Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nike Free Shoes Buying Guide

I've had some interesting dialogue the last few years about shoes and especially the Nike "Free" shoes in particular.  You can see all kinds of people wearing them now-especially many of my clients and family members.  We've had some amazing results with these shoes for improving not only the "fitness" of the feet but also the safety regarding how these shoes and others like them help to improve gait, function, and ease or even eliminate foot pain!  With some, they eliminated pain above the feet as well like in knees, hips, and back.

The "problem" with Nike Free shoes has been the general confusion about what they are and where to buy them.  They really started taking off last year-now they are found at many retail stores like Sport Chalet and others, so finding the "running" models are easy.  However, Nike has not made the educational information very user friendly or easy to access.

We discovered that the Nike Free sole design was being used on "non" running shoes-some are like office boots while others are actually being made for military and law enforcement.  No matter which Nike "Free" model you choose, it's still going to offer the same "foot-friendly" design which is more flexible than conventional shoes.  Reviews are typically very good to excellent even for the special forces "military" boots.

I must admit-this has been one of the most confusing handouts I have ever researched!!!  No wonder people had so many questions.  I did not realize the situation until I dug into it the last few days.

Special thanks to Randy Bennett for helping me locate some of the non-running models!

Here's the link to my new "Nike Free Shoes" handout that just went live today.   

Rock your feet!

Enjoy-better safety while walking from enhanced foot fitness,
Coach RJ

Monday, February 14, 2011

Energy Drinks Safety & Kids

I've been ranting about the health and safety issues regarding "energy" drinks for years, but lately they have been in the top stories of major news agencies.  Before any actual research came out, I had communicated with the American Dietary Association urging them to investigate.  I had been getting “field reports” from fellow athletes, coaches, and clients about people having cardiac issues and collapsing from energy drinks within the first 18-24 months of their release.  Sometimes if you wait for the “research,” you are already behind!  When people are passing out from energy drinks, you don’t need studies to demonstrate they are something to avoid.  After a few years though, the research is emerging to validate my previous stance.  I don't recommend them for youth or adults—athletic or not—they are bad news.  Most of the reports talk about the cardiac issues related to them, but my dentistry contacts have also been telling me there are some serious dental issues related to energy drinks because of their high acidity and the negative effects on tooth enamel and overall oral health…bacteria and decay right next to the brain—NOT good.  :o(

The deeper issue beyond physical complications  is the mental attitude that “energy” or a vigorous and mentally sharp existence can be found in a can (or pill).  Unfortunately, we now have a billion dollar “energy” drink industry that has sold our youth up this river of health scam--many are paying with their heart function, dental health, and obesity.  It is hard work to be healthy—let’s get to it.  The alternatives?  Not good—way more pain and expense than staying healthy and exercising daily.

To view a brief review from Pediatrics Journal on the health issues of these drinks for children, see below: 

If you want to view the full research article from the Pediatrics Journal, see below:

Need more?  I've seen enough.  These beverages are bad news from a health perspective.  Beyond general health, being properly hydrated and eating well will do far more to enhance athletic performance than any popular energy drink available.

In Child Safety, Coach RJ

Green Exercise and Ecotherapy

Yet more on the benefits of exercising "outdoors" or what is also called "green" health.

Just five minutes outside exercising can improve your mood! :o)

More on the benefits of green/outdoor exercise:

I usually reference the added "mood" enhancements when discussing outdoor exercise, but another very important point that I will talking more and more about this year is the benefit of outdoor exercise in "natural" environments on your nervous system.  More specifically, your proprioception  and ability to balance so you don't trip and fall.

If you always walk on a perfectly "safe" and level surface such as an office building, parking lots, treadmills, sidewalks, etc., then you won't walk nearly as well on uneven surfaces.  Want to walk better on ALL surfaces?  Get off the artificial surfaces and onto the trail or some other outdoor area.  Grass, dirt, trails, sand, etc. all have extra BENEFITS to increasing your efficiency to stay upright so you don't fall.  Also, our eyes are suffering from all the staring at one focal length and one focal width 9-12+ hours per day.  Our ears (vestibular system) are also decreasing in efficiency with all the sitting!  All of this sitting or walking on "safe" surfaces is decreasing our ability to safely move in natural environments as joints, vision, and vestibular decrease in function.

