Master Phil's Health & Fitness

Posts in the Athlete category

Watermelon – Super Fruit?

I consume watermelon on a regular basis, using watermelon for myself and the athletes that I train before, during and after competitions. I have urged them to incorporate watermelon consumption as part of their regular diet, not knowing how much good was coming from eating the fruit. Not only is watermelon an extremely tasty whole food, but it has a positive effect upon the functions of the human body.

The research article, Watermelon Consumption Increases Plasma Arginine Concentrations in Adults was a 19 week study including 12 males and 11 females between the ages of 36-69 was approved by the committee on human research of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene in Baltimore, MD. The purpose of the study was to determine the level of effectiveness of consuming specific amounts of watermelon over the three week period and measure the results. Watermelon contains a large amount of citrulline which the body converts to arginine. The amino acid arginine is required to produce proteins and other molecules, including nitric oxide, proline and creatine. Nitric oxide (NO), is responsible for regulation of vascular tone and aids in the prevention of pathogens and tumor cells as an important part in boosting immunity. Proline is essential part of collagen and is critical to joint function and wound healing. Creatine is a major energy storing substance for and critical to the function of skeletal muscle and neuronal cells. Taking an oral form of arginine has been used to aid the bodily functions, but 40% is catabolized by the intestinal tissues and another 10 to 15% of the amino acid is processed by the liver. Whereas citrulline by passes the liver completely with minimal intestinal absorption, therefore leaving the body free to access the full amount of converted arginine.

The subjects were given either 3 cups (780 grams) or 6 cups (1560 grams) of watermelon juice. There was no control group for this experiment. There were several periods prior, during and upon completion of the watermelon juice consumption that fasting measurements taken revealed that plasma levels  of arginine and ornithine and stable amounts of plasma citrulline were present. The rates were up to 22% greater than prior to ingestion of the watermelon juice.

I do believe that the experiment has validity. Though the group was not large a one, the data provided significant proof that watermelon ingestion does increase the levels of arginine and other amino acids that are essential to maintaining and achieving good health.

The whole premise of the study was to determine the effects of ingesting watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline (CWJ) (3.45 g per 500 mL) on athletes competing in half marathon running events. The study consisted of 21 healthy, amatuer runners in a double blind test. Each of the runner’s ages 18-45 years had at least four years of experience in distance running. The subjects were either given the watermelon infused with additional L-citrulline or a placebo, the runners were directed to run the half marathon and then were administered jump tests and interviewed to assess their rate of perceived exertion. Later on, they were again interviewed on levels of soreness at 24 and 72 hours. Plasma tests were also conducted to evaluate potential muscle damage.The study was approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board and in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

The results demonstrated that the groups with the CWJ had lower perceived exhaustion levels than that of the placebo group, maintained their jump test levels after running and had lower levels of lactate present in their blood. After the race, the blood tests revealed that the group that had taken the CWJ had actually increased the levels of arginine (27%) and increased the basal levels (14%). The placebo group lowered the basal levels b 13%. However, these differences were only noted after the testing. The results demonstrated that the intake of L-citrulline has the potential to reduce muscle fatigue. The effect of nitric oxide production also  helps to maintain muscle contractility for a longer period of time and improve the exercise performance due to increased blood flow.

In regard to the percentage amounts of citrulline that is converted to arginine and then nitrate, I was unable to find that information in any of the 4 articles that I read. I was able to find this on the Examine.com website: “L-arginine and L-ornithine are subject to reduced absorption when supplemented in doses of 10g or more, which can result in diarrhea. L-Citrulline does not have this side-effect, and since it increases plasma levels of all three amino acids, it is generally preferred as a supplement over L-arginine. Though L-citrulline doubles ornithine plasma content, L-ornithine supplementation can increase ornithine plasma content even more, by 300 – 500 percent.” The side effect being referenced is diarrhea caused by ingesting more than 10 mg of arginine. But I am not able to answer your question directly regarding actual conversion percentages, though I did find that the arginine supplementation lost 40% in the intestines and another 10 to 15% in the liver, as noted previously.

