Fasting and Growth Hormone

Could fasting help build muscle and unleash anti-aging properties, via the release of human growth hormone?

The physiology of fasting is fascinating. The power of fasting lies not in the mere reduction of calories, but the beneficial hormonal changes. One of the main benefits comes from reducing insulin, but there are also increases in nor-adrenalin, cortisol, and growth hormone.

Collectively, these are known as the counter-regulatory hormones, since they all serve to increase blood glucose at a time that the body is not getting glucose from food. Here we focus on human growth hormone (HGH).

Human growth hormone

HGH is a hormone made by the pituitary gland (the master gland), which plays a huge role in the normal development of children and adolescents as the name implies. However, it also plays a role in adults. HGH deficiency in adults leads to higher levels of body fat, lower lean body mass (sarcopenia) and decreased bone mass (osteopenia). Read More…

Kipping Pull-Ups: The Truth

Here’s what you need to know…

  1. No exercise is more divisive than the kipping pull-up and its “butterfly” cousin.
  2. A kipping pull-up is to the strict pull-up what the push press is to the strict overhead press.
  3. If you can’t perform strict pull-ups, you should not be kipping.
  4. If your main goal is to build muscle, kipping pull-ups alone won’t do it for you.
  5. Kipping can be used for hypertrophy however. Do strict pull-ups first then squeeze out a few extra reps using a proper kip.
  6. The butterfly kip isn’t necessary to learn unless you’re a CrossFit competitor and it works better for you. If any pull-up variation is going to cause an injury, it’s the butterfly.

Kipping: Legit Exercise or Circus Act?

Want to start an augment? Just bring up the topic of kipping pull-ups. Want to cause a fist fight? Expand the conversation to butterfly kipping pull-ups.

On one side you have traditional strength athletes and bodybuilders. On the other, CrossFitters. Let’s bridge the gap and objectively discuss the pros and cons of kipping. Read More…

Why Use a SkiErg?

You no longer have to wax your skis to benefit from the full-body impact-free workout of Nordic skiing: the SkiErg provides all the aerobic and strength benefits, and is available even when there’s no snow or you can’t get to the trails. Even if you’ve never put on a pair of skis, the SkiErg is the perfect tool to help you reap the benefits of a skiing workout.

An Effective Full-Body Workout

The Concept2 SkiErg helps you build strength and endurance by working the entire body in an efficient, rhythmic motion. Skiing is a low impact, high calorie burning exercise suitable for all ages and abilities. You are in complete control of the resistance: the harder you pull, the faster the flywheel spins, which creates more resistance.

A Safe, Effective and Convenient Training Tool

The SkiErg provides excellent sport-specific training using the poling motions that are integral to both techniques of Nordic Skiing. It also provides a range of resistance similar to that found on snow. The convenience of training on a SkiErg is hard to beat, especially when rollerskiing just isn’t an option—whatever the weather or conditions, the SkiErg is always available. It’s safer than training in traffic and is an easy way to add poling to your indoor workouts. Read More…

How’s your urine color?

By: Kirk K.
Summer is in full force. That means your sweat output at the gym is in full flow! I’ve been asked many times how much water should you drink to stay hydrated. There is no simple answer. So much depends on your size, body composition, activity level, sweat output, age, etc. Many people will tell you to drink “X” amount of water in ounces; often times figured by multiple calculations.
Let’s say you’re trying to stick with 145 ounces of water a day…Are you ever going to measure that? Probably not!
We’re not simple machines that require four quarts of oil. We are infinitely complex beings that use water for every process in the body. When in doubt, it’s better to drink more water than less water.
 Here are some symptoms of dehydration:
  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth, dry nose
  • Fewer trips to the bathroom
  • Headache
  • Light-headedness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Irritability/Confusion
The simplest way to know your hydration level is your urine color. If your pee is orange, you need to drink lots of water! If your urine is barely colored, you’re doing fine and don’t have to consume very much water.
The chart below is a good reference for your hydration level. 
Don’t make your water consumption over-complicated. Read the signs of your body (urine color, thirst are the big ones) to determine how much water you should drink. Learn more here about dehydration.

What Are the Benefits of Barbell Rows?

Lats Are the New Biceps

The barbell row is one of the most effective exercises for developing a strong back. The prime mover, which is the muscle responsible for completing the movement, is the latissimus dorsi. The lats are one of the biggest muscles in the upper body and are instrumental to an impressive physique. In addition to substantial latissimus activation, the barbell row works all three areas of the trapezius with very high activation in the upper and middle traps. The rhomboids — a key postural muscle — is called upon heavily as well. It’s safe to say that the barbell row is a top exercise for packing on size and strength in the back muscles.

Jaw Dropping Boulder Shoulders

Shapely, balanced deltoids are immensely important for one’s physique. There are three separate parts to the deltoid muscle: front, middle and rear deltoids. The majority of exercisers have well-developed front deltoids from doing pushups, bench presses and military presses. They often have balanced middle deltoids from doing dumbbell lateral raises. But few exercisers focus on the rear deltoids, which takes away from the round, defined appearance of the shoulders. Barbell bent over rows are the best exercise for this often neglected area of the shoulder. Also, the rear deltoids are increasingly activated when performing barbell rows with an overhand grip compared to the underhand grip.

Stability, It’s a Full Body Thing

With all of the upper body benefits it’s easy to overlook the full body stabilization effect of the barbell row. The bent over barbell row requires strength from the hands all the way down to the feet. The feet, legs, hips and core have to work just to maintain a stable position throughout the exercise. Of course, more muscles working means more calories burned, so by activating an array of muscles the barbell row turns into a fat-burning exercise as well. Read More…

Take the Father’s Day Challenge

By Kirk K.

Happy Father’s Day to all of our fathers!
Father’s Day is the day when daddies are spoiled with their favorite things. Some dads go out on the boat, some will drink their favorite beer all day, and some will just do whatever they want to do all weekend long. 
There’s nothing wrong with receiving praise and getting some relaxation time – but is that what being a father is all about? 
I’m challenging all fathers this weekend to be the best father you can be. Give the greatest gift you can give your children and spouse: quality time.
Spend your weekend with your children, do things that THEY like to do. Treat your wife or partner with the utmost love and reverence. Father’s Day shouldn’t be just what your family can do for you, but more importantly, what can you do for your family.  

If you’re not a father, make sure to tell your dad how much he means to you. If that’s not possible, reach out to a close friend or family member and wish them a happy Father’s Day. 
What does this have to do with your physical health? EVERYTHING….
We wouldn’t be here without fathers (mothers too of course). We wouldn’t have life without them, whether they were a good dad or not, you owe them at least the gratitude for the breath of life. 
I hope I was able to connect with everyone this weekend: whether you’re a dad or not, whether your dad was there for you or not, or whatever your relationship is to your dad. 
Happy Father’s Day weekend and fathers, don’t forget your responsibilities.