Orthorexia, the socially acceptable eating disorder?

The fitness industry has become increasingly popular with social media tools like Instagram. Anyone can now connect with like-minded people anywhere in the world. Creating a tight knit community. As competing and bodybuilding become more popular, so is the social acceptance of dieting.

Anyone who has competed, or has any education in nutrition, knows that a “prep-diet” is not healthy. Let’s even forget prep for hot minute. If we even look at the plethora of fit tummy teas and smoothie bowls on the internet. We have created a community in which people are praised for their will power. Their ability to strictly restrict calories, turn down reward, and only eat the “heathiest” and “best” foods that society has to offer. This creates an outlet for people already prone to food issues. Because what was once considered negative behavior is now praised and rewarded.

I can personally attest that I have struggled with disordered eating for most of my life. And while working out can definitely teach you to appreciate food as a tool, there comes a point where you start obsessing about macros. Fats, carbs, protein cals. How many hours has it been since your last meal? Did you hit all your macros? Or worst, did you go over? And if you overdid carbs do you now need to do extra cardio? A second lift? It can be an anxiety ridden thought process that become obsessive.

The phenomenon of orthorexia is relatively new. It is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating supposedly healthy food. The term was introduced in 1997 by

Dr. Bratman, (M.D). He suggested that some people’s dietary restrictions intended to promote healthy lifestyles paradoxically lead to unhealthy consequences. This can result in social isolation (can’t go out guys, I’m on prep…), anxiety (macro obsession) and even the loss of the ability to eat in a natural, intuitive manner, such as listening to your hunger. I can not tell you the amount of times I would lie awake at night unable to sleep because of hunger pain. Or when you’re light headed and foggy, from strict low carb/cal diets, and someone offered you some sugar to spike your insulin. And of course, you protest. Severe cases or orthorexia result in malnutrition, or worst. I know a number of competitors or “fitness chicks” who have complained of hair loss, brittle nails, low iron, hormone issues…

It is not uncommon to come across women who share their stories of eating disorder turned fitness lover/bodybuilder. But is this a 180 lifestyle change, or just displaced anxiety in a socially acceptable manner? Do not get me wrong, I am by no means bashing dieting for a show. No one ever claimed body building is healthy (and if they are, they’re in denial). I have done it many times, and it was no walk in the part. A lot of sacrifice goes into competing. But it is also short term. Any coach who has you eating and living this way for extended periods of time does not have your best interest in mind.

The intent of this post is geared towards the average girl (or guy) who is an innocent bystander on social media, admiring these physiques and thinking that this is how they should be eating and living. Instagram is also a highlight reel. You are only seeing what people want you to see, and not what goes on behind closed doors. It is also my duty to society, or due diligence per say, to anyone out there who may find themselves in this trap. Even having distanced myself from the bodybuilding community (or at least competitively), I still find myself obsessing over everything I put into my body. The thought of going out for a meal or having a few drinks still gives me anxiety. Because I have no clue what I am putting into my body. The thought of eating something “bad” and not having some kind of guilt after is still something I am working on. And I continuously hold myself the standard or physique I know I’m capable of. As you also assume everyone else holds you to that standard as well. We all hear stories of how a woman “let herself go” after a show… or had a “sloppy” offseason. Which is far more common to hear about women than it is about men sadly.  Not because men don’t also put on weight. But because, for some reason, men increase in value with the addition of size (see how much size he’s put on? Dude, you’re huge), while women are expected to forever have a small waist, but still be thick in the right places? This is why I believe it is important to be able to self-identify our own issues, and motives.  You do you, for you.

 

Size versus strength and which is right for you

There are lot of reasons a person may choose to workout. For some it’s aesthetics, others it’s strength, and it can even be about mental health (among a bazillion other reasons).  Today, is not one of those warm, and fuzzy feelings post though. If we are looking at strength, the basic principle is about increasing force production. Aesthetics, usually equated with size (for the purpose of this post), is more about getting a “pump” and creating micro-tears to the muscle, which then causes it to repair and grow larger.  Strength is more about muscle recruitment.

