Strength Training Part 3

Strength TrainingAddressing the One Critical Factor That Makes ALL the Difference for Enhanced Strength Training!

In Part 1 of Strength Training we discovered how little attention is paid to the health of your endothelial cells and their importance to athletic performance. In Part 2 we learned how the endothelial cells create capillary beds to improve circulation. We also learned that your endothelial cells create nitric oxide which is critical to blood flow. In this concluding part we are going to put it all together so that you can completely understand how this impacts your training, performance, and recovery in strength training.

We’re also going to look at the two critical amino acids needed by your endothelial cells. One you’ve most likely heard of but the other one is seldom talked about or used, yet it can make a significant difference in all phases of human performance.

Training for Muscular Strength and Endurance!

There are many different training programs designed to help you build strength, stamina, speed, endurance, and power specific to your strength training goals. Foundational to every strength training program is your ability to fuel muscle tissues with the oxygen and nutrients they need to sustain your efforts. It also becomes the limiting factor in your athletic performance because of the difference between anaerobic and aerobic energy production and the waste products they produce.

In the simplest of terms, 1 unit of glucose will produce 2 units of energy during anaerobic respiration and the resulting waste product is lactic acid. In aerobic respiration 1 unit of glucose will produce 36 units of energy and the resulting waste products are carbon dioxide and water. Aerobic respiration produces 18 times more energy and its waste products do not negatively affect muscle contraction like lactic acid does. Yet, the waste product of carbon dioxide enhances the lungs ability to saturate the hemoglobin molecules of the red blood cells with oxygen.

With enhanced circulation, that comes from properly repairing and fueling your endothelial cells to optimize their production of nitric oxide, you are able to keep this ideal metabolic exchange for a longer period of time.

By properly nourishing your endothelial cells you will help them increase capillary beds to the working muscles, tissues, and organs involved in your strength training program. This will increase their ability to produce nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule of your cardiovascular system. These two factors will improve blood flow and deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles. This will allow them to work at a higher aerobic capacity for a longer period of time. This will allow you to work at a higher intensity with less lactic acid formation for quicker recoveries so that subsequent strength training sets can be performed at a higher intensity with less lactic acid buildup. This improves your anaerobic threshold, which is the limiting factor for most people.

Improved blood flow results in improved performance of the working muscles, faster recovery, and better muscle development to maximize your strength training program. This applies to both general fitness and specific muscular development for your particular sport.

Performance in Strength Training!

While there are many factors that can affect your performance, most athletic ability is a product of your training and the ability to properly fuel your body to meet the demands of your event. Just like in training, properly nourishing your endothelial cells to improve their ability to properly produce nitric oxide can make a significant difference in your athletic performance.

Critical to your performance will be your body’s ability to deliver needed oxygen and nutrients to meet the intensity of your event, and to sustain that intensity for as long as needed. By optimizing the health of your endothelial cells you will help improve circulation. Improved circulation improves the delivery of needed oxygen and nutrients while carrying away the waste products that can be a limiting factor in performance. Again, you have significantly improved your anaerobic threshold, which is usually the limiting factor for most people in strength training and affects everyone’s performance.

Recovery in Strength Training!

Just as the endothelial cells, and their ability to properly produce nitric oxide, improve both training and performance, they will also have a positive effect on recovery. Recovery is a combination of waste product removal and reloading the muscle tissues with the nutrients they need for repair and energy production. Again, this is a function of improved circulation.

When your endothelial cells properly produce nitric oxide for improved circulation, you work at a higher anaerobic threshold, which means less lactic acid production. With improved circulation it’s easier to remove this limiting waste product to speed recovery. Improved circulation also delivers the needed nutrients to reload the muscle tissue and facilitate any tissue repair. All of this means quicker recovery from both your strength training and performance activities.

Two Critical Amino Acids for Strength Training!

There are two amino acids that are critical to properly nourishing and repairing your endothelial cells to optimize their ability to produce nitric oxide. They are L-arginine and L-citrulline. Many have heard of L-arginine since there is a wealth of information and products in the marketplace. Few have heard of L-citrulline yet it is just as important to the health of your endothelial cells as L-arginine.

The essential amino acid L-arginine is found in foods like eggs, tuna, chicken, peanuts, and beans. However, when isolated and properly brought into the body, L-arginine has the ability to produce some remarkable results. Specific to strength training, research shows the following benefits:

  • Precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide.

  • Stimulates growth hormone, which is essential for large muscle mass, multi joint exercises, as well as high power exercises.

  • Improves blood circulation and aids in blood pressure regulation.

  • Improves insulin sensitivity to help normalize blood sugar and replenish post workout glycogen stores.

