Sunday, 7 December 2008

Six Fixes for a Six Pack Abs

By: Mujuthaba

Weight-loss and a perfect six pack don’t come easy. It takes dedication and a good reason to motivate oneself. I have decided to put up these six fixes based on my exercise science knowledge and personal experience. Hope this helps in achieving your six-pack goal.

1- Diet Diet Diet
Yep. If you pursue a dream of weight-loss and flashing your six-packs, diet is the most important factor. Then exercise would account for just 30% of your program. Exercise and diet work hand in hand. Following a good strict diet is the hardest thing for people to abide. It cannot be achieved unless you are ready to change your lifestyle. Unless you are ready to do this, I can assure you, you CANNOT lose weight.

My Advice: Get advice from a dietician if you are dead serious. They can help you with the haves and not haves from our local foods. Make the dietary change gradually not immediately.

2- Ab exercises???
No. If your wish is to scrape off the flab on your abs, crunches and sit-ups barely help. Ab exercises only help to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen, but won’t help to get rid of the fat that hides them.

My Advice: Jog, bike, swim or row at low intensity for over thirty minutes four times a week. Don’t stop those ab exercises; just mix them to the cardio workout instead.

3- Fat not muscle
I want you to lose fat and not muscle. Weight training is the way to do this. Ladies, you will not look like musculature monsters, but you will just have toned up body. The better muscle mass, the more fat you burn. The more fat you burn the quicker your six pack will show. You should not lose the muscle, they are important for the body unlike the excess fat.

My Advice: Try adding weight training sessions into your training program. Do it three times a week.

4- Expecting Results overnight
I have repeated this over and over in my blog. If you expect to see results over-night, you will end up very disappointed. If you take up a good training program and a good diet, results gradually start showing at around the first month. Before that, good things start happening inside your body, such as increase your heart size, blood volume, lung capacity and density of blood capillaries. It just takes a while for it to show on the outside.

My Advice: For the best results give your body about twelve weeks or three months. Pick a date and make this your goal date.

5-Motivation is the key
Throughout my fitness career, I have seen a number of people start training to lose weight, but just can’t keep on going. To start training, most people have a motivating factor or a goal. Once that factor is gone, so is the intention of the healthy active lifestyle.

My Advice: If your goal is to get a six-pack, remain focused and be positive. Make short-term goals to achieve your major goal. Do not get distracted by other factors.

Too often people who lose weight gain the kilos back on. It is known that among obese individuals only about three to five out of a hundred maintain their weight long-term. The rest jump on the inactivity wagon and gain the flab again. Losing weight is hard and maintaining the lost weight is harder.

My Advice: When you get your six-pack, keep on training, even if it is once a week. It is best to have competitive and consistent training partner or a group.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Protein and Exercise

By: Mujuthaba

What is Protein?

Protein is an essential nutrient next to fats, carbs and water. Every structure of our body is made out of proteins, which is why it’s also known as the ‘building blocks’.

What type of foods has protein?

Protein rich foods include tuna, chicken and egg whites just to name a few. Others include seeds, nuts and tofu which are famous among vegetarians. Briefly any animal product has a number of protein availability as that’s what they are made of.

How much protein is enough?

Proteins are required for our daily functioning. If we are deprived of it, the body loses lean mass (bone and muscle) and end up with other protein deficient diseases.

Daily caloric intake of protein should be around 10-15%. Minimum requirement would be 0.45g of protein per kg of ideal bodyweight.

Protein requirement for body mass

For body-builders and other sports which require an advantage of weight, protein is really important. To bulk-up, they need to supplement protein to the need of training. Requirement for trainers is 2.2g of protein per kg of body weight. This is a quite higher value than the normal population.

Is there a risk of high protein intake?

Some academics warn of high protein intake among body-builders and similar. Reason being is that protein digestion and uptake in the body is tricky. If more protein is taken in, unlike carbs or fats, they are excreted through the urine. In order to get rid of the excess protein, the kidneys have to work restlessly where in some cases damaging them. Hence, protein uptake should be consistent with the extent of training. If you take protein supplements, an indication of excess protein intake could be the abnormal amount of times you have to take urine breaks.

The myth

Taking protein powders won’t give you big muscles. It doesn’t happen like that. One has to weight train to gain lean mass.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Obesity 'raises miscarriage risk'

BBC Health (21 Sept 2008) --Women who have had a miscarriage could be at greater risk of miscarrying again if they are obese, research suggests. More...

Friday, 5 September 2008


By: Mujuthaba

This article probably will be the closest article to being negative towards training. Exercise in itself is a type of acute stress on the body. Prolonged stress is known to make ones body prone to diseases. During and a while after exercise the body goes into an immunosuppressive phase. In lay terms, our body's system that fights off germs is suppressed to a degree during the period.

The immunosuppression during and after exercise is blamed on release of stress hormones, changes in body temperature, death of immune cells, increase in blood flow and dehydration. The most vulnerable group of athletes are the ones that continue to stress the body for a longer period, which would be the endurance athletes. We know that stressing our bodies for a longer period causes diseases; this issue is exactly same with exercise.

Immediately after extensive long duration training, an ‘open-window’ period remains for 3 to 72 hours, where bacteria and viruses can easily by-pass our immune system. This length of the ‘open-window’ period depends on the strength of an individual’s immune system. The symptoms of a disease may not be exposed before 1-2 weeks time, although a running nose or sore throat may prevail in some exercisers straight after intense training.

It is known that runners who exceed 96 km/week have twice the chance of getting infected than those that cover 32 km/week. The margin for safety is 5-21 km/week. Hence, moderate level of training is best described friendly to the immune system.