It’s safe to say, based on current knowledge of anatomy and physiology, when training for strength it is best to keep the rep range low and the resistance load should be high. Also, true low-rep strength work is primarily neuromuscular. Meaning, it has a significant impact of your Central Nervous System (CNS). If you were to think of your body as computer/smartphone etc, strength training is more comparable to upgrading your software (IOS update anyone?), compared to the actual hardware (Iphone x). In other words, strength training is about teaching your CNS how to recruit more muscle, opposed to having larger muscles available for use. Sorry, my tech nerdiness is showing.

So, hopefully now that you understand strength a little more, let’s talk about hypertrophy. Unlike strength training, the goal of training for size is more physiological than it is neurological.  I’m talking bones, joints, ligaments, and those sexy, sexy muscles. You literally build your body (how cool is that)? This actually forces the tissues to develop and grow stronger. So, in this scenario the strength comes from an actual increase in mass opposed to recruitment.

So the next important thing to ask here, is which is more important? Hazahh… it’s a trick question! The answer is neither. It is all in fact, dependent on your goals. For physique athletes, like any other type of athlete, you can undoubtedly benefit from increased motor unit recruitment (strength training).  Since all types of training can have neurological benefits. However, if your training goal is to create maximum structural change, it is best to spend the predominant amount of training time in the hypertrophy range of 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps, which has historically been shown to be more directed at stimulating muscle growth

While it seems so simple. This is often a point of confusing for both new, and experience lifters. I fully admit, that at one point myself, I assumed the heavier I could lift, the bigger I would get. We have all seen that huge guy squatting every plate in the gym, benching with chains, and power curling. However, this is a fallacy (what a cruel joke). Bodybuilding is not about becoming a “weightlifter ” (Power, Olympic, or otherwise). It’s about using weights as a tool to recruit and increase your muscle size. So, while it is a great feat to impress (or scare off) women in the gym, it will not get you the “gainzzzz” you seek. And here is a little secret for the ego lifters out there. No one else in your gym cares how much you lift! Crazy, I know! But they are too busy looking at themselves than to care about you 😉

Ok. So now that we know a little more about how to, and how not to, become a bodybuilder. Let’s talk about actual weightlifting (the competitive kind). When you go “too heavy”, here’s what happens. You actually reduce the time under tension, because you’re forced to use momentum to move more weight (think bouncing the bar off your chest). Momentum does not build muscle. You’re also unable to lower the weight in a slow, controlled manner, further reducing your time under tension. Again, think when a powerlifter quickly descends, squatting into the whole and quickly driving back up. It’s about achieving that overall total.  You’re less focused on the muscles being worked (in fact, you’re recruiting a whole bunch of other stuff too) because your focus is to move the most weight. The basic take home is that you utilize more muscles, which reduces the accumulated “pump” in specific muscle group (squat = legs, bench= chest, deadlift=back etc. etc. etc.).  There is nothing wrong with this style of lifting either. In fact, it’s smart. If your overall goal is to move the MOST weight, then it’s the right way to go about. It’s all about the using the best means to an end.

It is also noteworthy, that if your goal is overall size, there is a time and a place for strength training. Increasing your overall strength can then be applied to volume down the road in future training. Conversely, occasional “spot training” or “accessory lifts” can be used to engage lagging parts. And in weightlifting, the sum truly is greater than the sum of the parts. But by bringing up your triceps, you can in turn increase your overall bench. Score! Cause common, who doesn’t want that, amiright?!

 

Happy lifting,

JP xox

Ginger bells

With the holidays fast approaching, and massive thanksgiving dinners behind us, I’m sure diet is on a lot of peoples’ minds. I admittedly and writing this, while quite uncomfortably full of fries (cringe). I am sure you’ve all hear the saying “You can’t out train a bad diet”. And in a large part, it is true. Weather it’s weight loss, muscle gain, or re-composition, nutrition plays a huge role in your progress. Diet is more than just macros though. Yes, as previously mentioned, carbs are carbs, and fats are fats. So, brownies versus brown rice? Who cares?! Pass the cake!