 

References:

Citrulline - Scientific Review on Usage, Dosage, Side Effects. Examine.com
https://examine.com/supplements/citrulline/

Collins, J K., Wu, G., Perkins-Veazie, P., Spears, K., Claypool, P. L. et al. (Mar, 2007) Watermelon consumption increases plasma arginine concentrations in adults. Nutrition;  Kidlington Vol. 23, Iss. 3. Doi_10.1016_j.nut.2007.01

Marini, J. C., Didelija, I. C., Castillo, L., & Lee, B. (Aug, 2010). Plasma arginine and ornithine are the main citrulline Precursors in mice infused with arginine-free diets. Journal of Nutrition.
doi: 10.3945/jn.110.125377

Martinez-Sanchez, A., Ramos-Campo, D., Fernandez-Lobato, B., Rubio-Arias, J. A., Alacid, F., & Aguayo, E. (Jun 13, 2017).Biochemical, physiological, and performance response of a functional watermelon juice enriched in L-citrulline during a half-marathon race. Food Nutr Res. 2017; 61(1): 1330098. doi: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1330098
PMCID: PMC5475291


Phil Ross, AKA Master Phil and The Kettlebell King is a Master Kettlebell Instructor, College Professor in Wellness and Exercise, holder of a Masters Degree in Sports and Health Sciences, Author, 9th Degree Black Belt, and Master Bladewielder & Bodyweight Specialist. Master Phil has also launched a certification course: BodyBell Method, which is recognized by the highly regarded ACE (American Council of Exercise). Read a more in-depth description of Master Phil’s qualifications and accomplishments here. Have a question for Master Phil? Click here and send it in! View Phil's collection of Fitness DVD's here.

Human Movement

by Phil Ross

Human movement enables us to survive and thrive. Whether movement was developed due to our ability to think and reason or if our ability to think and reason created our movement is still up to debate.

It’s my personal feeling that they were developed in tandem in accordance with the demands of how to best enable ourselves to cope with the environment and the challenges that we faced (and face) as we humans evolved. I must admit that the physiological components are necessary as a starting point.

How do we measure this movement and why is it important? The importance of human movement measurement can be found in teaching, performing and learning tasks. There is an important cognitive learning curve to skill based movements. The testing of the skills will yield information to the researcher of how well a student/subject/athlete/employee is either a) suited for a job or b) how much they have improved over time. Measurement of performance is extremely important in terms of skill acquisition and potential of performance. The data gathered from the measurements of the skill are only as useful as the tests used to garner the information.

There are two aspects of measurement that bode consideration: Reliability and Validity. The reliability of a test is based on several components. Is the test repeatable? How do we create an environment that allows us to have a repeatable test? We need to remove as many variables as possible to enable the subject the best opportunity to repeat the performance in the same fashion. For example, when I instruct a martial arts student on how to perform a particular movement or form/kata (series of movements executed in a pattern to simulate fighting), we seek repeatability of the how the movement is done. I advise of them of the body placement and when they perform it properly, I have them remember that “feeling” that they have and instruct them to seek to repeat that feeling. The kata, movement or form is done in a repeatable fashion and is thus recognizable by those familiar with the movement pattern. This enables the martial artist to be judged and evaluated. The only issue that I foresee with a method employing a sterile environment is the reduction/elimination of the heightened awareness and biological response that occur in humans under stress. Some people perform exceptionally well in practice but do not fair as well in actual application of the techniques in a contest. Others compete much better than they practice by channeling the biological functions such as adrenaline, and increased focus to increase their level of performance.

The other aspect to contemplate is the validity of a test. Does the test translate to measurement of ability to perform a task? If we were attempting to determine the potential of an athlete competing in the long jump and we used the standing jump as a barometer, which would make sense. However, if we were trying to gauge how the athlete may perform in the long jump by testing their ability on the ping pong table, that test would not make any sense. The test must have some applicable performance aspect related to the task to be considered valid. There needs to be correlation to the test and the actual task for the test to have validity and for the researcher to collect meaningful data.    

Reference: Schmidt, Richard D. and Lee, Timothy D. (2011). Motor control and learning: A behavioral emphasis. (5th Edition) Champaign. Il: Human Kinetics. Printer: Sheridan books. 


Phil Ross, AKA Master Phil and The Kettlebell King is a Master Kettlebell Instructor, College Professor in Wellness and Exercise, holder of a Masters Degree in Sports and Health Sciences, Author, 9th Degree Black Belt, and Master Bladewielder & Bodyweight Specialist. Master Phil has also launched a certification course: BodyBell Method, which is recognized by the highly regarded ACE (American Council of Exercise). Read a more in-depth description of Master Phil’s qualifications and accomplishments here. Have a question for Master Phil? Click here and send it in! View Phil's collection of Fitness DVD's here.

Top Ten Reasons to Train with Kettlebells and Bodyweight

by Phil Ross

There are many compelling reasons to select using kettlebells and bodyweight to meet your strength and conditioning needs. In summation, below is a list of the Top Ten Reasons to Train with Kettlebells & Bodyweight.