What about training after catching the cold? If the cold doesn’t posses feverish symptoms, low to moderate training can be pursued. As an endurance athlete, it would be worthwhile to stick with moderate training for a few days. If the symptoms include fever, muscle aches, extreme tiredness and swollen glands then 2-4 weeks should be given before resuming intense training.

Loads of studies show that exercise increases the functional ability of the immune system. This happens after the ‘open-window’ period when the body repairs itself. Therefore, to increase our immune strength, there are some measures that we can take. They are:

1- Make sure you get adequate rest

2- Intake a healthy nutritious diet, rich in vegetables and fruits

3- Follow basic hygiene guidelines in the fitness centre and outside

4- Wash hands regularly after training and during the ‘open-window’ period

In conclusion, exercise is the best remedy for frail immune systems. Exercise should be taken up, but careful considerations should be given to personal hygiene, during and immediately after training.

-Niemen, D.C.(2007) Marathon training and immune function. Sports Medicine, 37(4-5), 412-415
-Powers, S.K., & Howley, E.T. (2004) Exercise physiology: theory and application to fitness and performance. McGraw-Hill, Boston

Monday, 1 September 2008


By: Mujuthaba

Let me try and explain carbohydrates in simplest of terms. Carbohydrates are one of the major nutrients which fuel our body, much like a steam engine that runs on coal. Most foods such as flour, rice, potatoes, taro, grains, oats, fruits and vegetables are composed of carbohydrates. One of the simplest functional forms of carbohydrate is glucose.

How is carbohydrate extracted by the body from food?

Well, when you intake a carbohydrate rich meal, we all know it goes straight to the stomach. The stomach churns and grinds the food very finely to expose every bit of the nutrients. Glucose, one of the most important simplest carbohydrates, is exposed during this time. As the now semi-solid meal passes out into the intestines. The nutrients needed by the body, such as glucose, are sucked up by the intestines straight into the blood stream.

How are carbohydrates stored in the body?

The glucose travels through the blood stream in the body. The blood is a transport system which acts like a delivery truck. This truck delivers glucose to all the cells in the body that needs it, particularly the muscles and liver. Inside the liver and muscle cells, the glucose is packed and stored for use, such as exercise and just to keep one self alive and functioning. The packed and stored glucose is now known as glycogen. If stored in the muscles, these are known as muscle glycogen. If in the liver, liver glycogen.

How are carbohydrates used to do work?

Ah, the big question. The stored glycogen is taken off the package, which then would be called glucose again, is ‘burned’ to create energy for functioning. Just picture a steam engine running on coal. The coal is glucose and the engine is the body. The more coal, the better the engine runs; the lesser the coal, the slower it runs. So in daily life, if you feel weak, you can assume your body is low on fuel, which are carbohydrates.

Why do we still keep on moving even if we don’t intake carbohydrates?

The body uses fuel from two other sources of nutrients, they are fats and proteins. None of them are as efficient as carbohydrates in producing energy to do work. To extract energy from proteins and fats, they have to be converted to glucose, the simplest form of functional carbohydrate. If proteins and fats are not converted to glucose (carbohydrate), we cannot get energy from them. This conversion is mainly processed in the liver, only when the body is low on glucose. Since these processes are so slow, the body would not function as fast or quickly. Hence, it is important to take carbohydrates rather than rely on diets comprising proteins or fats.

How important are Carbohydrates for survival?

The most important organ in the body, the brain, functions only on blood glucose. The brain doesn‘t have fat stores around it, or it doesn’t use its own cells to produce energy. If we have low glucose in our blood, we start feeling drowsy and in some instances faint. This is what happens during extremely intense training sessions when you feel like you’ve hit the wall. Most of the glucose is delivered to the exercising muscle cells, and before the truck reaches the brain, there is simply no glucose for the brain.

Even in such case, the brain isn’t starved yet. Our brains are very intelligent on survival. When the brain senses the first sign of low blood glucose in the body, it shuts down the whole body, simply because it has control over them. This will ensure that the brain gets the glucose. At this stage, we would probably have fainted. Drowsiness is the onset of gradual shutting down of the body by the brain.

How does carbohydrates makes us fat?

As stated before, carbohydrates are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When these houses are full, the carbohydrates need to be stored in huge warehouses. This is when carbohydrates are converted to fat and stored in the fat stores for future use. If they are not used, they simply bulk up without any limit. Consideration should be taken not to consume carbohydrate in access. They will definitely increase your fat stores.

In conclusion, carbohydrates should be used adequately daily, especially if you are active exercisers. You will feel the difference if you are deprived of carbohydrates.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


By: Mujuthaba

Bombarded by many questions and a bit of curiosity trapped me in a corner to write about stretch marks in exercise. When I started to add up information, I found a number of commercially towed researches out there; of which promotes a certain cream or product to shade away these marks. So I decided to bias myself on these researches and other similar literature, which has common scientific ground on the issue.

Stretch marks (scientifically known as 'striae distensea') are caused mainly by over-stretching of the skin tissue. They are extremely common and are mostly visible in areas where fat deposits are abundant. These areas include the upper arm, the breasts, waist, hip and the thighs.

The mid-layer of the skin (known as the 'dermis') is made up of the stretchy elastin fibers and the strengthening collagen fibers. As the tissue below the skin (either fat or muscle) grows too quickly, giving less time for the skin to build up, the tissues that make up the dermis of the skin breaks away. Eventually these breakages cause scars (following inflammation), which we refer to as stretch marks.

