Ask Mike: I am a female athlete who likes to strength train. I work out 5x a week, and my goals are to put on more muscle, cut down on fat, and have more energy throughout the day. I know I need to take supplements to lead a healthy lifestyle and help my muscles recover after hard workouts, but the market is saturated, so I have no idea where to start. What do you recommend?
I always recommend that if you are eating healthy, and mostly organic, you don’t need a shopping cart full of supplements. However, if you are like most of us and can’t always find healthy organic foods, then supplements are a must. All athletes need to have plenty of amino acids for muscle recovery, I recommend the branch chain amino acids since they are a daily essential to help repair skeletal muscle and decrease muscle soreness from heavy workouts. I also believe in taking fish oils, magnesium, vitamin B6 and B12, flaxseed oil, and vitamin D.
Ask Mike: I have heard that functional training is better than machine based training. Can you explain why?
Machines isolate those muscles directly involved with that particular movement, so other muscles are not being trained to stabilize the body. Functional training which includes squats, lunges, cable push- and pull- movements, etc., integrates the entire body creating strength and stability. Look at it this way, humans were designed to move and be functional, just like when the caveman used to hunt for food, build shelters and protect their families from dangerous animals. These activities involved the entire body, and you didn’t hear about them complaining of back pain!
A large percentage of us have desk jobs where we sit for a living, drink coffee and snack all day. Oxygen and blood flow is significantly decreased, as is energy level and the will to get up and exercise. So it’s imperative for those folks to get up and move and be functional. Also when you are working out on a machine, you typically work one joint at a time, and because the movement is already programmed into the machine, the brain and nervous system are somewhat sedated. Compare this to kneeling on an exercise ball pressing weights above your head, which takes focus and engagement of every muscle in your body, as well as your nervous system. You will also find that functional training is fun and challenging compared to machine-based training which can be repetitive.
Ask Mike: At what age should children start to lift weights? I heard that starting too young can stunt their growth.
That’s actually a myth. Bones become stronger when put under stress. You just have to watch form and introduce gradual weight loads to the muscles.
There is no predetermined age when a child can start weight training; it really depends on their maturity and ability to focus. I have had 9-year-olds that could squat under load and became strong athletes, while I have had to send 15-year-olds away because of their immaturity and inability to focus. Again, choosing the appropriate exercises and resistance to match a child’s physical ability is the key. When a program is supervised by an experienced strength coach/trainer, success will usually follow.
Ask Mike: What is the best form of exercise to burn fat and lose weight? Is it aerobic or anaerobic training?
First let’s explain the difference. Aerobic means doing exercise that needs oxygen to burn fuel for energy while anaerobic does not. Activities lasting more than 3 minutes are considered aerobic, like swimming, running and cycling to name a few. Sprinting and strength training are activities that are termed anaerobic because they use ATP, glucose, fat or protein as their primary source for fuel.
Strength training (anaerobic work) helps you build lean muscle, reduce fat and increase energy by elevating your resting metabolic rate. When you increase or store body fat, it slows the metabolic rate down and the opposite occurs. Aerobic training has been proven to increase your cortisol levels (as it reacts to the consistent stress being placed throughout the body), which then stores visceral fat and as a result increases inflammation throughout the body.
So, in conclusion, if you want to lose weight, feel strong, look healthy and have better time management anaerobic training is the way to go!
YOU CAN ASK MIKE: [email protected]
Michael K Butler is co-owner of Kinetix Health and Performance Center in Palm Desert. He holds a state license as a physical therapist assistant, national certifications of distinction through the NSCA as a strength and conditioning coach, Poliquin International state coach and as a Full Body Active Release Techniques Practitioner. Mike can be reached at (760) 200.1719 or at [email protected]. His website is kinetixcenter.com