Rock Moab AS Just another WordPress site Thu, 06 Dec 2018 20:29:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Signs You’re Taking Your Diet Too Far Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:03:14 +0000 When I first started out in private practice, clients came to me because something was wrong. Most of them struggled with their weight, or were newly diagnosed with a condition like high cholesterol or elevated blood pressure. Today, healthy, fit clients schedule appointments with me simply to pick my brain. Many describe themselves as health enthusiasts who want to learn all they can about optimal nutrition, the hottest superfoods, and latest trends. I love that nutrition is now considered exciting—even sexy.

But I sometimes see healthy eating and weight loss taken to extremes, which can actually worsen physical and emotional well-being and negatively impact quality of life. (Case in point: a recent study highlighted how obese teens trying to lose weight are in danger of developing eating disorders.) This topic is especially timely given the social media uproar following Tuesday’s finale of The Biggest Loser, where winner Rachel Frederickson lost so much weight that reported she wouldn’t be allowed to model in some countries based on her BMI, and in advance of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week from February 23 to March 1.

While this post is certainly not meant to diagnose anyone, here are five indications that your healthy efforts may have morphed into detrimental patterns.

You’ve become scale-obsessed

I actually believe it’s perfectly okay—and for some people, even healthier—not to weigh themselves. (Find out why in my previous post 5 Reasons Why You Can Skip the Scale.) But if you do, treat weighing in as a simple reality check to help you understand your body’s patterns and to see if you’re moving in the right direction. It’s also important to put the numbers in proper perspective. Weight fluctuations from day to day, and even hour to hour, are completely normal, because when you step on a scale, you’re weighing not just muscle and body fat, but also: fluid, food inside your GI tract that hasn’t been digested and absorbed; waste that hasn’t been eliminated; and glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate you carry in your liver and muscles. The latter three can shift considerably and quickly, whereas changes in muscle and fat tissue happen more slowly. Also, you can be retaining water or building muscle as you’re losing body fat, which means the number on the scale might stay the same, even though you’re getting leaner.

For all of these reasons, weight alone doesn’t tell you much. Yet many people become fixated on the number and they feel angry or depressed if it doesn’t go down, or if it’s not declining fast enough. If you find yourself weighing in more than once a day, or if your mood is seriously affected by the number, or if you undereat or overexercise because your weight hasn’t decreased, your relationship with weight has likely become unhealthy. Consider letting go of the scale and focusing on how your body feels instead—and talking to a health professional about reasonable weight expectations.

You’re secretive about your diet

When you’re trying to eat healthfully and lose weight, there’s no reason to tell everyone and their mom about your personal regime. But if you feel the need to avoid the subject because you’re afraid you’ll be judged for being too strict, you may be crossing into disordered territory. This is especially the case if your own gut instinct is telling you that you’re overly restricting but you can’t or don’t want to stop.

In my experience, a big red flag is a willingness to stick to a restrictive plan despite unhealthy side effects like fatigue, moodiness and irritability, sleep disturbances, poor immunity, and constant hunger. Even if you are losing weight or you’re eating ultra healthy foods, if you aren’t keeping yourself nourished, I promise you’re doing a lot more harm than good. Throughout my 15+ years working with clients, I’ve found that creating more balance (and often adding food to a plan) leads to much better results, not just for weight control, but also for emotional well-being and a healthy social life. For more about diet strategies that can go awry, check out 5 Common Dieting Mistakes, Solved.

Your self-esteem is tied to your weight or eating habits

Even clients who know I’m not at all a food cop are sometimes afraid to tell me what they’ve eaten. It’s typically because they’re judging themselves: they’ve developed a pattern of feeling happy and empowered when they’ve been “good” and beating themselves up when they’ve been “bad.” Unfortunately, these associations can stall your progress, because they don’t allow you to examine why you get off track. And when you don’t know why you’re doing something, it’s very difficult to change.

The truth is, you may slip up because your diet is too strict and your hunger hormones are raging. If that’s the case, the fix lies in balancing out what you’re eating, not berating yourself. Or, if you tend to eat due to stress or anxiety, addressing your emotions is the key to ending the cycle, not trying to have more willpower. So if you gained a pound or two this week, or your kale rotted in the crisper while you ordered takeout again, banish the harsh self-talk and criticism. Instead, take an objective look at your triggers, focus your energy there, and remind yourself that health is about progress, not perfection.

