Introduction: In today’s podcast, how high intensity interval training can fix all your problems and turn you into an unstoppable superhuman Rockstar. Also, why you get diarrhea, tennis specific training, how eliminating grains affect your energy level, returning from a partial rotator cuff tear, reasons for exercise induced migraines, light-weight high-rep vs. heavy-weight low-rep, what is block training, how and why to widen your Q-Factor, and combating fatigue during your period.
Brock: Hey everybody, welcome once again to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. I’m Brock and on the line, of course is Ben Greenfield himself. Ben, what’s happening?
Ben: Not a whole lot. Just rolled back in from Vegas last night.
Brock: That’s right. You’re drunk and hungover because that’s what happens when you’ll be in Vegas.
Ben: That’s right. I went down there for the half-Ironman world championships and that turned out to be a real dozy. It was a rough day for me. I had a bunch of bike mechanicals and ended up not actually even finishing the race, so the second DNF of my life.
Brock: I was just going to ask you if that was your first run. That was actually your second?
Ben: Yeah, the second time I’ve started a race and not actually cross the finish line. Not a fun feeling but it’s one of those deals where it’s kind of out of my hands.
Brock: If you’re not getting paid to do it and you’re not having fun, it does become a struggle, whether or not you want to continue the race. I’ve definitely been up to a point before where I haven’t wanted to continue the race. I haven’t missed one yet but I’m sure that day will come.
Ben: Yeah, you get to a point where the pool and the spa at the hotel that you happen to be running by is a little bit more appealing than staying out there in 105 degrees winding up the hill.
Brock: Whoa, it was that hot!
Ben: Yeah, got a little warm. So, I am going to do a redemption race though. I actually put out a little report on what exactly happened in Vegas over in my racing website at Bengreenfieldtri.blogspot.com and mention that I really don’t want to end the season on a DNF. So I’m going to do the Lead Man Triathlon down atBendOregon in a couple of weeks.
Brock: I love that part of the world.
Ben: So any listeners who are down inBend, that’s the next stop before the Ben Greenfield Triathlon Train.
Brock: Well, you’re certainly not the only one who had a bad day in Vegas. Michael Raelert got a penalty and ended up dropping out of the lead pack and Mirinda Carfrae had some tummy issues and Jesse Thomas just pooped out. Meredith Kessler, she broke her vertebrae. That’s terrible. Angela Naeth had big bike crash and started the run just covered in road rash. It was a tough day even for the pros.
Ben: Wow. There are people dropping like flies from sounds like a combination of heat and DNFs. Congratulations to any of our listeners who did happen to cross the finish line. I saw a lot of down there. It was great to meet folks. It was definitely a rough day.
Brock: All right. If you’re interested in getting any of these news flashes when they’re hot off the presses, make sure you follow Ben on twitter at Twitter.com/Bengreenfield and also at Google+ and you can find all that stuff by going to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. You can find all the links there or follow you on Facebook as well but you hear it everywhere.
Ben: Well, I’ve got a question for you Brock, based of the news flashes that came out this week. What do you think is the worst for you when it comes to messing up your ability to stick to a diet of these three, sleep deprivation, boozing or TV watching.
Brock: Alright. For me, TV watching.
Ben: Well, in a study that I linked to on Twitter, it’s actually, of those three, boozing that has the most pronounced effect in terms of causing you to not to do a good job adhering to your diet. Alcohol or high alcohol intake has the greatest effect on total food intake and highest correlation with obesity.
Brock: I guess that just means that TV is my booze.
Ben: That could be or could be that you’re boozing while you’re watching TV. Sleep deprivation and TV watching were far less harmful than boozing. I’ll link to that one for folks who want to check that out. Somebody sent me a few emails about Yerba Mate this week and about how Yerba Mate hit the headlines in terms of its ability to cause cancer. This certainly raised my eyebrow and I checked it out and basically there is evidence that high intake of Yerba Mate, especially when it’s prepared the way that it’s traditionally prepared in South American Cultures actually can increase risk of cancer. And there have been several studies that have done on it. Basically, the way that it is traditionally prepared and drank in South America is that they steep these Yerba Mate leaves in hot water and basically drink multiple cups of that water throughout the day up to a liter of Yerba Mate on a daily basis. And the actual leaves contain chemical called PAH which stand for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons that’s similar to what you get if you were to barbecue meat for a long time and get that black and just covering the chard, similar to that. We all know that that’s mildly carcinogenic and you get the same thing in high amounts. Now of course, the issue is that most Americans are not preparing the Yerba Mate tea by steeping whole leaves over and over again with hot water, for us usually. Maybe a fresh Yerba Mate Tea bag that you might have every now and then in the coffee shop or something likes that. So this is not something I would be too worried about unless you really are just totally geeking out on Yerba Mate and drinking a ton of it which I do know some people do like Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body for example, I know he talks about Yerba Mate in there and really tries to encourage people to drink a lot of that and there are some people who are hanging out at coffee shops drinking lots a Yerba Mate, in a situation like that, you would want to be careful. There are some evidence that can cause some significantly increase risk of cancer and like the esophagus, the lungs, the pharynx, the larynx, kind of like your upper respiratory tracts type of area.
Brock: You might be having trouble pronouncing things but skype’s not really helping us out. Hopefully it’ll clear out a little bit now.
Brock: Okay, so we’ve already talked about struggling with your diet and you guys, you and Chris Jansen have a bit of a survey going on where you’re collecting information about problems adhering to a diet.
Ben: Yeah, Chris is the mental performance coach over at Pacific Elite Fitness and he put out an article, a guest post over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com this week about the three reasons that you tend to crash and burn on your diet. Believe it or not, it wasn’t actually related to boozing and TV watching and other reasons. He put out a survey, Chris is going to, along with me, create a program that helps people adhere to a diet not coming at things from a like, here’s what to eat standpoint but more from a here’s a correct mental approach, to stick into your nutrition plan. So we wanted to really get a good grasp on some of the things that listeners struggle with when it comes to adhering to a healthy diet. So, if you haven’t yet gone over BenGreenfieldFitness.com to check out that survey, I would definitely do it and there’s some good information on the article that Chris wrote over there as well.
Brock: Now I’ve got a question for you. You’re the superhuman performance encoder wristband thing that you’ve got going. Could you wear that somewhere other than your wrist like say, an ankle?
Ben: I thought you were going to ask me about maybe using it as a garter belt or something like that.
Brock: That could work too, yeah.
Ben: It could be a nice look. Yeah, you could wear it on an ankle. You could wear it on like a necklace type, like around your neck. You know the reason that I had it created as a wristband is because that’s the area of your body that seems to be best for wearing something during like a sporting event or an athletic event. I tried to use the piezoelectric disc in a necklace and when I was swimming, I had to take it off, when I was biking, standing up on a hill would kind of comp you in the face. So yeah, I’m wearing it as a wristband. Actually, a lot of people have been picking this thing up and basically it’s the piezoelectric disc embedded in the wristband and it comes with these structured water drops as well. There’s an article over at bengreenfieldfitness.com about it or you can go over to superhumancoach.com/encoder/ and learn more about this new encoder wristband that I’m wearing. Yeah, it’s cool stuff and yes, you technically could wear it on an ankle or something like that but it’s really designed for wrist and you’d ultimately have those pretty skinny ankles to be able to put a bracelet on your lower leg instead of your arm.
Brock: Yeah, I’m looking at my ankles right now and they’re not exactly delicate so maybe they wouldn’t fit.
Ben: It would depend on the petiteness of your ankles but yeah, I’d stick with the wrist honestly.
Brock: Alright, we’ll put a link to the place where you can pick one of those wristbands up and also a link to the nutrition questions in the show notes.
Listener Q and A:
Daragh: Hey Ben. This is Daragh Mansworth fromToronto. I just want to give you a buzz and let you know that I actually used your Ironman Dominator program to finish my first Ironman at Mont Tremblant in nine hours 55 minutes and seven seconds, pretty stoked about that. I just want to say thanks. I enjoyed the program. I thought that it was an excellent guide to get you to the finish line. I had a good bounce of workouts. I thought the durations were good and I thought the intensity guide was excellent. I used that really as my template and I modified it a bit depending on who I was training with whether etc. but yeah, excellent. Thank you very much. I was obviously pleased with my results so take care. Bye for now.
Brock: That’s quite an awesome testimonial, that’s quite a feat.
