- Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP
Table of Content
The human body has over 600 muscles, giving it a tremendous capacity for movement and physical activity. Regular physical activity is as much a natural way of living as breathing in oxygen. Yet the average North American moves very little. Our activity level has been reduced by cars, washing machines, assembly lines, farm equipment, supermarkets, elevators, snow blowers, and golf carts, to name only a few movement-saving devices.
Going against our genetic blueprints in this way leads inevitably to disease and degeneration. There is no doubt that the progressive decline in physical activity during this century has paralleled and contributed to the rise in obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
We have to find twentieth century substitutes for the activities we no longer need to perform. Walking, jogging, cycling, rowing, swimming, aerobics, dancing: there are lots of alternatives. Your body demands a minimum amount of physical activity every week. If it doesn’t get enough, it undergoes a degenerative process that can be likened to starvation.
Exercise Prevents Age-Related Muscle And Bone Loss And Cardiovascular Decline
As we will examine more closely in Step 5, beginning at about the age of 40 there is a significant decline in the secretion rates and blood levels of testosterone and other male hormones (androgens), DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), growth hormone, IGF-1 (Inslulin-like Growth Factor-1), in both sexes, and an additional decline in estrogen and progesterone when women enter menopause. One of the effects of these age-related hormonal changes is that they allow our muscle mass to be broken down and used (catabolized) to produce energy. In turn, our muscle mass tends to decline with age, which slows our metabolism, and encourages greater gains in our body fat. There is also a decline in cardiovascular function as we age in that the cells of the body become less efficient at extracting oxygen from the bloodstream (decreased VO2 Max) and our maximum heart rate declines. These hormonal changes also permit calcium to leak out of bone, increasing our risk of osteoporosis, which presently affects one in every four women by age 50, and one in every eight men after 50.The good news is that the right combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training exercises have been proven to prevent loss of muscle mass and bone density, as we age, and to maintain cardiovascular function at a more youthful level.
In fact, even studies on elderly subjects have shown that aerobic exercise can improve many aspects of cardiovascular function (including VO2 Max), and that a basic resistance training routine can increase muscle mass and bone density, reversing important aspects of the aging process.
There is abundant evidence to show that aerobic and resistance training exercise together can, forestall and reverse many age-related changes to our muscle mass, bone mass, and cardiovascular system, allowing us to attain and maintain a youthful looking (fit, toned, low body fat, good muscular definition) and youthful functioning (strong, aerobically fit) body well into our twilight years.
In my own case, although I have been reasonably fit my whole life, at age 40 I began to put extra emphasis on the resistance training portion of my exercise routine (prior to that aerobic training was the majority of my program with a small degree of resistance training) to see if I could increase my muscle mass, tone and definition to a significant degree. At this stage in life I began to engage in one hour or moderate to heavy resistance training, six days per week (using a three day split routine, and continuing to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day), and adjusted my diet to acquire the additional protein I now required to build more muscle. In the first two years of following this program I gained 12-15 pounds of muscle, and reduced my body fat by 4%. I have been able to maintain these changes for the past 10 years, and have a better body now than I did in my 20’s and 30’s, if the truth be known. So, like many others, I am a living example of the fact that the aging process does not have to make us fat, flabby, saggy, weak, tired and easily winded. Even though the hormonal changes of aging make it harder to achieve and maintain these results (the adaptations to exercise are slower as less pronounced as we age), it is absolutely within your ability to have a fit, toned, tight, lean, strong, endurance-resistant body, regardless of your age, if you will follow the recommendations in this program. The combination of the right exercise routine, nutrition and supplementation plan will pave the way for you to achieve a more youthful looking and functioning body than you may realize is possible. In this section I will explain exactly how exercise interacts with your body to slow the aging process and enable you to experience all the positive results I am talking about. To help you personalize the recommendations I have provided at the end of this section various options from which you can choose the exercise program that you feel is right for you, based upon your present state of health, fitness level and wellness goals.
Exercise is simply a necessary part of health-promotion, disease prevention and anti-aging. Even if your diet is ideal, your muscles will degenerate and shrink without adequate exercise. They will also become more susceptible to tears and ruptures. They will no longer adequately support your joints, especially your hips, knees, and lower back. You will be prone to osteoarthritis. Your bones will lose calcium more easily, increasing your chance of developing osteoporosis. Without adequate physical activity, you can count on progressive deterioration of your muscle and bone structure, your cardiovascular integrity, and other organ systems.
Amazingly, sufficient exercise training intensity also reverses the aging process by stimulating the synthesis and release of testosterone, growth hormone and IGF-1 hormones, which enable our bodies to more easily build muscle, burn fat, maintain bone density and make us feel stronger and more energized.
The Importance of Aerobic Exercise
Participating in aerobic exercise is possibly the single most important proactive wellness strategy you can employ to optimize your health, slow the aging process, prevent degenerative diseases, attain and maintain your ideal weight, and enhance your overall feeling of well being. Regular aerobic exercise improves the health of your cardiovascular system, strengthens your heart muscle, burns body fat, elevates the good cholesterol (the HDL), reduces elevated triglyceride levels, helps reduce high blood pressure and regulates insulin, which helps prevent diabetes and better manage diabetic conditions that already exists. Aerobic exercise is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of breast and colon cancer, and it increases the release of endorphins, which elevate your mood, improve feeling of well being, reduce stress, and help combat mild to moderate cases of depression. By aerobic exercise, I mean any activity that accelerates your heart rate within what is known as the “aerobic training zone” for a minimum of 20 minutes (ideally 30 to 60 minutes) at least three times a week. This means that you should exercise at a level of intensity that has you breathing harder than normal but that still allows you to carry on a conversation. Examples of aerobic exercise include jogging, stationary cycling, rowing, long-distance swimming, cross-country skiing, the elliptical machines, Stair Master, Stair Climber, aerobic fitness and dance classes (e.g. step classes etc.). All of these forms of exercise provide the many health benefits available from aerobic activity.
The Specifics Of Aerobic Exercise
To benefit from aerobic exercise, you must get your heart beating within your aerobic training heart-rate zone. Essentially, this zone is between 60 and 85 percent of your maximum attainable heart rate. Your maximum attainable heart rate is how fast your heart would beat if you were to exercise all-out to the point of complete exhaustion. Fortunately, you don’t actually have to reach this point. You can estimate your maximum attainable heart rate by subtracting your present age from 220:
- Maximum attainable heart rate = 220 minus your age
- Low end of aerobic heart-rate zone heart rate x 0.6
- High end of aerobic heart-rate zone heart rate x 0.85
Let’s look at an example. If you are 40 years old, your maximum attainable heart rate is approximately 180 beats per minute (220 - 40). Your aerobic heart-rate zone ranges from 108 beats per minute (180 x 0.6) to 153 beats per minute (180 x 0.85), so you can attain the benefits of aerobic exercise by keeping your heart beating between 108 and 153 beats per minute for 20 to 45 minutes, at least three times per week.
Exercising at 60 percent of your maximum attainable rate is so comfortable that you could maintain a conversation without getting winded. Unknowingly, most people perform aerobic exercise at a pace that puts their heart rate between 70 and 75 percent of their maximum attainable rate. If you are just starting with aerobic exercise, you should aim for about 65 percent of your maximum attainable rate. If you are already in good shape, aim for about 75 percent. You can push yourself harder by doing short sprint intervals during your aerobic work out to gain speed endurance, power, and to burn more body fat. I will explain interval training a bit later on this section.
At any rate, you will be amazed at how quickly your body adapts, once you initiate an aerobic program. I have seen a great many patients who were extremely overweight or out of shape achieve fantastic results in short periods of time. I have seen first-time joggers, who originally required an average ten or eleven minutes to complete a mile, improve their times to eight, seven, or even an elite six minutes per mile.
This improvement results from an increase in the muscles’ oxygen consumption and the number of sites within the muscle that can generate energy. With more available energy, the muscles can do more work, enabling you to run faster (or row harder or whatever) at the same heart at which you were previously running slower or performing to a lesser degree.
Insert Table and Diagram that originally appeared on page 156 of the Winning
Maximal heart rates and training sensitive zones for use in aerobic training programs for people of different ages. The zone between 60 - 70% of your maximum heart rate is sufficient to derive aerobic benefits and at the same time is not so demanding as to produce significant discomfort.
Your overall aerobic exercise performance will gradually improve as a result of regular participation. You don’t have to overexert yourself. Your speed, endurance, and strength will improve as a natural response to the aerobic exercise itself. Studies show that in six to eight weeks you can improve your oxygen intake capacity by 15 to 25 percent if you are presently starting from an aerobically unfit state.
