Protein Slows Digestion? Nope.

By Jordan Feigenbaum MS, Starting Strength Staff, CSCS, HFS, USAW Club Coach

In response to this gem of an article. I answered this on the Starting Strength nutrition forum, but I thought I’d repost it here. The article’s claims are italicized and my responses are in bold. 

The food that we consume is absorbed and its nutrients are subsequently sent to different organs through the blood.

The food that we consume is absorbed and its nutrients are subsequently sent to different organs through the blood. Not really the case literally. Protein and carbohydrates get absorbed as amino acids and monosaccharides through the small intestine’s brush border> into the enterocyte (cell)> into the portal vein> to the liver first before going anywhere else, then they get distributed based on lots of factors.

Fats get absorbed as fatty acids directly into the enterocyte (cell) and packaged into the chylomicron (with cholesterol, phospholipids, etc.)> into the lymphatic system> into the venous circulation and then go to some tissues, but mainly those who express high levels of mitochondria for beta oxidation or peroxisomes for long chain fatty acid oxidation. Principally, these are the liver and skeletal muscle.

However, a slow or sluggish digestive system isn’t able to perform its assigned function effectively. That is why a person experiencing a bout of slow digestion is bound to feel extremely uncomfortable post lunch or dinner. Nausea, bloating and vomiting are the most common symptoms of sluggish digestive system that occur after having meals.

Notice they do not define a normal GI transit time for a mixed meal, a slow GI transit time for a “bad” meal, nor do they distinguish between a pathologically slow state like gastroparesis or ileus or obstruction and a “slow” transit time occurring due to a specific meal composition. Yes, there is a marked difference.

Constipation or common digestive problems like diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome can make the digestive system sluggish.

Diarrhea is actually the GI contents moving too fast. IBS has physiological symptoms of a combination of diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and abdominal bloating. Seems like it might not make the digestive system sluggish, right? Though if you’re constipated, sure (and fiber and/or some probiotics tend to improve symptoms by increasing motility and osmotic pressure in the intestine to propel the contents)

Although protein is good for health, excessively high amounts of protein in the diet can slow down the digestive health. This is because, the body has to really work to digest protein.

Not the case at all. Proteins are initially broken down via the acidic pH of the stomach (and further in the small intestine by pancreatic enzymes that are all part of our normal physiology) and are absorbed very rapidly into the portal circulation. Whey, for instance- spikes blood plasma levels of amino acids (digestive end products of protein) within 20 minutes of ingestion.

Mixed meals confound the “speed” component, i.e. what is the fat content (slows gastric emptying), fiber content (soluble slows, insoluble speeds), total kCal content (larger is slower), tonicity of the meal (isotonic empties faster than hypo or hyper tonic from the stomach to the small intestine), etc. In addition, the hormonal milieu at the time with respect to previous meals also influence gastric transit time. Ghrelin, for instance- increases when you’re hungry and increases the motility of the gut.

Don’t forget about existing food in the GI tract. See how this is quite complicated to talk about? Let’s not forget about drugs….

At any rate, Carbohydrate rich and protein rich foods empty at about the same rate, but normal gastric emptying following a meal is 2-6 hrs….so yea- perhaps this whole article is a bit silly, eh?

Unlike simple carbohydrates, proteins are heavy, hence are not easy to digest and so when its presence is alarmingly high in everyday meals, the consequence is a slow digestive system.

Now this is easy to see that this is wrong…

People with intestinal problems such as Crohn’s disease tend to have a sluggish digestive system besides bowel dysfunction (diarrhea or constipation), vomiting and stomach pain. In this condition the lining of the small and large intestine are inflamed. However, in most cases, the swelling infiltrates in the inner layers of the bowel tissue. This chronic inflammatory disease considerably slows down digestion as the food tends to move at a very slow pace through the intestine.

Fuark. Crohn’s is, currently, a dysregulation of inflammation in response to bacteria in the walls of the GI tract, which results in proinflammatory substances causing direct mucosal injury.

