Monday, 14 August 2017

6 Habits That’ll Affect Your Workouts More Than Sex!

We’ll admit it: Fitness enthusiasts are intrigued with how sex, or abstaining from it, can make or break their training.
Plenty of athletes—from boxer Manny Pacquiao to entire soccer teams—have claimed to swear off sex before big fights, games, or during high-intensity training phases because they fear it’ll affect their performance. (A counterpoint: Ronda Rousey claimed to have even more sex to boost her testosterone while training for fights.)
But does it make a difference?
Muscle & Fitness took a deep dive into whether having or swearing off sex truly affects athletic performance. The verdict? A resounding maybe.
Before you get yourself, ahem, engorged with pent-up sexual energy in the name of committing to a strict fitness regimen, you should know: We spoke to two doctors—Dr. Erich Anderer, chief of neurosurgery at NYU Langone–Brooklyn, and Dr. Daniel Marcovici, who specializes in sports medicine at One Medical in New York City—about the habits that are really affecting your workouts. Start by remedying these bad habits first.

1. Poor Sleep

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“There are definite links between lack of sleep and the derangement of normal body processes important in fitness,” says Anderer. “Sleep deprivation disrupts the body's response to insulin, can impair fat-burning mechanisms, and can even affect the decision-making processes in your brain.” This can result in overstimulating the brain’s reward center, which can lead to other bad habits like overeating.
Marcovici suggests improving your sleep by checking your sleep hygiene. “Invest in blackout curtains or an eye mask to reduce ambient light, especially if you’re living in a big city,” he explains. You need to make your bed a space that your brain associates strictly with sleep. “Make sure you’re using your bed only for sleep and intimacy—no computers, phones, social media in bed. Engaging in other activities in bed trigger to your brain that it’s time to be awake and active.”

2. Maintaining a Poor Diet

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As a general rule, you should be eating small portions that consist of lean proteins, unprocessed foods, and vegetables. “The old food culprit used to be fat. Now we're finding out that sugar is really the enemy,” Anderer says. “Drink plenty of water and unsweetened drinks, and when you get a sugar craving, think fruit not chocolate.”
When it comes to timing your macros to optimize your workouts, Marcovici suggests consuming your simple carbs, such as fruits, oats, and dextrose immediately pre- or post-workout. “Your body preferentially burns carbs, especially during high-intensity exercise, such as CrossFit or boxing, and you’re going to want something quick-burning to help fuel the workout,” he says. “Immediately post-workout, muscles have burned through their fuel source, glycogen, so carbs are useful here as they are preferentially taken up by muscle for repair and restoration of glycogen stores.”

3. You're Stressed


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From an evolutionary standpoint, stress is a good thing. It activates quick fight-or-flight responses that are essential for survival. “A small build-up of stress before a competitive event, a race, or an intense workout can actually augment an athlete’s focus and performance,” Marcovici explains. “The problem is that this system is not designed to be chronically turned on, and we’ve built a society around ourselves that actually rewards people for constantly experiencing high levels of stress—just ask any of my lawyer or finance patients.”
While many people associate stress with mental health, it has serious physical repercussions as well, and these physical manifestations of stress wreak havoc on your gains. “Stress causes the release of cortisol which, in excess, can have detrimental effects on your workout,” Anderer says. “It can reduce protein synthesis and tissue growth through the reduction of growth hormone. These processes are detrimental to the recovery phase after a hard workout and the subsequent building of lean muscle mass.”
On the upside, exercise has been shown to be a great stress reliever, so be sure to continue your fitness regimen. That said, make sure you’re making real strides to relieve everyday stress—or you won’t be making the fitness progress you want.

