Tag Archive: health


I have officially put on my big girl panties and have moved to http://www.moniquesfitness.com

You will still get your updates with recipes, research, etc.

moniquesfitness.com is under construction but I hope to see you there soon.





Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University—Berks, Reading, Pennsylvania




Lusk, SJ, Hale, BD, and Russell, DM. Grip width and forearm orientation effects on muscle activity during the lat pull-down. J Strength Cond Res 24(7): 1895–1900, 2010—Based on electromyographic (EMG) studies, an anterior (in front of the face) wide grip with a pronated forearm has been recommended as the optimal lat pull-down (LPD) variation for strengthening the latissimus dorsi (LD) (Signorile, JF, Zink, A, and Szwed, S. J Strength Cond Res 16: 539–546, 2002; Wills, R, Signorile, J, Perry, A, Tremblay, L, and Kwiatkowski, K. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26: S20, 1994). However, it is not clear whether this finding was because of grip width or forearm orientation. This study aimed to resolve this issue by comparing wide-pronated, wide-supinated, narrow-pronated, and narrow-supinated grips of an anterior LPD. Twelve healthy men performed the 4 grip variations using an experimentally determined load of 70% of 1 repetition maximum. Two trials of 5 repetitions were analyzed for each grip type. Participants maintained a cadence of 2-second concentric and 2-second eccentric phases. The grip widths were normalized for each individual by using a wide grip that corresponded to their carrying width and a narrow grip that matched their biacromial diameter. Surface EMG of the LD, middle trapezius (MT), and biceps brachii (BB) was recorded, and the root mean square of the EMG was normalized, using a maximum isometric voluntary contraction. Repeated-measures analysis of variance for each muscle revealed that a pronated grip elicited greater LD activity than a supinated grip (p , 0.05), but had no influence of grip type on the MT and BB muscles. Based on these findings, an anterior LPD with pronated grip is recommended for maximally activating the LD, irrespective of the grip width (carrying width or biacromial diameter).


KEY WORDS EMG, latissimus dorsi, pronation, supination



During a lat pull-down (LPD), the humerus is adducted under load via a pulley system. This exercise is commonly employed in an effort to strengthen the latissimus dorsi (LD) muscle, hence its name, and is also expected to activate the rhomboids, middle trapezius (MT), and biceps brachii (BB) muscles. There are several different variations of body position, grip width, and forearm orientation that can be employed. The bar can be pulled down in front of the face (anterior LPD) or behind the head (posterior LPD), the hands can be narrowly or widely spaced, and the radioulnar joint

can be pronated or supinated. Yet research to determine the optimal variation of the LPD for particular muscle development is limited. Currently, much of the literature on the strength-building capacity of this exercise is based on

personal beliefs and experiences (3,4,16), although a few investigations have used electromyography (EMG) to quantify the amount of activity in different muscles during different types of LPDs (10,12,14,15). These studies have provided several scientifically based weight training recommendations, but questions remain about the most effective combination of grip width and forearm orientation. Research has led to the general consensus that the anterior LPD is preferred to the posterior LPD. Most studies comparing the activity of the LD under both conditions have found that the anterior LPD elicits greater muscle activation (by EMG) than the posterior LPD (11,12,14). Only 1 study failed to observe any significant difference in muscle activity between anterior and posterior LPDs (15). There have also been safety concerns that pulling down the bar behind the head puts the arm into horizontal abduction with excessive external rotation, placing unnecessary stress on the anterior shoulder (4,9,16). Functionally, it would also appear that the anterior LPD more closely mimics activities of daily living than the posterior LPD. Because of these past results and safety concerns, the current research investigation focused only on variations of the anterior LPD. A wide grip front pull (anterior) has been proposed as the most effective LPD variation for the developing the LD (12). This claimis based solely on 2 EMGstudies comparing a wide grip-pronated forearm position (wide-pronated [WP]) with a narrow grip–supinated forearm position (narrow supinated [NS]), which have found significantly greater LD activation with WP than NS (12,15). However, 1 EMG study failed to observe any significant difference in LD activity between WP and NS conditions (10). These contradictory results may be explained by 2 major differences in experimental design. Firstly, EMG was recorded during an isometric contraction (10) in contrast to EMG of concentric and eccentric phases of the LPD (12,15). Recording EMG during isotonic muscle actions provides a better assessment of the amount of muscle activity during a typical LPD exercise. Secondly, participants selected their own workload (10), with most performing at about 30–40% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), whereas the workload was experimentally controlled in the other 2 studies at 10RM (12) and 70% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) (15). It is more valid to assess muscle activity at a level close to typical training workloads (e.g., 70% of 1RM as per American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines [1] for strength training), rather than 30–40% of 1RM. These criticisms suggest that the observation of greater LD activity for the WP than the NS grip (12,15) is a more valid and reliable finding for providing isotonic exercise recommendations. However, the recommendation that a wide grip is preferred over a narrow grip (12,13) cannot be directly drawn from the finding of an advantage of WP over NS. In addition to varying the grip width between conditions (7), the forearm orientation (pronation vs. supination) was altered too. Therefore, the benefit of WP over NS on LD activation could arise from grip width, forearm orientation, or some combination of the 2. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to resolve this dilemma by comparing all 4 possible combinations of grip width and forearm orientation in a fully balanced design: WP, wide supinated (WS), narrow pronated (NP), and NS. These combinations have not been previously tested, we only hypothesize that WP will activate LD more than NS. This study will also assess MTand BB, because these muscles are also believed to be trained during an LPD (9,10,14).




