SLEEP & REST “WHY IT IS IMPORTANT “

By Steve McKinney

According to an article in the premiere issue of the NFPT REVIEW, sleep is very important, they write:

One of the most inherent values of sleep is the concurrent breakdown of toxins in the cerebral spinal fluid that accumulate during waking hours. After 48 hours of sleep deprivation, test subjects have been found to display a significant long and short-term memory loss, and a reduction in their ability to reason and communicate effectively. All of these symptoms have been attributed in part to this build up of toxins in the cerebral spinal fluid during waking hours. It is also interesting to note that the rate of toxin build up in the cerebral spinal fluid is unique from individual to individual thus explaining the reason why some people can function effectively on less sleep than others.

What exactly does that mean to us? Well, one thing it means is, we need to get enough sleep. You see, in our society we are pushed to the limits of our abilities on a daily basis. We need to work more hours and get less rest in order to “make ends meet”. This mentality, however, can cause us to function at much lower levels than where we should be. I understand the above quote as saying, if I don’t get enough sleep I am not going to function at near the capacity that I am potentially able. If I reduce my sleep to one hour less per night and that toxin build up is not completely removed, it will then accumulate. Over a period of time it will accumulate to levels that cause me to have short-term memory loss, poor communication skills and less ability to reason. That is not how I want to function in my daily personal and business activities.

Sleep also restores our body’s energy supplies that we have used up during the course of our day. Some people require more sleep than others based on the amount and type of work they do. If you labor intensely you will require more sleep than someone who does mental work. Some people simply require more sleep than others. Teenagers, because of the hormonal changes that are going on in their bodies, require much more sleep than they did when they were children.

There are people who have trouble sleeping. This can include inability to fall asleep or stay sleeping for more than a few hours. Let me give you some things that could be causing sleep problems:

  • Caffeine–Too much caffeine during the course of the day can affect a sound nights sleep. I personally had to reduce my caffeine intake drastically after I turned 40. I may have a cup of coffee before my workout but I never drink it on a daily basis. I don’t know why it was around that time of my life these changes needed to occur, it might have been hormone related. I do know that my sleep was affected and the subsequent reduction of caffeine made the difference. Consuming caffeine too late in the day can also affect your sleep. Caffeine consumption comes in more forms than just coffee, it is found in sodas, both diet and regular, it is found in chocolate and teas, both herbal and regular. A word of caution, dropping your caffeine intake can result in severe headaches. This is due to the blood flow restriction from lack of caffeine. It should go away in about 3-7 days.
  • Stress–Stress debilitates your health, it’s that simple. Stress can take many forms: work, relationships, parenting, etc. You’re always going to have stress in your life, the key is, to control the amount that you have and to learn how to deal with it.
  • Alcohol–Alcohol consumption reduces your ability to sleep deeply. It also can attribute to sleep apnea because it relaxes the upper airway muscles. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that can cause people to awaken numerous times during the course of a night. (An interesting aside about one client of mine and sleep apnea. When this client started coming to me he weighed 265 pounds and suffered from sleep apnea. He began to exercise and lost 60 pounds while gaining some muscle. His sleep apnea went away! The sad thing is he stopped exercising, regained all the weight and lost muscle size. Guess what happened next? The sleep apnea returned.)

Now let me give you some pointers on getting a sound night sleep:

  • Develop a sleep pattern–Try to get to bed at the same time every night. Your body thrives on regularity. I know some people who have such a good sleep pattern that they don’t need an alarm clock to wake them.
  • Keep your sleeping room free from distractions–Having your room dark and quiet will help insure a deep, sound sleep. If you sleep with the T.V. on, as some people do, your sleep will be affected.
  • Get up–If you find yourself tossing and turning, it may be a good idea to get up and take a hot shower or read a book. When I toss and turn I find that I end up getting more frustrated and add to my inability to sleep.
  • Use supplements if necessary–If you have trouble sleeping you can use some natural alternatives to help you get to sleep. Check with your local health food store for natural sleep aids.

