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Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

What is blood pooling?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Blood pooling is a condition were blood gathers normally in the lower limb (leg), this can be for a number of reasons but can be caused by exercise.  When this blood gathers in a blood vessel it places excess stress on the small values that prevent the blood being drawn back down to the feet sue to the effect of gravity.

The diagram below shows how this then places pressure on the valves, over time this will force the valves back on themselves opening the wrong way.  Over time this will result in lasting damage to the valves increasing the chance of varicose veins or DVT.

Blood Pooling

As these non-return valves have an important part to play in ensuring that blood returns to the heart effectively, the posh name for this is venous return.  So in terms of exercise if you have been working at an intensive level and fail to cool down effectively and fully, this will result in the build up of blood in the limbs.  This then means that the heart may not fill before each contraction, this often leads to a dizzy and faint feeling.

For these reasons it is very important that you take part in a full cool down, normally it is advised that you do some form of rhythmical exercise for 6 minutes at a low intensity.  This allows the systems of the body to work to help to return the blood back to the heart.  This can also be aided by a full stretching routine and partner stretches can be great for this as gravity will help to return blood back to the heart.

Why use a personal trainer?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Why use a personal trainer

As an active personal trainer I am often asked by prospective clients ‘why should I use a personal trainer?’ and  this is never an easy question to answer as the reasons often vary greatly from person to person.  The main over riding reason why a client starts to work with a personal trainer is that they are looking for results.

Results are a very important, many people have tried a number of different ways to achieve their fitness goal, mostly under their own steam.  In most cases people will find it hard to stick to the plan and results in failure and then de-motivation.

This is where a personal trainer can come in to motivate them, provide accountability and ensure you are doing everything right. If we look at each of these reasons in detail:-

Motivation, a experienced personal trainer will be an expert in getting the very best out of the clients that they work with.  Most of this comes down to having a true understanding of what drives a client and then applying appropriate behaviour change strategies to help them keep on track!

Accountability is a simple concept, this is where by having a personal trainer on hand to monitor your progress and ultimately you need to explain any deviations from our new behaviour patterns.  This has a massive positive impact on the likelihood of you achieving your goals!

There are a number of other key reasons why people use a personal trainer include:-

  • Lack of exercise experience
  • Need help with technique and motivation
  • Tips on nutrition and weight loss
  • Creates a schedule and discipline
  • Would rather work out with a trainer and not need a gym membership
  • Access to expert advice on nutrition and exercise

If you would like more information on personal training and how it can help you get RESULTS just give us a shout!

Why does my heart rate go down as I get fitter?

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Cardiac Output

I am often asked about the relationship between heart rate and fitness level, this very simple physiological reading can provide a good guide of of how fit an individual is.  On a basic level as a person gets increasingly cardiovascularly fit you would expect to see a reduction in their resting heart rate.

I am going to make an effort to explain the technical reasoning behind this relationship.  To fully understand how this works we need to grasp three main terms stroke volume, heart rate and cardiac output.

Stroke Volume

This is the amount of blood ejected from the left ventricle per contraction.  The average adult has a stroke volume of approximately 70-80 ml per contraction, where as in a more trained individual it can be as high as 100-110ml per contraction.  This increases with the level of activity you are engaged in  and can get as high as 200ml.

Heart Rate

This is the number of times that your heart beats per minute, in a healthy adult an average resting heart rate of 60-80 BPM (beats per minute) would be considered average. This can decrease to 35-50 BPM in more well trained individuals. As you exercise or increase the demands on the body this will increase, and over time with age your resting heart rate will increase year on year.

Cardiac Output

This is the amount of blood pumped out of the left ventricle into the aorta per minute.  This meas that it cn be worked out using a simple equation:-

Cardiac Output = Heart Rate x Stroke Volume

If we look at the average person with a stroke volume of 70ml and a heart rate of 75BPM at rest, so if we work this example through:-

Cardiac Output = 75 x 70 = 5,250ml/min (5.24L/min)

To answer your question

As you get fitter your heart becomes a more efficient pump as this happens your heart increases the amount of blood it can pump out per beat (stroke volume).  So to maintain a given cardiac output the heart does not have to beat as often, thus reducing the heart rate.

