CONDITIONING 101:

By TAKU

No matter what sport you engage in from Golf to Ice Hockey, American Football to international Futbol (that’s soccer to all you Americans)…all athletes will benefit from a simple solid conditioning program. In fact, even if you are not currently practicing any sport in particular, a simple conditioning plan will benefit everyone when it comes to total fitness.

Most folks who have been reading my work for a while know that I am a proponent of interval style training programs. I know that interval training has become cool of late, but I have actually been recommending brief intense conditioning plans since the late 1980’s.

Interval training plans for sports are often designed with specific distances such as sprint for 60 meters, recover for a specified time, and repeat. Rather than use distance as a goal, I prefer to use time. Using time instead of distance will help people of varied fitness levels and body types stay within the desired range. If you are a 300 lb. Offensive lineman playing american Football, running 100 meters may take you a little longer than it would a 160 lb. striker playing World Futbol. By using specific times (instead of distance) we can insure similar energy systems being activated and keep the work consistent. for everyone. Finally using time instead of distance allows us to choose from a broad array of training tools or modes both indoors and out.

Most athletes will utilize a wide variety of energy systems along the intensity continuum. Remember this is a general conditioning program. It will help build a base of conditioning for almost any activity. Participants playing such sports as American Football, Basketball, Field Hockey, Rugby, Lacrosse etc. may all benefit from this type of program, especially in the off-season.

Once you are nearing the pre-season or are in-season, the playing and practicing of your specific sport should take precedence. Practicing specific sports will always be the best way to prepare for those specific activities. For instance someone training for pure speed such as a 100 meter sprint specialist, will first and foremost want to polish technique and running mechanics. The actual practice of sprinting is designed to be an all-out 100% maximum effort. To prepare for running at full speed, one must practice running at full speed. To allow this to occur maximum recovery between bouts will be required.

Below I have outlined an 8-WEEK Conditioning Program. It is set up with specific work to rest ratios. Each week we will increase the volume of sprints while reducing the actual exertion times. Your goal is to go at the most brisk pace you can tolerate, and still maintain work for the desired time. As you progress through the program (and your conditioning improves) you should be striving to go as fast and as hard as possible during the work phase of each bout of intervals. During the recovery period just walk (or pedal etc.) very slowly while you catch your breath and prepare for the next work phase.

If you are an open field athlete I highly recommend that you do your best to perform this workout on a running track or sports field.

For general fitness enthusiasts, any tool of choice may be used. Recommended tools include but are not limited to:

Bicycle
Rowing Ergo-meter
Step-Climber
Elliptical Cross-Trainer
Jump-Rope

8-WEEK CONDITIONING PROGRAM

In this program I recommend that you perform the conditioning program on two, non-consecutive days in your training week such as Monday and Thursday. You may do strength and conditioning on the same day, or you may separate them. Here are two examples of ways one might combine these types of training in an overall S&C plan:

EXAMPLE 1:

Monday: Conditioning
Tuesday: Strength Training
Wednesday: REST
Thursday: Conditioning
Friday: Strength Training
Saturday / Sunday: REST

Wash – Rinse – Repeat

EXAMPLE 2: 

Week One

Monday: Conditioning
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: Strength Training
Thursday: REST
Friday: Conditioning

Saturday / Sunday: REST

Week Two 

Monday: Strength Training
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: Conditioning
Thursday: REST
Friday: Strength Training

Wash – Rinse – Repeat

Note: The prescription is written so that the work period is first, followed by the rest period. For example in week one, day one you will work for two minutes, followed by a rest period of 4:00 minutes.  After completing the first week of the program, when successive bouts are called for you will complete the specified number of bouts at a given work to rest ratio, then rest three to five minutes before moving on to the next series.

Week 1

Day 1 – 1 x 2:00 / 4:00 & 2 x 1:00 / 2:00

Day 2 – 2 x 2:00 / 4:00 & 3 x 1:00 / 2:00

Week 2

Day 1 – & 2

6 x 00:20 / 01:00

Week 3

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:36 / 01:48

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:18 / 00:54

Week 4

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:36 / 01:48

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:18 / 00:54

Week 5

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:34 / 01:42

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:16 / 00:48

Week 6

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:32 / 01:36

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:15 / 00:42

3-5 minutes rest

6 x 00:07 / 00:21

Week 7

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:30 / 01:30

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:14 / 00:42

3-5 minutes rest

6 x 00:07 / 00:21

Week 8

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:30 / 01:30

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:14 / 00:42

3-5 minutes rest

6 x 00:07 / 00:21

*Rest 3-5 minutes between each series.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

P.S. My personal S&C program is very similar to that shown in example # 2. above

Simple Steps to Good Nutrition

By TAKU

Nutrition. Is there anything out there that is more confusing? High carbs, low carbs, good fats, bad fats, don’t eat at night, don’t eat anything but fruit until noon…It’s enough to make you scream. How can we possibly decipher all the nutritional mumbo-jumbo that is thrown around every day? Each time you turn around there is a new diet telling you what to eat and what to avoid.

