Exercise an Important Aid in Addiction

The following is a contributed post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercise basics. 

Contributed by Jen Pooley

The benefits of exercise have long been hailed in scientific literature; various studies prove the existence of a link between a physically active lifestyle and a lesser risk of obesity, Type II diabetes and heart disease. Recent findings, however, also indicate that exercise has an important role to play in mental conditions like anxiety and depression. It is also an important part of many rehabilitation programs at leading centers in the US, owing to its ability to help stave off addiction. These are just some of the most interesting findings on the link between exercise and addiction:
  • Exercise keeps the youth smoke-free. A study published by scientists at the University of Michigan showed that teens who engaged in regular sport where less likely to have smoked cigarettes or abused marijuana. Statistics have remained stable similar since the mid-1990s. Preliminary studies also indicate that exercise effectively decreases the demand for nicotine in laboratory animals.

  • Exercise curbs drug abuse during the stages of initiation and maintenance. Exercise also prevents drug abuse from escalating and lessens episode of bingeing. A study published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychiatry (Mark Smith et al, 2011), explains that the extent of addiction is often dependent on what takes place during various stages of consumption. There is a link, for instance, between the rapid transition from initial drug experimentation to regular patterns of drug use, and later problems with abuse and dependence. Laboratory studies have shown that rats that were initiated to an addictive drug and engaged in exercise, self-administered significantly lower rates of the addictive substance than sedentary rats. In the same way, rats who were physically active opted for lesser amounts of the addictive substance during the ‘maintenance’ phase (i.e. the post-initiation phase). Those that exercised also had less dramatic escalation of drug use and less bingeing episodes. The latter in particular is of great interest, since drug binge episodes are associated with higher overdose rates.

  • Exercise can aid in combatting depression. A study carried out by M Babyak et. al. set out to assess the effect of aerobic exercise, sertraline therapy, or a combination of exercise and sertraline therapy, in 156 adult volunteers suffering from major depression. Scales of depression were measured via the Diagnostic Interview Schedule and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, as well as through self-reporting via the Beck Depression Inventory. After four months, participants in all three groups showed significant improvements in depression; however, after 10 months, subjects in the exercise group had significantly lower relapse rates that those in the medication group. Those who engaged in physical activity during the follow-up period also had a lesser chance of being diagnosed with depression after follow-up. This led researchers to conclude that exercise can play an important role in the treatment of depression.
Activities like yoga and Pilates, in particular, have been used successfully to combat depression and anxiety, which is why they are often used as complementary treatments in top rehabilitation centers in the U.S. A recent study on Pilates showed that depressed women in a residential center for abused women who did 20-45 minutes of Pilates a day, three days a week, had significantly higher levels of serotonin and a 34 per cent decline in depression.
  • Exercise reduces stress. When addicts are in the process of rehabilitation, they are forced to face acute episodes of stress as they are forced to control carving and as worry begins to set in about the effects of their addiction on their relationships with others and their future. Studies on women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer have shown that yoga significantly reduces cortisol levels and lessens fatigue.
Behavioral/psychological mechanisms that contribute to the beneficial effects of exercise: M Smith et.al. (2011) note that there are various reasons why exercise can be so efficient in dealing with addiction. Firstly, the fact that exercise can decrease the self-administration of drugs can decrease the “relative reinforcing strength of the drug when both are concurrently available.” Secondly, since exercise decreases depression and anxiety, it reduces risk factors for abuse/relapse. Finally, the positive effects of exercise on our well-being and self-esteem result in a lower likelihood of substance abuse. Interestingly, “accumulating evidence shows that exercise influences many of the same signaling molecules and neuroanatomical structures that mediate the positive reinforcing effects of drugs.” As the Mayo Clinic notes, exercise is beneficial for everyone: “The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.” 


Why I Dislike the Rear Lat Pulldown and You Should Too.

The wrong way

When I go to the gym I sometimes feel like I have to wear blinders to stop myself from seeing all the poorly executed exercises - or made-up, dangerous exercises. Let me be clear here, I don't really care if someone is doing squats and they have to wide a base or don't go to parallel, What I do care about is someone swinging a kettlebell over their head like they are Conan the Barbarian. I let it all slide because I know people don't like a random bearded man coming up to them to tell that what they are doing is probably going to end up in injury.

One thing that I have a hard time letting go is people doing the rear lat pulldown. The exercise really irks me, mainly because of people's flawed reasoning for performing it and because I think that the risks of the exercise outweigh whatever benefits one thinks it has over the front lat pulldown

The righ way
Firstly, neck position. Most of the people I see doing a rear lat pull down have terrible posture. They wrench their neck forward and slam the bar down at the CT junction. Like every other exercise, posture and spinal alignment are very important. if you're throwing yourself this far out of alignment, then it's a definite no-no.

