In today’s digest we bring you articles on 7 Proven Benefits of Joining a Running Group – Women’s Running, Fail: Pro Bodybuilding and Big Guts, No-Weight, At-Home Workout for Total-Body Strength and 5 Research Findings That Can Level Up Your Fitness Efforts – Fitness and Power. Hope you enjoy them…
7 Proven Benefits of Joining a Running Group – Women’s Running
When Karen Baker joined the Happy Running group in Apex, North Carolina, four years ago, she did it solely for the social outlet—the women in the group were friendly, and it seemed like a nice way to make the miles pass by faster. And the miles did go by faster—not just because they were fun, […]
When Karen Baker joined the Happy Running group in Apex, North Carolina, four years ago, she did it solely for the social outlet—the women in the group were friendly, and it seemed like a nice way to make the miles pass by faster. And the miles did go by faster—not just because they were fun, but because Karen herself was getting faster. Within months of joining Happy Running, Baker was setting PRs left and right—in total, more than 14 minutes off her half marathon time, and 54 minutes off her full marathon. Last spring, at age 42, Baker ran her fastest 10K ever.
Anson Fatland had a similar experience. On a whim, the self-described “somewhat irregular runner” went to a meetup of a neighborhood run group in Seattle, hosted by local running shop Seven Hills Running.
“I was intimidated to show up to a running group because I didn’t consider myself a runner,” Fatland says. “But I met the nicest, most supportive people I had ever met in any sport, hands down. They were so welcoming and encouraging—not only during that first run, but after, in hoping I’d come back for another run.” Fatland showed up again and again, and quickly discovered a new love for ultrarunning.
Going faster and farther is certainly possible when training alone, but Baker and Fatland are perfect examples of how a partner or training group can be a runner’s secret training weapon. Many elite runners, from Kenyan and Ethiopian training camps to teams like the Northern Arizona Elite (NAZ), hone their excellence by training together. Indeed, the science backs it up—runners get better together. Here’s why.
7 Reasons to Find a Running Group or Training Partner Right Now
Skipping a run will become a thing of the past
When you’re flying solo, it’s easy to justify skipping a workout: It’s too early, this bed is so comfortable, and what’s one missed run, anyway? But when you know someone is waiting for you to meet them for a six-miler, you’re more inclined to kick off the covers and honor your commitment. Studies show that accountability to another person is a big factor in adhering to a training plan.
Peer pressure can be a good thing
Research shows that the actions of others rub off on us, for better and for worse. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that people gravitate toward the exercise behaviors of those around them. Those put in a “high fit” group worked out harder than those surrounded by people who appeared to have lower fitness. If you’re the only runner in your current group of friends, it’s likely the feedback you get is less than supportive, which can crush your motivation to run. But surround yourself with runners, and you’ll soon find enablers of the best kind.
You’ll go faster
No one wants to be the weakest link in a group setting. This in known in psychology as the Köhler Effect, though runners know it as the I’ll-be-damned-if-I-get-dropped-today phenomenon. When we’re working out with others, the Köhler Effect kicks in, spurring us to push beyond the limits we might set on ourselves when training alone. Researchers at Kansas State University found that people who exercised with someone they thought was better than them increased their workout intensity by as much as 200%.
You’ll also go farther
Working out with others has been found to increase the amount of time a person spends exercising, doubling the training time of those who exercised alone. Whether it’s because of the Köhler Effect or simply because time flies when you’re having fun, there’s no denying that a running buddy can push you to keep going.
There will be post-run pancakes
Few people outside of the running community understand what it means to be “rungry” after a workout. That’s why so many running groups do more than just run—they’re also groups who grab breakfast after a Saturday morning run or bring a six-pack of craft beer to the trailhead for a post-work (and post-workout) libation. These incentives may seem silly, but research shows they’re effective—when we have a prize at the end of a workout, we’re more likely to show up and put in the effort.
You’ll get the inside scoop
Maybe you know nothing about running. Or maybe you think you know everything about running. Either way, running partners and training groups can teach you a thing or two (or ten). Some running groups, such as those offered through local run shops, offer formal coaching or classes. Others share their wisdom between tempo efforts; after all, runners tend to talk about running while running. Whether it’s detailed advice on how to train for your first 10K or a clever hack for preventing blisters during an ultra, you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn from your fellow runners.
