Archive | April, 2018

What Are the Seven Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

Promoting health and preventing disease have a lot to do with one’s diet. The Food and Nutrition Information Center of the United States Department of Agriculture laid out seven dietary guidelines for people above the age of two years old regarding intelligent food choices that promote health and prevent disease.

These guidelines are:

1. Consume different varieties of food.

Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can foster disease in your body. It is important that you consume different types of food so that your body can get a good spread of all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

2. Perform physical activity in proportion with the amount of food that you are taking in.

Balancing the food that you consume with corresponding physical activity to burn off the energy is extremely important in maintaining a healthy weight. You will gain weight if you consume more calories than what you burn off through your physical activities.

3. Include a lot of grain products, vegetables, and fruits in your diet.

Fiber, vitamins, and minerals are essential for your health and well-being. By eating a different variety of grain products, vegetables, and fruits you will be feeding your body the essential elements that it needs.

4. Eat foods that are low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat are amongst the biggest killers in our society today. Eating foods that are low in fat content is important if you do not want to have a heart attack in your future. Do not avoid all kinds of fat. Your body does need some fat to function properly. Unsaturated fats are the best type to consume.

5. Only allow a moderate amount of sugars in your diet.

Sugars are high in calories and many of the foods that we eat already contain sugar. These can be sugars that occur naturally in fruits or that are added during the manufacturing process. Watching your sugar intake will help you avoid gaining unnecessary weight.

6. Only include a moderate amount of salt and sodium in your diet.

Scientific studies suggest that a high amount of salt and sodium intake could increase your blood pressure. When this occurs it could lead to serious and sometimes fatal health risks.

7. Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, if you consume them at all.

There are almost no nutrients in alcoholic beverages and yet these drinks contain a lot of calories. Excess consumption of alcohol could lead to serious health problems in addition to the social and relationship problems that it also causes.

To many people the seven dietary guidelines will sound like common sense. If it were common sense, one wonders why such a large percentage of the population is obese.

Following these seven dietary guidelines will help you lead a more healthy and active life, give you more energy to perform your daily activities, and improve your general health and well-being.

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Alkaline Diet and Cancer – Cancer Cells Cannot Live In An Alkaline Environment

Ever wondered why the heart never gets a cancer. The heart might get affected eventually by cancer of any other part of the body but we never hear of cancer of the heart. This is because the heart never gets cancer. Alkaline diet is perhaps the only permanent way to prevent and rid oneself of cancer.

Let us understand what causes cancer and how an alkaline diet can prevent it. Each cell in our body takes in oxygen, nutrients and glucose while throws out toxins. These cells are protected by the immune system. But as the body gets acidic the immune system gets overpowered by the toxins and the cell looses its capacity to take in oxygen and thus ferments. This cell gets cancer affected and is lost. The next question is can cancer be prevented and cured by consuming a diet with less acid and more alkaline. Cancer cells lie dormant in a ph of 7.4 but as the body gets alkalized higher and the ph level reaches 8.4 these malignant cells die off. So the answer to cancer lies in an extremely alkaline diet. With the right consumption leading to a high alkaline body ph the cancer cells cannot live in that environment and die off.

Cancer cells being anaerobic cannot live in oxygen. They can only thrive in very low oxygen conditions. When the ph of the body is maintained by consuming an alkaline diet the immune system of the body stays strong. This leads to the cells getting enough oxygen and discarding their toxin waste. Cancer will neither thrive nor take birth under such circumstances.

How does an alkaline diet prevent cancer? Such a diet leads to a high alkaline body ph. This high alkaline body ph results in alkaline tissues in the body. Alkaline tissues hold 20 times more oxygen than acidic tissues. Cancer cannot live in an oxygenated atmosphere. If the cells are oxygen rich they will prevent cancer. Therefore while an acidic tissue will be an ideal ground for cancer to develop as well as spread, an alkaline tissue will destroy a cancer cell. Having a lot of green vegetables and fruits along with alkaline water can save you from cancer. To give your body the best alkaline/acidic balance requires one to eat foods that are highly alkalizing while avoiding the acidifying foods.

An alkaline diet is very beneficial in fighting many diseases apart from cancer. Alkaline supplements are good ways to include alkaline food in your diet. Over cooking of vegetables leads to their nutrients being destroyed. Alkaline supplements make sure one gets enough alkalizing foods in a day. Also alkaline water is a good alternative to ordinary water. So if you want your body to be cancer free as well as healthy and energetic adopt an alkaline diet and make it your way of life.