Experimental Approach to the Problem


Although the anteriorWPgrip has been recommended as the most effective and safest type of LPD (12), it is not clear whether this is because of the particular grip width or forearm orientation used, as previous studies have confounded these variables. The current study employed a balanced design to compare grip width (wide vs. narrow), forearm orientation (pronated vs. supinated), and any interaction, by testing WP, WS, NP, and NS anterior grips. The sequence of these conditions was randomized in an effort to negate any possible effects of practice or fatigue. To normalize grip width for different sized individuals, we standardized the grip width based on anthropometric measures. As with previous research, the biacromial diameter was used as the narrow grip width (10,12). There is no standard width for a wide grip. One study employed 150% of biacromial diameter (10), whereas another used the distance from the fist to the seventh cervical vertebrae (12). In an effort to use an anthropometric measure that relates to a wide-grip LPD, we employed _carrying width. This is the distance between the hands (left to right fifth metacarpophalangeal joint) when standing in the anatomical reference position. A standard LPD bar was used for all grips. To standardize the weight across conditions, 70% of 1RM was determined from participants performing a test of 1RM according to ACSM guidelines (1) at least 48 hours before testing. Because a previous study (12) found no significant difference for 10RM between WP and NS grips (,1 kg), we used a single 1RMtest. Although the LPD is primarily used to develop the LD, it is also performed to train the MT and BB (9,10,14). Therefore, EMG signals were recorded from the LD, MT, and BB muscles. In accordance with previous research, the root mean square of each EMG signal (rmsEMG) was employed to quantify the average muscle activity (10,12,15). The rmsEMG for each participant and condition was then normalized to the rmsEMG of an isometric MVC. The normalized rmsEMG was then compared across conditions by using a 2 3 2 (width 3 orientation) repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) separately for each muscle.This experimental design permits an empirical test of which combination of grip width and forearm orientation elicits the most activity in the LD, MT, and BB.




Participants were 12 men aged 19–30 with an average age = 22.7 ± 3.1 years. The participants’ average mass was 85.86 ± 11.94 kg, and their average height was 1.82 ± 0.10 m. The average biacromial diameter for all participants was 0.40 ± 0.03m, and the average carrying width was 0.76 ± 0.06 m.The average 1RM for all participants was 99.46 ± 19.58 kg. Participants were all free of known musculoskeletal problems of the upper body. This study only examined participants who were previously familiar with the LPD lift and currently lifted weights on a regular basis but were not competitive bodybuilders, weightlifters, or powerlifters. All subjects were tested during the 2008 fall semester at the Berks Campus

of Pennsylvania State University. The Institutional Review Board for the use of human subjects of the Pennsylvania State University granted permission for this study. Participants signed an informed consent after being informed of the experimental risks of the study and before any data collection.




Participants used a standard lat bar on the LPD station of a 4-Stack Multi-Jungle weight machine (Model SM40; Life Fitness, Schiller Park, IL, USA). An auditory quartz metronome (Model XB700; Franz Mfg. Co. Inc., East Haven, CT, USA) was used to provide a consistent cadence throughout the study. Disposable Ag–AgCl pregelled snap electrodes (EL501; BIOPAC Systems, Inc., Goleta, CA) were placed in pairs over the skin, and parallel to the fibers, of the LD, MT, and BB muscles. The LD electrodes were positioned obliquely (25_ above the horizontal) and 0.04 m below the inferior angle of the scapula (6). The MT electrodes were placed 0.03 m lateral to the second spinous process of the thoracic spine with the electrodes placed parallel to muscle fibers (5). The second thoracic vertebra was located by palpating for the seventh cervical vertebrae and counting the spinous processes in a descending fashion until the second

thoracic vertebrae was located and marked. If differentiating the seventh cervical vertebrea was problematic, the participant was instructed to bend the head forward to differentiate the most prominent cervical vertebrea from the first thoracic vertebra (13). The BB electrodes were placed one-third the distance from the cubital fossa to the acromion process (17). Ground electrodes were placed on the acromion process (1 electrode) and the spine of the scapula (2 electrodes). The skin sites were initially prepared by shaving the hair and abrading the skin, before cleaning with an alcohol swab. The distance between the electrode centers was standardized at 0.0375 m. Three shielded lead sets (SS2; BIOPAC Systems Inc.) connected the electrodes to a 4-channel remote monitoring system (TEL100M-C; BIOPAC Systems Inc), which has an impedance of 2 MV and a common mode rejection ratio of 110 dB. All of the leads were taped in place with a loop on the skin and further secured with an elastic bandage around the participant’s torso and upper arm to reduce interference and were examined for stability during a simulated pull-down. The remote monitoring system was connected to a data acquisition and analysis system (MP100; BIOPAC Systems Inc.). The experimenters controlled data acquisition and postprocessing via AcqKnowledge software (version 3.7.3 for Windows; BIOPAC Systems Inc.) running on a microcomputer. Data were collected at a sampling rate of 500 Hz, and the raw EMG signals were amplified by a gain

set at 1,000.