Ben: Yeah, It was a great job. He was using the program over at triathlondominator.com. It’s a program that definitely works unless you’re like me and you have a bunch of bike mechanicals during the race and decide to poop out and go back to the hotel but in any other situation, that’s a good program, it’s a program that I wrote to kind of allow folks who want to train with minimal time and get maximum results to be able to do something like a half Ironman or an Ironman triathlon. Check that out at triathlondominator.com.
Brock: Alright! Let’s move on now to our first audio question from AJ.
AJ says: Hey Ben, how you doing? It’s AJ, just got a question for you about digestion. I am a competitive cyclist and ultra-endurance mountain bike racer. I do six-hour and 100-mile mountain bike races. Really good performance but my Achilles’ heel is my stomach or my gut. I don’t do well on salad foods when I’m racing for long periods of time so I’m trying to go to all liquid calories. I can do food on shorter intensity rides but the big thing is diarrhea. It’s almost a common occurrence for me, especially when I travel. If I travel to a race, sleeping to a hotel, eating out, no matter what I try to do to not do anything different when I’m home almost guarantee diarrhea the next morning. I probably have diarrhea a few times a week. I do eat a lot of fiber and I generate a healthy diet. I don’t do any probiotics. I eat some Greek yogurt everyday. I’ve gone to coconut milk. I’ve eliminated most dairy other than the Greek yogurt. I’ve always wondered if I eat too much fiber if that’s the diarrhea or if I’m just sensitive, for all I know, I’ve got a gluten intolerance. I just don’t know. So where do I start, what you think I do, I’m thinking about a probiotic but I’m not opposed to doing the diet profile or the home test. Please let me know what you think I should do. I feel like I can get that fixed, I can take my performance the next level. Thanks Ben.
Brock: So it sounds like AJ’s got diarrhea. Sorry, I couldn’t resist saying diarrhea one more time.
Ben: Yeah. Are you going to play the poo-mergency alert again on this podcast?
Brock: So now that we’ve lost most of our listeners who aren’t interested in pooping. I know which we’ve got tired of last week.
Ben: I thought I just started the show with a pooping question. The first thing that I would say is you can definitely dig in to what’s going on in your digestive tract a little bit more by doing something like a Parasitology test, and this is a test that you pay anywhere from a hundred to three hundred dollars or depending on the one that you get. That involves a multiple collection of your stools, typically over the course of one to three days and then you send this off to a lab and the lab evaluates your stool for the presence of parasites, for the balance of the flora in your gut, for any pathogenic bacteria, for yeast and it’s really an ideal test for anybody who is experiencing a sudden change of your bowel pattern or people who have been traveling abroad and suspect that they may have been exposed to something. It’s a test that I’ve personally done a few times that really, in my opinion, the best one out there at this point, is by a company called Genova Diagnostics and you could actually get your physician to write you what’s called a requisition form to get this test but it’s called a comprehensive Parasitology profile. I will link to it in the show notes so you can go read about it or you could print it off and bring it into your doctor so that they can write you the appropriate forms that you can get that test. But that’s something that would be prudent to get if you really are looking to find out if there’s something basically inside your gut that could be causing this type of issue. Now when it comes to nutrition, in terms of all of the diet out there that I think could have the most profound effects in terms of fixing stool issues and pooping issues would be what’s called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I’m actually getting a couple of guys who literally run a website devoted to helping people out with this Specific Carbohydrate Diet on to the show in a couple of weeks. I’m going to interview them on a podcast. But the basic idea behind the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which is abbreviated SCD is that it limit the amount of bacteria in yeast that could overgrow in the guts and cause something like bowel issues or like diarrhea or anything from all sort of colitis to celiac disease, to irritable bowel syndrome or any of these other issues that you can struggle with especially in the lower GI tract. So the whole idea behind the SCD is that it requires you to eat food that contain a certain type of Carbohydrate called the monosaccharide or food that contain no carbohydrates at all. With the idea being that the more complex the carbohydrate is, the greater propensity it has to actually ferment in your digestive tracts. So you take something like lactose. Lactose is what’s called the disaccharide so it’s a couple of different sugar molecules that are connected. So that can’t be absorbed as well as a more simple carbohydrate like a monosaccharide and it can therefore serve as basically food for the microbial population in your gut. So if you were to eat too much lactose in your diet, which can result in an overgrowth of these bacteria that can ferment in your gut and lead to stomach discomfort or gas or diarrhea. You can take the same concept that is applied to lactose, this disaccharide, and extend the scenario to other more complex carbohydrates, grains, longer chain carbohydrates and maltodextrin, things like that. This Specific Carbohydrate Diet is basically kind of a carbohydrate restricted diet that has certain foods that are allowed and certain foods that are not allowed. So basically the things that you’re not supposed to eat on a SCD, and again we’ll get into this in a lot more detail when I interview the guys who do this diet on the show but for example, stay away from a lot of different sugars like high fructose corn syrup, fructose processed sugar and molasses sucrose, things with that nature. You cut out legumes like beans, and soy beans and garbanzo beans and chick peas and anything like that. Most grains are cut out, most starchy foods, even foods that we may consider to be okay, on something like a paleo diet or something like that like potatoes and yams and parsnips. You cut those out as well because those are more complex carbohydrates. And then you cut out things like processed meats, most dairy. In terms of vegetables, there are some vegetables that are a little bit more complex that you stay away from. Then basically, the main sugar product that is allowed on the specific carbohydrate diet would be like honey. There’s actually an E-Book, there’s a free E-Book that you can download. I’ll link to it on the show notes but basically it’s a detailed step-by-step starter guide to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and it has like a grocery store check list to get you started, it shows you how to properly make all the food for about two to five day introduction diet. It just basically jump starts you into the specific carbohydrate diet. I will link to that free book in the show notes for AJ if he wants to download that and for anybody else who has bowel issues, maybe just for a week, want to try something like the specific carbohydrate diet to see if that eliminate some of the issues but especially for something like diarrhea, this particular diet is one that tends to be pretty efficacious and one that you could try out, so it’s called the SCD diet or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Brock: There’s one thing that I often think of and just to say diarrhea one more time in this question. When people say that they have diarrhea, I think there’s a really broad range, like a really broad spectrum of what people consider to be diarrhea and maybe one end of that is not really serious or indicative of a real problem as the other end would be.
Ben: You mean, in terms of, like the severity of it?
Brock: Yeah, like loose stool versus actually water and coffee grams as they describe it.
Ben: Yeah, it really does depend. Diarrhea technically is just frequent passing of loose of watery stools. But yeah, it can get to the point where you’re literally just like on the toilet all the time and you always got to be within a couple of minutes of a loo. When it gets to that point, it’s certainly indicative that there’s something more serious going on then you maybe just need to drink a little less coffee.
Brock: Alright, let’s move along to the next question. Another audio question comes from Carlos.
Carlos says: Hey Brock, hey Ben! My name is Carlos. I’m calling about a question on High Intensity Interval Training. I know most programs say that you should run and go high intensity for 30 seconds and you go low intensity for 30 or it can vary from ten seconds of fast, ten seconds low. Is it better to measure the high intensity and low intensity intervals using a heart rate monitor? For example I would go fast until I get to 180 beats per minute and then go slow until I get back down until 140, 150. Is that better than just doing the 30 second high intensity and 30 second low intensity? Thanks a lot Ben, Brock. I love the podcast, keep it up!
Brock: Now this, I find this to be a really interesting question. I like this one. I can hardly wait for what you have to say about it.
