on exercise-induced adaptations.
There are a couple of take-home messages here, the most obvious of which is that the risk/reward ratio for antioxidant supplementation appears to be poor. Focus on eating a diet replete in vegetables and fruits and you’ll get all the antioxidants you need to support basic health. Overloading on antioxidants via supplements will not confer any additional benefits; it’s possible they may actually cause harm. And although the jury is still out, it is at least conceivable that supplementation can impede muscular development and other exercise-related adaptations. Any way you slice it, antioxidant supplementation doesn’t seem to make sense, at least for otherwise healthy individuals who exercise on a regular basis.
On a broader scale, the overriding message to be gleaned is the importance of using caution when interpreting research. This is particularly true of exercise-related studies, which are usually limited by small sample sizes, the inability to control for various confounders, and the almost unlimited number of variations that encompass exercise program design. All-too-often fitness professionals are quick to form opinions based on limited evidence. Such an approach is decidedly misguided and unscientific. As illustrated here, I was guilty of falling into this trap. Fortunately I learned from the mistake and as a result became a more astute fitness professional.
Extrapolating research findings in an evidence-based fashion can be equated to solving a jigsaw puzzle. Each published study is a piece to the puzzle. In almost every situation there will be conflicting results between studies. Sometimes two studies will report diametrically opposite findings on the same topic. How can you make sense of all this?
The best fitness professionals, guys like Bret Contreras, Alan Aragon, Joe Dowdell, and James Krieger, will weigh the body of evidence by considering factors such as the type of study (experimental vs. observational), the subjects (animal vs. human), and the setting (in vitro, ex vivo, in vivo, etc). They’ll also take into account numerous other factors including study design, statistical power, generalizability, and the quality of the journal in which the study was published. Only after a thorough analysis of the prevailing body of literature can an educated opinion be formed that guides decision-making and provides the basis for practical recommendations. It’s a skill that can be honed. The more research you read, the better you become at critical thinking, allowing you to piece together the puzzle in question.
One last thing: I frequently hear trainers and even researchers cite a study as “proof” of a given opinion. Not! A single study never “proves” anything. Rather, it simply lends support to a given theory. As noted, some studies carry more weight than others. The greater the strength of evidence, the more support there is for the theory. But theories are not set in stone. Case in point: Until recently, it was taken as gospel that saturated fat and cholesterol caused cardiovascular disease. Every nutrition text, bar none, stated such as fact. Recent research has now challenged these assumptions, however, suggesting that any relationship is far more complex than previously thought. Bottom line is that the more knowledge we acquire, the more we realize just how much more there is to learn.
Always be skeptical. Always be willing to change your opinion based on new information. This is what separates the ordinary practitioners from the elite.
For those in the New York City area, I will be giving a 3-hour seminar next month on Advanced Programming for Muscle Hypertrophy. The seminar is being held at the American Academy of Personal Training, located in the meat-packing district of Manhattan, as part of their continuing education series. Here is the session description.
Muscle development is of primary interest to those who partake in resistance training. But developing muscle size, as opposed to strength or endurance, involves its own unique set of considerations. This AAPT course elucidates the science behind optimizing muscular hypertrophy, exploring how factors such as exercise modality, training to failure, speed of movement and recovery affect muscle growth. You will learn the significance of metabolic stress in relation to protein synthesis, as well as gain a trove of valuable techniques in manipulating intensity, sets, repetitions, and rest intervals. Sample routines will be provided in the context of a periodized approach to help you with perfecting program design for muscle hypertrophy.
The seminar will take an evidence-based approach, going in-depth into how to combine science and art in creating optimal hypertrophy training programs. Below is the link to register. Hope to see you there!
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be presenting a two-day intensive workshop on optimizing body composition next month in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I’ll be sharing cutting-edge info and strategies, including the most up-t0-date research on all facets of exercise and nutrition. Topics include:
fat loss strategies
maximizing muscle development
hands on exercise coaching
This will be a small group workshop limited to 20 people and is eligible for CECs. The format will allow for highly individualized attention, with extensive question and answer sessions integrated into each seminar. The early bird registration has been extended to April 24th. You can check out the details at the link below. Hope to see you in Windsor!
