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Total Results Blog

Optimize your genetics with high intensity workouts - by Ralph Weinstein

Genetics influences can be found throughout the body. Lung capacity, maximum strength levels, flexibility, muscle fiber make-up, endurance and anaerobic threshold are just a few of your physiological attributes determined by your genetics. Genetic make-up will help you to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses in the physical abilities of your body. Your genetic make-up also contributes to your body's response to training, diet, and other external factors.

How can you optimize your genetic code during your workout?

When strength training any area of your body, having proper form and technique is crucial to make sure you're working the intended muscle groups that you want to develop and grow. Maintaining proper form will prevent injury. When your body is misaligned it places your tendons, muscles and joints in positions that can potentially cause strains or tears. Each exercise requires proper form. This is also why it is important to have the instructor overseeing the entire workout.

Proper form helps to insure proper breathing techniques. When an exercise becomes difficult you might be tempted to hold your breath. Holding your breath (which is called Valsalva) provides an internal mechanical assist that can lead to dangerous increases in blood pressure and can prevent venous return of blood to the heart. Watch a competitive weightlifter lift a very heavy weight. They will hold their breath or let out a yell which demonstrates strength. We want to stimulate strength improvement as opposed to demonstrate strength.

We all have the same amount of muscles in our body; approximately 650 skeletal muscles. Yes, even

Arnold

Arnold

Arnold has the same number of muscles as everyone else. Bodybuilders "thicken" their muscles through workouts and supplements. Your muscle fiber composition is already built into your genetics. Surveys show one in a thousand has the genetics to develop or thicken their muscles to the level of a body builder.

The body recruits muscle fibers sequentially starting with the most efficient slow twitch fibers. If intensity remains low intermediate and fast twitch fibers may not be recruited. As force requirement increases slow twitch, intermediate and fast twitch will be recruited sequentially until force requirement exceeds the rate of ATP production (fuel for muscular contraction). The ideal Total Results exercise duration will end in failure of a maximum number of fast twitch fibers but minimum time under load.

We want to achieve momentary weakening of muscle, or inroad. We begin with our 10 second positive and 10 second negative motion on each repetition. With each repetition your strength level diminishes and your level of fatigue increases causing you to tap the intermediate and fast twitch fibers. You have weakened your muscles and your strength level drops. This is where inroading begins.

You have reached the point you can't move the resistance. The instructor will ask you to hold for four to ten seconds and then have you safely unload. During those few seconds you have created microscopic tears in the muscles and, therefore, have achieved momentary muscular fatigue/failure. It is now necessary for recovery which generally takes at least 48 to 72 hours. During this time the microscopic tears will heal and your musculature will become stronger. You are then ready for your next workout.

Proper form, breathing and inroading during your strength training workouts will help you optimize your genetic code.

Posted May 18, 2018 by Tim Rankin

The Right Dosage of Exercise, by Matthew Romans

When many people make the decision to begin a strength training program, they are often confused as to how frequently they should work out, how many exercises they should perform, and how long each session should last. The biggest mistake most trainees make is performing too many exercises too frequently, and with inadequate intensity.

The difference between true exercise and mere activity is often misunderstood. The purpose of exercise (the kind of strength training that we instruct at Total Results) is to systematically, safely, and efficiently stimulate body improvements, such as increased strength, improved cardiovascular conditioning, improved bone mineral density, and protection against injury. However, many weight training enthusiasts and bodybuilders think that simply because they are spending time in a gym pushing weights around that they are performing exercise. They are not. In my estimation they are merely performing a recreational activity. Some benefits may result by using this approach, but the benefits most likely occur in spite of what they are doing, not because of it. The risk of injury can be high. I spent plenty of time in weight rooms and gyms in my teens and early twenties, and I wondered why my progress always seemed to stall.