  • Supports protein synthesis.

Your endothelial cells use L-arginine to create nitric oxide. Most research indicates that for you to receive a therapeutic effect you need to consume at least 5 grams of pharmaceutical grade L-arginine. This means both the quantity and quality of L-arginine used is extremely important.

The amino acid L-citrulline is very hard to obtain from food alone so supplementation is the best option. Most vascular researchers will tell you that L-citrulline is equally important, maybe even more important, than L-arginine because it significantly extends the ability of the endothelial cells to properly produce nitric oxide.

Typically, a therapeutic level of L-arginine creates a 30 minute to 2 hour window of improved nitric oxide production. By including the proper amount of L-citrulline you can extend this improved nitric oxide production to 24 to 36 hours. This extended window of improved nitric oxide production allows for significant health benefits. This helps to repair the endothelial cells so that they can work optimally. This provides improved blood flow so that muscles, tissues, and organs that have been used during all phases of strength training can recover quicker for better results.

Additionally, L-citrulline can bypass the destructive nature of the enzyme arginase that everyone carries in their blood stream. Arginase destroys L-arginine, which can limit nitric oxide production. L-citrulline provides an alternative pathway for the endothelial cells to convert L-citrulline to L-arginine for improved nitric oxide production. This is especially important for African Americans since they have a genetic predisposition for carrying higher levels of arginase in their bloodstream.

Unfortunately, most L-arginine products sold as nitric oxide enhancers do not include this critical amino acid L-citrulline.

ProArgi-9 PlusProArgi-9 Plus for Strength Training!

ProArgi-9 Plus is a clinically proven, natural, nutritional supplement that is uniquely designed to repair the endothelial cells that line all of your cardiovascular system to improve their ability to create nitric oxide. This product was originally designed for clinical use for those with cardiovascular health issues. It has both long term and short term clinical results. Results that have clearly demonstrated ProArgi-9 Plus ability to remarkably improve the health of the endothelial cells and enhance their ability to create nitric oxide. This has resulted in dramatically improving circulation and eliminating or substantially reducing cardiovascular challenges.

As this product has been applied to strength training it has produced remarkable improvements for athletes. Improved training, improved performance, and improved recovery have all been noted by those who have made ProArgi-9 Plus a part of their nutritional program. Most athletes will take 1 ½ to 2 scoops of ProArgi-9 Plus approximately 30 minutes prior to their workout or performance. By the time they have completed their warm up it’s in their system to help provide their endothelial cells with the necessary ingredients for improved nitric oxide production. It then significantly enhances their ability to work at higher intensity levels with less lactic acid formation for quicker recoveries. Because ProArgi-9 Plus includes L-citrulline it helps to enhance the body’s ability to repair so that recovery is quicker.

This overall improvement in training, performance, and recovery has helped those who strength train see significant gains in the gym and during their athletic performance. This Nobel Prize winning information in the area of anatomy, biochemistry, and nutrition has produced documented clinical results for improved cardiovascular health. This same information can also be applied to strength training to enhance all phases of your athletic performance.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan@agingnomore.com

630-936-8079

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about strength training contained in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Oxygen, Free Radicals, and Antioxidants!

AntioxidantsI’d like to share with you some information about the power of antioxidants.

In my last post Energy Production and Cardiovascular Health! we talked about how aerobic respiration produces 18 times more energy than anaerobic respiration. How the proper use of oxygen by your cells’ mitochondria is a powerful tool for creating energy. However, when oxygen is used it also creates free radicals which can damage your cells. To prevent this damage you need antioxidants. This post will examine the need for antioxidants to fight free radical damage.

What’s A Free Radical?

No, it’s not a 1960s hippie from Berkeley. Rather, it is an unstable atom or molecule. In very simple terms a free radical is an atom or molecule that is missing an electron in its outer orbit. Because of this unbalanced state the free radical will try to steal an electron from a different atom or molecule to stabilize itself. This process causes the affected atom or molecule to become unstable resulting in a new free radical. The result is a chain reaction that can continue until the final free radical steals an electron from a cell wall resulting in the disruption of a living cell. This constant process of free radicals stealing electrons from living tissue results in the aging process we all experience. It’s also a major cause of damage to the endothelial cells that line all of your cardiovascular system.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are molecules that freely gives away their outer electrons. Thus, they will give the free radical its needed electron to return it back to a stable compound. Now, you might be thinking that these antioxidants will become free radicals. Here is the really impressive aspect of this process. They do not become free radicals because they are stable in either form (with or without an even number of electrons in their outer orbit). This stability allows them to act as free radical scavengers to help prevent cell and tissue damage.

