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Muscle Preservation and Fat Loss

NY Times on Fat Loss

One of the adverse effects of diets is the loss of muscle that accompanies a reduction of body fat.  Muscle is the metabolic engine, injury preventative armor, and longevity enhancing elixir of human biology.  Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times has written an enlightening *article on the best method of losing body fat while holding onto valuable muscle.  The recent research reveals that a program of strength training produces optimal fat loss with significantly less muscle wasting.  Long slow distance exercise combined with caloric restriction accelerates muscle loss.  Your choice of exercise activity can have a profound impact on your physical performance and health.  Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/15/well/move/to-maintain-muscle-and-lose-fat-as-you-age-add-weights.html?_r=0.

After the age of 25, the average American gains a pound of fat and loses a ½ pound of muscle every year.  If no action in taken to reverse this trend, the average American will have gained 25-30 pounds of fat and shed 12-15 pounds of muscle by the time they reach 55 years of age.  This 55 year old will stand on the scale 12 to 18 pounds heavier, but the true alteration in body composition is far more dramatic.

America does not have “an obesity epidemic”, it has a “muscle atrophy epidemic”.  We are not so much over fat as we are under muscled.  The simplistic notion of “losing weight” fails to improve health because it accelerates muscle loss.  Middle age muscle loss is the catalyst for many of the illnesses that plague us later in life.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

*To Maintain Muscle and Lose Fat as Your Age, Add Weights, Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, November 15, 2017

Biomarker Reminder

Drs. Evans and Rosenburg are Tufts University researchers interested in the measurable parameters that keep humans healthy and fit over an entire life span.  They have determined that the top four biomarkers are:

  1. Muscle Mass.  The percentage of your body that is made of muscle.
  2. Strength.  Can you use that muscle to push, pull, lift and carry.
  3. Basal Metabolic Rate.  The number of calories your body expends at rest.
  4. Body fat Percentage.  What percentage of your body is composed of fat.

The authors named these top four biomarkers, the decisive tetrad.  They are the prerequisites to maintaining healthy numbers in all of the other essential biomarkers.

  1. Aerobic Capacity
  2. Blood Sugar Tolerance
  3. Cholesterol / HDL ratio
  4. Blood Pressure
  5. Bone Density
  6. Internal Body Temperature Regulation

Drs. Evans and Rosenburg coined the term age related sarcopenia in their 1991 book Biomarkers.  It refers to the gradual loss of muscle mass that occurs as we age.  The keys to aging well, staying durable–no injuries, and maintaining control of all health parameters is maintaining or improving muscle mass / strength and eating properly.  An ongoing program of strength training and nutritional discipline are the foremost components of fitness and health.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Discover the difference between muscle soreness following exercise activity and pain you should be concerned about in “Do I Have A Problem?”.  Jeff Tirrell gives advice for women on optimizing performance  and Mike O’Hara discusses training priorities for those over forty.

Download Here

Less Is More

Understanding The Requirements Of Rest

The weight room at my high school was small and had only basic equipment.  It consisted of two Olympic weight sets, some mismatched dumbbells, a squat rack, and a chin up bar.  In the gym, we had a pegboard and a rope for climbing.  No bench press, curl bar, or pulldown machine.  It was the ultimate blessing in disguise.  We did not have the temptation of exercise variety for variety’s sake.  What we did have was solid instruction on basic lifts.  We performed the same exercises repeatedly and became more proficient at squats, hang cleans, overhead presses, and pull ups.  Four simple activities performed consistently with an effort to add weight to the bar on a regular basis.  The results were magic.

The television fitness gurus have brought forth the latest craze of “muscle confusion”.  You change your exercise activity often in an attempt to stimulate a greater adaptation response.  The problem is that you never get the chance to practice the exercise long enough or with enough resistance to get stronger.  Getting stronger is the performance parameter that preserves muscle mass, speeds up your metabolism, and makes you more durable–less likely to get hurt.

