Sceptically Fit


Colour me Impressed

Filed under: Exercise — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:06

I need to fine a gym like this!

(courtesy of MissDeejers – my secret girlcrush!)



Proper Squat Form

Filed under: Exercise — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:13

EverydayPaleo offers a guide to identifying issues with squat form that I found quite helpful.


This has been my problem that I’m trying to work on. I turn out my feet more than my knees follow but since I realised it I’ve dropped the weight (down to 30kg) and limited the reps so that I don’t drop form as I fatigue. Now I have to try and stay consistent and keep working on the form and stop my pride and eagerness from upping the weight before I’m ready.


A month of links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 14:38

Its been a busy month (and a half) for me – more on that in another post – but its been a busy time in the world of health and fitness.

The Meat will kill you Study: I’d jump straight in with a comment from Gary Taubes and  Silverhydra’s interpretation   before rounding it out with a post from Mark Sisson. And a heart surgeon speaks out – what really causes heart disease.

More on the use it or lose it

“We control 70 per cent of how we age,” she says. “The other 30 per cent is genetic, and we can blame our mothers for that. But 70 per cent is in our hands.”

Omega 3 supplementation is recommended for a lot of people – but you can over do it. And more reasons to supplement with vitamin d.

Do you remember to use the foam roller on your upper body?

Wheat – more ways it damages you. And a look at the spectrum of gluten sensitivity disorders.

Given my diet for the last month or so, I’m not surprised that evidence keeps emerging that lack of sleep causes you to overeat.

A study suggests women are more susceptible to hormonally induced hunger after exercise. And another study looks at the effect of resistance training on overall energy expenditure.

Its disappointing to watch my country’s educational institution’s reputations ruined by pseudoscience.

When will my gym start offering Kitty-robics?

Inspiring Women

Filed under: Exercise — Tags: , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 13:37

In both meanings of the phrase.

Caitlin at Fit and Feminist looks back at A league of Their Own. A movie that not only explored the fact that women love to play sport, but also the societal pressures that limit that opportunity.

That tension between love of sport and the demands of femininity plays a big part in “A League of Their Own,” and later in other “women in sports” movies like “Love and Basketball,” “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Girlfight.”   The specifics of each movie do vary, as each has a different cultural context, but the overarching theme remains the same: that a woman who tries to pursue her athletic passions will be seen as failing to perform femininity correctly.

Nia asks all women to Lift Like a Girl

Building a better body comes down to lifting heavy with compound exercises, getting stronger, and eating smart. Bottom line – I lift like a girl. Maybe you should finally give it a try.”

Seattle University profiles powerlifter Paula Houston.

Amber of BodyPositiveYoga asks all women not to postpone their life.

Please don’t wait until you’re thinner or have the perfect outfit. Don’t wait for motivation, just show up. Go outside. Start walking. Get on your bike and pedal. Go to the beginners yoga class. Call the gym and ask for a tour. Text your friend and invite her to go dancing with you. Give the hot guy your phone number. Laugh. Be loud. Louder, please.

When you’re on your deathbed, I guarantee you won’t wish that you did more situps or worried a little more about your fat thighs. Go live your life. You totally deserve it.


Turning a Setback into a Success

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , — Sceptically Me @ 17:47

Saturdays are my long run day – a gentle non-gylcogen-depleating long run of about 19-22km. I had the house to myself this morning, and was feeling very much in need of a coffee first thing so I decided to take my time to breakfast and then head out for the run.

Sun streamed through my window while I had my coffee, a couple of eggs and some bananas and read the news, surfed a bit – you know weekend morning stuff. Got dressed, did my warm up and headed out. Into snow and hail!

I got about a km away from home before I decided to turn back and head to the gym instead. Now there’s no way I can cope with running on a treadmill for 2 hours. I hate treadmill running so much I don’t think missing one run is motivation to force myself there. Instead I decided to up my lifts – it had been an accidental rest week due to work so now was a good time to push myself. Squat, sumo deadlift, overhead press, bench press, hip thrust all upped. Increased reps on assisted chinups, assisted pullups and standard deadlifts. Even increased the number of sprints I did at the end of the workout (that’s what treadmills are for – sprint workouts!).

