Martial Arts and Strength Training – is there Common Ground?

Bodybuilders want to pump their muscles, while martial artists need speed, stability, and flexibility. Professional trainers from both worlds say that they have a hard time convincing the other to embark in their program, due to martial artists’ bad experiences with prior strength training. Bodybuilders really don’t know how learning fight moves can benefit their training goals.

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Source: http://quicktoptens.com

However, there is a common ground for martial arts and strength training, because strength as well as flexibility, mobility, stability, and speed are beneficial to all aspects of fitness. Bodybuilders who can achieve full range of motion are more likely to avoid injury, and will be able to execute their exercises with more efficiency and power. On the other hand, a weak body can’t sustain high-level martial arts practice for long. This doesn’t mean that one should follow a standard martial arts/bodybuilding program, but simply take what one needs from both.

What Kind of Strength Do Martial Artist Need?

Weight training is aimed towards an anaerobic metabolism, with emphasis on joint, bone, and muscle strength. Martial artists shouldn’t follow a standard bodybuilding program, because they need functional strength to improve their martial arts performance. A full bodybuilding program can make your martial arts techniques worse, because it leads to a decrease in activation of motor units. It can only provide a minimal boost in speed-strength (the ability of the neuromuscular system to produce the biggest possible impulse in the shortest amount of time).

Martial artists always try to use their bodies in the most efficient way, so they need to pick strength training exercises that challenge the whole body as a unit. However, when it comes to physical training, it’s about optimizing one’s performance for any activity, and it’s more than just lifting heavy weights.

Strength Training and Lack of Mobility and Flexibility

Lack of mobility in bodybuilders usually manifests itself in large compound movements. Take squats for example – weight lifters often lack mobility in their hips and ankles, at the bottom of the squat, which forces their knees and toes outward and forward to create enough space for their hips to drop down, while shifting weight onto the toes at the same time. There’s a plethora of problems caused by this lack of mobility, because the body tries to compensate for the lack of strength due to the poorly leveraged squat position. Mobility is your body’s ability to move without restriction.

Flexibility, on the other hand, is the range of motion in a system of joints and the length of muscle(s) that crosses the joints involved. Range of motion (ROM) is the direction and distance the joint can move, and flexibility directly correlates with mobility and ROM, while indirectly with coordination, balance, and strength. If bodybuilders perform only strength exercises and don’t supplement their training routine with flexibility and mobility exercises, their ROM gets decreased.

Martial arts include exercises for improving flexibility and mobility, because the nature of the sport requires it, and weight lifters can benefit from it by “becoming a fighter” at least on one day per week. I was never a martial arts enthusiast, but when I was visiting a friend, he dragged me to a martial arts training in Sydney and when I got to try it for myself and realized all of its potential, I started incorporating that type of training into my own routines.

How to Practice Both and Achieve Maximum Effects

There are 3 specific planes of motion that divide the human body into right and left, top and bottom, and front and back halves – transverse (rotational movements), frontal (side to side movements), and sagittal (forward and backward movements). Why do you need to know this? For example, stability in the frontal plane is important in activities in which we try to create power forwards. When performing the stepping punch, hips often fall out because of weak hip abductors. This requires strength training exercises for strengthening this particular body part. The body thinks in terms of movement patterns, and doesn’t care about muscle groups, so you should base your training program on functional movements and perform core demanding exercises.

Suitable strength exercises for creating your own training program are:

Knee dominant – front squat, split squat, back squat, reverse lunge;
Hip dominant – deadlift, hip thrust, leg curl on a Swiss ball, stiff legged deadlift;
Horizontal pulling – dumbbell row, seated row, barbell row, face pull;
Vertical pulling – lat pull-down, pull-up/chin-up, reverse pull-up/chin-up;
Horizontal pushing – bench press, dumbbell incline bench press, weighted or regular pushup;
Vertical pushing – standing military press, half-kneeling overhead press, push press;
Anti-lateral/Anti-rotation – Russian twist, side plank, pallof press, full contact twist;
Anti-extension – body saw, ab wheel rollout, plank (with variations).

In order to become stronger, more flexible, and faster, both mentally and physically, you need a good strength training plan. The feeling of getting stronger can truly be a lifesaver in challenging martial arts, while improved functional strength, flexibility and mobility can reduce the risk of various injuries.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.

What’s Wrong with the Fitness Industry?

There are few industries hotter than the fitness machinery that is grinding away at the very pillars of our self-esteem. A new diet, a new workout program, a new technique, a new, improved, tested and the only one you’ll ever need supplement invades the market every day, probably even every hour. Information (of a highly questionable nature) has never been so widely available. Fitness gurus and polished medical experts have made it to your prime-time TV screen, and are hypnotizing you with their white veneers and silver tongues.

