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Recent Blog Entries in: "Health"


Strength Training as at High Temperatures
Jul 12th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health (0 comments)

For many athletes hot weather is a good reason to reduce the training volume or to completely refrain from intense workouts during this time. Even a regular strength training can suffer from heat, so here are a few tips and hints on how the training can be carried on continuously in spite of sultry and warm temperatures.

Drink a Lot

... an obviousness that is often neglected or simply underestimated. Even at normal temperatures you should drink one liter of water for each hour of training, which is is roughly the amount that is leaving the body through sweating an breathing.

In the summertime the gym interior can easily heat up to about 28-30 °C, which increases the sweating and therefore the fluid requirements can easily rise up to twice the amount.

Drink about approximately 1.5-2 liters of water per hour of intense weight training and increase the daily intake of water to about 4-5 liters, to prevent your body from dehydration and to stay powerful even in the heat.

Training Level and Training Breaks

The cyclic shift of training and rest in strength training has a certain advantage over the long-lasting, continuous loads such as in endurance training.

If necessary have longer rests between the sets to let the body cool down and thus prevent the cardiac system from overloading or your body from having a heat shock.

The training intensity itself can usually be maintained despite the heat, since, for the duration of one set, the body should be capable of performing on usual levels. External may even have a positive influence on the training level, since the muscles are more supple from the beginning on, while sweating my provide a certain amount of extra motivation.

Training Times

Adapt your training times. if possible, take advantage of the cool morning hours or go training in the evening train.

Endurance training under the direct exposure of the sun sun should generally be avoided in the hours around noontime. But even apart from the midday sun you should wear a hat that provides some shade to avoid a sunstroke, which manifests itself mostly by dizziness, nausea, or tinnitus.

Training Duration

Train just as short as necessary. This general recommendation (which applies also also on climate safe days) requires you to do only a small number of complex exercises. A training session on a hot day shouldn't take longer than 30-45 minutes.

Proper Clothing and Accessories

Special clothing directs the sweat quickly and effectively away from the skin and allows it to evaporate. Normal shirts and pants are less effective, but they also take on the sweat and keep most of it away from the training equipment and the people around you. Tight clothing, which reveals much skin, doesn't provide this kind of comfort.

A reasonably large towel to remove sweat should be part of your accessories as well as the mandatory water bottle.

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10 Ways To Increase Your Metabolism
Mar 31st, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health (0 comments)

The Metabolism

As mentioned before, our metabolic performance has great influence on our life, and vice versa. Of course, the metabolic rate itself is as individual as every person, but there are several internal and external factors that determine how well it is doing.

Surprisingly, genetic conditions, with just 5% share, have only minor influence on the metabolic rate. Therefore "bad" genetics don´t deliver a plausible explanation for a low metabolic rate

It is rather age, sex and lifestyle that influence the metabolism. The first two factors we have to accept as they are. From the age of 25 on the bodies energy requirement underlies an annual decrease of 1%, which means that during an adults lifespan the metabolism decreases by up to 40%.

Fortunately, this process can be delayed and even turned around by the third factor: living an active lifestyle has a positive effect of the body´s entire energy demand, even in the state of rest.

The following chart shows the most substantial metabolic rate influences.

Simplified the total energy consumption is calculated as follows:

Complete Energy Turnover = Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) + Energy used by Activities

The Basal Metabolic Rate is the body´s energy demand in absolute rest, which makes up about 60% of our complete energy turnover. Physical activity itself demands about 30% and temperature regulation about 10%.

Concluding, a long-term and successful metabolic rate increase is mainly based on an improved BMR. There are many other possibilities, besides physical activity, to affect the the BMR in a positive way.

1. Regular Strength Training

Muscles are active body mass. They burn energy even at rest, during physical activity the become fat burning furnaces that burn plenty of energy.

Excess body fat can only be burnt inside the muscles, no place else. The more muscles you have, the higher the chance of having an optimum body fat percentage.

After lifting weights the BMR remains on a high level for the next 48 hours. Therefore working out 2-3 times per week causes a permanently increasing energy demand, day and night.

2. Cardiovascular Training

Cardiovascular Training has a far less influence on the BMR..

Aerobic exercise with a heart rate of about 65% of your MHR (maximum heart rate) burns about 300-400 kcal per hour. It would take almost three hours of low intensity cardiovascular training per week to balance one larger meal.

Also, after cardio training the BMR remains on a high level for only about 1-2 hours, which is much less in comparison to strength training.

