February 16, 2011
Ben: In this podcast, how to swim faster even if you’re just getting started? How fast do you lose muscle memory? Supplements for anxiety; what are the effects of long-term endurance training? More on multivitamins; how much urination is normal? Does hot or cold exposure burn more calories? What type of water filter is best? How you get skinny fat? Pi science water; trigger point dry needling; what is NADH for sleep? Is flax oil bad for you? Pain on the top of the foot and, how many carbohydrates to eat after weight training;
Ben: Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, this is Ben Greenfield. I have a guest on the show today, who has been creating, for the past several years, a new type of way to learn how to swim, based on your body type. His name is Paul Newsome, he’s from Swim Smooth. I’ll put some links in the show notes for you as you listen in, so that you can go check out his program. We also have a listener Q & A, so let’s go ahead and jump right in to the special announcements for this week.
Ben: First of all, you may have noticed earlier this week, if you’re listening to this podcast when it 1st comes out, that I did a post on a valentines day special, specifically, it was a post that linked over to my friend Jeff Anderson’s website, where he taught you how to make your own supplements, or at least, has a book over there where he teaches you how to make your own supplements. In the actual post itself, I mentioned a couple of supplements that Jeff recommends using, especially in males to, shall we say, enhance your performance, but over at Jeff’s website, he actually has an entire book devoted to making your own muscle-building supplements, fat loss supplements, etc. I got lots of questions and concerns about that post. 1st of all, let me address the concerns; after reading back over the post, it did make it look like Jeff was actually giving some stuff away for free over on his website. I apologize for making it sound like that; after reading over the post, I did realize that it sounds like that. His book actually does cost $27, to go over there and get that book about making your own supplements. And then, the questions that I’ve received were, do I actually recommend doing that? let’s just put it this way: you need to be a real do-it-yourselfer and you need to make sure that you do your research and use higher quality ingredients, and Jeff gives some pointers about how to do that, in his book and as a matter of fact, the whole valentines day special that he’s running, where you get access to, not only his muscle-building and fat loss do-it-yourself supplements but also his sexual supplements, is going to be going until this Friday, so, you still got time to go over there and check it out, and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. Couple of other things, the 1st is that, this particular podcast gets lots of traffic; we are 1 of the top podcasts in iTunes, the blog itself gets anywhere from 30-40000 visitors each month, and, you can now have the opportunity to advertise on the BenGreenfieldFitness.com website. I’ve put a link to our advertising sheet there, so if you we’re your business or in the health or fitness or nutrition type of industry, go check out that link to our new advertising information. And then, finally, over at the Ben Greenfield Fitness Facebook page, we’re doing lots of new things; I’m now recording workouts. For example, today, I will be riding my bike but, that bike ride will go live to the Ben Greenfield Facebook page and I’ll be explaining some of the things I’m doing with heart rates, intervals, etc. Now, that’s only available over at the Facebook page, and I’ll put a link to that in the how notes or, you can just go to Facebook.com/BGFitness. Now the other thing is that, everything that I have available, in terms of nutrition consulting, personal training, supplements, gear, anything like that, is now available on the Facebook page, and I am giving $20 to anybody who wants to use 20 bucks to shop on that page. If you put a link to the Ben Greenfield Facebook page on your Facebook page, all you got to do is just shoot me a note, once you’ve done it, and I will send you the coupon for $20, that you can use to shop for anything over at the new shopping page at Facebook.com/BGFitness. So, links to all of those things are in the show notes. We’ve got 1 special announcement, and then we’re going to move on to this week’s listener Q & A.
Ben: If you have a question for the show, click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page. You can Skype, to username PacificFit or, you can simply use the Ask a Question Form, which is located on the show notes to any of the podcast episodes, and this episode is podcast number 132. And our 1st question, this week, comes from Andy.
Andy: I trained 20 weeks for an iron man and completed it last August. Since then, I’ve not been on my bike or swim at all, and I’ve just started to pick up running. As a 49-year old male, how much muscle mass and memory would I have lost?
Ben: Well, this concept of muscle memory is kind of interesting. The idea is that, when you’re participating in any sport, all of these motor skills and these movement combinations that you’re using are requiring some type of strength or endurance or skill to perform. Now, what happens is that, not only do you build new muscle fibers to accommodate the different directions in which you’re moving, but you also get enhanced motor neuron excitability, meaning that your motor neurons, actually, will increase the amount of nerves and the number of motor neurons that are stimulated in the muscle itself, and so there’s this better communication between your nervous system and your muscles. Now, studies have looked at what happens when you actually quit training and you quit stimulating a muscle; your actual efficiency does not decrease, and the way that they inspect something like this is they look at the neural muscular activity compared to the actual torque that’s generated by the muscle itself; that doesn’t decrease so, whereas, you would think that when you quit running or swimming or cycling, you’ll lose a lot of your economy or your efficiency or your skill of movement when you return to the sport; you actually don’t lose too much of that, according to research. Now, what you do lose, and you do lose fairly quickly, is the actual strength, and specifically the muscle fibers so, you lose the neuron’s ability to actually excite the muscle, so you got to decrease the strength of the muscle from that, and then you also get a loss of actual muscle fiber or a conversion of your endurance muscle fiber into your more non-endurance strength or power-type of muscle fiber. So, what happens is that, whereas you can get right back in to swimming and cycling and running without a significant loss of skill, you are going to experience a significant loss of actual fitness, and you’re going to get tired sooner, you’re going to be able to produce less force, you’ll be able to not travel quite as quickly, and all of that stuff will have to be rebuilt through fitness training, but you can actually not worry too much about say, quitting swimming for 2 months, picking it back up and having you re-learn the skill all over again; the body picks that up very quickly because again, that efficiency, is not lost. Now of course, there is something to be said for consistency in training and I don’t really recommend the process of training for a long period of time and then just going cold turkey, or quitting cold turkey for a while; I’ve had many athletes who I coach who will train for, say, 8 months and then take 4 months off, and the people that do that and come back after those 4 months always, literally lose almost 50% of the next 8 months, just getting back into shape so, consistency in training really, is 1 of my secrets for staying fit; I never really stop training. It’s just that I’m also training in new modes so, I don’t ever really have, say like, an off-season or rest period, as much as I have periods where I change up the type of training that I do. So, we’re going to move on to the next question, which is from Jacob.
Jacob: I take prescription to help control anxiety and depression. Any thoughts on supplements to assist these, and have you heard of any science that would indicate that lots of workout volume would either help or hinder anxiety?
Ben: Well, for the 1st part of your question, absolutely. There are tons of natural therapies and supplements for anxiety disorders. 1 of the ones that I’ve mentioned on this show before, in terms of its ability to kind of, calm you down, is maca or maca root powder, that’s spelled m-a-c-a. I actually will, occasionally, take some of that dissolved in water. Another one that’s kind of the Hawaiian equivalent of marijuana that I’ve used before when I’ve been down to the wires, it’s completely legal, but it’s 1 of their main anti-anxiety herbs, it’s called kava kava, and you can get that in a liquid form, you can get it in a powder form, but that’s also used for things like anxiety, tension, stress. St. John’s wort is another, and that’s traditionally used in herbal medicine for depression or anxiety, and both the kava kava and the St. John’s, you wouldn’t want to combine those with a medical anti-depressant drug; there are some reactions there you’d want to be careful with. Few others that can kind of, calm you down, would of course, be the things that we would use for sleep like valerian or chamomile; there are other things that kind of fly under the radar, in terms of homeopathic remedies for anxiety and depression, or what are called ayurvedic herbs, withania is one, passion flowers and other; there’s 1 called skull cup, all of these things you can typically get as tinctures, which are basically like little oil extracts that you can use in aroma therapy, some of them you just place directly into your tongue, some of them you ingest, but any of those would be stuff that you could try, for sure; I’m not prescribing those, I’m not saying they’re going to be more efficacious than your medication but considering that some anxiety and depression medication can have some side effects, specifically, 1 of the more serious ones being that can actually increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in younger people, and you can also get some agitations, some irritability; there may be something in it for you to look at some of the alternatives. Now in addition to that, as far as actually being more prone to anxiety or depression from your training, there are definite disorders that can occur when you are regularly stressing your body, and this can include, basically, a hyperactive stress response, and the reason that the hyperactive stress response occurs is when you’re working out a lot, your body produces a ton of stress hormones, produces a lot of cortisol, it produces a lot of adrenaline, a lot of noradrenaline, and excessive or chronic exposure to these type of hormones, can result in anxiety and depression. As a matter of fact, an overtraining syndrome, which is something that is experienced a lot, especially among endurance athletes, anti-depressant medications have been 1 of the things that have been traditionally described to actually restore performance after you’ve been overtraining. Now, I’m not necessarily in agreement that those type of medications would be more efficacious than simply resting and using some of the herbal-type of medications that I talked about earlier. However, there is a direct link between overtraining or excessive training, especially excessive endurance training or excessive aerobic exercise and the subsequent production of cortisol and the chronically elevated levels of cortisol that can lead to anxiety and depression. Now in an upcoming interview with Phil Maffetone, we’re going to talk about overtraining in more detail, but sufficed to say, it is an issue and it’s a bigger issue for aerobic and endurance athletes than it is for people who are, say, weight lifting or doing high intensity interval training. Next question is from Mike, and it’s kind of related.
