Meditation for beginners

Men?s outlines three ways to meditate, which can help elevate stress and make you feel more positive throughout the day.

Our world’s a pretty crazy place lately. Instead of letting all the negativity and frustration of daily life get you down, experts say, you should set aside time to reflect. But daydreaming while you fast-forward through commercials doesn’t count. We’re talking quality reflection ? the kind you get from meditation.

You don’t have to sit cross-legged in a mass of pillows, either. “Even if you’re just looking for a little boost in your mood, meditation can help you do it,” says Bruce Frantzis, author of The Chi Revolution: Harness the Healing Power of Your Life Force. His suggestions on how to get started:

Try to physically center yourself, taking long, slow, deep breaths and inhaling as much air as you can. “Breathe deep from your belly,” says Frantzis, “and relax your nerves while you do it.”

Concentrate on how your body
is feeling, and wherever you sense tightness, try to alleviate it. “Relaxing your belly will automatically relax your brain,” he says. This is when those pesky daily stresses start to disappear, and your perspective will naturally start to change.

According to Frantzis, there are things that make people feel alive and things that make people feel dead. A “dead” example is any form of anxiety, while emotions like “love” and “hope” make you feel alive.

Click here to read the entire article.

The Fittest Movies of All-Time

Some of the best motivation to get in shape comes from shredded actors on the big screen. Of course many of those fit actors have personal trainers, diet specialists, personal cooks and loads of time to devote to looking so good, but still, it doesn?t matter where the motivation to eat right and stay in shape come from – as long as they come from somewhere.

Men?s recently unveiled its choices for the fittest movies of all-time. Below is a sample, but make sure to check out the entire article by clicking here.

Brad Pitt never had trouble winning over the ladies, but to most guys, he was still a skinny pretty boy?until Fight Club. As anarchist Tyler Durden, he inspired men everywhere to start crunching.

Fight Club

The film’s CGI-backbone doesn’t tarnish the exceptional shape the actors (like Gerard Butler, above) achieved to play a fearless Spartan army. After training for three months, the cast had to complete a 300-rep fitness test, including pull-ups, deadlifts, and pushups.


The documentary that brought bodybuilding and its Austrian poster boy into the mainstream. With vintage footage of Gold’s gym and the brutal workouts that forged champion bodies, Pumping Iron is a must-see for any musclehead.

Pumping Iron

Least Fit Celebes

Men’s lists eight celebrity guys whose health could benefit from shrinking their waistline.

Michael Moore
Age: 54
In his words: “Actually, when I go home to Michigan, I’m one of the skinny guys.”

The sizeable filmmaker made us take a long hard look at the nation’s health care system in his controversial documentary Sicko. Weighing in at just over 300 pounds, Moore would be wise to examine his own health as closely, especially since he’s now in his mid-50s. To his credit, Moore has reportedly made attempts to shed the pounds through lifting weights, eating smarter, and getting more sleep. He’s also been quoted as saying he’d like to get down to 225 pounds.
Least Fit Moment
During a 2007 interview with New York Magazine, Moore was asked if he lost any weight prior to the release of Sicko to avoid being called a hypocrite by the critics. His response: “Not at all. [Losing weight] actually works against me. . . . See, as I’ve gained weight over the years, I’ve become more popular. You can really track the box office going up as I put on the pounds: Roger & Me, $7 million. Bowling for Columbine, $21 million. Fahrenheit, $120 million.”

Kevin Smith
Age: 37
In his words: “I’ve never been a drinker or drugger, but where I’ve historically indulged like Tony Montana?was with junk food. I never had a bowl of cereal; I’d eat a box.”

The brilliant filmmaker who brought us Clerks, Mallrats, and Dogma, has always been a guy who swims in self-deprecation when it comes to his body image. But Smith’s family history?of diabetes scared the director into shedding over 20 pounds in 2007. We give the guy all the credit in the world for paying attention to hereditary health risks — and we’re willing to bet Smith will stick to his new lifestyle and drop a few more pounds.
Least Fit Moment
In 2007, Smith revealed in his blog the real reason why he can’t lose weight: “I don’t have a weight problem. There are people who can work their asses off to lose weight?only to find that their genetics conspire against their best efforts. I’m not one of those people. I can lose weight?— I just have a problem with getting off my fat ass. What can I say? I’m just a lazy fuck.”

Kevin Smith probably sums up why many people struggle with weight loss. Laziness will get you every time.

Do sleep-deprived kids get fat?

A study reported by the USA Today says children that don’t get enough sleep are more likely to become overweight, compared to children who do enter sandman nightly.?

Researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., reviewed national data on more than 1,400 kids ages 3 to 12; follow-up data on the same children were collected five years later. The parents completed time diaries on children’s bedtime and wake-up times. Children’s height and weight were measured on two occasions.?The National Sleep Foundation recommends that preschoolers get 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night. Children ages 5 to 12 years are supposed to sleep 10 to 11 hours a night; teens, nine hours.?