So in our example above, if our client increased their cardiovascular fitness levels and achieved a stroke volume of 80ml. This would correlate to an increased fitness level, to maintain the 5.24L/min that they require at rest their heart would only have to beat approx 66bpm as opposed to 75bpm that they needed in their less fit state.

Ultimately this reduction in use of the heart and increased efficiency means that there is less wear and tear on the heart itself and translates into reduced risk of a range of heart related conditions.

 

Why do I get pain after exercising?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

DOMS

Many of you out there will be used to the burning sensation and stiffness that is sometimes experienced after a good exercise session.  This normally is experienced 24-48 hours post exercise and can last up to a few days, this state is commonly knows as DOMs… or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  Some people love this feeling as it signifies to them a hard workout, others struggle with it a little more, finding it painful and it effects their life.  Either love it or hate it, every so often a spell of DOMS will crop up and it is worth understanding it in order so you can minimise the effects on your life.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) normally comes on particularly with those who are new to exercise or those who have introduced a new routine (often when it targets previously little used muscles).  So here is the science… the key reasoning behind why people get DOMS is that during intense exercise microscopic tears appear in muscle fibres or connective tissue. This then results in a level of cellular degradation and a resultant  inflammatory response.  This is then experienced as the pain and stiffness that is DOMS!

So is there a way to avoid DOMS? First thing to consider is to look at how much DOMS you can cope with if at all, for example if you are a brain surgeon and will be operating in the next few days, having stiff or un moveable arms might be a very limiting factor for your work!  In these kind of cases you should be aware of the key things that may lead to higher levels of DOMS.

One of the key training methods that can lead to higher levels of DOMS is the use of eccentric training, this is where you spend longer in the negative phase of a lift.  Additionally if you engage in very high intensity exercise such as hill sprints or if you progress through a programme too fast this may lead to a higher level of discomfort post exercise.

There has been some discussion that correct hydration, post workout nutrition and full cool downs can help to reduce the effects of DOMS.  As your training age increases (the number of years you have been training, so basically your experience level) you are less likely to get this sensation as your body increases its ability to cope with the demands of your exercise programme.

All in all you will either love or hate delayed onset muscle soreness… some of you will even hate to love it!  But it is all into the management of your training programme to make sure that your training not only gives you the results tat you want but also fits into your life and does not cause any problems that might stop you training and constantly striving towards getting the results that you desire!

As usual if you have any questions please do ask them and if you enjoy the articles on here please do share them on social media!

 

What is interval training?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Over the past couple of years interval training has become very popular in all areas of the fitness industry, especially personal trainers.  I often get asked about interval training, what it is and what are the benefits of it for a wide variety of training goals.  I thought I would start off with a simple background to interval training and then in future articles move onto talking about some of the more advanced aspects of this interesting and highly effective training system.

What is interval training?

Interval training is a system that allows participants to improve the amount of work they can do over a period of time by using alternating rounds of higher intensity work with lower intensity recovery periods.  It has been promoted as a highly time efficient way of training that allows participants to make good cardiovascular gains in a relatively short period of time.

How does interval training work?

The basic idea is that during the high intensity periods the body starts to build up lactic acid, this makes this period difficult to maintain for a long time.  But then a lower intensity period allows for recovery and the body attempts to break down and remove the lactic acid formed.  You are basically alternating between anaerobic (faster paced, sustainable for a shorter duration) and aerobic (slower pace, sustainable for a longer duration) forms of exercise.   The stop start approach to activity is one of the interesting aspects of interval training as it allows the body to get used to recovering from high intensity activity at a increasingly rapid rate.

This method has been used to improve performance on a number of levels such as the improvement of lactate threshold and the ability to withstand training in that zone, the method also has a building effect on the cardiovascular system with a good cross over into may CV based sports and activities.  This means that many people who use interval training will be able to work cardiovascularly for a longer duration, at a faster rate than they would have been able to do without this form of training.

There is mounting amount of research that suggests that interval training may be as, if not more effective than more steady state exercise and returns the same benefits as longer durations of LSD style training.    The ACSM also suggest that in terms of calorific burn interval training burns more calories than equivalent work done at a more LSD type pace.

All in all this interesting style of training returns great results for those using it and is easy on that one thing that we all lack….time.

In my next blog post on this issue we will look at how to incorporate interval training into your current routine!

As always any question lease do let me know!

