Why, When, and Where to buy Organic

Ever wonder why, when, and where to buy organic?

Synthetic pesticides are toxic and can attack our central nervous system.  Studies have shown an even higher risk for pregnant women and children as pesticides can interfere with growth and development.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic (capable of causing cancer).

In October 2006, the Environmental Working Group published a list of the “Dirty Dozen” or worst offenders when it comes to levels of pesticides detected.  The list is based on studies conducted by the FDA and USDA from 2000-2004.

 

Produce with the HIGHEST level of contamination from pesticides include:

 

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

Produce with LOWEST level of contamination from pesticides include:

 

  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn (frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

 

Tips for buying produce:

 

  • Shop Local Farmers Markets: Support your local farmers.  Talk with them.  Many times the farmer is not able to pay the hefty fee for the “USDA Organic” stamp of approval.  Often times the farm follows organic (and sometimes better than organic) standards but is not able to label it as such.
  • Buy in Season: Again, by shopping the farmers market’s, you will only be able to buy in season.  Buying in season ensures you get the maximum nutritional value out of your food, as it has not been sitting around or preserved.  It will taste better too!
  • Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): There are many farms who will provide you fresh, local, seasonal produce delivered to your door or your neighborhood.  Some farms even provide eggs from pasture-raised chickens.  Not only are you supporting your local farmer, but you are also guaranteed to get great quality, freshly picked, seasonal produce at an inexpensive price.
  • Read labels: If you shop in a supermarket, read the sticker or produce sign to see where the produce is coming from.  Ask the produce manager.  Chances are organic produce grown half way around the world will not only taste poor, but not provide the nutritional content you need either. Fruits and vegetables lose nutritional value the longer they sit around from their original harvest date.

TAKU’s NOTE:

This article comes courtesy of: Kristin Hoppe, Certified Natural Chef.

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Nutrition: Two simple steps to improve your fitness program.

If you visit here often, then you should know how I feel about the importance of strength training. However, if you want to lose fat, nutrition is certainly something in addition to strength training to work on.

I’ve got personal experience in this area. Along with my multiple Strength and Conditioning certifications, I am also a certified sports nutritionist. Over the years I’ve designed, implemented and updated hundreds of fully customized eating programs for a broad array of fitness participants from elite athletes to average Joe’s. It’s beyond the scope of this article to get too in depth into the specific details of creating custom Personal Eating Plans, but I do want to mention a couple of very useful principles for nutrition if someone wants to get leaner and lose fat.

1. Cut out the sugar: Limiting simple carbs is the best place to start for almost everyone when creating a new Personal Eating Plan (P.E.P.). For many, just getting rid of all the sources of simple and or processed carbs in their P.E.P. will quickly see them dropping unwanted pounds.

2. Total calories do matter: Despite what many “Clean eating” diet guides recommend or suggest, total calories do matter. It is absolutely possible to over-eat on healthy food choices. If after eliminating the sugar from your P.E.P. you are still not losing body fat, (or not losing as much as you would like) then it’s time to actually pay attention to the total calories you are consuming. Keep in mind that as we age, total caloric needs often decline.

Where should you start? In my experience I’ve found that for those requiring reduced calorie intake the following guidelines were extremely helpful:

Nutrition Guidelines*

Moderate Calorie: 1500-1800 men; 1200-1500 women

High Protein: 1.5 grams protein x 50% ideal body weight

High Water: 1 oz. x 50% ideal body weight

High Vegetables: unlimited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)

Moderate Fruit: Limited servings (within daily calorie guidelines)

Example based on the above guidelines:

Female with ideal target weight of 130 pounds.

Protein = 100 grams minimum daily (1.5 grams x 65*)

Water = 65 oz. minimum daily (1 oz. x 65)

Begin with meeting protein intake requirements. Then add Fruit & Vegetable and friendly fat while remaining within daily calorie guidelines.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

For those interested in fully customized Personal Eating Plans contact TAKU at: strengthonline@yahoo.com Put NUTRITION in the subject line.

*rounded up for convenience.

Workout Frequency Revised

By Jim Bryan

Early in my weight training career I was training an average of six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. I was involved in competition in Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Body Building . Sometimes there were non-sanctioned Strongman type competitions. At this time I was chemically assisted but I never felt that it helped. Others did and saw areas of big improvements. But like I said I never felt it helped and don’t recommend it.

