From FAT to FIT again – Transformation Challenge

YES, I did it and I achieved my goal. In just 12 weeks of this weight loss challenge, (January 4th-March 29th  2015) I lost 10.3 kg (23 lbs) of unwanted weight and I trimmed my waist circumference with 14 centimeters (5.5 inches)

In fact those are my results week by week:

Date Section Weight Waist
January 4, 2015 Start Weight 92 kg       (202 lbs) 106 cm
January 11, 2015 Week 1 86 kg       (189 lbs) 98 cm
January 18, 2015 Week 2 85.3 kg     (188lbs) 97 cm
January 25, 2015 Week 3 85 kg         (187 lbs) 97 cm
February 1, 2015 Week 4 84 kg         (185 lbs) 96 cm
February 8, 2015 Week 5 83.5 kg     (184 lbs) 95 cm
February 15, 2015 Week 6 83.5 kg     (184 lbs) 95 cm
February 22, 2015 Week 7 83.5 kg   (184 lbs) 95 cm
March 1, 2015 Week 8 83.5 kg   (184 lbs) 95 cm
March 8, 2015 Week 9 83 kg       (182.5 lbs) 94 cm
March 15, 2015 Week 10 83 kg       (182.5 lbs) 94 cm
March 22, 2015 Week 11 82.4 kg   (181 lbs) 93 cm
March 29, 2015 Week 12 81.7 kg   (180 lbs) 92 cm

 

RESET March 29 2015

Why I decided to do this challenge?

On my previous blog from January 2015, entitled ‘From Fit to Fat – My Transformation Challenge’ http://www.mariofit.ca/fit-fat-transformation-challenge/  I wrote how stress, medication for pain and nervous tension, affected my life, my health and my physical fitness. And as a result of those stressors, my blood sugars elevated, my blood pressure rose to unhealthy readings of over 140/90, my weight gain move up from 84 kg to 92 kg in only few months, and my waist measurement increased to 106 centimeters (42 inches). This constellation of symptoms made me a candidate for developing a pre-diabetic state known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X.

Having personal experiences and knowing that Usana Health Sciences is a True Health Company with clinical studies in Reversing of Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, I decided to restore my health and lose some unwanted pounds by participating into their Usana Reset Nation weight Loss Challenge and follow their protocol. See some clinical trials at the end of this blog.

And I have to admit that even with my knowledge in functional fitness and holistic nutrition, achieving this ambition and losing 10 kg, was not an easy task without exercising.

Yes, due to some re-occurring back pain and muscular stiffness (as a result of a car accident in 2009) I was not able to exercise during the first 8 weeks of my challenge, yet I was able to lose 7 kg of my weight just by changing my nutritional habits, as recommended in the USANA’s RESET™ Nation Challenge.

But when 4 weeks ago I also started to workout using a combination of moderate intensity weight training and functional bodyweight exercise program I personally designed for my recovery, I was able to achieve my goal and to lose an additional 3.3 kg.

RESET March 29 2015 -2

Why I set my goal to lose 10 kg?

And if someone might ask why my goal was to lose 10 kg and not six, eight or 15kg, I can surely affirm that before 2009, this was my ideal weight as a fitness professional and martial arts athlete. This was the weight that in the years 2005-2009, kept me extremely active, strong and in great physical condition despite my age of 47 (in 2009).

But what motivates me to participate into this challenge NOW was mostly a combination of many personal choices.

  1. First, I needed to restore my health which in the last year started to decline at a considerable speed and I wanted to win the big prize: The Usana Health Sciences all inclusive trip to Sanoviv Medical Institute (May 2nd-May 7th 2015)
  2. On the same time, I wanted to prove again and again that Usana Health Sciences is a True Health Company. In the past, as a Registered Holistic and Sport Nutrition Consultant in Canada, I was able to help many friends, athletes and other clients to improve their wellbeing using a combination of healthy nutrition, regular physical exercises and the use of Usana Health Sciences nutritional supplements.
  3. My next reason to win this challenge was to raise awareness to my fellow Romanian friends and compatriots, and to point out that Usana Health Sciences is indeed the True Health Company.