Secondly, going along with the neck position, when somewhen flexes they neck so far forward they often times do a sort-of semi-crunch at the bottom of the movement. I cringe thinking about it, and I sort of picture Gollum from lord of the rings, with creepy bent over position.

Ok, so not everyone does the rear-lat pulldown with such terrible posture. I can hear you saying, "but I sit upright, retract my scapula and pull straight down behind my head. Why can't I do this?" Well, you can if you want to, but what benefit are you getting from doing it this way over doing the lat pulldown in front? Some people say they feel it more, or that the muscles in your back work harder, well I call bullshit. EMG studies show that the most effective position for activation of the latissimus, posterior deltoid, and teres major is the wide-grip front lat pulldown.

So even those of you with good posture are not getting the benefits you seek from doing the pulldown behind your head. What you are doing is placing your shoulder in a more externally rotated position which horizontally with horizontal abduction (a provacation test for shoulder sublaxation by the way), pinning your scapula to your back with excessive retraction during the movement, and putting added stress on the joint capsule. all this culminates to a high-risk-low-reward situation in which the only thing your increasing is the chances of anterior shoulder instability/dislocation, and impingement.

What are your thoughts? Do you still think it better to do the rear-lat pulldown? To be fair, I've seen people doing front lat pulldowns in a way that is much more dangerous (and stupid) than doing a rear lat pulldown with good posture. However, the key to any exercise is to do it as safely and as efficiently as possible, in this case the front lat pulldown wins.

Pugh, G. M. (2003). A Biomechanical Comparison of the Front and Rear Lat Pull-Down Exercise. Unpublished Masters Thesis. University of Florida.

Signorile, J. E., Zink, A. J., and Szwed, S. P. (2002). A Comparative Electromyographical Investigation of Muscle Utilization Patterns Using Various Hand Positions During the Lat Pull-down. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 16(4), 539-546.   

NPTE Sample Questions

So when I was preparing to write the NPTE I wanted to get my hands on as many sample questions as a possibly could. While there are resources out there, they can be a little bit pricey. I figured that I would create a practice exam for the prospective candidates that had a little more affordable sticker price. Now, with that being said, I highly highly highly recommend scorebuilders NPTE complete study guide and the online advantage program. I found that the exams included in the study guide and the online program were very close to the format of the actual NPTE, and the study guide is very comprehensive and easy to follow. It was my main resource when preparing. Anyway, here is a sample of the questions I plan to have in my practice exam, which I hope to have completed in September for those of you taking the October Exam. 
  1. A patient presents with ipsilateral loss of proprioception and paralysis, as well as contralateral loss of pain and temperature sensation. What spinal cord injury does this describe?
    1. Anterior Cord Syndrome 
    2. Brown Sequard Syndrome 
    3. Central Cord Syndrome 
    4. Posterior Cord Syndrome

  2. A patient reports low back pain with shooting pain into both legs as far as the knee and a feeling of pins and needles that, sometimes, reaches as far as the ankle. He has been informed by his physician that he has sciatica. Which of the following does not mimic the symptoms of sciatica?
    1. Piriformis syndrome 
    2. Sacroiliitis 
    3. Spondylolisthesis 
    4. A tumor located at the spinal nerve root of L1-L2

  3. A 55-year-old patient presents with an ulcer on the lateral aspect of their ankle and has a history atherosclerosis with an Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) of 0.7. Which of the following would the patient most likely exhibit?
    1. COPD 
    2. Obesity 
    3. Poorly Controlled Diabetes Mellitus 
    4. Varicose Veins

  4. A patient’s EKG is shown in the picture to the right. What heart rhythm does the patient exhibit? 

    1. Atrial Fibrillation 
    2. Sinus Bradycardia 
    3. Sinus Tachycardia 
    4. Ventricular Tachycardia

  5. While working in a Skilled Nursing Facility, you are asked to complete an assessment on a 73-year-old patient who has been diagnosed as having a left sided CVA. Which of the following would you not expect the patient to have?
    1. Ataxic movement of bilateral upper limbs 
    2. Difficulty understanding words written or spoken
    3. Hemiparesis of the right leg
    4. Slow, deliberate movements

  6. A 65-year-old African American male patient, who admitted to smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day, has to urinate more frequently at night, has swollen feet and ankles, and muscle weakness. Which of the following is he most likely experiencing symptoms of?
    1. Exacerbation of COPD 
    2. Left Sided Heart Failure 
    3. Right Sided Heart Failure 
    4. Sickle Cell Anemia

