Training and nutrition linkfest, vol. 4

I’m just full of these things lately, aren’t I?  Full of something at any rate.


Glute activation: It works, bitches.

(h/t Conditioning Research.)

From the abstract:

A group of 22 elite Australian Rules Football players performed 3 different warm-up protocols over 3 testing sessions in a randomized order. The protocols included a series of low load exercises targeting the gluteal muscle group (GM-P), a whole-body vibration (WBV) protocol (WBV-P) wherein the subjects stood on a platform vibrating at 30 Hz for 45 seconds, and a no-warm-up condition (CON). The CMJ testing was performed within 5 minutes of each warm-up protocol on an unloaded Smith machine using a linear encoder to measure peak power output. Peak power production was significantly greater after the GM-P than after both the CON (p < 0.05) and WBV-P (p < 0.01). No significant differences in peak power production were detected between the WBV-P and CON. These results have demonstrated that a low load exercise protocol targeting the gluteal muscle group is effective at acutely enhancing peak power output in elite athletes.

One of the consequences of sitting on my ass at a keyboard all day is that my hip flexors get shortened and my glutes consequently lengthen and deactivate.  Lately I’ve been working on mobility stuff, including soft-tissue work for the piriformis and stretching for the hip flexors.  Easiest ten pounds I’ve put on my deadlift ever.


Next, Mark Sisson reminds all concerned to eat their damn salads:

I already linked to this video a couple months back, so why bring it up again, you might ask? Back when I watched it for the first time, something caught my ear: the focus on vegetation. Wahls speaks of eating nine cups of plants every day, with three coming as leafy greens, three as sulfur-rich vegetables, and three as brightly colored fruits and vegetables. She explains why each category is so important, not just for someone looking to reverse MS, but for anyone who wants to be healthier in general.

If you lift, you’re probably a member of the Cult of Protein, and if you’re a member of the Cult of Protein (and/or its parallel institution, the Fish Oil Tabernacle) you probably eat a lot of canned tuna, salmon, and sardines.  Now, the canonical way to consume canned fish is in a Tuna Shake, but dumping a can of whatever you’re eating today in with a couple of chopped hard-boiled eggs and a double handful of whatever’s green and leafy in the fridge is a pretty damn painless way to get 30-50 grams of protein and cross “salad” off your list at the same time.


The Journal of Physiology brings us news that interval training — running hill sprints, say — can coerce your muscle into building more mitochondria:

That’s just the paper’s title, by the way.  I’ve read abstracts shorter than that.

Anyway, this result is interesting for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it’s based on a HIIT model that’s a lot more relevant to what most people do than, say, repeated Wingate tests or crazy Tabata shit.  (In other words: These are intervals you might actually be able to convince real people to do regularly, rather than just work into your Crossfit WoD when you’re feeling particularly masochistic.)  Second, mitochondrial density is thought to be critical for insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, so if you’re hoping that adding muscle will help drag you out of insulin resistance and generally improve your metabolic flexibility, you might want to add some sprints to your workouts.


Speaking of which, you probably want to add some sprints to your workouts even if you just want to get swole.  Dr. Andro points out some research telling us that HIIT increases the number of satellite cells in skeletal muscle, a necessary precondition to useful hypertrophy:

He also mentions something nifty:

[S]low-twitch type I fibers, with their greater number of satellite cells, have an increased propensity for maximal myonuclear numbers, the fable of the “hypertrophy-prone fast-twitch type II” fibers, on the other end, is a consequence of their ability to accumulate more protein per myonucleus.

(Emphasis in the original.)

Well, we know that long-distance endurance training will force type II fibres to adapt and act more like type I fibres; it’s not surprising that things should also work out the other way around.  Sprinting is definitely a “fast-twitch” kind of movement, so perhaps the type I fibres are adapting by packing in more myonuclei rather than bigger ones.


Finally, how about some polemicism about teh ebil dietary cholesterol?  Here’s Peter to kick things off:

Ok, the usual recap:

First there was cholesterol. It was bad, life was simple.

Then came Good cholesterol, HDL battling the Bad cholesterol, LDL.

Then there was Good LDL, large buoyant battling with Really Bad LDL, small dense LDL, sdLDL.

Not only that but native LDL appears to be harmless, it’s only oxidised LDL which is the killer, oxLDL.

So the evil sdLDL is only really evil because it is more easily oxidised than fluffier LDL. Maybe, but in general I tend to have glazed over by now, befuddled by the blur of the moving goal posts.

So what the hell is anacetrapib?  Well, it’s a new miracle drug that nearly eliminates sdLDL… and, um, leads to increased all-factors and heart disease death rates in the sample population.  (For a less skeptical take, see William Davis here and here.)

And here’s Michael Eades on a trio of China Studies:

Difficult to excerpt, but here’s a taste of the latter — a rhetorical evisceration of a study in which an observational study found that Chinese folks who ate more vegetables were also more likely to be fat.  The researchers involved, desperate to fit the narrative, figured they’d find some way to blame dietary fat:

In conclusion, we found a positive association between intake of vegetable-rich food pattern and obesity. This association can be linked to the high intake of energy due to liberal use of vegetable oil for cooking vegetables.

