New AST Power Camp In October

On Wednesday, October 5, we will be starting our second AST Power camp, a 6-week camp designed to prepare you for competition at a powerlifting meet as part of Team AST.  Our first camp led a team of 6 members, as well as coaches Zach and Sergio, to the 2011 USPF Illinois State Meet at Lance’s Gym in Chicago, IL.  All 8 members of the team placed in the top 3 in their respective weight and age divisions.

This time, we will be competing at the UPF Power Weekend in Dubuque, IA on November 19.  More information and rules can be found here: UPA Power Weekend.

The camp can have up to 8 participants, and will be held Wednesday mornings from 7:30-8:30am, starting October 5.  Participants will be responsible for their own entry fee for the competition should they choose to compete.

If you are looking for a new way to challenge yourself and enjoy some friendly competition with your training partners, get involved and join the camp!  E-mail Julie, Zach or Christine to sign up.

Client Spotlight: Bernard Elam

In the first installment of our Client Spotlight feature, AST client Bernard Elam describes his experiences at All Strength Training and how he’s regained control of his appearance and his life.

My whole life, I have felt I have a weak upper body, so I would normally skip any strength training and focus on running.  I knew I needed to do something different, because I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted the last several years, and was at my heaviest ever.  After several months of putting it off, I joined All Strength Training last fall.  AST educated me on the importance of strength training, and my BioSignature showed me that I needed to work my upper body and my nutrition to reach my goals – a leaner, stronger, and healthier body overall.

The BioSignature has been a huge part of my transformation.  It gets me past being a “slave to the scale”, because I have a more targeted view of my body. I understand exactly where my problem areas are and the priority of these areas by measuring my body fat in 12 different sites.  It really sets the stage for my nutrition planning and training program, so I can get results relatively quickly.

I have been coming to AST for about seven months, and the most noticeable changes are that I have lost 7% body fat and over 20 pounds of scale weight. I have gained lean muscle mass, feel more energetic, and sleep better.  I also believe I have better posture, because I am more aware of my body.

At the start of my program, I had high LDL cholesterol at 170, and my doctor put me on a drug. I made sure AST was aware of my issue with cholesterol, so I received some nutrition guidance.  Through the combination of the drug, the changes in nutrition, and my training routine, I was able to lower my LDL cholesterol 50% in three months and went from being “at risk” to “excellent” cholesterol levels.

I love to eat out, and it’s basically a job requirement because I work in the food business.  With AST’s nutrition guidance, I really had to think seriously about the foods I put into my body.   I had to make a real lifestyle change with my nutrition if I was going to be serious about getting into decent shape.

I started cooking at home most of the time, and planning my meals better – even when I do eat out. I did participate in a two hour nutrition seminar and an afternoon cooking soiree through AST and learned how much better I can do with some healthy recipes and the right cooking equipment.

I train in a semi-private setting with other members who share similar goals and similar needs, which keeps me highly motivated to push myself harder than I normally would.  Nobody wants to be the weakest link, so we naturally push each other and feed off of everybody’s energy.  In fact,  because of the relationships I’ve developed with those that I train with, I feel more accountable to them and don’t want to let them down.

AST has a range of programs, camps, seminars, and nutritional products, but I have never felt pressured to buy anything.  There is no sales pressure, gimmicks, or complicated contracts, just a straightforward education and training process.  This is truly the best experience from any other places where I have trained.

Bernard at 225lbs, and 8 months later at 200lbs.

Get Your Blood Tested for Optimal Body Composition

Most people who are struggling to add significant amounts of muscle or lose bodyfat quickly will try just about anything to get results – every fad diet, every “cutting edge” workout routine from your favorite grocery store fitness magazine, every “amazing new” supplement with ads that show men and women with physiques that you would kill for.  But when we screen new clients coming in to start a program, when we ask when the last time blood work was drawn, over 90% of the time the answer is “more than 2 years ago.”

On top of that, the extent of the education on the results provided by the doctor typically focuses on things like cholesterol and glucose, with very little attention paid to other key information that could make all the difference in the world for how much you get out of your physical efforts.  Below I will list what I believe to be 3 of the most important blood tests that are very easy to do and can be taken by most doctors and covered under most insurances.

Vitamin D3

Most of our exposure to vitamin D comes via sunlight, with very little vitamin D coming from our diet.  In addition, the RDA for vitamin D is a meager 400IU per day, which means that even foods that are fortified with vitamin D don’t contain it in any quantities that will do any good very quickly.  Combine poor food intake with limited sun exposure and you’re very likely to have low levels of D.  In fact, the average blood levels for Americans living north of Atlanta, Georgia are 14ng/mL.  Optimal levels, however, are between 80-100ng/mL.

Red Blood Cell Magnesium

Per Charles Poliquin:

“Magnesium is the fourth-most abundant mineral in the body, with approximately 66 percent of it found in bone and 33 percent in skeletal and cardiac muscle. It is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted through the kidneys. Magnesium is involved in 300 essential biochemical reactions in the body, ranging from ATP production to protein synthesis, so it is obviously important for optimal athletic performance and a high quality of life.” (Magnesium Deficiency: A Growing Health Crisis)

Although the labratory norms for RBC magnesium are typically between 1.8 and 2.2mg/dL, optimal ranges have been shown to be somewhere between 4.2 and 6.8mg/dL.  Several different types of magnesium are available, composed of different “chelates” which make them more likely to be absorbed by specific tissues in the body, such as the liver, the muscles, and the brain.  It is also available in topical forms for those with history of GI upset or symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

 Red Blood Cell Zinc

Zinc, like magnesium, is an essential mineral for many of the body’s functions, but is also one of the most common mineral deficiencies.  Common side effects include low testosterone and aromatization of testosterone into estrogen, as well as decreased muscle mass and delayed muscular recovery.  Ideal levels for those training intensely have been shown to be between 1,400 ug/dL.

Addressing Deficiencies

If you show as deficient in any of the above 3 nutrients, it would be beneficial to use a functional medicine doctor or other practitioner to help you develop a plan to restore deficiencies.  It is important to note that many times it can be necessary to use a “therapeutic dose” of a vitamin or mineral to restore a deficiency – in other words, a dose that’s significantly more than what would be suggested for daily maintenance.  But think of it this way – it’s not much different than a doctor recommending 200mg of ibuprofen for a headache, but 800mg for a severe sprain.  The dose will be tailored to the condition.

Please, if you have been struggling to make changes but aren’t seeing the results you want, contact your physician and ask to have these three tests taken.  Then seek out help to get the appropriate guidance to restore nutrient status and get the body you desire.

For more information on nutrient deficiencies and how they can impact your health and physique, click here to learn more about BioSignature Hormone Analysis and to schedule a consultation.