  7. Upon examination of a 23-year-old female patient with complaints of shoulder pain you find that the patient has a painful arc, painful palpation of deltoid tuberosity, weak external shoulder rotation, and a positive Hawkes-Kennedy test. Which of the following muscles is least likely to be a contributing factor to the patient’s pain.
    1. Infraspinatus 
    2. Supraspinatus 
    3. Teres Major 
    4. Teres Minor

  8. Which of the following responsibilities would be most appropriate to delegate to a Physical Therapy Assistant.
    1. Continuation of established treatment plan
    2. Developing an exercise plain for a patient 
    3. Mobilizing a patient for the first time
    4. Taking patient history

  9. An ABG reading shows the following values: pH 7.28, paCO2 49. The patient also has a heart rate of 110bpm. What condition is the patient experiencing?
    1. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome 
    2. Metabolic Acidosis 
    3. Metabolic Alkalosis 
    4. Respiratory Acidosis

  10. A 30-year-old man has burns covering his chest, abdomen, and right arm. According to the rule of nines, what percentage of his body has been burned?
    1. 18% 
    2. 22.5% 
    3. 27% 
    4. 31.5%
Answer Key
  1. B
  2. D
  3. C
  4. C
  5. A
  6. C
  7. C
  8. A
  9. D
  10. B
Please let me know your thoughts about the questions, be it about the difficulty, if you want some explanation of the answers, if they're just worded funny. It's hard to be critical of your own work.

Getting my 2.5lbs Weights!

I've been informed by the folks and Blink fitness - after my numerous suggestions - that I can expect to see 2.5lbs weight plates by mid-august. I want to take credit for the fact that they're getting the plates, but they were probably planning on it anyway. Still, it's good to think that they actually took my suggestions on board. Now if they get a couple more oly bars and a dedicated bench press I'll be super happy.

Aside from that I don't have anything really interested to add. I am planning on making and NPTE practice exam. If that's something you great people think would interest you let me know. I know when I was preparing to write the exam I wanted to get my hands on as many practice exams as possible, but those suckers can be expensive! It'll probably be a long-time in the works, but keep an eye out here for updates. 

I hope everyone is having a fantastic first weekend of August. 

Muscle and Motion Update

So a couple years ago I wrote a review of the muscle and motion software. You should definitely go give it a read, the program is fan-freaking-tastic. If you're at all interested in functional anatomy then you'll love it. I just wanted to shine some light on recent updates from muscle and motion.

The biggest thing I want to get across is that they are constantly updating the body of work contained in the program. I get an email every month letting me know about the updates that are happening within the program, so there's no way I can be all inclusive. However, here's a small list of some of the updates over the past 2 months:

-  Cable Triceps Extensions
-  Machine Triceps Extensions
-  Lying Leg Curls

-  Core Muscles - short movie
-  Single leg Lateral Raise [Target your proprioceptive system |  Frontal plane VS Scapular plane]
-  Shoulders Combined Raise [Target your lower trapezius]
-  Front Raise [Shoulder impingement syndrome]
-  Decline Crunch [How to Do an Ab Crunch?... ]
-  Examples for training the abdominal muscles
    in their stabilizing function.

Aside from that, the user interface remains about the same as it did from when I reviewed the program at first, which is nice, because I found it to be very user friendly. There are also helpful video tutorials about exercise physiology, developing a workout routine, kinesiology, and more. I strongly encourage any kinesiology or physiotherapy student to purchase it, but give it a trial first to make sure you love it. You can click the link in my left side bar to be taken directly to the free trial download. Or, if scrolling back up is too time consuming, click right here. If you're an educator, you may have the option of getting a discounted full version as well.

My First Impressions of Blink Fitness

Finally, I've started going to the gym again. I haven't went since I moved down to this wonderfully big, wonderfully strange, city. I joined blink fitness. It's dirt cheap - at just $20 a month for me and my wife - and clean, but there's a few things that I find lacking. This is by no means a scathing review of blink, it's just my impressions upon the first month of the place being open. 

Like I said, it's cheap, so perhaps I don't have too much to complain about, but dammit I will anyway. Here's my list.

  1. No 2.5lbs plates. Come on guys, seriously? A brand spanking new gym with like 100 treadmills and you couldn't spring for a half dozen 2.5lb weight plates? You expect people to jump a minimum of 10lbs if their trying to beat their personal best?

