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METropolitan Fitness

Preparing athletes for success

My Blog

Blog

Myth #7

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 10:44 PM Comments comments (0)
    Good morning everybody, hope you all are well on your way to another amazing week!  I wanted to share the next blog because I am often approached in the gym with questions regarding the best ways to target your "lower abs", especially now that the weather has been so unseasonably warm.  The following is something you all should know when it comes to the burn you feel when doing certain exercises.  For those of you who already train with me, this information will reinforce our approach to not spend all of our time focusing on exercises that involve leg movements.  While a portion of our training includes exercises such as bicycle kicks, flutter kicks and leg raises, we spend the vast majority of our time doing other things.  Hope this information provides some much needed clarification for those of you who were still unsure.

Myth #7: When I do leg raises, bicycles and flutter kicks I feel my lower abs.
What you should know: You are actually feeling a muscle behind your lower abs called your psoas.

    Many so called lower abdominal exercises involve leg lifts, bicycle kicks, or require you to bend at the hip (such as a sit-up).  Your rectus abdominus muscle originates at your pubic crest (you can feel your pubic bone just above your pubic area) and travels upward, attaching to the lower part of your ribs and breast bone.  It does not attach to your legs or hips, so it cannot move your legs.
    You may feel certain exercises in your lower abdominal region.  Chances are, you are feeling a combination of your abdominal muscles and the deeper muscles of your midsection.  During leg raises, knee ups and bicycle kicks, the abdominal musculature must hold your pelvic bone steady.  If your pelvic bone were to rock freely with your legs your spine would have to bend vigorously and that could lead to low back pain and possible injury.  Just as holding weight in front of you would make your shoulders burn, your abs burn as they attempt to hold your pelvic girdle steady during these leg movements.  However, this still does not explain why the majority of sensation is in the lower part of your abs.
    A powerful hip flexor known as your psoas lies just beneath your lower abdominal area and is responsible for lifting your legs.  Your psoas is the prime mover (most responsible) for leg raises, knee ups and bicycle kicks and this is likely the cause of the "burn in the lower abs".  This is not an ideal way to increase strength in your midsection, and may be too effective for strengthening your hip flexors.  Over development of your hip flexor musculature may reduce hip flexibility, causing posture problems and low back pain. Because more than 80% of the population has or will experience low back pain, these exercises are not recommended for everyone.



REFERENCES

Myth #6

Posted on March 15, 2012 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)
    This next blog is in response to a question I get asked pretty often at the gym, "Mike, what do you think about wearing those waist / abdominal wraps?".  I hope this answers the question once and for all.

Myth #6: Sweat away that belly fat with waist / abdominal wraps.
What you should know: Sweat isn't melted fat.

    The excess weight you lose during this absurd method of training is water weight, not fat.  The weight will return as soon as you ingest enough fluid to offset that lost during the activity.  In a nutshell, you're losing weight but the wrong kind, and it won't last.







REFERENCES

Myth #5

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 11:32 PM Comments comments (94)
    Hey all.  The reason I'm writing the following blog is to dispel the myth that cardio can somehow burn up all the muscle you've worked so hard to build.  One of the more common concerns gym members approach me with is that they feel like they should be limiting or eliminating their cardiovascular exercise if their ultimate goal is achieving hypertrophy results.  As you read on you'll find that that could not be further from the truth.  Enjoy!

Myth #5: Doing cardiovascular exercise will burn up all my muscle.
What you should know: Cardio does not burn muscle, it burns sugar and fat.

    Studies show that when cardio is added to a weight lifting program there is no decrease in gains.  In essence, the addition of cardiovascular activity to the program did not take away from the resistance training program.
    Muscles are composed of proteins, and your body would rather not use proteins for fuel.  Generally, your body gets between 3 - 5% of its energy from protein.  Even during prolonged exhaustive events such as an ultra-marathon, the energy contributed by protein is not likely to exceed 15-18%.  On a side note, low carb diets are likely to increase the body's breakdown of protein for fuel, and many recreational lifters use these diets.  These diets are not appropriate for an exercise population.
    In a possible plus for strength athletes and bodybuilders, studies show a significant increase in growth hormone and testosterone released post cardiovascular activity.  Both hormones play substantial roles in muscle growth.



REFERENCES

Myth #4

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (139)
    Hey everybody.  I wanted to talk about this next myth because I am so frequently approached in the gym about it.  I hope that this clears up some of the confusion.

Myth #4: A new exercise will shock your muscles.
What you should know: Muscles are stupid; they cannot differentiate between two similar exercises.

    All a muscle can do is contract or shorten, usually pulling two bones closer together.  They do not twist, bend, change shape (other than increase in size) or "tone up".  With this in mind, the best exercise for any muscle is one that allows a muscle to contract through a full range of motion in opposition to some form of resistance.  A muscle cannot differentiate between a band, a free weight or your own body weight.  In a study on muscle recruitment in the quadriceps (the big muscles on the front of your upper leg), there was no difference between squats and leg extensions.  The squat caused the quads to contract harder, but this could have been a function on increased load.  Stay away from the idea of "shocking a muscle" and try to think big picture.  Besides, shocking a muscle is really the "spot reduction myth" in disguise.
    So why choose different exercises at all?  Although a single muscle does not know the difference between two similar exercises, we can select different exercises that will challenge our body to better coordinate various muscles.  Your nervous system and other musculature become more involved when you choose more complex exercises (squats over leg extensions) or train in unstable environments (bands and free weights are more "unstable" than machines).  The coordination of various muscles may enhance your performance and allow you to lift heavier weights, do more reps or perform complex exercises that burn more calories.
    Most importantly, choose the activities you enjoy.  All exercise has its benefits and drawbacks but results can only be realized if you do the exercise often enough and long enough to see results.  The best exercise is the one you like and will do with frequency.




