How to Get a Bigger Bench Press – The 666 Bench Workout

Every lifter wants to add some serious numbers to their bench press. The bench press, while seeming like a simple exercise, is one of the most technique-heavy movements anyone can do. But this 666 workout is the key to busting through your plateau and making some real gains!

Why is it that whenever I’m in a gym I see people benching the same weight at each workout?  It usually goes like this...

 A person performs a few reps at 185 pounds then at 205, and maybe 225 and then they get stuck.  At this point the individual moves to another exercise, most likely the incline bench, and does the same kind of thing.  You would think that after a year the weight they can bench would be through the roof, but unfortunately they haven’t seen continued improvement because most people don’t know how to maximize their strength training capacity.  They don’t know how to initiate progression. The potential for increasing muscle size just isn’t being met.

Though we, at SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING, have different bench routines for each of our athletes, the one I want to outline here is a favorite because it helps the athlete gain not only strength, but also size.

So, how do you get a bigger Bench press?

Basically the workout consists of 6 sets of 6 reps but with drop sets.  Of course, after finishing this workout, many of our athletes feel like their body has been to hell and back!  

Here’s how the program works from a physiological standpoint.  An important factor to consider when working to increase strength and muscle size is to maximize motor unit activation.  To better understand this, think of your body as containing a pool of motor units. By performing the 666 bench workout, which consists of lifting at, or near, maximum capacity, you would activate almost all of those motor units.  The type of motor units we are aiming to recruit are the “fast twitch” or the type IIb muscle fibers.  Fast twitch fibers are associated with high threshold motor units and are evidenced by power, speed and explosiveness.   SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING encourages their athletes to recruit the fast twitch fibers because this optimizes the most potential for building both strength and size.  And who doesn’t want to have a bigger bench press?

The 666 workout is also an effective tool when used to build up the legs, but for now let’s look at increasing bench performance.

About Tempo: Tempo refers to speed of   movement. The first number represents the speed, in seconds, when lowering the weight or letting it down with gravity. The second number refers to the pause between lowering and raising. The third number refers to the speed of raising the weight.

For an example, look at the chin-up tempo. The tempo is 211; therefore the athlete would lift himself up over the bar in one second, pause for one second and then lower himself for 2 seconds.

For the most efficient workout SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING pairs exercises together.  For instance, you would do A1 immediately followed by A2 as the first pairing, and then repeat until all sets have been completed.  At this point move on to B1 and B2 and follow the same pattern.

Here are a few tips to get a bigger bench press:

Three different grips are used for bench work:  Differing the grip and varying the load, increases muscle tension and motor unit activation. By varying the grip you maximize muscle recruitment thus increasing the potential to build muscle mass.

How the rep scheme is broken down: SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING recommends starting with a weight that is near your maximum ability for one rep. Lift this weight for 2 reps. Wait 15 seconds then use a weight that is 5 to 10% less and perform a single rep at maximum tension.  Repeat with this weight until you have completed 6 reps in total.

Alternate bench work with chin-ups/pull-ups: Research has shown that by working opposite muscle groups overall strength is improved in the most beneficial manner. Perform all 6 reps of chins and pull-ups at the same time with no rest in between reps. When you are able to perform all 6 reps with ease add more weight.

It is important to rest between sets: There is a 15 second rest between reps when doing bench lifts which allows the body to recover and to recruit maximum motor units for every lift.  By lifting in this manner, the athlete is able to tap into the higher threshold motor units.  By using the maximum tension in every lift, you can expect to make tremendous gains in strength and start to build up size. 

This Bench press workout is demanding but the results are well worth the effort.  Perform your workout once every 4 - 5 days for a month and let me know what you think.

Increase your Bench Press by up to 40 lbs in 12 weeks! GUARANTEED

Click Below for your  “Tips to get a bigger bench press!”

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training Inc. and has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports ranging from your Weekend Warrior to the Professional. 

If you would like more information about SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING please visit our website at www.Sst.training

Which Fat Loss Supplements Will Actually Work for Me?

Are you confused as to which supplements actually work for fat loss? We are here to help with a whole series of blogs dedicated to which supplements will actually help you lose fat!

In  part one of our readers blogs, "What fat loss supplements actually work?", we received a great questions regarding Omega 3 for fat loss.

"I keep hearing about good fats and why I should be taking them.  If I took good fats wouldn’t I just become fatter and what are the true benefits?  Also, what are Omega 3 fats? " - Cannon C.

Hey Cannon, the question "Which Fat loss supplements actually work? ", is one that I hear regularly.  First let’s get an understanding of fats.  