Ben: Yeah, I did an article on interval training that I’ll link to for Carlos. Over the past several years, there have been studies that have looked in the most effective type of interval training protocols, the one are going to get you the most bang for your buck. Now in terms of interval training and stepping back for just a second to make sure that folks who aren’t really familiar with it or understand what it is. Basically, what interval training does is it involves a quick burst of very difficult effort, sometimes using cardio, sometimes using weight, sometimes using a combination. But the idea behind it is that the harder your muscles work, the more oxygen they require so when you work really close to your body’s maximum oxygen utilization, what you trigger is an after-burn effect where even after you finish that hard effort, your body continues to consume oxygen and continues to burn extra calories for, in some cases, up to 48 hours after you finish that high intensity interval training workout with the idea that it takes you to consume one liter of oxygen takes about five calories or so. So if you’re putting your body into a state where you’re maximizing oxygen utilization and having to basically repay this oxygen debt for hours and hours after you finish the workout, then you can really take advantage of that calorie burning effect of consuming extra oxygen. So with interval training, what you’re doing is, as a post to a steady state training session where you’re working out at perhaps 75 percent of your maximum oxygen utilization, with interval training, you’ll bump up to, if you’ll look at a number of like VO2 max intensity, VO2 max being the maximum rate in which you can use oxygen, you hit a hundred percent of VO2 max multiple times during a high intensity interval training session. Then you back off and allow yourself to recover and you hit it again. So what happens is that you’re not only maximizing oxygen utilization but you’re also inducing changes in the muscles themselves because anytime you put a muscle into a state where you are maximizing the use of all the mitochondria or all the little energy producing cellular power houses inside the muscle, you’re inducing a change in that muscle where it’s going to respond by increasing the density of those mitochondria or the number of those mitochondria. So there’s a very effective cardiovascular training effect with high intensity interval training as well, meaning that by doing short intense efforts, you can actually equip your body to do much better at longer aerobic efforts and so we talked about Triathlon Dominator a little while ago and that’s one of the ways that I’ve tweaked that program, when I created it to allow people to go for a long periods of time and something like an Ironman by doing minimal training using something like high intensity interval training protocols and it’s because of that response of the body to increase mitochondrial activity and aerobic efficiency in a response to an anaerobic or a very high intensity effort. So that’s the whole idea behind this. In terms of some better interval training protocols, the ones that really have shown significant effects as far as their ability to do things like bump up the metabolism for 48 hours after you finish the sessions, increase your mitochondrial density and the things of that nature. One would be the Tabata protocol and the Tabata protocol was developed back in the 90s by a doctor named Doctor Tabata, who is this Japanese researcher and what the Tabata protocol is, it’s a workout that’s only four minutes long and its 20 seconds of high intensity followed by ten seconds of rest, eight times through and that’s it.
Brock: Sorry, that’s 20 and 10?
Ben: Twenty and ten, twenty seconds on, ten seconds off. It’s something that is tough to do if you are running, for example. A little bit easier to do on a bicycle or an elliptical trainer. But the recommended frequency for the Tabata set would be two to four times a week, you do this Tabata protocol, you need to warm up very well beforehand, typically for ten to twenty minutes beforehand so you’re really able to reach up into that high intensity range for Tabata set but you’re literally working very hard, as a matter of fact. Typically, if you’re to look at VO2 max, I alluded to the fact that VO2 is technically maximum oxygen utilization but for very short periods of time, you can massively exceed your VO2 max intensity and in this Tabata protocol, you’re going technically on 170 percent of VO2 max, and so we’re talking about, literally like your eyeballs popping out your head type of intensity but it’s very hard for 20 seconds and then very easy for ten seconds, eight times through and that’s an example for a Tabata protocol. So Tabata method is one method that works really well for high intensity interval training. Another method that was developed more recently in the late 2000s, back in 2009 was developed by Doctor Jonathan Little and it’s called the Little Method. And what it involves is again a high intensity effort but this time it’s a 60-second high intensity effort followed by 75 second of low intensity repeated for a total of 12 cycles. So that’s a 27 minute workout if you do the math. And you would do this workout up to three times per week. So 60 seconds on, 75 seconds off or 60 seconds high intensity, 75 seconds low intensity and you do that 12 times through. So doing something like that three times a week, again, you want to warm up pretty well beforehand, it’s a little bit longer that a Tabata set but if you’ve got a little more time to spare, the Little method can be really good too, and this would be especially good for people who doing longer efforts like marathons and triathlons. So that’s another really good one as well. Another one that has been shown to be pretty useful and one that I like to do if we’re talking about combining high intensity cardio-strength training is called Turbulence training and that was developed by a guy who’s kind of big in the fitness scene called Craig Ballantyne. And what Craig developed was these weight training sets where you do a weight training set of eight repetitions followed by a one to two minute cardio burst. So it’s basically a combination of strength training with cardio. Actually if you look back to my post that I did after Labor Day weekend, this was last week at some point. I talked about five of my favorite high calorie burning workouts. One of the workouts that I did included a video where I was going from set to set with these cardio burst and that’s similar to like a turbulence training type of protocol where you’re essentially doing a weight training set and then a hard one to two minute cardio burst and then going back to weight training set with a hard one to two minute cardio burst and that’s typically for a 30 to 45 minute set in the weight room. The Tabata method, the Little Method and the Turbulence training method are just three examples of high intensity interval training but that’s the basics of how it works. Now as far as this question from Carlos is concerned, using a heart rate monitor and going hard and fast until you hit a 180 beats per minute, close to your maximum heart rate and then going slow until your body is fully recovered at 140 beats per minute, that method would work probably pretty well. What that would indicate, if he’s going up to 180 and then back down to 140, is that he’s probably going to be falling somewhere close to some of those time ranges that I just mentioned in my description of high intensity interval training. And it’s one of those things where there’s more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to this stuff but as far as the things that are have actually been studied in research settings like the Tabata protocol and that Little method, those are the two that have really shown really good benefits. We’re looking at anything from a two to a one, work to rest ratio to a little bit less than that, like the Little Method, it was 60 seconds on 75 seconds off.
Brock: Yeah! I think using the heart rate monitor, there is sort of a leg, there’s probably a 45 second to 90 second leg in your heart actually catching up to represent the effort that your actually exerting at that time so you would end with more, probably not so much of the Tabata but more like the Little ratios.
Ben: And that’s one of the things that you’ve got to bear in mind to. If you’re going with something like a short-short hard effort, sometimes you’re going for such a short period of time that the leg time with the heart rate means that using a heart rate monitor isn’t the best way to do a high intensity interval training session as much as you’re using your rating of perceived exertion and just how hard you feel when you’re working. That’s another really good point. I’ve got a workout that I do sometimes and it’s literally 25 seconds of running as hard as possible on a treadmill followed by a complete recovery and I don’t look at a heart rate monitor, I couldn’t even look at it because I’m running to hard on the treadmill so I’m just going as hard as I can and then stopping until I’m fully recovered and then going again. So in situation like that, you just go and you don’t worry about the heart rate monitor too much.
Brock: When I’m doing my speed interval sets, I always have to set an alarm on my watch so I don’t actually have to try and look at it because when you’re going that hard, like when you said, you just can’t keep an eye out for it.
Ben: One of the tricks that I’ll use too is I’ll do the first interval of a 25 second high intensity interval training session. If I’m doing it for running, I’ll time my first interval and just see how many steps it took me. So let’s say I count that I could take 80 steps in 25 seconds. For the other nine treadmill repeats I do, I don’t even look at my watch at all. I just count my steps up to 80. That the one less thing I have to do is try to be looking at a watch or a clock while I’m also running as hard as I can.
Brock: That’s very old school of you.
Ben: Yes, I’m old school.
Brock: Alright, let’s move on to our next audio question from Chris.
Chris says: Hey Ben! This is Chris fromNevada. In the past podcast, you mentioned playing some tennis and I guess I’m just curious. I know this is kind of outside of the regular triathlon training and things that you do but as far as tennis goes, what are some exercises and training routines that you have found to be beneficial to maintaining knee health and joint health when it comes to tennis? What training tips that might you have that translate to playing tennis and other sports actually that have a lot of cutting and slashing and quick sprints and stuff like that. Let me hear your ideas and comments and feedback.
Brock: Okay, so some specific workouts for tennis-like activities.
