Posted on Leave a comment

Don’t Fear the Weight Room

Some women still fear the weight room.  The existing myth is that women who lift weight will end up with big bulky muscles and look too manly.  Ideas like this are giving resistance training a bad name.  We as trainers have to remember that men and women are physiologically different in the fact that the increase muscle mass that is acquired by men is due to testosterone.  Yes, women secrete and deliver testosterone just like men do, but at much lower rates and volume.  This allows for women to build tone lean muscle and increase metabolism to enhance weight loss.  Many times the main objective for women to start an exercise program is to lose weight and look better, but there is more to it than this.  We have to remember that resistance training has various benefits that will help women’s health, both now and in the future.  Looking tone and fit is great, but what else can exercise do for women?  Looking great now is always a plus, but resistance training may also decrease day to day stresses from our fast paced lifestyles.  Stress is a very important factor that may lead to decreased motivation and eventual increase in body fat storage.  Studies have shown that proper exercise can reduce stress dramatically.  Another important factor for women is bone mineral density (BMD).  Because of a higher level of estrogen, women are at a higher risk of low bone mineral density than men.  A consistent moderate resistance program can increase BMD in women and dramatically reduce the possibility of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis.  The proper resistance training program can also increase posture, balance, flexibility and stability for all ages.  These are all very important aspects to our daily lives, but for many women, it becomes all about looking better.  How is exercise going to do this?

What is Metabolism?

Sure, running on the treadmill will help women lose weight, but so will every other daily activity we are engaged in.  Whether it’s walking, eating, or even sleeping, our bodies are using calories to function properly.  Losing weight all depends on the intensity and duration of what we are doing each day.  like I mentioned, running on a treadmill will help us lose weight more than walking, and walking will help more than sleeping, but if there were an easier way, we would do it…right?  Luckily there is.  It’s all about our metabolic rate.  Our metabolic rate (or basal metabolic rate BMR) is closely related to resting metabolic rate (RMR) and measures the total amount of energy expanded while at rest or sleep.  The term thermogenesis refers to the measure of total energy exhausted as heat disposal.  As we age, a decrease in BMR will coincide with the amount of lean body mass that we possess.  New scientific research has shown that aerobic exercise alone doesn’t correlate with an increase in BMR, but anaerobic does due to maintaining lean body mass.

Cardio vs. Weight Training

In the last paragraph we discussed the physiological differences that cardio (aerobic) and resistance training (anaerobic) play in exercise via metabolism.  Anaerobic exercise may contribute to an increase of metabolism, but aerobic exercise is important too.  Aerobic training is very important for the cardiovascular system (“heart health”).  Some people have trouble combining the cardio and resistance training.  There are important factors that a trainer must know before incorporating cardio and resistance training together.  First, if the trainee wants to increase power and strength then including cardio exercises can be detrimental.  This is due to an increase the muscle capillary density, increased number of mitochondria (both help in oxygen consumption to keep the muscle going), and a possible change in fiber type (type IIx to type IIa to type I).  Inversely, a trainee that wants to increase their aerobic power can achieve this by combining both cardio workouts with resistance training.  This will allow for an increase in aerobic power due to an increase in VO^2 Max.  VO^2 Max is the amount of oxygen exchange within a muscle for adequately supplying and keeping the muscle cells functioning properly (contributing factor may also be stroke volume SV).  For weight management the optimal goal is to combine both types of exercise by using circuit training.  Circuit training will allow a trainee to increase their aerobic and anaerobic power by incorporating moderate to high intensity (keeping the heart rate up) exercises with resistance training.

Frequency of Weight Loss

Weight loss can vary.  Some people go on extreme crash diets and lose 8, 10, or even 12 pounds a week.  Depending on the trainee, losing this much weight this quickly will almost certainly be put back on in the long run.  Furthermore, some may be able to safely and effectively lose 4 pounds a week, while another may only be able to lose 1 to2 pounds a week.  This all depends on the trainee’s starting weight.  A good table for measure can be a 1% rule (1% loss of starting body weight per week).  If a trainee’s starting weight is 150 pounds then a maximal weight per week should not exceed 1.5 pounds a week.  Whereas, someone with a starting weight of 300 hundred pounds may affectively lose 3 pounds per week.  The 1% rule can adequately allow for weight lose without becoming macronutrient deficient.  Macronutrients are the three essential nutrients that consist of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats).    When people attempt some of these “fad” crash diets they ultimately fall short in the proper percentages of one of the three essential nutrients.  This may put the body in a particular nutrient deficiency that may change the body’s physiological chemistry.

