Recently yet one more super-heavyweight Iron Immortal died from a heart attack at age forty-five or thereabouts. Typically, once I read of those tragedies I search my memory banks after which write some type of tribute. Relatively than eulogize yet one more fallen warrior, for whom it’s too late, and at the danger of sounding presumptuous, I believed a rather different approach is perhaps appropriate and maybe even helpful in stopping a future tragedy. It’s my contention that an incredibly large percentage of retired national and international-level powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters eat an excessive amount of, do nothing insofar as cardiovascular training and as a direct result unnecessarily risk premature death.
Retired super heavyweight lifters are particularly prone to this fatal phenomenon. Typically, the ‘in danger’ big-man lifter reduces or quits weight training – but doesn’t quit the large eating habits that got him sufficiently big and dense enough to handle world record poundage. Super-heavyweight powerlifters eat too many calories and specifically they eat way an excessive amount of saturated fat.
Food is broken down for energy throughout the body. A gram of fat accommodates nine calories. A gram of protein or carbohydrate accommodates 4 calories per gram. For a person intent on bulking-up as large as possible as fast as possible, fat calories, dense and compact, are the ticket. Fat calories pack twice the caloric bounce-per-ounce as protein or carb calories and boy do they ever taste good! Allowing taste to dictate our weight-reduction plan could be fatal. High fat food is delicious and it gives food an exquisite, seductive flavor. The bulking lifter can eat twice as many calories once they select fat over protein or carbohydrates.
The issue is that dietary fat is well converted to body fat. To make use of an automobile analogy, the massive lifter develops a body akin to that of a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado – but the guts muscle of the lifter doesn’t enlarge to accommodate the increased bulk. Metaphorically, the lifter has a heart designed to power a 1967 VW Beetle but his 65-horsepower heart motor now motivates a 5000-pound Cadillac body: what an incredible strain on his little blood-pump. For a couple of short years, hugeness is okay: the human body is incredibly resilient, but when the lifter doesn’t pare the kilos eventually the little heart muscle can suffer a blowout. Or will wear out from overuse.
The miraculous heart muscle pulsates 60-90 times a minute, sending blood coursing through the veins and capillaries to receptive muscles and organs with the precision and regularity of a effective Swiss watch. 100 kilos (or more) of additional body weight will stress the tiny heart to the breaking point. It is a hell-of-a dilemma; to achieve the highest of the powerlifting game the lifter needs density in relation to their height.
Ever notice how few tall Powerlifters reach the international level? To realize the requisite density a tall lifter (over six-foot) would wish weigh 400-pounds to match the density-per-inch the everyday under-six foot super heavyweight achieves. Most individuals who meet top powerlifter are amazed at how short they’re in relation to their weight. To maximise leverage, lifters need density-per-inch-of-height and super heavyweights, unencumbered by weight divisions, all the time have an efficient avenue available to extend their density-per-inch: eat more food and get greater.
Big men feel they need dietary fat, ‘dirty’ calories, so as to gain the sheer bulk essential to compete on the national and international level. As my old coach Hugh Cassidy used to evangelise, a serious super-heavyweight lifter can all the time “eat his way through a sticking point”. In fact when Hugh retired he dropped from 300-pounds to 190-pounds body weight inside a yr. Cassidy was no dummy (a powerlifting genius) and had the sense to cut back his caloric intake when the whistle sounded and the sport was over. Rather a lot don’t and the results are apparently disastrous.
That enormous lifter who happily scarfs down saturated fat, motivating that Eldorado body around with that VW engine, eventually has a second deadly complication rear its ugly head. Saturated fat produces plaque and because it floats through the bloodstream plaque adheres to the arterial partitions resulting in and from the guts. Over time the tube diameter becomes constricted with plaque buildup and when it clogs completely (assuming you do not die from heart spasms) a roto-rooter (angeoplastsy) balloon procedure or by-pass surgery is required to open constricted passageways.
It is a dastardly double whammy: the lifter’s weight-reduction plan adds body weight – making a stress-load on the over-taxed heart pump and the fat within the lifter’s weight-reduction plan reduces the efficiency of the already taxed heart by constricting the blood flow. It is a deadly one-two combination. Often the entire situation is further complicated when the lifter ceases hard training. Now sedentary, his high caloric intake accelerates body fat accumulation at an astonishingly fast rate. If left unchecked this scenario will result in health problems as surely because the sun rises within the east and sets within the west.