Mike: Ben, now that the Big 4 are all approaching or past 50, have there been any studies conducted on the long-term health effects of ultra endurance training?
Ben: Now, when you said the Big 4, specifically what you’re referring to are the Big 4 traditionally, like the top Big 4 iron man tri-athletes and that would be Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Scott Tinley, and Scott Molina; don’t feel bad if you didn’t know who the Big 4 are or were, they were better, big tri-athletes back in the 80’s though, and now, many of them are coaches and authors and advisors, and as far as the chronic effects of ultra endurance athletes, there haven’t been any long-term studies that I’m aware of on, say like, iron man tri-athletes. There has been a study that cited quite frequently, that shows better cardiovascular parameters in people who have run for a long period of time; there was a study done on elderly runners and they were found to have significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease and positive effects on their immune system and also their endocrine system and these active elderly subjects reported to running about 50-60 minutes, 4 days a week, so they were covering about 35-40 miles a week in their training. Now traditionally, that volume is significantly less than 1 iron man tri-athlete is going to experience in their iron man training, you know, many of these Big 4 athletes, they were training anywhere from 25-40 hours a week in many cases, which is a lot of training. Now, there are some things that happen after something like an iron man triathlon, that may affect you long-term. So, if you look at people who they’ve studied after endurance events such as marathons, what happens is after you’ve finished and this stays in your system for up to several weeks after you finish, your good cholesterol goes down and your bad cholesterol goes up and your red blood cell will count and your white blood cell counts can go down, and so, your liver gets damaged a little bit, your gallbladder function is decreased, testosterone goes way down, cortisol goes way up, you get infiltration of collagen into your muscle fibers, which can cause some degeneration of your mitochondria, which are the little portions of your cell responsible for cellular metabolism, so we may see a dip or a damage to the metabolic rate. There’re some renal abnormalities or kidney dysfunction that can occur after the marathon or ultra endurance event has been finished, as well as damage to the vascular system; the actual blood vessels get inflamed and damaged. Now, there’s 1 study or actually couple of studies that show that marathon running elevates markers of cancer, specifically tumor necrosis factor, and again, this was close to the marathon; it wasn’t done long-term, looking at someone who’d run marathons for 30 years and compared them to someone who had them, it was, specifically, looking at people who had just run a marathon versus people who hadn’t. There is some brain trauma, brain damage, dysfunction to the blood-brain barrier, and that can occur after you’ve completed an ultra endurance event or even a marathon. There’s some heart damage that can occur, specifically echocardiographic studies, have found cardiac dysfunction following ultra endurance exercise, and that was in trained individuals and that particular study was actually done on people who’d competed in iron man and half iron man, and all of these abnormalities, in terms of some of the loss of the function of the heart, are all reversible. Ok, I’m just reporting this information; I’m not saying that any of this would not be reversible or that would result in long-term damage. There has been some evidence that endurance athletes have more spinal degeneration. Now, I’m not quite sure it’s going to be anything different that what you’d see in, say like, a football player, but there’s definite joint degeneration that occurs; there’s been at least 4 people who did the Boston marathon who died of brain cancer in the past 10 years, and part of that was due to elevated levels of some of those cancer factors that I mentioned earlier, that tumor necrosis factor and, if you think about the very 1st guy who ever did a marathon, he did collapse and die at the finish of the race. So there’s definite stress that occurs from a cardiovascular, an endocrine, and an immune system perspective directly after you’ve finished, but the argument can be made that that actually makes you stronger because our bodies do grow stronger from our immune systems to our muscles, in response to stress, so there really isn’t much evidence that shows that that type of stress that occurs after doing like an iron man triathlon, is necessarily going to be making you weaker or shortening your life. Now, next we get to the question about joint health, arthritis joint breakdown; 1 of the Big 4 that you mentioned, Scott Tinley, almost had a hip replacement, but studies that have looked at osteoarthritis in aging athletes have actually found less muscular skeletal pain and a lower risk of cartilage breakdown or lower cartilage breakdown period, and part of what suggested for that reason is that most endurance athletes are simply lighter when they’re carrying around less excess body weight in general, and so, in addition to that, they’ve got better stability, better strength around the muscles that support that joint. From an aging perspective, I can definitely say from just walking around triathlons and marathons on the days leading up to the race, endurance athletes definitely have an issue with pre-mature aging, in terms of wrinkles, skin, etc. most of that is due to a combination of excessive sun exposure, and also, free radical formation; meaning that, the more food that you eat, the more carbohydrates that you eat, the more oxygen that you consume, the more free radicals that you produce, the more damage that can occur and a lot of that will show up on the skin. Now, if you’re taking anti-oxidants regularly, or at least using them in moderation, and you’re also taking care of your skin, not engaging in excessive sun exposure, using a sunscreen where it matters, you may be able to actually take care of that as are doing well, if you’re just smart about things. So ultimately, I would say that the research doesn’t really go either way, at this point. The final thing that I would say is that there was 1 study done on the telomeres, which is the sequence at the end of the human chromosome, and they have actually found shorten telomeres in endurance athletes, and shorten telomere length can suggest that the ability to repair muscle damage is actually diminished, and I do think that endurance athletes in general, due to their chronic training and usually a little bit less focus on recovery, probably walk around with more muscle damage on a daily basis than the average individual, but again, there’s not necessarily a direct correlation that’s been drawn between that and your longevity of for example, your risk of cancer. So, at this point, I’m a bit neutral on the matter, but I would say that it benefits you to be eating very well, managing your carbohydrate and your total calorie intake to make sure that you’re not contributing to an inflammatory or an acidic condition that produces a lot of free radicals, doing things like taking care of your skin, doing things like using supplements that help to balance out a lot of the damaging training that you are doing, and allowing for proper recovery when the times come so, good question. This is an interesting discussion and I’m sure that people have their own thoughts on this, so be sure to leave them as comments on the show notes to this podcast, podcast number 132.
Jim: I’m looking for a good multivitamin to take. What would you recommend? Also, can you recommend a vitamin for my kids?
Ben: As far as the multivitamin for you Jim, I’ve talked about this on the show before, it’s my opinion that a lot of multivitamins are a waste of money because many of the things that they’re giving you, for example, the vitamin C and some of the B complex, some of the other minerals etc., can be gotten from a high vegetable intake and eating lots of real, whole foods. However, I do recommend that even if you’re not taking a multivitamin, you supplement with some type of green supplement as well as a vitamin D, a magnesium, and an omega3 fatty acid source; that’s exactly what I do. I don’t take a multivitamin, but I do take a green supplement, a magnesium, a vitamin D, and an omega3 fatty acid. I will occasionally take like an energy complex that’s got some vitamin B12 in it, and, sometimes I’ll use an effervescent tablet that has some other vitamins thrown in, but I don’t take a multivitamin per say. I would say that if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you may need to think a little bit more seriously about taking a multi, for example, to get those levels of something like a B12. As far as your kids go, my kids do take a multivitamin and they take 1 that is a liquid multivitamin, I’ll put a link to it in the show notes for you, but I do think that because of kids’ rapid growth and metabolism cellular turnover, that getting multivitamin into them is a wise thing to do and the multivitamin should contain some omega3s because your kids’ brains are rapidly growing; it should contain a good balance of minerals, meaning it should balance out the calcium levels with magnesium levels; it should not have artificial sweeteners in it. The stuff that I use is sweetened with organic stevia, and it should actually be tailored to the needs of the kid so, we use a liquid multivitamin because liquid multivitamins are better absorbed, and the one that we use is called “kid’s natural calm” or, kids get that in a little bit of water with breakfast each morning, and I love this stuff; I think it’s great; I wish I had had the opportunity to take it when I was a kid. There’s a lot of other things in there that are specifically tailored for children that I don’t have time to get into, but I’ll put a link in the show notes so you can go check it out yourself and see if it’s something that you want to do.
