px-r-F5cPQX9ZxUrwgORsMGDGwU Kuhnesiology

Friday, June 29, 2012

Supplements for the Power Athlete: Creatine Part 2

My 6th article for justflysports.com was posted last night.  Check it out...

Supplements for the Power Athlete: Creatine Part 2


you can read it here.

Supplements for the Power Athlete: Creatine Part 2

Now that the theory of supplementation is out of the way, we can dive into some specific questions.  The Why, What, When, and How of creatine
supplementation are rarely, if at all, addressed correctly and appropriately on a supplement label.  Luckily for those of us who care about what we put
into our pie-holes, research has answers to these questions. 
The "Why" of supplementation:
So what are the benefits?

Well...even though brand new research shows that maximal effort activity may not be limited by how fast the body can resynthesize ATP, but by fatigue due to other neuromuscular mechanisms, creatine supplementation still improves performance.  Did you catch that?  We still don't know exactly what causes maximal effort fatigue...but we do know creatine improves performance.

But it doesn't just improve performance.  It statistically and significantly improves performance.  In fact, reviews of literature on creatine studies that measure exercise performance show the average gain in performance from supplementation to be around 10% to 15%.  To break that down just a little, single effort sprint performance has been shown to improve by 1% to 5% and repeated sprint performance has been shown to improve by 5% to 15%. That could be the difference between a million dollar contract...and well, no contract.  I'm just saying...

Back to reality.           

We know the body only stores a limited amount of Creatine Phosphate and free creatine, which make up the creatine pool.  A 150 lb. person stores about
120 grams in the creatine pool, two-thirds being CP and one-third being free creatine.  To replenish used or depleted creatine and maintain the creatine pool, the body can do two things:
  1)  Utilize creatine that is found in the diet 
  2)  Synthesize its own creatine from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine.

We also know that a normal diet typically provides enough creatine and/or amino acids from protein to maintain the creatine pool.

If you could increase the total creatine pool, and thus the CP stored in muscle, would you? 
Lets say, for example, that you are a vegetarian.  Research has shown that individuals maintaining a vegetarian diet have lower than normal levels of stored CP. Now lets say that you have a creatine synthesis deficiency and you can't maintain a normal creatine pool.  Or, maybe you just want to increase your creatine pool above normal levels to maximize athletic performance.  Whatever the case may be, all are great reasons to supplement with creatine.

Study after study on creatine monohydrate supplementation have shown that the total creatine pool (about 120 grams) can be increased up to 160 grams, though even slight increases in the creatine pool have been correlated to improved performance measures.

So the potential benefits, summarized by the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) are:
 "increased muscle mass and strength"
 "increased single and repetitive sprint performance"
 "enhanced glycogen synthesis"
 "possible enhancement of aerobic capacity via greater shuttling of ATP from mitochondria and buffering of acidity"
 "increased work capacity"
 "enhanced recovery"
 "greater training tolerance"

If you are not interested by any of these potential benefits...you can stop reading this now.

To sum this portion up.  Creatine supplementation improves performance.  Bottom line. 
Trying to be like Dwight? Aren’t using creatine? You should be.
The "What" of supplementation:

The "what" in this context deals with the specific type of creatine.

When it is all said and done, good old Creatine Monohydrate is still the best stuff out there.  Though many, many, many supplement companies disagree with this statement (especially those selling creatine serum or creatine ethyl ester), no data to date has shown any other type of creatine to be any more effective
at increasing creatine uptake than creatine monohydrate powder.  
In fact, some studies have even shown creatine serum to have no effect at all on muscle creatine uptake.  Though many supplement companies have made claims that their type of creatine allows for greater muscle uptake, better absorption
in the gut and blood stream, and less breakdown in the stomach, (when compared to creatine monohydrate) research has yet to show any of these to be true.  So if you walk into GNC and pull all the creatine supplements off the shelves...the one that costs the cheapest (but is still pharmaceutical grade) is probably the one that works the best.  Along those lines, the three main producers of creatine are labs in Germany,
United States, and China.  TheUnited States International Trade Commission has collected data from independent lab testing, and places German andAmerican creatine at the top of the list since more contaminants have been found in Chinese sources.  If the product says it is pharmaceutical grade creatine monohydrate and is manufactured in a lab facility that is both continually inspected by a 3rd party and maintains either FDA or the respecting countries' governmental guidelines, you probably have a solid product.   
The "When" of supplementation:

Though many creatine product labels have a specific "time" for when you should take your creatine (immediately before training, 30 minutes before training,
immediately upon waking, immediately after training, etc.), research shows that muscle uptake of creatine is directly related to insulin levels.  For this
reason, many protocols suggest ingestion of creatine with a meal.  The increase in insulin levels due to ingestion of carbohydrates and protein or amino acids post training has been shown to increase protein synthesis and muscle glycogen "refueling."  So to get the most bang for your buck the ISSN explains: "Because insulin levels enhance creatine uptake, ingestion of creatine after exercise with a carbohydrate and/or protein supplement may be an effective way to increase and/or maintain muscle creatine stores."  So holding off to supplement until immediately after you train seems to be the best option.
Creatine Supplementation: Best done immediately post-workout to help harness the power of insulin!
The "How" of supplementation:

As far as the "how" part of supplementation goes, there are 3 main protocols.

The most commonly used protocol (Loading/Maintenance) in supplementation studies involves a "loading" phase (usually 5-7 days) in which creatine is ingested at .3g/kg/day.  The total is usually spread out in smaller chunks throughout the day in 5-ishgram increments.  So for a 150 lb. person:

.3 x (150/2.2) = about 20 grams/day or 5 grams of creatine monohydrate taken 4 times throughout the day.

After the "loading" phase of 5-7 days, muscle creatine levels are maintained by taking 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day.  This protocol is used
most often since muscle creatine stores may reach full capacity (an increase of 10%-40%) after 2-3 days of supplementing.   
Another protocol (Low-dose) involves supplementing 3 to 6 grams of creatine monohydrate per day.  Though 3 grams per day for 28 days has been shown to fully "saturate" muscle creatine stores, it increases these stores in a slower and steady manner.