Once one of the top karate athletes in Romania (and than in Italy) I grew up as an eyewitness to the effects of malnutrition in many orphan children in Romania. And at that time I was unable to help at all. But in 2002, thanks to Children’s Hunger Fund (a Charitable Organization) and its long-time partner Usana Health Sciences, I have heard how they restore health to thousands of Romanian orphans for many years. This is why in 2012 I decided to ‘return the favor’ and to compete (at the age of 50) in the 2012 Karate BC Provincial Championships to raise funds for Usana True Health Foundation and Children Hunger Fund to be exclusively used for children in desperate need of food and medicine. For me as a USANA Associate, giving to Children’s Hunger Fund was more than a donation — it was a fight. And I would like to thank Usana and their True Health Foundation for recognizing me as one of their “Champion”. In fact in 2013, the management of Usana Health Sciences and True Health Foundation invited me in Salt Lake City to present to me the ‘Champion for Change Award’

4. And NOW the year of 2015, become my time to restore my health and bring back my well being. And thanks to Usana Reset Nation Challenge, I am on my way to get healthier and better physically, emotionally and financially.

And to conclude I would like to tell everyone:

YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH

More information about Usana Clinical Studies on Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome:

‘The Best Kept Secret of Elite Athletes’

Are you an athlete? Are you a health conscious athlete? Then you should consider what elite athletes do to prepare for their next competition, fight, match, or race. It’s no surprise that athletes dedicate their lives to improving in their select sport, and some of them keep the same secret about how they maintain their performances at top level.

A recent press release ‘The Best Kept Secret Of Elite Athletes’ was published on PR Newswire – on March 25, 2014, and revealed some secrets related to their training and recovery. It’s USANA Health Sciences a world leader in nutritional science. But what’s so special about USANA? What makes USANA Health Sciences the ultimate choice for elite athletes?

A Million Dollar Athlete Guarantee Program!

We all know (and particularly if you are a top athlete) that we need a clean diet and specific nutritional supplements for fast recovery and regeneration after intensive trainings. And everyone wants to use product with a guarantee. Athletes can find their careers in danger if they test positive for a banned substance. That’s why USANA created the Athlete Guarantee Program, specifically designed for any participating Team USANA Athlete who needs uncompromising guarantee that they will not test positive for a banned substance as a result of taking USANA’s nutritional products.But how many companies will give an athlete up to one million dollars if they test positive for a banned substance as a result of taking its products? The answer: Only Usana Health Sciences.

0[1]On my previous article posted on March 9 2004, and titled ‘Team USANA Great Performance @ Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics’ I revealed that recently, nearly 200 sponsored athletes competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games with unprecedented results. If Team USANA was a country, it would have placed second in the overall medal standing with a record 30 podium appearances – 13 gold, 7 silver and 10 bronze – and tied with Russia for the most gold hardware of the Winter Olympic Games. In fact more than 600 elite athletes are using USANA nutritional products. You don’t have to take my words but read some testimonials:

“We put our money where our mouth is with our Athlete Guarantee Program. We are not aware of any other supplement company that offers this kind of guarantee, and we have never had an issue. In fact, in 21 years of doing business, we have never had a single product recall.” —Brian Dixon, Ph.D., USANA’s executive director of scientific and clinical affairs

Timothy Bradley, Manny PacquiaoIn fact world boxing champions Timothy Bradley and Manny Paquiao, are both using USANA Health Sciences Nutritional supplements, with great confidence.

Do they need an Athlete Guaranteed Program? Think about how much is worth their fights? Probably million of dollars. Would they compromise themselves by using USANA’S nutritional supplements? I don’t think so.

“USANA’s the best. Hands down. USANA products are products I trust and believe in. They completely changed my life. I’ve been taking them for four years now. In those four years I captured four world championships, baby.” —Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley Jr., current WBO welterweight champion

Also, this guarantee, along with several other factors, is a cornerstone to USANA’s successful relationship with the Women’s Tennis Association – which was just renewed for another three years – as well as other top-notch athletic organizations.

2012 US Open - Day 3In fact, this guarantee, along with several other factors, is a cornerstone to USANA’s successful relationship with the Women’s Tennis Association – which was just renewed for another three years – as well as other top-notch athletic organizations.

“I can trust USANA’s products because I know what I’m taking are safe and pure. I’m thankful for our strong partnership and am proud to be one of the 600-plus elite athletes around the world who trust their health to USANA.” —Sam Stosur, WTA star and USANA brand ambassador

 

NSF Certification

nsf[1]NSF International is an independent organization that helps protect consumers by certifying products and establishing standards for food, water, and consumer goods. Six of USANA’s world-class products have been validated through NSF International’s Certified for Sport™ program: Chelated Mineral, Mega Antioxidant, Active Calcium™, Procosa®, Proflavanol® C100 and SportsPak. Athletes all over the world have taken notice.

