Creatine; what is it?

April 14th, 2011 by Lou No comments »

The following is from Absolute Creatine website:


The Beginners Guide To Creatine

  • What is Creatine?

Creatine is a compound that can be made in our bodies or taken as a dietary supplement. The chemical name for Creatine is methyl guanidine-acetic acid. That sure is a mouth full – which is why it is much easier to just call it creatine. Here is the chemical makeup of creatine -Creatine is made up of three amino acids – Arginine, Glycine and Methionine. Our liver has the ability to combine these three amino acids and make creatine. The other way we get creatine is from our diet.

  • How much Creatine do we have in our body?

This varies based on the amount of muscle mass you have and your weight. On average a 160 pound person would have about 120 grams of creatine stored in their body.

  • Where is Creatine stored in our body?

It is believed that 95 – 98% of the creatine in our body is stored in our muscles. The remaining about 2- 5% is stored in various other parts of the body including the brain, heart and testes.

  • So what does creatine do?

Now is when the fun begins. First, before we answer this question – understand that the theory of what creatine does – is just that – theory. It is amazing how little we actually know about what goes on in our body. Anyway, we will outline what the majority of research currently agrees on in terms of what role creatine plays in our body.1. Provide additional energy for your musclesTime for a quick and simple biology lesson. In your body you have a compound called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). Think of ATP as an energy containing compound. What is important to know about ATP is that the body can very quickly get energy from a ATP reaction. You have other sources of energy such as carbohydrates and fat – but they take longer to convert into a useable energy source. When you are doing an intense quick burst activity – such as lifting a weight or sprinting, your muscles must contract and need a quick source of energy. This immediate energy comes from ATP.Okay – still with us? Here is where it gets interesting. When your muscles use ATP for energy a chemical process happens where the ATP is broken down into two simpler chemicals ADP (adenosine di-phosphate) and inorganic phosphate. This process of ATP turning into ADP releases the energy which gives your muscles the ability to contract. Unfortunately, we do not have an endless supply of ATP. In fact, your muscles only contain enough ATP to last about 10-15 seconds at maximum exertion. In case you were wondering – no, the ADP can not be used to create more energy for your muscles.Here is where the creatine comes in – or more specifically the creatine phosphate (CP). We don’t want to go into great detail on creatine vs. creatine phosphate now (that is in a later article) – all you need to know now is that the majority of creatine that is stored in the muscles bonds with abundant phosphorus stores in the muscles and is converted into Creatine Phosphate (CP). CP is able to react with the ADP in your body and turn “useless” ADP back into the “super useful” energy source – ATP. More ATP in your body means more fuel for your muscles.2. Volumization of your musclesLooks like we just made up that word -Volumization – doesn’t it? Actually, it’s just a fancy name for the process of pulling fluid into the muscle cells and thus increasing the volume of the muscles. Creatine has been shown to pull water into your muscle cells, which increases the size of your muscles. Don’t get to excited – it is not clear how great an effect this has. Point #1 is a much clearer benefit of creatine.3. Buffer Lactic Acid build-upNew research has shown that creatine can help buffer lactic acid that builds-up in the muscles during exercise. This leads to that nasty burning feel you get in your muscles. Scientifically it is a complicated process – basically the creatine bonds with a Hydrogen ion and that helps delay the build up of lactic acid. More research needs to be done to see if this point is true.4. Enhances Protein SynthesisThere is some data to indicate that creatine helps put the body in a more anabolic state where protein synthesis can occur. The more protein synthesis – the greater the muscle gain.Well – there you have what creatine does in a very simplified nutshell. Of all 4 points – point #1 is the most use of creatine in the body. The other points are more debated – but still look to be valid.

  • Is the 120 grams of creatine in my body enough?

Maybe. The whole idea behind taking creatine as supplement is that if you workout you burn-up a lot of creatine. If you take a creatine supplement you will have more energy – because the ATP energy cycle can go on for a longer time. We go into supplementation in another article – but here is the quick run down. Unfortunately your muscle’s creatine supply is not limitless. The average human has between 3.5 and 4 grams of creatine per kilogram of muscle. Once you use up the creatine in your muscle you have to rest your muscles and wait a while before you can exercise the muscle again. Studies have shown that the human muscle can store up to 5 grams of creatine per kilogram. So, by taking a creatine supplement you can raise your levels from 3.5 to 5 grams of creatine – and thus enjoy more of the benefits of creatine.