Well, take a deep breath and let’s see if we can make some sense out of all this confusion. By the time your done reading, you’ll have at least a basic set of ideas that should work for you. It still won’t be easy. I have been training people for 25 years and I call nutrition, the ultimate discipline.

Let’s get some basics out of the way. We can break our food into a few basic components. Macro-nutrients (meaning Big stuff) and along with the big stuff we get Micro-nutrients (little stuff). Add water and you have your bases covered.

Foods contain calories in the form of the three Macro-nutrients, Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates. These calories provide energy for our bodies to move, grow, repair and maintain themselves. Both Protein and Carbohydrates have four calories per gram. Fat has more then twice as many calories with nine per gram. Foods also contain Micro-nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals. Micro-nutrients are important because they contribute to the many chemical processes that our bodies undertake for daily living. They do not however provide energy.

When we say energy as it relates to food it just means calories. All food has calories and all calories can be burned to provide energy for the body. When we see something in the store called an “Energy” bar or Energy drink, it really just means that the bar or drink has calories. There is nothing magic about them. Most energy drinks have not only calories in the form of simple sugars but are also loaded with stimulants such as caffeine, guranna (an herbal form of caffeine) or other similar substances. This is where the “energy” comes from in the Zero calorie energy drinks. The above mentioned substances are Central Nervous System stimulants and are providing energy through a series of chemical interactions in the body. If you like to get the buzzed feeling of caffeinated drinks, but don’t like coffee then these types of drinks will do the trick for you. Just remember there are no magic substances in energy bars and drinks that will do anything for you that good, whole food cannot. For the most part these bars and drinks are just glorified candy bars and soda pops and their manufacturers are trying to get you to feel good about eating and drinking them.

I know that nutritional planning is a bit confusing at times. How many meals a day should I eat? Do I need a certain percentage of my daily calories from one source or another? What should I drink and how much is enough? Well, that is what we are here to find out. So let’s set some guidelines that will help us get the most out our nutrition. Keep in mind that what most people lack when it comes to nutrition is discipline and consistency. The following guidelines are not new or magic, they are merely ideas to help you establish a framework from which you may create that disciplined consistency you currently lack.

1. Eat every 2-3 hours, no matter what. You should eat between 4-5 times per day. This does not mean eat giant meals every time you feed; this includes your snacks as well. Think of it more like grazing.

2. Eat some source of lean protein such as eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, turkey and fish, at every meal.

3. Eat fruits and or vegetables with each meal. The more different colors and textures the better.

4. Ensure that your carbohydrate intake comes primarily from fruits and vegetables.

5. Ensure that you get some fats every day. You want these to be primarily in the form of good or “friendly” fats such as those found from olive, flax seed and coconut oils, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, as well as fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines anchovy’s etc.

6. Drink primarily non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea. A good goal for water intake is about half your body weight in ounces a day. So, if you weigh 100 pounds, aim for 50 ounces a day and if you weigh 200, pounds aim for 100 ounces a day. (The rest of you can do your own math).

7. Eat mostly whole foods. This means foods found in their most natural state. There is no such thing as a donut tree and contrary to popular belief; nothing made out of flour (like bread, pasta and bagels) is a source of complex carbohydrates.

8. When you get off track, regroup quickly. Having one bad meal or snack here and there will not have a large impact on your overall success. What does negatively impact you is the snow ball effect. That common feeling of “well I screwed up lunch so I guess the whole day is shot”. Forget that stuff. Your next feeding is your next opportunity for success.

So what does this type of eating look like? Here is a simple way to think about it. To create a healthy plate meal, simply view your plate like a clock. Fill the position of 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock with colorful fruits and vegetables; fill the space from 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock with carbohydrates like yams or sweet potatoes, and fill the area from 9 to 12 o’clock with lean protein  in the form of beef, chicken fish and so on.

Most of the time if you stick with just two sections, the fruit and veggie section and the protein section you’ll be doing just fine. If you do include starches, for best results don’t let that starch section get any bigger then about ¼ of your plate.

So, don’t I need to know how many calories I am eating and how much fat etc? The answer is yes and no. For the greatest long term success I would recommend taking a few days and figuring this stuff out. Working with a good nutrition coach can really help. The most important thing however is that you just start making some good simple choices right away. I think you’ll find that when you do, the rest starts to take care of itself.

Here is what a day of this type of eating might look like:

(I’ve included a few examples for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks)

Meal Examples

Breakfast:

1. Scrambled Eggs and Fruit. 1 whole egg. 2-3 egg whites. Tomato, peppers onions etc (your choice). 1 large orange.

2. Cottage Cheese and Fruit. 1-cup cottage cheese (low fat or non-fat). 2 cups Fresh or water packed Pineapple or Peaches. I Tbsp Almonds (raw).