Fatty acids can be broken down into two main categories: Saturated and Unsaturated.  These two can be broken down into sub-categories as well, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.  Fatty acids are made up of the number of carbon atoms and hydrogen molecules they can hold.  All fats have a combination of these with one being predominant.  

Fat is necessary for good health. Deficiencies of the so called “Good Fats” can cause health consequences.  Good Fats can be described as Omega 6 or Omega 3.   Omega 6 fats are highly consumed in our diet relative to Omega 3.  The ratio is up to 20:1 whereas it should be more of a 1:1 ratio.

Here at Sports Specific Training, we like to put our athletes on higher dosages of Omega 3 fats.  There are 3 types of Omega 3- ALA (found in flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil and walnuts) Docosahaexaenoic (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) which are found in fish and fish oils.  ALA is essential but does not convert well so I like to recommend fish oils to our athletes. 

Our brains are made up of 60% fat.  DHA is one of the most important fats for the brain and it is sometimes called “brain food”.  All omega 3 fats also help with the anti-inflammatory process of the body as well.  As well, a higher intake of Omega 3 leads to fat loss. 

When losing fat is your priority this is usually the first supplement I add to our athletes’ diets when they come into the Sports Specific Training Centre. 

Fish Oil can have benefits for the body with the following medical problems:

  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Colitis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

As mentioned I prefer a high dose of fish oils for my athletes depending upon their body fat levels – from 9-15 grams per day!  I like to use reputable companies that use higher grade fish oil such as Metagenics, Genestra, Organika, and Life Extension.

I instruct my athletes to take their fish oils with every meal.  A good trick to help avoid burping up fish a taste is to keep them in your freezer.  

Cannon, I hope this helps you understand Which Fat loss supplements actually work.

Good luck with your training and nutrition! 


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What’s Just As Prevalent As The Gender Pay Gap? The Gender Injury Gap!

We are all familiar with the misplays of the month and have all seen just about every way possible to injure yourself or someone else. Based on the amount of televised sport being predominantly male, you might think that sports injuries are more common among male than female athletes.

That may be true for college and NFL football players, since nearly all are male. However, girls and women are actually more prone than men to suffer many of the most common sports-related injuries. There are a variety of reasons for this “gender gap,” but there is much about it that remains uncertain. But the recognition of this gap has led to innovative efforts to prevent injuries among women in sports including but not limited to getting young girls into strength and conditioning programs from an earlier age much like their male counterparts.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main structures in the knee that provides stability under stress. Injuries of this ligament are up to 6 times more common among women than men. A number of other sports-related injuries are also more common among women such as:

  • Ankle sprain. This is one of the most common sports injury, but it’s particularly common among women.
  • Shoulder injuries. Ranging in everything for inflammation/irritation to rotator cuff problems.
  • Knee injuries. These include irritation under the knee cap (called patellofemoral syndrome) and ligament damage (including tears to the ACL), which is especially common among soccer and basketball players.
  • Stress fractures. These are especially common in the foot or lower leg (tibia) among women with the “female athlete triad,” a combination of inadequate calorie and nutrient intake, irregular menstrual periods, and bone loss. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, contribute to this triad.

Keep in mind that theses are only a few of the most common injuries seen and much more research is required.

Why are women more prone to these injuries than men?

We have more theories than answers. The most common explanation is that it’s due to basic differences between the bodies of men and women. For example, the typical female athlete, as compared with her male counterpart, has:

  • higher estrogen levels, along with less muscle mass.
    • greater flexibility (due to looser ligaments).
    • a wider pelvis, which alters the alignment of the knee and ankle
    • a narrower space within the knee for the ACL to travel through.

Some other important factors to consider are the following:

  • Less early access to strength and conditioning programs.
  • Female athletes also tend to have a higher pain threshold and are likely to play through pain and injury.
  • Social pressure to look/act “feminine”

So if you have a daughter or are an athlete yourself, the current research points at three main options in injury prevention.

  1. Early access to strength and conditioning programs and coaching.
  2. Healthier relationships with food. (also results in better nutrition).
  3. More female focused and lead research!

Looking for speed, strength, agility and vertical training? Come in to SST today to find out how we take care of our female athletes!

Our favorite Recovery Techniques for Athletes!

The foundation on which all success is built for any athlete, is strong muscles. Without them, it is impossible for athletes to achieve the highest level of performance in their chosen Sport.

One of the biggest obstacles to improving strength and increasing athletic performance is muscle recovery, the process in which muscles receive nutrients and repair themselves after intense use. While some recovery time will always be necessary for human muscles, there are a few muscle recovery techniques for athletes that are designed to minimize the amount of downtime that the muscles require. This means that an athlete has more time to spend improving their skills at their chosen sport.

