Question: What do you think about the idea of doing a three-day juice diet for health, cleanse, and weight loss? The diet would be purchased from a company that specializes in juice cleanses.

Answer: Cleanse and detox programs are sold to the naive in the health-and-fitness crowd. Limiting one’s intake of food and drinking juices for a few days can’t rid one of environmental toxins accumulated in one’s tissues. Real detoxification therapy is done under medical supervision and may involve carefully monitored heat treatment with administration of supplements–not to be done by the inexpert. And treating heavy metal toxicity by chelation therapy is an even more serious matter.

Just for your information, here is my layman’s guide to fasting, cleansing, and detoxing:

Long Fasts

During a fast, after using up one’s store of glycogen within the first 2 or 3 days, one feeds on one’s own tissues, beginning with those least critical for survival. So, the nervous, circulatory, and respiratory systems are spared; what is consumed are mainly fat stores and, to a lesser (but not small) degree, protein from muscles and other organs. Ketosis (result of metabolizing fats without adequate carbohydrates) begins between the 3rd and 4th day of the fast and reaches its peak usually between the 7th and 10th day. At that time one can experience headaches, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms. After the 8th or 10th day of the fast, one usually feels better for about 10 days, after which organs may become damaged, and so medical supervision is needed for fasts this long.

Usually within the second or third week of fasting, one’s breath and sweat have a foul smell. This is a sign of toxins released from metabolized tissues–no foul smell, no release of toxins. The foul smell may persist into the 6th week of the fast. So for a thorough true cleanse, fast up to six weeks.

Short Cleanse Programs

If you eat foods that abuse your digestive system, then a couple or few days of fasting will make you feel better–it will be a respite from the abuse. Feeling better after such a brief fast is due chiefly to not eating bad stuff rather than to fancy cleansing programs with their juices and supplements. In other words, if you feel better when you don’t eat your usual foods, then you should not be eating them–duh! On the other hand, if you can’t change your eating habits, then those short rest periods for your body do make sense, but the cleansing bull–not so much.

If you eat optimally you don’t need cleansing programs.

Optimal Nutrition by Dr. Jan Kwasniewski

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...


Article titled “Bench Press: What It Does and Doesn’t Do” is posted at www.stadion.com/bench-press-what-it-does-and-doesnt-do/

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“People often ask me how to arrange their training programs, or simply in what order to do exercises for best results. As they ask these questions they list the exercises they do. As soon as they tell me the bench press is a regular part of their training, even though they are not powerlifters, I know further conversation with them is a waste of time because they don’t think straight–their bench presses are proof of it….” Read more at www.stadion.com/bench-press-what-it-does-and-doesnt-do/

Explosive Power and Jumping Ability for All Sports: Essential Strength and Jumping Ability Exercises for All Sports

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...


In the YouTube video below, Coach Tumminello talks about the use of the term functional in sports and fitness training and gives a useful definition of the term.

What is Functional Training? The Real Definition

My definition is similar to that of Coach Tumminello but briefer and wider. I define functional exercises as those that improve your overall functioning. In other words, to borrow an expression from physical education, functional exercises “have a positive transfer” to all (yes, all) your activities.

That same definition applies to functional training. (Sports training consists of exercises, means of recovery, and means of rebuilding—that is, nutrition.) But keep in mind that nonfunctional training—such that impairs your function—may be made up of exercises that by themselves could be functional. It is a matter of dosage of all the elements of training.

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...


Today a post from Stadion’s Discussion Forum with questions on overtraining and recovery from injuries, followed by my answers. First the whole post:

I am a taekwondo’er, been away for some months (bad ankle sprain that had me undergo surgery, which has taken months to recover) . . . anyways enough of my sorry story, lol. I am looking to get back into training. I have been given an all clear for weight training, swimming, cycling, and light running. I have been told to be cautious of any activity that would put a strain on the ankle joint (jumping, sprinting, etc). This post I guess is more of “prevention is better than cure.”

Given that I have been off training for almost 4 months, my fitness is zilch and I need to work on rebuilding. This includes my flexibility (whatever basic levels I had), strength, and endurance/stamina. I also have an aggressive deadline of mid-March (TKD commitments!), and my biggest worry is I might end up overtraining. Given that I need to improve every aspect of physical fitness, I have been unable to find a particular type of exercise I can perform that will help me get there. The questions I therefore have are:

1. Flexibility Express—recently received as an Xmas present—can I follow it solely to achieve my goals?

2. Are there any other exercises that would complement the above that I can do without killing myself?

3. Is there a program anyone might be willing to share that I can use to aid in my goals?

The kind of training I have in mind will involve training twice a day, 6 days a week. Deep down inside I know this is not the most sensible approach.

An unrelated (or perhaps not) question!

I seem to take very long to recover from injuries. My ankle for instance has taken a year and a surgery and is still not there. I had an adductor injury (practicing kicks) that took almost 16 weeks. Is this my genes or am I doing something wrong here? Apologies for the very open-ended question.

Any advice, suggestions, comments will be greatly appreciated. I haven’t had anyone (in my network) provide advice that would help, and I come here feeling I might finally be able to get some help.

My answers to each question:

Question:
Given that I need to improve every aspect of physical fitness, I have been unable to find a particular type of exercise I can perform that will help me get there. The questions I therefore have are:

1. Can I follow [Flexibility Express] solely to achieve my goals?

Answer:
No. Flexibility Express is for developing strength and flexibility, but not for endurance.