Alex: I drink lots of water throughout the day to keep hydrated, although I work at an office. I urinate a lot as a consequence; I’ve heard this is not ideal, but I’m not sure what to do, any advice?
Ben: Well, I drink a lot of water too; I drink about the equilinol water bottle, like a 24-ounce water bottle, every couple hours or so, and I urinate every couple hours or so; I pay attention to the color of my urine and make sure that it’s never a dark yellow, and the only time that I would want it to be that color is if I had just taken something that contain, for example, a lot of vitamin B, but for the most part, I do urinate more frequently than many of my peers and that is because I’m not in a constant state of dehydration. The average person urinates about 2 cups, every 2 hours or so. Now, if you do have frequent urination and you’re concerned about it, you may want to look into, check in with your physician to make sure that you don’t have diabetes or, what would be referred to as water diabetes or diabetes insipidus. That’s something you could look into; it’s probably not the case but ultimately, 1 side effect of drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is that you will urinate more frequently. If you want to try and back it off a little bit, then just back it off until you get to the point where you’re not urinating light yellow or clear, then that point, you’ve probably got to a point where you’re drinking too little. If you want a really easy starting point for how much to drink during the day, take your body weight, in pounds, divide that in half, and that’s approximately how many ounces of water you would be drinking. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, 90 ounces of water during the day and more than that if you exercise, but ultimately, I think you don’t have to worry about it too much.
Army Leigh: Hey Ben, my name is Army Leigh and I love the podcast, but of course, really, who doesn’t? I have a question about hot and cold weather exercising. Now, recently I had Ray Cronise on, the NASA science materials engineer, and he talked about how, when you decrease your extra body temperature, your superficial body temperature like your skin and your eye spouts and eye contact, that your body goes through a struggle to maintain homeostasis or increased metabolism for a period of time in order to counter that; obviously, burning more calories and expending more energy. Then also, when you talk about sauna the 9th causing, we hear the. When you’re trying to shuttle blood to the surface of the skin, that is also expending more energy and obviously, we’re expending after sweat because we have to heat up the water and evaporate their skin, all which cries energy. This and my question is , which actually uses more energy, working out in cold weather? Working out in warm weather?
Ben: Well, the idea behind you being able to burn more calories in hot weather is because your heart has to work harder; your heart pumps extra blood to bring oxygen to your muscles and also, at the same time, needs to pump all the hot blood from your heart muscles to your skin, where that heat gets dissipated, and so, the process of doing that would actually cause you to burn more calories versus your heart not actually having to pump harder, and that’s why, if you just walk into a room that is, say, 20 degrees warmer and your heart starts to beat faster, the heart is a muscle and it does require additional calories to beat faster. In cold weather, what happens and we talked about this in detail in podcast, I believe it was number 129 where we talked with Tim Farris and Ray Cronise about cold exposure and calorie burning, the idea is that in cold weather, not only do you have to warm the air you breathe and you have to shiver to stay a little bit warm, but your body can actually adjust your metabolism to produce more heat, to basically fight off the drop in body temperature, and there actually was 1 study that showed that scantily-clad research subjects, who exercise in cold weather, burned about 13% more calories than when they performed that same exercise at room temperature, and Ray Cronise, in an interview that we did, went in to a bunch of other research that he’s done on himself, when it comes to weight and body fat. Now, there haven’t really been any big studies that have looked into how much cold exposure could actually affect calorie burning or really, how much warm exposure could increase calorie burning; most of the studies that have looked into this have been pretty small, but ultimately, what it comes down to is that your body does have to burn calories for thermogenesis or to maintain your normal body temperature, and whether you are exposing yourself to cold temperatures or hot temperatures, either 1 is going to cause you to burn more calories. Now I suspect, that when research is actually done on this, it’s going to find that the metabolic process of keeping the body warm, probably burns more calories than the metabolic process of keeping the body cool because keeping the body cool mostly requires the heart to just pump a little harder, and because the heart is a very efficient muscle, it doesn’t have to burn a ton of extra calories to do that, but keeping the body warm not only requires some adjustments to your metabolic rate, but also shivering and muscular contractions to actually keep you warm, and skeletal muscle contractions can burn more calories than cardiac muscle contraction so, even though I don’t have any solid numbers to throw at you, I would have to guess that what you’re going to be seeing is that cold temperature exposure can burn more calories and that can be accomplished through something as simple as taking a few cold showers during the day, making sure that you go workout in the cold every now and again, doing something like incorporating swimming into your exercise routine, etc. I personally, every week, get kind of a mix of hot exposure when I’m, for example, riding my bike indoors with cold exposure; for example, when I’m taking cold shower or swimming. So, try and give yourself the best of both worlds; I’ve suspect that just from, say, an evolutionary fitness perspective, and I’ll talk about this more with Art Devane in our interview as well, that our ancestors had strengthen immune systems because of large fluctuations in temperature, and the needs to actually regulate their body temperature based on being exposed to various elements. I think that if you sit at room temperature all day long and never get out and get a little uncomfortable, make yourself, heat your body up or cool your body down. You’re probably not taking full advantage of some of the immune strengthening and calorie-burning benefits of that temperature exposure.
Andy: Hi Ben! In inner circle podcast number 6, you mentioned the benefits of using a reverse osmosis water filter to remove fluoride from drinking water, but, isn’t it true that such a filter would also remove all other potentially-good and healthy minerals from the water?
Ben: Yes, that is a potential, negative thing about reverse osmosis filtration, is that if you’re using reverse osmosis, it can reduce the minerals that are actually in the water that you’re drinking. Now I personally, use a central carbon water filter in my home and whereas, a carbon water filter can block a lot of industrial chemicals from getting into your drinking water, including something like chlorine; it is not going to block minerals, but at the same time, it’s really not going to block fluoride either. The city that I live in actually doesn’t fluoridate its waters; Bokan doesn’t fluoridate its waters so, that’s really not something that I have to worry about. It would definitely be a bridge I’d have to cross, if I did live in a city that fluoridated its water, and that’s just something that you can’t do a whole lot about. A dual-stage filter system does use a combination of carbon filtration, what’s called ion exchange filtration, and that leaves in natural trace minerals so, it may actually allow a little less fluoride to come through; it’s called a dual-stage filter system; that’s something you’ll look into; I’m not like the water filter expert, but, I personally, because I live in an area that has non-fluoridated water, use a carbon filter, reverse osmosis is going to move the fluoride but you’ll also lose the minerals, so I guess your other option would be, use reverse osmosis but then, you also pick up like a liquid angstrom mineral that you can take orally, to make sure that you’re replacing the minerals that you’re not getting from the water that you’re drinking so, I suppose that would be another option as well. It’s a great question.
Kyle: What are your thoughts about Pi Science products? They’re products kind of, to influence the zeta potential of water to make it much more easily absorbed by the body.
Ben: So I looked into this Pi water and basically, what they do is they have this thing called silica hydride that they add to the water along with hydrogen, and they claim that what this does is it increases the zeta potential of the water and they described zeta potential as electric potential or the charge that exists in a hydrated particle and its surrounding solution, and, so they say that when you increase the zeta potential in water, that the water becomes more stabled because all these charged particles repel 1 another and overcome their natural tendency to aggregate, so there’s more space between the cells and the water that you’re taking in, and supposedly what they’re saying, based on the blood sample that they demonstrated on their website from a single test subject, is that if you’re drinking water with cells that are more evenly dispersed, the blood in your body, which is made up of water volume, actually has cells that are also evenly dispersed, and that allows more nutrients into the cells because you have more of the cell membrane surface exposed, and allows you to remove more toxins from the cell. So, that’s the idea behind it; there’s not, aside from that single case study that they’ve listened on your website, any research that I could find, aside from a research that used the same thing as silica hydride in water, to look at its potential to reduce liver damage in mice, and so, the mice retreated with water, very similar to this pi water with the silica hydride added to it, and it was found that it increased the activities of all of the different anti-oxidants inside the mice, so things like superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase and some of these things that we know, are really powerful free radical buffers or anti-oxidants, and they also found that it reduced the incense of the liver lesions in the mice, so I had this kind of, liver protective effect and increase in anti-oxidant activity. So there’s a little bit of evidence there, that it may provide some benefit; I’m not completely certain that there is a life-extending benefit to it or say, an effect in your immune system, but it’s interesting that there was a study that looked into this addition of silica hydride and did find that in mice, there was a step up in the level of anti-oxidant activity. So, it maybe something to try; I don’t know how much it costs; there’s always that cost-benefit analysis, but it’s an interesting concept. So, those are my thoughts on it; I don’t think it’s going to hurt you, I’m just not convinced that it’s necessarily worth the benefit until I saw some bigger studies in human subjects.
