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Squat Volume and Strength Gains

There has been a literally decades old argument going on regarding the number of sets and strength gains.  In examining the issue I want to look at the following paper which addressed the issue.

Marshall PW, McEwen M, Robbins DW. Strength and neuromuscular adaptation following one, four, and eight sets of high intensity resistance exercise in trained males. Eur J Appl Physiol. (2011) Dec: 3007-3016.

Note, this paper only examined strength gains, as will I.  The issue of training volume and muscle growth is related but separate.

The Number of Sets and Strength Gains

As I mentioned above, there have been literally decades of arguments between groups recommending a very low or very high number of sets to generate maximal strength gains.

At one extreme are the low-volume advocates who often recommend only a single set of any given exercise (or even for a given muscle group).  Invariably these groups (often called High Intensity Training or HIT advocates) recommend taking that set to momentary muscular failure, the point at which no more repetitions can be completed.… Keep Reading

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Antioxidant and Vitamin D Supplements for Athletes

Athletes are always looking for an edge in terms of their performance and dietary supplements have always been part and parcel of that search.  And while most think of me as anti-supplement, that’s incorrect.  I’m anti-bullshit. And most supplements are bullshit.  That said, some are not and today I want to look at two specific supplements: Vitamin D and antioxidants in terms of how they might (or might not) help athletes.  Specifically I will be looking at the following paper on the topic.

Powers S et. al. Antioxidant and Vitamin D supplements for athletes: Sense or nonsense?
J Sports Sci. (2011) 29 Suppl 1:S47-55 

The Reality of Dietary Supplements

As I said above, I often get pegged as being anti-supplement but this is not true.  I’m anti-bullshit.  And having been in this field for over 2 decades, the simple fact is that I’ve seen hundreds of not thousands of products come and go.   … Keep Reading

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Fructose Intake During Low-Calorie Diets

For decades, dietary fructose has held an odd and controversial place in the realm of nutrition.    Some see it as a perfect sugar while others see it as the dietary devil incarnate.   Who’s correct?  To address the issue I want to examine the following paper.

Madero M et. al. The effect of two energy-restricted diets, a low-fructose diet versus a moderate natural fructose diet, on weight loss and metabolic syndrome parameters: a randomized controlled trial. Metabolism. 2011 May 27. 2011 Nov;60(11):1551-9.

Background on Dietary Fructose

Dietary fructose (“fruit sugar”) is one of three simple sugars that is found in the diet, the other two being glucose (“blood sugar”) and galactose (“milk sugar”).  As its name suggests, fructose is found primarily in fruit.  However, it also makes up one-half of sucrose (“table sugar”).  It is also roughly 50% of High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), discussed below.

Throughout the decades, the attitude towards fructose has gone back and forth. … Keep Reading

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Mind Over Milkshakes and the Ghrelin Response

I’ve written a lot about the the physiology of appetite and bodyweight regulation over the years.    And while I tend to focus on the physiology of it, it’s important to realize that humans are not just a stomach and a nervous system (as is the case in many animal models).  Rather, our appetite and actual food intake can be modified by psychological factors.     So today I want to look at a paper that’s been getting some press dealing with the issue of mindset and how it impacts appetite.  The paper is:

Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response.  Crum AJ et. al.  Health Psychol. (2011) 30(4):424-9.

Human Appetite Regulation

As I’ve written about previously, human appetite regulation is incredibly complex, involving the complex interplay of hormones, the nervous system, nutrients and the bloodstream and more.  More here includes mental state, stress, environmental factors and many others.

The research on this dates back decades and early models focused on the presence of glucose, amino acids or fatty acids in the bloodstream.   … Keep Reading

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A 45-Minute Vigorous Exercise Bout Increases Metabolic Rate for 14 Hours

In recent years, there has been a focus on the calorie burn after training.  Colloquially referred to as the “afterburn effect” and more technically as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), a number of popular training approaches have been advocated to try to leverage it for fat loss.  But there is a long held issue regarding the absolute magnitude of EPOC and how much of a contribution it actually makes.  I want to address this issue by examining the following paper.

Knab AM et. al. A 45-Minute Vigorous Exercise Bout Increases Metabolic Rate for 14 Hours.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Sep;43(9):1643-8

Background on EPOC

As stated above, EPOC stands for the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and this represents the calories burned after a workout has been completed.   For years EPOC was thought to be related to the “oxygen debt” from exercise, essentially the difference in how much oxygen was needed during exercise and how much was available. … Keep Reading