There you have it. Fat is the culprit. And although vegetable oils have been the darling fats of the mainstream folks for ages, they don’t hesitate to throw them under the bus when their beloved vegetables are challenged.

But hold on. There is a fly in the ointment here.

There is absolutely no difference in the amount of fat consumed in the group that ate the most vegetables as compared to the group who ate the least.

(Emphasis in the original.  And yes, the researchers’ own data backs this up.)


6 Responses to “Training and nutrition linkfest, vol. 4”

  1. February 7, 2012 at 16:48

    Do you take requests?

    Since starting to attend roller derby practices, injury and the prevention thereof is much on my mind- seeing who is sidelined and for what reasons and have been for how long, who has recurring injuries, and so forth. I know when I did the inevitable thing that happens when you put on skates after the last time was more than fifteen years ago and immediately fell, my left leg went off a very unfortunate angle; I think if I hadn’t recently been working to unfreeze my hips with mobility drills, the muscle would have torn rather than just tweaked.

    Right now I am thinking start with the mobility WOD, institute a new personal rule that all squats must be as full depth as I can get them (and wave goodbye to high numbers for now), but any leads you might have would be welcome…

    • February 7, 2012 at 20:00

      My first inclination would be to point you towards Dan John’s Intervention DVDs and Gray Cook’s Movement book, because they know a hell of a lot more about it than I do.

      Mobility WOD is crazy, in the same good crazy kind of way as CrossFit. I gather it’s intended that you start from the beginning, rather than picking up in the middle. If you go through the first, I dunno, fifty mobility WODs you’ll probably know more about mobilization and soft-tissue work than I do.

      Stuff that’s worked for me:

      • Rolling my plantar fascia with a tennis ball, and later with a golf ball. A ton of my knee, hip, and lower back issues cleared up from this.
      • Getting a foam roller and rolling my IT bands (ow!) and calves. Hamstrings seem, quite to my surprise, to be pretty free of knots. This cleared up even more posterior kinetic chain issues.
      • Thoracic “crunches” across the foam roller. Not so much an exercise thing but it sure helps after a day of sitting at the keyboard.
      • Hip flexor stretches. See “a day of sitting at the keyboard”. All of them work just fine for me.
      • Strengthening my external rotators. Higher reps than I’m used to — 5×5 would be too heavy — but for a long time I ignored poundage progression, to my detriment. I can bench again!

      Hope that helps. Mobility work is definitely a weak point in my knowledge right now.

      • February 7, 2012 at 21:56

        Mobility is just my current theory of injury prevention; what I’m really interested is what you know of… injury prevention.

        I’m also betting building up plenty of resilient bone and connective tissue in joints, even if they aren’t the primary involved in your Specific Sport. See also, skaters and wrist injuries.

        • February 7, 2012 at 22:19

          Skaters/snowboarders and wrist injuries is more a matter of not falling correctly than bone structure, I think. Taking a few months (weeks even?) of judo or jujitsu would help, or find a local practitioner and ask for instruction in breakfalls. Crossfit’s gymnastic crossover might do the job here, depending on your local CF people.

          My current theory of injury prevention is:

          – Proper technique is paramount. I didn’t need to tell you that, but I’d feel wrong if I left it out. The rest are in no particular order.
          – Enough mobility at each joint to let the joint work properly, rather than force other joints to compensate.
          – Balanced strength around each joint; this is partly a mobility issue (strong/tight pecs and anterior delts + weak/elongated middle back = Bench Press Hunchback), and also a functional one. Taken to its logical conclusion this means “be an anatomy nerd”.
          – Strong enough connective tissue… even less confidence than the rest as to how to get this done, but I have a vague memory that someone on T-Nation mentioned time under eccentric tension. So, high reps/moderate weight and/or slow eccentrics — the latter impose huge recovery demands, which leads to:
          – Plenty of time to recover after each workout. Optimized recovery variables: Sleep, diet (protein, saturated fats, decent n3:n6 balance, micronutrients), stress. Soft tissue work (I really mean it about the foam roller) and active-recovery workouts come in here, as does sufficient time off.
          – Generally I take the attitude that it’s better to train at 98% for a year than to train at 100% for a month and get hurt. Depending on how seriously you take it I guess this might also apply to roller derbies themselves.
          – Having a strong neck is never a bad thing.

          I still recommend Dan John’s DVD set and Gray Cook’s book, btw.

        • February 7, 2012 at 22:27

          Oops, forgot one:

          – A proper warm-up before each workout/event. Don’t do static stretches, do mobility stuff and light-load full-body stuff. I really like clean-grip snatches with an empty bar. (This is a good time to get in a few technique-building reps on O-lifts, too, if you’re into that.)

  2. February 9, 2012 at 10:37

    From the Eades post on the China studies…

    “The rodents usually used in lab experiments are Sprague-Dawley rats, and inbred strain that has a tendency to develop cancer easily.”

    What does this mean, I asked myself? It means most medical studies are done on rats already sick from inbreeding. You discover what’s bad for sick rats, which has at best a coincidental relevance to any healthy human.
    When Sprague and Dawley developed them, I’m sure they were the best scientists had. This isn’t still true.

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