Please click on a topic that seems interesting...

Working out and getting sick

Exercise and Arthritis

Cycling question: Watts vs. kJ's

Can I get results from twice a week?

Questions on animal research

Recumbent Vs. Upright Bike

Workout frequency

Is this a good workout plan?

Protein powders

Exercises on a ball

Bored doing cardio

Peaking for a fitness competition

Exercise alternatives for a sprained ankle

Need to lose weight

Bulgarian bodybuilding system

Gaining weight

Exercise intensity and fat burning

Exercise scheduling to minimize fatigue

Lactic acid nodes and massage

Thinner thighs

Should a teen do fitness?

Sport nutrition education information

Should a hockey player attend a football training camp?

Weight training and mitochondria production and vascularization

Muscle growth for a 55 year old male

Anaerobic muscle cells






Questions and Answers About Exercise

Q: I have read in a few places that if you work out every day you risk to be sick more often, is this true?


A: How often you work out and how it affects your immune system largely depends on your intensity.  Exercising does stress the immune system and high intensity combined with high
frequency and volume can affect the cellular mechanisms of your immune system that helps you fight infection.  You can exercise and/or be moderately active every day without compromising the effectiveness of your immune system.  The best way to protect yourself from illness is wash your hands lots (seems obvious but this is a main cause of infections), eat well balanced nutritious meals for normal organ function, and get lots of sleep as this
has a large bearing on your immune function.  I think the benefits from moderate exercise outweighs the slight suppressing effect on the immune system.

Q: I am a woman in my late 50's. I have recently been diagnosed with arthroses in my hip. Do you know of exercises I can do to maintain or increase my mobility? I am limping most of the time now and am in pain much of the time. I am wanting to start a training program, if it will help me, but I find machines very boring. I enjoy cross country skiing and biking. I'd really like to get coaching/training in cross country skiing, as well as exercises to increase my endurance.


A: Depending on the diagnosis of your hip, activity can help to keep the joint mobile and active.  Combining flexibility, weight training, and cardiovascular exercise should not only help keep the joint mobile but should also increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the joint resulting in less pain.  Unfortunately, without knowing more about your condition and history I unable to give specifics as to what particular exercise you should perform.  However, at first stick to exercises you find easy and enjoyable to perform.  Strength training exercises that work many muscles together help in lowering the stresses on the joints as well as making your routines more efficient.  You may find that as your strength increases your stamina or endurance increases as well.  However, cardiovascular exercise performed at a variety of intensities will help to improve your endurance the most.  Receiving instruction in any one of these areas is recommended in order to help decrease your chance of your arthritis worsening.

Q: Could explain the relationship between kJ's and watts in cycling? What is a better indicator of how hard one has worked? A lot of pro cycling trainers for training rides are
assigning: do so many kJ's in a given amount of time and watts are secondary.

A: Good question!  kJ or kilojoules measure how much work the body has performed and  watts measure power (work over time).  For example you can burn the same number of  kJ's in a 100km ride whether you do it in 3 hours or if you do it in 10 hours, it's not time dependent.  kJ's can be converted into calories (kcal's if you are referring to the more common use of human energy measurement) which makes it easier to conceptualize how much energy you have used to perform a ride, however it gives you no concept of your performance.  Since watts give you a time reference and performance is reliant on time, watts will give you a better idea of how you performed.  Kilojoules converted into calories can help you gauge your energy requirements, but you will find that if you expended more kJ's on a set distance, terrain, and environmental factors in the same amount of time than previously your watts
will increase and the reverse would hold true as well. 
How hard someone has worked is relational to your goal and your perceived exertion, I think the better question is how well you have performed and that is a bit more telling when you look at watts as well as other factors. It's tough not see the forest for the trees but ultimately you want to ride faster for longer periods and watts can help you gauge that since it has a time factor.  Hope that addressed your question with relative clarity.  Work and Power concepts can be a bit abstract at the best of times.



Q: I work Monday, Wed, and Fridays and I go to Maryland every weekend on our boat, so I only go to the gym on Tuesday and Thursday mornings because that's the only time I can really go.  Am I staying fit by only going 2 times a week or should I try to go more maybe after work or something?

A: It is possible to maintain and even improve muscle strength, tone, and development with two strenuous weight training workouts a week.  To maintain your strength and particularly muscle development, you would want to train each body part at least once a week for 3 sets each.  To improve and increase strength and muscle development you would want to ideally train each body part twice a week for 2 - 3 sets each muscle group.  You could also try a high volume approach for each muscle group but you may run into a plateau a bit faster than the lower volume, increased frequency approach.   As far as cardiovascular fitness goes, it again depends on the intensity and the duration.  For example, an elite distance runner would not be able to maintain a high level of cardiovascular fitness with only 2 moderate cardio sessions a  week would not maintain that level for very long.  However, for the average person who exercises twice a week current research would suggest a higher intensity cardiovascular routine would result in greater improvements in fitness level and health benefits than a lower intensity, longer duration approach.  

Q: I am Physiotherapist and student from Unesp-Botucatu-SP- Brazil. I read article from "Tamaki" and need information about this articles-"A weight-lifting exercise model for inducing hypertrophy in the hindlimb muscles of rats". Do you know the ampers used in rats in vivo? Do you know E-mail of Phd Tamaki?

