THE MOST UNDERRATED FACTOR FOR GROWTH AND HEALTH: SLEEP

You get home from working a ten hour shift. You have a shower, grab a quick bite to eat, and then get ready for bed. You hit the bed like a ton of bricks and it is lights out. You wake up feeling good but then your wife complains about your snoring.

Why is sleep so important? Rest, relaxation, and good sleep is crucial for good health. Sleep and rest serve to balance the activities of a full day and to replenish the nervous system. Human beings have created their own electricity and through the invention of the light bulb we are no longer going to bed and waking up with the sun. The muscles and the mind need rest in order to be at optimal health.

All trainers should know that true muscle growth comes from when you rest. When you weight train, the muscle is torn, so in order for the muscle to rebuild and become stronger, it needs to rest. When you sleep and rest, that is when true muscle growth happens.

If a person has an overactive mind, sleeping throughout the night can be a challenge. Using sleeping pills is never a good idea as this disrupts the body’s natural sleep cycle. Physical activity(there is a big surprise) and even taking a warm bath can help sleeplessness by improving circulation. Another alternative is to use deep-breathing techniques as this can relieve tension and encourages sleep.

I have an overactive mind so I use melatonin or enjoy a glass of red wine a few hours before bedtime. I do this only when needed as I try to follow my body’ s own natural sleep pattern. If I do take caffeine, it is taken before 7 am in the morning. Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours. So if you take 200mg at 10am, it will not leave your system until 10pm at night.

Try to aim for at least 49-55 hours of sleep each week. Some people can function on 5-6 hours a sleep a night, but 7-8 hours is the optimal number.

Here are a few tips for a good night’s sleep.

1. Avoid napping throughout the day. If you do have a nap, do not go into deep REM. This will throw off your body’s natural clock.

2. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, spicy, heavy, and sugary foods four to six hours before bedtime.

3. Keep your bedroom dark. Use heavy drapes or blinds as light can disrupt your body’s internal clock.

4. Keep up a regular exercise schedule. Avoid exercise several hours before bedtime.

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All in good health,

Paul Nam

TIPS FOR FAT LOSS AND GAINING MUSCLE

Let’s get right to the point. Fat loss and gaining muscle are two of the most sought after topics when it comes to fitness. With so much information out there and everyone claiming to be an expert, it is hard to figure out the proper formula for success. Here are five tips related to fat loss and muscle growth which I have used on all my clients and myself.

Five Rules For Muscle Growth

1. Never let yourself get hungry. You need a consistent flow of nutrients to your muscles all the time when building bulk. Have snacks around you all the time. Snacks like protein bars, nuts, and cheese. Stuff your face like a chipmunk.

2. Train heavy or increase the volume of force on your muscles. Your muscles grow from extra stress that comes from heavier weight or increased volume.

3. Get adequate rest in between your workouts and at night. Your muscles grow when you rest. Do not over train as this is counter productive to growth. If you have not fully recovered from your previous workout, take another day off. More is not always better.

4. Do not stop cardiovascular workouts completely. When people bulk up, they often neglect cardio. Just cut down on the volume and intensity of those types of workouts. Just do light walking instead of running. Doing light cardio will help with keeping your BMR up, which will help burn more calories efficiently.

5. The top 5 supplements to use when bulking are creatine hydrochloride (HCL), weight gainers, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins(if needed), and whey or isolate protein powder.

Five Rules For Fat Loss

1. Never eat until your completely full. Eat until your 80% full. That means chew your food slowly.

2. Train in the am if you can. Your glycogen levels are lower in the morning, so you will burn more fat.

3. Stay hydrated all the time and never get thirsty. Your body functions the best when it is fully hydrated.

4. If you drink coffee and are using the caffeine for it’s fat burning abilities, do not add sugar or cream. This negates the fat burning effects of the caffeine.

5. Never eat fruit or carbohydrates after 5pm. Eat fruit and all carbs in the am. Eat more protein and vegetables in the pm. Your body burns carbs and sugars in the am and stores them in the pm.

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All in good health,

Paul Nam

FREE WEIGHTS OR MACHINE? WHICH IS BETTER?

Should I use free weights or machines?

There are benefits and drawbacks to both machines and free weights, and some exercises tend to be more effective when using one or the other.

Hand weights are inexpensive, portable, and readily available for purchase in just about any department store. Keeping them in your living room or office will allow you to exercise whenever you have the time.

The benefit of a resistance machine is that it will allow you to focus your mind on the effort, as opposed to the mechanics of the movement. But, unless you have enough space for a machine in your home, you’ll need a gym membership.

The primary difference between free weights and machines, however, is the fact that when using free weights, you can move your body in three dimensions: forward, backward, horizontally, and vertically. This is important, because this is how your body normally moves in daily life.

When you use free weights, you therefore end up using more muscles, as you have to work to stabilize the weight while lifting it. The only drawback is that you’re at an increased risk of injury unless you maintain proper form. Always use a lighter weight to get the proper form first before graduating to a heavier weight.

Machines are fixed to an axis that will only allow you to move in one or two planes. If machine are only used, this could lead to a lack of functional fitness, which may lead into injuries outside the gym.

For functional fitness, dumbbells and free weights are far superior than machines. I use both machines and free weights in my routine. If I had a choice to do a dumbbell bench press or a machine bench press, I would chose the dumbbells. The dumbbells give me a greater range of motion which results in greater muscle recruitment.