Aerobic exercise improves the capacity of your body tissues to extract oxygen from red blood cells, transport it to the inside of the cells, and use it for energy production (VO2 Max or oxygen consumption). Although your red blood cells are always saturated with more oxygen than your body requires at any given moment, the ability of the tissues to pick up this oxygen can vary greatly from one person to the next. An aerobically fit person picks up oxygen from the bloodstream about 25 percent more efficiently than someone who is unfit. And the more oxygen your tissues can pick up, the less stressful it is for your heart to deliver adequate quantities of oxygen to your tissues.
Light activity alone does not significantly improve the utilization of oxygen in your body. You must maintain an increased heart rate for at least 20 minutes three times a week to create these aerobic adaptations. In just six to eight weeks, the average person can increase his or her oxygen consumption by 10 to 15 percent through aerobic exercise.
The benefits of improved oxygen utilization are enormous. You will have more energy. Your tissues will become more efficient at using the oxygen that is already there so your heart will be under less stress. Your heart will also become stronger and able to pump more blood through your body with every beat. Thus, it can beat more slowly and still provide adequate blood to your body. On average, an aerobically fit person actually has a slower resting heart rate (48 to 66 beats per minute) than an aerobically unfit person (72 to 99 beats per minute).
A slower resting heart beat is a tremendous advantage in itself. Between heart beats, your heart can deliver blood to its own coronary vessels and supply itself with more oxygen. To appreciate the importance of these aerobic adaptations, keep in mind that a heart attack occurs when your heart muscle cannot get the oxygen it needs. So the better equipped your heart is to deliver oxygen to its own muscles, the better off you are. But that’s not all. Studies also show that aerobically fit exercisers have higher levels of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) in their bloodstream. HDL cholesterol helps to prevent the arteries from narrowing and may even reverse the narrowing process.
Stress Reduction Aerobic exercise lowers psychological stress by balancing and regulating hormones that promote high blood pressure. During periods of stress, the amount of adrenaline hormone in your system increases. During aerobic exercise, your body releases adrenaline slowly and regularly; after exercising, your level of adrenaline returns to the ideal baseline. Thus, aerobic exercise can help you relieve stress and retard the development of high blood pressure.
Many highly stressed people have discovered that aerobic exercise helps them unwind. It’s also a great way to clear the cobwebs from your head and reduce the mental pressures of the day. In fact, aerobic exercise takes you into an “altered” state of consciousness that triggers positive thoughts, making it a powerful mind-body experience. For example, it is well-documented that exercise helps prevent recurring depression. It induces runner’s high, the heightened mood state that usually kicks in 20 to 30 minutes into an aerobic workout session. Some research indicates that this high is actually created by the release of pleasure-giving brain chemicals know as endorphins. Finally, exercise affects your appetite and food choices. Most people find it easier to make healthy food choices after an exercise routine. The appetite center seems to prefer healthier, lighter foods.
Fat Reduction Losing a few extra pounds can also help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Two-thirds of overweight people with high blood pressure could bring their blood pressure down to normal simply by losing some of their excess weight. Losing excess weight also helps lower elevated levels of triglycerides (fats) in the blood. Triglycerides are linked to heart disease and related cardiovascular conditions.
You can be trim and slender but still unfit from an aerobic point of view. Conversely, you can be in great aerobic shape even if you are overweight. No matter how much you weigh, you can attain great benefits to your heart, cardiovascular system, and muscle tissues from aerobic exercise. Being aerobically fit actually helps minimize some of the risks of being overweight. So don’t wait to lose weight before you begin an aerobic exercise program.
Spot-reducing exercises such as sit-ups and leg lifts will tone the muscles under the fat, but they will not eliminate fat itself. Only aerobic exercise can stimulate the release of fat from your fat cells. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you get on a stationary bicycle and begin peddling. As your heart beat speeds up, your nervous system releases adrenaline. Adrenaline triggers the breakdown of fat in your fat cells everywhere in your body, not just in the muscles you are exercising. Individual fat molecules escape from your fat cells and enter the bloodstream, where they circulate through your body. The exercising muscles (including the heart and respiratory muscles) pick up the circulating fat molecules and burn them to generate energy. The longer the aerobic exercise continues, the more fat is released and burned.
After the Exercise Stops For a long time after you stop exercising, your muscles continue to pick up and burn the fat already in your bloodstream. However, your tissues will stop releasing fat molecules into your bloodstream very rapidly because your demand for energy decreases. Several factors affect how long you burn fat after exercise. Most significantly, the longer the exercise session, the more fat will be released from your fat cells and therefore the more fat is burned after exercise. Ideally, you should build up until you are doing 30-60 minute aerobic workouts at each session. A 30-60 minute session also significantly depletes the carbohydrate stores in your muscles and liver. Your body will be so busy rebuilding these stores that most of your tissue cells will continue to burn fat as their primary fuel even when you are at rest for many hours after the work out is over.
The Importance Of Resistance Training (Strength and Weight Training)
In addition to aerobic exercise I highly recommend that you add a resistance-training program to your overall weekly fitness plan. Resistance training will give you beautiful, sleek, muscle tone and definition, improved body shaping and sculpting, more strength and will raise your resting metabolic rate, enabling your body to burn more fat calories while you are at rest. In turn, this helps keep your body fat down, and reverses many aspect of the aging process. Resistance training also helps you gain bone mass, which prevents osteoporosis. Resistance training also greatly depletes the carbohydrate stores in muscles exercised. While your muscles are rebuilding their carbohydrate stores when the exercise session is over for the day, your other body cells will primarily continue to bum fat, as your body shunts the carbohydrate calories you consume to your muscles so they can reload their carbohydrate fuel tank (glycogen stores) in preparation for your next work out. These adaptations to resistance-training make it easier for your body to burn fat, reducing your body fat and preventing gains in body fat as you age. Resistance training, performed properly, also improves your posture and helps prevent sprains, strains, and injuries to your muscle and joint systems.
Also, muscles are more metabolically active than fat tissues so they consume large amounts of energy even when they are resting. Therefore, the more muscular you are, the more calories you will burn at rest. You will have a faster metabolic rate if you will adhere to the resistance training principles I will outline for you and you consume the number of grams of protein per day that is consistent with your protein needs, as we established in Step 1 of the program.
If you are just beginning an aerobic exercise program and have been unfit for some time, then you may not be game to start with resistance training right away. However, when you become more experienced and more fit, then I suggest that use either Exercise Program 3, 4 or 5, as outlined at the end of Step 3, to add a proven method of resistance training to your aerobic routine. Or ask a fitness instructor at a local health club to draw you up a starter resistance program that is customized for your needs. With all the new sophisticated equipment available, resistance training can be safe for almost everyone. In recent years weight training or resistance training has become increasingly popular with athletes who are involved in a wide range of sports and fitness conscious individuals of all ages.
Gone are the days when weight training was exclusive to Olympic Weight Lifters, Body Builders and Muscle Heads. Today, many recreational athletes and fitness-oriented individuals have begun to recognize the performance-enhancing, body-shaping and even medicinal value of incorporating weight training into their lives. Unfortunately, many conflicting theories and opinions can confuse the newcomer when entering the weight-training world. This section will help you separate fact from fiction and help you understand some fundamental aspects of strength or resistance training.
Sports Specific Training
The key to successful resistance training is to know what outcome you want. For instance, if you want a body builder's physique, then you would follow a program that maximizes muscle growth and density. If you're trying to improve the power of your tennis stroke, your slap-shot, your bat speed in baseball, your golf swing, your skating power or your speed and acceleration for soccer or sprinting, then using a body builder's weight training routine may actually slow you down and worsen your performance. You might get bigger, but you'll probably be slower.
However, a properly designed resistance training program can help you develop improved muscle tone, definition and body sculpting and can improve athletic performance by increasing speed, power and performance in tennis, golf, baseball, hockey, football, speed skating, soccer, sprinting, gymnastics, and many other sports.
Muscle Adaptations to Weight Training
One of the fundamental adaptations to weight training is an increase in muscle fiber size. An increase in size is called hypertrophy. As a rule you don't gain an increase in the number of muscle fibers in the muscle. Rather, the muscle fibers that you have simply lay down more protein myofilaments (actin and myosin protein) in the outer layer of your muscle fibers.
A muscle like your biceps, for instance, is made up of thousands of individual muscle fibers (muscle cells) that are each about the diameter of a human hair. As you train these muscles through resistance training, they respond by enlarging, as they lay down an increased number of protein contractile bands (myofilaments) inside each trained muscle fiber, thus increasing their cross-sectional area and their density.