“Jumping is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. It’s one of the hardest sports because of how fast and precise it is. I spend three days a week in the gym working on strength training and six days a week in all training. Keeping healthy all around is vital, and I am thankful to have USANA and its products as part of my routine.” —Sarah Hendrickson, Women’s Ski Jumping team member

FDA Drug Establishment and Good Manufacturing Practices

To ensure the company’s products are safe and effective for all customers—including both the professional athlete and the weekend warrior – USANA voluntarily patterns their facility after the more stringent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Good Manufacturing Practices for pharmaceuticals as the basis for its quality assurance program, which regulates virtually every aspect of manufacturing. In addition, USANA has acquired Drug Establishment Registration with the FDA, which means USANA operates an FDA-registered facility and follows the FDA’s highest possible standard for manufacturers. This gives the multi-million dollar company the option to produce over-the-counter (OTC) drugs while holding it to a quality standard well above what is required of a typical dietary supplement manufacturer.

“Few companies voluntarily submit themselves to increased scrutiny, but since we operate in 19 countries including Australia, where dietary supplements are highly regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), our base manufacturing standards are extremely high. Manufacturing most of our products in-house helps further assure our product users of their quality.” – Dave Wentz, USANA Chief Executive Officer

Personalization

USANA’s central focus is personalization. All athletes are given the option to purchase USANA’s My HealthPak, SportsPak, which is NSF Certified for Sport and comprised of products perfect for the everyday athlete and the elite athlete. Taking commitment to personalization one step further, the launch of USANA’s True Health Assessment revolutionized the way the company’s consumers saw and purchased nutritional products. The Assessment asks the user a variety of health-related questions and provides a personalized list of nutritional recommendations based on their answers. No matter what their needs—whether they’re an elite athlete or a stay-at-home mom—USANA has the right fit for everyone.

About USANA

Founded in 1992, USANA Health Sciences (NYSE: USNA) is a U.S.-based nutritional company that manufactures high-quality supplements, personal care and energy products in its FDA Drug Establishment in Salt Lake City. Learn more about USANA and complete your FREE True Health Assessment by visiting my website: http://www.mariofit.usana.com.

Sign up for my e-newsletter and get the most updated information on fitness, nutrition, sport performances, weight loss and health: http://teccrab.us5.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=eeefd036ccbe60061e371ed43&id=19190c8bfd

PR Newswire is the authoritative source of news and information for leading global media organizations. To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/7143551-usana-health-sciences-best-kept-secret-of-elite-athletes. (SALT LAKE CITY, March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — (NYSE: USNA)

 

 

Team USANA Great Performance @ Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

With 88 countries and more than 2800 world class participating athletes, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games, was a major international multi-sport event held on the beautiful city of Sochi, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast.

Team-USANA-Crest_VR5[1]Among them were 190 top athletes from the USANA Sponsored Team, who competed to bring the gold, silver or bronze medals to their respective countries, (Canada, United States, Great Britain, South Korea) but indirectly also for USANA Health Sciences who sponsored them.

With an impressive 30 medals (13 gold, 7 silver, and 10 bronze), Team USANA surpassed its 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games medals where they earned in total 22 medals (6 gold, 8 silver, and 8 bronze).

If Team USANA was a country, it would have placed second in the overall medal count with a solid 30 podium appearances:  – 13 gold – 7 silver – 10 bronze  and tied with Russia for the most gold medals of the Games!FINAL-MEDAL-STANDING[1]

Usana’s Sochi Champions Review:

  • The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association scored 17 medals (8 gold, 3 silver, 6 bronze) during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
  • Speed Skating Canada captured 5 medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze) during the Games, two of which were earned by long tracker Denny Morrison, from Fort St. John, British Colombia- Canada
  • Ambassador Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid from the Canada’s Women’s Hockey Team, secured gold for the second consecutive time after Canada’s women’s hockey team defeated the USA 3–2 in overtime.
  • Five USANA-sponsored athletes of South Korea’s Speed Skating team brought home 5 medals, three of which 2 gold and 1 bronze were secured by their world champion Park Seung-Hi!
  • U.S. Speedskating Short-Tack athletes (J.R. Celski, Eddy Alvarez, Chris Creveling, and Jordan Malone) took home for their team’s silver medal in the 5000m relay.
  • Erin Hamlin of U.S. Luge secured bronze in the women’s single event, becoming the first American luger to medal at any Winter Games.

Although they didn’t reach the podium, I would like to congratulate also Biathlon Canada, Cross Country Canada, U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team and Great Britain Short Track Speed Skating athletes on their tremendous achievements.

We all know that Athletes are always working and training hard to break records and to push limits. For them recovery time and proper nutrition is vital for their performances. So, it’s no wonder that more than 600 world-class athletes trust their Health and Performances with USANA’s Health Sciences top quality products. From being the official nutritional sponsor for the Women’s Tennis Association and to many Olympic teams, USANA provides a One-Million dollar Guarantee that their products are safe and effective.