REFERENCES


Myth #3

Posted on February 2, 2012 at 12:23 AM Comments comments (1)
The message of this next article is simple.  Eat better if you want to realize the aesthetic results you're after.  I can't tell you how many people I see in the gym performing endless abdominal exercises in pursuit of the ever elusive six-pack.  Sadly, they are either misinformed or unwilling to make the necessary lifestyle modifications regarding their diet.  Many of these people then become frustrated with their lack of progress or become overwhelmed by all the routines they have tried.  Now is the time to realize that your diet and nutrition has an indisputable connection to your health and wellness, as well as the aesthetic results you desire.




Myth #3: More abdominal work will get you a "six-pack".
What you should know: You can't see through fat.

    Everyone has a six-pack, the muscle is known as your rectus abdominis or "abs" for short.  For most of us, it's hidden beneath a layer of fat.  No matter how tight, "toned", strong or big your ab muscles get it's the fat that prevents most of us from seeing our six-pack.  Training can increase the size and firmness of your abdominals, but you will not see a change in the appearance of your midsection.  So remember, if your goal is to "tone up" or increase the muscle definition of your tummy, then the largest improvements will likely come with a reduction in body fat.







REFERENCES

  • Fitness or Fiction - The Truth about Diet and Exercise, Copyright 2011. Brent Brookbush


Myth #2

Posted on January 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM Comments comments (108)
Myth #2: More protein is better.
What you should know: You can only use so much.

    Protein should be anywhere from 10 - 35% of your total diet.  Like all calories, excess protein will either be used as energy or stored as fat.  It is likely that protein will make up the smallest percentage of calories in your diet.
    Protein makes up the constituent parts of many structures including bones, ligaments, hair, nails, teeth, muscles and organs.  It is continually used to build, maintain and repair these structures and body tissues.  Proteins are used to make enzymes, hormones and are essential to immune system function.  They can also be used for energy when carbohydrates and fat do not provide adequate fuel.
    Many have misconstrued protein's role in rebuilding muscle tissue to mean that the more protein you ingest the more muscle you will build.  However, your body can only utilize so much and will only construct a finite amount of new muscle tissue per day.  Consuming more protein than required will not release previously untapped muscle building capacity.  Protein is the building block for lean muscle mass, but excessive amounts of protein will only result in increased fat storage.
    The recommended daily allowance for protein is approximately 0.4 grams per pound of body weight.  Research does support that athletes need more protein, but studies show no more than 0.9 grams per pound will be useful for gaining muscle.  You can assume a need between 0.4 and 0.9 grams per pound of body weight if you are currently working out.
    So why do fitness magazines suggest 1-2 grams per pound of muscle mass?  It's simple.  They're biased.  Most fitness magazines make a large percentage of their profit from the advertisement of supplementation.  Protein powder manufacturers are going to make it seem like the only way to get enough protein is to use their product and a lot of it.


    Interesting tidbit:  Carbohydrates are likely more important than protein for those who are trying to gain weight/muscle or increase athletic performance.  While you need protein to create muscle tissue, you also have to fuel the resistance training required to add more muscle mass.  You want your body to utilize carbohydrates for this energy source, not protein.  In this way, an abundant source of carbohydrates spares your muscle mass, by preventing your body from utilizing protein for energy.

REFERENCES


  • Fitness or Fiction - The Truth about Diet and Exercise, Copyright 2011. Brent Brookbush

    If you find information like this helpful, consider purchasing Brent's book, Fitness or     
    Fiction - The Truth about Diet and Exercise.  There's not a book out there that I could 

Myth #1

Posted on January 26, 2012 at 12:38 AM Comments comments (0)
For me the importance of identifying myths that are widely accepted as truth within the community at large and then being able to provide the science based information to debunk them is monumental.  I'll be dedicating this particular blog to pointing out common misconceptions and providing you with the truths that shall in fact set you free.  

Myth #1: No Pain, No Gain.
What you should Know: That's Bull!

    Two factors that keep a beginner from coming back to the gym: muscle soreness and the perception that resistance training must be hard to get results.  You do not have to be sore to get results.  In fact, constantly increasing the volume of your training to continually make yourself sore can lead to overtraining and a reduction in performance.

    In two studies comparing the rate of perceived exertion and load, lower weights with higher reps were perceived as easier than training that involved the use of heavier weights with lower rep ranges.  Lighter loads, those allowing from 10 to 20 repetitions per set, are effective for creating gains in strength and muscle mass in beginners.  Why not start your training routine with lighter loads and higher reps and slowly increase the weight as you become accustomed to resistance training?

    Interesting Tidbit: Stretching, Yoga, and proper cool-downs have been shown to be effective in reducing soreness.




REFERENCES


  • Fitness or Fiction - The Truth about Diet and Exercise, Copyright 2011. Brent Brookbush