3. Protein Shake. 2 scoops Protein Powder. 1 cup Strawberries, fresh or frozen. 2/3 cup peaches, fresh or frozen. 1-2 cups water. 1 -1/2 Tbsp Almonds or flax-seed oil

Lunch:

1. Tuna salad. 4-6 oz of Albacore Tuna in water (drained). 1-2 Tbsp of sweet pickle relish (optional). 3-5 Tbsp of celery (diced). 15-20 seedless grapes. 1-1/2 Tbsp Mayo (homemade or safflower). 2-4 lettuce leaves. 1 large apple.

2. Chicken Caesar salad. Romaine lettuce (3-4 cups). Chicken precooked and cooled (4 oz). Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp (grated). Caesar dressing (2 Tbsp).*

3. Cantaloupe Fruit Salad. ½ of a melon. I cup cottage cheese (low fat or non-fat). 5-10 seedless Grapes. ½ cup sliced Strawberries. 2 tsp Sunflower seeds.

Dinner:

1. Chicken salad. 4-6 oz chicken. 2 tbsp walnuts. 1 apple chopped. 1-cup grapes (cut in halves). 2 tbsp mayo (safflower or home made). 1-cup green beans.

2. Grilled Salmon and Vegetables. Salmon steak grilled (4-1/2 oz). Onions sweet large size (3 thick slices). ½ green pepper (sliced). 1 zucchini (sliced). Green salad (2 cups). I cup Peaches, fresh or frozen for desert.

3. Beef Tenderloin Dinner. 6 oz extra lean beef. Asparagus spears (10 – steamed). 3-4 cups green salad with tomato. Fresh fruit for dessert.

Snacks:

1. Cottage cheese with Pineapple. 1-Cup cottage cheese w/ 1-cup pineapple.

2. Hard-boiled Egg and Fruit. 1 whole egg. 1 egg white. 1 tangerine or orange.

3. String Cheese and fruit. 1-2 string cheese. 1 apple.

If you are serious about your health, you should be serious about your nutrition. Our health comes from the inside out. Feed your body good food, drink water and get enough sleep every day and you have gone a long way to insuring optimal health and high function for years to come. When we eat well it supports everything else we do. It makes it that much more likely, that you will achieve your athletic and aesthetic goals as well as perform at your best in the boardroom or on the mat. Remember, every time you go food shopping is a chance for you to make great choices. Now get out there and get to it.

Bonus Food Shopping List:

Protein

Fish:

• Salmon

• Tuna

• Cod

• Trout

• Halibut

• Shrimp

• Scallops

Eggs

Chicken breasts

Cottage cheese

Lean Red Meat:

• Flank Steak

• Ground Beef

• Top Round Cuts

Carbohydrates

Vegetables (not limited to):

• Broccoli

• Green Beans

• Spinach

• Lettuce

Mixed Beans

Carbohydrates

Fruits (not limited to):

• Berries

• Apples

• Oranges

• Kiwi

• Grapefruits

Carbohydrates
Grains & Starches

Oatmeal/Oat bran

Sprouted Flour-less Mixed-grain bread

Brown Rice

Quinoa

Sweet Potatoes

Millet

Fats

Flax oil/Flax meal

Fish oil (EPA / DHA)

Olive oil / Olives

Mixed nuts:

• Almonds

• Walnuts

• Brazil

• Pistachios

Avocados

Coconut Oil

Butter (occasionally)

Macro Nutrient Servings:

Fruit. 1 serving =

1 medium sized fruit, ½ banana, 1-cup berries, ¼-cup dried fruit. 1-cup melon.

Veggies. 1 serving =

½ cup cooked or raw, 1 cup leafy.

Protein. 1 serving =

4-5 oz fish, poultry, pork or lean beef. 1-cup tofu, 1-cup cottage cheese.

Starchy Carbs. 1 serving =

½ cup cooked rice, pasta or grains, ½ cup cooked cereal.

BONUS RECIPE:

*Caesar Dressing:

• 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

• 1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

• ½ Tbsp Lemon juice

• 1-2 cloves garlic, pressed

• ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

• ½ tsp anchovy paste

• ½ tsp dry mustard

• ½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake until blended.

 

PAU for NOW

TAKU

“The Early Days”

By Jim Bryan

In 1969 I was working out in Al Christensen’s gym in Winter Haven, Florida. A friend and sometime training partner, Dr. Craig Whitehead had recently placed third in the Mr. America contest. 1970 was supposed to be his year. We kept hearing about this young bodybuilder that was  outstanding. I didn’t pay much attention  because I had heard this stuff before, so I forgot about it. The Teen Mr. America was coming up and a young guy from our gym was considering entering. His name was Dennis Woods and he was a hard rock of muscularity. He had to be a natural 5%  body fat. A long story made short is a businessman from our gym decided to send Dennis to the contest. Al asked him to send me with Dennis, because of my experience. I would help Dennis get ready. Craig Whitehead found out we were going and had Al tell me to be on the lookout for the “KID”. The “KID” was Casey Viator. It was felt that he might be competition for the Mr. America, if he did well in the Teenage. I was to report back.

