Metabolic Primer Part 1 of 3 If You Can Measure It, You Can Manage It

By Pat Jak, BS, CPT, USAC II, USAC Power Based Training Coach

Tell me if this is you: you get frustrated when you hit a plateau?  Do you feel like you are working as hard as possible and yet don’t see any changes. This is often when I hear the following phrases:

  • My metabolism is out of control.
  • My metabolism makes my body want certain foods.
  • I’m getting old so my metabolism is slowing down.
  • I downloaded this app that tells me my metabolic rate.
  • Today I plan on getting a great metabolic workout.

Unfortunately, these phrases are a little misguided and further perpetuated thanks to news articles, morning talk shows, and other media blitzes that hit us daily. To make matters worse, we are told things like “If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t weigh yourself too often.” Or we are told, “good diets are effortless and we don’t have to count calories.” Um, excuse me but if I never weigh myself how do I know if I’ve lost weight? Also, if I’m not measuring how much I’m eating, how do I know I am sticking to my plan?

Diet and exercise changes require a high level of managing because you are trying to force change. And the best way to manage a process is to regularly measure progress. While I understand what people mean when they throw out these phrases, there are better ways we can empower ourselves and make positive changes to our health and fitness. And it comes from understanding a few key things about metabolism and measuring it to manage it.

Try not to get hung up in those over used phrases mentioned earlier because:

  • Metabolism is trainable. It CAN be changed. With exercise, healthy diet, and good lifestyle habits, you can maximize your metabolism!
  • Your metabolism doesn’t want certain foods. It just wants real, quality food. So FEED IT!
  • Metabolism does NOT slow down when we age. In reality, there is only a 2% loss every decade. We simply move LESS when we age. Move more and your metabolism increases no matter how old you are!
  • There is NOT an app for that! When you calculate your metabolic rate estimated by your age, height, weight, and gender, you can have a 1,000-calorie margin of error!
  • ALL workouts are metabolic! When you workout, you impact your metabolism.

Okay, I’ll spare you the detailed exercise physiology, but I do want to share a few key points to help shed some light on the confusion we face with our own metabolisms and how to overcome them to help build a leaner, healthier, happier you.

What is Metabolism?

Our metabolism is a collection of biochemical processes that combine nutrients with oxygen to release energy. This release of energy helps us grow, reproduce, maintain basic life processes, and respond to our environment. Metabolism is as individual as a fingerprint and is based on genetics, lifestyle, training, and nutrition.

Our metabolism will change. This is important because we use our fuel (food) differently when we are exercising and when we are at rest. Normally measured in calories, food and metabolism is simply a measurement of energy. In other words, some foods provide more energy than others and some activities burn more energy than others do. This does NOT mean you can eat whatever you want as long as “calories in” balance “calories out.” It also means you CANNOT exercise however you want and burn calories equally. Quality and type of food matters. Likewise, quality and type of workout is important to consider.

Is This What They Mean By Metabolic Rate?

Absolutely! And you actually have two basic metabolic rates that are most meaningful to your health and fitness goals, your Resting Metabolic Rate and your Active Metabolic Rate.

Your Resting Metabolic Rate

This is the amount of calories you use on a daily basis to maintain basic life functions including brain activity, liver function, lung function, and tissue growth and repair. It actually represents 60-75% of your total daily energy expenditure. The basics do apply. Eat more than your daily requirement and your body will store energy (gain weight). Eat below your daily requirement and your body will reduce it’s energy stores (lose weight).

It is important to note that if you are too aggressive with your daily calculations and fall below the very base resting metabolic number, you will negatively impact your body. This often occurs with crash diets, starvation diets, and insane Hollywood cleanses. But it can also occur when we “get too busy to eat,” skip meals, or only eat tiny portions.

Why should too little food matter? Remember that your resting metabolism is responsible for brain activity, lung function, and liver function. If you don’t feed these organs and allow them to do their thing, you will create catastrophic effects in your body and actually increase the aging process and risk for debilitating disease.