  2. Only two olympic bars in the whole place. TWO! which are both in squat racks. So if someone wants to do bench press they have to take up a whole squat rack to do it, leaving one bar for everyone else who wants to squat, deadlift, power clean, snatch, jerk... you get the picture. This is probably my biggest issue with the place honestly.

  3. Octagon weight plates. This isn't actually that big of an issue, but it's a little annoying when doing a deadlift. you can't roll the damn things to get the position, I always feel like I'm laying them dow askew, so I feel like I have to reset between reps. It'll probably just take some adjusting, but I like round plates better.
So that's about it really. I've made suggestions to the manager about getting 2.5lbs plates and adding a dedicated bench press. I don't really expect them to change to round plates, but that's just me being picky anyway. In another post I'm going to talk about the gym culture in some places like this big box type gyms. I haven't the energy to rant about it now, but here's a little preview. Free weights are not the enemy, personal trainers need more training, ladies need to lift heavy things!

Thanks for indulging me. I actually do really like the gym, I do. It's clean, lit's big, the staff is friendly, and the air conditioner works. It could be a lot worse, but I think a brand new gym has the opportunity to address issues head on in the beginning, so Imma tell 'em about it.

Happy Canada Day... Not very original post.

Happy Canada Day! I've only been in the USA for a couple months, but it's still long enough to make me miss home. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, but Canada is, well, Canada. We have polar bears, hockey, and Santa Claus.

I don't really have much else to say. By a stroke of luck I have the day off, but I didn't even get to sleep in because of street work outside my window. Damn jackhammers.

I hope my Canadian followers are having a fantastic day off and that you celebrate in style. Cheers for now.

Running Technique Infographic

This infographic was shared with me by Joe from the foot shop. I liked it. it's pretty. It's informative. I figure, why not share it with you lovely lot. He also shared this link about bare foot running with me.

Front Squats Make Climbing Hard... Netflix is Amazing

It sure has been a while. Who knew that moving to a new city, starting a new job, and having so much daily responsibility would take up all my time? No promises to be made about blogging more frequently, but I'll at least give it a shot.

I've honestly just haven't felt much like blogging about exercise or physical therapy since I moved here. For starters, I didn't join a gym until about a week ago, so I had a bit of a lull there. FYI, do not take three months off from lifting and do front squats the day before you have to climb five flights of stairs repeatedly the next day. Also, I don't know if you're all aware of this, but netflix is friggin' amazing. My wife and I just started Orange is the New Black. If that doesn't distract you from blogging/being productive then nothing will. 

Anyway, aside from all that, the job is going well. Right now I'm working in the school system until at least the end of the school year doing paediatric physical therapy. I will admit, it is not my strongest area. I'm very much a muscle and bones guy. Give me a busted knee and some low back pain, that's my bread-and-butter. The kids thing is fun though, and challenging. Supposedly that's something people want out of their career; to be challenged. I'm not sure if I fall into that vein. I like solving problems, I like diagnostics, but do I like to be challenged and pushed outside my comfort zone with PT? maybe. 

I'll make an effort to have more engaging posts when I think of them. Perhaps when I'm more in the swing of the job and getting back to lifting I'll have more to write about. In the meantime, if you like great pictures of NYC and of a fashionable lady, you should pop over to my wife's blog. she's much more consistent with the whole interwebs than I am. She even tweets, like daily. 

Musings After the Move

Yikes, it's been a while. I'm finally getting settled in NYC. Sarah and I have an apartment are are slowly filling it with things, doing some painting, things like that. The job is, well the job hasn't really begun yet. There's been a few things holding me back, like having to get my social security number, banking, paperwork. The company I'm working for is a staffing agency, which means when I do start I'll be bouncing around between different locations and different settings. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand it will give me good experience working with different groups and subgroups of patients, on the other hand I won't be so strongly focused on MSK. 

For example, I was supposed to start with a school on Friday past. It would have been a 2 month contract, since the school year ends in 2 months. I was excited and nervous about this opportunity. I love kids, I've work a lot with kids, but not as a physical therapist. I did my stint in college working as a counsellor at a day camp, I worked with church programs for kids, and I've worked as a sports instructor at The Little Gym. While great experience, they do not really prepare you for being a paediatric physical therapist. Sure, I've treated a couple kids here and there, but never my entire case load. That being said, working with children is one of the most rewarding things you can do, sooooo, two sides of the same coin right?

Anyway, that position ending up falling through because the school board double booked therapists for the school I was supposed to be in and the other guy showed up first, took the caseload, and that's all she wrote about it. Oh well.