During the initial visit, the following anthropometric measurements were taken: height, weight, biacromial diameter, and carrying width. Biacromial diameter was measured from the lateral aspect of the left to the right acromion processes using anthropometric tape. Carrying width was measured by asking the participants to stand with the palm of their hands facing the sides of their legs. Then the participants were asked to supinate their radioulnar joints so that the palms faced forward, whereas the humeri were maintained beside the body (similar to the anatomical reference position). From this position, the carrying width was measured from the left fifth metacarpophalangeal joint to the right fifth metacarpophalangeal joint, using anthropometric tape. The carrying width was used as the wide grip (W), whereas the biacromial diameter was used as the narrow grip (N) in this study. After recording the anthropometric measures, the exercise protocol was described. Although participants were familiar with an LPD exercise, the specific technique, inhalation and exhalation rhythm for lifting, and metronome pacing were prescribed. After ensuring that participants were comfortable performing the LPD as directed, a 1RM test was performed according to ACSM guidelines (1). The grip width for the 1RM was standardized with all participants placing the second phalanx on each hand at the bend in the bar with a pronated grip. The EMG testing session took place at least 48 hours after initial testing, and the participants were instructed not to exercise until final testing was completed. The EMG equipment was set up and zeroed before being connected to the electrodes that were placed on each participant. The participants performed the 4 conditions (WP, WS, NP, and NS) in a random order, using 70% of 1RM load. The cadence of 2-second concentric and 2-second eccentric phases was prescribed by an auditory beep and visual flash of a metronome. Participants performed 2 trials of 5 repetitions for each condition before moving onto the next, with a 2-minute rest between each trial and condition. The participants were again instructed visually and verbally how to perform an LPD. The thigh restraint pads were adjusted so the thigh and leg formed a 90_ angle with the feet flat on the floor (8). The participants were instructed to be slightly extended at the hips to prevent any collisions with the bar and head and to pull the lat bar down in a straight vertical plane from a slightly flexed position to the participant’s chin in a slow and controlled manner (9). The lat bar was lowered for them, and they remained seated for the entire testing session. Participants started with the elbows slightly flexed and the bar pulled down to the chin for all conditions. Although this meant the amplitude of the movements was not identical across conditions, it ensured the lifts were functionally equivalent. The movement was initiated with scapular depression and retraction, which was held throughout the length of the repetitions until the bar reached the resting position (4,9). The participants were then instructed to begin performing the lifts. The participants were told not to pause at each metronome beep, but slowly transition between the lifting and lowering phases, and requested to inspire on the eccentric, and expire on the concentric muscle actions. With participants performing the LPD correctly and at the right tempo, 5 repetitions were recorded, making up a 20-second trial. If a participant failed to perform correctly, the trial was repeated after a 2-minute rest. After testing all conditions, participants performed an isometric maximum exertion. The isometric exercise was an LPD with the shoulders abducted p/2 rad and both elbows flexed p/2 rad. Participants placed the second phalanx on each hand at the bend in the bar, with a pronated grip, as done for the 1RM test.


Electromyographic Analyses


For each trial and muscle, the raw EMG signal was amplified by a gain of 1,000 and filtered using a 10-Hz high pass filter (PE). The filtered EMG signal was then smoothed and rectified by calculating the root mean square (rmsEMG) for a 30-data sample moving window (0.06 seconds). The average rmsEMG was then computed for the 2 20-second trials under each condition. The raw EMG signal for each muscle during the maximal isometric contraction was processed in the same way as above, except that an average was computed for only 1 second of maximal activity to avoid effects of fatigue. To normalize the data (normalized root mean square of each EMG signal [NrmsEMG]), the average rmsEMG for each condition was divided by the average rmsEMG for the maximal isometric contraction.


Statistical Analyses


Normalized root mean square of each EMG signal was analyzed separately for each muscle by 32 x 2 (Width x Orientation) repeated-measures ANOVAs. All statistical procedures were performed using SPSS statistical software version 15.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA), and the alpha level was selected as p £ 0.05. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were computed for NrmsEMG of each muscle separately. All 3 dependent variables indicated strong consistency (ICC 0.87, 0.85, and 0.76 for LD, MT, and BB muscles, respectively).




No significant difference was found for LD activity between the wide and narrow grips (p =0.711, power = 0.064). In contrast, there was a significant main effect for forearm orientation on NrmsEMG of the LD (p = 0.012, power = 0.776). The LD demonstrated greater activation during a pronated hand grip (M= 0.67) than a supinated hand grip (M = 0.63) (see Figure 1 and Table 1). The interaction of grip width and hand orientation had no significant effect on LD activation (p = 0.185, power = 0.253). The statistical analyzes of the NrmsEMG of MT and BB muscles revealed no significant main effects or interactions (see Table 1).




