It’s a new month already, and time again for our monthly review of the best new health and fitness studies. This month, brilliant research on obesity, preferential activating different muscles during squats and, of course, Pokemon Go all make an appearance!
Vector force is important when you’re training for sport performance
One very interesting study primarily looked at training for sprinting, however, the principles can be transferred to training for any sport. It examined the effects of using different force vectors (essentially the direction of force) and how that can impact on performance. For example, squats (which have a vertical force vector) did not increase performance as much as hip thrusters (which have a horizontal force vector). Thus, when training for a sport you should always think about what direction the force of your sport is. High jumpers are vertical, sprinters are horizontal.
Fat has more of an impact on obesity than sugar
Should we really be as worried about sugar as the media makes out? Well, a new study in the International Journal of Epidemiology would suggest not. The study looked at the contribution of all macronutrients towards total energy intake. The results showed that a higher percentage of total calories in came from fat rather than sugar. In short, there is no point in reducing sugar if the number of calories you consume is still higher than the calories you expend, as this will still cause weight gain.
You can’t preferentially activate the vastus medialis during a squat
There have been numerous theories about foot and hip positioning and how different joint angle and ranges of motion can be manipulated to emphasise the use of the vastus medialis over the vastus lateralis during a squat. However, this study showed that this was not the case, and although it is possible to increase quadriceps activation in the squat, each of the quad muscles increase at the same rate.
Having said that I would like to see a study done on an excessive heel elevation. As we use an exercise called the Cyclist Squat, which places the heels in an elevated state well beyond that of Olympic lifting shoes and find this really targets the vastus medials more so than the other quadricep muscles.
Yes, you should ‘Catch Them All’!
Now, this is the topic that everyone is talking about . . . Pokemon Go! I have never seen so many people out and about in Oxford as I have in the past few weeks. Nobody can dispute that Pokemon Go is getting people out of the house and walking around. This is particularly helpful when we consider a recent study, which highlights the need for regular exercise to break up long sedentary periods, and suggests that people should do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. With an estimated 75 million downloads (gym memberships worldwide are estimated at 150 million) should we appreciate Pokemon Go more as a health app than a game? We think so!
Not all types of training require pre-workout
With pre-workout formulas becoming more and more popular among gym goers, it’s good to know whether they actually help or not. One study this month has shown us that acute pre-workout supplementation (containing caffeine) does improve anaerobic peak and mean power. However, there was no improvement on upper and lower body power or upper body strength. This result may be because caffeine has a dose-dependent effect when it comes to strength and should be individually dosed to each person based on body weight. However, the take-home lesson for now is, that you don’t always need a pre-workout, depending on what type of training you are doing at the time.
Watch this space to see what we learn next month! Besides getting out and playing on Pokemon Go how many of these points can you action in your training today?