As the cross-sectional area of the muscle increases, the maximum force (strength) of the muscle increases, and your muscle begin to look more tones, better defined, giving an attractive body sculpting effect. These adaptations hold true for both men and women. However, muscle fiber hypertrophy does not occur uniformly among all the muscle fibers in the exercised muscle.
In every muscle, there are Slow Twitch (Type I) and Fast Twitch (Type II) muscle fibers. The Slow Twitch (Type I) fibers are very aerobic in nature and are recruited primarily for long distance or endurance-based activities. In contract, the Fast Twitch (Type II) fibers are involved in explosive events such as sprinting, the golf swing, tennis stroke, wrist shot, bat swing, throwing motion, jumping, punching, and acceleration in hockey, soccer, basketball, etc.
The resistance training program that I will explain primarily produces hypertrophy in the Type II -- fast twitch fibers much more so than the Type I - slow twitch fibers. Body builders, on the other hand, focus on both Type I and Type II muscle fiber hypertrophy. As a rule, Type I muscle fibers resist increasing in size. This is why long distance runners, for example, do not look muscular, although theirType I muscle fibers are extremely fit and well trained.
Body builders have discovered that they can force Type I muscle fiber to grow (hypertrophy) by including high volume, low resistance training to their work out programs. This enables them to gain the bulky muscles that we associate with body builders.
(The principles of this type of resistance training is beyond the scope of this book. If you wish to pursue a body-building program, then I suggest you increase your knowledge of this subject by pursuing other resources that explain the specifics of this kind of training)
For genetic reasons some people simply have a greater number of Fast Twitch (Type II) fibers than others. Their inherent potential for explosive speed and acceleration is seen in their natural ability to run fast, skate fast, or hit a baseball or golf ball a country mile, with little training.
Sets - Reps and Resistance
Designing a resistance-training program involves the number of sets to be done with each exercise, the number of repetitions performed in each set and the amount of resistance you're going to work against
To gain improvements in muscle definition, body sculpting, strength and power, which will give you a high performance body, your best bet is to choose a weight that you can lift 8-10 times. Then perform 3-5 sets of 8-10 repetitions with this weight. It should be heavy enough that you are unable to do more than 10-12 repetitions in a set. While performing the exercise, contract the muscle as fast as you can when working against the resistance and then lower the weight in a slower, controlled manner so you don't sprain any joint structures. Contracting quickly against the resistance helps to improve muscle power, increasing your speed and acceleration, and recruiting a greater number of total muscle fibers into the muscle contraction.
With this style of training, you will experience an increase in muscle size, albeit less than body building forms of weight training, and it will provide the speed and power to enhance many athletic endeavors. Once you can lift the weight 10 times in each of the 3 or 4 sets at that station, make the weight heavier in your next visit to the gym. Continue to make the weight heavier as your muscles become stronger over time, always performing 8-10 repetitions in each set. This is known as the overload principle of resistance training, which enables your muscle strength gains, body scupting and definition to keep improving over time.
Other Critical Factors To Maximize Weight Training Results
- It is most ideal to perform at least 2-3 different exercises for each body part (i.e. For chest--Bench Press, Incline Press, Flies)
- Perform 3-5 sets at each exercise station
- Work each body part at least 2X per week (allow 48-72 hours for recovery for each body part)
- If you want to focus on greater strength gains - use heavier weight that permits you to only perform 4-7 repetitions per set, before reaching muscular failure
- For power training to enhance many sports - focus on moderate weights, as I also recommend for body sculpting, general anti-aging purposes, using 8-10 repetitions per set to muscular failure
- Remember that to gain muscle protein you must ingest at least 0.5 grams of protein for every pound you weight (or about 1.2 grams of protein for every kilogram you weigh). Some athletes ingest up to 2.2 grams of protein per kg. As an example, if you weigh 80 kilograms, you should consider ingesting 100 to 150 grams of protein each day to build your muscles depending on the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. (See Step 1 – Protein)
Note that your weight in pounds can be converted into kilograms by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2.
Don’t have time to read the whole book right now?
No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it.
Dr. James Meschino,
DC, MS, ROHP
For Those Who Hate To Exercise (What You Can Do)
Does the thought of aerobic exercise go against every instinct in your body? Do you view aerobic and resistance exercise as a painful, dull, boring and revolting experience that produces unnecessary discomfort and fatigue? I have met many individuals, over the course of my life, who feel this way. Despite the phenomenal growth of the wellness movement throughout the 1980s and 1990’s, many people are still vehemently opposed to doing evening light to moderate aerobic exercise.
The good news for these people is that you can attain some of the benefits of regular exercise through a program of light activity, such as walking. Several studies have shown that burning 2000 calories per week with light physical activity increases longevity. For example, walking alone, if you burn 2,000 calories per week or more, is associated with lowering risk of coronary heart disease by 39 percent and significantly lowering the risk of several other degenerative conditions, even if you are an overweight smoker with a history of high blood pressure. One source of evidence for this claim was provided in a famous study of Harvard alumni done by Dr. Paffenbarger. A minimum amount of physical activity is an essential part of a wellness lifestyle. And we’re not talking about sweat and exertion here - 2000 calories’ worth of walking will do it. For most people that would require a walk of 45 to 60 minutes (3 to 4 miles, or 5 to 6.5 km) four to six times per week.
Other research has been published showing that even light , regular, physical activity helps prevent colon cancer. It has also been linked with decreases in breast cancer. Exercise seems to regulate estrogen levels. During a woman’s teenage years, excess body fat can establish a pattern of estrogen secretion that may hasten the onset of cancers in the reproductive tissues later in life. When fat cells increase in size because you have been overeating and not getting enough exercise, they may become over-stimulated and increase the production of potentially harmful forms of estrogen (estrone). This estrogen makes reproductive tissues more susceptible to cancer. According to research done by Rose Frisch, women who have a lifetime of exercise have a dramatically lower rate of reproductive organ cancers than women who have a history of little exercise.
Any way you look at it, the message is becoming quite clear. Physical activity does not need to be excessively demanding for it to be of some value in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. However, more formalized aerobic exercise provides greater total benefits in regards to anti-aging, disease prevention, fitness, and body shaping and toning.
Choosing the Right Program
I will offer you five different exercise programs that you can choose from according to your present fitness level, health status, health history, wellness and anti-aging goals, and time constraints: the Power Walk Program - a light activity program for people who hate to exercise; The Basic Aerobic Program - an aerobic program to ensure that you get all the benefits available from aerobic exercise that I have discussed; The Aerobic Plus Basic 6 Resistance Training Program – the basic aerobic program plus a starter program of resistance training, which provides the three most important resistance exercises for the upper body, and the three most important resistance exercises for the lower body; Aerobic Plus Intermediate Resistance Training Program - includes the basic aerobic program plus an intermediate program of resistance training; Aerobic Plus Advanced Spit Routine Resistance Training Program – includes the basic aerobic program with a more advanced program of resistance training for even better results in regards to body shaping, muscle tone, definition and strength Whatever program you choose, it will help you toward your overall wellness and anti-aging goals.
Program 1 - The Light Activity Program For Those Who Hate To Exercise
The Power Walker
By burning as few as 2000 calories per week, you will begin to notice the benefits of light activity. Burning these calories is important for your well-being whether or not you want to lose weight. How can you burn off 2000 calories? By walking one kilometre, you burn as many calories as you weigh in kilograms. So if you weigh 70 kg, you would burn 70 calories by walking a kilometre. Let’s say you walk five kilometres (three miles) a day, six times a week. Now figure out how many calories that would burn:
70 calories x 5 km x 6 times per week = 2100 calories
So a three-mile (5 km) walk, six times a week, is just enough physical activity to significantly decrease your risks of heart disease and certain cancers.
If you wish, you can jog some of those kilometers instead of walking them. The main difference, however, between walking a mile and jogging a mile is how fast you get across the finish line. You burn the same number of calories either way. jogging will provide some additional aerobic benefits, but walking is a tremendously underrated method of exercise: you burn the same number of calories as you do jogging; you can do it almost anywhere; and you don’t need any fancy equipment.
Swimming is not quite as effective a method of burning calories for people who are overweight. Fat makes you more buoyant in the water, which means you sink less. The higher you sit in the water, the less force you need to move through it. Therefore, a heavier person uses less energy to swim a mile than a lean person. jazz dancing and ballroom dancing are good supplements to the Power Walker program. One hour of dancing is roughly equivalent to a three-mile walk.