Crohn’s usually presents with diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and crampy abdominal pain plus oral ulcerations, perianal fissures, perirectal abscesses, and malabsorption BECAUSE THE FOOD CAN’T BE ABSORBED BECAUSE IT’S MOVING at a normal speed but the mucosa can’t absorb it.

A point to note that although food is digested in the stomach, most of the digestion occurs inside the intestine. Experts say that the intestine is the place where nutrients are observed and eventually circulated in the bloodstream to various parts of the body. However if the food stays for longer time in the stomach, this can affect the digestion process. This condition is known as gastroparesis, in which the stomach takes more time to transfer the ingested food to the intestine. This happens because the stomach muscles that are assigned the task of pushing the food to the intestine, lose their ability to work efficiently. Gastroparesis is the result of malfunctioning of the vagus nerve that regulates movement of muscles lining the stomach wall.

Most common KNOWN causes of gastroparesis:

1) diabetes mellitus
2) idiopathic
3) post-surgical (especially if vagus nerve damaged)

Other causes:

-meds
-etoh and tobacco, weed
-surgery
-infection (mono, chagas, rotavirus)
-CNS injury like a tumor or cerebrovascular event
-PNS pathology (parkinson’s or guillan barre)
-other issues (cancers, hypothyroid, lupus, intestine obstruction, portal hypertension, HIV, stroke and migraines)

So…yea, protein is UNLIKELY to be the cause of “slowed” gi emptying….

-thefitcoach

Muscle Physiology 101 + HBBS vs. LBBS

Stole this from this thread. Read the whole thing for funsies if you’re inclined.

1) On force production: Why a lighter load moved at the same velocity as a heavier load CANNOT require the same (or certainly not more) force production by the skeletal muscles.

Statement: Force production as measured at the bar is less with the lighter load, of course. But it [force production] increases when one is pushing “harder” against the same load with less leverage.

No it doesn’t. Muscle physiology dictates that this is not the case. Pushing harder, i.e. producing more force through a series of muscular actions- which only pull technically, requires more force to be produced by both temporal (rate) and amount (number) of motor units firing.

These motor units, which make up the muscle fibers comprising the muscle belly, are either on or they’re off…period. To recruit them you either need to move the weight faster or add more resistance, both of which require MORE force production.

If there’s less weight being moved than a heavier weight at the same speed there is less total force being produced. There will, however, be some muscles that are creating “more” force in a HBBS than they would in an equally weighted LBBS due to the improved efficiency of the LBBS as compared to the HBBS. These muscles’ motor units, however, will not produce more force when compared to a heavier load- regardless of the leverage advantage/disadvantage. A 700lb half squat requires more force production than a 500lb ATG squat if they move at the same velocity- however it (the half squat) leaves muscle mass untrained and that doesn’t appear to be optimal. The HBBS both leaves muscle mass untrained AND reduces force into the bar.

2) On the bottom of the HBBS vs. the LBBS:

Statement: Not true. The bottom of the HBBs is less mechanically efficient on account of the more acute knee angle.

I don’t think you could actually say that the bottom of the HBBS is less mechanically efficient due to the acute-ness of the knee angle. The quadriceps are very strong…stronger than the hamstrings if we’re talking pure force production. Obviously joint angle, velocity of movement, etc. needs to be taken into consideration but the point is in a HBBS the quadriceps are lengthened MORE than in a LBBS and have a longer moment arm acting about the knee joint- potentiating more torque. This- coupled with a less horizontal back angle might be interpreted at being a more advantageous position except it doesn’t use the hamstrings and adductors as well as the LBBS, which is one of the reasons we can lift more weight using that squatting style- in general.