Somewhere in 1970 I met Arthur Jones and was exposed to shorter and harder workouts. I was already training hard but the workouts took a long time to complete. I hadn’t learned to “focus” my training yet. Arthur convinced me to stop depending on chemical assistance and showed me how to train harder in a shorter time frame. He also told me about “infrequent training.” After, I was training only three days a week for about 30 to 60 minutes. At first it was mostly on free weights and some machines at Christensen’s Health Club, and on mostly free weights and early prototypes of Nautilus Machines in Deland. When I first met Arthur, Nautilus didn’t exist in reality. It was only in Arthur’s mind. Thus, we didn’t have anything special in the beginning to train on. Free weights, Universal machine, Nautilus Pullover Prototype that’s pretty much it. I was happy to be only training 3 days a week and to me this was “Infrequent Training.” Today you have trainers bragging about only working out now and then, or once a month. It has been accepted that this is “Infrequent Training.” I believe things have gotten out of hand with this thinking.

My thoughts on “Optimal Training”

Three days a week training: I feel that this is the best way to go for most people. It works for body composition, lean muscle improvements, strength, and conditioning. Most people don’t train hard enough to run the risk of over training and three days is not that hard to get in. This can be all weights or a mix of weights and body weight training. Throw in some implements to make things interesting and on your off days get outside and enjoy being active. Don’t be afraid to be active. Practice sensible eating and you should do well.

Two Days a week training: This also works and for very busy people it may be ideal. Also, for the rare few (and I mean few) that train the way we used to in Deland, this is or can be a good frequency of training. Again, you can do all weights or mix with body weight training. It becomes more important to stay active on your non – training days if you are after a “lean look.” You can accomplish your goals of adding strength and maintaining muscle on two days a week training. Some will even add muscle but you need to make these workouts count. Focus your training and try to do as much as you can in the space of your workout. Training should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Some really hard workouts can be completed in 15 minutes and change.

When you are training only twice a week, “conditioning” starts to suffer in my opinion. I recommend participating in some kind of out door activity. Something like jogging, water skiing, swimming, soccer, surfing, boogie boarding, walking, or biking. Get outside, burn some calories, stay fit and stay active. Twice a week can work but you have to practice sensible eating if you want to shed some fat.

Once a week training: I don’t find this to be optimal. Sometimes you can’t help it. Life gets busy and you can only get one a week in. I feel that you can continue to add strength on one training session a week as long as you REALLY focus on weight progression in your exercises. I feel that body composition suffers for most people. You will tend to get fat and your conditioning will suffer, as well as your “work capacity.” You’ll really have to cut your calories if you want a lean look. So much so, that you may find you don’t have enough energy for a HEAVY workout. Your strength can suffer also. It’s around this area that “Infrequent Training” starts to become too infrequent. You better be active as heck if you only workout once a week or you will become…………………………………fat.

Less than once a week training: Look! I’m going to be honest here. I don’t care how many books or articles you have that say you can succeed on this. What you will end up with is ………Books and Articles.

You’ll have very little muscle, and your conditioning will be zero. You just can not do it in five minutes a day whenever you feel like it as some would have you believe, and you can not do it with workouts that never happen. Having the best Fitness Library means zilch if all you ever do is read and talk your workout. You have to work out! You have to raise your heart rate. You have to spend some sweat and effort. You have to be consistent. You have to pay attention to what and how much you eat. All the best intentions in the world will not make up for lack of effort in the gym.

AND neither will the latest “Fitness Craze.” The experts on the Internet will go on and on about “I use this and I use that” but the bottom line is weight training works. Combine weight training with body weight training and conditioning and just do it. It has worked for over 50 years as I know it and continues to work. Gimmicks come and go but Sensible Strength Training will go on and on. BUT you have to show up, work out, and be consistent! Argue less on the Body Building sites and you will probably find the extra few minutes needed to “Just go lift.” I don’t care how you do it or who’s method you use, “Just go Lift.”

