Study Shows 25% of Dietary Supplements Tested Contain Steroids, Banned Stimulants

Study Shows 25% of Dietary Supplements Tested Contain Steroids, Banned Stimulants

Did you see this in the news? A good friend of mine pointed it out. If you haven’t checked out the study, follow the link above.

Does it surprise me? Absolutely not.

Does it surprise you? Hope not.

Dietary supplements can have a wonderful contribution to our diets for better health and wellness (as well as increased performance and better recovery for those who desire it). Unfortunately, as the industry is still quite unregulated there are some consistent and serious issues that we all need to be aware of as consumers.

In truth, I believe the greater issue to be the quality control issue. I mean, let’s be honest…how many of us can look at a bottle of powder or pills and be able to make an educated judgment? Nobody. It’s not like looking at the difference between a hamburger from Burger King and a Steak from Outback…that’s an easy call. But since companies who make supplements are not required under the DSHEA of 1994 (click link for overview and associated information) to do their own quality control (and aren’t regulated by the FDA to do so), unless there are serious health concerns noticeably connected to a product…nobody will ever test it and therefore not know if what it says is in it is actually in it.

Now, back to the Steroids issue. While the greater and more common issue is the quality control problem, the steroid (and perhaps unhealthy) ingredient issue is still prevalent. This study looked primarily at “testosterone boosters,” but it also looked at popular energy enhancement products and weight loss products. And let it be known…it wasn’t just the “testosterone boosting” products that were the offenders here.

So the issues here are not only that manufacturers may be taking the shortcuts and not putting in ingredients that work are not pure enough, but also that they may be putting in things to make their work…but work in ways that are generally UNhealthy. Nice deal, huh? Steroids are only one example of this.

Many of my readers/clients/etc. often ask why I always harp on the Advocare issue so much. Well…here it is. This IS the reason. The only way to know whether the products are safe and effective is if the company is doing the research with quality scientists and doing the quality control themselves. Advocare does it. Truth be told…most other companies don’t. Do some other products work? Yep. So don’t hear this as a rebuke of all other companies. It’s not. There are more companies out there doing research and quality controlling their products. But there simply aren’t enough yet. There aren’t enough companies who have the character and integrity as does an Advocare.

Have we ever had a professional, college, or Olympic athlete get a “positive” or even false positive (for banned substances) from taking our products? Not one. In over 14 years.

Are we on the NFL’s banned list of companies? Nope.

Do our athletes get paid for taking our products (or, heaven forbid…saying they take our products for the endorsement money but not actually doing it). Nope.

So while this certainly isn’t intended to be an advertisement for Advocare, it almost can’t be helped. Now you know why I choose only Advocare. I simply don’t trust other companies enough with the health of my clients, friends, or family. Don’t be misinformed or under-informed about the issues here. If you are going to utilize supplements, get some that work. If you don’t choose Advocare, that’s fine. But make sure to choose wisely and choose a company that has the integrity to do it right!

MSN Take Out & Fast Food Woes

Click on the link below to watch a 7 minute clip from MSN. Great reminder of why gaining weight is so easy and losing/maintaining bodyfat (not to mention BP, Cholesterol levels, Triglycerides, etc.) is so tough to do.
**Note how much the host UNDERestimates the caloric levels of foods. This is a widespread reason people gain weight…underestimating how much is eaten each day.

The worst foods in America
From pizza to burgers, Dave Zinczenko of “Men’s Health”
magazine tells TODAY’s Hoda Kotb which dishes topped the list.

Chris Ecklund Joins the Christian Broadcasting Network Team

I am pleased to announce that the Christian Broadcasting Network/700 Club has extended an invitation to be a contributing author for their Fitness & Wellness Department. I am thoroughly looking forward to developing a strong relationship with them as well as the opportunities this will present. Keep your eyes open for articles to come on their website.

Chris Ecklund Featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine

Stand Up Sit Down
By Bill Geiger, MA, CSCS
Featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine
October 2007

If you happened to stumble into a gym in some odd alternate universe–hey, you never know, it could happen–you might find people doing their barbell curls while seated, leg extensions while standing or even seated cable crossovers.

While such notions may seem a little crazy at first glance, those alternate-reality inhabitants could actually be on to something big–interchanging seated and standing versions of the same exercise has particular benefits that can spur physiological muscle-building reactions in your body. If your gains of late have all but disappeared into a black hole, what exactly do you have to lose by turning your workouts upside down?

