Thursday, August 28, 2008

5 Benefits of the IR Lamp Sauna for Athletes

Saunas have been used for many years by a variety of cultures. Many of the benefits below apply to a traditional hot air sauna, but those benefits are amplified with the use of an Infrared Lamp sauna. IR rays penetrate the body and heat on a deeper level than hot air. You are also able to receive the benefits at a lower temp with the IR (105-110 vs. 140-150). IR lamp saunas are also inexpensive to make and can be taken down when not in use. For details on making your own check out this site. A home unit can be built for less than $150.

Now onto the benefits of sauna therapy as they apply to the athlete
1. Increased heat from the sauna helps tight muscles relax. It also improves circulation to the extremities. More blood flow brings nutrients to healing ligaments, tendons and muscles. It also carries away waste products. This all adds up to improved recovery. Increased circulation also improves oxygenation of the blood.

2. Balanced ANS (Autonomic Nervous System). Exercise as well as today's lifestyle stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. This is the "Fight or Flight" half of the ANS, it is catabolic in nature. Meaning it tears down the body. Though exercise causes sweating it stimulates the sympathetics which prevents any repair or detoxification that might occur. Sauna therapy reduces sympathetic overload which strengthens the parasympathetic (PS)system. The PS is the "rest and digest" half of the ANS. This system is anabolic. This is where the rebuilding takes place and includes improved digestion, increased immune function, and stimulation of the elimination organs. Again this contributes to improving the ability to recover.

3. Normalizes Alkalinity. The heat of the sauna improves enzyme activity which will balance the pH in the body. Though not in the research I speculate this would help neutralize lactic acid build up.

4. Sauna therapy through the actions of the above steps will decongest internal organs (liver, kidney, colon) and improve elimination of toxins and heavy metals. This in turn will contribute to fat burning and weight loss. The body deposits excess toxins in fat stores. If one has a compromised detox pathway the body will be reluctant to burn the fat and release the toxins. Second, thyroid hormone is converted from T4 into T3 (the active form) in the liver. By improving liver function you improve the activity of thyroid hormone. Lastly estrogen is conjugated into a less toxic form in the liver and excreted via bile into the intestines for elimination. If the liver is sluggish the estrogen can be reabsorbed. This not only applies to women. Fat cells produce estrogen also which is a fat storage hormone. Men and women alike are exposed to xenoestrogens which are estrogen mimicking chemicals found in carpet, deodorizers and "new car smell"

5. Just like the remark about kettlebells weeding weakness out of the gene pool, the same applies to sauna therapy. This is accomplished in 3 ways. First, elimination of toxins which can damage DNA. Second by the creation of something called Heat Shock Proteins which stimulate DNA repair. And third, by destroying damaged and mutated cells. Stronger cells = stronger person.

The reference for the above is "Sauna Therapy for Detoxification and Healing" by Lawrence Wilson, MD. This book can be purchase at his website, linked above. Additional benefits and research as well as usage protocols can be found there also.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

VO2 Max

All the cool kids seem to be doing this. And since my conditioning has gone to crap I'm using an abbreviated version of it. I did my 3rd one today.
5 reps per 15 sec and only 10 total sets (5 min) but I don't want to overextend myself. Just for grins I did 7 rep/set on my last 2. I almost had the bell at the top when the timer went off. These folks that are getting 9/set are absolutely flying.
I will add a couple sets as I feel ready.
Sent in my new ASI last week and should have results next week to see if I'm gaining ground on the adrenals.
If things don't look too bad I'll work up to 10 mins. But that's still a drop in the bucket when compared to the 80 sets of 8 reps that the program calls for. I'm okay with that though. I've got the bigger picture in mind.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

3rd Annual KB workshop a huge success

Yesterday was the 3rd workshop presented by David Whitley Sr RKC in Weston,WV. We have been at Jackson's Mill the past 2 years and the location is perfect. We had a nice spot along the West Fork river and even managed to stay in the shade most of the day. This event attracts more people each year and I expect an even better turn out next year. David's skills as an instructor continue to improve. I would guess part of this is due to the great research and information coming out of the RKC certs but also just part of his personality as an amazing instructor. We had a wide range of experience there, from folks who have been to his class before to self taught to the KB virgins who had the pleasure of wrapping their fingers around the iron handle for the very first time. No matter the level of experience, everyone came out more proficient at kettlebell lifting than when they went in. All participants showed up strong and gave a great effort and a lot of hard work. This reflects both on their willingness to learn and David's ability to teach. Speaking of which, he gets better every year and he has a great knack for shortening the learning curve and getting bodies to perform they way they were designed. Good on you Iron Tamer! Pics coming soon.
After a grueling day of lifting bells a few folks stuck around for a cookout. We had some delicious food, WV raised pasture fed beef, guacamole, baked beans, salad, and of course Guinness. A special shout out to the Patterson's for allowing us to use the facilities and for their generous hospitality hosting the cookout. Also to their girls who brought us snacks and beverages. Many thanks to all who came out and to David for teaching. Also to Brian for the use of his bells.
If you want to transform your body, learn how to move, become pain-free, build muscle, increase your conditioning and/or lose weight, all while learning to do so from one of the best in the business, then stay tuned for WV KB '09 because I plan on bringing David back again next year. As long as there is beef, beer and chocolate I think I can get him back, :-)

During lunch we broke out some steel and played with bending. I am back in the saddle bending 1/4" x 7" for the first time in forever, reverse style at that. David opened up a SCF #00 UL from 90 to 120 degrees for me which I was then able to get out to about 180. I'll be turning to Adam Glass for tips to make it past that sticking range. Several guys bent 3/16" x 6 square on their first attempt, nice work guys.

After over 6 years with kettlebells I'm still amazed at their ability to work so well and even more amazed at how many people have no interest in using them to improve their life and strength goals. But I guess that's what happens when you are on the cutting edge, you have to wait for everyone else to catch up.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Last week I spent a few days in Asheville, it was a great visit. There was lots of great places to eat and new beverages to be tried.

Training this week will be greatly reduced or absent due to swim lessons in the evening. Gotta save my strength. Tonight in between shivering, which is great exercise, I improved my breaststroke, learned a little about treading, and worked on my floating.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Do tha' hustle

PR zone 1 - 24kg C&P 5mins

PR zone 2 - pullup / goblet squat 24kg 5 mins

Making progress on these one rep at a time, doing much more work will be a challenge, there won't be much time to rest, though I guess that's the goal, cramming more work into the same amount of time. Will just have to get my head right to crank them out.