Your Active Metabolic Rate

This is your capacity for work during activities such as exercise. It can be shown through a correlation of three key markers. Among these are your AEROBIC Threshold. Representing the point when you utilize fat as a primary fuel source, Aerobic Threshold is the number you find on a new car’s sticker that shows best MPG.

Another marker is your ANAEROBIC Threshold, which is the point when you lose the ability to utilize oxygen and fat to create energy. Another way to look at it is your “redline.” You will be able to rev your engine at this level of intensity, but probably not for very long.

Finally, the number everyone likes to use to compare ability is your VO2max. While high-level athletes often rely on VO2max to determine competition readiness, it is important to everyone because it represents potential.

How Do I Know What My Metabolic Numbers Are?

There is only one true way. Get tested. If we are all individuals and our metabolisms reflect our individual characteristics and activities, wouldn’t you want to know your numbers? If simple little calculators can be off by 1,000 calories, wouldn’t you want to know your EXACT numbers?

Everyone has a benefit if they are tested regularly.

  • You can establish a baseline or snapshot of you right now.
  • You can identify your individual needs and what you want to achieve.
  • You can create a customized, periodized training plan to be better able to achieve your goals.
  • You can track progress and see how your metabolism changes over time.

A Case Study

Just to give an idea how important it is to test your metabolism, consider the following data from my own test taken last month.

  • Resting Metabolic Rate was ESTIMATED anywhere from 2,730-3,037 calories per day while the ACTUAL was 2,574.
  • VO2max was ESTIMATED at 36.6 mL/kg/min, while the ACTUAL was 67.5.
  • Threshold heart rate was ESTIMATED at 155 beats per minute while the ACTUAL was 160.

Why does this difference matter? If I had relied upon calculators to estimate the numbers that are most meaningful in my exercise and daily calorie intake, I would be spinning my wheels. The estimated versus actual numbers leads to a half-pound to a full pound difference per week. In 12-weeks of training, this is a 6-12 pound difference under or over my goal!

The exercise estimations lead to incorrect training levels and false estimations on how many calories I burn at different levels of intensities. In the same 12-weeks of training, this can lead to a difference of another 2 to 3 pounds. Why would I want to estimate and take the chance of gaining 8-14 pounds in 12 weeks?

Measuring versus estimation is ALWAYS more accurate. And when it comes to your metabolism, never assume. Never estimate. If you want to get on top of your health, fitness, and nutrition, know your numbers. And the best way to know your numbers is to test them. Because if you can measure it, you can manage it!

This is a three part series all about metabolism, how to test it, how to train it, and how to fuel it. Come back next time for Metabolic Primer 2: Using Cardio Training to Effectively Boost Your Metabolism Or…

What You Thought You Knew About Cardio Was Probably Wrong

About Pat Jak

For nearly a decade, Pat Jak has worked with performance athletes, teams, and fitness conscious individuals from all walks of life. With one-on-one consultation and customized training plans, he coaches and trains cyclists, multi-sport, and endurance athletes including beginners, juniors, seniors, and masters, several of whom are World, National and State champions and medallists. His workouts have been featured in Bicycling Magazine and he is currently Director of Metabolic Testing at Fitness Quest 10, Team Coach for the Swami’s Pro Development Team, Head Coach of the UCSD Cycling Team, and Coach for the Challenged Athletes Foundation Million Dollar Challenge.

To learn more, or to schedule your metabolic test, contact Fitness Quest 10.

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Top Stretches Done In Your Office

If you are like most of the population, you spend the majority of your time sitting. Either sitting at work in front of a computer, sitting for dinner, or sitting and hanging out with friends. I’m here to say that sitting is horrible! Here are some top exercises you should be doing to help relieve some of the common issues associated with poor posture and prolonged sitting.

