TRAIN TO GAIN

Get High for Health

Jerry Brainum

During the running craze of the 1970s, you heard a lot about something called the runnerís highóitís a feeling of euphoria and relaxation that occurs shortly after a run. Sports scientists attributed the effect to the bodyís increased production of natural painkilling chemicals called endorphins. Later studies, however, repudiated that theory. Those studies often used drugs such as naltrexone, to block the effects of endorphins, but the runnerís high continued to appear after exercise. Scientists then decided that the runnerís highóa concept later extended to weight trainingówas the result of an increased release of catecholamines, such as norepinephrine.

If you secrete more catecholamines during an intense workout, your tolerance for pain will be higher, and so will your ability to train harder. A recent study with rats found that endorphins not only are beneficial for mental and painkilling effects but also may be a major factor in the cardiovascular benefits offered by exercise.†

The rats ran on a treadmill for four days, with one day of highly vigorous exercise. Another group of rats didnít exercise. Heart attacks were then induced in the rats, and the heart damage in the exercised rats was half that of the sedentary rats. The protective effect of exercise was gone five days after the exercise. When rats were injected with a drug that blocks endorphins, the heart-protective effect of exercise disappeared. Exercise also increased the amount of several opiate, or endorphin, genes in the heart, along with genes that regulate inflammation and muscle cell death in the heart.

The conclusion was that much of the protection against cardiovascular disease offered by exercise was due to an increase of endorphin activity in the heart and that the protection was short-lived in the absence of regular exercise.


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Knee-Wrecking Wrap-Up?

Ron Harris

Knee-Wrecking Wrap-Up?

Knee wraps were once used almost exclusively by powerlifters, but lately more bodybuilders can be seen on leg day wrapping up their knees before getting under a heavy squat bar. Some guys wrap their knees before every set of leg presses and hacks too.

You could see it as a prophylactic measure. The wraps keep the knee tight and warm. That sounds good, but is it? Some top bodybuilders donít think so. Dave Henry, runner-up at the í06

Weights vs. Cardio

Jerry Brainum

Weights vs. Cardio

Most competitive bodybuilders divide their training into weight-training and aerobics sessions. The ultimate goal of weight training is to shape and enlarge muscles. The primary purpose of aerobics for bodybuilders is to burn excess bodyfat and increase muscle definition. So it makes sense to separate weight work and aerobics. One long-held scientific axiom is the specificity-of-exercise principle: Exercise produces specific effects, depending on its type and intensity.

X-Blasting North of the Border

William Litz

X-Blasting North of the Border

X-Rep partials have been around long enough now that the approach is reaching all elements of the bodybuilding and fitness community. Take Ryan Malo, a 275-pound Canadian mass monster whoís striving for his pro card. Heís been hooked on X-Rep training for about a year and has gotten bigger. He plans to compete in the Canadian Nationals as a heavyweight at around 220 pounds. He said heíd added a solid 15 pounds since he joined TeamGots (www

Success Through Failure

Stuart McRobert

Success Through Failure

I wasted years of my bodybuilding youth by persisting with exercises, routines and methods that didnít help me much, if at all. Iíve seen the same fundamental error being made by most bodybuilders in all the gyms Iíve ever been to. Some trial and error is part of bodybuilding, so short periods of failure are inevitable, but if you donít make progress for a long time, change is needed.

Pullover: Dumbbell vs. Machine

Joseph M. Horrigan

Pullover: Dumbbell vs. Machine

An avid weight-training patient recently asked me about the differences between the Nautilus pullover machine and a traditional dumbbell pullover across a bench. There are strong similarities and significant differences.

The prime and secondary movers in the pullover exercise are the shoulder extensors, which include the teres major (upper lat), latissimus dorsi (lat), posterior deltoid (rear delt) and the long head of the triceps. If youíre lying across a bench with the dumbbell supported directly over your head and you lower the dumbbell behind your head, those muscles are working but lengthening. Thatís known as the eccentric, or negative, portion of the exercise. As you pull the dumbbell back to the starting point, the muscle contracts, or shortens. That part of the stroke is commonly called positive training. The dumbbell pullover has the greatest resistance when your arms are parallel to the floor, the lowest part of the movement. Thatís because your arms form the longest lever for gravity to pull on. The closer the movement reaches the starting point, directly over your face, the less resistance, because the lever is at its shortest.