Well, gut health is an increasingly popular topic in terms of diet and nutrients. If you aren’t able to properly absorb your food are you getting the full advantage of that green smoothie? I recently had the opportunity to connect with Genuine Health and try their new “Fermented Gut Superfoods+”. I opted for the Orange Ginger flavor, as I have been feeling a little under the weather, and straight up love anything ginger.

This bad boy is packed with an organic fermented superfood blend of organic spirulina, organic cabbage, organic cauliflower, organic spinach, organic black currant, organic raspberry, organic mulberry, organic broccoli, organic carrot, organic beet, organic grape, organic kale, organic sea buckthorn, organic pomegranate, organic sweet potato, organic apricot, organic bitter melon, organic ginger, organic cinnamon, and organic clove. Because fermentation amplifies nutrition, by boosting nutritional quality and intensifying the strength of phytonutrients, it can improve digestion and can help to encourage a healthy gut microbiome. In addition, Genuine Health adds organic isomalto-oligosaccharides (VitaFiber™ fermented prebiotic fibre), Organic orange flavour, Organic beet juice, Organic orange, Organic fermented cocoa bean, Organic ginger extract, annnnnnnnd Organic stevia leaf extract (for sweetness). It is important to note, that fermented fiber that is easy to tolerate, so you get all of the benefits of a prebiotic fiber and none of the bloating (because no one wants to feel, or look, like a beached whale).

I realized that is a lot to take in, and again, why should you care? Being the benevolent human being I am, let me break down some of the benefits for you. Diligent readers (do those exist?) will know about the benefits of fiber. But let’s talk more about that long list of what sounds like the ingredients of an elaborate health smoothie at whole foods.

Spirulina is a natural algae powder. This is what tend to give that swamp water look and smell of some green drinks. But it doesn’t have to when done right, I swear! I is is incredibly high in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients. It is largely made up of protein and essential amino acids. The high concentration of protein is ideal anytime the immune system needs a boost Cold season anyone?). Spurlina is considered a complete source of high-quality protein and is often compared to eggs for the amount of protein per gram. Spurlina is also incredibly high in Vitamin B1, which is necessary for the digestion of fats and proteins. It is often taken for increased energy, eye health, brain function and for improving nerve functioning. And to pack another punch, Spurlina is one of the best plant sources of iron. Even for those who consume meat, it has a highly absorbable form of iron that is gentle on the digestive system, and has over 26 times the calcium in milk.

Ok. How about cabbage? Sounds gross, I know. You’re probably thinking of some terrible soviet stereotype. But, did you know that cabbage was one of two vegetable types (the other type was root vegetables) found to be a mainstay for prevention of type 2 diabetes in a recent study of over 57,000 adults in the country of Denmark? In this very large-scale study, adults who closely followed the Healthy Nordik Food Index were found to have the lowest incidence of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have now identified nearly 20 different flavonoids and 15 different phenols in cabbage, all of which have demonstrated antioxidant activity. This is one key reason why an increasing number of studies link cabbage intake to decreased risk of several cardiovascular diseases. Pretty great, right? To top that off, cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B1, folate and copper. Additionally, cabbage is a good source of choline, phosphorus, vitamin B2, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, pantothenic acid, protein and niacin!

Ok, next let’s dive into something a little more obscure than your standard spinach and kale. Black Currant. These richly dark berries are packed with Vitamin C. That’s probably no surprise, as most berries tend to be. And as a rule of thumb, the darker the colour, the richer the nutrients. And these and boys are so dark, they’re called black…  Black currant is also packed with an electrolyte, potassium. Which is responsible for regulating your heart’s electrical activity and keeping the acid-base balance in check. It is also needed for smooth muscle contraction, so it is essential for healthy digestion and good muscle function.  Seems pretty important to me. I addition, and particular important to our friends of the vegan/vegetarian inclination, is iron. As someone who has been off and on (mostly on) deficient my entirely life. I know how important iron is. This mineral that is found throughout your entire body, iron is needed to make your blood cells. It also helps produce oxygen-bearing proteins (hemoglobin and myoglobin), and forms many parts of various proteins throughout your body.

