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Breaking Through the Plateau: Unleashing New Strength in Your Fitness Journey

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Anyone who has any experience in the world of strength training has been there. The newbie gains run out, your strength stops increasing and maybe even your lift numbers start backsliding. You’ve come so far and yet… here you are, struggling to put up numbers that you had no trouble with even a couple of weeks ago.

This is a strength plateau and it’s very common in the world of fitness. You want to keep progressing but unfortunately, the kind of linear progression that you experienced as a beginner is all gone. Now you need to start thinking very creatively about how you plan to get over the hump and start bringing strength gains back into your life. 

How exactly you do that is the problem of strength training. It takes a lot of thought and even a little bit of creativity to break those plateaus. But it’s something you will simply have to do time and again if you want to start your numbers moving onward and upward again. 

Understanding the Plateau

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Before we go any further, it’s necessary to understand what fitness plateaus are and why they happen. While your human body is very adaptive and can quickly adjust to the demands that you place on it, this adaptiveness has limits. 

Beginners have no trouble continually making gains week over week because of the rapid adaptability that your body is capable of. However, if you could just add 15 pounds to your squat every time you go to the gym every time that you go in, you’d soon be squatting Herculean world records in powerlifting every week. So obviously, you eventually hit a wall and need to start reinventing the wheel a little bit. 

Monotony is fuel for the engine of a plateau. Your body has become bored in a sense, so you need to change things up a bit. For example, if you’re used to back squatting, change it up to front squats, change your bar position from low bar to high bar, or focus on single-leg movements like Bulgarian split squats or heavy lunges. “Muscle confusion” is very real, but you’re also engaging your muscles in ways they’re not used to, which can ignite growth in areas that are lagging. 

Adjusting Your Routine To Break Plateaus

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Changing up your lifts is one very important way to start breaking plateaus. However, there are lots of others. For example, if you’re intensity-oriented, lifting heavy weights at low reps, consider taking a few weeks with lower intensity and higher volume to build up muscle. Then use that new muscle to go back and hit the intensities that were defeating you. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with five sets of 10 for muscle growth. 

On the other hand, if your muscle growth has slowed, maybe it’s because you’ve gotten a little soft on yourself with regard to intensity. So do the opposite: Switch from five sets of 10 reps to something much more focused on intensity, like five sets of five or even five sets of three. Pushing the limits of your strength will certainly pay dividends over time when it comes to your size. 

Another way to break that plateau is periodization. This is where you focus less on making a new PR every time you go to the gym and more on the long haul. For example, if you could add five pounds to your squat every month, rather than every week, you could add 60 pounds to your squat over the course of a year. That’s absolutely nothing to sneeze at. 

Eat, Sleep, Train, Repeat

Of course, your plateau might have absolutely nothing to do with your training. There are a number of other factors that could be impacting your ability to set new PRs at the gym. 

For example, overtraining can lead to plateaus or even regression in strength. Remember that your muscles don’t grow while you’re training. They grow during the times when you are resting. So making sure that you’re getting enough sleep every night is a crucial component of allowing your body to repair and to grow stronger. 

Rest might also include a “deload week” where you reduce your training volume and intensity to allow for enhanced recovery. This helps you to avoid burnout, reduces the risks associated with overtraining, and sets the stage for further gains. 

Another problem might be how you’re eating. Eating at a caloric deficit because you want to lose weight is not, strictly speaking, compatible with making gains at the gym. You need to be eating big if you want to grow big and lift big. Protein, in particular, is essential for muscle growth. So you either need to accept backsliding numbers while you get your body fat on point or else eat bigger. 

The main thing to remember is that you’re in a marathon, not a sprint. Gains are made over months and years, not weeks and days. So be patient, incorporate some of the strategies we’ve suggested, and embrace the notion of “two steps forward, one step back.” You might find it frustrating on individual days, but over the long haul, you will be extremely pleased with your gains. 

How have you broken fitness plateaus? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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Fitness

A New Generation of Weight-Loss Drugs Target Brain Plasticity

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A breakthrough in weight-loss drug development is on the horizon, thanks to the innovative research led by Associate Professor Christoffer Clemmensen from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen. Clemmensen and his team have developed a new type of weight-loss drug that affects brain plasticity and shows promising results in preclinical studies. Published in the scientific journal Nature, this new drug could potentially offer a more effective and targeted approach to weight loss.

The Role of GLP-1 in Weight Loss

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In their study, the researchers demonstrate a novel use of the weight-loss hormone GLP-1. Traditionally, GLP-1 has been used to help manage weight, but Clemmensen’s team discovered that it could serve as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deliver specific molecules into the brain. These molecules target the brain’s plasticity, resulting in significant weight loss in mice.