But USANA doesn’t make products for athletes only but for everyone seeking a better health.

images6A0BYB5GIn fact: USANA Health Sciences (NYSE:  USNA) is the top rated nutritional company in the world who received the 2014 NutriSearch Editor’s Choice Award.

Usana manufactures high-quality supplements, personal care, energy, and weight-management products in their FDA-registered facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. USANA’s products, tested by NSF International and used by more than 600 professional athletes, are developed by the company’s award-winning team of scientists and sold directly to Preferred Customers and Associates in 18 international markets (including also Romania). Named one of Outside magazine’s “Best Places to Work” for four consecutive years, USANA has received more than 100 state, national and international accolades, including Utah Best of State, Stevie Awards, Australian Business Awards, and others.

To learn more about USANA and how to become an independent associate or a USANA Sponsored Athletes, visit my USANA business page http://www.mariofit.usana.com/ and contact me to join my team.

Subscribe to my e-newsletter and get the most updated information on fitness, nutrition, health and self-protection. E-Newsletter: http://teccrab.us5.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=eeefd036ccbe60061e371ed43&id=19190c8bfd

Karate Canada National Championship – Our Unique Experience

The 2014 Karate Canada National Championship was held at the Richmond Olympic Oval in British Columbia on January 17-19. During the three day competition, participants from all Canadian provinces contended to win a medal for themselves or for their team.One of them was Joshua Hensman representing Team BC. (British Columbia). I coached Josh for about 10 month and he qualified to participated for the first time into a karate national competition (at the age of 34)

Our Unique Story

IMG_2155I meet Joshua in 2012, at the False Creek Community Centre in Vancouver BC. He was a youth worker with the City of Vancouver, and I was teaching a weekend Family Krav Maga Self Defense Program. At that time, at the age of 50, I was preparing to win a top place in the BC Karate Championship and to prove that a healthy lifestyle with systematic training and proper nutrition including the USANA Health Sciences nutritional supplements can make a competitive athlete at any age.

And to keep my motivation high I decided to attach this competition to a charitable event to raise funds for Children’s Hunger Fund to provide 70,000 meals for kids in desperate need.  And I invited my friends to support my charitable activities.  See my event here: http://www.mariofitfightingforkids.com/.

As I shared to Josh my intention to participate at the 2012 BC Karate Provincial Championship, and to raise funds for children in need, he was one of the first people to support my charitable actions. At the competition I qualified second on my weight category (+84 kg) to represent British Columbia at the 2013 National Championship in Toronto. Unfortunately, due to some family related problems, I was not able to attend this Championship. I get sad and disappointed, but this is life, and must be lived.

But as I meet Josh, in short time, we get to know each other interest, and we also discuss the potential to have a private location and a possible partnership business promoting fitness, martial arts self defense and nutrition.

In January 2013, I invited Josh at Tactix Gym, to attend a Krav Maga Israeli Self Defense Seminar with my friend Moshe Katz from Israel.  As I saw Josh performing at this seminar, I make a funny comment: “You move better than many sport karate athletes. Maybe you should participate to a competition and win a medal”. He took it seriously and asked me to train him for competition.

So, on February 2013, we started to train two times per week. Having a background on karate (as a youth in New Zealand) and some experience in fitness kickboxing, at the beginning Josh was extremely stiff in his karate movements. Despite the fact that the time was too short to the qualification for Zone 5 events (April 2013) I saw Joshua’s determination to become a competitive karate athlete, and I decided to push him a little harder.

usana_essentials__92169-1353691843-1280-12801[1]Knowing that a hard training can increase oxidation and inflammation to the working body, I introduced Josh to the top rated USANA Health Sciences nutritional supplements. Having my personal experience using USANA’s nutritionals, I founded that my body recovered faster after an intense training session.

In fact USANA offers a million dollars “Athlete Guarantee Program” to select sponsored athletes, assuring the athlete that their products are enrolled in the program test positive for a banned substance and are  in accordance to the World Anti-Doping Agency regulations.

On April 2013, as we increased the intensity and the volume of our trainings, Joshua started to take USANA’s top rated supplements in the world: ESSENTIALS – a multivitamin/mineral/antioxidant formula, BIOMEGA3 – an essentially fatty acid to prevent inflammation and PROCOSA – a winning joint support formula.

Here are Joshua’s testimonials:

“Having had knee surgery in the past and multiple joint sprains, I really noticed the difference Procosa made in how my joints felt. This is particularly the case during and after intense training sessions, which is when I would previously notice more discomfort. Thank goodness I had Procosa to fortify my joints!”

