Friday, July 31, 2015

Regular Guy Reads of the...Well, However Long It's Been: July 31st

Sorry I've been on radio silence for so long. You'd think vacation would be a good time to catch up on things, but I wound up working so much at my day job to make sure my boss wouldn't be swamped that I haven't had nearly as much time or energy as I'd like. So, finally, here's a bunch of good reads. Oh, and happy anniversary to my awesome, beautiful, loving wife Jackie!

Five Tips for Leaning Out: If you're looking to cut a few pounds or just reduce your body-fat percentage a little bit, this is a common-sense must read. You can learn a lot about flexible dieting, but for my money, the best point is Bret Contreras's first one: You need to maintain enough energy to work out hard.

Workout of the Week: Special Ks: Competitor Running has the answer if you're bored with your track intervals -- try some 1k intervals. Here are a few combinations you might like.

Four Sneaky Things That Can Make You Overeat: Time also offers some solutions to the problems, but IMO, it really comes down to being vaguely cognizant of your calories and macros. Which brings us to...

The Importance of Tracking Your Macros: Russ Howe makes a pretty good argument that it's a lot easier and a lot less tedious to track your macros -- protein, carbs and fat -- instead of your calories. At the end of the day, it's all math, but if you know three of the four variables, the fourth one falls right into place.

Outrun Your Fork and Gain Muscle: Dr. Spencer Nadolsky backs up what I've been saying for a long time -- but he has, you know, science on his side. Steady-state cardio isn't an inhibitor to muscle-building. The issue is more about how much time you have to devote to exercise. And if you have the time both to lift and to run, you can lean out, get cut and eat pretty much anything you want.

Do We Really Need Slow, Long-Distance Aerobic Work for Optimal Fitness: Short answer: No, you don't need it. But it also depends on your goals and what areas you are weak in now.

Obese People Almost Never Attain Normal Weight: The authors of this study are careful not to draw conclusions not specifically supported by their evidence, but I will. There's way too much BS out there, and people who lose weight generally do it in ways that aren't sustainable.

How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day to Stay Hydrated? Not as much as you might think. Of course, it depends on how much you sweat, but four to six glasses of water a day should do it. Simplest thing is to look at your pee -- if it's pale yellow, you're in good shape. If it's dark, you're dehydrated. 

A Drill Sergeant Who Called Overweight People "Repulsive" in a Video Has Gone Viral: Another iteration of the argument over where the line is between concern for public health and fat shaming. You'd think this guy is just an a-hole, but give a click first.

Be Audacious - High Fives and Runner Waves: Hey, be friendly out there on the road or the trail. A little encouragement goes a long, long way!

Is Overdistance Training Beneficial for Runners? For up to the half-marathon distance, yes. If you're training for 26.2, no.

Biggest Weight-Loss Myth Revealed: A linked to this on the Facebook page when I first saw it, and a number of people were talking about it. The author argues that you actually need to create a 7000-calorie deficit to lose a pound. I say NFW.

It's Not Obesity We Should Worry About, It's Inactivity: Forbes drops some science on us to back up the claim that our sedentary lifestyles are the biggest public health threat.

Steady-State Vs. Interval Training: Which One Is Best for Your Clients? This one is aimed at professional trainers, but you can learn from it, too. I like this article because it's even-handed and lays out both the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Race Your Best With Periodization: This article is aimed at runners, particularly ultra-marathoners, but there's a valuable kernel of wisdom here: You will never realize your full potential if you're always trying to train close to max effort. You need some down periods.

Leave Your Headphones at Home: You know the old adage: Nothing new on race day. But you don't want to miss out on the full experience of a race -- the spectators cheering, the encouragement from your fellow runners, and even the sounds of nature. So try a few long runs without the tunes -- that way, you'll be prepared to ditch the headphones when you hit the starting line. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Seven Stages of Workout Injuries

If you’ve been working out for more than a few weeks, you know that injuries are just part of the ballgame. And just when you think you’ve had them all, something else pops up. It’s uncanny, isn’t it? Just when you’re feeling really good, all systems go, it happens.

For every article out there about exercise, there’s probably one for how to avoid injury. And I’d bet almost all of them are written by people who are recovering from injury. That’s because:
·         It’s impossible to go hard without risking injury. When you’re trying to improve, you create microscopic tears in your muscles, which your body repairs better than they were. The problem is, those tears are actually mini-injuries. So to improve, you have to push yourself close to the threshold of real pain, because that’s how you build muscle. And that leaves you close to the point of injury. In other words, you kinda have to be a Bro if you want to get better.
·         We ignore the warning signs. This is actually what I want to write about today. Admit it, you’ve done it. You’re probably doing it now. You’re pushing through an injury.

And that brings us to the Seven Stages of Workout Injuries.

You Don’t Realize You’re Hurt
This inevitably happens during one of those great workouts, where it seems that nothing can go wrong. You’re moving perfectly, you’re way ahead of your normal pace or weight, and you feel like a million bucks. What you don’t realize, because your joints and muscles are warm and loose, is that you’ve pulled something too far or in a direction it’s not supposed to go.

