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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Effect Of Sex On Bodybuilding Gains

Sex Bodybuilding

The question on whether ejaculation(or sex) before workouts will effect their strength or muscle gains, is a common question for many bodybuilders. Athletes have also have been debating this question for years. Some believe that ejaculation before an athletic event will help their performance, while others believe it should be done after or even abstained completely. In this article I will discuss the hormonal effects of ejaculation on the body and when(or if) it should be avoided.

Effects on testosterone during sexual arousal and ejaculation:

Testosterone level have been found in research to rise in humans after sexual stimuli (such as sexually explicit pictures). One study like this was published in New Scientist 22 Aug 98 11, done by Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Urban Ethology in Vienna. 10 men and 10 women viewed a 15 minute pornographic film. Men’s testosterone levels increased 100 percent afterwards, while women’s was 80 percent.

Another study published by Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1993;18(3):205-18 used sexually arousing films on 9 males. LH levels (stimulates testosterone production) and testosterone levels increased within 10 minutes of sexually arousal. Other studies have also shown, other types of stimuli may also increase testosterone levels and agression, such as holding a gun.

Studies dealing with testosterone levels and it’s effects during sexual acts and ejaculation, seem to be mostly done on animals. One study done on rats by the Instituto de Neuroetologia, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Ver., Mexico showed that after 2 ejaculations there was a steep rise in serum testosterone and remained higher even after 4 ejaculations in a row. Another study was done on stallions and mating by the Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche Veterinarie, Sez. Clinica Ostetrica e Ginecologica Veterinaria. They found that testosterone levels rised 10 minutes after mating and then again 30 minutes into it. Cortisol levels also increased during the mating.

A study by Department of Pharmacobiology, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados was done on rats to measure sexual satiety and androgen receptors. The rats were measured after a sexual encounter. They measured the testosterone levels afterwards and found no change. They also measured a drop in angrodren receptor density, in the MPOA-medial part of the brain. This receptor density returned 72 hours later. It appears from this study, the lack of sexual desire post ejaculation, may have been from changes in the brain, not from changes in testosterone.

A study by the Department of Reproductive Biology, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa found that testosterone levels stayed the same or rised, after various types of sexual encounters in male rats. The more experienced rats had a large increase in testosterone post-ejaculation, which remained even 24 hours afterwards. The sexually inexperienced rats however, had little change in testosterone post sexual encounter. This study suggests that sexual experience and execution, may play a role in the rise of testosterone.

Long term testosterone levels from abstaining ejaculation:

The only study I could find measuring testosterone levels of men who didn’t ejaculation for extended periods of time, was research done by chinese researchers, J Zhejiang Univ Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;4(2):236-40. The study was done on 28 men who were told to not ejaculate for entire week. It was found that for first 6 days testosterone levels did not change. However, on the 7th day of abstaining, testosterone levels jumped up by nearly 50%. It then declined quickly after that day, therefore abstaining from ejaculation had no long term rising effect.


What do these studies on animals and humans tell us about the relationship between testosterone and sexual activity? Many people have always assumed that after sexual activity, males experience a drop in testosterone levels. There is no research we could find that points to a significant drop in testosterone post-ejaculation. In fact research tells us that the opposite seems to be true. Men will have significant jumps in testosterone levels from sexually arousing stimuli(and certain other types of stimuli). The research also suggests that sexual encounters and ejaculation, will not effect and may increase, testosterone blood levels.

Viewing sexually arousing material, without ejaculating, before working out should be beneficial for improving workouts. Ejaculating before working out, would probably not be ideal, since ejaculation also releases endorphins(pain killing) natural hormones in the body. This would in turn effect your strength and energy before your workout.

The chinese study also suggests that abstaining from ejaculation will not increase your testosterone levels long term and hence, not improve your bodybuilding gains. Recent studies are also showing a significant drop in prostate cancer risk, for men who more frequently ejaculate. According to current research, ejaculation (or sex) is not going to lower your testosterone levels, in either the short term or long term.


Author: Paul Johnson

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Ultimate /fit/ FAQ

Ultimate fit FAQ

Starting /fit/

1. Buy a Weight Set (160+ lbs), Jump Rope, and Pull-Up Bar
2. Use the Jump Rope to Warm up and Cool down (10 minutes)
3. Put the Pull-Up Bar on a door you pass through
4. Every time you pass through this door do a full set of pull-ups
5. Weights: SQUATZ, DEADLIFTZ, Overhead & Bench Press, Rows, Lunges
6. Light Weight, High Reps (8-12 reps) = Mass
7. Heavy Weight, Low Reps (2-6 reps) = Strength
8. Example workouts: 5x5 (5 sets, 5 reps each) and 3x10 (3 sets, 10 reps)
9. Rest 48-72 hours between these full-body workouts
10. Have 1 day dedicated to pure rest (no cardio or lifting)
11. Keep cardio under 1 hour. If you’re overweight consider cycling over jogging.
12. HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training. Best for burning fat (combined with good diet). Google it.
15. GET PLENTY OF REST. 7-9 hours per night.
16. ????????????????????
17. PROFIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

/fit/ Spot Reducing and Toning

For those who don't know what I’m talking about, spot reducing is when you perform particular exercises to get rid of fat in that specific area. For example, many people do side-bends with weights in hopes of getting rid of their 'love handles’, or choose to use the step machine thinking that it will dissolve the cellulite around their lower body. You cannot do it. Spot reducing does not happen.

Another common practice is to do large amounts of sit-ups thinking that it will burn off the fat area and reveal their six-pack. Sorry, it won't happen.

No amount of weird exercises will reveal your abs until you lower your BF%.
So there is no "toning" per se. You want to gain muscle and lower BF% until you look like you want to (this will take a year of lifting 250lb+ weights).
Muscles don´t "tone", they grow and show.
So drink your milk and do your SQUATZ like everybody else.


/fit/ Grocery List

1. Meats: Skinless Chicken, Lean Beef (Round, Top round, Sirloin, Tenderloin), Lean Pork (Tenderloin,
Loin chops), Fresh Fish (salmon, tilapia, mahi-mahi, shrimp, etc), Canned Tuna (in water not oil),
Low-fat Turkey, Canadian Bacon, Hard tofu

2. Grains: OATZ, OATZ/bran/fiber/Flax cereal, Whole-wheat bread/bagels/pasta/pita/wrap/tortillas,
brown rice, Whole-grain waffles, Couscous, Quinoa

3. Fruits: Apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cucumber, avocado, peaches, plums, mangoes, cherries, passionfruit, kiwi, etc

4. Vegetables: Sweet potato, corn, artichoke, asparagus, lettuce (green/red leaf, romaine, butter, iceberg), Cabbage, carrots, broccoli, bean/alfalfa sprouts, celery, spinach, kale, beets, red/green/yellow peppers, onion, garlic, tomato, mushroom, etc

5. Beans: Red Kidney Beans, Chick Peas, Black Eyed Peas, Lentils, Pinto Beans, Soybeans, Lima Beans

6. Nuts: Natural Peanut butter, Unsalted/Plain/Raw Almonds, Walnuts, Cashew, Seeds

7. Dairy: Milk (2%/skim/nonfat), EGGZ, cheese (2%/part-skim/reduced fat), Ricotta cheese,
Low-fat/Natural: yogurt, fat-free cream cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream

8. Oils: Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil, Sesame Oil

9. Other: Vinegar, Natural Honey, Coffee/Tea, Preserves (not jellies), Light Maple Syrup, Mustard, Cinnamon, Low-dose/Baby Aspirin

10. Supplements: Multivitamin (one at breakfast daily), Omega-3 Fish Oil (2000+ mg daily), Isolate Whey Protein (1 scoop daily, 1 scoop post-workout), Creatine (powder not liquid, 1 spoonful post-workout)

11. BROtips: Drink lots of water, Avoid high-fructose corn syrup, Avoid artificial flavors and colors, Limit caffeine intake to 1-2 cups of coffee/tea daily, Don't buy anything prepackaged (ex. fruit roll ups, rice crispy treats, potato chips, etc.), Watch portion sizes, "Prime" Beef has more fat than "Choice" or "Select" Beef, Try to buy 'Natural' products (no sugar/salt/fat added)


Author: Anonymous lulz.

(If this post made no sense to you, don't worry, just learn what you can and move on)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths

do sit up to spot reduce belly fat

Spot Reduction Myth

Contrary to what the infomercials suggest there is no such thing as spot reduction. Fat is lost throughout the body in a pattern dependent upon genetics, sex (hormones), and age. Overall body fat must be reduced to lose fat in any particular area. Although fat is lost or gained throughout the body it seems the first area to get fat, or the last area to become lean, is the midsection (in men and some women, especially after menopause) and hips and thighs (in women and few men). Sit-ups, crunches, leg-hip raises, leg raises, hip adduction, hip abduction, etc. will only exercise the muscles under the fat.