I once helped a 350-pound super heavyweight take second place on the USPF Nationals and thereby secure a slot on the IPF world championship team. He was elated and afterwards we decided to have room service send up victory pizza. I used to be staying on the second floor and the elevators were acting up so we decided to walk the 4 mini-flights to the second floor. It was a straightforward climb but our IPF-destined lifter was gassed like he’d just climbed Mount Everest without using an oxygen tank. He was way more blasted from the 22-step walk-up than his 881-squat or 750-deadlift. He heaved and gasped like a coal miner with black lung after smoking a Camel and took a full thirty minutes before he recovered.
I remember how when the Pizzas got here he knelt down on the ground on the foot of the bed. He took his Pizza Hut extra-large, set it on the bed, opened the box, still kneeing, placed his elbows on the bed and commenced to chow-down. His huge distended stomach hung all of the method to the ground and there was no daylight showing between his gut and the daylight shining within the open window behind him. Looking like a pregnant rhino, his face hovered a scant six-inches above the pizza box as he devoured your entire thing in 10-minutes flat, steam shovel style, like he was strip mining a hill for coal. He wolfed his pepperoni and sausage after which went scavenging for leftovers from the opposite three boxes. Feeling higher he took a nap.
I once asked George Hector the way it felt to have the ability to squat 975 and deadlift 840 weighing 360. “For 2 days a yr, on the National and World championships, it’s great – the opposite 363 days a yr it sucks!” George bumped into health problems (phlebitis) reduced all the way down to 242 and set a slew of world records. But clever men like George and Hugh and John Kuc are the exceptions, not the rule. Too many huge guys are attached to their ‘sea food’ weight-reduction plan and it comes back to bite ’em sooner or later.
And it needn’t be that way. Incorporating two lifestyle changes, substitution weight-reduction plan and lightweight cardiovascular training, can spell the difference, literally, between life and death.
DIET: Relatively than attempt to get a red-blooded powerlifter on a fancy-dan bodybuilder weight-reduction plan – one which they will not adhere to anyway – we provide the substitution weight-reduction plan to your consideration. All of us have bad foods we naturally gravitate towards (those high in fat and sugar) and all of us have some good foods (high in protein) that we like. The thought is to discover the ‘good’ foods and substitute them for the ‘bad foods’ you currently eat in quantity. The fantastic thing about this approach is that you simply never feel hungry because anytime you will have a craving for bad food you eat a considerable amount of excellent food as a replacement. You smother the hunger and satiate the need.
Plus, each time you replace a fat food with a protein or carb food, you may eat the identical volume of food while cutting your calories in half (9 calories per gram of fat versus only 4 calories per gram for protein). A gram is a gram and if you happen to previously ate a quart of Ben & Jerry’s or a sixteen-ounce pizza, you now may eat an equal volume of protein or carbohydrates and eliminate artery-clogging saturated fat while concurrently cutting your calories in half. It’s deal: you reduce the deadly saturated fat with muscle-building protein or natural carbohydrates and still reduce overall calories. Don’t eat flour carbs like cakes, bread or pastry. Stick with grains, rice, vegetables and potatoes.
Clean protein actually stimulates the basal metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories because it gears up to satisfy the challenge of digesting protein. Dietary fat, then again, is well compartmentalized into fat storage. A note of caution: avoid protein foods which are loaded with saturated fat. Fish, chicken (minus the skin), lean beef, goat, turkey, organ meats, egg whites, skim milk and protein powder are great sources of unpolluted protein.
Man-made carbohydrates like bread, pasta and pastries will cause the body to secrete insulin. Insulin spikes cause carb calories to be converted and compartmentalized into fat storage as a substitute of getting used for energy. Avoid them. Natural carbohydrates have a far lesser impact on insulin and are advisable as the popular carb sources. Fiber carbs actually dampen insulin spikes and a weight-reduction plan high in clean protein and fiber, low in refined carbs and moderate in starchy carbs, is the fastest method to lose lard.