In agreement with previous literature, a WP grip LPD elicited greater LD muscle activity than an NS grip LPD (12,15). However, our findings indicated this was because of using a pronated forearm orientation, not a wide grip width as proposed by others (12,15). Previous studies based their conclusions by comparing WP with NS, so that the results obtained could have been because of grip width, forearm orientation or a combination of the 2. To avoid this concern, we employed a fully balanced design to compare WP, WS, NP, and NS conditions. In contrast with prior recommendations, grip width did not significantly influence the LD, and neither was an interaction of grip width and orientation observed. The only significant finding indicated that the LD was more active under a pronated grip than a supinated grip. Hence, our results for identical conditions match previous studies of an isotonic LPD (12,15). The only findings they contradict are those for an isometric LPD, which found no differences in the LD between WP and NS grips (10). It would seem that results from an EMG analysis of isometric muscle actions are not necessarily applicable to an isotonic exercise. The different types of grip failed to significantly influence the EMG data for the MT and BB muscles. These findings agree with an earlier study that compared WP with NS and failed to observe any significant difference in muscle activation (10), but as noted above, those findings were based on an isometric LPD. It might have been predicted that with a supinated grip the BB has a more efficacious angle of pull, but there is no training advantage for the BB between the different types of grip tested. It is also useful to look at the amount of NrmsEMGfor each muscle, which indicates the proportion of maximum activity and therefore provides an estimate of the relative activity of each muscle. On average, the LD was activated at 65% of an isometric MVC, whereas the MT and BB were activated at 55 and 42%, respectively. Because the LPD was performed using a load of 70% 1RM, these results would indicate that the LD was being activated at appropriate training levels. In contrast, it would seem that both the MT and BB were activated at lower levels. This suggests that all 4 grip types primarily activated the LD, and to a lesser extent the MT and BB. Therefore, an LPD is best employed to strengthen the LD and is not an optimal exercise for developing the MT or BB muscles. We hypothesize that the LD is more active during a pronated grip vs. a supinated grip because of a greater joint moment at the shoulder. Previous research has suggested that a WP grip involves greater abduction and horizontal abduction than an NS grip, which in turn leads to more LD activity (12). However, the finding here that grip width had no significant effect on the electrical activity of the muscles contradicts this proposal. With the LD being less active during a supinated grip, it might be expected that other muscles would compensate by being more active. Surprisingly, both MT and BB were active at similar levels for all 4 grips. Also, in another EMG study, which compared WP and NS grips, none of the muscles (pectoralis major, posterior deltoid, triceps brachii, and teres major) assessed were more active during an NS grip. These findings suggest that a pronated grip places the shoulder at a mechanical disadvantage that requires greater LD activity but does not affect the MT or BB muscles. A biomechanical analysis of joint moments during a pull-up (2) provides an explanation for our results. The analysis revealed that using a pronated grip leads to a larger overall perpendicular distance between the shoulder joint and pull-up bar than a supinated grip, causing a greater joint moment at the shoulder. In addition, the wrist and elbow joints, and shoulder girdle were not found to be significantly involved during the pull-up, nor were they influenced by the forearm orientation. Because the pull-up is similar to the LPD, we propose that a pronated LPD grip creates a larger joint moment at the shoulder than a supinated grip, which in turn requires greater LD activity to lift the same load.




With the main goal of an LPD being to develop the LD muscles, it is important to know which variation best activates this muscle. The findings from this study indicate that a pronated grip is optimal for training the LD in an anterior LPD. Contrary to the claim that a wide grip is best (12,15), the findings here show that there is no difference between narrow and wide grip widths with a pronated grip orientation. Prior research has identified safety concerns and reduced LD muscle activity for a posterior LPD (12). Taking these results together, we conclude that an anterior LPD with a pronated grip is recommended for safely and optimally training the LD, irrespective of the grip width (either carrying width or biacromial diameter). Although the MTand BB were active at similar levels for the different grip types of LPD, other exercises are likely to better train these muscles.



This study was funded by a Division of Science Undergraduate

Research Grant, The Pennsylvania State University

Berks, Reading, PA.



1. American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise

Testing and Prescription. (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott,

Williams, &Wilkins, 2006.

2. Antinori, F, Felici, F, Figura, F, Marchetti, M, and Ricci, B.

Joint moments and work in pull-ups. J Sports Med Phys Fitness

28: 132–137, 1988.

3. Baechle, TR and Earle, RW. Essentials of Strength Training and

Conditioning Resistance Training. (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human

Kinetics, 2000.

4. Crate, T. Analysis of the lat pull down. J Strength Cond Res

19: 26–29, 1996.

5. Ekstrom, RA, Soderberg, GL, and Donatelli, RA. Normalization

procedures using maximum voluntary isometric contractions for the

serratus anterior and the trapezius muscles during surface EMG

analysis. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 15: 418–428, 2004.

6. Escamilla, RF, Babb, E, Dewitt, R, Jew, P, Kelleher, P, Burnham, T,

Busch, J, D’Anna, K, Mowbray, R, and Imamura, RT. Electromyographic

analysis of traditional and nontraditional abdominal

exercises: Implications for rehabilitation and training. Phys Ther

85: 656–671, 2006.

7. Funk, DA, An, KN, Morrey, BF, and Daube, JR. Electromyographic

analysis of muscles across elbow joint. J Orthop Res 5: 529–538, 1987.

8. Graham, JF. Front lat pulldown. Strength Cond J 25: 42–43, 2003.

9. Lantz, J andMcNamara, S.Modifying the latissimus pull-down exercise

for athletes with shoulder injury. Strength Cond J 25: 67–69, 2003.

10. Lehman, GJ, Buchan, DD, Lundy, A, Myers, N, and Nalborczyk, A.

Variations in muscle activation levels during traditional latissimus

dorsi weight training exercises: An experimental study. Dyn Med

3: 4, 2004.

11. Pugh,GM.Abiomechanical comparison on the front and rear lat pulldown

exercise. Master’s thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville, 2003.

