How correct hex bar form can impact strength and lower back pressure and stress

The Hex-Bar Deadlift

How correct hex bar form can impact strength and lower back pressure and stress
How correct hex bar form can impact strength and lower back pressure and stress

What is the hex bar and what purpose does it serve to every-day gym go-ers? First, let’s give some context to why it serves any purpose at all.

Everyone knows the regular straight-bar deadlift. You have seen huge weightlifters walk up to the straight-bar with 400 pounds on the sides, bend down, and pull up while also holding good form. For experienced bodybuilders with tons of practice, this is usually not a problem. But what some lifters do not understand is that unless you are efficiently stretching before, after and using textbook deadlift technique (hint: many typical lifters you see at the gym, and especially younger ones, are not), this exercise can put an excessive magnitude of stress into your back’s joints, ligaments, and muscles which over time causes damage.

So, one day in the early 1980’s some of the top bodybuilders wanted to find a more efficient way to get the results of the deadlift without the pain and damage. Enter the hex-bar deadlift. Once invented for bulking up traps, the hex-bar has found new life in lifting circles. Even for more experienced lifters, this has transitioned into the go-to deadlift exercise for many reasons.

First, it reduces lower back stress. Looking at the picture above, the weight is placed directly over the hips and the back is straight with the head looking up. This is the optimal loading position for the back. Relative to the straight-bar deadlift, which shifts the weight forward and ramps up the compressive forces on the lower back, this exercise is much better suited for the human body and its functionality.

Second, the weight is distributed more evenly around the body allowing your body to more efficiently uses its muscles. A research study cited in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (you can see more details on it by clicking here)found that lifters could deadlift fifty more pounds on average using the hex-bar compared to the straight-bar. For those lifters who care about how much weight you can put up, this should be an immediate incentive to implement this into your leg routine.

Third, non-athletes or less-experienced gym go-ers can easily add this to their routine without any worry of a learning curve. The motion is simple, as shown below. Simply bend down and pull straight up while keeping your abdominal muscle tight. This is especially helpful for busy professionals and adults, as this exercise hits all major muscles groups in the lower body including abdominal muscles. This finding is expounded upon in a major comparative medical study that you can read here.

This means that the hex-bar deadlift could take the place of a variety of smaller lower-body exercises taking up excess time. As with any new exercise, start low and increase weight only when you feel comfortable.

Correct hex-bar form can impact your health and significantly reduce back pressure and stress.
Correct hex-bar form.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned a new thing or two about lifting. Feel free to leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts or any questions/comments you might have!

Check back early next week for another article keeping you up to date with the health and fitness world!

L-Theanine

l-theanine as a physical and mental health supplement

Nootropic tendencies. Stimulating psychoactive properties. Enhanced brain cognition. 100% legal. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? That is because it is. L-theanine is one of the basic foundational pieces of my supplemental routine. Let me preface this article by stressing that L-theanine is not a miracle supplement. However L-theanine gives me a relaxed but focused outlook to my day.

So how does L-theanine work? The mechanism of action is relatively simple which is why theanine is widely regarded as a safe supplement. L-theanine directly acts on the brain’s alpha waves instantaneously after crossing the brain barrier. More on that later. On a more molecular level, by blocking excess production of “excitatory” neurotransmitters (i.e. dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) and stimulating “inhibitory” neurotransmitter production (i.e. serotonin and GABA), L-theanine helps the brain achieve a more desirable medium between the two. Serotonin and GABA help to balance mood and assist the mind to more easily deal with stress. Blocking excess levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine prevents the brain from experiencing overexcitement which actually makes you less focused.

So, what does L-theanine do for me? The initial onset occurs within the hour and methodically increases to the peak four to six hours after dosing. The onset will be subtle, almost like a placebo effect at first. As time elapses after the initial dosage, I experience a clearer mental psyche, both more awake and relaxed. Studies like this have scientifically proved its efficacy doing so. This is largely the reason that L-theanine is regarded as one of nature’s most efficient stress managers and nature’s very own anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent). Like the methodical accumulation to the peak, the elimination of the compound is equally methodical with traceable amounts present in the brain up to 24 hours after ingesting the supplement. Comedowns are typically equally as subtle as the initial onset, so I do not worry about crashing. Due to the day-long half-life, studies have shown that continued L-theanine supplementation will keep the body in a continual relaxed state until supplementation stops.

Now, let us go back to alpha wave production. Alpha waves are responsible for beloved human feelings such as relaxation, focus, creativity, and content. Have you ever been doing something and been super productive but relaxed at the same time? Well, those feeling came from your brain’s production of alpha waves. Those feelings you experience are simply the discernable outcome from that production. L-theanine was once thought to be the driver behind increased attention span and increased mental processes, but instead it stimulates production of these alpha waves which then give users those desired effects. This was recently proved in research by neuronal scientists here.

Now for more health conscious folks, L-theanine also is shown to molecularly protect neurons in the brain and slow down, and even reverse!, tumor growth in bones. If interested, click here for more a more in depth breakdown of those mechanisms.

For those who are not interested in the details and simply want to know how exactly L-theanine will impact their lives, below is a summary of its main benefits:
1. Anti-anxiety agent
2. Clearer, more focused mental state
3. More relaxed, creative outlook on life
4. Added protection to neurotransmitters in the brain

One of my favorite L-theanine products is Suntheanine L-Theanine. The product itself has sixty capsules (i.e. two months worth) with 200 mg of high quality product in each capsule. You can find out more below!

