Thursday, April 29, 2010

Compression Research, Poliquin Humor, and HAWT Chocolate

 Ok, so at the not-so-subtle cattle prodding of my friend and fellow fire-breather Kris "The Machine" Fraser, I'm back for another kinda-weekly (weakly? Ha!) installment.  I've come across some interesting and entertaining stuff since the last post, so grab a cup o' organic java and enjoy.

Compression Clothing: Scam, or Truth?  OPT says Truth.

If you've watched any Crossfit competitions, you've probably seen chicks and dudes wearing some totally dorky neoprene-looking knee-high socks and shirts.  Return of the Under Armour nightmare?  No, not quite.  First off, buff Crossfit chickadees can wear any combo of spandex/neoprene/lycra/latex they damn well please, in my book.  BUT---there's way more to it than that.  I had looked into it briefly after this abstract floated into my Google Reader.  Meh, just what I figured: "This was the first study to evaluate the effect on endurance performance of different types of compression clothing with increasing amounts of compressive surface. Overall, there were no performance benefits when using the compression garments."  But then James Fitzgerald, aka OPT had a blog post endorsing the recovery merits of compression gear.  Has OPT gone mad?  Did he sell out?  WTF.  Time for some Sciencey Goodness to the rescue:
J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Mar;24(3):804-14.

Effects of a whole body compression garment on markers of recovery after a heavy resistance workout in men and women.

Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA.


The primary purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the influence of a whole body compression garment on recovery from a typical heavy resistance training workout in resistance-trained men and women. Eleven men (mean +/- SD: age, 23.0 +/- 2.9 years) and 9 women (mean +/- SD: age 23.1 +/- 2.2 years) who were highly resistance trained gave informed consent to participate in the study. A within-group (each subject acted as their own control), balanced, and randomized treatment design was used. Nutritional intakes, activity, and behavioral patterns (e.g., no pain medications, ice, or long showers over the 24 hours) were replicated 2 days before each test separated by 72 hours. An 8-exercise whole body heavy resistance exercise protocol using barbells (3 sets of 8-10 repetition maximum, 2.0- to 2.5-minute rest) was performed after which the subject showered and put on a specific whole body compression garment one designed for women and one for men (CG) or just wore his/her normal noncompression clothing (CON). Subjects were then tested after 24 hours. Dependent measures included sleep quality, vitality rating, resting fatigue rating, muscle soreness, muscle swelling via ultrasound, reaction movement times, bench throw power, countermovement vertical jump power, and serum concentrations of creatine kinase (CK) measured from a blood sample obtained via venipuncture of an arm vein. We observed significant (p < or = 0.05) differences between CG and CON conditions in both men and women for vitality (CG > CON), resting fatigue ratings (CG < CON), muscle soreness (CG < CON), ultrasound measure swelling (CG < CON), bench press throw (CG > CON), and CK (CG < CON). A whole body compression garment worn during the 24-hour recovery period after an intense heavy resistance training workout enhances various psychological, physiological, and a few performance markers of recovery compared with noncompressive control garment conditions. The use of compression appears to help in the recovery process after an intense heavy resistance training workout in men and women.

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Apr 8. [Epub ahead of print]

Lower limb compression garment improves recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in young, active females.

School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 2LU, UK,


This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of lower limb compression as a recovery strategy following exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). Seventeen female volunteers completed 10 x 10 plyometric drop jumps from a 0.6-m box to induce muscle damage. Participants were randomly allocated to a passive recovery (n = 9) or a compression treatment (n = 8) group. Treatment group volunteers wore full leg compression stockings for 12 h immediately following damaging exercise. Passive recovery group participants had no intervention. Indirect indices of muscle damage (muscle soreness, creatine kinase activity, knee extensor concentric strength, and vertical jump performance) were assessed prior to and 1, 24, 48, 72, and 96 h following plyometric exercise. Plyometric exercise had a significant effect (p </= 0.05) on all indices of muscle damage. The compression treatment reduced decrements in countermovement jump performance (passive recovery 88.1 +/- 2.8% vs. treatment 95.2 +/- 2.9% of pre-exercise), squat jump performance (82.3 +/- 1.9% vs. 94.5 +/- 2%), and knee extensor strength loss (81.6 +/- 3% vs. 93 +/- 3.2%), and reduced muscle soreness (4.0 +/- 0.23 vs. 2.4 +/- 0.24), but had no significant effect on creatine kinase activity. The results indicate that compression clothing is an effective recovery strategy following exercise-induced muscle damage.
My Thoughts: 
Pretty compelling stuff, from a recovery angle.  I don't know James personally, but from what I've gathered following his methods of training/nutrition/teachings, he doesn't do anything unless the data proves it.  Should every Crossfitter, fire-breather or weekend warrior run out and buy some compression gear?  Nope, not a damn chance.  This is no different, in my mind, than the category of "supplements"---unless you have your diet 100% tightly dialed, your training programmed perfectly, sleeping patterns that would make a caveman envious, and your stress/emotions totally in check, I see no need to drop mucho dinero on skin-tight compression gear.