The third most common protocol (High-dose) involves supplementing .3g/kg/day during training.  This is used least often since muscle creatine stores are maxed out within a few days and only a fraction of the dose is needed to keep muscle creatine levels at maximum.  Save your money.
Some protocols also take advantage of cycling periods of creatine supplementation.  Since it takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the elevated creatine store level to return the pre supplementation level, you don't really have to take creatine everyday of training.  This type of cycling is theorized to increase the naturally occurring level of muscle creatine over time, or at least maintain them.  In contrast to cycling, some researchers are now suggesting treating creatine supplementation they way we treat nutrients (carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, etc.).  In other words, taking a low dose (3-5 grams) every day (regardless of training status or periodization cycle) to maintain elevated muscle creatine stores…all the time.  I have a strong feeling that this will be the “protocol” that most will follow in the near future.    

These aren't the only relevant questions...

 You probably have a few other questions floating through your mind right now...so I'll try to address those, too.

Does it work right away?  Since you can max out your creatine stores within a few days (Loading protocols), research shows performance benefits even for short term supplementation.

 What about long term supplementation?  Research shows that supplementing with creatine over extended periods of time (12 weeks or more) leads to greater
strength and performance gains.  Research also shows that long term supplementation is safe when used within the proper guidelines.

Side effects?  The only significant side effect reported in the clinical studies is weight gain.  All the anecdotally reported side effects (i.e., dehydration, cramping, muscle pulls/tears, etc.) have been refuted by research reviews and other studies looking into the medical safety of this supplement. Interesting thing to note is that creatine supplementation may actually help reduce the risk of heat related injuries due to the increase in muscle "water-weight" associated with supplementation.

One more thing to consider...

 Before you decide whether or not creatine supplementation is for you, I have one more piece of information to share.

When it comes to training for power, muscle size is a pretty big deal.  Increases in muscle size (hypertrophy) occur concurrently with increases in myonuclei.  So what does that mean?  Muscle fibers (cells) have one (but not the only) specific characteristic that differentiates them from most other cells in the body.  They have more than one nucleus.  The greater the number of nuclei within a cell means the greater potential for muscle protein synthesis, and thus more potential for training adaptation. 

So how do you increase the number of nuclei in muscle?  Let me introduce you, if you have not already been acquainted, to satellite cells.
Satellite cells are basically muscle "stem cells" that exist on the outer edges of skeletal muscle fibers.  When a muscle fiber is damaged, especially the type of damage that occurs due to training, satellite cells are activated and then go through one or more of the stages of mitosis to form "daughter cells" in order to help repair the damaged muscle.  These daughter cells can go through further stages of mitosis and become a myotube.  A myotube can then "donate" its nucleus to existing muscle fibers, thus increasing the total number of nuclei within a muscle fiber...and thus increasing potential for muscle protein synthesis and advanced training adaptation.  Pretty cool stuff.  The coolest part, however, is this:  Creatine supplementation in combination with resistance training has been shown to increase the number and activity of satellite cells as well as increase the number of myonuclei within muscle fibers more than resistance training alone.

So there you have it.  Creatine supplementation is safe, effective, and cheap.  Those three words are very hard to get in the same sentence when talking about a specific supplement, by the way.        
*  Creatine has a variety of proven benefits for speed/power athletes.

*  Creatine is best taken directly after a workout with your post-workout supplement.

*  American and German creatine monohydrate powders are the way to go; steer clear of the fancy liquid creatine supplements. 

*  It does not take long in the supplementation process to start noticing the effects of creatine.

*  There are a variety of ways to take creatine, you don’t have to take it every single day, and cycling is a good idea when supplementing with it.

*  Creatine works with satellite cells during supplementation and resistance training to pack greater amounts of myonuclei into muscle fibers. 


United States International Trade Commission, Creatine Monohydrate from the People's Republic of China:  Investigation No. 731-TA-814 (Preliminary). Determination and Views of the Commission (USITC Publication No. 3177, April 1999). Retrieved from http://www.usitc.gov/publications/701_731/pub3177.pdf

Burke, D.G., Chilibeck, P.D., Parise G., Candow, C.D., Mahoney, D., and Tarnopolsky, M.  (2003).  Effect of Creatine and Weight Training on Muscle
Creatine and Performance in Vegetarians.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.  35:  1946-1955.

Hultman, E., Soderlund, K., Timmorns, J.A., Cederblad, G., and Greenhaff, P.L.  (1996).  Muscle Creatine Loading in Men.  Journal of Applied Physiology.  81: 232-237.

Bundle, M.W. & Weyand, P.G.  (2012).  Sprint Exercise Performance: Does Metabolic Power Matter?  Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews.  40:3  174-182.

Krieder, R.B.  (2008).  Sports Applications of Creatine.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout,M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 417-439). Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Chromiak, J.A. & Antonio, J.  (2008).  Skeletal Muscle Plasticity.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout,M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 21-52). Totowa, New  Jersey:  Humana Press

Olsen, S., Aagaard, P., Kadi, Fawzi, Tufekovic, G., Verney, J., Olesen, J.L., Suetta, C., and Kjaer, M. (2006).  Creatine Supplementation Augements the Increase
in Satellite Cell and Myonuclei Number in Human Skeletal Muscle Induced by Strength Training.  Journal of Physiology.  573: 525-534.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Article # 5 on Justflysports.com

Supplements for the Power Athlete:
Creatine and the Theory Behind Supplementation

Before we dive into the topic of creatine supplementation, I must allude to the Chinese proverb I used in the first Nutrition for the Power Athlete article:

"He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skill of the physician."

I just want to open this way because most supplements, like most medicines, are not as effective if the diet is poor. So if you have not yet read the Nutrition for the Power Athlete articles, I encourage you to do so.

The next thing I'd like to bring up before diving into the supplement world is...the bell shaped curve.  If you have ever studied statistics, or even if you haven't, you have most likely heard of it as it is the most prominent probability distribution used in statistics. Statistics was not my favorite class in undergraduate or graduate school, but I did learn many things that were/are practical and applicable to my life in general, but also my diet and training specifically. Without going into too much detail, and trying to keep things simple and relevant to our topic...the bell shape curve (sometimes called a normal curve) represents a normal distribution, and is an easy way to view how a specific variable or property has an "effect" on a group of people or population. Again, this is by no means a complete explanation of normal distribution, but it will serve our purposes. If you want to learn more, just watch a few videos on YouTube by searching "bell shape curve" or "normal distribution curve."  Or you can read a stats book...