Wear a proper pair of shoes for your power walk, preferably jogging shoes. Choose different routes to keep your walks interesting. Listen to your favorite music as you walk to help maintain your pace and make your exercising more enjoyable. Vary it sometimes by taping a talk show or planning a letter while you walk. To burn more calories during your power walk, you can carry one-pound hand weights or wrist weights. By swinging your arms briskly as you walk, you will further increase your heart rate, making the power walk more of an aerobic workout.
Eventually, you will probably find the power walk is not enough of a challenge. This means you’re getting into shape. Try alternating walking and jogging. jog until you feel tired, then walk until you recover. Don’t be surprised when one day you find yourself able to jog the entire distance.
Program 2 – Basic Aerobic
Any activity that keeps your heart beating within your aerobic training heart-rate zone is good aerobic exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do - jogging, cycling, rowing, running up and down the stairs - anything that keeps your heart pumping within your aerobic training zone.
Aerobic classes can be an effective form of aerobic exercise as long as they maintain your heart rate within the aerobic heart-rate zone for more than 20 minutes. Some fitness classes such as Cardio-Pump and Body Sculpting group classes can also improve muscle-toning, strength and flexibility. Some of these classes can be a great overall conditioner, but I suggest that you compliment these classes with some additional aerobic and strength training work on your own.
If you have not exercised for a long time, consult your doctor before embarking on an ambitious aerobic program. Begin with 20-minute exercise sessions and gradually work up to 45-60 minutes. A 45-60 minute session maximizes the amount of fat you will continue to burn after exercising.
To cash in on the major aerobic benefits of jogging, you should cover at least 15 miles (24 km) per week. If you jog more than 25 miles (40 km) per week, however, you may put yourself at risk for the development of shin splints, ankle problems, or knee problems, according to various studies.
Measure other forms of aerobic exercise, such as swimming and working out on stationary bikes, rowing machines, cross-country machines, treadmills, mini-trampolines, and stair climbers, by the length of time you spend on them, not by the “distance” you cover. All that matters is the length of time that your heart rate stays within your aerobic training heart-rate zone. If you are training three days a week, these days should not be consecutive. You need to train every second day to sustain the training effect.
Don’t push yourself to exhaustion. Make exercise something you enjoy. However, once you become more aerobically fit, you can add interval training to your aerobic work out, if you feel it serves a purpose for you. Interval training enables you to become better conditioned for many endurance and stop-and-go sports, builds more power into your aerobic ability, and enables you to burn more fat and calories during and after your aerobic work out session, which more efficiently reduces and maintains your body fat. So, lets take a quick look at interval training and how it works to see if it suits your needs.
Adding Interval Training To Your Aerobic Work Out To Enhance Power And Fat Burning
A key component to success in many sports is the ability to repeatedly attain maximum speed and sustain it for an optimal length of time.
This is especially vital to sports that have a large playing surface such as a hockey rink, basketball court, football or soccer field, singles tennis court, middle distance track and field events etc.
We've all seen the picture of a ball carrier in football slowing down within 10 or 15 yards of scoring a touchdown after a 70-80 yard break-a-way run. After dodging his way and sprinting through the entire team, the ball carrier begins to fatigue and a better-conditioned defending player catches up to the ball carrier and makes the tackle, saving a touchdown In hockey, often a better conditioned opposing player gets back in time to make a goal-saving defensive play by checking the puck carrier before he or she can take a clean shot at the net. In baseball, a player may lose speed due to fatigue as they round third base only to be tagged out at home plate.
The good news is that with some minor adjustments to your aerobic training routine you can stimulate your muscles to adapt in such a way as to improve your speed endurance. So even if you're not the fastest athlete that ever lived, being able to sustain your maximum speed, for a more ideal length of time, will often give you an edge over a naturally faster athlete, who lacks speed endurance capacity.
Moreover, training your body to do repeated bouts of speed endurance (interval) training, punctuated by a short recovery period between speed intervals, provides the muscle adaptations necessary to enable you to maintain your speed endurance ability well into the latter stages of the game. It also enhances muscle power, muscle tone and definition and forces the muscle to burn more fat and total calories per workout session. Coaches know that speed endurance conditioning can be the difference between winning and losing no matter how much talent their players possess.
Speed Endurance Training
So, how do you train your speed endurance energy system using interval triaining?
Well, on the two or three days a week you simply add interval training to your aerobic workout, while you are riding a stationary bike, jogging, using a stairmaster, rowing machine etc.). Instead of just jogging or cycling etc. for 24-40 mins. at a constant pace within your aerobic heart rate zone, set aside 10-15 minutes of that training period to include short bouts of interval sprints, followed by a return to a sub-maximal recovery interval. The sprint phase of high intensity work should closely match the demands of your sport and the recovery (sub-maximal) should also mimic the recovery interval of your sport. Here is a guide that will help you identify the approximate sprint to recovery intervals for various sports.
Examples Of How To Use Interval Training To Improve Speed Endurance And Power In Various Sports
Football 20 – 30 seconds sprint phase followed by 60 seconds of recovery within your low to moderate aerobic range.
Basketball 20 - 30 seconds followed by 60 seconds of recovery within your low to moderate aerobic range.
Baseball 40 seconds followed by 90 seconds of recovery within your low to moderate aerobic range.
Soccer 30 seconds followed by 60 seconds of recovery within your low to moderate aerobic range.
Hockey & Ringette 30 seconds followed by 60 - 90 seconds of recovery within your low to moderate aerobic range.
Lacrosse 30 seconds followed by 60 seconds of recovery within your low to moderate aerobic range.
As a final note keep in mind that the sprint interval requires maximum, or near maximum, all out effort (should feel like 90% of your maximum effort). During the recovery interval keep moving, but reduce your speed or the resistance of the machine so you can prepare for the next sprint interval.
When beginning to train this way, perform only 6-8 sprints during your aerobic session. As you become better conditioned you can increase the number of sprint intervals to 8-15 per session.
Notes to coaches
You should consider having your athletes perform speed endurance training at the end of the practice twice per week.
For running sports have your athlete perform repeated bouts of 40 – 60 yard sprints from a coasting start as would be the case in most sports where acceleration doesn't begin from a standstill position (exceptions are football, baseball and track events).
For skating sports like hockey, have players sprint for 30 seconds followed by a coasting interval of 90 seconds to allow sufficient recovery. Refer back to the previous chart to identify the appropriate sprint to recovery intervals for your sport.
Without a doubt interval training can enhance your speed endurance capacity and overall fitness level to a point that elevates the play of even the most average athlete, enabling them to maintain peak levels of speed for the entire shift, even late into the game when many outcomes are decided.
Interval training takes your aerobic fitness capacity to a whole new level, which translates into better performance and an even better fit-looking, fat-burning body.
Program 3 – Aerobic Plus Basic 6 Resistance Training Program
This program entails that you perform your usual aerobic exercise program, and on three or four days of the week you also perform the resistance training program that follows. This resistance training program includes the primary six exercises that enable you to work virtually all the major muscle groups if the body, while performing only 6 exercises. It is a great resistance exercise program to get you started if you have not done resistance training before. There are three exercises for the upper body and three for the lower body.
The Basic 6 Program
Bench or Chest Press
Lat Pull Downs
Hip Extension (or Squats)
Your goal is to perform this strength training program 3-4 times per week, which will accelerate your strength gains muscle tone and body shape. Be sure to allow at least 48 hours between training sessions to allow recovery, muscular repair and muscular growth. It 's during the recovery day(s) that your muscles rebuild themselves into stronger fibers.
Strength training is now an integral part of the life for most fitness and wellness conscious individuals. If you are serious about achieving a healthy, fit, toned body, then I would encourage you to at least perform this beginner level-strengthening program. You will be amazed at how quickly your strength, performance and muscle tone improves. At some point in the future a more intermediate or advanced program can be introduced to accelerate gains in strength, lean mass and body shape, if you so desire.
Program – 4 Aerobic Plus Intermediate Resistance Training Program
This program entails that you perform your usual aerobic training program and on three or four sessions during the week you also include the following resistance training program.
Lat Pull Downs
Program-5 Aerobic Plus Advanced Slit Routine Resistance Training Program
This program entails that you follow your usual aerobic exercise routine and also include the following more advanced resistance training program, which will provide even greater changes to your muscle definition, strength, tone and body shape than Programs 3 and 4
Follow Day 1 then Day 2 routine. After Day 2, take a day off from weight training to allow full recovery. Then, start again with Day 1 routine. This gives you a rest every third day from your weight training program.