Everything gets better
The benefits of training with a group aren’t limited to running. A 2017 study found that having a training buddy enhances overall well-being: Those exercising in a group show significant improvements in physical fitness, mental well-being, and emotional stability, as well as a marked reduction in stress levels. Running alone also improves mental quality of life, but those who always fly solo for workouts don’t see the same boost in all aspects of their life.
7 Proven Benefits of Joining a Running Group – Women’s Running was originally published at LINK
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Fail: Pro Bodybuilding and Big Guts
Here’s what you need to know… Aside from diet and exercise, a big part of high-level bodybuilding is learning how to manage drug use. Some blame growth hormone and insulin for the expanding waistlines of bodybuilders. This may not be the case. Gut distension can be the result of digestive slowing, which happens when bodybuilders […]
Here’s what you need to know…
- Aside from diet and exercise, a big part of high-level bodybuilding is learning how to manage drug use.
- Some blame growth hormone and insulin for the expanding waistlines of bodybuilders. This may not be the case.
- Gut distension can be the result of digestive slowing, which happens when bodybuilders use diuretics and then carb-load while dehydrated.
- Massive abs make it harder to have a small waist. And today’s bodybuilders are more massive than ever.
- Having a big gut should count against a competitor’s score because he has clearly failed part of his contest prep.
The New Maternity Ward
At the Arnold Classic this year, there were an awful lot of bodybuilders on stage who looked several months pregnant, if you caught them when they weren’t holding it in. More than usual this time.
And I’m talking about the men. Oddly, the women never look pregnant.
I’m sick of it. That gut destroys a physique, and if you’re destroying a physique then you’re destroying bodybuilding. And I happen to love bodybuilding.
The issue can no longer be swept under the rug. For the freak show that bodybuilding is today (and l mean “freak” in a good way), the distention issue needs to be addressed.
The guts need to be tamed.
Managing The Medicine Cabinet
Bodybuilding, done at a high level, presents a list of challenges, many of them quite formidable.
Part of playing the game of bodybuilding is that the bodybuilder must crack a code to figure out how to manage every aspect of bulking and contest preparation.
These challenges represent links in a very long and complex chain. If any one of them fails, the chain breaks and you lose.
The distended gut is an indication that the coach/guru in charge of the bodybuilder needs to up his game, just as he would if all his clients were tearing their pecs. Clearly he’s screwing up something.
Part of the challenge in sculpting a winning physique requires you to handle your business in the medicine cabinet. Knowing how to use your drugs correctly and minimize side effects is as much a part of the game as anything else.
The Belly and the Drug Myths
You’ve heard it called “growth hormone gut,” “slin-gut,” “roid belly,” etc. But what is so widely rumored to be the cause might not necessarily be so.
There are just as many published, peer reviewed, university studies indicating that Gh causes abdominal distention as there are those that prove insulin does – ZERO. So, the evidence we must rely on is empirical.
In the case of insulin, a bodybuilder using insulin correctly is hopefully not taking more than 10-12 units before and after he trains. Even double that is still less than many diabetics (the people for whom insulin was originally invented) who take as much as 50-60 units a day, even more for the obese.
In the case of Gh, common doses in off-label muscle wasting cases range from 9-18 IU a day. As much as you’d like to believe they do, top pro bodybuilders do not typically do more than that. I see doses in the 4-12 range daily as being more common. But let’s call it 18 IU for argument’s sake.
Doctors prescribing Gh or insulin don’t tell their patients that they’ll experience radical abdominal distention with its use. In fact, even the bodybuilding sites publishing articles on Gh and insulin use don’t warn of abdominal distention.
The only time we ever hear of abdominal distention associated with Gh or insulin use is during post-contest commentary by internet experts.
By virtue of omission, we can pretty well see that there’s no abdominal distention associated with pharmacological doses of Gh and insulin, which, in most cases, greatly exceed the doses competitive bodybuilders commonly use.
So, really, how does one justify blaming directly Gh or insulin?
There is little doubt that the concomitant correct use of Gh and insulin causes muscle to grow. Organs too, to some extent. But with the reported use of Gh and insulin being what it is, there should be wild reports of 12 pound spleens and eight foot aortas. But, once again, we hear of no such cases.
Don’t put too much credence into uncontrolled organ hypertrophy. Someone show me a noncancerous gall bladder the size of cantaloupe and I may change my mind, but not until then.
