Archive for the ‘Sport Science’ Category

Pre-Workout Supplements: The Truth

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

One aspect of the health and fitness industry that presents itself with extremely diluted information is that of the Pre-Workout Supplement industry. Not only is a lot of the information indecipherable to the average eye (unless you are a biochemist) it can also be extremely unsafe if proper research and precautions are not taken prior to using some of these products.

Many of the major pre-workout supplements contain a complex combination of ingredients that are designed to increase one’s training performance in the gym. Many common ingredients include Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Caffeine, Tyrosine, Phenylalamine, Arginine, Guarana, and many other acid matricies/extracts. While some of these ingredients make sense from a theoretical physiological stand point, it is difficult to find an actual scientific proven link to which has a true effect on performance, as it is tough to pinpoint which mechanism in the blend increases performance.

Many who take workout supplements properly tend to see improved performance with their training (it doesn’t always last though and one should not stay on a product for an extended period of time).

Now, it’s always great to be able to increase one’s athletic performance in the gym, but the problem with many of these popular products (most with lavish names to draw attention: N.O.-Xplode, Juggernaut, C4 Extreme, Assault, MassXXX) is you have absolutely NO IDEA how much of each ingredient is in the product. This is where you will see the words PROPRIETARY BLEND followed by the amount of grams in the blend, and below it is a list of ingredients in the PROPRIETARY BLEND with no actual milligram or gram values listed next to the individual ingredients.

This can be very dangerous as each individual’s tolerance/hormonal responses differ with the amount/type of ingredients or blend. For example some of these products (not all) can contain up to 19.2 Grams of a “proprietary blend” of many of the ingredients listed above. So you are unsure if you are receiving 10 grams of creatine, 2 grams of creatine, or 12 grams of caffeine, and so on and so forth. This can make a crucial difference as to if you are receiving 200mg of caffeine and caffeine related substances or 2,000mg of caffeine. With products with that high of a proprietary blend, many things can occur within the body causing unnaturally high hormonal changes, heart palpitations, and in some cases with athletes, even heart attacks.

There is still hope though! There are many pre-workout supplements that seem to be effective and have the dosage of ingredients listed, or a small amount of proprietary blend, so you can be sure you are getting a safe amount of the necessary ingredients. One example is EAS Phos Force. It lists all the ingredients used and the amount of grams/milligrams listed in the product.

If you really want to be safe and know exactly what you are putting into your body if you cycle pre-workout supplements, you can always create your own! Here is an example of a stack you can blend on your own.

1. Creatine: Assists with force of muscular contraction. 5-10 Grams.

2. Beta-Alanine: Boosts production of Carnosine, which helps equalize muscular acidity (removal of lactic acid) via removal of excess hydrogen ions. 5-10 Grams.

3. Caffeine: Increase training drive, focus, and decreases fatigue. 200-400 Milligrams (DON’T FORGET TO STAY HYDRATED IF ADDING CAFFEINE TO DIET)

4. Tyrosine: Increases release of catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine). 150 Milligrams.

5. Phenylalanine: Increase performance with resistance training and muscular output force. 150 Milligrams.

6. Arginine: Vasodilator that increase the amount of blood flow to the working muscles. 3-5 Grams.

Hopefully we’ve helped clear up (at least as well as we can for a complicated product/market) some common misconceptions and extreme safety issues related to pre-workout supplements.

As always, ask our MidwestFit team if you have any questions related to pre-workout supplements or other health and fitness related issues!

Exercise: Can We Do “Too Much”?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

You are probably laughing at the question, but it turns out it is a pretty valid one. If you are a runner you will especially cringe at this recent review of research by a team led by cardiologist Dr. James O’Keefe. According the review, exercise can help prevent many diseases and illnesses, similar to a lot of prescription drugs. What else is similar to those prescription drugs? It can also be harmful if used in too large of quantities. What? We know, right…That must be wrong.

Apparently not but don’t worry, there is still some hope. The endurance athletes in the study stilled fared far better than your average couch potato. But when the study concentrated solely on those involved in truly excessive endurance training, the exercise began to take its toll.