TOM

How important is water to performance?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The following is an article written by David Thomas,the guy behind the awesome Eletewater!  He kindly let us publish this article that was original published in Functional Sports Nutrition Magazine.  

The importance of water and electrolyte balance to athletic performance

(Article sent for publication in Functional Sports Nutrition – Jan 2013)

 water-conservation1

Water and electrolytes.  What is their significance?  To put it simply the human body is comprised of a life force expressed as electrical energy through the activity of electrolytes via the medium of water.  Consequently, these two materials are essential to life and are fundamental to the optimum performance of athletes. 

Water, as most FSN readers will be aware, is an essential nutrient required for life. Water makes up a large proportion of our body weight (60% on average), distributed between the intracellular (inside cells) and extracellular (water in the blood and in between cells) compartments. Water is the major component of body fluids, such as blood, synovial fluid, saliva and urine, which perform vital functions in the body1. Suffice to say the individual requirement for each athlete is dependant on a large number of variables.  In order to provide some baseline consideration Kleiner2 suggests to stay well hydrated the average sedentary adult man should consume at least 2,900mL of fluid per day and an average adult woman at least 2,200mL. These fluids should preferably be in the form of decaffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages, soups and foods with solid foods contributing approximately 1,000mL to the total and an additional 250mL coming from the water of oxidation.

From a purely chemical perspective, electrolytes may be considered as substances that become ions in solution and acquire the capacity to conduct electricity. Electrolytes are present throughout the body and their correct balance is essential for the normal function of our all our cells and organs.

Before dealing in more depth with these 2 fundamental materials of life I’d like to consider some basic concepts related to attaining full potential.  We can consider ourselves to be part of the pinnacle of the evolutionary development on earth – a process that has taken 4.5 billion years to attain.  The ability of the human body to adapt, compensate and adjust to the environment is truly remarkable; and we do this generally without symptoms, which is something the vast majority of people take for granted – only becoming aware of a particular part of our body when it’s sore or mal-functioning.

When an athlete aspires to break personal records the requirement is to push boundaries to the limit in order to enable the body to achieve ever greater performance levels.  How this is achieved is best understood by referring to the general adaptation syndrome model of Selve3 (fig 1) where the goal to improve is pushing the limits of Speed, Stamina, Strength, Suppleness and Psychology– before exhaustion becomes obvious.

 

Fig 1

Fig1.

Adapting Sheve’s model to each training phase there will be an acute phase of alarm reaction (AR) when the general resistance to the particular stressor being considered initially falls below normal.  Then, as adaptation is acquired in the stage of resistance (SR), the capacity to resist rises considerably above normal.  Eventually, however, the stage of exhaustion (SE) is reached and resistance drops below normal.  The aim of each component of a training programme should be to incrementally increase the duration of the stage of resistance in order that this is reflected in performance outcome.

Directly related to this general concept is the need to customise and optimise an individual’s adaptive capacity4.

 Fig 2

Fig.2

In this concept – refer to fig 2 – the baseline represents the ‘perfect’ human being. The dotted line represents what we individually were ‘given’ at birth through our genetic heritage – which, of course, will vary from individual to individual.  As the body is so proficient at adapting, compensating and adjusting to the environment, each individual may well have a series of biomechanical, biochemical and psychological issues that do not surface as symptomatic problems, however, their very presence may be regarded as reducing their potential adaptive capacity to the less vital and able residual adaptive capacity.  Putting this into context, the lack of symptoms does not mean all is well.  With specific reference to athletes then, in order to achieve their full potential, there is a need to ensure that their bio-chemical and bio-mechanical integrity and their psychological well being is as close to the ideal as possible and the attainment of an optimum hydration and electrolyte status will be critical to all 3 factors.

Given that it’s taken 4.5 billion years to get to this evolutionary stage there should be no need to concern ourselves about the athletes bodies’ intrinsic ability to meet realistic training challenges.  From a biochemical perspective, where concern does need to be directed is towards the quantity and quality of the materials used by the body to enable it to achieve the desired result – and this relates directly to choices made concerning food and drink and general lifestyle.  The main categories of essential nutrients include water, minerals, trace elements and ultra-trace elements (often in the form of electrolytes), carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, phyto-nutrients, EFA’s, pro-biotics, and fibre.   Water and electrolytes have been mentioned first in that sequence because I regard them as the foundation of the bio-chemical pyramid; without the correct balance here all the rest will not have the desired effect at best and at worse could become non-functional nutrients.