Lower Abdominal Myth

It is widely believed the lower abs are exercised during the leg raise or other hip flexor exercises. However, it can be misleading to judge the mechanics of an exercise based on localized muscular fatigue. The primary muscle used in hip flexion is actually the Iliopsoas one of many hip flexors. The Iliopsoas, particularly the Psoas portion, happens to lie deep below the lower portion of the Rectus Abdominous. During the leg raise, the entire abdominal musculature isometrically contracts (contracts with no significant movement) to:

Posture the spine and pelvis:

Supports the weight of the lower body so the lumbar spine does not hyperextend excessively. Maintains optimal biomechanics of the Iliopsoas. Hips are kept from prematurely flexing if the lumbar spine and pelvis does not hyperextend excessively. Iliopsoas can contract more forcefully in a relatively slight stretched position. Bent knee (and hip) sit-ups actually place Iliopsoas at a mechanical disadvantage

Counteracts Iliopsoas's pull on spine:

Many people with weak abdominal muscles are not able to perform hip flexor exercises without acute lower back pain or discomfort

The combination of the local muscular fatigue, or a burning sensation from the isometrically contracted abdominal muscles, and from the working hip flexors produces fatigue in the pelvis area which we mistakenly interpret as the lower portion of the Rectus Abdominous being exercised. In movements where the Rectus Abdominous does Isotonically contract (contracts with movement), it flexes the spine by contracting the entire muscle from origin to insertion. The spine is not significantly flexed during the leg raise. Incidentally, both the spine and hip flexes during the full range op motion Sit Up and Leg Hip Raise. See Spot Reduction Myth above.

High Repetitions Burn More Fat Myth

Performing lighter weight with more repetitions (15-20 reps, 20-30 reps, or 20-50 reps) does not burn more fat or tone (simultaneous decrease of fat and increase muscle) better than a heaver weight with moderate repetitions (8-12 reps). Weight training utilizes carbohydrates after the initial ATP and CP stores have been exhausted after the first few seconds of intense muscular contraction. Typically a set's duration is 20 to 30 seconds. For the average fit person, it requires 20 to 30 minutes of continuous aerobic activity with large muscle groups (e.g. Gluteus Maximus and Quadriceps) to burn even 50% fat; fat requires oxygen to burn. Performing a few extra repetitions on a weight training exercise is not significant enough to burn extra fat and may in effect burn less fat. If intensity is compromised, less fat may be burned when light weight is used with high repetitions. The burning sensation associated with high repetition training seems to be the primary deterrent for achieving higher intensities.

Higher volume weight training (i.e. 3 sets versus 1 set of each exercise) with short rest periods of approximately 1 minutes can stimulate a greater acute growth hormone release (Kraemer 1991, 1993; Mulligan 1996). Growth hormone is lipolytic in adults. It is hypothesized that maximal effort is necessary for optimizing exercise induced secretion of growth hormone. Growth hormone release is related to the magnitude of exertion (Pyka 1992) and is attenuated with greater lactic acidosis (Gordon 1994).

Intense weight training utilizing multiple large muscles with longer rest between sets may also accentuate body lipid deficit by increasing post training epinephrine. Intramuscular triacylgycerol is thought to be an important energy substrate following repeated 30 second maximal exercise with 4 minute recovery intervals (McCartney 1996, Tremblay 1994). Rest periods lasting approximately 4 minutes between maximal exercise exercise of very short duration is required for almost complete creatine phosphate recovery required for repeated maximal bouts (McCartney 1986). Insufficiant recovery may compromise the intensity of the exercise and in turn, possibly decrease intramuscualr triacylgycerol utilization following anaerobic exercise with significantly shorter rest periods.

For individuals attempting to achieve fat loss for aesthetics, the intensity of weight training can be a double edge sword. When beginning an exercise program, muscle mass increases may out pace fat losses, resulting in a small initial weight gain. Significant fat loss requires a certain intensity, duration, and frequency that novice exercisers may not be able to achieve until they develop greater tolerance to exercise. If an exercise and nutrition program is not adequate for significant fat loss, a lighter weight with higher repetitions may be recommended to minimize any bulking effects, although less fat may be utilized hours later. If an aerobic exercise and nutrition program is sufficient enough to lose fat, a moderate repetition range with a progressively heavier weight will accelerate fat loss with a toning effect. If a muscle group ever outpaces fat loss, the slight bulking effect is only temporary. For a toning effect, fat can be lost later when aerobic exercise can be significantly increased or the weight training exercise(s) for that particular muscle can be ceased altogether. The muscle will atrophy to a pre-exercise girth within months. Higher repetitions training may be later implemented and assessed.

It still may be recommended to perform high repetitions (e.g. 20-30) for abdominal and oblique training. It has been theorized muscular endurance may be more beneficial for lower back health than for muscular strength. Furthermore, moderate repetitions with a greater resistance can increase muscular girth under the subcutaneous fat, particularly in men, who have greater potential for muscular hypertrophy. Increasing the thickness around the waist with existing abdominal fat may further increase bulk, particularly in men who typically have greater intra-abdominal and subcutaneous fat in this area. The abdominal muscularture is composed of relatively small muscle mass as compared to the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, and upper back. Performing high reps with a lighter resistance should not compromise metabolism or muscle increases, as would performing high reps with light resistance on other, larger muscle groups. See Spot Reduction Myth above.

It is plausible that the high repetition myth was originated and later propagated by bodybuilders that used calorie restrictive diets to shed fat before a contest. Because of their weakened state from dieting, they were unable to use their usual heavier weights. When asked about their use of lighter weights, they explained they were "cutting up" for a contest. This is merely a theory, but it is easy to see how it may have been misunderstood that the lighter weight was used to reduce fat instead of actually being a result of their dietary regime.

Typically with weight training alone, the fat loss is equal to the muscle gain, give or take a few pounds. Certain dietary modification can have much greater impact on fat loss than with weight training alone. The ideal program for fat loss would include the combination of proper diet, weight training, and cardio exercise.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Water, Our Need For It And Why

Bottled Water

The human body is composed of approximately 70% water. Water is contained in the cells of the body (intracellular fluid), in the arteries and veins (blood plasma), and in the spaces between the blood vessels and cells (Interstitial fluid). The body's water supply is responsible and involved in nearly every bodily process.

Water is required for the distribution of nutrients, electrolytes, hormones, and other chemical messengers throughout the body, as well as the removal of waste products. Water is involved in cellular energy production and the maintenance of body temperature. It is also an important structural component of skin, cartilage, and other tissues.

When we eat, breathe, and use our muscles, our body creates residue waste products that the body has to get rid of. Good clean water helps us do this. Without enough water we do not get rid of these waste products? The waste products that we do not discard have to be stored somewhere within our body.

Storing this waste seems to contribute to, or even help cause, the following: lower back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, headaches/migraines, asthma, allergies, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, neck pain.

Besides ridding the body of toxins, water helps to reduce sodium buildup in the body, relieve constipation, and maintain proper muscle tone. Water helps maintain normal body temperature.

Water acts as a solvent for the vitamins and minerals we need everyday for our cells to do their jobs.

A precarious balance exists between fluid intake and output. You get water from three sources: drink (60 percent), food (30 percent), and cellular metabolism (10 percent). At the same time, you constantly lose water. A sedentary person in a temperate climate loses about two quarts of fluid per day, primarily through urine, sweat, and respiration. That amount can jump to four to six quarts per day in hot and/or humid weather, and one to three quarts per hour during physical activity. It’s easy to see how fragile your body’s water balance is.

Therefore, replacing the water that is continually being lost is very important.. While the body can survive without food for about five weeks, the body cannot survive without water for longer than five days.

75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (It is possible that this applies to half world population who are in modern countries with the sort of food and so on that we have.)

In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 5%.

One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. (If you feel tired some morning, try drinking a pint of pure water....)

Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers. (Maybe the so called arthritis is just a water deficiency in some cases!)

A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

According to some nutritionists, drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

During a state of drought your body switches into its “water conservation” mode. One of the primary ways it ensures adequate hydration is by holding onto sodium. The result is sodium retention, followed by a rise in fluid levels — the precise mechanism involved in abnormal blood pressure

With more severe dehydration, your body is forced to get by on reduced fluid volume, so it compensates by temporarily closing down capillaries. While the brain and other vital organs continue to receive enough blood to meet their basic needs, some tissues must go without. As capillaries remain closed, the tissues they supply become starved of nutrients and bogged down with cellular wastes. Among the first areas affected are cartilage and synovial fluid, and the result is discomfort in the joints.