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The Physical Benefits of Skipping Rope

For most of us, our first contact with skipping rope is on a playground, and it is usually just a game, mostly enjoyed by girls…and usually referred to as “jump rope.”

However, for many professional athletes, the physical benefits of skipping rope make it an attractive part of their fitness regimen.

Few exercise methods can compete with the grown-up version of the playground version of “jump rope”, when it comes to improving cardiovascular efficiency. We used to use the word, “endurance” for certain types of exercise, and rope skipping is certainly one of those types, as just a few minutes of jump rope can be as taxing as running or other aerobic or cardiovascular activities.

It is often estimated that running can burn, on average, about 600 calories per hour. Skipping rope is estimated to burn about 700. Of course, not too many people are going to skip rope for an hour, but you get the point. One estimate is that rope skipping for 10 minutes is the approximate equivalent of running an eight-minute mile.

Skipping rope is considered to be less destructive to knees than running as more of the shock is absorbed beginning with the ball of the foot rather than the blunt impact upon the heel experienced in running. It is for this reason that, not only do many professional athletes use it as a conditioning method, but it is often practised by senior exercisers as well.

As with running, and other cardiovascular exercises, it should be a part of a larger exercise program which includes flexibility exercises and strength training.

When an individual has a broad-based exercise program which includes such activities, including rope skipping and other forms of exercise, they can anticipate a broad range of health benefits as well. Regular exercise can help strengthen the cardiovascular system, regulate mood swings, improve the immune system, and help protect against a wide range of degenerative conditions which tend to become progressively common as we age.

While many other forms of exercise can require special training and/or expensive equipment, the physical benefits of skipping rope can begin to be acquired using almost any old piece of cord and a few minute’s patience. While there are ropes specifically designed for skipping available in WalMart, Sears, or almost any other department store that sells exercise equipment, a good old-fashioned length of clothesline cord will do for starters.

As with many other exercises, however, good form is important for safety and efficiency, and getting an expert to…well… show you the ropes, either in person or on an exercise DVD, will probably pay off in ways more valuable than money.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Well, the physical benefits of skipping rope are many, and it is an activity which you will probably find to be a valuable part of your exercise program.

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Cluster Training: The Athlete’s Size and Strength Edge

All sport coaches would like big, strong athletes and most combative athletes want to be big and strong. However, most athletes and coaches run into a problem when training for both size and strength at the same time. The longer an athlete trains; usually they begin to hit a plateau with their current routine. They increase the volume (an increase in sets) or they increase the intensity (percentage of 1 repetition maximum, not perceived muscular discomfort), however they do not do both. Volume training is great for increasing muscle mass, and increasing strength-endurance, however it is not an effective method for stimulating neural (strength) gains.

Muscle mass is generally stimulated by neural gains. The higher the athlete’s maximal strength levels, the higher the intensity used in repetition exercises can be used. Another problem coaches and athletes run into with neural training is the rest intervals must be higher in intensity training for recovery of the neural system (CNS).

The problem is in the old saying, a trainee can train hard (intensity) or train long (volume) but cannot do both. Some coaches, such as T-Nation’s Chad Waterbury have proposed using a low(er) intensity 75-85% bracket and increasing the volume to accommodate this intensity bracket and a decrease in the rest intervals (i.e. 10 sets of 3 with a 6 repetition maximum, with 60 seconds rest intervals). While this is an excellent method and I am not putting it down, I feel there is a better way to work in a higher intensity bracket (80% to 100%) and utilize sufficient volume to increase both size AND strength!

Generally, novice athletes and trainees can make fantastic gains within the 60-70% intensity bracket, usually working their way to 80%. This 80% threshold rule is that strength generally is stimulated above this percentage and this usually calls for a decrease in sets and an increase in rest intervals. So our method will be working above this 80% threshold in every scenario.

Enter Cluster Training

Cluster training is not a new concept; in fact most Olympic weightlifters use this method without knowing it! Some very well know authors have done much to bring this powerful method to light such as Charles Poliquin, Christian Thibaudeau, and Mike Mahler to name a few. Olympic weightlifters must drop the weight to the ground after each repetition; this is followed by a short pause, and another repetition. Most Olympic weightlifters outside of the super-heavy weight division sport tremendously muscular, athletic physiques to go along with their incredible strength!