A: Although I am familiar with the article you are referring to, the reference I used from this article was to illustrate the broad range models used in skeletal muscle hypertrophy and to reinforce the notion that one can not always compare exercise "induced" in animals to voluntary exercise in humans.  My emphasis is more on human muscle growth than animal muscle growth (although similar mammalian muscle fibers responds similar in all species), therefore unfortunately I do not know the ampers used in rats in vivo.  If you are trying to reach the author of the article (if my memory serves me correctly that was a relatively old study at the time I read it in the late nineties) try contacting the research facility that the article originated from and perhaps they could help you contact the person you are looking for.  Sorry I couldn't help you more.

Q: I will be purchasing a stationary bike and I would like to know which between  recumbent bikes and upright bikes are more beneficial in working the glutes?  

A: You would get more glute activation or muscle use from a recumbent bike than an upright bike.  However, it would have little affect on muscle strength and muscle development after several months.  Also, in case you were unaware, you would not lose body fat from the glute area any faster than you would from the abdominal, thigh, or any other region of the body when you use a recumbent bike versus an upright bike.

Q: Which would give me better results with my weight training?  Increasing the number of exercises per body part, but only working that body part once a week? or Working all body parts twice a week? Are there some body parts that should only be worked once a week?

A: Generally speaking the more often you can train that muscle group the better.  However, you have to make allowances for recovery based on how many sets and to a certain degree how many reps you do.  The more sets you do the longer it takes to recover.  Building strong muscle is best done with a lower number of sets (typically 2 - 4 sets per body part) and a lower number of reps (anywhere from 1 - 6), therefore with the right combination you can train that muscle group twice a week for best results.  All body parts can be trained twice a week when these factors are taken into consideration unless you have some major cross-over effect in muscle use from your exercise selection.  In that case because of the extra volume that muscle is subjected to, it may be wise to train it only once a week.  Also keep in mind the higher in intensity the repetition is (for example 2 - 3 repetitions to failure) the greater strain it puts on connective tissue and muscle tissue as well.  This usually results in a longer recovery time when compared with lower intensity, higher repetitions. As far as splitting your body parts, I suppose it may cause an effect but it would come down to the sequence of the exercises more so than the body parts chosen.  The only thing I will mention is that if you are looking for arm
development or strength, push/pull muscle splits generally do not work as well as other combinations. Hope this answers your questions!

Q: I have a few questions...below is the weight plan I do when I work out at my local Gym. However I usually only get to go to the Gym at the most 2 or 3 times a week.  Is this bad where it is a 5 day work out and I only go 2 or 3 times a week?  Should I continue to do this plan or should I stick to another plan?  Is this the right plan for someone who wants to have good endurance and big muscles?

Everyday  -  Sit ups   (at least one set of 40 and 1 set of 20)
  -  Push ups  (at least 2 sets of 20)
DAY 1  -  Biceps  -  Barbell Curls
     Preacher Curls
       -  Chest  -  Flat Press
    Incline Press
    Pec Deck

DAY 2  -  Triceps  -  Tricep Pushdown
       -  Back  -  Lat Pull downs
   Seated rows
   T - Bar (wide)
   T - Bar (close)

DAY 3  -  Legs  -  Leg press
   Leg extensions
   Leg curls
   Calf raises

DAY 4  -  Shoulders  -  Shoulder Press
Side Lat Raise

DAY 5  -  Cardio  -  (1 hour of cardio Total)
       -  Tread Mill - 6.5k/m for 30 minutes
       -  Cross Trainer - 15 minutes
       -  Rowers  - 15 minutes

-> 3 Sets and warm up (1 Minute), 2 Working sets 10 repetitions

A: It is not harmful to your health if you only workout 2-3 times a week on a 5 day routine, however it would impact your intended progress as you are not following the program as it was outlined for you.  It would be better to have a routine that fit into your schedule than to have a routine that you have to fit your schedule to.  You can get good results in muscle growth, strength and cardiovascular performance on a 3 day a week routine. Based on your description of your routine (assuming you do 3 warm-up sets and 2 challenging work sets carried to technical failure per exercise) on a 5 day split per week you would expect a maintenance effect on the muscle to a modest amount of muscle growth after about 4-6 weeks followed by a strong plateau.  You may see continued increases in strength up to the 8 week
point.  However, much of your routine's success in muscle growth is based on your training history and the cellular adaptations you have received from that training.  If you are  completing this 5-day routine every 2 weeks, you are more than likely performing maintenance on your existing musculature and getting very little muscle growth.
If you define endurance as cardiovascular performance, and you have never performed cardiovascular exercise before, you would probably see a fairly strong increase in your performance in the first 10 - 12 weeks even if you were training 3 times a week.  If you have been doing much more cardiovascular exercise in the past you may find yourself at a bit of a
plateau, but it really depends on were you are in the cycle of your training.  If you  define endurance along the lines of muscular endurance or "strength-endurance" and your ability to do muscular work over a given period of time, you should see initial improvements similar to strength increases if you have never lifted weights before.  Hope this helps you in your fitness goals.  