Ab Muscle Growth
Muscle growth is something we can all get behind. Gh and insulin, not to mention steroids, androgens, anti-cortisol drugs, diet, training supplements, etc., contribute to muscle growth.
The abdomen is covered in muscle that grows right along with all the other muscles, depending on genetics and how it’s trained. That means today’s mega-huge bodybuilders have to deal with a mega-huge amount of abdominal muscle.
And therein lies the rub. How is a 270 pound guy at 5’10” going have the little trim waist of a bodybuilder who weighs 230 at that height? He’s not. So, there’s a lot of muscle, and it sticks out.
There’s a ton of arguing going on about how the ’80s and early ’90s bodybuilders didn’t have distended guts even though they were using insulin and Gh. That’s not entirely true, but it’s true enough to toss a wrench in the gears of the current argument.
Muscle mass is at an all time high today, more so than in the ’80s and ’90s, with just a small handful of exceptions. More muscle mass also includes abdominal muscle mass.
Digestion and Distension
Stuffing food into that big bag of muscle also adds exponentially to the challenge a bodybuilder faces. Especially if the prep guru in charge is promoting a lot of carbs pre contest.
A dehydrated bodybuilder wishing to saturate his muscles with the glycogen derived from hundreds of calories of rice and potatoes is going to have a hell of a time of it.
Why? Because he’s probably not taking in sodium and is on diuretics.
This slows gastric emptying and also leaves little water to make the desired glycogen (glycogen is three parts water to one of glucose), so the whole digestive process is slowed. The carbing-up, however, is not.
All that abdominal muscle is now being stretched because it’s so full. It then draws fluid to it (blood), just like any other muscle being worked or stretched. This, coupled with a ton of food, should create a nice big bulge where a vacuum is supposed to be.
Add all these variables together, along with others that I haven’t mentioned – stress, nerves, water manipulation – and you have a recipe for a challenge that will determine if your gut sticks out or not.
Figuring it out is part of the game in the “sport” of bodybuilding.
The Bodybuilder’s Job
The onus should fall on the contest prep gurus to flatten out the mess they made. These guys should take this as a notice to maybe pay a little less attention to bro-science and more to real science. Figure out what you’re doing wrong and fix it.
If you get on stage and your gut is sticking out, then you and your coach screwed up.
That should count against your scoring and could be the reason you’d lose. Unless, of course, the rest of the guys look worse, which is possible.
In any case, the sport should be presenting the judges the very best specimens of the human form from which they are to pick.
That’s the whole point of entering your physique in a competition designed to pick the best one. Your job as a bodybuilder should be to be as close to absolute perfect as humanly possible, including a tight, trim, totally under control midsection.
Arnold Calls Out Pro-Bodybuilding
You probably know about what happened at the Arnold Classic when Schwarzenegger publicly called out the president of the IFBB and urged everyone else to do so as well.
Arnold said that the current judging standards in bodybuilding have denigrated to the shameful degree that the athletes’ bodies no longer look “beautiful” or athletic, nor do they represent the kind of body that anyone would want to have themselves. Yep, he said it.
Now, Arnold is certainly not the first to criticize the judging of a bodybuilding contest. He is, however, the first one that’s not going to get any shit for it. That’s why the issue can no longer be ignored.
Arnold put his ample foot down. If you agree with him, it’s time to say so because, according to the Oak, “It’s unacceptable the way bodybuilding is going. We don’t want to see stomachs sticking out. We want to see the most beautiful man, the most athletic man.”
This is certainly not the first time we’ve seen distended abdomens. I can think back as far to at least the end of Dorian Yates’s reign when he was shamelessly photographed out of the lineup, sporting at least one pumpkin with a navel.
Having one should count against a competitor’s score not only because it’s ugly, but because it indicates that he’s failing at an important, and now vital, aspect of what it takes to be an elite freak in pro bodybuilding.
If you’ve chosen to be a freak, get the distension under control.
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No-Weight, At-Home Workout for Total-Body Strength
Member Exclusive Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks. You don’t need any weights to do this total-body strength workout, which makes it great for beginning runners or anyone working out at home. Try adding it to your routine once or twice a week; start with one round, and work […]
You don’t need any weights to do this total-body strength workout, which makes it great for beginning runners or anyone working out at home. Try adding it to your routine once or twice a week; start with one round, and work your way up to two to three sets of the circuit. Once you’ve got this one down, mix things up with more total-body strength workout circuits.