In addition, water-conserving chemicals are released. Chief among these is histamine, which reduces water loss, but at the same time may trigger respiratory problems. Prostaglandins and kinins are released as well, which can lead to a variety of discomforts. As you can see, too little water causes much more than thirst and a dry mouth — it parches your entire body.

If you’re only producing small quantities of dark, concentrated urine, you’re not drinking enough. (To ensure a good night’s sleep, try cutting back on fluids two or three hours before bedtime.)

Why aren’t the health benefits of water discussed more often?

Part of the answer is simply that water is free, so there’s little to be gained by advertising its benefits. Water can't be patented and owned by a company. Even though you can buy bottled water, most people don’t have to buy bottled water to have clean water to drink every day. This is why you often don’t hear very much about the benefits of water. For example, it is not well known that many headaches are caused by slight dehydration and can be alleviated by drinking water; instead, we are told to take aspirin or other (and more expensive) analgesics. If you often get a headache after exertion or after crying, the water you drink to take the pill with may be doing as much to relieve the pain as the medicine is.

NOTE: I have had people tell me they do not like plain water. The effects are markedly cut down if one drinks juice or coffee, etc. Digestion comes to play, and the body works, and the water is mixed in with the digestive juices and the effect is lost. It is recommended that you not drink your large quantities of water with meals. A huge quantity of water in the stomach with the food can dilute the digestive enzymes there and affect how easily the digestion occurs.

How much water?

You should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. As a rule of thumb, you should drink a half ounce of water for every pound of body weight, unless you're very active, in which case you should increase your water intake to two-thirds an ounce per pound of body weight daily.

Thus, if you weigh 120 lbs., you need to take 60 oz. of water, or a little less than 2 quarts or 8 glasses of water. If you are 210 lbs, you need to take 105 oz of water, or about 7 quarts or 13 glasses of water.

8 oz = 1 regular glass of water
32 oz = one quart (4 glasses of water)
128 oz = one gallon (16 glasses of water)

Getting enough water

But this might not be enough. Do not use the thirst mechanism as a gauge to judge hydration. The thirst mechanism kicks in only after we've lost about 6 percent of water weight -- way too late to prevent dehydration. The problem of getting enough water becomes more common in late adulthood, because our need for water actually increases. Our skin and mucous membranes become thinner and lose more water, and our kidneys function less efficiently, so our need for water increases. While a person under age 50 should drink 8 glasses of water a day, 10 glasses are advised for those in their fifties and 10-12 eight oz glasses for active people 60 and over. Also, older people don't feel thirst the way a younger person does, so if your are older, you have to get in the habit of drinking water even if they're not thirsty.

Remember also that you have to drink more water when taking herbs.


Water is closely connected to fat gain and loss. This has nothing to do with water retention. Water doesn't have any calories, but.....

When the body begins to run low of any vital nutrient -- even water -- it will trigger hunger to motivate you to go get some more of whatever it needs. This is true for water because most foods provide some amount of water. It can, however, provide many unneeded calories. The thirst sensation is not a reliable way to decide when to drink water. You may often feel the need for water as hunger instead of as thirst.

When dieting, it is important to consciously drink water to make sure you get enough.

Water is a necessary part of the body’s fat utilization process. Water assists the body in metabolizing stored fat because your liver, which metabolizes fat, becomes overloaded when your kidneys don’t get enough water. Your liver’s fat processing function is compromised when it has to do the kidneys’ job as well. Water also helps suppress appetite and relieve fluid retention problems.

There is a common water strategy used by dieters to drink a glass of water when you get up in the morning and then every two hours - whether you feel like it or not. Just make it part of your routine.

Remember that low-calorie sodas cannot be substituted for water and in some cases can have a negative effect on dieting. See our article on Soda

You also have to remember that the need for water can be aggravated by common substances that suppress thirst such as coffee, tea, alcohol and some drugs.

You also need to drink more water when you are taking herbs.

Situations involving our need for water


We have to be careful of this in a lot of circumstances. When flying in an airplane, your body can become dehydrated. Make sure you drink a glass of water for each hour you spend in the air. When you have the flu, you need to drink plenty of water to replace the fluids you lose through sweating and vomiting. Constipation is a sign of not drinking enough water. Caffeine can also cause dehydration.

Sports & Exercise:

Several days before an event, competitive athletes should 'hyper-hydrate', Hyper-hydration is the process of drinking plenty of water for two to three days before an athletic event. The body is about 60 percent water and it needs to be fully hydrated to perform optimally. When the outside temperature or humidity is especially high, the body requires even more water because it must work harder to cool itself.

Water retention:

Fluid retention can be caused by excess salt intake. Drink plenty of water to help flush out the salt. You also need potassium to balance out the salt/potassium ratio.


Water is also valuable as a digestive aid especially when combined with activated charcoal. This type of charcoal is available (see Where to get these supplement?) Added to a glass of water, charcoal provides quick relief from most gastric discomfort. Mixed with enough water to form a paste, its great first aid for sprains and insect bites.

Bad Breath:

Drinking lots of water and peppermint tea with a pinch of anise, caraway or cinnamon.


Water is needed to flush the liver and dilute the bile. Without enough water the bile secretions can turn into gallstones. For additional information see the article Gall bladder for this sort of problem

Kidney stones:

Water helps decrease the concentration of the stone-forming elements in the urine.

Urinary tract infections:

People who get infections usually don't get enough water. The urine sits in the bladder too long and bacteria can build up. Drinking lots of water will flush out the bacteria. Drinking water won't cure an already established infection, but it can make urinating more comfortable and is a barrier to a recurrence.


Drinking lots of water keeps urine dilute and promotes the excretion of uric acid. Gout is caused by the formation of sharp crystals of uric acid forming in the fluid of the joint.

Where we get our water

Obtaining quality water would seem to be an easy matter, however, there are different types of water.

Tap Water:

Many people assume that when they turn on their kitchen tap, they are getting clean, safe, healthy drinking water. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Regardless of the origin of the tap water, it is vulnerable to a number of different types of impurities. Leaching from pipes may give the water dangerous levels of cooper, iron, zinc and arsenic. Other undesirable substances found in water, include radon, fluoride, and cooper, and other heavy metals. Other contaminants, such as fertilizers, asbestos, cyanides, herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals may leach into ground water through the soil, or into any tap water from plumbing pipes. Although the body uses these minerals in trace amounts, it can not be used in this form. Other substances including chlorine, carbon, lime, phosphates, soda ash, and aluminum sulfate, are intentionally added to public water supplies to kill bacteria, adjust pH, and eliminate cloudiness, among other things.

Strange smells or tastes in water that was previously fine could mean chemical contamination, however, many toxic hazards that work their way into the water do not change its taste, smell or appearance.

Flouride, a common addition to our drinking water, is yet another enemy of magnesium., it can change it into an unusable compound that is rejected as a waste product. Ironically, this flouride is supposed to protect our teeth against decay, yet it results in loss of one of the very minerals our teeth need for the hard enamel that keeps them from decay. Much of our tap water is a chemical soup these days, so for more reasons than simply flouride content, drinking pure spring water might be a good idea.

Chlorine used as a disinfectant to rid water of harmful bacteria, combines with naturally occurring organic matter to form trihalomethanes - compounds suspected of contributing to cancer.

Impure Water:

What is your drinking water like? IS it free of toxic metals like lead? Is its mineral content well balanced? Any mineral in excess, sodium for example, can cause illness when ingested over long periods of time. Impure water is an environmental stress of which you are often not even aware. Such stress can deplete your store of vitamin E.

Water with aluminum in it has been thought to be linked to Alzheimer's disease, although this connection is still a controversial subject. This is another reason to drink pure water. Aluminum can be gotten from impure water, although drinking from aluminum cans and aluminum cookware might be a problem. It is felt that aluminum cans are coated with plastic to prevent the acid from the soda or juice from breaking down the aluminum. Sticking with glass or plastic containers is, however, an extra precaution.

Bottled water comes in many forms

To meet the needs of a thirsty population, the variety of water products, from spring water to distilled to sparkling and flavored brands, is on the increase. Bottled water can be classified by use - a basic drinking water or a specialty beverage; by its source - spring, well water, or public water supply; and by the presence of carbonation. Read the labels of any bottled water you buy. You may find that the bottle of "spring water" you bought actually came from a municipal water supply.

The United States FDA truth-in-labeling requirements are clear, nonetheless, some bottlers still make erroneous claims.

Bottled water is required to meet the same quality standards and purity standards as public drinking water. FDA guidelines for imported waters require that the water be obtained from sources free of pollution, bottled under sanitary conditions, free from microorganisms. Bottled water generally, but not always have fewer contaminants than tap water because of different purifying methods employed along with filtration and aeration. Ozone is used in bottled water instead of chlorine as a disinfectant. Unlike chlorine, ozone does not combine with organic material to form triholomethanes, nor does it have an aftertaste or odor that occurs with chlorine.

