Introduction: In this podcast, staying safe during interval training, whole body vibration, electrical impedance testing, how to do ice baths, acne remedies, seasonal affective disorder, ARP wave therapy, adaptogens, training for cyclocross, congenital inflexibility, bloating after swimming, and foamy sweat.
Ben: Hey, folks, it’s Ben Greenfield here. And as you may have guessed from that introduction, we are going to be covering a huge range of topics during today’s podcast. And the reason for that is because every once in a while there gets to be such a big backlog of questions in the Q and A box that I really need to just go through and address many of them. So, that’s what we are going to be doing today. And then we’ll resume our featured topics next week in an interview with Doctor Phil Maffetone. Now what we’re going to do is instead of having an entire section of the podcast devoted to special announcements, let me just mention a couple of things really quickly. The first is that this Friday, I’m teaching a free seminar. It’s Friday, September 2nd. It’s at six p.m. It’s online. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes for this episode which is Episode #161 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And the title of this free seminar that I’m teaching is called Secrets to Self-Planning your Weekly Workouts. So if you get kind of confused or frustrated with figuring out when are the best times to cross train and lift weights and swim or bike or run or take your gym classes, I’m going to kind of teach you and help you know which days to go hard, which days to go easy, which days to recover, which days to put which workouts. And there will be ample opportunity for Q and A in that particular seminar because I really want to address a lot of your questions. So it’s free. It’s live. It’s interactive. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. And again it’s Friday, September 2nd at six p.m. And then the only other announcement that I want to mention real quick is that next week, I will be heading down to Las Vegas. I’m coming down to what sounds like a very warm triathlon down there for the Half Ironman World Championships. So if you’re going to be in Vegas for that triathlon or if you want to hook up and meet me, I will be down there and you can simply leave me a note on Twitter. Or email be at [email protected]. The race is next Saturday. And if you want to come out and cheer, then that would be awesome. Just be ready for a hot day. I believe it was 112 last week down there. So as you can imagine, I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting in a sauna to get ready for that race up here in relatively cool Spokane, Washington. So let’s go ahead and jump into this week’s Q and A.
Listener Q and A:
Ben: Now remember if you have a question, click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page and leave your message via audio. Or you can also use the Ask Ben form that’s there on any of the show notes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. You can finally leave a question via either the free iPhone app or the free Android app. And both of those apps are available for free download in the iTunes or the Android apps store or also over on the side bar at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Please remember when you ask your questions to try and do a search over at the website before you ask your questions. I transcribe every podcast. And there is a huge database of information over there. It’s likely that I may have addressed some parts of your question before. As a matter of fact about 90% of the questions that I get, I’ve answered before. So be sure you do a little bit of a search over there before you ask your question. That being said, we’re going to jump into some questions that have not been asked or addressed before. And the first is from Dave.
Dave asks: High intensity interval training is how I would prefer to spend my time working out. My only issue with it seems to be the increased risk of injury especially with running. How would you suggest keeping the risk of injury low while still going hard?
Ben: Well, this is a good question. And recently over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, I had a big infographic that showed a lot of the benefits of high intensity interval training. Particularly the fact that you can accomplish a lot more in a short period of time and get a lot more fitness bang for your buck out of high intensity interval training. The issue though is that it is intense. And because it’s intense, your joints can be exposed to a lot more impact and it’s a lot easier to hurt yourself. So I want to give you five of my recommendations for making high intensity interval training a little bit safer. So my first recommendation is to try and substitute some of your high intensity interval training sessions, even if they’re supposed to be for the run, with non-weight bearing training. Now that would mean you use something like an elliptical trainer or a pool in which you can aqua jog instead of say putting on your running shoes and heading out and pounding the pavement. Now if your training program calls for you to go out and do something like a 60-minute aerobic run, you’re probably going to want to go out and do that while running. But interestingly, you can derive a lot of the same physiological benefit out of an interval training session by substituting non-weight bearing. Because really, what we’re going after is a lot of the cardiovascular stimulus, and not quite so much of the learning how to put time on your feet when it comes to high intensity interval training. So what that means is that if you’re supposed to go to a track and run ten 400-meter repeats, if a coach or a training program hates you enough to have you do that, then you could instead go and do something like 10 by 90-second efforts on an elliptical trainer at a maximum sustainable effort or in the pool while aqua jogging at a maximum sustainable effort and still get most of the same cardiovascular stimulus. Incidentally, I did just write an article a couple of days ago on a lot of research that’s been done on elliptical trainers particularly. And they’re effectiveness for not only high intensity interval training but also for aerobic training and muscular strength in general. So do non-weight bearing as much as you can. Next, no consecutive days of high intensity interval training for the same mode. What I mean by that is if you’ve got a real intense interval training sessions say on a bicycle for a bike workout, don’t go out the next day and do the same high intensity interval training session on a bike. So it would be fine if you did, I mean you could get away with like four or five high intensity interval training sessions per week. But you wouldn’t want all of those to be on a bike or all of them to be running. Try and alternate so that you’re doing a different mode of exercise