Alberto: I’m 5’5, around 145 pounds, I look slender; what bothers me is that, although I look slender, I have a beer gut. I would love any suggestions or advice.
Ben: Okay, this is what I call “skinny fat”. Now, a skinny fat person is typically a lean person with skinny arms and skinny legs, who has a gut and some type of abdominal protrusion that they can’t seem to get rid of; it typically happens, most often, 2 populations: number 1, vegetarians or vegans, and number 2, endurance athletes; I’m not saying that to make enemies among those populations, it’s just a fact, and the reason for that is because there are typically 2 things that are happening in those populations; I’m not painting with a broad brush or many, very healthy and fit and muscular and good-looking vegans and vegetarians and endurance athletes, but for those who do experience the skinny fat syndrome, is typically a combination of excessive carbohydrate intake combined with a lack of resistance training. So, you get this decrease in the muscularity of your appendages because they’re not being exposed to a strong enough stimulus to actually build muscle, because they’re spending all their time, just basically sitting in a bike saddle or doing chronic repetitive running on the side of the road, and there’s also a lack of high protein intake or good fat intake, combined with a lot of things that are going to cause abdominal inflammation and abdominal fat deposition, specifically, sugar and starch consumption. So, my recommendation, if you are skinny fat, if you have skinny arms, skinny legs and a big belly, do a couple of things; 1st of all, increase your healthy protein and healthy fat intake, and number 2, replace some of your endurance training with resistance training or weight training; you do those 2 things and you can usually begin to reverse or change the way that your body looks so, you could obviously be a lot bigger discussion than that, but that is basically what I would do if I were you.
Ron: What is your take on trigger point dry needling?
Ben: Trigger point dry needling is a little bit like acupuncture so, what a trigger point is, and it’s kind of a catch-all term sometimes but it’s either pain that can’t be explained upon, like a neurological examination, so you have this area that hurts, it’s painful, it’s sort of a touch, typically like something the size of a quarter that basically hurts when you touch it, but when you’re examined by a physician, they can’t figure out like a neurological explanation for it. Typically, when you palpate or you touch the area, the pain radiates around into the muscle that surrounds that area; sometimes, it feels like a band or an area, very tight or hard tissue; sometimes, you can get the muscle to twitch if you stimulate the trigger point, and it can’t be something that’s caused by, like a trauma, like a bruising or any type of inflammation or infection. So, all of those would be used to describe or classify something as a trigger point. Now, the idea behind trigger point dry needling is, that when muscles develop these trigger points, they’re very tight and that hampers the normal function of the tissue around them, so if you use something like an acupuncture needle, and you basically put the needle into the trigger point, it causes this twitch response in the muscle fibers that surround that trigger point, and that actually decreases or reduces the electrical activity of the chemicals that, actually, are activating that trigger point. So, rather than relying on explaining trigger point dry needling because of, say like, an increase in energy flow in the meridian surrounding the area, which is how it would be explained if you’re using acupuncture, trigger point dry needling is saying that it’s actually causing this electrical signal to be released that’s decreasing the activity of the chemicals that could be causing the trigger point to be activated. I realize that when you hear that explanation, it all sounds a little bit mysterious and perhaps non-scientific, and I’ll be the 1st to admit that some of these acupuncture-type of needling protocols really can’t be explained completely, from a scientific perspective, and some of it is energy-based, or based off of a reaction that we actually haven’t been able to identify yet, in medicine, but the idea is that you use the needle, it deactivates the trigger point and reduces the activity of the chemicals that could be causing inflammation in the muscle area. So, that is trigger point dry needling; I personally, do not have any athletes that I’ve coached, or people who i worked with, who have tried trigger point dry needling. However, I’ve many people that I’ve worked with who have seen many significant, positive benefits from acupuncture. So, I definitely think that trigger point dry needling is something that is worth trying if you have an injury, that other methods have not been able to address, specifically, a trigger-point that other treatments have not been able to address.
Darrell: What can you tell us about NADH? They wrote an article about it in Men’s Health recently, and the article is about sleep in men’s health.
Ben: Well, NADH is like, 1 of the very 1st things that you learn about in biology and physiology; NADH stands for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, and it’s basically this co-factor that helps enzymes in your body to do the work that they do; it’s used all over the place in your body, and specifically, 1 of the places that it participates in, in your body, is in the production of L-Dopa, which your body turns into dopamine, and so, the idea is that if you supplement with NADH, you may actually have some type of positive mental benefit and specifically, the study that was cited in Men’s Health was a study on 35 people who took an overnight flight across 4 different time zones, and they were given NADH under the tongue on the morning that they arrive, in the place that flying to. Now, the people who were given the NADH scored significantly better on wakefulness and mental function tests, compared to people who didn’t get the NADH. There was another study that actually wasn’t published and in this study, people were kept awake all night and 1 group was given NADH, 1 group was not; despite the sleep deprivation, the people who were given the NADH performed a lot better on a bunch of different measures of mental function, and they were taken about 5 milligrams of NADH. So, I guess if you pulled an all-nighter, if you’re like in school and you pull an all-nighter and you want to try a supplement to help you do better on a test, then maybe the NADH would be something to actually look into. From a safety issue perspective, it’s 1 of those things where there haven’t been a lot of formal safety studies that have been completed, so I can’t tell you either way. I do know it naturally occurs within your body and some stuff that naturally occurs in the body is a little bit safer to supplement with, than stuff that doesn’t, but ultimately, your safety is in your own hands, if you decide to say, take 5 milligrams of NADH in the morning after you’ve pulled an all-nighter before you go take a test, but, it could be worth a try.
Mark: In Men’s Health, it said taking flax supplement increased by 38% the markers of a free radical, the articles had to stay away from flax and use omega3 fatty acids instead. What is your take on this?
Ben: I did see that study; they supplemented with flax oil, and they find that it increased the level of free radical activity. Now, the likely reason for this, which we’ve talked about this on the show before is that many oils, if they are ranted or if they have been exposed to high temperatures, have increased free radical activity, and this is certainly an issue with commercially-processed flax seed oil; the way that flax seed oil is made is not really regulated and it can be exposed to very high pressures or temperatures when the oil is extracted from the seed or bottled or capsuled or eventually, wind up on the shelf wherever you’re buying it, and if you’re not looking into the source of your flax seed oil, you could definitely be consuming something that may actually be bad for you, or if you’re even getting a good flax seed oil but you’re allowing it to be exposed to hot temperatures, it could also be bad for you. The flax seed oil that I personally take, is made from a certified organic flax seed; a lot of the damage from heat and light in oxygen is eliminated because it uses a cold, expeller’s press method of extraction, and all of the fatty acids are independently testified, they’re certified pure, and the flax also contains an evening primrose oil as an added anti-oxidant source. So, the stuff that I take for a flax seed oil is called EnerEFA; now, I take both the flax seed oil as well as a fish oil; if you’re vegan or vegetarian, obviously flax seed oil would be a choice for you but, really look into the source of the flax seed oil that you’re taking. I will put a link to EnerEFA after your question in the show notes Mark, and I definitely think it’s something that you should think about when you’re supplementing with an omega3 fatty acid source.
Natz: Hi Ben, it’s Natz from Chicago. I love all both your podcasts and they’ve made a huge impact on my life so, I wanted to ask you some questions about an unheralded problem I’m having. I started an interval in May, and when I hit a 7-1 in September, I had to go get some new shoes for overpronation, and some shin splints from those having but, since along November, I’ve had some new issues with a burning sensation in the fun part of my ankles and the top of my foot arch, starts occurring about 10-12 minutes into my run and since about January, it started occurring about 5 minutes in and few weeks ago, it got so bad that I had to kind of, sit down to 3-4 minutes to relax, because the pain is just so much, too intense, before going home. My friend says that it’s anything you do from the fact that I need some lower body weight training to strengthen muscles to not running some compression tights that I wear because of some possible circulation issues. I’m not sure, but the evidence to the compression tights might be that, when I run in India, I was at December, there’s no issues because I wasn’t wearing those because it’s cold in Chicago, that’s why I wear them. I’m 6-feet tall, 140 pounds, so, could you suggest the course of action? I’d really appreciate it.