Anyway, the basic premise is that an effect of a specific variable will be distributed throughout a group in the shape of a bell curve. This means, for example,
that the response to a specific stimuli is not exactly the same for every person in a group. If you think about it like a spectrum, and using creatine as an example, the majority of a group will have some significant response to creatine supplementation, while a small portion will show a non-significant (non-responder) response and another small portion on the opposite end of the spectrum will show a very significant response. If you have ever seen the movie Unbreakable, (spoiler alert!) you'll understand how Mr. Glass and the main character are both the minority at opposite ends of the human spectrum, with the majority of humans somewhere in between.

Back to the point: even when research shows a supplement to be "effective", there are, most often, "statistical outliers" that are either not dealt with statistically or are only mentioned in passing.  Since creatine has been studied so heavily, we understand that the majority of people respond quite well to its use...while others seem to show little to no response at all.  All that to say...if you try using it and it doesn't seem to work, you may have poor quality creatine or you may just be a "non-responder".  As an example, Eric Cressey explains on his blog that he is a "non-responder" with regard to supplements, specifically mentioning that he does not gain "water-weight" often associated with creatine supplementation.

Theoretical premise of Creatine supplementation:

The main theory behind the use of creatine comes down to turning ADP back into ATP. For most body cells, but specifically muscle cells, energy that is immediately available is stored in the form of a high-energy phosphate called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  Unfortunately (in my opinion) cells store only enough ATP to fuel max effort muscle contraction for a very limited time...like a few seconds.  The process of generating fuel from ATP is called hydrolysis, because water is required for the reaction to occur.  A very simplified version of how ATP serves as energy or fuel is as follows:

An enzyme, called ATPase separates one of the three phosphate bonds on ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which makes available energy for contraction, but also
yields a proton, heat, entropy, and an inorganic phosphate.  This reaction turns ATP into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) since the enzyme ATPase broke one the
of the phosphate bonds.

ATP + water (and the enzyme ATPase)  =  ADP + an inorganic phosphate + a hydrogen ion (proton) + heat + entropy + free energy.

A bit of an aside...but this is just another reason water is still the most important "ergogenic aid" out there. Without proper hydration, both this reaction to create energy as well as the ability to dissipate the heat created by this reaction could not occur. Dehydration = limited hydrolysis + over heating.

To maintain high intensity muscle contraction, the body's cells act to resynthesize ATP from ADP and a high energy phosphate. Creatine phosphate (CP, also
called phosphocreatine, PCr), which is also stored in very small quantities in muscle (enough for another couple seconds of max effort muscle contraction), is
a major player in the reaction that turns ADP back into ATP so that the hydrolysis reaction can occur to release more energy for contraction.
CP + ADP + a hydrogen ion (proton) = creatine + ATP + heat

So the theory is that ingesting creatine monohydrate will increase cellular levels of CP, which would then allow for more immediate resynthesis of ADP and ATP and thus improve muscular strength and endurance.

And what do you know?  After 1000+ studies on creatine supplementation, the theory is quite sound and supplementation quite safe.

Though we now understand that creatine supplementation may have performance benefits for most (if not all) athletic activities, the potential benefits for the Power Athlete are quite clear. As I alluded to before, creatine supplementation increases the stored levels of CP (creatine phosphate) in the
.  This means energy production for maximal effort activity can be maintained for longer than normal. Creatine supplementation may only allow for the maintenance of maximal sprint speed for a fraction of a second longer than normal, or the ability to complete 1 more rep when weight training, but when these gains are compounded over multiple training sessions, the results will speak for themselves

Another way creatine can improve your athletic performance is by allowing more CP to be available for recovery between sets or bouts of a specific exercise or activity. For example, recovery between sets of squats or sprints can occur faster with creatine supplementation, allowing for a reduction in time between training sessions or an increase in the quality of each training session.

Thats all for now...but stay tuned for Creatine Part 2.

In the next article I'll discuss the What, When, Why, and How of creatine supplementation, along with a few other details that research has brought to light on the topic.

-Kevin Kuhn, M.S.Ed., CSCS


Balsom, P.D., Soderlund, K., Edblom, B.  (1994).  Creatine in Humans with Special Reference to Creatine Supplementation. Sports Medicine. 18:  268-280.

Krieder, R.B.  (2008).  Sports Applications of Creatine.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout,M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 417-439). Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Scott, C.B.  (2008).  Thermodynamics, Biochemistry, and Metabolism.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff
(Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 3-20). Totowa, New  Jersey:  Humana Press

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Article # 4 on Justflysports.com

On a low-fat diet?  Might want to read this...and reconsider.


Nutrition for the Power Athlete:  Part 4.  Fat

To conclude the explanation of the macronutrients, we must address fat.  Generally speaking, Power Athletes and the general public should have similar fat intake percentages, which comes to about 30% of total caloric intake. This is because fat, but not just any kind of fat, is very necessary for promoting optimal health. When you break it down...if you aren't healthy, how can you train or compete?

The idea that fat = bad is still very prominent in today's society. This notion is pretty unfortunate since fat (fatty acids) plays such an important role in so, many aspects of human physiology, like providing energy, aiding in the transport of the "fat-soluble" vitamins A, D, E, and K, and promoting anabolic hormone production to name just a few. So how much do you need?

The general consensus is that about 30% of your total caloric intake should come from fat, with 10% or fewer of total caloric intake coming from saturated
fats (keeping as far away as possible from trans fats). The very interesting and important thing to understand is that 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. That's more than double the calories per gram of protein and carbohydrate. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 10-15% of your total caloric intake come from monounsaturated fatty acids, and 10-15% of total caloric intake come from polyunsaturated fatty acids, with some saturated fat as well. This recommendation is due to the overwhelming evidence from research that is showing a higher fat diet helps to maintain circulating concentrations of anabolic hormones such as testosterone.  There exists much evidence (The Malmo Diet and Cancer Study) that high fat diets, even ones with greater than 10% saturated fat, are not detrimental to health and do not increase mortality.