for each of your high intensity interval training sessions. One might be a swim, one might be a bike and a couple might be a run. So next, I would say to keep your intervals short. Remember that high intensity interval training session is supposed to be just that, high intensity. So you really don’t need to be doing intervals that are much longer than about two minutes in duration. If you can go longer than two minutes for a true high intensity interval training session, then you really aren’t going hard enough. Now most of the studies that have been done on interval training using high intensity interval training have been done with an interval time of anywhere from ten-seconds up to sixty-seconds. So if a high intensity interval training session for you is going out and doing really hard five-minute efforts, you’re probably going too long and that can certainly increase your risk for injury. Next would be inject long recoveries. The goal with high intensity interval training session is to try and recover for as long as you possibly can so that each of the interval sessions that you do can be extremely intense. So you don’t have to do something like running really hard for thirty seconds and then recover for ten seconds or twenty seconds or thirty seconds. You can run really hard for thirty seconds and recover for a full two minutes if that’s what it takes for you to get to the point where you can do the next interval with good form. And then finally, I would say that you can intelligently use something like bracing. If your ankles tend to be your weak spot then wear an ankle brace. Not all the time but for your high intensity interval sessions, absolutely. Same with the knees. If your knees tend to be a weak spot, wear some knee sleeves when you go out and do your high intensity interval training for the run. So while you don’t have to dress up like roboman for all your workouts, I would certainly say that the intelligent use of bracing can lower your risk of injury. So go non-weight bearing, watch consecutive days, keep your intervals short, use long recovery times, and use bracing when you do need to. And all of those methods will help you reduce your risk of injury and still likely to do high intensity interval training. Okay, the next question comes from Scott.
Scott says: Have you heard of whole body vibration? Thoughts and is it safe?
Ben: Well, for those of you who are not familiar with whole body vibration training, basically it involves the use of a vibration platform. And either doing an exercise on that platform or using that platform to put some vibration in the body then getting off the platform and going and doing your exercise afterwards. You can see a picture of it over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, on the show notes of this episode where I actually kind of threw a picture up there to show you what it looks like. There’s been a lot of studies on whole body vibration. It’s abbreviated as WBV. So that’s what I’ll do as I talk about it. And really most of these studies on WBV have yielded pretty inconsistent results with the very wide variation on the type of protocols and study designs that they’ve used for WBV. The most recent study was in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and that was on August 2011. And on this study, they investigated the effects of an eight week program of whole body vibration training to see whether or not it actually improved strength. And what this study found was that the addition of WBV to resistance training during an eight week protocol in recreationally active young adults didn’t really result in any significant increase in muscular performance compared to the same exercise program without the use of the vibration training. Now there were actually a few meta analysis that were done on vibration training as well. And a meta analysis is the study of the whole bunch of different studies. And all of those concluded that whole body vibration training is a generally effective mode of exercise. But in most of the studies that these meta analyses looked at, there was no control group doing the same type of exercise but in a non-vibration mode. So I don’t even understand how they can say that whole body vibration training is more effective. All you can really say about it is that it’s effective. And it’s probably not going to hurt you. But it may not offer you any advantage over just doing your exercises without standing on a vibration platform. Now you heard me say probably not going to hurt you because there have been two cases I was able to find that involved the intraocular lens dislocation which is kind of a pretty serious eye injury that occurred after whole body vibration training in older female individuals. There are also some people that report they’re getting vertigo and dizziness when using a WBV training protocol. So be careful and be ready for some of those potential risks. Probably the last and most interesting thing is that there is a little bit of evidence that there could be a link between vibration training and a decrease in body fat. And while most studies are really looking at vibration training and its effects on muscular performance, if you look closely at some of these papers and you compare a control group using the vibration training with the group that didn’t use the vibration training, the group that used the vibration training can actually decrease body fat percentage significantly more. And like in this last study in August if you look at the results, even though they found that vibration training didn’t help performance at all, if you check out the results, you’ll see that the group that didn’t do the vibration training lost 1.3% body fat over eight weeks, and the group that did do the vibration training lost 2.1% body fat. Now because it really wasn’t the purpose of the study to look at body fat, they didn’t do much reporting on these results. But it’s interesting to see that there could be evidence for vibration training helping out with body composition or decreasing body fat percentage. And probably the reason for that is that it can slightly affect your energy expenditure or your metabolism while you’re working out. You’re working just a little bit harder to stabilize your body as it’s being vibrated. Now again the question is going out and buying a body vibration device which is incredibly expensive or finding a gym or physical therapy institute to workout at that has a vibration device is that anymore effective at body fat loss than just throwing in like intense five minute run at the end of your workout. I’m going to have to guess that it’s probably not any more effective. But ultimately, I would say jury’s still out on whole body vibration. It’s probably not going to hurt you. But it might be a waste of your time and money if you’re going out of your way to use body vibration training. So good question. Alright, Chuck has an interesting question.