I never want any of my muscles, nerves, joints, or any other part of my body to be “confused” when training.  I want the bodies of the athletes I train to perform better at every session.  My suggestion is that you pick five or six exercises and set a goal of getting better at each of them over the next six months.  The exercises you chose do not have to be a barbell or dumbbell exercise.  Bodyweight exercises will work just as well and are a better choice for most fitness clients.  Keep a record of your performance and work on improving the number of inverted rows, pull ups, or push ups you can perform.  Single leg strength training is a good choice for nearly everyone and works wonders for athletes. Athletes should choose exercises that not only improve strength, but also mobility—front squats.  Long term dedication to the mastery of an exercise will reward you with better body composition, enhanced mobility, less pain, and the strength you need to perform in athletics and daily activities.

This training approach requires mental toughness and a willingness to at times be bored.  Toughen up and get after the challenge.  Read this recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “We Need To Relax Like Roger Federer”.   Better yet, go out and buy the book Starting Strength.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

A Plea For Your Knee

In our physical therapy clinics, we treat patients with knee pain on a daily basis.  It has become more common to train younger clients with a history of knee injury and ongoing knee pain.  Jane Brody’s recent *article in the New York Times has some excellent advice on the care and management of knee pain problems.  I have some further suggestions and clarifications.

Less Mass

The mass portion of the Force = Mass x Acceleration formula needs to be at an appropriate level for your knees to stay healthy.  Carrying extra body fat creates an environment that invites knee wear and tear.  The common knee pulverizing mistake is to perform high impact exercise activities in an effort to lose fat.  If you are twenty pounds overweight, do not run, stadium step, soccer, tennis, or pickleball.  Start with strength training and low impact cardio.  Lose the fat first, and even then, the lower impact activity will be healthier for your knees.  From the overweight client limping into the clinic I get the “I need to move around to lose weight” protest.  I am sorry, but fat loss is primarily a function of dietary alteration.  Exercise has very little impact on body fat levels if you do not eat properly.

Train the Way You Wish to Play

A properly planned fitness program makes your knees more durable (fewer injuries) when you participate in your favorite recreational activity.  The training must be tailored to your activity goals.  If your goal is to play tennis, then you must perform three dimensional deceleration / acceleration activities as part of your training program.  Yoga will not prepare your knees for tennis.  If you want to water ski, then you must perform strength training for your back, hips, and knees.  Distance running will not prepare your knees for water skiing.  If hockey is your recreational past time, you need to be strong, well conditioned and competent in all planes of motion.  Long duration recliner intervals will not prepare your knees for hockey.

Look Above

If your hips do not move well, your knees will pay the price.  In this age of all day sitting and minimal physical activity, hip function is at an all time low.  Physical therapy patients with knee pain nearly always present with glaring restrictions in hip range of motion and strength.  If your knees hurt, dedicate some training time to restoring hip rotation and hip extension movement.  Learn how to perform some remedial gluteal activation drills.  Learn a proper hip hinge, squat and a pain free lunge pattern.

Think First

Participation in a single inappropriate activity can produce a lifetime of knee trouble.  That box jump workout of the day- maybe not.  The warrior, electric shock, mud hole, death run–bad idea.  Trampoline with the grandchildren–what were you thinking!

Be Proactive and Seek Treatment For Knee Pain

“Training through the pain” can take a graceful athlete and turn them into a lifelong speed limper.  The presence of pain changes the way your brain controls movement.  Left untreated, it can permanently alter neural signals and produce movement patterns that linger long after the pain has resolved.  Live with enough cycles of inefficient movement and you develop early breakdown in the knee.

Michael O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

*What I Wished I’d Known About My Knees, Jane Brody, New York Times. July 3, 2017

Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/well/live/what-i-wish-id-known-about-my-knees.html?_r=0

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#10–Establish A Veggie And Protein Habit