So let’s consider the quality of water.  This is a dilemma as there’s no simple answer and the options are many.  In the ideal world we would all have access to unpolluted, clear, pure, energised water accessed directly from mountain streams, springs and / or rainwater.  However, the majority of us do have direct access, in the UK, to an amazing pubic water supply that guarantees potable water devoid of potentially harmful water borne organisms that could cause disease.  The trade off being that the water necessarily contains chlorine and other components that could be considered as adding to the general toxic environmental load our bodies have to cope with that would potentially detract from optimising our adaptive capacity.  So what are the alternatives?

The most obvious is bottled spring waters – but these are often expensive, they also have to undergo a processing procedure and the assortment of naturally contained electrolytes will vary – and can be negligible.  Reverse Osmosis and basic filtering processes cleans mains water of contaminants but also strips it of all its natural electrolytes and generally leaves it with an acid pH.  So one solution would be to re-mineralise with a naturally derived, ionic, liquid mineral and trace element concentrate such as elete water or CMD, thereby helping to ensure that the majority of the water that makes up 60% of the human body is as nutrient positive as possible.

As most readers will be aware the primary physiological role of electrolytes is as modulators of energy production/storage/use (i.e. metabolism) and as regulators of total body fluid level, with the following being considered to be the most important cations:-

  • sodium which principally regulates fluid balance and is found outside the cell
  • potassium which regulates metabolism and is found inside the cell
  • magnesium which regulates the levels of other electrolytes and muscle relaxation
  • calcium which regulates muscle contraction and heart rhythm

The dominant anions are chloride, bicarbonate, sulphate and phosphate.

When undergoing a severe training programme or competition there is a huge draw on body stores of vital electrolytes to make sure the stage of resistance can be sustained as long as possible.  This will result, initially, in thirst and the need to replenish the water and electrolytes used in creating the energy necessary – with the metabolic waste products being expelled through perspiration, breathing, urination and defecation.  One way of ensuring an ongoing, adequate supply of electrolytes is to provide them in water as they do not have to go through any further digestive process and can also assist in the absorption of water. Indeed when a study5 was conducted on 16 Californian wildland fire suppression fire fighters, 8 of whom were given water alone in their CamelBak and 8 were given water plus a naturally derived, well balanced combination of sea water brines (elete water), it was found that after a 15 hour shift both teams were equally hydrated but those that drank water alone had to drink 74% more water than those with elete plus water.

This begs the question “What is the correct physiological balance of electrolytes?” the answer is that balance that is appropriate for the individual concerned i.e. despite considerable physiological commonality we are all bio chemically unique – some athletes will require more of a specific electrolyte than others.

The recognition that there are definitive physiological and psychological roles for trace and ultra trace elements in their electrolyte form, at the cellular level6 (fig. 3), has led many sports nutritionists to recommend to athletes that they pay strict attention to their diets and have as broad a spectrum of fresh, fruit, vegetables and naturally grown grains and reared meats and fish as possible.

 

Fig 3

 

Fig 3.  An internal schematic representation of a modern cell showing the distribution of some of the essential electrolytes present within the various compartments and the cytoplasm.  Each compartment may have the same or different electrolytes as the cytoplasm – but at different concentrations, because they are independently energised and controlled.

One difficulty (again considering optimum nutrition from a purely bio chemical standpoint) is that the micro-nutrient content of foods has diminished historically7,8 – there has been a 62% reduction in copper content in 72 different foods between 1940 and 2002 and, therefore, the presence of potentially vital micronutrients cannot be guaranteed.  In addition not only should there be concern about the presence of sufficient micronutrients in our foods but there has been a significant change in the ratios of major electrolytes9. In 1900 the average estimated dietary intake of sodium was 200mg, potassium 6,000mg and magnesium 400mg.  By 2000 this had altered to 5,000mg for sodium (25 x’s higher), 2,000mg of potassium and 250 mg of magnesium: as a consequence the average Na:K ratio became 75 x’s higher and the average Na:Mg ratio has become 50 x’s higher. Could this information influence the interpretation of sweat analysis results?