Q: I need information regarding protein powders and which one's to get. First I should tell you that I went to the doctor's to find out how to get more energy because I am very tired.  I should let you know that I have an almost 18 month old, whom I am still breastfeeding and who wakes up at least three or more times per night.  It can range some nights from every half hour to every two and a half hours.  I know I am sleep deprived, but that is life at this time for me.  So with the breast feeding, night walkings and extra training the doctor has recommended protein powders.  I know nothing about these and am hesitant to just go out and buy the first product I see.  What are the side effects, complications, good things and bad about this?  What foods should I be eating?  I am terrible about eating.  My diet sucks.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  I should tell you that I am training towards a time of 1:40:00.  I have only been running for one year this August and want to get more competitive as I gain more of a base for my  running.  How can I stay on top.

A: As you may know there are lots and lots of different brands of proteins in equally as many price ranges.  Generally a good protein powder is whey protein powder.  These are supposed to be the most useful and easily absorbed protein available depending on what you read.  You do get protein from soy protein as well but the theory is you only use about 70% of the protein due to losses through digestion and other processes.  There is milk and egg proteins as well as beef proteins but these are increasingly rare because they do not dissolve as well and many do not like the taste or consistency.  You can spend as much as $80 for a whey protein and as little as $35 on one.  Look at how many grams of protein you get per serving and how big the serving size (for example you may find one that gives 20 grams of protein in a 50 gram serving size and another that gives 30 grams of protein in a 60 gram serving and both would have a different price) As far as prices go you should be able to get a good protein powder for about $45 to $55 for your needs.  Very roughly you get what you pay for so experiment.  Protein powders are a food supplement so there aren't any side effects from the protein as you might get from herbal remedies or pharmaceuticals.  Too much protein can put a strain on your kidneys, especially if you have, or are prone to, kidney disease.  Some low quality protein powders can cause digestion problems such as bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea but that is usually dose dependent and is more likely in people who have digestion
problems already.  The daily recommended allowance for protein is about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight but if you are doing a lot of distance running it may be advisable to boost that to about 1.5 grams per kilogram to make sure you are getting enough to repair any body proteins and replenish your available stores as well.  There is a school of thought (rightfully so) that believes that long distance runners need more protein than weight trainers.
Check our some of the nutrition articles on my website at this link , even the ones about gaining muscle or for fat loss as well as the nutritional info and "what you should be eating". These have good overall advice for helping people eat properly. As far as your training goes you may be interested in getting a test done where you can find out at what heart rate ranges you should be training at to maximize your progress as efficiently as possible.  The Peak Centre for
Human Performance ( can give you more information on this and other strategies as they do quite a bit distance training and testing for many of our national teams.  They can be reached at (613) 737-7325.

Q: I recently caught a brief glimpse of your interview with Elissa Lansdell of the New RO regarding exercise and the use of the Ball. I have purchased a Theraband exercise ball and am looking for good exercises hoping that I can get a full body work out from it.  I am training for a half marathon and understand that if I can improve my body strength, that will help to improve my speed and endurance.  Are there any specific exercises I should be doing and where would I go to find the link that was mentioned on the news show?

A: The link that was mentioned on the show was which is my website which I try to keep updated with current fitness info.  However, you may be more interested in my book "The Weight Trainer's Exercise Handbook" ( as this book has several ball exercises for strengthening various parts of the body plus over 200 weight training exercises as well.  The nice thing about the ball is that it can double as a bench making it much more versatile.  For example, you can do chest exercises using the ball as a bench.  In this situation, your core trunk muscles have to work to help stabilize the body therefore making the movement work more than just a few muscle groups. You would want to train your whole body and not neglect any muscle groups to avoid any muscle imbalances.  Make sure you also include exercises that work the hip extensors (glutes, hamstrings) and calves as well as the front of the thighs.  In addition, core strength is also important (abdominal,
obliques, and lower back) to help stabilize the pelvis and make your running gait more smooth and efficient.  Be consistent and train smart as most of my clients who run distances from 10km to marathons notice a big difference once they start incorporating a good strength training routine into their training. Good luck with your half-marathon! 

Q: I  find that I get very bored on the treadmill or ellipse. I try reading while exercising and that helps sometimes.  Any other suggestions?

A: I am glad you are exercising consistently.  To give you some suggestions for your cardio... if you are going to go for 45 minutes or more you can break up your session into 20 minutes on one machine and 25 minutes on another.  Ideally it is best to do your cardio all on the same machine, however if you find it unpleasant (i.e. boring) you can also get good results be splitting up the time spent doing cardio.  The exception being if you are doing 30 minutes or less in total time as you would only get better results going for a minimum of 20 minutes or more on one machine.  Other types of exercise people find enjoyable are walking,  cross-country skiing, or biking (weather dependent of course!) outside once or twice a week or other cardiovascular exercises such as biking or rowing.

Q: My fitness competition is in about 2 weeks (of course, I'm starting to panic).  I'm wondering how I should best taper my training...everything I've read suggests dropping the weights and doing higher reps (upwards of 20 - 30 +)... do you agree with this principle, or should I stick with my 8 - 12 reps, as heavy as I can training? Also, the competition is sanctioned by the Ontario Physique Association: are they against glycerol, and what are your thoughts on glycerol supplementation before a show? Help help help help...  

