Visit http://www.CoachDavidAlexander.com for more strength & conditioning tips.
This is a unique kind of barbell row. The gym I train at (Xtreme Fitness San Juan Island) has a t-bar row but the receiving end for the weights is too small. I would need to put on 45’s and then the range of motion will suffer. So this was my solution. I put on 35’s so I can add weight and still get a good range of motion. I needed to weight one side of the barbell or it would rise off the ground (see in video). I do this lift once a week and add 5 pounds every time. Have fun! Coach David Alexander
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Instructions for making primal beef shank with parsnip purée and green vegetable.
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Is saturated fat really a deadly nutrient?
Tuesday, September 04, 2012 by: Ben Hirshberg
(NaturalNews) Many doctors and health experts vilify dietary fat, urging everyone to cut down on the macronutrient in favor of low fat alternatives. Even more common is for health experts to talk about good fats and bad fats. More often than not, saturated fat is at the top of the fat naughty list. It is worth examining how saturated fat got its reputation for being a deadly nutrient and seeing if the reputation is deserved or not.
Saturated fat and Ancel Keys
Those who abhor saturated fat point to the work of Dr. Ancel Keys, who popularized the notion that saturated fat causes heart disease. In 1953, Keys wrote a paper with the key finding of a correlation between fat intake and heart disease deaths in six countries around the world. Data was actually available for 22 countries around the world, and the association between fat intake and heart disease was not present in several of the countries.
17 years later, Keys published a study looking at seven countries that found a correlation between animal fats and heart disease rates, as well as total cholesterol numbers and heart disease rates. Keys concluded that saturated fats in animal foods led to high cholesterol levels which led to higher incidences of heart disease. The problem with Keys’ 1970 study of the seven countries was that three of the seven countries examined actually had no correlation between animal fat consumption and heart disease prevalence.
Saturated fat and cholesterol
As far as the connection between saturated fat and cholesterol goes, Keys got it wrong as well. Saturated fat does increase LDL cholesterol, which builds up plaque on artery walls. Saturated fat also increases HDL cholesterol, as much or possibly more than it increases LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol removes plaque from artery walls, which means that any damage saturated fat does to bad cholesterol is undone by its effect on good cholesterol levels.
Furthermore, it appears saturated fat doesn’t affect LDL cholesterol levels as negatively as previously thought. LDL cholesterol comes in two varieties: small and dense particles or large and fluffy particles. The large and fluffy LDL particles have no association with clogged arteries, whereas the small and dense LDL particles had a strong association with clogged arteries. It turns out that replacing carbohydrates with saturated or unsaturated fats decreases the levels of small, dense LDL particles.
Saturated fat – A vital nutrient?
So is saturated fat the demonic nutrient conventional wisdom makes it out to be? It appears that the answer is no, and that saturated fat is not only safe but actually quite beneficial to human physiology. Saturated fat improves cardiovascular risk factors, increases bone strength, improves liver health, is essential to lung and brain health, influences insulin release and metabolic rate, and helps the immune system function. Ancel Keys got it wrong, and unfortunately his condemnation of saturated fat has contributed to a widespread dietary fat phobia.
Sources for this article include:
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Low-carbohydrate diets make you lean and healthy, systematic review shows
Thursday, August 30, 2012 by: Eric Hunter
(NaturalNews) The amount of research on low-carbohydrate diets have skyrocketed the last couple of years; mostly due to the increased popularity of carbohydrate restriction and the “overwhelming” amounts of anecdotal reports from people following these types of diets. Individuals who adhere to a low-carbohydrate eating style usually get most of their calories from fat, and skeptics often argue that the increased consumption of meat and saturated fat will “clog the arteries” and increase the risk of disease. A new meta-analysis, a systematic review of studies, found that low-carbohydrate diets lead to weight loss and improved health.
