Friday, February 22, 2013

Gender Lines: A primer on the differences between guys and gals fitness.

First, what is the same between the genders? 

Psychologically, we all are impatient and want results yesterday.  We all want instant abs, 10 minute workouts, diets where they can eat all they want, and want a magic fat loss pill.   

Also, on the cellular level and for the most part an anatomical level males and females are pretty much the same.  Muscles and bone tissues are the same no matter what gender.  Whether guy or gal, if you train well you will develop a fit body while if you train poorly, you will be left with little to no progress. 

So how are the genders different? 

Where males and females differentiate the most is hormones, specifically Testosterone and Estrogen levels.  A healthy male can produce as much as 20 times the amount of testosterone than his female counterpart in a day.  Testosterone plays a key role in building muscles and repairing damaged tissues.  This also means that females have a hard time building up massive amounts of bodybuilder-type muscles. Hormones also play a key role in fat deposit sites so females tend to hold more fat deposits in the hips and thighs.

Anatomically, while men and women are similar there is some key differences in the hip and knee structures.  The hip and knee issues can originate in the pelvis/hip structure.  According to the authors of Women’s Health and Fitness Guide (2006), the female pelvis has a number of differences as compared to the male pelvis for the purpose of accommodating childbirth. The differences can predispose female athletes towards the femur being tilted inward compared to a male. This increased angle of the femur as compared to the vertical placement of the tibia that can be a source of injury.

Generally, as a trainer I run into men have an easier time training upper body while women prefer lower body.  This is typically because of Societal Standards of Beauty…  men focus on manual labor and don't worry about having calloused hands.  Women tend to shy away from upper body exercises out of fear of "getting too big and manly" and tend to focus on lower body thinking they will get that "toned" look everyone wants.  The psychological aspects of each gender brought on by societal norms and ideas of beauty has a profound affect on how most people train.

Also, it should be noted that from a Personal Trainer's perspective, many women are hard to deal with 1 week out of every month…  men on the other hand are always a pain to deal with.  (This is a joke...  don't spam me with hate mail!)

So what should you take from this?

No matter your gender you should give 100% if you want good results.  Your workout and nutrition plans should reflect your individual needs and limitations, but aside from some hormone balance and the knee issues the gender lines have little to do with training your muscles.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recipe: Filler Bars aka: Maple Oatmeal Bars

Filler Bar Recipe: AKA Maple Oat Bars

I promised this recipe to a friend weeks ago and finally have gotten my head straight enough to type it up.  This is a quick and easy recipe for Oatmeal bars.  These are great snacks to keep you full in between meals.  Great to mix with high protein Greek Yogurt.

1 stick Butter (softened)
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups Oats
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Baking soda
3 tablespoons applesauce

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats; mix well.  (Optional: add raisins, nuts, or fruit now.)
Roll out dough in cookie sheet about 1 cm thick. 
Bake 20-30 minutes until light golden brown.  Cut into 2"x2" squares.  Cool on wire rack.  Store tightly covered.  Makes ~40 servings.
Serving:  100 calories, 1.5g Protein, 4g fat, 15g Carbs


Sometimes the world falls down around you.  You get distracted.  You screw up everything…  you get lazy, you miss deadlines, you break friends' hearts...  It is at that time you have to make a decision; whether to let it break you or forge you into something stronger.  

Tightening grip on the bar…  pulse racing…  rage manifesting…

I have made mistakes in my life…  mistakes which have cost me a lot of time, money, and friendships.  It doesn't matter if I say I'm sorry…  It doesn't matter how hard I work to make things right if I still fail…

Lift off…  weight bearing down…  muscles straining…

It's times like these that I find myself in the weight room.  The destroying me, a physical manifestation of my guilt… my fears…  my hate.  It's a dark place I go.  Bottled up within my mind, holding those feelings in to shield those around me. 

Sweat dripping… veins throbbing… muscles bulging… breathing labored… 

Then it snaps into place…  Wake the fuck up!  You're here right now, alive.  Get over whatever superficial crap that is going on in your head and lift!

Bearing against the weight, giving everything I got… The iron gives way as I pour everything into it.  One by one, the weight is lifted off.  Something is accomplished.  

The weight is racked…  the pain lifted off of my shoulders.  I'm left knowing this has made me stronger...    