Chuck says: Last week, I had an impedance test done. They connect electric pads to your ankle and your wrist. And an electric current is sent between them. Based on the time that it takes, it measures your body fat, your hydration, your cell health, and the water in your cells. The problem is for someone in great shape and who’s very healthy, why are some of my ranges so low? Here are my results:
Ben: And next Chuck goes through and gives his results. Now I’m going to really try not to get too science-y in my response to Chuck. But basically, he gives body fat as 2.9% that this impedance test found on him. Resistance, which I’ll explain in a second at 404, reactance at 37.8, impedance at 406.7 and phase angle at 5.3 degrees. And if you’re scratching your head and you have no clue what any of these mean, I’ll kind of explain about what exactly this whole deal of bio impedance or impedance test actually is. So if you think about your bathroom scale, you’re talking about something that gives you a little bit more insight in your actual lean mass or your fat mass when you get an electrical impedance test. Now the common bio electrical impedance testers that you’re going to see at your gym or like a personal trainer might use at you or on you or the home unit so you can just get it off Amazon. What it does is it uses this completely imperceptible electrical current that you can’t feel that’s passed through this device. And based off the length of time that it takes the electrical field to move through your body, it gives you an approximate calculation of your body fat percentage. Now the more advanced devices will not only give you your body fat percentage but will also give you your cellular health. Your body’s energy storage based off of whether or not your cell membranes are working properly. And the amount of body water that’s found in your cells which is actually a good indicator of whether or not your cell is healthy. And the reason for that is that fat cells contain very little water in comparison to healthy cells. And a higher resistance can indicate more fat mass. And healthy lean tissue is going to be indicated by a lower resistance number when you get the results of your bio electrical impedance back. Reactance which is a number that Chuck mentioned is the ability of your cells to actually store energy. It’s kind of related to your body’s energy capacity. And a low reactance indicates that cell membranes might be broken down. Or that they might not be able to function quite as well in their metabolic activity. So a higher reactance would mean a little bit healthier cell. All of your living cells in your body have to have water to function properly. So whether it’s a muscle cell or an organ cell or a blood cell or an immune cell, the bio electrical impedance will measure the body’s cell mass which gives you an idea of how much actual water is in your cell which can indicate cell health. So first of all, Chuck’s body fat percentage was 2.9%. In my opinion that’s way too low for most healthy individuals. I personally got about that low when I was a body builder. I really had really horrible hormonal status. I had low sex drive, low drive, low recovery, generally low health. I really think that a body fat percentage of 2.9% is generally fairly low. When you look at the results of Chuck’s low resistance and low reactance, basically that indicates that there are very few fat cells. And the cells in his body actually have a lower level of healthy cell membranes. Now the thing that your body uses to create a healthy cell membrane that leaks what’s called the lipid part of your cell membrane is fat. So your body fat is low. Your dietary fat may be low. Your cell membranes aren’t healthy. And you essentially don’t have as healthy level of cellular metabolic activity because of low body fat and low fat in the cells. So the other measurement that you mentioned here was phase angle. And phase angle is a little bit more advanced. But basically what it is, is it measures the relationship between this resistance and the reactance. So a low phase angle would indicate that the cells are a little bit unable to store energy. And it specifically indicates a break down on what’s called the permeability of the cell membranes. So once again we’re talking about probably a very a weak or inadequate lipid or fat layer in the cell membrane. Remember that one of the reasons that you’ll need healthy fat in your diet is so that your cell membranes are able to form properly. A big part of them is what’s called a lipid layer. And if that’s not there adequately, you’re again going to have this low phase angle indicating a lower level of cell health. So ultimately, the fix for all of these issues that you’re bringing up are that your body fat is low and your cellular membranes are inadequate because of that. If I were to recommend a diet to you, I would tell you to start eating more calories to gain weight, to gain fat, and eat more fat. And that sounds really simple and stupid but that’s all I can really say to you about the results of this test is it’s pretty straight forward. You need to put on some weight and start eating more fat. So Craig has a question next.
Craig says: I found ice baths after a run work for me. However, when it is really hot outside I have trouble getting them cold enough. What I do now is run the water and then put eight trays of ice plus all the ice my ice maker has made since my last run in the tub. And it still doesn’t get my tub cold enough. I know I could buy a bag of ice from the grocery store but this is not very convenient. On the other hand, do you know of something I could buy that could be something I could just keep on hand?