So, that's a quick little update on what's going on. My apologies for not providing any content in the last month. It's been busy. I do have some posts planned, but I need to work on them. I'm sure when things become a bit more routine for me around these parts I'll get more consistent again. 

New Job, New City, Same Blog

Hello folks,

In the next couple of weeks there probably won't be a whole lot of activity on this blog. I'm moving to New York City to start a new job, so there will be little time for blogging during the move, apartment hunt, all that fun stuff. I do have a couple posts that will be going up soon, so stayed tuned for those - one from my Ask a Physio section of the blog about thyrotoxic myopathy, mmm science-y. I'll be checking my email and twitter, so if you want to drop me a line please do! In the meantime, here is a funny video for the interwebs. Enjoy!

Why Aren't You More Skeptical?

I read. a lot. Especially about physical therapy and fitness. I follow quite a few bloggers. My favourites are those that seem grounded in research and experience in the field. I also read some articles that are... well just plain s&*t. That's the problem with the internet.

Staying Fit in the Modern World

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the view of exercisebasics.

As someone who has struggled with my weight for most of my life, I'm always on the lookout for the latest and greatest fitness solutions. I am also a huge fan of technology and have been grateful for the recent boom in mobile tech advancements put forth to help make staying healthy easier. I have found that adjusting lifestyle rather than going on a diet, being ultra restrictive, or becoming an exercise fanatic is the best way to stay healthy, happy, and fit.

And I'm not the only one: as reported by LiveScience, the Journal of the American Medical Association urges for the push to end "diets" as we know them. For weight loss, permanent lifestyle adjustments work far better than fad diets. We're all aware of the major health risks of obesity: according to the American Heart Association, obesity leads to high cholesterol, increased blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and heart attack, and diabetes. They also define obesity as "having a body mass index (BMI) of 30" and provide a handy BMI calculator so you can check yourself on that.

Which Supplement is Best For You?

By Ragesoss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
I've been toying with the idea of writing a post about supplementation for a little while. I've touched on the 1g/lb protein myth, but haven't really went any further with talking about other supplements. Well, now I don't have to because to good folks over at nerdfitness just posted a great article about it. Frankly, I couldn't have written it better myself. It would be remiss of me not to share a great read like this with you guys.

Just a note, you will notice in the article that they recommend 1g per pound of lean body weight. This is different that the 1g per pound of total body weight myth that I've written about, and roughly equates to 0.8g/lb. Thats right at the upper limit as to what the research shows is effective. So I'm down with that.

I really encourage any of you out there who are interested in taking supplements or the like to read the article. They take the same views on it that I do, which is basically that it's a bunch of hokum, for most people.

Friday Favourites

This month has been an odd one for me. I'm still waiting on some paperwork so I can finally get down to the United States to start a new job. In the meantime I've been doing training modules, update resumes, all that fun (nee: dull) stuff. With that being said, I've still had time to enjoy myself a little bit. Here are my favourite things of the past couple of weeks.

1. Bret Contreras: I started reading his blog last week sometime. I've worked back through a few of his articles about form with specific lifts and the like. I very much like his writing style and that he's an expert in the field. I like reading things from people who apply science to their writing. Supposedly he's considered the world's foremost expert on glute training. So ladies (and fellas) if you want those buns of steel, check this guy out.

2. The power clean. This has been my favourite exercise of late. I won't like to you, I'm fairly new to it. I hadn't done a whole lot of olympic lifting in my routines until about 6 months ago. I'm just now getting a better handle on the technique. This is definitely my favourite olympic lift. I just find it fun, and I feel really awesome when I hit a new personal best, more so than other lifts for some reason. Here is a super slow-mo video of the thing.

3. The french press. While this kind of sounds like an exercise, it's actually just the french press for coffee. I love coffee, especially from my french press. I read an article the other day about how all the waste for the disposal kurig K cups can stretch around the world three times. That made me cringe. I do have a kurig in my house, but I tend to use the french press most often. Great coffee, and no waste.

4. This kind of mentality towards weight training for women

So those are my favourite things over the past couple of weeks. I mean I could add in things like the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Raptors. But sports teams are a consistent favourite. Unless it's when they lose to Cleveland (Come on Raps, no Kyrie Irving and you still drop that one?).

What are some of your favourite things over the past few weeks?
How do you enjoy your coffee?

Those Three Hardest Words to Say

It's ok to say that sometimes, and it's something I think I've had to come to terms with as a personal trainer and physical therapist. I don't know. I often get asked questions by family members and friends about health and fitness. I don't mind really. I like being able to answer most questions that come my way. However, sometimes my family will ask me questions that I honestly just can't answer. 