That is, unless you are a buff Crossfit chicka.  Then, by all means.

Charles Poliquin: Humor Sprinkled With Pearls of Wisdom 

I came across this list today, and found it both entertaining and educational; keep in mind Polquin, while being scary smart, has a very sarcastic sense of humor.  

Top 10 reasons how women get fatter despite good intent

1.  They do spinning classes. That and disco fly swatting will get you nowhere fast in your pursuit of lean physique.

2.  They have Kashi for breakfast with skim milk for breakfast. Eat the cardboard box, it is higher in nutrients.

3.  They go for coffee after training. Coffee is great pre-training, horrendous post training. You want high cortisol when you train, not after.

4.  They follow a low fat diet, fearing that fat makes you fat. In the process, they avoid nutrient dense foods like avocadoes that would help much raster.

5.  They consume soy products that shrink their brains not their hips because of the toxic levels of manganese.

6.  They eat bagels because they are low fat. Gasoline is also low in fat. Would you drink that?

7.  They don’t make time for themselves. Here is the best fat loss tip for women: take a week off just for you, no boyfriend/partner/husband and no kids.

8.  They consume grains. Part of a healthy and balanced fat butt.

9.  They use beauty products loaded with harmful chemicals such as parabenes.

10.  They don’t follow the axiom: You are your schedule.

P.S. Men are dumb, but not that dumb. For example, I can’t believe that women think we fall for the following camouflage combo:

Diversion 1: sweatshirt tied with sleeves around butt to hide the fact that you should actually hang an orange triangle on it.

Diversion 2: 150-350 dollars hair cut.

Reality check:

The 150-350 dollars haircut does not attract our attention from the wide load. We actually don’t even notice when you get your hair done. If a male notices your hair cut, he is gay, or he has not admitted it to himself. Proof? When he gets up from your couch, he rearranges the pillows.

 Chocolate:  Does a Brain Good.

For quite a while now, my wife and I have enjoyed a square of 90% dark chocolate after dinner; one just needs to plug "cocoa" into either PubMed or Google, and you get a schwackload of hits on the positive health properties.  I recently had a phenomenal meal at a friends house, and was pleasantly surprised when he pulled out the 90% Lindt (along with some espresso!  Jackpot!).  So, I thought this was fitting:

Metabolic effects of dark chocolate consumption on energy, gut microbiota, and stress-related metabolism in free-living subjects.

Nestle Research Center, Vers-chez-les-Blanc, CH-1000 Lausanne 26, Switzerland.


Dietary preferences influence basal human metabolism and gut microbiome activity that in turn may have long-term health consequences. The present study reports the metabolic responses of free living subjects to a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate for up to 14 days. A clinical trial was performed on a population of 30 human subjects, who were classified in low and high anxiety traits using validated psychological questionnaires. Biological fluids (urine and blood plasma) were collected during 3 test days at the beginning, midtime and at the end of a 2 week study. NMR and MS-based metabonomics were employed to study global changes in metabolism due to the chocolate consumption. Human subjects with higher anxiety trait showed a distinct metabolic profile indicative of a different energy homeostasis (lactate, citrate, succinate, trans-aconitate, urea, proline), hormonal metabolism (adrenaline, DOPA, 3-methoxy-tyrosine) and gut microbial activity (methylamines, p-cresol sulfate, hippurate). Dark chocolate reduced the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines and partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism (glycine, citrate, trans-aconitate, proline, beta-alanine) and gut microbial activities (hippurate and p-cresol sulfate). The study provides strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of free living and healthy human subjects, as per variation of both host and gut microbial metabolism.
PMID: 19810704 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

My Thoughts: Do yourself a favor, and get on the dark chocolate, post-meal; in addition to giving you a kick ass amount of  anti-oxidants, it causes a spike in the LOVE hormone, dopamine.  Woo!

Recent Training
Apr 23rd, 1PM, CFLA
5RM Overhead Squat
175#x3 Grrr.  Solid 3, with an easy 2 more in the tank, but my left wrist felt like it was going to snap off.

AMRAP in 8 minutes
5 Power Snatch 95#
5 Clapping Push Ups
5 Ball Slams 20#
7 rounds +10 reps.  Meh.  You know how I feel about Oly + Metcon.  That aside, 95# felt not too bad.  Probably looked horrendous.

Apr 27th, U of L, indoor rock climbing x2hr.
Haven't gotten out as much as I'd liked, but feeling WAY better on the 5.9 and 5.10 routes.  Worked some crazy overhang problems in the bouldering cave, and fried my grip; forearms are still aching today (29th)

Apr 28th, 1PM, CFLA
3RM Push Press, 165#
Was hoping for more, but 175# wouldn't even get past my forehead.  Disappointing, but it's coming along.

150 Double Unders
30 Thrusters 95#
30 Chest-to-Bar pullups
9:20.  WOW.  This was ugly, and I mean toss-your-cookies ugly, and I even scaled from 135# thrusters to 95#.  Thrusters have always been a killer for me, but this really sucked.  Morale of the story?  DO MORE THRUSTERS.