Saturday, November 15, 2008

Burn Fat Fast With Diet Pills? Do They Really Work

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just take a daily pill(s) and the weight starts melting off? That’s what several of the diet pill manufacturers would like you to believe.

Most of the pills work in one of three ways.

The pills fill your digestive system with bulk fibers so you think you’re full, and eat less. You literally don’t get as hungry so you don’t want to it.

Other pills suppress your appetite and therefore decrease the amount of food you eat. These pills work on your mind rather than your digestive tract. You don’t get hungry so you don’t eat.

And finally some pills increase your metabolism by increasing your internal temperature. Green tea and caffeine are two ingredients which increase your temperature but there are herbal supplements that do the same thing.

Do these diet pills work? Yes to a certain extent. Most have to be combined with a diet program where you eat less or restrict your carbs to succeed. Do these pills burn fat fast? Most of them work not by burning fat but by increasing your metabolism.

Another pill that has recently come on the market is Alli. It works by blocking your stomach and intestines from digesting about 20% of the fat you eat. You have to go on a low fat diet when you start taking Alli. In addition you can’t eat more than 15 grams of fat at any one time. You can’t save up your fat allotment for the day, or several days, in order to splurge. If you break either of these rules, you suffer ‘treatment effects’ which include unexpected diarrhea and stomach cramps. Alli actually recommends that you wear dark pants and bring a change of clothing with you for the first week of the program. And stay close to the bathroom. Alli claims that in scientific studies participants have lost 50% more when taking Alli then just staying on a low calorie, low fat diet.

The advantages include having a little help to get you started on your diet and losing weight a bit faster. The disadvantage includes the expense, and in the case of Alli, the treatment effects. Alli is not a diet program you can cheat on and then return to without suffering ill effects. Some participants have reported treatment effects for several weeks after they stopped the program. Others have said they get treatment effects even when they make sure their fat consumption is within limits.

More weight loss tips. Dee Power is the co-author of several nonfiction books including “The Publishing Primer: A Blueprint for an Author’s Success,” “58 Ways to Find Money for Your Business, “Inside Secrets to Venture Capital” and “Attracting Capital From Angels.” Gourmet Grilling adds flavor to any diet program.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Maximize Gains by Training to Failure and By Not Training to Failure

Many people, when they start lifting weights, believe that training to failure on every set of every exercise is the key to growth. This is one of the biggest weightlifting myths, and one that is nearly impossible to squash unless you educate yourself on exercise physiology.

What Exactly is Failure?

Failure is weightlifting is defined as the inability to generate the force required to complete the full range of motion for a single repetition. Many people, experts and trainees, fall on both sides of this debate. Some coaches insist on leaving a couple reps in the bag, stopping well short of failure to avoid stressing the central nervous system (CNS), while others recommend taking each set to that last rep. In order to get to the bottom of it, we really have to examine the science behind the theory.

One fact that we have to accept, is that training to failure on a consistent basis will overload the CNS enough that it will be impossible to continue to train with high frequency. You will begin to notice that every other weightlifting session turns out to be a “bad day”. In fact, the CNS takes more than triple the recovery time that the muscles do. Chronically overloading the CNS will, in effect cause your muscles to detrain while your body fully recovers; you will end up with a series of “bad days”.

On the other hand, you’ve got many performance coaches who promote training to failure often in order to tear up and fatigue muscle fibers as much as possible. The penultimate theorists for this type of training are those that follow High Intensity Training (HIT) (not to be confused with High Intensity Interval Training [HIIT], which is an excellent form of training for superior conditioning). The idea behind HIT is to train once a week or so, but to cause as much damage as possible during that session.

In any case, as the theory goes, taking each muscle to the point of failure ensures that it has been sufficiently fatigued, and therefore the set was as productive as possible (short of forced negatives). As a fact, this has some merit, since it is not enough to simply recruit a given motor unit, but by virtue of adaptation any motor unit must be sufficiently fatigued in order to demonstrate growth. After all, you wouldn’t bench 100 lbs x 5 reps each and every week and hope for growth. Well, maybe you would but then you’d be a total tool.