DAY 1 - CHEST, BACK and BICEPS
Lat Pull Downs
DAY 2 -LEGS, SHOULDERS and TRICEPS
As a final comment, remember that there are many variations of this training method. Consult a personal trainer for more individualized sports-specific programming.
Other Resistance Training Exercises That Work
In my experience I have also seen other program other that traditional weight training enhance muscle strength, definition, tone and body shape. Specific exercises using the Thera-Ball, can be very useful. If you are interested using the Thera-Ball for resistance training purposes, have a personal trainer devise a personalized program for you using this piece of equipment, which can be performed in your own home.
Other programs that I have seen increase muscle strength, definition, tone and body shape include:
- Yoga – especially Ashtanga, Bikram, and Power Yoga
- Body Sculpting and Body-Pump Fitness Classes
- Martial Arts Training
In my view if you are involved in these alternate forms of resistance training, I suggest that you still supplement these forms of exercise with the (Program 1) Basic 6 Resistance Training Program, at least twice per week.
Despite the fantastic benefits of aerobic exercise, you may still see exercising as an unpleasant and uncomfortable chore. If so, you need to learn how to make it fun! Exercising should give you the same feeling of rejuvenation and revitalization as dancing to your favorite music does. In fact, we strongly recommend that you listen to your favorite music while you perform aerobic exercise. Listening to upbeat songs will make continuous movement feel natural. jazz dancing and aerobic dance classes, which are always accompanied by music, are great forms of aerobic exercise.
When you first start an exercise program, you will probably have to take firm charge of your body. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, your body will be weak, tired, and addicted to the foods and behaviors that kept you out of shape. Listening to your body at this point won’t do you any good. It will dictate terms that would keep you fat or out of shape. As Newton so aptly stated, “A body at rest stays at rest.” You must, therefore, write down a fitness goal and decide how you’re going to fit exercise into your schedule. What would work best for you? A morning walk? An evening jog? Perhaps a workout at lunchtime? Make your exercise times convenient, so that you will be more inclined to stick to them.
If your body is still reluctant, then it’s up to your mind to force it into action. Exercise even when you don’t feel like it. If you can get your body into action at times like these, in a matter of minutes both your body and mind will both feel better. We guarantee it!
Improved psychological well-being is one of the major benefits of exercise. Take advantage of the runner’s high, that pleasurable feeling that kicks in 20 to 30 minutes into an aerobic workout. View your aerobic time as wellness time - time to clear your head, move your body, and get a physical and psychological lift. Enjoy the moment. Try to see exercise as an opportunity to recharge your battery.
Physical activity can change your mood. Learn to anticipate the positive feeling of well-being that comes from exercising. Don’t let glum days, down days, depressing days, or boring days get you down. Exercise is a good way to leave those self-destructive emotions behind and to get on with the happy, positive life you deserve.
Remember to never to push yourself to exhaustion. A patient of ours who started out overweight and out of shape now runs marathons a few times a year. He says that when he jogs, he concentrates on the idea of conserving his energy. He intentionally never pushes himself to the point of pain or exhaustion because he knows that he will have a negative reaction, both physically and psychologically. “I want to wake up tomorrow and look forward to my exercise session. I don’t want to dread it,” he says. If you push yourself too hard, it makes sense that you would be tired and resentful about exercising the next time. And your psychological outlook and day-to-day energy have everything to do with staying on track.
How do you know you won’t enjoy a regular aerobic exercise program if you don’t try it? Give yourself a chance to experience the physical and mental benefits. Decide now to stick with an aerobic program for at least eight consecutive weeks. We’re sure that it will become a positive and permanent feature in your life. You will come to rely on it as a source of rejuvenation.
Starting Right Now ...
- Choose the exercise program that is right for you: Program 1,2,3,4 or 5
- Visit your doctor before starting a demanding program. Find out whether she or he recommends a stress test, electrocardiogram, or other test before you commit to an exercise routine.
Note: If you have flu-like symptoms or diarrhea accompanied by a fever, do not exercise until you have been well for a week.
Nutrition And Athletic Performance
In recent years many research studies have been undertaken to establish which nutritional practices can enhance athletic performance and best compliment the training programs of elite athletes. The following information regarding the performance enhancing use of protein, carbohydrates, creatine monohydrate and antioxidants should be of interest to those who take exercise training and athletic competition more seriously.
Protein And Muscle Development
There remains little doubt that the most effective way to increase muscular strength and lean mass development is through the implementation of a properly designed resistance training program. Resistance training stimulates the involved muscles to lay down an increased number of protein contractile bands known as myofilaments. By increasing the number of myofilaments, each muscle fiber can then contract with increased force, thus providing increased strength capacity to the muscle.
A key point is the fact that the new contractile bands (myofilaments) synthesized within each trained muscle fiber are made out of protein. Thus, one of the questions frequently asked by individuals involved in strength training is how much protein should I consume each day to maximize muscle growth and strength? Scientific investigation into this matter has now shown us that the amount of protein one requires is dependent upon the indiviudauls body size and work out program, as I pointed out in the protein section of Step 1. In general, most individuals involved in heavy workouts require 0.6, 0.7 or 0.8 grams of protein for every pound they weigh, as explained on page ________. An athlete who weighs 200 lbs, would then need up to 160 grams of protein per day to replace the protein that is broken down (catabolized) during the workouts and to add extra protein for lean mass (muscle) gains.
Recent studies have shown that up to 10% of the calories burned to produce energy during moderate to strenuous exercise, are derived from the breakdown of muscle protein (actin and myosin).
Thus, the contribution of protein as an energy source during endurance exercise can vary from 2 – 10%, depending upon the intensity of the event, the duration, and the carbohydrate status of the athlete. In addition, the secretion of the stress hormone cortisone, which accompanies intensive endurance training and heavy resistance weight training, further catabolizes muscle protein during the exercise, and continues to play a role in muscle catabolism long after the exercise has ended. Taken together, athletes are known to have a higher dietary protein requirement than sedentary individuals. Failing to meet the protein requirement imposed by moderate to heavy training hinders muscle and strength development and can weaken the immune system, increasing risk of upper respiratory tract and other infections.
Don’t have time to read the whole book right now?
No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it.
Dr. James Meschino,
DC, MS, ROHP
Other Interesting Facts About Protein Needs In Athlete
Over 50% of the dry weight of the body is protein, much of which is used to form the myofilaments within muscle, as muscle is 22% protein content.
The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, established by the government, does not take into account the effects on muscle protein imposed by exercise and the pursuit of muscle growth by athletes and other fitness and anti-aging conscious individuals. The RDA for protein is set at 0.8 gm per kg of body weight, per day or approximately .4 grams of protein for each pound that you weigh. This is not any where close to ideal once exercise is factored into the equation.
Protein Studies In Athletes
- As far back as 1974, I. Gontez and fellow researchers, showed that athletes exercising two hours per day still exhibited negative nitrogen balance (indicating that more protein is being broken down than gained) at a protein intake of 1.5 gm/kg/day. Further substantiation of this fact has been demonstrated and published a number of times since then by other exercise physiologists.
- Overall, evidence suggests that endurance athletes require 1.14 – 1.39 gm/kg/day of protein to prevent negative nitrogen balance. A Tour de France cyclist may require up to 1.8 gm/kg/day of protein intake to prevent entering a state of negative nitrogen balance.
- Athletes striving to gain muscle mass have used up to 3.5 gm/kg/day of protein, but this must be accompanied by an intensive weight training program. Many professional athletes, such as football linemen, involved in strength training in the off-season, consume at least 2 gm/kg/day of protein.
- However, too much protein can damage your kidneys and cause other problems. Exceeding one’s protein requirements leads to conversion of amino acids to triglycerides, with a heavy burden of ammonia (via the deamination of amino acids) in the liver, which must be quickly converted to urea to prevent toxicity. Chronically elevated urea levels may damage the kidneys, and is identified by a higher blood urea nitrogen level (BUN). Some experts suggest that keeping the BUN in the range of 10 – 14 mg/dL is an indicator of good health, whereas a BUN level over 21 mg/dL is associated with poor health outcomes. Thus, an athlete should consume the amount of protein that matches his of her requirement based upon their body size, training type, intensity, and frequency, as well as their desire or need to gain additional muscle mass. However, exceeding their protein requirement can result in a higher BUN level, which may produce kidney damage and other negative health outcomes.