A point of interest is that exercise can improve the quality of sleep. Proper exercise can relieve stress and allow you to get a good night sleep.

Another important aspect of your lifestyle change is rest. Taking some time to get away from the daily routine is essential for you to function at a high level of performance. When I talk about levels of performance I mean doing what you do in the best way you can, be it working or parenting and so on. The idea is simply for you to be the best you can be. So resting on a regular basis every day can help you.

A lot of clients of mine do not take a lunch break; they just work and eat at their desk. It is so important not to do that. You need to get away from your work area and let your mind rest. This goes for every person reading this article. Take a short break away from your work once or twice per day if it is possible. I personally schedule a 5-10 nap in the middle of the day. This keeps me feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. My wife does not like the short naps but prefers longer ones. Unfortunately she is not always afforded this luxury with work schedules and such. She does occasionally get a chance to get a break in her day, which she finds helpful as most of us do.

Sleep and rest, most of us don’t get enough, some of us get too much but that is rare. Just find a happy balance for yourself and make it part of your lifestyle. If you ignore these important aspects of your life it can lead to undue stress! Go to bed an hour earlier than usual. Stop burning the candle at both ends. You will find that you feel better and your attitude will be brighter!

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my good friend Steve McKinney for this weeks article. For more info on Steve, click on his name at the top of this asrticle.

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How To Get Better In Your Sport

TAKU’s NOTE: This week features an excellent article from my good friend Steve Mckinney. Steve is an awesome Personal Trainer, and runs studios which offer personal fitness training in the following areas:  St. Louis, Clayton, Ladue and St. Charles, Missouri. Along with Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, Illinois. I highly recommend that if you have the chance, you book a session with him, and don’t forget to tell him TAKU sent you.

By Steve McKinney

Every athlete wants to improve performance in their particular sport, that’s why we play. The question is, “How do we do it?”

The answer is quite simple, probably so simple you can’t believe it. Here it is¡­..are you ready?…. PRACTICE! (I know Allen Iverson may not agree with me)

Think about it. If you want to be a great 3 point shooter in basketball what should you do?

A) Practice Free throws

B) Run sprints or

C) Practice 3 Pointers.

If you said A or B please don’t read any further there’s no help for you! Just kidding. It just should be obvious the correct answer is C.

To me it just seems obvious, to get better in my sport I must practice that sport particularly/specifically over and over and over again.

In my 20’s slow pitch softball was big in the Midwest. I played on some local teams but there was a team based in St. Louis that paid their players. I wanted in on that! So here’s what I did. Every chance I could I recruited guys to practice with me. I got about 50 balls and I would make sure I had 3 guys, a pitcher, a hitter and an outfielder. We all changed positions. 1-2 hours per day, 4-5 days per week of hitting and catching and then playing games every night. Guess what? Within 2 years I was like, “show me the money!” For the next 5 years I traveled all over the country playing the best players’ week in and week out.

I know the evidence I just gave you is anecdotal but that’s how I learned. I became my own trainer by experimenting. I still do. I then advise others and track the results making adjustments when necessary.

The question then is, “Are there other things I can do to help?” I’m glad you asked! There are. You should know I’m an advocate of High Intensity Training or H.I.T. for short.

High Intensity Training (HIT) is a form of strength training popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus. The training focuses on performing quality weightlifting repetitions to the point of momentary muscular failure. The training takes into account the number of repetitions, the amount of weight, and the amount of time the muscle is exposed to tension in order to maximize the amount of muscle fiber recruitment.[1]

My suggestion to improve for your sport is to get stronger by using H.I.T. that is if your sport involves strength. (ping pong isn’t going work)

Strength training using H.I.T. methods while practicing your sport will really make a difference in your training. It allows for more time to specifically practice your sport. This specific training is called motor learning.

Motor learning ideally transfers positively to your game. This concept of transfer can have different affects on your training. However it can have a negative affect also.