3) On general muscle recruitment when force production increases

Statement: Riddle me this. . . Let’s agree that LBBS allows for moving a heavier load than HBBS because it [the LBBS] places you in a position to recruit more muscle fiber (and it is not just a mechanical advantage). Now, an Oly lifter has to stand up a heavy clean. How does training that extra muscle fiber that is not used in standing the weight up — via the LBBS — help you?

A trained muscle can be recruited when the load is heavy enough (or velocity fast enough) to exceed that specific motor units threshold- and then it fires to perform it’s action(s). Strength, ie force production is a general adaptation that can be applied specifically. For instance, it your bench press goes up, you can swing a golf club faster because your force production of some of the muscles utilized to swing the club have been trained to produce more force. Somehow, these two activities are different.

Motor unit threshold is a muscle physiology principle, Henneman’s size principle to be exact, stating that larger size and higher threshold motor units are recruited sequentially (smallest to largest) when force output demands are increased. Thus there is a certain threshold of force generation required to move the load that is the impetus for recruiting the highest threshold (and largest sized) motor units. Heavy weight and/or high velocity are what does this, however the Westside percentages oft-repeated of 55-65% are woefully inadequate for getting these motor units to fire.

tl;dr> heavier squat (regardless of leverages)= more motor unit recruitment that are either 100% on or off based on the threshold either being met (or not) for their recruitment. More motor unit recruitment= more muscle trained= more gainzZz.

Golf Stuff:

Gordon et al., 2009 investigated the relationship of strength, power and flexibility to club head speed. The results showed a significant correlation between chest strength and club head speed

“These results are similar to those reported by Hetu et al., 1998 and Westcott et al., 1996 who studied changes in golf performance following a strength (Table 2) and flexibility training program. Significant increases in several physical fitness measurements (+6.2% grip, +14.2% chest press, +18.1% leg extension and +47.3% trunk rotation) were related to an improved drive performance (+6% in CHS)”

4) On muscle contraction, i.e. muscles only contract (shorten) and pull. NO muscles push and NO muscles radially expand to create force.

No muscles push or expand to create force. They shorten or create tension via cross-bridging in an isometric function. The muscle cells tend to draw things intracellularly in response to training, thus expanding- but this is on the micro level and is more of a hypetrophic stimulus vs. a force producing stimulus.
Statement about the heart radially expanding to create force: In essence, doesn’t the heart do exactly that? The heart “expands” every piece of itself “out” (in the direction of its own interior space), pushing blood along. The use of “expand” is interesting here — looking at the transverse thickness of the muscle rather than it’s length. But if you’ll remember, that was *PRECISELY* the comment (from Dave Paauwe) that got me talking about the heart.
 

The heart expands during diastole (both in atrial and ventricular diastole, which are separate events). When the atria relax (diastole) and expand, the ventricles are contracting (pulling from z line to z line of the sarcomere) to push blood out of the ventricle and into either the aorta or pulmonary trunk (as explained below). Radial expansion and increased pressure (to a point) of the ventricle itself stretches the muscle fibers eccentrically of the cardiac tissue, which optimizes their sarcomeric length at ~2.2um (Starling’s Law). If the heart becomes overfilled, the actin-myosin cross bridges are less abundant and the contractility is compromised. This is part the mechanism behind dilated cardiomyopathy/CHF. None of this has to do with a muscle fiber expanding to create force, however.

The heart “pushing” is actually a pull. The myofibrils are laid in series and contract in unison via gap junctions connecting cells, which turns them into a syncitium. The force of a radially constricting (not expanding) ventricle increases ventricular pressure to a point where it overcomes the pressure in the aorta, thus creating blood flow from ventricle to aorta. This is why when a person has aortic stenosis from either a calcified valve or congenital bicuspid aortic valve that left ventricular hypetrophy occurs, as this is an adaptation to the requirements for increased force production,(similar to skeletal muscle but no one ever asks me to flex my heart :-(

Interestingly, after the ejection (systole) of blood into the aorta (or pulmonary trunk from the right ventricle) occurs in 2 phases, a quick initial phase and a slower second phase. The second phase is driven mostly by the negative pressure (venturi effect) created by the 1st phase and quite literally, this pressure “pulls” the blood up thru the aortic valve. Similarly, the negative pressure also helps pull blood from the atrium into the ventricle as the aortic valve closes.