The main cause of stretch marks is, as described above, gaining too much fat or muscle mass too quickly. Such is the adverse effects of training using anabolic steroids (hormone replacement therapy). It would be wise to train gradually to build up muscle at a pace where the skin can keep up.

Losing weight slowly (about 0.5kg/week) would help the possibility of the stretch marks to be invisible. If an over-weight person tries to lose fat too quickly (using fat-loss supplements or extreme diets), there is the chance of a more visible bundle of stretch marks. If one's weight goes up and down on a roller coaster ride in a short time frame, stretch marks would be hard to miss.

The only way to reduce existing stretch marks from exercising is through toning up the body. Other clinical therapies do exist, some of which are effective and some aren't. Caring for a healthy diet with foods such as fish, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables (collectively vitamins A, C, D and zinc) help reduce stretch marks. Hydration is also very important (6-8 glasses of water daily), in which case drinks such as coffee, tea or coke should be avoided as they have dehydrating properties.

Stretch marks are not only limited to dieting and exercise. Stretch marks are common in over 95 percent of pregnant women, women on birth-control pills and children who get growth spurts as they pass puberty.

In conclusion, control your weight, eat healthy, train gradually and avoid quick fixes to reach your training goal. Even though stretch marks are a visible menace, they pose no health risks. In the exercising arena, they are just scars that show irresponsibility towards ones body at some stage or the other in your life.

- Billing, M. (2002) Stretchy subjects. American Fitness, 20(5), 61-62
- Buffalo, J. (2005) Advice on stretch marks. Shape, 24(8), 82

- Cardellino, C. (2007) Stretch mark solutions. Shape, 26(12), 94

- Shelly, B. (2006) Shea butter. Massage and Bodywork, 4

- Sports dermatology part 1: common dermatoses (2004) Canadian Medical Association Journal, 171(8), 851-853

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

What Are We Made For?

By: Mujuthaba

One of the major indicators of what a training outcome is the type of skeletal muscles a body is made of. The skeletal muscles of the human body are made of two types of muscle fibers. They are categorically known as Type-I and Type-II fibers or slow twitch and fast twitch fiber respectively.

The Type-II fibers have two subtypes; Type-IIx and Type-IIa. Earlier Type-IIx was referred to Type-IIb. This specific type contains the fastest twitch characteristic of any muscle fiber and was initially discovered in animals as Type-IIb. This discovery lead to the fastest human skeletal fiber also to be referred as Type-IIb. Although, recent day laboratory studies showed the fastest human skeletal muscle fiber is Type-IIx rather than Type-IIb, which is also similar to rodents.

The distribution of the two types of muscle fibers is congenital. Humans skeletal muscles either have a higher percentage of Type-I or Type-II muscle fibers. An individual built of predominantly Type-I muscle fibers can perform well in low intensity long duration activities, such as long distance running. An individual with more Type-II muscle fibers is suited for high intensity short burst activities. Physiologically, Type-I fibers are much darker (red) in color due to a high capillary density compared to Type-II fibers.

Individuals with predominantly Type-I muscle fibers are usually lean (as in marathon runners). This is due to the small size of the Type-I muscle fibers, and its slow and ineffective adaptation to hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) training.

In contrast, Type-II individuals are quite bulky (as in sprinters). This increased size is due to the larger diameter of Type-II muscle fibers. Hence it will be much easier for individuals containing predominantly Type-II muscle fibers to build muscles and would be assumed to have a promising career as a body builder.

So how do we know what type of muscle fiber dominates our skeletal muscles? If you are a frequent exerciser, you would have an idea of what you are made of. You can either run for a longer duration or either you can do short burst sprints much better than the other. It is impossible for a 100m sprinter to compete with a marathon runner and vice versa. The other easiest way is to test both types of training modes and compare the outcome.

The most accurate way of indicating the composition of skeletal muscle is through muscle biopsies. This is a surgical procedure where a bit of the muscle is torn by a specialized needle inserted into a muscle group. This procedure is done in laboratory settings to conduct studies and on professional athletes, and is not pleasant.

Concluding the types of activity or sport that are best suited for you is not rocket science. The chance is that you already know what your skeletal muscle fibers are composed of, i.e. you know what you are good at. Just follow your instinct and your trainer on it.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Mummifying the Joints

By: Mujuthaba

Taping and bracing, in sport and exercise, is a method of injury prevention in general. The application mimics ‘extra’ ligaments and tendons to control and tighten the range of motion of a joint. Taping and bracing are in theory the same but in practical aspects different. The difference between the two methods is the use of constructed braces for ‘bracing’ and the use of tape for ‘taping’. Taping is also termed as strapping. There are cons and pros of both, which you will figure out as you go on.

Taping and bracing is done for two main reasons, prevention and rehabilitation. Prevention in a sense that an athlete is restricting a potentially injury-prone motion of a joint. Rehabilitation patients are recommended to go through taping and bracing to protect the injured joint from further injury and excessive motion.

In case of taping, the type of tape used and the taping skill of the therapist/trainer are important factors in weighing the effectiveness of its application. The tapes used should not be elastic, as elasticity of the tape would not restrict the desired motion of the joint. The tape used for taping should be adhesive, rigid, strong, non-irritant and easily torn by the therapist/trainer. A number of strapping tapes are in the market these days, appropriately constructed for application.

The effectiveness of taping has been questioned by some physios, coaches and trainers as the adhesiveness of the tapes are lost as soon as 20 minutes due to sweating and when the athlete starts moving around. Multiple taping has to be conducted in a single game if the athlete goes unharmed by loosened tape.