Ok… I said I was benevolent, but I am no saint. SO, this is all you get from me today! Hopefully you feel a little more enlightened, and if not, you now have some  “fun facts” to impresses your dates, coworkers, or family members over the holidays.

 

Cheers betches,

JP xox

 

Modern Mobility

I often feel like a bit of a broken record, constantly apologizing for my busy life. It often seems the old cliché of “The only constant is change” could be the ongoing theme of my life. Since my last post, written from the cozy indoors of a lovely Santa Monica coffee shop, I have since had the opportunity to start a new job in a completely new sector, booked multiple trips (both work and pleasure), made the move to power lifting, as well as managed to successfully injure myself, through my own stupid stubbornness.

As previously mentioned, I am not one for new year’s resolutions. I believe in constantly setting both short and long term goals. One thing that I have been working on has been doing both more things that scare me, but also things that bring me happiness. I have often shied away from spontaneity for fear of being irresponsible, or just because I can be a bit of a “type A” rigid planner. I can successfully say I have managed to inch, maybe even step, outside my comfort zone.

In this trend of trying new things, and being a little less rigid in my thinking, I have been exploring different modalities of mobility. I will admit, mostly because I have managed to break myself once again. Turns out, when discovering and programming for strength, you can not, in fact, lift with the same volume, a stubborn all or none mentality, that you can with body building.  Many body builders walk around sore and broken, wearing it like a badge of honor. I am guilty of this mentality. I had become so used to always going to failure, burning myself out, with that depletion style, that I just couldn’t get around the mind set of lifting at 60% or 80% of what I knew I was capable of doing. The irony of which is that I fully understand the difference, as well as the effect it has on your CNS, yet I am in fact, my own worst enemy.

So, to make a long story short, I managed to screw up my left side pretty badly. It started with what I assume was a minor strain, which led to some compensation. However, being the hero that I am, I refused to not continue with my training. In fact, not only did I not rest it, but I probably overdid it, with my “mind over matter” mentality, pushing and pushing. Constantly adding more weight, and not easing off. This just lead to more imbalances, until what was just my hip, was then also the outside of my trochanter, my hams, my glutes, and now down into my calf. I have successfully screwed the whole kinesthetic chain.

So, in an effort to get back to doing what I do best (beating myself up apparently), I finally accepted that maybe this whole mobility thing was worth a try. I will fully admit that with a plethora of research out there I will often read, research, and believe what affirms what suits my own mentality or goal. I think we all have some cognitive bias in that regard. So my idea of mobility has mostly been, do the movement you plan on executing, in the full range of motion, but with less weight. Simple enough, right? If you’re going to squat today, do squats with an empty bar, and just hang out at the bottom, if it feels good, give er’. As of late, this is just not cutting it. So, now I find myself strapped into a table, being painfully manipulated, laying on mats, grimacing, and limping around like an invalid.  

So here is the thing. Not everyone is the same, duh. However, s small part of the populations is what we call “hypermobile”. While this sounds great (and was when I was a cheerleader and did more yoga), this is actually pathological. Too much mobility results in bone not staying where they should stay, and extra stress on the joint. Tendons and ligaments do not actually “stretch out.” You cannot make them longer. Their function is to transmit force, which connect muscles to bones, the force of muscular contraction is transmitted to the bone it’s attached to, thus moving the bone. And since tendons are in fact elastic, a sudden dynamic load causes a very small temporary change in length and a subsequent rebound, such as when you jump, or lift weights. But during normal muscle contraction, if the tendon changed its length not all of the force would move the bone – some would be lost as the tendon stretched. Just like a short piece of chain, a tendon pulls the bone with all the force of the contracting muscle because it does not stretch during the contraction.