Women’s Resistance Training Program Design

A proper program design should be specific to the person being trained.  Each trainee will begin at a different level based on their condition, so a tailored exercise program is crucial with the adequate amount of progressions for optimal results.  Each exercise program should begin with some sort of active/dynamic warm-up to help promote proper muscle activation for the following workout.  To circuit train affectively, three to four multi-muscle functional workouts can be grouped together to optimize increased heart rate and aerobic and anaerobic power output.  Between 2 to 4 sets and 10 to 15 reps of approximately 3 or 4 exercises should be performed in a continuous cycle with little rest (30seconds to 1 minute after completing each cycle of the 3 to 4 exercises).  Each group of three to four exercises may primarily target different areas of the body.  After the warm-up, the first group of exercises may focus on legs.  The second group may focus on the upper body, and the third may focus on the core muscles.  This exercise structure can help save time and effort with a busy schedule and may also maximize overall fitness results.  Ending each workout with a form of static stretching may also be a good idea.  Static stretching AFTER exercise can keep the joints from getting too tight.


Mike Mcgrew, BS, CSCS

Posted on Leave a comment

Strength Training for Children and Adolescents

Many parents focus on helping their child reach their full academic potential, with tutoring, homework, and structure.  Children have an athletic potential as well that is often overlooked, or thought that team sports alone will help them reach it.  While I don’t discount the importance of learning teamwork, team sports alone will not help a child reach that potential.  If they excel at a sport or sports, getting them involved early in strength and conditioning training can mean the difference between playing at the varsity level, possible college scholarship, or reaching the dream of professional sports.

For some parents strength training may seem risky and unnecessary for their child.  As a kid I was always told, “You play sports so you’re already in shape.”  Or one of my personal favorites “if you want to get stronger just go do pushups and sit ups.”  These commonly heard statements are absurd and could contradict the sport specific goals of nearly all sports.  One thing that trainers, coaches, and parents should know is that children and adolescents are not just small adults and need a training routine specifically designed for them.  Children and adolescents are physiologically different from adults, but this doesn’t mean that with the PROPER training that they cannot benefit greatly from strength training.  With the aid of resistance training, boys and girls are capable of significantly increasing muscular strength in addition to their natural growth and maturation during development.  Studies have shown that with the proper intensity and volume, children as young as 6 years old have benefit from resistance training.  Like sports, there is no minimal age requirement to participate in strength training.

How can strength training affect children and adolescents?

Early/late childhood: boys age range from 1-10 and girls age range from 1-8

Adolescents: boys age range from 10-22 and girls age range from 8-19

First and foremost, for children and adolescents, trainers must find a way to make training FUN as well as beneficial.  The concept of training can be intimidating.  Some children and adolescents look at strength training as work, and that’s exactly what it is.  Making up games/competition to incorporate into exercise programs can help keep the trainee engaged and excited to work hard.  So therefore, training children and adolescents has that added dynamic that requires some extra attention and focus by the trainer to ensure maximum gains/improvements and to inhibit frustration/boredom.  Another important aspect of training children and adolescents is language and communication.  Using appropriate words and tone can help encourage a trainee and maintain self-esteem; inversely, using too harsh a tone or using too strong or negative language can damage self-esteem.  If a child has low self-esteem and gets frustrated with exercise the odds of them working at 100% is low.  A trainer should ensure that there is not a negative correlation between exercise and satisfaction and self-worth.  Educating children and adolescents on the benefits of strength training and how it can make them feel better, live better and be happier will only help promote healthy living.

In adolescents, puberty is when we see a substantial increase in muscle mass (hypertrophy), and for most people this increase in muscle size is associated with an increase in strength and signifies the turning point at which training can begin.  Although this could be one view, neurological adaptation (nervous system development) is the main contributor for pre-pubescent children.  This helps with motor development and coordinated movements, illustrating how our athletic development is started even younger.  For example, throwing a baseball or catching a football requires an extremely high level of coordination and motor skills.  It should be looked at as a fundamental foundation to help aid in proper athletic movements later in life.

The main concern of training a child or adolescent is not only making significant gains, but also ensuring the safety of the trainee.  Whether it’s a trainer, coach, or parent that is working with a child or adolescent trainee supervision is very important.  Form and posture mistakes can be most detrimental to a new trainee of all ages and can ultimately lead to poor mechanics and/or injuries.  The proper biomechanics of an exercise can greatly benefit children and adolescents.  Taking the time to advise proper form and movements should be the first priority to any new exercise.  Sometimes it is easier to master the technique of an exercise with little or no weight added.  This will ensure that the proper movement patterns can be instilled with the program.