And it’s never been easier for the sly foot soldiers of marketing to invade your dreams – because all you want is to be beautiful, fit, shredded, ripped, don’t you? You hide away that ounce of fat on your belly like the most unsightly scar, and you munch away at your favorite chocolate in total secrecy, like a man committing mortal sin.

While this mass-hypnosis is underway, few are those who have noticed the ultimately appalling fact about this moneymaker we are all a part of – while claiming to have your best interest and longevity at heart, the bulk of the pretty people trying to stick you their product and program does not see you as an individual looking for a better life, only as a small, round, pink animal, filled with jiggling coins. (Pardon my language, but the truth is the truth is a difficult thing to swallow, and this was my best attempt to direct your attention my way.)

Eat nothing to gain nothing

Over the course of a few years, we have successfully been taught that our daily calorie intake is the most important number in our life, and that carbs are the devil. There are countless crash diets out there, just waiting for you to take the bait, which promise to lose you those however many pounds in however many days. (I’m pretty sure it will turn into hours quite soon)

I have to admit, they can deliver – these diet don’t care about the weight you will gain back,or the misery you will feel. They will get you your money’s worth – and will try to kill you in the process.

You are told to eat meat, dairy and eggs in insane amounts – never questioning the harm these products might be causing your overall health. Alternately, you are told to eat the craziest fruits and veggies on the market – slamming a pretty penny out of your pocket each time.

No one is trying to sell you what you already know about the way you should be eating. One word – moderation.

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Source: http://robinluthi.com

Shortcuts and Swindles to Success

Just like your choice of trendy diet, your choice of workout is also blurred with a heap of celebs trying to sell you their tried and tested routines. There are people out there who do their best to make you believe you need to have this that and the other to look your best, while at the same time doing their best to hide the fact that there is only one, and there will ever be only one thing you need to get, stay or whatever in shape. Your mind is the most powerful supplement you could ever get your hands on.

Marketing is now the cornerstone of wellness – if you can sell it, it works. And the first objective in selling anything is convincing people they need it, can’t live without it. Which is why you are told you need to look a certain way.

The point of getting fit has been lost somewhere along the dark path we are treading – being shredded does not make you better at any particular sport on endeavor. There are plenty of gold medalists who do not have abs you can see through their shirts. Being “fat” does not mean you are weak, and being ripped does also in no way imply you can run faster than the “fat” guy. On the contrary, being too ripped can cause quite a bit of harm.

Dark clouds and silver linings

While I stand by every single bitter word you have just read, the reality of things is not all bad. There are still trainers out there who will put your health first, and who will not promise to have you chiseled and red carpet ready in six weeks. I know the stars can do it, but looking like that is their nine-to-five. While you may be stuck at a desk, with nothing to eat but greasy takeout, an A-lister has a dozen assistants at their beck and call, whose job is, in turn, to keep the star shining, and ultimately, profitable. The way you look is not a multi-million dollar effort.

However, if you are lucky enough, you will find a trainer who will set you up with a realistic plan. Who will coach you for free if need be, just because he feels you can go that one more extra step. Who will be your coach, your safety net, your drill sergeant and the angel on your left shoulder, if need be.

Among all the other rubbish, you will also find a bunch of products that will enhance your performance, and not in the overly advertised way. There are still gyms out there which are not designer commercials. Which smell of chalk and iron in the morning, and where sparring partners and spotters are not a myth. There are tracks which will welcome your honest to God running shoes every night, and will not comment on the state of your hair or the bowl of ice-cream you snuck in at lunch. Which will only be glad to keep you company.

The truth is a lot is wrong with the fitness industry – as is with the world. And however pathetic it may sound, another truth is that change begins with a choice and a deliberate step, and our line of business is no exception.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.

Digital Health Revolution

With fairly recent technological advancements, something called the “digital health revolution” has come knocking on our doors, wanting to move into our lives. This phenomenon is only one of many that make the 21st century an incredibly exciting time.

Digital health can be described as a concurrence of genomic and digital revolutions with healthcare, health, living and society. We can use it to better track, improve and manage our and our family’s health. It helps with making life improvements and increasing productiveness by reducing healthcare costs and inefficiencies in its delivery, improving its quality and access by making medicine more precise and personalized.

What are the essential elements of digital health? Software sensing technologies, hardware sensors, microprocessors, and wireless devices, social networking, the Internet, and health information technology. The public opinion on this kind of healthcare revolution is divided, with those who feel opportunistic, and others that potentiate all the problems that it might bring. However, these are the facts: the population is aging, budget constraints are growing, and ill health is more lifestyle-related.