Stretching Intensity

Stretching is among the best muscle recovery techniques because it improves the flow of blood to the muscles that are being stretched. In this way, it speeds up the recovery process by allowing the muscles to more readily receive the nutrients they need.

Both static and dynamic stretching are beneficial!

Get Enough Rest

Although many competitive athletes aren’t fond of the idea of limiting their activity, adequately resting muscles that are being worked out is one of the most critical muscle recovery techniques for athletes. When the body is asleep, it goes through several important processes that repair muscle tissue and restores balance to the rest of the body. Sleep is especially important for those athletes who want to improve their muscle mass; some medical specialists believe that a lack of sleep can actually contribute to the loss of muscle mass, based on the hormonal changes that occur while a person is asleep.

Even the most elite athletes in the world do not neglect their sleep. Tennis legend Roger Federer is known to sleep between ten and twelve hours a night, as does basketball star LeBron James. In late 2014 it was reported that NFL quarterback Tom Brady, goes to bed at 8:30 PM each night to make sure he can get enough sleep to wake up early and work on his skills.

Improving Blood Flow

The nutrients contained in the body’s blood are important because they eventually get sent to muscles that are recovering, allowing them to begin the process of restoring muscle fibers to make them stronger than they were before. Without sufficient blood flow, muscles will not receive these important building blocks, ultimately limiting their growth. Some of the muscle recovery techniques for athletes that can help contribute to blood flow include stretching and maintaining a diet of healthy foods that do not contribute to blocked arteries or veins.

Getting a Massage

Many athletes get massages frequently to alleviate tense muscles, so their bodies feel better and don’t give them as much pain. Receiving a massage can be one of the best muscle recovery techniques for athletes because it helps make the biological process of muscle recovery more efficient. In a post on The New York Times’ blog entitled Well, scientific research showed that people who received a massage had lower levels of cytokines, a compound that causes inflammation, and higher levels of mitochondria activity, which helps convert glucose into the energy that is important for cell repair.

Remember, if you are an athlete looking for recovery through massage, you don’t need to go to a professional each and every time. Learning a few different massage techniques and applying them yourself after a workout or competition can help you get many of the great benefits of massage without having to make an appointment with a massage therapist. There are plenty of massage products on the market as well, which are designed to work specific areas.

Drinking Enough Water

Water is important for many of our bodily functions; it is no wonder, when you consider that most scientists agree that the average adult human body is 55 to 60% water. While most athletes already know that staying hydrated is important during performance or training sessions, some may forget that drinking water is one of the best muscle recovery techniques for athletes today. This is because drinking water helps fill up the cells and prevent them from falling victim to protein synthesis. Hydration is also important for facilitating digestion, so that the body can receive all of the nutrients that are needed for proper recovery. Water helps contribute to a healthy digestive process.

The standard suggestion for water consumption each day is 64 ounces or about half a gallon. However, some athletes may need to drink more than that to be adequately hydrated. A good tip for drinking enough water each day is to take a reusable water bottle with you to work or school so that you can space out your water drinking and maintain hydration throughout the day. Use your urine as an indicator of hydration… if its clear then you’re getting enough but if its yellow or dark you need to step it up!

Consuming Coconut Products

Why are coconuts considered valuable to the muscle recovery process? There are a few common reasons why coconut-based drinks and foods have become so popular with today’s athletic community. First, coconut products contain compounds known as medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats that the body can absorb into the bloodstream more easily than other types. This makes it an ideal form of fuel for the muscle recovery process.

Coconut water is becoming a popular alternative to traditional sports drinks for athletes, because of its effectiveness at restoring hydration after a workout. Coconut water contains electrolytes and plenty of potassium, which means that it is one of the best muscle recovery techniques for athletes who want to reduce their downtime between workouts. Many athletes have decided to stop drinking the traditional sports drinks on the market in favor of coconut-based juices and water drinks.

Rolling Your Muscles

Rolling your muscles is a great way to release tension in your body by removing knots in areas like the legs, arms, and sides. This can be done with a specialized foam roller, a medicine ball, or other similar devices that are meant to move easily along the muscles. There are different kinds of techniques employed for muscle rolling depending on the areas and specific muscles that need to be rolled.

When you roll your muscles, it results in better flexibility and less painful movement of the muscles in question, because you break up tightness and knots that cause stiffness and pain. Muscle rolling is one of the great muscle recovery techniques for athletes because it helps restore range of motion and eliminate the tightness and pain that often comes with inflammation as a result of intense competitions or training sessions. Muscle rolling is also a good recovery technique because it gives you more control over the specific areas that you target for recovery, which can provide highly effective relief.