A low-carbohydrate diet usually involves reduced consumption of grains, legumes, rice, certain dairy products and sometimes fruits and root vegetables. Fat becomes the main source of energy, and avocado, coconut products, oils, full-fat dairy, meat, fish, fowl, eggs, olives etc., are common food staples.
The exact amount of carbohydrates in different types of “low-carbohydrate” diets usually range from 0-100 grams.
The systematic review of low-carbohydrate diets used 23 reports that met the criteria of the analysis; which includes 17 clinical investigations and a total of 1,141 obese patients. Low carbohydrate diets were found to be associated with significant decreases in body weight, blood pressure, insulin levels and plasma C-reactive protein. In general, low-carbohydrate diets were found to improve all cardiovascular risk factors. Weight loss in itself also contributes to improved metabolic markers.
Low-carbohydrate diets will not clog your arteries
The link between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease has long been considered an established connection by many medical professionals. However, when looking into the human physiology and biomedical literature, one quickly realizes that it’s not so cut and dry. Several comprehensive reviews conclude that low-carbohydrate diets don’t increase the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
The new systematic review also showed that low-carbohydrate diets cause an increase in HDL, the “good” cholesterol, and no significant changes in LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. It’s also known that the majority of people can eat cholesterol without it affecting their cholesterol levels. Rather than elevated blood cholesterol, inflammation seems to be the major cause of heart disease.
This doesn’t mean that a low-carbohydrate diet is necessarily the optimal diet
The benefits of these systematic reviews are that they look at several reports, rather than just presenting the data from one study. This way it’s possible to get a larger picture and be able to draw more accurate conclusions. However, this meta-analysis gives little information about the effects of low carbohydrate diets compared to other popular diets, the exact amount of carbohydrate necessary to achieve good results and which foods to choose.
Sticking to a low-carbohydrate diet usually means increased consumption of paleolithic foods and reduced consumption of processed foods, grains, legumes, milk and other western foods staples.
These “modern” foods often have a high-carbohydrate density and contain several anti-nutrients, problematic proteins and hormones. Thereby, avoiding these foods results in reduced inflammation and a healthier life.
Epidemiological studies show that humans can maintain excellent health when eating a high-carbohydrate diet based on fruits, berries, nuts and root tubers and other vegetables.
The one group of people that “always” benefits from carbohydrate restriction is overweight and obese individuals. All of the available literature shows that low carbohydrate diets are linked to significantly more weight loss compared to other diets. Overweight and obesity usually go hand in hand with low-level chronic inflammation, insulin resistance and leptin resistance. Carbohydrate restriction usually improves insulin and leptin resistance among other things, thereby contributing to weight loss.
Sources for this article include
Santos FL, Esteves SS, da Costa Pereira A, et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors.
Obes Rev. 2012 Aug 21. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2012.01021.x. [Epub ahead of print]
Mente A, et al. A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and coronary heart disease.Arch Intern Med. 2009 Apr 13;169(7):659-69.
Hooper L, et al. Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD002137.
Siri-Tarino PW, et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the associationof saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46.
Kratz M, et al. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. European Journal of Nutrition, Online First?, 18 July 2012
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Excess belly fat – How it happens and how to get rid of it for good
Thursday, August 30, 2012 by: PF Louis
(NaturalNews) General obesity is an epidemic. But it’s possible to experience belly fat without being generally obese with fat enlarged torso, arms, and legs that demand waddling while walking. Your arms, upper torso, face, and legs can appear normal with an extended belly and expanded waistline.
Beer bellies are often wheat bellies. This can result from eating wheat products, even whole grain, with its high glycemic index (GI). Today’s wheat has been transformed into a nutritionally weakened hybrid that contains 10 times more gluten than the wheat of a half-century ago.
Even for those who don’t have extreme wheat/gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, one can surpass his or her capacity for digesting gluten, leading to that wheat belly.
Wait, there’s more!
So you’ve cut back on wheat and even avoided gluten-free products that contain potato starch and tapioca, both high GI substances. But the waistline remains the same.