The study suggests future patients could achieve similar weight-loss results with lower doses, potentially reducing side effects.

From Mice to Humans: The Next Steps

Currently, the new drug is in the preclinical phase, involving studies on cells and experimental animals. The next critical step is to conduct clinical trials with human participants. These trials will determine how the drug works in humans and whether the impressive results seen in mice can be replicated.

Clemmensen is optimistic about the potential of this drug, noting that GLP-1-based drugs are already known to induce weight loss. By attaching a molecule that affects the glutamatergic neurotransmitter system to GLP-1, the team has created a drug that may offer significant weight loss benefits. Previous studies with similar compounds have shown promise in human participants, further supporting the potential of this new drug.

Overcoming the Brain’s Defense Mechanisms

The human body is naturally designed to defend a certain body weight and fat mass, a trait that has historically helped humans survive periods of food scarcity. However, in today’s world, where obesity is a growing problem, this evolutionary advantage can be detrimental.

Clemmensen and his team developed an interest in molecules used to treat chronic depression and Alzheimer’s disease, which block a receptor protein called the NMDA receptor. These receptors play a key role in brain plasticity, affecting long-term changes in brain connections. By targeting these receptors, the new drug can potentially alter the brain’s structure and function to promote weight loss.

The Potential of Targeted Drug Delivery

A significant innovation of this new drug is its targeted delivery method. By combining GLP-1 with molecules that block the NMDA receptor, the drug specifically targets the neurons that control appetite. This specificity reduces the risk of non-specific effects that can cause severe side effects, a common issue with many neurobiological drugs.

“This family of molecules can have a permanent effect on the brain,” Clemmensen explains. “We see molecular signatures of neuroplasticity in our work, but in this case, in the context of weight loss.” The drug’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and target specific brain regions marks a significant advancement in weight-loss treatment.

Implications for Future Treatments

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The implications of this research extend beyond weight loss. By using GLP-1 as a vehicle to deliver drugs to specific parts of the brain, Clemmensen’s team has opened the door to a new class of treatments for various neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders. This approach could lead to more effective and targeted therapies for conditions that have been difficult to treat due to the challenges of crossing the blood-brain barrier.

Understanding Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to restructure itself by forming new neural connections, is central to this new drug’s mechanism. This ability allows the brain to adjust to new experiences, learn new skills, and recover from injuries. By harnessing neuroplasticity, the new drug can potentially bring about long-lasting changes in brain function that promote weight loss.

In conclusion, the development of this new weight-loss drug represents a significant step forward in the fight against obesity. By targeting brain plasticity and utilizing innovative drug delivery methods, Clemmensen and his team have created a promising new treatment that could benefit millions of people struggling with weight management. As research progresses and clinical trials begin, the potential for this drug to revolutionize weight-loss therapy becomes increasingly clear.

Are you excited about the brain side effects of weight loss drugs? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Stay Pain Free With These Simple Stretches

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When it comes to staying pain-free, sometimes it’s a joint effort between you and your physical trainer. However, if you don’t have a trainer, here are simple stretching tips to prevent hip, back, and ankle pain. In this article, we’ll explore these tips and how they can help you stay mobile and pain-free. 

Mobility is simply how well your joints move. Someone who has strong mobility will be strong within different ranges of motion. It’s important to train mobility before engaging in exercises like weightlifting and even walking.

Walking involves a lot from the body: foot plantar flexion, ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion and extension, rotation in the pelvis, and stability in the core. Doing mobility exercises before a walk is important to prime the body for all these functions. By enhancing mobility, you can improve your performance and reduce the risk of injuries.

Mobility Exercises

Centenari shared two effective mobility exercises that can be done before a walk to prevent pain and improve joint function.

The CAR Ankle Exercise

CAR stands for controlled articular rotations. This exercise involves taking the joint through its full range of motion, and exploring how well you can control these outer ranges. This helps uncover where you may be limited or where progress can be made, both neurologically and kinesthetically.

How to Perform the CAR Ankle Exercise

 

  1. Sit on the floor and raise your right leg off the ground.
  2. Pull your right leg to your chest by using both hands to hold up your knee, keeping your leg suspended in the air.
  3. Create small circles with your foot by pointing your toe and rotating your ankle.
  4. Perform the rotation in one direction for 30 seconds, then switch directions for another 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
  6. Practice the exercise for 90 seconds on each side.

This exercise helps improve the range of motion and strength in your ankles, which is essential for walking and other physical activities.