Most of your mental energy is spent thinking about your diet or weight

Some of my clients love food apps and other tools that help them record what they ate and track their weight. Others don’t. But one thing’s for certain: for some people, these tools can become an obsession. If you find yourself constantly thinking about what you’ve eaten (or what you’re going to eat) and worrying about your weight to the point where you’re distracted from other activities, your weight-loss goals may have eclipsed your healthy lifestyle goals.

In my years of counseling clients, I’ve seen this pattern lead to burnout and trigger a rebound right back to old, unhealthy patterns. Fortunately, you don’t have to be preoccupied with your diet and weight in order to see results. Simply focusing on the basics—like eating at consistent times; eating balanced meals that include plenty of veggies, along with lean protein, healthy fat, and small portions of “good” carbs; and stopping when you’re full—can allow you to see real and lasting results, while also having the time and energy for other parts of your life. If you’re afraid to let go of thinking about or recording your every effort, ask yourself if you can honestly envision continuing to do so six weeks or six months from now. If the thought makes you cringe, make an effort to create some balance. Letting go a bit doesn’t have to mean sacrificing results.

Your diet distances you from your family and friends

I’ve had clients tell me that they stopped spending time with friends and avoided family functions because their devotion to their diet outweighed their desire to engage in social situations. Some of this is normal for anyone who’s adopting healthy habits because the cultural norm is to overindulge. But if you find yourself becoming isolated and avoiding the people you care about, things may have gone too far.

If you’re on a quest to eat healthfully and the people in your social circles aren’t healthy eaters, there are ways to enjoy getting together that won’t require you to eat junk food. For example: at a party, bring a healthy dish to share, to serve as your personal go-to; choose restaurants where you know you can get a healthy meal, and opt for non-food centered ways of spending time together, like going for a walk or a hike, rather than meeting for drinks or frozen yogurt.

6 tips for training overweight or obese clients. Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:47:37 +0000 At some point in your personal training career you may encounter the opportunity to train overweight or obese clients. If you are seasoned personal trainer or a newbie to personal training, you may find these tips on how to train overweight or obese clients helpful!

Provide Some Nutrition Guidance & Coaching:

Weight problems may be related to medical conditions or it may simply be that there is an over-consumption of food. Your success and theirs will require the recognition that diet plays a crucial role and that the client must change their diet. Discussing a no nonsense, no fad simple nutrition plan will encourage their compliance to their new exercise program.

ate, large space the best for training an overweight client (ideally a place somewhat closed off from the rest of the gym). Outdoors is also another great option is that is available. Lots of room to move is the key ot your client feeling comfort which all leads to compliance!

Avoid Exercise Machines and Train Clients with Body Weight Exercises

Most machines are not made for an obese person – too small, not wide enough, hard to get in and out of etc… Stick with simple body weight exercises like Squats, Step ups, Kettle Bell Deadlifts, Overhead press, Wall push ups, Standing cable rowing movements, Woodchop,

Smart and effective compound exercise choices will increase confidence.

Avoid Uncomfortable Exercise Positions

Overweight or obese people have a more difficult time getting into, out of, up from and down to the floor and machines. So avoid all these scenarios and avoid the floor. Use a bench instead of the floor.

Low Impact Cardio Good, High Impact Cardio Bad

Just a reminder, keep all your cardio activity low impact like fast walking, swimming, hiking hills, and boxing and stay away from the high impact exercises like running, jumping, and plyometrics. Low impact will help to avoid any potential injury and balance issues.

Circuits Keep it Interesting & Fresh

Circuit training keeps your client moving and interested in what is coming next. Adding different movements, and not doing the same movements all the time helps to avoid boredom and overuse. Mix it up, just keep them moving with pushing, pulling, squats, drills, carries, boxing and short bouts of walking, treadmill and hills.

In conclusion, after you have the Dr. approval, use common sense and keep things simple and basic; keep them constantly moving during your session; keep it challenging; and provide a comfortable environment that is motivating.

