Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

The Physiology of Fat Loss

by: Len Kravitz, PhD , Christine Mermier, PhD and Mike Deyhle

From the fat cell to the fat furnace, find out exactly what causes the body to burn fat.

Fat may seem like the enemy of civilized people—especially sedentary ones. Yet we cannot live without it.Fat plays a key role in the structure and flexibility of cell membranes, and it helps regulate the movement of substances through those membranes. Special types of fat, known as eicosanoids, send hormone-like signals that exert intricate control over many bodily systems, mostly those affecting inflammation or immune function.

Of course, the best-known function of fat is as an energy reserve. Fat has more than twice the energy-storage capacity of carbohydrate (9 calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram). It has been estimated that lean adult men store about 131,000 calories in fat (Horowitz & Klein 2000), enough energy to keep the average person alive for about 65 days.

For fitness professionals, the prime concern arises when the body’s fat-storage function works too well, hoarding unwanted fat that makes people unhealthy and self-conscious about their appearance. Understanding how fat travels through the body can help personal trainers work with clients to reduce excess body fat and improve athletic performance.

The Journey of a Fatty Acid to Muscle

THE ADIPOCYTE

p38 ImageFat resides primarily in designated fat-storage cells called adipocytes. Most adipocytes are just under the skin (subcutaneous fat) and in regions surrounding (and protecting) vital organs (visceral fat). Nearly all fat in adipocytes exists in the form of triacylglycerols (TAGs or triglycerides). Each TAG consists of a backbone (glycerol) with three fatty-acid tails (see Figure 1).

Depending on energy supply and demand, adipocytes can either store fat from the blood or release fat back to the blood. After we eat, when the energy supply is high, the hormone insulin keeps fatty acids inside the adipocytes (Duncan et al. 2007). After a few hours of fasting or (especially) during exercise, insulin levels tend to drop (see Figure 2), while levels of other hormones—such as epinephrine (adrenaline)—increase.

When epinephrine binds to adipocytes, TAG stores go through a process called lipolysis (Duncan et al. 2007), which separates fatty acids from their glycerol backbone. After lipolysis, fatty acids and glycerol can leave the adipocytes and enter the blood.

p39 ImageFatty Acids in the Blood

Because fat does not easily dissolve in water, it needs a carrier protein to keep it evenly suspended in the water-based environment of the blood. The primary protein carrier for fat in the blood is albumin (Holloway et. al. 2008). One albumin protein can carry multiple fatty acids through the blood to muscle cells (Horowitz & Klein 2000). In the very small blood vessels (capillaries) surrounding the muscle, fatty acids can be removed from albumin and taken into the muscle (Holloway et al. 2008).

Fatty Acids Going From the Blood Into Muscle

Fatty acids must cross two barriers to get from the blood into the muscle. The first is the cell lining of the capillary (called the endothelium), and the second is the muscle-cell membrane (known as the sarcolemma). Fatty-acid movement across these barriers was once thought to be extremely rapid and unregulated (Holloway et al. 2008). More recent research has shown that this process is not nearly as fast as once thought and that the presence of special binding proteins is required at the endothelium and sarcolemma for fatty acids to pass through (Holloway et al. 2008). Two proteins that are important for fatty-acid transport into the muscle cells are FAT/CD36 and FABPpm.

Two Fates of Fat Inside Muscle

Once fat is inside the muscle, a molecule called coenzyme A (CoA) is added to the fatty acids (Holloway et al. 2008). CoA is a transport protein that maintains the inward flow of fatty acids entering the muscle and prepares the fatty acid for one of two fates:

  • oxidation (in which electrons are removed from a molecule) to produce energy or
  • storage within the muscle (Holloway et al. 2008; Shaw, Clark & Wagenmakers 2010)

The majority (80%) of fatty acids entering the muscle during exercise are oxidized for energy, while most fatty acids entering the muscle after a meal are repackaged into TAGs and stored in the muscle in lipid droplets (Shaw, Clark & Wagenmakers, 2010). Fatty acids stored in muscle are called intramyocellular triacylglycerols (IMTAGs) or intramuscular fat.

There are two to three times more IMTAGs stored in slow twitch muscle fibers (the slow oxidative fibers) than there are in fast-twitch muscle fibers (Shaw, Clark & Wagenmakers 2010). Shaw and colleagues note that even though this IMTAG supply makes up only a fraction (1%–2%) of the total fat stores within the body, it is of great interest to exercise physiologists because it is a metabolically active fatty-acid substrate especially used during periods of increased energy expenditure, such as endurance exercise.