Crossfit Infographic

The following infographic was shared with me by Michael Cheung of Argon Crossfit. It just a little introduction to what crossfit is. Feel free to share.

What Motivates You to Exercise?

So you all may have noticed that I haven't been blogging a whole lot in the past couple of weeks. I had that third piece of the tennis elbow series to finish and for some reason I just kept putting it off. I'm sure everyone of you has had moments like that. Moments where you just can't find the motivation to finish something, or start something for that matter. I don't know why it took me so long to finish it. I mean, I like the material that I was writing on. I liked the reading I was doing for it. I just, couldn't. I sat at my computer to write, but instead I would look at online comics, read sports news, laugh at a cat video. You know, other internet stuff.

Tennis Elbow Treatment

By now you should have read about the anatomy of tennis elbow and the causes and symptoms. If not, I encourage you to. In this article I will talk about the treatment options for tennis elbow. A little warning, this is wordy article. I think it is well worth the read, but I would; I did write it after all.


As with most injuries I would always recommend trying conservative therapy before branching out to anything invasive. Physical therapy being conservative, I will discuss it here. Unfortunately, the research shows no particular conservative treatment as being more favourable over another. Well, maybe not unfortunately, this just means that we have many tools at our disposal. Anyway, moving on.

My Spirit is Willing, My Back it is Strong

Stole the tittle from wave or wave, a song by the great Jim Payne. I know, I know. There's supposed to be a post about tennis elbow treatment. It's coming. I have a valid excuse. The past two weeks were the olympics, and I'm Canadian. Enough said? Sorry folks, I found it incredibly hard to sit myself down on the computer and research/write while the olympics were on the go. Stick with me. I got some good posts lined up.

Aside from that, I have wicked DOMS. For those of you new to the exercise game, DOMS are Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Maybe that's an idea for an article, hmm. One thing at a time Brandon. Ok, so basically, DOMS are soreness you get the day after/day after the day after working out. Most likely you've all experienced it to some degree. Like when your lower back is sore a couple of days after shovelling. Anyway, my upper back and shoulders are SORE!

The funny thing about DOMS is that you kinda like them, or at least I do. It's like that good soreness you feel after a great game of basketball, or cutting a load of wood - it's the soreness of physical accomplishment, and that's why it feels good. Damned if I won't complain about it though. Good or not, soreness is soreness. If you're curious, it is a result of bent over rows, jump shrugs, and upright seated rows. Now, before you bust my chops on  shrugs being an isolation exercise I'll counter you in saying that it's in element of the power clean and I'm also jumping. 

Ok, so that's about all I have to say for today. Anyone else out there have DOMS? let me know in the comments below.

Sometimes I Lift, Sometimes I Drink Whisky.

But tonight I lift...

I will admit to you folk. I have been lazy. While living in St. John's for the last year I haven't been as active as I would have liked. I'm getting back into the swing of things lately and hitting the weights and playing some sports again. Like I mention in my last post, I've been using fitocracy to track my workouts. I got to thinking, "hey, I run a fitness blog, so maybe I should talk a bit about my workouts here." Then I agreed myself, congratulated myself on being so very clever and sat down to write this post. Usually at this time of night, when there's a basketball game on the TV, I would be sitting with a glass of whisky on the rocks. I'm out of whisky though, so I'll just blog.

Ok, some my workout. It started off with an hour and a half of volleyball. One time I could say I was a good player. Then I stopped playing for about four years. Now I'm just one of those guys who used to play and can still do a few things... jumping not being one of them.

After volleyball, my wife and I went to the gym. Usually I wouldn't go after volleyball, but I was feeling pretty good. I skipped doing any cardio - the volleyball took care of that. I've been doing olympic lifts and compound exercises almost exclusively. You may or not know my feelings about isolation exercises (I hate them), so I generally don't do them. Tonight I did flat bench press and power cleans. I threw in some deadlifts in between sets of cleans with the weight I already had on the bar. Here is how I structured it.

Bench PressPower CleanDeadlift
125lbs x 875lbs x 875lbs x 8
125lbs x 885lbs x 685lbs x 6
135lbs x 6100lbs x 6100bs x 6
115lbs x 6105lbs x 3105lbs x 3

So there you have it. I wasn't pushing big weights, and as you can see I couldn't hit 6 reps with 105lbs on the power clean. I'll blame that on volleyball. I also hate bench presses. I never did like them and I don't know if it's a mental block with me, but I could never push a lot of weight on it. I may take a video of my power cleans soon. 

Tell me about your work out, what kind of lifts do you like to do. 