5) On specializing for Olympic lifting for the genetically average….
 
Statement: If I were trying to specialize in Olympic lifting, I might switch to primarily high bar, while obviously working on my front squat as well. That would allow me to use more weight than the front squat, without being quite as far from the catch position, since I am indeed a motor moron in many ways.
 

The logic involved in reasoning that the LBBS messes up the recovery of the clean is, in my mind, analogous to me making the argument that front squatting messes up the recovery of the snatch or, similarly, that doing the snatch messes up the clean with respect to receiving positions, grip, etc. They are markedly different, right?

 
I would also make the argument that if an athlete has a problem not being able to maintain a vertical-ish torso OR, more importantly, overcome a forward lean in a heavy clean recovery (like virtually all Internationally competitive WL’ers can and do when it actually gets heavy) that a LBBS would be more advantageous than a HBBS in improving this ability.
Statement on HBBS for average Oly enthusiasts: That’s obviously not conclusive, but I can see someone making the argument, especially if they want to do Olympic lifting, even though they don’t have the natural talent/aptitude to be elite.
 

That’s fair. Although just to be a contrarian (go figure), I would argue that a non elite, non athlete, is unlikely to have the genetic predisposition – and thus the explosive ability (e.g. Power) that he or she needs to be competitive. Since power is force/time- and they are lacking in the time department , it behooves THAT person- the genetically handicapped- to seek improvements in force production with greater vigilance than the “athlete”. Can you guess how I’d go about doing that?

 
-barbellmedicine

7 Rules to Optimize Protein Intake

By Jordan Feigenbaum MS, CSCS, Starting Strength Staff, USAW CC, HFS

In general, I am not a fan of rules, dogma, or rigid guidelines. That being said, what follows are what I consider to be the most important variables when it comes to optimizing protein intake for anyone. While there are sure to be inter-individual variability, these “rules” are pretty spot on. Without further ado…..

1) You will eat enough protein each meal. Optimal protein intake per meal will be the amount of protein that yields ~3-4g of leucine, a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA). 3-4g of leucine per meal has been shown to maximize muscle protein synthesis. If it’s maximized, it can’t go any higher with additional protein, right? This is also, of course, assuming that the protein you’re consuming either contains all the essential amino acids (like all animal derived proteins do) or you have eaten a protein rich meal within the past 4-6 hours that had all of the EAA’s present in abundant amounts. Just to give an example, whey protein (the KING of all proteins) has ~3g of leucine per 20g serving whereas brown rice protein has 3g of leucine per 40g serving. While these two doses are equivalent in their potential to drive muscle protein synthesis, they are not equivalent in calories, which may be a consideration you wish to make if you’re calorie restricted. (Note: many protein manufacturers have different leucine/serving ratios but this is a fairly accurate estimate based on most protein supplements).
2) You will optimize meal frequency. Somewhere along the line people started espousing the mantra “eat every two hours to stoke the metabolism” or “so you don’t become catabolic”, with catabolism meaning breaking down- in this case skeletal muscle- to use their constituents elsewhere in the body.  Problem with these recommendations with respect to protein intake is that there is a known refractory period to muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which we can think about on a gross level as muscle growth/recovery/building. Every time a large enough dose of protein is ingested, i.e. one that provides enough leucine and EAA’s to push the MPS reaction over the edge, there’s a 3-5 hour refractory period that must transpire before another dose of protein (at a meal/shake/etc) will yield another bout of MPS. This means that if you ate a protein rich breakfast at 8am, then ate again at 10am, the meal at 10 am would contribute nothing to MPS and then, by definition- it would be stored away as energy -either glycogen or fat depending on other variables. Ultimately, we should be waiting longer between protein dosings to optimize our results. MPS is obviously important for the athlete, but it’s also important for the gen pop- particularly the aging population who is at risk for sarcopenia, decreased work capacity, and thus a host of other comorbidities (e.g. diabetes from decreased skeletal muscle buffering of blood glucose). The literature suggests that the aging population actually sees fantastic results with higher protein intakes and they even use whey protein shakes in many of their interventions.