Cluster training allows the athlete or trainee to utilize intensity above the 80% threshold rule (generally even higher 85-100%), with sufficient volume to increase both strength and size (i.e. more reps at a higher intensity). However, this method is highly demanding on the central nervous system and is not recommended for beginners or high school freshmen and sophomores. While this is a powerful method, it should only be applied to ONE lift per movement group (horizontal push/pull, vertical push/pull, etc.) or ONE exercise per body part. Another caveat is that this method necessitates excellent spotters. If you do not have at least one good spotter, do not do this method. This is not a method that will be kind to an athlete if their spotter(s) decide to take a nap! Cluster training must also be broken into, not jumped into. I show will a progressive model to breaking into cluster training and moving into more advanced methods. Coach Thibaudeau breaks them into levels, level 1 consisting of three methods, level 2 consisting of three methods and level 3 consisting of two methods. For athletic purposes I will only be covering levels 1 and 2, level 3 will come at a later time.

Level 1

The first progression in cluster training is the extended 5s method, coined by Coach Thibaudeau. The goal of the extended 5s method is for the athlete to do 10 repetitions with a weight they can only do for 5 repetitions. Obviously this is an outstanding growth stimulus, as there is an increase in both intensity and volume (85% x 10 repetitions). An extended 5s set would go like this…

The athlete takes their 5 repetitions maximum (RM) and does 5 reps and then racks the bar. Resting approx 7-12 seconds (counted out loud by a training partner or spotter), the athlete then un-racks the bar and does another 2-3 repetitions. Upon racking the bar again, another rest of 7-12 seconds is taken, and a final 2-3 repetitions are performed. The goal of the set is to get 10 repetitions total. Generally an athlete will need two to three pauses to accomplish this. The athlete rests 3-5 minutes and repeats 3-5 times. This is an excellent introductory method to cluster training! Here is a summary…

Extended 5s Method

· Load- 80-85% of 1 RM or 5 RM (repetition maximum)

· Reps- 5 Reps with 5 RM, 7-12 pause, 2-3 Reps, 7-12 pause, 2-3 Reps

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 10 Repetitions with a 5 RM

The next progression in cluster training is the classic cluster method. Charles Poliquin wrote about this method in his text Modern Trends in Strength Training (2001) and Mike Mahler has written articles on this method calling it Rest-Pause Training. Regardless of the name, it is a powerful and effective method. This method is best used for increases in relative and maximal strength and hypertrophy of the type II-B muscle fibers (the ones with the most potential for force and power output). This method uses a higher intensity bracket than the extended 5s method, usually 87-92% of 1 RM and attempts to hit 5 intermitted repetitions with that load. A classic cluster set would go like this…

The athlete would take their 3-4 repetitions maximum and performs 1 rep, racks the bar, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep, 7-12 second pause in the rack, 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, and a final 1 rep, and a 3-5 minute rest. Usually 3-5 sets are employed. Here is a summary…

Classic Cluster Method

· Load- 85-92% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1, pause, 1, pause, 1, pause, etc.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 3-4 RM

The last progression in level 1 is the antagonist cluster method. This is basically a variation of the classic cluster method, with the exception being that the athlete alternates between to opposing exercises with minimal rest (the pause is taken by the opposing exercise being performed). Reps and sets still apply, however the execution of a set is a little different…

The athlete would take their 3-4 repetitions maximum and performs 1 rep of bench press, racks the bar, proceeds to do 1 rep of bent over barbell rows, 1 rep on the bench press, 1 rep of the row, 1 rep bench press, 1 rep of the row, 1 rep on the bench, 1 rep on the row, and a final 1 rep on the bench, and 1 final rep of the row and a 3-5 minute rest. Usually 3-5 sets are employed. Here is a summary…

Antagonist Cluster Method

· Load- 85-92% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps each antagonist exercise, 1 Rep Exercise 1, 1 Rep Exercise 2, etc.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 3-4 RM on two opposing exercises

· For those who need to know antagonists, examples would be horizontal push and horizontal pull (bench and row), vertical push and vertical pull (shoulder press and chin up), quad dominant and hip dominant (squat and good morning), arms (curl and triceps extensions).