  • Barbell Squat – 5×3 35kg (up 5kg!)
  • Overhead Press – 5×4 25kg
  • Sumo Deadlift – 5×1 65kg
  • Deadlift – 5×1 60kg
  • Romanian Deadlift – 4×8 35kg
  • Bench Press – 5×4 32.5kg
  • Barbell Hip Thrust 4×10 50kg
  • Assisted chinup – 5 at -7.5kg
  • Assisted pullup 5 at -15.5kg
  • plank – 120secs
  • sprints – 7 at 14km/hr

Out of all that – the Romanian/Straight-leg deadlift if the only one I didn’t increase weight or rep/time. Strength-wise I think the sumo, deadlift and hip thrust cover what the Romanian/Straightleg deadlift covers without the same risk to my back when increasing the weight. If anything I tend to be using it more as a loosening up/cardio move after theproper deadlifts.


Gym Victory!

Filed under: Exercise, Personal — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:01

I have been struggling with problems with my squat for a while.

My original source of information on how to squat came from the wonderful Stumptuous, an excellent resource for weightlifting targeted at (but not limited to) women. But somehow over this last year it stopped working properly. Well, not somehow – I drastically changed my workout patterns. I stopped squatting and deadlifting much and did a lot of long distance running as I was training for the half-marathon. Clearly, I created a different balance of muscles. I was having trouble not rounding my back and not leaning forward.

Having a lot of flexibility but incredibly weak glutes, I’ve found that a lot of the information out there is tailored to men, and with that is a direction that a lot of the issues are going to be mobility ones but that’s not the case – I can drop into a squat easily. The reason I fall over isn’t because I don’t bend that way, its because I can’t hold myself there.

A lot of searching on different forums I’ve read a wide collection of advice, aside from Stumptuous, I recommend All about the squat for a guide. But still, I could reach the position, it just wasn’t right. Then I caught sight in the mirror and discovered – I have buttwink! But how could that be? Everything I’ve read has said that’s a flexibility issue, and I’m nothing (else) but flexible. More internet searching and I found this video – engage the hip flexors! And the butt wink was cured.

Unfortunately that wasn’t it. I was having trouble coming back up without leaning forward too much. I could feel my weight rolling onto the balls of my feet  as  I stood up. Reading through the guides: yes I’m looking to the middle foreground; yes, shoulders back; yes, my knees are in line with my toes; yes, I’m driving from the hips; yes, my core is engaged. What was wrong?

Shoulders! Yes my shoulders were back but once again too easily flexible becomes a hindrance. My shoulders were back but my shoulder blades weren’t pulled back – the muscles weren’t engaged. I went to the gym, focussed on the shoulders and what a difference. It was easy! Well not truly easy, but everything worked. As I stood up, I stood up – I didn’t have to try and balance my top half over my lower half, all one seamless entity. Who’d have thought it – doing an exercise properly is the best way to do the exercise.


Female Athletes – eat more protein, eat less carbs

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 17:14

I recently came across a study from 2006 looking at the dietary needs of women performing resistance exercises.  This study showed that women were less responsive to glycogen during exercise, less able to utilise carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment and required more protein then men post exercise. The advice from the study is that women should lower their carbohydrate consumption and increase protein and fat.

Nutritional aspects of women strength athletes

  • Less use of glycogen in women during resistance exercises (also sprints – yay HIIT)

For example, a repeated maximal knee extension protocol resulted in significant glycogen depletion in type I and II muscle fibres in trained and untrained men, but this was not found in women.An attenuated reduction in glycogen in women after resistance exercise is consistent with similar observations after sprint exerciseand may result from lower glycolytic enzyme activity in women or a suppressive effect of estradiol.This gender difference in carbohydrate metabolism during resistance exercise may also be explained by the fact that women usually have a greater capacity for lipid breakdown and oxidation compared to men, such that glycogen is spared more in women than in men.

  • Increased fat oxidisation post-exercise when doing resistance exercise rather than cardio. Carbohydrate demands post exercise are lower.