A: Generally speaking, your biggest concern is water retention (depending on how you want
to look).  You could go to higher reps and that might result in a drop in your glycogen
stores which might lower your total body water a bit until you stop training (generally one
would stop weight training about 3-4 days before a show), however if you are male you do
risk a rebound effect and a semi-carb-load effect if you do this.  Typically women do not
carb-deplete and carb-load very well as their carb stores are usually quite
high already and can sometimes be difficult to lower enough to affect water retention.  What I would recommend in your situation from the information you have provided with me is to drop a few sets per exercise (depending on how many sets you are doing per exercise) over the next two weeks.  This will allow your muscles to recover as sore/injured/damaged muscle retain water (in fact a "growing" muscle also retains water for about 3-4 days, hence stopping training stimuli about 3-4 days before) while keeping to around 10 - 12 repetitions (lower intensity, i.e. lighter weight,  will also help prevent unnecessary microscropic tears in muscle and tendon structures).  Also I wouldn't train as heavy as you can... coast through your workouts, and get them done but don't kill yourself!  

I am not familiar if the OPA is against glycerol, I would imagine they would have difficulty testing for glycerol anyways since it is a fluctuating energy metabolite that reflects the breakdown of triglyceride use.  Perhaps if one had very high levels above a given standard they could do a comparison test but they would need to do a blood test which I don't believe they do.  Contact the Ontario Physique Association through your regional representative to make sure.  From what I understand of the role of glycerol, if you boost your blood glycerol level before a show I suppose it would dehydrate you to some degree and therefore help you hold less water. Also you can metabolize glycerol into glucose to help replenish your depleted
glycogen stores if you are not eating carbohydrates.  Which I would imagine you would be monitoring up to show time as excess carbs can also make you hold water.  Certain things to consider is also to make a choice on how you want to appear super ripped or come in lean with muscle fullness but not as much definition.  Also if you have a problem holding
water and does your condition fluctuate?

Q: I sprained my ankle last week playing soccer, and the doctor told me to keep off of it for a while.  Do you have any suggestions about what I can do in the meantime to keep up my cardio?

A: One option is to try the rowing machine.  Usually you don't use your ankles, nor do you
usually put a lot of pressure on them either.  Also, the recumbent bike might be an option in a few weeks depending on how badly you damaged your ankle.  The nice thing about the recumbent bike is that you can keep your feet elevated in order to minimize the swelling.  Also, the pressure should be less on your ankle than other bikes or machines since most recumbent bikes do not use magnetic resistance to make you work harder (often they use air resistance so that the faster you peddle, the harder it is).  You might also consider increasing the number of sets for you upper body exercises, and start watching your eating very closely.  Your energy requirements have suddenly changed so you want to react appropriately!

Q: I'm male, 50, 5"6", 240lbs big boned. My best weight was 170.  185 wasn't too bad, but now I'm out of control. If I'm bored or stressed I seem to eat sandwiches - I love bread.  Seem to gain 5-8 lbs per year - don't exercise - never did like it, but was always active. Always had a good appetite.  I have arthritic knees, been getting progressively worse since late 30's. Joint problem with left big toe.  Can't flex it up, hurts to push off that foot etc.  Started getting a little sciatica pain last four months.  Because of this, I am progressively less active = more weight = more difficult to participate in activity = more weight !  Suggestions?  I live in Kanata - Is the YMCA at Corel Centre an option? Do they have instructors there that know what the are talking about?  I ride a stationary bike and do ab exercises?  I can't run /jog and even when I was somewhat fit, could swim more than 1-2 laps in a pool. I know someone who was in good shape 30 years ago, joined some fitness place, was told to do sit-ups on an elevated board, hurt their back and has been paying for it ever since.

A: Losing weight can sometimes be one of the greatest challenges in life.  Your situation seems to be compounded by injuries as well the problem of continuing to gain excess weight.  Many people lament the use of excess carbohydrates as a major problem in fat gain.  There is much evidence to suggest the high amounts of carbohydrates results in excess caloric consumption as well as elevated insulin levels (insulin can contribute to increased fat cell size).  However, there is also evidence to show that excess fat consumption results in fat gain.  I haven't seen many studies on excess protein consumption and fat gain, possibly because it can be difficult (not too mention unhealthy) to consume large amounts of only protein to result in excess caloric consumption.  In addition, protein digestion and metabolism operates through a different mechanism than the previous two macronutrients.  The point is that excess anything can result in fat gain (this is fairly evident and common knowledge!).  Removing the carbohydrate rich foods like breads, pastas, pastries, rice, etc and eliminating high fat foods results in less total caloric consumption = caloric debt = energy has to come from somewhere = fat is burned for energy.  However depending on how much you reduce your calories and the resultant effects on your protein intake, you can also burn lean body mass (organ tissue, muscle tissue, etc) which reduces your body's energy metabolism.  Exercise (particularly weight training) helps to slowdown or halt this effect and sometimes reverse it by helping maintain or build up your muscle and organ proteins.   