 

When dealing with nutritional guidance – what is to be considered as the correct diet for the athlete concerned?  The stone–age diet?  The metabolic diet?  The Hay diet?   The Atkins diet?   or one of the numerous other dietary regimes?  The obvious answer is the one most appropriate to the individual.  How this can be elucidated would be the result of a combination of intuitive guidance by the athlete together with the scrutiny of the nutritionist and / or appropriate diagnostic tests to determine presence of GI dysbiosis and food intolerances.  That these parameters can have a positive effect on performance in top level athletes is best illustrated by the relatively recent improvement in the tennis world rankings of Murray and Djokovic – both of whom have successfully experimented with dietary and food exclusion regimes.

It is also important to understand the actual physical amounts of minerals and trace elements currently considered to be required to promote good health, for example the RDA for magnesium is 375 mg.  Magnesium is known to be vital for over 300 enzyme reactions and adjudged by the European Food Safety Authority (ESFA) to be directly contributing to energy metabolism, normal functioning of the nervous system, muscle function, maintenance of bones and teeth and optimum cellular health; 375mg represents about ¾’s of a teaspoon.

The RDA for zinc is 10mg, which represents 1/50th of a teaspoon. Zinc is known to be required in over 200 enzyme reactions and EFSA recognises it contributes to normal fertility, the use of fatty acids, the maintenance of normal hair, nails, skin and vision, aids in protecting cells from oxidative stress and contributes to normal cognitive function and immunity.  Not bad for 1/50th of a teaspoon.  What about the ultra trace elements such as selenium, chromium, molybdenum, boron, vanadium etc?  The RDA’s vary but are about 100mcg which represents  – a minuscule 1/5,000th of a teaspoon – yet these micronutrients contribute significantly to normal body functioning and without regular amounts being present in the diet a ‘normal’ person could develop deficiency symptoms; which begs the question regarding athletes who are continually pushing their physiological boundaries – how much do they need?

Sharon Gayter, an unsung hero of British Ultra Distance running, could be a case in point.  Last year she broke a world record by running a 222km non-stop race at high altitude (average of 14,800 feet) in Nepal by completing it in 37 hours 34 minutes and is so doing reducing the (men’s) course record by over 11 hours. Throughout the race she ate little but drank regularly from a 500ml bottle of water containing 2.5mL of a liquid electrolyte and 5gms of a neutral carbohydrate powder.  She consumed 120mL of the electrolyte during the race (which, among other electrolytes, included a total of 5,400 mg(!) of magnesium) and finished well hydrated – a remarkable achievement and way off the ‘normal’ scale.

The significance of correct hydration and electrolyte balance to performance, then, cannot be under estimated and these materials may be considered as the very foundation upon which all else depends.  However, as always, the devil is in the detail: there being many variables to consider with, probably, the quality of the water and the balance and quality of electrolyte replacement being the most significant.

After 30 years as a practitioner I see a very interesting and potentially far reaching process taking place. Coaches, trainers, nutritionists, therapists, researchers and psychologists are collectively recognising the distinctive attributes of each athlete and are gaining from practical experience and through journals such as FSN considerable knowledge of how best to optimise the performance of their athletes.  Part of this is the education of the athlete concerned regarding taking personal responsibility for lifestyle choices. Part is (ideally) the involvement of a multi-dispensary team of advisors / therapists who can create an individualised programme incorporating sound training methods, modern diagnostics, technical innovations and a good dose of common sense.

I feel that this approach, driven as it currently is by performance, will provide insights that could ultimately lead to the development of a different paradigm of general health care and the creation of a genuine Health Service.  One in which, from birth, the emphasis will be to maximise the individuals adaptive capacity so that that person may express their full potential: rather than, as is currently the circumstance, waiting for the body’s ability to adapt, compensate and adjust to be surpassed before realising something is wrong and then attempting to rectify it.  Needless to say I believe that the attainment of correct hydration status and optimum electrolyte balance will be the 2 fundamental factors in the development of such a model.

