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Monday, February 27, 2012

the pump

Did you enjoy that little musical interlude? You should have. It's a great song. Duh. Now, onto some actual fitness-related content.

Yesterday, approximately 20 minutes into my workout, my forearms looked like this:

Um, minus the anchor tattoos. And the over-sized fists. But, kids, I had such muscle pump going in my forearms that they hurt. I felt as if my forearm muscles were going to burst my skin open, they were so full and tight. The flexors, the extensors, the brachioradialis, all of 'em. Pumped like a mofo. While it was uncomfortable--and messed with my grip--it was also amusing. So I thought I would explore the concept of the muscle pump a little.

Basically, muscle pump is when blood fills the muscle faster than it can be cleared, causing congestion. Many people love getting a good pump. For one thing, it makes your muscles look bigger than they actually are. Also, just like getting DOMS, many people feel obtaining a pump means they had an excellent, effective workout, even though lack of a pump (or DOMS) doesn't actually mean your workout sucked. But is the pump actually good for anything other than making your muscles look pretty in the gym mirrors or (if you're me) amusing you? Opinions seem to be divided! has this to say: "Bodybuilders commonly perform pumping-up exercises before appearing on stage to make their muscles appear fuller. For most of us there is no real benefit from achieving a pump (except for boosting your ego)."

Tom Venuto would disagree: "... if you’re interested in bodybuilding or physique development, then maximum pump can be very beneficial.

Most bodybuilders and even most exercise physiologists would agree that workouts that produce maximum pump can provide up to 20-25% of the increase in muscle size. This comes from sarcoplasmic and mitochondrial hypertrophy and increased capillarization. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy looks good and is beneficial to bodybuilders, but you do tend to lose it more quickly with de-training."

And here's a dude who thinks muscle pump is so crucial, it's like an orgasm. "Most people that workout with weights and do not achieve this, are almost defeating the whole purpose of training. The pump can almost be referred to as a sexual climax because the same thing is happening. Blood is rushing into the muscle, therefore creating a wonderful feeling of increased circulation."

I don't even...

If you fall into the camp that believes muscle pump is actually an important goal to achieve every workout, well, there are lots of supplements that you can take to help you along! There's nitric oxide, a vasodilator that increases blood flow. (Kinda like Viagra? Huh. There's that orgasm thing again.) Nitric oxide is apparently generated from the amino acid l-arginine, so the two are often combined. Interestingly enough, wikipedia (which nevah lies) tells me l-argitine is necessary for the synthesis of creatine as well, and we all know how I feel about creatine, right, boys n' girls? Plus, wikipedia informs, arginine has also been used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Ohhhh, it's all coming together here. This must be why guys are so attached to the muscle pump. It simulates getting an erection. Or something.

Seriously? The feeling I had in my forearms yesterday? THAT'S what it feels like to all y'all when you've got a boner? Once again I must say: huh. I am so glad I was born with girl parts. In the immortal words of Elaine Benes, I don't know how you guys walk around with those things.

But since we've wandered off of today's fitness topic, lemme give you another music video that's on point.

You're welcome!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

squat like an egyptian

It occurs to me that if Egypt is not in fact considered a third world country, I will have insulted and disrespected any Egyptians who wander through. I apologize in advance. I find it impossible to resist a blog title that amuses me or the opportunity to post tangentially related music video. Nothing against you, country of Egypt.

Okay! Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, go read this article and then return. Those of you who finish before the rest of the class because you're in the highest reading group or because you skimmed OR because you already did your pre-blog homework and read it when I linked it elsewhere, get to watch this.

Shut up. It's a reward, not a punishment.

Now let's discuss the article referenced above. I went into it thinking, yeah yeah yeah, easy peasy. My posterior chain is well activated! I'm reading Rippetoe right now and was reassured to learn the fact that my glutes, hammies, and adductors hurt more than my quads after squat day is *a good thing*.

Rip and Martha both think so. My posterior chain does what it's supposed to. Apparently. And not to mention, but I am the princess of hip flexor stretches. I may ignore many other parts of my body that need loosening, but I do keep my hips open.

So, yeah, I went into this exercise thinking I would ace it. How humiliating to find that if I attempt it the way the author proscribes, I go immediately onto my toes. The only way I can go into a deep squat with my heels flat on the ground is to spread my legs far, far wider than shoulder width apart. And even then, my feet roll to the outside edge. Damn you, 21st century!

