Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Beyond muscle: What else is happening in your body when you perform strength training?

When we think of strength training, we think about building muscle. But that's just the most obvious and visible benefit. There are actually a cascade of positive health adaptations that your body makes, which start as soon as you begin your first set.

One of those benefits that scientists are learning more and more about each day are "Myokines," which Simon Shawcross over at HITUNI explains beautifully:

"Myokines are small proteins (with big health benefits) that are secreted by muscle cells during muscular contractions. 

They are signalling cells, meaning that they communicate with other cells and “tell them what to do.”

Their impact goes beyond muscle cells; some myokines enter the bloodstream and communicate with bone, fat, liver, pancreas, heart, immune and brain cells.

The first protein to be labelled as a myokine was myostatin and that was only a decade ago. The science is very new. Since then more than 100 separate myokines have been identified."

In the blogpost linked above, Shawcross examines 17 of the most well-known and well-researched myokines and discusses their positive responses when released during and after exercise. Those include increased insulin sensitivity, muscle growth, anti-inflammatory effects, reversing sarcopenia and osteoperosis, and more. In some studies, myokines have even been shown to reduce tumor growth!

Head on over to Shawcross' blog to learn more, and make sure to watch this video for a succinct explanation on the signalling power of myokines.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Choosing a weight: Heavy or light?

Both heavy weights and light weights will help you get strong, as long as you put in enough effort.

The idea that exercising one way will illicit one response and exercising another way will illicit a different response has allowed the fitness industry to play with our emotions for decades. If everyone just focused on getting a strong as they possibly could be through strength training with good form, it'd be really hard to keep filling those column inches with the latest exercise fad that promises "X" amount of inches in "Y" amount of time.

The truth is, we are all genetically predetermined at birth to respond to exercise in a certain way. Some of us grow big muscles easily, while most of us tend to see strength increases, but little in the way of increased mass.

Depending on your goals, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing — but you really shouldn't worry about it, because you don't have any control over it!

So when people ask if Efficient Fitness uses heavy weights and low reps or light weights and high reps, I ask them "Would you rather workout for 20 minutes, or two hours?"

All that really matters when you're trying to increase strength is delivering a meaningful enough level of fatigue that stimulates your muscles into making a positive adaptation. You can accomplish this both ways — you can lift a pair of pink eight-pound dumbbells over your head all day long until you pass out, but do you really want to?

Doesn't doing one one set on an overhead press machine with a challenging weight to momentary muscular fatigue for a couple minutes sound a little bit better?

Both roads lead to Rome and choosing one over the other will not determine how you respond to the exercise. Light weights don't get you "toned" and heavy weights don't make you "bulky." You'll look how you'll look, and that's strong.

So you might as well choose the protocol that gets you out of the gym quicker, so you can spend more time doing whatever it is that makes you happy, because I'm pretty sure hours and hours of daily weight lifting is not one of them!

Want to achieve your fitness goals in the safest, most time-efficient manner possible? Contact matt@efficient-fitness.com or call 425-214-2251 to book your free, introductory appointment today.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Protein and energy — How much do you need of each?

Target high-protein, nutrient-dense foods to stay full longer.
Eat less, move more — that's what they've been telling us for years, right? You're just not exercising enough, and you're eating too much! And if your really want to lose weight, it's as simply as counting calories in against calories out.

Unfortunately, our human bodies are a little more complicated than that. A calorie of sugar does not equal a calorie of beef, or a calorie of leafy green vegetables, and so on and so forth. Depending on the quality and the source of these calories, our bodies use them in thousands of different ways, each with their own cascade of hormonal and biological effects.

Also unfortunately, no one who wants to lose body fat also wants to think about dieting through the lens of the body's complex biological mechanisms. That's why I like to think of it in the simplest way possible: Protein and Energy.

We all know protein when we see it — eggs, meat, fish, fowl, etc. — these are all excellent sources of protein, containing complete essential amino acid profiles (essential meaning our body NEEDS us eat them because it CANNOT produce them itself).

Proteins are the building blocks of our body, and are not easily stored as fat or used as energy. Our muscles, organs and connective tissue are constantly rebuilding themselves with these nutrients, which is why it's so important — along with properly performed strength training — to eat enough protein. I recommend a minimum of 100 grams of protein a day for anyone, which visually is about 12 ounces of chicken breast. Your body will thank you.

On the other side of the scale is energy. Our bodies use fats and carbohydrates for energy to fuel every day activities, no matter how strenuous or not strenuous they are. You even need energy to stay alive while you sleep.

One of the main causes of obesity in the modern age is protein dilution. Basically what this means, is since your body needs to consume a certain amount of protein to stay alive, it signals you to keep eating until you reach that goal. If all you're eating are eggs, meat, fish, fowl and green vegetables, you're going to hit that protein goal and stay full and satisfied without over-consuming energy along with it.

On the other hand, if you're eating modern processed foods, you're going to have to pack in a lot more energy (fats and carbohydrates) in order to hit that protein goal your body is looking for.

To put it simply: If you put an emphasis on protein and eat real foods as close as you would find them in nature, you can eat as much as you want until you're completely stuffed — WITHOUT actually overeating! Grab a steak and enjoy.

Do you want to become the strongest possible version of yourself? Email matt@efficient-fitness.com or call 425-214-2251 to set up your free introductory appointment!