Saturday, June 28, 2008

Your Questions Answers about Thick Bars

Thick bars benefit everyone but particularly anyone you want to increase strength in or overcome a strength plateau.

Using a thick bar affects strength by about 12% but you get great gains. Meaning if you bench press 200 with a regular bar, 185 will feel as hard as 200 lbs with a thick bar.

At the PPC we used ALL thick bar DB's exclusively, thick bar EZ curl bars exclusively and had options for thick bar chinups (Poliquin Atltantis brand squat rack), thick bar attachments for cables and many thicknesses of thick barbells.

You do not want to use them for squats / front squats or leg movements at all except for thick bar deadlifts (which affect your strength by as much as 50%... for smaller hand people / women even more). For example, I pull about 275-300 in the deadlift and could barely get to 100 lbs with the tick bar... and my forearms were TRASHED for days. It was awesome.

You would also not use them for Olympic lifts such as cleans, snatches, and we did not use them for Snatch grip deadlifts but you certain could. Grip on the deadlifts are double overhand of course.

We used the thick bar EZ curl for "scull crushers", curls, overhand curls I had experience in my training programs (and my clients) using thick bar for bench press (also with chains or weight releasers added), close grip bench, overhead press, decline bench press (slight decline only... 10 to 20 degree).

Stick to rep ranges for strength (ie relative strength parameters) or hypertrophy (functional hypertrophy or hypertrophy parameters) but simply substitute thick bar implements. Be careful at first as the forearms, particularly extensors really take a hit. It can cause problems.

So for someone new, implement one or two thick implements at a time. Perhaps a thick bar bench press and maybe thick bar chins or pullups on another day (you can use Tyler Grips... google them if you do not have a thick chinup bar... ).

At the PPC we started with just having new clients get used to the thick DB's ... they are amazing. Or you may add TYler Grips to all your DB work for a phase. Then implement one or two other thick bar options in the training program Phase 2 and so on. You will get carry over to your lifts.

However, I do not do TOO much thick bar bench pressing with powerlifters. When I went back to a competition bar it initially affected me in negative ways. I felt like I was gripping a twig. It took me a good 3 workouts to feel "normal" again and it did affect my stability. However it was worth it as my raw bench press had increased by about 5 to 10%. So you must consider the transition time - including thick bar world duing a lengthly off season would be wise for powerlifters.

Don't change too many variables... Simple works best longest.

I would rather go from a regular bench press to a thick bar press, then an incline press with thick bar (10 degree) in 3 phases than take jump from regular bench press to a thick bar 10 degree incline press. Depends on the person too, but that is a general rule of thumb.


F D wrote:

Hello, Krista. I was having a discussion about thick bar training with a gentleman at my gym today and when I got home, my girlfriend, who is an avid reader of your articles on , suggested that I contact you and ask for your take on the following questions.

I'd appreciate your input on as few or as many of these questions as you see fit and have time to answer, but I definitely understand if you're too busy to reply to this message.

Do you have any "rules",guidelines, and/or do's and don'ts when it comes to deciding when to replace more traditional diameter bars, dumbbells, and cable attachments(1 and 1/16", 1 and 3/8", for example) with ones of 2" diameter or greater?

Would you recommend regular usage of thick bars for athletes more so than bodybuilders or would they potentially benefit both groups equally? Are there movement patterns from the following list(elbow flexion, elbow extension, horizontal pressing and pulling, vertical pressing and pulling, hip dominant movements such as conventional and snatch-grip deadlifts, humeral abduction, etc.) that you'd use them on for maximum benefits and others that you'd avoid using them for ?

I've been especially curious as to how the main goal of a given training phase, such as strength or hypertrophy, might affect the choice of bar diameter used. And lastly, do you consider bar diameter enough of a change when switching exercises after, say 3-4 weeks, or do you think another exercise variable such as grip positioning angle should be slightly altered as well.......i.e. a 10-degree incline press with a regular bar swapped out for a 2" diameter bar 10-degree incline press in a subsequent phase versus a 10-degree incline press with a regular bar swapped out for a 2"-diameter bar 30-degree incline press in a subsequent phase.

I would greatly appreciate any information that you would be kind enough to share on these topics and thank you for your time.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You Wanted to Know....

Energy Charged Advice

One of the most common complaints I hear about and question I am asked is about energy, or more appropriately lack of energy.

"What do I do to get more energy?"

"You always seem to have so much energy - what do you do?"

"I want to exercise, but I never have any energy. I am always tired and dragging through my day."

Top 7 Tips to Increased Energy:

1) Clean up your Eating: Experts agree that 80% of your body's energy goes to digestion. By eating clean, nutrient-dense, properly combined meals and snacks, your energy levels will increase dramatically.

