Stay Away From Foggy Goals

Stay Away From Foggy Goals

Stay Away From Foggy Goals

The journey to finding the best training method or philosophy, without first clearly establishing your goal, has the potential to lead to a lifetime of shortcomings. One of the most important you can ever accomplish is clearly defining a measurable and concise goal.

Take a moment to think about your general goal, some examples are as follows:

Is your goal to improve maximal strength?

Is your goal to breathe easier?

Or is your goal to find a workout routine that doesn’t run you into a wall each time?

No matter what your dream may be, clearly defining your goal is the next step in finding the best training method or philosophy that will allow you to accomplish you goal. Defining your goal filters out workout routines or exercises that do not reach that goal. Goals need to be specific and they need to fit into your lifestyle. For example, if you want to improve your bench press but do not have a bench nor have access to one, then that goal would not be realistic for your current setting. Of course, goal defining and creating a goal may sound simple, we hear it often in the media around the New Year’s, in advertisements, and amongst chatter with others. However, it is common for someone to say, “I want to accomplish _____,” but then they don’t end up sitting down to clearly define that goal, include ways of measuring it, determine if it’s achievable, or put a time limit on it (also known as creating a S.M.A.R.T goal).

You need to ask yourself, “what exactly is my goal in a way that I can measure it, achieve it, and define it?” Then take the next step and put together a schedule of tasks that will allow you to reach that goal.

Let’s take an example of one of the three general goals mentioned above, if the goal to improve muscular strength, first, you need to define what muscular strength is to you. After you do that, reflect on the definition and ask yourself if that is exactly what you are looking to achieve. The reason for this is muscular strength starts to change when you integrate sets, reps, volumes, intensity, etc. Muscular strength can be defined, “as the ability of a given muscle or group of muscle to generate muscular force under a specific condition.” (Siff, 2003). Strength is relative and so when the conditions change to improve strength, so will the outcomes. For example, if two individuals perform the same strength test, such as a bench press for 5 reps, and then begin an 8-week program to try and build upon that foundation, yet one athlete completes a HITT training program and the other athlete decides to do a hypertrophy program.

How do you think this change would change the end goal? Well, when the athlete’s come back and retest, the athlete that went through the hypertrophy program will increase their bench press more than the individual who went through a HITT protocol. Why? Because a hypertrophy program is more aligned with improving muscular strength than a HITT protocol. The athlete who incorporated hypertrophy training chose an exercise program that clearly aligned with the goal, while the other athlete did not. This is why having a clear and concise goal in the beginning is important in order for you to choose exercises that are most appropriate for your end goal.

Once again, strength is relative and there are multiple variables to consider but it all comes back to clearly defining your goals. If you want to build muscle mass, jumping up and down off boxes for 20 second intervals is not the way to do it. Spend time clearly defining your goals. Take a moment today to sit down and write your goal out, read it over, and revise it so that you have a clear definition of what you want to accomplish.

Clarity and context need to be established to create an approach that will help you reach your goals. The foggier you keep your goals, the less likely you will be able to obtain them. Start simple and keep your goals precise.

For more exercises content check out our YouTube Channel:

Pulmonary Performance Institute

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          The primary function of the respiratory system is to provide gas exchange between the atmosphere and cells within the body. This occurs in four continuous and concurrent processes. The first process is pulmonary respiration (ventilation). Pulmonary respiration occurs when air moves in and out of the lungs (i.e., breathing). Once air enters the lungs and reaches the alveolar sacs, oxygen (O2) is pulled into the blood and carbon dioxide (CO2) is shifted out through diffusion. Once O2 enters the blood, it is transported to cells found throughout the body through a process known as systemic circulation (Powers & Howley, 2018). This circulatory transport process is the third continuous stage. Lastly, the fourth process is known as the systemic gas exchange process which occurs between the blood and cells. Just like O2 entering the blood via the lungs, cells pull O2 through the plasma membrane and CO2 is shifted out and transported back to the lungs through pulmonary circulation and is then released through exhalation where the cycle repeats itself.

            During exercise, there is a demand for oxygen to fuel the brain, muscles, and other vital organs and components (e.g., neurons, etc.) responsible for movement and metabolic regulation. The amount of oxygen needed is dependent on what an individual is performing, nonetheless oxygen utilization is key. Two key structures, the medulla oblongata and pons found within the brain stem, are responsible for regulating the quantity and rate of gas exchange needed for the exercise demand. The following paragraphs will provide further explanation of the five receptors responsible for regulating the rate of gas exchange required dependent on the demands needed during exercise.