What's the difference between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids? Glad you asked. It all comes down to molecular bonds and the number of hydrogen atoms that the fat molecule contains. Saturated fat has no carbon-to-carbon double bonds and is "maxed-out" by hydrogen bonds. Because of their molecular nature, they have a higher predisposition to being stored as opposed to used as fuel in comparison to unsaturated fatty acids. In general, saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature while unsaturated fatty acids are typically liquid (oils) at room temperature.

Saturated fats are mostly from animal sources as well as oils that have been hydrogenated (like margarine), while unsaturated fats are mostly from plant sources. There are two kinds of unsaturated fatty acids:  Monounsaturated fatty acids contain one carbon-to-carbon double bond, and Polyunsaturated fatty acids that contain two or more carbon-to-carbon double bonds. In a similar fashion to specific amino acids characterized as "essential," some Polyunsaturated fatty acids must be obtained from the diet from either plant or animal sources since they cannot be synthesized. Due to our inability to create specific carbon-to-carbon double bonds at specific positions on fatty acid molecules, we must get the unsaturated fatty acids Omega-3 (linolenic acid) and Omega-6 (linoleic acid) from our diet. Though we need both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, the specific ratio of these is very important since Omega-6 fatty acids are known to be "proinflammitory" and can therefore play a role in negatively affecting recovery and health if too much is present in the diet. This is an issue since the typical "western" diet has a ratio of about 20:1 of Omega-6 to Omega-3

The Institute of Medicine suggest a 7:1 ratio of these fatty acids. Research just published in the journal Prostaglandins and Other Lipid Mediators, and conducted by Weylandt, et. al.  has shown that Omega-3, on the other hand, reduces inflammation via the production of lipid mediators protectin and resolvin.  Buckley and Howe explain in their review of Omega-3 fatty acids that the role of these lipids may even be beneficial in preventing obesity. The review also states that Omega-3 fatty acids do more than help prevent obesity: "...including suppression of appetite, improvements in circulation which might facilitate
nutrient delivery to skeletal muscle and changes in gene expression which shift metabolism toward increased accretion of lean tissue, enhanced fat oxidation
and energy expenditure and reduced fat deposition."

Wait a minute. Eating Omega-3 fatty acids does what?

-Improves circulation and nutrient delivery
-Shifts metabolism toward lean tissue growth
-Increases the amount of stored fat that is used as energy

Do those sound like beneficial things when it comes to training? Yeah. Those are good.

So what are some good sources of these mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids?

Monounsaturated:  Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil, as well as avocados and most nuts.

Polyunsaturated:  Corn oil, flower oils, sesame oil, soy oil, as well as most nuts and seeds.

What about good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids?

Walnuts and most cold water fish, such as herring, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and salmon. Also...it is pretty easy to find fish oil supplements.

And...since Power Athletes can eat some saturated fat, good sources include: beef and poultry, as well as dairy products. For non-animal source saturated fat, sources include: coconut oil, palm oil, and kernel oil.

AVOID trans fats, which have been shown to promote obesity and other inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Trans fats, which are usually plant oils that have been processed to extend shelf life or "hydrogenated" to obtain a specific "solid" characteristic have also been shown to: increase "bad" LDL cholesterol
decrease "good" HDL cholesterol
increase C-reactive protein (a marker of muscle damage and breakdown) 

To avoid these trans fats, check the ingredients label.  If it says "trans fat," "hydrogenated," or "partially-hydrogenated," it should be limited or avoided.

(Note: Just because a label says 0g of trans-fat, this doesn't mean it doesn't have any trans-fat. Food companies can put 0g of trans-fat on their label if there is less than .5g in a serving, so check the ingredients list for the "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" key words!)

If you can consume the good fats and limit the bad ones, it will really help you as an athlete!  So don't be afraid of fat.  It does much more than insulate and keep you warm.


Buckley, J.D. & Howe, P.R.  (2010).  Long-chain Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids may be Beneficial for Reducing Obesity - a Review. Nutrients.  2(12):  1212-1230.

Hofheins, J.  (2008).  An Overview of Macronutrients.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370).  Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Leosdottir, M., Nilsson, P.M., Nilsson, J.A., Mansson, H., & Berglund, G.  (2005). Dietary Fat Intake and Early Mortality Patterns - Data from the Malmo Diet and Cancer Study. Journal of International Medicine.  258:  153-165. 

Lowery, L.  (2008).  Fat.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370).  Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Stoppani, J., Scheett, T.P., & McGuigan M.R.  (2008). Nutritional Needs of the Strength/Power Athletes. In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370).  Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Weylandt, K.H., Chiu, C.Y., Gomolka, B., Waechter, S.F., & Wiedenmann, B.  (2012). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and their Lipid Mediators:  Towards an Understanding of Resolvin and Protectin Formation.  Prostaglandins and Other Lipid Mediators.  (Epub ahead of print).  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3rd Article on Justflysports.com

Check out the third article in the nutrition series on Justflysports.com


Nutrition for the Power Athlete: Part 3. Carbohydrates
By Kevin Kuhn

In the second article in this nutrition series, I explained that approximately 55-60% of the "traditional" Power Athlete's total calories will come from carbohydrates. Though this number will vary based on individual differences as well as sport and activity metabolic demands, the role of carbohydrate for fuel as well as its influence on specific metabolic hormones before, during, and after exercise is of vital athletic importance.

Consuming 5-6grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight is an easy way to calculate that 55-60% of total calories, for most athletes.

Once again we have arrived at a number. And once again I will ask the rhetorical question:  Is this important?

Well, lets say the specific sport/activity you participate in lasts longer than 30 seconds at a time.  In this case, carbohydrate serves as high-intensity fuel. So yes...it is of vital importance to have enough fuel to maintain high intensity activity. No fuel = no performance. But what if your sport/activity is one that last less than 30 seconds. Well, carbohydrate is not necessarily the main fuel source; however, it does still play a significant role. What is that role, you ask?

Well, even if your sport/activity does not last more than 30 seconds...your training does. Training for almost every sport is at least somewhat intermittent, and high intensity intermittent exercise/training depends heavily on carbohydrate for fuel. And thats just the training for your specific event. What about your supplemental training? By that, I am referring to resistance training. It has been very well documented that resistance training and other forms of conditioning depend very highly on adequate carbohydrate ingestion.

Lets just say, for arguments sake, that the sport/activity you train for requires no carbohydrate for fuel...and that your training is not very dependent on carbohydrate for fuel.  Even in this case...to maximize the adaptations to training as well as to promote recovery between training sessions, carbohydrates are still needed.     

