07 Nov 2015

By John L. Boos,  L.M.T., N.S.C.A., C.P.T.

At some time in our lives we will ask ourselves, Am I financially secure enough to retire? or Do I love this person enough to marry them? or Am I prepared enough to start a family? A majority of people will ask themselves at least one of these questions at some point in their lives. But very few people will ever give a thought to asking themselves if they are able to maintain their independence or a high-quality physical and mental function as they age. Too many people seem to feel that if they acquire a reasonable health insurance plan, take their supplements, and do walking or some regular physical activity that they are ready for the mid- to senior adult journey. The truth is that most people don’t have enough of the facts to understand what is happening during the aging process.

There are two types of independence for survival, financial independence and physical independence. It is much easier to determine if you can remain financially buoyant after retirement simply by adding your total income for the month and subtracting your necessary expenses (with a few dollars left over to keep your sanity). That is because they are black and white figures of reality staring back in your face. But what about the capacity of our physical independence? Let me cut straight to the medical and aging facts that must be realized in order to most effectively address the issue. As the body starts to get older, it also begins to age. The older we get, the faster the body ages. We lose our energy and endurance. Our range of motion diminishes. What was once easy to do is now more difficult. Even the groceries are not as easy to handle. You develop back and neck pains. Your knees, hips and shoulders wake up an hour after you have brushed your teeth. You ask yourself, Is this all I have to look forward to? You are feeling like the present economy slow, sluggish and depressed.

So what is going on here? The answer is somewhat complex, but basically you are undergoing what is known in the medical field as sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss. It is not new to medical science that the body loses muscle tone, muscle mass and muscle capacity after the age of 30. More recently it has been found that the type of muscle fibers that contribute to sarcopenia are the ones that produce and maintain muscle strength and power. Why do we have such a need for these strength and power fibers? To stay alive and survive when under a fight or flight situation. Our conscious brain is living the luxury of the 21st century, but our reptile brain (brain stem or lower brain) is programmed to living in 5,000 B.C. and reacts only under a stimulus. It is an old part of our brain but a very wise part, so don’t even try to outsmart it or you will reduce your chances of being strong enough for getting older.

So what are the benefits of focusing on getting stronger? What is the most effective and safest way? How do you measure it and what effect will it have on the rest of your bodily functions and life? The obvious approach to the aging side of getting older should be exercise. Most people feel they know that. That is why they take up walking or other physical activities, as well as try to eat healthier. ItÕs not that this approach is not smartÉit is. It’s just that this approach is not going to sufficiently address the sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) for staying stronger. Why do I say that? Because restoring or building new muscle and strength requires an approach specific to the objective. It requires strength training! It requires effort and safe progression. It requires an intelligent and cautious execution that can be measured and monitored to help you stay on track and stay motivated. Safety and a smart cautious progression is necessary due to the fact that people over the age of 40 or 50 often have physical limitations and other issues. It can be poor exercise choices from the past or just accidents that happened. In many cases, they aren’t even aware of these limitations.

There are many fads and programs that look fun and challenging, but they should not be used to replace the core need to developing a stronger, more powerful body. Muscular conditioning and muscular strengthening are not the same, even though ideally they do go well together. One leans towards performance and the other towards building up the age-related strength and muscle mass loss we encounter during sarcopenia. The most effective approach is with free weights and equipment that simulates real life functions. This approach will keep you in touch with the reality of life’s everyday activities, and even with some that can be more challenging at times. One powerful side effect of weight training is its positive impact on almost all of the major functions that make up human physiology; the immune system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the hormone and skeletal systems, etc.

Please don’t indiscriminately go off to the gym and pick up the dumbbells, barbells, or use the weight machines without knowing the proper protocols, techniques and methods necessary to acquire a safe productive result. Don’t pretend you know more than a qualified, experienced, age-tested professional. Keep in mind that this is a science that can produce a most rewarding result for your future. Your strength is your independence and a key to your health.

Don’t let the aging process reflect your age. Don’t allow prescription drugs to put a band-aid on what you can avoid on your own. Get reliable experienced help and you will live long and prosper.

05 Nov 2015

By John L. Boos, L.M.T., N.S.C.A., C.P.T.