Core Essentials: Beyond Ab & Back Routines Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:40:43 +0000 Getting a strong core means moving beyond a simple ab and back routine and incorporating exercises that develop a strong core, and a strstable power center. Your core is your engine of control through life.  A strong base of support at the core of the body allows for better transfer of forces to the extremities when we are lifting, throwing, kicking, swinging, running, etc.. To truly train the core, a deeper understanding of core essentials including both the inner and outer musculature is necessary.

The muscles of the inner core include the transversus abdominis, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and quadratus lumborum and multifidi muscles. These muscles assist in stabilizing the spine and pelvis, and help minimize harmful rotational movement (O’Byrne, 2007).

The rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques and erector spinae comprise the “outer core” – the global movers of the spine. The muscles of the outer core assist spinal flexion, lateral flexion, maintenance of an erect posture, and rotation of the trunk.

When training, it is important to utilize inner and outer musculature as you would in daily life, allowing natural mobility in bending, extending, rotating and stabilizing movement.  Adding ball exercises to your core workouts is a great way to achieve this.

Some of the benefits of stability ball training include:

  • Increased range of motion of the spine.
  • Support of the lumbar curve enabling a greater range of resisted motion.
  • Accommodation of all fitness levels by adjusting body position or manipulating balance challenge variables.
  • Develops balance and strengthens deep stabilizing musculature.
  • Enhances motor learning through neuro-receptor activation.

Because the core is the foundation for all movement, exercises that challenge the inner and outer unit in a functional manner are essential. A whole body workout plan which focuses on the core will develop a strong, stable inner unit and create a functionally fit body

Supine Trunk Curl

This exercise challenges muscular strength and endurance in the rectus abdominis and internal/external obliques as well as stability of the quadriceps, hip extensors and neck flexors

Begin lying supine on the ball with the lumbar spine centered, feet hip width apart on the floor. Flex the spine, pulling the ribs down toward the hips.  Hold then slowly return to the start.

Teaching Tips:

  • Stabilize the neck and pelvis–instability in these areas is the most common problem and it needs to be addressed initially.
  • Avoid thrusting the body forward and control your eccentric (lowering) movement.
  • The ball should not move.


  • Resistance challenge: Add the arms by placing the hands behind the head.
  • Balance challenge: Lift one leg.

Oblique Curl:

Stagger the feet slightly and slightly rotate the hips to one side.
Place one arm to the side. Anchor the lower hip into the ball. Think of moving the ribcage diagonally in the direction the legs are pointing (right elbow to right inner thigh).

Dynamic challenge: Roll ball side to side

Lateral Trunk Flexion

This exercise targets the obliques and quadratus lumborum.  It is a great way to work on side-lying balance, and stabilization in the core, hip, pelvis, neck and lower body.
Begin in the side-lying position with the hips firmly pressed into the ball. Adjust the distance between your legs for an appropriate balance challenge.

The wider your legs, the more stable you will become.  Place your hands behind your head and lower the torso toward the floor until you feel a slight side stretch. From this position, laterally flex away from the floor focusing on drawing the bottom of the ribcage closer to the hip.  Hold at the top then control as you lower down.

Teaching Tips:

  • Repeat on both sides
  • Find neutral cervical alignment and maintain this position throughout the movement.
  • Initiate movement from the trunk avoiding neck pull.
  • Prevent movement of the hips and shoulders forward and back.
  • Move slowly through this range of motion.


  • Resistance and balance challenge: Extend the arms overhead or place them behind the head. Extend the legs. Add hip abduction of the top leg.
  • Modification: Anchoring the feet on the wall is very effective for this exercise. It will allow you to position the body forward for more resistance and a greater range of motion.

Trunk Extension with Rotation

The focus of this exercise is to challenge muscular endurance and strength in the spinal extensors and deep lumbar rotators as well as prone balance, core, lower body and shoulder girdle stabilization.

Begin kneeling on the floor with your torso draped prone over the ball, hips and abdomen centered hugging the ball with your forehead resting against the back of your hand.  Gently press the pelvis into the ball and slowly extend spine.  Continue extension as you rotate the trunk to one side, keeping the elbow open and scapulae gently retracted.  Slowly lower down.