3 Most Common Antioxidants

If it weren’t for the remarkable stability of these compounds, as they freely give their electrons to stabilize free radicals, we would age quite rapidly. The three most commonly known antioxidants are:

  • Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. It may protect against cardiovascular disease and is commonly found in nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains, and certain fruits.

  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. It has the unique ability to return Vitamin E to its active form. It is commonly found in citrus fruits and juices, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, kiwi, and strawberries.

  • Beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A) is the most misunderstood of all these compounds. It’s commonly found in liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, yams, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains. Beta-carotene is water-soluble and has no set RDA requirements. However, it’s the precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, has no antioxidant properties, and can be quite toxic when taken in excess. Because of this, most physicians warn against Beta-carotene. However, they forget that the body controls the conversion of Beta-carotene to Vitamin A on a “needs only” basis. Thus, your body will only make as much Vitamin A from Beta-carotene as it needs. This usually prevents any toxicity.

It’s extremely important to note that these compounds are all critical for proper health. The body cannot manufacture them. They must be supplied in the diet. That’s why nutritionists encourage us to eat a balanced diet consisting of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Additional Protection!

As nutritional scientists continue to explore this realm of antioxidants, and their ability to offset free radical damage, some amazing compounds are being discovered like:

  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid – This powerful compound does double duty. Not only can it neutralize free radicals but it can also restore the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E. Alpha-Lipoic Acid stimulates the body’s production of glutathione and assists in the absorption of coenzyme Q10. It helps to detoxify the liver, prevent cataract formation, protect nerve tissue, reduce blood cholesterol levels, and aid cells in metabolizing sugar.

  • Anthocyanidins – This is a phytochemical that helps to lower blood pressure, inhibit clot formation, enhance vision, strengthen collagen, and enhance the blood supply to the nervous system. It can provide up to fifty times the protection of vitamin E and ten times the protection of vitamin C.

  • Coenzyme Q10 – This compound has a structure similar to vitamin E. It’s critically important for cellular energy because it aids in metabolizing fats and carbohydrates. Since most free radicals are created in the oxidative process of creating energy, coenzyme Q10 plays a significant role in stopping free radical damage.
  • Flavonoids – Flavonoids are chemical compounds that plants produce to protect themselves. They have very powerful antioxidant properties. There are more than 4,000 chemically unique flavonoids with many of them having greater effectiveness than vitamins C and E or beta-carotene. Science is just beginning to discover this amazing world of flavoniods.

  • Glutathione Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant produced in the liver from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. Glutathione neutralizes the oxygen molecule before it can harm the cell. Additionally, it can combine with other molecules like selenium to create other powerful antioxidants. Glutathione is critically important to your health. It protects individual cells as well as the tissues of the arteries, brain, heart, immune system, kidneys, eyes, liver, lungs, and skin.

  • Melatonin – This hormone has the ability to penetrate the cell’s mitochondria and protect it from free radical damage. Most of the cell’s energy is produced by the mitochondria. Since energy production creates free radicals, compounds specific to the mitochondria play a huge role in protecting cell function.

  • OPCs – Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins are unique flavonoids that can cross the blood-brain barrier to protect the brain and spinal nerves against free radical damage. OPCs are found in plant life. The two main sources are pine bark extract (commonly called Pycnogenol) and grape seed extract.

  • Polyphenols – This is a phytochemical produced by plants. They have antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and other health-enhancing properties.

  • Selenium – This is an essential trace mineral which partners with vitamin E to provide oxidative protection. Use caution when taking supplemental selenium. The recommended maximum safe dosage is 400 micrograms daily.

  • Superoxide Dismutase – This is an enzyme that helps to revitalize cells and reduce the rate of cell destruction. It’s particular important in neutralizing the most dangerous free radicals called superoxide radicals. These free radicals breakdown the synovial fluid which lubricates the body’s joints leading to joint friction and inflammation.

  • Zinc – This mineral’s main function is in the prevention of fat oxidation.

Final Notes

This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding antioxidants. This post doesn’t even cover some of the newly discovered super foods like Brazilian Acai which have tremendous anti aging properties and heart health benefits. It’s important to note that antioxidants work synergistically in providing their protection against free radical damage. Thus, it’s better to take smaller doses of a variety of these compounds than just a large amount of only one type. For most fruits and vegetables the majority of the beneficial properties are contained in the skin.

Since free radical damage is the leading cause of many cardiovascular health issues it makes perfect sense to consume foods and products that contain antioxidants. This reduces free radical damage to help slow down the oxidative damage done to your endothelial cells. Cells that are critically important to the proper production of nitric oxide, your body’s master signaling molecule for the cardiovascular system..