Ben: Well, I’m a huge fan of ice baths or cold treatments for decreasing soreness and improving recovery after a workout. I personally don’t really take ice baths that much anymore. And the reason for that is because I have these compression tights. And I shot a video of them a few months ago to show you guys what they looked like. But there are these tights and they’re compressive. So they help to pump all these metabolic by-products that you make while you’re exercising out of the muscles. But they also have these pockets in them in which you can place these ice sleeves. So essentially, it’s like you can take an ice bath or the equivalent of an ice bath after you workout while you’re still walking around and getting things done. And as a matter of fact, I had this morning a two and a half hour tennis match. I’m recording this podcast while wearing these shorts. And they’re actually full of ice right now. So you could technically say that I’m taking an ice bath while I’m recording. I’ll put a link to these particular compression tights in the show notes. But that’s what I would do. You know, they’re like 70/80 bucks. And they come with all the ice that you need. You keep it in your freezer. And they’re just like these refreezable ice packs. So I would do that if I were you. If you don’t want to get those then just I mean it really doesn’t take that much effort every time that you’re out and about to grab a couple extra bags of ice and keep them in your freezer. And just dump them into your ice bath. But that’s really the only thing that you can do to get enough ice into the bath is to just keep extra ice on hand. So it just takes a little bit of a lifestyle change to remember to buy ice. Tie a blue string around your finger, maybe it’ll help. Alright, we have a question from Matthew.
Matthew says: Is there any natural glycolic acid or peels you recommend for acne prone skin? I took your recommendation to eat sardines. And I feel that this is helping my skin. But I could still use a good method to help remove dead skin from my sensitive face.
Ben: Well, chemical peels are something that you see as a body treatment technique that’s used to improve or smooth the texture of the skin particularly on your face. And what they are is they’re a chemical solution that causes the dead skin to kind of slough off and eventually peel off. And the regenerated skin that’s underneath is usually smoother and is less wrinkled. And you can usually get most chemical peels without prescription. There’s a few that are actually prescription. Most of it is just over the counter. They’re typically made up of AHA, or what’s called Alpha Hydroxy Acid. And then they have some other chemicals thrown in there to assist with the skin sloughing off process. And of course as you can imagine, some of the things that they put into these are not incredibly natural and could be potential carcinogens. So, chemical peels can be a little bit risky. But fortunately there are many ways to make natural peels. The Alpha Hydroxy Acid skin care products that they use, those are basically fruit derived acids that are in those. And fruit derived acids are very easy to get out of many types of fruits. And different types of acids are going to have different types of effects on your skin. So for example like apples or apple sauce or apple cider has malic acid in it. Yogurt or sour cream or tomatoes as well have lactic acid in them. Grapes have something called tartaric acid. Citrus fruits like lemons and limes and grape fruit and orange have citric acid. And then glycolic acid actually comes from sugar cane. So what you can do is you can literally juice any of these types of fruits. And you can just squeeze that out, put it on your face, rub it in and pat in on there. And then leave it on for about ten minutes or so and then rinse. You can also make your own at home natural skin peel. And whether or not you have acne, these are actually really good for your face. My wife makes stuff like this. So what you actually do to make your own natural skin peel is you want to get some gelatin. You can get gelatin in the cooking section of the grocery store. You get like one of these totally unflavored gelatin packets. Then you get some lemon. Then you get an orange. And then you juice them. So just squeeze them in with this gelatin pack into a sauce pan over your stove and heat it all together until the gelatin is totally dissolved. And you let that cool until almost sets or kind of starts to become firm. You stir in an egg yolk. Just one egg yolk and that’s it. You’re done. Then you apply that layer to your face, your neck, or anywhere else you want to basically soften or decrease acne. You leave it on there for twenty or twenty-five minutes or until it’s dry. It’s going to feel a little bit cake-y. And you rinse that off with warm water. And you pat it dry with a cloth. So what happens is that gelatin kind of softens the skin. And as that dries, it actually helps to firm your skin and tone it a little bit. The lemon juice, the orange juice, or whatever fruit you used, that exfoliates your skin. And it stimulates a lot of the formation of the new skin cells. The egg yolk also moisturizes the skin. It hydrates it a little bit. And so it leaves you feeling with nice, clean, moist skin. And it’s totally natural. So that is what I would recommend. And my wife and I teach stuff like that all the time inside the Ben Greenfield Fitness Inner Circle. So if you’re not part of the Inner Circle, you can learn all sorts of cool and natural tricks like that in there. Alright, the next question here comes from listener Peter.