For health's sake, make sure that the water you drink is as pure as you can get.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Squatting Myths Debunked


The squat is, perhaps, the single best exercise for leg strength and development. Squatting significantly strengthens the muscles responsible for knee and hip extension: quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the smaller stabilizing muscles such as the torso musculature. The squatting motion and position is also the foundation for many other exercises, such as deadlifts, Olympic lifts, and even every day lifting tasks. I think it is a very worthwhile task to learn how to squat, and anyone who can get out of a chair can do it. It has benefits not just for your strength, but for balance, confidence, daily-life strength, cardiovascular capacity, and active flexibility.

Problem is, the squat is often taught incorrectly, and it's stigmatized as difficult and dangerous. People warn that it is bad for your knees and back, inappropriate for beginners (or anyone not a male collegiate athlete), too hard to learn, blah blah the sky is falling, etc. So, let's go through all the scary things we've heard about squatting, to debunk them one by one.

Myth #1: squatting must not be done with a full range of motion or you will hurt your knees.

This is probably the worst myth of all. It's one of those "well known facts" which is mysteriously unsupported in the research (it's a well known fact that as soon as you say "it's a well known fact", you won't be able to back it up). According to this myth, full squats (a squat in which the knee joint is taken through a full range of motion, so that at the bottom the hamstrings make contact with the calves) are inherently dangerous, particularly to the knee joint.

While biomechanical research does support the fact that forces on the connective tissues of the knee increase with the knee angle, particularly on the posterior cruciate ligament, there is no evidence that these increased forces actually lead to injury. There is no direct evidence that full squatting causes or even exacerbates knee pain nor damage. I do not know of a single documented case where full squatting led directly to knee injury. Not one! Which is pretty amazing, considering that the clinical literature is positively littered with injury narratives. You'd think we'd see some evidence, but there is nothing, nada, zero. Studies of Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters, both of whom squat with heavy loads, show no increased risk of knee damage in either population. Olympic lifters, in particular, regularly drop to full depth under hundreds of pounds, perhaps as often a hundred times a week or more, for years, and yet their knees are healthier than those of people such as skiiers, jumpers, or runners. No study, short or long term, has ever shown an increase in knee laxity from deep squatting.

"Anyone who says that full squats are 'bad for the knees' has, with that statement, demonstrated conclusively that they are not entitled to an opinion about the matter.

People who know nothing about a topic, especially a very technical one that requires specific training, knowledge, and experience, are not due an opinion about that topic and are better served by being quiet when it is asked about or discussed. For example, when brain surgery, or string theory, or the NFL draft, or women's dress sizes, or white wine is being discussed, I remain quiet... But seldom is this the case when orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, or nurses are asked about full squats. Most such people have absolutely no idea what a full squat even is, and they certainly have no concept of how it affects the knees, unless they have had additional training beyond their specialties, which for the professions mentioned does not include full squats. Because if these people knew anything about squatting and the difference between a full squat and any other kind of squat and what they do to the knees, they would know that 'full squats are bad for the knees' is wrong and thus would not be making such a ridiculous statement."

Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength, "Going Deep". Crossfit Journal September 2006: 6.

In fact, there is strong evidence that squatting actually improves knee stability! The increased strength, balance, and proprioception from regular squatting can make a substantial contribution to keeping knees healthy. Progressive overload (beginning with a light load, then increasing gradually as the trainee is able) assists in strengthening connective tissues and muscles surrounding the joint.

Most interesting to me is the problem with what is usually recommended as "safe": squatting to parallel. At parallel (where the thigh is parallel to the floor, higher than the depth of a full squat by about 30 degrees), the compressive forces on the patella (kneecap) are actually at their highest (Huberti & Hayes, Journal of Bone Joint Surgery, 1984: 715-724). Decelerating, stopping, and reversing direction at this angle can inspire significant knee pain in even healthy people, whereas full squats present no problem. Another exercise which is supposedly "safer" is the leg extension, even though patellar tension and shear forces on the knee joint are demonstrably higher with such an exercise (see sidebar).

It is worthwhile at this point to comment on the things that do cause knee injury. The primary causes of knee injury involve:

    a) twisting under a load

    b) too much load (for example, I heard of a guy who boasted that he could squat 800 lbs. He had never done it before, and couldn't even full squat half that much, but he decided that 800 was a good round number, and he was going to attempt to quarter squat it. Long story short, knee ligaments did not agree with his assessment)

    c) landing unevenly from a jump, especially with straightened rather than bent legs (this is a big problem for folks like basketball and volleyball players)

    d) being in a situation where one part of the leg is held stationary while the other is moving (for example, stepping in a gopher hole while running: shin stays in place while the thigh keeps moving)

    e) impact to the knee (such as a hit from the side or front in football)

    f) squatting in a Smith machine which does not allow proper shifts in weight through the movement, and results in shear on knee and spine

In other words, knee injury usually results from varus or valgus force (twisting of the joint in either direction), inappropriate loading, or forcible shear across the joint. It does not occur simply from taking the knee joint through a full range of motion, using correct technique, and using a weight which is appropriate to the abilities of the trainee.

    Why are leg extensions hard on the knee joint?

    To understand why this is, it is helpful to understand the concept of shear. Shear in this case just refers to a horizontal force on the joint. Imagine two cans stacked on top of one another, and imagine that a piece of masking tape joins them. Then, imagine what happens if you hold the top can still while you push the bottom can to one side. Eventually that tape will snap. This is a simplistic description of what happens to the knee joint in a leg extension.

    Here is a simple diagram that attempts to explain the difference between the squat and the leg extension. The black lines represent the thigh bone, shin bones, and knee joint (black circle). In a squat, as shown in the figure on the left, your feet are on the ground (hopefully), and the force of the load is transmitted downwards, along the length of the bones. In a leg extension machine, there is a pad against the front of your shin or ankle, and you press against it to move the weight. The foot swings upward in an arc. Thus, as you can see in the figure on the right, the pressure is coming across the shin bones, not along their length. This creates the problem in the knee joint as the shin is pressed backwards.

    Leg extensions do have their place, usually in rehab. If the leg extension machine is used, it is wise to use a smaller range of motion, perhaps the top third of the movement (from slightly bent to fully straight leg), and light weight.

This is not to say that everyone can immediately leap into full squatting. It is essential to learn to squat in a way that meets your individual needs, and I'll discuss that in Part 3. It is common to have difficulty with a full range of motion in the beginning. If knee pain is felt during the squatting motion, there are a few possible reasons. First, it is important to rule out existing pathology. Some people may indeed have knees that are so damaged that they are unable to squat, but this is rare (and these people are probably walking with a cane). In particular, full squatting is contraindicated for someone with an acute posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury, but these types of injuries are uncommon and usually result from something like a car accident. Someone who has rehabilitated a PCL injury can attempt full squats with light loading, and see how it goes. With correct loading and technique, anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) and medial cruciate ligament (MCL) injuries generally don't present a problem. I know someone who is even missing an ACL on one knee, and has a reconstructed ACL on the other, and she squats quite happily.

Some people may have irritation in the joint due to things like patellofemoral syndrome or age-related degeneration, and the goal initially should be to squat in a pain-free range, while aiming to increase that range and strengthen the muscles around the joint. Some people may experience pain due to poor technique, which includes allowing the knees to cave in or twisting during the ascent. In this case, the trainer should again establish probable cause and direct attention to remedial work (such as stretching and additional strengthening) in conjunction with improving pain-free range of motion and correct technique. In Part 4 of this article, I suggest some stretches and assistance exercises to help you eliminate possible problems.

Do not do an exercise, no matter how great that exercise is, if it causes you pain. Find alternatives or modify the exercise. Full squats are great, and most folks can eventually do them, but nothing works for absolutely everyone.

Myth #2: squats hurt your back.

Probably this myth grew from someone who leaped into squatting too quickly, loaded up too much weight, rounded the back during the movement, and guess what, had an owie. In general, squats are excellent for strengthening the lower back and the restof the torso musculature. Simply standing upright with a squat bar on the back is a good challenge for folks who are new! In most people, the lower back will indeed be a weak link in the chain, but there are three simple solutions: first, squat light initially, progressing with weight only as you are able to handle it; second, use good technique at all times, which includes neutral spine; and third, include some additional lower back strengthening work in your program. I'll discuss this a bit more in Part 3 and Part 4.

