Fitness News – November 2006

Frederick C. Hatfield II, MS, MFS, CSCS

World’s Strongest Man Is An American!

There are two big stories here. First and foremost, congratulations to Phil Pfister out of Charleston, WV for winning the World’s Strongest Man Contest this past September in Sanya, China. He ends a 24 year drought for The U.S. The last American to win it was the legendary Bill Kazmaier.

Phil Pfister has been a firefighter since 1999. He overcame defending champ, Mariusz Pudzianowski of Poland in the final event. We’re proud of you Phil!

The second story is that this news event received national attention. I pulled the article off ESPN’s website, but a google news search showed that it received press on and newspapers from Charleston to Seattle!

As a personal commentary, I still don’t understand why the World’s Strongest Man Contests aren’t more popular in the United States. Americans seem to enjoy novelty as well as admire strength. WSM contests are anything but boring. They have so many odd ball events! We’ve seen throwing tires, races with refrigerators on their backs, to pulling jet liners! The organizers have a creative mind that rivals professional wrestling!

In any sense, it’s good to see the WSM contest get national press!

More Support For Protein Supplementation

The NSCA journal recently published a study that suggests that protein Supplementation can increase strength. Thirty-six males (average age: 31) participated in the 10 week study. They used a 4 day split routine and received either a carb placebo, 40 grams of whey protein and 8 grams of caisen, or 40 grams of whey protein, 3 grams of branch chain amino acids and 5 grams of glutamine. Subjects were tested in the 1RM bench, leg press as will as 80% of 1 RM for repetitions as well as various blood tests and anaerobic capacity tests

The abstract notes:

“Significant increases in 1RM bench press and leg press were observed in all groups after 10 weeks. In this study, the combination of whey and casein protein promoted the greatest increases in fat-free mass after 10 weeks of heavy resistance training. Athletes, coaches, and nutritionists can use these findings to increase fat-free mass and to improve body composition during resistance training.”

The problem with this study (as far as I can gather from the abstract) is that we don’t know what their protein intake was without the supplementation. If they were getting enough usable protein to begin with, the supplement may not have made a difference. However, this study does show protein supplements can make a difference if you are not getting enough. Furthermore, with the exception of eggs, protein supplements are the most cost efficient source of protein on the market.…

Carbohydrate Intake and Exercise

How should you manage carbohydrates before and during your workouts? A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology has some suggestions as it applies to sparing type IIa muscle fibers.

8 volunteers participated in the study to investigate the effect of carb intake before and during exercise on muscle glycogen content. They performed two bouts of exercise: 1. they took carbs before and during a 2 hour bicycle ride, and 2. they fasted the night before and consumed no carbs before the same exercise. As it turned out, the scientists concluded that taking carbs before and during exercise spared type IIa muscle fibers.

As I was writing this up, I thought, “How stupid is this study?” I still do think that, but I am not condemning the scientists for this. Who is going to spend 2 hours on a stationary bicycle after not eating? Why is this newsworthy to Ironweb newsletter readers?

The problem is there are people who WILL do that! They are so fanatic with burning calories that they conclude if you have no carbs in you, you are going to burn fat! The problem is, many pro bodybuilders – guys and gals who should be studying how to do things right – think this too! They are the ones who will ride a bike for two hours after fasting!

There are the “Mrs. Jones” of the world who will also do this. They want to loose fat – and I am supportive of that – but they don’t understand physiology to see that they are loosing valuable muscle mass by their practices!

Furthermore, a while ago I was listening to a Chicago based radio program. The topic was fat loss and the Chicago Marathon. A nurse ran the marathon and she had the bright idea to take blood samples before and after. It was found that blood protein was extremely high after the race. This indicates that muscle was being used for energy during the race, thus, muscle was being cannibalized for energy. Carbohydrate intake during such long competitions – as this study demonstrates – will help stop that.

The bottom line is that if you feel the need to exercise for two hours, you better have the carbs in you unless you want to waste muscle mass… The very thing that burns the carbs in the first place!…

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