Bottom Line: Move more and go outside when you do!  When I have the choice between running or walking on pavement/concrete vs. the dirt off the side of the trail, I opt for the dirt because it is UNEVEN and thus better for my proprioceptive system.  Balance training is fall PREVENTION!

All of the above is even more reason to hike in the wilderness!  Think of hiking as both Ecotherapy and proprioception enhancement...for better and safer movement and feeling good while you do them.

In Motion,
Coach RJ

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Martial Arts Kettlebell Connection

I just recorded a new show for The Lean Berets with friend John Spezzano, author of "The Martial Arts / Kettlebell Connection." Check out this informative show that overviews his new book and its relationship between kettlebell training and martial arts/self defense. John's new book is a technical manual for the serious learner from beginner to advanced! Take a listen...You'll learn a lot about training and combatives.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sprint-8 Interval Updates

I've been using Sprint-8 intervals for years with my clients and friends to optimize fitness gains and weight loss.  The "Sprint-8" combines a 30 second "sprint" with a 90 second "rest" period which is then repeated 8 times for one workout.  There is a two-minute warm up and two-minute cool down.

The Sprint-8 interval protocol established by Phil Campbell has been the best protocol I've found for consistent weight-loss results.  The Sprint-8 intervals are extremely reliable and fairly easy to learn in terms of the mechanics of the intervals and how to do them.  Recently, a web follower and friend of mine attended a workshop in Indiana with Sprint-8 creator Phil Campbell/author of "Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness."  My friend sent me the following updates from Phil's workshop which are now also included in the 2nd edition of Ready, Set, GO!  These updates should help us further optimize the efficiency of the Sprint-8 intervals—especially if you are over age 40 and trying to lose weight.  You can read the latest edition of Phil's book for more info, but here's the bottom line:

In Short…think quality NOT quantity.  We are not doing them hard enough!  You should not be doing more than 8 intervals—ever—just do them harder if you truly want to optimize the metabolic effects for weight loss.  The harder the interval, the more you increase HGH for the two hours after the workout—HGH "decreases" in people as they age, so this HGH is thought of as a "youth" hormone for anti-aging.  HGH occurs naturally in the body and can be optimized with proper training, but today many people take short cuts by getting HGH supplementation which are controversial.  You need to adjust your dietary intake to optimize the post-workout HGH production in the synergist window (Human Growth Hormone increase).  If you are middle age and needing to lose weight, avoid carbs two hours after Sprint-8 and ingest 25 grams of protein to maximize HGH production—this opposes the "standard" post-recovery recommendations to ingest a 4/1 carbohydrate/protein ratio. *(I would recommend "natural" protein powder because it is healthier—see protein link below.)  If you are younger and your objective is to refuel for ongoing hard workouts, then using the standard 4/1 carb-to-protein ratio is best.

More Details for Middle Age 40+ populations needing to lose weight with the Sprint-8 Intervals:
  • Sprint hard enough so that by 15 seconds of the 30 second interval you are ready to quit—but don't!
  • Limit sprint length to only 30 seconds.  Go harder—not longer.
  • Limit total intervals to 8.  Use more intensity—not more volume.
  • Do not eat a high-fat meal before Sprint-8.  Eating some "good" carbs to fuel before workout is fine.
  • Take 2 grams of L-Glutamine 60-90 minutes before workout.  *I'm not a person that pushes supplements, but I'm reporting what Phil says will optimize HGH with the Sprint-8.  I have included a WebMD link on L-Glutamine, but basically this is used for muscle wasting in HIV/AIDS patients or cancer patients.  There are those that take it in excess as a supplement, but the 2 gram recommendation is well under the 40 grams per day limit cited by WebMD.  Ultimately, it is the user's choice, but I have provided the documentation so you can make an educated decision.  
  • NO sugar or carbs for 2 hours after workout!!!  Ingesting carbs during post-workout with Sprint-8 will stop HGH production.  The idea is to "increase" HGH production and your metabolism—not decrease!
  • Ingest 20-25 grams of protein soon after workout.  Most sources give a 30 minute to 2 hour window for post-workout recovery fueling.  I would say ingest the protein within a 30 minute window following the workout.
  • Never perform Sprint-8 Intervals more than 2-3 times per week.  Think quality—not quantity!