Suntheanine® L-Theanine 200mg (Double-Strength) in Cold-Pressed Organic Coconut Oil; Non-GMO & Gluten Free – 60 Liquid Softgel, Made in USA

Bonus Tip:
Sometimes I want to pursue an extra kick, and I add in caffeine to my diet around the same time I dose L-theanine. Caffeine and L-theanine are synergistic to one another, as both enhance the effects of the other. The result is a more heightened, clear state of mind that is both relaxed and alert. Synergistic dosing is entirely up to subjective debate, but I usually take 100 mg’s of caffeine (~1 cup of coffee) and 200 mg’s of L-theanine and adjust from there.

If I do not take L-theanine with a cup of coffee, my go-to supplement is below.

L-Theanine 200mg, Caffeine 100mg – 90 Count | Taken for Better Focus, Energy, Mood & Wakefulness | Nootropic Stack

Next week I have an article coming out about another exciting biohacking supplement that will permanently raise your cognitive baseline levels. Stay tuned for the release!

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) benefits and how it affects fat loss

Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Fat Loss

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) benefits and how it affects fat loss
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) benefits

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is one of the few supplements on the market today that advertise fat loss and have legitimate scientific backing to legitimate. CLA is an omega-6 polyunsaturated essential fatty acid aimed at the breakdown of fat in fat cells to free the fatty acids into the blood stream.

Fatty acids successfully break down the fat from the fat cells which will reduce the total amount of fat in your body. Subsequently, the ratio of fat-free to fat mass in your body will go up as well. CLA also has proven qualities that increase fatty acid oxidation from fat stored in the skeletal muscle and fat cells. It essentially starves the fat cell and keeps the fat cells small and from getting any bigger. Fatty acid oxidation is the breakdown of fat cells that are then used for energy for the body. Therefore, the more fat cells that are oxidized, the less fat that is in your body. CLA also reduces resting metabolic rates in the body which helps your body deal with fat more efficiently and keeps the heart healthy!

Dosage of CLA widely varies anywhere from one gram to seven grams a day. Most experts and research sites have different opinions on what dosage works best. It really comes down to individual sensitivity and what works best for you. From anecdotal research and personal experience, I have concluded that the optimal dosing level hovers anywhere from three to five grams daily. Anything lower than three will not be enough to make a discernible difference, and anything over five can be too much over time for certain body types.

In addition, you will need to take the product for four to six weeks to begin to notice any lasting effects as a saturation point has to be reached in the body for the effects to take full effect.

Happy bio-hacking!

Study:

Blankson, H., Fagertun, H., Gudmundsen, O., Stakkestad, J.A., Thom, & E., Wadstein, J., “Conjugated Linoleic Acid Reduces Body Fat Mass in Overweight and Obese Humans.” J. Nutr., 130: 2943-2948, 2000.

Creatine and its beneficial effects on strength, endurance, muscle, and physical health

Creatine

Creatine and its beneficial effects on strength, endurance, muscle, and physical health

Imagine a supplement that lets your muscles absorb more nutrients and water that in turn increase the ATP, often referred to as the molecular unit of currency, of the muscle, so you have more energy and power during your workout? Well, you have found it. Creatine.

Creatine is the single most important supplement for young athletes not banned by the NCAA can take to increase athletic or resistance training performance. For older, more experienced athletes and lifters, creatine is likely a staple of their diet already. There are now hundreds upon hundreds of longitudinal scientific studies that also show how creatine safely interacts with your body on a molecular level.

Creatine has many pros that has lead many researchers to call it the most researched combination of efficiency and safety on the supplementation market. Researchers have found the your muscles are able to consistently produce five to ten percent more efficiently with the use of creatine. The price of creatine supplements are cheap and affordable for a large range of athletes. Creatine volumizes  your muscles and has good body recomposition qualities i.e. increased muscle and body tone. Your endurance during workouts also is increased as your ATP is replenished more effectively and faster.

Creatine’s only side effect that can come about from creatine supplementation is dry mouth due to dehydration. Creatine forces more water and nutrients into your cells to produce more muscle energy, but that also means it takes water away from other parts of your body, which can strain your liver over time. This concern can be easily fixed by drinking more water throughout the day. For the average human, drinking five to six water bottles worth of water a day should prevent any effects that come with dehydration. For athletes and lifters, I would recommend seven to eight full glasses of water for optimal hydration.

Dosage of creatine is usually between 3 and 5 grams a day. Creatine monohydrate is the most popular supplement on the market, but other creatine forms such as Kre-Alkalyn, Nitrate, and Citrate are other popular choices on the market as well. Monohydrate is the most effective supplement for absorption and efficiency hence its popularity. Kre-Alkalyn’s is less effective but is engineered around no bloating. Nitrate is advertised as being easier on the stomach hence more drinkable, but there’s no conclusive evidence that it is better than monohydrate. Citrate, bound to citric acid, is more water soluble than monohydrate, but its efficiency is the same. My favorite creatine to use is listed below as it has an ample amount of servings but also a competitive price. Whichever creatine that you pick is entirely up to you and your choice and which one you feel works the best with your body’s chemistry.

Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder, Unflavored, 600g