Ben: Yeah, for helping for knee health and joint health when it comes to tennis, a few things that I focus on is first of all, I always begin with a dynamic warm-up, not a lot of static stretching but I’ll do a lot of leg swings, a lot of lunges across the court, kind of reaching for the skies while lunging, some skips, some hops, some bounce, all of that stuff is much better than doing just some toe touches or some static stretching so that’s one thing especially for your shoulders and knees, making sure you at least get some good arm swings and leg swings. I also avoid playing tennis on any days on which I’ve got a run, like a proper triathlon training style run, 20 minutes up to 60 minutes of running, I just don’t do tennis on the same day that I’m running because that’s just laying joint impact on top of joint impact. I would not be doing impact based activities such as tennis on the same day that you’re doing a training session that involves impact like running. I never let my muscles go cold during a match, it’s just like you see a boxer, always moving, always jumping side to side, what I find is that your risk of injuries and your risk of improper movement patterns during a sport like tennis are going to increase if you’re just standing around in between sets or as your opponent is preparing to serve, you’re just standing there. You’re always bouncing side to side, hopping from leg to leg, trying to keep the muscles warm, trying to keep your body prepped to be able to move quickly without actually starting cold or starting from complete static position. Maintaining good posture is really important. In pretty much, every sport there’s your athletic position, butt down, knees bent, core tight, ready for action and that’s certainly something that you want to do as well rather than just standing around and not being in that good athletic posture waiting for the play to start or waiting for the ball. And then the other thing that I really focus on is just basic brute strength. When I’m lifting weights, I make sure that I’m selecting weights that actually challenge me, that push me, that fatigue me. I interviewed Doctor Doug McGuff a few weeks ago. Doing like the super slow strength training routines to complete fatigue in any given set, to making sure that when I’m grabbing dumbbells or barbells or anything else in the gym setting that I’m choosing weights that really are challenging, that are throwing my body for a loop in terms of making me grit my teeth with the weight that I’m choosing and that kind of brute strength can help out quite a bit with you’re joints as well. Those are some of the things that I do as far as knee health and joint health and of course, anytime I’ve got something bugging me as far as a joint goes, I pop nine to 12 CapraFlex on any given day that I’ve got something like that going on and it helps out quite a bit too, that’s basically like a Glucosamine-Chondroitin blend with a bunch of natural herbal anti-inflammatory like cherry and turmeric and ginger roots thrown in. We’ll link to that in the show notes for Chris but basically that stuff can help too when you have pushed yourself a little bit too far as far as the joints go.
Brock: That CapraFlex stuff actually sounds really delicious. I’m assuming it comes in a capsule form so you don’t actually taste it but it sounds like it would be really tasty.
Ben: I highly doubt that chewing chicken cartilage would be tasty, Brock, regardless of how much cherry, turmeric and ginger you mix in there. I wouldn’t recommend it, just taking a whiff of that bottle. I would recommend swallowing with water but perhaps Brock can do a taste test for us and maybe video record it, throw it up on Youtube and we’ll see if it has a pucker factor or not. I’d swallow the capsules as recommended on the bottle.
Brock: Fair enough. Alright, our next audio question comes from Jennifer.
Jennifer: Hi Ben and Brock. I have been in listening to your podcast. I dropped a lot of grains out of my diet. I’m pretty active, I bike, I run, I do strength training, half marathon and I have stopped eating grains for the most part except for quinoa. I still eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, I still get those carbohydrates however I noticed that I’m a lot more tired now that I’ve been using this diet. I’m not particularly interested in weight loss. I just want to maintain my weight. So I’m here to ask you whether there are any food that you can suggest that I add my diet to give me more energy and maintain the weight that I’m at.
Brock: The first two times that I listened to this question, I thought she said greens instead of grains. And I thought, when Ben ever said not to eat greens.
Ben: Grains. Pretty sure she’s talking about grains.
Brock: Grains, yeah. makes a lot more sense.
Ben: Any time you drop a lot of grains out of your diet and you’re combining that with doing tons of exercise, you need to realize that no matter how many fruit and vegetables that you’re eating, that cereals and grains are just far more calorically dense. So if you look at a cup, if we’re just looking at plain old numbers and we’re not talking about gluten and lectins and all these other stuff, we’re just looking at pure numbers, pure calories. You look at a cup of grains or a cup of cereals, rice, bread, oats or corn. It’s going to come out to approximately 200 calories or so in a cup of grains or cereals. You’re also looking at a fairly high carb load and not a lot of fiber and not a ton of protein either. But a decent calorie intake from a cup of grains or cereals, you look at cup of beans and legumes, similar thing. A cup of beans and legumes, you’re going to be taking right around 200 calories. We kind of stepped that down a little bit and look at potatoes or yams and a cup of cooked potatoes or yams, it’s about a half that or getting down to about 100 calories. Once we get down into the potato yam range, we look at vegetables and cut down to a cup of vegetables. Now we’re getting down to about 40 calories. Fruit is going to vary but it’s going to be in between the vegetables and the potatoes, usually somewhere in the range of 50 to 80 calories for a cup of fruit. Either way, you’re looking at a significant decrease in the total number of calories that you’re taking in a lot of times when you switch from grains, rices, things with that nature or even potatoes and yams, down to more fruits or vegetables. So one of the things that Jennifer maybe experiencing here is just that pure conversion of her body’s energy sources from carbohydrate-based calories to fat-based calories and as we’ve learned from the podcast that we’ve done previously in terms of how long it take the body to adapt to using ketones or using fatty acids as a fuel. Usually, there are about 10 to 14 days of fatigue and feeling pretty tired and you have to get through that dark place so to speak, before your body becomes fat adapted and that just one of those deals where you just realize that you’re going to have a couple weeks where it gets pretty tough and you’re pretty fatigue as you start to cut some of that stuff out of your diet. There are, of course, if you’re just cutting out grains for health reasons, to cut out things like celiac and gluten, there are alternatives that go above and beyond just quinoa. If you don’t have a desire to go super low carb or being in a state of ketogenesis, there are other things that you can include. Amaranth seeds, those are very similar from a nutritional standpoint to quinoa, high in protein and high in some of these amino acids and you can prepare that similar to quinoa. You can rinse it, soak it, you can sprout it and that’d be something that you could include that if you’re eating quinoa would be something similar. Millet is another one that you can use as a replacement for rice, as a replacement for couscous and some other grains and that also can be prepared similarly to quinoa. Potato flour or Tapioca flour or Potato starch or Tapioca starch, those could also be carbohydrates that you could include if you wanted to, especially in the presence of higher exercise levels, make sure that you do have some carbohydrates in the diet, if you wanted to include some of those. There are certainly lots of gluten-free and wheat-free blends out there and I’m not saying that I’m condoling that you go high carbohydrate but you may want to consider on your heavier exercise days working things other than quinoa in. Just from up here, making food interesting standpoint, you might get tired of just quinoa after awhile and those are some of the other things that you can include. Now, if you have gone with this lower carbohydrate approach for awhile and you’ve made it through those 10 to 14 days and you’re still finding out that you’re fatigue, that’s for you to want to think about looking into what’s going on inside your body from hormonal standpoint or from complete blood count or comprehensive metabolic profile standpoint, that’s where I’d recommend you look into lab testing. You could do something like the lab testing with wellness effects, I talked about that in a podcast or in a post a few weeks ago at bengreenfieldfitness.com and I’ll certainly put a link to wellness effects in the show notes for you if you want to check that out. You could, in terms of the actual test that you may want to look into, you would want to look at a measurement of your inflammatory levels so you can check out fibrinogen and fibrinogen levels typically increase in response to tissue inflammation and that can certainly be something that goes up along with heavy amounts of exercise, C reactive protein and homocysteine would be the other two that you’d want to have checked out just to make sure that your body’s not in a constants net inflammatory state which can lead to a lot of fatigue. I would check out some basic hormones, DHEA, that’s a hormone produced by your adrenal glands to precursor hormones like estrogen and testosterone. DHEA levels tend to decline after about the late 20s and declining DHEA levels can certainly be associated with lower adrenal function and more fatigue. The other ones you’d want to look at would be testosterone and another one would be estrodiol, so I’d get your DHEA looked at, your testosterone looked at, your estrodiol looked at, and your net inflammatory markers and then just your basic metabolic profile so your lipids, like your cholesterols, complete blood count, your thyroid levels, liver, kidney, and these are all things that I talked about in that post that I did in wellness effect so I’ll link to that in the show notes for you but you could get it done easily through an online company like that and it’s just a matter of, you buy a test from them, you get requisition form, you go to your local lab, you get tested and you look some of these numbers just to make sure that everything is dialed in, internally too and it’s not just a issue of carbohydrate depletion.
Brock: Alright, sounds good. Okay let’s move to our next audio question that comes from Mike.
Mike: Hi, my name is Mike. I have a problem with my left shoulder. I’m working out about three to five times a week, two days intervals and three days in the gym lifting moderately heavy, not too heavy. I have a partial rotator cuff tear like three years ago and I rested it, pretty much for about three weeks. It was with the dislocated shoulder. I rested for about three weeks and basically it healed. And now everyday I lift, I have a shoulder day, it’s really bothering me. I was wondering, is there an exercises or ideas that I could get from you. Thank you very much. I love the podcast. Amazing information, keep it up.
Brock: So, I guess a good place to start would be what is a rotator cuff tear?
