CrossFit Competition – Festivus Games

Last month, I competed in my first CrossFit competition, the Festivus Games.

I did not do all that great but it was fun. And hard. Mostly hard. A little fun.

That’s 518th out of 666 entries. The only reason I placed that high is that I made it into the finals. The top five people in every box got into the finals and CrossFit Pittsburgh wasn’t all that crowded.

 

Strength Training and Mortality

From (Prev Med. 2016 Jun;87:121-127. Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults. Kraschnewski JL, Sciamanna CN, Poger JM, Rovniak LS, Lehman EB, Cooper AB, Ballentine NH, Ciccolo JT.):

RESULTS:

During the study period, 9.6% of NHIS adults age 65 and older (N=30,162) reported doing guideline-concordant ST and 31.6% died. Older adults who reported guideline-concordant ST had 46% lower odds of all-cause mortality than those who did not (adjusted odds ratio: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.57, 0.70; p<0.001). The association between ST and death remained after adjustment for past medical history and health behaviors.

 

Carbs After Workouts?

If you are exercising to improve your insulin sensitivity, then Carbs after workouts are bad. Here’s the science (Nutrients. 2018 Jan 25;10(2). pii: E123. PostExercise CarbohydrateEnergy Replacement Attenuates Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Tolerance the Following Morning in Healthy Adults. Taylor HL, Wu CL, Chen YC, Wang PG, Gonzalez JT, Betts JA.)

In this study they put participants on a 90-minute treadmill at 70% of their VO2max. At the end they gave the participants either a placebo (no carbs) or maltodextrose that matched the caloric expenditure. Researchers then measured the glucose and insulin responses with an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) the following day and found that the participants who had the carbohydrates had reduced Insulin Sensitivity and increased blood glucose levels.

The practical conclusion of this is that to maximize Insulin Sensitivity it is best to both eat low carb and take no carbs after exercise. Decreased Insulin Sensitivity is one of the markers that lead to Diabetes and increasing Insulin Sensitivity is an important part of reversing Diabetes.

This study is the first to show that feeding carbohydrate to replace that utilized during exercise can reduce insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance the next morning in healthy adults, when compared to a preservation of the exercise-induced carbohydrate deficit. Furthermore, carbohydrate replacement suppresses subsequent postprandial fat utilization. The mechanism through which exercise improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control is therefore (at least partly) dependent on carbohydrate
availability, and so the day-to-day metabolic health benefits of exercise might be best attained by maintaining a carbohydrate deficit overnight.

For those people who are not particularly concerned about their risk of getting Diabetes it’s worth noting that if they refill their Glycogen stores quickly with carbohydrates they are not burning fat. If they let the Glycogen stores be low then their body will burn fat.

Want to burn fat? Work out and don’t eat carbohydrates after working out.

Here’s a second study on the effects of post-workout carbs (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 201512:48. The effects of whey protein with or without carbohydrates on resistance training adaptations. Juha J. Hulmi, Mia Laakso, Antti A. Mero, Keijo Häkkinen, Juha P. Ahtiainen and Heikki Peltonen.) This study carefully compared three post-workout nutritions:

  • Whey Protein Alone
  • Carbohydrate Alone
  • Whey Protein plus carbohydrates

All three groups in this study had gains in strength from the resistance training (RT). However, only the Whey Protein Alone had a decrease in fat mass. The study concluded:

Conclusions

This first long-term study supports the acute protein balance studies showing that adding carbohydrates to postexercise protein ingestion may not have large effect on the RT adaptations.

Whey proteins, however, increased abdominal fat loss and relative fat-free mass adaptations in response to resistance training when compared to fast-acting carbohydrates.

Therefore, if the main goal is to maximize fat loss responses to RT especially from abdominal area without compromising increases in muscle hypertrophy, whey protein instead of carbohydrates can be recommended for the postexercise nutrition.

Bottom line is that if you want to get leaner from resistance training, don’t eat carbs post-workout.

 

STRRIDE-AT/RT – Exercise Study

I was considering dropping CrossFit in favor of a strength program when I came across an interesting study which compared Aerobic Training (AT) to Resistance Training (RT) for impact on Metabolic Syndrome (MS). (September 15, 2011, Volume 108, Issue 6, Pages 838–844. Comparison of Aerobic Versus Resistance Exercise Training Effects on Metabolic Syndrome (from the Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention Through Defined Exercise – STRRIDE-AT/RT. Lori A. Bateman, Cris A. Slentz, PhD, Leslie H. Willis, MS, A. Tamlyn Shields, MS, Lucy W. Piner, MS, Connie W. Bales, PhD, RD, Joseph A. Houmard, PhD, William E. Kraus, MD.)

