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Quadriceps femoris muscle

Surviving Cheat Day

It was Saturday. Gorgeous, about 70 degrees and radiant sunshine. I spent the morning at the gym, training clients and blitzing a short workout. On the way home I ran some important errands and made it home by noon– Not bad for a Saturday! Everything I needed to do for the day was completed and the day was only half-way through.

photo from Buy-Beer.com http://www.buy-beer.com/bbq-beer-chicken/beer-butt-buddies2/
photo from Buy-Beer.com
http://www.buy-beer.com/bbq-beer-chicken/beer-butt-buddies2/

Even better, I had most of the day to eat and drink whatever I wanted….Cheat day had arrived.

There is nothing wrong with a cheat day, mentally they provide a break from a strict diet and let you relax and unwind. Physically cheat days can provide a much needed refueling for the body and boost various hormones such as T-3 and T-4 that can be down regulated if you are constantly dieting.

Cheat days kick ass. In disciplined dieters they improve compliance and provide a mental and physical break from dieting– As long as they’re kept within reason. Unfortunately, reason wasn’t present yesterday. Two pizzas, chicken wings, plenty of beer, a trip to a vodka bar, and hefty forth meal left me in a greasy stupor.

I drank like a fish and ate like it was going out of style.

Where do all of those calories go?

Eventually carbohydrate storage reaches capacity, leaving excess sugars to saturate the blood stream and  join the party around your love handles. If alcohol is involved that will halt all fat burning even further, promoting further fat storage. Eeeek. That’s the perfect storm to blow up quicker than a Kardasian wedding.

The Solution

There is a way to minimize the damage on these gluttonous days as I learned from Tim Ferriss’ book The 4 Hour Body. The goal isn’t to burn massive amounts of calories on cheat cheat; instead, prepare your body to receive and utilize the excess sugars you’re consuming.

Ideally, you will take more of these excess sugars and calories and have them pushed into your muscles rather than your waistline.

How?

Glute-4 Activation.

What is Glute-4?

Glute 4 is a protein responsible for insulin related glucose transport into cells. Muscular contractions stimulate muscle cells to translocate to the surface of the muscle, making them more receptive to insulin and stocking the muscles full of glycogen from those carbs you just ate.

Cool, so what do I do?

As close to your delicious meal, whether it be pizza, doughnuts, or whatever else you are craving you must force major skeletal muscles to contract to stimulate glute-4 translocation. And it doesn’t take nearly as much activity as you think.

Here are a few good options:

1.Bodyweight squats 20 reps. Quarter squats are fine, full are better
2.Push Ups (or wall push ups, you can do these in a bathroom stall, oh boy!) 20 reps
3.Band Pull aparts 20 reps
4.Isometric Quadriceps extension: lock your leg and flex as hard as you can for 20-30 seconds. This one can work (or use other muscles) while you are seated if you are out to eat. This way people won’t think you are as weird as me.

**You can do these things in private if that makes you feel more comfortable, but you probably shouldn’t care so much what others think, especially as it pertains to your health and lookin good neeeked 

These exercises take all of a minute or so to perform as close to your cheat meal as you can, as well as 60-90 minutes post-meal. This way you are activating the biggest muscles in your body to be more receptive to the surplus of calories floating around in your blood stream to lead to bigger muscles, rather than a bigger waistline.

Wrap Up

So there you have it. It’s not necessarily a good thing to go as crazy as I did and eat/drink 10,000 calories . Just know there are strategies to minimize the damage while maximizing the fun, even while trying to look your best

Resources:

Ferriss, Timothy. The 4-Hour Body. New York: Crown Archetype, 2010. 100-120. Print.

 

Exercises to avoid: Adductor Abductor Machine

Stop spending your workout with this awkward machine in hopes of a nice set of thighs or glutes.

adductor-machine
Photo Credit: deansomerset.com

Sorry, your attention should be elsewhere. If you’re looking to maximally develop these areas learn to squat, lunge, deadlift, sprint, and move optimally rather than wasting your time.

Although this wonderful device provides resistance for both adduction (bringing the legs together) and abduction (spreading the legs apart) it neglects to train the muscles of adduction and abduction as stabilizers, their primary role. Although they provide a burn” to the inner and outer thighs it serves no functional purpose and will not further “tone or shape” a muscle.

These machines are useless.

Although they provide a burn” to the inner and outer thighs it serves no functional purpose and will not further “tone or shape” a muscle. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as spot reduction. Contrary to belief you can’t change the shape or tone of your muscles– your insertion points aren’t going anywhere. If you want to a muscle to show visibly the issue isn’t muscle shape, but subcutaneous fat covering the muscle.

Adduction:

The adductor muscles are responsible for adducting the leg away from midline at the hip-joint. These muscles have multiple functions beyond simple adduction as you see below:

  • Adductor longus: Hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Adductor brevis: Hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Adductor magnus: hip extension, hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Adductor minimus: hip adduction
  • Pectineus: Hip adduction, hip flexion
  • Gracilus: Hip adduction, hip flexion, knee flexion

 Abduction:

As stated in described by their group name, the abductors abduct, or move the legs away from midline in the body.These muscles have multiple functions beyond simple abduction as you see below:

The Muscles responsible for abduction include:

  • Gluteus Medius: Hip abduction
  • Gluteus Minimis: Hip abduction, hip internal rotation
  • Tensor Fasica Latae : Hip abduction, hip internal rotation

Isolating these muscles services little purpose, as there are few instances these muscles work as a solo-primary mover in exercise. Muscles that control abduction and adduction must work synergistically to keep the femur (upper leg bone) in proper alignment and maintain frontal plane stability. Neglecting these functions with purely isolated training leaves the body open for knee injuries due to poor stability/mobility in the hip and knee and flexion based back injuries.

Opt For These instead:

All lower body unilateral exercises and variations including: deadlifts, Lunges, Squats (any variation), step ups, sprinting, banded shuffle walks, hip thrusts, bird-dogs, fire-hydrants and banded monster walks.

Training the adductors and abductors is NOT a bad idea, but using the “Yes-NO”machine is a waste of time. Muscles DO need to function in isolation, but overpowering their ability without training them dynamically is recipe for injury.

Plus, I’m not sure this is how you want to see your co-workers during lunch. Avoid the adductor abductor machine, it has no place in your routine.

abduction/adduction.
Yes-No Machine Is sending mixed messages. 
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