Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jump Squats 80% Type-II Fiber Activity, Cold Thermogenesis Better Fasted, Tuned Swiss Ball Crunch, 5-HTP vs. Asthma, HIIT Before Strength & High vs. Low GI Meal Pre Workout

Image 1: Few of the things the average trainee does in places that call themselves "fitness studios" has little to do have will actually promote fitness, as in being athletic. "Mr. check out my biceps", for example would be similarly lost ding this as the sedentary computer nerd "Mr. biceps" loves to laugh about.
I know from time to time I am not 100% in time when it comes to delivering promised articles, but after an exhaustingly hot day, I am pretty much in-time with the 2nd installment of "On Short Notice" for today and the third for this weekend. Since I felt that it looked awkward to have three posts with the "On Short Notice" in front posted one after the other, I did however decide to ditch that (at least for today) and get straight down to ... well, "business" with posts on the revealing type II fiber specific muscle-damage from jump squats, the reason why you better sit in your ice-tub fasted if you want to practice cold thermogenesis, the superiority of Swiss Ball Crunches with resistance bands over the classic ab machine, the surprising anti-asthmatic effects of super high doses of 5-HTP, the way women benefit equally from a progressive strength training regimen with or without HIIT or steady state cardio before the strength workout, and, lastly, the futility of fretting about the acute effects of high vs. low GI meals before a workout and how that relates to childhood obesity. And while I do, believe it or not, have material for at least another episode, I am not going to bore you with even more short news pieces for this weekend. Don't worry ;-)
  • Plyometrics for type II muscle fiber(-damage) It probably depends on your individual take on the usefulness of muscle damage, if the headline to this "On Short Notice" got you excited about plyometric training or not. When I am now telling you that the participants in the recently conducted trial by Macaluso et al. were previously untrained (N=8; age = 22 ± 1 years, height = 179.2 ± 6.4 cm, weight = 78.9 ± 5.9 kg) and the creatine kinase levels (a marker of muscle damage and the subsequent leakage of the creatine kinase enzyme into the blood) peaked at only 529.0 ± 317.8 U/L (that's high, but way below the 1,000er range you often see in untrained subjects after nothing but a couple of eccentric biceps curls being performed to failure) after the exercise intervention, I'd guess that most of you will appreciate that the researchers observed significantly more severely damaged type II than type I fibers (on average 85% vs. 27% of the respective fiber type).
    Image 2: The effect of plyomtetrics on your fitness & physique is still  underrated by the most fitness enthusiasts; and that despite the facts that plyos are the bread and butter of many athletes whose physical feats they are admiring.
    If we now make the reasonable assumption that the ~60% higher rate of muscle damage in both the glycolytic and oxidative subtypes of the type II fibers was indicative of the fact that they were the ones which shouldered the main workload of the 10 x 10 jump squat regimen the young men had to perform, this is unquestionable good news for everyone trying to get big and buffed. After all, these fibers, which are also known as type IIa (86% severely damaged) and type IIx fibers (84.% severely damaged vs. just 27% of type I fibers), are the ones that allow bodybuilders to get lean and muscular - not just one or the other... if that got you intrigued about what plyometrics are and if there is more research on it, I suggest you take a(nother) look at my previous posts on "ploys", such as "Building the Jack-of-All-Traits Legs Workout With Squats, Jump Squats and Body Weight Plyometrics?" or even the "Turbo-Fire vs. Insanity ShootOut" from one of the previous installments of "On Short Notice".
  • Cold thermogenesis is not for everyone, but if it works for you, better do it fasted! That the amount and in many cases even the presence of the metabolically active brown adipose tissue and with it the thermogenic response to cold exposure is a very individual thing, is something you, as a diligent SuppVersity student will be aware of after all you have already read my previous post of the matter (cf. "Cold Thermogenesis vs. Ephedra").
    Figure 1: Cold thermogenesis in postprandial (PP) vs. fasted state (FF); dark areas indicate high 18F-FDG uptake (=high metabolic activity; Vrieze. 2012)
    Since there are still way too many people who actually seem to believe that sitting in a cold bathtub for a couple of minutes everyday would be all it takes to get you ripped and jacked, I thought it prudent to give them the chance to make it actually work and advice them to do it fasted! According to a recently published study from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands (Vrieze. 2012), the metabolic activity of the brown fat in all 6/10 of the 10 healthy, lean male volunteers (18-32 y; body mass index, 20-24 kg/m²) who participated in the study was about twice as high when they sat in a room which was cooled down to 16-18°C for 2h fasted (13.1 g/mL glucose uptake) vs. in the postprandial state (6.8 g/mL).
    Aside from the usual non-responders (40%) and the huge heterogenity with respect to the thermogenic response (6.1 - 27.6g/L), which are typical for these experiments there is a similarly large intra-individual difference with respect to the increase in BAT activity in the fasted state with the highest responder going from 11g/L in the post-prandial to 27.6g/L in the fasted state and the "fasting non responder" with a statistically non-existent (the term "non-significant" would not be bold enough ;-) "increase" in cold induced thermogenesis from 5g/L to 6g/L.