References

1.  Benelam B & Wyness L (2010). Hydration and Health: a review. British Nutrition Foundation Bulletin. 35:3-25

2. Kleiner S M (1999). Water: An essential but overlooked nutrient J. Am. Dietetic Ass. 99 No2:200- 206

3. Selve H. (1956). The Stress of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill

4. Davies S (1991). Scientific and Ethical Foundations of Medicine. Part 1 – Evolution, Adaptation and Health. Journal of Nutritional Medicine. 2:227-247

5. Cuddy J S et al (2008), Effects of an Electrolyte Additive on Hydration and Drinking Behavior during Wildfire Suppression. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. 19: 172-180

6. Williams R J P (2005). Essentials of Medical Geology. Elsevier Academic Press

7. Thomas D E (2003). A study of the mineral depletion of foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991. Nutrition and Health. 17:21-55

8.   Thomas D E (2007).  A study of the mineral depletion of foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 2002 – A review of the 6th Edition of McCance and Widdowson. Nutrition and Health. 19:21-55

9. Seelig M S & Rosanoff A (2003). The Magnesium Factor Magnesium. Avery, Penguin Group, New York, NY.

 

David Thomas DC, MRNT, MSc DIC won the junior AAA’s 100yds in 1967 and was a member of the 1st GB Junior Athletics Team – a back injury curtailed his sprinting aspirations.  David graduated as a Geologist and worked for 8 years in precious and base metal exploration and mining; he was elected as a Fellow of the Geological Society. David retrained as a Chiropractor and became a founding Member of the Register of Nutritional Therapists. This background has provided him with an unusual insight to the origin, therapeutic uses and toxic potential of minerals and trace elements.  In 1998 he became the importer and distributor of Mineral Resources International Inc. food supplements in the UK and the EU. 

 

What is 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

What is 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)?

Over the last few months I have been looking into the use of 5-HTP or to give it, its full name 5-hydroxytryptophan.  This is a chemical made within the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and ultimately become serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to relay signals within the brain, and is closely linked to regulation of mood and reduction of anxiety.  There is also some discussion that 5-HTP may also act as a sleep aid, these properties have made it an increasingly popular supplement in the modern stress filled environment.

Over the years there has been some controversy over the use of 5-HTP supplementation, in the late 1980′s a contaminant was found in tryptophan supplements that lead to a number of health issues.  This at the time lead to the removal of tryptophan supplements from the market.  However research suggests that 5-HTP is a safer alternative over direct tryptophan supplementation as the contaminant, known as PeakX is not found in sufficiently large quantities within 5-HTP blends.  Some more modern blends are also marketed as PeakX free, massively reducing the risk.

One of the key reasons that supplementation of 5-HTP is increasingly popular is that it is not found directly in the foods that we eat, and has to be produced from the amino acid tryptophan.  However research suggests that eating foods containing tryptophan may not have a massive effect on increasing levels of 5-HTP readily available within the body.  This has led to many people using a supplement to gain the benefits of 5-HTP.

As stated above we can not gain 5-HTP directly rom the foods we eat, but the precursor tryptophan can be found in the following food stuffs:-

  • turkey
  • chicken
  • milk
  • pumpkin
  • sunflower seeds
  • seaweed

 What can 5-HTP help with?

Over the years 5-HTP has been used to help/treat people suffering with a range of illnesses, mostly conditions linked with low serotonin levels.  Some of these are discussed below:-

Depression - there has been a limited amount of research into the use of 5-HTP as an antidepressant, used on people with low to moderate depression.  5-HTP works in a similar way to  selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which are more commonly known as  SSRIs.  Some studies (based on very small populations) suggest that 5-HTP has a similar effect to prescription medications but with fewer of the side effects.

Insomnia - some studies suggest that taking 5-HTP prior to sleeping help people sleep more deeply when taking the supplement.  However it was noted that a period of about 6-12 weeks of taking the supplement may be needed in order for it to be effective.

Weight Management - there has been some limited research to suggest that people who take 5-HTP tend to eat fewer calories, rresearchers believed that the supplement led people to feel more full after eating. 

How do I use 5-HTP?

It is recommended that 50mg of 5-HTP is taken 1-3 times per day.  However it is important that you do not exceed this dosage as in high levels this supplement can become toxic.  If you are taking antidepressants you should avoid this supplement.

 

Do I need a vitamin D supplement?

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Recently there has been much talk about if we need to supplement our vitamin D intake.  In the UK there is to say the least a shortage of bright sunny days (especially for those of us who live in Manchester).  The big problem in the UK is the limited number of sunlight hours, and this can then effect how much Vitamin D that we produce.

When we go out in sunlight the body stats to produce vitamin D from the UV rays from the sun.  This stock of vitamin D can then be stored within the body to be used as and when needed.  In winter time this vital source of vitamin D may be severely lacking, this has led to a move towards supplementation particularly in winter months.