Fitocracy and More of my Favourite Things

Just to fill you all in, I'll have my last post about tennis elbow up in a couple of days - tennis elbow treatment. I also have an updated review of muscle and motion software to post, I freaking love that program. Also, you may have noticed changes to my blog lay out. I felt a little trapped with the last layout, I couldn't adjust it the way I wanted, so I figured I'd start from scratch. I may tinker with a little more, but this is pretty much the permanence. I'm sorry for the changes. 

Aside from that here's a few things on the interwebs that I think y'all should check out.

1. Fitocracy: I signed up for fictocracy a few days ago and I really like it. At first I joined just to be able to easily track my work-outs, but there is a great social aspect to it to. It's basically like facebook, but for people interested in exercise. The people - or fitocrats, if you will - are very helpful and supportive, especially for those of you who are just starting out with the fitness and healthy living thing. I strongly suggest that you sign up.

2. Be Simply Strong: A little while ago Julie wrote a guest post for me and I love her attitude. She has a website and blog that shares her views. She also offers online personal training services which I think is a freaking great thing. She'll design exercise programs, consult on facetime, skype, or the phone, and she offers small group training programs as well. Again, I strongly recommend. 

3. CBC Olympics: There's less than a week left of the olympics. Canada is doing pretty well, as are you Americans out there. Hockey medals are coming soon. Exciting times. I track everything on the CBC olympics website and watch most of the programming on CBC, aside from a few events on TSN. 

4. Feedly: Since google reader called it quits I've been using feedly to follow blogs and the like. It's a great app for chrome. I don't know what alternatives to reader you guys use, but this has been my favourite. It's organized well, collects my subscriptions, and makes suggestions. simple.

5. Coffee. I love coffee. I don't have much more to say about that. Some of my favourite is Jumping Bean deep water dark, a newfoundland company. Gotta love local.

So, there you have it. A few of my favourites things of the last week. What are some of your favourite things? Articles, blogs, food, anything. I want to hear from you guys. Nothing beats word of mouth.

Also, if you like the post, be sure to subscribe to me by email for updates and events. You can also use one of great options in the left side-bar.

Lactic Acid Rant

Before I begin, this post will have no articles to back it up, but I promise to an article with science soon. This is purely a rant.

I'm watching speed skating on the television -#wearewinter (had to do it, go Canada!) - and one of the announcers keeps talking about how the last lap is so difficult because lactic acid is building up in the skaters muscles. This is an old myth that has been disproved, but continues to go around because professionals (the announcer was former olympic medalist) keep saying it! I usually don't get too riled up about it, because who really cares right? Well, this time I care because the olympics are probably one of the most watched events of the year, so this misinformation is getting passed to a large audience. Ok, so maybe no one really cares what causes the burn in your muscles with intense exercise, maybe no one cares that the pioneering study on lactic acid was done an a frog cadaver in 1929, maybe no one cares that there are so many other factors at play that cause the fatigue. But we should. We should know actual facts and we should pass on the facts and not the fictions.

My problem is not necessarily with the myth itself, or with the fact that the announcer continually said it. My problem starts before that. It starts with the highschool coaches or PE teachers telling their young students that lactic acid is causing your muscles to burn. Youth hold onto stuff, even when we find out the truth it's hard to forget stuff that you were told when you were a kid. Someone once told me that monsters live under the stairs leading up to your house. To this day I run up those stairs in night lest a gnarly hand grab me and pull me to the inner bowels of the earth below. I know it's crazy, but when I was a kid it made sense and I can't let go of it. So pass on scientific truths to you children, not something that your coach told you, and his coach before him, and so on. Find out facts first, then pass those on. OK? ok.

Sorry to rant folks. I just get irked when the truth is within grasp, but not told because someone's highschool coach told them that your muscle are burning because of lactic acid. I guess it seems to make sense, acid burns... So do protons, phosphate ions, fire! This one is right up there with the 1g of protein/pound of body weight myth. Except at least the lactic acid one at one point had research to support it. I guess that's why it has lasted so long.

Tennis Elbow Causes and Symptoms

Hopefully, since you landed on this page, you've read my previous article about the anatomy of tennis elbow. If you haven't I encourage you to, no pressure though. In this post I'll discuss the epidemiology of tennis elbow, it's causes, and it's symptoms. So, without further ado, here you go.
Tennis elbow 
Firstly, I want to clear something up. I mentioned in my previous that lateral epicondylitis is a misnomer and I'll explain why now. the suffix ,"-itis," typically means that there is inflammation present. However, with lateral epicondylitis, research shows that there is little if any inflammation, especially in the chronic stages3. One can also argue that referring to the pain as tennis elbow is also incorrect, given that roughly 5-10% of those presenting with symptoms are tennis players2. Now, moving on.