Teaching Tips:

  • Alternate sides.
  • Drive movement from the lumbar spine and avoid momentum.
  • Imagine there is a tennis ball tucked under the chin—don’t drop it!
  • This exercise is not about lifting the trunk but rather extending the spine.


  • Resistance and balance challenge: Narrow the base (place the knees closer together) and lift the arms straight ahead.
  • Balance challenge: Lift the knees off the floor.

Remember to begin new exercises with the easiest balance position and encourage controlled movement at all times.  Progress as you master the exercise by manipulating balance challenge variables (reducing points of contact, changing focal point, adding movement or external stimulus such as a weighted ball or dumb bell).  As you progress to more challenging positions decrease range of motion until the new motor pattern is learned.

Anchor the pelvis when training trunk mobility and maintain a neutral spine position when training trunk stability. Be aware of your breath and make sure participants know how to safely transition from one body position to another on the ball. Proficiency in appropriate progression will make workouts safer, more enjoyable and appropriate for all participants.   Balance training on the ball should meet individual ability and challenge without significantly increasing risk of injury or compromising technique.

The Seven Most Common Factors in Premature Aging Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:32:32 +0000 Aging is the natural process of growing older. Yet there are many factors that play a role in whether we age gracefully or if we are the one out of two people who age faster than our biological age.

More than half of us look older than we really are because we either engage in behaviors that increase our aging, or we do not actively support a more youthful body through inaction. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about fighting the aging process, the more control you can take toward maintaining a healthier, younger body and mind.

1- Premature Aging and Attitude

The mind plays a significant role in whether we are aging faster or slower, and we can use the mind to help us accelerate or decelerate the process. Happier people are quite simply younger looking people. The more you hold hope, optimism, and joy at the top of your list of priorities, the younger your face will appear. Moreover, happier people live longer often with fewer health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and even aching joints and bones.

Perpetual anger and distress can form permanently on the face in the form of fine lines and deep wrinkles. When the face expresses chronic sad or angry emotions, the constant scowling can turn into wrinkles formed by muscle memory.

A happier face is devoid of wrinkled eyebrows and scowl marks because the muscles have spent more time in a relaxed state. This doesn’t mean that one bad day will give you a face full of wrinkles, but how your face carries your expression more than 50% of the time can determine how prematurely you form wrinkles, where, and how deeply.

2- Aging, Smoking, and Drinking

We all know that smoking and drinking in excess are not good for us. They lead to all kinds of health problems and deplete our bodies of necessary nutrients. Additionally, the lines and discoloration of a smoker or drinker are worn all over their face. The skin needs a certain amount of hydration, collagen, elastin, and oxygen in order to look youthful and healthy.

Smokers develop fine lines around the mouth, deeper forehead wrinkles, and are twice as likely to develop bad teeth. The entire body, including the facial skin, is deprived of enough oxygen and the look and feel of a smoker’s face can be obvious over time.

Drinking excessively can leave permanent marks on the body as well. Aside from the damaging effects on the liver and kidneys, heavy drinkers have facial skin that has been discolored over time, has poor muscle tone, and often has broken blood vessels or small spider veins.

3- Age, Sun, Cold, and Moisture

We can easily accelerate our aging process by basking in the sun’s rays. Sun damage is the number one cause of wrinkles and skin that has been permanently damaged.

Age spots and other forms of discoloration can be seriously exacerbated by the sun’s harmful UV rays. A face that has spent years working on its tan appears heavily wrinkled and touch like show leather. Once you pass the twenty minute mark in the sun, the benefits from absorbing necessary Vitamin D are counteracted by the damage of the UV rays to the skin.

Spending a life time in cold environments can have a similar effect. Rather than creating a tougher skin, the skin appears too thin and wrinkles develop. The same effect can be seen in people who use harsh acne treatments over a period of years.

When acne treatments dry out the skin, it can cause damage similar to the damage caused by cold and sun, creating a dry, tough, wrinkled face. When the skin’s natural oils are depleted, the skin loses its elasticity and the face ages. Moisturizing daily, sometimes two and three times per day, and protecting the skin for the sun and damaging cold can combat these rather common effects on our aging process.