Bracing is easy compared to taping. In bracing a commercially made brace is used in order to restrict the movement of the joint. This may be easier than the hassles of taping, where time and money (tape) is saved. The cons of bracing could be the high cost of effective braces in the market and also the fact that some of them may not be applicable or suitable to some individuals.

As an injury preventive method, taping has not been shown to be effective in the shoulder, knee, elbow or the spinal joints. The most effective joints are the ankle, wrist and the fingers. In many cases, coaches and trainers use the bracing and taping method on athletes to boost their performance through psychological means. Mainly athletes who come out of rehabilitation tend to depend on the tape and braces, with the fear of further injury or low performance.

Healthy individuals should not rely on braces and tapes too often. Using this preventive technique only for a game can be different from presenting one-self with tape and bracing for every practice session. This may eventually decrease the individual’s range of motion of the joint and reduce the strength of underlying musculature around the joint. Therefore as a trainer or coach, it is necessary to persuade the athlete to gradually avoid relying on taping and bracing.

Taping and bracing should be considered in fast and contact sports as an injury preventive mechanism. Depending on taping and bracing too often as a healthy athlete should be reconsidered. As a trainer, it is extremely important to know where to apply tape, how to tape effectively and when to say no to taping and bracing.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

DETERMINATION is Motivation for Training

By: Mujuthaba

Everyone wants to look good and be healthy. Some care about what they eat and their lifestyle is maintained in such a way. When I started training clients a couple of months ago (most of them weight-loss clients), I told them I won’t be training them unless they are determined to change their lifestyle. I found that the hardest thing is to keep them motivated into training. Although, for most of us, there are times when there won’t be a trainer present, to push you to the limit or to motivate.

A lot of times, determination for a set out goal get people to dust-off their tennis shoes and start cranking on weights. Determination can be a very important driving force for training. Someone who is determined to lose weight cannot be stopped until that goal is reached. Someone who is determined to get bigger muscles cannot be stopped until he can attain his goal weight. Although a huge percentage of initially determined people bail out of training in about six plus months. Why?

The de-motivating factor in most people is the slow resulting changes that take place in the human body. There is no way a body would change over-night. With careful training, it would take around 12-16 weeks to see a desired outcome. This is a fact that exercisers should face and a fact that trainers should educate clients about. Once changes start showing off, there is no stopping. Patience is a crucial component for exercisers who wants to reach a specific goal.

There are a lot of other factors, one such is the diet. An exercisers diet is extremely important. Diet is a major contributor to the run-up in gaining muscle or losing fat. For me, if someone needs to lose weight, their concentration should be on 70% diet and the rest on training. No matter how much you train to lose fat or gain muscle, if a special dietary change isn’t implemented, you won’t see any desired outcome from training.

Rest and sleep are other factors that an exerciser needs to be careful about. The body needs a good continuous 8-hour sleep for recovery. Sleep is the time when most of the repairing in the body takes place. Formation of new blood capillaries and increased immune function are all achieved during this very important phase.

I have seen a lot of determined people train to their limits. A tired body’s mind will advice it to stop. Although a body which is determined to push through that tiredness is the one that will make a difference. A body can go much further than what you would expect. Only a determined person can push the body to that extreme and when you’ve done the unexpected, you will feel on top of the world.

Remember, if there is no determination in training, there will be no motivation in training hence no results.

Friday, 25 July 2008

SMOKERS: Suicidal Killers

By: Mujuthaba

An experience I had on Thursday blinked the light-bulb over my head on choosing the subject. It was pouring and quite windy on the day and I made the mistake of taking the bus, instead of taking the usual half-an-hour walk to my apartment from the train station. It wasn’t even rush hour, but seemed like whole of Wellington decided to take a ride on the bus to evade the winter elements.

So here I was, sitting down on a cramped bus, keeping my own space as the bus filled to a bound of being claustrophobic. It all went off my league of nostril tolerance when I smelled cigarette smoke. It is prohibited to smoke in public transports, but a commuter just climbed onboard the crowded bus after throwing down his/her half puffed cigarette. After experiencing the poison trapped grueling tin box ride for ten minutes, I just realized that a smoker has ruined my health conscious lifestyle once again.

Smoking for me is in no less cooler than sucking your thumb in public. At least this is a much safer way of wading off ones so called anxiety. Everyday we are exposed to second hand smoke; on the streets, at work and even at home. Avoiding smoking cigarettes doesn’t make us safe from its destructive affects; but we should avoid gatherings where smokers are active.

Research shows that there are about 4000 different chemical agents in smoke, which affect almost every bit of the body, in a bad way of course. Obstruction of oxygen flow to the lungs and delivery of the oxygen to working muscles are one of the initial and acute effects of cigarette smoke. Poisons such as carbon-monoxide, acetone, benzene, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and toluene are few that are abundantly passed into our body from the smoke.

Second hand smokers are exposed to various smoke related diseases such as lung cancer, respiratory illnesses, heart diseases, stroke and various other cancers. The close relationship between cigarette smoke and cancer is due to the presence of 60 different carcinogens (or chemicals that promote cancer) in the smoke of a burning cigarette. Smoking outside the house, or the car isn’t going to protect the residents or passengers from the poisonous smoke. Research shows that the affect of the smoke will linger in the house and the car when you get in and start breathing. Avoiding the harm of the smoke is hard when you have people close to you who smoke.