 

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). He is also the strength coach for Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, CA. He earned a B.S. in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State University and completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU. Certifications and specialties include the ACE Personal Trainer Certification, NSCA-CSCS Certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, Spinning certification, FMS training, and CPR/AED instructor status. He has appeared in multiple fitness videos, manuals and magazines; produced his own 2-DVD Set on strength & conditioning for combat athletes, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program, and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

5 Moves MMA Athletes Should Be Doing

I really enjoy developing programs and circuits for my clients and athletes. Over the years, I’ve incorporated every tool you can imagine – dumbbells, barbells, tires, sleds, prowler, TRX, Ultimate Sandbags, Kamagon Ball, Home Depot hardware section creations, and many more.

The more experience and knowledge I acquire, the more I am starting to conform to the “less is more” theory. While I love experimenting and trying knew methods and tools, when it comes to the movements specifically; there are some essential exercises that I will always incorporate into my fighter programs. The variations will change up a bit depending on where we are at in the program, but you will always find them in there.

This is not an exclusive list. I took some liberties with the article and made my choices broad terms. I did pick one of my favorite exercises for each movement I selected though.

Here are my current ‘top 5’.

1. Hip Dominant

My choice: Kettlebell Swing

For lower body training, it is crucial to include hip dominant strength work. The hips are one of the most important areas of the body to train. I love training hip extension with sandbag cleans, tire flips, barbell deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. I realize these exercises will focus on a different fitness component; deadlifts for strength, cleans for power, and bell swings for power endurance. For this reason, I include them all into a full program. Since “power endurance” is critical for MMA, I really like the swing for this category.

2.  Upper Body Push

My choice: Pushups With Sit-Through

I love bodyweight exercises and pushups have been a staple bodyweight exercise for years. When done properly, pushups force you to really engage the entire body. This variation below will add an additional challenge to the shoulder joint, your obliques, and your hip mobility. Keep the entire body “stiff” and engaged throughout the movement to protect your lower back and shoulders.

3. Upper Body Pull

My choice: TRX Rows

When it comes to upper body strength training, I love pulling movements. There is too much focus on the pushing movements and the anterior chain of the body. This is true for every population, from our “desk jockeys” to our professional athletes. We need to incorporate more pulling exercises to help with posture, grip, and backside strength. Some of my favorite tools include dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, heavy ropes, and the TRX. TRX rows are great because there is a quick learning curve for first timers and there are plenty of variations for all levels. I like to have my athletes perform their rows from directly underneath the anchor point with their hips extended to incorporate the lower body as well.

4. Torso Rotations

My choice: Superband Torso Rotations

While I am not a huge proponent of mimicking the exact movements of your sport in strength training, especially with heavy loads, I do see the obvious value in working those same muscle groups to have them strong, powerful, and more injury resistant. Torso rotation exercises have great carry over to the sport of MMA. I’ve used tubing, slosh pipes, Kamagon Balls, medicine balls, and superbands for these movements. I like using the superbands because you can really encourage the hip movement with proper band placement. I want the movement to involve the whole body, from feet to fingertips. To do this, I have the superband coming across the ASIS, which will almost force the lower body recruitment for proper technique.

5. Sprint Work

My choice: Hill sprints

These definitely fall into the “love/hate relationship” category. They don’t take very long to complete but they should still push you to your physical and mental limit. Treadmill, stairs, track, beach, resisted, hills…there is an endless list and some are more effective than others; especially from a biomechanical standpoint. I prefer hill sprints, especially on a softer surface like grass if possible. MMA athletes endure enough pounding throughout the week from all the sparring and joint locks. If we can incorporate conditioning sessions that are “joint friendly”, their body will thank us.

Final Thoughts

If you look at these five movements, we really get an entire body workout; a couple with an upper body focus, a couple with a lower body focus, and they will all increase the heart rate, which is the most important muscle we have. This could have easily been a “Top 20” list as there are so many effective movements out there. I feel this list includes exercises that will give you the most “bang for your buck”. If you want to get stronger, more powerful, and have more “gas in the tank”, integrate these variations into your strength and conditioning program today.