4. You’re Not Taking Care of Your Mental Health


At the base level, your mood can simply kill your motivation to get to the gym. But depression has real physical manifestations—fatigue, decreased appetite, soreness and muscle pain, and insomnia, to name a few. “Depression is a common problem I see in my patients, and it impacts every aspect of their life,” Marcovici says. “Undiagnosed or untreated depression can not only impact your ability to exercise but can also be dangerous.”
Thankfully, exercise has been proven to alleviate depression. “The body produces natural endorphins which can cause a sense of well-being,” Anderer says, “but exercise has also been studied as a natural treatment for depression.”
But chronic depression is serious, and if you think you’re dealing with depression or anxiety, Marcovici stresses that you need to speak with your doctor immediately. (Yes, your general practitioner can refer you to a mental health specialist.)

5. You’re Not Recovering Correctly From Your Workouts

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For some hardcore fitness buffs, taking a few days off from training is painful, but it’s absolutely essential if you’re serious about improving. “Overtraining is a problem and can cause people to stop making gains in performance. Although some people don’t believe in overtraining—a couple Eastern European Olympic weightlifting coaches come to mind—I think there is something to it,” Anderer says. “The mechanism isn't fully understood, but it could have something to do with the lack of adequate amino acids to heal, repair, and build the muscles necessary for performance.”
For people who can’t stand the idea of going a day without being active, Anderer and Marcovici agree that rest days don’t mean you need to sit on the couch.
“It’s a common misconception that a rest day means you should be completely sedentary,” Marcovici says, “but you’re better off doing a low-impact, low-intensity activity on a rest day, such as yoga, walking, light swimming, spending some time on mobility and range of motion exercises. It keeps your body active and makes it easy to dive back into a good, hard workout the next day.”
Anderer adds: “At least lay off the primary muscle groups that were just worked on. If you're into high-intensity interval training or have really fried multiple muscle groups, you may want to cross-train with an easy bike or swim. Allowing the muscles to heal up will result in greater gains with your workouts.”
And if you want to take a day of being lazy on the couch, you don’t need to feel bad about that either. “There’s nothing wrong with the occasional lazy day,” Marcovici says.

6. Blaming Genetics and Body Chemistry


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Let’s face it: some people are genetically predisposed to gain muscle, lose fat, and excel at certain physical activities. But don’t let that mindset poison your gains. “Certain parameters in body composition and performance—such as VO2 max, the body's oxygen-consuming capacity, or slow- vs. fast-twitch muscle dominance—are either partly or wholly determined by factors unique to our individual bodies,” Anderer explains.
But both Anderer and Marcovici are quick to point out that any genetic limitations should deter you from customizing your workouts to hit your goals. “While there’s something to be said for people with a genetic predisposition to look a certain way or perform better at a certain sport, no amount of raw talent or genetic odds should affect how intense you’re actually able to train,” Marcovici says.
Anderer suggests playing to your strengths. “Doing interval runs or fartlek workouts can increase your VO2 max, for example,” he suggests. “If you've determined that you're more fast-twitch muscle-dominant, you tend to excel in exercises employing bursts of speed and power, but probably fatigue quickly. You should generally play to your strengths but also add in a workout or two a week targeting the slow-twitch muscles in your body. One way of doing this would be to generally lift heavy with a low-rep scheme and work in kettlebell or medicine ball workouts, and then to alternate this with some isometric or circuit training to round things out.”
Remember: All the raw talent and genetic gifts in the world won’t make a difference if you’re not putting in the time to train and making a plan toward your specific goals.
Dr. Erich Anderer, a board-certified neurosurgeon and graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed his training at NYU Langone Medical Center.  He has expertise in both cranial and spinal disorders, with a special focus on spine surgery. He is currently the chief of neurosurgery at NYU Langone Hospital - Brooklyn and is an avid runner, skier, and CrossFit athlete.
One Medical’s Dr. Daniel Marcovici’s main focus is on prevention, working with patients to identify lifestyle modifications that will help achieve their health and wellness goals. In his spare time, he leads an active lifestyle including weight training, gymnastics, and trying new healthy recipes. After graduating from the Sackler School of Medicine NY Program in Tel Aviv, Israel, he completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital.
http://www.muscleandfitness.com/features/edge/6-habits-ll-affect-your-workouts-more-sex

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