Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trifecta Balance, Whey and Muscle Damage, and BOOKS!

Athletes Need Balance

Everything on this planet strives for balance; this is the unwavering rule of homeostasis that is weaved into every aspect of our natural world.  Unfortunately, humans are too damn smart for their own good, and generally always try to screw this up, or think they supersede Ma' Nature.  It just ain't so, Joe.

Civilized cultures, particularly North Americans and Japanese, are totally awesome at destroying their health through stress; the 40 hour work week has become the 60 hour work week that's become the 80 hour work week.  (Weak!)  This isn't an "unknown"; it's fairly well documented.  Because of this, we now have to "find more time" to unwind.  Read that last sentence a few times, and let it sink in.  FUBAR'd comes to my mind.  This is why, in my next life, I'm coming back as a European.  They seem to actually understand the term "leisure".  But I digress.  

Athletes.  Do they need balance?  Sure.  Muscle imbalances cause all sorts of mechanical havoc.  Dietary imbalances?  Huge, of course.  "Don't get him started", as my co-workers will often warn the naive.  But what about the balance between life, training, and play?  A complex question that can be answered in a multitude of ways.

What I'd like to hear, if I asked this question of someone, is that Life, Training, and Play are all separate, but intertwined and dependent, entities.  Take a look at that symbol; each corner is needed for structural stability.  The triangle cannot exist with a corner missing.  But if one of the angles is stronger than the other, strength and stability are altered---it will no longer be a "balanced" equilateral triangle with 60 degree angles.

In Crossfit, we Go-Go-Go; it's always about faster, stronger, more intense.  PRs, faster times, bigger lifts.  In essence, we do this so we can play more effectively.  But what if we leave nothing left to play?  What if "The Gym" is our play?  Are we becoming unbalanced?  Fairly personal question I'll leave open. 

But what about the flip side to intensity?  Graham Homberg, 2010 CF Games winner, gets it:
Crossfit Journal Video: Om and Holmberg (If you don't have a CF Journal subscription, don't be a cheap bugger.  25$ a year is beans.  I know fools that spend that on coffee per week.  I don't pimp out many HQ things, but I have no qualms about the CFJ.)

I've posted on "Play" before; I think it's pretty damn important to utilize your fitness outside of the gym, and not for the sake of "getting fitter".  This is a concept that really goes beyond what I can verbalize, but it's an integral part of what makes us mammals---look at kids, look at puppies, look at dolphins.  "Play" makes them what they are.  It's a primal concept that Mark Sisson has talked about before.

An Athlete's Trifecta:  Training, Play, and Unwinding.  For me, this is Crossfit, Rock Climbing/Mountain Biking, and Yoga.

Post your thoughts to comments.

Whey protein isolate attenuates strength decline after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:30doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-30

Published: 22 September 2010

Abstract (provisional)


We examined the effects of short-term consumption of whey protein isolate on muscle proteins and force recovery after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals.


Seventeen untrained male participants (23 +/- 5 yr, 180 +/- 6 cm, 80 +/- 11 kg) were randomly separated into two supplement groups: i) whey protein isolate (WPH; n=9); or ii) carbohydrate (CHO; n=8). Participants consumed 1.5 g/ supplement (~30 g consumed immediately, and then once with breakfast, lunch, in the afternoon and after the evening meal) for a period of 14 days following a unilateral eccentric contraction-based resistance exercise session, consisting of 4 sets of 10 repetitions at 120% of maximum voluntary contraction on the leg press, leg extension and leg flexion exercise machine. Plasma creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels were assessed as blood markers of muscle damage. Muscle strength was examined by voluntary isokinetic knee extension using a Cybex dynamometer. Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA with an alpha of 0.05.


Isometric knee extension strength was significantly higher following WPH supplementation 3 (P<0.05) and 7 (P<0.01) days into recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage compared to CHO supplementation. In addition, strong tendencies for higher isokinetic forces (extension and flexion) were observed during the recovery period following WPH supplementation, with knee extension strength being significantly greater (P<0.05) after 7 days recovery. Plasma LDH levels tended to be lower (P=0.06) in the WPH supplemented group during recovery.