Immediately following resistance exercise in women, the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) significantly declines indicating an increase in fat oxidation during recovery.This significant decrease in RER post‐exercise has been noted by several investigators when resistance exercise was compared against sitting and against treadmill exercise with the same aerobic energy cost.  Elevations in fat oxidation post‐exercise spare exogenous carbohydrate for glycogen replenishment and underscore the importance of IMTG and dietary fat as an energy source.

  • Advice on carbohydrate consumption:

One reason that high carbohydrate diets are not optimal for women strength athletes relates to the finding that women use significantly less glycogen during resistance exercise than menand synthesise less glycogen in response to a given amount of dietary carbohydrate.

carbohydrates with low glycaemic indices should be chosen to reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes as observed in women who consume higher glycaemic carbohydrates. Low glycaemic carbohydrates are rich in dietary fibre and contain important micronutrients, such as iron and B vitamins. These micronutrients are commonly found to be suboptimal in diets of women athletesbased on evaluations of self‐reported food intake and some biochemical indices of mineral and vitamin status.Fruits, vegetables, brown rice, enriched whole grain breads, whole grain prepared cereals, rolled oats, beans, legumes, and sweet potatoes are good examples of low glycaemic carbohydrate foods that strength training women should consume.

  • Advice on protein consumption

Although studies are inconsistent with regards to gender differences in protein metabolism,there is some indication that leucine oxidation is greater in men, and women may oxidise less protein during exercise because they derive more of their exercise energy needs from fat.

An area of particular interest in protein nutrition is the concept of timing and the differences that may exist between genders. In contrast to men, women have an attenuated increase in muscle protein fractional synthetic rate when amino acids are provided after exercise, suggesting that women may need to consume more protein after resistance exercise in order to elicit the same anabolic environment.

  • Addressing health concerns of a high protein diet (quoted at length – my highlights)

High protein diets have long been criticised on the basis of deleterious effects on bone due to their greater acid load that requires neutralisation by calcium salts.Women are at increased risk of osteoporosis as they age, so any potential adverse effects on bone health should be avoided. However, the justification to limit protein based on this criticism may not be warranted. Using dual stable calcium isotopes to quantify calcium kinetics in women, Kerstetter et al found that a high protein diet did not have any negative effects on net bone balance. Further, a protein supplement (42 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat) given to young women and men throughout a 6 month strength and conditioning program, increased insulin growth factor‐1 and serum bone alkaline phosphatase (indicating increased bone formation) compared to a carbohydrate supplement of equal caloric value. Dietary unprocessed sources of protein contain both calcium and phosphorus and can contribute to increased dietary calcium and phosphorus intake. High protein intake does not appear to have adverse consequences for bone health in females, but rather, may be beneficial. Another criticism of high protein diets is that habitual consumption in excess of recommended intakes promotes chronic renal disease through increased glomerular pressure and hyperfiltration. On the contrary, the effects of high protein diets consumed by healthy humans were recently reviewed and it was concluded that there is insufficient proof to limit protein intake for the purpose of preserving renal health in healthy adults. The Institute of Medicine has also concluded that there is no clear evidence indicating that high protein diets have other deleterious effects including increased risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease. The final most common criticism against high protein diets in relation to strength athletes is that increasing protein intake beyond the recommended level is unlikely to result in additional increases in lean tissue because there is a limit to the rate at which protein tissue can be accrued. The argument against this statement is that even if there is a limit to gains in lean mass with high protein ingestion, increasing evidence shows that dietary substitution of carbohydrate with protein results in a variety of favourable health effects including enhanced weight loss, reduction in truncal adipose tissue, optimal maintenance of blood glucose, and improved lipid profile.

  • Advice on fat consumption

women seem to rely less on glycogen for resistance exercise than men. Thus, high fat diets may be advantageous for women strength athletes to complement energy production derived from IMTG and circulating lipids while concurrently sparing muscle glycogen

Investigators have demonstrated that women endurance athletes in energy balance need to obtain at least 30% of their energy from dietary fat to ensure rapid replenishment of IMTG following exercise. If fat intake is sub‐optimal, there is continued IMTG depletion following exercise for up to 2 days, which may limit performance in subsequent exercise sessions.

Fat intake greater than 15% of energy from unprocessed sources may help to prevent the female athlete triad as its consumption will help attain energy balance, improve bone health, and avoid depressed sex hormone concentrations.

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