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The Hot Secret to Building Muscle: Saunas Part I

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The Hot Secret to Building Muscle: Saunas Part I

http://goo.gl/6z0fJA

http://goo.gl/6z0fJA

I looked at the clock: it had been 25 minutes.  I looked at the thermometer: it was 160 degrees.  This is as hot as I could make it go up to.  I was ready to get out but my goal was 30 minutes.  I had become more used to the feeling so it was a lot easier to make it to 25 minutes now than it had been a few months ago.  I was heat-adapted.  But with my heart racing and sweat dripping, I was ready to get out of there, and I could care less about being heat-adapted.  Even so, I knew this was mental and just kept going...my goal was exhaustion.  I knew all the benefits and I wanted to reap them.  

I was in the sauna for a little over 30 minutes for that session, one of the several sessions I do per week.  Though there are numerous benefits to sauna usage, there are three main benefits we’ll touch on.  In this first of three posts I’ll focus on increasing muscle size, aka, hypertrophy.

But how can short heat exposure possibly help cause hypertrophy?  Through our friends Heat Shock Proteins, or HSPs.  These are activated by heat and are a hormetic (positive acute stress) response to said heat.  They scavenge for free radicals (molecule(s) that damage cells), help maintain glutathione (a coenzyme that assists in reducing oxidation and the body’s master antioxidant), and even repair damaged proteins.  All three of these effects help to prevent protein damage and degradation, thereby helping to maintain muscle.

Another way heat exposure assists hypertrophy is through Growth Hormone release.  Growth hormone is a major catalyst for keeping and synthesizing new muscle. Generally speaking, the more growth hormone you have, the easier it is to build muscle.  That said, it’s been shown to be increased significantly in sauna sessions of just 15 to 20 minutes (1, 2).  

Insulin Sensitivity is key in decreasing body fat, but how can it help increase muscle?  Well, insulin delivers nutrients like branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) into muscle.  These nutrients are vital to synthesizing proteins, thereby acting anabolically.  And heat exposure, like sauna usage, has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity by increasing glucose transporters (3), thereby making it easier to build muscle.  In general, the more sensitive you are to insulin, the easier your muscles will absorb nutrients and have the ability to build new muscle.  

So if you want to decrease muscle breakdown and increase your body’s ability to build new muscle, hit up a local sauna near you.  At first aim for something manageable like 5 or 10 minutes.  The more you do, the better you get, and the more heat adapted you’ll be.  So are you ready to bring the heat?

In Excellent Health,

Garrett & Luc

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The Little-Known Exercise Recovery Tool You're Not Using Yet

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The Little-Known Exercise Recovery Tool You're Not Using Yet

http://goo.gl/c1dXW2

We know you know how important sleep is. Good sleep will not only help you reduce your risk for obesity and diabetes, it’ll help you recover from your workouts too. But what if there was something else you could do to help you recover that took little to no effort?  Well, that tool is here, and you probably already have it.... you just haven’t used it to your advantage yet.

Two weeks ago I did a Full Body Workout.  This workout is extremely tiring and exhausting.  So exhausting that I literally have trouble walking after only one set of leg press. That night I wore compression leggings (tight full-length spandex pants) to sleep.  The next night I woke up and for the first time in months I wasn’t sore in my legs!  I figured, ‘oh what the hell,’ and wore them the next night.   Keep in mind that soreness typically hits me the second day after a workout much worse than the first day after--this is what’s known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS.)  Despite this, the next day my legs weren’t sore either...so what gives?  Could this mean I actually recovered faster?

Well before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s be good critical thinkers and bare in mind a few things:

  1. This may be correlative and not causative (if A occurs and B occurs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that A causes B)

  2. I ate a ton that night and that may have aided recovery (more nutrients for rebuilding and repairing)

  3. There could have been several other unknown factors that sped up recovery (playing devil’s advocate)

With that said, it has been shown that compression does, in fact, aid in recovery. In one study it was shown that compression garments not only decreased perceived muscle soreness post workout, but helped the fast-fatiguing/fast-twitch muscles recover quicker as well.  These are the muscles that take the longest to recover so the fact that compression garments sped up recovery is very worthwhile. A meta-analysis also found similar findings across twelve different individual studies.

So we have evidence that it works but many times why something is effective is much more important than that something is effective.  Knowing the why many times can provide way more clarity and allow connections to be made between seemingly disparate subjects of interest.  Knowing this, what is the mechanism for compression speeding up recovery?  Well, it’s not entirely known but one theory is that blood flow may increase, thereby providing more oxygen and nutrients for repair and rebuilding.

Armed with this knowledge, try using compression when you lift heavy or do powerful movements (like sprinting or jumping.)  When performing these powerful movements or high intensity exercises, you are using your fast-fatiguing/fast-twitch muscles.  These muscles take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to fully recover! (seems like a good idea to get a head start on recovering, right?)  So after your next high intensity workout, wear some compression clothing and let us know how you feel!

 

In Excellent Health,

Garrett & Luc

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