Ligaments anchor the joint as it moves, so that the bones which articulate at the joint change their relationship only with respect to their angle. This allows the joint to function as a fulcrum. An excessive amount of “stretching” will cause a rupture. If anyone case ever seen this, it is NOT pleasant.

Therefore, you cannot change the length of either a tendon or a ligament with “stretching” and why would you want to? I’ll take a pass on the whole rupture thing. This leads me to my next point. Fascia. It is the only connective tissues that you can affect with stretching. If you are unaware of fascia, it is essentially the semi clear plastic wrap that keeps your muscle bundled together. It usually becomes problematic when effected by tiny scars called “adhesions” that form between them and their underlying muscle or between adjacent fascia.

So, maybe this article has once again, been a little self serving, but since neither ligaments or tendons are designed to stretch, this would mean any increase in flexibility primarily involves the muscles that control the position of the skeletal components. So really, “mobility” can be considered learning to use any muscle in a way that requires you to teach them to lengthen more readily.  Aka, squat if you’re going to squat, press if you’re going to press, and if you suddenly can’t do that explore alternative therapies that can either assess your faulty movement patterns, compensatory issues, or Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST).

**As an aside, if you love doing yoga, or just like the feeling of stretching, go for it!! This is not intended to discourage anyone from doing anything they love or makes them feel good. Heck, I still love a good pigeon pose. And there is something to be said for the placebo effect. This is my quick and dirty summation of what anatomy dictates, and intended for a “health” audience.

Your fitbetch,

JP xox

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

Only the strong will survive

Hello my loves, so as we are already past the half way mark for January, and you’re obviously still crushing the gym right? Let’s talk about being sore. I’ve heard it from lots of my coworkers, clients, and even casual acquaintances. “I’m sore”! Good! As you should be. This is all new to your body. Heck, I’m always sore and I’ve been doing this consistently for at least half a decade. Obviously, I’m not saying you should be straight up broke. There is obviously a difference between delayed onset muscle soreness and injury. But let’s just say we’re talking about regular soreness, for the sake of simplicity here.

A greater increase in lactic acid (that burney, sore day after effect), is known to be critical for muscle growth. This is achieved through the lamens term of “doing work”.  So, you’re killin’ the gym. Getting your swole on, which is perceived as a threat to your cells (and to others around you). We may joke about getting a pump that is so sick the pipes are going to burst. But it is actually somewhat truthful. As your muscle cells become engorged in blood, the cell is forced to expand. This result is a number of byproducts from the breakdown of the cell. This is why we feel “swollen” and sore.

Much like the old theory, only the strong survive, this is true for muscle cells as well. The weaker more fragile muscle fibres are pushed passed  their limits, while the body is forced to engage more fast twitch muscle fibres. These fibres have greater growth potential. The more we tax these fibres, the more we signal growth pathways. Long story short, that uncomfortable sensation, or what some mistake as pain is actually essential I’m growing those glutes. This is a concept foreign to a lot of new gym goers.

So how do you use this to your advantage? Well, depending on your goals, if growth is your main purpose of lifting (and this doesn’t just mean “body building” or “bulking”) you won’t want to go to failure on all your main sets. Yes, you should be pushing your limits, but overdo it and you tax your central nervous system. This is more often seen in depletion and prep style workouts. Also an issue for power lifters. Which use different weight schemes all together. In this case, for your average person looking to shape/tone/grow, or whatever you want to call it, what you can incorporate is a pyramid. Which is working up to your final or max set, then drop setting down (meaning to continuously drop the weight till failure, drop again, and  so forth). Note: This will burn like a mother F*cker, you may whimper a little….

I apologize if this article may seem elementary to some of my more gym savy followers. But keep in mind, not everyone is as masochistic as we are. And while the gym may be full now, only the few will survive.

Your fitbetch,
JP xoxo