February, 2012 | The 50 Zone Magazine : Mens Information On Wellness, Health, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Women, Style And Fashion


Monthly Archives: February 2012


by James Kelly

It seems that there was no such thing as glasses in the time of the ancient Egyptians or Romans. At least there is some written documentation alluding to the fact. Back then when you became too old to see properly you just hoped you were wealthy enough to have slaves to read to you or at least give you updates at the forum as to whether or not your gladiator won!

The Chinese supposedly developed spectacles over 2000 years ago.

Some say that the first ones were made between 1268 and 1289, but no one really knows who made the first pair.

Continue reading

Nervous System Health

Nervous System Health and Physical Activity

by Bob Gurney

During the months of November and December 2011, Kinesiology/Physical Education students – University of Alberta – PEDS 409 – Research Methodology, provided a presentation, as part of the course assignment requirements. The students are as follows: Lauren Glenister, Amy Heidebrecht, Claire Altares, Jaclyn Ellis, and Christopher Hills. This paper has been edited by Robert Gurney.

Diabetic neuropathy (DN) is the most common form of neuropathy in the western world and is the most prevalent complication currently affecting nearly 50 per cent of patients with diabetes mellitus (Dejgaard, 1997; Aring, Jones & Falko, 2005). Diabetic Neuropathy can develop in patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes and can occur at any stage, however, is more common in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and, chronic poor glycemic control (Aring, et al., 2005). Type 2 diabetes mellitus has achieved proportions of a real epidemic and, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) the disease now affects over 240 million people (Teixeira-Lemos, Nunes, Teixeira, & Reis, 2011). Studies have shown that the longer duration a person has T2DM the higher risk they are for DN (Edwards, Vincent, Cheng, & Feldman, 2008). Early detection and control of diabetes and co-existing risk factors for neuropathy can prevent or delay the progression of DN (Aring, et al., 2005). Symptoms depend on the part of the nervous system that is affected but are commonly associated with muscle weakness, pain, decreased motility, amputation and other co-morbid complications that has a detrimental effect on the quality of life, and has greatly increased the risk of mortality (Edwards, et al., 2008). Classifications of DN can be found in the research of Aring, et al., (2005). Insulin deficiency and hyperglycemia have been found to initiate progression of all types of DN (Tesfaye, Harris, Wilson, Ward, 1992). Therefore, glycemic control has been correlated to reduce both incidence and progression of DN (Edwards, et al. 2008).

Current information included in the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides basic how-to- management information for individuals with Diabetes (National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 2009). The problem with the information provided is that the individual is required to seek out many additional sources of information on how they can improve their neural health and eliminate root causes. The goal for our how-to guide is to express specific measures through multiple disciplines. Compiling the information into one how-to guide, will create material that can be referenced to improve neural health and help in the prevention of neural damage.

This guide will be looking at the causes of DN and how it can be self-managed through changes in lifestyle, including physical activity and nutrition. Looking through the research there are no how-to guides, based on scientific evidence, to advise the diabetic population on how to effectively management the progression of their disease through an interdisciplinary approach.


Chronic hyperglycemia leads to an inability to transmit signals through nerves, slowing nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and increasing vasoconstriction (Tesfaye, et al., 1992). Nerve conduction velocity is a non-invasive measure of nerve function (Said, 2007). In tissues where glucose is transported independently (nerve, eye and kidney), hyperglycemia causes higher concentrations of intracellular glucose, leading to functional impairment of nerves (Dejgaard, 1997). When high concentrations of glucose are converted to sorbitol within the cell, there is a reduction in myo-inositol, inhibiting ionic activity within the cell. Tesfaye et al. (1992) found that after direct warming of the limb, in subjects with DN and subjects without, NCV increased. This implies that warmer temperature, initiated by a warming modality or exercise can be a potential treatment for DN symptoms.

Balducci, et al. (2006) illustrated that long term aerobic exercise training can prevent the onset or progression of DN. Aerobic and resistive exercise improves sodium, potassium and ATPase concentrations; which are beneficial to NCV, nerve function, vasodilatation, blood flow, and improving oxygen utilization (Balducci, et al. 2006). Improving glucose metabolism through exercise training occurs primarily through 3 distinct mechanisms: 1) stimulation of glucose transport to muscle, 2) increased insulin action on cells of organs involved in exercise, 3) positive regulation of the signalling pathway stimulated by insulin as a result of regular exercise (Teixeira-lemos et. al, 2011). Resistance and aerobic exercise can improve insulin sensitivity to approximately the same extent, and therefore, should be implemented to manage the progression of DN (Signal, Kenny, Wassermam, Castaneda-Sceppa, White, 2006). Continue reading

Ultra Endurance

Ultra Endurance: Is it for you?