Fatty Acids Burned for Energy

Fatty acids burned for energy (oxidized) in the muscle can come either directly from the blood or from IMTAG stores. For fatty acids to be oxidized, they must be transported into the cells’ mitochondria (see Figure 3). A mitochondrion is an organelle that functions like a cellular power plant; it processes fatty acids (and other fuels) to create a readily usable energy currency (ATP) in order to meet the energy needs of a muscle cell.

Most fatty acids are transported into the mitochondria via the carnitine shuttle (Holloway et al. 2008), which uses two enzymes and carnitine (an amino acid-like molecule) to do the transporting. One of these enzymes is called carnitine palmitoyltransferase I (CPT1). CPT1 may work with one of the same proteins (FAT/CD36) used to bring fatty acids into the muscle cells from the blood (Holloway et al. 2008). Once inside the mitochondria, fatty acids are broken down through several enzymatic pathways—including beta-oxidation, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and the electron transport chain—to produce ATP.

Fatty-Acid Oxidation During a Single Bout of Exercise

At the start of exercise, more blood flows to adipose tissue and muscle (Horowitz & Klein 2000), releasing more fatty acids from adipose tissue and delivering more fatty acids to the muscle.

Exercise intensity has a great impact on fat oxidation.We burn the most fat when exercising at low to moderate intensity—that is, when oxygen consumption is between 25% and 60% of maximum (Horowitz & Klein 2000). At very low exercise intensities (25% VO2max), most of the fatty acids used during exercise come from the blood (Achten & Jeukendrup 2004). As exercise increases to moderate intensity (around 60% of VO2max), most of the fatty acids oxidized appear to come from IMTAG stores (Horowitz & Klein 2000).

p39 ImageAt higher exercise intensities (>70% VO2max), total fat oxidation falls below the levels observed at moderate intensity (Horowitz & Klein 2000). This reduction in fatty-acid oxidation is coupled with an increase in carbohydrate breakdown to meet the energy demands of the exercise (Horowitz & Klein 2000).

We often overemphasize the fatty-acid contribution to calories burned during a bout of exercise. It’s also important to consider recovery from a bout of exercise, as well as training adaptations to repeated bouts, if you’re helping clients meet their fat-loss goals.

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ING NYC Marathon

Reposted from: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/running-marathon-training-tips/

In high school, I could barely run the timed mile test, walking most of it.

Three years ago, I ran my first marathon after losing 50 pounds. I finished in 4:59, and I was happy just to have finished. But I knew I had more in me.

A few weeks ago, I ran my fourth marathon in 3:56. I took more than an hour off my time in three years, without devoting my entire life to running. I work a full-time job, volunteer and have an active social life, but I never felt like I was giving anything up for running. If anything, it added to the quality of my life.

I trained hard to get there, but there are also a few important tweaks I made that helped. Of course, the marathon is a special beast, and anything can happen on race day. But most coaches agree that training smarter physically and mentally can get you to the starting line stronger and ready to tackle 26.2. Here are five strategies that can be effective across the board, along with insights from Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World.

1. Add Speedwork

When I started training for my first marathon, I was still pretty new to running. I’d been at it for about a year, and the thought of intentionally running faster sounded terrifying. I just wanted to finish. During subsequent training cycles, I learned that speedwork (pushing harder in the middle of a workout at a specific speed for a specific amount of time) would change everything. That’s right, running faster… helps you get faster. Crazy, right? Speedwork works best when you’re running hard at a distance relative to your race distance, so tempo runs or mile repeats are best for marathoners. “I always felt like I was getting a little bit of speed but lots of endurance from mile repeats,” says Yasso.

2. Log Race Pace Miles

How are you going to run your goal pace for hours on end if you don’t know what it feels like to run at that pace? Speedwork paces and goal race paces should be fairly different. Your speedwork pace is typically your pace for a 10K or a half-marathon, or, a pace you can hold for roughly one to two hours. Your race pace is something that you’re trying to hold for 3-plus hours, unless you’re an elite athlete.

I practiced at my goal pace for mid-distance runs and at the end of long runs, so that I knew what it felt like to hold it for a sustained amount of time, and what it felt like to hold it on tired legs. On race day, while I checked my watch obsessively, I easily could have told you if I were running faster or slower than my goal pace by how I felt the cadence in my legs. By running race pace miles, says Yasso, “I always felt that innate sense of rhythm that I can carry this pace on race day.”