Before I discuss how the specific timing of carbohydrates can play a role in training adaptation, we must first understand the glycemic index. The glycemic index is just a simple way of ranking carbohydrate food according to the blood-glucose (blood sugar) response after they have been ingested. Carbs with a high glycemic index (like white bread, sports drinks, and candy) elicit a high blood-glucose response while carbs with a low glycemic index (like oatmeal and legumes) cause less of a dramatic spike in blood-glucose.

It is here...that things can get a little tricky. Carbohydrates in general, but "simple" carbs (high glycemic index) specifically have a very bad reputation. There is nothing inherently wrong with carbohydrates. The issue really comes down to when they are ingested...how much are ingested...and whether or not you sit on the couch all day. This next part may be a bit of an aside...but I feel it is necessary to say.

If you are not participating in high intensity training of some sort...you do not need very many carbohydrates...especially simple carbohydrates. This article is not to discuss insulin sensitivity, so I won't go any further into that. Just know that the body stores carbohydrate in the form of fat very easily in the absence of exercise. Exhibit A: America. 

So what should you eat?  High glycemic index or low glycemic index carbs?

The answer is yes. You should eat both. The specific time you eat either is very important.

The specific issue of nutrient timing with regard to carbohydrate has much to do with insulin. If you've spent any time in a gym, you have probably overheard someone (probably a meathead doing bicep curls in the squat rack, no doubt) say "insulin is the most anabolic hormone." And that is actually true.

Carbohydrate ingestion plays a very big role in muscle/tissue growth and repair.  

This is because when you eat/drink carbohydrates, the pancreas releases insulin. The specific role of insulin is to:  "...lower blood glucose level by enhancing cellular uptake, enhance the storage of glycogen, enhance fat storage, enhance cellular uptake of amino acids, increase the synthesis of proteins, and suppress the catabolism of proteins."  In practical terms, insulin is needed to escort the carbohydrate (which has been broken down to glucose) into working cells to "fill up the fuel tank."  Since the stored form of glucose (glycogen) can be reduced by as much as 40% after resistance training, insulin due to carbohydrate ingestion post exercise plays a big role in replacing that which was used up.  But it does more than just refill the gas tank.

Ingestion of high glycemic index carbohydrates has been shown to elicit an insulin spike that can increase the availability of growth hormone, which is vital to tissue and muscle growth and repair.  Dr. Greg Haff, et al., explains in their review of carbohydrate supplementation and resistance training that: "The elevations in growth hormone stimulated by carbohydrate supplementation may ultimately lead to increases in muscle hypertrophy and enhanced resistance training performance."

Recovery from training exists on a continuum.  By this, I mean that recovery is directly influenced by anabolic (tissue growth/repair) as well as catabolic (tissue breakdown/degradation) hormones. High intensity exercise has been shown to increase levels of cortisol, which is a catabolic hormone. Cortisol acts to stimulate the breakdown of muscle protein and simultaneously prevent synthesis of new muscle protein. The unfortunate icing on this cake is that cortisol acts more catabolic on type II
muscle fibers
, which are the primary muscle fibers used in strength and power movements. If cortisol levels remain elevated for an extended period of time, muscle atrophy and reductions in muscle power and strength can occur. Cortisol has also been shown to impair the function of the immune system. Reductions in immune function may open up the doors to illness or slow and limit the recovery process. But...carbohydrate supplementation post exercise has been shown to elicit insulin-mediated reductions in cortisol. So supplementing with carbohydrates post exercise may not only refuel the tanks, but also increase the availability of growth hormone while simultaneously clearing the catabolic and immune suppressing effects of cortisol. How can something that does all that have such a bad reputation?

Dr. Haff, et al., in the conclusion of their review of carbohydrates and resistance training, state that carbohydrate supplementation before, during, and after training:
   "may serve to promote a faster recovery, which may enhance subsequent exercise and training sessions"
   "offer some ergogenic benefit, through increasing work output when the athlete is performing high-volume training with moderate loads"
   "effect the overall net protein synthesis rate postexercise, which could magnify the hypertrophic response to training."

He also explains that all these effects of carbohydrate supplementation may add up to better quality training sessions which could ultimately improve performance for Power Athletes. 

Let's now apply what we have learned, young athlete. So now on to the specific timing of carbohydrate ingestion and supplementation...
Generally speaking, before exercise, as well as just about any other time except immediately post exercise, carbohydrates should be "complex" or low glycemic index. During as well as immediately post exercise; however, carbohydrates should be simple/high glycemic index in nature to provide quick fuel and promote refueling.

I've explained that high glycemic index carbs post exercise increase refueling as well as promote recovery by increasing anabolic hormones and decreasing catabolic hormones, but these effects can be even greater when the carbohydrate is combined with protein.

The combined effect of these two macronutrients post exercise does a few things such as: Increase the amount of "refueling" that can occur, limit the amount of muscle protein that is degraded, and increase the amount of muscle protein that is synthesized.

SO combine those carbs and protein post training! And keep the carbs low to moderate on the glycemic index unless you are working out or you just finished.

-Kevin Kuhn


Haff, G.G.  (2008). Carbohydrates.  In J. Antonio, Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370).  Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Haff, G.G., Lehmkuhl, M.J., McCoy, L.B., & Stone, M. H.  (2003).  Carbohydrate Supplementation and Resistance Training.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  17(1).  187-196.

Stoppani, J., Scheett, T.P., & McGuigan M.R.  (2008). Nutritional Needs of the Strength/Power Athletes. In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370).  Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Monday, February 20, 2012

Article 2 on Justflysports.com

Hey everyone.  My 2nd nutrition article is up on justflysports.com

check it out!


Nutrition for the Power Athlete: Part 2. Protein
by Kevin Kuhn, MS, CSCS

If you are reading this, hopefully you have taken the time to figure out your daily caloric needs based on last weeks article.  Now that we have that number...the specific breakdown of the 3 calorie containing macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat) can be done.

The traditional breakdown for most Power Athletes has been 55-60% of calories from carbohydrates, 12-15% of calories from protein, and 30% of calories from fat (with less than 10% of that coming from saturated fats).