Findings in the journal Child Development:?

• Many children aren’t sleeping enough on weeknights: 10-year-olds slept an average of 9.5 hours a night; 14-year-olds, 8.5 hours; 17-year-olds, 8 hours.?

• About 36% of children ages 3 to 8 who slept an average of 10 hours — too little for the wee ones and barely enough for the older children — were overweight by middle school.?

• Only 30% of children in that age range who got about 11 hours of sleep a night were overweight in middle school.?Eleven to 13 hours of sleep each night sounds like a crap load compared to the recommended seven to eight hours for adults.Eleven to 13 hours of sleep each night sounds like a crap load compared to the recommended seven to eight hours for adults.Eleven to 13 hours of sleep each night sounds like a crap load compared to the recommended seven to eight hours for adults.Eleven to 13 hours of sleep each night sounds like a crap load compared to the recommended seven to eight hours for adults.

Eleven to 13 hours of sleep each night sounds like a crap load compared to the recommended seven to eight hours for adults.

Eleven to 13 hours of sleep each night sounds like a crap load compared to the recommended seven to eight hours for adults.

Hair Triggers

In the Feburary issue of Men’s Health, the mag offers advice to fix four hidden causes of shedding:

1. Sudden Hair Loss
The trigger is emotional or physical trauma. The shock can cause telogen effluvium, a condition that makes hair stop growing and fall out. “Imagine going bald overnight,” says Jessie Cheung, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at New York University school of medicine. As your mind and body recover, so too will your hairline.

2. Steady Hair Loss
Hair follicles demand a steady infusion of nutrients to sustain rapid growth. If you’re shedding more than usual for 2 or 3 months straight, look at your diet: Too little iron, biotin, or zinc can send hair into starvation mode. To restore those nutrients, eat more broccoli, spinach, and eggs. Also, pop a daily multivitamin, such as Centrum.

3. A Round, Smooth Patch
A silver-dollar-size bare spot signals alopecia areata. The cataglst is still unknown, but stress and genetics are likely culprits, says Kevin McElwee, Ph.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of British Columbia. See a dermatologist for corticosteroid injections to ease the inflammation causing your hair to hibernate.

4. A Round, Scaly Patch
You probably have tinea capitis, a fungal infection. (Think athlete’s foot of the head.) Your body battles back with a wave of white blood cells that harm hair follicles. Try an over-the-counter antifungal shampoo, such as Nizoral. If that doesn’t work, as for a prescription antifungal medication, such as Lamisil.

Getting to the bottom of high protein intake

In the October issue of Men’s Health, the mag debunks five nutrition myths concerning (among other things) protein intake, potatoes and salt. Among the five, the most interesting was Myth #1: “High protein intake is harmful to your kidneys.”

The mag reads:

The origin: back in 1983, researchers first discovered that eating more protein increases your “glomerular filtration rate,” or GFR. Think of GFR as the amount of blood your kidneys are filtering per minute. From this finding many scientists made the leap that a higher FGR places your kidneys under greater stress.

What science really shows: Nearly 2 decades ago, Dutch researchers found that while a protein-rich meal did boost GFR, it didn’t have an adverse effect on overall kidney function. In fact, there’s zero published research showing that downing hefty amounts of protein – specifically, up to 1.27 grams per pound of body weight a day – damages healthy kidneys.

The bottom line: As a rule of thumb, shoot to eat your target body weight in grams of protein daily. For example, if you’re a chubby 200 pounds and want to be a lean 180, then have 180 grams of protein a day. Likewise if you’re a skinny 150 pounds but want o be a muscular 180.

Anyone who has gotten sound nutrition advice has heard the, “One to 1.5 gram(s) of protein to pound is optimal” speech. I think the bottom line section in the Men’s Health article hits the nail on the head. If you’re a hard gainer looking to be 180, then shoot for 180 grams of protein a day. If you want to drop a few pounds and be a lean 180, then shoot for the same grams-per-day average.

Muscle layoff

There was an interesting question asked in the “Malegrams” section of the August 2007 issue of Men’s Health:

Q: How long can I go without lifting weights before my muscles disappear?

Answer (provided by trainer Mike Mejia): Contrary to popular belief, your muscles don’t turn to mush as soon as you stop lifting. In fact, a recent study of recreational weight lifters found that 6 weeks of inactivity resulted in only a slight decrease in power (10) percent after 2 weeks) and virtually no drop-off in size or strength. You could go the whole summer without pumping iron – as long as you’re keeping fit with activities such as swimming or tennis. These sports help retain muscle mass and offer the perfect physical and mental break from the tedium of the gym. Come fall, you can return to the gum refreshed and ready to take your workouts to the next level.

Interesting. Obviously if your goal is to put on a ton of size, you don’t want to go an entire summer without so much as looking at a weight. But those who get sick of the rigors of a gym routine can find solace – at least from Mr. Mejia and his research – that if you partake in sports and other physical activities, you won’t resemble Calista Flockhart by August.