  • What happens to creatine that is not used by the body?

Excess creatine is eventually converted into the waste product creatinine and excreted from the body.

Motivation: we need it

April 1st, 2011 by Lou No comments »

Wikipedia’s partial definition: Motivation is the driving force which help causes us to achieve goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in a basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality. Conceptually, motivation should not be confused with either volition or optimism.[1] Motivation is related to, but distinct from, emotion.

I have to be honest with you, this is NOT an easy topic to write about. What you’re reading was and is my fifth or so attempt at it. I kept asking myself,  “why am I having such a difficult time with this? The reason; too many variables.

What is it that motivates anyone to do anything in life? More specifically; what motivates you to be or become fit…and stay fit?  As I stated earlier in the post on goals, we need  goals and objectives to reach our  potential. In order to achieve those we need to become and stay MOTIVATED. Again, what is it that drives or will drive us? Where does motivation come from and how do we lay hold of it?

Everyone is different. What motivates one does not necessarily motivate another even though both are after the same objective. As a trainer, part of my job is find the “carrot stick” (which BOTH provide) that will entice you to exercise. Sometimes that carrot stick may be pleasant like a nice pair of jeans or that little black dress. Other times it can be frightful; perhaps to prevent a future heart attack due to a doctor’s prognosis.

Whatever the case may be you as clients and we as trainers, have got to work together. I can just hear someone say, “duh!” But you’ll be surprised to find out many rely on a trainer to come up with the perfect routine with minimum input from the client.

Did I explained it fully? Nowwhere near it I’ll admit, but I will leave you with this; find that carrot stick or sticks, fitness markers, whatever you call them and keep them before your eyes. Visualize them coming true, and with the correct trainer they will.

The “SPOT”

March 25th, 2011 by Lou 2 comments »
Staff Sgt. Brett Garmon, G-4 air staff noncomm...

Image via Wikipedia

 Somebody SPOT me!

Ever been to a gym and see someone hovering over another doing a bench press. The person doing the hovering is called a “spotter” Spotters can be spotted…er seen… throughout the gym; at the squat rack, shoulder press, leg press, practically anywhere barbells, dumbbells, plate-loaded equipment, and selectorized machines are used. You see with a spotter one feels safe or should. Spotters are there in case something were to happen; your strength may “give out”, a machine might break, etc. A host of mishaps can occur. It is always prudent to have a spotter when exercising with moderate to heavy weights.

Your next concern should then be, “who is a good spotter?” Or “What constitute a good spot” There are some spotters that may be asked to spot, say a bench press. The spotter obliges only to look away at the precise moment the lifter needs help. What happens next? In a split second  the barbell comes crashing down. Not fun; trust me, been there. Or same scenario with a different outcome: the lifter needs a slight assistance… BANG!! the spotter practically takes the barbell OFF their hands! The lifter is left wondering what just happen? Unfortunately been there too.

Before I get into who makes a good spotter I would like to say something concerning the lifter the spotter is helping. The lifter or exerciser should know the spotter is NOT there to SPOT EVERY rep!! A spot is to help you with the LAST TWO TO THREE REPS!! In other words to get you “over the hump” A spotter is not your personal forklift. I have seen plenty of a-lifter expect the spotter to do the bulk of the work. As a spotter you should not allow this to happen. Again been there.

So what makes a good spotter. First, unless you’re a powerlifter with specific goals, a spotter should assist in those last few reps IF NEEDED. The SPEED of those reps should mimic the ones preceding them. Example; if you’re doing 12 reps but can only manage 9 on your own then the last 3 should be close to the first 9 in speed. Otherwise the spotter will have their hands at their sides yelling, “come on!,  3 more!!!”, while you struggle, the bar going nowhere. Read this carefully, “a bar ALREADY MOVING against gravity is easier to spot than a bar that begins to settle” Why(?) because now the spotter has to fight not only gravity BUT the weights also. Does this make sense? Good.

So how do you find a good spotter. First; observe, ask a trainer, finally talk with your spotter. Let him/her know what you expect from their spot. Communication is key. It is essential for a good teamwork. I have trained with some of the strongest men around, bench pressing over 600 lbs, squating near 1000 lbs, etc.; but my best spotters were always women. That has been my experience. A spotter can be invalauble. You have to find a partner(s) whom you can count on when you need it most.

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ps: Check out, “Somebody Spot me” Very funny

Do you have goals?