When running a marathon your heart must work extremely harder (approximately 5x harder) than when at rest and this can cause short-term changes to the heart and other arteries. Normally, these changes will repair themselves with proper rest. However, repeated exercise at this level without the proper amount of rest can cause permanent scarring to the heart which can lead to irregular heart beats and more serious conditions later on.

To read more about this study, you can go here.

Although your own personal exercise programs should be tailored to your own physical condition and a doctor should always be consulted before starting any sort of exercise program, don’t let this scare you. This study looks at a small group of extreme athletes and not your typical hour-a-day athlete. Just be careful, make smart decisions, and talk to your doctor.

-The MidwestFit Team

How To Prevent Injury

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Many times with life and work, the smallest aspects end up making the biggest difference for the overall goal…Well the human body is no different. The goal – Long term, sustainable, overall health.

Simply put, total body strength training (strength training in a true sense) is essential to ensure your muscles, joints, and tendons are at their peak potential to avoid possible life altering injuries.  With our daily, weekly, and monthly designed PT’s, we incorporate true strength training.  We do this for long term health and fitness because as we age, we want to be one of the remarkable, older individuals you see that are still able to hike, rock climb, run marathons, complete triathlons, play basketball, or go mountain biking simply because they feel like doing it (having good looking ripped muscles is just a cool perk).

However! What most people are unaware of is the fact that the smaller, stabilizer muscles in the human body play just as big (if not sometimes bigger) a role than the major skeletal muscles in the importance in the overall health and upkeep of your joints/musculoskeletal system.

So the question is, how do we properly and safely train these underlying muscles? Well that’s what we do here at MidwestFit, provide safe, practical, and correct health and fitness advice.

This can be accomplished with 4 simple exercises, performed 3-4 times per week. If you can’t reach the suggested goals per exercise, lower the weight used or the amount of time and slowly build your way up.

(Source: )

-The MidwestFit Team

High Volume Explosive Training (HVET) For Muscle Growth

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Mixing up your training methods periodically is a great way to keep your body guessing and your muscles growing. Our daily workouts do a pretty good job at providing variety on a regular basis but another great way to mix up you training is by doing some High Volume Explosive Training routines, otherwise known as HVET. High volume explosive training can turn on biochemical pathways that trigger muscle hypertrophy and mobilize fat-burning hormones to help you torch fat and get that lean, athletic look. HVET uses 6 to 8 sets per exercise and each rep is performed “explosively”. What does “explosively” mean exactly? This is when you push through the eccentric (the contraction of a muscle during it’s lengthening) phase of a lift quickly and powerfully, then lower the weight (or retreat) from the lift slowly. A good rule of thumb, let’s say for bench press, would be 1 second up and 2 seconds down.

How does it work exactly? Muscle physiologists from Harvard recently discovered that muscle tension (i.e. muscle hypertrophy) is one of the most important factors in triggering muscle growth. So high muscle tension, particularly in the lengthening/eccentric phase of a lift, produces a larger amount of muscle fiber recruitment and thus will more rapidly increase growth. Researchers at McMasters University in Canada (led by a Dr. Tim Shepstone) did a study which showed that high-speed eccentric muscle exercises helped to increase muscle hypertrophy and stimulate growth more rapidly than slow eccentric training. Through biopsies they were able to observe that the high-speed eccentric movements caused more damage (good damage) to muscle fibers. Muscle fiber damage and repair is a large part of how we can grow our muscles (note: we are referring to small fiber injuries and not severe injuries).

If you want to try some HVET training, you can use a lot of our current workouts and adjust the way you explode through the lifts. Naturally we post a fair amount of HIIT days that are great for working into an HVET program. Here is an example of how you could set it up:


Train explosively with our suggested workout or your own workout during the lifting phases and rest 1 minute between sets. Go for 8 sets of between 8-10 reps per exercise.


High Intensity Interval Training. We post a lot of these workouts and you can look at one here.


Distance Cardio for 30+ minutes

As always, don’t forget to take a full rest day to let your muscles properly repair and recover!


-The MidwestFit Team