Total-Body Strength Workout
Giant Walking Lunge | 10 per leg
Walk slowly forward by taking the longest steps possible. With each new step, imagine you’re trying to break your “personal record” for the largest step you’ve ever taken. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides. If this is not challenging, perform the exercise with a dumbbell in each hand.
Side Plank | 30 seconds per side
Lie on your left side with your ankles together and your torso propped up by your upper arm. Lift your hips upward until your body forms a diagonal plank from ankles to neck. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, making sure you don’t allow your hips to sag toward the floor. (Watch yourself in a mirror to make sure you’re not sagging.) Switch to the left side and repeat the exercise.
Chin-Up | 10 reps
Begin by hanging from a chin-up bar with an underhand grip on the bar and your hands positioned slightly farther than shoulder-width apart. Pull your body upward toward the bar until your chin is at bar level. Pause briefly and slowly lower yourself back to the start position.
If you cannot complete at least eight chin-ups, do a modified chin-up. Set a Smith machine barbell at a height of three to four feet above the floor. Sit under the bar and grab it underhand with your hands positioned at shoulder width. Raise your hips up and form a straight line with your whole body. You are now “hanging” from the bar with only your heels touching the floor. Pull your chest to the bar and then return slowly to a hanging position.
Step-Up | 10 per leg
Stand facing a sturdy 12- to 18-inch platform such as an aerobic step with your right foot on it and your left foot on the floor. Now use your right leg to pull your body upward until you’re standing on the bench on your right foot. Concentrate on not pushing off the floor with your left foot. (One way to ensure you do this is to lift the toes of your left foot before you engage your right leg to lift your body.) Make your right leg do all the work of lifting your body. Step back down with your left leg. Repeat until you’ve completed a full set, then switch legs.
Alternating Single-Leg Reverse Crunch | 10 per leg
Lie on your back with your head supported by a large pillow or foam roller. Begin with your legs bent 90 degrees and your thighs perpendicular to the floor, feet together. Engage your deep abs by drawing your navel toward your spine and trying to flatten your lower back against the floor. While holding this contraction, slowly lower your right foot to the floor. Return immediately to the start position, and then lower the left foot. If you find this movement easy, you are failing to hold the contraction of your deep abs. Keep your back pressed so flat to the floor that a credit card couldn’t be squeezed between them!
Push-Up | 20 or to failure
Assume a standard push-up position with your hands just outside shoulder width. Imagine your body being a straight line from ankles to neck; don’t allow the hips to sag or your butt to stick up too high. Tuck your chin so that your head is close to being in line with your body. Lower your chest to within an inch of the floor. Look straight at the floor the entire time and keep your core braced tightly. Press back to the starting position.
If you can’t do at least 10 standard push-ups, instead do elevated push-ups with your hands positioned on an exercise bench. If you can do more than 20 push-ups, instead do resisted push-ups with a resistance band wrapped over your shoulder blades and the ends pressed to the floor under your hands.
Balance Ball Leg Curl | 10 per leg
Lie on your back and place your heels together on top of a stability ball. Raise your pelvis so that your body forms a straight plank from head to toes. Contract your gluteal muscles and hamstrings and roll the ball toward your body. Pause briefly and return to the start position. Focus on keeping your pelvis from sagging toward the floor throughout this movement. To make this exercise more challenging, perform single-leg curls with one heel on the ball and the other foot elevated a few inches above it.
Reverse Plank | 30 seconds
Lie on your back on the floor with your arms folded on your chest, your knees bent 90 degrees, and your feet flat on the floor. Contract your gluteals and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from neck to knees. Hold this position.
Inverted Shoulder Press | 10 reps
Assume a push-up position but with your feet elevated on an exercise bench or other sturdy platform of similar height. Position your hands close enough to your feet so your body forms an inverted V with a 60 to 90 degree bend at the waist. Bend your elbows and lower the top of your head toward the floor between your hands, stopping just short of making contact. Press back to the start position. The higher you elevate your feet and the more you bend at the waist, the more challenging this exercise will be.
Eccentric Heel Dip | 10 per leg
Balance on one foot on a sturdy platform such as an aerobics step, with the ball of the foot resting on the edge of the platform so that the heel is unsupported and hanging off the back of the platform. Rest your fingertips against a wall or some other support for balance. Lower your heel toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles. (Your heel will now be below the level of the ball of your foot.) Then raise your heel back to a neutral position. At first, when you lift your body back to the starting position, do so with both legs so that you are not overloading the calf muscles. Once you’re stronger, you may attempt the lifting phase with one calf. Always use one for the lowering phase. Complete a full set and then work the other calf.