We got to York, Pa. And settled in our rooms. I was excited because to me this was the center of the training world as I knew it! That night we met some of the local girls and toured the town of York, Pa.  I found it odd that the girls knew nothing of Bob Hoffman or the York Barbell Club. They didn’t even know about the Teen Age Mr. America Contest! We forgave them. Uh huh! The next day we headed straight for the York Hall of Fame. I was expecting this great place and nice gym that was world famous, hold that thought. We got there and talked to an older woman that was in charge of the place. She hadn’t a clue. Didn’t know about the Teen Mr. America contest, never heard of it. We paid our money to get in the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t big but it was inspiring, especially the life sized statue of John Grimek. The gym itself was very small, with little to no equipment. That’s right, zilch! We went to the shipping department and one of us bought a lifting belt. We were in the lobby talking and the phone rang. The lady was talking to someone “ No I don’t anything about the contest” I heard her say. She asked me to talk to the man on the phone. Guess who it was? It was Arthur Jones, the most important man in modern exercise. I didn’t know it then though. We talked and I told him where the contest was and what time the pre-judging was to be. He said he was bringing Casey Viator. Remember him? The “KID”. Arthur told me how fantastic Casey was, and I told him about Craig. Arthur was tickled to hear about the fact I was to report back. Actually, I wasn’t expecting much out of Casey. We had some good bodybuilder’s back in Florida. Jim Haislop, Frank Zane, Ivor Butcher, John Schliker, Bill Hilton, Craig Whitehead, Harry Smith, Bob Harrington, Robby Robinson, Bill Lemacks, and Dennis Woods. You get the idea. Show me!


Frank Zane

We get to the pre-judging and wait. Arthur said he would meet us there with the “KID”. We looked at the competitors and tried to figure who was who.


Joe Abbenda

I remember Joe Abbenda was there, I think he had just won the Mr. “U”. All of a sudden everyone moved forward and started talking. I heard someone say it was Casey. I leaned back against the wall waiting for a glimpse. I saw who everyone was fussing over. He wasn’t very tall. He was wearing dress pants and a xxx short sleeve sport shirt. The sleeves were past his elbows, he did fill it out but you couldn’t tell much. To me he looked like a fat bodybuilder that missed his peak. The shirt wasn’t tucked in so he just looked fat. I noticed a man standing off to the side watching me. He was dressed in a sport coat, I’m not sure if he was wearing a tie. He looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. If he was sleeping, it must have been in his car. He had a way of looking straight through you. Very intense. I walked over to him and asked if he was Arthur Jones, and he said yes. We talked a bit and got separated for a while. I helped Dennis get his things together and waited. Arthur asked if I wanted to meet Casey. I said OK  We went into the pre-judging room and waited for Casey to find us. He came out wearing posing trunks and a sweatshirt. Fat kid my ass! He had the biggest, most muscular, most powerful looking legs I had ever seen. Arthur introduced us and Casey went back stage. Arthur asked me what I thought. I told him if Casey’s upper body looked ANYTHING like his legs, Craig Whitehead was looking at # 2 at the seniors. The pre-judging started and they kicked us out. Yes, Arthur too. (I bet that was the last time he ever was asked to leave.)


Arthur Jones

Arthur and I left and went to the coffee shop upstairs. Arthur bought us something to drink. He was always generous to me. We started to talk. Next thing I knew, I was starting to feel like the dumbest s.o.b. that ever picked up a barbell. Arthur would ask me a question, I would answer and he would point out what an idiot I was. I think he even called me an Idiot. Several times! After about two hours of this I was ready to split. The other people in the shop were getting uncomfortable hearing him yell at me. I excused myself and went back to the room and took a nap, boy I felt stupid! I found out later that he was pissed because I left.

That night the main show was on. I saw Arthur again, helped get Dennis ready and went to watch the show. Casey won the title and ALL body parts except abs, he should have won that too. He was un-frickin believable! I think Casey weighed 210 lbs. Or so, At about five foot six or seven.


Casey Viator

Later on Arthur and Joe Abbenda had some words. Arthur made the statement that Casey would be 225 by the Mr. A. Contest. Joe said that was impossible, “Casey would be fat at that weight.” Arthur said he’d be even leaner then. You see, Joe always had trouble with fat around his waist, I guess he thought Casey would too. He basically said Arthur was full of shit. Guess who was right? Arthur, of course. Casey did win the Mr. America, the youngest so far, and at 225.

Before we left Arthur invited me to Lake Helen (to Deland High School gym) to train with him. Nautilus hadn’t started yet and all he had thus far was the pullover machine and many revolutionary ideas. Ideas that would change training forever. Arthur was the most important man in modern exercise history.