In the April 2007 issue of Muscle & Body magazine, Dave Hawk’s response to a question concerning soy protein is, to say the least disturbing.? The reader asks, if soy is claimed to be an inferior protein by other authors, why is it used in different products?

Excerpt from Dave’s answer:

What I dislike to hear is the misconception, misinformation and misrepresentation of a great ingredient like soy protein isolate (SPI).? Not only does SPI have natural health benefits, it is 100% equal to whey protein isolate (WPI) in aiding muscle building in men.

Misinformation and misrepresentation, soy protein is garbage.? Obviously Mr. Hawk doesn’t keep up with what’s going on in the supplement or food industries because the FDA denied soy’s heart health claims because of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The only misrepresentation is by the soy industry and so called experts who spew their garbage in columns like Muscle Talk.? SPI is extremely low in quality.? The Protein Efficiency ratio, Biological Value, Net Protein Ratio and the Relative Net Protein Ratio, which are all ways scientists rate the quality of protein, consistently score soy protein toward the bottom.

Soy does score high with the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score.? The catch is, soy is set at a score of 100 and 100 is the highest score available.? Because the soy industry flexed their financial muscle, they can now claim their protein is as high a quality as other proteins.? The soy industry spends millions on funding false research and claims in an effort to sell product.?

Dave concludes, WPI is a great staple supplement for anyone’s muscle-building diet, but adding SPI to your daily protein regimen can be a great way to stack your nutritional protein arsenal.

SPI is one of the most highly processed foods one can consume.? Soy beans are regularly treated with heat, alkalis, acids, solvents and oxidizers, in order to make protein products.? Otherwise soy protein would taste like shit and be indigestible.

SPI contains trypsin inhibitors, which inhibits enzymes that help us digest protein.? Supplement wth a protein that inhibits the digestion of protein, smart.

SPI contains goitrogens, which block the synthesis of thyroid hormones.? As soy consumption goes up so does the incidence of thyroid disease.

SPI contains phytoestrogens, which lowers testosterone in men.?

The list goes on, but this is not the forum.?

Growth Zone my ass

Time under tension is a great tool to use when trying to make gains in size and strength.? It’s well accepted that in order for one to stimulate muscle to induce gains the optimum time under tension is 20 – 60 seconds for the vast majority of people.? In the April 2007 issue of Ironman magazine William Litz has written an article on extending time under tension using partial, burns and X-reps.

Let me start by addressing the before and after pictures included on the second page of the author.? Underneath the pictures it states, “William Litz took his physique from a soft 220 to a hard, abs blazing 210 in only eight weeks using X-reps partials and stretch overload.”?

Does he really think the readers of this magazine are that deficient in their reasoning ability they wouldn’t see how ludicrous the caption under the pictures is?? In a word, YES.? Remember that magazines primarily exist to sell product and could care less about dispensing valid training advice.? Most of what is found in muscle magazines is nonsense filler, like this article.

In this worthless article Litz states, “Why burns fell out of favor is beyond me.? It clearly produced amazing builds in the decades before chemical warfare.”? Yet performing burns and partials for over ten years proved ineffective for him.? He used partials and burns sice the early 90′s, but didn’t make “ab blazing” gains until using X-reps, which are a variation of partials and burns.?

Litz also claims new research indicates that bottom, or stretch position burns are more beneficial, but to keep variety alive.? No research is sited in the article.? Litz would like you to keep in mind that stretch position partials can activate a lot of fibers and may even lead to fiber splitting, if such a phenomenon exists.? It may lead to, if such a phenomenon exists?? Are you kidding me?? You could actually transport yourself from place to place within seconds if such a devise existed.

The fact is, we humans have a finite ability to recover from physical stress.? Stress induced by high intensity training is no exception.? There is no reason what-so-ever to take a set beyond momentary positive failure.? In fact, partials, negatives and other forms of extending sets fell out of favor because they do more to over-train individuals than anything else.? Top bodybuilders are always sited as proof a certain training program works, but what about the 10’s of thousands who use these vary programs and get nowhere.

You can not force growth.? If your progress has come to a halt, you’re not recovering.? Using partials and burns should only be used by advanced lifters wth low frequency.? Pushing beyond, doing more without allowing recovery, will only exacerbate the problem.?????

Five common exercises you should never do

In a recent Best Life article posted on, exercise physiologists listed five exercises that should be taken out of daily routines.

The five:

- Posterior (Behind-the-Neck) Pull Downs
- Behind-the-Neck Shoulder Presses
- Straight Ball Curls
- Leg Extensions
- Sit-Ups

I’ve heard sit-ups are bad for the back and some personal trainers aren’t big on posterior pull downs, but avoiding straight ball curls and leg extensions are news to me. Regardless, the article gives a brief description of why the exercise should be avoided, as well as safer alternatives.

To read the entire article, click here.

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