tl;dr-Eat 3-5x per day tops, spread out 3-5 hours.
3) You will determine optimal protein intake by taking rules 1 and 2 into consideration with total calorie intake, age, and gender. It intuits well, given rules 1 and 2, that the optimal protein intake per day is initially based on how much protein a person needs per meal to maximize MPS multiplied by the number of meals they will have per day. Other factors that are taken into consideration to increase or decrease the protein prescription (new book title?) for an individual includes the following modifiers:
a)Gender- The more male someone becomes, the more sensitive to amino acids they are, in general. This would allow a male to need slightly less protein per pound than a weight and age-matched female. That being said, lean body mass weight also plays a role in the amount of leucine needed per meal to maximize MPS, but this is literally a variation of 0.5-1g tops for a range of bodyweights between 100lbs-300lbs, so we don’t take it into consideration and 3-4g is very safe.

b) Age- In general, the more someone ages the less sensitive they become to protein, so protein levels should go up over time slightly.

c) Dietary Preferences- As the quality of protein increases (based on bioavailability, protein digestibility amino acid corrected score, and amino acid profile) the total protein needed to optimize protein intake goes down. Similarly, the more vegan someone is, the more protein they require, i.e. the more calories from protein they require to get the same effect as their meat-eating, bone crushing, bacon frying counterparts. In short, the lower quality your protein sources are (lentils/rice/veggies/wheat/soy) the more protein you require for the same effect. This is an important consideration for those who are calorie restricted/limited.

4) You will not listen to bro’s who tell you that you only need x gram of protein/day. First off, we’re definitively NOT talking about protein needs here. Protein needs refers to what you NEED to not be deficient- not to optimize performance, aesthetics, or health but merely to survive. So yea, not what we’re talking about. Secondly, the amount of protein you actually need is a fairly complex answer based on everything we’ve discussed above. Do you really think the dude with the cut-off tee who maxes out on bench press every Monday and squats high (or more likely-leg presses) has taken all this into consideration before word vomiting his opinion to you while you foam roll? Doesn’t it make more sense that he noticed your new Lululemon yoga pants (if female) or is admiring your handsome combover (if male)? Seems more likely to me…

5) You will not listen to the bros who tell you that you can only absorb x gram of protein/meal. The poor bro, he can’t catch a break. So this oft-repeated nonsense goes around and around and just will not die…until TODAY. Let me be crystal clear, you absorb and use virtually 100% of everything that enters your gastrointestinal tract from your mouth. If you don’t, you’ll know it because you’ll be having watery diarrhea post-prandial (after a meal) since the undigested and unabsorbed food will act osmotically to draw water into the large intestine and then well, you know what happens after that. Look, we’ve done the tracer studies and know that when you eat any amount of protein at a meal it all gets absorbed. All of it. Actually 110-120% of it. Yep, MORE THAN 100%. That’s because the cells the line the  bowel, the enterocytes, make proteins themselves. These are called endogenous (made within the body) proteins and yep, they’re absorbed too. Yes Virginia, if you eat 100g of protein at a meal you’ll absorb it all. Yes, it will take longer than if you only ate 20g, but you’ll absorb the first 20g of protein from the 100g at the same rate as 20g on it’s own provided they have similar total fat content and fiber content within the entire meal. That being said, the time course to which a meal is absorbed matters little to anyone, unless they compete or train multiple times per day.