These ratios are specific to the Power Athlete because, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, they will:
"...provide enough protein to support the normal regenerative processes and promote muscle growth and strength gains"
"...stock glycogen stores for athletic performance"
"...maintain a positive energy balance"
"...replenish intramuscular triglyceride stores"
and "support anabolic hormone production"

Hopefully it makes sense that these 3 macronutrients are extremely important to athletic performance, since diet has so much more to do with athletics than providing fuel. The name "Power Athlete" has been claimed by many different sports/athletic activities on the metabolic demands spectrum.  By this I mean that traditional powerlifters, those who compete in the "Olympic" lifts, football athletes, track and field sprinters, and many other athletes have been called "Power Athletes."  True measures of "power" that last fewer than 30 seconds require a different diet than activities that last longer than 30 seconds. This is because the high intensity activity up to 30 seconds really only depends on high energy phosphates (existing ATP and phosphocreatine) with little reliance on stored glycogen, whereas activity lasting longer than 30 seconds, especially those with intermittent rest/activity periods, rely more and more on stored glycogen as physical activity time increases. This means that a diet to promote performance for true power activities will require a lesser percentage of carbohydrates and an increased percentage of protein and fat to maintain caloric balance.

That being said...this week will cover the basics of Protein.

Protein, which provides 4 calories per gram, is composed of nitrogen containing structures called amino acids. There exist 20 different amino acids, of which 11 are non-essential, meaning they do not have to be obtained in the diet since the body can make them from other compounds, and 9 which are essential, meaning they must be
obtained through the diet. It is these essential amino acids that are necessary for various biochemical processes within the body, but specifically for tissue growth and repair.  Bottom line:  Without the appropriate intake of dietary protein, repairing damaged tissue and maximizing strength and power along with the adaptations to exercise and training cannot occur.

So how much is enough?
Though it is recommended that 12-15% of total calories come from protein, a more specific calculation to promote maximal recovery and adaptation to training is to get 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. For example:  I am 160 lbs.  160 / 2.2 = 72.7 kilograms.  72.7 x 1.5 to 2.0 = 109 to 145 grams of protein per day. This calculation still fits the percentage of my total calories since 145 grams of protein comes to 580 (145 x 4 kcal/gram) calories, which makes up about 14% of my total caloric needs (4077 calories/day).

109 grams to 145 grams of protein per day?  Really?  Yes.

The 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may seem high when compared to the previous recommendation of 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or the measly 50 grams (or "ounce" equivalents) per day still recommended by the CDC, USDA, and some, but not all, Registered Dietitians.

Timeout. I don't want this to be a rant against governmental agencies or dietitians. Please understand that I am not trying to attack them. I just believe that the research backing a high protein diet must not be ignored. A specific study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology and conducted by Tarnopolskyet. al. looking at the protein requirements of power athletes showed that in order to maintain a positive nitrogen balance (ingesting enough protein for tissue repair and growth), these subjects had to ingest 1.4 to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So 50 grams...just doesn't cut it if you want to any athletic development and improvement. Also, the  "hazards" of a high protein diet have been very exaggerated. Both the National Academy of Sciences and the Harvard School of Public Health conclude in their reviews of literature on high protein ingestion that this type of diet does not increase risk for coronary heart disease. Along with that, no study has ever shown or reported either kidney or liver damage in individuals who begin a high protein diet with properly functioning kidneys and liver. High protein intake was once thought to weaken bones since calcium is needed to buffer acidity associated with protein metabolism; however, we now understand that phosphate in protein rich foods negates the need to pull calcium from bones, and there is thus a high correlation between bone strength and protein intake.

I do want to dedicate an entire paragraph to the next issue: Hydration. Since protein contains nitrogen, and this dietary nitrogen is processed via the urea cycle and then removed via the urinary system, it is very important to monitor hydration levels when on a high protein diet.  This is very important since athletic performance can significantly decrease with as little as 3% loss of total body water.  Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help maintain both a proper hydration status as well as healthy urinary system.

Now that the "cons" have been addressed, the next most important thing to consider is nutrient timing.  Taking 145 grams of protein in 1 sitting would not be a very wise thing for me to do since the body cannot adequately utilize that much at a time. I would be much better off to spread my protein intake throughout the day. There have been various studies conducted to figure out just how much protein the body can metabolize and utilize at a time, but due to so manyindividual/biological differences in people, there is no set number. Some say 10 grams or less can be fully utilized per hour.  Others say the body is so good at adapting to what is ingested, that double or triple that can be digested and utilized per hour.  My suggestion is to spread it out in approximately 20-30 gram chunks throughout the day, beginning with breakfast as soon as you can upon waking, and right before you go to bed (to maximize recovery).  Probably the most important aspect of nutrient timing deals with the time around your training session. Research is quite clear that ingestion of 20-30 grams immediately before, immediately after, or both before and after physical activity results in greater muscle protein synthesis as well as strength and power gains. A specific study conducted by Anderson et. al. published in the journal Metabolism compared young men who supplemented 25 grams of protein before and after strength training to a group who supplemented 25 grams of carbohydrate before and after strength training. This 14 week study showed that the protein group had 18-26% greater gains in muscle mass in comparison to the carbohydrate group.

So the total amount of protein is very important...but even more important is when you get it.  Whether its right before or right after...just make sure you get it!

Tarnopolsky, M.A., Atkinson, S.A., MacDougall, J.D., Chelsey, A.,Phillips, S., & Schwarcs, H.P. (1992).  Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes.
Journal of Applied Physiology. 73:  1986-1995.

Anderson, L.L., Tufekovic, G., Zebis, M.K., et. al.  (2005).  The effect of resistance training combined with timed ingestion of protein on muscle fiber size and muscle strength.  Metabolism.  54(2): 151-156.

Ziegenfuss, T.N. & Landis, J.  (2008).  Protein.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370). Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Stoppani, J., Scheett, T.P., & McGuigan M.R.  (2008).  Nutritional Needs of the Strength/Power Athletes.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370).  Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press


Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Sport Nutrition Series via a colleagues' website

Hey everyone!  I am writing a series of nutrition/supplement articles for a friend of mine, Joel Smith.  Please read them and let me know what you think!

Here is the link to the first one.