Ben: Well, a partial rotator cuff tear, there’s basically different components of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is really made up of four muscles that provide stability to the shoulder and any of those can become torn or strained. Rotator cuff tear is a catch-all term for any of these muscles getting injured. But basically, the shoulder has a great deal of mobility and so, the stability of the shoulder is provided more by muscles than by bony structure. What these muscles do is they position and hold the head of the humerus, which is that long bone of your upper arm and your shoulder joint. If the head of the humerus isn’t positioned correctly, it can hit the bone that overlies and connects the collar bone to the rest of the shoulder structure called the acromion and it can pinch a lot of the tendons and your fat sac, your bursa and that can cause pain and inflammation. A lot of times what can happen is if you get a rotator cuff tear and scar tissue formation and immobile tissue in there, a lot of that pain and inflammation can stick with and put you at a greater risk for more muscular sprains and strains in the future. When the muscles of your rotator cuff tear are imbalance, usually the shoulder is going to be pain free and when the muscles are out of balance, that’s where you get a lot of the injury and the pain and the inflammation increases. A really fantastic resource that anyone with rotator cuff pain should check out, it’s called the seven minute rotator cuff solution. It’s a book, you can get it off Amazon. I’ll link to it in the show notes. That’d be one resource that I’d highly recommend you check out. I own that book and it’s got some really good information in it. And the basic idea behind that book is that rotator cuff injuries are caused by dysfunctional shoulder biomechanics and that dysfunction is caused by a muscle imbalance between your internal rotators of your shoulder and your external rotators of the shoulder. It can also be cause by what are called fibrotic rotator cuff muscles or rotator cuff muscles that have more of this scar tissue and then from something like a previous tear like my cad. What you have to do is you have to treat the symptoms like the pain and the inflammation but then you have to combine that with a rehabilitation program that basically strengthens your external rotators, stretches your internal rotators and then eliminates any type of training or positional errors that promoted that initial inflammation and the book basically walks you through doing all of those things in a really nice comprehensive format. Just to get in Mike or any other listeners who are dealing with rotator cuff issues, started down the right track, when we’re talking about stretching the internal rotators, there are certain stretches that you can do when you’re stretching the internal rotators but basically, what you can do, for example, is you can lie on your right side with your right arm at your shoulder height and your elbow bent at about 90 degrees and then you can use your other arm to literally rotate your shoulder inwards to stretch the internal rotators. There’s some pictures in a good resource that I’ll link to in the show notes to this podcast that show you how to do what’s called a posterior capsule stretch, to stretch the internal rotators. You’d also want to stretch your chest and you can do that just with a door frame leaning type of stretch where you’re literally standing on a doorway with your arms in the doorway leaning into the doorway to stretch the chest. Strengthening the external rotators of the shoulders that would involve just like holding on to it to a tube or an elastic band and doing repeated external rotation of the shoulder, so stretching the internal rotator, stretching the chest, strengthening the external rotators, all that can help a bunch, focusing on your posture and specifically avoiding any type of rounded shoulder posture when your sitting on the desk or sitting down that can help out quite a bit especially when combined with pull-ups and seated rows for example, to assist with eliminating those rounded shoulder and forward head posture. Then just making sure that your ergonomics in your workplace are set-up properly if you’re somebody who types in the computer, sits to the computer, drives a car, things of that nature, you’d always want to make sure that you’re in a position where your shoulder are allowed to retract back. But that seven minute rotator cuff solution will help you out quite a bit. Muscle imbalances revealed, the guy who designed that program who’s been on this podcast before, he gave me a free 40 page book on muscle imbalances like a special report. I’ll link to that as well. It’s something that he mentioned when I did the podcast interview with him but basically, while that program is designed more for the physical therapist or the health professional, it’s something that I’ve had some people purchase who are savvy enough to pick-up some of the information themselves to understand biomechanics or anatomy a little bit and want to go through some of his rehab programs but I would at least do like the seven-minute rotator cuff solution and I think I’ve mentioned this on the show notes before but I used to have a lot of shoulder problems playing tennis, swimming. Typically every month I have a shoulder issue come up. Ever since I installed a pull-up bar in my office and giving myself a rule that I got to do anywhere from three to five pull-ups every time I walk into that bar, I’ve completely eliminated just about any shoulder issue because what happens when you do a pull-up, as you pull yourself up, you’re strengthening your external rotators. As you lower yourself, you’re stretching your internal rotators in your chest and you’re also working on shoulder retraction if you’re doing your pull-up in good form and so it hits all of those components that I just talked about. If you got a previous rotator cuff tear and you combine something like that with a little bit of deep tissue massage therapy and maybe some trigger point therapy with a tennis ball or a cross ball to work out some of that scar tissue, we’re talking about a scenario where we can really get rid of this stuff and stay on top of it, so those are some of the things that I would do.
Brock: That’s a lot of stuff for Mike.
Ben: There you go. And I’ll link to all those resources that I just mentioned in the show notes.
Brock: Perfect. Okay, well our next question comes from Erin.
Erin says: Going for a run for about 20 minutes or more often causes me to develop an aura migraine. Initially, I get the bright spots in my eyes and if I continue running, it will progress into a full-blown migraine. It only happens when I run in the morning and is made substantially worse when the weather is hot. Interestingly, I do a lot of indoor sports and this doesn’t happen during those training sessions regardless of intensity. Can you suggest why this might be happening and what I can do to avoid it?
Ben: Basically, aura is something you experience before you get the migraine. So what that means is that you get this sensation, usually it manifests a perception of a light or some kind of a smell or some kind of a thought that you experience before you get the migraine and like in somebody who gets epileptic seizures, an aura is this warning sign that the body sends and that can help somebody who gets epileptic seizures to help prevent injury to themselves or rather people around them, they get this aura and they know they’re going to seize. An aura is something that can also come before a migraine that basically is a warning sign that you’re about to have a migraine and sometimes you can get auras during the actual migraine itself as well and again, it can be seeing light, seeing spots, smelling stuff, having some kind of a confusing thought, your visual field can vibrate a little bit, things around you might start to distort in terms of their size or in terms of their shape. You can even start to see things in like a kaleidoscope type of effect or as can be auditory, you can hear voices, you can hear sounds, you can have heightened sensitivity to hearing and again, you can smell strange stuff. You can get a feeling of like you’re floating or light-headedness, so all sorts of little warning signs or things that can occur during a migraine and that’s kind of the deal when he says aura migraine, what he’s referring to. But when we look into migraine triggers, We’ve talked about migraines before in the show and talked about how acidic diets can trigger migraines and so introducing more greens and alkaline foods while cutting out grains and sugars can help out. Another issue that can lead to migraines is just plain and simple iron deficiency and I’ve talk to people before who have by taking iron supplements or using a ferritin supplement like Floradix for example, have gotten rid of migraines. There are certain chemicals though that can cause migraines as well. Glutamic acid such as you would get in MSG that can be a big migraine trigger. So monosodium glutamate, which you can find in everything from soup at the grocery store to a lot of processed foods and especially any Chinese foods can be a big issue. A couple components that I think I’ve mentioned in the show before called L-tyrosine and tyramine, things that you would find in elements such as chocolate and nuts, those can certainly cause migraines and headaches as well and foods that contain tyrosine and tyramine would also be something that you may want to stay away from. Now one of the other things that can cause migraines, though we haven’t talked about a lot of it in the show before in terms of its link to migraines, is nitric oxide and products that contain nitric oxide or things that can elevate nitric oxide in the body. Now some of the things that can cause nitric oxide production are fermented products like products that are high in probiotics, yogurt, cheese, things of that nature. Of course Viagra or mayo, drive enhancement supplements, a lot of times nitric oxide is a main component of those but a lot of people, if you get migraines, you may want to consider actually stepping back on some of the advice that I’ve given about fermented foods and trying to cut some fermented foods out of the diet and see if that affects your propensity for migraine especially dairy products high in probiotics because there can be a link between those and migraines and you may have to find some other ways to get probiotics in your diet if you find that that happens when you’re eating foods that are high in this acidophilus like dairy. Now interestingly, the other thing that can cause nitric oxide release in very high amounts is a combination of sun, heat and exercise and that’s where I would suspect that this is occurring withErinin terms of this 20-minute run in the morning then the weather is hot. Right there, right off the bat, we’re talking about the three elements, sun, heat and exercise, that can be a big problem for people who are already pre-disposed to getting migraines and that’s just simple nitric oxide production and so in a case like that, if you’re going to be running in the morning, you got to keep your body as cool as possible so that you eliminate some of this nitric oxide release and preferably to do some kind of slow warm-up that is gradually getting under the exercise program because the quicker you jump into a program, the higher that nitric oxide is going to be. Not this may mean that at home in your living room, out of the sun before you head out, you’re doing some dynamic stretching, some yoga, some things that gradually increase vasodilation so that your body doesn’t have to produce a bunch of nitric oxide as soon as you head out there into the exercise session. So that’s what I would do and it maybe that you actually have to just find a different time to exercise that doesn’t involve the heat and the sun and that nitric oxide production that can trigger the effect. And then the last thing I should mention, in some of these pre-disposed migraines who has something like the sun and exercise causing them migraine onset, it may be that by adjusting your diet to eliminate some of the migraine triggers in the diet that your body’s a little less sensitive to getting migraines in the first place. So if you do have a diet that doesn’t include a lot of alkalinic foods, it may be an adjustment that you need to make, so I’ll link to the podcast that we did on how to get rid of migraine headaches based on changing to an alkalinic diet in the show notes for Erin to check out. And by the way, what is this Brock, episode number?