I saw Arthur again at a National powerlifting meet in Winter Park, Florida. I was asked to judge by my friend Mike Stone. When I ran into Arthur he was screwing up the heads of some of the muscle guys there. He would measure their arms hanging down and then measure them flexed. There was very little difference in the two measurements for most of the ones being measured. They wanted to know why? Arthur told them it was because “you can’t flex fat!” That’s the way Arthur was. He told you straight out.

I figured out that I liked him, my soon to be wife wasn’t sure. He also had a picture of Casey (before Mr. A.) He said Casey was very close to 225 lbs. He was HUGE! I knew then that Arthur had something that I wanted to learn. He invited me again and I accepted.

In the meantime I sent two guys from the gym up to see Arthur. They trained under Arthur and heaved up just outside the Deland High School gym’s door, and fell to the ground for about a half hour. They came back to our gym after resting for a few days. One was convinced and showed me what they had learned. The other hated Arthur and never went back. I knew then I had to go. That weekend My future wife and I went to see Arthur again.


Sergio Oliva

I went through the most pain I had ever endured in a weight room. It took about 30 minutes and I was dead. Even Arthur’s yelling couldn’t get the dead man (me) to move. He insulted me, questioned my manhood, and made fun of me. You know what?  He could get momentary muscular failure, maximum inroad, or whatever the hell you want to call it, like no one else. He wouldn’t let you quit! I was dizzy as hell and Casey and Dan Howard pushed and pulled me to each exercise. My Wife just stared in horror! I drove back to Arthur’s house in my Datsun 2000 and my wife sat in Arthur’s lap. Hell I didn’t care, I could barely see or move.

 TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to Jim Bryan for sharing some of his experiences from the original days of Nautilus, Arthur Jones, and Casey Viator.

The Passing of a HERO:

I just got the very sad news that we have lost one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. Casey Viator has passed away at the age of 62.  Casey is famous for his incredible strength. His workouts are the stuff of legend. He was unequaled in both his focus and intensity while training.  Among his many accomplishments Casey is perhaps best known for his participation in the Colorado Experiment. During this well documented, and highly supervised training regimen, Casey underwent perhaps the most dramatic body transformation that has ever occurred.

Later in his life Casey still coached others doing seminars, working with athletes one-on-one as well as acting as a consultant through his web-site, training videos, and a self published book.

Today is a sad day indeed for those of us in the Strength and Fitness world. Please join me and take a moment to remember this amazing man.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Resistance Training is Medicine:

By Wayne L. Westcott, PhD

Introduction       

Not long ago, the muscle-building activity known as weight training generally was considered to be the domain of exceptionally strong men who competed in sports such as powerlifting, Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, and football. It was obvious that these athletes required high levels of strength and muscularity to excel in their chosen sport and that their mesomorphic physiques responded favorably to heavy resistance training with barbells and dumbbells. Average individuals saw no reason to engage in weight training, and participants in other sports typically felt that lifting weights actually would hinder their athletic performance.

As American lifestyle became more sedentary and heart disease became the leading cause of death, regular exercise was promoted for attaining physical fitness, desirable body weight, and cardiorespiratory health. However, the overwhelming emphasis was on aerobic activity with little encouragement for resistance training. More recently, attention has been given to age-related muscle loss and associated physiological problems such as bone loss, metabolic decline, fat gain, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and all-cause mortality. Given the serious problem of sarcopenia in an increasingly sedentary and aging population, and the accumulating evidence that resistance exercise promotes muscle gains in men and women of all ages, it is understandable that leading researchers have advocated a public health mandate for sensible resistance training.

The series of events that seem to be associated with a large number of illnesses, injuries, and infirmities are 1) muscle loss, 2) leading to metabolic rate reduction, 3) followed by fat gain that places almost 80% of men and 70% of women 60 years of age and older in the undesirable categories of overweight or obese. These percentages are based on body mass index calculations that do not account for age-related sarcopenia. It is therefore likely that an even higher percentage of the older adult population has excess body fat (above 22% for males and above 32% for females).

Muscle mass declines between 3% and 8% each decade after age 30, averaging approximately 0.2 kg of lean weight loss per year. Muscle loss increases to 5% to 10%each decade after age 50, averaging approximately 0.4 kg per year after the fifth decade of life. Skeletal muscle, which represents up to 40% of total body weight, influences a variety of metabolic risk factors, including obesity, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Muscle tissue is the primary site for glucose and triglyceride disposal, so muscle loss specifically increases the Muscle protein breakdown and synthesis largely are responsible for energy expenditure in resting muscle, which is approximately 11 to 12 calIdj1Ikgj1 of untrained muscle tissue. Consequently, muscle loss is the greatest contributor to the age-related decline in resting metabolic rate, which averages 2% to 3% per decade in adults. Because resting metabolism accounts for about 65%to 70% of daily calorie use among sedentary men and women, reduction of muscle mass and resting metabolic rate may be accompanied by increased fat weight.