Guest Post: Ladies, Lift Heavy Things

The following is a guest post by Julie Gannon from Be Simply Strong. Normally I would have a disclaimer on guest posts that says "does not necessarily reflect the views of exercise basics. However, this time I will say that the following definitely does reflect the views.

Over in my little corner of the internet I share my passion for helping people Eat Well, Move Often, and Live Simply. One of the things I love to do is get women to start lifting weights!

As a former recreational runner, I loved training for races but ALWAYS seemed to be fighting off injuries. Strength training was something I did but it was secondary to the almighty "cardio".

Eventually, I found myself having to reduce my running due to health issues and injuries. As a result, I focused my attention on lifting heavy weights. A few weeks later I realized how empowered and strong I felt. I was proud of my naturally broad shoulders. I set goals like doing 1 unassisted pull-up or breaking triple digits on my bench press. And guess what, ladies?! I didn’t get “big”!

Do you know how hard it is to put on muscle? How much you have to eat and train? As women, we have lower testosterone levels than men so it is even more difficult.

Think about bodybuilders or fitness competitors who are “bulky” with tons of big muscles. Think about how much time and effort they dedicate to getting their bodies like that. You lifting weights two or three days a week will absolutely NOT get you the same result. Yet somehow, there is a perception that lifting heavy weights will give you manly muscles. What it will give you is a new shape because the ONLY way to change your shape is through strength training.

If you are a pear shape and lose weight by cardio exercise and diet alone, you will just end up being be a smaller pear. You must lift weights to change your shape!

If you are doing cardio 4 days per week, I challenge you to take two of those days and lift weights instead. It doesn’t have to be complicated or scary!

Keep it simple. Lift heavy weights, walk a lot, and you’ll be simply strong.

Don't Trust the Scale

As you may have noticed I'm in the process of updated my blog layout. I've also some work to do on finishing my tennis elbow articles. Sorry for the delay. they will be coming up. I also have a guest post coming up by Julie Gannon of be simply strong. Exciting stuff.

What I want to talk about right now is the scale. Please folks, don't rely on just the scale or your bmi as a marker of health and how fit your are. Along with that, your weight is not as important as your body composition. I wanted to share this because, according to BMI, and to a lot of folks a person who is 5'6 and 170 lbs is overweight. Well, have a look at Canadian bobsledder, Kaille Humphries. Just try and tell me that this girl is overweight and doesn't look good. Go ahead. try. 

On that note. GO CANADA! #wearewinter. (that is the first time I've used a hashtag outside of twitter, I'm not sure I like it.)


I'm refreshing my blog to look a little more professional. bear with me during the changes.

Guest Post: How to Turn Off a Little Known Cause of Muscle Pain – Myofascial Trigger Points

The following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercise basics. 

Active myofacial trigger points are something that may already be holding you back from getting fit and flexible - without you even knowing it.

What are the trigger points? Small areas of spasm within the muscle that cause stiffness and pain. The unusual thing about the pain is that it is created in a pain distribution pattern that is particular to each trigger point - and may be far away from the site of the trigger point itself.

Tennis Elbow - Anatomy

My regular readers will know that I believe anatomy to be the cornerstone of understanding an injury. This section may be wordy and technical for some of you. I apologize for that, but at least the pictures are pretty.

 Lateral epicondylitis was first described in 1973 by Runge and in 1883 Morris first attributed the condition to tennis - "lateral elbow pain in the tennis player." That gives us a pretty good idea of the area we will be looking at. Epicondylitis is a bit of a misnomer as studies have shown that there really isn't much of a inflammatory process, but more on that later.

Tennis Elbow - Introduction

Tennis elbow - or lateral epicondylitis for you keeners - sucks. I should end this post right there, but I won't. Instead I'm going to write a three part post. If you've read my sciatica series or my ACL series then you'll know what to expect. If not, then what you'll get here is an introduction followed by three sections 1. Anatomy 2. Causes and Symptoms and 3. Treatment.

I encourage you to bookmark this page for quick reference. The above list will be hyperlinked as the articles go up. From here you can just click the section you're interested in reading. If my past experience with these types of posts is any indicator then most of you will only be interested in the treatment section. That's perfectly fine. I just want to give you all the option to learn a little more about tennis elbow before reading about treatment.

With all that being said stayed tuned for Part 1 - Tennis Elbow Anatomy.