“Feel the Burn” Is Bad Fitness Advice

“Feel the burn!” is an oft-repeated cue to get exercisers to work harder and longer than they normally would. A good many relish in this uncomfortable feeling, but depending on the circumstances, this “burn” isn’t always a reliable indicator of a good or effective workout. Here’s what’s going on and why “feeling the burn” is overrated.

Source: “Feel the Burn” Is Bad Fitness Advice

I like this approach because it pushes back against the pressure people feel to exercise a certain way with a certain attitude. I was having a similar conversation last week with a friend who teaches fitness classes. She said, “whatever works for you. whatever makes you happy”.

Top 10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Just Won’t Die

“No pain, no gain!” “You’ll never bulk up without supplements.” “Crunches are the key to six-pack abs!” It seems there are more questions and half-truths in the market about healthy exercise than there are clear, definitive facts—but the exercise industry is a multi-billion dollar business in the United States alone, built partially on selling gadgets and DVDs with incredible claims to people desperate to lose weight or look attractive. Meanwhile, good workout plans and simple truths lurk in the background waiting for their time to shine. All of this results in a ton of misinformation about exercise in general, and while the reality is different for everyone, we’re taking some of those commonly held exercise myths to task, and we have science to back us up. Let’s get started.

Source: Top 10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Just Won’t Die

When Muscle Soreness Helps Muscle Growth (And When It Doesn’t)

This has been one of those ideas floating around for years and I still see posts about people feeling as if they didn’t have a good workout if they don’t get DOMS or actually chasing DOMS.  That is, based on the belief that DOMS equals growth, DOMS becomes the end-goal.  When growth and progress should be the end goal.

This led me years ago to develop what I call the Blunt Force Trauma Theory of Hypertrophy.  Since you want to be sore, I will beat you with a hammer all over your body.  Growth should ensue.

Source: DOMS and Muscle Growth

While DOMS is associated with muscle growth and repair, it doesn’t track with any specific measure—you’ll have damage before you feel soreness, and you’ll feel better before the muscle is fully repaired, for example. And some people/some sports can build tons of muscle over time without ever getting sore.

Another thing the author mentioned that I want to highlight: DOMS comes with decreased strength. You don’t just crap out on workouts because they hurt, you actually have less strength—and this loss of strength persists even when the soreness is gone, for days or in extreme cases weeks. So if you’re sore a couple times a week, you’re probably always underperforming, and might be able to make bigger gains if you backed off a bit.

Brain Damage Occurs After 6 Minutes, But the Holding Breath Record is 22?

The air you inhale is ~21% oxygen, and the air you exhale is 13-16% oxygen. Hold your breath for a minute with a blood oxygen meter on, and you find that there is zero change in the amount of oxygen your blood is carrying. Hold for another minute and your blood oxygen level will only drop a few percent. The urge to breath becomes intense very quickly because your body doesn’t actually know the amount of oxygen in your blood. But your body senses the build up of carbon dioxide (CO2)…  As your oxygen level drops, your body starts to restrict blood flow to the extremities and this (not the actual lack of oxygen) is what causes your fingers or lips to tingle when you are extremely out of breath.

Our bodies can also power many systems anaerobically (without oxygen) – your muscles can use more energy less efficiently and with more waste (lactic acid) for quite some time.  The only vital part of you that lacks this ability is your brain. Now all this adds up to the ability to hold your breath for ~8 minutes with proper training…  Some use hyperventilating to suppress the breathing reflex – this is extremely dangerous, and thousands of people drown/die that way every year!

The record referenced is a pure O2 record, where the diver holds their breath after breathing pure medical grade oxygen.  The grade of oxygen doesn’t matter – it doesn’t reduce the feeling of needing to breath at all, it just allows someone to hold breath much longer.

Fun fact: Kids can have breath-holding spells.  They generally grow out of it by the time they’re 5 or 6 years old.  I haven’t seen anything to support it, but I was told that the theory was that the carbon dioxide feedback loop isn’t foolproof at that age.  My brother was far worse – he could trigger a nosebleed when he wanted.  My poor mother…

Why Your Muscles Get Sore (and What You Can Do About It)

When you’re struggling to walk down the stairs the day after a tough workout, should you view your soreness as proof you worked hard, or as a sign you overdid it? The truth is somewhere in between. Let’s learn about where soreness comes from and how to keep it from making you miserable.

Source: Why Your Muscles Get Sore (and What You Can Do About It)

One of the suggestions to combat soreness is ibuprofen – do not do this on blood thinners, at least not before reading about it.