Ben: 208, so Episode #208. I’ll link to that How to Get Rid of Migraine Headaches podcast because I know that actually helped a lot of folks out, had them write in afterwards explaining how just switching to an alkalinic diet actually got rid of the migraine headaches.
Brock: Alright, our next question comes from Longbow.
Longbow: You mentioned in one of your earlier podcasts that recent research showed that lifting lighter weights with more reps has the same result as the heavier weight with fewer reps. If the benefit is the same and the goal is to lift to failure, wouldn’t it be better to lift lighter weights so that the chance of getting injured is smaller?
Ben: In terms of injury risk, lifting lighter is not going to necessarily decrease your risk of injury. Look at bicyclists and runners, these are folks who get injured a lot and they’re technically just lifting very small amounts like their body weight or the weight of a pedal many times and not doing any heavy training. Lifting heavy weights without good form is a way to injure yourself but lifting heavy weights with good form is going to decrease your risk of injury more than increase the risk of injury and there’s no correlation that lifting lighter loads means less injury just because of the fact that lifting lighter loads a lot of times means that you’re doing more reps, you’re creating more friction, you’ve got more chronic, repetitive motion and it can cause more aggravation or more potential for injury. The other issue is that recent research certainly did show that lifting lighter weights with more reps has the same result as heavier weight with fewer reps when it comes to making muscle but remember that making muscle is not the same as increasing strength, increasing power, increasing bone mass or even causing a greater hormonal response to exercise when compared with lighter lifting. So for example, if you look at doing like high rep, low resistance weight lifting, something like doing hundreds of reps using a little two-pounds pink dumbbells or jogging on the treadmill for an hour, what happens is you get a big release of cortisol, you get a big release of epinephrine, two of your body’s stress hormones that can be catabolic or cause muscle breakdown but you don’t get the complementary release of these fat-burning hormones that tend to get really jacked up when you’re doing heavy lifting. Hormones like growth hormone, like testosterone, even lactic acid is going to be produced in higher amounts when you’re lifting heavy or going hard and lactic acid can act as kind of a chemical messenger and a fat-burning process. So what happens is that the hormonal response to high intensity training promotes more fat burning, similar amounts of muscle building, more strength and more bone density and the low intensity hormonal response is still going to promote some muscle growth but cause more of the propensity for storing fat and for getting injured and so if you have to choose, when you’re looking at a weight training program between going high weight, low rep or low weight, high rep, I would go with high weight, low rep in most cases especially with age, there are simply more benefits in terms of bone mass, strength, hormonal balance and a lot of the other benefits that you’re looking for when you’re lifting weights. If you go and listen, I’ll link to these in the show notes. Go and listen to the podcast I did with Dr. Art De Vany. Go and listen to the podcast I did with Kerry Nosler, both of those were about how to stay fit as you age and both of those people talk about lifting heavy, going harder, avoiding lots of low weight, high rep activity and chronic long cardio with no intensity and that’s one of the ways if you’re trying to look great as you age and avoid injury as much as possible as you age, those are more of the directions you should be going. So I will not go with lighter weight, more reps.
Brock: I think the traditional sort of school thought around that, is Longbow also sort of alluded this in the question, is that one way lifting the higher weight lower rep was how you became like Arnold Schwarzenegger where the lower weight, higher rep was more like the super model sort of body but you’re saying that’s not necessarily true.
Ben: That’s the problem is that sure, Arnold Schwarzenegger would go higher rep, low weight to build muscle and get strong but we’re still talking about doing 20 reps of squatting 225-275 pounds and that’s an enormously difficult set that causes a huge surge in growth hormone and a huge burst of strength. And then you get the 50-year old woman hearing that and going out and grabbing a couple of 2-pounds dumbbells and doing 50 curls and there’s absolutely no correlation between what Arnold was doing with high rep, low weight versus doing something like that, so we’re talking about two totally different interpretations of the high, rep low weight protocol as well and if you ever watch a body builder train, sure they’re doing high rep, low weight compared to an Olympic power lifter but they’re not doing the same type of high rep, low weight that Gwyneth Paltrow is doing when she’s doing a hundred reps of an elastic tubing bicep curls.
Brock: Hey, that’s what I’m doing later today.
Ben: So you’re going to spend your afternoon.
Brock: That’s right, me and Gwyneth. Okay our next question comes from Craig.
Craig says: I’ve heard a couple of things about block training, emphasizing one triathlon discipline at a time. What is your opinion on this?
Ben: Sure. If you really like Chris McCormick’s book, he would go and do a big running block for a couple of weeks for just focusing on doing a lot of heavy running and then folks on a cycling block where they’d go into a cycling camp for a couple of weeks and doing just tons of riding and then the swimming block where you’re spending a lot of time like two or three-day swim sessions and swimming a lot with a master swim session and then maybe a swim lesson in the afternoon and just basically taking a specific skill and beating the heck out of it before you move on to the next block of training. So you got basic blocks where you’re just focusing on one specific skill and really going after that skill while dialing back the other skills.
Brock: You’re not excluding the other skills. You’re just dialing them back?
Ben: In most cases, you’re just dialing them back. You’re not completely stopping any running or stopping any swimming as you focus only on biking but you’re certainly doing majority of biking for a bike block or something like that. Now just to clarify here, block training does not necessarily mean that you’re focusing on a specific skill. Block training can also mean that you’re focusing on a specific physiology, so you might have a block where you’re just focusing on endurance and then a block where you’re just focusing on intensity and a block where you’re just focusing on power but you’re still training for something like triathlon all three disciplines. So there’s a few different definitions here of block training but I think that what Craig is asking about is specifically like emphasizing one triathlon discipline at a time, like just running or just biking or just swimming. This is certainly a really good way especially if you have a weakness of really focusing in and honing in on that weakness, training the heck out of it getting really good at it and then moving on to the next skill or the next discipline. There are certainly some drawbacks to block training, for example, risk of injury. If you go from swimming three times a week to all of a sudden swimming nine to twelve times a week for a swimming block, there’s a pretty big risk of injury to your shoulder, the same goes for bicycling in your knees or running in maybe your feet or your hips or your low back. Anytime you take something and you jack yourself up rather than maybe increasing the conservative 10% per week in that skill to all of a sudden doing 200% more than you normally would and just really focusing on that one skill, you are going to increase your risk on injury so recovery becomes really important when you’re doing block training and making sure that you’re foam rolling, your ice, your post-workout type of stretching, all the things that you can do to decrease risk of injury and improve your ability to recover post-workout session when you’re doing block training, that’s really important. There’s also a risk of boredom. That can sometimes just not be very fun. If you decide that okay, I want to become a really good bicyclist so all I’m going to do is focus on riding my bike for anywhere from whatever. If you’re a serious triathlete, two to five hours, six days a week, just focus on cycling. So there’s a big risk of boredom and just not enjoying the training when you’re doing block training because you’re just literally just hitting the same skill over and over again. But ultimately, block training can get you good results and it’s one of those deals where there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You can get good results from not doing block training and just continuing to focus consistently and doing, for something like a triathlon, swimming, biking and running every week. But you could also do something like, in the middle of the summer, block where you’re like Okay, I want to become a good swimmer so I’m going to really dial back cycling, dial back running and swim for an hour a day for these two weeks or maybe an hour a day, twice a day for these two weeks and become a really good swimmer. So yes, there are a lot of pro triathletes that have employed this method. You’re going to find it less commonly used among like age group or amateur athletes just because it tends to be a little bit tougher to squeeze into a busy schedule and also tends to free us a little bit more of the boredom and a little bit increased risk of injuries so you got to be careful but it something that can work and block training is certainly something especially at the professional level, when you have a little bit more time to spare, that can come in pretty handy.
