Monday, 20 September 2010

Exercise to help relieve insomnia

Insomnia is one of the worst things that can happen to you, having suffered it myself quite severely but for only 3 weeks, the change in my mood was outrageous. It completely ruins your life faster than other kind of sickness.

Body Clock and blood glucose

A possible link between diabetes and the body clock, whats interesting is we also found out before that ghrelin is also regulated by the body clock.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Nitric Oxide and AMPK upregulate Mitchondrial Biogenesis

AMPK is upregulated in endurance style exercises like HIIT.

Nitric Oxide can come from arginine supplementation of beetroot juice or leafy green veg's through Nitrates.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Afternoon Melatonin to advance sleep at night

I took 3mg of melatonin at about 3:30pm yesterday, I felt drowsy afterwards for the rest of the day but avoided napping or lying down, at 9:45pm I got to sleep and slept soundly throughout the night until 7:20am when I had to wake for work.

People with insomnia may just have severely delayed circadian rythm's, and taking melatonin in the afternoon may be alot more beneficial than taking it at bedtime to shift the body clock forward.

Beware though taking melatonin in the afternoon will make you feel drowsy for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Stretching induces hypoxia

This study offers some prediction that strecthing actually induces hypoxia, contrary to what I believed.

If this really is the case then actually I would expect stretching to be somewhat beneficial before exercise and deterimental after exercise. After exercise, we what to give muscles as much oxygen as possible to maximise thier growth.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Are modern bodybuilding methods flawed?

Consider the barbell curl. You start with the muscle in a stretched position, This puts the actin and myosin configuration in thier weakest arrangement, but the relative force exerted by the weight on the muscle in this position is also modulated by the torque it exerts on your forearm.

The force exerted by the weight is always acting in the same direction, downwards towards to floor, this means that as you move the weight through the motion, the stress exerted on your muscle from the torque in your forearm varies exactly as the Sin function.

The force and torque is maximal when perpendicular to your forearm, thus half way through the motion when your forearm is parallel to the floor is the only time during the entire motion that your really lifting the amount of weight on the barbell.

However, at 90degrees, the actin and myosin fibres are approx half way through thier ratcheting system, and this is also the configuration at which they are at thier strongest.

As you move up past 90 dgerees, the torque and therefore tension exerted once again diminishes as sin 90 -> sin 180, meanwhile the relative strength of the actin and myosin also decreases again as the maximum contracted position is reached.

One way around this is to move your torso as you curl your arms, always keeping your forearms parallel to the floor thus always keeping the maximum torque on your muscles. This way, each configuration of the actin and myosin arrangment is exposed to the same degree of tension, which is pretty much the maxmium.

This machine is an excellent example for the pec fly.

In this machine, the force is pretty much always perpendicular to your forearm, thus maximising the actin/moysin multiplied by tension stimulus.

Compared to the traditional pec fly laying down with dumbells, the maximal force in only exerted in the starting position. As you move your arms up, the force decreases as the sin function once again.

I would predict that keeping the tension constant throughout the range of motion to be superior for mass gains.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Aromatase Steals your Testosterone!

Aromatase is a unwelcome enzyme that converts your T into estradiol.

Insulin is a driver of aromatase, just another reason to keep your diet ketogenic on non-training days.

CLA is actually an inhibitor of aromatase. This could be where the fat loss effectiveness of CLA comes from.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Supplements for Sleep - My Experiences

Being a shift worker makes me a good candidate to evaluate the potential effects of sleep aids.

Valerian - Produces a slight relaxing sensation but does not help with sleep in any shape or form

ZMA - Helps a bit if your already tired and with morning wood sometimes

L-Theanine - To be tested, some on order

Taurine - To be tested, will order some

Melatonin - quite effective, but the dose needs to be quite high like 3mg, may have potential bad side effects in longterm use by your pineal gland down-regulating its own production like steroids and testosterone

Zopiclone - Very effective, but potentially very addictive.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Nitric Oxide, Niacin Flush, Antartica and Monsters

More wild speculation here, but here goes....

Sealife in the antartic ocean is generally much larger than thier equivalent species found elsewhere in the world. They are real life monsters by all accounts. It's been suggested that the reasoning behind this is the intense cold water. Note these organisms also have tiny metabolism's.

Apparently, water at freezing temperatures permits a far higher density of O2 within it, and its this extreme availability of oxygen that allows these organisms to grow so large.

Theres studies floating around on pubmed showing how Nitric Oxide ( from arginine ingestion or beet root juice ) enhances exercise, most likely through the vasodilation and therefore allowing a higher density of oxygen to come through.

It may therefore be beneficial to ingest beet root juice / arginine along with Niacin for the flush (which also causes vasodilation) post-workout to maximise the uptake of oxygen and post-workout feeding nutrients.

I'm not sure how long Nitric Oxide remains elevated after arginine / beet root juice, but the niacin flush lasts only 30mins-2 hours. This is when it could be best to consume those post-workout nutrients.

UPDATE :- upon further thinking, this could also be where the beneficial effects of stretching come into play, by increasing blood flow through the muscle. Stretching just before bed might be effective in promoting more nutrient influx to your exercised muscles.

