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These Supplements Will Help With Your Workout

By Wina Sturgeon, Adventure Sports Weekly (TNS)

When an athlete trains, proper nutrition for the workout is essential. The timing for consuming supplements or food is even more important. The goals are to replenish your muscles, eliminate potential free radicals created by exercise, and help your body recover more quickly and thoroughly from your training.

So let’s first start by getting rid of the most common myths. Yes, protein is good for muscle growth. But all the protein in the world won’t build muscle by itself. If you just eat protein, but don’t exercise, your muscles may not be hungry enough to absorb it. So some of that protein will be stored as fat. Your body will be more ready to metabolize protein after a muscle-depleting workout. It helps repair and develop muscle and other tissues.

Second big myth: What the nutrition experts say about workout supplements is carefully researched and always correct. Wrong! A lot of so-called experts come up with a controversial opinion about training nutrition just to get some personal publicity. That’s why you may come across conflicting opinions about a supplement.

Take creatine, for example. It’s used by many bodybuilders and hardcore gym rats to increase lean muscle mass and strength. But a few “experts” are now declaring that the benefits of creatine aren’t proven, and the supplement can have possible negative side effects.

However, the popular online site describes a peer-reviewed study showing creatine is startlingly effective when consumed in a timely fashion, writing, “A 2006 study done by Australian researchers reported that weight-trained subjects taking a protein, carbohydrate, and creatine shake immediately pre- and post-workout for 10 weeks experienced an 80 percent greater increase in lean muscle mass and about a 30 percent greater increase in muscle strength than subjects taking the same supplements in the morning and at night. The pre-and-post group also lost body fat, whereas the morning-and-night group didn’t.”

One caution about creatine should be noted: it causes your muscles to absorb and hold water in your other tissues, which may cause cramps and lower performance unless you take in extra liquid before a workout to allow for that effect.

Another timely tip: Most athletes know that amino acids help prevent excess muscle breakdown when taken both before and after exercising, especially anaerobic exercise like resistance work. The reason is because these supplements skip a step to get to hungry muscles more quickly than protein. The reason? Protein must first be turned into amino acids before it can be metabolized by muscle tissue.

One important nutrient to take about half an hour before a conditioning session is Vitamin E. It works as an anti-oxidant to stop production of the free radicals often produced by hard exercise. There’s not enough room in this column to explain the destructive chain reaction produced by free radicals, but it’s a topic worth researching for yourself if you don’t yet know about the process.

Another great pre-workout substance acts as a performance enhancer: caffeine. It helps stimulate the metabolism and even acts to help burn more fat during a workout. But if possible, take it in pill form or in coffee, rather than in an energy drink. Those drinks have a lot of other ingredients you may not wish to consume. Give your body at least half an hour to metabolize the caffeine before you start exercising.

One important fact for those lifting weights to remember: carbohydrates are an important part of your workout nutrition. Endurance athletes usually know that ‘fast-acting’ carbs provide the energy needed to improve or maintain athletic performance. This is not an excuse to consume a sugar-laden candy bar. Try a snack of bread, whole grain cereal, rice or pasta to get your carbs, and take them during your workout.

Finally, the most important part of timing: nutrition scientists agree that a ‘refueling’ meal must be taken quickly after a training session, because that’s when the body is most ready to absorb those nutrients. The quick absorption period only lasts for about 45 minutes, so get ready to chow down a protein heavy steak or burger with high-carb potatoes as soon as you leave the gym or track.

Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly, which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.

(c)2015 Adventure Sports Weekly. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: via Flickr

How To Teach Someone To Ride A Bike Safely

By Wina Sturgeon, Adventure Sports Weekly (TNS)

When it comes to riding a bike, teaching a kid, spouse or friend is not about learning how to use breaks, jamming down a hill or riding fast. It’s simply about how to survive. Teaching is also a good way to refresh your own biking survival memory.

Proliferations of cell phones, flashing billboards and other modern distractions take the attention of drivers from the road and from their surroundings. A driver may seemingly look at a bike rider, but in reality may not even see them. In fact, the first thing a new rider should learn is that their own right-of-way doesn’t matter.

When a vehicle and driver weighs about 16 times more than you and your bike, they have the rights of the road.

So the first thing to impart is that the bike rider’s attention must make up for the driver’s potential lack of it. This is most important when a vehicle is turning onto a road from schools, malls or alleys. The driver may seem to be looking right at you, but that may not be the case. That driver is most often looking for a break in oncoming traffic, and may not even see someone on a bike beside them.