March 21st, 2011 by Lou 1 comment »

In my last post I wrote about where to start. This is a follow-up post dealing with, “now that you’ve begun”

I always remind my clients, “never lose sight of  your goals and objectives when you exercise” and these can and do change with time. What-da-you-mean? We should have short, medium and long range goals. A short range goal can be as simple as losing 1 lb or exercising twice this week.  A medium range goal could be to lose 4 to 6 lbs or exercising 8 to 10 times a month for the next two months. A longe range goal could be to lose  30 lbs. within six months.

As you can see,  we need short and medium range goals in order to achieve our our long term goals and objectives. There’s a chinese proverb that states, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the one step”  We have to start somewhere, then build from there.

As I stated earlier sometimes your goals may change and oftentimes do. Here’s an example; say your goal is to fit into a dress (or suit) you haven’t worn in a year; but in order to do this you have to lose 25 lbs. You get to your goal only to realize, “I want a different dress (or suit)”  So even though you started with a specific goal in mind, the dress (or suit), you still achieved weight loss. You see, the weight loss was a means to an end but in the end you really, really look good. This is a perfect time to go out and reward yourself for the hard-won battle.

(These goals, however, have got to be realistic. A man in his fifties, with arthritic knees, comes to me wanting to run a 5 min mile or another who’s forty nine, with a bad back, wants to bench press 315 lbs. Are these realistic goals for the above-mentioned? Mmm, probably not)

I have had clients tell me, “Lou, my son or daughter is getting married and I NEED to look awesome for their wedding”  or, “my 20th high school reunion is coming up, could you help me?” They put in the work, eat right and presto!, they look GOOD!! Nothing wrong with wanting  to look good for an event.

Here’s the problem; since the event was the only goal, their enthusiasm begins to wane and soon after they stop exercising. This is why we need multiple fitness goals throughout our lives. Lets face it; its tough to stay motivated as we age. We need to stay active though. A teacher of mine had a saying, “to move is to live” She was a tennis coach in her sixties. Inspirational for sure.

A man once asked his father how could he motivate a person. His father replied, “find out out what they want and offer it to them” It really comes from within. What is it that drives you? What do you want to achieve? What makes YOU tick? If you can answer these questions then you’re well on your way to having a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Exercise 101

March 17th, 2011 by Lou 4 comments »

Hi. My name is Lou and this, my first post is about exercise and aging. But first; I have been in the fitness field as a certified trainer, gym owner, dance instuctor, well… you get the picture, for over 30 years. My clients have ranged from 14 to 92 years old. (incidently the oldest female was 85; her husband was the 92 year old) I have made being fit a lifestyle. As I age, (ahem, 52) I can EMPATHIZE more readily with my older clientele.

Take for instance joints, like the knees, that have  become arthritic from years of exercise or simply living.  Or this scenario: you wake up one morning and it hits you, “I am getting older and I can’t do the things I used to enjoy anymore. what happened to me?” Scary isn’t it? Once your doctor gives you the green light then what? Where do you start? A good place would be friends and family. WHAT? That’s correct; friends and family and here’s why. Some of them are exercisers and can introduce you to a fitness professional.

However take note of this, or any, professional’s qualifications. This person should have a degree in the field as well as be certified with an organization that is NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED. (American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, to name just of few) Most do in-home visits for those who would rather exercise at home. If money is an issue, a  trainer can still point you in the right direction.

Now to the fun stuff. Clients always ask what is the best exercise for, lets say, abs? or butt? or love handles? Well, that’s like asking what foods should I eat? (a WHOLE other topic I’ll discuss in another post) Here is my response; first, what are your goals and objectives and two; what are your physical, if any, limitations? (It’s like taking your car in for service. The mechanic does a diagnostic test to determine the problem THEN he goes to work) Once you have the answers, THEN you can go about putting together a routine TAILORED for you body. 

So, to reiterate, determine what you’re looking to achieve and what physical limitations there might be. I can make a blanket statement like, “the best exercise for legs is…squats” BUT if you have lower back, knees or shoulder issues then perhaps squats may not be suitable for YOU. A leg press could be an option. Or if you need to lose a few pounds, walking, to begin with, might be a better alternative than running; or a stationary bike might be best. Keep in mind those goals and objectives. I like this saying, “If you want something you’ve never had, (or haven’t had in a long time) you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done (or haven’t done in a long time)”  Write and let me know of your successes and trials.