Although this week's tip might not apply to everyone, if you're like me, it can be a very beneficial one to always keep in mind. You see, as a devoted trainer, I often find it hard to actually not train. If left to my own devices I might start every day off with a workout for months on end.
At 88, my intensity isn't quite what it once was, so this isn't necessarily a problem right now, but when I was younger it was. That's because training too often can lead to severe fatigue, which not only hampers progress, but could lead to illness.
In a word, we refer to it as overtraining. It means what it says — you have trained the body past the point where it can recuperate, and so it continues to break down. What a lot of people don't realize is that muscles aren't built during a workout. That's when they're being torn down, ready to be rebuilt, larger and stronger, during rest with nutrients provided from food.
So, if you're like me, force yourself to take a day away from the gym, off the track, out of the studio. A vacation can do the body, not to mention the mind, good.
Q: A week ago, I was doing dumbbell curls when I felt a twinge in my left biceps muscle, near my elbow. I stopped training and, when I got home, put ice on it. I've laid off it since then, but this morning I tried doing curls again and it still hurt. I don't notice a difference in the muscle visually, but I'm afraid I may have torn something. What do you think, Joe?
Joe: I'm always reluctant to answer questions like yours because I am not a medical doctor and therefore not qualified to give medical advice. I can tell you what I suspect may be going on.
Most people who have been doing resistance training for any appreciable amount of time experience soreness in their biceps tendons at some point or another. The biceps tendons connect the biceps muscles to the shoulder and radius bone of the forearm. It's far more common that you would tear the tendon near the shoulder (proximal) than near the elbow (distal). Still, tendon irritation, or "tendonitis" of the distal tendon, isn't uncommon at all.
I suspect that you may be experiencing tendonitis in your distal biceps tendon. If this is the case, more rest would be needed, and a mild anti-inflammatory medication could be of help. Should your condition persist through this week, however, I strongly urge you to seek the help of a medical professional. An orthopedist in particular would be able to diagnose your condition more accurately than I can. Good luck with it.
Q: Is there anything I can take so that I can burn more calories while I'm sleeping? Even if it's just a few more, it seems like that would be a good way to increase weight loss.
Joe: There actually is something that will help you to burn more calories whether you're asleep or awake, but it doesn't come in a bottle. What is this mystery substance? Muscles!
That's right — muscles are natural engines, burning body fat for fuel 24-7. The more muscles you have, the greater your caloric needs. This is why professional bodybuilders can eat upward of 5,000 calories per day without getting fat. Their huge muscles are actually burning up food as fast as they can consume it.
How many more calories does muscle burn than fat, then? How about three times more? A pound of fat will burn on average 2 calories per day, while a pound of muscle requires 6 to exist. So, let's say you drop 20 pounds of fat and replace it with 10 pounds of muscle. That's an extra 20 calories burned per day, just by existing. Of course, that doesn't factor in the calories expended in the pursuit of that muscle.
You could take pills that will speed up your heart rate and interfere with your sleep, or if you want to burn extra calories at night and feel great about yourself, pump some iron!
Joe Weider is acclaimed as "the father of modern bodybuilding" and the founder of the world's leading fitness magazines, including Shape, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Hers, Golf for Seniors and others published worldwide in over 20 languages.