Level 2

It goes without saying that a foundation of cluster training should have been built in the previous level prior to taking on the more advanced methods here!

The first progression of the second level is named after the late Mike Mentzer, a highly successful bodybuilder. I first learned the Mentzer cluster method through Coach Thibaudeau’s excellent DVD on cluster training, and I continued to research it by reading Weight Training the Mike Mentzer Way. This is a very powerful method and should not be taken lightly. The goal of this method is to perform 4 to 5 total reps at 100-80% intensity. First the athlete will perform 2-3 singles in classic cluster fashion at 90-100% intensity and drop the weight approx 10% and perform another 1-2 repetitions with that weight in classic cluster fashion. For example…

The athlete takes 98% of their 1 RM and does 1 rep, racks the bar, 7-12 seconds pause, another 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, another 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, the spotter reduces the weight (in 7-12 seconds) and the athlete performs 1 more rep with this weight. Here is a summary…

Mentzer Cluster Method

· Load- 90-98% of 1 RM

· Reps- 4-5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1, pause, 1, pause, 1, pause, reduce weight 10%, 1 Rep

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 4-5 Repetitions with a 1-3 RM

The second progression is called the drop set cluster. This is a blend of the classic cluster method and the Mentzer cluster method. Most trainees know what a drop set is, a descending scheme of dropping weight after performing some repetitions. The drop set cluster still uses high intensity (90-100%) and drops the weight 5-10 lbs per drop on single repetitions. Again 5 reps are the target goal. An example being…

The athlete does 1 rep with 98-100% intensity, racks the bar, and the training partner or spotters remove 5-10 lbs from the bar during the 7-12 seconds pause, the athlete does another single, Racks the bar, the spotters proceed to strip 5-10 lbs, athlete performs another single, racks the bar and more weight is stripped, athlete does another rep, racks and spotters reduce weight further, and athlete completes last rep. The drop set cluster allows a higher level of muscular tension, due to the repetition’s slow speed and the rep is being performed at 100% maximal momentary strength (i.e. all muscle fibers are being recruited to lift the load) (Poliquin, Modern Trends in Strength Training, 18-19). A summary can be found here…

Drop Set Cluster Method

· Load- 90-100% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1 Rep, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1 Rep, pause lower weight.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 1-3 RM

The final progression in level 2 is called the accentuated eccentric cluster method. Caution: this method will require a competent spotter! As you might know, I do like to accentuate the eccentric portion of an exercise (see Eccentric Training for Athletes article). This method combines the classic cluster method with an accentuated eccentric portion of the lift. Again, the set and rep scheme stays close to the classic cluster method, however during the eccentric or lowering portion of the exercise, the training partner will push down on the bar and release at the mid point. This requires a very skilled spotter! They should only apply enough resistance to have the athlete still lower the bar under control! If the bar is dropping like a bag of bricks, it is not helping the athlete it is hurting them! Here is an example…

The athlete would take their 3-4 repetitions maximum and performs 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, racks the bar, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, 7-12 second pause in the rack, 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, 7-12 seconds pause, and a final 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, and a 3-5 minute rest. Usually 3-5 sets are employed. Here is a summary…

Classic Cluster Method

· Load- 85-92% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1 with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, pause, 1 with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, pause, 1 with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, pause, etc.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 3-4 RM

Advantages for the Athlete

In his Modern Trends in Strength Training (2001) text Charles Poliquin points out the advantages of using cluster training for athletes, this is what he wrote…

· A higher total number of repetitions with a higher mean intensity in the same amount of time as classic strength or neural based training

· Increased total training time under tension for the high-threshold fast-twitch fibers; a prerequisite for reaching hypertrophy of these selected fibers. This may seem contradictory to the concept of relative strength, but hypertrophy can be beneficial if it is done in the right motor units.

· Higher force/lower velocities repetitions-a prerequisite for inducing maximal strength gains.

Putting it together

Cluster training is without a doubt a growth and strength stimulus. But how do you incorporate it into a plan? Clusters should not be used for more than 3-4 weeks, or else the method will become stale and your body will have adapted to the method anyway. So the method must be integrated into a yearly plan or at least a periodized cycle.