Peter says: I’m looking for your thoughts on seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, weight gain around the holidays, etc…
Ben: And I initially thought this was kind of a strange question to be asking. But I’m realizing now it’s kind of getting towards early fall which means it will be winter soon. And we’re looking at kind of more gray days and long dreary nights. And one thing that happens is depression and seasonal affective disorder during these times. You know when you basically get into like the winter. Your body is going to secrete more melatonin. And specifically it secretes more melatonin in the dark. And what melatonin does is it can cause the body temperature to decrease and cause you to become drowsy. And what scientists speculate is that people with seasonal affective disorder often benefit from exposure to light because the light shuts off that melatonin production. Essentially the thought is that some people can kind of get the feeling of mild depression when they get this high amount of melatonin circulating into their blood stream. Plus you’re also sitting around. You’re not exercising as much. You get a little bit of cabin fever. And that increases a lot of the depression, the anxiety, the tension, etc. So one of the biggest things that you can do is of course get yourself exposed to natural sunlight on a regular basis as much as possible. And if you can’t arrange for that to happen, the next best thing is to get a hold of some type of high intensity full spectrum lighting. And you can get that from what’s called the Light Box if you do a search for like seasonal affective disorder devices. What they are is they’re very bright lights that radiate at the same frequency as natural sun. And you would simply use this at various times throughout the day when you can’t get the sun. And that will assist quite a bit with decreasing a lot of that melatonin production and helping out with that seasonal affective disorder. That would be number one. Number two is to try and eat foods that are higher in tryptophan or to take in amino acid supplement that contains tryptophan in it. Foods high in tryptophan would be like turkey is one that we know about. Milk and eggs are a couple of others that would be a good source of tryptophan. And again, you can get tryptophan in supplemental form as well. And then the last thing that can really help would be aerobic exercise. As much as possible, try and do it outdoors when you’re able to be exposed to natural light. But aerobic exercise is going to help with a lot of kind of the happy chemicals in your brain that other things like alcohol and caffeine and pharmaceutical drugs may be able to temporarily give you but with a lot of side effects. You should actually avoid most of those things if you really want to nip your seasonal affective disorder in the bud and get a true and lasting fix for it. So, I’d get some light boxes, get some exercise, and then get your hands on some tryptophan and all of those will help out quite a bit. Alright, next question is from Laura.
Laura says: Have you heard of the ARP wave clinic? I have arthritis in my knee and was considering this therapy after exhausting many modalities up to this point. What are your thoughts?
Ben: Well, ARP wave therapy, you’re going to see a lot of like chiropractic physicians offering this as a way of healing tissue and healing bone, and increasing a lot of the blood flow to an area. And what it is is it’s a direct electrical current. And it specifically causes a contraction in your muscles, several hundred contractions per second, that are a muscle lengthening contraction or what would be called an e-centric contraction. And so it’s able to theoretically stimulate the muscle and improve blood flow without actually causing a lot of muscle fatigue or muscle damage. So it’s kind of a spend-y device. And it’s got a lot of kind of marketing hype behind it. But the idea is that this type of activity of increasing blood flow by stimulating a muscular contraction to improve mobility and eliminate some pain is something that many electrical devices, everything from a tens unit to an electro stim unit to like the PEMF that we talked about a few weeks ago on the show, all of these can simulate blood flow and decrease pain and increase mobility a little bit. But most of them would be indicated for muscular issues. When you’re looking at an arthritic issue then that is a bony problem. It’s not really a muscular problem. And while stimulating the muscles and improving blood flow and perhaps even overwriting some of the pain receptors in the area may help to temporarily decrease pain symptoms for something like arthritis. There’s really not anything that it would do to make a symptom go away permanently. So we’re talking about something like a pain control here. And you’re delaying the need for something like a surgery for osteoarthritis if it is something that you have. If you have severe osteoarthritis, many times the type of resurfacing or hip replacement that you can get is one of the better things that modern medicine can offer you. And finally, a huge red flag for me is that there’s very little scientific evidence if you look at pub med for the use of something like ARP wave. And most of the information that for example on the internet about ARP wave is very commercial and lots of testimonials and nothing really objective in terms of study. So there are a lot of red flags kind of going off around this. And considering that it’s not covered by insurance and it involves multiple treatments that can like add up in terms of expense. There may be other things that you can try to override the pain or to manage the pain that might not cost you so much like even something as simple as a tens or an electro stim unit. Or you may even try and we’ve talked about this on the show before the use of something like glucosamine chondroitin or some natural anti-inflammatory mixed with glucosamine chondroitin. CapraFlex is one supplement that comes to mind for something like that. Ultimately though, I would say that if this were like a soft tissue muscle condition, ARP wave might actually give a little bit benefit. Not huge guarantee though that this would do something for an issue like knee arthritis.
David asks: A company has put out a product named Adapt Energy that can be added to water or taken to help with energy and concentration. I’ve heard you talk about the advantage of adaptogens in a past podcast. Based on the products contents are these adaptogens in Adapt Energy?