4- Aging and Diet

One of the most commonly misunderstood aging factors is the effect that food has on the body. There are foods that you can eat that will help you retain a younger body and foods that will help age you faster. Choosing a diet that is high in fats, sugars, processed foods, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables creates an internal environment that is anything but youth friendly.

Foods that cause inflammation, like refined sugar, white flour, and even excessive dairy products, can readily create inflammation in the body that contributes to the aging process. These foods tend to make the body “heavier” in feel and appearance because the internal organs are actually suffering from inflammation. Aside from this, our bodies do not process foods that are not in their natural form very well, which means the organic breakdown of nutrients is not being put to biological good use.

Replacing a sugary diet with fried and fatty foods, even if you are not overweight, with one that is high in natural products can keep the whole body looking tighter and younger.

5- Aging and Weight

Being too thin or too heavy can add to the aging process. Being underweight reduces the natural fats in the facial structure which allows the skin to sag and adds to the appearance of wrinkles. A face lift or Botox doesn’t help an underweight face look younger because the natural fattiness that fills out the face can’t be replaced with medical procedures like these.

Simply adding five pounds to an underweight body can bring back a softer, wrinkle free face. Too much weight can make us look older by creating poor muscle tone.

Overweight people, especially as they age, tend to be less active and this leads to chronic health problems and the cycle of aging continues.

Even in your forties, fifties, sixties, and sometimes beyond, putting on a few extra pounds doesn’t mean that you have to carry around a spare tire. Rather, targeted exercise can keep your entire body in shape while adding muscle reduces the flabby, wrinkly look that too much fat can produce.

People who have suffered from eating disorders also tend to develop wrinkles, dry skin, and skeleton like features as they reach their thirties and forties. The body has spent an extended period of time malnourished, even if it was fifteen or twenty years before.

The effects of this phenomenon can be combated through a diet rich in antioxidants, fresh, natural foods, and ample muscle building exercise that does not result in excessive weight loss. Since the metabolism was effected during the time of the eating disorder, those who have recovered should periodically see a nutritionist to develop high energy, low fat, age fighting dietary plans.

6-Aging and Choices

We all make daily choices that either help or hinder the aging process. Regular work outs can help prevent premature aging and keep the entire body in great shape.

Choosing television in the evening over physical exertion can lead to premature aging.
The chronic use of harsh chemicals on and around the body can add to aging, not to mention disease.

Everything from finger nail polish to natural products that make you feel good (aka high) and the medications that we pump into our body can have age related side effects.

The closer we can get back to the natural form our bodies crave, the less likely we are to see our body’s age right in front of our eyes.

Making choices that work with our body rather against it can help slow down the aging process. Learning to listen to your body can change everything. Stop eating when you’re full. Rest when you’re tired. Focus on yourself in a way that you never have before.

Turn toward natural interventions when possible instead of chemical alterations for turning back the clock. These are simple choices that work with our bodies’ own natural rhythm and pay us back in dividends beyond belief.

7-Aging and Stress

Chronic, high stress lives are a good recipe for aging. Aside from the effects that a worried face has on facial wrinkles, stress affects everything from the way we carry ourselves to our energy level. People who are consumed with daily stress do not walk tall and proud like people who are feeling good about themselves. They move slower and they challenge their bodies less. People who are overwhelmed with stressed also tend to have illnesses that can help the aging process along.

A certain amount of stress is actually good for us, although stress that creates physical signs on the body should be handled on a pleasant and relaxing manner.

Grab a weekly massage and practice calm forms of exercise like Yoga. Meditation can also help improve your overall stress level, which can make you feel more focused and younger.

While we can’t keep those birthdays from rolling around in our direction, we can take affirmative action to keep the aging process from taking over our lives. With less stress, better diet and exercise, and a happier outlook, we can retain our youthful joy and keep our spirits much younger. The youthful joy on the inside will be noticeable on the outside.

Closed Chain Exercise For Legs and Knees Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:22:07 +0000 One iteresting idea in exercise and rehabilitation divides exercises into closed chain and open chain. Chains are links of body parts, such as foot, ankle, knee, and hip during walking. In a closed chain the end of the chain farthest from the body is fixed, such as a squat where your feet are fixed and the rest of the leg chain moves. In open chains the end is free, such as in a seated leg extension.