If an athlete or coach utilizes a conjugate method approach, cluster training would fall into the plan as a Maximal Effort Method, due to its use of high loads. So one would essentially use it like this…

Max Effort Day

ME- Classic Cluster Method

Assistance work done using classic hypertrophy methods (2-4 x 8-12)

If the athlete or coach decides to utilize linear periodization, cluster training would fall within the Strength Phase bracket and each movement would be given the cluster training method.

Strength Phase

Day 1- Horizontal Push/Pull

Bench Press- Classic Cluster Method

Bent Over Barbell Row- Classic Cluster Method

If the athlete or coach is utilizing undulating periodization (i.e. rotating between various strength methods by weeks with a training cycle) cluster training could be used for maximal strength work.

Strength Weeks

Week 1 and 5

Day 1- Horizontal Push/Pull

Day 2- Hips Dominant/Quad Dominant

Day 3- Vertical Push/Pull

1 Exercise per Movement Group-

Classic Cluster Method

Cluster training is very versatile, and athletes can benefit from this method by increasing both strength and size. However, like any other training tool, this one should only be used in moderation due to the intense fatiguing effect it has on the Central Nervous System. Also this method requires competent spotters, a luxury some do not have.

Cluster training done properly can help to jump start new growth or new strength adaptations in athletes. It can also increase all ready existing levels of size and strength. Any athlete (with the proper foundation) can benefit from this style of training! Good luck implementing this method in your and your athlete’s training!

Sources & Further Study

1. Poliquin, Charles Modern Trends in Strength Training (Self Published) 2001.

2. Thibaudeau, Christian (2005) Cluster Training [DVD].

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Are Your Genetics Stopping You From Getting Ripped and Shredded?

There are guys out there who have been working out for a while now and they have seen little to no results in terms of muscle gains. Those guys begin to question whether it is possible for them to get fitness model ripped, or whether they are fighting an uphill battle which they will eventually lose. The road to being ripped and shredded is definitely filled with lots of blood, sweat and self doubt.

The funny thing is that most guys who work out for a long time without seeing results will eventually lose this uphill battle because they have lost hope, they feel they received a bad deal at birth in terms of bodybuilding genetics. The interesting part about all this is that most people are not born with what is considered good “bodybuilding genetics,” but what people should know is that with enough hard work anyone can become ripped and shredded. Yes it may be easier for others to gain muscle, they may have the perfect body type but what counts the most is not what we are born with or without, what matters is what we do with what we have.

Some people have a harder time packing on mass whilst others struggle to keep their weight down, it seems like everything they eat turns to fat. All those people can overcome whatever “weakness” or “disadvantage” they are born with and build ripped muscular bodies. This situation is like a sports person who is very talented but is lazy and does not train, and a person who is not that skilled but is a hard worker in that sport, if you were a coach and you had to choose who to play you would play the hard worker because you know he will last and be effective during whole 90 minutes (if the sport is soccer) not someone who will not be useful for most of the game because he can’t keep up just hoping for a moment of brilliance. In muscle building you are like the hard worker, you are not someone born with great muscle building potential but you use what you have and you make the best out of it. We all can’t be Usain Bolt but if we train hard every day, and consistently we would be able to run pretty fast and even challenge the Usain’s of this world if the start slacking.

Before you give up thinking that your genetics are working against you, you should assess your diet, many people think that they are eating healthy food which is conducive to muscle building when they are actually not, many people trying to gain muscle often under eat which makes it difficult to gain muscle mass. Also check that you are training each individual muscle enough, and make sure that you give your muscles enough rest time because muscles do not grow in the gym, they grow outside the gym. During your training make sure that you are not lifting weights that you can do 20 reps for only for 10 reps, increase the weight so that the weight challenges you, you need to be struggling by that last rep. Do not have long rest periods between sets; try to make your workouts intense, you don’t need to spend a lot of time in the gym if you are working out right.

There are a lot of things you might be doing that would cause you not to see the growth you want. Tweak you workout, do not give up in the middle of the battle, and fight on. If you don’t believe you will gain muscle and you think your genetics are against you, then you have already lost. Forget about genetics; think about proper nutrition, pumping iron (experiment with different rep ranges & sets), and cardio and you are on your way to being ripped and shredded. If you believe and visualize that you will be shredded and work hard towards that end goal then it will happen.