Other names for this article could be “Turn on those Fat Burning Enzymes”, “Trigger off the After Exercise Fat Burn”, “Build Muscle, Burn Fat”, or “Stop Majoring in the Minors.” I could go on with the catchy titles, but there is no point. If you are considering exercising as a fat burning approach, keep reading. If you are exercising but not much is happening, continue reading. If you are doing resistance training and nothing much has changed, despite all the strength training, then you must pay attention. To get right to the point, if you want to burn off that fat, you should strength train heavy. You can’t get simpler than that.

However, this in no way means you should run off to the gym, grab the 50-pound dumbbells or a heavy barbell, and attempt to exercise with it. The word “heavy” can mean different things to different people. I’ve trained women who would perform 12 reps of an exercise and her comment would be, “That was too heavy”. I would do the same with a man and the comment would be, “I could do more. That wasn’t heavy enough”. The truth was they were both wrong, it was just about right for each one. Women are too easy on themselves and men are too hard on themselves (usually an ego issue). As for women who strength train, too many fear the possibility of building too much muscle. This is a fear unsupported by sports and medical chemical physiology. The fact is that women do not have near enough testosterone to do this. Don’t be misled by the over-muscled women that you sometimes see. They are heavily chemically enhanced and are off the page of anything normal (mentally and physically). Also, most women are not brought up to adequately understand this modality of exercise. As for most men, they think that because they have a lot of testosterone and played rough and tough when they were young boys that they know what they are doing. Many of these men, after a bit of time in the gym, have a number of injuries and little results for their self-proclaimed gym smarts.

Let me get to a scientific fact in exercise science that is not explained or mentioned enough. In order for a muscle to lift any given weight, it needs to excite a given number of muscle fibers. In order to lift a greater weight, it needs to excite a greater number of fibers. Muscle fibers do not half-contract to lift lighter weight or contract harder to lift heavier weight. They are either turned on or not turned on. This is called the “all or none principle of muscle contraction”. So the more weight you lift, the more muscle fibers you excite. The more muscle fibers you excite, the more energy it requires. The more energy it requires, the more calories and fat you use up. The added bonus to the increased workload is the greater amount of survival hormones (growth hormone) realized to burn fat long term. The proper approach to weight training is somewhat individual to body type, age, and other factors. This writing is meant to stimulate the desire to learn more and understand what is real and just wishful thinking.

So back to the facts, the best muscle tone and fat reduction comes from heavy strength training. A good coach or trainer will be necessary to point out the most effective methods if you truly want to get through the maze of false claims and confusion. Women should be taught to work harder and men much smarter. Please don’t misread me on this. Lifting weights heavy enough to produce real and positive results on muscle tone (or muscle building, if you are a man), is not the one and only best thing to do to rid the butt, thighs and belly of fat stores. IT IS NOT! But as far as exercising know-how, it is the one major factor that I see and know of. The fact is that it is so misunderstood by so many novice people, especially people that aren’t making any progress. In a nutshell, the words HEAVY TRAINING are words of interpretation. With the ladies, it is the fear of the unknown or low expectations, a gray zone. With men, it’s all black and white numbers or overreaching and trying to prove something to themselves or others. Yet to others, it is just admitting that they don’t know and want to learn. These few people are the smarter ones.

The objective of this writing is to bring to the open the one missing link or answer to most of the failing workouts taking place. With little doubt, I can say it is one of the major factors. Other factors can be not understanding the correct utilization of the principles of obtaining the results, such as frequency, volume, mode and varying intensity adjustments.

The bottom line is that your exercise sessions should be performed with the effort and effect to trigger the release of growth hormone and other factors that put the body in a long-term place. Little long-term results come from too much short-term effort. This type of training not only brings great potential, but great personal responsibility towards other behaviors, such as food quality choices and timing, as well as other supplemental activities. A good experienced coach or trainer should be capable of assessing the situation and helping in putting this in a clear understanding way. If you don’t understand why you are doing what you are doing, you will stay where you are. Once you finally get it, you will have learned something of great value that has been so misunderstood far too long.

03 Nov 2015

By John L. Boos,  L.M.T., N.S.C.A., C.P.T.

In my past article, “Back to the Future – Discovering the Real Fountain of Youth”, now posted on my website Boosworld.com, I delineated the following medical science facts. A primary marker for aging is a condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is defined as “age-related loss of muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical function.” I also differentiated between the two kinds of muscle tissue and their functions, red muscle fibers (Type I) and white muscle fibers (Type II). Red fibers perform low intensity activity, i.e., cardio/aerobic, or any activity able to be performed for over three minutes to an hour or more. White fibers perform higher intensity activities, i.e., resistance/strength training, moving furniture, or hard work of any kind.