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). He is also the strength coach for Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, CA. He earned a B.S. in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State University and completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU. Certifications and specialties include the ACE Personal Trainer Certification, NSCA-CSCS Certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, Spinning certification, FMS training, and CPR/AED instructor status. He has appeared in multiple fitness videos, manuals and magazines; produced his own 2-DVD Set on strength & conditioning for combat athletes, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program, and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

For more information please visit www.dbstrength.com.

Napoleon Complex. How much is enough?

As I write this, my 1RM on the deadlift is 385 lbs (stop snickering). My 3RM on weighted pull-ups is bodyweight plus 105 lbs. I would say my pull-up numbers are respectable, the deadlift numbers, not so much. I’m hoping a couple months of Jim Wendler’s “5/3/1 training program” will help. My goal? I would like to start that deadlift number with a 4…405 sounds nice. At 170-175 pounds, pulling 405 is respectable strength in my eyes…isn’t it?

How much is enough?

I’ve felt this way for a couple months now…eyeing that “400” barrier and it got me to thinking, “how much is enough?” Do I need to lift nearly 2 ½ times my bodyweight? When I pull that 405, will I become that much faster, or jump much higher, or be much more injury proof? Maybe 385 is enough…

The importance of goals

It comes down to your goals. Everyone is unique, everyone responds a bit differently to exercise modalities, and most people have different goals and different things that motivate them. For me, I train for life. I train to stay healthy and to have the ability to take a grappling class or muay thai class without any problems. If I want to hop into a pick up soccer game or shoot some hoops, I should be able to without any troubles or be sore for the following 4 days. Like I said, different goals for different people. Different strokes for different folks. Many of my “everyday population” clients would like to lose a couple pounds; they sit at a desk during the week and need to get through their daily activities of purchasing groceries, taking care of the kids, and playing in a weekend softball league. How “strong” do they need to be to reach their goals? Another client of mine, UFC Champion Dominick Cruz, competes in a sport of weight classes. Our strength training goals are to have him injury-free, quick and as efficient as possible, and as strong as possible without packing on too much mass. If you are a strongman competitor or powerlifter, then the answer to the “how much is enough” question is dealt with differently. There is no limit here. Moving as much weight as possible is absolutely functional to your sport.

I have no words…I mean, really? My hat’s off for the determination.

Big picture

Let’s look at a typical client that is married with 2 kids and has an office job that has him seated for 8 hours per day. The heaviest things he’s lifting in a typical week are the bags of groceries, taking the trash out to the curb (he’s a good husband), and picking up his 4 year old for a hug. If his primary fitness goals are to lose 5-10 pounds, stay healthy, and run in an upcoming 5k, does he need to pull 3x his bodyweight? Because of his busy schedule and seated posture 40+ hours per week, I think our main points of focus should be on his nutritional habits and maintaining consistency with a full body strength training program. I realize that being stronger will boost metabolism, increase fat loss, enhance self-esteem, and trigger loads of other fantastic benefits…however, a healthy, 40 year old client will receive these benefits pulling 1½  or even 2x his own bodyweight from the floor.

Ironically, I recently came across a great thread exchange between two people who I admire, Bret Contreas and Rob Panariello. They touched on this very topic and brought up some great points.

Link here

http://bretcontreras.com/2011/06/strength-goals-dont-be-afraid-to-abandon-them/#comment-10821

Is this a small man’s cry? Admittedly, perhaps a little bit. At the end of the day, I realize what my “big picture” fitness goals are and I’m feeling pretty good with where I’m at. The take-away here is that your program and methods should be developed around your realistic goals. Follow this important rule and you will be fine. I will admit I’d still like to pull that 405 before the year is out. Damn ego.