Reversing Muscle Loss

Numerous studies have demonstrated that relatively brief sessions (e.g., 12 to 20 total exercise sets) of regular resistance training (two or three nonconsecutive days per week) can increase muscle mass in adults of all ages through the 10th decade of life. Many of these studies showed lean weight gains of about 1.4 kg following approximately 3 months of resistance training. A representative large-scale study with more than 1,600 participants between the ages of 21 and 80 years revealed a mean lean weight increase of 1.4 kg after 10 weeks of resistance training incorporating 12 total exercise sets per session. Training frequencies of 2 and 3 day / week produced similar lean weight gains, and there were no significant differences in muscle development among any of the age groups.

Recharging Resting Metabolism

Resistance training stimulates increased muscle protein turnover and actually has a dual impact on resting metabolic rate. First, as a chronic response, resistance training results in greater muscle mass that necessitates more energy at rest for ongoing tissue maintenance. A 1.0-kg increase in trained muscle tissue may raise resting metabolic rate by about 20 cal / day. Second, as an acute response, resistance training causes tissue microtrauma that requires relatively large amounts of energy for muscle remodeling processes that may persist for 72 h after the training session. Research has shown significant increases in resting metabolic rate (approximately 7%) after several weeks of resistance training. However, more recent studies have revealed a similar elevation in resting energy expenditure (5% to 9%) for 3 d following a single session of resistance training. Participants who performed a high volume resistance workout (8 exercises x 8 sets each) averaged an 8% (trained subjects) to 9% (untrained subjects) increase in resting energy expenditure for 3 d after the exercise session. Beginning participants who performed either a moderate-volume resistance workout (10 exercises x 3 sets each) or a low-volume resistance workout (10 exercises x 1 set each) averaged a 5% increase in resting energy expenditure for 3 d after their respective exercise sessions.

Based on the findings from these studies, regular resistance training may increase energy expenditure at rest by 100 cal / day or more. Reducing Body Fat Excessive body fat is associated with risk factors such as elevated plasma cholesterol, plasma glucose, and resting blood pressure, which contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In their review article, Strasser and Schobersberger concluded that resistance training is recommended in the management of obesity and metabolic disorders. With respect to overall body fat, several resistance training studies that showed approximately 1.4 kg of lean weight gain also reported approximately 1.8 kg of fat weight loss. With respect to abdominal adipose tissue, research has revealed significant reductions in intra-abdominal fat resulting from resistance training in older women  and older men as well as only one-third as much visceral fat gain in premenopausal women over a 2-year study period (7% resistance trained vs 21% untrained). Hurley et al. have identified increased resting metabolic rate, improved insulin sensitivity, and enhanced sympathetic activity as possible means by which resistance training may decrease intra-abdominal fat stores. Increased resting metabolic rate would seem to be a major factor in fat loss. A 20-min circuit resistance training program may require approximately 200 cal for every performance and may use 25% as many additional calories (50 cal) for recovery processes during the first hour following the workout . Furthermore, over the next 72 h, resting energy expenditure may remain elevated by 100 cal /day for muscle remodeling processes. Assuming two 20-min circuit resistance training sessions a week, the associated energy utilization would approximate 5000 cal /month (eight workouts / 250 cal + 30 days 100 cal).

Facilitating Physical Function

Aging is accompanied by a gradual reduction in physical function that negatively affects the ability to perform activities of daily living. Research has revealed that resistance training can reverse some of the debilitating effects associated with inactive aging, even in elderly individuals. In one study, nursing home residents (mean age = 89 years) performed one set of six resistance machine exercises, twice a week, for 14 wk. At the end of the training period, the participants increased their overall strength by 60%, added 1.7 kg of lean weight, and improved their functional independence measure by 14%. Other studies support resistance training by older adults for enhancing movement control, functional abilities, physical performance, and walking speed.

Resisting Type 2 Diabetes

As the obesity problem increases so does the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. It is predicted that by the middle of this century, one of three adults will have diabetes . In their review article on aging, resistance training, and diabetes prevention, Flack et al. concluded that resistance training may be an effective intervention approach for middle-aged and older adults to counteract age-associated declines in insulin sensitivity and to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. This position is supported by numerous research studies, including those demonstrating improvements in insulin resistance and glycemic control. As presented in the previous section, resistance training also has been shown to reduce abdominal fat, which may be particularly important for diabetes prevention. This is because insulin resistance seems to be associated with abdominal fat accumulation in aging adults. Based on their literature review, Flack et al. suggested that resistance training programs incorporating higher-volume and higher intensity protocols may be more effective for improving insulin resistance and glucose tolerance compared with lower-volume and lower-intensity exercise protocols. This recommendation is consistent with the resistance training guidelines of the American Diabetes Association to exercise all major muscle groups, 3 days / week, progressing to three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions at high intensity.