All said and done if you have been training consistently and regularly, don’t be afraid to take some time off to recharge now and then. Best effort equals best results. Not everyone will end up developing “Huge Muscles.” Some will and some won’t. It depends on your potential and effort. AND!!! Women don’t end up looking like a man because they lift weights. So just throw that excuse out the window. Women look good with some lean muscle on them.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend Jim Bryan for once again sharing his insights with us.

Ten Commandments of Training

1. Have a Plan

It is important to have a list of goals and the steps to reach the goals. Doing this is the key to self confidence and motivation. Keeping a log of how you do in following your plan helps to see what does and does not work for you. This will help you to create better plans in the future. The best logs include not only information about strength and cardio training but nutrition, sleep and motivation as well.

 

2. Train in cycles

Plan a 6 – 12 month training cycle. It is difficult to maintain top shape or train at maximum levels all year around. We all need periods of physical and psychological recovery. Build an adequate base of endurance and strength before adding work. Peaking for sports performance means increasing workout intensity as well as sharpening technique. This type of training is only used for short periods of time, (4 to 12 weeks), to prepare for competition. After a period of competing there should be a period of reduced training, rest and recovery leading into another cycle of base and strength building which should see you improving on your previous personal bests.

3. Use the Hard/Easy system

For training effect to take place, a period of overload needs to be followed by a period of rest, during which the actual adaptation to the stress takes place. Exercise physiology research has shown that the hard/easy cycle for training needs to be 48 hours or more. It has also demonstrated that alternating hard and easy workouts is more effective training than doing the same workout each day. Thus alternating hard and easy days is appropriate training for all fitness participants and can maximize results while minimizing burnout. The most common beginner mistake is to do the same intensity and the same duration every day.

4. Train specifically

Ask yourself, does this training make sense for the activity I’m planning to do? If not, do something that makes sense. Adaptation needs to be specific to attain your goals. You must train duration specific energy transport systems and you must train volume and intensity specific neuro-muscular responses. This means if you are a boxer, don’t train like a marathon runner. And if you are a marathon runner, don’t train like a power lifter.

5. Don’t train any more than you have to

Efficient trainers are healthy trainers. There are no bonus points for doing a longer workout than you’d planned. Most injuries seem to occur when people feel good and over do it. Remember that how you feel is a poor physiological measure of how you are. Err on the side of conservatism. If you feel bad, do less. If you feel good, stick to your plan. Don’t do more. Always emphasize quality over quantity.

6. When doing cardio, Focus more on speed and intensity over distance and time

The risk of injury from over-training must always be factored against the gains made. By focusing your “aerobic” training on speed and intensity over distance you will receive the maximum physiological improvements possible in the minimum time. You train all the energy transport systems you need for aerobic endurance by alternating bouts of more intense speed-work with active recovery periods, during any cardio activity. By combining intervals alternating slow periods and short fast periods you avoid the risks (not to mention the boredom) associated with the high stresses of long drawn out cardio training sessions.

7. Add variety

Varying a number of aspects of your training avoids injury and keeps you mentally interested. For strength training try experimenting with different modalities such as resistance bands, sand bags, medicine balls etc. For cardio training as well as trying different equipment you can vary pace, distance, courses, terrain etc. For an intense and challenging twist try cross training by combining alternative cardio and strength activities into brief, intense and challenging circuits. This type of training can directly increase your overall fitness and resistance to injury and burnout allowing you to train consistently for long periods.

8. Make your training enjoyable

If you are not enjoying the training, you will not be able to maintain your commitment. Variety, mentioned above, will help. Also consider things like a once a week fitness “adventure” where you try something you have never tried before. Take a class you have been curious about or explore a martial art. Join a sports team an outdoors training group or a run for fun group.

9. Hire a Coach or Personal Trainer

At least educate yourself on training techniques and your body’s responses so that you can coach yourself. If you cannot follow the rules and need more help, hire a Trainer or Coach. A Trainer / Coach should help you set up and follow a program based on your ability and your goals. A Couch / Trainer’s primary goal should be to keep you healthy and motivated.