Ben: So, this pain on top of the foot, is something that I see very commonly among people who get new shoes, typically, because the shoe doesn’t fit right or it’s stressing the foot in a different place than the individual is used to. So, some of the things that can be related to pain at the top of the foot, excuse me, can be nerve entrapment; there’s this little nerves that run down from your ankle to your toes, and they’re located right underneath your skin, they’re sensory nerves, and a lot of times, simply the pressure from a shoe that might be tied too tight or even like a half-size too small, puts pressure on those nerves, they get jammed into the bones that are underneath them, and the nerves becomes entrapped and it becomes enflamed and the only way to really fix that is to combine rest with getting a bigger shoe or not tying your shoes quite as tightly. Stress fracture in the metatarsals on the bottom of the foot can result in pain on the top of the foot and usually, you’re going to see some swelling or some redness, if that’s the case. You can get bone spurs on the top of your foot and typically, you’re going to notice some type of abnormal protrusion on the top of your foot if that’s the case, and that would usually be from damage to a joint or pressure from the shoe, if it’s there for a long time, that can also cause a bone spur on the top of the foot. And then, simple tendonitis or overuse can also be an issue so, there’s a lot of different things that could be going on there; about 90% of the time, I see that an issue like this is fixed when somebody goes to a bigger shoe, ties their laces less tightly or gets the same size shoe, but looks into, maybe doing a different type of insert or arc so for example, if you did an insert, it may have simply been too thick of an insert, it increase the pressure to the top of the foot because it made your shoe tighter and you may simply want to loot at a lower profile insert so, that’s what I think about.
Chuck: Are the protocols for cardiovascular versus resistance training, the same for post-workout nutrition? Should you use the 3-1 or the 4-1 carb-protein protocol? I was under this impression, but in meeting with my nutritionist the other day, she said after weight lifting, your body really only needs protein as the carbohydrate expenditure is not as intense as a hard-cardio workout.
Ben: Chuck, you’re kind of going down the right path even though research shows that from a recovery perspective, whether it’s endurance training or resistance training, a 3-1 or 4-1 carbohydrate-protein ratio is ideal. From a weight loss or a fat loss perspective, you should consider that most of the time, weight training is going to burn fewer calories and use over all, less carbohydrate than a cardio training session. It is true that when you’re lifting a weight, as far as the percentage of carbohydrate you use, it’s greater, but the total number of calories that you burn, and that’s the total amount of carbohydrate that you burn, is less. So, you could potentially, very easily, over fuel on carbohydrate if you’re using a 3-1 or a 4-1 carbohydrate-protein ratio after a weight training session. My recommendation is that you take in about a 2-1 carbohydrate-protein ratio or even a 1-1 ratio; I typically see a lot better results in my clients who don’t do a ton of carbohydrates after a weight training session, and instead, just get a real meal down the hatch that has lots of healthy proteins or fats in it, or do something closer to a 2-1 or a 1-1 ratio, so basically, what it comes down to is yeah, from a weight loss or a fat loss perspective, you definitely don’t need as many carbs after a weight training session. If you’re doing this from a peer recovery perspective, then yes, you’re going to still benefit the most from using that 3-1 or 4-1 carbohydrate-protein ratio. So, that’s wraps up all the questions for this week; I will put a link to everything in the show notes, and we do have the interview now, with Paul Newsome from Swim Smooth, and I will put a link to all his information in the show notes to podcast number 133.
Ben: Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield and, if you were over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com this week, the week that this interview is coming out, then you may have noticed a pretty interesting article that went into a type of swim coaching that you may not have ever seen before, or be familiar with at all; it’s called swim typing, it’s brand new, and I’ve got the guy who invented it here on the call with me, his name is Paul Newsome, he is part of Swim Smooth and I’ll put a link to Swim Smooth in the show notes and a link to the swim typing things that we talk about today, but Paul has been swimming competitively in the open water for a long time; he’s coached some of the top athletes around the world in swimming; he coaches right now, down in Australia, for a ton of super fast athletes down there, he really knows what he’s talking about so, Paul, thanks for coming on the call.
Ben: Well, you cut out there for just a second. What’d you say?
Paul: Sorry, and not a problem at all Ben; it’s a pleasure to be here.
Ben: Alright, cool. So, this whole swim typing thing, when I 1st saw it, I was kind of scratching my head for a minute and then I started to look over all these different swim types you guys have created; we have these books out there like Eat Right for your metabolic type or what’s your blood type, so the swim typing thing comes along and how does that actually work? What have you guys done, in terms of creating a swim typing protocol?
Paul: Well I think, essentially Ben, over the years, some convention coaches have like, sort of a 1-size-fits-all model, so the classic being monitoring how lonesome somebody’s swim stroke is so, the idea being that, the longer you can make your stroke, the more efficiently your swimming, but we started to notice about one, now that doesn’t really work for every swimmer out there, you might be hitting maybe 60% of your swimmers but, maybe not everybody so, it started to look a little bit closer and I started to recognize that. Obviously, everybody, when they swim, they have their own individual style, but through our experience working with a range of different swimmers, we can start to see that this is like classic trends, basically arising, and we’ve been able to identify 6 different swimmers, based on things such as their body type and build, how long they’ve been swimming, even personality bleed them up a place in suits quite a bit, and a coach itself and yeah, working with other coaches around the world, that’s become quite an interesting system whereby, coaches are able to easily and quickly identify, maybe what swim type the swimmers that they’re dealing with, but not only how to or what you do with them, from a technical perspective, but also how to communicate them on a verbal perspective than based on such things as like, personality traits etc.
Ben: Right. Now, I thought it was kind of cool, the swim types that you guys have come up with. Can you go over those 6 different swim types just like the basic overview? Because you’ve named them, kind of, funky names that I thought, was interesting.
Paul: Absolutely, and we’ve given them fairly fun, sort of bear caricatures to go with each one so, if we start off at the top, the 1st one that which we see and this one is, it’s usually a very inexperienced swimmer, they come from, say another, quite frustrated with their swimming or often quite a fit athlete and especially if they didn’t transfer so, it’s very fit on the bike and run; they can’t just seem to transfer that fitness or that strength as they see it cautions their swimming, and these swimmers’ biggest hold back is that they tend to sink very low with their legs in the water and really look like they’re fighting in the water, and they’re often, typically nile but there are female versions and we call them the arnies, or the female version the arnette; they tend to be quite muscular, quite strong, all other obviously leaner versions out there as well, but this particular swim type is somebody who’s very committed to getting much better with their swimming, they just maybe, don’t know how to do it and the moment might be quite frustrating with their swimming. We then, have the bambino. Now the bambino, usually is a female swimmer; they tend to be a much more lower-powered version of the arnies, so they look similar in some respects, but just without that sort of “oomph” that the arnies tend to have; they typically swim a little bit slower than the arnies, but the big thing holding this particular swimmer back is sometimes, a fear or anxiety of actually being in the water, and that’s often due to a fact that their arm stroke or the coordination in the water, is not conducive to support well enough to take a proper breath of air in, so a lot of swimmers complain about not feeling comfortable with they way they’re breathing, but really, the bambino is the type that really suffers the most.
Ben: Now, do you see bambinos, just based on their name, do you see that more among the female swimmers or is that pretty general across both sexes?
Paul: I would say, maybe 70% female would be bambino; I’m sorry, 70% of the bambinos we see would be, maybe female and the 30% would be male. Sometimes, guys basically, they don’t want to think of themselves as being like a low-powered version of low-powered athletes sort of thing, but really, the whole basis or principle behind this insights is to, not really the stereotype people as such, it sorts of give them a clear view of how they want to improve in that stroke, based on how their swimming tune-up is not wasting time, so it’s quite possible and what we would be looking for is when we progress through the swim types system by following all the training program and that should become the best swimmer that they can be, based on their best starting point and body type and build and all that sort of things.