Avoiding injuries

A person that is training at any age has some potential of injury.  Proper training significantly decreases the risk of injury but cannot guarantee an athlete won’t get injured, just as an athlete could be injured in the heat of competition with any sport.  What proper training does guarantee is that the injury potential in competition will reduce dramatically.  Functional sport specific training will allow for identification of weaknesses and subsequent increase in balance, flexibility, strength, and coordination in vulnerable positions and movements.  This leads to an overall increase in strength and ability to perform in the athletic arena.  Regardless of the individual, when introducing resistance training it is always important to underestimate ones physical abilities regardless of how big or strong the child or adolescent may seem.  For most children and adolescents, resistance training will be a new experience, and pushing and exceeding their abilities too soon may put them at a greater risk of injury.  Starting slowly and cautiously to complete an evaluation and moving up when the foundation is established is the safest approach.

Should trainers worry about growth plate injuries in children and adolescents?

Growth plates are areas of bone that is still in development.  The growth plates are cartilage tissue at the ends of long bones and are important to normalize the length and shape of mature bone.  Growth plate fractures can be classified depending on the degree of damage to the plate itself.  All children that are still growing are at risk and the injury rates increase into adolescents.  Growth plate fractures occur twice as often in boys then in girls (this could be due to boys having higher involvement in high impact sports).  1/3 of growth plate injuries occur in competitive sports, such as basketball, football, and gymnastics.  1/5 of growth plate injuries are due to recreational activities, such as skateboarding, skiing, biking, and sledding.  There are five different classifications of growth plate fractures.  A type I fracture is a break in the bone that separates the bone end from its shaft; this type may require surgery which involves pins.  A type II fracture is when the bone breaks partially through the growth plate and partially through the cortical bone itself; this is the most common type of fracture.  Type III fracture is a break off of a portion of the growth plate and piece of the end bone; this type is more common in older children adolescents.  Type IV is a break through the bone shaft, growth plate, and end of the bone; these fractures commonly stop bone growth and are treated with surgery.  Type V is when the growth plate is compressed due to a crush impact; this type will almost always disturb bone growth but is very rare.  There are two major reasons for these types of injuries.  First, in children and adolescents, bones and muscles develop at a different speed so the bone may be weaker than the ligament tissue that it is connected by.  The second reason for these injuries can be attributed to high impact movements on the bone such as; falls, contact sports, or high rates of joint stress.  For trainers there has been an increasing concern for these injuries, especially with plyometric workout programs.  Plyometric workouts can be best defined as exercises that involve rapid stretching and contracting of muscles to gain an increase muscle power.  Even though there are limited studies on plyometric workouts in regards to children and these exercises there’s an increase concern focused on the high intensity impacts with plyometric exercises.  The major concern within plyometric workouts has focused on the intensity of depth jumps.  The depth jump is rated as the highest intensity of all plyometric workouts because of the amount of stress it puts on the lower extremities.  The proper mechanics of a basic depth jump consists of jumping forward off of a box on the ground with both feet.  Then rapidly descending into a squat position and exploding in the upward direction with a powerful jump.  The height of the box that is descended from will determine the amount of impact within the exercise.

Signs of growth plate injuries

A child that has experienced a growth plate injury may have some visible deformity.  Another telltale sign of a growth plate injury is consistent or severe pain at the joint.  If the child is unable to move or put any degree of pressure without experiencing pain then there could be a growth plate issue.  If any of these sign are apparent while training a child, then the trainer should immediately stop the session and should inform both the parent and child to get an examination by a licensed physician (trainers are not licensed physicians and should never diagnose a trainee).


Bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) are very important in a maturing body.  Bone mineral content refers to the amount of bone mineral in grams.  Whereas, bone mineral density refers to the grams per centimeter squared (g/cm^2).  Children are considered “moving targets” and bone mineral content may not apply to them the same way it does to an adult (heavier bone may not reflect stronger bone).  The age at which bone mineral content will most likely reflect bone density is post-adolescents.   Bone mineral density is most advantageous to the strength of children and adolescents bone make-up.  The most crucial time for development and strengthening is between the ages of 10-15 (for most this is adolescents).  Bone mineral density can be developed by performing weight bearing activities.  The more vigorous the activity or exercise is the greater the increase in bone strength (BMD).  This may seem to contradict the theory on growth plates, and it does.  This is why children and adolescents are not miniature adults.  There is an overlap in performing more intense exercise as children and adolescents because of the risk of growth plate injuries.  Keeping the trainee in a healthy intensity range will help benefit the child without injury.  Medium to high intensity plyometric workouts can be safe for a child to maximize healthy bone strength.