Allow me to explain. I’ve seen people jumping rope to improve coordination or throwing a lead ball to help strengthen your arm, etc. In my experience the only thing jumping rope improves is ones ability to jump rope! Same with the lead ball throw, it makes me better at throwing a lead ball. But not a better pitcher, it would actually make me worse. That’s negative transfer. My softball example above is what I consider positive transfer.

Arthur Jones wrote something that really provoked thought: Skill in basketball (for

example) is produced only by playing basketball¡­ and the level of cardiovascular ability required for basketball is produced by the same training.(2)

Ellington Darden writes about 3 types of transfer: Positive, negative and indifferent.

    • Positive: When the activities of practice and competition are identical
    • Negative: When the activities of practice are almost the same as those in competition. Almost the same activities cause the neuromuscular pathways frequently to cross
    • Indifferent: When the activities of practice are totally unrelated to what happens in competition. (3)

Positive transfer helps your sport whereas negative transfer hinders it. Indifferent transfer is just that, indifferent, and has no affect on your game.

That brings me to strength training. Strength training is indifferent in that it has no affect on the skill levels of your game. It will only enhance your game, if, while your strength train you practice the skill part of your game. If you just strength train without skill training you’ll get stronger but your skill levels will diminish.

In conclusion let me give you some simple tips on improving your game.

    1. Practice your game specifically. If its basketball shoot then shoot, shoot and shoot some more. If baseball, then hit, hit and hit some more.
    2. Enhance your game by getting stronger using H.I.T. methods of strength training.
    3. Critically think about any advice given to you by experts. Don’t accept everything told to you. Most people try to add everything to their training except training itself.

References:

    1. Philbin, John (2004). High-Intensity Training: more strength and power in less time. Human Kinetics. ISBN 9780736048200.
    2. Arthur Jones, Total Fitness, the Nautilus Way, Chapter Titled, “Improving Functional Ability… In Any Sport”
    3. Ellington Darden, (2006) The New Bodybuilding for Old School Results, page 108

Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime: How We Train Now

I wanted to let everyone know about a very interesting e-book project, that I was recently asked to be a part of. It is called: “Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime: How We Train Now”.

The book was compiled and edited by Fred Fornicola, and is a collection of more than 40 individuals from across the country who have shared how they have fine-tuned their strength and fitness regimen to suit their goals and needs. Do not be fooled into thinking that this is some “old farts” catalog that discusses “this injury or that one.” And it certainly isn’t a “poor me” attitude that these contributors focus on as there’s very little mentioned of what cannot be done any longer. To the contrary, this compilation has a very strong focus on what CAN be accomplished. These individuals are not to be deterred by age or contraindications as they have found and established desirable goals and have stopped trying to put the “square peg in the round hole” as they’ve grown through the years. Sharing their fitness program in these pages is, to say the least, inspiring and thought provoking. There is much to glean from these contributors and when you think there’s no hope, read through these pages, knowing that no matter what, strength and fitness can and should be for a lifetime!

“Exercise has been part of my life for more than forty-five years. It is far more important for me and all adults to participate in meaningful exercise to help maintain or possibly improve the quality of life. For some adults it is difficult to find the motivation and easy to understand evidenced based information. “Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime: How We Train Now” should provide both the information and the inspiration to help get you started or find new ideas to add to current exercise regimen.” – Dan Riley

“We, the Baby Boomers and seniors, are the fastest growing demographic in America. Building and maintaining vibrant health and fitness benefits us individually, of course, but also collectively as a nation. “Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime: How We Train Now” takes a look at how some of us “just do it” at any age.” – Logan Franklin

“It’s still unusual for people to be training diligently and hard in their middle to older years. So much of the available information and materials are geared toward people just starting to train or for serious, but younger people. I thought by being involved in this project I would gain a lot of understanding about how people have stayed motivated and adapted their training as they’ve become older. At the same time, I wanted to contribute my own experiences to this project because I believe they can be helpful to others”. – Richard Winett

TAKU’s NOTE:

To find out more, visit Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime: How We Train Now or if you want to get your hands on a copy of the book A.S.A.P., email Fred Fornicola at fredfornicola@gmail.com. The cost is $10.00.