New Approach to Old Favorites
While performing a move such as a barbell curl from a standing position may seem essential, you’re probably already aware of a number of ways to do that same exercise somewhat differently, such as with an EZ-bar, dumbbells or a cable. Doing the movement from a seated position is just one more way to vary how you perform a particular exercise and its muscle recruitment pattern.

“Adding variety by making simple changes in how you do a move such as a standing barbell curl is one easy way to ensure that your body doesn’t become too accustomed to a routine,” says Chris Ecklund, MA, CSCS, a strength and performance coach for youth through elite-level athletes in Santa Barbara, California, and founder of Prevail Conditioning (www.chrisdecklund.com). “We tend to be creatures of habit, falling into a rut in terms of what becomes comfortable at the gym. When you perform the same exercise the same way again and again, over time there’s a point of diminishing returns, even if you’re training hard.

“To fully work a muscle and keep it responding, you need to continuously strive to stimulate it in new ways–from new angles and with various approaches,” Ecklund continues. “While doing a move standing that you would normally do seated isn’t a largely different movement, it isn’t identical and there’s enough variation–you can cheat by using more body english, allowing you to use a heavier weight, for example–to force you to work differently, and those changes help promote muscle growth.”

Take a Stand
Each body position offers pros and cons that relate to stabilization, strength and risk of injury, Ecklund says. “While it’s easier to cheat and you can generally use a little more weight on most exercises when standing, you end up with less isolation of the target muscle. That can be beneficial when a bit of momentum can help you overcome a sticking point, but it can also increases your risk of injury when bad form collides with using too much resistance.”

Ecklund recommends using good body pasture on all standing exercises: chest out, shoulders retracted with a slight arch in the low back, abs pulled in tight, knees unlocked and a hip- to shoulder-width foot position. “It’s critical to maintain spinal alignment; you can cheat to some extent with knee and hip extension, but once you start to lose the natural curve in your back, you significantly increase your risk of injury,” he notes.

Recreation and serious athletes should exercise from a standing position because it more closely resembles what they’ll do on a playing field, Ecklund argues. “Athletes who play on their feet should train on their feet as much as possible. Remember, subtle changes affect the body.”

On Your Seat
Performing a move seated, as you’d expect, has just the opposite effect. Although you can still use a bit of body english when sitting down, you simply can’t use as much because your legs and hips are essentially taken out of the move. If you’re accustomed to curling 45-pound dumbbells while standing, for instance, you may have to drop down to 40s to reach the same target rep when you butt’s on the bench.

“It may seem contrary that you want to use less weight, but in fact you’ll be better able to hit the target muscle because all the synergists [assisting muscles] will be de-emphasized,” Ecklund explains.

He laments that some individuals lose their posture and slouch when seated–sitting erect is still crucial because your spine now carries almost the entire brunt of the workload. “You still need to keep your chest out and your shoulders back, and your abs tight with a slight arch in your back–that doesn’t change.”

We’ve provided 25 exercises that are commonly done either seated or standing, and given a tip for performing each in the opposite fashion (see “Stand Up or Sit Down,” page 90 [not included in this blog]). Sample a single movement from any of the seven major muscle groups listed and insert it into your workout for variety, or completely overhaul your training by choosing 3-5 flip-flopped moves and do them as a routine.

Give yourself time to become accustomed to doing an exercise from a different position, and progressively increase your training weight over time. Try various benches–some with back, some with footrests–and foot positions (feet together, wide or even straddling a bench for stability) until you find the combinations that both feel right and allow the weights to move unobstructed through the range of motion. Ultimately, one position isn’t inherently better than the other, so learning how to perform a move from both the seated and standing positions can increase the number of ways you can train–and thus help you keep growing, no matter what universe you currently find yourself in. M&F

When is the Best Time to Stretch…and How?

Written for SB Fitness Magazine
By Chris Ecklund, MA, CSCS

I like this question. I do. It always makes me laugh. We all know the unspoken question being asked here, right?… “Do I really have to stretch at all, and if so, how little can I do and still be okay?”

For those that read the article I wrote addressing the importance of warm up and cool down, my answer is very similar here: I find that the older I get, the more important stretching becomes (probably because I didn’t do enough when I was younger). Ideally stretching should be a part of our routine from the get-go. However, when bodies and minds are young the feelings of invincibility and rapidly recovering muscles often discourages it…so we are left with the aches and pains to enjoy 20 years later. Good deal, huh?