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). He is also the strength coach for Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, CA. He earned a B.S. in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State University and completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU. Certifications and specialties  include the ACE Personal Trainer Certification, NSCA-CSCS Certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, Spinning certification, FMS training, and CPR/AED instructor status. He has appeared in multiple fitness videos, manuals and magazines; produced his own 2-DVD Set on strength & conditioning for combat athletes, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program, and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

For more information please visit www.dbstrength.com.

Heave Ho! Top Pulling Moves

I can’t open my fingers all the way so my hands are stuck in an “iron claw” type of position; a half opened fist if you will. My forearms are throbbing and my biceps have an unbelievable “pump”. I’m bleeding from a scratch above my left eye and my lats feel like I just finished 6 sets of weighted pull-ups. Was I in a New York City bar with my Sox hat on? No. I just finished a 90 minute grappling session and my body is spent. Being a relative novice to the sport of grappling, I tend to muscle many of the movements as opposed to using correct technique and body positioning.

Regardless of whether you are a beginning grappler or a black belt, a secretary or a garbage man, the importance of pulling & grip strength can’t be emphasized enough. In fact, I pull more than push with every client I train. Sure the variations and intensities will vary; however, pulling movements are part of the foundation of every exercise program I create.

The list could go on for pages with all the variations and various tools that one could use…I’m going to share four of my favorites.

1. The Pull-up

If I could only pick one upper body pulling exercise, the pull-up wins easily. Great for grip strength, and developing forearms, biceps, shoulders, lats, traps, rhomboids, abs (yes, abs), pecs, and more. Pulling your body to the bar really forces you to engage the majority of muscles in your upper body making it a compound movement that really delivers. This variation below shows you a way to incorporate the lower body as well. Exercise in video: Pull-up with Med Ball Squeeze

2. Unilateral Row

I typically group my upper body pulling movements into two categories; vertical and horizontal. While pull-ups may be my favorite pulling exercise, I actually incorporate more horizontal pulling movements into workouts and programs. I tend to recommend these for a couple reasons; 1. They are less intimidating for some clients (pull-ups can be quite daunting to a new client), 2. They are easier to teach, and 3. They are excellent movements for improving posture.

While this particular move is a staple pulling exercise for my MMA athletes, I like to challenge the “everyday population” with a variety of rope pulls as well. Make sure you keep an upright posture with your upper body and try to pull evenly with each arm throughout the exercise. Exercise in video: Horizontal Rope Pulls

3. Bilateral Row

See the ‘Unilateral Row’ explanation to see why horizontal pulls, or “rows”, make my list. I think the more rowing you can incorporate into your routine, the stronger and more injury-free you will be throughout your body. The exercise I included in the video is geared a bit more towards MMA athletes due to the nature of their sport. Many times during a fight, they will find themselves in a long clinch or situation where they need to hold on to their opponent for an extended period of time. This requires a great deal of muscular strength and endurance in your arms and back. Backward sled walks hit the mark. Exercise in video: Isometric Backward Sled Walks

4. Deadlifts & Cleans

My room was always clean growing up because I love picking things up off the floor…but I digress. Deadlift variations and cleans are two of my favorite ways to work the entire backside of the body. These exercises are great for explosive hip extension, strengthening your grip, glutes, hamstrings, back; and for developing overall body power. These glute-focused movements are great for the “everyday population” from a functional standpoint. While you may not “clean” your bag of groceries up off the floor into the rack position; it will teach you to engage the proper muscles and lift items in a healthy manner. I love these movements for combat athletes because strong, powerful glutes will help them in many situations during a fight; more difficult to control on the mat if it goes to the ground and more explosive with your kicks and strikes if you are in a stand up battle. Exercise in video: Sandbag Cleans

If you are a busy executive who sits a lot, travels a lot, drives a lot, then it is critical to strengthen your backside. Posterior chain exercises will help combat the unhealthy posture that your lifestyle has you in for 8+ hours a day.