Just like dips on the kitchen counters and kegels, this is something I'ma have to incorporate into my daily life. Can't hurt!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

foam, the other white meat

Here are some foam rolling videos I have painstakingly youtubed for your edification. Alright, alright, for *my* edification so that when the damn thing comes in the mail. I'll know where to begin.

I foresee wearing the new sports bra that really straps those puppies down while doing this one, or I predict an inadvertent boob injury. (Note: inadvertent is one of those words I like that has no antonym even though it should. There's no such word as "advertent." Also? Even if there were, who would have an advertent boob injury? Um, don't answer that.)

This one's gonna hurt. The last time I had a massage, I almost started crying when the MT started working on my IT band. I had no idea it was that tight till she began messing with it!

That looks a lil tricky, but getting at the psoas always is!

Back to this chick again. Apparently she's foam rolled her entire body for our viewing pleasure.

Dude gets extra points for mentioning the QLs, my favorite muscles no one's ever heard of. Also for the hood of his hoodie getting in his way, because you *know* I've been there.

But, look! Dr Ben Kim wants to specifically target our QLs. Atta boy! (Do we think that's Mrs Dr Kim modeling?)

Mrs Dr Kim wants to save us from our neck pain as well!

Okay, I think I've got the basics down here. Doesn't look like one needs a college degree or even a massage school diploma to work this shiz. Luckily, I've got both just in case. Happy rolling, y'all!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

valentine's day in andrea's fitness land

I owe all y'all a post on my homework, but that will have to wait. Because I didn't do it. My homework, that is. My fitness horizons have remained un-widened. It's not my fault, I swear. Other things keep coming up. Like, you know, my job n' shit. As much as I would like to blow off work for my readers' entertainment, Nationalgrid and Verizon and the city demand I pay those bills they send me. God. There's hope for tomorrow, however! Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, let's talk about what I bought today. I wanted to buy myself a Valentine's Day gift because, face it, I'm awesome. It's not my fault no one else appreciates that. (Don't you go telling me people *who do their fitness homework* all have adoring lovers who send them flowers and jewelry and, I dunno, vats of whey. I refuse to believe it.) My first thought was to break down and buy my microplates. But this morning I had another thought. You see, I stepped on my scale three times and got three different numbers. I counted the one I liked best. Duh. It then occurred to me that, aha! perhaps the reason that I have been so frustrated with the scale number of late is because my scale isn't really working properly anymore. I mean, it is somewhere around 15 years old. When I had to replace the battery last year--for probably the first time--I found it was a 9V. You know what else has a 9V battery? My garage door remote. Which is also over 15 years old. I'm not sure new things are made with those these days. Also, my scale while digital, only shows pounds. It's 120 or 117 or 113, not 116.4. Which is kind of good, in my opinion. I've seen people throw fits because they were up .6 lbs, an amount that could be taken care of by taking a hearty dump, y'know? But, anyway, point is: my scale's an antique.

So I decided my gift to me would be a new, presumably more accurate scale. The fact that I could well weigh 5 pounds more on it did not escape my consideration, but I figured that's the chance I'ma have to take. I went on amazon to peruse my options. Searching for bathroom scale returned 1,164 choices. Seriously. 1,164. And some of them had thousands of customer reviews. In one case, 4800 reviews. I find it hard to believe that almost five thousand people had such strong feelings about a scale, they were moved to write a coherent paragraph or two praising or damning it, but then again I'm getting a whole damn blog post outta this business.

There are mega-expensive bathroom scales that (inaccurately) give you your bodyfat percentage. There are scales that will weigh you even if you weigh over 400 lbs. There's even a scale that talks to you. Apparently this is for when you are too hefty to be able to see the scale's readout. No comment. Okay--one comment. If I were that fat, I think I would prefer to use a balance beam type scale with the weight reading in front of me rather than listen to my talking appliance remind me that I'm 476 lbs today. But I guess we're all different. There's a wifi scale that will transmit your weight to your phone or computer where it will then make pretty graphs for you. There are glass-topped scales and backlit scales and scales with large print readouts. There are scales that run on AAA batteries and scales that run on lithium ion batteries.


I went old skool.

No batteries required. No talking. No wifi. 4 1/2 stars on amazon. 24 bucks. And then I bought the foam roller I've been wanting. That will be another post on its own! Promises, promises.