Paul: So, falling after the bambino, we then have the kicktastic. Now, the kicktastic is quite a common swim type; they tend to be in swimming for quite a long time, might be involved in cold training program as kids and juniors, and maybe now, getting into trial for all, often a lot of swimming for example, and this one has a very dominant leg kick and I think, that in my days as a swimmer, when I was going up as a kid, the coaches used to really stress a very strong, powerful leg kick and we used to spend thousands of meters in training, working on debarking his really powerful leg kick. Now, many of the kicktastics that we’ve seen these days tends to be swimming, somewhere in the range of about a minute 25 to 2:15 per hundred meters roughly, and I need big efforts sustained to swim but often times, the really leg kick is masking some inefficiency within that swim strokes and maybe it’s a lack of catch and field for the water, and maybe it’s poor body position in the water. Now, actually, rather than sort of, dragging their legs through the water like an arnie would do, they’re actually kicking very hard to try and keep their bone and legs up. Now, as you can probably appreciate, this become very fatiguing indeed, and ultimately for trial in particular, they’re outlasting once we’re doing is working overly hard with the legs and ruining things they use so the bike can run.
Paul: So, the kicktastic also tends to swim relatively flat in the water, likes a bit of body rotation and, generally speaking, they do enjoy their swimming and what can be quite frustrating for the kicktastic, and some signs I’m not sure why this is slowing them down, is they can swim a lot slower with a pool boy within their legs, or even with a wetsuit on. Now if you appreciate, some of these got good, natural buoyancy in the water and they’re kicking very strongly; if you give them a buoyancy, aids up to the pool boy or in particular, a wetsuit, which lifts them much higher than back into the stroke, where that might actually help the arnie and help the arnie swim a lot faster; the kicktastic, that often throws their coordination dance out completely, and they end up swimming a lot slower as a result so, if talking to you all swimmers out there, then if some of them are actually, dining in that 1 situation, the coach is saying “Ok guys, grab the pool boys” and they rapidly drove brisk to the edge, to the back of the lane using the pool boy, that can be quite a frustrating experience and often times, people are sort of determined, therefore, but they’re sort of lacking strength but it’s not necessarily a strength thing, it’s just typically, like technique thing, getting in the actual catching position correct underneath the water so, it’s quite a nice swim type to deal with, the kicktastic, because in the open water, with the wetsuits on, they often find that they don’t go faster like of the other swim types do, and because of that, they find it quite frustrating so, it’s always nice to help this type of swimmer. And, we then move on to the overglider. Now the overglider, there’s a strong correlation…
Ben: Can I interrupt you for just a second? It’s just for the listeners.
Paul: Yes, absolutely.
Ben: I’m an overglider. Okay, go ahead.
Paul: Hands up, okay no problem. Now the overglider is quite an interesting swim type, and this swimmer, the caricature that we’ve got there is sort of lean, athletic looking male with quite a pensive look on his face. The overglider tends to be an over-thinker and, like say, historically, swim coaches have looked at trying to improve people’s efficiency by encouraging people to take a few strokes down the lap as possible, but ultimately, what determines how fast somebody moves through the water is a combination of the length of the stroke and the rate of the stroke. Now, many overgliders try and make their stroke almost a little bit too long; I’m sure they might be going down the pool in quite a limited number of strokes, but how does this affect the rate of their stroke? Now, what we tend to see with this one or underneath the water when viewed on the analyses, is that as legs stretch forward, they don’t mean to do this, but as they stretch forward, their wrist and elbow tends to drop in the water and they effectively end up applying the brakes, causing pressure in front of the strokes and effectively slowing themselves down so, this is itself, as it slows the stroke rate down. So, as an overglider, people often comment “You look great in the water, nice and smooth”, but the frustrating thing is that you might still be quite slow, no matter the reach of peak is around, about 6 minutes or 6 minutes, 30 for a 400-m swim, and you want to get faster but somebody might say “Ok, we just need to turn your arms over faster” but that’s not necessarily a solution; if you’re still swimming with this braking effect on the front end of the stroke, and Ben, you might want to pull up on your show notes, we can send you over an example image of this and you will recognize it immediately, and it’s this sort of, deadening or braking effect at the front end of the stroke, slows that stroke right down, and if that’s still there, if that’s still present in the technique, it doesn’t matter if you try and turn your arms over faster, that’s just going to feel simply like you’re working very much harder, as if a little bit a kid driving down the freeway with your handbrake on in the car. So, in order for an overglider to get better, yes, the stroke right needs to come out, but it needs to come out by actually removing that bed swamps or the layer at the front end of the stroke. So, you know…
Ben: Gotcha! For that dead spot visualization, that would actually be awesome; if you could note to yourself to send that to me, and for people listening in, I’ll put that in the show notes, you can see it.
Paul: No problem at all. It looks a little bit like a stop sign that say, with a hand. Now, we just, very recently, released a brand new DVD called the “Catch Masterclass” and it’s focused specifically on the catchphrase of the freestyle stroke, and we talked in detail there about why the catch is quite, all the fuel in the water is quite an elusive term for swimmers, and 1 of the reasons it’s quite elusive is, if you appreciate, if you’re actually creating like a stop sign as you stretch forward underneath the water, you might feel like you’re gliding and you might feel like you’re keeping the water in the palm of your hand; it’s very easy to misinterpret, as actually being a good catch. When people get the catch right, a lot of people are expecting the catch to feel like a really strong sensation, but in reality, when you get the catch right and get the mechanics set up, so they’re actually already pressing water back behind you, then chances are, you might actually feel less water pressure, certainly on the palm of the hand than what you would be if you’d apply in the brakes. So, the overglider really, that’s what they need to be working on; they’ve already got very good body position usually in the water, they’ve got good alignment, they got a good sensation of what they need to be doing to be getting faster, they might have good rotation within the stroke etc., but the big thing that’s sort of, causing it to platter off is this lack of proportion within the stroke, and Ben, I just took a guide for a session a couple of weeks back and he came down, and he said, this 1st thing he told me was “I’ve been trying this technique now for 5 years and I can do 28 strokes per 50 meters”, and he followed that on by saying “and that’s better than Ian Thorpe”, you know, the famed Australian swimmer, “that’s better than Ian Thorpe” he said, but I still can’t swim faster than 25 minutes and I said, so I was thinking 25 minutes to 1500, but he actually meant 25 minutes for a kilometer. So, this guy was averaging 2 minutes 30 per hundred meters; I’m sure he was doing 28 strokes per lap, but he stroked great, it was 33 strokes per minute. Now, most of you are tri-athletes out there, Ben, listening to this podcast, we’ll probably have a stroke rate of somewhere between 50 and 60 strokes per minute. So, sure this guy had a long stroke, but it was a long and very slow stroke indeed, completely coming to a pause at the end of each stroke. We could literally time the dead spot with a stopwatch, as oppose to actually watching it on a video analysis later, and that delay at the front end of the stroke was just around, about .8 or .9 of a second so, it’s quite a lengthy pause. He thought he was doing this pause at the front end of the stroke so actually, in his own words, said he was actually taking almost like a pause, like he was taking it easy for a minute, and then he’d go again then it’d surge again, but it was resulting in very much like an acceleration-deceleration, acceleration-deceleration, and many overgliders, once they might look very smooth in the pool, tend to really struggle in rougher out the water in swimming events or even at the start of a triathlon, when you have this, a thousand of the people swimming on top of you. So, don’t get me wrong, this swimmer looks very smooth in water and certainly a lot more efficient that the arnie, but if that message of a really long stroke is taking a little bit too far, that can really cause problems.
Ben: Yeah! I learned to swim with kind of, the total immersion swim program which isn’t a bad program, but you definitely see a lot of overgliders coming out of that, and 1 of the best things I ever did, initially, was take up the advice that you gave me Paul, about using an underwater metronome to keep track of my stroke rate and then after that, I discovered that as long as I use an underwater mp3 player and chose my songs wisely, that that was another great way to keep my stroke rate up.
