Episode 272 Show Notes
Today, Grant and Heavey are doing a listener question roundup (with a twist!) as they discuss a grab bag of exercise topics including whether time element is crucial in exercise, should resistance bands replace your gym equipment, and the correlation between grip strength and overall health.
If you’re interested in working with coach Heavey, check out www.strengthandscotch.com/coaching to see if training with him is a good fit for you.
[02:26] Does Time Matter?
Question #1: Time – What is it and how does it pertain to exercise and general fitness? When is the best time to eat versus exercise? Should I wake up and go for a quick swim, then have breakfast? Is my dinner at seven just turning to fat if I don’t do any activity before bed? When should I have a meal before a long bike ride?
[05:20] Choosing Experience Over Exercise
If it works for your schedule to wake up and swim, then do it. Maybe it’s not even about the exercise, but the experience of doing it first thing in the morning because you want to get your heart pumping a little bit. Or maybe it’s the shock of jumping in the water that kind of gets your synapses firing and you’re ready for your day.
The value you get from an experience could be much greater than the exercise itself. The difference in how many calories you’re burning or if you’re doing a swim in morning versus the afternoon is probably insignificant as compared to how it fits with your schedule and how it makes you feel.
[06:07] Is Dinner at Seven Turning to Fat?
It doesn’t matter much when you’re eating, but instead how much you’re eating. A lot of the timing of when to eat is really popular to talk about these days with intermittent fasting, but in reality, it’s about creating less opportunities to eat.
It’s not that dinner at 7PM that’s turning to fat. It’s probably the five meals and four snacks you had throughout the day earlier when you were only doing a quick swim before breakfast for physical activity.
When it comes to gaining weight, we know it’s all about calories in versus calories out and the timing matters a little less.
[07:10] You Won’t Gain or Lose Fat in Just One Day! (Look at the Bigger Picture Here)
Don’t think of time just as a per day basis. You can look at calorie calculation on a longer timeframe, whether it’s a week or a year. Weight doesn’t come on in a day and it doesn’t come off in a day.
It’s actually about patterns. Most people have a routine which we structure to our time. Do you plan and execute on that plan to make health fitness a priority? You don’t need to worry too much about the details so much as creating a schedule that’s going to work for your life that you can stick to and that you find happiness with.
[09:05] Stepping Over a Dollar Bill Just to Pick Up a Penny
Heavey agrees with Grant’s answer in that people tend to overemphasize the timing of the things they do, whether that be with the intake of their foods or the way they structure their exercise program. This does a disservice to the results that they want to achieve.
It’s like stepping over a dollar bill to pick up a penny. Heavey strongly suggests that if you are very far from a goal you’re hoping to achieve, if you are not an elite athlete or a very strong amateur, then the timing of the things that you do probably won’t amount to anything significant. This is at least in comparison to the other things that you can be doing, like Grant mentioned, whether that is looking at the total calories of the foods that you’re eating or looking at the macronutrient composition of the foods that you’re eating or how much physical activity you’re doing.
[10:04] Look at the Structure, Not Timing
Maybe you’re not training for muscle gain or maybe you’re not training to improve performance on the bike or in the pool.
The intention here is to focus on the things that matter and you will be very well-served from it.
[11:01] Can Resistance Bands Replace the Gym?
Question #2: Our listener is wondering about the resistance band kits being advertised in the market. They’re marketing it as something you can take anywhere with you and take the place of a full gym session. It gives you a full workout in a fraction of the time of a typical gym session without the joint and ligament strain. All of this sounds almost too good to be true, so our listener is hesitant. Are there actual benefits or are they just blowing smoke up our asses?
Grant thinks bands are great. There are a lot of benefits to using them regardless of where you are even if you’re at the gym or working out at home. But if you’re deciding whether to use bands only in place of all other gym equipment, then that’s a harder of an argument to make.
Those advertisements are selling you the supplement to your regular gym experience. It’s not necessarily a replacement. It might be able to replace what you’re doing in a hotel gym, but not replace all of your resistance training. And the reason is there’s a few things they do exceptionally well and a few things where they struggle.