There are several places you might want to check out if you live in Kanata.  There is, as you mentioned, the YMCA at the Corel Centre.  As you probably know the YMCA is a non-profit organization and operates partially out of the support of many volunteers.  I would hope their fitness instructors know what they are talking about as the YMCA offers a course to certify theirs and other instructors and personal trainers.  As in any fitness establishment there are very good instructors and trainers and there are others who need more professional development.  I do personally know some instructors that work at Y's across the region who are very knowledgeable.  Other places you might consider looking into are the Thunderbird Golf and Athletic Club, The Canadian Health and Squash Club, and the Kanata Leisure
Centre.  The Kanata Leisure Centre might be of particular interest to you because it has access to a pool which will allow you to exercise while not putting a lot of stress on your joints.  An exercise routine that combines strength training, aerobic fitness, flexibility, as well as exercise in the water might be your best bet as it gives you a wide variety which might make you enjoy exercising more.  Another option is to exercise at home as this usually fits into most people's schedule better although demands more self-motivation.  When starting any exercise routine, do only exercises that you feel comfortable performing.  Start off trying for three days a week, exercising every other day as this has worked well for many people.  Try and do something active every day, whether it be walking, riding a bike, stretching, work outside, etc. Never do any movement or exercise that causes you pain while doing the exercise.  You may experience some muscle soreness the first few days you exercise, but it should be pretty much gone after 4 days.  Good luck and the most important part is to stay consistent and focused on your eating and your activity level!

Q: What happens to human muscle cells when they become completely anaerobic?

A: Human muscle cells function through several different metabolic pathways. All fiber types, regardless of whether they are primarily slow twitch muscle fibers (type I muscle cells that mainly use oxygen for the majority of their energy production) or primarily fast twitch fibers (type IIb muscle cells that mainly burn glucose for energy production), all have at least a bit of the necessary enzymes to function aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically (without oxygen).  If a muscle cell was to have its oxygen supply completely cut off by eliminating blood flow (death would be a good example) the muscle cells would at first use its phosphagen stores until that energy source hit a critical level at which point glycolysis (the burning of glucose or sugar) would begin.  Glycolysis produces several waste products one of which results in lactic acid.  Lactic acid lowers the pH level of the muscle cell impairing certain metabolic processes.  It has been suggested that high lactic acid levels  inhibit a rate-limiting enzyme within the glycolytic cycle called phospho-fructo-kinase.  Such an inhibition can decrease the productivitiy of glycolysis resulting in less energy production.  Irrespective of this fact, eventually the muscle cell's own source of glucose (glycogen) would become depleted halting glycolysis and it's energy production.  Without any other source of regeneration of the glycogen stores or the phosphagen stores the muscle cells stop producing energy and die.  

Q: Since your workshop, which I incidently thought was excellent, I have tried out some of your ideas with clients wanting to put on some muscle mass. One of the participants at one of the gyms where I train had a few questions which I found most interesting and so I'm asking you for your opinion. He is a 55 yr old male who has been training consistently for over 30 yrs. When he was around 35 yrs of age, he was at his leanest and largest. He cycled hard twice a week and continued to weight train. He has never stopped weight training but has noticed he continues to lose his size he once had. He always challenges his body so he hasn't stayed with the same weight or the same exercises. His question to me is; if I trained him according to your formula, can he rebuild the bulk he once had? I think he can but not to the extent he was due to his ageing body even though he is very healthy, fit and eats well.

A: Can he rebuild the bulk he once had at age 35 now that he is 55?   That is an excellent question... and one that is also a very difficult one to predict.  Part of the answer depends on how much "bulk" he had when he was 35.  There is lots of research that show that untrained males in their 50's can increase muscle mass significantly.  Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of research (that I have found) on trained males in their 50's relating their training routines to concurrent gains in muscle mass.                                                                              

    There are certain cellular and hormonal effects that can interfere with muscle growth once males pass 40 years of age.  Hormonally, there is a significant drop in testerone levels (which really only contribute a small portion to the whole muscle growth process in the long run) and growth hormone levels (which can consequently have a potential lowering affect on endogenous and locally stored growth factors that help increase protein synthesis).  Speaking on a cellular level, there is also a drop in the population of numbers of satellite cells (SC) which carry mostly DNA and appear to be the real keys for rapid muscle growth. The drop in SC's are possibly as a result of the fact that there may bea  limit to the number of satellite cells the muscle cells can produce in a lifetime.  Production rate is also controlled by growth factors as well.  With lower growth factor release and production combined with the fact that there is also a possible limit to SC production in a lifetime, you can run into a situation where you have less DNA in order to generate all the necessary protein's required for the muscle to function.  The muscle cell will make sure all of its essential organelles and structures are taken care of before it begins to worry about increasing net protein content.  If there is enough DNA left over then the fiber will get bigger, if not it will not grow as large.  The bitter irony of it all is those that have been exercising (weight training in this case) for long periods of time will more than likely have even lower SC numbers due to the high use of them of the years.

   With the Phase Training that is outlined in the Science of Muscle Growth Specialist Course there are distinct phases where you take advantage of the state of the muscle fibers and then try to get them to grow as much as you can until you have to "reset" the muscle cells.  Unfortunately, a good percentage of trained males over 40 years of age do not seem to respond nearly as well as those under 40 to this type of training system.  For example, if a younger male would gain 15 pounds by the end of the 4 stages, an older individual might gain 5 - 8.  Particularly noticeable is that they do not get as big of a "rebound" effect when starting the cycle over again.  This is more than likely probably due to the physiology I outlined in the above paragraph.  If he does not respond from the full 4 phases you might consider dropping phase V and extending phase III a few more weeks and then starting back at the beginning.  I say this without knowing how he has been training for the past year or knowing his current fitness level and history. 