“I found that taking ESSENTIALs and BIOMEGA soon after I had been training was very effective in reducing muscle soreness and inflammation. This improved the speed of my recovery and enabled me to reduce my recovery time”

At the zone 5, BC, Josh qualified to compete in the provincial championship (May 2013) in 2 different categories -75 kg and open. He also competed at the BC Karate Championship and qualified for the 2014, Karate Canada National championship to participate in an open challenge.

As the time approached to the January 2014 National Championship, we tuned up our tactical and technical training focusing on speed and finalization. On December 2013, we also get the tactical support from Catalin Neagu (aka Nick) – 5 DAN – who practice competitive martial arts in Las Vegas. Nick, who is the also the chief instructor for Japan Karate Association in Romania, was my former training partner in 1982-1988.

At the last training session with the Karate BC Elite Team, Josh was informed about an opening for a participant in the -67 kg kumite (fighting). And he was informed that if he commits to lose some weight he can be the best candidate.

Since Josh was about 70 kg at the end of December, and only 3 weeks to the National Championship, he supposed to lose about 7-8 pounds of his weight. At that time Josh was trim and fit with no body fat to lose. And since I knew that a starvation diet with sauna and long aerobic exercises to induce perspiration might make him lose some weight, I also knew that this approach will impede Josh athletic performances.

s690845496938073127_p12_i1_w600[1]So, starting January 6, 2014, I decided to put Josh in a 5 days USANA Reset Challenge – a low glycemic meal replacement, of shakes and bars, including also 5 full day supply of USANA Health Pak – a selection of core supplements, including the Essentials, Active Calcium Plus and Proflavanol (grape seeds extract) pre-packed in convenient Am and Pm pouches. This allowed Josh to train at the full speed and intensity, while losing weight without being undernourished.

On his competition day (Saturday January 18, 2014) Joshua was weighting 66.9 kg, and he was full of energy, keeping his vitality high during the entire two days of fighting competition time.

For the first time participation at a Karate National Championship, Joshua spirit was high and he was able to challenge top Canadian competitive athletes, with many years’ competitive experience. For me, the attitude of a real WINNER is to have the guts to challenge more experienced fighters and
to gain more “know-how”. And Joshua Hensman proved to be this WINNER!

Congratulation Joshua!

USANA Health Sciences is a company who produce and distribute in 20 countries, the top rated nutritional supplements in the world. Learn more about USANA and do your free TRUE Health Assessment at www.mariofit.usana.com .

You can also subscribe to my e-newsletter on the top right cornet: www.mariofit.ca and receive updated information on fitness, nutrition and athletic performances.

NUTRITION FOR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE – PART 1 NUTRIENT TIMING – HORMONES & EXERCISE

DSCN0804On my previous blogs I mentioned how important is to have a planned periodized training program for sport specific according to the competition schedule.

And I already point out that  part of this plan is to use periodization in structuring a resistance training program that  build up maximum strength, which is the basis of developing power or endurance for sport specific, with the ultimate goal to achieve peak performance for the most important competition of the year.

But as a Registered Holistic and Sport Nutrition Consultant, I never talk in my blogs about nutrition and supplementation for athletes. And now is the time.

In the world of sport nutrition there is a lot of “buzz”  that lead to the sales of various supplements disregarding the fact that some are good but some are just hype. And because many athletes and fitness enthusiasts rely on what the supplement manufacturers are advertising in the media, I will provide more information in my future blogs, with the intention to take the confusion out of supplementation.

NUTRIENT TIMING

Nitrient-Timing[1]The new science in sport nutrition is related to the Nutrient Timing that emphasize now more on the time to eat  rather than only what to eat.

But in my opinion knowing both what to eat and the time to eat before and after training is an essential key in achieving  proper nutrition for recovery and performances.

The nutrient timing system can be divided into 3 different phases:

  1. The Energy Phase refer to the time just before and during workout.
  2. The Anabolic Phase is the time related to the next  45 minutes after the workout
  3. The Growth Phase  is the rest of the time after the workout.

But since the science behind Nutrient Timing is based on the hormonal response to various training intensities, it is better first to understand the role of hormones as related to food and exercise.

HORMONES AND EXERCISE

Inside the body, there are numerous hormones stimulated by exercise and by the food we eat. Some of them have  an anabolic (building up) effect and some of them with a catabolic (breaking down) effect.