CARDIO CONDITIONING FOR POWERLIFTERS: Powerlifters take a dim view of cardio training – aerobics – and contemptuously consider cardiovascular training effete, irrelevant and at odds to their stated purpose: maximizing size and strength. And there may be case to support that viewpoint. But we’re talking aerobics for health, not strength.
Aerobics, it’s widely felt, weakens a competitive powerlifter and any advantages are offset with negatives. Few hard core lifters could be caught dead riding an exer-cycle, walking a treadmill or jumping up and down on a stair-stepper. The broad consensus amongst the facility elite is that cardio is counterproductive to the stated goal. Yet, it has been scientifically and medically proven that three to 5, twenty-minute sessions at 60% (or more) of age-related heart rate maximum per week will perform miracles for the guts, lungs, internal organs and glands.
Cardiovascular training flushes the human plumbing system: capillaries, veins, tubes, heart and lungs all profit from regular aerobic exercise. Internal organs strengthen and improve function when subjected to regular, systematic doses of aerobic exercise. There’s a compromise solution for the lifter intent on losing lard. There’s a variety of aerobic exercise that gives great cardio stimulation without being so intense as to interfere with strength constructing – walking.
LOW STRESS AEROBIC ACTIVITY: A giant man with little or no background in cardio training can hit 70% of their age-related heart rate maximum with a brisk walk across the block. And that is all that is needed. No need to affix a health spa, no have to purchase an expensive exercise bike or treadmill, forget all that stuff and get outdoors and take a brisk walk. Walk outside for ten minutes as quick as you may then put a forefinger in your carotid artery or wrist pulse and count the beats for six seconds. Multiply this number by 10 to find out how briskly your heart is thrashing. Then compare this to your age-related heart rate maximum to find out your aerobic intensity. What is the formula? Easy: 220 minus your age are your 100% heart rate maximum. Then determine 70% of this number.
AGE 30 40 50
100% 190 180 170
70% 133 126 119
60% 114 108 102
Start with a ten-minute walk at 60%. Placed on a WalkMan, get outside and take fast walk. Do that three of 4 times per week on days that you simply don’t lift. For those who now not lift, get back within the saddle. Add a couple of minutes per walking session until you’re hitting twenty minutes per session. When you may walk for twenty minutes at 60% attempt to bump that as much as 65% and eventually 70% or more. Increase the intensity by walking faster and swinging your arms a bit more. Suck in that good outdoor oxygen and push a bit. 3-4 sessions per week at 60-70% of age related heart rate maximum would do wonders for the interior plumbing of a cardio-challenged lifter. Walking avoids the bone-jarring pain of jogging or running – no rips or tears from walking. Don’t po-pah walking – I actually have had occasion to interview bodybuilding dominator Dorian Yates for Muscle & Fitness and one thing struck me : Yates’ aerobic program often consisted of a brisk walk around his posh neighborhood together with his dogs. Within the off-season Yates would walk for thirty minutes three or 4 times per week. Weighing 300, he had no problem hitting 70% of age related heart rate maximum using a brisk walking pace. Unlike his American competitors, a lot of whom spent two hours a day on bikes and stair-steppers, the bull-strong Yates felt that an excessive amount of cardio affected his weight training and he preferred to restrict his aerobics to off-day walks. Clever advice that’s applicable to the large powerlifter who wants to include some health-preserving cardio into their training.
Lifters who walk together with powerlifting report improved recovery and higher digestion together with a pleasant increase in appetite. The metabolism kicks up if you undertake a brisk walk as this stimulates the digestive process. Food is processed higher and when saturated fat is cutback the athlete sees an almost over-night improvement in the way in which they feel and look. If fat calories are replaced with ‘clean’ calories muscle is retained while the life threatening effects of body fat and artery constriction are improved. Confine cardio training to low-impact walking done on off-days and no strength loss should occur: quite the opposite, the lifter will have the ability to coach harder and longer in consequence of their new-found endurance and improved nutrient assimilation. Throughout it’s deal – particularly when the choice is so dire and bleak. So take a likelihood and take a walk. Hell, nobody even need know you are doing ‘aerobics’ or happening a weight-reduction plan: so far as anyone is anxious, you are just taking a walk. You’ll be able to literally walk away from death if you happen to just get off the strata-lounger, exchange that cheeseburger with Mayo on Wonder bread for a lean steak and a salad after which go outside and take a walk!