Stress affects your hormones. Cortisol comes from the same gland that provides adrenaline for short-term reactions to perceived dangers. But cortisol is produced from chronic stress without any real outlet. It can build up, cause hormonal imbalances and create a suddenly bulging belly.
For women who experience an estrogen imbalance, too high or low, the belly can bulge also. For men, it’s testosterone deficiencies that can bring on the beer belly. Stress can also influence the sex hormones. So a simple solution, in addition to excluding gluten to some extent, would be reducing stress.
Diet still remains important. Organic foods with lots of greens while abstaining from processed and junk foods goes a long way to both reducing the waistline and stress. Intense exercise may be fun for some, but how many who practice hatha yoga have beer/wheat bellies, hmm?
Focusing on stress reduction
Sometimes stress is handled by eating “comfort foods” that are high in simple, processed carbs and sugars and bad fats, creating a vicious big belly cycle. So there need to be other options for reducing the stress that directs fat to the belly and promotes indulging in comfort foods.
An important method for eliminating stress is getting enough high quality sleep. Even if you’re in bed for eight hours nightly, you may not be getting even close that much quality sleep. The key word is quality. (http://www.naturalnews.com/026637_sleep_health_immune_system.html)
Difficulty falling asleep, getting up often, waking up easily and often from restlessness all make the process of an immune enhancing quality sleep impossible. Save your coffee for the morning hours. Maybe some chamomile tea late in the evening would help.
Relax before hitting the sack with a pleasurable activity. Better yet, meditate or practice the corpse pose of yoga where you relax every part of your body until you achieve a totally tranquil state of relaxation. (http://suite101.com)
Make sure your bedroom is completely dark. No lights of any kind anywhere, and a little on the cool side, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is an ideal sleep environment.
Melatonin supplements, especially sub-lingual, can help you fall asleep. Start at three mg and experiment for the right dose, anywhere from one to ten mg. Too much leaves you rested but groggy upon awakening.
Cut out unnecessary stress. In this modern culture of political correctness and self-defeating politeness, we sometimes take on tasks that are not necessary for our survival or our best interests. Too many demanded tasks and frivolous meetings create unnecessary stress.
In other words, allow yourself to enjoy being you. Walks in nature, an occasional picnic, time spent listening to good music are a few examples of ways to eliminate stress without resorting to excess alcohol or comfort food binging.
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You tell me your goals and I will design a program to get you there! We will work together 3 or 4 days a week until you have achieved your goals. Your sessions will be fun, exciting and personalized to what you want to accomplish. I have a long list of fun exercises, workouts, and strength training protocols to use in helping design your personalized “goal based” training program. Whether it’s to increase confidence, lose weight, achieve a better body composition, increase strength, get in shape for an upcoming wedding or reunion, finally get that beach body or compete in an athletic event. Whatever it is you want, I will design a program to get you there and be with you every step of the way. Contact me for a FREE CONSULTATION at email@example.com with ONE-ON-ONE in the subject line. I can come to you or we can meet me at the gym. It’s your choice.
The Desk Jockey Workout: 8 Ways to Stay in Shape at the Office
by BRETT & KATE MCKAY on JULY 24, 2012 · 57 COMMENTS
For most of human history, work has been a physically demanding activity. Our cavemen ancestors chased down mastodons and hurled spears into their tough, but tasty flesh, American homesteaders tamed the wilderness into productive farms with nothing but grit and sweat, and just 60 years ago, the majority of men in America flexed their muscles on factory floors or construction sites.
Fast-forward to today.
Instead of feeding ourselves by the sweat of our brows, most of us just slouch in a chair all day in a climate-controlled building while we push buttons and send documents through the ether. And the sitting doesn’t end after work. When we get home, we plop down in front of the TV to watch reality shows of men performing the kind of virile, physical, and often dirty work we fantasize about doing while answering emails in our cubicle.