Carbohydrates And Athletic Performance
Eating enough complex carbohydrate foods is also important for enhancing athletic performance. Your muscles can absorb and store carbohydrate sugars, which provide some of the energy for physical activity. Regularly exercised muscles can store double the amount of carbohydrate sugar, providing a high-octane energy source for strength, power and endurance events.
When a muscle has depleted its reserve of carbohydrate sugars during exercise, it becomes fatigued and soon reaches the point of complete exhaustion. During exercise that requires prolonged endurance (long-distance jogging, cycling, swimming etc., as well as hockey, basketball, soccer games etc.), muscles extract carbohydrate sugars from the bloodstream at a rate that is 30 to 40 times faster than during rest or light activity. Those carbohydrate sugars (glucose) are released from the liver and sent through the bloodstream to the exercising muscle.
A diet rich in carbohydrates keeps the supply of carbohydrate sugar stored in your liver and muscles high between workouts and competition. By optimizing liver and muscle carbohydrate stores before training and competition it helps to prevent carbohydrate depletion during the event, which in turn improves performance and prevents a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the event or training session. In marathon running, an empty carbohydrate fuel tank is known as "hitting the wall". Sometimes, at around the 20-mile mark of a 26.2-mile (42 km.) marathon, the runners may begin to slow down, becoming weak and dizzy. If there is severe depletion of carbohydrates, they can only walk the last few miles, if they can continue at all. What has happened is that the muscles have exhausted their stores of carbohydrates, and the liver can no longer maintain normal blood sugar levels. The brain and nervous system, deprived of the energy that they need to function properly, may cause so much dizziness that the runner falls. Athletes in many sports can suffer from carbohydrate depletion. Athletes refer to the intake of a diet rich in complex carbohydrate foods as carbo-loading. By getting regular exercise and eating sufficient carbohydrates you can expand your liver and muscle carbohydrate stores daily to provide you with a winning edge in your athletic pursuits. The proper use of carbohydrates from day-to-day, 3-4 hours prior to competition or the training session, 30 minutes prior to competition or training, during the event, and after the event, can provide athletes with a significant competitive and training edge.
Enhancing Exercise Performance With Pre-Game Carbohydrate Intake
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for sports that involve repeated bouts of explosive power and for long distance events. As this defines most sports, carbohydrate intake is a critical determinant in optimizing athletic performance. A short list of sports that rely on carbohydrate as a predominant energy source include (basketball, soccer, hockey, la crosse, football, tennis, squash, badminton , racquetball, handball, middle and long distance running, swimming, rowing, and cross-country skiing).
For sports of this nature adequate carbohydrate intake before, during and after exercise is associated with enhanced exercise performance. Thus, knowing the right amount, type and timing of carbohydrate helps to provide an athlete with a competitive edge The early studies on carbohydrate and exercise performance date back to the late 1960s (Bergstrom et al., 1967), which confirmed the work of Christensen and Hansen, who 30 years earlier had demonstrated the importance of increased dietary carbohydrate for endurance exercise performance. So, at a time when professional athletes were still eating a pre-game steak, research was already in place to suggest that any combination of pasta, rice, bread, vegetables, fruits, peas and beans would have been a better choice to enhance performance.
Recent studies have proven that if you perform these endurance events on a regular basis your diet should consist of 60-70% carbohydrate calories during heavy training and competition.
The pre-exercise or pre-game meal should consist primarily of carbohydrates and be ingested 3 to 4 hours prior to competition. This should not include a lot of refined sugar products, but rather carbohydrates that don't abruptly cause a rise in blood sugar or insulin concentrations. Good examples include oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, brown rice, most vegetables, some fruits, peas, beans, high fiber breakfast cereals (low in sugar) with low fat milk or yogurt (non fat or 1% milk fat). The pre-exercise or pre-game carbohydrate meal is intended to expand the liver's carbohydrate reserves, which become the exclusive source of blood sugar during the sport or training session. As noted above, during exercise the muscles at work extract carbohydrate sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream at rate that is 30-40 times greater than under resting conditions. Thus, to prevent liver carbohydrate depletion and a fall in blood sugar adequate carbohydrate intake 3-4 hours prior to the event is an essential part of optimal sports nutrition. In addition, it is possible that a portion of these carbohydrates can contribute to reloading of the muscles' carbohydrate fuel tank, which is also a critical factor for sports performance.
In one study Sherman and fellow researchers, demonstrated that ingestion of 312 grams (1,248 calories) of carbohydrate 4 hours prior to strenuous exercise resulted in a 15% improvement in exercise performance.
In contrast to this, carbohydrate ingestion 30 to 60 minutes prior to strenuous exercise has been shown to impair exercise performance. This is believed to be due to the effects of insulin, which produce a rapid drop in blood sugar when combined with exercise. Thus, it is undesirable to raise blood insulin levels just prior to strenuous exercise.
These recommendations are less important for more moderate exercise activities such as recreational walking or for submaximal exercise lasting less than one hour. The general importance of carbohydrates for strenuous or long distance events is that it provides a high octane type of fuel that enables muscles to work at a higher rate of power output for longer periods. During exercise, if muscle carbohydrate stores become depleted, muscle power will suffer. Hence, the athlete slows their pace during long distance events or is unable to achieve or maintain their optimal speed in sports that require repeated bouts of rapid acceleration and sprints.
Therefore, three to four hours prior to exercises of this nature, refueling of the liver carbohydrate and muscle carbohydrate fuel tank (glycogen reserves) is crucial to performance capabilities.
Knowing how to replenish carbohydrates during exercise, post exercise and during day to day meal planning is also essential.
What To Do 30 Minutes Before Endurance Competition
Some confusion in the sports world surrounds the use of carbohydrates 30 minutes prior to endurance competition events. Although researchers continue to debate this issue, some very impressive studies suggest that the ingestion of 15-20 grams of the carbohydrate known as "Fructose" is the best performance enhancing food or drink for all sports that have an endurance component, (long distance running, hockey, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, long distance speed skating, cross-country skiing, long distance swimming, ringette, field hockey etc.) if ingested 30 minutes prior to competition. Back in1984 a landmark study by exercise physiologist expert Dr. Costill, revealed that drinking a fructose-rich drink 30 minutes prior to aerobic exercise improved performance by slowing down the depletion of muscle carbohydrate stores.
All other sugar mixtures tend to acutely increase levels of insulin, which have the effect of reducing blood sugar rapidly, once exercise begins. This rapid drop in blood sugar forces your muscles to more quickly deplete their own carbohydrate (sugar) stores. Once depleted, fatigue and exhaustion follow, which greatly impair speed, endurance and performance in general, essentially, muscles run out of high-octane fuel (carbohydrates).
By ingesting fructose, 30 minutes prior to exercise it appears that muscles can burn fructose sugar while sparing their own carbohydrate (sugar) stores for use as a high-octane fuel later in the game or event.
So, in order to increase your exercise time to exhaustion, or to maintain your maximum playing level for as long as possible during a game or practice, consider drinking 200-250 ml. of cold water 30 minutes prior to exercise, adding 15-20 grams of fructose to the water. Some companies make fructose powdered drink mixes (usually lemon and orange flavors).
Essentials of Carbohydrate Replenishment During Exercise
As discussed above, prior to exercise a carbohydrate rich meal should be consumed 3-4 hours before the game or training session. Thirty minutes prior to exercise 10-20 grams of fructose sugar mixed with 20-25 ounces of water can also maximize carbohydrate availability and utilization, enhancing performance.
However, consuming carbohydrates during prolonged exercise events has also been shown to improve performance. Numerous studies have demonstrated increased exercise time to fatigue, power output during exercise and improved sprint performance following prolonged exercise, when carbohydrate is ingested during exercise. Carbohydrates ingested during intensive or prolonged exercise are able to maintain blood sugar more effectively, thereby providing an immediate source of carbohydrate energy to the exercising muscle. As a result, this strategy spares the rapid depletion of liver carbohydrate, which is then able to provide blood sugar for a longer period of time during the event. Indeed, a recent report has observed a 59% reduction in liver carbohydrate (glucose) depletion during prolonged exercise when carbohydrate is ingested during the event. This strategy not only preserves liver carbohydrate stores for a longer period during the event but also slows the depletion of the muscle’s carbohydrate stores. Slowing the depletion rate of muscle carbohydrate stores also allows the muscle to work at higher levels of power for a longer period of time; hence performance improves. During prolonged exercise the muscle breaks down carbohydrates as a source of energy at a rate of 1-1.5 grams per minute. Based on a number of studies it appears that athletes need to ingest carbohydrates at a rate that will supply them with carbohydrates at approximately 1 gram per minute during prolonged exercise events and training sessions. This can be achieved by the ingestion of 600 to 1,000 ml/hour of fluids (drinks) containing 6-10% carbohydrate. This simply means that for every 100 ml of water contained in a sports drink, there should be no more than 6-10 grams of carbohydrate. Higher concentrations of carbohydrate than this amount slow down the rate of emptying of water and carbohydrates from the stomach to the intestinal tract, and thus impedes absorption into the bloodstream.