5937369_f520[1]The catabolic hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucagon are assisting in the breaking down of food into nutrients necessary for energy production at the cellular level. These hormones also stimulate the raise in respiration tempo, heart rate and blood pressure, to facilitate blood redistribution to muscle, and  to meet the  needs of a continuous dynamic exercise.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, produced by the adrenal gland, which is largely responsible during exhaustive exercise, for the breakdown of carbohydrate and fat for energy.  It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucose, and stimulate the use of amino acids in liver to make new glucose, in a process  referred to as gluconeogeneses.

Glucagon, is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to raises blood glucose when these levels are low. It is the  opposite of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream. Both glucagon and insulin are part of a feedback system that keeps blood glucose levels at a stable level.

Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and  Norepinephrine (also known as noradrenalin) are hormones produced by the adrenal glands and also neurotransmitters produced by some neurons of the central nervous system. Both adrenaline and noradrenalin known as catecholamine hormones, are active on nearly all body tissues and act as a “fight-or-flight” response to stress. Their action is to increases respiratory and heart rate, stimulates the breakdown of glycogen and lipids in the liver, stimulate muscle contraction and  increases the brain’s oxygen supply.

how-to-naturally-increase-growth-hormone[1]The  anabolic hormones that are stimulated by exercise such as insulin, testosterone, IGF-I and growth hormone, facilitate the regulation of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism , maintain muscle and stimulate growth, aid in tissues repair and control inflammation.

Insulin, produced by the pancreas is one of the major anabolic hormone, that is stimulate by food and exercise to regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. While exercise boost insulin sensitivity to increase glucose uptake for muscle contraction, it also  stimulates protein synthesis in muscles by accelerating the transport of amino acids.

But with  intense exercises, actually insulin level decrease due to the fact that adrenaline, noradrenalin and glucagon stimulated by exercise, inhibit the release of insulin from the pancreas. On the other end, food with high glycemic increase the insulin level.

Testosterone is another important anabolic hormone that is produced and in the testicles of man and the ovaries of women, and very little by the adrenal glands. For men it is the main sex hormone and also an anabolic steroid necessary for protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy. High intensity exercises increases the level of testosterone. Similar to other steroid hormones, testosterone is derived from cholesterol, and it is influenced by the vitamin D, zinc and magnesium level in the body. Foods containing cholesterol (such as eggs with the yolk) and vitamins and minerals should be part of an athlete healthy diet.

Growth hormone is another important anabolic hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland, but regulated by the hypothalamus. Hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that connect the nervous system to the endocrine system through  the pituitary gland. Growth hormone stimulates the immune system , promotes bone and cartilage growth and increases protein synthesis. Growth hormone can increase with high intensity training and its release can be stimulated by taking some ergogenic supplements such as amino acids arginine, glutamine glycine,  minerals and vitamins such as zinc, magnesium and vitamin C, vitamin B3 and B6 as well as other antioxidants including alpha lipoic acid. And it is inhibited by high glycemic foods that stimulate the release of insulin.

Growth hormone is also responsible for stimulating IGF-I, a hormone responsible for the development of muscle cells.

IGF-1 is a hormone similar in molecular structure to insulin, that has an important role in childhood growth and has anabolic effects in adults,  promoting  muscle hypertrophy. IGF-1 is produced primarily by the liver, and is stimulated by the release of growth hormone. It is now accepted as an anti-aging hormone as showing to decelerate the degenerative aging process. In clinical trials shown great promise for the treatment of diabetes.

You can read more about nutrition, exercise and the hormonal response in my next blogs.

Until then I wish everyone Happy Holydays and all the best in Fitness and Health.

Hypertrophy – The Second Phase of Periodization

There are many types of strength training that can be applied for different sports such as general strength, specific strength, absolute strength, relative strength, power or power endurance, etc.

Regular strength training produces structural changes in the body. When the body adapt to these changes, the manipulation of load, volume and frequency of training that challenge the “adaptation threshold” of the body will result in a superior strength and performance.

Previously, we explored the General Strength or Anatomical Adaptation phase which produces a progressive structural adaptation. Anatomical adaptation must be at the beginning of any strength training program as it is the functional training that prepares the body for the next phases. Today we will continue with a discussion on the second phase: hypertrophy.

HYPERTROPHY

Phase two of strength periodization should be the hypertrophy or an increase in the muscle cross-sectional area.  Hypertrophy is influenced by bodybuilding methods that isolates the muscle in regular training and push it towards exhaustion by using moderate loads with minimal rest interval between sets.

Body building is a competitive sport where optimal symmetry is more important than optimum athletic performance. Unless you are training for one of their body building contest, I will not advice their methods for athletic performances.

Instead, if your goal is to increase power, speed and reaction time, you must train the muscle’s movement and only in its isolation. Generally, this phase could be 4 – 6 weeks long and the intensity will be moderate at 70-80% of 1RM with 6-12 repetitions and rest intervals of 3 – 5 minutes.

