Saturday, January 24, 2009

Training To Muscle Failure

Training To Failure

Whether or not training a set to muscular failure is better (or even necessary) for muscle growth, is a age old debate in bodybuilding. Muscular failure means doing reps in a set, until you can no longer lift the weight with proper form through the full range of motion.

Why is this last rep so important to discuss?

It may only seem like just another rep that happens to be the last in a set, but bodybuilders and scientist have viewed the last rep to failure as distinctly different from the other reps. Bodybuilders see it as giving it “your all” and fatiguing the muscle completely. Some high intensity workout programs, believe that you must go to failure for maximum muscle and strength gains.

Training to failure research studies:

To see why scientist see this rep differently, let’s look at some research.

A study published (J Appl Physiol. 2006 May;100(5):1647-56. Epub 2006 Jan 12.) did a 11 week resistance training program of failure vs nonfailure groups. Immediately after the 11th week all groups did the same workout, to see the effects each previous training led. Both groups had similiar increases in one rep max. During the 2nd phase of the study, there was an increase in muscular endurance in the failure group and power in the nonfailure group. The failure group had lower IGF-1 levels (important anabolic hormone for muscle growth), while the nonfailure group had lower resting levels of cortisol and higher testosterone levels.

A study published in (J Strength Cond Res. 2005 May;19(2):382-8) compared failure to nonfailure in 26 basketball players. The failure group did 4 sets of 6 repetitions every 260 seconds, whereas the nonfailure 8 sets of 3 repetitions every 113. Results showed that the failure group had significant strength increases over the non-failure group. One problem I have with this study is, time under tension differences between the sets. The failure group is doing 6 reps in a set instead of 3 reps. Even though the weight is the same and the time is lessened to increase intensity, 3 reps per set is not going to be the same stimulus.

A few months ago JM Willardson, who has published some important studies in excercise science, wrote a research note recently in (J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):628-31.) He acknowledged that there isn’t enough conclusive evidence yet, whether sets should be done to failure or not. However, willardson recommended advanced lifters use training failure to break past plateaus, due to increased activation of motor units and the hormonal response. He also didn’t recommend it long term due to overtraining and risk of injury.


Author: Paul Johnson

Friday, January 23, 2009

Does Peanut Butter Causes Cancer?

Peanut Butter Causes Cancer

Bodybuilders are suggested to eat a high amount of good fats in their diet for hormonal and joint health, and for a good source of calories. Peanut butter is a very common source of fat for most bodybuilders in their diet. Most eat natural peanut butter because it doesn’t contain hydrogenated fats. Peanut butter is considered a good source of fat because it is low in saturated fat and high in monosaturated. The truth is, peanut butter is really not that healthy long term.

Why peanut butter can cause cancer:

Unfortunately a mold commonly winds up growing on peanut butter. This fungus Aspergillus flavus releases a cancer causing metabolic product (mycotoxin) called aflatoxin B1, which is a officially recognized carcinogen (cancer causing compound). Workers around peanuts even have to wear protection because of the health hazard. It is common knowledge that farmers and animals around peanuts have increased liver cancer.

How much of this fungus and to what degree it converts to the mcycotoxin aflatoxin seems to depend on where the peanuts are grown and how they are stored and for how long. Peanuts have less of this problem if they are farmed in dry climates, as the fungus seems to thrive in humidity. Other foods have this fungus growing on it such as walnuts and grains, but peanut butter and corn seem to be the worst afflicted foods. The risk of peanut butter giving liver cancer is a bit exaggerated by some. But most bodybuilders consume it everday, often in high amounts, which could be a problem.

Alternatives to peanut butter:

Almond butter is the best food alternative for peanut butter. Flaxseed oil would even be better, but it’s not a substitute in food as a butter. Almond butter actually has higher omega 3’s than peanut butter anyways and isn’t contaminated with this fungus. Almond butter is not as tasty as peanut butter, but at least you know you won’t be posioning your body. If you decide to use peanut butter, see if you can get peanuts grown in dry areas, to help reduce or eliminate fungus contamination.


Author: Paul Johnson

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is Cardio Necessary for Effective Fat Loss?

Cardio Fat Loss

There is a common belief in the mainstream, that for maximum (or even effective fat loss) you need to do some form of regular cardio to lose fat. This is simply wrong of course because many people have just dieted to lose fat, without any form of excercise. Of course this is a bodybuilding site, therefore dieting only is not ideal, since it doesn’t preserve muscle that well.

The next decision when going on a cutting phase, is whether or not cardio is even necessary? Weight training is actually more effective than low intensity cardio. Then there is HIIT cardio, which is much tougher to do, but is about as effective as weight training for fat loss. You would still have to do weight training for either form of cardio, to help preserve lean muscle preservation and strength.

So who should do cardio and when?

Most bodybuilders would agree that cardio is a pain. It is a nuisance and most would just rather stick to weight training only for their excercise. It is perfectly O.K no matter if you’re a newbie, or a veteran to start your cutting phase without any cardio. When you first start dieting, the act of restricting calories will be enough to start causing fat loss, even without cardio.

Eventually everyone will hit a fat loss plateau, which is when cardio will be a necessity. You can only restrict your calories so much, before you cause your metabolism to crawl to a halt. The cardio will allow a phenomenon called energy flux. Basically what that means is, you will lose fat more effectively if you eat more, but also burn more calories simulatenously. In other words, it is better for fat loss if you eat more calories and burn more, than to eat less calories and burn less simulatenously.

If you don’t want to do cardio while cutting, your fat loss will be slower. But bodybuilders often don’t want to hassle with the time and effort cardio takes and wouldn’t mind, even if the cutting phase took a little longer. You shouldn’t increase weight training to overcompensate for lack of cardio, that would cause more harm than good. You would wind up overtaxing the body putting you into overtraining state.


Author: Paul Johnson