Brock: Awesome. I think I’m going to take the winter off and just get super muscly.
Ben: That’s a good idea, just get jacked.
Brock: Me and Vin Diesel.
Ben: You and Vin Diesel and The Rock. There you go.
Brock: Alright, next question comes from Dan.
Dan says: I was wondering what you thought about pedal spacers to widen the Q-Factor. Is there a way to figure out what is the right pedal width for your body besides getting a custom-fit, and does hip-width have some correlation to foot-width?
Ben: Yeah. The basic idea behind the Q-Factor is it’s just like the distance from when you’re riding a bike for example, from one pedal to the other when we’re talking about bicycling and you can have a really wide Q-Factor or a really narrow Q-Factor and yeah, a lot of times it can be related to your hips. You’re going to see women especially with wider hips having a wider Q-Factor and guys with narrow hips having a little bit narrow Q-Factor but depending on what your Q-Factor is, it can affect the comfort of your stance-width on a bike and that’s why you’ll notice in some cases that pedal manufacturers such as Speed Play for example, they make pedals for the bike, I think they’ve got four different spindle lengths and so the longer your spindle is coming off your pedal, the wider that you can make your Q-Factor, the wider that you can have your stance on the bike and the more comfort that you can get on the bike depending on what your hip-width is.
Brock: So the spindle is the part between the crank and the pedal itself right?
Ben: Yeah, it’s just what you thread the pedal on with. You could also increase your Q-Factor by doing something simple as taking your cleats and moving them towards the inside of the shoe, so that would widen your Q-Factor and moving your cleats towards the outside of your shoe would narrow your Q-Factor. And depending again on how wide your hips are and how your knees tend to tract as you’re cycling, there can be a pretty significant change in your comfort or your level of discomfort based off of your stance with. You don’t have to necessarily use a pedal that has a different spindle length, sometimes it’s as simple as, again like I mentioned, as moving the cleats or maybe attaching just a couple of pedal spacers that basically make it so that when you screw that pedal into the crank, it doesn’t screw in quite as far. You got to be careful with that because you can to the point where there’s so little of the pedal spindle that is attached to the crank that you risk breaking the pedal or that pedal under torque basically snapping of or bending and that can increase your risk of injury when you’re pedaling. So you wouldn’t want to take a pedal and throw a bunch of pedal spacers between the pedal and the crank to the point where the pedal doesn’t screw enough into the crank. So you want to be careful when you’re messing around with stuff like this but changing the stance with can often fix pedal stroke problems. So if your knees are tracking very much towards the inside of your top tube on your bicycle.
Brock: So like knock-kneed.
Ben: Yeah. If you’re pedaling kind of knock-kneed, sometimes it can help out quite a bit to increase your stance with. In some cases, rather than increasing the stance with, you simply put what’s called a varus wedge in your shoe or a varus shim underneath the pedal between the pedal and the shoe and that basically raises the inside of the shoe, it cants the inside of the shoe and so it’s the same idea as getting like an over pronation orthotic in a running shoe and it just changes the tracking of the knee and effectively shifts your foot to the side a little bit and in a way, increases your stance-width. But you can also just get longer pedal spindles and that’s certainly a way to increase the stance-width as well. There’s no calculation out there, there’s no method out there for figuring out the right pedal-width for your body. Even if you got a custom bicycle fit, let’s see you did like a retool analysis which is a pretty cool bike fit. I’ve done a couple of these where it literally uses a 3D camera to capture every aspect of your pedal stroke. Even if you use something like that, it’s not going to spit out an equation for how wide or how narrow your stance on the pedals would be but what it can do is for example, it can tell you how many millimeters you knee tracks to the inside or the outside as you’re pedaling your bicycle and then you can change your stance-width or you can put a shim on the shoe or on the pedal and you can see how that changes your knee tracking. For example, by simply making a few cleat adjustments on my bike for my stance-width, I know because I’ve done this before during a retool bike fit, that I can change by anywhere from 8-10 millimeters how much my knee tracks to the inside of the outside which has a huge effect on the actual comfort while I’m cycling. So in terms of the meat of Dan’s question, Dan says what I think about using pedal spacers to widen the Q-Factor, absolutely. If you have discomfort as you’re pedaling and feel like your stand-width can be adjusted, then pedal spacers or using a pedal that has an option for a different spindle length can be a really good way to increase your comfort. The other thing that you really got to bear in mind is that bicycles are made with a varying degree of what are called Bottom Bracket Widths or Bottom Bracket Shells and for example, I know there are certain bike brands out there that are just like two narrow a bike for me to ride with a standard crank and pedal setup and I just have to have either a longer pedal spindle or a cant on the inside of my shoe in order for me to be comfortable on a bike with that specific bottom bracket and so it may change depending on the type of bicycle that you’re riding as well and if you tend to jump from brand to brand when it comes to the type of bicycles that you use, you may find that you actually have to based off the bottom bracket shell width of that bike adjusts your pedal spindle or your cleat position depending on which bike you choose, so it changes from bike to bike as well.
Brock: Now do you think that a person can get used to a bike like a certain fit if they just ride it long enough or is that something like the biomechanics will just always be bad?
Ben: You can get used to a certain fit, to a certain style of riding and anytime that you change your bike fit, you’d generally want to give yourself a few weeks of letting yourself become accustomed to that fit but there are certain angles of your knee and angles of your elbow and angels of your back and angles of your hip that have ranges and if you fall above or below those ranges, those ideal biomechanical ranges, you typically are not going to be very comfortable no matter what you do so you generally want to be at least within the range. It’s like I mentioned the retool bike fit and when you get a retool bike fit, there’s a certain range that your fitter is trying to get you in and what’s they’ve gotten you inside that range, then they begin to make adjustments inside that range based off of your comfort level or your speed, your aerodynamics, things of that nature.
Brock: That makes sense. Alright, our final question comes from Jill.
Jill says: My monthly cycle can bring on some extreme fatigue with me unable to wake up to an alarmed exercise. It can be extremely frustrating and cuts down on the time I have to put into those long sessions on the bike. As my exercise time drops off during the week every month, I feel I lose fitness and it seems to take a week of two to get back into a good groove and then it happens again. Do you have any suggestions of herbs, supplements, etc. that I could use to combat this fatigue or is going on birth control pills the best option?
