Be Smarter About Your Health In 10 Minutes!
1. Lifting To Failure Is Actually Counterproductive
No pain, no gain. Sweat is weakness leaving the body. We’ve all heard the mantras, but while they might help you push through the last reps of a shake-inducing set, new research from Strength & Conditioning Journal suggests we shouldn’t live by them (or at least, that we shouldn’t consistently train to failure).
Researchers found that training to failure twice per week actually leads to reduced muscle synthesis and testosterone levels, and more often than not, failure sets early in a workout resulted in reduced effectiveness of subsequent exercises.
That’s not to say you should never do it (or that you should never come close to it).
“Factors such as age, training experience, relative magnitude of the load, and type of exercise (single vs compound, free weight vs machine) all must be considered. Importantly, the use of failure training doesn’t have to be an either/or choice: you can periodize its implementation over the course of a training cycle.”
Additionally, the idea that the last 5 reps before failure are the only “effective reps,” and therefore the only ones that REALLY matter for hypertrophy, doesn’t actually hold much weight.
But don’t go drawing any lazy conclusions: maximizing muscle development still requires training with a high level of effort; we’re just saying that training consistently to complete failure isn’t smart.
Source: Schoenfeld, Brad & Grgic, Jozo. Does Training to Failure Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy?. Strength and conditioning journal; 2019(3).
Carroll KM. Skeletal Muscle Fiber Adaptations Following Resistance Training Using Repetition Maximums or Relative Intensity. Sports 2019, 7(7), 169.
2. You Burn An Extra 250 Calories Per Day On Low-Carb (Keto) Diets vs. Low-Fat Diets
A new study published in the BMJ investigated the effects of macronutrient ratios (percent of daily calories from carbohydrates/fats/protein) on total energy expenditure (ie the number of calories you burn per day).
Test groups were assigned diets of 20% carbohydrates (purple), 40% carbohydrates (yellow), or 60% carbohydrates (red). Protein was controlled at 20% of daily calories.
Their results? Those who followed the low carb/high fat diet burned 247 calories more than those with a 60% carbohydrate ratio. People with higher insulin responses had even more extreme differences – as high as 478 extra calories burned when on a low carb diet vs. a high carb diet.
Source: Ebbeling CB. Effects of a low carbohydrate diet on energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance: randomized trial. BMJ 2018; 363.
3. Gram For Gram, Whey Protein Is Nearly Twice As Effective As Plant-Based Protein For Muscle Synthesis
New research from the journal Nutrients demonstrated that, in the context of muscle growth and maintenance, 35g of whey protein was as effective as 60g of wheat protein – that’s nearly twice the bang for your buck!
Why? The chemical structure of animal protein is more digestible than plant-based protein and is generally easier for our bodies to break down, leading to better absorption. Additionally, unlike animal protein, plant-based proteins lack a variety of essential amino acids – the basic building block of proteins. Muscle growth isn’t nearly as effective if you’re not absorbing the complete spectrum of essential amino acids.
Source: Berrazaga, I., Micard, V., Gueugneau, M. & Walrand, S. (2019). The Role of the Anabolic Properties of Plant- versus Animal-Based Protein Sources in Supporting Muscle Mass Maintenance: A Critical Review. Nutrients 11(8).
4. For Optimal Cognitive Ability, Sleep 7½ Hours Per Night
Everybody feels refreshed following a good night’s sleep. But getting the right amount of sleep can make you a whole lot smarter. An extensive study from Sleep recently explored the effects of sleep duration on intelligence (specifically, short-term memory, reasoning, spatial working and planning).
They found that the optimal nightly sleep duration was 7.4 hours. Sleeping more than 8 hours or less than 6.2 hours per night – even for a single night – significantly affected intelligence measures. Researchers also noted that those who are chronically sleep-deprived can get huge benefits from just a single night of good quality sleep.
Source: Wild, C. J., Nichols, E. S., Battista, M. E., Stojanoski, B. & Owen, A. M. (2018). Dissociable effects of self-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities. Sleep, 41(12).
5. Muscle-Building: 10-20 Sets Per Muscle Group Split Between 2 Workouts Per Week Is Ideal
One of the most common areas of confusion among new lifters is figuring out exactly how to organize a workout program.
A recent meta-study suggests that around 10 sets (defined as 6-12 reps) per muscle group in a single workout is the threshold at which performing more sets begins to provide diminishing returns. Of course, this guideline changes slightly based on the exercises being performed (squats are much more taxing on the quads than leg extensions for example).
Studies have also shown that around 10-20 sets per muscle per week maximizes growth, so splitting that volume between two workouts per week seems to be the “sweet spot” for muscle growth.
Looking for a ready-made program that’s evidence-based and spine-safe? Check out the Ascent Gym Essentials workout programs.
Source: Brigatto FA. Effect of Resistance Training Frequency on Neuromuscular Performance and Muscle Morphology After 8 Weeks in Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Aug;33(8).
6. Creatine Can Reduce Depressive Symptoms
Creatine isn’t just for getting swole – new evidence shows the dietary supplement may also help overcome major depression.
Researchers found that those with clinical depression who added a daily creatine supplement responded twice as fast as those on antidepressants alone. Similar to ketamine (but without the side effects), creatine improves depression by counteracting the effects of the stress hormone corticosterone. Plus, creatine helps protect neural cells from death. So even if it doesn’t keep you smiling, it can keep you smarter.
How much to supplement? If you’re taking creatine to help bulk up, you’re probably throwing back 20 to 30 grams of creatine a day. However, you can get the full depression-fighting effect with only 5 grams per day. Opt for creatine in the form of ethyl ester or hydrochloride – not monohydrate – for better absorption and to avoid gastrointestinal side effects.
Source: Pazini FL. Creatine, Similar to Ketamine, Counteracts Depressive-Like Behavior Induced by Corticosterone via PI3K/Akt/mTOR Pathway. Molecular Neurobiology. 2016 Dec;53(10).
The Ascent Chiropractic Difference
At Ascent Chiropractic we’re all about helping you reach your full potential. Whether you’re a pro athlete, weekend warrior or just looking to live your best life without pain, study after study shows that regular chiropractic care is an essential part of reaching your full potential. Looking for a Brookfield chiropractor? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.