You Figure It’s Just Some Little Ding
Come on, Regular Guys, fess up: We’ve all kept working through a twinge or pinch or dull ache somewhere, assuming it’s just nothing. And the thing is, a lot of the time, it really is nothing. It’s just one of those weird mini-cramps or a bit too much strain, and it goes right away, never to return. But sometimes it’s the warning sign of something serious. What happens is in you’re in the middle of this awesome workout, you don’t want to stop, and so even though you realize that it’s the start of an Achilles or a rotator cuff or (uh-oh) your IT band, you rationalize it and keep right on trucking.

Nobody was actually injured here.
Fast-forward about six hours. All of a sudden, that little twinge you felt at the gym now hurts like a mother-effer. Simple household tasks are awful. You can’t sleep or even sit unless you’re in a very particular position. You know it’s really bad when three ibuprofen don’t make a dent. And there’s your wife with that knowing, I-told-you-so look and a humongous lack of sympathy. Which, frankly, you don’t deserve anyway.

You Realize You’re Out of Commission
I find that there’s nothing more frustrating than having to go on the disabled list. Without fail, it happens to me when I’ve either just come off another injury or illness, or I’m in the midst of an awesome two- or three-week run of workouts. But even the most knuckleheaded of Regular Guys (a.k.a. Andrew) accepts his fate eventually. It’s usually the morning after Ow! – when the pain is still there when you wake up. Out comes the heating pad, you stock up on the NSAIDs, and you start thinking about how much less you’ll be able to eat to maintain a calorie deficit. Argh!

You just want to throw away your workout shoes!
Cranky Time
Regular Guys, just ask your wives if this is a real thing. The first few days of your injury, you’ll be focused on therapy and eating well, and life will generally be OK. Then you get tired of the heating pad, it’s time to stop the NSAIDs, and all you want to do is get back at it. You feel fat. You feel lethargic. You feel unfocused and tired and generally disgusted with life. And you know what? You’re taking it out on the people around you.

That First Time Back at It
OK, OK, the injury doesn’t feel perfect, but it feels a lot better. You’re just dying to get back to work. If it’s just a little pull, maybe we’re talking four days or as long as a week. If it’s something more serious, perhaps it’s been a few weeks or even a few months. But at some point, the day comes where you decide it’s OK to try a few easy miles or go lift at 50 percent of your 1RM. This is the workout where you’re conscious of every little twinge. You pay super-close attention to your form and move really slowly. Frankly, you feel like a dork. And when you’re done, you’re sure you could have done more.

I made it all the way back!
The Final Crossroads
Most Regular Guys I know will take it a little easier for the next few workouts as well. But then our egos start kicking in. You know you can go harder – you’ve done it before. And you feel fine. Right? So you figure it’s time to throw it into high gear and see what it can do. And now we find out just how bad your injury was and whether you rested and rehabbed properly. If you end the workout feeling good -- and wake up the next morning feeling good – you’re back in action. Or you return to Ow! Do not pass Go and do not collect $200.

This is supposed to be a lighthearted piece, but injuries are no joke. If you suspect a serious injury, go see a doctor. And if your injury requires more than just a couple of days’ rest, talk to your doctor about whether you need follow-up, such as physical therapy. I hope you’ve learned something from this piece, but bear in mind that I’m not an expert, and this is just based on my experiences.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Regular Guy Reads of the Week: July 11th

Well, I found a few good reads this week. It's really been a thin two-week stretch. It's funny how what you stumble onto often coincides with what you're thinking about. For me this past week, it's been dealing with injury. So...

Exercise Pain Relief: 10 Reasons Why You're Hurting in the Gym and What to Do About It: I think this is the first article I've linked -- it's a good one. A lot of common-sense tips to cut down your time on the DL.

Three Simple Tips for Staying Healthy: Prevention, stretching and hydration. Click the link for the science.

Four Reminders for Every Stubborn Runner: We're all guilty of it -- we know the right thing to do, but we don't do it ourselves. For example, you tell people not to do the same thing all the time, but when was the last time you cross-trained?

Avoiding Confirmation Bias: Alex Hutchinson FTW! A good example: Are you losing weight because you cut out gluten, or because no gluten also means no more Oreo cookies?

The No-Gym Home Six-Pack Workout: Ignore the six-pack Bro stuff. These are good exercises. I'll admit that I really don't like V-sits, though -- I'm a big baby.

Scientists Reveal Why BMI Is Useless: I hesitated to include this link because it's a little dense, and everything is in metric. But the central point is solid and worth paying attention to. If you're healthy and happy with how you look, that's the goal.

Come Back Gluten... All Is Forgiven: If you've been following me for a while, you know I'm a huge Mike Samuels fan. This should put the gluten debate to rest. (It won't, but it should.) My mother-in-law is celiac, so she can't eat gluten. The rest of you? Chill the eff out.

10 Reasons It's Better to Be Lean, Bro: The title of this piece actually pokes a little fun at the Bros. A lot of Bros refuse to spend even a single day in a calorie deficit for fear of losing their muscles. As I've said before, there's a reason Bro Science is abbreviated BS.