UPDATE II :- I stumbled on some research suggesting stretching actually induces hypoxia in muscle. Therefore I dont recommend it before bed or after exercise, but it may help before exercise.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

HIIT and resistence exercise may not work well together

It seems performing HIIT style exercise before resistence exercise may interfere with the anabolic response of the resistence exercise.

Muscle biopsy was only taken 3 hours after exercise. But this study could be a good indication that if your attempt to build muscle, then go to the gym just for that. Dont do anything else there. Including HIIT. Keep that for another session.

L-arginine and IGF-1

Interesting, IGF-1 is a powerful muscle anabolic, however systemic hormones are usually not anabolic towards muscle. More work is needed I guess.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Bicarbonate and Acidosis

Very interesting study, basically bicarbonate is a alkaline buffering agent, ingesting it prior to exercise apparantly delayed the onset of acidosis in muscle. The delay in acidosis would ofcourse mean the PCr is regenerated faster and therefore allow you to do more volume in the exercise.

I would like to see a resistence exercise study like this and measurements of mTOR and P70S6k taken!

This would move us one step closer to determining if it is volume or acidosis in the muscle that determines hypetrophy.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Substrate turnover as the initiator of Hypertrophy

After a discussion over at, I was posed the question as to what I think actually causes muscular hypertrophy, and it suddenly occured to me that from a cellular and signalling perspective the initiator has to be substrate turnover. ( By substrate turnover I mean the total amount of molecules burned for energy, and in particular, the amount of anaerobic energy used. )

There is alot of evidence to support this. There are those studies showing much higher increases in mass and strength gains when rest between sets is extended, such as in this one.

There are also all those studies showing that a greater of sets are more anabolic compared to a smaller number. I.E. that volume matters hugely. Obviously, it takes more substrate turnover to do 4 sets than it does to do 2 sets.

Not to mention we have the famous 30FAIL > 90 FAIL study. The investigator's explained thier findings with the suggestions that the size principle was behind the greater muscle protein synthesis.

While I am a firm believer in the importance of the size principle, I think it doesnt tell the story of WHY the 30FAIL group got more muscle protein synthesis. The answer I'm almost certain was becuase of a higher substrate turnover allowed in the smaller motor unit muscle fibres.

Lastly, there is the evidence that mTOR is sensitive to the redox reaction.

UPDATE - having given more thought to it, theres a chance that the initiator could be also be the degree of PCr / glycogen exhaustion. In most situations the degree of substrate usage and PCr exhaustion will be closely related, except for sets of reps that are not taken sufficiently close to failure. In reality, it is probably a combination of the 2 effects as this explains the gains that happen when working with very high % or 1RM (90% and over )

Friday, 3 September 2010

Speed of movement in Resistence exercise again

I myself have found a good way to do reps is 3 seconds concentric and 1 second eccentric. (with a momentary pause at the top and bottom of the rep of about 0.5-1 seconds, just go with what feels natural and comfortable with you ) Focusing on eccentric motions really only increases strength in the eccentric motion but in addition is causes extreme pain, severe DOMS, and limits the total number of reps you perform.

Meanwhile, focusing a bit more on the concentric is beneficial for overall strength, the slow movement means you maintain a higher degree of motor unit activation thoughout the range of motion and you get a deep feeling of contraction and which is satisfactory and lets you know that the targeted muscle group is really getting a good workout.

Working with a 3 second concentric phase will also probably mean that you are working with a lighter weight overall, which I dont think matters aslong as you go close to failure.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Drop-sets and the size principle

I came to the conclusion sometime ago that drop-set's are pretty much the most intense way to do resistence exercise. Done properly you can fatigue pretty much every type II fibre in the muscle. Recovery time after 1 drop-set is noticably longer than for example just working with a weight at your 10RM.

I began experimenting with drop-sets on my biceps to test thier effectiveness as predicted by the size principle and I have some observations to report.

I have only been resistence training seriously now for about 6 weeks, the first time I did a drop-set on my biceps (went close to failure at each weight), it took about 5 days to recover from 1 set! During the recovery period there was extreme pain and discomfort, I would have to keep the bicep muscle in a maximal extended position in order to relive some of the DOMS. I guess this was just becuase I was not used to working out.

Its now been about 2.5 weeks since then and now my recovery time for for 1 drop-set on biceps is about 36 hours. Muscle mass has gone up significantly, strength a bit.

More interesting though, I had assumed that drop-sets would be superior to just doing high reps with a low load to fatigue all fibres, mainly becuase overall it should of meant doing less reps in total.

However it seems that isnt true, instead I found myself doing the same total number of reps in a drop set compared to just doing straight reps to failure with the lowest weight I would use in the drop-set.

Recall to neurons are exactly like logic gates, either they are firing or they arent, there is no "half" firing. With the above anecdote in mind, this suggests that fibres have a fixed and finite "firing" time before they become totally fatigued. This is also independent of the weight you are lifting.

Still, I think there is a bone density advantage to using heavy weights atleast 50% of the time, as stress on bones is higher with higher weight. And we know from Wolff's law that bone stress determines bone density.