Current trends in endurance participation have drifted towards longer athletic events. Some events have stood the test of time such as the 90km Comrades ultra endurance running race founded in 1925 while others have increased in availability and popularity such as Ironman triathlons. Furthermore, new events have been created to appeal to those athletes who still seek longer more grueling pastimes such as Adventure Racing, 3000 mile RAAM cycling race, multistage events (Marathon Des Sables) and Ultraman Triathlons.

Defining Ultra Endurance

Some investigators identify the term “ultra endurance” as greater than 4 hours (Hawley and Hopkins, 1995; Kreider RB, 1991). However, a definition of ultra endurance could be based on physiological or psychological reasoning. For example, the 26.2 mile marathon is an event that is completed on average near 4 hours and has become popular in their association with fund raising and societies. Physiologically the marathon can be labeled as ultra endurance, but relative to the vast number of events that exceed this duration, a marathon may be classified simply as a long distance event. For the purpose of this article, ultra endurance events are those that are greater than 6 hours. The longer events have more reliance on adequate exercise management and long term preparation, optimal rate of movement, sufficient nutritional needs accommodating environmental stressors and psychological toughness. Generally, the longer the event, the more important preparation becomes in successfully finishing with functional health.

Training Principles

The training required for ultra-endurance events is no different from other sports with respect to underlying principles – successive stresses must be applied to the body over time in order to provide a stimulus to initiate an adaptation so that subsequent training or performance is accomplished at a higher absolute intensity or for a longer period of time. The transformation from an endurance athlete to an ultra endurance athlete takes time and patience. Countless hours of training need to be accumulated safely without sacrificing structural health. Incorporation of long single session training bouts and successive training days need to be apart of an athletes’ plan. It may not be necessary to accomplish the entire distance nor duration in training. But rather, up to 80 percent or segmented training bouts adding up to the events distances. Cross training to accumulate training hours maybe used to simulate longer training sessions particularly for runners and high impact activities.


Successful ultra-endurance performance is characterized by the ability to sustain a higher absolute speed for a given distance than other competitors. Although ultra-endurance training and competition may be viewed as a physical challenge, the athlete should be considered as a living psycho-social-physiological system (Kenttä et al. 1998). This holistic approach can be expanded into five areas that when combined culminate in an integrated view of performance. The five components are physiology, biomechanics, psychology, tactics and health/life-style. All these components need to be functioning at a near optimal levels in order to achieve a successful performance or for the maximization of the training adaptation. Generally most ultra athletes have an unique quality that allows them to make tremendous sacrifices, focus on the immediate task, tolerate extreme levels of numbing discomfort and maintain mental health during the training, race and post race.

For the ultra-endurance athlete, the following principles may be considered critical to success:

  1. The principle of all-around development – this principle suggest the need for an underlying general athletic ability that is supported by a strong psychological platform and technical ability in the various activities an athlete engages in. Within the training process, overcoming training and competition stresses promotes will-power, self-confidence, and tolerance for higher training and competition demands (Schmolinsky 1996). For example, an ultra runner might engage in cross country ski racing in the winter months to strengthen their soft tissue and maintain cardiovascular fitness.
  2. The principle of over-load – this over-loading principle addresses the concept of progressively increasing the training load and volume of physical work such that after a recovery period, an over-compensation and improved fitness is achieved through the correct sequencing of training over-load. Thus an athlete will be able to compete or train at an improved absolute intensity. Stacking two or three long training days in a row of either the same activity or a different activity is an example of over-loading for an ultra endurance athlete.
  3. The principle of specificity – for the ultra-endurance athlete, this principle is fundamental to success. The principle emphasizes the need for practice under similar conditions to those of competition. It recognizes that specific exercises and skills are required to compete efficiently and effectively in an event.
  4. The principle of individualization – it is recognized that athletes will react and adapt differently and over individual time-frames even when presented with identical training regimes (Norris et al. 2002). On a continuum, there are two broad categories of athletes – those who are genetically talented and at the other end of the continuum, those with a highly developed work ethic, with a system guiding their effort. Thus there is a requirement for individualized training programs with monitoring systems available to evaluate individual responses to a training load.
  5. The principle of reversibility – this principle highlights the requirement for consistent training. As suggested by the fitness-fatigue model of Bannister et al.(Banister 1991) fitness and fatigue are never constant and interruptions to training caused by injury, illness, or social needs, breaks the consistency of training that is required to achieve improvements. The loss of fitness gains can occur through inconsistent training and fatigue may also occur through non-training stress factors and inadequate recovery.