Question:
2. Are there any other exercises that would complement the above that I can do without killing myself?

Answer:
Yes. Those mentioned by you already:
Swimming (for endurance, mainly breath control and lung capacity)
Running (for endurance, with a greater effect on the muscular endurance of legs than swimming)
Cycling (allows much greater intensity of effort than running without overstressing your ankle)

Question:
3. Is there a program anyone might be willing to share that I can use to aid in my goals?

Answer:
Other people’s programs may or may not fit you, so if they share theirs with you, you will have to customize those programs (see my answer below on avoiding overtraining).

Question:
My biggest worry is I might end up overtraining.

Answer:
To avoid overtraining, monitor yourself for early signs of excessive fatigue, such as poor sleep (waking up at night, waking up tired), lack of enthusiasm for exercising, being irritable, and excessive reaction to sudden stimuli (being jumpy). For more of those signs, see Science of Sports Training.

Question:
I seem to take very long to recover from injuries. My ankle for instance has taken a year and a surgery and is still not there. I had an adductor injury (practicing kicks) that took almost 16 weeks. Is this my genes or am I doing something wrong here?

Answer:
Long recovery may be caused by any or all of the following:

Rehab—poor choice of rehab exercises, excessive intensity of those exercises, wrong frequency of doing the exercises. This may result in disrupting the healing of tissues and preventing their maturation, plus inflammation.

Training—excessive intensity and volume of exercises (too intense and/or too much), so you end up with too much inflammation and excess acidity in your body.

Nutrition—wrong foods that do not supply enough macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to rebuild your damaged tissues and/or that are pro-inflammatory and acidifying. From my own experience, I learned that getting rid of pro-inflammatory foods has a better effect than increasing the intake of anti-inflammatory foods or supplements. For example, my shoulder was chronically inflamed for a long time—even though I ate many good things (such as avocados, olives, wild salmon) and took turmeric supplements—until I completely eliminated any grains (other than rice) from my diet. I used to have one or two slices of bread per day (and very little other grain products), and my shoulder was getting worse rather than better. Then my rehab specialist suggested I stop eating the bread and any grains, and the shoulder got better within days.

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...


A recent exchange on training for strength and flexibility between Mr. E and me:

Mr. E.:
I have been using your video Flexibility Express, and I definitely see major improvement, though not as quickly as you indicate I should. One question regarding the squats into splits routine: How frequently should I be performing that series of exercises? More than once per week?

Thomas Kurz:
You do your whole-body strength workout just once a week? And you see major improvement? I am amazed!

But seriously, information on the number of workouts in a week is in these posts:

Flexibility Express and Workout Schedule and Overtraining

Silly Questions, or How Often Should I Exercise

Mr. E.:
Thank you. I train 4 days per week, 3 days upper body (more traditional format [than the Flexibility Express]), and I only do legs and squats into splits once per week. I do, however, follow your dynamic stretching routine for front, side, and rear kicks twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. I was just wondering if I should do the squats into splits more often, as that seems to be the catalyst to lengthening my muscles. Thanks again.

Thomas Kurz:
You want to do splits and you say that doing the squats-to-splits routine “seems to be the catalyst to lengthening [your] muscles” and then you are wondering if you should do it more often? Don’t be wondering–just do it.

By the way, if you want to get seriously big shoulders, chest, and arms, don’t skimp on squats and deadlifts. Those “lower-body lifts” have great hormonal effects on the whole body and so add considerable muscle mass to the upper body too.

More info on the Flexibility Express program is at
www.stadion.com/flexibility-express/

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...


Two new articles on stretching and flexibility are posted on stadion.com. The first is titled “Age and Stretching” and the second, “Gender and Stretching.”

In those articles I answer questions from athletes and martial artists on relation of age and gender to flexibility. Some older martial artists ask whether it is possible to improve flexibility at an advanced age. Some men ask whether women are naturally more flexible—perhaps looking for an excuse not to try a rational stretching method. Some women ask whether my stretching method will work for them as well as it works for men—as if women’s muscles and nerves were so different from men’s as to require completely different stretches.

Read the questions and my answers in those two articles posted at Flexibility Training for Sports and Martial Arts.

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

Stretching Scientifically

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...


Does your flexibility improve when you stop training? If yes, then you have the same problem as the martial artist who wrote this:

> As a martial artist I stretch a lot but nothing happens. In fact when
> I don’t train I become a little bit more flexible than when I train.
> It seems like some have this talent and some not.

Well, if you get more flexible when you don’t train, it means that your training is certainly bad for your flexibility and very likely bad for every other ability you want to improve. So, if you want to make progress you need to change your training–duh!

Here are reasons why your current training doesn’t improve your flexibility:

1. You do ineffective exercises, which take a lot of effort to show a small improvement, or even worse, that hurt you.

2. You see that doing those exercises brings very little improvement, so instead of finding better ones, you do those same exercise harder and more often, which makes your muscles chronically fatigued (and thus less flexible), and eventually hurts your joints.

3. You discover that laying off your training improves your flexibility, but instead of admitting to yourself that you chose wrong exercises and/or training plan and changing them, you invent an excuse that, “some have this talent and some not” and go back to doing the old thing or give up.

BTW, that explanation applies to any other ability.

I have written about this problem earlier, in my article “Q&A on Training for Flexibility and Strength–Workout Schedule 1.”

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...