The Right Way to Breathe For More Powerful Weightlifting

In the weight room, the two most important things to consider are safety and how much you can lift. For some people, it’s one or the other, but with the right breathing techniques, you will be able to lift more weight effectively and do it without hurting yourself. Here’s how.

Source: The Right Way to Breathe For More Powerful Weightlifting

Low blood pressure (BP) in combination with the valsalva can lead to problems and health risks. Someone I knew had low BP who learnt this lesson when they were gently woken by concerned fellow lifters. My acquaintance did a deadlift close to their max, with breath held and bracing their core against the air in their lungs. After the lift, they exhaled and stood up.  Their BP dropped rapidly, and they blacked out – fell to the floor straight. They barely missed the weight plate stand with the side of their head with a foot or so.

Their solution to this was partial valsalvas, wheretheyI open my windpipe and mouth to slowly force out air but still having a lot of intra-abdominal pressure to brace against. When they get to the point where that is no longer enough they will probably try a good stiff lifters belt.

Air Pollutants Get Into the Body via the Skin

While lungs remain the main way by which air pollutants get into the body, and, if in sufficient quantities, cause ill-health effects, a new study shows that certain pollutants (‘semi-volatiles’ like phthalates) can be drawn in by the skin. This effect is known as ‘dermal uptake’ and the levels absorbed can be equivalent to those drawn in through breathing via the lungs.

Source: Air Pollutants Get Into the Body via the Skin

For the curious, here’s the peer reviewed source.  Time to break out the plastic bubble …just make sure it’s BPA free 😉

The study confirms we can (and do) get air pollution via osmosis.  There’s been news in the past about inhaling exhaust changes the expression of our DNA.  Those face masks some people wear?  It’s really only a courtesy as an attempt to minimize spreading what they already have.  Between the grade of mask and fit (no beards!), most consumer grade stuff isn’t worth wearing with respect to limiting your exposure.

Consider stocking up on snake plants and peace lily’s, because they remove 14 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air in significant amounts.  FYI though: they’re toxic to cats.  HEPA filters won’t help with VOCs.  If you keep your windows shut to maximize the effectiveness of a HEPA filter, you may have higher VOC levels inside.  Activated carbon filters may help, but they’re of limited value. Most “consumer grade” AC filters foul with dust very quickly. you’d need an industrial AC filter (one that periodically heats itself to recharge the AC) for it to be really effective.  Of course a lot depends on your home environment. Do you have a lot of new plastics around? Did you paint recently? Are there people using a lot of cosmetics, hairspray, deodorant, shampoo, etc? I wish there were an inexpensive tester for common VOCs. So far I have not been able to find one.

The Easiest Way to Get Started Running: Mind Your Breath, Not Time

I’m going to share a learn-to-run strategy that is so simple, I could even do it. This is how I learned and how I’ve coached newbies for years. It doesn’t involve intervals, speed, calculations, or big words.

It is based solely on your body and how it responds to running. In fact, it’s a plan that is customized to you, because it progresses when your body is ready to do so.

Source: The World’s Simplest Learn to Run Program

It’s basically the couch-to-5K, without the targets/intervals.  I did it years back, and got the results I wanted – dropped weight.  But I can’t remember why I fell out of the habit, only that I did.  When I got back into running for triathlon, I swear I’m much slower now.

Swimming and cycling came more naturally to me, and I’ve been able to figure out how to challenge myself to get better.  Running?  Not so much.  I have no aptitude, and while I can commit to a regiment my approach hasn’t paid off like I’d hoped.  I can see where my training helped, like tackling stairs in cyclocross… but I want it all 😉

Compassion: Changing the World and Ourselves

…what if recognising our shared humanity was more than just a sentimental ideal? What if consciously practising kindness could change the wiring of your brain and make you live longer?

This is neuroscience’s latest frontier – a growing body of research that shows compassion could be the key to improved health, happiness and longevity.

Brain imaging reveals that exercising compassion stimulates the same pleasure centres associated with the drive for food, water and sex.

Other studies show it can be protective against disease and increase lifespan.

Source: Changing the world and ourselves through compassion

Interesting read, but light on the science.

And you have nice hair!

Sorry, but I don’t believe altruism exists.  Doing something compassionate to be seen as such is in fact selfish.  And I’ve seen compassion make people rather myopic, sneering at what they’d label as socialism – social programs to support the aftermath of their political views.

Cycling: 8 Ways to Become a Better Climber

Climbing. Some love it, some hate it. More often than not a rider’s attitude towards climbing correlates with their bodyweight. The bottom line is that climbing is generally dictated by watts per kilo. Simply put: to climb faster, you need to put out more power, or weigh less. Or both.

There are a myriad of strategies that can be enacted with coaches, physiologists and nutritionists until you’re light and strong enough to leave all your mates behind. But bike races are not raced in a lab.

It’s a curious observation that those who test well in the lab often get smashed by their less-impressive counterparts in real-life racing. Sometimes it’s attitude, sometimes its technique, sometimes it’s pacing. But whatever is letting you down, here are a few tips to help you improve.

Source: 8 ways to become a better climber

Being at the front is a tip I’ve gotten for group rides too.  The rationale is that stronger climbers will pass you, but hopefully you won’t fall to the very back – so you’ll still crest the hill with the majority of the group.

Being in or out of the saddle, all that matters is that you are comfortable.  I was given a “tip” once that if everyone else is out of the saddle – you should be too.  I disregarded the tip, and have since found the following video:

The science says there’s no difference (same as the article), even if the standing test was done so the guy wasn’t standing the entire time.  What really dictates getting out of the saddle is how steep the climb is – you need to get out of the saddle to keep the weight distribution between the front and rear wheel.  Too much in the back, the front lifts and you could end up on the ground.  Too much in the front, and you loose traction in the rear – spin out.  Spinning out isn’t that much of an issue on pavement/asphalt, but when the terrain is loose (gravel, dirt, mud) – it’s a lot more likely, and a lot more obvious.

Listening to the breathing of the people around you is very much a thing.  In a group ride, it’s a courtesy to the person you’re paired with so you know if you should back off the pace.  But as the article points out – in a competitive setting, use that to your advantage.  Which leads into the next point…

As with any competition, knowing your opponent is key.  Know when your opponent is “riding the rivet” so you can push them beyond the breaking point.  I’ve had the experience where people misread me, because I am an unorthodox cyclist – I push big gears, low cadence.  I get a lot of sneers, and it takes a few rides before that goes away.

Alcohol Poisoning Deaths: Mostly Middle-Aged Men

If you said “idiot college students”, you’re drunk.

On average, 6 people died every day from alcohol poisoning in the US from 2010 to 2012. Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time. Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death. Alcohol poisoning deaths affect people of all ages but are most common among middle-aged adults and men.

Source: Alcohol Poisoning Deaths

You have to be really dedicated to kill yourself with beer…