So the question is "what is the right dosage of exercise?" There are a few things we must first understand. First, building and maintaining muscular tissue is a very metabolically expensive process, so the body won't do it without a proper and intense stimulus. The more intense the stimulus, the less volume of exercise is needed. Second, as Dr. Doug McGuff, author of Body By Science says, exercise has a "narrow therapeutic window." Not enough exercise provides little to no benefit, while too much exercise can be toxic and can lead to illness, stagnation of progress, and overuse injury. Think of it just like you would medication; you should use the most exact dosage needed to achieve the desired result (ex. relief of symptoms).

In my experience, the optimal dosage of exercise is five to seven exercises performed once or twice per week, with at least three days between exercise sessions. Every exercise should be taken to momentary muscular fatigue/failure to ensure an adequate intensity of effort. One should always strive for perfect form. The duration of the workout should be no longer than twenty minutes.

Recovery time and volume of exercise can vary from one person to the next; some people can tolerate more, some less. Our selection of exercises involves many compound movements; these are exercises that involve more than one muscle and joint (e.g. Leg Press). This enables us to cover more muscle in a shorter period of time, and your recovery ability will not be compromised. If a client's progress has stagnated over a significant period with twice per week workouts, it is usually a sign that they should reduce their training frequency to one session per week (we have done this with several of our longer-tenured clients).

We keep meticulous notes and data for every workout that our clients perform. Remember, there is an inverse relationship between exercise intensity and exercise frequency. The more intensely you exercise, the longer your recovery period will be. One or two sessions per week are not just something we can get away with; it is essential for getting optimal results and protecting against injury.

Workout intensely, once or twice per week, for twenty minutes and you can achieve maximum results!

Posted March 16, 2018 by Tim Rankin

How to Protect and Optimize Your Evolutionary Code

Today, February 12th, is "Darwin Day". Darwin Day celebrates birth date of Charles Darwin (born 1809). Darwin was a naturalist and biologist and is known as a pioneer of the science of evolution. Evolution states that species change over time through genetic variation and natural selection. Incremental mutations and adaptations over thousands of generations have resulted in an evolutionary "code" each of us carry with us. Think of this code like a computer program specific to each of us containing everything about us. This unique program defines our anatomy, our physiology, and our genetics (all our inherited characteristics, like eye color, body shape, brain size, genetic markers for diseases, etc.)

Much of this evolutionary code is beneficial to our existence, some is indifferent or neutral, and some of it can also be detrimental. Most of us have evolutionary code that protects us from infections, disease, injury, and untimely death. Alternatively, some of us have a code that makes us more susceptible to certain disease states, such as diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders such as Crohn's, certain cancers, and more.

The evolutionary code each of us carries is an accident of birth. We cannot go back in time and replace the code handed down to us through time. However, just like a computer program can be hacked or infected with viruses that cause it to run improperly or crash altogether, our evolutionary code can also be hacked and damaged by external factors which can result in injury, illness, disease states or even death. Computer programmers develop robust code, optimize it's performance with the best hardware and software platforms and protect it with anti-virus software and other tools. Likewise, our goal for our personal evolutionary code should be optimization and protection in order to thrive and maximize both the quality and length of our lives.

What external factors can impair and even damage our evolutionary code? Improper diet, smoking, excessive alcohol or drug use, lack of adequate sleep, lack of proper exercise, inadequate activity levels, and excessive stress can all hack our code and cause problems. A few specific examples:

-Lack of quality and/or quantity of sleep interferes with the conversion of short term memories into long term memories. Poor sleep also causes chronic elevation of cortisol, the stress hormone, and depression of growth hormone, which contributes to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

-Lack of proper muscle strengthening exercise results in a gradual atrophy of our skeletal muscles (about 1/2 pound per year starting in our twenties). This loss of lean muscle mass contributes to injuries, osteoporosis, and to lowering of our metabolism which contributes to obesity and diabetes.

-A diet too high in caloric intake (especially one high in sugars) elevates blood sugar levels, with a cascade effect of chronically high insulin and cortisol levels. This leads to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes and can even contribute to Alzheimer's.

What then are some actions we can take today to optimize and protect our evolutionary code?