A meta-analysis by Strasser et al. revealed that resistance training reduced visceral adipose tissue and decreased glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in people with abnormal glucose metabolism. The review authors concluded that resistance training should be recommended for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders. According to Phillips and Winett, resistance training is associated with improved glucose and insulin homeostasis because of increases in muscle cross-sectional area and lean body mass, as well as qualitative improvements in muscle metabolic properties, including increases in the density of glucose transporter type 4, glycogen synthase content / activity, and insulin-mediated glucose clearance. There also is evidence that resistance training may be preferable to aerobic exercise for improving insulin sensitivity and for lowering HbA1c.

Improving Cardiovascular Health

A 2011 literature review by Strasser and Schobersberger concluded that, ‘‘resistance training is at least as effective as aerobic endurance training in reducing some major cardiovascular disease risk factors’’. The reported findings related to cardiovascular benefits of resistance training included improved body composition, mobilization of visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat, reduced resting blood pressure, improved lipoprotein-lipid profiles, and enhanced glycemic control. This section addresses the effects of resistance training on three key physiological factors associated with cardiovascular health, namely, resting blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, and vascular condition.

Resting Blood Pressure

Approximately one-third of American adults have hypertension, which is a major factor in cardiovascular disease. Several studies have demonstrated reduced resting systolic and / or diastolic blood pressure following two or more months of standard resistance training or circuit style resistance training. One study reported resting blood pressure changes in more than 1,600 participants (ages 21 to 80 years) who performed 20 min of resistance training and 20 min of aerobic activity 2 or 3 dIwkj1 for a period of 10 weeks. Subjects who trained twice a week significantly reduced resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings by 3.2 and 1.4 mm Hg, respectively. Those who trained 3 days /week, significantly reduced resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings by 4.6 and 2.2 mm Hg, respectively. A study by Kelemen and Effron also demonstrated significant blood pressure reductions from combined resistance training and endurance exercise.

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by Kelley and Kelley concluded that resistance training is effective for reducing resting blood pressure. A more recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that blood pressure reductions associated with resistance training averaged 6.0 mm Hg systolic and 4.7 mm Hg diastolic and were comparable with those associated aerobic activity.

Blood Lipid Profiles

According to a recent report of the American Heart Association, approximately 45% of Americans have undesirable blood lipid profiles that increase their risk for cardiovascular disease. Several studies have shown beneficial effects on lipoprotein-lipid profiles resulting from resistance training, whereas other studies have not demonstrated significant changes in blood lipid levels. Some investigators have found that resistance training and aerobic activity produce similar effects on blood lipid profiles. A review by Kelley and Kelley reported modest improvements in blood lipid profiles resulting from resistance training, with the exception of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which did not change significantly. According to the American College of Sports Medicine position stand on Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults (3), there is evidence to suggest that resistance training may increase HDL cholesterol by 8% to 21%, decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 13% to 23%, and reduce triglycerides by 11% to 18%. In a study with elderly women (70 to 87 years of age), resistance training significantly improved triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol profiles. A 2009 review by Tambalis et al. revealed resistance training to be an effective means for reducing LDL cholesterol, but there is evidence that combined resistance training and aerobic activity improves blood lipid profiles better than either exercise performed independently. After a careful review of the research literature and their own studies, Hurley et al. suggested that lipoprotein-lipid responses to resistance training likely are to be genotype dependent, indicating that genetic factors may determine the degree to which resistance training influences blood lipid profiles

Vascular Condition

Vascular condition refers to the ability of arteries to accommodate blood flow, which directly affects blood pressure. Research studies are inconsistent regarding the effects of resistance training on vascular condition. Some studies indicate that resistance training reduces arterial compliance, some studies show no effect of resistance training on arterial compliance, while other research reveals enhanced vascular conductance and condition with resistance training.

As Phillips and Winett concluded in their literature review, further study is necessary to determine the relevant role of resistance training in vascular adaptations. Based on the research reviewed, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that resistance training may enhance cardiovascular health, as well as reduce the risk of predisposing metabolic syndrome. Although resistance training alone seems to provide cardiovascular benefits, a combination of resistance training and aerobic activity generally is recommended for healthy adults and for older adults. Resistance training also has been shown to produce positive effects in post coronary patients. Numerous studies indicate that resistance training is a safe and productive means for maintaining desirable body weight, increasing muscular strength, improving physical performance, and enhancing both self-concept and self-efficacy in cardiac patients.

Increasing Bone Mineral Density

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 10 million American adults (8 million women) have osteoporosis, and almost 35 million others have insufficient bone mass or osteopenia. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 30% of women and 15% of men will experience bone fractures due to osteoporosis. Research reveals that muscle loss (sarcopenia) is associated with bone loss (osteopenia). Adults who do not perform resistance training may experience 1% to 3% reduction in bone mineral density (BMD) every year of life. Logically, exercise interventions that promote muscle gain also may be expected to increase BMD, and the majority of studies support this relationship. Several longitudinal studies have shown significant increases in BMD after 4 to 24 months of resistance training.