However, there is a big scientific catch. The muscle tissue that is lost during the aging process (sarcopenia) is not of the Red Type I fibers. It is of the White Type II fibers that do the hard work of life. Hence, dysfunction increases as more and more White Type II strength fibers forget how to stay strong. Not only do the White Type II muscle fibers provide more power and function, but they help us stay strong, independently functional, youthful-looking, and toned. They are much more able to be applied for shape, contour, and size, if that is your goal. If you would like to look and feel younger, and be as healthy as possible, recruit your white muscle fibers.

If you are already weight training in the gym, but not obtaining your desired results, you may not have discovered the correct formula. If you already have a trainer, but are still having problems with results, there must be a reason why not. Either the trainer is not the right one for you, you aren’t doing your homework outside the gym, or you may need a reality check (expectations may be too high). The worst case scenario is all three, but any one of these will generate a desire to quit.

So what ‘is’ the proper formula for your results? One, a reality check or revising your expectations so they are more realistic. The right trainer can help. A thorough interview from an experienced, educated, and honest professional is a must. Two, a willingness to do your homework outside the gym. Again, a good trainer should be able to explain what you need to do after your workout as far as nutrition, rest, etc. Three, if you are not incorporating the basic fundamental concepts in order to stimulate the Type II muscle fibers, your results will be greatly limited. Either obtain this education on your own or through an educated, successful, experienced exercise coach. A good coach should be able to answer your questions, provide motivation, and guide you with the proper protocol.

Your quest should be to maintain or improve your youthful muscle tone and overall health. To do this, you must exploit as much of your muscles’ potential as possible (strength muscle tissue). That is the true fountain of youth. The formula for strength and youth is no secret, but it is work. Muscles must be trained properly within an intensity range of 65% to 90% of what you are able to perform one correctly executed repetition of an exercise. This would place the exercise repetition range somewhere between 6 and 15 reps. Strength muscle fibers will respond very well if you work in this range.

Unfortunately, many personal trainers do not have a strong passion or deep understanding towards the client’s health or the aging process in general. Not only should exercise be intense enough, but it should also be biomechanically and orthopedically appropriate for the individual. Each client brings unique, individual issues that need to be addressed, especially the over-40 person who is not the picture of health. For the sake of exercising to maintain youthful energy, health, and appearance, it is necessary to understand that no one is born an exercise specialist. Knowledge and experience come at a price. In my 40-plus years in this passion, I have learned what not to do. I pass this valuable commodity onto others.

In summary, the formula for the fountain of youth is that you must train intensely enough (65-90% of your one rep max), you must train adequately and properly, and you must train passionately. Having a good guide by your side would also be a tremendous advantage. Remember…if you live strong, you will prosper because – LIFE IS A SPORT, TRAIN FOR IT!

John Boos is a two-time Mr. World/Mr. NY State champion certified by the NSCA. He is a licensed massage therapist, a certified medical exercise specialist and is ACE certified. He heads “John Boos One-on-One Strength, Fitness and Massage” based in Babylon, NY. He hosts “John Boos One-on-One Fitness” radio show Sundays at 7 am on 101.5 in Nassau County and 105.3 in Suffolk County. For more info, visit www.boosworld.com or call 631-587-4786.

01 Nov 2015

By John L. Boos,  L.M.T., N.S.C.A., C.P.T.

As we age, our health becomes a growing concern – at least it should, if our quality of life is of any issue.  Our chronological age, our eating regimen, and our activity level all play a major role in the aging process.  Getting older is inevitable, but aging is optional.  Science is confirming this reality more and more each year.  Of course, there are a number of age-related concerns.  Some receive more attention than others, but that doesn’t mean they are more important.

One of these concerns is bone loss or osteoporosis, especially among women.  The body possesses an intricate process for building and maintaining our bones.  Osteoporosis occurs when that process falters and the natural breakdown and build-up ratio of the bones swings over from maintenance to a system that is unable to sustain bone density.  This condition can be attributed to genetic or nutritional causes.When bone loses density and becomes frail and porous, it threatens the structure of the body…like the framework of a building becoming too weak to support everything that is attached to it.  In the construction world, the building would be condemned and torn down.  But the human body is not a building.  It’s alive and capable of repair.  Just like the building, things attach to the framework (the bones).  Our bones provide us with protection, as well as with levers enabling us to move.  Bones don’t move themselves.  Muscles provide the movement through their attachment to the bones.  It’s not hard to see how important bone strength is.