12. Signorile, JF, Zink, A, and Szwed, S. A comparative electromyographical

invesigation ofmuscle utilization patterns using various hand

positions during the lat pull down. J Strength Cond Res

16: 539–546, 2002.

13. Smith, LK, Weiss, EL, and Lehmkuhl, LD. Brunnstrom’s Clinical

Kinesiology. (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis, 1996.

14. Tooru, H, Hiroto, K, Shin, H, Jun’ichi, O, and Kiyotada, K.

Comparative electromyographical investigation of the biceps

brachii, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius muscles during five pull

exercises. Jpn J Phys Fitness Sports Med 54: 159–168, 2005.

15. Wills, R, Signorile, J, Perry, A, Tremblay, L, and Kwiatkowski, K.

Differences in EMG activity due to handgrip position during the lat

pulldown. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26: S20, 1994.

16. Yessis, M. Front lat pull-down. Muscle Fitness March: 37–39,


17. Zipp, P. Recommendations for the standardization of lead positions

in surface electromyography. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol

26: 41–54, 1982.


Answering YOUR questions…

Question 1: What’s your advice on obtaining the smallest waist possible for my body?

  • Diet, Diet, Diet!

Question 2: Can I build muscle and lose fat at the same time?

  • Yes and No. I say no because in order to lose fat you have to cut back on how many calories you consume and in order to build muscle you have to increase how many calories you consume on a daily basis. But studies have shown that with the proper weight training and nutrition you can build muscle while you burn fat. This has been proven true with a lot of track athletes because of high intensity interval training along with a high intensity resistance program.

Question 3: Just how much protein do I need?

  • Protein needs are usually based on what your goal is. But the usual formula is 1g of protein times your body weight ex: 1g x 128 = 128g of protein per day.

Question 5: What are some examples of good HIT workouts?

Here are a few HIT workouts that I do myself:

HIT #1

  • Shoulder Press
  • Crunches
  • Standing Calf Raises
  • Barbell Curls
  • Bench Press
  • Lying Leg Curls
  • Bent Over Row
  • Seated Calf Raises
  • Squats
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Straight Arm Pullovers
  • French Presses
  • Deadlifts
  • Upright Rows
  • Crunches
  • Wrist curls


HIT #2

  • Deadlift 1 x 10-12
  • Leg Press 1 x 10-12
  • Shrug 1 x 8-10
  • Close Grip Lat Pulldown 1 x 8-10
  • Standing Calf Raise 1 x 10-15
  • Reverse Curls 1 x 10-15
  • Overhead Press 1 x 8-10
  • Abs 1 x 30-50

Question 6: How much rest do we need between workouts?

  • Rest between workouts is all dependent upon the person. I personally take 2 days off after I do 4 days straight. After I take those 2 days off I cycle my workouts and start again. To answer your question: Just listen to your body.

Are Supplements a True Substitute for Real Food?
While some may have predicted that the day would come when we no longer needed to eat food and could derive the nutrients our bodies needed from taking a pill, that day is not yet here. And the more we learn about food and nutrients, their roles and interactions, the more scientists realize that this day may never come. Through decades of research, we have learned that foods provide far more than just calories, vitamins and minerals. Food provides other important nutrients like antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber which reduce the risk of a number of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes
and age-related macular degeneration (1,6). Supplements have yet to offer these “ingredients” or even this
same protection (3).

In light of the possible limitations of supplements, does anyone really need to take one? While it is hard to make
a blanket statement such as “all children” or “all pregnant women” require a supplement, there are certain categories and instances where we can make certain generalizations.

Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry with people under the false impression that taking supplements is improving their health and/or performance (4). Can we rely on supplements to provide us with additional vitamins and minerals not found in a well balanced diet? Perhaps. But supplements are not regulated as drugs; they are regulated as food, in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) passed by Congress in 1994. The result is that the FDA has very little regulation over the supplements sold in this country— they do not analyze the content of dietary supplements nor do they approve the labels on the bottle. Additionally, the FDA can only remove a product from the market after it has been proven unsafe. Usually a supplement is proven unsafe and removed from the market after people taking it get sick or even die.

So what can athletes and individuals who are interested in taking a supplement do to protect themselves? Fortunately, there are two tools available to help consumers choose a safe supplement. One is to look for the U.S. Pharmacopeia or “USP” seal. The “USP” seal means that the product has been independently tested and reviewed by USP to verify ingredient and product integrity, purity, and potency for the manufacturers who choose to participate (7). However, it does not mean that this supplement has been tested for safety or effectiveness. Another option is to search the supplement reviews available on ConsumerLab.com, which is an independent, non-profit testing agency. This organization selects products and tests for accuracy of content (e.g., a supplement that says it contains 400 IU of vitamin D actually contains that amount) and also for contaminants in the supplement. For example, supplements may be found to contain unacceptable amounts of lead, which is a health hazard, especially to children.

Bottom Line

Choose food first and, supplement, only as needed.