Both methods of training are increases the number of cross-bridges and proteins in the muscle, but the ultimate goal for athletic performance is to stimulate the fast-twitch muscle fiber and the central nervous system using heavier loads with more rest interval between sets. Thus, the athletic hypertrophy created is different than that of body building.

Cheers,

Mario

Testing Before Starting

Before beginning any strength-training program for sports, it is necessary to estimate your current strength level as the intensity of exercises is a percentage of maximum strength. For example, to develop strength one should perform 1-4 repetition at 85% – 100% of maximum strength. To develop power one must perform explosive exercises at 30%-50% of maximum strength.

Due to a previous motor vehicle accident, some physical limitations. I wanted to be safe so before starting a weight training program specifically for sport karate, I tested my strength and my biomotor capability.

Coming from a rehabilitation workout program, I needed to estimate what my maximum strength was for five major exercises such as: leg press, squats, bench press, lat pulldown and barbell bent-over row. Additionally, I find it necessary to test what is my core muscle strength is and to determine my current level of core stability to be able to determine my progress over time. I needed to test my ability to do chin ups starting from a fully extended arms position as well as how many dips I can perform at once.

All the tests and knowing what is my one-repetition-maximum (1RM) for a specific exercise were essential to building a strength training plan as part of a complex periodization program that included tactical karate sport specific techniques to develop speed, agility and reaction time and a nutrition plan designed to lead me to peak performance right at competition time.

ONE REPETITION MAXIMUM (1RM)

There are many methods to estimate and calculate someone’s strength, but for my particular physical condition I prefer to use gym machine equipment (Smith Machine, and Technogym) for testing. For others without a physical condition, my recommendation is to use a barbell or free weights whenever possible.

As I mention yesterday, I started my Anatomical Adaptation Phase with circuit trainings where the intensity of training was 40-60 percent of One Repetition Maximum (1RM). One Repetition Maximum (1RM), as I explained, is the amount of weight that can be lifted only once.

For example, if you can squat with 150 kg (330 lbs) only one time, this means that your 1RM for squat is 150 kg. Exercising on Anatomical Adaptation at 60 percent intensity means having the ability to do 8-10 (or more) repetitive squats with a weight of 90 kg (198 lbs). Doing repetitions with 135 kg or more (90% +)) will develop maximum strength while explosive fast movements with 45 kg-75 kg (30%-50%) will increase the power.

Simply, the best method for testing 1 RM is to actually perform it. Predict a weight that allows you to complete 4-6 repetition and after 3 minutes of rest, increase the weight until you can only perform one repetition. Record how at each stage and adjust the weight accordingly.

For convenience, Epley’s Formula can calculate weights that can be lifted up to 10 repetitions.

1RM = W x (1 + 0.0333 x R)

  • Where 1 RM = 1 Repetition Max, W = Weight used, R = The number of Repetitions (must be less than 10)

For example, if I can perform 10 squats with 80 kg, using the formula my estimated 1 RM is approximately 106 kg. 1RM = 80 KG (1 + 0.0333 x 10 Repetitions). This formula may not always produce accurate results, but can be used as starting point for testing Maximum Strength. Starting from there I can attempt a lift to see if this is accurate or not with a spotter and a proper warm up.  The weight can then be changed as needed to perform the number of reps needed for the training procedure.

Similarly, I used a medicinal ball to test my motor abilities, power and power endurance, my core muscle strength and level of stability to necessary further develop speed, reaction time and agility.

Anatomical Adaptation – Strength Training for Competition

From his previous coaching experience with the Romania Olympic team, Dr. Tudor Bompa brought over brought over a highly effective method of training known as the “Periodization of Strength.”

Periodization is a complex subject that includes periodization of biomotor abilities, strength, power, nutrition and many more. We need to understand that performance cannot be maintained at all times during the year and that it should be planned from one competition to the other. This means using a preparatory phase, a competitive phase and a transition phase with recovery time built into the program to allow compensation and supercompensation.

The most physical activities involve force, power, speed, flexibility, endurance or a combination of them. Strength training and specifically training for the energy systems used in a particular sport as the basis of best athletic performance is often disregarded.

I am here to explain that being strong first and then converting this strength into power and speed right before competition is a key element to success. The question is: how do we achieve this optimal state?

There are five phases to consider when designing a periodization of strength program:

  • Anatomical Adaptation
  • Hypertrophy
  • Maximal Strength
  • Conversion Phase, and
  • Transition

Today I will talk about the first phrase which is the Anatomical Adaptation. The exercises here are all-purpose in nature, designed to support the connective tissues, to stabilized joints and to correct different muscular and structural imbalances.