3. Up Your Days and Your Mileage

The first time around, I ran between two and three times per week, supplementing that with other forms of cardio at the gym and lifting with a trainer. I finished that marathon at an 11:25 pace, hitting the wall colossally at mile 18. I knew if I wanted to get faster, though, that I would need to run more. I used to be terrified of running two days in a row, but this year I typically ran five days per week, and I maxed out my mileage at 47 miles one week. I got to run on tired legs quite often, which was a huge mental boost at mile 22 of the marathon, when my legs felt like someone had strapped massive sandbags to them.

Though there are many variables to determining weekly mileage, says Yasso, the key is to listen to your body and not overtrain. Experts generally recommend not increasing your weekly mileage more than 10 percent each week.

4. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Running is hard. Running fast(er) is even harder. Miles 21 to 24 of the New York City Marathon were incredibly uncomfortable. Of course they were. I’d just run 20 miles! I reminded myself it was supposed to be uncomfortable and not to walk.

“The only way to advance in our sport,” says Yasso, “is to go to the uncomfortable zone. Embrace the pain, and you will be rewarded at the finish line.”

5. Never Set Limits

I took off 40 minutes between marathons 1 and 2. If I had believed that was impossible, I wouldn’t have had the guts to go for that time and make gutsier goals from there. But I thought about what I could do and shot high. I missed the mark last year, but if I hadn’t set such an audacious goal, it wouldn’t have lit the fire in my belly to chase the 3:56 this year.

Burpee Equivalents:  Understanding Junk Food in terms of Your Favorite Exercise

by Dr. Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, & Spartan Coach

Occasionally we slip up with our diets and sneak in some junk calories. When we do, we have to pay the price…In Burpees!  At Spartan Coaching HQ we have been conducting research to quantify energy expenditure during the Burpee exercise.  Here is what we found:

Burpee

 

Calories (kcals)

burpees for 130lb individual

burpees for 180lb individual

1 large French Fries

500

524

349

1 IPA beer

195

204

136

1 Slice of Dominos Peperoni Pizza

260

272

182

1 8 ounce Ted’s Bison Cheesburger

730

765

510

1 scoop of Ben Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream

270

283

189

1 12” Roast beef sub from Subway

970

1016

677

1 Cola soft drink

200

210

140

1 Fried Calamari Appetizer

700

733

489

1 Plain Bagel

320

335

223

1 Slice of Cheescake

1000

1048

698

1 Egg McMuffin Sandwich

300

314

210

1 Cadbury Creme Egg

59

62

41

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by Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

      Image      Recently, there has been debate in triathlon circles about the benefit of brick runs. A new school of thought has swept in claiming that running off the bike in training serves no purpose and is of little use. After years of thought on this topic as a coach, and much personal experimentation as an athlete and movement specialist here in our gait analysis lab, here is my perspective on the debate.

In brief, I believe brick runs have great value, but not necessarily for the reasons most people think. In my opinion, the issue of running off the bike should not be presented as a training dilemma or time-saving problem to be solved. Brick runs, in fact, present the opportunity to solve a very important physical MOVEMENT issue for triathletes.

What I know from my work in our gait analysis lab, and confirmed from my own experience, is that it is VERY challenging to get the posterior chain-the glutes, in particular-working properly to be able to run well after cycling. I have personally spent a lot of time practicing and experimenting with ways to trigger better glute activation and involvement before a brick run. I have worked on correct hip flexor stretching, and various dynamic stretching of the entire anterior hip region in order to better activate the posterior chain. I can tell you with certainty that it is very difficult to get the back side of our body going after being on a bike for any length of time. And, to be clear, to run to your potential your posterior chain-including the glutes-has to not only be firing, but must be strong.

But why do the glutes stubbornly refuse to activate off the bike? It is due to a real physiologic phenomenon known as reciprocal inhibition. Reciprocal inhibition causes the muscles on one side of a joint to relax to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. The posture of cycling involves sustained hip flexion, making the hip flexors short and tight. Reciprocal inhibition then causes the hip extensors, especially the gluteus maximus, to shut down markedly. As we discuss further, you will see how brick runs work effectively to counter this phenomenon.

The discoveries I have made in my own training, as well as what I see in the athletes I coach, prove to me that the following elements are absolutely crucial to one’s ability to optimize the run portion of a triathlon:

– You must first understand how important the glutes are in running. And its NOT enough that your glutes are strong (although they MUST be STRONG), they must also be able to act as the PRIMARY extendor of the hip, which is their role. Sometimes the hamstring or low back, due to compensation, tries to over take the role of the glute. First order of business for you is to eliminate compensation wherever possible so that the glutes are doing their job, and then via a platform of functional strength training, get them strong.

