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

Collagen, and why you should add it to your diet

I recently came across a post from a fellow meathead, who also happens to be a writer and podcast host.  As she always produces fantastic content, I thought I might dig a little deeper myself. Collagen, and not the kind you inject, has been on my radar for a while. From its protein content, to its beauty benefits it seems like it a miracle peptide. I recently purchased a moisturizer, from my absolute favorite beauty brand, that claims to be a shot of protein for the face. Like a dietary additive for your skin care routine. So Should we be looking more into collagen opposed to traditional whey (as dairy sensitivities seem to be increasing), and what makes it superior? So here is what I found;

 

If you do any amount of reading in terms of nutritional absorption, you’ve probably heard about “Leaky gut”, or increased intestinal permeability. This occurs when the gateways of the small intestine that prevent unauthorized particles from entering the bloodstream become weakened or damaged due to food sensitivities (wheat, dairy anyone?), toxic agents, chemicals, age, or other conditions. We want these tight junctions running at full capacity to avoid complications with autoimmune disorders, hormone imbalances, digestive problems, and to just protect general well-being. Collagen contains glutamine and glycine, two amino acids known to actually repair the gut wall and to help turn leaky gut around. Collagen can also protect the mucosal lining of the digestive system, which plays a huge role in absorption and complete digestion. So, this can help ensure your body is actually absorbing and using those expensive organic veggies and supplements you’re already consuming.

 

Our hair, skin, and nails are a reflection of what’s going on inside of our body. Ever notice after a weekend of drinking you break out? Or for me, one ice cream cone and my skin is an absolute mess. Amino acids like those found in collagen can be nourishing for hair and skin because it renews cells and provides more lubrication and elasticity. We’re taking, plum, bright, clear skin. It can also help to reduce signs of aging on the skin, including wrinkles and fine lines. Collagen is also beneficial for those experiencing hair loss, so for whispy blondes like me, who have been processing their hair for, ohh.. I dunno, over a decade. There is hope.

Pro tip! Do you love coffee? Well, add collagen to it! It dissolves easily and can be purchased in a flavorless powder. While coffee has some liver-boosting benefits of its own (as if I even needed an excuse to drink more coffee), collagen can also be an extremely useful support in helping to bolster the body’s main detox organ. The liver filters the blood, removes toxins and chemicals, and prepares them to be eliminated from the body via the bowels and the bladder. Collagen supports the liver because it is rich in amino acids, especially glycine. Glycine can protect the liver against damage, which is essential for an organ that handles such a high volume of toxic substances.

If you live an active lifestyle, or even just as we age. We experience aches and joint pain. But powerlifters, body builders, and runners know this pain all too well. Collagen can actually help to reverse these aches and pains, even those associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Lastly, and aside from beautiful hair and baby fresh skin, the most important factor to me, a boost in collagen may help increase your metabolism! By adding lean muscle mass to your frame and helping with the conversion of essential nutrients. One of glycine’s most important roles is helping form muscle tissue by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells. And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn just by being your sexy self. When consuming collagen, you can benefit from also consuming Vitamin C to ensure your body can convert the collagen into a useable protein.

In addition. Research shows glycine also has important roles in both functions of the digestive and central nervous systems. Glycine seems to help slow the effects of aging by improving the body’s use of antioxidants and is also used in the process of constructing healthy cells from DNA and RNA. And lastly, it’s been found that arginine boosts the body’s ability to make protein from other amino acids, which is important for repairing muscle tissue and boosting the metabolism.  Bonus! So why not get more out of your protein (and save on your trips to Sephora).

 

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

 

Cutting and Cortisol

For the past few months I have been doing what started out as what I call “accidental dieting”. For me this usually started out by getting sick, or having an off week, and I started to notice some changes in my body. Things just looking a little “tighter”. You get a little excited, and your focus starts to shift.

Dieting is always about little changes, tweaking minute details. With the warm weather, walking the 30 minutes to the gym, instead of spending 28 on the street car is an easy way to trick myself into “lazy cardio”

Adding a fat burning stack first thing in the morning, and fasting an 1-2 hours before breakfast, as well as cutting out/down carb meals, and cycling carbs.

However, this isn’t going to be a blog post on dieting. Because there is no one specific diet that works for everyone. Each individual’s needs are too unique. It comes to current activity level, overall output, training goals, metabolism, food sensitivities, body type… and the list goes on. I have been training, and competing long enough to know what works for my body. As well, as my training remains important enough to me that I am not willing to compromise a drop in capacity of weights.

Instead let’s talk about how dieting can affect your stress levels, primarily cortisol, and why it is important to monitor its effects closely.

Cortisol is the main hormone that spikes in times of stress and alertness. In short term this is important. Your cortisol levels naturally change throughout the day. A spike in the morning is what causes you to wake up and feel alert. It is also what contributes to intensity and focus while you work out, and the hormones that helps signal your body to break down both muscle and fat.

In the short term, this can all be quite useful when used and manipulated properly. But long-term spikes in cortisol can be detrimental to your quality of life. One such thing is sleep. Trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep and early morning wakening. Most people tend not to sleep well when stressed.  Part of this can be attributed to mental health issues, like and inability to calm your mind. But what about hormones? Cortisol is to blame.

Also, have you noticed you get up to pee more when restless? This also relates back to stress. Normally your body will downregulate this function, so that when you finally drift off, and you aren’t disturbed by frequent wakening. If you’re getting up multiple times throughout the night to use the washroom, chances are your cortisol is high.

This is because the control of aldosterone (the hormones that regulates urinary function) is released from the adrenal cortex (i.e., adrenaline…a stress hormone). The aldosterone production is also affected to one extent or another by nervous control, which integrates the inverse of carotid artery pressure, pain, posture, and emotion (anxiety, fear, and hostility….).  Anxiety increases aldosterone. Increased aldosterone therefore means, nervous balder.  One of the many ways our evolution (flight or fight) was leaked into our everyday stressful lives. While the source of the stress may be different. In this case starvation, the effect is the same.

So, if you have been dieting for an extended period of time, and start to notice these seemingly inconvenient habits leaking into your life. Perhaps it is time to rethink your plan.

 

Your fitbetch,

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

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