Monthly Archives: July 2013







DHEA Fights Painful Muscle Soreness

7205-eat6Yeah, DHEA, a.k.a. dehydroepiandrosterone, is the most abundant steroid hormone in the body. Most would say that it’s good just for old people. Well, think again.

A recent study looked at the role of DHEA in aerobic and weight training.1 In a double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment, 16 young men, 19 years old, received either a flour-capsule placebo or 100 milligrams per day of DHEA during five days of successive exercise. Oral DHEA supplementation significantly increased circulating DHEA-S by 2.5-fold, but a 35 percent drop was observed from day 3 during training.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between DHEA and DHEA-S, the S stands for an extra sulfate molecule attached. Most of the DHEA in your body occurs in the DHEA-S form. The researchers observed only a minimal DHEA-S reduction of 17 percent in the placebo group, but what was most interesting was the effect on muscle soreness.

Soreness was elevated significantly on day 2 for both groups, but on days 3 and 6 there was less in the DHEA-supplemented group. Creatine kinase, a blood marker of muscle damage, was much higher in the placebo group as well. Thus, DHEA-S protects skeletal muscle from training-induced damage in young exercising men.

In another very intriguing study, scientists compared alternate-day fasting with a lowfat diet and a high-fat diet in terms of weight loss and cardio protection.2 Thirty-two obese subjects were randomly assigned to a high-fat (45 percent) or lowfat (25 percent) alternate-day-fasting diet that consisted of two phases: 1) a two-week baseline weight-maintenance period and 2) an eight-week alternate-day-fasting weight-loss period. All food was provided, but either way, fasting sounds about as much fun as running with scissors. What the researchers found was interesting, however.

Both groups lost a lot of fat, but the high-fat group actually lost more than the lowfat group (11.9 pounds vs. 9.2 pounds). Low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides decreased in both equally well. High-density lipoprotein, blood pressure and heart rate remained unchanged. There were basically no group differences for any parameter. These findings prove that a high-fat alternate-day-fasting diet is equally as effective as a lowfat alternating-day-fasting diet in helping obese subjects lose weight and improve cardiovascular risk factors.More important, it shows that eating a lot of fat, when calories are restricted, is not a bad thing.

One last note: Keep in mind that eating a lot of fat as part of a high-carb diet is not the same as doing it when you’re not eating all those carbs.

Here’s one last science pearl for you. We at the International Society of Sports Nutrition just published a position paper on energy drinks.3 In summary, they work and, when used as directed, are quite safe. Don’t believe the goofy spin on the paper put out by the mainstream press. Once again, they just don’t seem to get it.

—Jose Antonio, Ph.D.


Editor’s note: Jose Antonio, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University in sunny South Florida.


1 Liao, Y.H., et al. (2013). Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone administration on recovery from mix-type exercise training-induced muscle damage. Eur J Appl Physiol. 113(1):99-107.

2Klempel, M.C., et al. (2013). Alternate day fasting (ADF) with a high-fat diet produces similar weight loss and cardio-protection as ADF with a low-fat diet. Metabolism. 62(1):137-43.

3Campbell, B., et al. (2013). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: energy drinks. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 10(1):1.

Bob Chick Visits Muscle Beach TV!


Bob Chick Visits Muscle Beach TV!

Bob Chick Visits Muscle Beach TV!


Bob Chick Visits Muscle Beach TV!

Jose Raymond and Guy Cisternino – In the Trenches


Guy and Jose Train Tri's - Part 1

Jose Raymond and Guy Cisternino – In the Trenches


Guy and Jose Train Tri's - Part 1

Milk: Does a Body Good—or Not so Good?

7205-eat3You’ve seen the arguments about milk and other dairy products. While they’re full of protein, the cows they come from are full of synthetic hormones, chemicals that can obviously affect the end food products that go into your body. What about the organic versions?

Yes, organic milk costs a bit more, but the uptick in healthfulness is well worth it. For example, an article in the January ’12 Prevention discussed a Harvard study in which grass-fed dairy cows produced “milk that’s much higher in conjugated linoleic acid. People with the most CLA in their tissues had a 36 percent lower risk of heart attacks [than] people with the lowest levels.”

In other studies CLA has been shown to help burn fat and build muscle. A Canadian study showed that it is especially synergistic with creatine for muscle growth.

Organic milk also contains more omega-3 fatty acids than its nonorganic counterpart. Omega-3s protect your brain and reduce inflammation, which can lower your risk of disease. They’ve also been shown to improve fat burning by helping to optimize natural hormones in the body.

So if you’re not lactose intolerant and choose to drink milk, go organic. Also, you want to stick with 2 percent milk, as skim has much less fat and can shoot up your insulin levels—which stops fat burning in its tracks and can lead to blubber building.

—Steve Holman

Building Strong Lumbars with Good Mornings

7205-mind2 The lower back is the universal joint of the power plant. If you don’t have strong lumbars, the power generated by the hips and legs cannot be transferred upward into the back and shoulder girdle. Nor can it be sent downward through the lower back. Athletes who are serious about getting stronger understand the importance of working their lumbars hard and heavy.