One of the biggest deficits I see in many food logs is the lack of protein consumed.  We have been conditioned to snack on high carb/highly processed food, so eating more protein can be a difficult shift.  When I do see protein, it’s in the higher fat varieties of sausage, bacon, burgers, etc.  It would benefit younger individuals to start adding healthy doses of protein to their diets as soon as they are responsible for their own food preparation.  Shoot to have some form of lean protein as the base of your meal along with a couple of servings of vegetables. Once you have that base (taking up ½ to ⅔ of your plate), then you can add in whole grains, starchy carbs, fruits, dairy, healthy fats, etc.  Protein increases your metabolic rate more than any other nutrient, aids in recovery, helps build and maintain muscle mass, and much more.  We recommend 25-35% of total calories to come from protein, or 0.8-1gram/pound of body weight.  Most individuals should shoot for 4-8 servings of vegetables per day as well.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#9–Build Muscle

Much like strength, muscle mass is often not prioritized until it is largely too late.  Though you can still build muscle at an older age, it is much more difficult.  Muscle mass is highly correlated with strength which is correlated with power.  All of these tend to decline substantially at around age 30.  If you take advantage of your hormonal environment and your recovery abilities in your 20’s, you can stockpile a good amount of muscle for the rest of your life so that you can keep doing everything you want as you age.  More muscle also means a better and healthier metabolism which means less accumulation of unwanted body fat and overall better health. The best way to build muscle mass is through resistance training with gradual increases to volume (weight x reps x sets) over time along with a moderate to high protein intake.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#8—Eliminate Liquid Calories

One of the easiest ways to improve nutrition is to eliminate liquid calories from the diet.  Liquid calories for young people can come in many forms including coffee drinks, alcohol, pop, smoothies, juice, energy drinks, etc.  Most of these items offer very little nutritional benefit, are highly correlated with increased body fat, and don’t cause the same amount of satiety (feeling of fullness) of their calorie matched food equivalents.  Over the last decade working with individuals on their nutrition, I have seen magical transformations simply by eliminating calories you can drink.  Rather than wait for the body fat to pile on and your insulin sensitivity to be shot, avoid this pitfall early in life.  Opt instead for more water, plain tea, or diet soda if you can’t resist something sweet and fizzy.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#7—Go Easy On Caffeine And Sleep More.

Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States.  We consume it in coffee, tea, pop, energy drinks, and sometimes even in pill form.  We often consume caffeine to help us feel more awake and alert or to elevate our performance.  Often times, this is done in an effort to undo the lethargic effects of inadequate sleep.  Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to caffeine.  These individuals can experience increased heart rate and/or blood pressure which puts extra strain on the cardiovascular system.  All the caffeine in the world will not make up for the poor hormonal profile which results from low levels of sleep and eventually leads to decreased muscle mass and increased fat mass.  In addition, the stimulating effects of caffeine wear off over time and your body requires more and more to create the same effect.  It is far better in your 20’s to establish a sleep and waking routine that allows you to consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  The well-formed habit will then be easier to maintain as you age and adopt a more complicated schedule with work, kids, a spouse, etc.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#5—Get Strong.

Too many people (women in particular) place high priority on being “toned” and, therefore, funnel training time toward aerobic-based cardio activities like jogging, the elliptical, and group aerobics classes.  Any added resistance comes in the way of foam coated dumbbells, weighing less than most purses, for 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps, training primarily muscle endurance.  There are so many problems with this approach, but I will just touch on the most significant.  First, if your goal is to appear “toned,” the best way to get there is to have more muscle and/or less body fat.  The most efficient way to accomplish this goal long term is to build up your strength, so that you can do more work in less time over the coming years and decades.  The more work you can perform, the more calories you will burn, and the easier it will be to keep body fat off.

Secondly, real strength training (when you lift more weight over time) is one of the best tools for maintaining muscle mass, tendon/ligament strength, and bone density.  There is a narrow window in your life, which tends to peak out in your mid to late 20s, when it is significantly easier to build and maintain bone density and accumulate more muscle mass.  These tissues, by and large, need to last you the remaining 6-8 decades of your life so don’t wait to not have them to start thinking about them.

Finally, strength is one of the best tools we have for maintaining a high quality of life and staying out of a nursing home.  It might not be top priority or sound sexy when you are 21, but it will be largely too late when you are 61.

To hear Tom and Barb Doescher’s advice, see the video here: https://youtu.be/ce_n4ZF6HPg

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

 

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

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