It’s a matter of survival to make sure the driver knows a rider is there. The best way to do it is to calmly say “Hey, hey,” or, “Do you see me?” The object is to actually catch their eye. Teach a new rider to never assume that a driver sees them.

The next lesson is to watch for the opening of vehicle doors in a parked car as a rider is approaching. This situation rarely ends well for the rider. If there are people in a car, give them a wide berth — at least four feet, while taking a quick glance behind to make sure there’s no oncoming vehicle too close to allow the avoidance maneuver to be made.

One of the biggest dangers in urban bike riding is intersections. According to the legal site, “Only 11 percent of bicycle accidents involve a collision with a car; but of these, 45 percent take place in intersections. Contrary to popular fears, the majority of bicycle accidents — 59 percent — involve only the cyclist, who loses control of the bike and crashes.”

The next lesson may not be a matter of survival, but neglecting it can make riding and maneuvering on the bike a great deal more difficult. If neither you nor the person you’re teaching has been on the bike for a while, have the tire pressure checked. No matter how expensive bike tires may be, they will always lose some air. The low pressure puts more tire surface on the road or ground, requiring more effort to pedal or turn.

Teach your less experienced rider to take their bike into a shop every few months to see that the tires have the recommended pressure — and make sure you do the same. Never try to pump a soft tire by guesswork, and above all, never try using a gas station air machine. It’s nearly impossible to gauge how much of that pressurized air you may be putting into the inner tube, and most likely it will be too much. At best, that may make the bike skittish to handle and put strain on the outer tire. At worst, the inner tube may actually explode at that point or after you’ve been riding for a while.

Speaking of inner tubes, most experts advise riders to carry a spare tube and a patch kit. Your ‘pupil’ may not think this is necessary, because they don’t know how to fix a flat tire. Advise them to carry the tube and patch kit anyhow, because there may be a shop nearby, or another rider may be passing by who can help fix it. Bike shops also sell cans of tire inflators that foam the tube so the bike can be ridden home or to a shop. Advise that the rider puts a can of it in their emergency kit, which can be carried in a backpack or in a pack that fastens under the saddle.

Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly , which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.

(c)2015 Adventure Sports Weekly. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Teaching your child to ride a bike can be a bonding and even life-saving experience. (Wina Sturgeon/Winimages/TNS)

Tempo Workouts Could Help Rectify Your Weak Spots

By Wina Sturgeon, Adventure Sports Weekly (TNS)

Let me start with a rarity: a personal story.

As some readers may know, my sport is ski racing. It’s a sport that requires power, balance, and most of all, speed. One summer, the only training I did for skiing was working in my large garden.

I thought all the hard shoveling would get my legs ready, and all the weeding would work my core. After days of wearing my body out in the garden; I thought ‘Wow, I’m really going to be in shape for the season!’ Except I overlooked a few realities. Ski racing requires quickness, strategy and instant decisions. Gardening is slow and methodical. It may build strength, but it does nothing to improve speed or quick reflexes. That ski season was my worst ever in terms of results.

I’d forgotten one of the most important truths of training for a sport: train at the pace you intend to play. Get your brain adjusted to that desired pace. The brain and muscle memory will adapt so you won’t start a race or competition too fast and bonk before the finish, or start too slow and stress because you have to make up time.

If you’re not an elite athlete or don’t have access to an elite coach, you may have never heard about a ‘tempo’ workout. This is a conditioning technique that matches the speed used in your training program to the pace of movements in your sport–and also works on speeding things up while training, so your entire system adapts to a faster pace, making you a better and more competitive athlete.

Some descriptions of tempo training are made much more complicated than necessary, with the use of a heart monitor and an array of percentages for the eccentric (lowering) and concentric (lifting) phase of an exercise.
There’s no need for all the complications.

Tempo training simply conditions the body to be faster and more coordinated while allowing athletes to locate and get rid of the weak areas in their performance. As an example, take the pedal cadence of a cyclist. Perhaps that cyclist has a ‘dead spot’ after reaching the top of pedal, and doesn’t immediately push down with sufficient force. Maybe that athlete has a muscle weakness that can be trained away in the gym, or perhaps they don’t know how to create a more forceful cadence.