Strong lumbars are essential if you want to squat and pull heavy weights. Improving hip and leg strength is directly related to lumbar strength. When athletes hit a sticking point on squats, it’s often due to a relative weakness in the lower back. While their form is good and they put in the time squatting, their squat stays stagnant. That’s because their lumbars aren’t up to the task. When the lumbars aren’t strong enough, they can’t hold the proper positioning and technique suffers. Plus, they can’t generate the necessary power to grind the bar up to the finish.

The same idea holds true for heavy pulling exercises, especially explosive movements such as the snatch and clean. It is the lumbars that are primarily responsible for elevating the bar through the middle range. When it lags through the middle, there will not be a snappy finish. In addition, when the lumbars are proportionately weak, the lower back will round under heavy poundages, causing the bar to move out of the correct line of pull.

The fact that strong lumbars play a key role in squatting and heavy pulling exercises is fairly obvious, but most trainees overlook their role in all types of overhead lifts. The ability to lock out and hold a maximum-effort snatch, jerk and press is directly dependent on the strength of the lumbars. When they’re weak, the upper body will collapse, and the lift will not be made successfully.

Another good reason to make certain that your lumbars stay strong throughout your lifetime is that the lower part of the back is most frequently the one that causes problems. That’s true for the general population, where eight out of 10 adults experience some sort of back pain and 70 percent of those are lower-back issues. Well-conditioned athletes have much less trouble with their lumbars, yet that area still gets injured, mainly because its strength is not maintained in proportion to the rest of the body, and the weakest-link principle steps in and says hello.

There are many exercises that anyone can do to increase lumbar strength. They require very little in the way of equipment and can be done alone—without any assistance. That’s the good part. The flip side is that any exercise specifically for the lower back has to be worked very hard. Merely teasing the lumbars with light weights just doesn’t feed the bulldog—which means those exercises are not much fun to do. In fact, they are typically the most hated movements in any strength program, but there is a truism in strength training: Those who are willing to do the tough exercises will become the strongest athletes.

The two best primary exercises for the lower back are good mornings and almost-straight-legged deadlifts. Good mornings are often called “tomorrow mornings” and for good reason: When you push them to the limit, as you should, your lower back will report in the next morning. If your back doesn’t complain, you didn’t work the good mornings hard enough. Plain and simple.

Be forewarned. There is absolutely no way to make a good morning workout easy—unless you stay with light weights, and that just doesn’t get the desired results. I frankly admit that I do not like them, but I do like the results, and so I do them every week. They have a positive influence on all of my exercises and keep my lower back from aching in a bad way. I know that when athletes are dedicated to getting considerably stronger, they don’t mind doing the demanding exercises. They welcome them.

There are several ways to do good mornings: with a flat back, with a rounded back and while seated on a bench. If, when you attempt to do a good morning with your back rounded, you experience a sharp pain and it’s not from the exertion itself, switch to the flat-back version. Both forms will give you results when you work them hard enough. The seated version is much less demanding, and I only recommend it for trainees who are unable to do standing good mornings due to some injury. I do, however, insert them into all athletes’ programs periodically to build some variety into the lower-back routine.

To perform a standing good morning, take the bar off the rack and make sure that it’s locked tightly down into your traps. That’s one of the most important points. Should the bar move around, even slightly, it will cause pain in your neck and lower back. That will be more irritating than doing the exercise itself. Shrug your traps and pull the bar down into the muscle, keeping it locked there.

Step back, set your feet a bit closer than shoulder width, and turn your toes in slightly. Never have your knees completely locked when you work your lower back. It places far too much stress on the hamstrings and can result in a pulled muscle. Push your feet down into the floor. That helps tighten your hips, legs and back, and it helps you control the bar better. Now bend forward, making sure that your hips stay locked in the exact same position throughout the movement.

Try to place your chest on your thighs. You may not be able to do it right away, but with repetition you will. I’ve had athletes who could look back between their legs at the bottom of a good morning. Maintain a smooth, controlled movement as you bend forward and recover. No herky-jerky. You will also find that when you go lower, you will get a sort of recoil out of the bottom, which helps. Reset, and do the next rep.

For the seated version brace your feet firmly when you sit on the bench. Try to touch your chin to the bench. These are much easier than standing good mornings, so you can handle more weight. Unless you can’t do standing good mornings, use the seated version only occasionally. Harder is always more productive than easier in strength training.

I like to alter the sets and reps every other week. Week 1: five sets of eight; week 2: four sets of 10. While there’s very little difference between the two workouts, for some reason the body responds to the slight change in a positive manner. When you do eights, use five more pounds than when you do 10s.

Here’s my rule of thumb for how much weight you should use on this exercise. Your eventual goal should be to handle 50 percent of your best squat for eight reps. So, if you are squatting 400 pounds, your last set of good mornings will be 200 pounds. While that may seem like a lot of weight, it isn’t. If you include good mornings in your program from the very beginning, it will not be difficult for you to maintain that ratio as your squat gets stronger.

Next month I’ll go over the form points for what I consider the second-best exercise for strengthening the lower back—the almost-stiff-legged deadlift.

—Bill Starr


Editor’s note: Bill Starr was a strength and conditioning coach at Johns Hopkins University from 1989 to 2000. He’s the author of The Strongest Shall Survive—Strength Training for Football, which is available for $20 plus shipping from Home Gym Warehouse. Call (800) 447-0008, or visit www


Steve Kuclo – Almost Live – Part 2


Steve Kuclo - Almost Live - Part 2