Sometimes the world is a mean and nasty place, and it will do anything to beat and break you.  You will have failures, it's inevitable; however, SUCCESS is defined as getting up one more time than you have been knocked down.  Even with the weight of the world bearing down on you, shoulder your burden and stand up and keep moving forward.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Supplement Primer: Multivitamins and Minerals

Multivitamins and Minerals

Because most peoples diets lack the proper nutrition (whether due to poor diet or foods generally lacking nutrients in the quantities we need). Unless there is an underlying medical issue, most people need a vitamin & mineral supplement.  Be sure to review the ingredients and consult your doctor before starting a new supplement to make sure there isn't anything that will hurt you in it.

For the regular Joe and Jane Fitness, I usually recommend a vitamin supplement like NOW brand Adam (for men) or Eve (for women).  They are easy to take and inexpensive.

For beginner and intermediate athletes I recommend Orange Triad.  OT has pretty much everything you need and a joint supplement all in a convenient regiment (3 doses a day).

For intense athletes, I turn them to Universal Nutrition's Animal Pak line.  The Pak is 11 pills (yes that's a lot) that have been formulated to time release for optimum efficiency.  The Animal Pak is not just a multivitamin though, it also has digestive enzymes,  BCAAs, Antioxidants, and Performance Blends.  The Animal Pak line also has other "add on" supplements such as joint support (Flex) or Pre-workout (Rage) that are formulated to work best with the Animal Pak.     

Supplement Primer: Protein

Everyone needs protein.  The FDA recommends a minimum of 50 grams per day for most people to maintain a functioning body.  Someone who is working out regularly will need more and should be getting 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight to 0.75 grams per pound of bodyweight to help maintain their muscles as the exercise.  [People with an intense lifting regiment with a goal of building muscle usually are doing 1 gram to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.]

Sounds like a lot of protein, huh?  Well, unless you have poor diet skills or are a strict vegan you should (with some simple choices) easily be able to get in 50 grams a day.  If you are having trouble getting it in due to calorie restrictions, then a protein supplement may be considered.

So what do you need…  a protein blend, concentrate, isolate, milk, soy, casein???  Each have their uses and place in nutrition.  The following breaks down several types of proteins.

Whey Concentrate:
Whey Concentrate is basically filtered Whey.  It is inexpensive, readily available, and good for beginners because of that.  Good as a pre and post workout protein source.  Might make you bloated.

Casein Protein
Casein is a slow digesting protein takes 5-7 hours to fully be digested and is great for those who need a constant source of protein through their day [or night].  Bodybuilders and Athletes usually use casein early in the morning and before bed to make sure their muscles never are without protein.

Whey Isolates
Isolates are some of the quickest absorbing proteins and had excess carb/sugars filtered out [good for low carb diets].  They are great for post workout because of their fast absorption.  Isolates tend to be on the costlier side because of the processing required to make them. 

Hydrolysate Protein
This is an expensive source of protein because of the quality.  It is highly absorbable and much more digestible.  Great for pre and post workout.

Soy protein
Soy is a good source of protein for vegetarian athletes.  It has shown to aid in thyroid hormone output [speeding up metabolism].  Good for pre and post workout.  There are many controversial studies on soy, but all must be taken with a grain of salt. 

Each protein source has it's place in athletics.  Depending on what your goals are, you may need a faster metabolising protein for recovery, a slower burning protein for building, or a low carb isolate for weight loss or maintenance.  Feel free to comment or message me for recommendations.

Supplement Primer: The supplement industry

SUPPLEMENT PRIMER: The Supplement Industry
Over the next few weeks I will be covering several questions that have come up at work frequently about supplements.  Topics like Protein Sources, Performance Aids, Diet Pills, and Thermogenics will start us out.  

The Supplement Industry
First off, the supplement industry is a billion-dollar a year industry, and is full of exciting products that promise fast fat loss and massive  muscle gain.  Let me make this clear…  Even though there are several good supplements out there, THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL.  No matter which supplements you use it still takes determination and effort to get results.

It comes down to one thing... a supplement is just what it sounds like, a SUPPLEMENT to an already existing GOOD DIET. Get your nutrition plan right and make sure your exercise plan is optimal. Those alone will get you great results.  After looking into your diet, check the studies on a supplement before buying it.  Many supplements claim a great deal but fail to deliver.

So before going out and spending hundreds of dollars on what amounts to usually rice flour and caffeine, evaluate your existing program and tweak what you can.  Examine the quality of the foods you are eating, the timing of your nutrients, and what you can be doing to better yourself there.  Once you have done that, then consider where you need to supplement.

Next up: Protein