A number of readers have asked my opinion on the recent study by Lundberg et al. (2013), which showed that adding cardio to a resistance training routine actually increased muscle growth. I actually wrote a critique of this study several months ago for Alan Aragon’s Research Review. Alan was kind enough to grant me permission to reprint the critique on my blog. So without further ado, here’s what we can take away from the study by Lundberg et al.:
A large body of research indicates that combining aerobic training with resistance training (i.e. concurrent training) has a negative effect on gains in muscular strength and size (9). There is evidence that aerobic exercise mediates catabolic pathways while anaerobic exercise mediates anabolic pathways. This has led to the “AMPK-PKB switch” hypothesis, which professes that the two types of exercise are incompatible (2). It has been shown, however, that considerable overlap exists in signaling responses to mechanical stimuli, calling into question the validity of this hypothesis (5).
Recently, Lundberg et al. (6) found that acute anabolic signaling markers (mTOR and p70S6K) were actually greater with concurrent training compared to resistance exercise alone. This seemingly contradicts the majority of previous research, and raises the possibility that aerobic exercise may in fact be beneficial to muscle hypertrophy. However, such results must be taken with caution as the response of translational signaling components to an acute exercise bout are often unrelated to the degree of myofiber hypertrophy seen after long-term resistance training (1). Hence, the current study was conducted by the same lab as a follow-up to this previous work, with the objective of assessing the chronic impact of concurrent training on muscular hypertrophy, strength, power, and endurance.
Subjects were 10 “moderately trained” college students. The study employed a within-subject design, where participants performed resistance training on one leg while performing concurrent training (both aerobic and resistance exercise) on the other leg. The limb chosen to receive concurrent exercise was counterbalanced between subjects, meaning that for every subject who performed concurrent training on the right leg another would perform the condition on the left leg. This type of design has the inherent advantage of negating any inter-individual differences in response to training, thereby improving statistical power. Thus, the low sample size was not as big an issue as it would have been had the researchers evaluated two independent groups (although the study was still likely underpowered nevertheless).
The training program was carried out over the course of 5 weeks. Aerobic training consisted of 40 minutes of one-legged cycle ergometer exercise per session at 70 percent of peak power output. Immediately following each 40 minute aerobic bout, the workload was bumped up to near maximum peak power and subjects continued pedaling until failure (which occurred, on average, after approximately 2 minutes 30 seconds). Aerobic sessions were performed 3 non-consecutive days a week. Resistance exercise comprised 4 sets of 7 reps of unilateral leg extensions with 2 minutes rest between sets. Resistance sessions were performed 6 hours after the aerobic bout and took place 2-3 days a week (2 days/week in weeks 1, 3, and 5; 3 days/week in weeks 2 and 4). Maximal strength was assessed via isokinetic dynamometry; peak muscle torque, power, and endurance were assessed by flywheel ergometry; muscle hypertrophy was assessed by MRI as well as muscle biopsy.
The study produced some interesting findings. To no one’s surprise, the concurrent training leg showed a strong trend for greater muscular endurance as determined by time to exhaustion. Aerobic exercise requires local endurance and it therefore stands to reason that consistent cycle ergometry training would mediate specific adaptations to enhance this variable. Somewhat surprisingly, measures of strength and power were not different between conditions. Given that a preponderance of evidence seems to indicate that concurrent training interferes with strength-related gains (9), one might have assumed that the resistance-only leg would have shown greater improvements in strength/power. The most surprising finding was that muscle volume and cross sectional area in the concurrent leg was almost double that of the resistance-only leg (13.6% vs. 7.8%, respectively)! Muscle biopsy indicated that these results were primarily attributable to increases in type I fiber hypertrophy. This led researchers to conclude that aerobic exercise may provide synergistic hypertrophic benefits when incorporated into a resistance training routine without compromising functional gains attained from resistance exercise.