10. When in doubt, rest

This is the golden rule of training. Do unto your body as you would have it do unto you. Listen to your body. If it is saying, “I’ve got a problem, what now?” The usual answer should be to take a day off, either your head or your anatomy need it.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

 

Everything Works and Everything Fails To Work

Look! It's a magic exercise!When you spend a couple of decades watching the world of fitness and strength training you see a lot of strange things. Often you see the same strange things repeatedly.One of the things that happens like clockwork is a Hollywood movie featuring somebody in great physical shape who has his shirt off for several minutes of screen time – and the inevitable publicity for the ‘workout’ that made it all possible.

Movies like 300 or The Wolverine or a dozen others, TV shows with actors likeTrue Blood’s Joe Manganiello, who has a great physique, all give rise the the inevitable magazine and web articles that feature “The Workout” used by the celebrity.

The idea is fostered that if you only had the Secret Workout of the celebrity you could have the same fantastic physique displayed by him.

There Is No Secret Workout

Here’s the truth: There Is No Secret Workout. The reality is virtually any workout can work to some degree and every workout – without exception – can utterly fail. There is also no secret technique like doing biceps curls on a colorful Swiss ball, or twisting your wrist at the top a a curl or flexing your shoulders at the top of a deadlift. All of these alleged benefits can be thwarted simply by stupid workout planning.

Put three guys in a gym and one of them will swear three sets of 10 to 12 reps to failure is the secret workout of champions. Another will say it’s one very slow set to failure. Another – bless him – will say it’s timed sets of strong range reps.

And guess what? All of them could make good progress or all of them could fall on their face. You can lift cinder blocks in your back yard and build some muscle. You can break rocks with a sledgehammer and build some muscle. You can lift sub-maximum weights and gain some muscle.

You can also do all of the above and overtrain and dig yourself into a metabolic hole where you get sick and/or lose the motivation to do any exercise at all.

Train Blind Or Train Smart

The reason any potentially productive workout can fail is because people train blindly with it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a celebrity workout, a pro bodybuilder workout or a workout I created just for  for you – you can overtrain or undertrain with it and get absolutely nowhere. In fact, you can make your overall health worse, not better.

The Dirty Secret

The dirty little secret is that it’s what happens outside the gym that is vastly more important. Namely:

a) Did you get enough rest to recover 100% from your previous workout

b) Did some new muscle grow, and

c) What is you plan to generate higher intensity on your next workout?

ALL of that is determined outside of the gym!

There is no excuse for working blind. It’s just dumb. And needless.

Take basic measurements of your intensity and then make sure that intensity  increases on every exercise during every workout. Don’t turn a good workout into a bad workout by not planning it properly.

TAKU’s Note:  This week features another great little article by my friend Pete Sisco. As always I appreciate him letting me share some of  of his excellent work here at Hybrid Fitness

Are You A New Man (or Woman) Today?

Wow! I improved 6.4%!!The logical foundation of strength training is that we build muscle by lifting heavy weights. It’s an adaptation of the body similar to developing darker skin as an adaptation to intense sunshine. We call that adaptation a suntan. Stand in the shade and your tan does not get any darker. Lift an easy weight and your muscles don’t get any stronger. Makes perfect sense.

So if you want today’s workout to build some new muscle you will need to lift a heavier weight than you usually do. A heavier weight than the last time you lifted. Or maybe if you lifted a weight for three reps last time you need to do four reps today. Something more intense. Something akin to brighter sunshine.

If your last workout was truly productive it stimulated some new muscle growth. If you waited enough time for that muscle to grow (like you have to wait for hair and fingernails to grow) then you should be stronger today. So when you return to the gym you should be able to lift a heavier weight or at least generate higher intensity (total weight / time).

Your last workout is inferior now. It’s like standing in the shade. You need more intensity today because you are a stronger person than you were during last workout. You are a new man.

No Two Workouts The Same

If every workout you perform is productive (and is there any reason it should not be?) then it causes new muscle to grow. If you have new muscle you are stronger. If you are stronger you should lift heavier weights more times. If you are doing everything right then every workout should be different than the last one. No two workouts should deliver the same intensity to a target muscle.

Of course, it’s impossible to know if today’s workout is more intense than the last one if you don’t take some basic measurement.

Which Set Is Better?
The fact is the first example is better by about 5% in terms of both momentary intensity andsustained intensity. This is something you can’t just “feel.” To know these facts you have to measure things.

