Monday, May 27, 2013

Bloatation intervals

The tape measurements are in and this month I have gained:
  • 1/4 inch in arms
  • 1.5 inches in shoulders
  • 1/2 inch in chest
  • 1 inch in quads
(My waist remains the same.....well, better than going up! Huzzah again!)

My trainer has moved me into giant sets and I am lifting beyond and looking unlike anything I ever imagined:

Welcome to the Librarian Gun Show!

I asked my trainer to up to "sweat factor" of my workouts. I am enjoying the weight training more than I ever expected and with recurring foot issues, my intense running/cardio has decreased, so I needed to kick it up a bit. Because with the increase in muscle mass, I'm feeling an increase in other factors.

Much to my trainer's delight, I cannot fit into much of any of my clothes anymore. After a wonder-filled few years of going from above an XL to an M and being able to shop in regular stores, I'm now busting out of all my shirts, pants (in the thighs) and jackets, all because of muscle. (There's only so many times you can hear my colleagues say, "Now Dan angry! Now Dan smash!!" when I'm about to split open one of my suits along the chest and back.) I'm not looking forward to the cost of a new wardrobe...again...but I'm also more vigilant that my waist size doesn't increase along with the rest of me, because this increase in muscle has been making me crave a lot of food.

And it's also hit me that these mega weight work outs leave me not only looking pumped, but bloated. We're talking like a 5 lb. weight increase after a workout, that then doesn't drop for a few days. A simple search on muscle bloat after working out draws up countless websites, all with a variety of responses, ranging from common sense to, naturally, some bizarre "special" supplement that is the "only solution" to counter these effects.

I couldn't find any good scholarly reports on this issue, but suffice to say that micro-tears in your muscles create a fluid build up while those tears are healing. And you do need to let it heal, so extended weeks of mega-weight work, like mine, does lead to quite excessive bloat build-up. My "donut" surrounding the six pack even looks more .... "donuty." And having a tighter pants waist is not a goal!

So, what to do? Well, aside from spacing out which muscles to use each workout, there's also other ways to get some good cardio in to balance out the exercise, even if I can't do my beloved running or less than beloved elliptical.

A recent article published in the American College of Sports Medicine Journal, shows that a 7 minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can deliver similar benefits to a full weight training and cardio workout. 

It sounds at first like one of those "fad" answers to exercise. Only 7 minutes! Eat what you want! Wear an evening gown while you do it!

But looking at the sets does make sense, at least now that I've been seriously exercising for a few years now. You don't need to hurt yourself in Crossfit or run ultra marathon distances every week, provided you do these correctly AND (most importantly) you only rest the small amount of time between exercises. It's not just about strength and balance, it's about increased heart rate and being sweaty. I see a lot of folks doing these HIIT sessions with long rests in between. So while that does help build some muscle tone, it's not an equivalent workout.

Interestingly enough, my previous workout regimens with my trainer included this sort of HIIT piece a few times a week, although with more reps. With him, I did 11 min sets before the weight training, and on my own I did about 20 minutes of various HIIT before cardio. Was it enough on its own to do the trick? I can't say, and to be honest, I didn't see it as such, However, it definitely helped build some muscle groups and helped to stabilize my balance and overall track towards weight loss. And I sweat a LOT!

I see it now as a good thing to do on off days to help trigger the end of the bloat.

At least that would help it. Yet I've also realized that my cravings for more protein as my muscles grow can sadly make me slip in less than healthy choices, namely sugar-dosed foods. Nothing wrong with good carbs, but we're talking the dessert-y end of the spectrum, which usually triggers the binge responses. 

I talk about this a lot on this site. Even a small amount of a treat can trigger the desire for more, so if I do eat it, I can't be anywhere around more of that sweet, delectable sugary bomb.

Sweetness is something virtually all animals see as an attractant. We are not unique in our powerlessness. But here's a new study showing that some cockroaches in Germany have adapted a behavioral aversion to glucose and fructose, so as to avoid sweet-tasting poison traps. Those wiley insects have actually changed their internal body chemistry so that sweet stuff tastes bad to them.

Why can't we do that? We sort of do, although not in an evolutionary sense. The less sweet stuff I eat, the less I crave it. Sadly, it doens't take a big slip to get back into it, but I know if I can do without cookes and ice cream for a week, there's less of a chance I'll grab it the next week. 

Now, if only cockroaches suffered from bloat...


Klika, Brett, Chris Jorndan. “High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results with Minimal Investment.” ACSM'S Health & Fitness Journal 17, no. 3 (May/June 2013): 8-13 doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e31828cb1e8

Wada-Katsumata, Ayako, Jules Silverman, and Coby Schal. “Changes in Taste Neurons Support the Emergence of an Adaptive Behavior in Cockroaches.” Science 340, no. 6135 (May 24, 2013): 972–975. doi:10.1126/science.1234854.

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