Paul: Absolutely, and it’s interesting; when I often, with these overgliders, a lot of overgliders tends to be in some sort of, analytical profession so, we see a lot of engineers, believe they are not, who likes to think analytically about things, and the way you sort of approach and deal with that sauna, it’s quite different to maybe, approach a bambino who’s maybe lacking a little bit of confidence in their own swimming performance. Now, in terms of the actual stroke rate, that’s what you’re saying there about the metronome or what we call “wetronome” and at the end of the session, what I typically do is I’ll take through the swimmer, like a rhythm section and, the thing with overgliders, they have this long stroke, they’re really lacking fluidity and rhythm to there stroke, so maybe at the start of the session, when we’re doing the video analysis, it makes you how many strokes they’re doing per minute, not necessarily how many strokes they’re doing per lap; they’re usually telling me how many they can do per lap, but how many strokes they’ve done per minute and many of them haven’t tried that before. So, at the end of the session, once we’ve worked on that technique and hope they helped remove some of that dead spot, we’ll then do a section where we’ve got, using a wetronome; I’ll actually set the wetronome at what their stroke rate was at the start of the session; they’ll use that, and 9 times out of 10, they actually find that stroke rate be ridiculously slow at that point, because obviously, we’ve been working on removing the dead spot, they’ve got more fluidity and rhythm, and they start to appreciate how those 2 factors stroke left and stroke right, really working together. So, of all the swim types, I love working with an overglider because like myself, in the job that I do, the profession that I’ve got here as a swim coach, I have to be very analytical so I like to communicate with athlete but equally, since I’m, if you have been trying a specific technique for a long time, and you’ve platted off and then, maybe we’re suggesting which sounds a little bit controversial or which sounds a little bit different to what you’ve been doing in the past, then often times, the barriers can come up. So, it’s like anything that suppose, people talk about the definition of madness being, trying to do something and trying to do the same thing and expect a different result so, if you are finding yourself in a little bit of a plato, then maybe have a look at Ben’s show notes in terms of the 1 good of bear for the overglider, might be quite interesting for you.
Ben: Yeah! Well, I’m analytical but you definitely wouldn’t want me building a bridge.
Ben: So, you talked about arnie and bambino and the kicktastic style, and then we just stalked about the overglider.
Ben: We’ve got 2 swim types left. What are the last 2 swim types?
Paul: Okay, so the 5th one is really my favorite I suppose. Recently, I’ve actually gotten, I’ve been racing a long, long time now, 14-15 years as a tri-athlete, so go cut a bit of experience without water, and just looking at the coach now, looking at the different styles of the world’s best open water swimmers. Typically, they all tend to swim into very high stroke rate and a much straighter arm recovery, it almost looks like they‘re swinging their arms over the top of the water, so this next swim type, we actually called “the swinger”, and what this swimmer might not look as pretty in the pool as maybe an overglider, or our final swim type which is the smooth, the swinger tends to be very dominant and very effective in the open water situation, especially when it gets very rough indeed. So, this slightly straight around recovery, why was it not a conventional, high-elbow recovery which coaches talk about for years and years. It does give the swimmer quite a bit of a, it gives an arm clearance over in the surface for rough conditions; it also means that they’re able to maintain a much higher stroke rate as well, which is quite good for again, maintaining momentum as they’re going along. Now, we use 1 of our classic swim types, also, classic swimmers who we used to epitomize, the swimmer is called Shelley Taylor Smith. Now, if I didn’t tell you anything about Shelley but just mentioned the fact that she takes around, about 52 or 53 strokes per 50 meters, if you’ve been, maybe following some of the advice of the overglider, whereby typically, people are talking about trying to get under 40 strokes per lap, and this was only new about Shelly was that she took 52 or 53 strokes per lap, you’d automatically think that she wasn’t very efficient. Now, Shelley Taylor Smith is actually 7 times World Marathon Swimming Champion, so she might have a slightly shorter stroke than somebody like Ian Thorpe and she’s obviously a lot shorter; I think Shelley’s around 5’7 or 5’8. She’s a lot shorter but the way she matches it, is with a substantially high stroke rate. Shelley is famed for swimming 70 kilometers from Sydney to Wollongong, and over on the east coast of Australia, 70 kilometers are, I think the American listeners there, run about 40 or 45 miles with an average stroke rate of 88 strokes per minute, which is phenomenally quick for such a long-distance time. So, conventionally, we’d look at a stroke like that where somebody’s swimming with very high reds and you’d say “that person can’t be efficient at all” and yet, some of the world’s best endurance swimmers that we see, do swim with a slightly shorter stroke but with a much higher turn over on stroke, and it’s very interesting. I think Shelly has actually won the round the Manhattan island swim over there in the US, 6 times in a row and was actually ranked world number 1 for men and for women, and hey day in the late 90’s so, you can sort of see how sooner light that was, it might look a little bit unconventional in the pool, in the open water they’re very dominant. Other examples, around the world, would be Janet Evans from the US; I’m thinking back to her stroke, and Janet would be very much a swinger style as we see it, interesting that Janet and Shelley are best mates so, I don’t know if swingers hang around together but there’s a useful bit of information for you, and it’s a very, very high stroke rate in Janet Evans. When everyone saw it, everyone said it looks horrible; she’s fighting the water, it’s terrible, calling it unorthodox, and yet, this amazing swimmer stood completely unbeatable for such a long period and then her own world record stood up until just very recently, when Rebekah Atkinson from the UK broke that 800 freestyle world record and albeit in a speed suit as well as, so, sometimes you have to look past what those swimmers look like, especially over the top of the water and look at what they look like underneath the water and just thinking some of the classic examples, David Davies from the UK finished 3rd at the Athens Olympics in the 1500 freestyle, and in Beijing, finished 2nd in the open water Tangkei Championships; he’s very much a swinger, so to with Laure Manaudou from France, the 400 freestyle Olympic gold medalist from Athens. Very strange style, too big leg kick, almost looking like she’s not doing anything with her legs, but Laure Manaudou’s swimming there at a stroke rate of 110 strokes per minute, which if you ever try swimming that quick, it’s phenomenally quick. What’s really interesting about these swingers Ben is the fact that, if you were to ask Shelley to try and swim under 40 strokes per 50 meters, she would actually slow down significantly and she would actually find it significantly harder to swim like that than she does at this higher stroke rate tempo, and it’s much more, with these really long strokes, don’t get me wrong, really strong strokes do seem very tiresome with 1 arm reach etc. but if you’re a shorter swimmer with shorter arms in particular, especially females swimmers, their not higher tempo stroke might be what you’re after to help take your few bit of a Plato so, I love working with swingers, I’ve recently changed my own technique Ben, to become a little bit of a swinger myself; I’ve got a 20k or a 13-mile open water race in 3 weeks time, over to the Rockiness style and here and in September, I’ll be taking on the English channel from England to France, so it’s a distance round about 26-27 miles in the cold, open water, swimming through this busy shipping lines so, it’s a very economical style of stroke, especially for distance freestyle swimming.
Ben: Ah, interesting. It’s especially interesting because I’m always my fastest in open water swimming, during a race like a triathlon when I’m counting to myself the entire race to keep my stroke count up.
Paul: Yes, that’s exactly right and, we started coming across a lot of swimmers, I mean, the whole swim type system might seem to be a little bit stereotypical but this, stereotyping sorry, but when you work through, we actually got a question now on the website where you can answer series of about 15 questions or so, about your swimming and it will give you reasonable indication, just based on those answers, as to what swim type you are, but some of you will answer that and you get a 100% arnie or you might that you get 30% kicktastic and 30% overglider and little bit of bambino in there, and you can sort of say “well, I’m sure this is not working” but what you’ll actually find is that the people, especially the people who quite untrain and sort of like, naturally getting into the water, they were typically very much fall within one of these swim types, and the idea being then, so actually sort of trying and prove them to getting to be the best that they can be, but it’s interesting there where you say it about yourself, you recognize yourself as a bit of an overglider and yet, you normally swim better in the open water. Now, normally, I’d be the only boy around, many overgliders are quite frustrated that they don’t swim well in the water because of this very slow stroke rate, so it could be Ben, like you say, you can keep your stroke rate up. It could be, there are people out there who sort of naturally change their strokes to the open water, adapt to those situations, and that’s quite a natural, sort of progression to do. It’s the swimmer who feels that they need to swim exactly the same way in the pool as they do in the open water, who runs into a little bit of trouble and also, frustration down the line there.
Ben: Gotcha! Alright, so the final one is smooth, what’s that? is that swimming perfect?