  • Video 1 ( The Swiss ball crunch with resistance bands takes some "tweaking" to be done correctly. After all you usually don't have the equipment set up in the way you would need it at your gym (click image to watch).
    Swiss ball crunch with resistance bands effective and saver than ab machine While I am not sure how "effective" the ab-machine in the study by Sundstrup et al. actually was, I can tell you that done with resistance bands the allegedly hilariously looking swiss ball crunch is not just at least as effective in recruiting the musculature of the rectus abdominus (104±3.8 vs 84±3.8% nEMG, respectively) as one of those machines, where your legs are locked in a way that the rectus femoris will do take do way too much of the work (2x more activity than in the swiss ball crunch with resistance bands) and you thus set yourself up for future lower back (=lumbar pain).
    Against that background and in view of the fact that Sundstrup et al. found that "both men and women, younger and elderly, and individuals with and without pain benefitted equally from the exercises" (Sundstrup. 2012), it is probably well worth taking the 2-3 min to get the equipment in position and do 3-4 sets of this unquestionably unconventional exercise (check out the SuppVersity EMG Series and my post on "Integrated Core Exercises For 6-Pack Abs" for additional ab exercises).
  • A couple of statistics on the current asthma rates in the US
    • asthmatic adults: 18.7 million (8.2%)
    • asthmatic children: 7.0 million (9.4%)
    In 2010, most U.S. children aged 17 years and under had excellent or very good health (82%). However, 8% of children had no health insurance coverage, and 5% of children had no usual place of health care. Seven percent of children had unmet dental need because their families could not afford dental care. Fourteen percent of children had ever been diagnosed with asthma. An estimated 8% of children aged 3–17 years had a learning disability, and an estimated 8% of children had ADHD. (Bloom. 2011; based on data from 2010)
    5-HTP switches allergic asthma off No good news for the average Olympian athlete who would then lose his script for his beta-agonists (clenbuterol & co, see also SuppVersity Facebook news from Aug 01, 2012), but probably something those of you who suffer from allergic rhinitis or full-blown asthma will appreciate: The administration of 5-hydroxy-tryptophan an orally available precursor to serotonin over the course of  led to a profound reduction (70-90%!) reduction in allergic lung inflammation in a rodent model (Abdala-Valencia. 2012). While the supplement left all sorts of side-effect related parameters unchanged and did not lead to weight gain, which is an often touted side effect of SSRIs - mostly unjustly, by the way! - the hilariously high dosage of 5mg 5-HTP per kg body weight the rodents received did reduce the allergen-induced transglutaminase 2 (TG2) expression, the migration of immune cells into the lung tissue, the local synthesis of serotonin and the subsequent serotonylation of proteins (serotonin conjugation of proteins) which is a key feature of allergic asthma.
    Regardless of the fact that Abdala-Valencia explicitly point out that these effects "occured without systemic increases in serotonin" (Abdala-Valencia. 2012), which could have led to vasoconstriction and other negative side-effects, I strongly caution against the ingestion of a whole bottle of 5-HTP tabs per day... when the researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine publish a follow up study on humans, I'll let you know, though - in view of the ever-increasing asthma (see infobox on the right) research in this area could not just offer a valuable new treatment strategy, but also insights into the underlying reasons of this epidemic.
  • Young women can combine strength training with either steady state or HIIT and still make progress - Somewhat related to my post earlier this week on doing cardio before instead of after your strength workout are the results of a recent study by Silva et al. who found that young women (age ~23y) make identical strength gains, regardless of whether and which type (HIIT sprinting or steady state cardio on the cycle ergometer or classic jogging) they perform before with their twice a week full-body training (Silva. 2012). Just as in the Di Blasio study, the "cardio" sessions, which were performed in a 1 min all-out vs. 1 min active recovery (HIIT) or 95% of the ventilatory threshold (SST) fashion for 20-30min (progressing from 20-30 over the course of the 11 weeks), were performed before the weight training (note: changes in body composition were not evaluated in detail, but I would be very surprised, if the concomitant training regimen, and in that specifically the HIIT protocol, did not outperform the resistance training only protocol in this respect).
    Image 3 ( You will certainly remember Wednesday's news on doing cardio before weights, well, here you have more evidence that even doing 20-30 min of HIIT won't hamper the gains of fit female beginners on a twice a week full-body regimen with built-in progression regimen - neither will steady state cardio "in the zone", by the way.