Ben: Well, I’ve certainly have talked about adaptogens a in previous podcast, probably the biggest pod cast. And I’ll put a link to that in the show notes underneath David’s question. It’s a podcast on Chinese herbal medicine and adaptogens that I did with Roger Drummer. And adaptogens are traditionally used in Chinese herbal medicine primarily to stabilize stress levels. And it specifically helps out with things like adrenal exhaustion or high amounts of stress. Now this particular compound has things like yerba matte and macaroons and kola nut and rhodiola, and all of these things are traditionally used to stimulate energy or decrease stress without actually really working hard on the central nervous system like pure caffeine does. So issue anytime that you look at a supplement like this is you need to consider the source of something like the Chinese herbs that you’re using or that they’re using to produce this. Many herbs are growing with pesticides. And many of the herbs after they are covered in pesticides and harvested sit for many years before they actually end up being used in the particular herbal supplement that you use. And during that time, they’re sprayed with preservatives. They get ethylene oxide thrown on them. Even after the herbs have been harvested, they have to apply fungicides to them so they don’t grow fungus while they’re sitting around in big boxes or warehouses over inChina. Many of the herbs have high levels of sulfur in them. And those sulfur compounds are another preservative that are added to try and maintain herb quality. Many of them are radiated as a means of sterilization. A lot of Chinese herbs are treated with radiation. As well as sterilizing gases after they’ve been powdered to produce the actual capsule if it’s a capsule based herbal adaptogen that you’re taking. Now if they are not applied with fungicides and pesticides and things of that nature and they’re allowed to sit around for as long as a lot of these Chinese herbs formulas can sit around, you’re looking at bacteria and mold and yeast being an issue. And of course the final thing that you’d be worried about with Chinese herbs would be the heavy metals. There are a lot of heavy metals in a lot of Chinese herb products. And even in a lot of like the protein powders and stuff coming out ofChina. So when you’re looking at contaminants and what’s going on with a lot of these adaptogens and Chinese herbs that are being sold all over the place in the States and elsewhere, you need to consider the source of the supplement that you’re purchasing. And you need to see if they’re using a higher grade pharmaceutical grade or physician’s grade source of Chinese herbs or whether they’re using the cheapest source that they can find. In the case of Adapt Energy, I didn’t call them on the phone. I don’t know. But if it’s something that you’re going to taking, that you’re going to be dumping into your body all the time then it’s certainly something that you would want to contact them and ask them about and find out what their source is for the Chinese herbs. And if they’re not able to tell you, I wouldn’t be taking them. That is one reason that I recommend the supplements that I do recommend. When you hear me talk about supplements on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, I don’t just blindly pick supplements. I choose the ones that are higher quality where I know there has been a serious attention given to the quality and the source of the ingredients used which is why for example like the green supplement that I recommend Enerprime. It’s expensive. It’s like 50 bucks for a month supply. But even something as simple as the spirulina that they use in that, it’s organic. It’s from a very high quality source. It’s tough to get your hands on. Sometimes the supplement goes on back order because they don’t really cut quarters or go with anything other than the spirulina. So it’s expensive. And you get what you pay for a lot of times with supplements. So just be careful and ask around. I’m always asking companies before I actually recommend or promote their supplements. I don’t just blindly choose stuff to recommend. So that’s what I have to say about this Adapt Energy. Just be careful. Alright, Shawn actually called in and asked a question.
Shawn: Hey, Ben, its Shawn. I’m just calling about a question on training for cyclocross. I wanted to ask a specific question. I’m trying to increase my high end ability for short durations for cyclocross racing. I tried that with my game a little this year. I usually for a forty-five to an hour race, my heart rate averages around 190 beats per minute for a cyclocross race. I’m about six foot and 170 pounds and been racing for several years. I’m just looking for specifics to increase my ability to move up to the next level. Whether it’d be nutrition before and after the race for something that high end which I think you could recommend.
Ben: So for those of you not familiar with cyclocross, it is an all out effort that typically involves some type of a track or a course. You’re doing multiple laps around the course. You are timed. The competitions usually last from like 45 to 60 minutes. It’s very high intensity on the bike and off the bike, going over barriers. It’s messy. It’s fun. And it goes by really fast. But it’s incredibly painful and intense. When you’re looking at competing at cyclocross on a high level, the two biggest limiters to you are going to be your ability to buffer the high amounts of lactic acid that are going to be building up in your muscles as you engage in repetitive muscle contraction without much recovery and then also your VO2 max or your ability to utilize high amounts oxygen. You’re not really going to run out of your storage fuel during a cyclocross event. And technically, you really don’t need to drink or eat during the event if you’re going in with full hydration and storage carbohydrate levels. You would actually probably end up slowing down if you pay much attention to eating and drinking during a cyclocross event. Which is why I really would not even worry about doing it and when I competed in cyclocross, I never really have. Make sure that you are eating well the day before. Step up your carbohydrate intake a little bit. And also make sure that you get a higher carbohydrate meal. Like 400-600 calories of like sweet potatoes, or rice, or yams, or like a clean burning carbohydrate two or three hours prior to that event. And also drink about the equivalent of an entire water bottle for each hour leading up to that event. Now in terms of your training, I would be doing a combination of a couple of VO2 max type of interval training sessions. You’re doing multiple efforts in anywhere from about the 30-second to two minute duration high intensity with full recovery after each similar to those high intensity intervals that we talked about earlier. And then the other thing that I would be doing is longer efforts at a slightly lower intensity similar to the intensity that you’ll be maintaining for your laps for the cyclocross. And that would be efforts in like the two to eight minute range again fairly intense tempo range, shorter recovery periods, preferably about a two to one work to rest ratio. Meaning if you go for six minutes, you’re resting for three minutes and then repeating. But it’s not quite as high intensity as those two VO2 max efforts your doing for thirty seconds or two minutes. And then for your other workouts, just work on your handling skills, your bike handling skills, your spinning skills, your pedaling skills, etc. And that would be kind of a perfect cyclocross program. In terms of supplements, I would be looking at supplements that are going to enhance your power and your oxygen utilization and things of that nature. So I’ll be looking at taking if I were going to be going into cyclocross competitively, no doubt about it. I’d get on a beta alanine supplement. I’d get on a creatine supplement. And then I would for recovery because they’re pretty intense efforts I would get on like a whole amino acid and also something like a proteolytic enzyme supplement. It would really help with recovery from the harder efforts that you’re going to be doing. So, those are some of the things that I would prioritize in terms of supplementation. And that would kind of be what your cyclocross program would look like in terms of stepping up to the next level. Alright, the next question is from Robert.