A Critical Analysis of Results
So what to make of these results? Should aerobic exercise be included as part of any hypertrophy protocol? Let’s dig a little deeper and see what can be ascertained from a practical standpoint…
The first thing to evaluate in any scientific study is its theoretical rationale; in other words, does the data make sense? In this case, we need to consider why hypertrophic adaptations take place in muscle tissue. The principle of specificity dictates that adaptations are specific to the stimulus applied. With respect to hypertrophy, muscles grow larger in an effort to respond to strength-related challenges. When an overload stimulus is repeatedly imposed on a muscle (such as during resistance training), it will synthesize proteins in order to meet this challenge in the future. By its very nature, aerobic exercise does not challenge the muscle in a strength-related manner, so there would be little reason for the muscle to respond by hypertrophying. In fact, hypertrophy is detrimental to lengthy aerobic-endurance exercise as it requires the body to continually support a greater load during performance. So although we should not dismiss the results of the study outright, we nevertheless must be skeptical as to their validity.
A couple of things stand out upon close scrutiny of the findings. For one, subjects were classified as “moderately trained.” By the authors’ definition, this meant that participants were involved in recreational activities such as skiing and team sports, but had not performed resistance training in the past year. So in essence, the subjects were actually untrained from a resistance training standpoint. Why is this an issue? Well, in those without training experience, virtually any stimulus will be a challenge to the musculature and thus cause hypertrophy. On the other hand, well-trained subjects have already adapted to lower-level stresses, and it therefore remains questionable whether aerobic training would provide enough of a stimulus for further muscular adaptation. It stands to reason that it would not.
Another interesting finding was that while muscle hypertrophy was deemed to be substantially greater in the concurrent leg compared to the resistance-only leg, muscle strength and power was not different between the two conditions. This seems to defy logic. Studies show a direct correlation between muscle strength and muscle CSA: a greater cross sectional area is strongly associated with greater strength (4). The fact that a greater increase in muscle mass did not lead to greater strength therefore sends up a red flag. It would seem that this contradiction is due, at least in part, to the fact that hypertrophic differences were primarily attributed to type I fiber growth. Type I fibers are endurance-related fibers with a limited force-producing capacity; it’s the type II fibers that are primarily responsible for strength and power, and these fibers showed no significant difference between groups. It seems reasonable to question whether such type I fiber hypertrophy is sustainable over the long-term. Since these fibers are highly fatigue-resistant, it could be speculated that they’d be increasingly stubborn to continued growth after an initial period of conditioning. This theory remains to be elucidated.
It also should be noted that MRI signal intensity was markedly increased with concurrent exercise but not with resistance exercise. The significance here is that an increased MRI signal intensity is consistent with an increase in tissue water content. This suggests that the greater muscle volume seen with combined aerobic and resistance exercise may well have been related to intramuscular fluid accumulation, presumably mediated by edema pursuant to muscle damage. The researchers tried to minimize this possibility by obtaining MRI scans 48 hours after completion of the final exercise session. However, peak swelling has been shown to occur approximately 5 days post-exercise (3), raising serious questions as to whether edema in fact played a role in results. The researchers downplayed any potential confounding effects from muscle damage by stating that no subject reported any soreness at the time of testing. But studies show that DOMS is not necessarily well correlated to various markers of muscle damage including maximal isometric strength, ROM, upper arm circumference, and plasma CK levels (7), making it a poor gauge of both the presence and magnitude of tissue trauma. Taking all factors into account, it appears likely that a good portion of the hypertrophic differences between conditions were related to sarcoplasmic elements rather than an increase in contractile muscle proteins.
A major limitation of the study was its short duration. One of the biggest detriments of concurrent training with respect to strength and hypertrophy is that hastens the onset of overtraining syndrome (OS). OS causes the body to shift into a catabolic state, leading to decrements in performance and impaired muscular adaptations (8). The chronic interference hypothesis suggests that the addition of aerobic exercise to a resistance training program results in long-term competing adaptations that ultimately brings about OS and thus interferes with strength-related muscular adaptations (9). Thing is, the effects of OS take time to manifest–certainly more than the five week time-course of this study. Moreover, the volume and frequency of the resistance routine employed was not very demanding, to say the least. 4 sets of knee extensions performed 2-3 days a week is no way representative of the type of routine used by most serious lifters. A higher volume routine, similar to what is customarily employed in a hypertrophy-oriented program, would place greater demands on recuperative abilities and thereby increase the potential for overtraining when combined with frequent aerobic exercise. All things considered, it is impossible to extrapolate the results of this study to long-term, higher volume training programs.