Make training children and adolescents simple

There seems to be a simple solution to this concern with children and adolescents, and that is to avoid this particular plyometric exercise or any workout that can put a high level of stress on joints.  There are plenty of resistance training exercises, including plyometric exercises, that children and adolescents can do without over stressing their joints such as most power lifts, most strength training lifts, repetitive jumps, bounds, different throwing exercises, etc.  Some times as trainers, we focus more on what we can’t or shouldn’t do in regards to training children and adolescents and inadvertently forget what we can do.  There are far more exercises that are safe for children and adolescents then ones that are not.  Some other important factors to keep in mind for training children and adolescents are nutrition, proper recovery times, and educating youth sport coaches about the benefits of strength and conditioning training.

Written by

Michael Mcgrew, cscs

Posted on Leave a comment


The facts are that the drop-out rate for dieting is 99%.     Dieting alone is proven ineffective for long-term weight loss.

Resistance training is by far the most efficient form of exercise for long-term weight management because it changes your body’s energy needs and combats one of the biggest challenges with stand-alone dieting which is that frequently you lose muscle mass along with the fat, which in turn reduces your body’s energy needs.   The fact is that muscle burns fat and the more muscle you have the more fat you burn.  This is true even at rest. With appropriate resistance training you can maintain and even increase your lean body mass as you lose fat which ensures your fat loss success for the future.

Cardiovascular training helps your body spend your fat stores and aids glucose tolerance.  This training is the most overdone and misused aspect of exercise.  The common myth of doing cardio before beginning a weight training program is absolutely incorrect.  Weight training should be the staple of your program and cardio, done properly, should be the compliment.

Interval Training helps you burn more calories during and after your workouts. It also dramatically improves your cardiovascular capabilities.  Mixing bursts of high intensity work with low intensity periods of recovery overloads both the aerobic and anaerobic systems and provides the benefits of both aspects of training simultaneously.

HOW IT’S DONE!                                                      

 The general aim in HIT (High-Intensity Training) is to include short, high bursts of exercise followed by slightly longer “recovery” periods.  As your level of fitness and stamina increases, you can begin to increase either the duration or the intensity of the intervals.  For example:

  • Interval 1: High Intensity (1 minute)
  • Interval 2: Low-Intensity (2 minutes)

If you are running, begin with your normal 5-10 minute warm-up and then increase the pace to a high sprint (say 11 mph) for a 1 minute burst.  Once the first minute is up, reduce your speed by half and continue with this for 2 mins.  Repeat this cycle 6 times or more. The benefits of Interval Training are numerous:

  • It’s more effective in less time
  • It burns more calories during and after workout
  • It builds up your endurance faster
Posted on Leave a comment

How To Evaluate A Personal Trainer

When seeking a personal trainer, it is necessary for the public to educate themselves on how to interview the right person for the job. While there are many certified personal trainers out there, only a select few of them are truly competent. You should always ask and verify where their certification is from and what their credentials are. There are different types and levels of training certifications, only a handful of them are good. Most tests are multiple choice questions that are moderately difficult and some others require some essay or program design but are usually easy. A few of the certifications allow the trainer to take the test at home unsupervised. You should also not be fooled by a college degree. There are colleges out there teaching old cookie cutter information. More times than not these college programs do not create an environment that requires the trainer to demonstrate text book principles in an actual real life situation. What you need to look at is the continuing education courses the trainers have taken and how often they attend seminars. It is the seminars and practical workshops that make a trainer more knowledgeable.

It is difficult for the public to decipher a good trainer from a bad one. In many cases, even the worst trainer knows more about physical fitness than the average person. Below are some fundamental questions that should be asked before making your choice. They are designed to save you from choosing a bad apple.

  • What certifications or degrees do they hold?
  • Do they attend workshops and seminars? Which ones?
  • How long have they been a trainer and where have they worked?
  • How thorough was your evaluation? Did they do a medical history and test flexibility, balance, core strength, proprioception, muscle strength and endurance?
  • Are they familiar with functional training (training according to daily activities or a specific goal)?
  • Have they explained the importance of flexibility?
  • Do they stress how important it is to properly brace the core and preserve the lumbar spine?
  • Do they know what P.N.F(Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching is?
  • Have they explained that function is more important than vanity?
  • Can they explain what they are going to do in the routine and how it benefits you?
  • Did they explain that cardio alone is an inefficient workout?
  • Do they have a basic understanding of nutrition?