Fueling and Training for Endurance Events

Knowing you’re able to ride as long as your route, riding mates or imagination requires is a very powerful feeling. Conversely, feeling dread about passing the one-hour, two-hour or three-hour point will limit your training and fitness gains, and ultimately your enjoyment.

Here’s how to break through these self-imposed endurance ceilings that are keeping you from making the most…

Source: How to increase cycling endurance

My favorite quote would be:

…consuming 15g honey or glucose taken every 10 miles during a 64km ride improves performance compared to water alone.

Imperial or metric? I can’t decide! 🙂

10 miles is 16 KM – they’re advocating every quarter of the distance.  What constitutes honey isn’t addressed in the article – honey is determined by having pollen in it, which can trigger allergic reactions for some and you’d have to investigate your store bought “honey” because they’re filtering a lot of pollen out these days.

I don’t think I could consume honey, which gets into the next point not raised by the article – try what they suggest but everyone is different so it’s up to you to figure out what actually works best.  But I do agree with the recommendation to have water with electrolytes in it – currently I’m using Nuun’s tabs, but have used a combination of Nuuns and Heed.

It was triathlon training that brought it to my attention that eating a good breakfast is a good idea, but requires you to eat early so you’re not bogged down, trying to swim/run/cycle/etc with all that in your tummy.  Lots I know get up around 3 or 4 in the morning on race day to eat, and then go back to bed for a couple of hours until the event.

It’s only the last three paragraphs that address endurance training.  It doesn’t come overnight, and it takes time.  I’ve yet to get into heart rate as a training tool – whatever minus your age is too generalized to be of value.  If your rate is high, but you can still talk?  Then you’re OK at that level.

How to Beat the Burn: Use Lactic Acid to Your Advantage

You’re climbing that hill at max effort, and pushing and pushing and pushing, and then it hits: the burn. Lactic acid is building up in your muscles and, increasingly, you’re no longer able to sustain the same intensity of exertion.

Cycling Plus magazine spoke to James Hewitt, a sports scientist and performance cycling coach, about how you can use lactic acid to your advantage. Here’s how to push that boundary and more with some expert advice to help you improve…

Source: How to beat the burn while cycling

Intervals, Fartlek, speed play...  Whatever you call it.

Don’t say it!

Sports Massage Doesn’t Flush Toxins, but May Help You Recover

There is good reason massage therapists are part of an elite runner’s entourage. And why the lines for a postrace massage seemingly extend for miles. A rubdown—even a deep, intense one—feels great. Runners report that massages help lessen muscle tension and improve range of motion, while also making them feel relaxed and rewarded for their hard efforts.

Yet despite massage’s popularity and positive reputation, there’s been little scientific evidence to support why athletes feel so good when they hop off the table. “It can be hard to merge basic science with alternative medicine,” says Justin Crane, Ph.D., a McMaster University researcher who conducted some of the first objective studies on massage in 2012. Practitioners say massage relieves muscle soreness, promotes circulation, flushes toxins and lactic acid from the body, and eases joint strain—claims supported by centuries of anecdotal evidence from China, Sweden, and around the globe. But science hadn’t confirmed just what massage actually achieves—until now. Recent research has sorted out what’s true and what’s not.

Source: The Pros and Cons of Massages for Runners

Massage do not flush lactic acid, or other “toxins” from your muscles. Lactic acid is produced during exercise, and though you might associate it with a burning feeling during hard work – it’s not a problem, isn’t responsible for next-day soreness, and doesn’t need help to be removed from the muscles.  Plenty of studies show that massage has no effect on blood flow to the muscles.

Massage does help to relax muscles, though, which can help to relieve tight muscles. The same action can break up adhesions, a type of scar tissue that sometimes forms in muscle.  Massage promotes recovery.

Why Buttermilk Was a Life-Saving Innovation

Every day, we eat scientific innovations, and not just when we’re eating powdered cheese flavor. Our food is the result of remarkable discoveries by long-forgotten scientists. Here’s a look at the weird, and innovative, chemistry of buttermilk.

…buttermilk makes an important source of nutrition available to a whole new section of the population. Lactose isn’t easily digestible. Most animals, including certain humans, lose the ability to digest it as they age. Premature infants often don’t have the ability to digest lactose. When bacteria break lactose down to smaller components, they are pre-digesting it for people. People with mild lactose intolerance can take in buttermilk, and pre-formula medical guides recommend feeding premature babies buttermilk to keep them healthy.

Source: Kitchen Chemistry: Why Buttermilk Was a Life-Saving Innovation