Another important point we have to remember is that the CNS is a major factor in muscle performance. The CNS definitely has the overall say in performance. Your muscles could be as fresh as a spring flower, but if the CNS is still fatigued from a previous workout then you haven’t much hope of optimal performance. Due to a depletion of the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine, motor units won’t fire properly and coordination will be thrown completely off, thereby all but ensuring a “bad day” at the gym.

So then question then becomes:

In order progress as much as possible, should I train to muscular failure and invite CNS failure, or should I stop short of muscular failure thus guaranteeing proper CNS recovery?

And the Answer Is…

Depending upon the intensity of the exercise, you can do both. Simply stated, compound and explosive exercises require maximal recruitment of the CNS and therefore you should not train to failure with these types of movements. On the other hand, isolation exercises rely more on the health of the individual muscles, and therefore can be taken to failure. Sounds simple? It is!

Training with Absolute CNS Requirements

These types of exercise include Olympic lifting, dynamic effort lifting, and plyometrics. This type of exercise is CNS intensive, and you should stop your set when the speed of movement decreases, which is actually well short of failure. Training to failure with this type of exercise can really prove to be damaging, because when you begin to lose timing and coordination you are actually training CNS to perform the exercise with improper form. Not good.

Training with High CNS Requirements

These types of exercise include pressing with free weights (benching and overhead), squats, deadlifts, and any other exercise where a heavy free weight is on your back such as good mornings and barbell lunges. This type of exercise requires a high level of CNS recruitment, and you should stop your set when you perceive yourself to have 1-2 reps left in the tank OR if you feel that you are starting to lose your form. It is OK if you start to slow down as long as it is still pretty easy for you to maintain good form.

Training with Low CNS Requirements

These types of exercise include pulling and pressing on machines and isolation exercises for large muscle groups like hamstrings, quadriceps, chest, back, lower back, and abs. This type of exercise requires a moderate to low level of CNS recruitment. You should take at least one set to failure; and it is acceptable to take all sets to failure although I personally would only take the last two sets to failure.

Training with Minimal CNS Requirements

These types of exercise include small muscle isolation work such as traps, calves, bis and forearms, and tris. You should go to failure on all sets, and it is acceptable to take the last 1-2 sets past the point of failure by including drop sets, forced negatives, assisted negatives, half reps, etc… I typically would only take the last set past failure.

Is It Necessary to Perform Exercises with Minimal CNS Requirements

This depends on your goals. For sport specific athletic performance, you might do some isolation work on those muscles specific to your sport. For example traps in football, shoulders (rotators) in baseball, calves in basketball. For powerlifters, I see very little need to train with isolation exercises on a regular basis. For bodybuilders, you won’t be able to achieve that complete package without regular isolation training. For Olympic athletes, I would say isolation exercises are a definite no-no.

Choose your goals and select your exercises accordingly, but always remember to train smart rather than train hard.

Steve Hanson has 10 years experience in the fields of exercise science and sports nutrition. He writes articles on all forms of athletic training and nutritional theories. View the blog to learn more about your favorite exercise and nutrition topics.

Conditioning and Nutrition Articles to Help You Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Supplements to Increase Performance

In the past decade we’ve seen an explosion in the number and range of sports supplements and legal anabolics being use by bodybuilders and athletes of all types. The demand for sports supplements is growing larger everyday as competitive athletes of all types strive to reach the peak of their performance. Today’s supplements are increasingly designed to make use of athlete’s full potential.

Today’s legal anabolic supplements are much more targeted and effective than in the past thanks to increases in technology and understanding of the function of these compounds. Today you can find supplements that will increase size, strength, stamina and endurance. For this reason it’s important that athletes do their research to determine which supplement is most appropriate for their own personal goals.