   More mature weight trainers also have to be a bit more vigilant on the nutrition, sleep, and stress levels on order to optimize growth as well.  Since at this point they would now be growing more through indirect growth stimuli than direct route and process growth stimuli triggers.  In the end would he be able to get as big as he was when he was 35?  Providing he did not have enormous amounts of muscle mass when he was younger (i.e. 20 inch arms) and he has not lost substantial amounts of muscle mass (i.e. 14 inch arms) there is a good possibility he could regain muscle mass over the next couple of years possible totaling an increase of 15 - 20 pounds over the next couple of years.  Ageing and its quantitative effect on muscle growth is an interesting topic and hopefully is the subject of many current research projects!  

Q: I have read from several sources that lifting a low weight a high number of times causes both mitochondria division and vascularization. Is there any hard evidence to back these claims up?

A: I searched through my own database of articles and did a quick search through Medline as well.  I did manage to locate several articles on the relationship between strength training and mitochondrial density.  Typically in "standard weight training" exercise (anywhere with repetition ranges from 6 to 15 repetitions per set) there is a decrease in mitochondrial density which refers to an increase in muscle fiber mass with limited increases, no change, or decreases in mitochondrial numbers.  This results in the same or less number of mitochrondria to support a larger muscle fiber.
    As far as vascularization goes, there appears to be no change or a decrease in the density of the capillaries feeding the muscle fiber.  In other words as the muscle fiber grows, there is a corresponding increase or
less of an increase in relation to the rate of growth of the muscle fiber in the number of capillaries bringing blood to the muscle and the muscle fibers.  However there does appear to be an overall increase in the number
of capillaries per fiber.
    Several studies confidently back up the claim that endurance training increases mitochondrial density and capillarization.  Whether or not lifting a weight for a prolonged period of time (for example lifting a weight enough times so that the set would last several minutes) would result in a similar increase would make for an interesting study.  Unfortunately in my quick search and from my own experience I did not locate any such article and therefore did not find any scientific evidence that would support increased mitochondrial and capillary density through weight training.

Q: Should a hockey player attend a football training camp.....we know physically this would condition him, but would this type of camp help the necessary development for his hockey skills.

A: Although a football camp would condition the body like you mentioned (mainly aerobically and anaerobically since typical camps involve a lot of sprints, drills, and running) but I would doubt it would significantly improve his hockey skills.  As you are probably aware in order to get better at a skill, it is necessary to practice that particular skill (be it skating, stick handling, etc).  However, taking up a different sport that is quite a bit different from your main sport is not necessarily a bad idea.  It allows a psychological break and also give a little bit of cross training which is never considered a bad thing when done at the proper time.   This can help prevent burn out in the long run and gives the athlete a greater repertoire of various sports.

Q: I am interested in the field of dietetics and more specifically in the interest of sports nutrition and training. I hope that you might be able to help me find places that will offer information about the types of careers available and the education necessary. I already intend to complete a doctorate in this field but I need some guidance now in order to choose the right path to reach my goal. Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

A: The area of sports nutrition is a broad area professionally. This is partly due to the fact that many people will have very varied opinions and there is a lot of nutritional information that is not based on scientific research. The other problem is that there is no strong governing body for nutritionists in Canada. There is one for registered dieticians, but not for nutritionists. I am aware of universities and colleges offering courses in nutrition and food sciences and I believe that the University of Guelph in Ontario is one such institution. The place to find the where you can study to learn more about nutrition would be to go to the school library reference desk and search out the most recent information on courses offered at other universities or colleges. If you are at university currently there should be wealth off information at Student Services as well. If not, you can always check the local high school or the local library as well. Of course, you could always search on the Internet but I would imagine finding something as concise as a reference book unlikely. Good luck with your new career!

Q: Shall a teen (under 14 years old) do fitness? I heard some parents say no to it. Do you have articles/ information about this?

A: This topic used to be an issue of active debate with some people several decades ago. Generally, what is recommended now is that a teenager should be involved in some sort of physical activity in order to maintain a healthy body and mind. What doctors were afraid of in the past was that doing strenuous activity could damage the growth or epiphyseal plates at the ends of the bones, tighten the muscles, and therefore stunt growth. In fact, in the early 1900's it was believed that growing females should not exercise because of the potential to damage the reproductive organs! There is no evidence to support this notion and it is now known that this theory is false. On the contrary properly exercising teenagers improve their cardiovascular fitness, maintain a healthy level of body fat, strengthen the muscles, improve flexibility, and improve self-esteem. "Fitness" training can be anything from regularly playing sports, walking, running, biking, aerobic classes, weight training, yoga, and so on. Unfortunately, injuries can happen in any activity so it is always a good idea to get some sort of professional instruction before the individual becomes active. It is best to start gradually and to do a variety of activities. 60 - 90 minutes of activity 3 - 5 days a week is usually more than sufficient to improve fitness. However, the personal goals of the teenager must also be taken into consideration. In some cases, particularly competitive sports, over-training can negatively affect hormone levels, joint strength and bone strength to name just a few side effects. Considering that there is a growing population of teenagers who are over-weight which can cause health problems later on in life, I would advise that all teenagers become involved in some sort of fitness activity that they enjoy.