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan Hammer is a Wellness Educator who has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicago area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about Antioxidants contained in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Energy Production and Cardiovascular Health!

EnergyI was going through some storage bins over the weekend and came across this crazy drawing of energy production you see on the left. It’s from my biochemistry class in college, and it has a direct application to cardiovascular health. In fact, once you understand it you will realize how important good circulation is to your health and your ability to produce energy.

It looks pretty confusing but let me help you understand it by asking you a very simple question:

If You Had a Stock Option That Paid You a Return of 2% or 36% Which Would You Choose?

Every person I’ve ever asked this question to always chooses 36%. Why? Because it returns a higher yield. Well, this is the difference in energy production between anaerobic respiration and aerobic respiration.

Anaerobic Respiration – Energy Production Without Oxygen!

The top half of this drawing represents the energy production achieved by anaerobic respiration. As your blood filters through the liver, glucose (blood sugar) is added to your blood stream. This is carried to your cells to be converted into energy. When your cell lacks oxygen it uses a chemical process called anaerobic respiration to convert the glucose into energy. It’s extremely inefficient and the net result is just 2 units of energy.

Plus it produces a byproduct called pyruvic acid. If oxygen is not present then the cell converts this pyruvic acid to lactic acid. This allows the cell to continue to produce a small quantity of energy. However, lactic acid is an irritant. It causes that burning sensation you feel when you’ve overused a muscle and it interferes with proper cell function.

The net result of anaerobic respiration is poor energy production and a large amount of waste material that disrupts the proper function of the cells, tissues, and organs.

Aerobic Respiration – Energy Production With Oxygen!

When oxygen is present the pyruvic acid will enter the mitochondria of your cells to be used in the Kreb’s cycle. (If you think this drawing is confusing and crazy you should see the drawing for the Kreb’s cycle.) Think of your mitochondria as an energy producing factory.

This process will take that one unit of glucose and convert it into 36 units of energy. This is 18 times more productive than anaerobic respiration. Plus, the waste products are carbon dioxide and water. You breath out carbon dioxide and you eliminate any excess water. Neither of these two waste products damage your cells, tissues, and organs.

While aerobic respiration can cause oxidative stress to cells, the net result is large energy production with waste material that is not disruptive to the proper functioning of your cells, tissues, and organs.

Government versus Private Sector

Some have even compared this process of energy production to the difference between government run programs and private sector programs. Anaerobic respiration, like the government, is very inefficient and produces only a small return on investment; 1 unit of glucose yields 2 units of energy with bureaucratic red tape that can clog and slow down the system.

Aerobic respiration, like the private sector, is very efficient and produces a large return on investment; 1 unit of glucose yields 36 units of energy with an assembly line that is highly productive but also needs proper maintenance to continue its accelerated production.

What Does All This Have To Do With Cardiovascular Health?

Your red blood cells carry oxygen to your tissues and cells. If your cardiovascular system is damaged by cholesterol, excess sugar that causes oxidative stress, plaque formations, and other contributing factors, then you begin to limit blood flow. This damage limits the delivery of oxygen and causes your cells to depend more on anaerobic respiration for their energy needs.

Because anaerobic respiration can’t keep up with the needs of the cells, the cells have to slow down. They become less efficient and sluggish in their job. Compound this with the waste products produced from anaerobic respiration and you have a cycle that leads to poor organ health and poor overall wellness.

The Key to Reversing This Cycle!

The key to reversing this degenerating cycle is to improve blood circulation by repairing the damage caused to the endothelial cells that line all of your cardiovascular system. As you improve the health of your endothelial cells they are able to properly produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system. This means that nitric oxide is needed to properly regulate blood flow to the cells, tissues, and organs.

This dramatically improves blood flow, which then delivers more oxygen. More oxygen produces more energy and waste products that are easily transported away from the cells, tissues, and organs. The net result is improved organ function, improved energy, and a higher level of overall wellness.

By properly combining the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline with key antioxidants you can repair your endothelial cells and improve their ability to create nitric oxide. This has been clinically shown to improve circulation and reverse many cardiovascular health issues. It’s what makes the ProArgi-9 Plus product so effective in helping people improve their energy production and cardiovascular health.

It’s pretty amazing how improved blood flow to all your cells, tissues, and organs can make such a significant difference in your overall health. But, there is still one other factor we need to address. That factor is the need for antioxidants to help protect your cells when oxygen is used to create all this wonderful energy. We’ll talk about this in my next post.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan Hammer is a Wellness Educator who has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicago area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this article about energy production and cardiovascular health has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.