If you already have a trainer you can evaluate them:

  • Does your trainer understand that a core routine is not a series of floor exercises?
  • Do they understand current research that proves traditional sit ups, leg raises and many of the common exercises that flex the spine can actually be harmful even for healthy people?
  • Are you doing more free weights and medicine balls than machines?
  • Do they ever take notes?
  • Are you being properly warmed up at the beginning and being stretched at the end?
  • Does your trainer change the routine periodically?
  • Does you trainer incorporate balance boards, swiss balls, single leg exercises and other challenged environments?
  • When training the core (midsection) does your trainer explain how important it is to do dynamic multiplantar movements as well as isometric exercises and the importance of low back exercises?
  • Does your trainer target weak areas?
  • If you feel pain in places that you should not like your knees, low back and neck does your trainer change or modify the exercise to a pain free range?
  • Do you truly understand what you are doing while you train?
  • Are you really getting results?
  • Do you do more back exercises than chest and abs?
  • Are you setting goals?
  • Are you talking about you and your needs?
  • Are you getting undivided attention?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then your trainer may be lacking key knowledge that is necessary for you to reach your fitness goals. More importantly, your trainer may be doing you more harm than good. It is simple for a trainer to deceive an unsuspecting client into believing they are knowledgeable. This is due to the general public not being educated about the fitness industry and trusting a gym will provide them with a competent trainer. In most cases, gyms are not always concerned with the quality of the people they are hiring. If a gym thinks a trainer possesses strong sales skills, they will hire them as long as they have some type of certification. A qualified fitness professional will understand at the very least everything listed above. Remember when hiring a trainer to make sure they are a full time professional. Part time does not cut it when it comes to your health. Would you go to a part time Medical Doctor?
Be aware of trainers that are charging low rates. The going rate for a high level trainer in a gym like Equinox or New York Sports Club is around $85-$90/hr. Even their entry level trainers are $65-$70/hr and they are newly certified if that and have little or no experience. There are other gyms that charge way more than the rates just mentioned. In homes for a high level professional trainer are around $125 and can be more. You may be able to get a really good trainer for $90-$100 depending on travel time, trainers charging much less are either just starting out, not that good or a close friend. You get what you pay for. It is important you research the trainers’ certification and check to make sure they are currently certified by multiple accredited agencies.
It is important to understand that certifications and degrees are important but do not mean everything. You want to know about their clinical experience and the workshops they attend. Ask who they work with and get at least three references to call from current clients. See if they work with any local doctors, all the good trainers work with at least one doctor. Also see if they have written any articles. A bad trainer can hurt you, do your research and make sure they are experienced.
Charles DeFrancesco

Posted on Leave a comment

Guidelines For Dining Out

  • Eat a healthy snack before going out to dinner, so you do not arrive at the restaurant famished and then overeat.
  • Drink a glass of water before the meal and continue drinking water throughout the meal.
  • Do not eat the bread on the table before the meal. Request that it is removed from the table or place it out of arm’s reach.
  • To start the meal, order a salad (with non-creamy dressing on the side) or a broth soup.
  • Do not order fried or breaded foods.
  • Share your appetizer or entrée with a friend. Alternatively, cut your portion in half and ask for the second half to be brought home in a doggie bag.
  • Ask for extra vegetables instead of rice or potato.
  • Ask questions about how items are prepared. Choose foods that are baked, broiled, roasted, poached, grilled or steamed.  Stay away from items that are sautéed, cooked with cream or butter, scalloped, au gratin, Alfredo, or batter dipped.
  • All sauces and condiments should be ordered on the side.
  • Reduce the amount of cheese in the meal.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. If you are drinking, make sure to drink plenty of water with a goal of 2 glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage.
  • Avoid high calorie desserts. If you must eat dessert, try the “three bite rule.”
  • Avoid buffets.
  • For lunch, choose whole-grain or whole wheat bread. Choose lower calorie meats, like turkey, chicken, and lean cuts of ham and roast beef.  Ask for less meat and more vegetables.  Use mustard, vinegar and low fat dressings rather than mayonnaise and oil.  If you must have cheese on your sandwich, limit it to only one slice.
  • For breakfast, choose Greek yogurt, oatmeal, eggs/egg whites/egg substitutes, non-sugar-high fiber cereals, fruit, and protein shakes. When splurging, remember that pancakes with syrup have one third less fat that French toast or a Belgian waffle with whipped cream and fruit.

Chinese Food

  • Drink tea to feel full sooner and slow down your meal.
  • If available, choose a lunch-sized portion.
  • Choose a soup as an appetizer. Egg drop soup and hot and sour soup are about 100 calories/cup. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and select fruits and vegetables with a wide variety of colors.
  • Select a chicken, shrimp or vegetable dish instead of a noodle or rice dish.
  • Ask for brown rice instead of white or fried rice.
  • Ask for twice as much veggies and half as much meat in your entrée.
  • Order steamed dumplings rather than fried.
  • Don’t eat the fried noodles!!!