Robert says: I have congenital inflexibility. I have been into triathlons for about two years. And I’m really enjoying it. However, I feel that my speed gains are greatly limited by my inflexibility. For instance, in the swim I cannot stretch my arms straight past my ears. In my bike, I’m limited in my aerial position. I know that there are very mixed results in studies and whether stretching before or after exercise is actually helpful. In addition, I find that whenever I spend too much effort stretching, I am twice as likely to hurt myself. I’m really worried that my inflexibility is going to hold me back particularly in the swim. Do you think it’s possible for someone who is totally inflexible to ever become reasonably flexible?
Ben: Well, to answer Robert’s question, there is certainly kind of a trade off as you become more flexible. Your muscles become less elastic. And they are able to produce less power and less force. So, very flexible people are typically never sprinters or really good power or strength athletes because the muscle does need some amount of tension. It’s like a really tight rubber band is going to be stronger than one that’s long and able to stretch for really long ways. At the same time, however, when you look at something like swimming, you need shoulder rotation and flexibility for swimming. If you look at something like the aerial position in cycling, you at least need be able to bend over at the waist and hold that position for a long period of time with your hamstrings kind of stretched out behind you. And when you’re looking at something like running if you have for example tight IT bands with chronic repetitive motion that can eventually result in like IT band friction syndrome or pain on the outside of your knees. So if you are really naturally inflexible, there are definitely reasons for that. For example, muscle tissue that is comprised of a higher amount of type two muscle fibers or powerful and strong muscle fibers. That type of muscle tissue is going to be less elastic. The other thing that can affect the elasticity of a muscle is the fascia that’s around it. Last week we talked about compartment syndrome and the fact that some people have really tight fascia that surrounds abundance of muscles that are inside your body. If you have really tight fascia, that can affect your inflexibility at the same time, fascia that has a lot of adhesions in it or is not laid out in a very parallel fashion. This often occurs in people who never get massages or never use a foam roller that can also limit your flexibility. And of course, if you naturally are kind of cold or spend a lot of time in cold weather temperature of a joint or the tissues around that joint, the lower temperature the lower the flexibility. So as you can see there are certainly things that could cause what you referred to as congenital inflexibility. Now if I were in your shoes, there are two things that I would do to improve your flexibility. The first is called proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. It’s also abbreviated as PNF. And it involves the use of muscular contraction before you do a stretch in a muscle because when you contract a muscle after the contraction occurs, it tends to relax a lot more. So you can do PNF for just about every body part. It’s easier to do with a partner. But what you would do, for example, if you were going to do this on your own say for your hamstrings, as you lie on your back on the ground and you put your hands behind your knee. And then you extend the hamstring against those hands and contract the hamstring for anywhere from six to ten seconds. And you relax. And when you relax, you pull the hamstring into a stretch. And then you repeat. You contract and then you relax. I do this multiple times. And what you’ll find is that you have to pull yourself deeper and deeper into the stretch each time that you relax. Now you can do PNF stretching for every body part. And while you could do this on your own, there is also a really good program that takes advantage of PNF stretching. It’s called resistance stretching. I’ve interviewed the people who invented it. It’s something Dara Torres uses, the Olympic swimmer. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. I own the DVD. I like it. It’s kind of like a workout and a stretching protocol at the same time. So try that out. And then other thing I’d really focus on is dynamic stretching. It tends to get you to a range of motion in a lot more sports specific way than static stretching and holding. And all dynamic stretching is, is its active rhythmic rotational movements, swinging movements. So for example swinging arm circles, swinging your legs back and forth, side to side, up and down. But doing a series of swinging actions for the arms and the legs prior to physical activity can also be very effective in improving flexibility in a more sports specific manner. So I would combine dynamic stretching with proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation preferably using that resistance stretching program that I mentioned. And that should help you out quite a bit with inflexibility. And it will also not affect your sports performance too deleteriously. Alright, we have a question from Brock.
