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No Bull Sports Training
August 30, 2006
Hello folks! Here is my most recent Q&A series from Enjoy!


New Q&A

1. Alternative Health questions (food allergies, various "cleansings", candida, leaky gut, etc.
2. Auto-regulatory volume management for strength gain?
3. Getting that bench up
4. Goal setting for powerlifting meet
5. How to monitor your metabolic rate and the importance of the carb-up when training and dieting to get lean.

Q: Do you think there is any value in making use of alternative health remedies like liver cleanses, colon cleansings and various things like that as recommended by people like Poliquin and Paul Check? How about various food intolerances, leaky gut syndrome and candida, do you think they can be problematic for active athletes?

A: I'm soon planning to post an updated article I wrote a couple of years ago on food intolerances, but for now I'll just say that many people, regardless of age or health, feel better overall when cutting back or eliminating common intolerances like wheat (gluten), corn, and dairy. They find they have more energy, minor problems like acne, tendonitis, allergies, and sore joints often subside, and injuries heal up much quicker.

As for the rest, in my opinion a lot of various alternative health stuff is highly useful but it's kind've like supplements...There are thousands of supplements all promoted to be THE answer to something, but only a handful deliver what they're supposed to.

The problem with many in the alternative health crowd is they often tend to make overly dramatic sensationalistic claims and often don't back up most of the things they're promoting with much, or any, direct, or indirect, peer-reviewed reviewed research whatsoever. Or they're unable to present a basic working model of how the things their promoting are supposed to work. It's one thing to not have 100% clearly substantiated evidence about something as that's not always possible, but it's another thing altogether to ignore the evidence that already exists on a topic and not take the time to demonstrate a proposed workable theory on how something works, what systems it's affecting, and how it may influence known pathways of action. It's not like there's any shortage of information on the basic workings of the body.

An alternative practitioner once told an acquaintance of mine he had a highly stressed liver that was badly infected with candida. That's interesting because all his blood indicators of liver function showed the liver was under no stress and he showed none of the common symptoms of any liver stress. Those tests are quite sensitive too, because even so much as 1 tylenol per day can signficantly alter the results of liver enzymes. So, I decided to do some research on candida infection of the liver and I found that yes, it can and does occur, but is a serious condition that affects almost exclusively patients undergoing chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants who are recovering from blood infection! Fever, vomiting, and nausea are persistent symptoms and the mortality rate is as high as 50%, even with proper treatment. So, he was either dieing of liver failure (even though his liver tested fine and he had no symptoms), or was thrown some bull by someone who probably meant good but got carried away! :)

Fortunately, he was open minded and his practitioner did give him a lot of good info on some other topics, but a lot of people hear these outrageous claims and will disregard anything else they hear that might be beneficial. Thus, people who could actually benefit from much of the alternative health recommendations never hear about it (or are told to stay away from it), because outlandish claims without any support destroy the credibility of the entire field.

According to many members of the alternative health field, EVERYBODY has mercury poisoning and should get rid of all their dental fillings and avoid vaccines, EVERYBODY has gigantic holes in their guts with candida and parasites, and many have 40 pounds of compacted fecal matter lodged up in their colon just like John Wayne!

But according to members of mainstream medicine, mercury problems from vaccines and dental fillings don't exist, leaky gut and candida don't occur often at all, and when they do they'd put you in the hospital.

The truth appears to be more like somewhere in the middle.

If you're one of the unfortunate few people that have a natural propensity to be poor at eliminating mercury, you might be more succeptible to have problems related to its ingestion from fish consumption, vaccines, or perhaps dental amalgams etc.

If you've been loaded up on stress, sugar, illness, antibiotics, and you have a ton of hypersensitivity symptoms (allergies, etc.), along with mood and energy problems, it's plausible you could have candida overgrowth in your digestive system along with leaky gut.

If you have chronic constipation or similar problems, you might benefit from a colon cleansing product (which is usually just high priced fiber in the form of psyllium husks).

Here's an example of some good well supported information on leaky gut syndrome (although quite sciency):

Leaky Gut Syndrome

and here's some on chronic candida:

Candida thread

Dr. Fungus

If more people took a more sensible approach to researching, disseminating and presenting information like that, I think we'd all be better off. Hopefully in the future health in general will move more towards a holistic view, and we won't have such a division between mainstream and alternative points of view.

Q: I have a question for you. In your "This aint rocket science article" you mention to stop explosive work like jumps and sprints as soon as performance drops during a workout. Does this hold true for weights??

A: That's a good question. It holds true for lighter more explosive type weight training like jump squats, olympic lifts, etc., yet doesn't really hold true when lifting heavier with strength in mind, unless you're after PURE relative strength (strength gains without any muscular increase).

Strength is 1/2 nervous system plus 1/2 muscular system.

Neural refers to your ability to optimally utilize the muscle you already have. Muscular refers to the size of the muscles you're able to utilize.

With weight training, in addition to the positive effects on the neural system, there's a significant metabolic (muscular) effect that occurs.

Pure neural related gains require "freshess", thus the recommendation of stopping a workout before, or as soon as, performance starts to deteriorate. However, a certain amount of fatigue is necessary to boost the muscular aspect of strength, which is why you don't necessarily have to be as strong at the END of a weight training workout as you are at the beginning.