1) Strength on a Neural Level: Other Strength Training Systems operate on developing strength through muscle hypertrophy; this system addresses strength on a neural level. Kettlebell and bodyweight training strengthens the body from the inside out, starting at the core. The muscle doesn’t necessarily have to get bigger in order for you to be stronger. No machines, no benches, no fancy apparatus. Proprioception is leveraged while performing this type of exercise.

2) Shoulder Injuries: How many people do you know that have a shoulder injury? Most people are unaware of how to pack the shoulders and engage the latissimus dorsi. By teaching the students how to do this, removes a great deal of stress from the shoulders shifts the load to the large lat muscle (latissimus dorsi). With a Kettlebell and Bodyweight system, the focus is on not only the strength of the shoulder, but the mobility.

3) Explosive Power: Explosive power is developed through with Plyometric and ballistic movements. Kettlebell swings, snatches, and cleans are all explosive movements that recruit the posterior chain (low back, glutes and hamstrings) by accessing and developing the power of the hips and rooting with the floor. Another Russian Training Innovation, Plyometrics are also employed. Either weighted or bodyweight, generating power with squats, presses and push-ups add to the development of explosive power required to accelerate, jump, throw, take down or deliver a blow to an opponent.

4) Mobility: We don’t simply “Bang out hardcore workouts”, but we utilize movement and restorative training as well. If you push your body, you have to both prepare it for the session and also cool it down as you increase your flexibility and mobility. Mobility training incorporates the packing of the shoulders as you move your body, bridgework for spinal flexion and strength, thoracic mobility movements as well as other designed for your hips, neck, wrists, ankles, feet, toes, hands and fingers. Mobile and stable joints not only enable you to perform better; but reduce the incident of injury.

5) Bodyweight: The ability to control one’s own body through a myriad of movements not only displays, but develops athletic ability and performance. The balance, strength and spatial awareness created by bodyweight training is second to none. If you are unable to control your body properly, how can you safely maximize using additional load? If you have weaknesses and asymmetries, you will only compound your situation. You need to strengthen the intrinsic and stabilizing muscles in order to translate the strength that you have gained into usable, sport applicable strength. Additionally, bodyweight training helps you find what your ideal weight should be at. If you can’t accomplish certain movements, maybe the exerciser does not possess the proper strength to weight ratio.

6) Flexibility: A flexible muscle has greater resilience and a higher capacity to develop explosive power. The full range of motion used in our Kettlebell, bodyweight and suspension training enable the participants to use the whole muscle during their movements, especially in respect to opening the joints and accessing the posterior chain.

7) Endurance, Muscular and Cardiovascular: The fact that there are many kettlebell workouts that require 10, 20, 50 and even 100 repetitions develops an incredible amount muscular endurance and brings the exerciser across three energy systems, ATP-CP, Anaerobic and into the Aerobic. There is even a V02 Max protocol for the kettlebell snatch (McElroy, 2014).

8) Weight Class Athletes: There are two primary methods that increase strength, muscle hypertrophy and neural adaptation. Standard resistance training increases strength in response to loads by increasing the size of the muscle fiber. Due to the offset center of gravity and the shape of the kettlebell, the body must respond by recruiting motor units, stabilizers and the intrinsic muscles to keep the kettlebell in alignment throughout the movements. Hardstyle kettlebell training “teaches” the body how to be strong without adding great amounts of mass. A harder, more flexible, explosive and lean body is the result.

9) Better “Bang for the Buck”, Time Efficient: Not too many people have tow or three hours a day to spend at the gym in the quest for ultimate fitness. When kettlebells and calisthenics are utilized, an hour is more than sufficient to accomplish the five essential modes of fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and body composition (lean body mass). There are also many 20 and 30 minute workouts including Tabatas, Scrambled Eggs and The Warrior’s Challenge (Ross & Gallagher, 2016). All of the facets of fitness, plus mobility, can be met within a relatively short timeframe. 

10) Young Athletes Train Safely: Kettlebells are safe to use for young athletes. Because of the offset center of gravity, a much lighter kettlebell may be used whereas to achieve the same effect with a barbell would require a much heaver weight. Calisthenics require no additional weight to employ.

 


Phil Ross, AKA Master Phil and The Kettlebell King is a Master Kettlebell Instructor, College Professor in Wellness and Exercise, holder of a Masters Degree in Sports and Health Sciences, Author, 9th Degree Black Belt, and Master Bladewielder & Bodyweight Specialist. Master Phil has also launched a certification course: BodyBell Method, which is recognized by the highly regarded ACE (American Council of Exercise). Read a more in-depth description of Master Phil’s qualifications and accomplishments hereHave a question for Master Phil? Click here and send it in! View Phil's collection of Fitness DVD's here.

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