2) Drink less coffee and more green tea: Starting your day with a coffee in order to wake up is a bad habit. It starts you on the high / low energy roller coaster ride and promotes an addiction to caffeine. Yes coffee is high in antioxidants but so are rich, colourful fruits and veggies, organic dark chocolate and teas. Green tea is a much better option as it contains about 1/5 of the caffeine of coffee and has other energy boosting benefits. For example, green tea is high in a compound called theanine which increases your alpha brain wave activity or "feel good" brain waves. The caffeine is low-dose so your energy levels are mildly elevated throughout the day rather than a dramatic boost from coffee which will be followed by a low.

3) Take a CORE PACK of supplements: a "core pack" is a foundation of nutritional supplements aimed at correcting deficiencies and ensuring you are nutritionally supported. Some vitamins and minerals are essential to absorption and metabolism of all other nutrients - thus they are key to ENERGY. Nutrients work in synergy with each other so when one is deficient, others may not be able to do their job properly in the body.

The CORE PACK I recommend for 90% of my clients consists of four supplements that you can find in almost any health food store.

First on the list is a broad-based quality multivitamin from natural sources (not synthetic) such as Progressive brand. A multivitamin protects against nutritional deficiencies and also helps detoxify the body.

Next on the list is omega 3 from Fish Oils. Supplementing with fish oil liquid or capsules from small fish such as herring, mackerel, sardine or anchovy improve your body's metabolism and overall health and performance in almost every way at the cellular level. I recommend quality fish oils from brands such as Nordic Naturals, NutraSea, Genestra, Poliquin or Carlson's. I recommend at least 6 grams per day in divided doses such as 2 capsules per main meal or 1/2 a tps twice a day. If you are overweight, do not tolerate carbohydrates, have struggled with your weight much of your life or suffer from many health ailments, then you should take even more - up to 30 grams per day in divided doses.

In addition to a multi and fish oils, take a green food supplement. Very few people eat as many servings of vegetables as they should and the quality of our produce and soil has diminished to such an extent, we still greatly benefit from adding supplemental greens to our diet. I personally like and use Progressive brand (Blueberry Medley), Greens + (extra energy and detox are my favorites) and Nano Greens (which is all organic). I recommend starting with 1/2 a scoop daily at breakfast and increasing to a full scoop twice daily.

Lastly on the CORE PACK list is ZMA (zinc, magnesium and B6) which is a synergistic mineral supplement which will correct the 2 most common mineral deficiencies that 80% of the population suffers from and 90% of athletes. Magnesium in particular is an important key to proper absorption and metabolism of all micro and macro nutrients. Trust me - add these to your supplement strategy and you will feel and see the difference.

4) Exercise Regularly: Even if you do not have the energy, you will be more energized after your workout. I promise! Exercise increases neurotransmitter levels, balances hormones and increases your metabolism to give you an energy boost for hours after doing your 20 to 60 minute session. Start with 20 minutes 3 times a week and over time increase to 40 to 60 minutes 4 to 5 times a week. Ideally, you want to strength training for 20 to 40 minutes then conduct 10 to 20 minutes of steady state or interval "cardio" afterwards. Keep the movements simple but continually challenge yourself by lifting heavier weights, completing more repetitions or sets, or reducing your rest time between sets.

5) Don't Forget Energy Rebalancing: Give back to your body by doing yoga, medication, deep breathing, massages, spending quality time with friends and family and simply finding joy in your life. We often think of the things we should do that take energy away from us (working out) but sometimes forget to give back to our bodies (working within).

6) Live the Life of your Dreams: Sometimes we lack energy because we fill our day with things to simply pass the time. We are constantly scheduled and booked and are just going through the motions. We let life pass us by without really living it. Take that course you have always wanted to, reconnect with old friend, mend a fractured relationship, take risks, try new things, face your fears, change jobs... "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined" (Thoreau).

7) Drink More Water: Back to our first tip, the vast majority of your energy each day goes to digestion, so by drinking more water, digestion is improved. Hydration levels are also indirectly related to weight and fat loss. When we are closer to our ideal weight and optimal body fat levels, we are more energized - we feel better about how we look and we literally have more bounce to our step. Our bodies are made of about 65% water -your body does not work, at all, without water. You can live days, weeks, sometimes even months without food, but you can't live even a few days without water. So there is not further discussion required. I recommend a minimum of 3 Litres daily for my clients and some, at some times, up to 8 Litres daily. If you add lemon, lime, chlorophyll, green tea powders, fibre supplement, greens supplements, BCAA's and protein powder it is enjoyable and easy to get my minimum recommendations.

Implement just one or two of these energy boosting tips. In no time, YOU will be the energy expert.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Your Questions about MulitVitamins

Recently, multivitamins have been getting some negative media coverage.

My mentor, Charles Poliquin, taught me that one of the keys to a quality MV is non-synthetic ingredients. The research recently and subsequent media coverage does not distinguish between the two.

Both Charles Poliquin and another expert, Dr. Mercola, ( concur that a quality MV daily is ESSENTIAL for optimal health (and it must be broad based... meaning you have to take it throughout the day) on top of nutrient-dense, clean, balanced nutrition.