A meta-analysis by Wolfe et al. indicated that exercise programs prevented or reversed approximately 1% bone loss per year (femoral neck and lumbar spine) in adult and older adult women. A more recent review by Going and Laudermilk revealed that resistance training increased BMD between 1% and 3% (femoral neck and lumbar spine) in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Conversely, other longitudinal studies have failed to show significant increases in BMD following 4 to 32 months of resistance training. Cussler et al. have identified several possible reasons for the inconsistent study results, including small sample sizes, short intervention periods, low completion rates, lack of randomized exercise assignments, and different resistance training intensities. Other variables that may influence BMD research results are growth hormone administration in men, hormone replacement therapy in women, dietary protein intake, and calcium and vitamin D supplementation.

A 2-year study by Kerr et al. indicated that resistance training resulted in a 3.2% improvement in BMD compared with the control group. However, studies show that termination of the resistance training program leads to reversal of BMD gains. Although much of the research on resistance training and bone density has been conducted with older women, there is evidence that young men may increase BMD by 2.7% to 7.7% through resistance training. The range of BMD change is related to different responses in different bones because the musculoskeletal effects of resistance training relatively are site specific. The majority of studies in this area support the conclusion in Layne and Nelson’s review that resistance training appears to be associated positively with high BMD in both younger and older adults and may have a more potent effect on bone density than other types of physical activity such as aerobic and weight bearing exercise.

Enhancing Mental Health

According to a comprehensive research review by O’Connor et al., the mental health benefits of resistance training for adults include reduction of symptoms in people with fatigue, anxiety, and depression; pain alleviation in people with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and low-back issues; improvements in cognitive abilities in older adults; and improvements in self-esteem. While there is considerable evidence that appropriate resistance training reduces low back pain, arthritic discomfort, and pain associated with fibromyalgia, this section will address the effects of resistance training on cognition and psychological measures. Concerning cognition, much of the research has been conducted with older adults, and most of the studies have featured endurance exercise alone or combined aerobic activity and resistance training. However, studies using only resistance training interventions have shown significant improvement in cognitive abilities.

In a meta-analysis by Colcombe and Kramer, aerobic activity plus resistance training produced significantly greater cognitive improvement in inactive older adults than aerobic activity alone. According to O’Connor et al., self-esteem, as a global concept of one’s perception of himself or herself, relatively is stable over time and less likely to be affected by physical training than other psychological measures. Nonetheless, positive changes in self-esteem as a result of resistance training have been reported in older adults, younger adults, women, cancer patients, and participants of cardiac rehabilitation. With respect to other psychological measures, studies by Annesi et al. have shown 10 week of combined resistance training and aerobic activity to improve significantly physical self-concept, total mood disturbance, depression, fatigue, positive engagement, revitalization, tranquility, and tension in adults and older adults. Depression is a serious mental health issue that may be associated with decreased functionality, especially in older adults.

In their comprehensive review, O’Connor et al. noted that at least four studies have examined the effects of resistance training on depression levels in clinically depressed individuals, and at least 18 studies have examined the effects of resistance training on depression symptoms in healthy adults or adults with medical problems. Although these trials produced mixed results, the review authors concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support resistance training as an effective intervention for reducing depression symptoms in adults with depression .

Singh et al have researched the effects of resistance training on depression in elderly individuals. In a classic study, they found that more than 80% of the depressed elders who performed three weekly sessions of resistance training were no longer clinically depressed after just 10 weeks of exercise. Based on these studies, it would appear that resistance training is associated with reduced depression levels in older adults.

Reversing Aging Factors

Finally, some interesting research has been conducted on resistance training effects on muscle mitochondrial content and function. There is evidence that circuit (short rest) resistance training can increase both the mitochondrial content and the oxidative capacity of muscle tissue. Another study, using standard resistance training, showed a reversal in mitochondrial deterioration that typically occurs with aging. After 6 months of resistance training, the older adult participants (mean age of 68 years) experienced gene expression reversal that resulted in mitochondrial characteristics similar to those in moderately active young adults (mean age of 24 years). The favorable changes observed in 179 genes associated with age and exercise led the researchers to conclude that resistance training can reverse aging factors in skeletal muscle.

Evidence Based Exercise recommendations for resistance training.

Training exercises:
Perform 8 to 10 multi-joint exercise that address the major muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, abdomen, arms, hips, legs).

Training frequency:
Train each major muscle group two or three non-consecutive days per week.

Training sets:
Perform two to four sets of resistance training for each major muscle group.

Training resistance and repetitions:

Use a resistance that can be performed for 8 to 12 repetitions (or 60-90 seconds of TUT).

Training technique:

Perform each repetition in a controlled manner through a full range of motion. Exhale during lifting actions and inhale during lowering actions.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend and mentor Wayne L. Westcott, PhD for this week’s article. The full article is titled: “Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health”. References and footnotes were removed for brevity.