Soft drinks, for instance, contain at least 12 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml of water and, therefore, are not good sports enhancement beverages.
The popular carbohydrate sports enhancement drinks in the marketplace all meet the 6-10% carbohydrate criteria as I have explained it.
As for the type of carbohydrate that is best to include in a sports enhancement drink during competition, there is little difference between maltodextrines (glucose polymers) glucose and sucrose in terms of their metabolic and performance effects during exercise. However, maltodextrin solutions tend to be less sweet, and therefore more palatable, than solutions of only simple sugars. In contrast, fructose ingestion during prolonged exercise does not improve performance. Fructose is the beverage of choice 30 minutes prior to exercise, but not during exercise.
As a general guide as to how to practically apply this information, let me summarize this information in the following way. During a strenuous exercise event that will last for more than 60 minutes, consider drinking 5-8 ounces of a carbohydrate-based sports enhancement drink every 10-15 minutes. This will not only provide the right concentration and type of carbohydrates to stave off carbohydrate depletion in your liver, bloodstream and exercising muscles, but also provides an optimal strategy to prevent dehydration. Most of these drinks (e.g. Gatorade, Powerade) also provide sufficient sodium and/or potassium to prevent hyponatremia, which is a loss of sufficient sodium (from sweating) to result in a life-threatening conditioning involving brain swelling and other complications. As a rule usually a minimum of 3 to 4 hours of continuous sweating is required to develop hyponatremia, but it remains a nutritional concern for certain types of sporting events.
Thus, should drink 5 to 8 ounces of a carbohydrate-sports drink every 10-15 minutes during a prolonged training session or competitive marathon race, or intensive sporting event (e.g. soccer game). This not only helps maintain carbohydrate energy but also helps to prevent overheating and dehydration during exercise. Like the water in your car's radiator, the water in your bloodstream transports the heat generated from your exercising muscles to the surface of your body, where it escapes, primarily through sweat, conduction, convection and evaporation. You lose between one and three quarts of water per hour during exercise, so dehydration can occur quite easily. Losing 3-4 percent of your water volume through perspiration can decrease endurance performance by up to 30 percent.
Profuse sweating also results in the loss of electrolytes and minerals. You should ingest approximately one gram of salt (sodium chloride) for every quart of water you drink during exercise to prevent hyponatremia (very low concentration of sodium in the blood). This is most critical if the event will last more than 2-3 hours, as noted above. Sports drinks also provide the amount of sodium required to guard against hyponatremia, as an added benefit.
When your aerobic exercise session ends for the day, replace the fluids in your body just beyond the point of satisfying your thirst. Thirst is a reasonable good indicator of your fluid needs, but by the time you get thirsty during exercise, your blood volume is already down by at least one quart of water. In other words, you are already approaching dehydration. So remember: drink before, during, and after exercise. After exercise you can use a carbohydrate sports drink (e.g. Gatorade, Powerade) to replenish carbohydrates, water and electrolytes, or you can make your own replenishment drink by ingesting one part of any juice and three parts of cold soda water. The juice will provide carbohydrates to restore your blood sugar quickly and will also provide potassium to replace what you lost in perspiration. The soda water will re-establish the proper balance of water and sodium in your bloodstream.
In conclusion the use of carbohydrate sports drinks is a proven method to enhance athletic performance in endurance events lasting at least 60-90 minutes, including sports that require repeated bouts of explosive power. Consuming 5-8 ounces of a carbohydrate sports drinks every 10-15 minutes is the best way to deliver the optimal amount of carbohydrate to the exercising muscle and prevent dehydration and hyponatremia, during intense and prolonged activity.
Essentials Of Carbohydrate Replenishment After Exercise
As reviewed above, carbohydrate nutrition is an important determinant of exercise performance for sports that require repeated bouts of all-out-effort (i.e. hockey shift) and long-distance races. Consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal 3-4 hours prior to exercise, a fructose-rich drink 30 minutes prior to exercise and the ingestion of 5-8 ounces of a carbohydrate sports drink every 10-15 minutes during exercise are considered prudent ergogenic (exercise enhancing) strategies in the field of sports nutrition. This applies primarily to sports activities executed at a strenuous level and lasting a minimum of 60-90 minutes.
Once the training session or sports event is over there are two concerns to address with respect to carbohydrate replenishment. First, the craving within the muscle for carbohydrate storage is extremely high in the first 2 to 6 hours following the completion of exercise. Thus, this represents an ideal opportunity to rapidly drive carbohydrates into the muscles' carbohydrate fuel tank (glycogen) thereby helping to prepare the muscle for the next training session or competition.
Secondly, on a more long-term basis it is important to derive sufficient carbohydrate calories from day to day as it requires at least 24 hours to fully refuel the muscles' carbohydrate fuel tank. Very conveniently the size of the muscles' carbohydrate fuel tank doubles with exercise training. So, the key is to completely refuel the tank between training sessions as greater concentrations of muscle glycogen are correlated with better performance. This includes improved ability to perform repeated all-out-sprints, enhanced sustained maximum power in long distance events, and the postponement of fatigue. Hence, reloading the muscles' carbohydrate stores to a maximum level is deemed to be very desirable for athletes competing in a wide variety of sports. The ability to store twice as much carbohydrate in trained muscles versus untrained muscles is known as glycogen super compensation, which requires sufficient daily carbohydrate intake. For sports that rely heavily upon carbohydrate energy the athlete's diet should consist of 60-70 percent carbohydrates from day to day.
Interestingly, in the early post-exercise period the optimal carbohydrate intake appears to be 50 grams every 2 hours aiming for a total carbohydrate intake in 24 hours of 600 grams (2,400 calories) for athletes involved in strenuous training or tournament weekends where carbohydrate demanding sports are involved (i.e. basketball, hockey, swim meets). Ingestion of simple rather than complex carbohydrates are preferred between games and events scheduled on the same day. Examples include sports drinks, sports bars, pancakes, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit and fruit juice. Sweet vegetable such as carrots, squash and sweet potatoes are also a consideration. If the next game or race is less than 3 hours following the preceding one, then a complete meal is not recommended. Rather, reliance upon sports drinks, sports bars, fruit juice, fruit and carrot sticks are viable dietary suggestions.
In summary, in view of the importance of carbohydrate for performance in many sports, the goal of carbohydrate nutrition strategies aimed at before, during and after exercise as well as day to day carbohydrate loading can help to optimize athletic performance, providing an important and critical competitive edge.
Creatine Supplementation Enhances Athletic Performance
It is now widely accepted that creatine supplementation can increase muscle strength and mass when combined with proper training. Creatine is an amino acid that is stored in muscle in the form of creatine phosphate. During explosive or intensive exercise, creatine phosphate is broken down by a specific enzyme to yield creatine, plus phosphate, plus free energy. The free energy released from the breakdown of creatine phosphate is used to regenerate ATP, which is the fuel that ultimately powers muscle contraction.
A number of recent studies have demonstrated that short-term creatine supplementation increases creatine phosphate stores in skeletal muscle by 10% to 40%. In combination with proper training, creatine supplementation leads to an increase in muscle mass, which is thought to occur from increased protein synthesis, as the muscle lays down an increased number of contractile myofilaments (protein bands that contract and generate force). Increased muscular fluid retention may also participate in muscle volume gains with creatine use. Creatine has also been shown to provide antioxidant properties. This may be of some significance as free radicals generated from exercise can affect muscle fatigue and protein turnover.
It also appears that creatine supplementation may allow athletes to train harder (due to increased available energy for muscle concentration), which promotes strength gains, and increases muscle size due to hypertrophy (larger muscle fiber size). The established protocol for creatine supplementation used by athletes involves a loading dosage of 20 to 25 grams per day for the first 5 to 7 days. Typically an athlete will mix a heaping teaspoon of creatine monohydrate crystals into a glass of juice to obtain about 5 grams of creatine. During the loading phase, the athlete does this on 4 or 5 occasions throughout the day to achieve an intake of 20-25 grams. After the loading phase is completed, the maintenance daily dosage is usually 5 to 10 grams per day. Recent reports suggest that taking creatine with glucose (a simple carbohydrate) may increase the amount of creatine absorbed by the muscles. As such, some manufacturers combine creatine with carbohydrates in a premix product to help improve creatine delivery to muscles.