If you are a MMA athlete and we can strengthen your backside, then you are less likely to get injured, you can pull your arm back quicker after throwing a punch, you can hold and control your opponent more effectively, and you are more likely to have your arm raised in victory after a tournament or match.

Make sure you incorporate pulling exercises into your weekly routine to ensure you are maintaining balance in your program.

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). He is also the strength coach for the Alliance Fight Team in Chula Vista, CA. A Massachusetts native, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State University. Since moving to San Diego he has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU, obtained an ACE Personal Trainer certification, the NSCA-CSCS certification, a Spinning certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, FMS training, and received his CPR/AED instructor status. He has also appeared in 8 fitness videos, written numerous fitness articles, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

Prior to working at Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers.

For more information please visit www.todddurkin.com, www.fq10.com, and www.dbstrength.

Want to use the article above? As long as you include the bio blurb at the bottom, you are welcome to use the article in your own publication.

Free Fitness And Athletic Camp

Wanna Jump Higher? 3 Ways to Improve Vertical Jump

By Brett Klika, C.S.C.S. Director of Athletics, Fitness Quest 10

One of the most common questions I get as an athletic performance coach is “How can I/my child, improve my/their vertical jump?”  The most effective intervention would be to travel back in time and select a man and a woman with superior vertical jump abilities to parent either you or your child. In short, genetics is by far the greatest determining factor in an individual’s vertical jump ability.  Since time travel is not currently available (to the general public) we have to work with what we’ve got.  Here are the 3 most effective tried and true ways to improve vertical jump.

1.  Improve strength-to-weight ratio.  The vertical jump involves culminating muscle force quickly to propel body weight off the ground against gravity.  If the muscle force ability is low and the body weight is high, gravity will win.  Proper nutrition, frequent activity, and developmentally appropriate resistance training will aid improving strength and decreasing excess weight.  Get stronger, get leaner.

2.  Work on jumping technique.  There are biomechanically advantageous positions in which to jump as well as land.  Proper arm action alone can account for 20% of vertical jump ability.  Quite often, there are strength and mobility limitations that can limit the body’s ability to go into biomechanically advantageous position to jump.  For example a proper bodyweight squat is a pre-requisite to vertical jump technique.  If you don’t have the strength or mobility to do the first one right, you won’t be able to do the second one right.  Work on jumping and landing in proper squat position, then progress from there. Click here for a video on vertical jump technique. Do it right to do it better.

3. Jump!  Make sure to incorporate plyometrics into your program.  Think of your plyometric training in two phases:  Plyo prep and max effort plyometrics.  Plyo prep is activities like jumping rope, hurdle hops, and repeated sub-maximal jumps, hops, skips, etc.  These function to prepare the involved tendons, ligaments, and muscles for the force demands of jumping and landing.  These activities help you get off the ground quicker, not necessarily higher.  Max-effort plyometrics are those that require a near-maximal effort to achieve.  High hurdle hops, high box jumps, high backboard touches and other jumping activities in which you have to achieve a certain height criteria are examples.  You may even add resistance through bands, cords, or external weight.  This functions as “practice” for propelling your body against gravity with a true maximum effort. Maintain technique.  Practice makes perfect!  Youth should perform plyo prep activities for quite some time with proper technique prior to max effort work.

There is no “magic” machine, device, program, or funny-looking shoe that supersedes any of the above.  Get in shape, jump correctly, and practice it with intensity and frequency.  Unless, of course, you have access to a time machine.

Brett Klika C.S.C.S., Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10, is a human performance specialist, motivator and educator. A graduate from Oregon State University, Brett has directed sport camps all over the nation. While in college, amidst playing club soccer and lacrosse, Brett worked with the strength and conditioning department for 3 years. A year long resident sports performance internship at the Olympic Training Center brought Brett to San Diego. Brett’s work with the Olympic athletes, as well as local high school athletes nurtured a passion for creating excellence in individuals.