Another limitation is that the study is that a single type of aerobic exercise (cycling) was evaluated for a single muscle group (quadriceps). We cannot conclude that other forms of aerobic exercise (i.e. jogging, treadmill, stepmill, stairmaster, elliptical training, etc) provide the same effects for the quadriceps, nor can we conclude that the same effects will occur in the other lower body muscles, such as the glutes, hamstrings, or calves. In fact, evidence shows that running interferes with strength-related gains to a greater extent than cycling (9). Finally, we cannot conclude that the upper body muscles would respond similarly to upper body aerobics such as swimming or arm ergometry.
In conclusion, this study provided interesting data that challenges existing beliefs with respect to concurrent training. However, the inherent limitations of the study make it far too premature to draw any definitive conclusions on the topic. Future research should seek to examine the chronic effects of concurrent training on muscular hypertrophy over longer time periods and employing routines consistent with what lifters actually perform in real-world situations.
1. Adams G, Bamman MM. Characterization and regulation of mechanical loading-induced compensatory muscle hypertrophy. Comprehensive Physiology. 2012; 2829(2970).
2. Atherton PJ, Babraj J, Smith K, Singh J, Rennie MJ, Wackerhage H. Selective activation of AMPK-PGC-1alpha or PKB-TSC2-mTOR signaling can explain specific adaptive responses to endurance or resistance training-like electrical muscle stimulation. FASEB J. 2005; 19(7):786-8.
3. Clarkson PM, Nosaka K, Braun B. Muscle function after exercise-induced muscle damage and rapid adaptation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992; 24(5):512-20.
4. Frontera WR, Hughes VA, Fielding RA, Fiatarone MA, Evans WJ, Roubenoff R. Aging of skeletal muscle: a 12-yr longitudinal study. J Appl Physiol. 2000; 88(4):1321-6.
5. Gibala M. Molecular responses to high-intensity interval exercise. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009; 34(3):428-32.
6. Lundberg TR, Fernandez-Gonzalo R, Gustafsson T, Tesch PA. Aerobic exercise alters skeletal muscle molecular responses to resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012; 44(9):1680-8.
7. Nosaka K, Newton M, Sacco P. Delayed-onset muscle soreness does not reflect the magnitude of eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2002; 12(6):337-46.
8. Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010; 24(10):2857-72.
9. Wilson JM, Marin PJ, Rhea MR, Wilson SM, Loenneke JP, Anderson JC. Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2012; 26(8):2293-307.
I recently co-authored a review article with my good friend and colleague Alan Aragon titled, “Nutrient Timing Revisited: Is there a post-exercise anabolic window?” I’m happy to say the article was published in the prestigious Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and has received a lot of favorable attention. Here are the highlights:
1) Nutrient timing can be a beneficial strategy for maximizing muscular gains, but the “window of opportunity” is not necessarily as narrow as often believed.
2) Provided that a protein-rich meal is consumed within about 3-4 hours prior to a workout (or possibly even longer, depending on the size of the meal), you don’t have to stress about chowing down a post-workout meal as soon as you finish training. For those who train partially or fully fasted, on the other hand, consuming protein immediately post-workout becomes increasingly more important to promote anaoblism.
2) Although research is somewhat equivocal, it seems prudent to consume high-quality protein (at a dose of ~0.4-0.5 g/kg of lean body mass) both pre- and post-exercise within about 4-6 hours of each other depending on meal size.
3) Contrary to popular belief, consuming post-exercise carbohydrate does not meaningfully enhance anabolism. Moreover, unless you are performing two-a-day workouts involving the same muscle group(s), glycogen replenishment will not be a limiting factor in those who consume sufficient carbohydrate over the course of a given day. So from a muscle-building standpoint, just focus on meeting your daily carb requirement as opposed to worrying about timing issues.
One of the most surprising aspects of writing this paper was the lack of clarity in the current body of research. Alan and I reviewed every direct study conducted on the subject. Not only were results of these studies highly conflicting, but most had confounding issues that obscured the ability to tease out the impact of the effects of consuming nutrients post-workout. I am planning a study in my lab that addresses the gaps in the literature. Hope to begin data collection in the near future. Stay tuned!