Squatting may indeed be contraindicated for some people with particular types of spinal injuries, particularly folks in the acute phase of a herniated disk. While many people with disk herniations do continue to squat without pain (often with quite heavy loads), this is an area where it is important to figure out where your limits are. One limit to squatting with a back injury may be that it is inappropriate to use axial loading (in other words, to squat with the bar on your back). In this case, an excellent alternative is the Super Squats hip belt from Ironmind. It's a nylon belt that sits around your hips with the weight hanging from it. Feels weird at first, but very comfortable. Certainly worth investigating if you love squatting and hate to give it up!

Myth #3: squatting is hard to learn, and only natural athletes should do it.

Bollocks to that! I've taught everyone from octogenarians to teenagers to squat. Babies already know how to squat; we just forget how. The squat is a very natural movement. Following some simple steps and cues, anyone can squat. We may not all be able to full squat hundreds of pounds like some Olympic lifters, but everyone can perform the squatting motion and eventually improve their range of motion, balance, and technique.

Myth #4: squatting "bulks up" your legs and butt.

If you've been paying attention to anything on this site, you should know that this is crap and you should know why, so I won't even waste time on it. If you don't like the bulk on your ass, honey, try laying off the Twinkies, not the squats.

Myth #5: machines are just as effective as free weight squats.

Give this little experiment a try. Let's say you can leg press a certain amount, perhaps 200 lbs. Make sure your safety bars are set in the power cage, grab a spotter, and load up 1/4 of that amount on a squat bar. Try a full squat. I think you will find that leg press is to squats as dog poop is to Belgian truffles. Machines have their place, as I said, but a leg press isn't a squat and there's no sense pretending it is.

Myth #6: squats require special equipment to perform, and you can't do it by yourself.

All you need for a squat at first is your own body. I generally suggest that beginners work up to a few sets of about 20 unweighted full range squats before attempting to add any weight. This helps build balance, flexibility, and good technique. If you want some more fun, try going for higher rep sets of unweighted squats, such as 50 or 100 or even more (work up to this gradually instead of trying to do it right away... trust me). You can also try doing these unweighted squats explosively, with a rapid drive up from the bottom like a jump. A minute or so of this will really kick your butt, literally.

To add difficulty, you can hold a pair of dumbbells, wear a weighted knapsack, hug a sandbag or put it on one shoulder, put a barbell on your back, add reps or sets, or try them one-legged. Most folks opt to use a barbell on their back for convenience, and they perform squats in a power cage. A power cage has pins or hooks to hold the bar, and safety bars to stop the bar below a certain point. So if you get stuck at the bottom, you just let go and dump the bar on to the safety bars. Sometimes it makes a crashy sound if the safety bars are exposed steel, but other than that, no harm no foul! There's no need to train to failure anyway, but it does happen, and in a power cage, it happens safely, if a bit embarrassingly. If you don't have a power cage but you want to use a bar, try learning front squats, and have fun adding the clean to it!



Friday, January 16, 2009




Itching is an intense, distracting irritation or tickling sensation that may be felt all over the skin's surface, or confined to just one area. The medical term for itching is pruritus.


Itching instinctively leads most people to scratch the affected area. Different people can tolerate different amounts of itching, and anyone's threshold of tolerance can be changed due to stress, emotions, and other factors. In general, itching is more severe if the skin is warm, and if there are few distractions. This is why people tend to notice itching more at night.

Causes and symptoms

The biology underlying itching is not fully understood. It is believed that itching results from the interactions of several different chemical messengers. Although itching and pain sensations were at one time thought to be sent along the same nerve pathways, researchers reported the discovery in 2003 of itch-specific nerve pathways. Nerve endings that are specifically sensitive to itching have been named pruriceptors.

Research into itching has been helped by the recent invention of a mechanical device called the Matcher, which electrically stimulates the patient's left hand. When the intensity of the stimulation equals the intensity of itching that the patient is experiencing elsewhere in the body, the patient stops the stimulation and the device automatically records the measurement. The Matcher was found to be sensitive to immediate changes in the patient's perception of itching as well as reliable in its measurements.

Stress and emotional upset can make itching worse, no matter what the underlying cause. If emotional problems are the primary reason for the itch, the condition is known as psychogenic itching. Some people become convinced that their itch is caused by a parasite; this conviction is often linked to burning sensations in the tongue, and may be caused by a major psychiatric disorder.

Generalized itching

Itching that occurs all over the body may indicate a medical condition such as diabetes mellitus, liver disease, kidney failure, jaundice, thyroid disorders (and rarely, cancer). Blood disorders such as leukemia, and lymphatic conditions such as Hodgkin's disease may sometimes cause itching as well.

Some people may develop an itch without a rash when they take certain drugs (such as aspirin, codeine, cocaine); others may develop an itchy red "drug rash" or hives because of an allergy to a specific drug. Some medications given to cancer patients may also cause itching.

Itching also may be caused when any of the family of hookworm larvae penetrate the skin. This includes swimmer's itch and creeping eruption caused by cat or dog hookworm, and ground itch caused by the "true" hookworm.

Many skin conditions cause an itchy rash. These include:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Chickenpox
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis (occasionally)
  • Eczema
  • Fungus infections (such as athlete's foot)
  • Hives (urticaria)
  • Insect bites
  • Lice
  • Lichen planus
  • Neurodermatitis (lichen simplex chronicus)
  • Psoriasis (occasionally)
  • Scabies.

On the other hand, itching all over the body can be caused by something as simple as bathing too often, which removes the skin's natural oils and may make the skin too dry and scaly.

Localized itching

Specific itchy areas may occur if a person comes in contact with soap, detergents, and wool or other rough-textured, scratchy material. Adults who have hemorrhoids, anal fissure, or persistent diarrhea may notice itching around the anus (called "pruritus ani"). In children, itching in this area is most likely due to worms.

Intense itching in the external genitalia in women ("pruritus vulvae") may be due to candidiasis, hormonal changes, or the use of certain spermicides or vaginal suppositories, ointments, or deodorants.

It is also common for older people to suffer from dry, itchy skin (especially on the back) for no obvious reason. Younger people also may notice dry, itchy skin in cold weather. Itching is also a common complaint during pregnancy.


Itching is a symptom that is quite obvious to its victim. Someone who itches all over should seek medical care. Because itching can be caused by such a wide variety of triggers, a complete physical exam and medical history will help diagnose the underlying problem. A variety of blood and stool tests may help determine the underlying cause.


Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help relieve itching caused by hives, but will not affect itching from other causes. Most antihistamines also make people sleepy, which can help patients sleep who would otherwise be awake from the itch.

Specific treatment of itching depends on the underlying condition that causes it. In general, itchy skin should be treated very gently. While scratching may temporarily ease the itch, in the long run scratching just makes it worse. In addition, scratching can lead to an endless cycle of itch-scratch-more itching.

To avoid the urge to scratch, a person can apply a cooling or soothing lotion or cold compress when the urge to scratch occurs. Soaps are often irritating to the skin, and can make an itch worse; they should be avoided, or used only when necessary.

Creams or ointments containing cortisone may help control the itch from insect bites, contact dermatitis or eczema. Cortisone cream should not be applied to the face unless a doctor prescribes it.

Probably the most common cause of itching is dry skin. There are a number of simple things a person can do to ease the annoying itch:

  • Do not wear tight clothes
  • Avoid synthetic fabrics
  • Do not take long baths
  • Wash the area in lukewarm water with a little baking soda
  • For generalized itching, take a lukewarm shower
  • Try a lukewarm oatmeal (or Aveeno) bath for generalized itching
  • Apply bath oil or lotion (without added colors or scents) right after bathing.

Itching may also be treated with whole-body medications. In addition to antihistamines, some of these systemic treatments include:

  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • sedatives or tranquilizers
  • such selective serotonin reputake inhibitors as paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • binding agents (such as cholestyramine which relieves itching associated with kidney or liver disease).
  • aspirin
  • cimetidine

People who itch as a result of mental problems or stress should seek help from a mental health expert.

Alternative and complementary therapies

A well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, fats, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and liquids will help to maintain skin health. Capsules that contain eicosapentaenoic acid, which is obtained from herring, mackerel, or salmon, may help to reduce itching. Vitamin A plays an important role in skin health. Vitamin E (capsules or ointment) may reduce itching. Patients should check with their treating physician before using supplements.

Homeopathy has been reported to be effective in treating systemic itching associated with hemodialysis.

Baths containing oil with milk or oatmeal are effective at relieving localized itching. Evening primrose oil may soothe itching and may be as effective as corticosteroids. Calendula cream may relieve short-term itching. Other herbal treatments that have been recently reported to relieve itching include sangre de drago, a preparation made with sap from a South American tree; and a mixture of honey, olive oil, and beeswax.