Medulla 

            Located within the anterior brain stem is a cone-shaped bundle called the medulla oblongata.  Within the medulla there are a bundle of nerves that are sensitive to changes in pH levels of the cerebrospinal fluid.  As exercise demand increases, CO2 is released into the blood stream and sent to the brain, stimulating chemoreceptors to send signals to the respiratory control center to increase alveolar ventilation to remove CO2 from the body and pull O2 into the blood for energy use (Serna, Mañanas, Hernández, & Rabinovich, 2018; Powers & Howley, 2018). 

Carotid Body

            On the lateral aspect of the neck there is the common carotid artery that houses peripheral chemoreceptors. These receptors are sensitive to arterial PO2, PCO2, and pH levels. Just like the chemoreceptors in the medulla. When there is an increase in PCO2, signals are sent to the respiratory control to stimulate breathing. While sensitive to PCO2, one difference from the receptors in medulla are that they are also sensitive to pH and PO2 (Kumar & Prabhakar, 2012). When there is a decrease in pH and PO2 signals are sent to increase ventilation.

Aortic Body

            Descending the carotid artery passing into the aortic body are a cluster of peripheral chemoreceptors that are also sensitive to arterial pH and PCO2. On a directional scale, these receptors are located along the aortic body, which is located between the arch of the aorta and the pulmonary artery. These receptors are sensitive to increases in PCO2 and decreases in pH. As exercise demand increases there is an increase in arterial PCO2 , prompting cardiorespiratory changes. The receptors within the aortic body are sensitive to this change and send signals to the respiratory control center to increase ventilation and blood pressure on the onset hypoxia (Prabhakar & Peng, 2004).

Skeletal Muscle 

            With over 650 skeletal muscles in the body, there needs to be a detection system to regulate oxygen and carbon dioxide. There are two types of receptors within the muscle that aid in regulation. The skeletal muscles have mechanoreceptors and chemoreceptors, or metaboreceptors. Muscle contraction involves a metabolic process that changes the chemical state of the muscle. As muscle contraction occurs, mechanoreceptors send signals to the respiratory control system to increase breathing.  At the same time this is occurring the chemoreceptors are monitoring the chemical change inside and around the muscles (Joyner & Casey, 2015). This is a process that occurs throughout the body. As exercise increases muscle pH levels decrease, increasing the demand for oxygen. If adequate balance between demand and oxygen utilize occurs acute muscle fatigue sets in and power output starts to decline.

            The human body is a very intricate system that is set up for a continuous cycle of regulatory processes to balance the supply and demand of key elements for exercise. As submaximal exercise increases, so does breathing. This occurs through the communication between both neural and chemoreceptors input to the respiratory control center. The musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular system are highly adaptable to exercise. Integrating exercise training into an individual’s routine has shown to promote a decrease in ventilation during exercise. Improving ventilation during exercise carries over to steady state life and is paramount if the goal is to reduce pulmonary respiration stress on the body during daily actives outside of exercise.

References

Joyner, M. J., & Casey, D. P. (2015). Regulation of increased blood flow (hyperemia) to muscles during exercise: a hierarchy of competing physiological needs. Physiological Reviews95(2), 549–601.

Kumar, P., & Prabhakar, N. R. (2012). Peripheral chemoreceptors: function and plasticity of the carotid body. Comprehensive Physiology2(1), 141–219.

Powers, S. K., & Howley, E. T. (2018). Exercise physiology: Theory and application to fitness and performance (10th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Prabhakar, N. R., & Peng, Y-J. (2004). Peripheral chemoreceptors in health and disease. Journal of Applied Physiology, 96, 359-366.

Serna, L. Y., Mañanas, M. A., Hernández, A. M., & Rabinovich, R. A. (2018). An Improved  Dynamic Model for the Respiratory Response to Exercise. Frontiers In Physiology9, 69.

 

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During the inspiration of air, the thoracic cavity expands and there is a decrease in the intrapleural pressure around the lungs in order to allow the lungs to expand. As the lungs expand, the diaphragm contracts, due to the increased transabdominal pressure and articulation of the diaphragmatic pleura, which then shortens the diaphragm’s zone of apposition (the area of attachment of the diaphragm and the ribcage). The decrease in intrapleural pressure in the thoracic cavity and the increase in transabdominal pressure via the descension of the diaphragm creates a transdiaphragmatic pressure that balances the distribution of forces to allow inspiration to occur. This is reversed during exhalation and is a continuous rhythm occurring throughout ventilation.

