Testosterone Spikes: Predictor of Performance?

For a long time, I’d never really considered the hormonal aspects of training as being very important. It seems like a lot of wanking over what is, at best, a transient hormonal spike in response to a stimulus (in this case, exercise).

We’re talking brief here, like 45-60 minutes of increased testosterone which is, at best, a slight elevation off baseline. Steroid cycles have to magnify this level many times over to see drastic results.

However, there has been some correlation between testosterone and cortisol levels with the condition of the athlete. The first group I’m aware of that really investigated it were Lon Kilgore and Glenn Pendlay, who determined that the ratio of testosterone to cortisol was an accurate predictor of the state of the athlete — a marker of overtraining and overreaching, in other words.

Pendlay, G. and L. Kilgore (2001). Hormonal fluctuation: A new method for the programming of training. Weightlifting USA 19(2): 15.

Other (apparently unpublished) thesis research from Glenn Pendlay and Michael Hartmann has more or less confirmed that the test:cortisol ratio is depressed during hard training, but when unloading occurs it will sharply increase above baseline after adequate rest has occurred.

It seems like there’s definitely a correlation between testosterone levels and the athlete’s condition, even if it’s not responsible.

Is there anything more to it? There just might be.

Keep on reading &rarrow;Testosterone Spikes: Predictor of Performance?

Ephedra and Caffeine: No good for strength?

The Effect of Ephedra and Caffeine on Maximal Strength and Power in Resistance-Trained Athletes Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research:Volume 22(2)March 2008pp 464-470 Caffeine and ephedrine-related alkaloids recently have been removed from International Olympic Committee banned substances lists, whereas ephedrine itself is now permissible at urinary concentrations less than 10 μg·mL-1. The changes to the … Keep on reading &rarrow;

Functional or Not?

What does the word “functional” mean to you?

If you’ve had any sampling of the modern fitness industry, “functional” will probably mean doing exercises that have a high carryover to the motions and actions found in most team sports.

It could just as easily mean standing on a wobble board doing one-handed dumbbell presses, in order to improve “core stability”.

Have you ever stopped to think what “functional” really means, though?

The word itself should give you a hint. A more appropriate definition of functionality would be “the way the body’s systems work in order to create motor output”, to paraphrase the late Mel Siff.

In other words, functional training is a formal way of saying “training to improve how the body works in order to perform in specific ways”.

When somebody says that something is “functional”, the response should be “functional for what?”. Functional training is not just a discrete thing you can point to. It’s not a style of training, as much as people like to quantify training in this way.

Keep on reading &rarrow;Functional or Not?

Machines vs. Free Weights: A Problem of Context

This is one of the oldest and most frequently debated subjects in the field of weight training.

As per the status quo in these arguments, you have camps that are polarized on both sides of the issue.

I’ll give a little summary of each side, then throw in the Common Sense outlook.

Keep on reading &rarrow;Machines vs. Free Weights: A Problem of Context

Adrenal Fatigue: A Quack Disease for the New Millennium

Adrenal fatigue is the new fad for all the quack doctors and fitness trainers of the modern day. Just don’t ask anybody with medical training.

Why, you may ask? Well, when this first started cropping up as the Next Big Thing, I did a little checking around on Google, and the top results were from a doctor yes, but not in the way you might think. The results belonged to one Dr. James Wilson. More accurately, his website designed will all the standard Inner Circle Marketing cliches.

For obvious reasons this set off my bullshit alarms at once; if you Google search any real disease, you’ll find that actual, you know, information pops up, not some doctor using his MD as an appeal to authority while he tries to sell you things.

I didn’t give up, though. I went over to Pubmed, which is a repository of health and medical research that contains an index of virtually every medical-related publication. Again, if this were a valid thing you’d expect a good number of results.

The search string “adrenal fatigue” returned zero (0) matches.

By now I’m 95% convinced this is garbage. But, just to be fair and to prove to myself that it’s the case, I dig around a little more.

Keep on reading &rarrow;Adrenal Fatigue: A Quack Disease for the New Millennium

Block Periodization for Bodybuilders

For those folks out there that don’t know, Professor Yuri Verkhoshansky who is considered one of the fathers of Russian sports science, has a new website up that contains a lot of his articles (some translated, some not).

This is not exactly light reading, mind you, but if you’re a sports science geek (like I am), you’ll find it pretty interesting to read through.

It just happens that he’s got a forum up on his site as well, and with the help of his translator, Prof. Verkoshansky has had a lot of interesting things to say.

The big one has been shooting down all the terminology-wankers that are constantly screaming “Westside isn’t conjugate!!!!” He clarified that the “conjugate method” used by WSB is not the same thing as the conjugate-sequence system he spoke about, but that it really doesn’t matter in the final outcome.

Keep on reading &rarrow;Block Periodization for Bodybuilders

Realistic Expectations

Have your mind right, the rest will follow

When people start weight training, they come in with a lot of pre-conceived notions. For the average raw newbie with the common if ill-defined motivation of “looking better”, most of these notions can be anticipated.

For men, they want a 6-pack set of abs. Women need to tone up the legs and firm up the butt.

Neither the average man or woman wants to get “too bulky, like the guys/girls in the magazines”.

In logic, it’s generally considered that if you start with a false premise, you will invariably end up with a false conclusion. If you’re in the gym busting ass and watching your diet like a hawk week in, week out, under the wrong idea, you’re probably not ending up where you want to be. A false premise has created the expectation of an outcome that doesn’t follow from what you’re doing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely aware that the subjects of exercise and nutrition can get complex at times. Your job, be you beginning gym rat trying to figure things out or trainer trying to figure things out for people, is to reduce that complexity down to simple terms. It can seem like a daunting task.

The very fortunate reality of the matter is that, at the end of the day, it’s not that hard. While you’re being actively discouraged from learning and improving on your own by a fitness industry that needs your ignorance in order to profit, you can still make headway in this area.

Then we have the other side of the matter: how realistic is any given goal for you? As a newbie starting out, are you even asking the right questions? If your knowledge base is fundamentally skewed, how can you be?

Keep on reading &rarrow;Realistic Expectations

Bro-Science vs. Real Science

The Difference in Science and “Unexplainable” Results

This piece is being written in response to the proposition that “scientific theory” cannot explain certain results, in the context of the human body’s function.

More specifically, the proposition was to the effect of:

“If science tells us that the body mobilizes fat in a fashion that is genetically determined, and therefore spot reduction is impossible, then why do some bodybuilders note that when they work the midsection harder that it gets leaner?”

Well ok, the astute among you have likely noted some of the problems here, but I’d like to go into some detail just to eliminate any doubt. This is a treatment of real science vs. bro-science.

Keep on reading &rarrow;Bro-Science vs. Real Science