Paul: It’s smooth. Yeah, if indeed there is such thing as a perfect freestyle stroke, we’ve designed this smooth as our example to show the principle behind getting a nice, efficient freestyle stroke and he has good body position in the water, nice and horizontal; he has excellent rotation; he’s got a good catch of pull through; he’s got a 6-beat leg kick as oppose to the swinger, which typically has a 2-beat leg kick and, so the smooth really is a sort of swimmer, that you go down to the pool and you look at them and they’re the envy of the swimming squad or the envy of the pool, they’re the fast-lane swimmers. I suppose the biggest difference when you eyeball a swimmer compared to the overglider is that they’re simply swimming much, much faster than an overglider. So an overglider might sort of, peak at around about, let’s say 1 minute, 30 per 100 for a sustained effort swim, whereas the smooth, when you classify people such as Grant Hackett, Ian Thorpe and those sort of guys, even Michael Phelps has got a little bit of a lopsided stroke but obviously, you still recognize him as a very smooth and brilliant swimmer. These guys are, maybe up 1 minute, 10, 1 minute, 15 per 100 meters so, these are really the crème de la crème. Now, as you probably appreciate them, when people download the specific training guide from our website, based on all these swim types, we keep a bit of a check to see the demographics, let’s say, of the swimming world out there; I see which programs have been downloaded the most, and as you’d probably expect, the overglider literally constitutes maybe only 4% of the population, they’re actually reading our website so, these are really very good swimmers and what they need to do to improve their swimming is, a lot of these smooths, maybe, had a bit of time out competitive freestyle swimming and we all know that triathlons are booming around the world, this one might have had a bit of a layoff and wants to get back into the water, and maybe don’t know quite well, how to transfer their skills to the out-watering environments, such as citing, taking benefits of the draft etc. and just generally tiding up what’s weaking up their stroke as they go along. We ran a really interesting blog, quite a popular blog, a few months back, talking about how behind every smooth, there’s a gaggle of blood-sucking swingers and tagging onto the toast so, when these guys get into the open water, they’re still, essentially, still the fastest swimmers out there but they tend to go off very fast, and the swingers, who tend to be very versatile and adaptive to drafting into the environment, they can sit to the toes of these swingers, much to the efforts to the smooth, much to the annoyance of the smooth maybe when they get out, to think that Joe blogs from 2 lanes down and stayed with me through that swim and yes, I can beat him by 3minutes over 1500 meters in the pool so yeah, sure he’s a fantastic swimmer and male, female etc. can be smooth for sure.
Ben: Gotcha! So, let’s say that somebody, they go and read the show notes for this podcast and they read in there about how to identify themselves, what’s their swim type…
Ben: and they find that out. Obviously, at that point, they’ve got to do something so, what is the next step?
Paul: Well, the next step, obviously the hardest thing, I suppose, is identifying it and we recognize, we’ve got our swim smooth website out. As it stands in the moment, we’ve missed the smooth and all the free articles and information on there, for round about 18 minutes now and people around the world send us feedbacks and yes, great. All these information’s great but how do I identify myself? What do I need to do, especially if you’re not training with a coach, etc.? So the 1st step, just to track it back a little bit there Ben, the 1st step is this observation process and we have 3 ways in which you can observe these and you can analyze and work out which swim type you are. One is the four-leg questionnaire, which, like I said, gives a rough indication but you can probably appreciate that there’s only some that you can actually do with a questionnaire. The 2nd one is, on each page on the swim types website, we give 4 very specific swim style so, maybe if you got a buddy that you go down to the swimming pool with, who can follow you or you want to recommend it to your coach, we show you 4 very specific video clips which you look at and say “hey, that looks like me” where your buddy can say “yes, that definitely looks like you” and you can work on it. The buddy of the swim coach can actually download for free, our swim type observations sheets, and that just gives you sort of, almost like a very basic check list of what you want to be looking for, just with a couple of very simple pictures to highlight those things. So once you passed that stage, let’s say for example, you identify that you’re a kicktastic, what you can then do is you have the option on the website, to downloading 1 of our swim type training guides, and the swim type training guide is a PDF document which basically takes through the step by step process of what to work on within your freestyle stroke, and in which order, more importantly. We all know that there’s loads of information out there on the internet about what you should be doing with your freestyle stroke, but sometimes, that can become a little bit too all-consuming and you might need to, sort of, just get down to the nitty gritty and what 2 or 3 things are going to really have the biggest impact in the smallest amount of time to help me swim faster and more efficiently, rather than trying to scatter blasting and work on 10 or 12 different things at the same time, because that’s only going to lead to frustration and poor results. So, by downloading the training guide, you can work through it step by step, and what it means to be a kicktastic 1st and foremost, so we deal with a little bit deep inside the personalities behind those times, which I find quite fascinating as a coach, and then working on the specific drills and techniques that you can do to improve it, so we take you through a range of different drills and as you can probably appreciate, and years gone by, you can still or I can still run a squad session or coaches can still run squad sessions and have generic drills in there, which will help ease one of their swim types so there is some cross-referencing between the type guides but if you work through it in a step by step format, following those drills and then there’s 4 very specific training sessions that you can work through as a kicktastic to help improve your efficiency in the water, and help you essentially as a kicktastic, you catch the water better, then that’s going to be really quite useful for you, and we got a lot of really good feedbacks from people saying that the guides are helping them and improve their efficiency, especially when they’re training by themselves and maybe don’t have the access to a coach to look over their swimming and we find a lot of people, particularly in the US and the UK, are in those situations. Over here in Australia, we’re blessed to have, we’ve got a population here in berth of a million people and we have 25 or 26 50-meter pools, all within a 10k radius so, that sort of facility, you can appreciate. There’s a lot of coaches out here helping a lot of swimmers etc., whereas, over in the UK and the US, you might not have that same sort of access to coaching structure and might need a little hearing that, pushing it long forward; you might find a full video analysis in stroke rate session, you might be simply out of your budget at the moment, to work with what we want, 1 diet with a coach so, this might be a nice little stepping stone for you.
Ben: Gotcha! And you’ve also got, just for people who aren’t really text learners, you’ve got a bunch of videos that kind of, demonstrate and show examples of each one of the swim types which is really useful as well, I thought.
Paul: Absolutely! Yeah, because it’s useful to see those and see what you’re looking for and I think most people are a sort of pretty observant people and like yourself, not everyone is, say, a text learner; I personally don’t like reading from text, I’d prefer being the visual learner sort of thing, and I suppose that’s what’s really, over the years, that’s what sort of prompted my creation of this swim type system, is that you look around the pool, and you’d definitely see trends out there and you might be even seeing this for yourself when you’re being down to the pool there, you might say “you know, that guy over there, he’s fighting the water, he’s legs seem to be sinking whereas that guy over there or that girl over there might be kicking really hard; what is it that’s making them do that etc. and I think, when you look at those video clips, even if you just try to do it for a friend or a buddy, you’ll be able to recognize those swim types quite easy, quite quickly, and be able to bend obviously, passed on to yourself or passed on to your training partner and say, “hey, you know, this is what you want to be working on to improve that”.
Ben: Right! Okay, well cool. What I’m going to do is not only tell people you go read the post at BenGreenfieldFitness.com that comes out on Monday, February 7th. If you’re listening to this after this interview comes out, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search there for swim smooth or you can also just check out all of the resources that Paul just talked about in the show notes to this episode that you’re listening to right now, which you can also get over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. again, one of the coolest ways to learn how to swim or learn how to get better at swimming that I have truly, ever seen and maybe just me, I like the whole figure out what’s going on with your body type and then get a customized solution versus, kind of using a shotgun method, but ultimately, I think this is really going to catch on Paul and congratulations for creating a very cool way to learn how to swim.
Paul: Thanks Ben. It’s been quite a number of years in the process; we’ve been working on it for about, the last 3 or 4 years really and you’re always nervous putting out something like this, which is I suppose, going against the greater wall. Well, a lot of people believe everyone should be doing the same sort of thing but we’re getting some fantastic feedback and without that sort of feedback from, as soon as we’re trying this system, it makes it very hard for a coach to devour and come up with new ideas and put if forward, so we really thank everyone out there for supporting what we’re doing and giving it a try and get in the results that they truly deserve for their swimming.
Ben: Cool! Alright, well folks, that’s Paul from Swim Smooth and Paul, thanks for coming on the call today.
Paul: Not a problem Ben, thanks for being here.
Ben: Well, that’s it folks. If you want access to the Swim Smooth swim typing protocol, visit BenGreenfieldFitness.com and check out the link that I’ve got right there in the show notes, and if you want to check out anything else I’ve talked about today, from the make-your-own-supplements website to the new Ben Greenfield Fitness Facebook page shopping section, to the advertising information from Ben Greenfield Fitness, the kids’ call multivitamin, the NREFA, you can get all that on the show notes. This is episode number 133, and if you have any comments or questions, you can also leave them over there as well. Until next time, this is Ben Greenfield, wishing you a healthy week.