-We must eat food that is concordant with our evolutionary biology. While we do not have to recreate the diets of our paleolithic ancestors, we must stick with modest amounts real foods with limited ingredients, preferably locally or organically grown or raised. Additionally, human bodies tend to thrive when occasionally stressed by intermittent fasting (skipping a meal or two once in awhile).

-We must move around more than the average 21st century person. I recommend walking a minimum of 3 miles per day, throughout the day, in addition to alternating standing with sitting. Regular recreation is also critical to our physical and mental optimization. Hiking, golfing, biking, gardening, etc. are all great ways to get outside and move around.

-We must get adequate sunlight. Too little sunlight has caused epidemic proportions of Vitamin D deficiency in our society. Ten to Thirty minutes per day of sun exposure or supplementing with vitamin D when weather does not allow being outside are critical to our health.

-We have to strain our muscles once in a while. Weekly weight training sessions which safely stress our muscular, cardiovascular, and metabolic systems to the point of stimulating change is critical to our wellbeing. Injury prevention, mobility, flexibility, insulin sensitivity and many more positive benefits accrue from lifting heavy things occasionally.

-We need to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night (preferably 8 or 9). Improved sleep quality and quantity can decrease our chances of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and dementia, and much more.

Charles Darwin's discovery of evolution by natural selection enriched human understanding of biology and genetics. We know we have inherited our evolutionary code from our parents and through them back millions of years to distant ancestors. Knowing this can help us understand actions we can take to best optimize and protect our specific code and therefore improve the quality and perhaps even the length of our lives. There is not much in the world more important than that!

Happy Darwin Day!

Posted February 12, 2018 by Tim Rankin

If your fitness coach recommends any of these activities, run far away!

It is a new year. You have every intention of getting in better shape. The challenge is, which fitness program do you undertake? Every gym, personal trainer, yoga instructor and well meaning neighbor has their ideas for what you should be doing. Everyone wants to be your "fitness coach", whether it is a professional or a friend. The best advice I can give you regarding picking a great program for your needs is this: Run far away from any fitness coach who recommends any of the following:

-Military style boot camp: For goodness sakes you are a 40 year old mother of two, or maybe a 55 year old father and husband, not an 18 year old marine at Paris Island Basic training. Military training is as much for breaking young soldiers down mentally and physically and then molding them into order-taking fighting machines as it is for physical fitness. You are risking injury, immune system degradation, and mental anguish. Run away!

-High force, high speed plyometrics, calistenics, etc. Unless you are planning to try out for a gladiator TV appearance, you do not need to climb ropes, jump up on boxes, or any perform any other high force, high speed activity. See boot camp section above for inury potential. I have many clients who came to me after injuring themselves at one of these programs. Run away!

-Head stands, pole dancing, hyperflexbility movements, etc. in the name of exercise. Fun? maybe. Injuries? Yes. Fitness? I seriously doubt it. Run away!

-Mimicking professional athlete training or movements. You are NOT a professional athlete. Even if you were, you are not 23 anymore. Plus, many of the exercise programs athletes embark on are based on non-scientfic habits and rituals they learned in high school or college. Much of this activity passing as exercise is actually "make work" made up by coaches trying to fill the hours that athletes cannot legally be on the field practicing (due to NCAA rules, etc.). Run away!

-Lifting and/or throwing tires, chains, ropes, medicine balls, telephone poles, etc. Seriously? Run away!

-Group running, sprinting, nature runs, etc. If you want to take a jog around your neighborhood, that is great, although the negatives may outweigh the benefits. However, group runs lack proper care, supervision, and appropriate level of intensity (could be too much or too little for each individual). Walk away :-)

What do all these activities have in common? They are not safe. They are not progressive. They lack proper individual attention and supervision. They are not efficient. Could your fitness level improve with some of these activities? Yes, possibly. However, would you rather drive without brakes along a cliffside for ten miles to attempt to reach a destination, or drive in a safe vehicle two miles on a straight, flat road to reach the same spot?

So, if you see or hear any of the above recommendations, run far away! If, on the other hand, you want to reach your fitness goals in a safe, efficient and effective manner, then exercise smarter and get "Total Results".