In reality, you should NOT be able to do any other work of significance after your Sprint-8 workout is complete—you should be DONE.  If you feel like doing a bunch of other stuff—you have not done them hard enough!!!  Oh…for those of you not familiar with the Sprint-8 Interval Protocol…total time from start to finish including warm up and cool down is just 20 minutes!  Yes—you'll get more benefit in 20 minutes than the people next to you grinding out the 45-60 minute workout which likely is not doing much to optimize their metabolism or weight loss.  I've seen people lose 40-60 pounds on the Sprint-8 in well under 12 months.

Mode & Mechanics:  For the general population, there are only two modes I recommend—the elliptical trainer or Concept2 Rowing Machine...a high-quality stationary bike like a Spinner or equivalent can also work but not as well as the first two in my opinion. Treadmills won't work because they will take too much time to adjust for each interval—there is NO TIME to adjust anything—you have go GO when it is time to GO!  You "could" do these running on a track, but most people are not fit enough to do this without getting hurt or straining their hamstrings.  Other machines like stair climbers, etc. are also NOT a good choice because of the time required to adjust them for higher speed and intensity during each interval.  We run the elliptical trainers in manual with NO resistance—we use "speed" to increase heart rate—not resistance.  A Spinning bike will need a slight amount of constant resistance, but again, use SPEED to increase your heart rate rather than heavy resistance.  I have done something close to the Sprint-8 using stairs or hill repeats outside, but again, most people are not fit enough to do this off the machine. The e-trainer and rower will do a great job for you, so get started!

Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA):  Doing really hard sprints or exercise efforts with minimal warm up can cause some EIA for some individuals--and if not actual EIA, other breathing difficulties.  One of my friends that uses the Sprint-8 has EIA.  He must do a longer warm up and cool down to allow the lung tissues to function more normally, so if you have EIA, please consider adjusting the pre and post workout recommendations. The longer warm up and cool down (until HR drops under 120 for my friend) should help you avoid the EIA that can be trigger by sudden sprints without much warm up. Remember--the regular warm up and cool down for the Sprint-8 is only 2:00 for each.

Safety:  If you can't sprint for 30 seconds without killing yourself—then don't!  I've had many people start the Sprint-8 intervals with minimal fitness—just modify.  Do what you can do safely.  If you can only go hard for 5 seconds, then go hard for 5 seconds, and do your best for the remaining 25 to hang on.  But remember—you'll never optimize the HGH production and metabolic effects by going easy or at a moderate pace or by only going hard for a few seconds.  To get the most out of the protocol, you need to go HARD for the full 30 seconds.  For most, this will become quite a challenging goal—just to work hard for 30 seconds straight without giving up.  The 90 second "rest" period is also critical because it has to be a quality "rest" heart rate i.e. not under 65% of your heart rate range—see my Sprint-8 handout or Ready, Set, GO! for more information…Enjoy!

Related Links & Information:

Read my "Interval Training" Web Section complete with Sprint-8 summaries:

Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness (by Phil Campbell creator of Sprint-8 interval protocol):

WebMD Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Link: Do NOT take HGH Supplements!!!  Raise them naturally with the correct exercise intensity.

WebMD L-Glutamine Link:

"Natural" Protein Powder Handout: (The Lean Berets)

In Sweat!

Ron Jones, MS
Corporate Wellcoach
Santa Clarita-SoCal