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Source: http://storyofdigitalhealth.com

Healthcare digitization is meant to promote positive health-related behavior changes. This is easier to achieve with web portals that enable us to order prescriptions, devices that monitor patients remotely, and mobile apps that reward people for performing beneficial behaviors. If you enter the Google Play and App Store, you will find countless fitness and health apps that can help you with your strength training, aerobic, yoga routine, even workout motivation, as well as nutrition plans. By combining smartphone technology with health care, people will find different types of services available. These services will be based on personal need, efficiency, effectiveness, and convenience. We will certainly be in a better position to address modern life’s social and medical problems – diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and various mental health issues.

If you have trained hard and managed to reach your fitness goals, share them with the world via the EyeEm application, and you can even earn some money. What about an app that will help vulnerable and elderly people maintain an independent home life by enabling them to access basic support services? For example, by simply wearing an iWatch, one can use it as an activity tracker, a workout tracker, and as a health tool. With some help of third party apps, one can set it up to send a summary of weekly activity, and offer suggestions on stepping up one’s personal health game. At first, wearable devices might seem tricky to use and make you feel skeptical towards this kind of technology, but it has made a big boom in the mobile industry.

Connectivity plays a major role in the future of digital health, the future which still seems a bit problematic and vague. The first problem is initial patient connection. Digital health declares to be all about disease management, while those working on their brand seem more into the modern perspective of the muscular runner and the lines of fashion.

The second one is the disconnect between the patient and the health care provider. Engaging and motivating patients is a difficult challenge, any health care professional will confirm. It is displaced by the practical aspects of care like simple disease management and a physical exam. The disconnect is broadened because the majority of HCP-s do not even understand the concept of digital health or use digital health technology. They do not understand it or regard it as an important and powerful tool because they do not live in the context of digital health.

The technology used by digital healthcare is used to support sustainable healthcare systems, even though the market is still relatively new and not as supportive to the idea of digital healthcare. The leadership in this marketplace is predicted to come from the high street, the general public, and the third sector. The demand for health and care services undoubtedly grows, thus new and unconventional healthcare approaches will be more widely accepted.

It is necessary to understand the realities and myths about what patients want from the digitalization of healthcare, so healthcare organizations could know where to head out further. These organizations are about to begin their journey on the third wave of digitalization, and now is the moment for the entire healthcare industry to go all in on digital strategies. Healthcare digitalization will certainly promote positive health-related behavior changes. However, whether this revolution will take place and be carried out its entirety depends on how it will push through in the marketplace.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.

How Strength Training Can Prevent Sarcopenia

We are not entirely sure what actually blesses our life with longevity. Yes, we are able to determine some factors via science, plus life expectancy is constantly on the rise, but there still isn’t a tool which can accurately measure our expiry date, or pinpoint the exact time of our death, technically speaking. However, there have been loads of surveys which tell us that almost every single person in the world doesn’t want to know how long it will take him or her to kick the bucket to begin with.

It is that unyielding dilemma which forces us to find ways to extend our vitality as much as we possibly can, so we resort to all manner of methods to keep our skin young and our bodies stout. And what is the first sign of aging? Well, apart from the laugh lines, the crow’s feet, and other hints, there is a medical condition which easily signifies the decline of health – sarcopenia. It is a slow and gradual loss of both skeletal and muscle mass which starts to kick in after the age of 30. Sadly, no one is exempt from this natural physiological change, and it is not pathological like a disease or syndrome, but there are ways to suppress its effects and hold the beast at bay, nevertheless.

You’ve probably seen or heard about elderly people up to the age of 100 who have either finished a marathon, maintained a buff, chiseled body, done an amazing athletic feat, or just defied their impending frailty by tirelessly working on their physique and keeping in shape. Honestly, whenever you witness something like that, the hat goes instantly down. We can all learn a thing or two from such experiences, so let’s see exactly how fitness prevents sarcopenia.

Bone density

The slow decay known as bone loss speeds up for both men and women during mid-life. Now, it is not something you should be scared of, considering that it is a natural occurrence, but you should tackle it head on and postpone its effects instead. Remember, we are talking about your body here, so you have all the threads to pull in your favor. For most women, increased bone loss ensues after menopause, because that is when estrogen levels drop sharply. It is said that women ages 65 to 70 who experience a fracture around the hip-joint are five times more likely to die within a year than women of the same age who don’t experience a fracture around the hip-joint. As for men, well, their skeleton is larger, loss starts later and progresses more slowly, and they do not have a period of rapid hormonal change, but that does not exempt them from the condition.