Distraction, music therapy, relaxation techniques, and visualization may be useful in relieving itching. Ultraviolet light therapy may relieve itching associated with conditions of the skin, kidneys, blood, and gallbladder. There are some reports of the use of acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators (TENS) to relieve itching.


Most cases of itching go away when the underlying cause is treated successfully.


There are certain things people can do to avoid itchy skin. Patients who tend toward itchy skin should:

  • Avoid a daily bath
  • Use only lukewarm water when bathing
  • Use only gentle soap
  • Pat dry, not rub dry, after bathing, leaving a bit of water on the skin
  • Apply a moisture-holding ointment or cream after the bath
  • Use a humidifier in the home.

Patients who are allergic to certain substances, medications, and so on can avoid the resulting itch if they avoid contact with the allergen. Avoiding insect bites, bee stings, poison ivy and so on can prevent the resulting itch. Treating sensitive skin carefully, avoiding overdrying of the skin, and protecting against diseases that cause itchy rashes are all good ways to avoid itching.

Key Terms

Atopic dermatitis: An intensely itchy inflammation often found on the face of people prone to allergies. In infants and early childhood, it is called infantile eczema.

Creeping eruption: Itchy irregular, wandering red lines on the foot made by burrowing larvae of the hookworm family and some roundworms.

Dermatitis herpetiformis: A chronic very itchy skin disease with groups of red lesions that leave spots behind when they heal. It is sometimes associated with cancer of an internal organ.

Eczema: A superficial type of inflammation of the skin that may be very itchy and weeping in the early stages; later, the affected skin becomes crusted, scaly, and thick. There is no known cause.

Hodgkin's disease: A type of cancer characterized by a slowly-enlarging lymph tissue; symptoms include generalized itching.

Lichen planus: A noncancerous, chronic itchy skin disease that causes small, flat purple plaques on wrists, forearm, ankles.

Neurodermatitis: An itchy skin disease (also called lichen simplex chronicus) found in nervous, anxious people.

Pruriceptors: Nerve endings specialized to perceive itching sensations.

Pruritus: The medical term for itching.

Psoriasis: A common, chronic skin disorder that causes red patches anywhere on the body. Occasionally, the lesions may itch.

Scabies: A contagious parasitic skin disease characterized by intense itching.

Swimmer's itch: An allergic skin inflammation caused by a sensitivity to flatworms that die under the skin, causing an itchy rash.


  • Beers, Mark H., MD, and Robert Berkow, MD, editors. "Pruritus." Section 10, Chapter 109. In The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories, 2004.
  • Al-Waili, N. S. "Topical Application of Natural Honey, Beeswax and Olive Oil Mixture for Atopic Dermatitis or Psoriasis: Partially Controlled, Single-Blinded Study." Complementary Therapies in Medicine 11 (December 2003): 226-234.
  • Browning, J., B. Combes, and M. J. Mayo. "Long-Term Efficacy of Sertraline as a Treatment for Cholestatic Pruritus in Patients with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis." American Journal of Gastroenterology 98 (December 2003): 2736-2741.
  • Cavalcanti, A. M., L. M. Rocha, R. Carillo Jr., et al. "Effects of Homeopathic Treatment on Pruritus of Haemodialysis Patients: A Randomised Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Trial." Homeopathy 92 (October 2003): 177-181.
  • Ikoma, A., R. Rukwied, S. Stander, et al. "Neurophysiology of Pruritus: Interaction of Itch and Pain." Archives of Dermatology 139 (November 2003): 1475-1478.
  • Jones, K. "Review of Sangre de Drago (Croton lechleri)-A South American Tree Sap in the Treatment of Diarrhea, Inflammation, Insect Bites, Viral Infections, and Wounds: Traditional Uses to Clinical Research." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 9 (December 2003): 877-896.
  • Ochoa, J. G. "Pruritus, a Rare but Troublesome Adverse Reaction of Topiramate." Seizure 12 (October 2003): 516-518.
  • Stener-Victorin, E., T. Lundeberg, J. Kowalski, et al. "Perceptual Matching for Assessment of Itch; Reliability and Responsiveness Analyzed by a Rank-Invariant Statistical Method." Journal of Investigative Dermatology 121 (December 2003): 1301-1305.
  • Zylicz, Z., M. Krajnik, A. A. Sorge, and M. Costantini. "Paroxetine in the Treatment of Severe Non-Dermatological Pruritus: A Randomized, Controlled Trial." Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 26 (December 2003): 1105-1112.


Source: Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, Published December, 2002 by the Gale Group. The Essay Author is Carol A. Turkington.

Muscle On A Budget: 10 Ways to Feed Your Muscles When You're Broke

If you want to pack serious muscle onto your bones, you need to eat need massive amounts of good food. But good food costs serious money, right?

I hear this all the time from my friends, and even here on the forums: "I know I should eat right, but I'm a poor college student, and I just can't afford it." Well, let me just say that's bullshit. I happen to be a poor college student, and I'm on a pretty tight budget, too, but I believe I've solved the difficult diet equation that many of us have to grapple with:

x - muscle building food < = 0

(x = money)

(That, by the way, is the only math appearing in this article. I promise. Don't run away.)

Below is a list of the foods we need, copied in part from my friend Dr. John Berardi's Lean Eating:

Muscle Food

Lean meat/poultry (90% lean meat, chicken, turkey, etc.)


Dairy (cottage cheese, low-fat string cheese)

Healthy fats (fish oil, mixed nuts, olive oil, flax seeds, Flameout)

Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, greens supplement)

Fibrous fruits (apples, grapes, pears, blueberries, other berries)

Oatmeal/other whole grains

Green tea

Protein powders (casein/whey blends, whey)

That's a pretty basic list, and keep in mind I didn't cover all the supplements you might be taking (such as Surge or Power Drive). So how do we get everything on that list into our refrigerators and cupboards, and ultimately into our bellies, without breaking the bank?

Ten Ways

1. Clip coupons from the Sunday paper

Yeah, I agree, this sounds pretty lame, but your mom has the right idea when it comes to stretching the grocery money. I regularly find coupons that save me twenty dollars or more at the supermarket. Look at it this way: if you plunk down a two buck investment to buy a Sunday newspaper at the newsstand, you'll find you can realize ten- or even twenty-fold profits by using the coupons buried within the folds of the paper. Of course, if you live at home and your parents have the Sunday paper delivered, your investment is free, but you have to be quicker than your mom.

2. Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually around half the price of what they would be if they were fresh. Frozen fruit is especially good in super protein smoothies. My favorite is 2 scoops Strawberry Low-Carb Metabolic Drive, 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries and 1 serving of berry Greens Plus, all frappe'd together in the blender. A big mixed bag of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries goes for about two dollars, and you can sometimes get two bags for three bucks.

Berry good, very good

The best tasting frozen vegetables are spinach, green beans, and broccoli. Frozen fruits and vegetables are almost always fresher than those found in the produce section because they're flash frozen the day they were harvested.

One word of caution: avoid like the Bosu Ball any frozen vegetables that steam right in the bag in the microwave. Sure, it's quick and convenient, but it's also a great way to get a full days supply of xenoestrogens in every serving. Read Naked Truth: Xenoestrogens then ask yourself whether you ever want to eat nuked-in-the-bag veggies again. I don't.

Bad, unless you're into xenoestrogens

3. Buy discounted meat

Many grocery stores heavily discount meat by 30 to 70% as it approaches its expiration date. Buy a few pounds and throw it in the freezer, taking it out as needed. The only downside is that sometimes you get one of those irresistible spur-of-the-moment meat cravings that just won't wait for you to defrost a pound of ground round. I usually deal with this problem by getting three or four 4-packs of 90% lean ground beef, and keeping one thawed for that day's protein fix. The Foreman Grill is, of course, always standing by.

Indispensable item for satisfying those sudden urges for hot grilled flesh.

It's a bit of a pain in the ass, but a good idea anyway, to take the meat out of its styrofoam package and put it into ziplock freezer bags. Freezer burn is not something you want in your life.

4. Buy the store brands

Most store brand products are just as good as their brand name counterparts, and they'll always be cheaper. This applies to almost all food purchases, such as eggs, fresh and frozen bagged vegetables, cottage cheese, milk, and nuts. You can save even more money with store brands because stores often put their bands on sale, and sometimes even offer two-for-one specials. I'm always buying two-packs of green beans for three bucks or so.

5. Join the store's customer card program

Two of the three cards in my wallet that get the most use are grocery store membership cards. Many times stores will hold "members only" sales, which are only available for holders of the customer cards. There's no excuse for not having a card because it's free and you can sign up in under five minutes. And some stores' cards not only save you money, they give you money, usually in the form of a gift certificate once you've reached a certain spending level.