Exercise Boosts Immunity, What to Know About Working Out Right Now, According to Experts.

You know how to protect yourself against the novel coronavirus by now—frequent handwashingsocial distancing, and maintaining a balanced diet to keep your body as healthy as possible. But another important aspect of supporting your overall health can also come in handy right now to boost your immune system: regular exercise. The simple act of moving your body more can provide a powerful tool for fighting infection.

So, how can exercise boost your immune system?

The CDC and WHO still encourage regular exercise—and for good reason. In addition to improving your mental health, a 2019 scientific review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that exercise can improve your immune response, lower illness risk, and reduce inflammation.

The study looked at “acute exercise,” meaning that of moderate to vigorous intensity lasting just under an hour. Study author David Nieman, DrPH, a professor in the department of biology at Appalachian State University and director of the university’s Human Performance Laboratory says that typically, people only have a small number of immune cells circulating around the body. Those cells prefer to hang out in lymphoid tissues and organs like the spleen, where your body kills viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that cause disease.

Because exercise increases blood and lymph flow as your muscles contract, it also increases the circulation of immune cells, making them roam the body at a higher rate and at higher numbers, says Nieman. Specifically, exercise helps to recruit highly specialized immune cells—such as natural killer cells and T cells—find pathogens (like viruses) and wipe them out. In Nieman’s 2019 review, participants who took a 45-minute brisk walk experienced this uptick of immune cells floating around the body for up to three hours after the walk, Nieman explains.

While you do get an immediate response from your immune system when you exercise, that will eventually go away—unless, that is, you keep working out consistently. “If you go out for 45 minutes of exercise the next day, this all happens again,” Nieman says. “It all adds up as time goes on.” In fact, another study from Nieman and his team—this one published in 2011 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine—found that those who exercised five or more days of the week lowered the number of upper respiratory tract infections (like the common cold) over a 12-week period by more than 40%.

Think of the lasting immune effect of exercise like this, Nieman explains: Say you have a housekeeper come over to clean your home for 45 minutes most days of the week. The house will look a lot better on that first day than if someone never came. But the more frequently the housekeeper comes back, the better and cleaner the house will look. “Exercise really is a housekeeping activity, where it helps the immune system patrol the body and detect and evade bacteria and viruses,” Nieman says. So, you can’t necessarily exercise one day here and there and expect to have an illness-clearing immune system. Come back for more movement on the regular, though, and your immune system is better prepared to wipe out sickness-causing germs. This holds up, even as you get older, according to another 2018 review article published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Another benefit of exercise is that it decreases inflammation in the body—which, in turn, can also improve immunity. In fact, some research, like the 2004 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, links decreased levels of inflammatory markers to those that exercise more often and have higher fitness levels. And Nieman says that goes hand-in-hand with immunity. “When immune cells try to function with inflammation, it puts the immune system in a chronically inflamed state too,” he says, which makes it harder to fight infection. To cut down on inflammation, kick up your activity level.

Strength training helps your immune system. Adam Jajtner, PhD, CSCS, assistant professor of exercise science and physiology at Kent State University, who has also studied exercise and the immune response, touts resistance training as a smart strategy for improving immunity. However, he does caution against over-training.

Like all good things in life, science says you can overdo exercise. Pushing yourself too hard for too long can actually put you at higher risk of infection—but you have to go pretty far past that “acute” level of training to experience negative side effects.

For example, most studies that found that extreme exercise can increase risk of illness examined marathon runners, like Nieman’s 1990 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. But Nieman says this negative effect can come into play if you’re running at a high intensity for at least a half-marathon distance or cycling or swimming at a tough pace for about 90 minutes. Any of these longer, more intense activities can cause stress on the body that could lead to lowered immune function. “You put yourself in a stressful state, so your immune system reflects that and leads to dysfunction that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days,” Nieman says. Basically, high-intensity activity for more than an hour might not be the best idea right now if you’re really focusing on keeping your immune system in top shape.

Exactly how long and how hard you can push yourself before you reach that excessive and intense level of exercise ultimately comes down to how well you’re trained, but you might want to focus on maintenance rather than intensity in these pandemic times. “Moderate intensity is the best route right now, but maintaining that activity, in some form or fashion, is going to be key,” Jajtner adds.

Nieman views this pandemic as a golden opportunity to start a regular walking program—a time to nail down the habit of frequent physical activity. While other lifestyle habits like eating fruit, managing stress, and getting quality sleep can also help reduce risk of illness, Nieman says exercise is potentially “the most powerful habit that people can adopt right now as we’re coping with this new and novel virus.”