1. Kawasaki B, Hurt E, Mistree T, Farrar W.
Targeting cancer stem cells with phytochemicals.
Mol Interv. 8(4):174 – 184, 2008.
2. Kreider R, Rasmussen C, Melton C, et al.
Long-term creatine supplementation does not
adversely affect clinical markers of health.
Proceedings of the American College of Sports
Medicine 2000 Annual Scientific Meeting; 2000
May 31 – June 3: Indianapolis (IN).
3. Lin J, Cook N, Albert C, Zaharris E, Gaziano
M, Buring J, Manson J. Vitamins C and E and
Beta Carotene Supplementation and Cancer
Risk: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Natl
Cancer Inst. 101:14 – 23, 2009.
4. Market Research Web site (Internet). North
Adams (MA): Market Research; (Retrieved
2009, May 1). Available from: http://www.
5. Nishino H, Murakoshi M, Mou X, Wada S,
Masuda M, Ohsaka Y, Satomi Y,
6. Jinno K. Cancer prevention by
phytochemicals. Oncology. 1:38 – 40, 2005.
7. Parry GJ, Bredesen DE. Sensory neuropathy
with low-dose pyridoxine. Neurology. 35:1466 –
1468, 1985.
8. U.S. Pharmacopeia Web site (Internet).
Rockville (MD): U.S. Pharmacopeia; (Retrieved
2009, May 1). Available from: http://www.usp.

Nutrition For Recovery

Athletes are always seeking ways to enhance performance and delay fatigue. Muscle glycogen is the major fuel source during prolonged, moderate to high-intensity exercise, and there is a direct relationship between depleted muscle glycogen and fatigue. Therefore, muscle glycogen repletion is vital to recovery time and maintaining top performance for athletes at all levels (1). Glycogen repletion is important to ensure an athlete’s quick muscle recovery for subsequent practices, especially those who train, or must compete, multiple times in a single day (1). Timing, composition and the quantity of a post-exercise meal or snack is dependent upon the length and intensity of exercises, timing of the next exercise session, as well as an individual’s needs (1).

Carbohydrates For Recovery—

How Much?

The current recommendation for daily carbohydrates (CHO) consumption is 5 – 7g CHO/kg/day for the general athlete and 7 – 10g/kg/day for the endurance athlete (1). Consuming CHO immediately after exercise accelerates glycogen repletion (10) because there is increased blood flow to the muscles, which results in heightened sensitivity to insulin (9). Sufficient CHO ingestion over the next 24 hours is also important. Current recommendations are to consume 1 – 1.5g of CHO/kg of body weight within 30 minutes after exercise and then again at 2-hour intervals for the next six hours (1). See Table 1 for some ideas on what to consume within 30 minutes post-exercise.

Carbohydrates For Recovery—

What Type?

The type of carbohydrate (CHO) an athlete consumes after exercise can affect how much and how quickly he or she resynthesizes glycogen. Foods and/or beverages containing glucose/ sucrose, and those having a high glycemic index are preferred. Glucose and sucrose are preferred over fructose (1), as fructose promotes a lower level of glycogen resynthesis as compared to glucose (3) and larger amounts of fructose may promote gastrointestinal distress due to its slower absorption rate(3). High glycemic index foods induce higher muscle glycogen levels as compared to low glycemic index foods (1). Readily available foods, such as whole grain cereal and skim milk, have been found to be an effective post-exercise fuel (2). In fact, one study found that the carbohydrate to protein combination found in a bowl of whole grain cereal and skim milk had a similar effect on muscle glycogen repletion as did sports drinks (2). The combination was also found to positively affect protein synthesis. From this research, it seems that whole foods can be a good alternative to commercial sports drinks, if preferred by the athlete.

Endurance exercise

Endurance athletes may benefit from consuming protein along with carbohydrates after exercise as this combination has been shown to reduce markers of muscle damage and improve post-exercise recovery. This could also have a positive effect on subsequent performances (8). Some studies have demonstrated a benefit of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) on muscle recovery (6). BCAA’s appear to affect muscle protein metabolism during and after exercise and prevent muscle damage induced by exercise (6). The release of amino acids from muscles is decreased when BCAA’s are ingested (6).

Resistance Exercise

The goal for athletes in resistance-type exercise is to increase muscle mass and strength. The nutrition intervention for this type of activity involves stimulating net muscle protein gains during recovery. PRO ingestion increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown after training (10). One study found that during prolonged resistance training, post-exercise consumption of CHO and PRO, 1 – 3 hours after resistance training stimulated improvements in strength and body composition better than a placebo (3). Essential amino acids in a dose of 40g have regularly shown to have an effect in promoting muscle protein synthesis and CHO may enhance this effect (3). The findings suggest ingesting 50 – 75g CHO with 20 – 75g PRO after heavy resistance training (3). Furthermore, adding 10g of creatine has shown to produce a significant increase in body mass as compared to just CHO and PRO (3). See Table 2 for possible CHO and PRO combinations.

Bottom Line

Nutrition post-exercise has been proven to promote recovery for athletes. Post-exercise nutrition has been shown to increase strength and muscle mass in athletes who participate in resistance-type exercises. Timing, composition and amount of post-exercise food is dependent upon the individual, timing of the next exercise session and the activity performed. 


1. American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic

Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports

Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the American

Dietetic Association. 2009(109).

2. Kammer L, Ding Z, Want B, Hara D, Liao Y, Ivy J. Cereal and nonfat milk

support muscle recovery following exercise. Journal of the International

Society of Sports Nutrition. 2009(6).

3. Kerksick C, Harvey T, Stout J, Campbell B, Wilborn C, Kreider R,

Kalman D, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Ivy J, Antonio J. International

Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the

International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2008(5).

4. Miller SL, Gaine PC, Maresh CM, Armstrong LE, Ebbeling CB, Lamont

LS, Rodriguez NR. The Effects of Nutritional Supplementation Throughout

an Endurance Run on Leucine Kinetics During Recovery. International

Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2007(17).

