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Buff to get Buffer – The foam rolling game changer that will boost your recovery in a fraction of the time

Whether you are a serious athlete seeking improved sports performance or a casual weekend warrior crushing cathartic heavy deadlifts, most veteran gym goers understand that the iron game is a long term investment. The key to success is accumulating hours of consistent quality stimulation over a long period of time.

A serious impediment to obtaining this aforementioned goal is suboptimal tissue quality and impaired movement. In recent years, self myofascial release and foam rolling have swept the strength training community as a means to ameliorate these deficits. Although the science regarding foam rolling remains a contentious issue, many practitioners and athletes consider the practice a staple of proper recovery. Although this article will not discuss the background and science of foam rolling, as the Brink Zone includes innumerable resources concerning the topic, it will instead introduce a new potent tool for your extensive recovery arsenal.

Time to get Buff

One day during a training session, a good friend of mine revealed a car buffer from his training bag. Although I started laughing, as it was typical for this avid engineer to regularly carry spare tools. What did surprise me however, was when he instructed me to apply the device to my adductors. At first I was skeptical, but with some enticing I positioned my foot upon a bench and began to buff the inner portions of my leg. Fighting the urge to pull away, I was instantly stunned by the precise intensity of the pressure. Despite its common use as a car polisher, the newly repurposed tool now functioned as a Brookstone massage wand on steroids. After a few concentrated strokes across the length of my adductors, I instantly experienced relief. My friend began to smile as he realized my astonished delight and subsequent excitement. Soon I was buffing my pecs, traps, quads, calves, and any other area that I could reach. It appeared that this tool provided an enhanced self myofascial release in a fraction of the time. Before I could recommend the tool to my fellow friends and clients I decided to experiment for a month. The results were absolutely tremendous and I expressed to my friend the possibility of marketing a new product. Together we began to research and soon discovered that similar to many other fitness “discoveries,” we were not truly original in our self massage epiphanies.

It appears that Clint Darden and Brett Summers had discovered the massage technique years ago but were largely unnoticed. Their original article can be read here. In relation to introductory self myofascial release techniques, this guide can be viewed in conjunction with Mike Robertson’s PDF here for added completeness. Continue reading..

How to get most out of your Creatine – what form, dose and supplementation strategy?

Creatine is one of the few dietary supplements that have a very solid scientific support for its efficacy in increasing strength, explosive performance and muscle mass. So the question in not whether it is effective, but rather how to supplement it to reap maximal effectiveness?

There are several theories on how to take creatine; some say your should load and then lower the dose, while others say you can get good results by a low dosage regimen without loading. Yet others say you should cycle the creatine and take breaks from it in between cycles. And then we have the issue of dosages and how to ingest it. In addition there is a lot of confusion about the myriad for creatine forms that claim to be superior over the golden standard creatine monohydrate. Are the new fancy creatine-super-duper formulations really worth their price? Let’s review it all here and see what the research is saying.

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D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) and “Test Boosters”

In this vid, I discuss the popular “Testosterone booster” supplement D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) and update my opinions of this general category of supplements.

Study mentioned in the vid:

D-Aspartic acid supplementation combined with 28 days of heavy resistance training has no effect on body composition, muscle strength, and serum hormones associated with the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in resistance-trained men

Department of Health, Exercise and Biochemical Nutrition Lab, Human Performance, and Recreation, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA

Abstract

It was hypothesized that d-aspartic acid (D-ASP) supplementation would not increase endogenous testosterone levels or improve muscular performance associated with resistance training. Therefore, body composition, muscle strength, and serum hormone levels associated with the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis were studied after 28 days of resistance training and D-ASP supplementation. Resistance-trained men resistance trained 4 times/wk for 28 days while orally ingesting either 3 g of placebo or 3 g of D-ASP.

Data were analyzed with 2 × 2 analysis of variance (P < .05). Before and after resistance training and supplementation, body composition and muscle strength, serum gonadal hormones, and serum D-ASP and d-aspartate oxidase (DDO) were determined. Body composition and muscle strength were significantly increased in both groups in response to resistance training (P < .05) but not different from one another (P > .05). Total and free testosterone, luteinizing hormone, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, and estradiol were unchanged with resistance training and D-ASP supplementation (P > .05).

For serum D-ASP and DDO, D-ASP resulted in a slight increase compared with baseline levels (P > .05). For the D-ASP group, the levels of serum DDO were significantly increased compared with placebo (P < .05). [B]The gonadal hormones were unaffected by 28 days of D-ASP supplementation and not associated with the observed increases in muscle strength and mass.

Therefore, at the dose provided, D-ASP supplementation is ineffective in up-regulating the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis and has no anabolic or ergogenic effects in skeletal muscle.

Multiple beneficial effects of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in men with testosterone deficiency

Alleged concerns regarding risk of cardiovascular disease with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) have been promulgated recently. However, a large and growing number of intervention studies show to the contrary that TRT reduces cardiovascular risk factors and confers multiple beneficial health effects. Thus, fears promoted by some recent flawed studies need to be critically re-evaluated.

This article gives an overview of studies that have investigated health effects and safety of TRT.[1] As outlined here, the position that testosterone deficiency (TD) should be regarded as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease is supported by a rapidly expanding body of evidence.[2-4]

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Are YOU An Exercise Non Responder?

Yes, some people are non responders to exercise while some are “super” responders. A recent study looked at 1000 people put on the same exercise program. The results, which I discuss in this vid, may shock you! :)

This is a very interesting area of research. We all know people who do the same exercise as we do, yet either don’t seem to benefit much, or benefit far more than we might expect. Having trained hundreds at this point and or communicated with many thousands more, I have seen that first hand. Continue reading..