6) You will not get lured into buying expensive protein with sub optimal amino acid profile. People, if you’re paying more than ~10 dollars/lb of protein you’re getting duped, as the manufacturer is preying on your ignorance. Whey is the king protein, period. It’s better than the 100 dollar fish protein from a certain manufacturer who is big in the land of shirtless dudes and vibram 5 finger clad women. Why? Because its amino acid profile is better, i.e. it has more BCAAs (leucine/isoleucine/valine) and a higher concentration of essential amino acids. Also, it’s cheaper…so that seems to be a good point in and of itself. Whey trumps casein on satiety, MPS rates, and time that it keeps plasma (blood) amino acid levels elevated. In other words, all the nonsense the bro at GNC regurgitates about casein being a slow digesting protein that is good to take at night because it slowly releases amino acids from the GI tract is BS. Well, to be fair to him (bro) or her (bra?), it [casein] does more slowly release amino acids into the blood stream from the gut, but it’s TOO SLOW to actually raise blood amino acid levels high enough to effectively drive muscle protein synthesis unless you dose it much higher than whey, which is the king of proteins. Also, whey keeps you fuller, longer (satiety) than casein, and it’s CHEAPER. Yep, whey is better than egg protein, beef protein, hemp protein (sucks), rice protein (sucks), pea protein (double sucks), and soy protein (double sucks). Whey protein concentrate, one of the cheapest options out there is where everyone should start for whey supplementation. If it doesn’t upset your GI tract, then stay there and never look back. If it does- and it will in some who are sensitive to an amino acid fraction (beta lactalbumin) – switch to whey protein isolate, which has this fraction removed. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) might actually be superior to whey protein isolate (WPI) because b-lactalbumin is a very concentrated source of leucine- so I prefer WPC in those who can tolerate it. No Virginia, WPI doesn’t always mean better and as you just learned- more expensive is not always better.

7) You will not fall into the trap of megadosing protein, because gainzZz? So far we’ve described why it’s hard to put a firm number on optimal protein intake based on numerous variables. That being said, there is definitely an upper limit- though not for the reason your doctor will try to justify. Most physicians, PA’s, nurses, etc. will all try to recite the urea cycle and scream stuff about ammonia at you whilst telling you that your kidneys and/or liver will fail with high levels of protein intake. I think every time they do this an angel gets its wings because it occurs too frequently and is so far removed from what actually happens in vivo (in the body) that I assume it’s just a religious ritual that all health care providers learn in school and pay homage to periodically. While I do not have time to layout the entire metabolic pathway for ammonia and urea, the two  toxic byproducts of protein metabolism that supposedly build up an will harm your kidney and/or liver, I will briefly state that in a healthy person- there is no upper limit for protein intake, as the excretion (removal) rate of these toxins is massively upregulated in an adaptive way that is not harmful, but is a response to a hormetic stressor, i.e. something that disrupts our homeostasis. There is no evidence of any kidney or liver damage when the excretion pathways upregulate either. Similarly, in end stage renal disease, those who ate a “very low protein diet” had worse outcomes than those who ate either a “moderate protein” or “low protein” (but higher than very low) diet. This indicates, to me at least, that protein and its metabolism is not harmful to the kidney- even if it’s function is reduced. More data continues to accrue exposing other harmful factors to the kidney, namely elevated blood sugar in those patients who don’t deal with glucose very well….perhaps because they haven’t optimized their protein intake yet :-)