AT/RT induced a significant improvement in the MS z score (p = 0.004) and AT alone exhibited a trend toward improvement (p <0.07). However, RT alone failed to significantly alter the MS z score.

My conclusion is to stick with CrossFit and work in the resistance training as often as reasonable as an accessory to CrossFit.

Another view of the same data (J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Jun 15;118(12):1474-82. The effects of aerobic, resistance, and combination training on insulin sensitivity and secretion in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT: a randomized trial. Abou Assi H, Slentz CA, Mikus CR, Tanner CJ, Bateman LA, Willis LH, Shields AT, Piner LW, Penry LE, Kraus EA, Huffman KM, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE.). Conclusion:

AT/RT resulted in greater improvements in insulin sensitivity, β-cell function (disposition index), and glucose effectiveness than either AT or RT alone (all P < 0.05). Approximately 52% of the improvement in insulin sensitivity by AT/RT was retained 14 days after the last exercise training bout. Neither AT or RT led to acute or chronic improvement in sensitivity index. In summary, only AT/RT (which required twice as much time as either alone) led to significant acute and sustained benefits in insulin sensitivity.

Yet another look at the same data (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Nov;301(5):E1033-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00291.2011. Epub 2011 Aug 16.
Effects of aerobic vs. resistance training on visceral and liver fat stores, liver enzymes, and insulin resistance by HOMA in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT. Slentz CA, Bateman LA, Willis LH, Shields AT, Tanner CJ, Piner LW, Hawk VH, Muehlbauer MJ, Samsa GP, Nelson RC, Huffman KM, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE.) concluded:

AT was more effective than RT at improving visceral fat, liver-to-spleen ratio, and total abdominal fat (all P < 0.05) and trended toward a greater reduction in liver fat score (P < 0.10). The effects of AT/RT were statistically indistinguishable from the effects of AT. These data show that, for overweight and obese individuals who want to reduce measures of visceral fat and fatty liver infiltration and improve HOMA and alanine aminotransferase, a moderate amount of aerobic exercise is the most time-efficient and effective exercise mode.

Yet another view (Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jan 12;164(1):31-9. Effects of the amount of exercise on body weight, body composition, and measures of central obesity: STRRIDE–a randomized controlled study. Slentz CA1, Duscha BD, Johnson JL, Ketchum K, Aiken LB, Samsa GP, Houmard JA, Bales CW, Kraus WE.):

In nondieting, overweight subjects, the controls gained weight, both low-amount exercise groups lost weight and fat, and the high-amount group lost more of each in a dose-response manner. These findings strongly suggest that, absent changes in diet, a higher amount of activity is necessary for weight maintenance and that the positive caloric imbalance observed in the overweight controls is small and can be reversed by a modest amount of exercise. Most individuals can accomplish this by walking 30 minutes every day.

Note none of the results were comparable to the effect on the metabolic syndrome from the Low Carb High Fat diet.

Strength Gains on Meat Protein vs Ovo-lacto-Vegetarian Protein Sources

Study of vegetarian diets vs meat as protein source diets and muscle gain in older men (Effects of an omnivorous diet compared with a lactoovovegetarian diet on resistance-training-induced changes in body composition and skeletal muscle in older men).

Conclusions: Consumption of a meat-containing diet contributed to greater gains in fat-free mass and skeletal muscle mass with RT in older men than did an LOV diet.

More details:

RESULTS:

Maximal strength of the upper- and lower-body muscle groups that were exercised during RT increased by 10-38% (P < 0.001), independent of diet. The RT-induced changes in whole-body composition and skeletal muscle size differed significantly between the mixed- and LOV-diet groups (time-by-group interactions, P < 0. 05). With RT, whole-body density, fat-free mass, and whole-body muscle mass increased in the mixed diet group but decreased in the LOV- diet group. Type II muscle fiber area of the vastus lateralis muscle increased with RT for all men combined (P < 0.01), and the increase tended to be greater in the mixed-diet group (16.2 +/- 4.4 %) than in the LOV diet group (7.3 +/- 5.1%). Type I fiber area was unchanged with RT in both diet groups.

Another study showed favorable results for meat (Effect of protein source and quantity on protein metabolism in elderly women).

With the high-vegetable-protein diet, protein breakdown in the absorptive state was not inhibited to the same extent as during the high-animal-protein diet, resulting in less net protein synthesis during the high-vegetable-protein diet than during the high-animal-protein diet.

Strength Training – Starting Strength

I’ve started doing the Starting Strength program by Mark Rippetoe. The program is described in Rippetoe’s book, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition. The program is intended to be done by people who are beginners to strength training.

Starting Strength Program

The Starting Strength Program consists of a linear progression where the weight you lift is increased every single time you lift. The program is performed 3 times per week.