However, endurance is also an important part of the battle. It can be done on a regular basis without a great deal. Especially short, but intense training sessions or interval trainings of aerobic and an-aerobic exercise burn plenty of energy.

3. Daily Activity

Abandon many of your everyday comforts to increase your energy demand.

  • Instead of using the car go by bike or walk short distances.
  • Recognize even the smallest stairs as a short training session. Avoid elevators and escalators whenever possible.
  • When sitting, get up at least once per hour and move. Maybe carry out tasks that require you to visit other floors or different departments.
  • Be active whenever possible, even home works burns a lot of calories.
  • Pick sporting hobbies, e.g. in team and ball sports.

4. Mental Activity

The brain makes up about 3% of our body weight, but burns 25% of our resting energy. In contrast to muscles, the brain can only burn carbohydrates (glucose).

Since the brain can´t store energy, it has to take carbohydrates from the body´s storages.

Demanding mental processes do consume much of the daily fed carbohydrates. Since the body wants to compensate this by an increased carbohydrate intake, mental activity is one major cause of cravings for sweets.

It is not possible to achieve a long-term increase in energy demand, but since mental performance is similar trainable as physical, they are good way to burn a little more energy each day.

5. Eating and Drinking

To maintain a high level of physical energy, you need to eat on a regular basis.

Have a small or medium meal every 3-4 hours. Doing this indicates a good supply situation and encourages the body to burn its energy storages (excess body fat).

However, what counts for training also counts for nutrition: Keep boredom at bay!

Ultimately you only may want to watch only your weekly energy balance. A long-term energy surplus leads to gaining weight, a long-term energy deficiency causes weight loss. Seek for an energy balance to maintain your bodyweight. The daily calorie intake should be subject of specific variations to not get your metabolism used to a certain energy level. Keep it interesting

Because almost all metabolic functions require water, drink a sufficient amount of fluid each day. 2-3 liters are a good estimation.

6. Heat

For most people an ambient temperature of 68-73°F is most convenient. Try to escape this area as often as possible, because then the body will have to use energy to balance its temperature.

Going to the sauna or taking hot baths are great examples for sources of external heat.

You can also put heat inside your body by drinking hot drinks or by eating hot meals, but beware to not burn your mouth.

7. Coldness

What is true for heat is even more true for coldness.

Have cold showers in the morning or have cold baths to push your metabolism. It will wake you up and costs lots of energy.

Don´t dress with too warm clothes. Rather leave it to the body to control its temperature.

Keep the room temperature below 70°F, which encourages your body to move and to maintain a certain level of physical activity to produce warmth.

Have cold food and, even better, cold drinks. Especially ice water, sipped over a longer period of time, is an ideal metabolism booster.

8. Spicy Food

Spicy food can also increase the metabolism.

You can recognize it when people begin to sweat while having a spicy meal. It is helpful, although it is not the perfect option.

9. Sleep

Sleeping too little may cause your BMR to slow down, because the body is likely to suffer from poor recovery.

Sleep for 6-8 hours every day and try to get up in time without an alarm clock, which may require you to go to bed earlier.

Basically, start the day very early in the morning. Sleeping for too long , way longer than 8 hours, is also counterproductive and makes it hard for your metabolism to rise over the day.

10. Other Extremes

In general, all time your spend outside the everyday comfort zones are stimulating the metabolism.

As already mentioned things like heat and cold an important role, but also hormone-releasing states such as pleasure, fun, fear, or (positive :-) excitement. Add several of these ingredients into your daily routine and your metabolism has every reason to remain at a high level.

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tags: metabolism |  activity |  muscle building |  fat loss | 

Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #2: Increased Metabolism
Feb 19th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health (0 comments)

The Metabolism in Top Form

The secret of a slim and attractive body lies in the very personal metabolism of every human being. Those who are gaining weight from a (suspected) lettuce can assume that their metabolism is not running at high levels, meaning all body processes slow down and their physical energy and performance are low. A high metabolism causes a high basal metabolic rate, which means the daily energy need of the body increases.

Symptoms of Low Metabolism

  • increased need for sleep
  • weariness
  • decreased energy
  • often cold hands and feet

Very seldom it is "bad genes" that have a negative effect on the metabolism. Rather, the behavior and habits of everyone figure it. Building muscles and therefore burning excess body fat is directly linked to a good metabolism. Any kind of sufficiently intense physical but also mental activity has a positive influence on it. Besides physical activity there are a few other factors playing an important role in this game. Here are the most successful strategies on the way to a good metabolism.