Brock says: I get a lot of bloating and gas an hour after I do a long or intense swim workout. I assume it is from gulping in too much air while I swim. Is there a way to work on eliminating this issue?
Ben: Well, that’s definitely what bloating and flatulence following swimming is. Typically it is from literally swallowing air as you swim because when you swallow water you tend to swallow some air along with it. It’s very common. There’s one single method that I found to be most effective at eliminating this issue in swimmers and that would be Popeye style breathing. And that means that every time that you turn to take a breath while you’re swimming, you move your mouth the same as Popeye would shape his mouth when he is talking. And you’ll find that that allows you to kind of form this shape with your mouth. That really eliminates a lot of the potential for drinking in water along with the air that you’re breathing when you take a breath when you swim. So Popeye style breathing. The other thing that I would really look at in your swim stroke and you can have someone video record this or whatever you want is whether or not you’re fully extending that arm that reaching out in front of you. And kind of tucking it against your head because when you do so, it almost forms like this natural tunnel that frees up just a little bit extra water in front of you mouth to take a breath. And what happens is the way that the water flows around that arm that’s extended out in front of your body is such that it reduces some of the water that ends up in front of your face when you’re taking a breath. So the Popeye style breathing and making sure that you’re fully extending that arm before you take a breath can help out quite a bit. The other thing and this is something that I heard from a professional triathlete Chucky V. when I was at a camp with him. He used to drink carbonated water before he’d get into his triathlons and go do his swims. And that would actually help him to kind of belch out and expel a lot of the air and the water that you tend to swallow while swimming. So that’s something else that you could try out. So, both of those would be quite effective. John had a similar question.
John says: I swam two thousand yards in an outdoor pool and I threw up. I had a piece of toast a half hour before swimming. I felt fine. I did not swallow significant amount chlorinated water during the swim. I was feeling fit and fine before and during the swim, any comments?
Ben: There are two reasons that you kind of get stomach upset after a swim. The first would be the same type of intestinal bloating that can occur when you’re swallowing air with water. Interestingly, that can also occur when you consume simple sugars before you swim or while you swim. Even something like toast could do that. And the reason for that is that the metabolizing and fermentation of those carbohydrates can create a lot more bloating and G.I distress. And so I would be careful with eating too many simple sugars before you hop in the water and go swim if that’s an issue that you deal with. The other thing is basically a form of vertigo that can cause nausea. That’s something else that can occur. And if that bothers you, I would take a digestive enzyme supplement that includes licorice root, ginger, and pepper mint extract in it before you go swimming. And that will help with any type of nausea. One of my favorites for something like that would be like there’s a supplement I take called enzymes. It’s made by millennium sports a great little company inChewelah,Washington. They’re close to my home. I know the owner. They put out some really good stuff. So try the enzyme supplement that they make and just take two of those before you hop in the water and go for a swim. And that should help out as well to kind of coat your stomach. And it also has some natural things in it that will help to reduce the nausea. Alright, final question from John as we come up here on the last part of our pod cast.
John says: The other day I did some hard 800 meter repeats in the water and I had some foamy sweat below my waist. Have you ever heard of this and what is it?
Ben: Yes, I have heard of it. It freaks some people out but there are two reasons for it. One is that you’re taking in too much salt either from your diet or while you’re exercising. And that’s actually the white powdery lines of salt that form in your sweat as you sweat too much salt. To learn more about why you would sweat too much salt and why you don’t need to be sweating that much salt, go listen to the interview I did with Tim Noakes on electrolytes. It was just a few episodes back. The other thing that happens is that when there is an inadequate rinse cycle in your washer. You get laundry detergent left over on your clothes. It tends to form like around the belt area or any tight area. And as soon as sweat hits that, it can create this foamy looking type of action. So all that would require you to fix would be use less detergent when you wash your clothes or use an extra rinse cycle on your washer. And that would be the fix. So, hopefully that gets rid of your funky foamy sweat and that folks is the end of today’s Q and A. Hopefully you picked up a few tips through there. If you have any comments, questions, or feedback about things that you heard, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. The show notes for Episode #161 and leave your questions, leave your feedback. And while you’re there, consider donating to the show to support the large number of downloads that we receive each week. You can donate a dollar a month to keep the podcast going. A simple little button right there on the show notes where you can do it. So remember about this Friday’s upcoming free seminar, Secrets to Self-Planning your Weekly Workouts. And the other thing is like I mentioned I’ll be down in Vegas next week for the Half Ironman World Championships. I would love to meet you if you’re a listener. Until next time, have a healthy week. This is Ben Greenfield signing out.
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