Closed and open chain exercises provide somewhat different benefits. Closed chain exercises tend to emphasize compression of joints, which helps stabilize the joint, such as your knee during the upright stance phase of squats. Open chain exercises tend to involve more shearing force, parallel to the joint; for example, during a leg extension your knee is never under compression forces. Closed chains tend to involve more muscles and jointsthan open chains and lead to better coordination around each structure, which improves overall stability.

The best known closed chain exercises for your legs are squats and lunges. Here is a selection of less well known exercises for an all-round leg workout that you can add to your routine, especially if you are recovering from a knee injury.

Standing weight Shift. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, weight equally distributed, and knees slightly flexed. Shift you body weight so that it is all on your right leg, although you keep both feet on the ground. Hold five seconds, then shift so your weight is transferred to your other leg and hold for five seconds. Shift back and forth, and continue for one or two minutes.

Quad Dips. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, using a door frame or counter top for balance, at first. Slowly flex your knees about 20 to 30 degrees and hold for 10 seconds. Then straighten up to full extension. As you flex and go into bent knee positions, be sure you keep your knees straight out in front over the top of your foot, and not allow your knee to bend inward toward your big toe. Start with a few reps and build up as much as you can tolerate. As your strength improves gradually shift your weight so that most of it is on your weaker side, while you use the other one primarily for balance.

Wall Sits. With your feet about 18 inches form a wall and under your shoulders, lean your back against the wall and slowly slide down the wall until your knees are about 45 degrees flexed. Hold as long as you can then return to your starting position.

One-Legged Quad Dips . Repeat the above quad dip exercise, but lift your stronger leg off the floor and perform the exercise with all your weight on the weaker leg. Initially you may need a hand hold to help your balance. Eventually, though, you should progress so that you develop better balance without help.

Lateral Step-Ups. Place a four to six inch block, or a phone book, on the floor, place your foot on the weaker side on the block and lift the toes on your stronger side so that you don’t push off with them, then slowly step up on the block and then slowly step down, touching the ground with the heel of your stronger side first. You should do most of the work with your weaker leg, and repeat as you can tolerate and slowly build repetitions.

Stork Stand. Stand on your weaker leg, holding the other leg in the air and your arms by your sides. Close your eyes and hold your balance as long as possible. Repeat several times.

Factors Affecting Muscular Strength Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:12:51 +0000 I am often asked why one person develops strength and muscle faster than another when he or she is performing the same exercises and followong a similar strength training workout program. Many people feel that they must be doing something wrong because they aren’t getting the same results, muscular strength or muscular development as another person. It’s important to realize that there are six primary factors affecting every individual’s ability to achieve strength and muscle development, and we have little or no control over most of them.

I am often asked why one person develops strength and muscle faster than another when he or she is performing the same exercises, following the same training program. Many people feel that they must be doing something wrong because they aren’t getting the same results as another person. It’s important to realize that there are six primary factors affecting every individual’s ability to achieve strength and muscle development, and we have little or no control over most of them.

Type of Muscle Fiber

One of the most influential factors is muscle fiber type. We have two basic types of muscle fibers, often referred to as “slow twitch” and “fast twitch.” Slow twitch muscle fibers are best used for cardiovascular (aerobic) activities. They produce small levels of force for long periods of time and thus are better suited for endurance activities. Fast twitch fibers are best used for anaerobic activities. They produce high levels of force for short periods of time and are best suited for power activities such as weightlifting.

Most men and women have an equal combination of both slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. However, some people inherit a high percentage of slow twitch fibers that enhance their performance in endurance activities, such as long distance runners. Most world class marathon runners have a very high amount of slow twitch fibers. World class sprinters or football players, for example, have relatively more fast twitch muscle fibers. Although both fiber types respond positively to strength training workouts, the fast twitch types experience greater increases in muscle size and strength, and thus may obtain greater and/or faster results from a strength training program.


Another factor over which we have little control is age. Studies show that people of all ages can increase their muscle size and strength as a result of a safe and effective strength training program. However, the rate of strength and muscle gain appears to be greater from age 10-20, the years of rapid growth and development. After reaching normal physical maturity, muscular improvements usually don’t come as quickly.