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Exercises and Workouts – Quick Tips For Better Calf Training

The calf muscles are a set of muscles often overlooked as the primary focus is placed on larger lower body muscles like the quads or hamstrings. While these are the muscles you should focus on; this should not be to the neglect of your calf muscles. Having muscular calves will give you the foundation on which all other movements are done and will ensure you are not as at-risk for ankle injuries. Proper calf training is a must. Many people either ditch calf training altogether or just are not performing calf training as they should.

Here are a few quick tips you should remember next time you prepare yourself to do calf work…

Half Reps Are An Excellent Idea. If you want to really up the ante of your calf training program, consider adding a few half reps into the mix. Half reps, where you move only through the top half of the range of motion, or if you are brave, the lower half, places enormous strain on your calf muscle because there is no point of relaxation in this rep range.

Usually, the best way to employ this technique is to perform ten full reps of your calf exercise and then move into ten reps or so of the half reps. Then, if you are not thoroughly exhausted, you can do another full ten reps to finish the muscles off.

Full Range Of Motion Is A Must. Next, make sure you are moving through the full range of motion: this means you are going beyond parallel. Many people do standing calf raises off the floor. While this is good to a degree, it will be far better if you let your feet drop below parallel: this gives you a much more significant stretch at the bottom of the exercise, which then translates to superior strength progression.

Try doing those calf raises off a step and see the difference that makes.

Take Balance Out Of The Exercise. You might think doing single leg calf raises while trying to balance is a great way to get more from this exercise. And, if your goal is stability or core strength, then it very well may be. But, if your goal is to build stronger calves, avoid doing single leg unsupported work.

The problem with single leg unsupported work is more of your energy is going into just balancing, which may mean you do not have the strength capability to lift the weight you want. Furthermore, if you are placing quite a load on your back as you do this, the chances of rolling your ankle and severely injuring yourself are also higher.

It is okay to do single leg work, but do it supported instead.

Do Seated And Standing Work. Finally, to hit your calves from all angles, consider doing seated and standing work. Each type of exercise is going to work the muscles from different angles and hit the soleus and gastroc muscle differently. Therefore, both should be in your plan.

If you apply these calf training tips, there is no question you will be seeing superior results and noticing this muscle take on a great shape in no time.

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The Diet Of Costa Ricans And How It Keeps Them Healthy

Located between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America, Costa Rica boasts a proud culinary heritage. Many scorn Costa Rica food selections for being high in saturated fats, but in actuality Costa Ricans are far more active than other cultures.

Costa Rican’s, locally called Ticos, never eat excessively. Limiting their portions is one way they stay so healthy. Also, lunch is the most important meal of their day. In fact, like many Latin nations, businesses and schools close down for a couple of hours at lunch so that employees and students can go home and have a leisurely meal with their family. This allows both a strong focus on family life, but also on slowing down a meal. In America, a typical school lunch lasts a mere twenty minutes at most and work breaks are usually an hour tops, so many must eat at their desk or machine. A Costa Rican’s lifestyle is completely different.

Costa Rica food often revolves around rice and beans, such as Gallo Pinto, a dish that translates to “Spotted Rooster”. Gallo Pinto is a dish that includes black beans at a three to two ratio to rice. Also added are onions, garlic, and salt. Meats are eaten sparingly, while beans provide a high content of fiber. Fiber can help counteract the saturated fats. Costa Rica food choices rarely include dairy or cheese.

As Costa Rica has water on both sides with the Pacific to the west and the Caribbean to the east, fresh seafood is always available. Unfortunately, the seafood is also extremely expensive as the country exports the bulk of its seafood. Chicken, pork, and beef are the more popular meats. Costa Rica food supplies use organ meat as well; so expect to find dishes involving stomach, brains, and other organs on the menu. Other staples of Costa Rica food choices include fresh vegetables such as tomatoes and a variety of beans, fruits, including plantains, and rice.

Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, is packed with outstanding restaurants and cafes. In San Jose, one can experience bold foods and beverages. Staple beverages such as sugarcane soaked in hot water are second only to the nation’s delicious Costa Rican coffee. Drinks mixing corn meal and milk are also common. Plantains are similar to bananas in appearance, but they cannot be eaten raw. Plantains are pounded flat, battered, and fried tender.