The following groups of people may be at an increased risk of deficiency:-

  • People who spend little time in the sun or those who regularly cover up when outdoors;
  • People living in nursing homes or other institutions or who are homebound;
  • People with certain medical conditions such as Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease;
  • People taking medicines that affect vitamin D levels such as certain anti-seizure medicines;
  • People with very dark skin;
  • Obese or very overweight people; and
  • Older adults with certain risk factors

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is responsable for the effective absorption of calcium that helps maintain strong bones and teeth and also acts to support a strong immune system.  The current recommendations are that individuals under the age of 50 take approximately 10 micrograms per day.  The maximum recommended dose is 50 micrograms per day.

For the average person it is possible to get all the vitamin D needed from a healthy diet and some moderate sun exposure.  However an increasing number of people are supplementing this vital vitamin, due to poorer dietary habits and limited sun exposure.

It is possible to get vitamin D from the foods that we eat, the following foods contain small amounts of vitamin D:-

  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • eggs
  • fortified fat spreads
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • powdered milk

If you are unsure if you need a vitamin D supplement or if you have any questions please feel free to post them below!

TOM

What is a drop set?

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Hi All,

A drop set is a technique typically used by bodybuilders to encourage muscle growth (hypertrophy) by fatiguing as much of the  muscle without recovery.  This is done by  dropping the amount of weight after reaching  failure at the end of a set so that you can continue an exercise using a lighter weight.  This allows the individual to do a larger volume of work, promoting a larger hypertrophy effect.

So at the end of a set, so when you fail you should drop the weight by 10-15% so you can carry on into a new set.  When failure occurs you should repeat this system, it is normally done 3-4 times before the set is ended.

Like any method of strength training that fatigues the muscle, drop sets can help to greatly increase muscular size. Muscle size and strength are correlated, muscle growth can occur without increased strength gains.. but this is a topic for another article.

Why not throw in some drop sets into your next workout and let us know how they go!

TOM

Six Ab exercises with Ben Foden

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

 

Frog sit ups

Frog Sit ups

The classic sit up where the feet are fixed or held down is a great abdominal exercise but this exercise also uses the hip flexors – the muscles right at the top of the thighs – to pull the torso off the floor. The frog sit up, with the thighs out to the side means the hip flexors are less able to help with the movement meaning more work for the abdominal muscle.

TIP: As the abs are working hard and the feet are not pinned it helps to change hand position. Instead of putting the hands behind the head or neck hold them out over the thigh and slide them up the legs with every rep.

 

Russian twist

Russian Twist

Twisting is one of the main functions of the core but is often overlooked when people train the abdominal muscles. This movement trains the whole of the core and helps tighten the waistline.

TIPS: Resistance can be increased by holding you hand further out in front of you or by holding a weight – dumbbell, medicine ball or weight plate. At all times keep a strong neutral spine trying not to arch or slump.

Bicycle crunches

Bicycle Crunches

A great exercise that allows you to focus on the 6 pack muscle as well as the obliques all in one go.

TIPS: As with all crunch type movement, avoid cranking your head forward by using your arms, and instead gently touch your finger tips on the side of your head. Your aim is to touch your knee to you elbows on every rep, but this is a challenging exercise so try not to cheat by using momentum. Keep the movement controlled.

 

Plank

Plank

The plank is the ultimate stability exercise, it activates and strengthens the deep abdominal muscles which act like a corset supporting the spine and drawing in all the organs for a strong, tight core.

TIP: Try to keep the lower back neutral, the minute you cannot do this end the set, rest and then start again. Less higher quality work is better than more lower quality work.

 

Mountain climbers

Mountain Climbers

These are a great conditioning exercise for the core, and ideal for putting into a circuit. The exercise it hits the front and side of the core at the same time as training stability.

TIPS: Try to think about locking everything in place except for the leg that is moving. In practice this will not be possible but it helps keep the hips and torso stable which trains both strength and endurance in movement and stabilisation.

Flutter kicks

Flutter Kick

These train the often neglected lower portion of the abdominal muscles.

TIP: try and avoid arching the lower back. For added stability, the hands can be by your side palms down or for more work raise them and your shoulders off the ground

 

The above article has been produced with the assistance of Multipower sports supplements.