5. Mizuno K PhD, Tanaka M PhD, Nozaki S PhD, Mizuma H PhD, Ataka

S MD, Tahara T PhD, Sugino T MSc, Shirai T MSc, Kajimoto Y PhD,

Kuratsune H PhD, Kajimoto O PhD, Watanabe Y PhD. Antifatigue effects

of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Applied Nutritional Investigation.


6. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid

supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle

recovery and the immune system. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical

Fitness. 2008(48).

7. Rowlands D, Thorp RM, Rossler K, Graham DF, Rockell MJ. Effect of

Protein-Rich Feeding on Recovery After Intense Exercise. International

Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2007(17).

8. Saunders, Michael J. Coingestion of Carbohydrate-Protein During

Endurance Exercise: Influence on Performance and Recovery. International

Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2007(17).

9. Stout, Andrew. Fueling and Weight Management Strategies In Sports

Nutrition. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007(07).

10. Van Loon, Luc J.C. Application of Protein or Protein Hydrolysates to

Improve Postexercise Recovery. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and

Exercise Metabolism. 2007(17).

Taken from: NSCA’s Performance Training Journal Volume 9, Issue 2

February is Here!!

February is National Heart Month. Not because it’s Valentines day but because we need to become more aware of Heart Disease.

Here are some facts:

  • About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event
  • Most common heart disease is coronary heart disease
  • In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack
  • These conditions put your health at risk of death or disability: arrhythmia, heart failure, peripheral artery disease (PAD), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and secondhand smoke

It’s time you start helping the people you care about make healthier choices and try to start putting them on a path to a healthier lifestyle. Diet and exercise play a major part.

If you want more information regarding Heart Disease and more about National Heart Month check out: cdc.gov/features/heartmonth

A lot of you may not realize how much salt (sodium) you are consuming on a daily basis. Too much salt is bad for you and can hinder your results when working toward a fitness goal.

I seen this article in Prevention magazine and I am sharing it with you.




Which of the following is true of salt?

(a) It’s addictive. (b) It will make you fat. (c) It will kill you. (d) All of the above.

If you chose (d), you’re right. Salt is one of the most dangerous ingredients in our food.

IT’S NO SECRET that a high-sodium diet raises blood pressure, which in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes. But new studies show that salt is even more dangerous than we thought: Eating too much has been linked to osteoporosis, dementia, cancer, and other serious health problems (see “The Silent Killer,” p. 23). It can also add inches to your waist.

Based on this research, the US government is revisiting its sodium guidelines. The new thinking: Adults should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day (two-thirds of a teaspoon), down from the previous limit of less than 2,300 mg.

This adjustment means that Americans are seriously overdosing on salt, getting 3,436 mg a day–more than double the recommended amount. Where’s all that sodium coming from? The greatest concern isn’t the flaky stuff you shake on at the table–it’s the salt that’s already in your food. The biggest culprits are processed and packaged foods, which load up on salt for flavor but also for color and texture and to prevent spoilage. About 80% of the sodium in our diets is found in the premade crackers, cookies, cereals, soups, frozen dinners, and pasta sauces we eat at home. And that doesn’t even cover fast food and other restaurant meals.

Here’s how a single ingredient with zero calories can be such a major cause of weight gain and killer health problems–and how you can sleuth out hidden sodium to protect your health.

Why Salt Is Addictive

Your body does need some sodium–to maintain the right balance of fluids, transmit nerve impulses, and contract and relax your muscles–but only about 500 mg per day. When you eat far more than that, your brain chemistry is altered.

Research shows that consuming salt triggers the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s pleasure center, making salty foods as addictive as nicotine and alcohol. Therefore, as with any addiction, eating salty foods makes you crave more. Since so many of them–like french fries and fast-food sandwiches–are also high in fat and calories, OD’ing on salt packs on the pounds.

Loading up on salt also increases thirst. This wouldn’t be an issue if we usually turned to water–but we don’t. Research has found a close link between the consumption of salt and intake of sugary beverages. (Diet sodas aren’t the answer: They’re full of sodium!)

Eating too much salt may cause weight gain in less noticeable ways too–by changing how your body makes and metabolizes fat. Studies show that a high-salt diet boosts the production of insulin, the hormone that tells the body to store excess sugar as fat. Simply put, the more insulin you have, the more fat you store and the more weight you gain.

Kicking Your Salt Habit

You can cut back on sodium with a 2-week salt cleanse, which will boost your metabolism and increase your energy as you cut excess sodium from your diet. You’ll also feel thinner, because you’ll drop water weight from bloating. Losing those pounds and inches will help motivate you to make low-salt eating a way of life as you reset your tastebuds to enjoy low-sodium foods.

Here’s how: For 14 days, you’ll eat three 300-calorie meals per day, each with less than 300 mg sodium. You’ll also drink a 300-calorie Mineral Boost Juice daily (for recipes: prevention.com/mineraljuice), which provides potassium, calcium, and magnesium to help rid your body of excess sodium. Plus, you’ll eliminate processed and packaged foods, as well as alcohol.

The good news is that your palate will adapt quickly. Most of us have about 10,000 tastebuds, each one made up of 50 to 150 receptor cells that live for only 1 to 2 weeks and then are replaced by new receptors. So after eating a cleaner diet for 2 weeks, you’ll not only begin to taste and enjoy more subtle flavors, you’ll also have less of a craving for salt.

