Coffee consumption, why it’s cool

As I sit here in a coffee shop, trying my hardest to be productive on a rainy day, I figured, why not talk about the benefits of caffeine. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love coffee maybe more than I love food (and that’s saying something). I could literally drink consecutive cup after cup of the liquid nectar of the gods. I love the taste, I love the smell, I love the complexity, I love pretty much everything about it! Including its personality enhancing factor. But here are some more reasons why I think it’s a great part of anyone’s diet, and of course a few excuses and ammo to justify your caffeine habit.

Firstly, Caffeine affects brain function, this should be pretty evident for anyone who “needs” a cup of coffee to get going in the morning. A study published by Nature Neuroscience found that caffeine administered post studying helped students with memory consolidation. This being the concept of being able to process and retain new information. In addition, The University of Arizona recently looked at whether caffeine helps memory during periods when kids aren’t in their optimal periods of arousal. Aka, fancy way of sayin “tired”. Basically, caffeine given to kids in the morning helped with memory, while caffeine given to kids in the afternoon (a kids optimal arousal time) had no effect. A very similar found the same phenomenon in adults, but only when caffeine was administered in the afternoon, which is an adult’s period of lowest level of arousal. Another reason to have that afternoon Americano. Another recent study published in the Journals of Gerontology showed that women who consumed more than the median daily amount of coffee (261 mg per day. This being about 1-2 cups) had a reduced risk of developing dementia or memory impairment. I addition, for those of you who really wanna go big, a study conducted by Alzheimer Europe and the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee found that 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is the optimal amount to protect the brain form degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. All the more reason to keep the liquid gold flowing.
Again, given my ongoing theme, and assuming you, my audience come here for fitness related knowledge bombs, let’s talk about caffeine and its affect on atheistic performance. According to Journal of Applied Physiology,  athletes that consumed caffeine and carbs after strenuous exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles than athletes who just ingested carbs alone post workout. Whoa!? Glycogen is important because it is the fuel muscles use to function. It’s the main source of energy when working out, and it’s what you need to refuel and repair post workout. So maximizing glycogen absorption without consuming additional calories is optimal for athletes within sports like bodybuilding. In addition, increasing glycogen levels after a hard workout will also help you perform better during the following day’s workout. Which is applicable to anyone with fitness goals.
 
The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research also conducted a systematic review of 29 studies related to caffeine and athletic performance in an attempt to establish if caffeine prior to exercise acted as a performance aid. They found that 11 out of 17 studies showed caffeine ingestion yielded significant improvements in exercise performance, and 6 out of 11 studies revealed benefits of caffeine use during resistance training.  Another study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that caffeine increased oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory response in long distance runners after completing a 15k run. In this case caffeine was ingested prior to the run.  For more of you more strength inclined athletes, a study published in the Journal of Muscle and Nerve found that caffeine did increase muscle torque and activity during strength training exercise. One group of participants was given 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of their body weight and they significantly out-performed the placebo group. So, consume caffeine, lift more weight. Sounds like a win to me!  Lastly, a study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology found that caffeine increased the level of enjoyment from exercise and caused the test subjects to burn more calories and consume less calories after exercise. Which I think it no big surprise there, since caffeine is a natural mood enhancer, and being more engaged and focused in your workout is obviously going to yield a better training session.

So let’s also talk about caffeine nor only helps performance, but also recovery. The University of Georgia has found that a moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) can reduce post-workout pain by up to 48%.  Disclaimer: This research was small group and they only tested women. Not only this, but the women were not regular caffeine users.

The Journal of Pain showed that caffeine can also reduce muscle pain during moderate intensity exercise. Some participants were given large doses of caffeine prior to cycling exercise, others were not. The caffeine group had significant less muscle pain during the exercise than the placebo group. This may also explain why caffeine is used as an endurance aid for athletes. New research conducted by Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology and the University of Brasilia (UNB) also isolated a protein in coffee beans that is similar to morphine, but works even better. They are currently doing further research concerning this protein and its pain relieving applications. If a person consumes caffeine everyday, then the only way to experience caffeine’s pain relieving effect is to consume a dose greater than the daily amount he or she has been accustomed to. Whomp whomp…

So friends, don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that you have a caffeine problem. You’re just health contentious 😉