Posted January 12, 2018 by Tim Rankin

Alzheimer's Antidote - a book review by Matthew Romans

Many people have loved ones or friends with loved ones that are suffering from the effects of Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, or some other form of cognitive decline. Most of us are at least familiar with some of the outward symptoms of the disease: memory loss, personality change, depression, and decline in physical capacity. The emotional effects of this disease can be devastating, both for the patient and the people entrusted as caregivers. What causes Alzheimer's disease, and what can be done (besides the typical course of medications) to treat it? A new book has been released that provides some answers and hope. The book, "The Alzheimer's Antidote" was written by Amy Berger, who holds a master's degree in human nutrition and is a certified nutrition specialist and nutritional therapy practitioner.

It is very important that we understand causes and contributing factors to Alzheimer's disease. Recent medical literature points to Alzheimer's as a largely metabolic problem. Certain parts of the brain are no longer able to receive sufficient energy from glucose, thus leading to problems of communication between different areas of the brain. This is what leads to the confusion, personality changes, and memory loss so often associated with the disease. The traditional Western diet, which contains large amounts of grains, sugars, and other processed foods, can play a large role in the development of Alzheimer's. The more carbohydrates are present in the diet, the more the pancreas must release insulin in order to get nutrients into the cells. The result is a decreased insulin sensitivity that is not unlike what is experienced in type 2 diabetes. Both type 2 diabetics and Alzheimer's patients can experience chronic pain, low energy levels, and fatigue; in fact, many researchers now refer to Alzheimer's disease as "Type 3 Diabetes." So, Alzheimer's disease is really the brain being starved of nutrients; while the brain is only two percent of the body's weight, it may use up to twenty percent of its glucose and oxygen. Have you ever wondered why it's hard to concentrate when you're extremely hungry? It's because the brain needs a lot of glucose in order to function at peak capacity. Imagine feeling that way all the time, and that gives you an idea of what this disease is like.

Now that we know what can contribute to Alzheimer's disease, what can we do to slow down or reverse the effects of the disease? Bear in mind that if the disease is far enough advanced or if the patient is old enough, much of the damage may be irreversible. While damage can begin as early as one's twenties or early thirties, physical evidence of decline may not be evident until later in life. That being said, there are a number of things we can do slow down or reverse the damage.

1. Implement a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Ketogenic diets are made up largely of good sources of fat, with a modest amount of protein and very minimal carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and some fruits. Severely restricting or eliminating grains and sugars from the diet stimulates the body to produce ketones, which are produced when insulin levels are very low. Ketones are by-products of both dietary fat and stored body fat, and can be used by the brain as a fuel source. This way, you are utilizing fat instead of glucose.


2. Exercise. High intensity weight training is important for building and maintaining muscle, but also for helping to maintain insulin sensitivity. Regulating exercise dosage is the key: not enough exercise provides little benefit, while too much exercise has a toxic effect. One or two weight training sessions (like we recommend at Total Results) is the ideal dosage.


3. Practice Intermittent Fasting. This typically involves condensing your daily feeding window (time between your first and last meals of the daily) into 8-10 hours, and then fasting for anywhere between 12-16 or even 18 hours. This keeps your insulin levels low and stimulates the body to produce ketones. It can also increase the brain's capacity for plasticity and self-repair.


4. Get enough sleep. Negative consequences of chronic sleep debt include decreased insulin sensitivity, hormonal disregulation, and elevated cortisol levels. Try to get in the habit of going to sleep and waking up at a consistent hour, and minimize access to electronic stimulation and artificial light an hour or so before bed time.

The idea of falling prey to Alzheimer's disease is terrifying, but now there is a reason for optimism. Educating ourselves is critical. We know that the disease does not manifest itself overnight; it can take years or even decades before physical symptoms are visible. We now know more about the science of Alzheimer's and we can implement the strategies recommended in The Alzheimer's Antidote to help ourselves and our loved ones slow and even reverse the damage that this dreaded disease can cause.

Posted January 10, 2018 by Tim Rankin