Q: I do a lot of running, and I am trying to get my legs to look thinner. However, my upper leg muscles stick out. Obviously, I do not know what I am talking about, because I cannot even tell you the name of that muscle, so bear with me as I try to explain my problem. The fronts of my upper legs curve out as opposed to the model-like straight, stick legs. Is there any exercise that can flatten this muscle? Please help!

A: You did not mention if you were doing any sort of weight training on top of your running so I will assume that you do not. The reason why your upper leg muscles stick out could be due to a number of factors. If your leg muscles were always that shape it is possible that your genetics are responsible for the shape of you legs, however you do still have quite a bit of control over them. As your muscles exercise, they respond by changing the structure of the cells in your muscles. The cells do this by increasing the protein content within the muscle, the energy stores that are stored within the cells, and the tiny organs within the cell that keep the muscle cells alive. What you are communicating in your question is how do you get your legs to shrink to take on a more flatter, thinner appearance. The first step is to decrease body fat levels, as body fat is stored on the legs and can add to that "bulky look". As is evident, females tend to store more body fat on their legs than males and therefore many believe their leg muscles are too big, when in fact the body fat on their legs is creating that illusion. You did not specify if you were male or female so I am not sure if that is your specific problem. If your body fat is already low, you can try some other approaches.
One such approach is to change or decrease the frequency from running to walking and/or cross-country skiing (on a machine or outdoors depending on where you live). Such activities have less impact and in most cases use the quadriceps muscle (the muscles on the front of your leg) to less of a degree. If you are not exercising your legs as strenuously, the muscle may shrink giving your leg a smaller appearance. Another approach is to stop exercising and be careful not to over eat. The lack of exercise will more than likely cause the muscles to shrink down due to disuse. The down side is that your fitness level will decrease and you may gain body fat if you are not careful with what you eat. It sounds as if you are genetically gifted with the ability to gain lean muscle in your legs, which is great for some, not so great for others. Muscle generally increases in size with endurance exercise during the first 4 - 6 months and then will start to decrease in size. What you may be experiencing is that first bit of muscle growth when you start to exercise, but it should come down later. If you have been running for longer than that then it may be a different reason.

Q: I was just told I have lactic acid nodes in my upper arm. I was told this by having a massage several days ago. What should I do and should I let the massage therapist try to work these nodes out before I continue my anerobic exercising?

A: Lactic acid builds up as a by-product or waste product of a certain type of energy metabolism used by your body called glycolysis. Your body uses this type of energy metabolism as the primary way to generate energy for your muscles for high intensity exercise such as sprinting, weight training, repeated high jumping, and other such demanding activities. Lactic acid levels in the body can rise quite quickly and then drops relatively slowly. In a fairly fit individual fairly high lactic acid levels generally will drop by half or more in about 15 - 20 minutes and will
return to normal levels after about 2 hours. Contrary to popular belief high levels of lactic acid does not stay in the muscle for days at a time and there is no evidence to suggest that it contributes to muscle soreness the next day. It is responsible for causing the exercising muscles to "burn", contributes to the acute fatigue in the muscle during the exercise, and also increases ventilation or breathing rate. However, I have never heard of lactic acid nodes anywhere on the body. There are lymphatic nodes and various other types of small tissue masses that could be described as nodes that help in the body's normal functioning.

Lactic acid levels are mainly controlled by the enzymes within the muscles that break down the lactate molecules creating other energy molecules can then be used where needed. Heavy breathing can also lower lactic acid levels as part of the way the body deals with lactate in the blood is by breaking it down into carbon dioxide.
Perhaps your massage therapist is referring to "muscle knots" that are sometimes caused by over exercising, stress, and/or muscle damage. If this is the case appropriate therapy or a change in the exercise routine may be the best
option. From your question, I do not believe that lactic acid itself would be the cause of the problem or the issue that should be addressed.

Q: I have been trying to go to the gym for months.  The reason I have not been going, is that I am exhausted after work.   My hours at work are 7:30 to 4:00.  However, most of the time I leave 4:45-5:30.  The closer it gets to 5pm, the more tired i get.  The gym hours are 5:30 am to 11pm.  I wake up to goto work at 5:45.  Do you have any suggestions about how to rearrange my workout schedule so I can go to the gym?  Do you have any suggestions how I can increase my energy level at the end of a work day (decrease fatigue)?

A: What you are describing is a fairly common problem.  One option is to exercise before you go to work and get the workout out of the way.  However, since you wake up at 5:45 AM it may be difficult to wake up 45 mins to an hour earlier.  If you do manage to get into this routine, it pays off in the end.  Typically at the end of the workout you will feel more energized and not as tired as you may think.  On top of that you might burn a bit more body fat as well, due to the fact that your body's energy stores are lower in the morning than the afternoon.
        If the gym is close to work the other option is to do the workout or part of the work out at lunch time.  This isn't for every body but for some people it fits well into their schedule.
        The third option is that your low energy levels after work may be partly due to a nutritional problem.  Try having several small snacks throughout the day and especially between lunch and the time you plan to do a workout.  Often fatigue is partly related to low blood sugar however you didn't describe what your occupation was.  Eating foods that are low on the glycemic index (a rating that tells you how fast sugar is absorbed into your blood stream) such as most fruits and vegetables (notably legumes), rice, milk and dairy helps to maintain even blood sugar levels and may give you more consistent energy. Since you didn't provide details of how your nutrition is it is hard to say if you are meeting your energy needs.
        There are also supplements that are promoted as helping to boost energy such as ginseng, coenzyme Q-10, and various herbal energy supplements.  In all cases it is best to address potential scheduling and nutritional problems before turning to supplements.