Your fitbetch,

JP xoxo

On to BIGGER and better things

Back at it with the booty. Its no secret that I am OBSESSED with the posterior chain. Hammmies, booty, and back. I basically only deadlift, squat, and row… but a millions variations of those exercise. Im not advocating to skip chest or shoulders (the bros of the world are cringing right now). But genetically I have never had an issue building those areas, and I have had many years of building up those body parts as well. Now, don’t think I am being arrogant here, but personally, for me. I am happy with the size I have achieved in those areas. So it’s a maintenance factor at this point. However, give me all the back, the wider the better… more detail, more taper. I want it all! And who doesn’t love that nice round shape to the legs, no banana legs here please!!

After many years of hitting legs two even three times a week, I have been able to play around with a bunch of varieties and methods. Volume has been my friend. Even now, I fluctuate between strength days, hypertrophy days, and conditioning. But there are definitely a handful of exercises and techniques that have proven effective in my arsenal. So let me lay some knowledge on you.

Your glutes are comprised of three main muscles, Min, max, and med. The biggest and most superficial being max (ah duh). Glute max is responsible for hip extension, external rotation of the hip, as well as abduction of the thigh. So for those not so anatomically inclined, think movements such as glute bridges, hypers, side stepping lunges,  any any of that side laying clam stuff they do in aerobics videos in the 80s.  

Glute med and min are important muscles as well, especially in terms of stabilization, for those of you who are more inclined to do “big lifts”, or even in terms of being stable in walking, and of course not injuring yourself. But max is our focus here. Mostly being that most for you ladies, and gents, are looking to build strong powerful glute max weather it be for aesthetics or pushing power for things like sprinting, jumping, squatting etc.

Because the glutes are such a powerful muscle they respond well to heavy ass loads (pun intended). And you can train them within a higher rep range. I want to clarify, I don’t want to see you hip thrusting three plates if its all momentum. You gotta squeeze squeeze squuuuuueeeze! So for beginners start with just trying to feel that tension and slowly work up. This means slow, controlled movements with a nice long pause. But I digress. Back to our main point, I would suggest a rep range of 12-15 if your looking for a hypertrophy workout. For simplicity sake, just assume we are throughout this little post. Anything lower will not be enough to bring the fibers to failure. Which, dedicated readers will know is the mechanism of growth. Anything more and you’re just doing cardio (barf me to death). This will not engage the fast twitch fibers to stimulate hypertrophy, and I only use this level of volume when I need to add in conditioning work to increase your overall work capacity in future lifts. This is also useful for increasing total time under tension. But that in itself is another post.

So, now that we have covered rep range,lets talk about temp. Which also effects time under tension (TUT). The most typical tempo you see in body building splits 2 seconds up, 2 seconds peak contraction, 4 seconds down (think slow and low ladies). I also think it is great to pause for 2 seconds at the bottom, but depending on your focus or programming this may very. The pause allows the kinematic energy to dissipate, so that all the pushing power has to be generated from the muscle. So no cheating. This is also important for strength and power athletes.  To give you a whole picture, for the people who are more visual learners, envision this. Explosive on your way up, flex hard at the top, then slowly lower the weight back down. *Rant* A huge pet peeve of mine is seeing people bounce up and down while squatting. This is not an effective execution of the movement, and I kinda want to shake them, aggressively.

Now that you hopefully have a slightly better idea of how you can go about targeting your glutes, lets talk about how often. Like I said I try to train mine up to three days a week. I understand this can be hard for a number of reasons. Training schedule and recovery being two of the biggest factors I can think of. Typically I always start my week with legs, then try to hit it every other day. One week kind of leads into the next with that style. In order to train with this frequency each day is also different. Large muscles like the glutes resound to variety and volume. So you can do a “heavy day”, then a “volume day” to get some blood flow in there, then move on to an “accessory day” or a conditioning day”, or even a “power day”. All these different styles of training have their own benefits. You can program according to your weaknesses and needs. You can’t train the exact same way each day because your body will become accustomed too quickly, and you put yourself at risk for injuries. Which will only set back your long term progress. And if you’re anything like me, you will get EXTREMELY frustrated… which only leads to further injury.

Lesson, don’t be stubborn like JP.

 

On to BIGGER and better things,

Your fitbetch,

Jp xoxo