In case you want to delve into the heavy science on the topic, here is a link to a PDF of the article:
Lots to talk about and share. So without further ado…
For those following along, I am entering the home stretch of my PhD coursework; just about 9 months left. To paraphrase the immortal words of Tom Cruise in the movie, A Few Good Men: “That’s just a little more than a hockey season.” Suffice to say, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m excited to soon carry out my doctoral research. Stay tuned for more info on specifics. Should be an interesting ride…
I recently was interviewed by two industry leaders where I discussed a wide array of fitness topics, including my new book, The MAX Muscle Plan . First off, here is an interview I did with uber strength and conditioning pro Bret Contreras. As you would imagine when two muscleheads get together to talk about training, we really delve into the nitty gritty science about bulking up. I also discuss the limitations of research with respect to exercise programming.
For those in the New York area, I’ll be making two appearances next month discussing, what else? Muscle hypertrophy! First, I’ll be giving a one-hour lecture on how to periodize a muscle-building routine at the annual Greater New York American College of Sports Medicine conference. The conference will be held at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, 53 East 124th, NYC on Saturday, November 10. Here is a link:
The second is a three-hour hypertrophy seminar that will explore the mechanisms of muscle growth, their application to training, and how to put this information into practice with respect to program design. The seminar is being hosted by Innovative Wellness Consulting and will be held at the American Academy of Personal Training, 138 West 14th Street, NYC on Friday, November 16. Here is a link for registration:
I am currently collaborating with Bret Contreras and several other prominent researchers on a study to investigate muscle activity in variations of the plank exercise. One such variation is the long-lever posterior-tilt plank (LLPTP). This exercise was first promoted by RKC as a more advanced alternative to the traditional plank. We hope to have data on the study before the end of the year. In the meantime, here is a video of Bret demonstrating the exercise. Give it a try!
I’m thrilled and excited to announce the release of my new book, The MAX Muscle Plan. The book outlines a 6-month periodized program to maximize muscle development. It is the culmination of many years of research and experience, blending the science and art of exercise program design for optimal gains. Every rep, set, and rest interval is mapped out, with complete discussions as to how to individualize the routine for best results. There also is a entire chapter devoted to nutrition for muscle growth–an essential aspect of any muscle-building program. A big thanks to Layne Norton for writing the forward to the book, and to Alan Aragon for reviewing the nutrition chapter.
Here is a link to check out the book on Amazon.com, who is offering it at a significant discount. If you have any questions about it let me know!
Here is a link to a recent article I wrote for T-Nation titled, Demolish Your Genetic Limits. The article details 5 strategies that I’ve successfully used to help experienced lifters enhance muscle strength and size, all backed by solid research. They’re particularly effective for those who have hit a plateau in their training efforts. Enjoy!
Yes, I know I need to be more diligent with posting to the blog! Sorry to those who have emailed me about the lack of activity. Thoughtful posts require a lot of time and and I don’t want to just dash off something for the sake of putting out content. I hope to increase the frequency of posts as the summer wears on and my schedule clears a bit.
In the meantime, I wanted to remind everyone that the NSCA National Conference, taking place in Providence, RI, is less than a month away! I’ll be giving two lectures at the event. First, a 2-hour precon on Wednesday, July 11th titled “Scientific Muscle: A Periodized Approach to Maximizing Muscle Development.” If you want to maximize your muscle development or want to learn how to program routines to help others do so, this is one you don’t want to miss as I’ll delve deep into the how science can be blended with art to customize a routine for optimal growth. In addition, ’ll be doing a general session on Friday, July 13th titled “Metabolic Resistance Training.” This lecture focuses on how to structure your lifting routine to optimize fat loss while maintaining lean muscle. Here is the link to register for the conference. Hope you can join me there!