Q: My question is which exercise burns the fat? I had always believed that you needed to work out at a certain intensity to burn the fat, now I have read that you should not work out hard. So I am totally confused. I walk about 40 minutes a day at 4 miles an hour.  I am trying to lose weight and am on a low fat diet. I would greatly appreciate it if you could clarify this for me.

A: Thanks for your question, it is actually a frequently asked question among fitness enthusiasts.  Your body burns fat for immediate fuel at certain percentages for various intensities.  For example, at rest you can be burning 60 calories an hour  and 45 of those calories (or 75%) of those could be coming from the fat stored in your body.  When you go for a brisk walk you might be burning 300 calories per hour and 195 calories or 65% of those calories might be coming from fat.  To carry this furthur, maybe you are biking at a moderate pace and you are now burning 500 calories per hour and 150 calories or 30% are coming from fat. 

    Why are you now burning less calories from fat at a faster pace?  What happened was that since you are going at a higher intensity and considering burning fat with oxygen takes some time metabolically, your body must burn sugars to take up the energy debt.  Burning sugar takes very little time to provide the rest of the energy compared to having to burn fat.  As you may have guessed, when you go at very high intensity (or at a pace that requires your anaerobic system to provide energy) the energy demand is so great that your body can not burn fat efficiently and in enough time and it therefore it must burn sugar to make up the deficit and provide the energy.

    Therefore many people believe that exercising aerobically at a moderately low intensity will result in the majority of the calories you are burning will come from fat. This is true.  However, what many people fail to consider is that although working at a very high intensity does not result in a substantial amount of fat being burned immediately to fuel the exercise, it does increase your metabolic rate after the exercise greater than if you were exercising at a moderately slow pace.  In fact, generally following 2 hours after you stop exercising at a high intensity or after a moderately low intensity you have burnt the same amount of calories from fat!  This is due to the fact that you continue to burn more fat at rest following high intensity at a greater rate than doing a lower intensity exercise.  Confused? Most exercise scientists are still arguing over the fastest most efficient way to burn body fat.

    Whether or not to do high intensity anaerobic exercise or moderate aerobic intensity depends on several facts such as exercise history, training status, time constraints, fitness level, motivation, reasons for exercising, and health status to name a few.  Unfortunately, the fitness industry is full of individuals who espouse "the best way" to exercise to accomplish a certain goal.  There are definetely better ways than others, however proving "the best way" is inheritantly difficult when considering the multiple pathways your body can use fat as a fuel. 


Q: I am interested in gaining weight.  I am 5'8" and weigh 120 lbs.  I would like to concentrate on certain areas; such as the hips and legs.  I would like to know what exercises I can do and what type of weight training I need to do.

A: When you say you are interested in gaining weight I am assuming that you would like the weight to be muscle and not fat.  I will also assume that you have not trained with weights before either, as your past training history
also affects what type of weights you should be doing.
    As to how much time you should commit to exercising with weights, 3 - 4 times a week is a great place to start off. By dividing your muscle groups into 2 separate workout days and then alternating these days, you allow enough time to recover and grow new muscle.  For example, you may wish to train your back, chest, shoulders, and abdominal muscles on one day.  Then train your legs, arms, and calves on the other workout day.
    Allow yourself to have at least a day off in between each weight training workout day.  The biggest error people make when training with weights to gain muscle mass is using too many sets per muscle group.  Only
start with 3 - 4 total sets per muscle group, not per exercise! Choose one or two exercise per muscle group and start working in the 10 - 12 repetition range.  Make sure your last repetition is hard enough that you could not do
1 more.  When you want to specialize on a certain area of your body, train that area first. Last but not least, remember to eat well and enough for your frame and activity levels.  For more information on eating to gain muscle mass check out the general article on my website on nutrition for gaining muscle (

Q: I'm a hardworking bodybuilder from Sweden and I saw your site on the internet. (very good information) and I got a little curious about that Bulgarian bodybuilding system by Leo Costa jr.  I was wondering if you know where I can get some more information about that.

A:Unfortunately I do not have any info on the Bulgarian bodybuilding system. I believe it hit the peak of its popularity about 7 or 8 years ago and then faded away.  There used to be an ad for the system in old issues of
Musclemag International so one place to look for it would be in old issues with dates from 1990 - 1992.  From what I can recall, the system involves training 2 - 4 times a day and up to 6 days a week.  You begin with low volume  and low intensity (a few total sets per bodypart and higher repetitions) and work your way up to
high volume and higher intensity (more sets, lower repetitions). If I can remember correctly the cycle changes every 3 - 4 weeks and the system goes for several months.   Sorry I don't have any more information for you.




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