Ben: Anytime that you’ve got extreme fatigue with your monthly cycle, and you are at the same time engaging in heavy exercise like red flags here or Jill says long sessions on a bike or even a feeling that that fitness is somehow correlated to the amount of time that you spend exercising, those are red flags in terms of exercise volume and the potential for that contributing to some adrenal fatigue issues. So you’ve got, as far as your adrenals go, what’s called your ovarian adrenal thyroid axis or your OAT axis and all this refers to is the relationship between your ovarian system, your adrenal system and your thyroid system and especially in women, these three organs or these three body systems are very co-dependent on one another for them to be able to optimally function. So what that means is that a medication or some type of activity alters one of these areas functions like ovarian function or adrenal function or thyroid function, it’s going to lead some changes in the other systems. So if we look at adrenal fatigue for example, excessive exercising causing a large cortisol release, a lot of times what happens is that high amounts of cortisol can create organ resistance in the thyroid or resistance in the ovary. So for example, thyroid tissues cannot respond quite as efficiently to hormonal signals and produce less thyroid hormone. You might also basically get with the ovarian system a decrease in the amount of progesterone that’s produced and cortisol, especially high amounts of cortisol, can block progesterone receptors, making the cell receptors less responsive to progesterone and that can actually cause a lot of fatigue especially during and around the monthly cycle. That type of fatigue can be even more pronounced if you have a condition called estrogen dominance which I’ve talked about in a previous show in which I discussed the reasons that women get tired or tend to gain weight as they get older and we really went into estrogen dominance in great detail on that podcast and if you are to go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for estrogen dominance, you’d hear about some of my suggestions for decreasing external or internal sources of estrogen in your system but understand that that can be quite a big issue as well. Stress is primarily regulated by your adrenal glands though and that’s what you need to remember is that when you are exercising excessively and having this high amount of cortisol output, you’re going to get that undesirable effect on both your thyroid responsiveness and also your progesterone sensitivity and both of those can lead to those experiences of extreme fatigue that go hand in hand with your monthly cycle. So what you would want to do when it comes to adrenal normalization and making sure that you don’t have this type of internal cortisol, having this effect specifically on progesterone and thyroid, would be one to make sure that you’re really controlling emotional stressors like marital relationships, family relationships, financial problems, anything else that might tend to be stressing you out, those can automatically have a big effect on your adrenals. Sleep is a big one, making sure that whether or not you’re around your monthly cycle or not that you’re giving yourself about seven to eight hours of sleep. You’ve probably heard me talk about this on the show but I really like magnesium, I really like valerian root. I really like basically any type of herbal teas, chamomile, stuff like that, anything that can help you sleep before bed, big fan of those and getting your seven up to nine hours of sleep per night is super important especially with the amount of exercise that you’re probably doing. Especially in women, even more so than men avoiding coffee or caffeinated beverages, can really do good things in terms of stabilizing this axis, this ovarian adrenal thyroid axis and making sure that you shut down any amounts of adrenal over-stimulation as can avoiding TVs, computers, a lot of this electromagnetic pollution especially closer to the evening. Biggest adrenal source of stress that you’re going to experience is going to be aerobic exercise so making sure that you really do focus on not exercising anymore than you need to and using more of like the high intensity interval training and some heavier strength training over and above any long, slow depleting cortisol-producing exercise is going to be important. And then taking care of yourself if you ask about supplements and stuff, popping pills really isn’t going to fix if you’re like this as much as the stress control can help but there are things like adrenal stabilizers, adrenal glandular or adrenal extract or herbals, that can help out quite a bit. I’m personally a big fan of Chinese herbal extracts, ashwagandha, arthro, ginseng, ginger, gingko, any of these type of things that you would find in something like the tea and chi, I’ve recommended that before as a good powder for adrenal stabilization and tea and chi herbal extracts, it’s a powder that you can mix with water, that stuff works pretty well. I personally use that everyday, big fan of that. Big fan of vitamin D, free to be able to support hormonal synthesis especially for progesterone formation, that’s a big one as well, making sure that you are taking care of your liver and its ability to turn over estrogen to eliminate any issues with estrogen dominance, that’s important. And there’s an entire page that I have over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com that goes into some of my recommendations especially for women and estrogen dominance and I will link to that in the show notes for you for this episode, episode number 208, we said 208 right Brock?
Ben: Okay, yeah cool. Those would be some of the main things that I would focus on, would be the D, the estrogen clearance, the adrenal stabilization with something like Chinese adaptogens and if you get that stuff dialed in, you’re going to find that a lot of this fatigue that occurs around your monthly cycle is going to really tend to be mitigating quite a bit as well and of course as I always need to say, I don’t want you to consider this as medical advice but simply some of the things that I would certainly look into or recommend that you check out or talk to your physician about but it’s certainly concerning stuff. Somebody e-mailed me, literally. It was last night about this 12-year old girl that’s running half marathons and marathons and putting out these awesome results and there’s an article, I’ll link to it, in Outside Magazine about this girl who’s just like a topnotch half marathon and marathon runner. She was 12 years old and things like this really concern me when it comes to women and hormonal health when it comes to just beating your body up with high amounts of endurance exercise, you just need to really be careful. This girl’s name was Katylynn Welsch and she won the Xterra 21k Trail Run inWaco,Texasand has run two marathons, the Houston Marathon where she did a three-hour and 45-minutes. So running these things pretty fast and the article talks about how she uses the Key Running Protocol so she has good posture and doesn’t beat up her hips and knees and ankles so much but I’m still concerned about when I see stuff like this in terms of just the potential hormonal havoc that this stuff can wreak if you’re not careful. So make sure that you take care of some of these external stressors, make sure that you get adequate sleep, consider some of the supplementation that I talked about and then just take care of your body and don’t focus too much on long exercise sessions and on associating somehow a certain amount of exercise time with your fitness with as much as exercise quality with your fitness.
Brock: There’s a bit of a theme going on today’s show, it sounds like the high intensity interval training or the Tabata stuff that we’re talking about would be something Jill could focus on especially during that time of the month.
Ben: Yeah, so let’s title this show Why High Intensity Interval Training Is Going to Fix All Your Financial Issues, Make You Super Rich, Turn You Into A Super Human Rockstar And Make You Completely Unstoppable.
Brock: We’ll do.
Ben: So that, I guess, about wraps it up for episode #208.
Brock: It does.
Ben: We’ll link to everything in the show notes for you guys and that will be over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. I have to admit that during today’s podcast, based off of the lack of sleep coming back from the race in Vegas and the time spent on the strip done inLas Vegas afterwards that my brain was not working at full capacity so I apologize.
Brock: That’s okay. I will fix it in the post at it. No problem up with the smart filter on your channel.
Ben: That’s awesome. I don’t know what I’d do without Brock increasing my brain cells, increasing the number of my brain cells. Alright, we better wrap it up. So this is Ben and Brock, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com, have a healthy week.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net
Sep 12, 2012 free podcast: How High Intensity Interval Training Can Fix All Your Problems And Turn You Into An Unstoppable, Superhuman, Rockstar. Also: why you get diarrhea, tennis specific training, how eliminating grains effects your energy level, returning from a partial rotator cuff tear, reasons for exercise induced migraines, low-weight high-rep vs. high-weight low-rep, what is “block training”, how and why to widen your “Q-Factor”, and combating fatigue during your period.
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As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from AJ:
He is a competitive cyclist and mountain bike racer. His weakness is his gut. Doesn't do well on solid foods and has switched to liquid calories. Has trouble with diarrhea especially when he is travelling. Has diarrhea a few times a week. Looking for causes and solutions.
Audio Question from Carlos:
Question about HIIT. Most programs says you should go high for 30 and low for 30 seconds. Would it better to use a Heart Rate Monitor and go hard/fast until I hit 180 bpm and then go slow until I hit 140bpm?
~ In my response to Carlos, I mention the complete guide to interval training article.
Audio Question from Chris:
In the past Ben has mentioned playing tennis. He is curious – what are the exercises and training routines that you have found to help with knee health and joint health when it comes to tennis? What training tips would you have?
~ In my response to Chris, I mention Capraflex.
Audio Question from Jennifer:
She has dropped grains out of her diet (except for quinoa). Does plenty of exercise and eats a lot of fruits and vegetables. She's found that she is really tired since changing her diet. What can she add to her diet to add energy but maintain the comfortable weight that she is at.
~ In my response, I mention lab testing with WellnessFX.
Audio Question from Mike:
Has a problem with his left shoulder. He's working out 3-5 times a week, doing intervals and weights. Lifting moderately heavy. Had a partial rotator cuff tear a few years ago. Rested it for 3 weeks and it healed up. Now every day that he lifts he gets pain the next day. What can he do to help with that?
Going for a run of 20 minutes or more often causes me to develop an aura migraine. Initially I get the bright spots in my eyes and if I continue running it will progress into the full-blown migraine. It only ever happens when I run in the morning and is made substantially worse when the weather is hot. Interestingly, I do a lot of other indoor sports and this doesn't happen during those training sessions, regardless of intensity. Can you suggest why this might be happening and what I can do to avoid it?
~ In my response to Erin, I reference my How to Get Rid of Migraine Headaches podcast with Ted Morter.
You mentioned in one of the earlier podcasts that recent research showed lifting lighter weights with more reps has the same result as the heavier weight with fewer reps. If the benefit is the same and the goal is “lift to failure”, wouldn't it be better to lift lighter weights so the chance of getting injured is smaller?
I've heard a couple of things about “block training” (emphasizing one triathlon discipline at a time). What is your opinion on this?
I was wondering what you thought about pedal spacers to widen the “Q-Factor”. Is there a way to figure out what is the right pedal width for your body (besides getting a custom-fit)? Does hip-width have some correlation to foot-width?
My monthly cycle can bring on some extreme fatigue with me unable to wake up to an alarm to exercise. It can be extremely frustrating and cuts down on the time I have to put in long sessions on the bike. As my exercise time drops off during this week every month, I feel I lose fitness and it seems to take a week or two to get back into a good groove, and then it happens again! Do you have any suggestions of herbs, supplements, etc that I could use to combat this fatigue? Is going on birth control pills the best option?