If you’re super new to exercise (and have your doc’s approval to start a fitness program), Jajtner suggests going out for even just 10 minutes, two to four times a day. Then work on gradually increasing that time. If you’re in a crowded city and have fewer opportunities to get outdoors.

Even if you are exercising, don’t forget that your best defense against getting COVID-19 is limiting your risk of catching it by practicing social-distancing and frequently washing your hands. “Reducing your exposure to the virus is number-one, it rises above everything,” Nieman says. “Social-distancing and good hygiene must always be paramount…but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of everyone being healthy and focusing on good immunity too.”

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data have changed since publication. While we are trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

Sources :Use fitness to your immune system’s advantage—here’s how.By Mallory Creveling, ACE-CPT April 16, 2020

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/20888836_Infectious_episodes_in_runners_before_and_after_the_LA_Marathon

3 Reasons Why Bench Press and Baseball Don’t Mix

Bench Press and Baseball are like Oil and Water; they do not mix.

Working with mainly male, High School and College age, Baseball players, I get a lot of grief about not including Bench Press in programs. Especially, when they see the Football and Hockey players doing it.

When I ask them why they want to bench press so badly I get answers such as; “it’s fun”, “I like lifting heavy” and my personal favourite, “it looks cool”.

It is widely accepted in the baseball world that the reward of getting strong on Bench Press is outweighed by the risk the exercise poses to the shoulders and elbows. My exclusion of Bench Press is not because I want to keep you from ‘looking cool’ at the gym. There are specific and scientifically proven and accepted reasons as to why overhead athletes should avoid this exercise.

Hopefully, this blog will also reach some of the NCAA college programs down south. It BOGGLES my mind when Baseball players in Division 1 Baseball programs come back with Bench Press in their strength programs! No, I am not kidding. It happens…all the time…

Here are 3 reasons Baseball athletes should avoid Bench Press:

  1. It Exacerbates Negative Adaptations Acquired from Throwing

When you throw thousands of baseballs every year there are a few things that typically happen to the body:

  • Increased glenohumeral (shoulder) external rotation
  • Decreased glenohumeral (shoulder) internal rotation
  • Decreased elbow extension
  • Decreased scapular (shoulder blade) upward rotation
  • Decline in the quality of the tissues surrounding the shoulder girdle
  • Abnormal spinal curvature (usually in the thoracic and lumbar areas)
  • Decreased hip mobility

In laymen’s terms:

  • Your shoulder gets loose in the front
  • Tight in the back
  • Elbow doesn’t straighten all the way
  • Your shoulder blade doesn’t move well
  • The tissue around your shoulder is gritty
  • Your spine it hyperextended
  • And your hips don’t move

Not a pretty picture. And how does Bench Press help this situation…

IT DOESN’T!

Bench Press actually causes stresses to the body that are extremely similar to those found during a throwing motion:

  • Spinal extension
  • Scap retraction and depression
  • Humeral (upper arm) movement without scaps
  • Heavy loads placed on the shoulder girdle

In any sport we use the off-season to re-establish proper movement patterns and mobility, give our arm/shoulder time to rest and correct instabilities and dysfunctions. So why would we want to perform an exercise that does not allow this to occur and can actually exacerbate these dysfunctions?!

Much of exercise selection for athletes comes down to a risk vs. reward. Is the reward (strength gains) worth the risk the exercise places on my athletes? When it comes to Baseball players and Bench Press the risk FAR outweighs the benefits.

  1. There is Little Direct Transfer to Playing Baseball

Another factor in exercise selection is specificity to the sport. Does this exercise mimic anything the athlete is doing while they are playing? To decide this we need to look two things:

  1. The plane of movement of the exercise
  2. Where the movement falls on the force-velocity curve.

Research shows us that power development is highly plane-specific. Meaning that many traditional sagittal plane power movements (vertical movements such as; jumps, sprints, cleans, snatches) have little transfer into throwing. Frontal and transverse plane movements (lateral and rotational) have much more correlation (skaters, medball throws and banded rotations). So, while Bench Press may be a great exercises for an athlete in shot put or kayaking it has little use for a Baseball athlete.

Thanks to our hunting ancestors, humans have mastered the throwing motion. And it has been widely recognized that pitching is the fastest articulated motion a human can produce! This puts throwing a ball at the velocity end of the force-velocity curve. It is a very light load moved incredibly fast. Whereas the Bench Press movement is at the other end; a heavy load moved slowly. The movement is too removed from any movement that occurs in Baseball and therefore, will have little impact on performance.

 

  1. The “Meat Head” Factor

Let’s go back to the reason’s my Baseball athletes give for wanting to Bench Press:

  • It’s fun
  • I like to lift heavy
  • It looks cool

People (especially young, hormone driven males) have a tendency to overestimate their strength capabilities while Bench Pressing. I have done it myself and I have seen countless others do it as well.