Italian Food

  • Avoid the breadbasket, especially the garlic bread.
  • For appetizers, choose minestrone, insalata, bruschetta, and roasted peppers.
  • Select marsala, arrabiata and piccata entrees instead of scaloppini, pesto, or parmigiana. Avoid casseroles and cream filled pastas.
  • Limit the cheese.
  • When ordering pasta, only eat half. Choose marinara-based pasta dishes or red or white clam sauce.


  • Go light on the cheese. Do not add extra cheese!
  • Ask for vegetables toppings.
  • Choose a thin crust when possible.
  • Choose pizza with red sauce instead of cream sauces.

Mexican Food

  • Watch your sour cream, guacamole, and cheese.
  • Limit fried tortilla chips and nibble on tortillas instead.
  • Use salsa, which counts as one serving of vegetables.
Posted on Leave a comment

The Negative Effects of Gatorade

Gatorade has long been a popular sports drink, especially for kids. It is marketed as an electrolyte replacement drink for athletes. Electrolytes are substances that contain free ions and conduct electricity1. In the human body, electrolytes are responsible for regulating nerve and muscle function, blood pH, hydration, blood pressure, and damaged tissue repair1. Some examples of electrolytes that are in our bodies are sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride1. The levels of electrolytes in our blood change when water levels in our body change, for example, during altered hydration status1. When we sweat, we lose mostly sodium and potassium, and they must be replaced in order to maintain the proper balance in our bodies1. According to ACSM, two pounds of sweat contain an average of 800 mg of sodium (ranges between 200-1600 mg) and 200 mg of potassium (ranges between 120—600 mg)2.

Gatorade has three different lines of sports drinks: G2, Gatorade Protein Recover, and Gatorade Thirst Quencher. All Gatorade products have a list of difficult-to-pronounce-ingredients, and many of these ingredients are forms of sugar or artificial sweeteners. In fact, sugar is the second ingredient after water; the ingredient list on a food label lists the ingredients in descending order of prominence and weight. Therefore, Gatorade products are mostly sugar and water. In fact, Gatorade Thirst Quencher has a whopping 14 g of sugar, coming mostly from sucrose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup. “The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance come from added sugars. For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day and no more than 150 per day for men (or about 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men)3.” This is about 24g of sugar for women and 36g of sugar for men.

Excessive sugar in the diet can be very bad for your health, and it is important to try to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet. Sugar that is naturally occurring in fruit and milk is perfectly fine; it is the added sugars that need to be decreased. Consumers need to beware because sugars are hidden in many different kinds of foods, such as salad dressings and crackers4.

One negative consequence of excessive sugar intake is weight gain and obesity. Sugar is very calorie dense, and as stated before, it is added to numerous foods and drinks4. Additionally, eating a lot of sugary foods displaces more nutritious foods in the diet, and these foods don’t provide the same satiety as healthful foods, and therefore cause overeating4. A second issue with added sugars is that they increase the risk for higher triglycerides, lower HDL, and higher HDL, which contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease4. Lastly, sugar contributes to tooth decay4.

The G2 line of Gatorade has fewer calories and less sugar; but it does have sugar alcohols instead. Sugar alcohols are a type of reduced-calorie sweetener5 that provides fewer calories than regular sugar. They do increase blood sugar levels, but less dramatically than regular sugar5. On a positive note, they do not cause tooth decay. Sugar alcohols can have some negative GI side effects, such as bloating and diarrhea6

Another huge problem with Gatorade is the amount of food additives and colorings added to the products. For example, one additive is monopotassium phosphate, which is not only used as a food additive, but also a as a fertilizer and fungicide7. It is a bit scary to be ingesting an ingredient used to fertilize plants. Additionally some flavors of Gatorade contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a food additive used as an emulsifier in drinks with citrus flavoring10. Bromine – part of BVO – is an element found in flame retardants9! Some research shows that it may build up in the body leading to thyroid problems, memory loss, and skin and nerve problems9. It has been banned in Japan and Europe10. In January 2013, Pepsico announced they had plans to remove BVO from Gatorade; however, there are no current plans to remove it from Mountain Dew10.

Gatorade is also filled with many food coloring, such as blue 1 and red 40. Many studies have showed a link between children and hyperactivity due to food additives11. In fact, 35 years of research has shown that many children with ADHD show significant improvement in their symptoms when they eliminate artificial food colors from their diet12.

Many popular athletes endorse Gatorade and some may use it to replace electrolytes during sporting events and training. Gatorade isn’t completely bad; it does replace sodium and potassium and help restore electrolyte balance and hydration status. Athletes are paid to endorse products, and they may not do their due diligence to find better and healthier alternatives.