Muscle density

By the time we reach our seventies, we lose a tad more than half of our muscle mass, which explains why we feel weak and easily tire as we age. This is the main reason why strength training can prevent this occurrence, which not only keeps your muscles active and dense, but it also helps slow down the process of bone loss, too. A study has been conducted showing that postmenopausal women, who took part in a strength-training program for just one year, noticed significant improvement of their spine and hip – something which sarcopenia devours if allowed. Men (and women) who lift steel will experience a rise in testosterone levels, which is crucial for building lean mass and boosting metabolic activity. Working on your physique despite your age can greatly influence your body’s recovery, so do not shy away from breaking a sweat every now and then.

Utilize an effective strength training program and develop a diet

Two types of training are essential while creating your own strength training program. One of them is aerobic exercises, but they are not enough for maintaining an aging adults’ health. That is why resistance exercises or weight training is necessary to complete the program which will help defy aging. Apart from enhancing metabolic rate, such a combination of trainings also improve posture, immune response, and bone strength. There is even a new research which states that working on your body also helps battle cancer and heart disease. So if you want to prepare your body against slow degeneration, make sure to find a routine which suits you first, and just go one step at a time.

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Credit: http://youplus.com

Diet is also a necessary part in this battle, because it supplies your body with much needed nutrients which will enable you to endure all your hardships and help improve your results. Remember, the building block of muscle mass is protein, so aim to eat a meal at least once a day which has adequate amounts of this macronutrient, crucial for muscle cell regeneration. Also, do not hesitate to supply yourself with bodybuilding supplements, because they provide you with much needed nutrients that cannot be easily found in everyday meals.

Conclusion

The digital world in which we live right now doesn’t require us to move, to be active, if we are to get some things done. That may be the downside, but it is not all that gloomy. Laziness is a condition that can be easily treated. Some people may just need a good old push to go out and actually do something with themselves and their bodies. Still, technology has enabled us to discuss all manner of things, even if it may be an inevitable little beast like sarcopenia, but at least we can all exchange our experiences and figure out what we can actually do about it. Trainings will pay off if you stay the course and remain diligent. What is most important is to just keep moving and staying alive.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.

How to Maximize Muscle Adaptation

It is clear as day that building muscle mass is a painful process that demands considerable devotion, diligence, time, planning, and physical endurance. Unfortunately, most people will stop pursuing this goal within the first six months of training. This is because reaching such formidable level of fitness and definition can protract, cause impatience, and as well as having improper training, can lead to lousy results and loss of enthusiasm. Still, there should be no room for discouragement; a sound body doesn’t go anywhere without a sound mind. Developing a stable and focused mind set is the first step to succeeding in this endeavor.

So, how do you train adequately? How do you stimulate muscle growth and memory? “When muscles are used they adapt and change. Changes are dependent on the type of activity and muscle fiber types used, the load exerted on the muscle, and the velocity and duration of the contraction.” (Marieb, 2004) The point is to persevere through all the hardships, because muscular growth or hypertrophy can only be accomplished through these adaptations and changes. It takes about 16 workouts to have a noticeable ‘superficial’ effect. There is simply no other recipe to do this in a healthy, orderly, and long-lasting manner.

Training stimulus

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Photo Credit: http://fitnesshealth101.com

Without a training stimulus, you won’t get any proper results. This will be the main goal that everyone has to with when having such individually rough training regimes. Otherwise, everything can go down the drain. The highlight should be put on systematically overloading your body in a progressive pace in order to reach a momentary failure with each new set of exercise. This is what develops your base level of strength, and the same thing goes with your aerobic capacity when it comes to cardio. High interval training on a bike, rowing machine, elliptical, or plain sprinting will get your body working. Be consistent when using protocols like Tabata (8 series of 20 seconds of intense work, followed by 10 seconds of rest), or Gibala (30 seconds of same intense work, 4 minutes of recovery done at least 4 times).

“Whether training for sports performance or health enhancement, much of the success of the program will be attributable to the effectiveness of the exercise prescription in manipulating the progression of the resistance stimulus, the variation in the program design and the individualization of the program.” (Kraemer, 1994)

Diet and protein intake

Health comes within the body, and, what we eat influences how the body functions. In this meticulous, physically empowering case, it’s very important to keep track of the required amount of protein needed to maximize the process known as protein synthesis. This is what gets the engines running! It’s up to you to estimate how your body reacts to 1 gram of protein intake per kilo, and slowly progress comparing the effects with the same dose (but only per pound of your bodyweight). On average, it will all boil down to about 20-30 grams of necessary protein intake with each meal or snack. The best way to continue nurturing yourself in this fashion is by drinking whey protein, especially after workout and before going to sleep.