Moreover, resistance bands are great for assistance. They’re great when they’re extended as they have much more strength power than they do when they’re relaxed. This is the same thing with resistance training.
[13:06] Why Bands Can’t Replace the Gym
Resistance bands are great when you’re trying to ramp up the power required at the end of a movement. But the inverse is also true. Just like when they help you do a pull up or help you do a dip.
And if you’re at the extreme point of your movement, it’s just hard enough with a resistance band. So it’s not going to be strong enough to get the resistance you need at the start of the movement.
Again, resistance bands are great in terms of adding them to your training. But a full replacement? No.
[14:09] What’s Causing Joint and Ligament Pain
A downside for them as far as resistance training goes is that you don’t have the same range of motion. But the strain on your body when you’re pushing yourself close to your maximum ability is going to be the same whether you’re pushing up a steel bar with weights or a rubber band or pulling yourself.
It’s all stress and strain and you shouldn’t be doing any of these movements without having proper form.
[14:50] The Problem with Those Fitness Infomercials
The reason you’re seeing a lot of those infomercials is that those products are cheaper to ship. People can easily buy them from China, build a brand on them, and post them on Instagram. They’re selling you the idea of fitness more than anything else.
[16:17] Heavey’s Take on Bands
Heavey absolutely agrees with Grant’s idea that the band should not replace the equipment you have. There’s no reason you should get rid of the things that are in your home.
Bands are really valuable for travel exercises though they’re not essential since you can usually do bodyweight movements or use hotel gyms. But bands are great to take with you during your travels because they give additional resistance and variation to your exercises. But certainly, they shouldn’t replace other equipment that you have.
[18:21] Grip Strength and Overall Health
Question #3: Listener number three read about a study titled Associations of grip strength with cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer outcomes and all cause mortality: prospective cohort study of half a million UK Biobank participants.
“The study has shown that grip strength is strongly and inversely associated with all cause mortality and incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, all cancer, and subtypes of cancer, including colorectal, lung, and breast cancer, with associations being modestly stronger in the younger age groups.”
[23:20] Do You Need to Do Grip-Specific Training?
Heavey doesn’t think any sort of grip-specific training is really worth adding to your workout. That being said there might be a correlation between grip strength and lower body strength. Heavey came across another paper wherein they demonstrated grip-specific training. And only using that, they were able to lower blood pressure in a meaningful way to a group of individuals that were untrained and who were obese.
So it does seem like doing grip-specific training can affect our health, but again, Heavey still doesn’t think that it’s worth training specifically when we could get so much more out of regular full body exercise.
It’s hard enough to convince people to do that alone. When you do movements like deadlifts or pull ups or holding anything of significant weight, you are actually building grip strength and getting other muscle mass related benefits. Heavey believes people should be focusing their attention less on specific-grip strength training.
[25:01] Grip Strength
Interestingly, the study also suggested the idea that we could use grip strength as a proxy for an assessment of an individual’s risk when they’re in the doctor’s office. You know it’s very difficult when somebody walks into the doctor to figure out how their fitness is – what their aerobics fitness is or what their strength is.
It’s not like you go to your doctor and he’s like, okay, how much do you squat? But the grip strength is a very easily measurable thing that’s been proven to be repeatable and so forth that we could introduce into a doctor’s office and take as a part of a regular physical assessment.
They would typically look at blood pressure, regular blood chemistry things, any number of other BMI type factors that your doctor’s looking at. Add that in there because it would be a very low cost item. Then use that to build out and better understand an individual’s risk for other conditions that they’ve correlated grip strength with.
Heavey thinks this is really something that we should consider and possibly consider moving into areas where lab testing is challenging.
They additionally mentioned it in the paper that it could be a valuable test to take to rural areas or remote areas where people don’t have access to blood chemistry measurements, but they could have a mobile unit that could measure grip strength on people. This could probably give them additional helpful information than they had before.
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