Throughout ventilation there is a synchronization of pressures that facilitate tension and relaxation. In order for quality synchronization to continuously occur, skeletal muscles (e.g., diaphragm, obliques, transverse abdominus etc.) must maintain a level of strength and endurance. Core strengthening routines, respiratory breathing techniques, and endurance based approaches help to sustain exercise capacity. Bracing exercises, or exercises that focus on stiffening the core and then relaxing it repeatedly, can go a very long way when trying to sustain core strength and endurance and more importantly, exercise capacity and adequate breathing patterns. Your muscles already do this at a certain level. Some individuals do this better than others but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for everyone.

Setting into place a plan of action is the biggest step in taking that next step in improving exercise capacity. PPI has developed a user friendly 5-week exercise program that will allow you to take a day by day approach to improving your core strength and endurance at a level that aids in sustainability for the long haul. The key to sustainability is building a system for longevity and this program does that for you.  Checkout our latest Core Strong program and take advantage of the 50% discount before it’s too late.

 

https://pulmonary-performance.com/core-strong-program/

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            The human body is always in communication with itself and one communication network is the neuromuscular system. The neuromuscular system is a neural circuit comprised of motor neurons, sensory neurons, and the skeletal fibers at which they are housed and innervated. This system is essential when improving musculoskeletal strength and cardiorespiratory endurance. It also an area that should be considered improving when the goal is to decrease the rate of lung function decline in pulmonary conditions.

 

            The neuromuscular system provides ongoing communication signals about where the body is in space, what external forces or external loads (weights) are being applied to the muscles and joints, and help to produce the outcome that is desired, whether that is deadlifting, squating, running, walking etc. The amount of communication needed is interdependent on other factors such as intensity, duration, volume, and frequency of training, but there is a benefit in understanding how strength training can improve neuromuscular properties that play an important role in strength, endurance, and cardiorespiratory capacity in pulmonary conditions.    

            In cystic fibrosis (CF), the CFTR gene is an ion channel that regulates chloride. Chloride is a cofactor in the excitability of the nervous system and even though unclear, has been observed to play a role in neuromuscular weakness in CF. The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Regulator (CFTR) expression has been reported in peripheral and central nervous system and facilitates neuronal excitability. In cystic fibrosis (CF), the CFTR expression is altered and this can bring nervous system abnormalities with it. In individuals with COPD, muscle weakness has shown to be associated with corticospinal tract (white matter motor pathway) inhibitions and as such, have been theorized to contribute to muscle weakness.

            Rinke, Artmann, & Stein (2010) observed an important relationship in the CIC-2 channel and neuron excitability within the neuron; a channel that provides membrane regulation in healthy individuals but has been found to not be the case for individuals with cystic fibrosis. Due to the incomplete or non-existent mutation of the CFTR gene in CF individuals, this voltage gate regulator is inefficient causing a change in neuron excitability. The effects of the CFTR gene on the nervous system is still unclear, but there could be a decrease in excitatory potential due to the lack of membrane regulation causing instability in threshold potential. This indirect correlation from a physiological perspective leads one to believe that the nervous system is directly affected by CF.

            The neuromuscular system is a highly adaptable system that when stressed (e.g., use of heavy loads) can increase neural drive properties to the area that is being targeted during training. This impact is so powerful that contralateral (opposite side) and surrounding musculoskeletal regions will benefit from heavy resistance training. For example, doing bicep curls on one arm will transfer over added benefits to the other arm. This has been shown during rehabilitation programs where a person has an arm in the sling and only can work the opposite arm, but when testing the arm that was in the sling it had also improved strength. In addition, this can be seen when a person learns a new lift and in the first month of training he/she can see a dramatic increase in weight until they hit a plateau. This is due to the neuromuscular system updating and improving the communication and processing system in the muscles that the person is training.

            So, what does this all mean for you? That the neuromuscular system plays an important role in increasing muscular strength by improving the motor unit recruitment. Furthermore, muscular neural adaptations have shown to play a greater role in muscular strength than muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle fiber size). This is something important to understand when training individuals with pulmonary conditions due to the longitudinal decline of muscle weakness and exercise tolerance. It is important to implement exercises in a manner that encourages neuromuscular growth.

Neuromuscular Strength Training Tips

            Start integrating 2-3 days a week of strength training of loads (weight) greater than ≥70% of your 1-rep max. The National Strength and Conditioning Associations has a Training Load Chart that can help guide you when trying to decide on how much weight you should be lifting at loads 70% and greater. What is cool about this chart is it gives you guidelines on what weight to use and for how many reps depending on the percentage you want to train at. For example, if you bench press 220lbs for 1 rep, you would take 220 and times it by .7 (70%) and you would get 154lbs. On the chart, if you scroll down to the 1-rep max until you reach 220lbs, then shift your gaze to the right until you reach the 70% column and 154lbs appears as your starting weight for 70%. Above the 70% there will be the total amount of reps that is recommended at that weight. Now, this training load chart is a general template and these numbers will not be exact for everyone. There will be some differences either above or below the number suggested, but this chart allows you to get an idea on where to start.