Rest and sleep

Resting is part of a workout, just as silence is a part of music. You have to know when to put your previously strained body at ease in order for it to heal, and reap what it has sowed while pumping iron. Naturally, 7-8 hours of uninterrupted, comfortable sleep each night is crucial. This is important, because it reduces the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) which can otherwise put you in a very disruptive situation should it overrun your system. Still, the primary reason why sleep is so important is pretty simple – health! Only when your body is fully regenerated, stout, and free of fatigue, you can effectively train to the max. On the other hand, once your body is weak and spent, you should aim to pacify such ailments and get back on track as soon as possible, no two ways about it.

Finally, remember to do your research, because any additional information that can help you in this process is always beneficial. Consult yourself with professionals, see what other enthusiasts know, think and feel, check if there are some answers online, and primarily get all of your facts straight. The more you discover, implement, and analyze, the better you are at figuring out what suits your body’s growth and strengthening the best.

Author

VsafL3XZ_400x400Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life at highstylife.com and other health blogs. Follow him on Twitter.

Is There a Healthy Way to Accelerate Fat Loss?

Everyone who is trying to lose fat has one goal, to lose as much of it as possible without ruining their health and one desire, to do it as fast as possible. Both of then are quite understandable, but not making them mutually exclusive is something that demands preparation, insight into the matter and execution without compromise. Why do we gain weight, which food to eat, how much to eat in order to make fat loss efficient, how to speed up our weight loss and how to motivate ourselves are all legitimate and understandable question and the right answers immensely influence the whole weight loss process. Let us outline this vast subject.

Why do we gain weight?

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photo credit: http://healthmeup.com

Quite simply, we eat more calories than we basically need. Furthermore, the food we eat is of questionable quality, especially snacks and drinks we have. Also, the rhythm and volume of our meals shifts in intensity and timing towards the evenings, due to our working hours. In addition, we lack physical activity, making calorie burns slow or even nonexistent, all this accompanied with sleep deprivation and stress, which is a sure path to gaining weight and health deterioration.

What to eat and how to eat only sufficient quantities?

Reducing the calorie intake is the key to weight loss. However, very often individuals find themselves in situations that they are loosing weight at a slow speed rate, or get stuck in a period of time when they do not lose fat at all, despite being meticulous about their diet and fitness regime. You regular fat loss diet should include meals shifted to the beginning of the day, that is making breakfast and lunch your main meals and dinner only occasional. A balanced diet should consist of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy oils and be void of sugar, wheat, seed oils, artificial sweeteners, trans fats and highly processed food. When quantities are concerned, a controlled calories intake is a good approach, but do not be its slave, loosing fat does not mean that you should be hungry, quite the opposite, a healthy diet should provide enough good calories to keep you full, not wanting anything else.

How to speed up our weight loss?

Regular physical exercise and sufficient night sleep are great ways to increase the effects of your healthy diet and make your fat loss faster and more consistent. However, there is a way to make it even faster, something that professional body builders use to add final touches to the leanness of their bodies just before competitions. Switching to low carb, high protein diet does wonders to fat loss, the professionals

state. It further helps control calories, increase satiety and thus reduce hunger. However, do not make any drastic cuts, reduce your carbs gradually and only if the results show you need to and do not remove them completely, that would be counter productive. The benefits proteins have on your diet can be additionally improved by adding whey protein isolate. The healthy ingredients, followed by strict production procedure and no junk additives provide a functional bonus to your meals.

How to motivate yourselves?

First of all, set realistic, periodic goals. The worst thing you could do is to expect an overnight success, that simple does not happen. Next, have a routine, but make it an interesting one. Change menus without jeopardizing your diet and mix and try out new exercises. Keep a diary and note all your progress, to have proof of your results and motivate yourself further to reach the next periodic goal. Having a partner by your side throughout the process certainly is helpful, but do not give up if you cannot find one; after all, you are doing it for yourself. Also, reward yourselves for a good achievement. An occasional ice-cream will not make any damage and you will surely feel better. On the other hand, if things start slowing down due to lack of discipline, deprive yourself of that sweet reward for another week.

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photo credit: http://paleoaholic.com

If all your answers had been adequately answered, there is no reason why your fat loss should not accelerate to a satisfactory speed. Once again, take your time, be disciplined and constantly motivated, thousands made it before, so will you.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating on the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing advice for better life. Follow him on Twitter.