A Better Alternative:
If you are looking for an electrolyte replacement drink, there are better alternatives available. Thorne Performance, a line of supplements geared towards athletes and their needs, has created, Catalyte, an electrolyte and energy restoration complex. Catalyte is all-natural and does not contain calories, sugar, additives, or caffeine. It is also gluten and soy free. Catalyte comes in a lemon lime flavor and the product is easy to mix. In fact, the Catalyte powder formula contains vitamins and minerals that, when mixed with pure water, makes a tasty electrolyte supplement that helps repair and rebuild muscle.

You can learn more about Catalyte and other Thorne Performance products on our website Again, there are other good products on the market, but Pure Fitness believes in the quality of the products at Thorne.4›

Denise Groothuis, MS, RD

Posted on Leave a comment

Pain Related to daily Activities

Our daily activities can actually cause muscle imbalances. No matter your line of work, you probably have some type of routine, repetitive activities. This can overwork some muscles and under-work others and is one reason many people often say, “I do not know how this happened. One day I felt pain but I’ve never had an injury.”

The body is a balanced system of levers and disrupting that balance can put joints at a mechanical disadvantage, causing unnatural and inefficient movements. The muscles that work harder tighten while the opposite weaker muscles lengthen causing impingement of joint spaces and other joint irregularities. This extra wear on the joints and ligaments can also cause arthritis, bulging disks and even tiny fractures in the spine. For example, an office worker who sits incorrectly all day with chin forward, shoulders rounded and leaning over toward the computer will likely have anterior shoulder, low back and neck pain. Think about the amount of times you get up and down in one day. If you are doing so incorrectly the force on your spine eventually will cause some type of break down. This postural distortion eventually can cause all sorts of problems such as pain, poor sleep, scar tissue build up and muscle atrophy, just to name a few. The problem is people go to the doctor and take medication for pain and are told to do routine, impersonal everyday exercises.

Unfortunately, medication can often be a mask that only exaggerates the problem and introduces new side effects. And general, routine exercises don’t fit every person. People have different lifestyles and do different things. One person may have back pain due to a hip dysfunction while another may have a thoracic issue so exercises need to be tailored to the individual.

An effective exercise prescription needs to not only consider your job but your daily activities and workout routine. Did you know stretching alone can alleviate most basic everyday complaints? Exercise and stretching related to daily activities can benefit any person because if you feel better at work you will perform better. If a job is stressful it can actually cause tension in the neck and back, and pain from tight muscles can trigger stress and thus the start of a cycle.
Charles DeFrancesco

Posted on Leave a comment

What Makes Up the Core

The foundation of your core is much more than just your abdominal muscles. It includes muscles that lie deep within your torso, right up to your neck, and your shoulders.  The core includes the following structures:

  •      Multifidus –A very deep muscle that runs from the neck (C3) to the lumbar spine (L5). Approximately two thirds of the static support in your back is produced through contraction of the Multifidus muscle.
  •      Interspinales, Intertransversarii, Rotatores – Deep structures that attach directly to the spinal column. These are very important for rotatory motion and lateral stability.
  •      Internal/External Obliques & Transversus Abdominis –These structures transmit a compressive force, and act to increase intra-abdominal pressure that stabilizes the lumbar spine.
  •      Erector Spinae – These muscles help to balance all the forces involved in spinal flexion.
  •      Quadratus Lumborum – This muscle stabilizes the  12th rib during respiration and laterally flexes the trunk.
  •      Thoracolumbar Fascia – This area supplies tensile support to the lumbar spine, and is used for load transfer throughout the lumbar region.

These muscles connect to the spine, pelvis, and shoulders to create a solid foundation of support.  When these core muscles are strong, flexible, and move freely, then the athlete is able to generate controlled, powerful movements in his/her arms and legs.

Imbalances Weaken Your Core

Training long hours does not guarantee that you have core stability.  In fact, spending too much time working within one plane of motion often creates core imbalances.  Add these imbalances to stresses caused by poor posture during running, and the repetitive motions of swimming, and you have an equation for the development of a weak core.

Often the athlete tries to correct these imbalances by heading to the gym to strengthen weakened areas.  Unfortunately, since many weight machines only work through one plane of motion (usually sagittal), these strengthening exercises only reinforce core instability.

Imbalances Affect Performance and Lead to Injury

Optimum posture is based on the attainment of a balance between primary muscle movers and their opposing muscles.  This is referred to as a force coupled relationship – when muscles act in opposition to each other to create a movement.  An imbalance is created when one muscle group is overworked in comparison to its opposing structure.

