Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Alcohol Affects Your Fitness

The American Athletic Institute has conducted studies of alcohol use and athlete/human performance. Get ready. Here are some of the findings:

Training Effect
Every time you get drunk, you lose approximately 2 weeks (14 days) of training effect. That's right, one night of drinking and two weeks of training effect is erased. You are wasting your time and your hard work in the gym. Weekends make you WEAK.

Training Hormones
Alcohol suppresses your training hormones for up to four days. Basically you are at practice but the hormones you need to gain training effect and condition are not. You can train but no real improvement comes.

Performance Potential
The effect of recent drinking (especially heavy drinking) lowers your performance potential by 11.4 percent before you even hit the gym or field of play.

Muscles
Lactic acid levels, which fatigue your muscles, increases much earlier and primary muscles that you depend on shut down or are slower and weaker.

Lungs
You will not be able to catch your breath during breaks in activity. Your breathing rate will be very high and you will hyperventilate or lose control of your breathing. Your lungs are trying to get oxygen to your working muscles and clear carbon dioxide from your system but they are compromised.

Heart
Your heart rate will be much higher and over time your cardiac output will decrease.
The oxygen rich blood will not reach your working muscles. The lactic acid will build up in the muscles and you will slow down and be weaker.

Muscle Fuels
Normally we can reload our muscles with fuels (glycogen) in 8-12 hours, but after drinking it can be 16-24 hours; that means is can take twice as long.

Recovery
Normal recovery from maximal stress is 24 hours, but after drinking, it can be 48-96 hours. Do the math.

Dehydration
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate. This one is easy to understand. Most people are chronically dehydrated it is. Alcohol makes the problem worse.

Muscle Repair
When we train muscle is damaged. We repair it by making protein into new fibers. Drinking slows down this repair process. It is in your speed muscles (fast twitch) that this process is most reduced.

Reflex
Alcohol affects reaction time and hand-eye coordination, which are two of the most important functions in physical activities. Think you can maximize a kettlebell swing with slow reflexes? 

Conclusion
Alcohol is a metabolic poison, clear and simple. It affects the entire body and all body systems, especially those that control high performance. No serious fitness enthusiast or athlete should use alcohol. I recommend that you eliminate it (if you use it) or reduce it to sparingly for best fitness results and effective program progression.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hot Never Stops: Battle Tested Best Practices Athletes Use To Stay On Track...

Franklin Covey reports that the #1 resolution in the U.S. last year (2012) was to become more physically fit. Lofty goal? It was up from #4 in 2002.

Starting is the easy part...Visions of improved health and physical fitness are good catalysts, but weak motivators.

Here are some battle tested (best practices) that athletes use to stay on track. You can benefit from them too:

1. Enjoy Yourself and the Process. In addition to your focused training efforts pick some sports or activities where you can thrive and enjoy. Bring out the old athlete in you. Pleasure produces long term sustainability. Join a rec league. Attempt to do fun, competitive activities year round. Use the training you diligently engage in to support your activities. You will create a pursuit to get better because of your new activity schedule. The rest will take care of itself whether it is weight loss, improved athletic performance or anything else.

2. Create a Fitness Foundation. Lack of time is lack of planning. Plan your workouts like business meetings or birthday parties. Schedule your 2-3 sweat sessions this week and make them recurring events in your smart phone's calendar. Eventually you will expand to a higher frequency of workouts (3-6). Use progression (seek help). Being too ambitious too early can bring your house of cards down quickly. Develop one strong habit (start with scheduling) and then that will become a platform for you to build from in the future. 1 change a week is 52 changes a year. That is a heck of a lot of change!

3. Be a Champion. The point where nothing deviates you from your fitness plan is a "championship moment." You know that internal voice that tells you to get to your scheduled workout versus the one that tells you to go to happy hour? A championship moment is when you take control of the mental conversation that tugs at you. The positive and dominant voice trumps the weak negative voice with ease when it is consciously put into practice (daily).

4. Con Yourself Out. Now and then you just need to outsmart yourself. If you can get to the parking lot (90% of the work) of the gym even when you are tired chances are you will go inside. Cross the finish line. 90% of it is showing up.   

5. See Success Vividly. You don't need Yoga, Tai Chi, Enya music or a dark room to use visualization to your advantage. Success is as much a "thinking through process" as it is a creation of mental imagery. Examine the chain of events that create championship moments! During that process you may never even think of the negative voice that has been holding you back for so long. You are too busy focusing on the positive. You are a champion.

Your mantra this week: hot never stops...

6 Tips for Lean Living in 2013

The "weight loss" industry in America generates somewhere between 40-60 BILLION dollars annually. Read one book and then read another and you might find yourself in a vicious cycle of confusion. A confused mind always says NO.

This crazy cycle leads people to attempt everything under the sun out of shear frustration and produces profits for some while many people participating in the "weight loss" game are left empty handed, heavier than when they started, and are left looking for the next "best" thing.

Here are 6 tips to help you avoid the craziness and live lean:

1. Work a program. The program that works best is the program that YOU WORK AT. Plain and simple. Sounds like rocket science huh? I know. Switching programs because you failed to get immediate results will kill any chance of momentum you capture. Living lean is a lifestyle. Think and plan for long haul.

2. Rethink your fitness plan. Monotony is your enemy. Muscle confusion is your friend. A one dimensional (or one-note) fitness plan is boring and will produce little over the long haul. Look into high-intensity training and metabolic training. As I have said many times before intensity beats extensity.

3. Use your closet as a dream board. Put those clothes that you want to get into in sight (middle of closet) so you remember them and envision fitting back in them. Fat proof your closet!

4. Quit calorie banking and calorie skimping. Your body works in calorie burning ranges that support your current lifestyle. Eat too little and you store fat. Eat too much and you store fat. Starving yourself one week and gorging the next is unhealthy and it can destroy your metabolism over time. Be "Steady Eddy." Get with a professional to determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your activity needs (often referred to as a body analysis).

5. Check your frequency. Cramming a week's worth of missed workouts in over the weekend is just plain stupid. This increases your risk of injury, burnout, and spotty future attendance. Skip the "weekend warrior" idea. Aim to train 5-6 days a week for 30-45 minutes.

6. Splurge once a week. The goal here is to allow yourself a little breathing room (assuming you follow your plan to a tee during the week LOL). Over time your splurge foods will change into healthier options because you will want to eat to support your fit lifestyle. Use common sense and moderation with "splurging."