If possible the supplements should have some background and testing so the athlete can determine if it is safe and effective for it’s intended use. Today’s legal steroids cover a broad range of categorizations and usages. The goal is to ensure that the athlete’s are able to safely and effectively increase their performance. Below is a list of the different types or categories of today’s sports supplements.

Anti-oxidant type supplements that provide protection from free radicals. Free radicals are created during exercise and they will cause both muscle damage and post workout soreness. Decreasing exercise induced soreness can improve the athlete’s ability to train hard and heavy.

Fat reducing supplements that are geared towards weight loss. These types of supplements can help an athlete lose body fat while maintaining his hard fought for lean muscle gains. Some examples are pyruvate, arginine and chromium. Other more potent examples include Ephedra. A separate sub-category are those anabolic substances that preserve strength and muscle mass while dieting or cutting body fat. This category includes supplements like Mega-TRN and Furazadrol.

Muscle building supplements to help the athlete increase his body weight, specifically the lean muscle mass. These are often called legal steroids by some and include such popular supplements as Superdrol, Phera-plex and Halodrol.

Supplements to decrease paid caused by muscle soreness like ibuprofen. Care should be taken with these as they can be damaging to the liver, especially if taken together with the muscle building anabolics listed above.

Today’s athletes are fortunate to have such a broad range of supplements to help them improve their natural performance. Please be responsible and learn as much as possible about the supplements you’re considering, especially those that could be considered as legal steroids.

The authors website provides more detailed descriptions of popular legal anabolics. In addition, you can find up to date sports supplement information at the blog there as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick Weight Loss: 5 Tips to Lose Weight Quickly

Only have another ten pounds to lose? Here are 5 tips for quick weight loss.

Always put food on a plate, a real plate, not a paper plate, and eat at the table. You’ll be amazed at how much food you consume away from meal times or on the run. It’s easy to down a bag of potato chips eating in front of the TV. Or you’re hungry so you grab a leftover chicken leg and eat it over the sink. You’re late for work so you reach for a donut to have with your latte as you drive.

Don’t eat unless you’re sitting down at the table with a plate in front of you. You’ll feel silly putting chips and dip on a lunch plate, so silly you probably won’t do it. Putting all the food on plates and eating at the table makes you aware of how much you’re eating and when. Seeing all the dirty plates in the sink can motivate you not to eat.

Sugar free and low fat doesn’t necessarily mean low calorie. Many of the sugar free snacks contain as many, if not more, calories than their counterparts. Low fat might mean sugar and starches have been added to make up for the lost flavor and creaminess from the fat. Read the labels to make sure you’re getting what you think you’re getting. Sometimes it’s better to use a lesser amount of the original food than the usual amount of the low fat or sugar free substitute.

Know what a serving really is. Portions these days have become gigantic. You might think that a serving of cooked pasta is a big bowl full but look on the package. You’ll be surprised to see that a serving is considered just an 8 ounce cupful of cooked pasta. And the serving of pasta sauce? Well that’s just 1/4 cup or 2 ounces. A serving of chicken, or meat, is 4 ounces, that’s a chicken thigh or drumstick. In the case of meat, a serving is about the size of a deck of playing cards. A serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup, a serving of fruit is 1/2 cup, or one whole fruit such as an apple. Of course with fruits and vegetables you can be very generous with the servings. And with meat, be stingy.

Adjust your plate size. The tendency is to fill our plates full, so trick yourself and use a smaller plate. Use a salad plate for your dinner plate and you’ll automatically eat less. Use a small bowl instead of a soup bowl and you’ll cut calories. You can also reverse it. Use the dinner plate and fill it full of salad greens - just be careful with the salad dressing. To cut down on the amount of dressing consumed, place the dressing in a small bowl. Dip your fork in the dressing before you spear your salad. While your salad is on the dinner plate, use the salad plate for your entree.

Follow these tips and before you know it you’ll lose weight quickly.

More tips on how to lose weight quickly Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books. Grilling vegetables is one of her favorite ways to come up with a tasty low calorie meal.