– You must understand that the glutes work to create hip extension when running to power you down the road. When coming off the bike, the glutes are not doing that job well at all due to reciprocal inhibition. The longer the ride, the greater the inhibition. Therefore…

– It is imperative to PRACTICE running off the bike frequently to develop a precise, in-tune FEEL of what it takes to get the glutes working effectively. How can you do that?

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A toned, flat tummy is a goal many of us strive to achieve in time for bathing suit season, but endless crunches and ditching all your favorite foods until July 4th isn’t the right–or fun–way to do it. A sculpted core and trim tummy can be attained by incorporating small changes into your day, like holding in your abs while you walk and adding the right healthy fats to your diet. In our lean belly guide, you’ll get diet and exercise tips that will help you eliminate hard-to-reach ab flab and reveal a sculpted, sexy midsection. Here, learn 25 ways to flatten your belly by summer.

Take Your Gossip Session On A Walk
Instead of catching up with friends over food and drinks, suggest a reunion on the move-you’re likely to work out 104% harder if you have an exercise buddy. Suggest a weekly walk-and-talk session, form a friendly fitness club, or take advantage of gym specials together. You’ll motivate everyone to get moving while you grow even closer.

Deflate Your Muffin Top With The Roll-Up
Hold a resistance band taut between hands and lie on the floor face up, with legs extended and arms overhead. Pull abs in, tuck your chin, lift arms toward the ceiling, and roll head, shoulders, and torso up and over your legs as far as you can. Keep heels firmly on the floor and reach hands towards your feet. Pause, then slowly roll back down. Do 5 to 8 reps with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week.

Make Time For Cardio

If you want to burn the most belly fat, a Duke University study confirms that aerobic exercise is the most effective in burning that deep, visceral belly fat. In fact, aerobic training burns 67% more calories than resistance training or a combination of the two, according to the study. 

Try Out Spidey Moves
Eliminate spillover spots with the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week.

Fight Fat With Fiber
For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your belly will carry almost 4% less fat. Thankfully, there are more enjoyable ways to increase your fiber than scarfing down a box of bran flakes: Two apples, ½ cup of pinto beans, one artichoke, or two cups of broccoli will all give you 10 grams of belly-flattening fiber.

Be Pushy At Restaurants
Saying, “I’ll go last” when the waiter comes around could be adding bulk to your belly. A recent study showed that a normal-weight woman was more likely to mimic a thin woman’s eating habits than an obese woman’s. So when you’re out for girl’s night, order first. You’ll keep yourself, and maybe even a friend or two, on track to a flatter tummy. 

Do the Windshield Wiper.
Lie face up with arms out to your sides, palms down, and legs bent at 90 degrees so feet are off the floor. Keep abs tight and slowly lower legs to the left as far as possible, keeping shoulders on the floor. Pause, then return to start. Repeat to the right. Do 20 reps, alternating sides. 

Clean Your House

One more reason to start your spring-cleaning: Vacuuming is a great ab workout. Tighten your abdominal muscles while you push back and forth for a tighter tummy while you clean.

Cut Back On The Pretzels
Too much salt will make you retain more fluid, which contributes to a puffy appearance and extra water weight.

Fry Fat With The Boat Move
Target your deepest ab muscles with The Boat: Lie face up on a mat with arms straight up over chest. Lift your upper body off the ground by rolling through the spine. At the same time, raise your legs so that you’re balancing on your butt, knees bent and shins parallel to the ground. Slowly roll back down onto the mat, lowering legs. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 reps per set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Add This Green Fruit to Your Diet
Just half an avocado contains 10 grams of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which halt blood sugar spikes that tell your body to store fat around your belly. Eat these in ¼ cup servings to ward off belly fat without overdoing it. 

Play Catch
Get into a crunch position-lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, shoulders and head off the floor with your abs contracted. Then have someone throw an exercise ball (or basketball) to you-first to your left side so you have to twist and reach to catch it, and then to your right. Do this as many times as is comfortable, and try to increase the number each week.

Skip Your Daily Soda Habit
Where do you think all those bubbles from carbonated drinks end up? They gang up in your belly! Swap soda, diet soda, and seltzer for water or water with lemon juice.

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This piece first appeared in the September issue of Competitor Magazine.