Most cyclists focus on their hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteals and forget about the importance of core stability.

Consider how many hours the triathelete spends bent over in a flexed position on the aero bars, with no rotational or side bending motions. A strong core is needed to counter-balance these forces.

With a focus on the core, a cyclist can generate more power and can sustain a higher level of intensity for longer periods.

A stronger core also means less stress on the primary muscle movers and a delay in the build up of lactic acid.

Even minor changes such as brake position can affect core stability.

  • If the brake handle position is too low, the cyclist is forced to reach too far forward with their forearms.
  • This reaching position forces the cyclist to raise their head forcing the pelvic girdle posterior. This position cause a restriction in several key muscles in the core, thus reducing performance.
  • The ideal position for the forearms is to have the elbows bent and the forearms flattened out. In this position, the cyclist head drops into a more comfortable aerodynamic position, and the pelvis tilts forward. In this position, the cyclist is able to use all the core muscles with improved efficiency

Following the Kinetic Chain

Consider how the chronic shortening of just one muscle can affect performance and cause injuries.  There are multitude of different muscle groups we could focus on, but for our example we will chose the rectus abdominus muscle.

rectus abdominus is often shortened by doing crunches, hanging leg raises, or by spending an excessive amount of time bent over the aero bars.

The rectus abdominus attaches from the fifth to the seventh ribs.  As this muscle shortens, it has the effect of:

  •  Pulling the chest down and moving the shoulders and head forward.
  •  As the shoulders move forward, the arms and hands move inward (also called medial rotation).

If we follow the kinetic chain, what started as a shortening of an abdominal structures ends up affecting posture, shoulder rotation, arm position, and even the positioning of the hands.


Now consider how a shortened rectus abdominus affects a triatheletes performance during running. Although opinions about the ‘ideal running form’ vary greatly, most authorities will agree that the less energy you expend, the more effective your running style.

The following table illustrates how an imbalance in the rectus abdominus decreases the runners ability to run efficiently.

Common running recommendations
(Runners World Online)
How a shortened rectus abdominus affects your running
Run upright. Your back should be straight, roughly at a 90-degree angle to the ground.

Look straight ahead. Your eyes should be focused straight down the road on a point moving about 10 meters in front of you. This helps to keep you in a straight line.

Swing your arms naturally. The angle at the elbow between your upper and lower arms should be about 90 degrees. Your hands should be loosely cupped, about belly level.

A shortened rectus abdominus will pull the runners posture forward. This causes a braking action that reduces running economy.

As the rectus is shortened, it pulls the chest forward and pushes the head down.  In order to look straight ahead as instructed, the athlete wastes a considerable amount of force in trying to overcome the contracted rectus abdominus.

As the shoulders move forward, a shortened rectus abdominus causes the arms to rotate internally. This makes keeping your arms relaxed at the recommended 90-degree angle much more difficult, again reducing running economy.

This is only one example. When performing a biomechanical analysis, it is very common to see numerous imbalances of which the athlete is completely unaware.


Posted on Leave a comment

Protein in Your Diet

Proteins are complex organic compounds. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids.

Every cell in the human body contains protein. It is a major part of the skin, muscles, organs, and glands. Protein is also found in all body fluids, except bile and urine.

You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.

Food Sources
Protein-containing foods are grouped as either complete or incomplete proteins.

Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. Complete proteins are found in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products such as yogurt and cheese. Soybeans are the only plant protein considered to be a complete protein.

Incomplete proteins lack one or more of the essential amino acids. Sources of incomplete protein include beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and grain. A small amount of incomplete protein is also found in vegetables.

Plant proteins can be combined to provide all of the essential amino acids and form a complete protein. Examples of combined, complete plant proteins are rice and beans, wheat cereal, and corn and beans.

Side Effects
A diet high in meat can contribute to high cholesterol levels or other diseases such as gout. A high-protein diet may also put a strain on the kidneys.

A nutritionally balanced diet provides adequate protein. Protein supplements are rarely needed by healthy people.

Vegetarians are able to get adequate amounts of essential amino by eating a variety of plant proteins.

The amount of recommended daily protein depends upon your age and health. Two to three servings of protein-rich food will meet the daily needs of most adults.

Posted on Leave a comment

Eating for Energy

By: Amy Bell

The foods we eat have a direct impact on our overall energy.

Think about how you feel after having certain foods.

A greasy fast food meal more than likely leaves you tired, sluggish, and possibly feeling guilty, while a meal full of complex carbohydrates, healthy protein and fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables leaves a person feeling satisfied and energized. Continue reading Eating for Energy