 

If my number one goal as a Strength Coach is to keep my athletes healthy and second goal is to improve their performance then I need to choose exercises that are going to keep their inner meat head at bay!

Bench Press done with heavy loads and poor technique can put their most prized possession, their shoulder, in a very vulnerable position. Yes, people will argue that any exercise done with high load carries risk. However, a failed rep in a Push-up has less risk than Bench Press. Risk vs. reward!

“So, watch your athletes and make sure they use proper technique”.

Okay, valid point. However, have you ever tried to coach multiple athletes at one time? Even on my best day it is impossible to see EVERYTHING on the gym floor. And any coach that tells you different is lying.

As a coach I have to pick exercises that are self-limiting, safe and effective, whether I am watching them every second or not. This can mean different things for different sports, positions and individuals. Hence, why I may program Bench Press for a Football athlete versus a Baseball athlete. Have I mentioned risk vs. reward yet?!

The exclusion of the bench press in our baseball programs goes beyond “it’s dangerous for your shoulders.” Even if coached and performed perfectly, our athletes won’t get as much transfer from it as they would from other pressing exercises.

Check back for Part 2 of this Blog where we discuss pressing exercises that are much better suited to baseball players and other overhead athletes!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to book your personal training sessions and shake off quarantine!

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 3

We hope this has been a help in your day to day life if not, there are the few more reasons we can explore!

Reason 9. You are not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is a vital for everyone to live a healthy life but did you know that a lack of sleep can actually make you feel hungrier than normal? The two reasons behind this are; cortisol and insulin!

When we do not get enough sleep our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is the hormone associated with the flight-or-fight response, preparing the body to either fight or run. Unfortunately, the body isn’t always smart and it responds to any sort of stress this way; and lack of sleep is a BIG form of stress. To help combat increased cortisol levels the body attempts to self-medicate by craving carbohydrates (sugar). This increases insulin in the blood, which in turn decreases cortisol levels. However, this can become a vicious cycle because insulin is also affected by lack of sleep!

If you are not getting enough sleep each night your body becomes less sensitive to insulin.  Which means that your body becomes less effective in transporting the carbs you eat to your cells so your body has to pump out more insulin to help. However, insulin also regulates our feeling of satiety (feeling full), when levels are high we continue to feel hungry which can cause us to overeat.

How to Change This Habit:

The easiest way to help combat this is to get yourself on a sleep schedule and stick to it! Figure out what time you need to go to bed in order to get a full 8 hours of sleep and make yourself go to bed. This does not mean climb into bed and turn the TV on or pull out your favorite book. When your ‘bedtime’ hits, turn out the lights and put the remote or book away and get to snoozing!

Reason 10. You are Skipping the Veggies

The majority of people do not get the recommended amount of vegetables every day. Vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals required for overall health. Dark leafy greens in particular are rich in vitamin K, which helps to regulates insulin levels. Vitamin K can also increase insulin sensitivity, which makes it easier for your body to utilize sugar from your bloodstream. If you are utilizing the sugar you are eating more efficiently than you will not require more through extra food and this will help you STOP those cravings!

Veggies are some of the rich in fiber and fiber helps slow the digestion of the foods we eat. This in turn helps us feel fuller longer and slows the digestion of sugars so we process it properly, rather than turning it into fat.

How to Change This Habit:

Include more dark green leafy greens in your diet; spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli. As well as other delicious fiber-rich veggies like carrots, celery, and sweet potato.

11. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Lean proteins – chicken, turkey, fish, eggs – Can help combat hunger pangs. Protein takes longer to digest, which means you feel fuller longer and are less likely to reach for that next snack. Protein has also been found in recent studies to have appetitive suppressing effects by prompting the release of hormones that encourage the feeling of being full. Along with helping keep hunger away protein also requires more energy to breakdown than carbohydrates or fat, meaning it burns more calories to digest. Protein also has a positive effect on your metabolism by promoting the growth and regeneration of muscle after working out, muscles burn more calories at rest than adipose tissues (fat).

How to Change This Habit:

Aim to consume about 0.8-1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This means that a 150 person should aim to eat between 100-150g of protein per day (this equates to about 400-600 calories from protein sources each day).

Ideally, protein should be of the lean variety; chicken, eggs, turkey, fish. However, it is really easy to sneak more protein into your diet through vegetarian options – chia seeds and greek yogurt in your smoothie, quinoa in your salad, nut butter in your oatmeal, make hummus from chickpeas and dip veggies. Aim to have a source of protein in every meal and snack.