There are many health related issues each person can take control of.  Of course, one must start with the doctor’s approval and monitoring assistance.  Osteoporosis happens to be one of those health issues that can be addressed with diet and exercise.  It would benefit women over 40 and men over 50 to have their bone density measured, at least for a mean line measurement for future reference.  If the disease is too far advanced, then medical attention may have to be the primary approach – hence, the importance of getting a bone density scan sooner rather than later.  As for osteopenia (low bone density) or early osteoporosis, a well-structured resistance exercise program, coupled with an increase in dietary calcium, can work wonders.  Everyone has heard the saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”  Like most things in life, there is an equal and opposite effect on our actions, so, as in this example, “If you use it, you keep it!”  Bones will get strong and stay strong if you encourage them to do so.  You have to put them to work with resistance exercise (weight training).   Walking, swimming, biking, and other aerobic exercise won’t cut it.  In fact, recent studies show that if that type of exercise is your only source of exercise, it can be detrimental to bone density.  That low level activity increases cortisol levels.  This breaks down the body.  Higher intensity activity increases the hormone levels that build up the body.  If low level exercises are the only exercises performed, this may lead to accelerated bone loss.  Working harder will make your bones harder.

Increasing the body’s calcium uptake to encourage increased bone density is somewhat complex.  It takes proper exercise (weight training), plus a number of vitamins, minerals, and hormones – especially calcitonin, produced by the thyroid glands, to generate this process.  Hormones are the key factors in making things happen (they manage the process).  Vitamins and minerals are the building blocks, the materials for the process.  If the exercise that is used is stimulating enough to the bone, then the brain is notified by sensors surrounding the bone to secrete the hormones and locate the materials to start increasing bone strength.  But what is enough stimulation to kick this process off?  Low intensity exercise has demonstrated in scientific studies to produce little to no results.  Higher intensity exercise, on the other hand, produces very good results.  What is low intensity exercise?  Walking, swimming, aerobics, etc.  These activities provide too little tension on the tendon attachment on the bone.  High intensity exercise – resistance or weight training – generates adequate tension on the tendon attachment on the bone to stimulate the sensors to release the necessary hormones for bone building.  The definition of high enough intensity is using resistance or weight that represents at least 60% of what you can lift safely one time (1 rm or single repetition max).  An experienced, knowledgeable exercise trainer can determine your one rep max with a formula.  Never try this on your own.

Depending on the severity of the osteoporosis, there are exercises that should initially be avoided.  The exercise prescription for osteoporosis is increased intensity of at least 60% of one rm, but safety must be the foremost concern.  Proper exercise selection, proper exercise execution, and careful and proper progression must be adhered to.  Yes, increased resistance exercise and diet are an excellent prescription for reversing bone loss, but it must be a joint effort between your medical doctor and your exercise instructor.  Osteoporosis is a very serious disease that can affect your vitality dramatically.  If you elect to address it with drug therapy alone, read about the ramifications.  Research is continually concluding that gym therapy, not drug therapy alone, is a very valuable approach to this bone loss disease.

In my own personal experience, I have witnessed what the researchers are now finding.  I have a number of clients using the gym therapy approach who have achieved amazing results.  Not only has their bone density increased, but their overall strength, energy, muscle tone, and flexibility have increased, as well.  Five years ago one of my clients was diagnosed with osteoporosis.  She asked her doctor if she could try a diet high in calcium combined with weight training, and forego the prescription drug approach.  Her doctor was hesitant, but agreed.  One year later, her bone density test was  markedly improved.  She continued with the weight training and high calcium diet regimen.  Her second bone density test (taken at the end of her second year of training) showed additional improvement.  She is an example supporting the Tufts University studies in Boston.  The only side effects from weight training have been increased strength (she can do 8 pull-ups on her own), lower body fat, increased energy, and improved well-being.  Drug therapy, in itself, cannot do that.  It’s not only about bone density – it’s about overall vitality and quality of life!  Build your muscle, and you will build your bones.  Do this, and you will LIVE STRONG AND PROSPER!