Also wanted to once again state that I am running for a seat on the board of directors at the NSCA. I consider the NSCA to be the world’s elite certifying fitness organization, and I am deeply committed to their mission which is to, “…support and disseminate research-based knowledge and its practical application, to improve athletic performance and fitness.” If elected, I will work diligently to further this mission and promote the importance of evidence-based practice. That’s a promise. If you are an NSCA member, I would greatly appreciate your vote. You can vote at the following link: NSCA Board of Directors. If you don’t have your password, just give the NSCA a call at 800-815-6826. Many thanks in advance!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted some thoughts and musings, so here they are in no particular order…
I am running for a seat on the board of directors at the National Strength and Conditioning Association. I consider the NSCA to be the world’s elite certifying fitness organization, and I am deeply committed to their mission which is to, “…support and disseminate research-based knowledge and its practical application, to improve athletic performance and fitness.” If elected, I will work diligently to further this mission and promote the importance of evidence-based practice. That’s a promise. If you are an NSCA member, I would greatly appreciate your vote. You can vote at the following link: NSCA Board of Directors. All members should have received a password from the NSCA on or about May 1, 2012. If not, you can call them at 800-815-6826 to get your password.
My good friends Bret Contreras, Nick Tumminello, Alan Aragon, and Lou Schuler will be presenting at the upcoming Fitness Summit next week on May 18th and 19th. The conference is being held in Kansas City and is reasonably priced. You simply cannot assemble a better group of fitness speakers than this! It is destined to be an awesome event.
I recently co-authored another article for T-Nation with the aforementioned exercise guru, Bret Contreras, titled, 5 Things We Can Learn from Arnold About Building Muscle. It’s a fun little article where we discuss the scientific basis behind some of the techniques that the Governator used in becoming the most successful bodybuilder of all time. And Arnold was definitely ahead of his time!
There’s a disturbing trend in the gym these days where a growing number of people perform “unusual” exercises seemingly just to look cool. Such exercises will often involve the use of unstable implements, weighted vests, or hanging movements that resemble kids playing on monkey bars. Now I’m not disputing that some of these exercises may have merit under the proper circumstances. But herein lies the rub: I get the distinct impression that most of the offenders have no clue what they are trying to accomplish other than to perform something different and distinct so that they’ll be noticed. Don’t fall into this trap! Everything you do in the gym should have a clear purpose, one that is directly related to your goals and abilities. Simply being different for its own sake is not going to improve your results. In fact, it is bound to impair your progress. Have a proper plan, execute that plan, and then allow time for recuperation. That is the key to fitness success.
Speaking of disturbing trends in the gym, here’s one that’s at the top of the list: Filling up a one-gallon jug at the water fountain when there’s a line of thirsty lifters waiting to get a drink! Have some courtesy. Don’t be a boor. It’s not just proper gym etiquette, it’s basic common sense.
As mentioned in a previous post, I had a peer-reviewed article on the potential role of muscle damage in promoting muscle development accepted for publication. I’m happy to say that the article, Does exercise induced muscle damage play a role in muscle hypertrophy, was just published in the current issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. I plan on investigating the topic in future research so stay tuned for further info…
Dean Somerset wrote a very good article called Fitness Myth Busters. One of my hobby horses is to debunk the seemingly endless array of myths that abound about exercise and nutrition. Dean did a great job tackling a few of the more common ones. Give it a read.
I’ll be speaking at a number of conferences over the next several months. First up is the Fitness Eclipse in New York City on June 29, 2012. I’ll be speaking on Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, debunking some of popular fitness myths and misconceptions. Next up is the NSCA National Conference taking place in Providence, RI from July 11th to 14th. This is always such a great event and one of my favorite venues to both present and attend. I’ll be doing two lectures here: a 2-hour precon titled “Scientific Muscle: A Periodized Approach to Maximizing Muscle Development” where I’ll delve into the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and how science can be blended with art to customize a routine that optimizes growth. I’ll also be doing a general session on “Metabolic Resistance Training” where I’ll discuss the benefits of various lifting strategies designed to optimize fat loss while maintaining lean muscle. In August, I’ll again be presenting at CanFitPro in Toronto. This is Canada’s largest fitness show and regularly attracts several thousand fitness enthusiasts. I’m speaking on a variety of topics here and will also be giving a consumer-oriented talk at the exhibitors show. Dates for the event are August 15th through 19th. In September, I’ll be participating in a discussion panel-type event at the NSCA Northern California State conference in Sacramento. More to come on this shortly. Finally, I’ll be speaking at the American College of Sports Medicine annual New York Chapter meeting in New York City this November. I will post details of this event when available.