If we think in an exercise science view on smokers, the facts aren’t new. Smokers, either healthy or non-healthy, have reportedly low fitness levels due to the deficient oxygen carrying and exchange capability. The cardio-respiratory fitness levels of second hand smokers, who are exposed to smoke on numerous occasions, are also shown to have low fitness results. Tar is the most popular agent in smoke that is blamed for the acute decrease in fitness levels among smokers. This destroys the cilia of the respiratory tract and remains in the lung obstructing the gaseous exchange. Cigarette smoking and fitness never come hand in hand. There is no reason to be ignorant of the fact that while smoking cigarettes we cannot lead a perfectly healthy life.

It is obvious and quite saddening to know that there is an increase in smokers and smoke related deaths worldwide. The only thing that doesn’t make sense is the reason to start puffing the ‘cancer stick’. It is no excuse to say that ‘I was dumb and young so had to take up smoking to be accepted in the crowd’. It doesn’t make you look cool; but ignorant and disgustingly desperate. Smoking is not worth the expenditure of time, money, fitness, health and let alone risking your loved ones.

In fact, the cigarette can be the only thing in the way of you and a perfect life, just think about it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Exercise May Prevent Brain Shrinkage In Early Alzheimer's Disease

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2008) — Mild Alzheimer's disease patients with higher physical fitness had larger brains compared to mild Alzheimer's patients with lower physical fitness, according to a study published in the July 15, 2008, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. More…

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Weight Watchers Vs. Fitness Centers

ScienceDaily (July 5, 2008) — In the first study of its kind, using sophisticated methods to measure body composition, the nationally known commercial weight loss program, Weight Watchers, was compared to gym membership programs to find out which method wins in the game of good health. More...

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Difference in Muscular FITNESS, ENDURANCE and STRENGTH

By: Mujuthaba

It is necessary for a trainer to understand the basic functions of muscles. We all know that the combination of muscles and skeletons primarily bring movement to the body. Hence, muscular functions and capabilities should be known by the trainer.

I have come across a lot of people who confuse the terms muscular fitness, endurance and strength. When I translate these terms to Dhivehi, fitness is ‘hashiheyokan’, endurance is ‘bunvaru’ and strength is ‘baaru’. So obviously classification of the three terms should be different.

Catching up on the definitions might shed some light on classifying them. Muscular fitness is the collective term for muscular endurance and strength. They are the main functional definitions of the muscle. In which case, if you intend to test someone’s muscular fitness, s/he should be tested collectively for both muscular endurance and strength. Muscular fitness is also a component of the health-related physical fitness.

Muscular endurance is defined as the ability of a muscle group to continuously contract until it fatigues. In order to determine muscular endurance the muscle should repeatedly contract without rest. Examples are jogging, walking or running, where the muscles repeatedly contract to keep the body moving. To test someone for their muscular endurance, a one-minute push-ups test is usually conducted. The subject needs to perform the push-ups repeatedly without stopping. If the subject stops to rest, the test is terminated and the numbers of push-ups conducted are recorded.

Muscular strength on the other hand is known as the maximum force that can be generated by a muscle or muscle group. If the muscle contracts continuously (i.e. more than once), the determinant of muscular strength is lost. Strength test is usually done on a bench press, where maximal lift is conducted (1-RM test). Other modes of conducting muscular strength include the grip test and predicted 1-RM tests (for special populations and novice individuals).

I hope that this article has helped you understand and classify the difference between muscular strength, endurance and fitness. Make sure that if you are conducting a fitness test, you are able to differentiate if it is a strength or an endurance test. If unsure, just refer to it as one of the muscular fitness tests, although you need to know the difference.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

A Preventable Mass Killer (Part-2)

By: Mujuthaba

In the first part of the article on type-2 diabetes, I have explained the reasons for this disease and consequences of this disease. I have explained how important exercise is for diabetic individuals and also the action of exercise on blood glucose, independent to the hormone insulin. In the second sequel article on type-2 diabetes, I will highlight on prescribing exercise program for the group and basic dietary recommendations.

It is important to know that with diabetes numerous chronic or long term diseases prevail. I have listed some as cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure and impaired limb functioning in the previous article. Other diseases may include visual impairment and hypertension. Before starting a program for the patient, it is extremely important to identify the presence of any of these underlying diseases.

As a trainer, necessary caution should be taken while training a diabetic. During the training session, diabetics tend to go hypoglycemic, or blood glucose drops below the intended level. This can be identified by monitoring symptoms or either through blood glucose measurement. Since glucose is the fuel needed to keep the brain going, depleted blood glucose causes drowsiness, loss of co-ordination, confusion, vision impairment and convulsions. A sugary drink can be kept handy just in case, as being hypoglycemic is bad as being hyperglycemic.

The recommendation for aerobic (long duration, low intensity) training for diabetics include 3-4 days a week, 20-60 minutes a session and to an intensity of 50%-80% of the persons maximum exercise capability. For resistance training, 2 times a week with 40%-60% of maximum lifting weight with 10-15 repetitions towards 15-20 is recommended for the cohort. Resistance training is not a popular method for diabetics among exercise prescribers as it increases the blood pressure a number of folds, increasing the risk of blood capillary damage.

Dietary recommendations include the intake of high fiber food and carbohydrates as a replacement for the saturated fats. Studies suggest that Mediterranean diets also provide protection from diabetes. This diet mostly includes fruits, olive oil, vegetables, fish and nuts; but low in meat. It is necessary to carefully monitor a healthy diet throughout the life, but if one is up against a chronic disease such as diabetes it becomes a lifeline.

As a trainer, exercise prescription for type-2 diabetic patients follows a number of measures. I hope this article helped in understanding the importance of exercise in type-2 diabetics. In the future more follow up articles would be presented on the subject.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


By: Mujuthaba

It’s during these times I wish I was home. Instead I ended up in a country where most people think football is a game for girls, PATHETIC. Myself being a die-hard fan of football, I woke up at 0200hrs and started watching the 4” x 3” box in the ROL site. It wasn’t the ideal way of watching the ‘game of years to come’.