Want Big Arms? Try Close Grip DB Bench Press…

The Triceps are no pushover…they need serious workload to build substantial mass and strength. They can take a beating and kickbacks just won’t cut it. If you want big, strong arms, you need to press, and you need to press HEAVY.

That’s where this exercise comes into play…it’s a variation of the Close Grip Bench Press, the classic mass-builder for the triceps. Continue reading..

Useful Info For Those on Thyroid or SSRI’s

Important Information For Those on Thryoid meds and or SSRI’s

Considering how many people are on thyroid meds and or SSRI’s, it’s surprising – especially in the case of thyroid medications – how much confusion exists in the medical community on how best to treat people with hypothyroid.

I find many people feel they are often in some sort of battle between themselves and their doctor as to what doses, types, etc of thyroid meds they need.

A book called “Thyroid Disorders” written by a Dr Gilbert Daniels, listed as Co- Director of the Thyroid Clinic at Mass General Hospital makes for a good reference guide. The book was published in 2006, so I am assuming he’s still there. The book is written for physicians, specifically for GPs/family physicians vs. specialists. Most of the information would be basic rehash for the people here that have already done a lot of research on the topic, and most of what he recommends is in line with the standard recommendations. Some of Dr. Daniels comments below on T4/T3  combination therapy was supported by recent studies that found people on a combo therapy much prefer it over a T4 mono therapy.

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Adverse health effects of testosterone deficiency, aka hypogonadism, in men

Testosterone deficiency, also known as hypogonadism, is a state with sub-optimal circulating levels of testosterone concomitant with clinical signs and symptoms attributed to low physiological testosterone levels.[1-3]

Sexual dysfunction is the most commonly recognized symptom of testosterone deficiency. However, testosterone also plays a broader role in men’s health. A growing body of evidence has established associations between low testosterone levels and multiple risk factors and diseases including the metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, sarcopenia, frailty, mobility limitations, osteoporosis, cognitive impairment, depression, cardiovascular disease, and reduced longevity.[3-12]

In this article I provide an overview of the detrimental impact of testosterone deficiency on a wide range of health outcomes.[13]

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Reshaping the “Good Guy” Vs. “Bad Guy” Fat Paradigm: The Tale of Arachidonic acid

 “The human body is an infinitely complex, but wholly logical system” – Will Brink

 

Back in the day I wrote the first article on the value of omega-3 fatty acids (via fax oil) for health and fat loss in the major bodybuilding publications. In fact, my first article on the value of flax oil – a source of the Omega 3 lipid LNA – was rejected because the very idea of intentionally adding fat to lose fat and improve health was such a foreign concept at that time. Yes, we are talking pre Internet here! Lucky for me, another magazine – MuscleMag International – ran the article, and the rest is history. It’s safe to say I have been researching and writing about Essential fatty acids (EFA’s), the value of omega-3 fats, the importance of balancing fatty acid intakes, and so forth, for a extensive amount of time. I am also partially to blame for the overly simplistic view of these fatty acids that followed and hope to atone for that with this article.

Much of what we understood at that time, and is still being pushed to this day by some, was an overly simple and generalized view of the essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and their effects on human physiology. As time progressed, and additional research was published, the picture has become much more refined and accurate.

The old paradigm could be essentially summarized as “Omega-3 good, Omega-6 bad” and that was about it. Other than a few who have really taken the time to research the topic, a position that remains to this day. Per usual, such entrenched views tend to change very slowly.

heart-healthyHow did that start? Early research found the Standard American diet (SAD) provides excessive intakes of omega-6 lipids and minimal omega-3 lipids which resulted in an elevated omega-6/omega-3 ratio. As  science writer Monica Mollica put it so accurately in her recent article on BrinkZone.com, In turn, an elevated omega-6/omega-3 ratio has been linked to a number of common chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, cancer, and certain psychiatric diseases such as depression. The omega-6 fatty acid that has been vilified and blamed to give rise to these detrimental health outcomes is arachidonic acid (ARA).”  Hence, we ended up with an “Omega-3 good, Omega-6 bad” model that attributed most of the negatives to ARA, with advice people should avoid ARA. Those concerned with their health increased their intake of omega-3 fats via fish, flax, supplements, etc., and reduced their intake of omega-6, to improve their 03/06 ratios.

All well and good, but it’s just not that simple as life rarely is, much less human biology. As Candice Pert Ph.D., discoverer of the opiate receptor said “Whenever something does not fit the reigning paradigm, the initial response in the mainstream is to deny the facts.” Such is the case with the “Omega-3 good, Omega-6 bad” model that some cling to in spite of the ever mounting data showing it to be an outdated model not supported by the modern data. Continue reading..

Testosterone Treatment and Heart Attack Risk – New study shows testosterone treatment can actually be beneficial

Testosterone therapy has been in use for more than 70 years for the treatment of hypogonadism, also called testosterone deficiency.[1] In the past 30 years there has been a growing body of scientific research demonstrating that testosterone deficiency is associated with increased body weight/adiposity/waist circumference, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction (ED) and increased risk of mortality [2, 3]. In line with the detrimental health outcomes seen with testosterone deficiency, testosterone therapy has been shown to confer beneficial effects on multiple risk factors and risk biomarkers related to these clinical conditions.[4]

Despite these well-documented health benefits, testosterone therapy is still controversial, in large part due to a few flawed studies about potential elevated heart attack (myocardial infarction) risk with testosterone therapy. On July 2, 2014, a new study was published, demonstrating that testosterone therapy is not associated with an increased risk of heart attack, and may actually confer protection against heart attack…[5]

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