I say all this sort of tongue-in-cheek, as I do think there is an actual upper limit to useful protein intake, i.e. there is an inflection point where increased protein dosing does not yield improvements in performance, muscle protein synthesis, aesthetics, etc. This point is obviously different for many people, but I could make a pretty strong argument to avoid intakes in excess of 300g or so for anyone who is under 350lbs. Think about the 200lb bro- replete with cut off tank- who eats 400g of protein per day. While only a fraction (maybe half- depending on sources, age, etc.) will actually contribute to MPS, the other half is getting burnt (oxidized) or converted to carbohydrates and/or fat for storage. These processes are all controlled by enzymes, who will adapt (of course) to the stress imposed upon them. If/when these enzymes upregulate, i.e. increase in number and activity, the body becomes more efficient at using protein for fuel (oxidation to yield energy) and/or converting it to carbohydrates and fat. Similarly, such a robust protein intake concomitantly decreases intake of other substrates to a degree, i.e. carbohydrate and fat intake will be lower in a person who eats 400g of protein than if that same person only ate 200g of protein. This all sums to create a situation where a person is very good at breaking down protein as fuel and, God forbid, should his protein level ever significantly drop below 400g for an extended period of time- like if he were to spend a week at the Jersey Shore and only consume 100-150g of protein/day- then theoretically protein turnover would continue to be elevated since the body’s enzymatic ability to break down protein is so upregulated. Just some food for thought.

-strengthmd

Last Minute Christmas/Holiday Gifts For the Lifter On Your List

By Jordan Feigenbaum MS, Starting Strength Staff, CSCS, HFS, USAW Club Coach

Well folks, it’s that time of year again and though this is a little late, I just want to do right by all my fellow strength and conditioning junkies out there and give the people shopping for them some gift ideas. You know, ones that don’t completely suck. For other gift ideas, check out last year’s posts here, herehere, and here.

First off, some books! I was hoping my book would be done and out by now, but after switching the original plan- an eBook- to a full fledged hard-copy, things got a lot more complicated. I’m still doing some revisions to the initial manuscript, although that has been on the backburner since it’s finals time. In any event, here are some books I think that would make any enthusiast happy to receive this holiday season:

1) Practical Programming 3rd Edition -20.95 +S/H

This book is already out for pre-sale and I honestly can’t wait for this to come out. I had a hand in some of the physiology and nutrition parts while Andy Baker and Matt Reynolds helped out with some of the programming parts. All in all, this book is going to be great and if you pre-order it (see link above), Rip will even sign your book!

2) Science and Practice of Strength training -$60.58

index1Probably one of the best texts written about the actual physiology of strength training, I consider this book to be an important staple in anyone who is serious about the iron game. If your physiology is a little soft, then you’ll want to read Brooks and Fahey’s Exercise Physiology first, however.

3 Muscletown USA 34.95

41xMznmwZLLThis is a really cool book about some of the history of weightlifting and the physical culture in America. Lots of cool stories in this one and definitely off the beaten path for most. Check out all the crazy stuff that went on back in the day at The York Barbell Club.

4 The Strongest Shall Survive -31.00

A classic from Bill Starr that, unfortunately, many have not read.

5) Reactive Training Systems Manual -39.95

Screen shot 2013-12-07 at 11.34.22 PMMike Tuchscherer shares his training philosophy with the masses in this great text. If you’ve ever wondered about auto-regulation, RPE, accumulation of fatigue, or are looking for the training template that’s going to take you to the next level, I think Mike has some of the best stuff out there. Since we’re talking about him…let’s all marvel at how strong this guy is:

What sort of holiday gift list would we have if we didn’t include some stocking stuffers?

American Weightlifting: The Documentary (film) – 19.95

This is a really cool documentary that Greg Everett has been working on the last few years. It’s actually really good and I’d give it two barbells up.

Quest Bars - 24.99 (box of 12)

imagesI’m not really dogmatic about what people shouldn’t eat food quality wise, provided they end up hitting the correct macros and calories day in and day out. That being said, it just tends to go a little smoother with a protein supplement (or two) on hand for when you’re in a pinch or in a rush. Outside of a quality whey protein supplement, I really like these Quest bars. They have 5 ingredients or less, no sugar alcohols, and the protein quality is very high. My current favorite flavor?  Chocolate Peanut Butter. Gainzzz.