The reason so much crappy advice gets circulated year after year in gyms, magazines and blogs about strength training is because nobody measures anything in the gym. So nobody gets proved wrong. Measurement cuts through the opinions and gets down to facts. What exercises deliver the most intensity to the triceps? What combination of weight and reps delivers more intensity?

When you measure you suddenly have facts instead of lore and opinion.

When you measure you can pre-engineer productive workouts.

When you measure you can become a new man or woman.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks very much to my friend and mentor Pete Sisco for letting me share some of  of his excellent work here at Hybrid Fitness

Functional Isometrics: Part Two

By TAKU

In part one of this article we learned about some different forms of strength training and discussed their similarities and differences including Isometrics and Functional Isometrics. In part two we will take a closer look at how to incorporate these concepts into a your workout program. I will also introduce the concept of Static Contraction training an ultra brief, intense and efficient workout system based on the Functional isometric concept.

Exercise Example:

Lets take a look at the execution of the Bench Press using the Functional isometric training style discussed in part one.

Step One: First you will need a good Power Rack / Cage or Smith Machine with multiple height adjustments. Set the safety pins at a position about even with the bottom of your range of movement. Load a weight that is about 50% of your current max. If you rarely or never perform 1RMs then estimate from a 5-10 RM using an RM calculator. You will then position yourself under the bar and get yourself set in a good, solid, pressing position (do I need to explain how to properly bench press?). Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the bottom pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Two: Raise the pins to the mid-range or sticking point of the movement. At this point (if you are not already there) add enough weight so that you are at or near your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Three: Raise the pins so that they are just a few inches away from your lock-out position (4-6 inches). At this point (depending on how your other sets have gone) add enough weight so that you are at or slightly above your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

When performing these types of sets you want to strive for maximum efficiency. The more accurate your records the less weight adjustments you will be required to make. The goal is for you to know exactly how much weight will challenge you in each range, for each movement. This may take a week or two to figure out. Once you have your weight dialed in for each movement, you should perform no more then one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in each of the three positions.

I often cycle Functional isometrics into my own strength training program for several months at a time. I find these types of workouts to be very challenging and extremely effective and efficient. I will load up for the exercise I am going to perform and start with the weakest part of the range first. I then do one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in that position. I raise the weight to the next part of my ROM and after a brief rest, complete another 6-10 second contraction. One more adjustment, one more contraction, and I am done for that exercise. I find I can complete and entire full-body workout in as little as 20 minutes. This is possible because I know exactly how much weight to use for each movement which makes set up quite simple.

For Ultimate Efficiency

There are thousands of athletes and general fitness enthusiasts around the world who use a type of Functional isometrics termed Static Contraction training as their only form of strength training. In this style you perform just one, all out contraction in the strongest range for each basic pushing and pulling movement. As I mentioned earlier in this article, this style of training is easiest to perform with a dedicated machine such as those produced by www.digitalstrengthtraining.com however terrific results can be had using conventional equipment as well.

With just a little practice and dedication you can learn to fine tune the specific ROM of each exercise to produce amazing results in just a few minutes per workout. Static contractions performed in the strongest range, using one all-out contraction, for as little as 6-10 seconds, can produce rapid improvements in muscular strength and performance. Now those of you who are really paying attention may be saying “hey, what about the joint angle specificity problem you mentioned above? For many people The 15-20 degree carryover on either side of a specific joint angle is more then enough to supply usable functional strength for all activities. For some blessed with what is termed a type “G” strength curve, training in just about any part of ones ROM will produce results throughout the entire ROM (This is a genetic attribute and not subject to change).

The bottom line is that when performing functional isometrics using the Static Contraction method, one may complete a brief, intense workout in just 3-5 minutes (not including set up, breakdown and rest). Individuals who regularly use this style of training will often rest and recover for 7-10 days (sometimes more) before the next session. For those who feel that they do not have time to strength train, Static Contraction training my be the tool you have been searching for.

Now get to it!

PAU for NOW

TAKU

P.S. Functional isometrics are a great tool to have in your tool box. Whether you decide to buy and use a dedicated machine or to incorporate these into your regular weight workouts, I highly recommend you give Functional isometrics a try. Don’t be surprised to find your strength shooting up to new heights in a few short weeks.