Please remember, there is negative research and media coverage on /everything/. The media loves to exploit and emphasize (and misinterpret!) the negative.

Listen to your body, eat well, stay active, enjoy life, be open to trying new modalities to improve your health and you can't go wrong. Read below for more information on quality multivitamins.

Not All Multivitamins Are Created Equal by Charles Poliquin

It is important to ask tough questions when looking for the best multivitamin for you.

First, consider the ingredients. Here’s a nightmare scenario.

What if you were a typical, large, unscrupulous supplement manufacturer and you decided to make a multivitamin/mineral (MVM) to be sold in a mass merchant like the local grocery store or major nutrition center? How would you decide what to use in your MVM? How would you compete in this market where the corporate buyers aren’t interested in health; they’re all about the bottom line?

You know that their consumers are relatively unsophisticated regarding supplement quality and nutrient absorption. They aren’t individuals trying to optimize their health and function. They aren’t athletes trying to maximize their performance and recovery. Instead, you know that their buying decision will be based on two things: taking one tablet a day and price.

You don’t want any risk of tablets breaking inside the bottle so you would use chemical fillers and make sure that the tablets are compressed extra hard, even if it means they aren’t broken down as well in the gastrointestinal tract (or at all).

You would buy the cheapest raw materials, regardless of bioavailability or health implications. You wouldn’t hesitate to use cheap synthetics like d/l/-alpha tocopherol and you definitely wouldn’t waste space on the more expensive gamma tocopherol (or beta or delta). You would choose cheap, small molecule minerals like magnesium oxide so you can fit it all into one tablet instead of using a large (well-absorbed) molecule like magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate. You wouldn’t raise the cost of production by assaying raw materials or finished products; you would just assume it’s good enough knowing that the "Average Joe " consumer will do the same. You would laugh at raw material suppliers that try to sell you a mixture of natural carotenoids and would instead use a little bit of synthetic beta-carotene (even if it may raise the risk of lung cancer), just so it can be on the label.^1

You would assume that all a consumer wants to see is the 100% mark next to the RDA if they even look at all. You would cut corners wherever you could in hopes that the unsuspecting consumer would see a cheap price and say “good enough.”

Quality comes first at the PPC

You can probably guess that we take the opposite approach at the PPC. Quality, functionality, and health come first here. As a result, our new Multi-Intense meets or exceeds all of our rigorous requirements.

For instance, many people are concerned (and rightfully so) that their supplement pills aren’t even getting broken down. Well, besides meeting the United States Pharmacopeia standards of 20 to 30 minute tablet breakdown tested in a GMP /certified/ facility, our Multi-Intense has actually been verified to break down even in the achlorhydric “stomach” of gastric bypass patients in less than 15 minutes. This was verified by using pill cams!

Quality goes way beyond pill dissolution, though. Quality also means nutrients your body can absorb and that your body truly needs. We use patented Albion amino acid chelates for our minerals. We use a patented blend of natural carotenoids. We use therapeutic levels of B vitamins, not the pathetic RDA. We use natural vitamin E with a 1:1 ratio of alpha to gamma tocopherols (as well as beta and delta) to resemble the profile of vitamin E rich plants. We use a patented blend of folic acid and folic acid metabolites that bypasses a genetic defect that may affect as much as 35% of the population.^2 We use calcium citrate and microcrystalline hydroxyapatite that the body can actually use to build bone.^3,4 If you want calcium carbonate, go eat a stalactite; you won’t find it in Multi-Intense.

What you will find are the key nutrients that you should be getting from your diet, but often don’t or can’t, so supplementation with a high-quality MVM is critical to optimal function. It’s a well-known fact that the nutrient density of today’s food pales in comparison to even 30 years ago. The nutrients in Multi-Intense are in highly absorbable, natural forms that result in much more bang for your buck. Multi-Intense is the “dead-lift of multivitamins”, while the store brands are like leg extensions.

The moral of the story is that "a little research can help you choose an effective multi." Try our product today .


1 Omenn, Gilbert S. M.D. PhD, et al, “Effects of a Combination of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A on Lung Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease”, /New England Journal of Medicine/, May 2, 1996 Number 18, volume 334:1150-1155.

2 Födinger, Manuela, et al “Molecular Biology of 5,10 Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase”, /Journal of Nephrology,/ 2000, Volume 13:20-33.

3 Epstein O, et al. “Vitamin D, Hydroxyapatite, and Calcium Gluconate in Treatment of Cortical Bone Thinning in Postmenopausal Women with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis”, /AJCN/ 1982 Sep; 36(3): 426-430.

4 Heller HJ, Stewart A, Haynes S, and Pak CY “Pharmacokinetics of calcium absorption from two commercial calcium supplements”. /J Clin Pharmacol,/ 1999 39: 1151-1154.