There’s Salt in That?

In a typical day, the sodium adds up fast–hidden in foods you probably didn’t even know were salty.

BREAKFAST 1 whole grain bagel (490 mg) with 2 Tbsp fat-free cream cheese (211 mg) and 6 oz yogurt (95 mg) = 796 mg

SNACK 2 Tbsp peanut butter (147 mg) on 6 wheat crackers (194 mg) = 341 mg

LUNCH Sandwich with 2 slices low-salt turkey (432 mg), 1 slice American cheese (266 mg), and 2 tsp mustard (114 mg) in a flour tortilla (490 mg) with 1 dill pickle spear (306 mg) and 1 c vegetable soup (960 mg) = 2,568 mg

SNACK 1 wheat pita (340 mg) with 2 Tbsp hummus (114 mg) = 454 mg

DINNER ½ c pasta (4 mg) with ½ c jarred tomato sauce (480 mg) and 2 meatballs (232 mg), 1 slice garlic bread (400 mg), and salad with reduced-fat ranch dressing (336 mg) = 1,452 mg

DESSERT Homemade apple crisp (495 mg) with ½ c vanilla ice cream (53 mg) and 2 Tbsp caramel sauce (60 mg) = 608 mg

Total 6,219 mg, more than quadruple the daily recommended amount

The Silent Killer

IT’S NO LONGER JUST heart attacks and strokes you need to worry about if you eat too much salt. Evidence now connects sodium to other serious health problems, including:

CANCER Salted foods are linked to a 15% increase in cancer risk, according to a 2010 Japanese study. In other research, high salt intake has been associated with deaths from stomach cancer. Salty foods irritate the stomach lining, which can cause infection by H. pylori, bacteria that lead to stomach cancer.

OSTEOPOROSIS High-salt diets have been shown to increase calcium loss, which weakens bone and leads, over time, to osteoporosis. A 2-year study of postmenopausal women connected a decrease in hip bone density to sodium intake.

DIABETES Eating lots of salt may promote insulin resistance. Diabetes already puts you at greater risk of hypertension and heart disease–and a high salt intake only raises these risks.

DEMENTIA Hypertension may also affect your brain. Results of the 2010 Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, which took MRI scans of 1,400 women age 65 or older, revealed that those with high blood pressure had more abnormal brain lesions 8 years later. Other research shows that people with hypertension are up to 600% more likely to develop stroke-related dementia.

SLEEP APNEA High blood pressure is a villain here too. It is a vicious cycle–sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation, which can increase blood pressure.

KIDNEY DISEASE Hypertension eventually damages blood vessels throughout your body, including the kidneys. The damage can be gradual: Symptoms may not occur until kidney function is less than 10% of normal.

Want Some Chips with Your Salt?

Most regular chips have 160 to 180 mg of sodium per 1-ounce serving (about 15 chips). Watch out for flavored chips, which can contain compounds of sodium not found in other chips. The worst offenders of all: salt-and-vinegar.

Herr’s Salt & Vinegar 340 mg

Utz Salt ‘n Vinegar 270 mg

Cape Cod Sour Cream and Green Onion 220 mg

Wise BBQ 210 mg

Terra Exotic Harvest Sea Salt 160 mg

Kettle Brand Organic Chipotle Barbeque 150 mg

Lay’s Natural Sea Salted 150 mg

Cape Cod Original 110 mg

Lay’s Lightly Salted 90 mg

Wise Lightly Salted 80 mg

Terra Original 50 mg

Kettle Brand Unsalted 5 mg

Adapted from The Salt Solution by Heather K. Jones, RD, with the editors of Prevention (Rodale, January 2011).

BRAG ABOUT how you beat your salt addiction at facebook.com/prevention magazine. To buy a copy of The Salt Solution, go to saltsolutionbook.com.


Lowering Blood Pressure

Do you know someone who is dealing with high blood pressure and have no idea how to lower it. There are ways besides eating Cheerios.

Here are a few:

  1. Go for power walks (min. 30 minutes). If you’re at the gym get on the treadmill and increase the speed and distance over time.
  2. Deep breathing– Try a yoga class
  3. Eat potassium-rich produce– Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, kidney beans, peas, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, and dried fruit
  4. Read your food labels for sodium.
  5. Indulge in dark chocolate
  6. Drink Decaf

In 2006 there was research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism trying to see if you could use Chocolate Milk as a recovery aid versus a Carbohydrate replacement drink (i.e. Gatorade). Results of this study shows that Chocolate Milk can be used and is an effective recovery aid. I have attached the article for your viewing pleasure. It’s about 15 pages but it’s worth reading.

Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid

Chocolate milk (CM) offers many benefits besides being an effective post-exercise recovery aid.

  1. Chocolate has caffeine which can help decrease fatigue after a long workout
  2. Chocolate itself contains tryptophan which is an essential amino acid aiding in the production of serotonin, a natural stress reducer, and enables the body to relax.
  3. Chocolate milk also contains vitamin A (linked to fighting heart disease), B (converts carbohydrates into glucose which enables you to have more energy), D (CALCIUM DUH!!!), and E (protect against skin cancer and strengthen the skin’s barrier function)

So as you can see CM has great health benefits. Try it out sometime as a substitute.

  1. .