Nutrition for the Power Athlete: Part 1. Energy Requirements

Kevin Kuhn, MS, CSCS

"He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skill of the physician"  - Chinese Proverb

As a sport performance and nutrition professional, I am often asked which supplements are best for a specific outcome.  For example, just the other day I was asked by a high school baseball player what supplements he should take to improve his athletic performance.  I could have rattled off a list of specific supplements that have been studied and proved to be beneficial, but I don't think that would have been the best way to answer his question.  I responded to his question with one of my own:  "What is your diet like?".  His response left me cringing.  Both what he ate as well as when he ate were not exactly in line with a performance-enhancing diet.

In regard to the opening quotation, taking medicine, or supplements, without active pursuit of a "complete" and "healthy" diet is a waste of money, time, and effort. So, before I go into any detail about supplements that have been shown to improve athletic performance for the Power Athlete, I'd first like to lay a bit of a nutritional foundation.

Before you continue reading, I'd like you to think about a few things:
How many calories do you think you need every day?
How many calories, if you had to guess, do you actually get every day?
Is it really that important to get a specific number of calories every day?

Okay, here we go.
The first place to start is to figure out how many calories you need. This is done by first finding out how many calories are needed to just sustain life (BMR:  basal metabolic rate). Since finding the actual BMR is a very long and complicated process, equations have been formulated to estimate the resting metabolic rate. A simple equation to figure out how many calories are needed before exercise/training is involved is the Harris-Benedict equation (keep in mind these are estimates and individual differences may vary...but generally this is a legitimate way to find caloric requirements).

For men:
Predicted BMR (calories/day) = 66.5 + (13.75 x weight in kilograms) + (5.003 x height in cm) - (6.775 x age in years)

  ex:  I am 25 years old, weigh 160 lbs, and am 6 feet tall.
  To find weight in kilograms:  weight in lbs / 2.2           160 lbs / 2.2  = 72.7 kg
  To find height in cm:  height in inches x  2.54              72 inches x 2.54 = 182.88

So my predicted BMR is:  66.5 + (999.625) + (914.948) - (169.375)

= 1812 calories / day

For women:
Predicted BMR (calories/day) = 655.1 + (9.5663 x weight in kilograms) + (1.85 x height in cm) - (4.676 x age in years)

The next step is to multiply your predicted BMR by an activity factor.

Sedentary or light activity corresponds with a 1.53 activity factor.
Active or moderate activity corresponds with a 1.76 activity factor.
Vigorous activity corresponds with a 2.25 activity factor. (If you are reading this...you are probably in this category)

I train at least 5 times a week at a relatively high intensity, so I multiply my predicted BMR by an activity factor of 2.25

My predicted daily energy requirement is therefore 4077 calories.
Okay.  Now what?  Is this really that important?
Well, yes.  Ingesting the appropriate number of calories daily is necessary to maximize the adaptations to training, promote healing and recovery, and fuel training and performance.

Now that you've done the calculation for yourself, take some time to reflect on your daily energy requirement.
Is your calculation close to what you guessed it would be?

Try tracking your caloric intake for a week.  A food log may seem like a somewhat tedious job, but it provides very important information relative to athletic performance. If your daily intake is pretty close (either slightly under or over...on average) to your estimated daily requirement, then you're ready for next week's blog.

Alluding back to the beginning, before supplements can be significantly beneficial, energy requirements must be met. The next step is to figure how much of each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) is needed daily, and the specific role they play in fueling performance.

-Kevin Kuhn


Stoppani, J., Scheett, T.P., & McGuigan M.R.  (2008).  Nutritional Needs of the Strength/Power Athletes.  In J. Antonio, D. Kalman, J.R. Stout, M. Greenwood, D.S. Willoughby, and G.G. Haff (Eds.), Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements (pp. 349-370).  Totowa, New Jersey:  Humana Press

Monday, January 16, 2012

Exercise...before you exercise

So it's been a while.  Sorry for the delay.  I hope everyone had an excellent new year.  I was very much under the weather...attempting to battle a tag-teaming virus and bacteria.  After a brutal week of not being able to eat...and losing 15 lbs...I'm finally back to "normal."

I've been bouncing this blog's topic around in my head for a few weeks, and finally decided to start from the beginning.  By that...I mean a proper warm-up.  I was taught, from a very young age, that before you exercise...you must warm up.  That meant a lot of static stretching.  Each stretch was held for at least 30 seconds, hitting all the major muscle groups.  It didn't matter what the activity to follow was going to be...lifting, running, basketball, etc...you had to stretch, right?  Maybe the warm-up included some jogging or a few minutes on the eliptical machine...but not too long, and not too intense...I mean, you don't want to waste your energy on the warm-up.

In my opinion, all that "traditional" stuff needs to go.  We all should have more common sense than that.  I mean seriously, does it make sense to do a 5 minute stretch session (low intensity) followed by 3-5 slow minutes on an eliptical (low intensity)..and then throw as much weight on the bench as we can possibly lift (high intensity)?  I would argue that there is a better way to prepare for physical activity.  I believe a dynamic warm-up is a better way to prepare the entire body for physical activity.  

What is the point of the warm up?
Well...if the goal of the warm-up is to adequately prepare you for the stress of exercise...we need to evaluate our warm-up.

What is the difference between a static stretching (traditional) warm-up and a dynamic stretching warm-up?  Lets see what the body of literature says.

A study performed at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, by D.J. McMillian, J.H. Moore, B.S. Hatler, and D.C. Taylor compared the outcomes of a traditional "static" warm-up, no warm-up, and a "dynamic" warm-up prior to 3 tests of power and agility (T-shuttle run for time, underhand medicine ball throw for distance, and 5 step jump for distance).  The testing, which occurred over 3 consecutive days so that each participant in the study was tested after random assignment to each type of warm up, yielded significantly clear results.  Across the board, the dynamic warm-up resulted in significantly greater performance outcomes for each of the 3 tests when compared to a static warm-up or no warm-up.  The authors of this study, therefore, suggest that due to the performance outcomes of a dynamic warm-up, a traditional "stand-alone" static warm-up prior to physical activity should be reassessed.