If you’re only focused on race-day nutrition, you’re missing the big picture, says Littleton, Colo.-based Bob Seebohar, the personal sport dietitian for the 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team and author of “Nutrition Periodization for Athletes: Taking Traditional Sports Nutrition to the Next Level.”

“You have specific physiological goals associated with each training cycle, such as increasing endurance, speed, strength and power, and improving technique, tactics and economy,” Seebohar said. “You should have specific nutrition goals as well.”

Those goals might include losing or gaining weight, losing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, reducing inflammation and improving overall health. To achieve your goals, Seebohar recommends periodizing your nutrition plan just as you would your training.

“Look at your nutrition as a function of your energy expenditure and physical goals associated with each training cycle to guide your nutritional choices,” Seebohar said.

Seebohar shares five tips for fueling during your competitive season, when you have the highest energy expenditure needs.

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3 Ways to Run a Better Fall Marathon

By Matt Fitzgerald
For Active.com

The marathon is a tough nut to crack. Twenty-six miles is a long way to run, let alone to race for time. Few runners master the distance on their first try. Most of us need to gain experience with the runner’s ultimate challenge before we are ready to run the best marathon we are capable of. But that’s what makes the marathon so intriguing. Your first marathon puts a stake in the ground. You come away from it knowing you could do better, so you take what you learn and apply it to the pursuit of a new PR in the second…and so on.

Individual runners make different mistakes, or are limited by different factors, in their first marathons. Some don’t train hard enough. Others make nutritional errors. Still other don’t do all they could to arrive at the start line healthy. Nevertheless, there are some very common training-based limiters to performance in first marathons. These limiters can be flipped around to become training-based opportunities to improve in subsequent marathons.

Are you running a marathon this fall? If so, let it be more than just another marathon—make it a better marathon by incorporating these three simple changes into your training.

Do a second weekly longer run.

Marathon training for many runners is all about the long run. Done once a week, usually on Saturday or Sunday, the long run, which becomes progressively longer from week to week, is held responsible for yielding the majority of the fitness gains a marathoner needs to achieve his or her goals on race day. The other runs in the week provide a foundation that enables the runner to tackle those long runs.

There’s only so much a long run can do to improve your fitness, however. Elite marathon runners typically don’t run any farther in their long runs than everyday marathoners do. The difference is that the elites run a lot more than the rest of us throughout the week.

Studies have shown that weekly mileage is a better predictor of marathon performance than the distance of the longest training run. In other words, given equal ability, a runner who runs 45 miles a week with a longest run of 18 miles will probably run a faster marathon than one who runs 35 miles a week with a longest run of 22 miles.

To increase your weekly mileage, and thereby improve your marathon performance in a manageable way, try doing a moderately long run each week in addition to your long run. For example, suppose a hard week of marathon training for you currently looks like this:

M         T          W        Th       F          Sa        Su        Total
Off       6 mi     6 mi     6 mi     Off       20 mi  Off       38 miles

Try doing this instead:

M         T          W        Th       F          Sa        Su        Total
Off       6 mi     12 mi  4 mi     Off       20 mi  Off       42 miles

Run more hills.

Running uphill is a great way to build specific strength and aerobic capacity in marathon training. Another virtue of running uphill is that it allows you to attain intensities similar to running fast on flat ground without the pounding that comes with doing so. Many runners try to avoid running uphill, precisely because it is harder than running on flat ground, and especially if they are training for a marathon on a flat course. But if you want to run a better marathon, you need to do some hard running, and going uphill may serve you better than running intervals at the track, which aren’t any easier.

There are various ways to incorporate hill running into your training. I recommend that you do some of your long runs on relatively hilly courses. This will toughen up your legs more than a run of equal distance of flat terrain. In addition, run a set of uphill intervals once every 10 to 14 days. Start with shorter intervals—for example, 8 x 30 seconds—at a very high intensity. Gradually increase the duration—up to 5 x 3 minutes—and lower the intensity of these intervals as your marathon draws closer.

Finish fast.

When runners fail to achieve their goals in marathons, the last 5 miles are usually to blame. Most runners have little trouble maintaining a reasonable marathon goal pace for the first 21 miles, but then they slow down inexorably in the last few. To prevent this from happening to you in your next marathon, include some fast finishes in your long runs.

Instead of running the full 15 or 18 or 20 miles at a steady, moderate, pace, run all but the last 1 to 3 miles at that pace and then increase your tempo to the end. Challenging yourself to run faster when you’re already fatigued will stimulate physiological and mental adaptations that will enable you to avoid slowing down in the last miles of your next marathon.