As one travels to other regions, the choices for Costa Rica food also decrease and become more traditional with the beans and rice dishes. Beans and rice dishes are usually served alongside a carrot and cabbage or lettuce and tomato salad. Sometimes Arroz, (fried shrimp or chicken), are found on the table instead of beans and rice. The salads are typically larger than the portion of beans and rice and that helps the Ticos to stay fit.

It is possibly to choose healthy selections of Costa Rica food. Stick to plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and enjoy the delightful blend of culinary flavors.

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Tunturi Exercise Bike Reviews

Quite simply, Tunturi make some of the best exercise bikes on the market and arguably make the best display consoles of any bike. The company makes different models to suit different fitness and feature-list requirements. The bikes range from mid-price to expensive. You could do far worse than opt for one of its machines. To help you along, here are some reviews of Tunturi bikes.

Tunturi are a Finnish company and its exercise equipment is very popular in Europe. Recently, its equipment is making inroads in the U.S., which isn’t surprising when you take at look at what’s on offer. Few competitors can match their build quality, feature-list and stylish looks.

What is fairly unique to Tunturi, though how long this will last before others also incorporate it into their products, is the ergometer function found on most of its bikes. What’s really cool about ergometers is that they provide detailed feedback on a variety of data during a workout. They’re useful if you want to repeat the same exercise routine, or monitor your calorie consumption during your workout.

Tunturi exercise bikes come with the best display consoles of any machine available. Many users, especially at entry-level, like displays that give great feed back, and are easily read and understood. A display should provide the motivation a user needs during a workout. The company provides two main types of display; T-Ride and T-Road.

The T-Ride is the base level display for the Ergometer bike range. The 3.8″ color LCD console tracks speed, distance, time, heart rate, energy consumption and effort. There are a number of landscape programs where slope affects the training intensity. Obviously, going uphill increases the intensity of the workout while going downhill decreases it. What’s nice about Tunturi’s bikes is that when in downhill mode the bike responds and feels exactly the same as if you cycling outdoors.

The T-Road is the more advanced display. The 7″ color LCD console displays the workout program as a real life, outdoor video stream. The video is perfectly synchronized with the intensity changes of the program; the faster you pedal, the faster the landscape changes.

The Tunturi F30 is the base level upright bike and retails for around $300. Its plus points are that it has built-in grip sensors and its recovery heart rate measurement evaluates fitness in just 60 seconds. It also comes with magnetic resistance of 9 levels. However, this model does lack the ergometer function and does not come with either the T-Ride or T-Road console.

The E40 is the next model up retailing for around $600. It does have an ergometer function and you get T-Ride console with 5 preset programs. You also get T-Scale, which allows you to edit and adjust the 10 pre-set HRC, power and resistance programs even whilst you’re working out. You select the training duration based on your target time and scale the training intensity based on your personal requirements. One drawback is that the wireless heart rate monitor comes only as an optional extra.

The E60 upright model retails for around $750. You get the same features as the E40 but you also get the wireless heart rate monitor. This machine would suit any serious cyclist.

The E80 is the top-end upright retailing for around $1,000. Additions to the E60 include the T-Road console, a race function, USB PC connection, 512 Mb USB memory stick included for data transfer and a versatile 20 user register for better feedback accuracy, personal settings and program memory. There is also an E85 version. The only difference between them is that the frame of the E85 is slightly different, being designed for the competitive cyclist. For the vast majority, the E80 is the better choice.

As well as uprights Tunturi also make recumbent exercise bikes. The models available are equivalent to their upright counterparts. Therefore the E40R has exactly the same features as that of the E40. Likewise the E60R is exactly the same as the E60. The E40R and E60R retails for around $800 and $1,000 resp.

They aren’t cheap but a Tunturi exercise bike does come with a ton of features and is extremely well built. If there is one criticism it is only about their price. Being imported does mean they are more expensive than other brands. But, having said that, they are still worth every penny if you take exercise seriously.

Posted in Workouts & Routines0 Comments

Himalayan Pink Salt for Weight Loss

Himalayan pink salt has numerous attributed health properties which deem it rather preferable for use in our daily life. It is scientifically proven to contain more than 80 mineral salts that provide nutrients to the body and mind of the user.

Among the more important health benefits of the pink salt, weight loss is considered a crucial one. Details are discussed below:

Weight Loss using Himalayan Salt

The majority of our population suffers from obesity and unhealthy diet which leads to accumulation of fat on our stomach and thighs. This is the first sign of an unhealthy lifestyle and if this is not controlled in due time, it will takes its toll in the latter part of life.