It was frustrating at the Indian fouls, although, I must be honest; they did play a good game and made my heart skip a beat couple of times. Game went on, and I may never have had so much adrenalin rush in my blood recently, wondering who the hell’s going to score first. Just as I thought we would go into extra two halves of play, an unpredicted goal, AMAZING. Right at the moment we all wanted, the last minutes of the game. I threw away my winter blanket and started yelling in the middle of the night.

Seeing the Maldivian support in Sri Lanka was just beyond imaginable, that was AWESOME work. The ecstatic atmosphere in Male’ was one I have never seen before. It has been a while since the Maldivians (flooded by political disparities) had cohered. At least a good thing came out of sports. How I wish this togetherness sticks for a longer time to come.

Thanks to the Maldives National Football Team for filling in patriotism among our people through a MAGNEFICIENT show of sportsmanship. MALDIVIANS ARE BEYOND AWESOME!!! WE FUK’N ROCK!!!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Obesity And Depression May Be Linked

ScienceDaily (Jun. 2, 2008) — A major review reveals that research indicates people who are obese may be more likely to become depressed, and people who are depressed may be more likely to become obese. More...

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Exercise Cuts Cancer Death In Men

ScienceDaily (May 30, 2008) — Men who exercise often are less likely to die from cancer than those who don't exercise, according to a new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet. More…

Friday, 30 May 2008

A Preventable Mass Killer (Part-1)

By: Mujuthaba

According to WHO 5% of all deaths caused globally is due to diabetes, and of all the diabetic cases, 90% is type-2 diabetes. I’m sorry to start on a negative note on the issue, but the worst thing is that type-2 diabetes is a prevailing killer while it can be easily prevented. Let me try to explain the disease in plain terms.

Diabetes, or ‘hakuru-macchah dhiun’ in local terms, is a collective term for three different conditions. They are type-1 diabetes, type-2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. After you take a meal, your blood extracts sugar (glucose) from the meal. This sugar in the blood would need to go into the skeletal muscles and other vital organs.

To make this blood sugar to get into those tissues (or lower the blood sugar), a hormone named ‘insulin’ is released into the blood. Insulin ‘tells’ the tissues to accept the sugar, only then the sugar is accepted by the tissues. Diabetes is caused when either the hormone insulin isn’t produced or the tissues doesn’t or cannot ‘listen’ to insulin.

Type-1 diabetes is caused when insulin is not produced by the body, which is why the patient needs to rely on insulin injections. This disease is commonly due to genetic factors and patients are diagnosed as a child. Type-2 diabetes is caused commonly due to the muscle not ‘listening’ to the released hormone insulin, which is mostly prevalent in obese and elderly individuals.

Type-2 diabetes is controlled and prevented through life-style changes such as taking up exercise and modifying one’s diet. The sugar from the blood is extremely important for the skeletal muscles and other organs for their function. The sugar from blood is the major fuel for their functioning.

After the tissues starve of their sugars, the tissues become frail, impairing their function. This is why diabetic patients loose a lot of muscle mass during the course of the condition. Following the disease; kidney failure, impaired functioning of the limbs, heart diseases, blood vessel conditions and loss of vision is very common. In short, this is not a bull-crap disease.

Excess fat in the body (especially surrounding the muscles/organs and in the muscles), prevents the hormone insulin to activate the tissues to take in sugar in the blood. This is why controlling the weight is extremely important to prevent from type-2 diabetes.

I have explained that the hormone insulin is the reason why the sugar flowing in the blood gets accepted by the tissues. Well, there is another important factor that makes the tissues to accept sugars, EXERCISE. Exercise creates the tissues to work so hard, that the tissues would accept the sugar in the blood without any hormone or any other factor. This is why exercise is the therapeutic treatment for diabetic patients prescribed by doctors or other medical practitioners.

In part-2 of this article I will explain how exercise itself ensures that type-2 diabetic patients can live a normal life. I will present the type of exercise prescription for type-2 diabetic patients, diet recommendations and the limitations of training in the next article. Since this disease is really close to me, it is extremely important that the knowledge on the issue is passed on accurately.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Oral Hormone Replacement Therapy Pills 'blood clot risk link'

BBC Health (22 May 2008) --Menopausal women who use oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT) more than double their risk of blood clots, French scientists say. But using skin patches to deliver oestrogen does not increase risk, they report in the British Medical Journal. More...

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Menstrual Cycling

By: Mujuthaba

Cramps, pain, mood swings, depression, anxiety and the list continue. These are all symptoms a post-pubertal and pre-menopausal female has to go through during a menstruation period or cycle. All of the above listed (and much more) affects are the results of hormonal changes that ensure the proper functioning of the crucial cycle.

Menstruation does have an influence on the female body physiology, especially due to the hormonal fluctuations. The major hormones of the cycle, estrogen and progesterone are known to:

  1. Increase endurance performance
  2. Increase fat-loss (excluding the hips and breasts)
  3. Increase in muscle glycogen storage (main fuel for training)
  4. Increase cognitive awareness to training
  5. Increase bone density

These reactions indicate that positive physiological changes do occur during menstruation.

The unpleasant consequence of the menstrual cycle (dysmenorrhea) is known to be reduced in women exercising during menstruation. The pain and cramps are caused by a natural chemical (prostaglandins) which stimulate the contraction of the uterine wall during the periods. Exercise relieves the pain by over-riding the affects of prostaglandins with the release of the ‘feel-good’ exercise hormones known as endorphins.