Strategy 1: Physical Activity | Fitness and Everyday Life

Daily exercise is the best way to control your own body weight. A good combination of targeted and non-targeted exercise is the most effective way to increase your metabolism.

Targeted Exercise (Training)Non-targeted Exercise
  • Strength Training
  • Endurance Training
  • Flexibility Training
  • Sports
  • Walks
  • Cycling
  • Gardening / Housework
  • Climbing stairs
Targeted training is of priority, since the degree of intensity is higher, but works best when combined with less intensive regular activities of everyday life to increase metabolism and energy consumption long-term. In addition to the intensity a balanced timing of your workouts plays a crucial role. The following charts illustrate why:

Training Frequency| Metabolic TrendExplanation

Very punctual (although long) training session, e.g. only on weekends, with several days of rest have only little positive effect on the metabolism, it is stagnating.

Regular workouts of 30-60 minutes a significant increase of the metabolism. Have a strength training on at least two non-consecutive days.

Strategy 2: Calorie Intake | Nutrition

One of the most successful strategies to increase the basal metabolic rate is a smart diet. It is by no means about counting calories or living very ascetically. On the contrary, a sensible and intelligent handling of this issue creates enormous scope for culinary delights.

Basically, there are the following three options:
  • Losing body weight, caused by energy deficiency,
  • Keeping body weight, caused by energy balance,
  • Gaining body weight, caused by energy surplus,
but what seems so simple is difficult to control because no one can determine the own daily energy intake and consumption accurately. Fortunately, it is unnecessary, because there is a direct connection between metabolism, basal metabolic rate and caloric intake, as the following graphs show:

Calory Intake | Metabolic TrendExplanation

Energy Balance: To keep up your body weight, it is enough to adjust the average energy intake and consumption. This, of course, should of course happen at a high level.

Energy Surplus: An increased energy supply causes a higher metabolism. If this generates an energy surplus, the body weight increases, which is highly desirable at least for building muscles.

Energy Deficiency: A reduced caloric intake provides an energy deficiency, to which the metabolism adapts quite rapidly. First, the body weight decreases, followed by the basal metabolic rate, until you again reach a point of energy balance or surplus. That is why no diets will ever work without strength training.

Weekly Energy Balance: To occasionally surprise and stimulate your metabolism, get your weekly energy in balance, meaning that you can vary between daily energy surpluses and deficiencies. Consequently your metabolism increases along with the chance for regular days where you will have an energy deficiency. A very enjoyable way of keeping or even losing body weight.

Strategy 3: The Right Timing of Meals

Since the body needs energy on a regular basis, it should also be supplied this way. You body will reward a constant energy supply by an autonomous reduction of body fat. On the other hand, skipping meals for long periods of time leads to a decreased metabolism as it prepares itself for further possible shortages. At the same time you body increases readiness to store any energy supplied as fat. It just does not know better... A constant supply of energy is as important for weight loss as for the increase of body mass. To not produce the exactly unwanted results by mistake, you have to comply with the following rules:
  • Never Fill up Completely, unless you want to gain weight. It doesn´t make sense and may even be counterproductive to eat large quantities at once, because you will have to have a meal every 3-4 hours.
  • Eat Slowly and With Intention. Food eaten too fast is not digested correctly. A lack of concentration leads to unconscious food intake, and inadequate self-control.
  • Drink a Lot. Drink about two to three liters of water per day to maintain the body´s metabolism and detoxification capabilities. Add another liter per hour of exercise.
  • Prefer Whole Foods. If you are unsure what exactly to eat, remember to keep it as simple as possible. Avoid any industrially processed food. Instead, eat fresh, natural foods, and prepare your own meals from them.