A natural way to aid weight loss without the fear of side effects is the Himalayan pink salt. According to a few reports, people have reduced weight when they switched to the natural pink salt for their diet instead of the white table salt. Pink salt can be used just like the white salt: in flavoring, marinating, seasoning, preserving, etc. Another very popular method of using pink salt to promote weight loss is using Himalayan salt sole.

What is salt sole?

Himalayan salt appears reddish pink because of the addition of the mineral salts in it. The essence of the salt is in the salt sole.

To make this sole, put a handful of pink salt granules in a big jug of water overnight. Let is dissolve by itself. You can start using the salt sole from the next day, teaspoon by teaspoon. The salt sole will last until the salt dissolves completely.

How does the Himalayan salt effects weight loss?

Salt content in the body causes retention of water inside the cells of the body through the known phenomenon of osmosis. The excess of water causes body to look swelled and fat; it often is also the cause of cellulite too. The Himalayan salt crystals unlike the common table salt release this extra water from the cells. It also decreases the craving by the body for food high in sugar content and carbohydrates.

How to use Himalayan salt for weight loss:

  • For a natural way to intake mineral salts required for the growth and sustenance of the human body, use a teaspoon of concentrated Himalayan salt sole in a cup full of water and drink it on an empty stomach every morning.
  • Use a Himalayan salt massage stone from time to time. It aids in removing accumulation of dead cells from the surface of the skin which removes toxins and other impurities with it. The massage technique also regulate the circulation of blood flow and health hormones inside the body which cause reduction in puffiness, calms down the nervous system, enhances metabolism and improves digestive system.
  • It is also recommended that you use Himalayan bath salt twice a week to relieve symptoms of body sores and muscle pains.
  • To target a particular area of the body for reduction of fat buildup, like stomach, thighs, hips, etc. we recommend ‘salt sole compress wraps’. Elastic bandages are soaked in a 5% solution of salt sole. (Make sure the water is lukewarm.) Wring the extra water out of it. Apply the bandage on the targeted area and let it sit there for an hour or so.
  • Lastly, exercise and a healthy diet are mandatory to assist the use of Himalayan salt towards the goal of weight loss.

Other benefits of using Himalayan salt

Himalayan salt is not only beneficial for weight loss but for following health benefits:

  • Improves circulation in the body
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Cures kidney problems
  • Balances pH levels inside the body
  • Reduces risk of heart attack
  • Decrease symptoms of asthma, sinus infections, and mucus buildup
  • Provides necessary minerals and nutrients to the body

Posted in Building Muscle0 Comments

What is the Difference Between Quinoa and Amaranth?

Quinoa grains and amaranth grains look so similar that you wonder if they are in fact the same product.

They do come from the same family of plants and nutritionally they are quite similar but there are differences.

Both of south American origins the Aztecs grew amaranth as a staple food while the incas grew quinoa. The growing conditions needed for both are exactly the same. In fact they both grow well in difficult conditions and poor soil. Their indigenous growing location was at high altitude in the mountains. In modern times they are grown in the USA and South America and with improved growing conditions both plants are easy to produce. They crop 3 – 6 months from sowing.

The 2 main differences from a culinary perspective are:-

Size of the grains

Amaranth seeds are quite a bit smaller than quinoa grains. They come in the same colours of white, cream, red or black although I have to say I have only ever seen the white and cream available in the shops. You would probably have to grow your own to get the others. They are better for thickening soups and casseroles as they almost disappear in long cooking times. The appearance of both grains is similar and they both have the familiar “tail” after cooking. (try it and see)


Quinoa has a coating of saponins which have a bitter taste. these have to be rinsed off before cooking. Amaranth does not have these saponins and so does not need the same level of preparations. The coating of these saponins has been a problem in getting quinoa onto the dinner plate of the western world. In the last 3 or 4 years manufacturers have been prewashing the quinoa so that now you usually do not need to pre-wash the quinoa.

To summarise, Both these grains have almost identical nutritional profiles. The smaller size of the amaranth grain will lend itself to the soups, curries and casseroles type of dishes. The quinoa grain will always be better for salads and stir fry dishes where the quinoa can still be seen as well as eaten.

Posted in Diet & Nutrition0 Comments

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