Bloating, which is also a negative outcome of menstruation, in some women, are also reduced through exercising. Bloating is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen region, which leads to unpleasantness and pain. Exercise aids to alleviate bloating by reducing bodily fluid through sweating.

As outlined above, the combination of exercising and the increased amount of ‘female hormones’ (ie. estrogen and progesterone) will continue to benefit the female body during menstruation. It is recommended that women with normal menstrual cycles continue exercising normally as before, through the cycle.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Relieve the Tension of Hypertension

By: Mujuthaba

Hypertension or ‘ley macchah dhiun’ is a very common disease, which affects almost a billion people worldwide. A blood pressure (BP) reading of 140/90mmHg is the marking point of hypertension. Hypertension is blamed for leaving life-threatening conditions and/or diseases in its path, such as heart attacks (myocardial infarction), strokes, kidney failure, vascular complications (peripheral vascular diseases) and vision impairment (retinopathy).

Hypertension maybe caused by single or multiple factors. Fifty percent prevalence of the disease is in sedentary individuals. Other factors that contribute are excessive smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol (HDL) and excessive salt intake.

Hypertension can be controlled and reduced by altering current lifestyle. Follow these guidelines to achieve it:

- If obese, try to maintain a normal body weight. Losing 10kg results in 5-20mmHg reduction in hypertensive BP.

- Restrict Sodium (ie. salt, soya sauce…etc) intake. This increases blood volume, putting extra pressure on the blood vessels. Low sodium diet reduces hypertensive BP by 2-8mmHg.

- Manage the diet. Consume fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products with reduced contents of saturated fat (or animal fat). This decreases hypertensive BP by 8-14mmHg.

- Engage in moderate physical activity (such as walking), most days during the week for 30 minutes. This reduces the hypertensive BP by 4-9mmHg.

Exercise should not be undertaken if the resting BP is greater than 200/110. An exercise/exercise testing should be terminated if BP reading is greater than 220/105. Aerobic type exercises are preferred over resistance training, as lifting weights may cause Valsalva maneuver (forced holding of breath), which would increase the BP by folds. Recommendation for exercise is 3-7 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes. The exercise intensity should remain between 40-70% of maximum exercise capability (VO2max) of the person.

Hypertension is avoidable and it takes determination. I hope this article helps to relieve the hypertensive lifestyle.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Trainer's Worst Nightmare

By: Mujuthaba

Over-training is one of the mistakes made by consistent exercisers. It can be prominent in inexperienced novice athletes too. Over-training is when training turns out to be a nightmare. Instead of benefiting, the exerciser ends up with injuries. There are psychological and physiological implications of over-training.

Over-training is when the exerciser doesn’t take adequate rest, while either increasing intensity of training or duration of the training session. Over reaching to achieve a goal can be one of the reason for increasing the overall workload. Some athletes reach over the six month mark to recover from over-training while some athletes never recover.

Symptoms of over-training include acute fatigue, decrease in performance (due to decrease in strength and endurance), mood state changes, increased resting heart rate, more prone to injuries and continuous mild aches and pain all over the body. To prevent over-training, reduce or stop training immediately and do a follow-up on your training program. Cross-training or doing other modes of exercises could be helpful during the recovery.

There is a simple test to determine or track recovery to avoid over-training. All you need is a stop-watch and knowledge of taking pulse rate. First step is to lie down on your back for fifteen minutes. Take your pulse rate (for a minute) lying down after fifteen minutes. After that slowly stand up, wait for fifteen seconds and take another reading of your pulse rate for a minute. Record the difference between the two pulse rates. If the difference is less than fifteen, you have recovered from you last training. If the pulse rate is over fifteen, you need time to recover before your next training session.

It is necessary that adequate rest is given to your body, still, keep training carefully.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

My Nine Rules for the Healthy Diet

By: Mujuthaba

I have had a lot of people asking me, ‘why don’t I get any changes to my body even though I work-out?’ The answer to it is a follow-up on the diet. Joining a gym is not a way of getting into a healthy lifestyle. You have to have discipline at the dining table too. Avoiding the diet is one of the major mistakes exercisers do. Follow these simple nine rules and get back on the right track, see how things change after that.