Unfortunately, most athletes and coaches tend to focus on sport-specific training with emphasis on training all year round only related to the prime movers of their sport. This sport specific training performed for longer periods of time will create a structural imbalance that may lead to injury.

Based on the athlete experience and athletic performance, an anatomical adaptation phase should last between four to eight weeks (or more for a novice). The focus on training should be placed on many bodyweight exercises and circuit training using weights and medicinal balls.

The volume should progressively increase with 10 or more exercises to be performed in a circuit with 8-12 repetition per set and a rest interval of 30 seconds – 1 minute between sets. Usually, the circuits are repeated two or three times per session and about two to three sessions should be performed per week.

The intensity of training should be medium with 40-60 percent of One Repetition Maximum (1RM) which means the amount of weights that can only be lifted once. I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog, I will expand into the testing for 1RM as well as the other phases of Periodization: Hypertrophy, Maximal Strength, Conversion Phase and Transition.

Cheers,

Mario

TAPERING for Maximum Performance

Daily Training

As you can see, I am on the treadmill! For the purpose of regeneration, I highly recommend a 20 minutes fast walking or slow running to remove metabolites and to dissipate the accumulated lactic acid. My last session of high intensity training was followed by light and fast walking period on the treadmill.

However, this is not a training designed for “cardio” after a weight training session. I have already finished an intensive workout to stimulate my cardiovascular system and that is why I am walking fast on the treadmill.

Thus, I don’t recommend power and speed athletes running long periods at a medium intensity on the treadmill or in general to improve “cardiovascular function” except with the interval training part of a periodization program.

Tapering

With only nine days left to the competition, my focus is now on peaking for maximum performance. In order to achieve a peak performance, this is the right time for tapering. You may ask, what exactly is tapering?

Tapering, or peaking as it is sometimes called, is a complex process that is influenced by frequency, intensity and volume of training. During tapering time, my focus is on recovery and regeneration. If implemented correctly, this may give me an edge over my competitors.

To maintain the strength and the power I gained in the previously phases, my trainings remain at a medium-high intensity. The frequency is decreased by 20-30 percent while the volume of training is reduced to about 50 percent.

This will facilitate a full replenishment of my energy stores and will give me the time to relax physically and mentally while achieving supercompensation.

Currently, I feel a little tired and over trained and my best performances are probably masked by fatigue. According to the periodization of training for sports, when this fatigue dissipates and the body regenerate, I expect the performances gained to pay off.

Usually the tapering period last up to 4 weeks, but in most cases, the optimal time is only 8-14 days. There are some many types of taper with different strategies, but it all depends on the previous training methods influenced by intensity, volume and frequency.

As a personal experiment, instead of a slow reduction in volume, I choose to use a progressive exponential taper with a fast reduction in training load. And I am expecting the results to show.

Cheers,

Mario

PERIODIZATION – Part 2

As I mentioned yesterday, the modern concept of Periodization arose during the Olympic Games in the 1960’s.

The competition to create “superior” athletes somewhat mimicked the Cold War trend that was going on. Eastern Bloc countries made sports science a huge priority by spending significant time and money on research which were not matched in the Western world.

Since the collapse of the Eastern communist countries, many of their best coaches have relocated to North America, bringing along their methods and knowledge for producing world-class athletes.

As I introduced yesterday, Dr. Tudor Bompa, the “father of periodization” is credited for developing highly effective methods of training, particularly on the topic of the “periodization of strength”. He is a former Romanian strength & conditioning coach and consultant to the Soviet Union Olympic teams. Bompa has since immigrated in Canada and is now a retired professor emeritus from York University in Toronto.

As well, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, a former Russian strength & conditioning coach has immigrated to the United States and is a currently a professor at Pennsylvania State University. They have both published books and papers on the subject of sports science in English, Romanian, Russian and other languages and are both world-renown scientists in sport biomechanics who brought the secrets of Eastern Bloc Training to North America.

While this explains how periodization became a sort after method of training, how does it actually look like in practice? Since biomechanical needs vary from sport-to-sport in addition to the needs of a particular athlete, the focus of each macro- and microcycle will differ accordingly.

A typical periodization plan looks like this:

Phase-1: Anatomical Adaptation

Phase-2: Hypertrophy (bodybuilding methods)

Phase-3: Maximal Strength

Phase-4: Conversion Phase

Phase-5: Transition

To not over clutter your brains, that’s it for now! As always, I’ve been busy training, promoting this event and spending time with my family!

Cheers,

Mario