With tempo training, a cyclist–or any other kind of athlete–can pay more attention to every aspect of their sport’s movement. In my particular case, I learned that my ‘dead spot’ was after completing a turn around a gate. I would just ‘glide’ into the next turn without forcefully accelerating, losing a potential one or two seconds at each gate. Doing tempo workouts on practice race courses helped eliminate that weakness. The results showed a gratifying improvement.

You can also do tempo workouts in the gym, and definitely should, according to Chere Lucett in her article, “What is Tempo Training,” on the site

She writes, “Most people are aware of how many sets and repetitions they are going to perform on each exercise at the gym, but have they thought about how long each repetition should take? Tempo training is often the most underrated component to resistance training, yet its role in muscle development is significant. Altering the tempo of your training workouts can alter the way your body adapts to your training.”

Often times, you will be lifting a maximal load (95-100 percent of your one repetition maximum) so your repetition tempo will be only as fast as you can handle the load. Basically, even though the weight used is very heavy, you want to think of moving it fast, even though it may not (be fast). This will excite the nervous system and ask it to involve more muscle fibers for the challenge.”

Recruiting more muscle fibers makes any movement stronger. Strength and speed together are the two qualities that equal power. Tempo workouts will create the power and precision that is every athlete’s goal.

Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly, which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.

Photo: MilitaryHealth via Flickr

Easy Exercises To Help Save Your Knees

By Wina Sturgeon, Adventure Sports Weekly (TNS)

The human knee is a complicated joint, and as too many athletes find out, it’s very prone to injury. Strains, sprains and tears of the connecting ligaments all provide good income for orthopedic surgeons.

There are a couple ways to help prevent down time or surgery from a damaged knee. One is to have excellent form in your sport; though because sports are unpredictable, even good form is no guarantee. But the surest way to prevent damage is to make sure all the connective tissues that attach the major bones of the knee together are strong.

The juicy, blood-filled muscles are easy to strengthen with a good workout routine. But connective tissue doesn’t have anywhere near as much blood as muscle. That’s why it’s white rather than the red. But a proper program of resistance and recovery will gradually make the white tissues stronger as you build muscle with your conditioning program. It just takes longer to strengthen connective tissue, so you can’t slack off.

Here are a few exercises that can help build strength in the ligaments that hold the bones of the knee together, while also working the surrounding muscles.

— Every gym has both an abductor and an adductor machine. You can always remember the difference between these two muscles, because the abductor is on the outside of the leg, so just remember the term ‘abduct,’ as in ‘take away,’ since this muscle moves the leg away from the body. The adductor moves the leg back under the body’s mass. Working both these muscles also works the side ligaments of the knee; the medial collateral (inner) and lateral collateral (outer).

— You can add additional strength to prevent those painful and hard-to-heal groin pulls by working with a weighted ankle cable instead of a gym machine. Attach the cable to a cuff around your ankle. Stand up straight with the ankle placed a few feet away from your body. Starting with light resistance, pull the ankle with its attached cuff close to the leg that’s under your body. You should feel the resistance in your knee, but it should never be painful. Do between eight and 12 reps, then do the same with the other leg. This works the medial collateral ligament.

Next, turn around so that both legs are together with no resistance. Move the cuffed ankle away from the cable, so you feel it on the outside of the knee. This works the lateral collateral ligament. Both these cable resistance exercises are terrific for athletes who do a lot of cutting, with quick changes in direction.

— The third exercise to protect your knee cohesion is the leg extension. Here’s where the athlete’s workout mantra comes in: ‘Just because you can use a heavy weight doesn’t mean you should.’ While the leg extension in all its various forms can help strengthen the cruciate ligaments (anterior and posterior), your thigh muscles may be a lot stronger than your knee ligaments. Your quads may be easily able to handle a weight that can put a strain on your knee ligaments.

Keep a notebook where you record the frequency and resistance of all exercises you do to increase the stabilization of your knee ligaments. Carefully note how your knee is reacting to these exercises. If either knee is sore the next day, or becomes unusually sore after a game or practice, lighten both the resistance and the reps. Refer to this record often to see exactly when your knee reacted badly after a workout. You may have to decrease the frequency of these exercises. Your notebook will tell the tale.

But your workouts to strengthen the connective tissues of your knees will tell another tale, a very positive one. It will be of a season where you may have taken risks that once could have hurt your knee ligaments. But because your knees were strong, you finished your season without ever even feeling even a twinge of pain.

Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly, which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.

Photo: Rail Gunners via Flickr