6. Shop at Wal-Mart and Target

I know these two stores aren't exactly famous for the high quality of their food, but when it comes to things like eggs, Splenda, non-stick cooking spray, and other little things, you can save 35% or more. It's also worth knowing that Wal-Mart has started carrying more organic, farm-fresh eggs, and other products, and still they're dirt cheap.

7. Shop at organic foods stores

"Organic food" is becoming as popular as the Atkins Diet in the media, and stores like Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's, and Wild Oats have enjoyed a surge in popularity as well. These stores have great organic products at great prices, so if you have one of these stores near you, make it your first stop when shopping for food.

A light snack, courtesy of Trader Joe's

8. Shop for food every three days

If you have the time, this is your best option for saving money. Why? Because you don't have to re-buy food that has gone bad from sitting around unused in your refrigerator for a week and a half. Yes, going grocery shopping twice a week is a bit of a pain in the butt, but the food in my fridge is always fresh, so it's worth it.

9. Shop at the wholesale stores

Another great way to save money is to buy in bulk. Bulk eggs, spinach, dried fruit, frozen vegetables, dried or frozen anything,really. If you have a lot of cupboard and freezer space, then this option has your name written all over it. Just compare prices first, and be sure you're actually getting a discount. Sometimes all you're doing is paying three or four times as much to get three or four times as much. Just compare volumes and prices, and buy whatever ends up cheaper (okay, so I lied. There was a little more math in this article. Sue me).

10. Order your supplements in big shipments

I always purchase my supplements in one huge order every few months. I do this not only to get volume discounts, but also because some places, like the online store here at T-Nation, offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount.

Just dodging the shipping cost can save you up to 50 bucks per order. The online store has special offers as well, like the recent deal for BETA-7 and Creatine Monohydrate. Of course, these offers tend to be on a "you snooze, you lose" basis, so make sure to jump on these, and stock up while you have the chance!

The other benefit of this method is that it reduces the risk of getting ready to attempt a new personal deadlift record, only to find you're fresh out of Spike Shooters. This should never have to happen.

So what are you waiting for? Go shopping!

There you have it, my ten secrets for getting good grub on the cheap. If you faithfully follow these methods, you may find your wallet fatter, your body happier, and your muscles growing better than ever before. If you have any tips of your own, be sure to share them in the article discussion section.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

5 Reasons for Failed Body Transformations

With the New Year comes that resolution.

So, how is it that if looking great is such a priority that less than 20% of those who start a body transformation achieve their goal?

Most of the time failure can be attributed to just a fistful of reasons.

1. You Suck at Math

It might sound odd, but I've seen people embark on a fat loss regimen only to get fatter in the process.

How the hell is that possible? I mean, training should help you lose fat, not gain it. The simple fact is that most people grossly overestimate how many calories they're burning during their workout, and they use that as a justification to overeat.

"I just lifted weights for 45 minutes and did 30 minutes of cardio, so I can eat that Big Mac without harm."

Well, I've got news for you: You might've burned 400 calories during your workout, but the Big Mac provides over 800. If the Clearasil king behind the counter convinces you to have fries with that, you're over a thousand.

Do that over the long run and don't be surprised if you're piling on fat despite training.

Also, I want to point out three things related to this topic:

1. It's true that preceding a bad meal with an intense workout will reduce its negative impact. Training increases insulin sensitivity, which will somewhat decrease the amount of nutrients stored as fat. But it won't prevent all of the damage.

2. The mentality of "having the right to eat bad foods because I worked out" is downright unhealthy. Even if your workouts were able to prevent fat gain, the negative health effects from eating crappy food still remain. Being healthy might not seem as important as getting big and ripped right now, but eventually bad health will catch up to you. Not to mention that an unhealthy body will always have a harder time gaining muscle and losing fat.

3. A cheat meal, or even a cheat day, can be beneficial psychologically and physiologically. However, even on a planned cheat, it's better to minimize the ingestion of crappy food. Eating junk like pastries, candy, cookies, or fast food once a week will make it harder to stay on the plan because you'll constantly be reminded of how good it tastes.

2. The Flat Tire Phenomenon

Your diet is going great. You've been solid for close to two weeks, and the results are starting to show. However, you're beginning to get cravings for donuts and cakes and cakes made out of donuts.

You do your best to maintain your composure, but you finally give in and eat two Krispy Kreams.

You choked. The ball was dropped.

So, how do you react? Do you go back on your diet as soon as possible? No! You continue to stuff your face with everything that doesn't fight back.

After all, since you've blown your diet, you might as well go hog wild and start again tomorrow on solid ground.

Big mistake. If you got a flat tire, would you go spike the three others with your trusty pocket knife? God, I hope you aren't that dumb!

Well, continuing to pile on the junk after one cheat is about as smart.

While I'm never proud of clients who give in to temptation, a small, isolated culinary incident won't completely ruin your efforts. At worst, it'll put you back a day or two.

But if you turn that one nutritional brain fart into an all-out feast, you're going to put a huge dent in your progress. After such a binge, it'll take you around two days just to get back into an optimal fat burning mode. And I'm not even talking about the fat gain from the binge itself. A big food fest can set you back one or even two weeks!

Unplanned cheats are like a flat tire: You don't want them, but they might happen (even to the strongest of wills). Just limit the damage by going right back to your regular plan.

3. Misapplying Dietary Digressions

I'll start off by explaining the differences between the three types of dietary digressions: cheating, loading, and refeeding.

Cheating means eating a meal (or several) consisting of foods that are outside the realm of what's acceptable on your diet, and the centerpiece is usually sugary junk.

You have planned and unplanned cheats. I touched on the later earlier (eating some crap on a day you're not supposed to); these should be avoided as much as possible.

Planned cheats refer to giving yourself a moment in the week where you can eat the bad food you've been craving. This moment is always on a given day and comes at the conclusion of a week of solid dieting.

Loading, like cheating, means eating a meal (or several) consisting of foods that aren't a part of your daily plan. Contrary to cheating, though, loading uses clean, high-carbohydrate foods like yams, potatoes, rice, whole-wheat pasta, fruits, etc. On a loading day, you want to refill muscle glycogen, so your daily intake of carbs will fall between 200 and 600 grams depending on your size and goals.

Refeeds still consist of increasing your food intake for a day, but you do so by respecting your regular diet. You simply eat more of the foods that you normally ingest. A small amount of clean carbs (15 to 20 grams per meal) is also acceptable.

Now that we understand the difference between these three, let's explore the logic behind dietary digression days.

Such days serve three main purposes:

1. To prevent the ill effects of dieting, mainly metabolic slowdown and rebound binging. Calorie and carb restrictions decrease the release of the hormone called leptin. Leptin is important because it sends a message to the body that it's well-fed, so your body can keep up its metabolic rate.

If less leptin is produced, your body will likely think it's starving, and it'll react to the situation by slowing down your metabolism and increasing hunger.

As leptin drops, the risk of dietary failure increases.

It's been shown that increasing food intake drastically, even for a short period of time, will prevent the drop in leptin that occurs when dieting. This is especially important in the later stages. Unless you use a stupidly high energy deficit when dieting, your leptin levels aren't likely to drop significantly during the first few weeks. It's only after you've lost a significant amount of fat, or have been of the diet for several weeks, that it'll become necessary to prevent the underproduction of leptin.

2. To reload glycogen stores. Glycogen (the carbs stored in the muscles and liver) is the primary fuel source for intense physical work. When your glycogen stores are low, you won't be able to train as hard as when you're fully loaded.

The main purpose of weight training when dieting is to preserve (or even gain) muscle mass. If you can't train hard, it'll be difficult to prevent muscle loss. For that reason, it's a good idea to periodically give the body a shot of carbohydrates to keep glycogen stores at least somewhat full.

Your body can actually produce glucose (and then glycogen) from amino acids via a process called gluconeogenesis. But this might lead to muscle loss if your calorie deficit is too great, so a weekly carbohydrate load can be a good way to prevent the eating away of your muscle to produce glucose.

3. To give yourself a psychological break. One of the toughest aspects of dieting isn't so much the deprivation, but the fact that you know that you won't be able to satisfy your cravings for weeks. A lot of people stop their diet in the first few weeks because they can't see themselves being deprived of the foods they love for such a long period. For these people, having a once-a-week mulligan can help them maintain the diet over the long run.

But it's a double-edged sword. While it can provide you with some much needed mental relief, it can also increase the frequency and intensity of your cravings. If you can get through the first few weeks without eating any forbidden foods, your desire for them will gradually fade.

But if you constantly remind yourself of how good these physique wreckers taste, you'll always have to fight craving attacks.

So, yes, it can help if you're able to shut the door for the whole week once the cheat is over. But if you can't, it'll ruin your efforts and make your life miserable.