    Example Daily Schedule

    06:00 am1. BreakfastIn the morning you should eat particularly easily digestible carbohydrates from foods such as cereals, bread, fruit or fruit juice spritzer. That will wake you up and saves the coffee. As source of proteins choose little sausage, fish or dairy products. In general: do not eat too much and too heavy, because that will promote fatigue and will make it difficult unnecessarily to start the day. In the morning it is particularly important to drink a lot of water, because it will support the still ongoing detoxification processes of the night.
    09:00 am2. Breakfast or SnackAs with each snack you should avoid hard to digest and fatty foods. Otherwise, there are no limits. Dairy products such as yogurt and some fruits and vegetables are a good choice. Again, remember to drink some water.
    12:00 UhrLunchFor most people lunch is the largest meal. Avoid high concentrations of fats and abandon the idea that lunch has to be a warm meal. Heat kills most vitamins, enzymes and takes away all vitality. Of course, some foods need to be cooked or fried to be made edible, but overcooked vegetables only suit as lifeless stomach filler. Drink a glass of water before and after lunch.
    15:30 UhrSnackIn the afternoon most people use to have coffee and cake or other sweets with plenty of sugar for desserts. A great idea if your intention is to feel tired and weak as soon as the blood sugar level returns to normal values. Again prefer fruits, nuts and a healthy source of protein, and drink some water.
    19:00 UhrSupperExcept on training days, avoid significant amounts of carbohydrates in the evening. Instead eat combinations of vegetables, e.g. as a salad, or fish and meat. It is perfectly okay to eat a little more of that in the evening, because hunger has a negative impact on sleep quality. Drink enough fluid.
    22:00 UhrLate SnackWhoever goes to bed very late or wants to build muscle mass, should have a late snack that in best case is content-wise related to the supper.

    Under the condition of maintaining the distance of about 3-4 hours between meals, the times listed here must be adjusted to the individual possibilities and requirements.

    Also read part 1: Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #1: The Basics

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tags: fat loss |  muscle building |  nutrition |  advice |  metabolism | 

Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #1: The Basics
Feb 16th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health (0 comments)

The long-term goal of effective muscle-building and fat loss is to get your own body weight in a desirable area and to keep it there, which requires a daily confrontation with your actions and habits. There are really no secret tricks or weapons on the way to the body you want to have. Any success is based on your personal behavior and the understanding of the functioning of your body and your metabolism.

Why Should I Lose Weight?

Normalizing your body fat level entails very significant benefits for both, your body and your feeling of well-being:

Improved Cardiovascular PerformanceObese people suffer from a permanently overstressed cardiovascular system, because the extra body fat needs to be supplied with blood and to be carried around. Each pound of body fat has about 8.5 miles of capillaries, which are the smallest of the body´s blood vessels. The consequences are high blood pressure, many of cardiovascular and other lifestyle diseases and premature death. In particular, the excessive intake of animal fat leads to a high concentration of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, one of the main causes of strokes. Reducing body fat by a healthy diet and activity leads to a significant improvement in physical performance.
Relief of the Musculoskeletal SystemExcess of body fat is a major burden for the body´s passive structures such as bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Consequently the untrained muscles and tendons cannot withstand the load, which ultimately leads to joint pain as another reason to not move at all.
Decreased Risk of DiabetesThe risk of developing diabetes increases with each pound of excess body fat. Studies have shown that the number of diabetes patients in a country is directly linked to the number of overweight people.
Decreased Risk of Premature DeathCommon sense alone is enough to know from that obesity and healthy living even in older age very seldom go hand in hand. The average life expectancy of overweight people is about 8-15 years below the normal levels. In addition to that it results in an enormous loss of quality of living, especially in the last third of life, when the overall physical performance declines and excess body fat becomes an even higher burden.

The Ideal Body Weight via the BMI

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool to decide, whether the average adults relation of body weight and body size is in an acceptable range.

Calculating the BMI

Metric SystemAmerican SystemBritish System
BMI = weight (kg) / height² (m²) BMI = 703*weight (lb) / height² (in²) BMI = 6,35*weight (stone) / height² (m²)

Calculating the Body Mass Index does not meet the requirements of athletes, because it does not consider the body composition, e.g. an increased level of muscle mass. It is generally preferable to have a look at the body fat percentage.

The Body Fat Percentage

The body fat percentage is expressed as a percentage, indicating how many shares of the body are consisting of body fat. The following figures are averages. For athletes the normal range can be lowered by up to 5%.

Nominal Body Fat

Based on the percentage of body fat one can calculate nominal amount of body fat as follows.
  • Weight Body Fat(lb) = Body Fat Percentage(%) * Bodyweight(lb).
The ideal range of the nominal weight of body fat is almost the same for men women.
  • 20 lb < body fat in pounds < 30 lb,
i.e. values below 20 lb as well as values above 30 lb are unhealthy.

Somatic Intelligence

Regular and consciously executed training does not only improve your physical performance, but is especially increasing the awareness of dealing with your own body, which is an intelligent and perfect system, but that is only capable to respond to actions and circumstances according to its possibilities.