  1. Do not skip meals: Do not take two or one big meal daily. If you starve yourself a bunch of negative things happen. Firstly, if you starve, the body is ready to store more energy (fat) to cope with starvation. So the next time you start eating, the body tends to store more weight. Most people also tend to eat a huge meal after starving, which also helps gain weight. Secondly, you will be starved of a lot of basic vitamins and minerals that is needed by the body for normal daily functioning. Thirdly, less daily meals lowers the metabolic rate further.
  2. Take six small meals daily: How about this, eat more meals. Six meals are supposed to be small meals. Avoid large meals. This amount of meals increases the metabolic rate rapidly. You need to be careful at the type of food you eat. Small six meals won’t make you hungry. You can start a meal as early as you like, but none late into the night. If you want to eat something at night, eat a fruit.
  3. Low energy and low fat food: From now on, look closer at the food you eat. When you start buying food, look at the labels. Buy replacements for your normal food supply with the low fat products. When you choose low fat, take a look at the total energy/calorie on the label too. Buy the replacement with lowest energy/calorie count on the label. One thing you have to remember is that people make the mistake of avoiding fat, but not the total energy in foods. How much you avoid fat, and refuse to be careful about the total energy, there would be no weight-loss.
  4. More Fruit and Vegetables: Awesome source of nutrients. Eat a colourful fruit or make a fruit mix with low fat natural yoghurt. Whenever you feel like eating something, make sure you have a fruit on hand instead of a piece of cake. Well, vegetables. Now comes the salads. You could make salads, with olive oil and replace the dressings with those new ‘lite’ dressings in the market.
  5. Cut Down on Fast food: Avoid the deep fried fish and chips, burgers, fried short eats...etc. You can have fast food at least once a week. Make this a rule in your first dieting step. Excess fast food can be detrimental to your training results.
  6. Careful on MSG: Have you heard of this before? MSG (Mono-Sodium-Glutamate) is used as a flavour in foods. This is actually used in laboratory tests to make normal lab rats obese or over-weight. If it makes lab rats obese in a short time, it’s going to have the same effect on humans too.
  7. Hydrate yourself: By the time you feel thirst, your body would have already lost a litre of crucial fluid for body functioning. So, thirst is not a good indication of dehydration. It’s an indication of a body in desperation for fluid. A number of functions in the body would have been impaired by the time you feel thirst.
  8. Take a Multi-vitamin: It is always very easy to get deprived of nutrients when you are on a weight-loss program. So professionals in this area recommends a multi-vitamin to be taken daily as the only supplement. So it is wise, and I would also recommed to use a multi-vitamin daily.
  9. Swap Sugary drinks: Replace the soft-drinks with coffee, tea and fresh juice. Caffeine in coffee helps to mobilise the fat stores. Tea is really healthy and contains a number of anti-oxidants. One cup of tea has more anti-oxidants than a serving of broccoli or carrots. So why have a soft drink in a cafe’ or restaurant?

Let’s hope these simple guidelines keep you on the right track for weight-management.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Avoiding the Avoidables

By: Mujuthaba

It’s about time I sat my butt down and wrote about exercise in a way how it should be. For most of the population, exercise is all about image by keeping in shape. But come on guys, there’s way more to it than that. Yep…I’m talking about all the health benefits shrouded under the toned up body.

Let’s start with those diseases that are caused by inactivity. Coronary artery disease, hypertension, type-2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). How many people do you know who has got these diseases? I can be a straight forward 100% sure that you would know more than one person. These diseases maybe caused by genetic or aging factors, but each one of them can be controlled, fixed and prevented through physical activity.

All of these diseases are caused from increased visceral fat, which are not helpful if individuals seek a sedentary lifestyle. Now, these diseases aren’t acute diseases, they are the most common chronic diseases facing the world. You will see people, well, mostly aged people on cocktails of medication from preventable diseases like this. These diseases could have been prevented by gifting a couple of minutes on physical activity from the days while they were young. I guess we are just too preoccupied with other things in life that we have little time to look after our own body.

There are a number of diseases that benefit from exercise. There has been successful resistance training done on chronic kidney failure patients treated on dialysis. This training prevented muscle wasting in these patients increasing their strength, aerobic capacity and improving their activities of daily living. Other such diseases and disorders are respiratory diseases (COPDs), ischemia, anginas, cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, AIDS and congenital diseases which are all controlled through exercising.

Obviously, sedentary lifestyle has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality in all the populations. So why are we blowing up the balloon and just waiting for it to pop, when we can just avoid this? Have you forgotten the effect of those endorphins, the feel good hormones released after exercising? Have you forgotten how much stamina you can add to your life from exercising? Have you forgotten how less stressful your life would be from exercising? Have you forgotten the strength that you could experience from exercising? How about the overall psychological and physiological improvements from exercising?

Make a new resolution to avoid the diseases that you can prevent. Give a minimum thirty minutes of your day on a physical activity of your interest. Doesn’t matter how old or young you are. You have just one life and you were born with the resources to enjoy a longer one, let’s make use of it.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Running After Digestion

By: Mujuthaba

If you are part of a physically demanding job or profession, such as professional sports or even in the military, running seems to be the number one physical activity. Running is a very good way to increase your functional capacity of the lungs, heart and blood vessels. Recent studies also show that running is the best mode of exercise for losing fat. Running, not jogging, at its intense, do have some detrimental results sometimes. In this article I will be referring to its effect on the digestive system or the gastro-intestinal tract.

The digestive system is a long tract which starts from the mouth and ends at the rectum. This tract is an average 30 foot (9 meters) long in length. They are made up of muscle tissues (smooth muscles; not skeletal muscles), and obviously functions on nutrient and oxygen availability to these tissues. The digestive system moves the food in the body by contracting these intestinal muscles. So what happens if the digestive system doesn’t get enough nutrients and oxygen?

Running uses much of the largest muscles of the body. This creates excessive flow of blood into muscles of the lower body. This increased blood flow to the legs will be so much in demand, that the blood flow to the other systems of the body is reduced. One such system that loses its blood supply to the lower body is the digestive system. This decreases the nutrient and oxygen flow to the intestines and other secondary digestive organs.

Once the food is ingested, there will be an increased blood flow into the digestive tract. At a demanding time for the digestive system, if one starts to run before digestion of the food is complete, complications start to occur. Such complications as abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur from running. The recommended time to exercise after a meal is between 1-2 hours. Longer time should be given depending on the meal. In short, time should be given for the food to be digested before going for a run. It is important to note that if you are getting ready for an event, avoid taking high fibre meals, which would take longer to digest. It is best to intake a high GI meal before an event. Even in these cases, appropriate time should be given for the food to digest to avoid complications.

I hope this brief article gives an idea of avoiding a run immediately after a meal. Running maybe the mode that creates the majority of complications in this issue, but this goes for all types of physical activities.