Gender does not affect the quality of our muscle, but does influence the quantity. Although men’s and women’s muscle tissue are characteristically the same, men generally have more muscle tissue than women do because muscle size is increased by the presence of testosterone, the male sex hormone. The larger the muscles, the stronger the person; this is why most men are stronger than most women.

Limb and Muscle Length

Another strength factor that is naturally determined is limb length. Persons with short limbs tend to be able to lift more weight because of advantageous leverage factors (arms and legs). Similarly, differences in strength development may come about because of variation in muscle length. Some people have long muscles, and some people have short muscles. Persons with relatively long muscles have greater potential for developing size and strength than persons with relatively short muscles.

Point of Tendon Insertion

Muscle strength is also influenced by the point of tendon insertion. For example, let’s say Jim and John both have the same arm and muscle length. However, Jim’s biceps tendon attaches to his forearm farther from his elbow joint than John’s does. This gives Jim a biomechanical advantage: he is able to lift more weight than John in biceps exercises such as the Biceps Curl.

Other Important Factors

All of these factors affect our ability to gain strength and muscle development through training. Keep in mind, however, that the most influential factor in achieving good results is using a very slow, controlled lifting movement and lifting to the point of muscle fatigue.

In addition to using good lifting technique, it is absolutely imperative that you not only train with intensity on a well-balanced program, but also give your muscles enough resting time between training sessions. Overtraining is a common mistake people make; it happens not only when you don’t allow your muscles enough rest, but also when you train with too many sets and exercises for each muscle group.

Another mistake people make is doing the same program over and over again even after they have reached a plateau. Any time you 1) stop gaining strength or muscle size or 2) get bored, it is crucial that you change the program, so that you can go through a whole new phase achieving new results.

We inherit most of these factors affecting strength from our parents, and they have a big impact on our size, strength, and appearance. It is very important that you not become obsessed with trying to look like a world-class body builder—or any other body type that is not your own. We are not all meant to look the same. It is very important that you learn about and accept your own body’s characteristics and type, so you can develop a reasonable program specific to realistic goals and personal interests.

Genetics does clearly play a role in your health and appearance, but they certainly do not determine how often or well you train. Even if you are born with a genetic predisposition to being overweight or weak, the way you live is what will ultimately determine whether you become fit and strong or fat and weak.

Weightlifting provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. Physiologically, the benefits of consistent strength training include an increase in muscle size and tone, increased muscle strength, and increases in tendon, bone, and ligament strength. Strength-training has also been shown to improve psychological health as well, by increasing self-esteem, confidence and self-worth. If you understand and accept your body, you will be able to work with it, not against it. Everyone can improve their strength, appearance, and performance level by consistently implementing an effective strength training program.

No guts no glory: Harvesting the microbiome of athletes Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:05:32 +0000 Scientists have tapped into the microbiome of elite runners and rowers, and have identified particular bacteria that may aid athletic performance. The goal is to develop probiotic supplements that may help athletes — and even amateur fitness enthusiasts — recover from a tough workout or more efficiently convert nutrients to energy. The researchers will present their work today at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

The researchers are presenting their work today at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“When we first started thinking about this, I was asked whether we could use genomics to predict the next Michael Jordan,” Jonathan Scheiman, Ph.D., says. “But my response was that a better question is: Can you extract Jordan’s biology and give it to others to help make the next Michael Jordan?”

To answer that question, microbes seemed like a good place to start. “We are more bacteria than we are human,” says Scheiman, who is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of George Church, Ph.D., at Harvard Medical School. “The bugs in our gut affect our energy metabolism, making it easier to break down carbohydrates, protein and fiber. They are also involved in inflammation and neurological function. So perhaps the microbiome could be relevant for applications in endurance, recovery and maybe even mental toughness.”

As a first step toward identifying bacteria that support athletic performance, the researchers collected fecal samples on a daily basis from 20 athletes training for the 2015 Boston marathon, one week before and one week after the race. “For two weeks I was driving around Boston collecting fecal samples and putting them on dry ice in the car,” Scheiman says. “We followed athletes longitudinally to capture how the microbiome changes between performance and recovery.”