Leather Wrist Wraps -22.99

I know I know, you all think I’ve lost my marbles and/or am super into bondage these days. Instead of explaining myself let me introduce exhibit A:

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

Deadlift Slippers -11.50

If you’re planning on going to a meet, you’re going to need these because you can’t pull in socks at any meet worth doing. Similarly, maybe you’re sick of ruining socks because you don’t have anything covering them. Worse yet, maybe you’re pulling barefoot and getting your nasty feet and DNA all over the gym. C’mon y’all.

Slingshot - 50.00

With a website like howmuchyabench.net, what did you expect other than something that will help you get your bench up? This “device” is a really nice way to add bench press volume that’s overloaded and that won’t beat up your shoulders or elbows. I really like my “standard” version.

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

Yong Lu cleaning 205kg (451lbs)

slingshotNow what if you have someone on your list who’s literally got everything? They have the belt, a gym bag, lifting shoes, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, bands, books, etc. What the hell do you get them (besides a massage)? Here are a few cool trinkets even I would enjoy:

Mini DL jack - 65.00

normal_100_0748

This cool little contraption allows you to load your deadlift bar without having to struggle to get each additional plate on or, more importantly, off , after you rip that big PR. WestCary Barbell is a really good place to do business with as well.

Eleiko Calibrated Collars - 139.99

eleiko-collars-h1Probably one of the most annoying things about gyms these days is the lack of quality clamps they have to keep the weights on the damn bar. The spring clamps are useless, as they slide off when the weights get heavy. The lockjaw style plastic clamps might be worse because over time they don’t even stay on the bar hardly. Enter the Eleiko calibrated clamps. These things not only are rugged and keep the plates on the bar, they are exactly 5kg, which means no more worrying about how much the clamps weigh when it comes time to set a PR (you were thinking about that right? RIGHT?)

HookGrip Posters- 20.00

What better way to decorate your man (or woman) cave or home gym than with some sweet posters? I salute Comrade Klokov every morning while I put down breakfast…it’s a motivational deal of sorts. I really dig this new Apti celebration poster.

aukhadov-poster
Alright folks, there you have it. A handful of gifts for any serious strength and conditioning enthusiast. Happy Holidays to everyone. Look out for some posts from my European Tour coming up shortly :-)

-Jordan

 

 

 

Treadmills in the Workplace, Say What?

Recently got this question on my forum and thought I’d post it here for all to see.

Question:

I’m interested in your opinion on the following and whether it would negatively impact strength gains or maintaining strength.

My employer has made a number of ‘treadmill desks’ available to us. Basically, a treadmill below a standing-height desk, the idea being you walk on the treadmill at some speed so low that it does not interfere with your desk work, but provides some ongoing activity during the day.

Answer:

I don’t foresee this being a big deal at all once you get used to it and I think this is analogous to “mail-man GPP”, i.e. the mailman walks 20,000 steps a day but can still train heavy after work because he’s gotten used to that volume of LISS, if you will. A person who just started at the post office gets wrecked from day 1′s 20K steps and because he’s not used to it, he needs to modify his training accordingly to allow a bit of transient performance drop off.

Perhaps the most poignant issue I could raise with this style of “cardio” is with it’s effectiveness to do anything useful at all. How can we expect a modality, frequency, and intensity of exercise that does not perturb our homeostasis much- as evidenced by fatigue, transient performance loss, etc.- to cause a beneficial adaptation? In other words, because the thing is so easy, I don’t know how much utility it has with respect to caloric expenditure, cardiovascular conditioning, etc. I highly doubt that your “net” caloric expenditure has changed over a 24-48hr period due to this type of exercise simply because the body is readily adaptive and there needs to be some critical threshold of “stimulation” that needs to be crossed to drive any and all adaptations.

On the other hand, I think the benefits of this type of intervention is more realistically applied to orthopedic benefits. Anything that gets you up out of the chair, into a better posture, pumps blood through the muscles, and moves the limbs, sinew, and soft tissue structures through their normal anatomical range of motion can only benefit the person doing it, in my opinion.