An excessive food and thus energy supply.arrow_green_left_rightGrowth of the body's energy stores, the fat cells.
Consuming unhealthy food and dead calories.arrow_green_left_rightPoisoning and weakening of the body. Reduced performance.
Too little fluid intake.arrow_green_left_rightDecreased metabolic functions and poisoning of the body.
Lack of physical activity and sport.arrow_green_left_rightLoss of muscle mass, growth of fat cells and decreased metabolism.

The reasons for being overweight, underweight, sickly or not having enough energy can ver rarely be excused with bad genetics or "heavy bones". Our body is nothing but a mirror of our own expectations for ourselves Train and move (use ) it regularly, befriend with it and your body begins to tell you what it is doing well and what does not.

Self Awareness

It is important to have an exact picture of yourself, but don´t take it too seriously or compare with others. Realize your strengths and weaknesses, without apologizing for it, it makes it easier to give life a new direction. You are overweight? Great! Accept it as a result of your recent actions and ways of thinking and change it. You are not motivated and do not feel strong enough to do so? Get up and move you. The more energy your body and mind demand, the more they get. Open the windows, take a deep breath and do 20 squats, take a brisk walk around the block once and drink a liter of cold water. (and then please continue reading...)


How does a piece of coal happen to become a valuable diamond? It is two crucial things: pressure and time.

Transforming your body also needs regular pressure (training) a lot of time (patience). Time is especially important because the organism has to adapt to the new situation. Rapid changes, as the media often praises them to get you to buy useless products, are medically questionable and the results usually are not long-lasting. It is unrealistic to expect the perfect body within a few weeks of training. That´s one of the main reasons why so many people fail: they give up, because their expectations do not fit into the concept of their present life.

Expect a lot, but do not expect a convenient way!

Also read part 2: Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #2: The Metabolism

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How Magnesium Can Prevent Muscle Cramps
Feb 10th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health (0 comments)

Almost any athlete is familiar with cramps within the active muscles during physical exercise. It usually affects runners, but also other intense physical activities such as swimming, squash or ball sports can lead to these painful muscular contractions. However, with the right diet you can prevent cramps.

What causes Muscle Cramps

Mainly an insufficient concentration of magnesium in the blood is responsible for cramps. Magnesium itself is a vital mineral that we take in by the food we consume. A deficiency can occur due to low supply or through an intensive excretion of magnesium, such as sweating, which results in a more spontaneous responsiveness of the nerves that are responsible for the contractions of the muscle, especially within calf and thigh muscles. If cramps happen very regularly, put your diet to a test. Eat more foods that contain large amounts of magnesium.

Magnesium Sources

Magnesium Rich Foods

The daily need of magnesium is about 300-600 mg. The following table shows foods that are very good magnesium suppliers.

FoodMagnesium content per 100 g
Whole wheat bread82 mg
Whole grain pasta52 mg
Brown rice68 mg
Oatmeal140 mg
Fish82 mg
Sunflower seeds420 mg
Pumpkin seeds168 mg
Nuts270 mg
Sesame seeds340 mg
Potatoes30 mg
Greens90 mg
Bananas27 mg
Oranges14 mg
Mineral water10 mg

A balanced diet is a great prevention of muscle cramps. Compensating the fluid balance during or after physical activities with magnesium-rich mineral water is decreasing the risk of suffering from magnesium deficiency even more. Remember to drink one liter of water per hour of exercise.

Magnesium Tablets and Liquids

Another way to increase the magnesium intake is to consume magnesium tablets as a dietary supplement. These are usually available as an effervescent tablet to dissolve in a glass of water. A look at the packaging reveals the amount of magnesium per tablet; usually it is about 200-400 mg. In addition to that, you can get magnesium in liquid form in a special ampule. They provide magnesium ready to eat and usually contain 25 ml of liquid with about 300 mg of magnesium.

Further Action against Muscle Cramps


If a cramps occurs, stop the the current activity o be stopped to stretch the particular muscle. There are two options:
  • Active stretching by flexing the antagonist.
  • Passive or static stretching by applying external forces.
Stretching exercises for the leg muscles:Calves
Front Thighs
Rear Thighs


Then have a slight relaxation massages to relax the muscles even more. Here it is important to act cautiously and gently, because strong external forces can lead to further muscular contractions.

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tags: nutrition |  advice |  magnesium |