Gains in power/speed/jumping etc. are ALL neural related gains so carrying out endless sets and reps of those in a state of fatigue is nothing but a waste of time. That doesn't mean that you can't get bigger muscles in the weight room and transfer that added size into added athletic speed and power, but you don't get that added size through your speed work, you get it in the weight room. You then teach your nervous system how to use it with your specific power/speed work.

Q: I just finished your How to Coax 30lbs. out of your bench press, and it was awesome man! I got the whole 30 pounds out of it. And hit 290! Anyways I'm 16, 182 pounds. Now I'm wondering what should I do next..I REALLY wanna hit 315 on the bench badly. I was thinking of taking a week of just doing 10x3 with 80% of my max. And then start another instense program. Could I do the same program again "How to coax 30lbs.." and maybe switch the exericses up a little, but keep the reps and sets the same. I'm just not sure what to do, but it was a great program, and I'll do anything to get that 315. Thanks a lot.

A: Good job with that workout. What I might recommend next to someone in your shoes is a variation of the heavy, medium, light template. This requires quite a bit more frequency.

Like this:

Monday- bench at 85% 5 sets of 3

Wednesday- bench at 95% 5 sets of 1

Friday- bench at 80% 5 sets of 2 (explosive on the concentric)

The 4th week skip the Wednesday workout and test on Friday.

Add about 5 pounds to each percentage each week and follow that until you stagnate. the same approach will work for any movement you want to bring up.

Regardless of your goals, if in doubt it's generally best to alternate volume and frequency. So you might train a muscle group 3 times per week for 4-6 weeks with low volume, then switch to training it 1 or 2 times per week for 4-6 weeks. Alternate back and forth like that and it usually works out very well.

Q: I am having trouble setting goals for the upcoming state powerlifting meet in November. I have read your mental advantage over and over but I just can't seem to get the process started. What is the best way to go about it?

A: Well one of the things you might do is just get a pen and a piece of paper and write your future goals down in the present tense as if they already occured. Like this: On November (whatever the date is), I am (fill in the blank with your goals). That by itself will have a powerful effect. You can do that for anything....take a sheet of paper out and down all your goals in the present tense for 6 months or a year down the road - put the piece of paper away and forget about it. Pull it out 6 months or a year later, look at it, and likely even if you did nothing else you'll have hit half of those goals. I did that once and was shocked!

You really can't determine how much strength you will gain before your meet but you do have control of a lot of external things that influence strength and can set goals for sleeping a certain amount of time...eating a certain amount....and of course, hitting your workouts.

Also, the fact that you're competing in a meet already gives your subconscious a goal regardless of whether nor not you're taking specific steps to plan for it. In other words, you can take 50 lifters...have 25 of them sign up for a meet in 2 months and have the other 25 just train normally. The group competing in the meet will gain 10 times as much strength as the 2nd group in that timespan, simply because they have a big time purpose in their training. This is why people who "compete" in any endeavor tend to make so many more improvements than those who don't. :)

Additionally, the best way to achieve anything in my opinion is to get yourself in an inspired state instead of just a motivated state. Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and don't let go of it until you make it a reality. Inspiration is the reverse - when an idea gets hold of you and you feel compelled to let that impulse or energy carry you along. Look at the great athletes, musician, artists, and writers. They all tap into a source. To learn how to get inspired I recommend books by Wayne Dyer.

If you're one of those people who train just for the sheer love of training chances are you're already there. :)

Hope that helps.

Q: In your recent article on getting "cut", why do you recommend a high carb day every 4th day? Won't I lose fat faster if I just stick to lower calories and carbs the entire time?

A: Two reasons: First of all, by replenishing depleted muscular glycogen stores you'll be stronger and might even be able to build some muscle while you're burning off fat. Second of all, your metabolism tends to slow during prolonged periods of carbohydrate (and calorie) restriction, as your body tries to adapt to your lower energy intake. Sympathetic nervous system activity (think natural amphetamine) declines,and thyroid levels decline. Replenishing glucose in the liver sends a "fed" signal to your hypothalamus that "all is good and plenty of food is available", and this helps prevent the slowing of the metabolism. The result is, you'll actually tend to lose fat FASTER by incorporating periodic carb-ups. You don't necessarily need to have a carb-up every 4th day as your metabolic rate won't drop that quickly, but at least once a week will help you out in the long run.

I should also add that you won't ever be able to completely inhibit metabolic slow-down. Get lean enough and your metabolic rate will slow, regardless of what tricks you entail to prevent it.

One way you can measure drops or increases in your metabolism is with a simple oral thermometer. Take your body temp first thing in the morning. An optimal fat burning temp will be somewhere between 97.3 and 98.1 (with some variance). A full 1 degree drop in body temp will be equivalent to about a 15-20% drop in basal metabolic rate. Anything much less than 97 and you're probably gonna have a hard time shedding fat and you'll need to either:

A: Eat normally (your normal maintenance level) for a week or 2 to help normalize metabolic rate.


B: Say to heck with trying to get lean and get back on a mass building diet :).

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