Subjects ingesting creatine and a simple carbohydrate drink, had higher insulin levels and significantly less creatine lost in their urine, indicating that higher insulin levels is likely a key to greater muscle uptake and utilization of creatine, and a reduction on urinary loss. Thus, it is accepted that creatine utilization is enhanced by concurrent ingestion of a simple carbohydrate drink (e.g., fruit juice).
Studies also show that the combination of creatine and carbohydrate loading appear to improve performance by increasing muscle creatine and muscle glycogen.
Don’t have time to read the whole book right now?
No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it.
Dr. James Meschino,
DC, MS, ROHP
Increased Strength and Performance With Creatine Supplementation
Several studies have shown that creatine supplementation improves performance in repeated bouts of high-intensity strength work and repeated sprints, which are primary determinants and requirements for many sports. In short, substantial evidence suggests that creatine supplementation can increase lean body mass, muscular strength, and sprint power.
Significant gains in strength and lean mass often occur in the first 6 weeks of creatine supplementation, when combined with proper training and diet. In one study, college football players who took creatine supplements for 28 days during resistance and agility training had significant gains in lean mass when compared to players who took the placebo.
Individuals may vary in their response to creatine supplementation, but it is not uncommon to see a 5 to 10 lb. increase in body weight within the first six weeks of continued supplementation.
Approximately 80% of creatine studies have reported a performance-enhancing effect. This is quite impressive when you consider the fact that creatine is not structurally or functionally related to anabolic steroids, and that creatine supplements are not banned by the International Olympic Committee or the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Creatine use is based on the same principle as carbohydrate loading, in that an athlete is manipulating their dietary intake to optimize muscle creatine phosphate stores for more explosive power and enhanced performance.
Athletes requiring repeated bouts of explosive power may also benefit from creatine supplementation as demonstrated by M. Izquierdo and fellow researchers. Among other positive benefits revealed in their study of nineteen trained athletes, they showed that short-term creatine supplementation (20 gms per day for 5 days) enhanced repeated sprint performance and attenuated decline in jumping ability after repetitive high-power-output exercise bouts (MRPB). Similar results have been documented by G. Cottrell and fellow researchers, in subjects performing repeated sprint cycling. These studies have important implications for many sports such as hockey, basketball, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, football, tennis and any sport requiring repeated bouts of all-out lower extremity explosive power and/or jumps.
Anti-aging in Older Subjects Using Creatine
Creatine supplementation provided to active subjects over 70 years of age, and subjects 59-72 years of age, have resulted in significant gains in several indices of muscle performance including, increased maximal dynamic and isometric strength, lower body mean power, lower extremity functional capacity, increased fat-free mass, increased lean mass and endurance power. These studies suggest that creatine supplementation may help to forestall or reverse muscular atrophy and progressive weakness that occurs during aging, and that creatine may be useful as an intervention to improve the ability of certain elderly individuals to perform functional living tasks, decreasing dependency and, enhancing their quality of life.
Other studies have noted that younger individuals respond to creatine supplementation more efficiently than do older subjects in that muscular creatine phosphate stores were shown to increase on average by 35% in young subjects (~24 years of age) and 7% in older subjects (~ 70 years of age) after five days of creatine supplementation (20 gms per day). As such, it may take a longer period to maximize creatine stores in older subjects upon creatine supplementation.
Adverse Side Effects and Toxicity
As for the safety of creatine supplementation, a 1997 study showed that short-term creatine use (20 grams per day for 5 days) did not increase markers of kidney stress in five healthy men. A study comparing creatine users, for up to five years duration, to control subjects, has shown that creatine users have no remarkable differences in their creatine, urea, and plasma albumin clearances compared to controls. The researchers conclude that neither short-term, medium-term, nor long-term oral creatine supplements induce detrimental effects on the kidney of healthy individuals. To date, no liver abnormalities have been evident in short-term creatine challenge studies. However, individuals with pre-existing kidney disease should be cautious, as evidenced by the development of kidney dysfunction in a 25 year old soccer player taking creatine who previously had been treated for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis of the kidney. His kidney function returned to normal after discontinuing creatine supplementation.
Very few reported adverse side effects from creatine use have been reported despite its widespread use among young athletes.
Infrequently reported side effects include gastrointestinal disturbances and muscle cramps.
In regards to children and younger athletes, the safety of creatine supplementation has not yet been investigated in these individuals. Until all safety issues have been evaluated, experts strongly recommend against use of creatine among adolescent athletes.
Overall, creatine supplementation appears to be safe for healthy adults. It's a low molecular weight compound that is excreted in the kidneys by simple diffusion. In the maintenance phase, athletes consume only slightly more creatine (3-5 gm per day) than is generally found in the diet, which is usually about 2 gm per day. There are no well-known drug-nutrient interactions for creatine at this time.
Supplementation within creatine has been shown to improve various parameters of athletic performance and body composition in athletic subjects. In my own practice, I discourage the use of creatine supplementation in athletic patients under the age of 16 or 17 years of age, who are seeking to improve their strength, muscle size and/or performance. This is a position I intend to maintain until further safety and toxicity studies are in place to show that a young, developing body can safely handle this intervention without undue side effects, including evaluation of renal and liver damage.
Antioxidants, Free Radicals And Exercise
Strenuous exercise has been shown to increase the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) due to increased oxygen utilization. Free radicals can damage muscle tissue, leading to inflammation and soreness, as well as increased oxidative stress to the body in general. Exercising in the presence of air pollution (nitrous oxide etc) has also been shown to increase oxidative stress (free radical damage) to lung tissues and the general circulation. Studies reveal that supplementation with various antioxidants lowers indirect markers of oxidative free radical damage (e.g., blood levels of dimethylmalonaldehyde and breath pentane in expired air).
Vitamin E (400 – 1,200 IU per day) has been shown to provide this benefit, and to protect lung tissue as well. Vitamin C and Beta-carotene supplementation at 400 – 3,000 mg and 25,000 IU, respectively, have also been shown to minimize free radical damage induced by exercise.
Several studies (double-blind) indicate that antioxidant supplementation in the above noted ranges may also reduce pain and speed up muscle recovery after intense exercise by reducing free radical damage to muscles.
Antioxidant Supplementation Reduces Upper Respiratory Tract Infections In Endurance Athletes
Vitamin C supplementation (600 mg per day) was also shown to reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in marathon runners within 14 days of completing a 90 km race (33% incidence) compared to the placebo group (68% incidence). Marathon runners have also been shown to have lower blood levels of Vitamin C (by 20%) after completing a 21 km run, and demonstrate increased excretion of Vitamin C in their sweat and urine (Peters et al AJCN, 1993).
Another study, using a combination of Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Beta-carotene supplementation, revealed that exercising individuals taking the daily antioxidant supplement cocktail for 90 days had significantly higher levels of antioxidant enzyme activity in their blood complements of the antioxidant enzymes glutathione, superoxide dismutase and catalase enzyme, as well as higher levels of circulating neutrophils (white blood cells that prevent infections), than did the placebo group. These Recent studies also confirm that supplementation with vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, reduce free radical damage to skin cells induced by exposure to ultra-violet light. During their development in the deeper layers of the epidermis, skin cells absorb antioxidants from the blood stream, which provides them with added antioxidant protection against sun-light induced photo-aging and against the free radical damage caused to skin cells by ultra-violet light, which is known to create mutations to the DNA of skin cells and set the stage for the development of skin cancers, including melanoma, squamous cell, and basal cell carcinoma. As such, athletes competing outside in sunny climates require extra antioxidant protection to help protect their skin cells, as well as the other important effects on quenching free radicals inside the body and preserving immune function.
Thus, the use of a high potency multi-vitamin and mineral supplement each day, that is antioxidant enriched (details of this vitamin were described in Step 2), is a prudent strategy for athletes to use to reduce the damage to their bodies generated from free radicals arising from the increased utilization of oxygen during exercise, and the increased exposure to sun-light that occurs in certain sports and under certain training conditions.
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Don’t have time to read the whole book right now?
Dr. James Meschino,
DC, MS, ROHP
Global Integrative Medicine Academy
The Global Integrative Medicine Academy was created to satisfy a need, expressed by many health professionals, to establish credentials as experts in Nutritional Medicine. But, health professionals also needed to be able to complete the programme with a minimum impact on their career, family, and lifestyle. That is why the Advanced Nutritional Medicine and Sports Nutrition Certification Program was created.