The 90-90 Exercise

The 90-90 exercise is a floor-based position that focuses on hip internal and external rotation. It not only helps increase the range of motion and functionality in the hips but also addresses low back issues that often stem from hip dysfunction.

How to Perform the 90-90 Exercise

  1. Sit on the floor with your right leg bent in front of you at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Position your left leg behind you, also bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Sit up straight, take a deep breath, and slowly stretch yourself over your right knee.
  4. Hold the stretch for one second before sitting up again.
  5. Do it again for 90 seconds, then switch to the other side.
  6. Perform the same stretch on the left side.

This exercise helps improve hip mobility and can alleviate lower back pain by addressing hip dysfunction.

Incorporating these simple mobility exercises into your routine can help you stay pain-free and improve your overall joint function. Whether you’re an athlete or just someone looking to stay active, maintaining good mobility is key to preventing injuries and enhancing performance. Remember to consult with your doctor or a physical trainer to ensure these exercises are appropriate for your needs and abilities. Stay active, stay mobile, and stay pain-free!

Will you be using these mobility exercises? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Exercises Enhances Effectiveness of Cancer Treatments in Seniors

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New research suggests that exercise could make certain cancer treatments more effective. Specifically, a study has shown that moderate-to-vigorous exercise can help improve antibody therapies used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This form of leukemia affects the white blood cells and is common among older adults. In this article, we’ll explain how exercise can potentially boost cancer treatment and what this means for seniors battling this disease.

Researchers at the Universities of Birmingham and Bath conducted a study involving 20 people aged between 45 and 82 who were diagnosed with CLL but had not yet started treatment. These participants were asked to engage in a 30-minute session of moderate-to-vigorous cycling. Blood samples were taken before, immediately after, and an hour after the exercise session.

The researchers found that exercise increased the number of natural killer cells in the blood by 254%. Natural killer cells are a type of immune cell that can target and kill cancer cells. This increase is significant because natural killer cells play a crucial role in fighting cancer.

How Exercise Helps

Immediately after exercise, the researchers noted a 67% increase in the number of cancer cells in the blood samples compared to the samples taken before exercise. This might seem alarming, but it actually means that the exercise helped move the cancer cells out of hiding in the body and into the bloodstream, where they can be more easily targeted by treatments.

The study focused on an antibody therapy called Rituximab, commonly used to treat CLL. Rituximab works by attaching to a specific protein on the surface of cancer cells, making them easier for natural killer cells to recognize and attack.

The researchers tested the blood samples with and without Rituximab. They found that the natural killer cells were twice as effective at killing cancer cells when Rituximab was present, especially in the samples taken immediately after exercise. This suggests that exercise can enhance the effectiveness of antibody therapy by making cancer cells more vulnerable to attack.

Potential Benefits for Seniors

These findings are particularly relevant for seniors undergoing treatment for CLL. The potential for exercise to improve the efficacy of antibody therapies like Rituximab could offer new hope for better treatment outcomes. Moreover, the study suggests that exercise might help in monitoring patients after they have completed treatment. By increasing the number of detectable cancer cells in the blood, exercise could make it easier to spot any remaining or returning cancer cells.

Dr. James Turner from the University of Birmingham highlighted the potential benefits of this research, stating that it could open up new avenues for improving cancer treatments. However, he also emphasized the need for further studies to confirm these findings in larger groups of patients undergoing treatment.

Dr. John Campbell from the University of Bath added that exercise seems to help move cancer cells into the bloodstream, where they are more susceptible to treatment. This could be particularly useful for patients in the monitoring phase after treatment.

The Importance of Personalized Exercise Plans

While the results are promising, it is crucial for seniors to discuss any new exercise routines with their doctors. Caroline Geraghty, a Senior Specialist Information Nurse at Cancer Research UK, advises cancer patients to seek medical advice before starting any exercise program. Each person’s needs and abilities are different, and it’s important to find the right type of exercise that is both safe and beneficial.

This research adds to the growing body of evidence that exercise can play a valuable role in cancer treatment. For seniors with CLL, incorporating moderate-to-vigorous exercise into their routine could potentially enhance the effectiveness of their treatments and improve their overall health. As always, consult with healthcare providers to create a personalized exercise plan that suits your needs and abilities.

Exercise is known to improve physical and mental well-being, and now, it may also be a powerful ally in the fight against cancer. As research continues, we hope to see more concrete recommendations on how to best incorporate exercise into cancer treatment plans. For now, staying active within your capabilities and under medical guidance remains a beneficial approach for overall health and well-being.

What do you think of the findings of these studies? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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