Monthly Archives: December 2007

More Functional Nonsense

My friend Nick Matheson alerted me to this article. It’s long winded, but what’s worse it’s dead wrong.

The article is a compilation of a bunch of opinions by a few fitness experts who contend that training on exercise machines is dangerous, useless and nonfunctional.

Here we go again….

But, a snowstorm (literally) is upon me so I must vamoose rapido from my Catskill hideaway. (The snowfall is quite beautiful.)

I’ve got about an hour of hard snow shoveling infront of me – something my nonfunctional, machine based muscles will endeavor to achieve.

More on this tomorrow!

Calling All Athletes – Stop Your Stretching!

As you all know by now I’m big on the science of exercise. (I like to say The Science).

Recently I came across this paper on stretching given to me by our master instructor Eugene Thong. I strongly believe that all coaches, trainers and especially power athletes should read it.

Here’s a snippet:

"The chief function of tendon structures is to transfer force produced by the contractile component to the joint and/or bone connected in series. A stiff tendon will be advantageous for performing brisk, accurate movements because it affects rapid tension changes (20). Inversely, if stretching has the effect of changing tendon structures to be more compliant, it will lead to a lower rate of force production and/or a delay of muscle activation."

Yet, all you see on TV and on the field are athletes (who need to perform brisk, quick and rapid movements) stretching – sometimes for an hour or more.

What this study found was that the tendon, not the muscle, experienced lowered viscosity and greater extendibility from stretching. The researchers stated that:

"From the standpoint of preventing athletic injuries, however, we can say that stretching and the subsequent decrease in stiffness diminish the imposed load across the muscle-tendon junction during rapid movements."

They imply here that stretching reduces the chance of injury. I beg to differ. The tendons are the anchors of the muscle to the bone. It’s probably not a good idea to make your anchors looser and less compliant.  Though it might diminish the imposed load, at what cost? (And I don’t see how this is possible anyway – the load is the load). A tendon is roughly 400% stronger than the muscle it is attached to (according to the info at the BODIES exhibition).


They are strengthened with proper weight training techniques using heavy loads for lower repetition times. I say that causing a tendon to be more compliant increases risk of injury! (See my blog post My Achin’ Yanks)

Something to think about if you’re an athlete.

My Magic Wand of Strength

A while back (1991 in fact) I worked as a physical therapy aide in the new sports medicine center at The Hospital For Joint Diseases.

I was (and am) a certified trainer supervising all of the exercise programs for the physical therapists. HJD is, incidentally, where I began developing the Slow Burn system of strength training which was born out of many different slow systems and traditional strengthening programs.

One day as I was putting a senior through an intense (for her) strength workout. One of the therapists took me aside and said: "What are you trying to do to her – turn her into Arnold?"

I paused for a moment and replied: "Yes, I am."

Think of how much money this country (the world in fact) would save in rehabilitative health care costs if I had a magic wand of strength. I would wave my strength wand and ZAPPO! every frail senior who uses a cane, a walker, is in a wheel chair due to frailty, etc. would suddenly become robust and vital. They’d toss their canes, abandon their walkers and pop up out of their wheelchairs to enjoy their newfound independence. And they’d be happier.

But alas, we don’t have a magic wand of strength.

Or do we?


Putting seniors on treadmills is a waste of their time. Placing them on a cycle when they could be in the leg press machine is a sin. Sticking them in a chair and having them spin some little hand held twisty thing is a crime. 

Seniors need strength since after all it’s what they’ve lost.

I am amazed and saddened at how few therapists and doctors know or understand this.

Cindy asks…

Cindy emailed me the following query:

"I keep hearing people say that you need to replenish carbs after exercising (all kinds) and the "snacks" that are recommended are very (in my opinion) high carb, mostly pure carbs, and frequently high glycemic and highly processed."

You bet they are. And don’t eat ’em.

The fact is this: A good high intensity workout should take 30 minutes tops. You don’t really use all that much sugar in that 30 minutes. After the workout, say a half hour later, just eat a healthy meal that is mainly fat and protein. A protein drink with some fruit in it is a good thing.

I asked a friend Dr. Larry McCleary a brilliant physician who masterminded (with Dr. Eades) the production of our Slow Burn Recovery Drink product (now defunct unfortunately) how many grams of carbs should be ingested after a strength workout and he said:

"As you well know, GH (growth hormone) is sensitive to carbs and I really have no way to be objective about the ‘best’ number of carbs for the transport effect.  Right after a workout muscle is very sensitive to insulin so it’s probably not too many.  From my reading, time and glucose spike are important.  So I would guess 10-20 g of glucose within 15 minutes of working the muscle.  Refined carbs are not good in those who are couch potatoes, but after an intense workout you are basically manipulating the physiology to enhance protein transport."

I’d listen to Dr. McCleary long before believing the muscle heads and other so-called experts.

Cindy also said:

"I’d also like to hear, if you have any info, on what people following very low carb should do, once they adapt to the low carb lifestyle. I have a protein shake most days, very low carb (<5g/serving) and fat (<2-3g/serving) and fairly high protein (25g/serving), to which I usually add cream to up the fat a bit. If I exercise right before a meal, I simply have my regular meal without adding any additional carbs (usually 10-12g or less per meal). Other than the first few days of induction level, I’ve never had a problem with exercise intolerance, running out of steam, etc. (granted, I’m not a runner or high intensity exerciser….I walk or ride a bike and do weights). "

I’d say: "Keep it up!" Once you adapt, you adapt and then just keep on truckin’ (as they used to say in the 70’s).

To everyone: Feel free to ask questions and I will address them directly on this blog.

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