A couple quick background thoughts. First, why do we stretch? Most often the default answer is ‘to avoid injury.’ Understand, however, that most reviews of literature in the area of flexibility training would likely agree that there is not a strong correlation between static stretching (the type where you ‘hold’ the stretch) and acute injury reduction. Is it probable that it does help at all in the area? Sure. But not a primary result as per the literature. This begs the second question…if not for injury prevention, then why? The primary reasons we find in current literature center around improved posture, decreased chronic injury or pain (i.e. low back pain), improved movement economy (your body moves more efficiently and doesn’t fight itself), and decreased recovery time. And just like all other fitness or exercise-related questions, the goal of the ‘stretching’ or ‘flexibility’ training would determine the type of stretching and the appropriate placement in an exercise session. Here are the most common stretching techniques as well as when, how, and why to use them:

Static Stretching: This is what most people are familiar with. It is the stretch that you “hold.”
Goal: lengthen the muscle and associated connective tissue to allow greater range of motion. Necessary for maintaining proper posture and allowing full range of motion in activities of choice. Decreases recovery time.
How: with proper posture and alignment, stretch the muscle to the point of discomfort (not pain) and hold the position for at least 20-45 seconds. Keep the muscle relaxed and maintain slow relaxed breathing patterns. Perform 2-3 sets on appropriate muscles.
When: if you are only going to do it once during your routine, do it at the end of your workout. You can also stretch in between sets of an exercise to maximize your workout time. Also, it may be appropriate to stretch prior to exercise also. However, if you are focused on building strength or power, static stretching is not recommended between sets or immediately pre-activity as most research shows decrements in these variables for up to 60 minutes post stretching.

PNF or Neuromuscular Stretching: this is often referred to as the “Hold-Contract-Relax” method. Though there are other methods of Neuromuscular Stretching, this is the most common. Most literature would agree that, if done correctly, Neuromuscular Stretching is slightly more effective than is Static Stretching.
Goal: Same as Static Stretching but perhaps a more aggressive approach.
How: with proper posture and alignment, stretch the muscle to the point of discomfort (not pain) and hold the position for 5-10 seconds. Then perform an isometric contraction of the muscle being stretched (this will increase the feel of the stretch as well as decrease some of the neural inhibitors) for 5-10 seconds. Then, relax and take a deep breath and move to the new point of discomfort (this is usually 5-10 degrees further each time). Repeat this pattern 2 or 3 times. Keep the muscle relaxed and maintain slow relaxed breathing patterns. Perform 2-3 sets on appropriate muscles.
When: research here is similar to Static Stretching with respects to timing, and for similar reasons.

Dynamic Stretching: This is often referred to as calisthenics or movement-oriented warm up.
Goal: increase muscle and connective tissue temperature, range of motion, blood flow to the working muscles (more nutrient supply) and increase neural drive to working muscles. In essence, to prepare the muscle for the activity it is about to encounter.
How: in the simplest terms…start with small slow movements and gradually progress them to bigger and faster movements. Engaging in movements similar to that which you are about to engage in are most beneficial (i.e. don’t go skip to warm up for swimming). In attempting to warm up for most ground based sporting activities, movements like body weight squats, gradual sprint build ups, side slides, skipping, cariocca, etc. types of activities work well.
When: more research and applied science encourage this type of “flexibility” training pre-activity. Why? You don’t lose strength and power. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why would you teach your muscle to relax (static stretch) before trying to get it to contract quickly and powerfully? I don’t know either. If you figure it out, let me know. Point?…prepare the body for what it is about to encounter. It may also be wise to perform this type of activity as a “cool down” post exercise to shuttle waste out of the body and decrease recovery time.

Self Myofascial Release: a technique that has come to some popularity over the past 5 years. It is ultimately utilizing various tools (a foam roller, a “Stick”) to apply self-massage. In truth, it is not stretching, per se, but it does have significant benefit for range of motion which is why it’s worth mentioning here.
Goal: to break down trigger points and/or knots within the muscle as well as adhesions between the fascia (tissue surrounding muscle) and muscle itself. When either of these are present, range of motion is affected due to inhibited neural communication with the muscle and connective tissue preventing movement.
How: utilize tools such as “The Stick,” a 6” Foam Roller, or anything relatively firm (tennis ball, medicine ball, etc.). If using a Foam Roller, lay the appropriate muscle atop the roller and attempt to work out any sensitive areas that are encountered. Use as much pressure from bodyweight as can be tolerated while maintaining a relaxed muscle and breathing pattern. Work out the worst areas first. Perform 2-3 sets of 30-60 seconds per muscle.
When: SMR techniques can be applied pre-exercise, in between exercise sets, or post exercise. If you only have time for one application, pre-exercise is probably the best option.