If we look at the three benefits of getting off of your diet for a short period of time, we can decide whether a cheat, load, or refeed is beneficial or if it'll screw up your progress.

Cheats, loads, and refeeds all have a positive impact on maintaining leptin levels. They also have an impact on glycogen storage. Generally, the loading strategy has the greatest impact on glycogen stores. Cheats also have a positive effect on glycogen stores, but if the carbs are mainly from high-fructose corn syrup, you'll store much less than if they were from another form.

Additionally, the high glycemic load of the cheat food versus the cleaner carbs can increase the amount of carbs stored as fat.

Refeeds can also work for glycogen loading, but since you'll normally be consuming no more than 125 to 150 grams of carbs, you won't be able to get a supercompensation effect.

When it comes to the impact on leptin, at an equal caloric intake, all three strategies are fairly similar. I'd like to tell you that eating clean foods in excess is more beneficial in this regard than eating bad foods, but it isn't so. The total amount of calories and carbs is more important than the quality of the food when it comes to leptin manipulation.

This doesn't mean that you should eat crap, simply that for the purpose of leptin manipulation, crap will be as effective as other items.

As far as the psychological aspect is concerned, we have a pretty variable response to all three strategies. Some people love fast food, others crave sugar and pastries (like me), and then there's those who are attracted to things like pasta, breads, and fruits. So, the food that'll give a dieter some mental relief is really dependent on personal preferences.

In an ideal world, our cravings would be for yams, potatoes, pasta, and fruits. Eating those on your dietary digression day will be superior to pizza, burgers, and donuts. But some people need their crap. As I mentioned earlier, if cheating opens the door to falling off the dietary Radio Flyer, avoid it.

It should be fairly obvious now that you don't need to cheat. Loading and refeeding with quality foods will do the job just as well. The only time cheating with bad food is superior is when you absolutely need a fix to stay on your diet.

Remember, your body has absolutely no physical need to eat junk. It's only our psychological side that's a slave to this.

So, my rules of digressive eating are:

    * As much as possible, opt for clean alternatives.

    * You don't need to load or refeed every week. Unless you're excessive, leptin won't be a problem until after several weeks of dieting, and glycogen stores can be kept relatively loaded even when dieting. You should have a loading or refeed day when your metabolism is starting to slow down (your morning temperature drops by one or two degrees) or when your glycogen stores are low (you'll feel flat and have problems getting a pump).

    * The leaner you are, the more often you'll need to load or refeed. When you're getting leaner, you're producing less leptin, thus continuing to drop fat will become harder. Furthermore, the leaner you are, the better your response to excessive eating. Because of better insulin sensitivity, you'll store more of the nutrients in your muscles and less as fat.

    * Once your load, reefed, or cheat is over, go back to your regular diet ASAP.

    * Don't go overboard. Go with the minimum amount needed to do the job. You don't need two pizzas, three burgers, and a dozen donuts to refill glycogen stores, boost leptin, and give yourself some mental relief. (Remember the flat tire analogy?)
4. Getting Screwed by Hidden Calories

This is the Achilles' heel of disciplined dieters. You may have all the will and dedication needed to succeed, but if some of the foods you're eating contain more than you bargained for, you're screwed.

Some examples of these hidden nutrients are "no sugar added" and "low-impact carb" products, drinks, and even protein bars.

The no-sugar added denomination can lead us to believe that these products are low in calories and carbs. Some dieters even see them as "free foods."

"No sugar added" simply means that they didn't add any sugar to the recipe. They can still be high in carbs, and they're generally much higher in fat than their regular counterparts to give them better palatability. Not a good mix.

These, like the "low-impact carb" club, can also be based on sugar alcohols like maltitol, glycerol, mannitol, and sorbitol. Because of a legal trick, companies can make you believe that products loaded with sugar alcohols are good for dieting because of their "low-impact carbs."

For example, a protein bar can have 35 grams of carbs, two grams of sugar, five grams of fiber, and 28 grams of sugar alcohols, and the company can claim that their product only has two grams of impact carbs. Slap on a "low carb" label and call you gullible.

While it's true that sugar alcohols have a reduced impact on insulin compared to regular carbs, it still has an effect, especially in individuals with poor insulin sensitivity (which is most people who start a body transformation). Moreover, sugar alcohols do provide energy and can lead to fat gain. For example, each gram of sugar alcohol normally provides three calories; sugar provides four. Yes, it's lower, but it's not a huge difference.

Plus, sugar alcohols are hard on the digestive system. In excess, they'll leave you bloated and gassy. They also reduce the efficiency of the digestive system.

It's clear why the "no sugar added" and "low-impact carb" products should be avoided if you're serious about changing your body. And I'm saying this from personal experience.

A few years ago, I decided to do a bodybuilding contest. As I mentioned earlier, I'm a sugar bug. The first six weeks of the diet went well. But as I got leaner, I started to have huge sugar cravings.

I would've been able to control myself, but I found a website that sold those "no sugar added, low-impact carb" products. Chocolate bars, candy, jujubes — everything I was craving. And it was all okay to eat them, or so I thought.

As soon as I began eating them, my fat loss stalled. Then I started to gainfat. It took me a while to realize what the cause was. When I finally figured out that it was these supposed "free foods," I was well into in my preparation and ended up losing a lot of muscle trying to make up for the lost ground.

My advice to you: Avoid those death traps!

Another place for calories to hide is in drinks. While technically not hidden, when you read the label, it's easy to see that most juices, soft drinks, energy drinks, and the like are loaded with sugar. A lot of people don't realize how many calories they pour into their head each day.

One of my former football coaches suddenly blew up to a hefty 400 pounds. And he wasn't even a big eater.

However, at a team supper, I saw him drink a gallon of soda. I asked him if that was something usual.

"I drink that with every meal."

That's over 5,000 calories per day from soft drinks! While I'm not a big fan of calorie counting, that's a pretty big load. Had he simply switched to diet soda he would've cut 35,000 calories per week, which represents roughly ten pounds of fat.

Few people are that extreme, but many guzzle enough calorie-containing drinks to screw up their dietary efforts.

When you're improving your body composition, limit yourself to water, coffee, tea, Crystal Light, diet soft drinks (in moderation), and calorie-free energy drinks like Spike.

Don't forget that the closer a food is to its natural state, the less likely it is to have hidden calories and nutrients.

5. Doing Too Much Too Soon

Body transformation is an emotional issue. We desperately want that killer body, and we want it yesterday. Our desire for fast results will often lead to bad decisions, including doing too much too soon.

Dan John, a guy for whom I have nothing but the deepest respect for, once said that fat loss is "an all out war," and that you go as hard as you can for a short period of time and get the hell out.

I have to disagree.

In most cases, those who have the greatest success are those who can stay on the program for the long run. Not only do they have a greater success rate, but they're more likely to maintain their progress than the quick hitters.

An initial fat loss blitz can be useful, though. I often start off a body transformation program with a one or two week blitz (the dropout rate exponentially increases by the third week). Some people can handle four weeks, but few go past the point where they're excessive in their efforts.

And even those who can sustain manic effort and deprivations for more than four weeks will see their returns greatly diminish.

You see, the body is built for survival, not to look like a fitness model. When you starve and overwork yourself, your body will adjust itself so that this amount of deprivation becomes normal. At that point, usually around week six, your fat loss will stop.

When progress stops, you need to increase the stimulus by expending more energy or diminishing your energy intake. The problem is that if you're already doing as much activity as you can handle, and barely eating enough food to stay in working order, there's nowhere to go. You can't train more without risking an injury or chronic fatigue, and you can't eat less without suffering severe muscle loss or going mental.

Basically, by trying to progress too much too soon, you kill your chances of long-term success.

The best approach is to do just enough for an optimal weekly fat loss. As progress slows down, gradually increase your activity level first. When you need a second shot of renewed progress, decrease your food intake or add a powerful fat loss aid like HOT-ROX Extreme to your regimen.

A lot of people ask how they can maintain their physique when their body transformation is finished. Really, you shouldn't have to do anything special.

Those who ask are likely those who deprived and overworked themselves and don't see themselves maintaining that regimen over the long run. Those who take the smart approach can actually maintain their body transformation lifestyle simply by keeping up their regimen while being a bit more flexible.

I know that I can maintain 90% of my peak condition without feeling deprived. From that point, I simply need to tighten things up a bit for a couple of weeks to get back in peak shake. But the point is that I look good year round without killing myself because I never had to resort to extreme measures.

Do It Right This Time

I may not know everything (just ask my wife), but one thing I know is body transformations.

Get on a solid training program, eat a quality diet, and avoid the five pitfalls presented above, and you'll be among the 20% who succeed.


Author: Christian Thibaudeau