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All in good health,

Paul Nam

THE LOVE FOR CAFFEINE: THE PROS AND CONS

You look at your clock and it is 2:00pm. You feel tired from a busy day at work. What do you do? Grab another cup of coffee to get you through the day or tough it out and drink some water? I will map out 2 different scenarios here. Scenario 1 is you do drink another cup of coffee and have enough energy to finish all your meetings and paperwork. You go home and eat dinner but then have a hard time falling asleep or do not sleep well. Scenario 2 is you drink a glass of water(or another beverage) and then go home and end up having a good nights rest. What happened here is the person in scenario 1 has a build up of caffeine in their system which hinders them from having a good nights sleep. Caffeine has a half life of 5-6 hours so 1 cup of coffee which is 125 milligrams of caffeine, stays inside your system for 10-12 hours.

Here are 4 pros and cons about caffeine:

1. Pro: It Gives You Energy

Most people know that caffeine is a stimulant drug . This means it affects the central nervous system by giving you energy. This can be helpful in a few ways. Drinks like coffee are more of a morning drink because it provides you that little kick you need to get started in the morning. On average, people consume 300-350mg of caffeine per day, which is approximately 2-3 cups of coffee.

People who exercise often drink a cup of coffee 1 hour before they exercise to help them train harder. Pre workouts often contain caffeine also. What caffeine does is slow down the build up of lactic acid inside of the muscle and increases a person’s the pain threshold. Lacitc acid is what makes your muscle fatigue.

2. Pro: Boosting Metabolism

This wonder drug has the ability to boost your metabolism. It does this through a process called thermogenesis which the Mayo Clinic describes as the body generating heat and energy from digesting food. This process helps you burn more calories while you’re resting. Caffeine is also an ingredient in over the counter weight loss drugs for this purpose as well as providing more energy and focus in a workout.

3. Con: Can Cause Insomnia

As a stimulant this drug keeps you awake and alert, which is why it can cause insomnia if you consume it too late in the day. Going back to the half life, taking 1 cup of coffee(125mgs) at 2:00pm can cause insomnia. If the half life is 6 hours, the amount of caffeine inside your body will be 62.5mgs at 8pm. Then at 2am there will still be 31.25mgs left inside of your body. Any amount of caffeine can cause insomnia because it is a stimulant.

4. Con: It Can Raise Blood Pressure

Caffeine has been known to raise blood pressure but researchers are still unsure why this is. Most doctors notes that caffeine causes a dramatic, although short increase in blood pressure even if you don’t currently suffer from hypertension. Increased blood pressure can run a host of problems inside of the human body if it becomes consistent.

People who drink coffee regularly develop a tolerance to it’s effects. But if a person suffers from hypertension and likes to drink coffee, it is best to monitor their blood pressure and consume smaller amounts.

The main point here is to drink coffee in moderation. If you have trouble sleeping and drink coffee in the afternoon, it is best to cut it out and get a good night’s sleep. No one likes to be around a grumpy person.

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All in good health,

Paul Nam

WHY TRAIN YOUR CORE(ABS)?

Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. You curse as you feel your lower abs burn. Only 4 more leg raises to go. You either love training your core(abs) or hate it. Either way, having a strong core is beneficial.  Here are five reasons why to strengthen your core:

1. Strong Core Muscles Improve Sport And Overall Performance

Strong core muscles improve performance in almost any sport. When you need to generate power, these muscles work together as a unit to help you do it. Any movement you make with your upper or lower body originates from the muscles in your core. Even if you have great upper and lower body strength, you won’t be as powerful if the core muscles are weak. Having strong core muscles also makes it easier to change directions quickly. This is important for most sports. No matter how you move, strong core muscles will help you perform better.

2. It Improves Your Ability To Do Everyday Activities 

Almost all your actives you do daily involve your core. Bending over while you shovel snow, getting up from a chair or even climbing the stairs is easier when you have strong core muscles. Even if you don’t plan on playing any sports, training your core can make your daily movement easier.

3. Better Posture

Here is a no brainer. Poor posture can ruin even the most beautiful physique. When you walk around with your shoulders slumped forward, it places stress on your low back. This makes you look out of shape even if you exercise daily at the gym. Poor posture is often due to muscle imbalances, weak low back muscles relative to abdominal muscles. Focusing on working all of the muscle in the core helps to correct this imbalance. Once this is corrected, your posture will improve and you will feel more confident.

4. A Strong Core Reduces The Risk Of Injury

A strong core gives you greater stability in your mid-section so you can change positions without risking injury. It also strengthens the all-important back muscles that are frequently strained from improper bending, lifting and sitting in a chair too long. Training your core muscles is one of the best defences you can have against low back pain. Another benefit of having a strong core is that it improves your balance, which reduces your risk of falling. This becomes particularly important as we age and have less balance.

5. A Strong Core Is One Of The Keys To Flat Abdominals

If your goal is to get a six-pack, balance is also important. Too much focus on the abdominals to the exclusion of the other core muscles makes it harder to get the abdominal definition you’re looking for. To avoid this problem, balance exercises that work your abdominal muscles with ones that strengthen the muscles in your low back, hips and pelvis. Do a well-balanced abdominal workout that focuses on all of the muscles in abdominal region. Remember, abs are made in the kitchen. If you carry an excessive amount of body fat around your abdominal region, no amount of core work will make them visible. We will expand on that subject later in the nutrition section.

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All in good health,

Paul Nam