I did the program starting at bar weight and am now increasing by 5 lbs. I am expecting that the rate will slow down. I do the lifts twice a week on the day before my CrossFit rest days (which are Thursdays and Sundays). I am lifting on Saturdays and Wednesdays in my home gym.

The Lifts

There are four lifts which are performed in alternating patterns. The four lifts are:

  • Back Squat
  • Bench or Overhead Press (on alternating days)
  • Deadlift

Back Squat

CrossFit places the bar high on the back. Starting Strength places the bar lower on the back.

Bench Press

This is just what you remember from your high school gym.

Overhead Press

This is rarely performed at my CrossFit box. We are usually told that any S2OH (shoulder to overhead) movement is allowed and that usually means a push press or a jerk press.

Deadlift

We do the deadlift at my CrossFit from time to time but not often enough to progress in the lift.

Hiring a Coach

It’s very smart to get good at lifting form before attempting heavy weights. This is necessary to avoid injuries. Starting Strength has a couple of ways of getting help with your form.

My Videos

Here’s my Starting Strength videos on YouTube. Don’t use my lifts as examples. I am still learning.

 

Random Workouts vs Programmed Workouts

Here’s a good article on what most people do in the gym. Bottom line is don’t do random stuff to build strength. Pick a specific program.  There are a few of them out there.

I started a 3×5 weight training program today, Starting Strength. This program requires a barbell, weights and a power rack. In the beginning the program consists of the following:

Lifted today (Jan 22, 2018) with my 14-year old son. We started with 45# bar for the Squats and Press. We did 95# for the deadlift.

 

Protein Requirements by Type of Workout

The conventional wisdom is that 20-25 g of Protein is optimal at a meal for Protein Muscle Synthesis has been challenged by a recent study. Turns out that most of the previous studies looked at exercise of isolated muscle groups rather than whole body resistance exercise.

The study (Physiol Rep. 2016 Aug; 4(15): e12893. The response of muscle protein synthesis following whole‐body resistance exercise is greater following 40 g than 20 g of ingested whey protein. Lindsay S. Macnaughton, Sophie L. Wardle, Oliver C. Witard, Chris McGlory, D. Lee Hamilton, Stewart Jeromson, Clare E. Lawrence, Gareth A. Wallis, and Kevin D. Tipton) took a look at how much Protein is optimal at a meal after larger muscle group exercise. The conclusion?

Our data indicate that ingestion of 40 g whey protein following whole‐body resistance exercise stimulates a greater MPS response than 20 g in young resistance‐trained men.

Since the subjects of this study were young trained men who were healthy this may even be more true with older, untrained and diabetic individuals. See  (British Journal of Sports Medicine. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Robert W Morton, Kevin T Murphy, Sean R McKellar, Brad J Schoenfeld, Menno Henselmans, Eric Helms, Alan A Aragon, Michaela C Devries, Laura Banfield, James W Krieger, Stuart M Phillips.)

Dietary protein supplementation significantly enhanced changes in muscle strength and size during prolonged resistance exercise training (RET) in healthy adults. Increasing age reduces and training experience increases the efficacy of protein supplementation during RET. With protein supplementation, protein intakes at amounts greater than ~1.6 g/kg/day do not further contribute RET-induced gains in FFM.

 

Learning the Lifts – Mirror Neurons

I really hate to memorize stuff. More than that I really hate to memorize stuff related to physical activity. Even more than that I hate to memorize weight lifting moves.

But I need to improve. I need to remember what the basics of each lift are. And there are not all that many to learn. Sure it takes years to learn the specifics of the move but the general idea is another thing.

This brings me to another concept, that of Mirror Neurons. They are the part of the brain that allows us to watch someone do something and be able to see ourselves doing that same thing. I think mine are pretty much broken.

I can watch someone do something and appreciate their athleticism. But I don’t see myself doing that same motion when I watch someone else. I think that I am seriously broken. And I think it’s a lifetime defect, not just a recent defect.

I am looking for ways to improve this. I looked for flashcards on the Olympic lifts but I can’t find any. Maybe I can make some flashcards of my own?

I’ve watched hours of videos on CrossFit YouTube channel. Same thing. I can appreciate what they do but I just don’t feel the same motions in myself when I watch them.

Plan of Attack

Lacking any other plan, here’s what I am going to do. This is based on my coaches who said I need to tape myself to see how I am doing particular movements. I am going to watch each of the CrossFit Foundational videos and record myself doing the same moves and compare the two videos. Maybe I can empathize enough with myself to fix myself.

If you have a better idea how to tackle this, let me know.

Exercise Equipment

Cast Iron Kettlebells

Weights

Barbells

Power Cage

Hyper/Back Extension Ab Bench

I got more out of my first time on one of these benches than four trips to the Chiropractor.

Pullup Bar