            We can’t paint neuromuscular training improvements in pulmonary conditions with a broad brush, but strength training ≥70% does improve neuromuscular strength and can directly help improve cardiorespiratory endurance when supplementing it with an aerobic or anaerobic based conditioning program. Improving absolute and submaximal strength is an important factor in the contribution to fighting pulmonary conditions. Improving neural excitability in skeletal muscle can aid in reducing muscle weakness and improve exercise capacity tolerance. However, to see a continuous linear gain in muscle strength, the loads being lifted must also increase and at some point, increase past 60% of an individual’s 1-rep max. Last but not least, and just as important, keep the quality of movement high. As the weight is increased, so will the demand for movement quality. It is better to do perform less reps with a higher quality of movement then to perform more reps with poor quality. Always think quality over quantity when it comes to strength training.

 

 

References

Alexandre, F., Héraud, N., Tremey, E. et al. (2020). Specific motor cortex hypoexcitability and hypoactivation in COPD patients with peripheral muscle weakness. BMC Pulmonary    Medicine, 20(1),

National Strength and Conditioning Association. (2012). Training Load Chart.             https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/61d813865e264c6e852cadfe247eae52/nsca_training _load_chart.pdf

Rinke, I., Artmann, J., & Stein, V. (2010). ClC-2 voltage-gated channels constitute part of the background conductance and assist chloride extrusion. The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience30(13), 4776–4786.

 

For more exercises content check out our YouTube Channel:

Cystic Fibrosis Fitness Institute 

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            In order to better understand which exercises we should do to strengthen our core muscles, we must first define “core.”. For this blog’s purpose, when “core” is referenced it is referring to the musculoskeletal region around the lower back (quadratus, back extensors, transverse abdominus, etc.), abdominal wall (internal and external obliques, rectus abdominus etc.), and all the ligamentous structures surrounding the torso and spine. Something that is interesting to understand is that the core isn’t just made up of abdominal muscles. When we hear “core,” the first connections we make are usually in regards to the abdominal muscles, which is partially accurate, however numerous muscles make up the core. For example, the latissimus dorsi muscle (lat. muscle) is considered a core muscle because it connects to the thoracolumbar fascia (lower back), an area that plays an important role in lumbopelvic movement.

            When we talk about core training, we also need to look at how much stress is being placed on the spine. The muscles provide necessary support as we move through flexion, extension, and rotation, but as we go through the different ranges of motion the disks and ligamentous tissues of the spine end up taking on more responsibility (McGill, 1998).  Since the core directly connects to the spine, picking exercises that also places the spine in the best position to reap the benefits is very important as well. For example, when performing a bent knee sit-up, there are 3,350 Newton’s of compression on the spine (Axler and McGill, 1997). That is over 740lbs of force being placed on the spine. Instead, consider a side plank or side bridge exercise. This exercise targets more core muscles, yet puts >200lbs less compression force on the spine. Picking core exercises that have high muscle activation and lower compression forces is important in the longevity of spine health. 

          Building a strong core is important. The core isn’t just the abs you see or don’t see when you lift-up your shirt or flex in the mirror. They are a web of muscles and connective tissues that structurally hold your body together to protect your spine from external compression forces. Building this foundational structure through exercises, such as but not limited to curl-ups, side planks, birddogs, suitcase carry, and farmer carry, will introduce more effective core training carry over compared to sit-ups and crunches. The harmony of muscle activation created during bracing exercises like planks and farmer carries, develops armor around the core to reduce the risk of injury, improve the transmission of compression forces around the spine, and give the breathing muscles a stronger base to help the lungs with ventilation.

Birddog

            We can learn a lot from our past and over the years, exercise research has shown that sit-ups and crunches do not give the best risk to reward benefit when targeting the core. Remember, the core is more than just the superficial muscles around the abdominal region you see every day in the mirror. They do more than give an aesthetic meaning in life. They drive performance, aid in breathing, and build armor around the spine to protect the spine from unwanted forces. Build your armor with exercises that have more carry over.  

References

Axler, C. T. & McGill, S. M. (1997). Choosing the best abdominal exercises based on knowledge of tissue loads. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 29, 804-811.

McGill, S. M. (1998). Low back exercises: Evidence for improving exercise regimens. Physical Therapy, 78(7), 754-765.

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