Although there are many other factors that can certainly affect the preparation and eventually the outcome of an ultra endurance event, physical training still remains to be the most important. By assessing an athletes background and maturity in endurance sport, a program can be created by following the principles listed above. At times, there are athletes that just naturally flow into these longer events, not necessarily because of genetic predisposition, but rather by recognizing they have tremendous mental toughness along with a lifestyle that allows for consistent and progressive training. Are you one of them?

Author: Calvin Zaryski MKin, CEP

coachcal@criticalspeed.com  CriticalSpeed.com


Everyman’s Gym

Several years ago my wife Dr. Clar Baldus and I began a project called The Crucible here in Cedar Rapids, IA. As natural former bodybuilders we had spent a lot of time in the fitness club and were looking to return to a more natural method of strength training. In addition I still wanted to keep strength training for triathlons. The Crucible was a result of our search.

In my research I came across the work of ManTis of USA Jungle Gym. Here was a guy and his friends who were lifting rocks, bags of sand and pulling up on tree limbs and staying strong. As I thought about his work it resonated with the child in me. How often in my 30 years of involvement in the fitness industry had I heard people unhappy about having to drive to the club to slog away on an elliptical or move through the same exercises on machines as all the others. Here was a gym for everyone’s backyard!

I knew I needed a format in which to base these movements as we planned to share our gym with others in our community. I had been reading Dan John’s book Never Let Go and his description of The Big Nine, a list he created which broke down weight training into 9 movements, impressed me with the functional elegance contained within its simplicity.

The Crucible was simple in its origin. We began with some cinderblocks, lengths of cast off gas pipe and lengths of log chain. We added a striking tire and sledgehammers as funds permitted, bought a couple of different diameters of 8 foot fence posts at the farm store and hosted our first free and open workouts to the public. (My creativity was such that one regular participant had me come to his place of business and build a “crucible style gym” for the employees which I did for under $200.00! Last year we had over 30 free and open workouts either at our home or at local parks and trails)

We focus on the movements rather than the muscles in our workouts. Our workouts lasted one hour and were simple in structure, either having those taking part work through the 9 movements with the entire list or creating a workout with a selection of movements and having participants complete As Many Rounds As Possible in the hour (AMRAP).

By focusing on movements over muscles we are doing compound movements. Not only do compound or multi-joint movements require more energy they often involve movement in more than one plane of motion – offering a time crunched athlete the most bang for their buck. (For example: A biceps curl involves only flexion (the closing of an angle) of the forearm. As single joint movement involving a small muscle group it’s not much of a calorie burner. By comparison a neutral grip pull-up involves the muscles of the back, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, deltoids and the biceps, it is a multi-joint or compound movement involving ADduction, flexion and to some degree extension. The number of muscles involved greatly increases calorie use and bang for one’s buck)

Dan John’s list The Big Nine is as follows:

  1. Horizontal Push (Bench Press, Push-ups) (Pectorals, deltoids, triceps)
  2. Horizontal Pull (Rows and Variations) (Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Biceps, Deltoids)
  3. Vertical Push (Military Press, Overhead, Zercher Carries) (Deltoids, Trapezius, Triceps, Postural)
  4. Vertical Pull (Pull-up, Pulldown) (Latissimus Dorsi, Biceps, Deltoids, Trapezius)
  5. Explosive Full Body (Swings / Snatches / Cleans / Jerks) (Pretty much the whole shooting match)
  6. Quad Dominant Lower Body (Squats and variations; Bulgarian Split Squats, Goblet Squats) (Quads, Hamstrings, Postural)
  7. Posterior Chain (Deadlifts)
  8. Anterior Chain (Medicine Ball Ab Throw, Barbell Roll-outs, Ab Wheel)
  9. Rotational / Torque (Sledgehammer, Roman Twist, Turkish Get-ups, Woodchopper)

While space constraints don’t allow listing all the types of workouts possible as simple combination would be to grab a pair of cinderblocks and a length of pipe. Set your watch and AMRAP in 30:00 in order Horizontal Push, Horizontal Pull, Quad Dominant Lower Body, Vertical Push and Anterior Chain. Go for 12 reps with good form and keep the rest between movements to a minimum. It’s different and believe me you’ll feel it.

The combinations are endless as are the possibilities. Take your cinderblocks down the street to the playground, climb on and use the jungle gym for pull-ups, do push-ups off the end of the slide and enjoy the freedom of having your own gym 24/7. Just like when we were children playing outside.


C.J. Ong, Jr. / The Crucible / 2012 © This information is intellectual property and may not be shared by any means including electronically without express written permission of the author.

Crucible Gym at thepitbullatthecrucible@gmail.com.

Article by C.J. Ong, Jr.

The Crucible Gym



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