Adapted from Racing Weight Quick Start Guide: A 4-Week Weight-Loss Plan for Endurance Athletes by Matt Fitzgerald, with permission of VeloPress.
5 Research Findings That Can Level Up Your Fitness Efforts – Fitness and Power
Believe it or not, science is as important to the fitness culture as the invention of the bench press – with the help of scientific research, we can easily separate the truths from the myths and use that knowledge to substantially better our workouts as well as diminish the risk of injury. Here are 5 […]
Believe it or not, science is as important to the fitness culture as the invention of the bench press – with the help of scientific research, we can easily separate the truths from the myths and use that knowledge to substantially better our workouts as well as diminish the risk of injury.
Here are 5 scientific findings that shed new light on some popular beliefs and practices in the world of exercise and fitness and can potentially upgrade your performance if employed in your regular routine.
#1. Lousy squats are dangerous
Yep, performing squats with improper form can lead to a number of serious injuries, both acute and chronic, and that’s why it’s of vital importance to learn how to squat safely and effectively. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, squatting should be a controlled movement performed with a neutral spine and hinging as much as possible at the hips. Don’t rush it – squatting too fast can be both ineffective and increase the risk of injury. Ideal form includes a wider stance and placing the bar lower on the back.
#2. The best ab exercise
Since maintaining a ripped midsection is widely recognized as mandatory for any serious bodybuilder, the search for the perfect ab exercise will never end. But regardless of personal experiences, researchers have tried to end this quest by measuring levels of ab muscle activation during different popular exercises, including the crunch, supine V-up, prone V-up on a ball, prone V-up on a slide board, prone V-up on a TRX and prone V-up on a Power Wheel.
The results? No significant differences in ab muscle activation were found between the exercises and all seem to work the midsection muscles equally, with the exception of the crunch, which activates the internal oblique muscles a bit less.
#3. The Perfect Push-Up device doesn’t stand up to its name
The Perfect Push-Up is a small fitness device that utilizes two handles which rotate on a circular base, allowing your arms to rotate throughout the movement. Although the manufacturer’s claims about the effectiveness of device are pretty wild, a study from the Mayo Clinic found that it provided zero advantage compared to traditional push-ups.
The researchers measured muscle activation levels during three different positions (wide, medium and narrow base), and found that there are the rotational handles didn’t lead to increased muscle activity, but the greater range of motion did. That’s the reason why the wide-grip and standard pushups performed with The Perfect Push-Up elicited more muscle activity in the chest, triceps and front shoulders, while the narrow-grip pushups had a lower effect on these muscles. Therefore, you don’t need rotating handles to engage your muscles more – you could get the same elevation effect on many simpler ways. In addition, exercise physiologists claim that the rotating handles could increase your risk of shoulder injury.
#4. Vibration training improves muscle endurance
Vibration training, which includes a manufactured vibration with the help of a device in order to stimulate your muscles to work harder, looks more and more promising. Usually, the vibration is transferred through the feet, hands or butt, which are in direct contact with the vibrating device, and it’s supposed to help you increase the number of muscle fibers trained during any basic exercise.
Does it work? One recent study found that long-term vibration training improves posture stability of young men in the frontal plane, while another study published in the European Journal of Sports Science in 2010 found that subjects could complete more biceps curls when exercising on a vibration platform, compared to exercising without it. These and other similar studies conclude that vibration training indeed improves muscle fitness in untrained adults and other specific groups of gym-goers, but that it’s not worth the effort for athletes or experienced bodybuilders who train regularly.
#5. Fast-tempo music improves bodybuilding performance
Many bodybuilders think that working out with fast-tempo or aggressive music helps them unleash their full potential, and science seems to strongly support this belief. One British study found that listening to faster music leads subjects to work harder, compared to exercising with slow-tempo music. Also, another study conducted by sports psychologists from Brunel University in London found that specific genres of music are best suited to specific types of exercise – more specifically, rap music is best suited for stretching and running, while dance music is a better match for strength training. In addition, the frequent tempo changes in rock music can negatively influence your workout rhythm, so keep that in mind when choosing motivational tunes for your next workout.
5 Research Findings That Can Level Up Your Fitness Efforts – Fitness and Power was originally published at LINK