The major finding of this investigation was that whey protein isolate supplementation attenuated the impairment in isometric and isokinetic muscle forces during recovery from exercise-induced muscle injury.

My Thoughts:  This is a pretty interesting study for reasons I'd normally be spitting mad and flingin' coffee around for:  The participants were untrained, and diets were NOT controlled.  The reason these issues are good is that untrained subjects are naturally going to have more eccentric damage from whatever they do, and uncontrolled diets, are, well, pretty damn normal in the real world.  This leaves the PRO and CHO groups fairly controlled, as far as supplementation.  The PRO group (signified as WPH) is actually a bit misleading---it's a hydrolyzed isolate with a very small amount of carbs thrown in, not just a straight whey protein isolate.  What would have been REALLY interesting was to have a third group, a PRO+ CHO, in the realm of 0.4g/kgPRO and 0.8g/kgCHO.  The PRO group (signified as WPH) is actually a bit misleading---it's a hydrolyzed isolate with a very small amount of carbs thrown in. 

Yay Books!

I recently just received two separate books in the mail, similar topics, yet vastly different for various reasons.  I've had the first book pictured, The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf, on pre-order since I first heard about it.  Robb has been a MASSIVE influence on the direction of my coaching focus, and his advice basically re-shaped the way I eat.  I plan on crushing this book, cover-to-cover, tonight at work if I have some downtime.

The second book, Food and Western Disease by Dr. Staffan Lindeberg, caught me completely off-guard when it came in the mail; as much as I wanted it, I didn't order it, as it's nearly a $100 textbook, and I enjoy being married.  It was actually a gift from a close friend, obviously one that knows me well.  It even had snazzy gift wrap and a bow!  This is THEE textbook of textbooks on hunter-gatherer nutrition and the issues with modern diet.  Lindeberg has done a shwackload of awesome research, including the famous Kitava study.

I've got geek material to last me a while with these two!

Various Training Sessions

Thursday, Sept 17th, Firehall #1, 1030
Did a really short circuit of mobility work/light strength work with MH, another firefighter and WICKED triathlete.  Right now, his training is consisting of rebuilding/strengthening via Core Performance Endurance; this consisted of sliding lunges, one-armed bench press, ab planks, and various mobility drills.  I always like joining in on other guy's workouts to get new ideas, and Verstegen's stuff is always solid.

3minx5 kickboxing with KH; went over more defensive maneuvers/evasions.  My hands are getting faster and crisper, and I feel like I'm starting to get a decent right hook.

Tuesday, Sept 21st, U of L
Rock climbing x 2 hrs; still working on various 5.10c routes.  Wicked fun, but relaxing, at the same time.

Wednesday, Sept 22nd, CFLA, 1PM
5/3/1 Press
135#1RM x 0.9=121.5#
115.5#x5. Would have liked to squeeze out a few more, but not today.  

500 m row (1:27.  Bah, 2 sec off my PR.)
rest 2 minutes
400 m row(1:17)
rest 1:30
300 m row (59s)
rest 1 min
200 m row (40s)
rest 30 sec
100 m row (19s) (total time, 4:42)
Rest 3 minutes
Row for Calories in 2 minute (44cal)

Thursday, Sept 23rd, CFLA, 1PM
AMRAP 20 minutes of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats
26 rounds + 1.  Damn happy with this, as my last full Cindy was 20 rounds in Jan, and then back in May, a 10 minute version at 14 rounds.  Shoulder felt awesome and wasn't an issue at all, but legs were trashed from the get-go from the previous row.  I think I can hit 28 full rounds, someday.

3PM, U of L
Rock climb x2 hours.  While this wasn't too bad, the next 4 days I was smoked.  Speaking of balance...