Man’s transition from callused-handed, blue-collared laborer to soft-handed, white-collared desk jockey has done a number on us physically and mentally. Not only have our desk jobs made us weak, flabby, and stiff, sedentary work is sapping the very hormone that makes a man a man: testosterone.
What’s more, all this sitting is slowly eating away at our life meters. One study showed that men who sit for more than six hours of their leisure time each day had a 20% higher death rate than those who sat for three hours or less. For the desk jockey, death comes wrapped in a Successories Poster and waving a USB drive.
“Ah-ha!” you say. “I work out out like a beast in the gym every day and have a physique that rivals Eugen Sandow’s. My hour-long, herculean effort counteracts all the sitting and slouching I do at work!”
Sorry to break it to you Mac, but your visits to the gym aren’t doing much to mitigate the damage that accumulates from all that desk jockeying.
Studies have shown that consistent, vigorous workouts don’t do much to offset the damage we do to our bodies by sitting down all day at our cushy Dilbert-esque jobs.
So what’s a modern man to do?
If you want to live to see your future grandkids and maintain your manly physique and sense of well-being, you’re going to need to stay active throughout the day.
That can be tough when you’re chained to a desk filling out TPS reports or attending unproductive brainstorming sessions on how to build more “synergy.” But with a little creativity, and a bit of gusto (along with a thick skin about what other people think of you), you can easily find ways to sneak some exercise into your work routine and flip the Physicality Switch of Manliness. Below we offer a few simple suggestions on how to stay active all day even if you’re a white-collared desk jockey. Incorporate them into your schedule and you’ll find yourself with hips as limber as an Olympic powerlifter and more energy than you had as a teenager.
1. Make Getting to Your Office a Challenge
Look for ways to make getting to work and into the corporate cave a challenge. Biking to work is of course ideal. If you have to drive, park at the far end of the lot so you have to walk further to the building, carry a giant Saddleback Briefcase (those suckers are heavy) filled with your laptop and small boulders, and hurdle over small hedges as you make your way to the door. For extra challenge, throw in some parkour and scale the walls like AoM reader Jeremiah Jacques:
2. Take the Stairs. While You’re At It, Run Up Them
Instead of using the elevator to move between floors, take the stairs. Start off walking, but work your way up to a full out sprint. Don’t worry about looking like a crazy person. Most stairs in office buildings are hidden away as fire escapes and hardly anyone uses them. Once you reach your floor, pause outside the door to catch your breath, straighten your tie, and mop your forehead with a handkerchief. You just literally leveled up on your high intensity training!
3. Get a Standing Desk
One of the best things you can do to mitigate the health-sapping effects of your desk jockey job is to get a standing desk. The drain on your weight and health, including hip and back stiffness and pain, that comes from sitting down all day will disappear. While you might not be able to convince your boss to spring for an expensive hydraulic-powered standing desk (though I’d at least try lobbying him for it), you can jerry-rig your own standing desk in various ways (search Flickr.com for “standing desk” for ideas).
To learn more about the benefits of standing to work (and its manly history), check out this article from the archives on standing desks.
4. Maintain Good Posture Throughout the Day
If you want to avoid the Quasimodo shoulder slump that seems prevalent among desk jockeys, make the effort to practice good posture throughout the day. Yes, it’s hard and tiring at first, but the struggle is well worth it. Practicing good posture while sitting and standing can reduce tension in your neck, shoulders, and back, improve organ function, and strengthen your all-important core.
Check out this classic article for instructions on how to improve your posture.
5. Do 10 Push-Ups and 10 Squats Every Time You Take a Bathroom/Coffee Break
When I clerked at a law firm here in town, my office sat adjacent to that of the firm’s sole surviving founding partner. He was one of the coolest old guys I’ve ever met. He was sort of like Teddy Roosevelt in a lot of ways. The walls of his office were covered with stuffed and mounted wildlife from his many hunts; dropping memos off in his office was like stepping into the Museum of Natural History. Despite being nearly 80 years old, this old partner was spry as a young buck. I asked him his secret to his youthful vigor at lunch one day, and this is what he said:
“Maintain a sense of humor. You need it in the legal business. And do lots of push-ups while you’re at work. I always do ten anytime I get up from my chair.”