The researchers sequenced the genomes of the sampled bacteria, using computational metagenomic methods to figure out how many and what types of microbes inhabited the fecal samples. When they compared the pre-race and post-race samples, the researchers found a sudden spike in the population of one particular type of bacteria after the marathon. “This bug’s natural function is to break down lactic acid,” Scheiman says. During intense exercise, the body produces more lactic acid than usual, which can lead to muscle fatigue and soreness. This bacteria could potentially help with that.

The team has isolated the bacteria from fecal samples and is beginning to evaluate its properties. They’ve already determined that the bug excels at breaking down lactic acid in a test tube and remains viable after it passes through the digestive system of mice. The researchers are now feeding the bacteria to mice to measure its effects on lactic acid levels and fatigue.

In another set of experiments, the researchers are comparing the bacteria from ultramarathoners to those found in rowers training for the Olympics. They found a type of bacteria in ultramarathoners that can help break down carbohydrates and fiber — which is key during a 100-mile run — that wasn’t present in the rowers, suggesting that different sports may foster niche microbiomes.

Scheiman says that the team plans to launch a company this fall called Fitbiomics. “I would like to think that a year after we launch, we could have a novel probiotic on the market,” he says. “But in parallel we’ll also be expanding our cohort of elite athletes from numerous sports to generate a larger microbial data and strain bank of novel probiotic candidates. In essence, we’re mining the biology of the most fit and healthy people in the world and then extracting that information to help them and others.”

how belly fat could increase your cancer risk Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:01:51 +0000 A new study now offers new details showing that a certain protein released from fat in the body can cause a non-cancerous cell to turn into a cancerous one. The research also found that a lower layer of abdominal fat, when compared to fat just under the skin, is the more likely culprit, releasing even more of this protein and encouraging tumor growth.

A new Michigan State University study now offers new details showing that a certain protein released from fat in the body can cause a non-cancerous cell to turn into a cancerous one. The federally funded research also found that a lower layer of abdominal fat, when compared to fat just under the skin, is the more likely culprit, releasing even more of this protein and encouraging tumor growth.

“While there have been several advances in treating cancer and improving the quality of life of patients, the number of new cases continues to surge,” said Jamie Bernard, lead author and an assistant professor in pharmacology and toxicology.

“It’s important to understand the cause so we can do a better job at reducing the number of cancer cases using dietary modifications or therapeutic interventions.”

It’s estimated that more than one-third of the population is obese. Obesity has been linked to several types of cancers including breast, colon, prostate, uterine and kidney, but Bernard indicated that just being overweight isn’t necessarily the best way to determine risk.

“Our study suggests that body mass index, or BMI, may not be the best indicator,” Bernard said. “It’s abdominal obesity, and even more specifically, levels of a protein called fibroblast growth factor-2 that may be a better indicator of the risk of cells becoming cancerous.”

There are two layers of belly fat. The top layer, known as subcutaneous fat, lies right under the skin. The layer under that, called visceral fat, is the one she found to be more harmful.

Bernard and her co-author Debrup Chakraborty, a postdoctoral student in her lab, studied mice that were fed a high-fat diet and discovered that this higher-risk layer of fat produced larger amounts of the fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2, protein when compared to the subcutaneous fat. They found that FGF2 stimulated certain cells that were already vulnerable to the protein and caused them to grow into tumors.

She also collected visceral fat tissue from women undergoing hysterectomies and found that when the fat secretions had more of the FGF2 protein, more of the cells formed cancerous tumors when transferred into mice.

“This would indicate that fat from both mice and humans can make a non-tumorigenic cell malignantly transform into a tumorigenic cell,” Bernard said.

She added that there are several other factors released from fat, including the hormone estrogen, that could influence cancer risk, but many of those studies have only been able to show an association and not a direct cause of cancer. She also said genetics plays a role.

“There’s always an element of chance in whether a person will get cancer or not,” Bernard said. “But by making smarter choices when it comes to diet and exercise and avoiding harmful habits like smoking, people can always help skew the odds in their favor.”

Bernard indicated that she is already looking at identifying new anti-cancer compounds in her research that could stop the effects of FGF2.

The study is published in the journal Oncogene and was funded by the National Institutes of Health.