A study looking at the specific effects of static stretching on peak torque (maximal force) production of the quadriceps sheds more light on the warm-up issue.  T.A. Siatras, V.P. Mittas, D.N. Mameletzi, and E.A. Vamvakoudis measured knee flexion ROM as well as isometric and concentric isokinetic peak torque of the quadriceps muscle group before as well as after static stretching in 4 experimental groups (no stretching (control), stretching for 10 seconds, stretching for 20 seconds, stretching for 30 seconds, and stretching for 60 seconds).  Though there was a significant increase in knee joint flexibility in the 30 second and 60 second stretching groups, these groups both also displayed a significant decrease in isometric peak torque and isokinetic peak torque.  In other words...when static stretching is used to "loosen-up" prior to physical activity...the result is actually a reduction in the muscle's ability to generate power.  That is not a very good trade-off if you ask me.  The authors go on to suggest that static stretching held for 30 seconds or longer should NOT be performed prior to performances requiring maximal strength.

Another study involving the effects of static stretching duration on the muscle force production brings to light an important concept.  J.P. Brandenburg conducted a study measuring 2 static stretching groups (15 seconds and 30 seconds) prior to hamstring performance during concentric, isometric, and eccentric muscle contractions.  The results revealed a reduction in performance in each muscle contraction type in both groups.  The author therefore concluded that regardless of duration of static stretching, even a very short stretch duration (15 seconds), there is a statistically significant decrease in muscle power production, and static stretching is consequently not appropriate as a warm-up prior to "strength activities".

So static stretching increases ROM prior to activity...but can cause reductions in power output.  I know what you are thinking:  "Dynamic stretching can result in better performance outcomes when compared to static stretching...but what effect does dynamic stretching have on ROM?"  I'm glad you asked...because E.T. Perrier, M.J. Pavol, and M.A. Hoffman have an answer.  In their study looking at the the differences between a static and dynamic warm-up on countermovement jump height, reaction time, and low-back and hamstring flexibility, the authors explain that though there was no significant difference between groups on reaction time, dynamic warm-up had a significantly greater performance outcome on countermovement jump height when compared to static warm-up.  This is the cool part (in my opinion)...both static warm-up and dynamic warm-up had a statistically significant increase on the outcome of the flexibility test...with no statistical difference between the two groups.  Meaning?  Well...it means that a dynamic warm-up is just as effective as static stretching at increasing ROM...while having no detrimental effects on power output.  That's a big deal!  The authors recommend, therefore, based on the results of this study, that individuals participating in activities requiring lower extremity power should employ a dynamic warm-up to improve performance and simultaneously increasing flexibility.    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21701282

Those are some specific examples...but what is the collective consensus on the static vs dynamic topic?

D.G. Behm and A. Chaouachi conducted a review of literature on the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching and performance outcomes.  Though they explain that there are a large number of studies that show static stretch-induced decreases in performance prior to activity, there are also many studies that show no performance decreases associated with a static warm-up.  The authors explain that these newer studies showing no performance decrements may be due to specifics in the study protocols such as: stopping the stretch before the point of discomfort, the specific choice of performance test measure, the amount of time the stretch is held, and the specific population used (elite athletes as opposed to trained middle age participants, for example).  An interesting thing to note is that the authors state that there may be performance benefits to static stretching prior to activities that require "slower velocity eccentric contractions" and "contractions of a more prolonged duration or stretch-shortening cycle".  To conclude, the authors recommend that static stretching be used as its own separate component (not prior to exercise) for the specific "health related range of motion benefits".  Back to the issue of warm-up...the authors explain that in order to both enhance performance and minimize impairments, submaximal aerobic activity followed by "large amplitude" dynamic stretching and finally, if applicable, concluding with sport-specific dynamic movements and activities.

So when it comes to preparation for physical activity...static stretching doesn't cut it.  The takeaway:
-  Static stretching...regardless of the duration...results in performance reductions
-  Dynamic stretching is just as effective as static stretching at increasing flexibility and ROM prior to activity
-  Dynamic warm-up results in increases in measures of athletic performance when compared to static warm-up

Please don't get me wrong.  I'm not here to attack static stretching.  There is most definitely a time and place for static stretching...I just don't think it has any place in preparation for physical activity.  There are numerous health and flexibility benefits associated with this type of stretching.  I recommend using this modality after exercise or activity is finished.  My reasons for post activity static stretching may be a future post.    

Before I finish up, I just wanted to mention that there are many exercise professionals, including physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches who have been in this industry much longer than I have, who include static stretching into a warm-up.  I can not speak for all of them, but I would assume some sort of dynamic movements are performed after the static stretching is used.  While I was examining this warm-up philosophy...I found this interesting study, one worth examining, involving static stretching followed by dynamic movements prior to athletic activity.  If static stretching is thought to be necessary prior to an athletic activity, K.L. Taylor, J.M. Sheppard, H. Lee, and N. Plummer explain in their study that the performance decrements associated with static stretching can be offset if it is immediately followed by a sport-specific warm-up component.

I try to include some sort of practical application in each blog post...but unless you already know what a dynamic warm-up entails...you may have to wait til the next post.  So sorry!  I'll go into what I do for my warm-up...and I may even have video examples.  Exciting...I know.

Stay tuned!


P.S.  I'm going to have guest blogs in the future.  For now, however, I may include bits and pieces of conversations I've had with fitness colleagues about specific blog topics.  Here is a piece my friend Lovell Thomas had to say regarding a proper warm-up:

"I believe your warmup should be based on the type of workout you are preparing for. So if you lift hard core I think the warmup should be pretty intense to get the muscles prepared to fire quickly. If you are just going to do a low intensity long distance run the warmup can be some static stretching and some active stretching to get the blood in the lower extremities flowing (adequate blood flow to the joints).  
With resistance training I usually suggest warmup your body accordintg to what you plan to workout. If you are doing an upperbody routine, a few sets with very light weight incorporating the actual exercise(s) or motions that you plan to use can be sufficient. Add some rotator cuff work (a common weak point) before getting too intense. If a lower or full body workout is planned, then i suggest only active stretching with rotator cuff work along with warmup sets for the first few exercises. These warmup sets must be thorough and progressive to avoid injury. Now Kuhn correct me or feel free to interject but i always save static stretches for the end of resistance training workouts because I believe elongated and over stretched muscles are more prone to injuries due to ligaments and tendons having too much "give" and reducing power output. (could be wrong) But more so use post workout stretching to prevent intense muscle soreness aka DOMS baby!!!"