    If you are a young, fit woman (or man) without years of competitive athletics under your belt and don't train all too often (~2-3 times per week), it does thus obviously not harm your strength gains on a classic strength training program with built in linear progression from 15-18RM to 8-10RM, if you concomitantly work on your conditioning - whether the results would be identical if the subjects were not just fit and healthy but had been training for years and were working out 5x instead of 2x a week, is yet questionable. On the other hand, it is very unlikely that seasoned athletes (and this goes out to the gentlemen, in particular) will lose muscle and ruin their strength gains, whenever they move further than the bench to the squat rack - it's all a matter of total volume and running out of puff due to bad conditioning can just as well keep you from pulling those additional 10kg off the floor as the exhaustion from doing too much cardio.
    This, by the way, brings me back to the notion of "fitness" vs. "being fit", I alluded to in the caption of image 1, already: If you want to exploit the 100 year credit your genes have granted you (see "Exercise for Life Extension" in today's first installment of "On Short Notice"), you better focus on "being fit". Try different things and don't get stuck in a rut.
  • High GI, low GI, ... f*** GI! When you, a healthy, more or less well-conditioned individual are about to engage in a high intensity exercise protocol that simulates a football match (bouts of walking (31-39 s), jogging (41-46 s), cruising (41-45 s), sprinting (16-21 s) and standing), it make absolutely no difference whether you ingest a high (=80) or low (=44) pre-workout meal (total energy=377 kcal; CHO=79 g; Fat=3 g; Protein=13 g) 3.5h before your workout (Hulton. 2012).
    Image 4: Add Lucozade + Akash rice for high GI (80) or apple juice and basmati for low GI (44) and you have two isocaloric test pre-workout meals
    That's at least what the results of a recent study by Hulton et al. which did not find any differences in blood glucose, fatty acids (FA), glycerol, β-hydroxybutyrate, lactate and insulin (assessed before, during, and after the exercise bout), rates of CHO and fat oxidation (determined at 4 time points during the protocol) or 1 km time trial performance. It should be mentioned, though, that this was not a liquid meal, but consisted of either Lucozade + akash rice (high GI) or apple juice + basmati rice (low GI) with an identical chicken breast + tomato sauce "base" and identical macro-nutrient and calorie content.
    That the long-term consequences on your body composition may still be different is a different cattle of fish though and how "beneficial" liquid sugar, ah... I mean energy drinks, such as Lucozade are is something at least those of you who read my "Fat Content Per Energy Drink 0g, Body Fat Gain Per Energy Drink 18g!" post from June 30, 2012. Whether apple juice is much better is still debatable, though. Wojcicki & Heyman, for example, argue (finally, as I would like to add) in their latest paper that "excessive fruit juice consumption is associated with increased risk for obesity" and the ingestion of "sucrose [...]without the corresponding fiber, as is commonly present in fruit juice, is associated with the metabolic syndrome, liver injury, and obesity". Reason enough for the two pediatrics from the University of California to recommend that the "US Department of Agriculture's Child and Adult Food Care Program, which manages the meal patterns in childcare centers such as Head Start, promote the elimination of fruit juice in favor of whole fruit for children." (Wojcicki. 2012)
Before I eventually call it a week, I would like to remind everyone of the daily mini-news on the SuppVersity Facebook wall. Only few of them will also make it into the "On Short Notice" column (actually the "Exercise for Life Extension" in today's first installment was an exception), so that even the few of you who don't suffer acute short news withdrawal symptoms, may want to stop by from time to time ;-)
  • Abdala-Valencia H, Berdnikovs S, McCary CA, Urick D, Mahadevia R, Marchese ME, Swartz K, Wright L, Mutlu GM, Cook-Mills JM. Inhibition of Allergic Inflammation  by Supplementation with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2012 Jul 27.  
  • Bloom B, Cohen RA, Freeman G. Division of Health Interview Statistics Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2010. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Hyattsville, Maryland December 2011. DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 2012–1578.
  • Hulton AT, Gregson W, Maclaren D, Doran DA. Effects of GI Meals on Intermittent Exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2012 Jun 15.
  • Macaluso F, Isaacs AW, Myburgh KH. Preferential Type II Muscle Fiber Damage From Plyometric Exercise. J Athl Train. 2012;47(4):414-20.
  • Silva RF, Cadore EL, Kothe G, Guedes M, Alberton CL, Pinto SS, Pinto RS, Trindade G, Kruel LF. Concurrent training with different aerobic exercises. Int J Sports Med. 2012 Aug;33(8):627-34. Epub 2012 May 4.
  • Sundstrup E, Jakobsen MD, Andersen CH, Jay K, Andersen LL. Swiss ball abdominal crunch with added elastic resistance is an effective alternative to training machines. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Aug;7(4):372-80.
  • Vrieze A, Schopman JE, Admiraal WM, Soeters MR, Nieuwdorp M, Verberne HJ, Holleman F. Fasting and Postprandial Activity of Brown Adipose Tissue in Healthy Men. J Nucl Med. 2012 Jul 31. 
  • Wojcicki JM, Heyman MB. Reducing childhood obesity by eliminating 100% fruit juice. Am J Public Health. 2012 Sep;102(9):1630-3. Epub 2012 Jul 19.