Reason 12. You’re Bored

Feeling hungry can be as simple as being bored. Studies have shown that boredom actually diminishes our ability to make good and healthy food choices, and we consume more fattening foods than we would normally. Boredom is also the most common reason people give when asked about their emotions prior to consuming food. In other words, boredom turns us into emotional eaters.

How to Change This Habit:

When you are about to eat or snack be conscious of why you are doing so. Ask yourself ‘why am I reaching for this snack’ and be truthful with your answer. If it is because you have nothing else to do then find yourself a task to distract yourself – go for a walk, fold the laundry that has been sitting in the hamper for 2 days, go sit outside and enjoy the day – these distractions should help the feelings of hunger subside. Another tip, first drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. If you are still feeling hungry in 10-15 minutes then allow yourself to eat.

Thanks for reading!

Click here is you messed part one and here if you missed part two!

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12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 2

Just in case you missed part 1 of the blog, click here to get the first 6 reasons!

Reason 7. You are Drinking Your Diet

Soda, fruit juice, sugar added to coffee or tea are some of the most sugar laden foods you can consume! And you can easily consume hundreds of calories and an incredible amount of sugar in just 1-2 cups. Refer to reason #1 for why consuming high amounts of sugar is making you fatter.

And don’t think that choosing the ‘diet’ option is any better for you. Artificial sweeteners – such as sucralose, aspartame, or saccharin – can actually increase your appetite for real sugar. When you consume sugar there is a decrease in the amount of ghrelin (hunger hormone) and insulin (hormone that removes sugar from the blood) which causes a feeling of satiety. The problem with sweeteners is that they taste sweet but do not cause decreases in ghrelin or insulin, therefore, we crave more sugar to actually help reduce these hormone levels in our blood stream.

How to Change This Habit:

This one is simple, cut them out of your diet! There is no way around this one, sugar laden or artificially sweetened drinks are one of the worst things you can consume if you are trying to lose weight. Substitute for water and if you want more flavour to your drinks infuse them with lemon, limes, cucumber, or fresh mint for all the flavour and none of the sugar! Drinking extra water will also help stave off those hunger feelings.

Reason 8. You Eat Low-Fat Options

Starting in the 1980’s the ‘no-fat’/’low-fat’ diet craze swept across the food landscape. Manufacturers from Heinz to Kellogg’s began producing and marketing low-fat and no-fat everything. And consumers began chowing down! The thought: ‘It’s healthy, right?’

Wrong. Dead wrong.

The low-/no-fat craze is actually making us fatter & hungrier! Fat is not only an essential nutrient that we need to survive but it also provides food with palatable flavour and texture. When fat is removed food tastes like cardboard! So how did manufacturing companies combat this…SUGAR! Loads and loads of sugar!

A typical 126mL low-fat yogurt can contain up to 44g of sugar! That is 101% of your daily-recommended intake! If you refer back to Reason #1 you will remember that refined sugar not only spikes and crashes our blood sugar levels, causing us the feel hungry and crave more sugar but excess sugar that cannot be procced properly will turn to fat.

How to Change This Habit:

Eating healthy fat will NOT make you fat, it will actually help aid in weight loss. No, I am not lying to you. Fats takes longer to break down in your stomach and helps control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings.

And while it may sound counterintuitive, your body needs fat in order to burn fat! Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver. But don’t run out and grab that big greasy pizza just yet; not all fat is created equal! Your fat sources should come from unsaturated sources; avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, omega-3 fish oil supplements and oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola in your diet.

Click here for part 3 of 3!

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 1

Hunger is a complicated function that is influenced by not just biological factors but psychological ones as well. Because of the complicated relationship between nature and environment, controlling your feelings of hunger can be a frustrating task that makes sticking to a healthy diet more difficult than it needs to be.

Stick around for this 3 part series about the surprising day-to-day things you are doing that are making you feel hungrier than you really are and that are in turn sabotaging your waist line. And of course, tips to combat these habits!

Reason 1. You Eat Too Many Refined Carbohydrates

Does this daily menu sound familiar to you?

Cereal with milk for breakfast, a sandwich or wrap made with white bread or tortilla for lunch, chips or crackers for your mid-day snack, a dinner of pasta or pizza and a cookie or small bowl of ice cream for dessert.

If you daily menu reads something similar to this than your problem is that you are trying to fuel your body with nutrient deficient refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs such as pasta, white bread, white rice, cookies; lack any sort of fiber that helps satiate you. Another problem with the lack of fiber is the rate at which your body has to process these foods.