And he did.
Every now and then, when I walked by his office, I’d see a short, bald old man on the floor, cranking out push-ups in his waistcoat.
That little old man inspired me. I started a similar routine that summer at the law firm. Anytime I got up from my chair, I’d do 10 push-ups. I also added 10 bodyweight squats for good measure. The result? I felt more energized and less stiff. More importantly, I started losing some of the summer intern lunch chub that I had gained over the summer.
Stay active throughout the day by incorporating a similar routine.
6. Get Up and Walk Outside for 15 Minutes Every 45 Minutes
I’ve noticed that I’m more productive when I work in shorter increments and take frequent, small breaks throughout the day than if I slog through a project in a single sitting. Taking frequent breaks isn’t only good for your brain, it can also be good for your body, too. To keep your brain and body running on all six cylinders, use the Pomodoro Technique when you’re working.
Set a timer for 45 minutes and work non-stop. When the 45 minutes are up, take a break for 15. Instead of surfing the web or chatting with Mark in HR, go outside and take a leisurely 15 minute stroll (unless of course you have a job where your boss expects you to be at your desk every minute). Plain old walking provides a surprising amount of health and mind benefits such aslowering our resting blood pressure, reducing obesity, and improving our working memory.
Doing your walk outside will also help you activate the Nature Switch of Manliness, which will reduce stress, keep you mentally sharp, and even boost your testosterone.
You can even make your walks productive by holding meetings with co-workers as you stroll. There’s something about walking and talking that gets the creative juices flowing. Steve Jobs was famous for his walking meetings. Instead of sitting at a table in a stuffy conference room, he’d ask the person he wanted to meet with to take a walk with him outside. Co-workers would go on to say that those “walking meetings” were some of the most productive meetings they ever experienced. Jobs was likely inspired by Aristotle’s peripatetic teaching. Instead of standing in front of a large group of students to lecture, Aristotle preferred to walk and talk to his students.
If it worked for Jobs and Aristotle, maybe it will work for you. Even if you don’t come up with a breakthrough business idea during your walking meeting, you’re at least staying active.
7. Perform 15 Dips When Leaving for and Returning from Lunch
Work those tri’s before and after lunch by cranking out a quick set of 15 dips when you leave for and return from lunch. Just place your hands on your chair and walk your feet out in front of you. I like to keep my legs stretched straight out while I perform the dips. Lower yourself until your arms form a 90 degree angle and then press up. Repeat 14 more times.
8. Perform 30-Second Grok Squats Throughout the Day
Also known as the Asian Squat or Indigenous Person Squat, the Grok Squat is a sitting position that you find in cultures that don’t have sofas or chairs like we do in the West. It’s something you did as a tot, and have forgotten; our almost two-year-old son, Gus, gets down into some really amazing Grok Squats all the time.
The Grok Squat is very similar to a catcher’s stance in baseball. Simply squat down until your butt touches your ankles. Keep your heels firmly on the ground and back straight. Hold that position for 30 seconds to a minute. You should feel your hamstrings, quads, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin gently stretching. If you’re super stiff, it may take a few days of practice to sink into a full-on Grok Squat. Keep at it. Your back and hips will thank you.
To avoid the stiffness that comes from sitting and standing all day, incorporate several short Grok squats into your daily routine. A great time to do them is right after your 15 minute long walks. Before you resume working, simply crouch into a Grok squat and hold it for 30 seconds to a minute. For added effect, do the Grok Squat on top of your desk while holding a stapler above your head like that monkey hoisting the bone at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
What do you do throughout the day to stay active? Share your desk jockey fitness tips with us in the comments.
Illustrations by Ted Slampyak