Example routine for “General Fitness”
Dynamic Warm Up 5-10 Minutes
Static Stretching or SMR Techniques 5-10 Minutes
Exercise
Static Stretching between sets
Dynamic Cool Down 5-10 Minutes
Static or Neuromuscular Stretching 10-15 Minutes

Example routine for “Athletes”
Dynamic Warm Up 10-15 Minutes
SMR Techniques 5-10 Minutes
Exercise
SMR Techniques between sets
Dynamic Cool Down 5-10 Minutes
SMR Techniques 5 Minutes
Neuromuscular Stretching 15-30 Minutes

Apply these techniques to your program for 1-2 months and you will notice significant benefit.

Consult a physician prior to beginning any exercise program and stop at the onset of any pain or dizziness.

Core Conditioning November 2007

Here is the November program for the Core Performance group training class. For those of you who are athletes, weekend warriors, or just looking for something different than the typical “gym” workout…put this into effect for a month and watch your agility, stability, balance, explosiveness and core strength improve. If you are an athlete, you can utilize this program as a pre-season, in-season or off season program for improving strength and power endurance.

Variations and progressions exist with each exercise. Holler with questions:

Dynamic Warm Up (5-10 minutes)

Core Circuit (2-4 Sets / 30 seconds each / 0-5 seconds between exercises)
Side Bridge
Side Bridge (other side)
Cable PNF Lift (Kneeling first)
Quadruped Contralateral or Ipsilateral Reach
Draw In on Foam Roller w/Marches
Inchworms

Explosive / Balance Circuit (same sets/time)
Balance Board Squats (lateral wobble)
Mini Hurdle Acceleration Skips
1/4 Squat Balance Triangles on Ball of Foot
Single Leg 1/4 Turn Jump and Stick
Single 1/4 Squat Balance with Swiss Ball Pass
Broad Jump and Stick

Agility / Lift Circuit (same sets/time)
Push Up (one hand on slide board)
Lateral In-n-Outs Agility Ladder
Inverted Row
Star Drill in Cones
Bear Crawl and Crab Walk
Dumbbell Diagonal Lunge

Active-Isolated Stretching Cool Down (5-10 minutes)
Arm Hugs
Knee Hug Walks
Quad Stretch Walks
Straight Leg High Kick Walks
Piriformis Stretch Walks
Hip Circles

Make sure you can do exercises with perfect posture and landing technique prior to progressing to more difficult variations.

Enjoy!

Consult a physician prior to beginning any exercise program and stop at the onset of any pain or dizziness.

Core Conditioning October 2007

Here is the October program for the Core Performance group training class. For those of you who are athletes, weekend warriors, or just looking for something different than the typical “gym” workout…put this into effect for a month and watch your agility, stability, balance, explosiveness and core strength improve. If you are an athlete, you can utilize this program as a pre-season, in-season or off season program for improving strength and power endurance.

Variations and progressions exist with each exercise. Holler with questions:

Dynamic Warm Up (5-10 minutes)

Core Circuit (2-4 Sets / 30 seconds each / 0-5 seconds between exercises)
Swiss Ball Prone Lateral Roll (feet on ball)
Supine Bridge (on elbows)
Swiss Ball Pikes
Stick Crunch
Russian Twist Seated
Prone Opposites

Explosive / Balance Circuit (same sets/time)
Medicine Ball Chest Pass
Single Leg Heiden and Stick
Low Walk & Pause (Backwards)
Single Leg Balance and Cone Touch
Box Strides
Hop and Balance/Cone Touch

Agility / Lift Circuit (same sets/time)
Zig Zag through Mini Hurdles
Double Leg Hip Lift
Mini Band Shuffle and Cone Touch (Lateral)
Push Up and Rotate
Star Drill with Cones
Dumbbell Lunge to Shoulder Press
3 Hurdle Lateral Run and Stick

Active-Isolated Stretching Cool Down (5-10 minutes)
Arm Hugs
Knee Hug Walks
Quad Stretch Walks
Straight Leg High Kick Walks
Piriformis Stretch Walks
Hip Circles

Make sure you can do exercises with perfect posture and landing technique prior to progressing to more difficult variations.

Enjoy!

Consult a physician prior to beginning any exercise program and stop at the onset of any pain or dizziness.

Prevail Conditioning