When we eat refined carbs our blood sugar levels spike through the roof and our bodies have to quickly work to reduce the glucose levels in our bloodstream. Removing all the sugar from our bloodstream so quickly then results in a crash, which in turn leaves the glucose levels in our bloodstream too low, thus triggering our hunger hormones to tell you to eat more carbs to raise your blood sugar levels to a safe point. It is a VICIOUS cycle!!

How to Change This Habit:

To combat this vicious cycle choose slow digestible foods that are nutrient dense and have a low glycemic (sugar) content. Carbohydrates such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, whole grains, beans, and fruit and veggies will not spike your blood sugar levels.

Reason 2. You’re Actually Just Thirsty

Research has shown that over 60% of the time that people are thirsty they incorrectly respond by eating! The reason behind this is that the same glad (the hypothalamus) regulates signals for both hunger and thirst and we often confuse these signals.

How to Change This Habit:

The next time you are feeling the urge to snack, drink a cup of water first and wait 20 minutes. If you are still feeling hungry after this than eat something. Another great waist saving tip is to drink 1-2 cups of water prior to a larger meal. Studies have shown that those who do this tend to eat 75-90 less calories per meal!

Reason 3. You Are Trying to Multi-Task.

The feeling of hunger is not the only factor that influences the amount we eat throughout a day, attention and memory play a big part. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full. Because of this, if you are not paying attention and are multi-tasking while you eat – watching TV, driving, checking your phone, working at your desk – you can easily take in more calories than you need in less than 20 minutes.

Multi-tasking also does not allow us to be mindful of what we are putting into our mouths, if we do not process that fact that we are eating we do not store this action into our memory. If our brain does not register a memory of eating than we are more likely to eat again sooner than is really required.

How to Change This Habit:

Be mindful when you eat. turn off the TV, put down the cell phone, take a break from your work. Take time and enjoy your food – the flavours, colours, smells, and textures- by doing so you will find your meals more satisfying and you are less likely to overeat or snack again soon afterwards.

Reason 4. You’re Too Stressed Out!

Have you ever heard someone or seen a meme encouraging you to eat sweets when stressed because ‘stressed’ is just ‘desserts’ spelled backwards? Well there is some real truth behind behind this saying.

Many people will say that when they are stressed they actually eat less, well this is true in the short term. With acute stress – like an exam – your body produces a hormone called epinephrine (aka adrenaline) that triggers your fight-or-flight response; temporarily shutting of hunger signals. However, chronic stress – from work, kids, finances, etc.- causes the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes the body to crave carbohydrates (ie. sugar) because this increases insulin levels in the bloodstream which helps reduce cortisol levels.

How to Change This Habit:

While you may not be able to control all the stressors in your everyday life you can do things to help alleviate the effects of stress; take a bath, spend time with friends or family and control what you are putting into your mouth. Resist the temptation to binge on something sugary when feeling stressed to help break the cycle!

Reason 5. You Are Eating Too Quickly

As mentioned in Part 1, it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. So, if you wolf down your entire meal in less than 5 minutes you are more than likely going to overeat.

How to Change This Habit:

When eating your meal take time to chew your food completely; put your fork down between bites; chat with your friends or family around the table; drink water between each mouthful. In short, slow down! All of these tips will allow your brain to catch up to your stomach and help keep you from overeating.

Reason 6. Your Social Media is FULL of Food Pics

Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram can be just as bad for you waistline as actually eating sugary, deep fried, fatty treats! Seeing pictures or videos of food actually enhances our desire to eat those foods. Even if you are not initially hungry or are not in need of food these visual triggers cause our bodies to send signals to the brain prompting it to release ghrelin, a hormone associated with triggering hunger.

How to Change This Habit:

Try unfollowing some of the Instagram accounts and Facebook pages that highlight sugar laden, fatty, deep fried treats and instead follow feeds that feature healthier options.

Click here for park two!

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Does Vitamin D Affect Strength?

This week, I want to share an interesting finding involving Vitamin D deficiency in elite Danish swimmers.

Most people with a basic understanding of nutrition know that Vitamin D is very important for bone health and metabolism. However, the discovery of Vitamin D receptors in muscle cells may indicate that it may also play a role in muscle contraction and athletic performance.

Recently, a study conducted on elite Danish swimmers reported an association between Vitamin D status and muscular strength. The main finding was that muscular strength as assessed by hand grip, was significantly higher in swimmers with sufficient Vitamin D status.

Now the most common way to get Vitamin D is through direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, the rest having to come through diet and supplementation. Now I find this interesting, because it’s not uncommon for the sun to take a vacation for a while during Canadian winters. In addition, with swimmers training indoors for hours a day, they might find it especially difficult to meet their daily requirements during the winter months.

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