O2TL News

Physique Tip #03 – Work Every Angle

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Like most other things in life, training is most effective when you learn to work all the angles. In this case, we’re talkiScreen Shot 2017-01-14 at 6.21.45 PMn’ both literally and figuratively.


Working body parts (especially large body parts like back, quads, glutes, and pecs) through an abundance of different exercises stimulates the muscles from a variety of angles to maximize fiber activation and overall density.


Better still, change up the repetition and resistance range by performing higher reps with lighter weights for certain lifts during one workout followed by heavier weight and fewer repetitions on other days.


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The combination of different angles, exercises, and resistance levels helps keep the muscles guessing (resistance training is something you never want to get too proficient at) and has the added benefit of keeping workouts from getting stale.




Physique Tip #02 – Get Your Priorities Straight

Thursday, January 12th, 2017


You say you want to add more lean mass in 2017? Then you should to prioritize your training for size.


screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-8-58-54-pmPerforming aerobic exercise before resistance training depletes muscle glycogen and increases intramuscular acid concentrations, both of which compromise your ability to lift maximally.


Conversely, hitting the iron before cardio is favorable to improving strength, power, and hypertrophy (muscle growth). The weights-first sequence also appears to potentiate greater caloric expenditure and fat utilization in the cardiovascular session to follow.


Take Away: Start with weights and finish with cardio. Alternatively, perform cardio workouts on different days than you resistance train.

N.Y.N.O. Physique Tip #01 – Wake Consistently

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017


If you read our last post you probably already gathered that N.Y.N.O. stands for New Year, New Opportunities.


Clearly many people view losing weight, eating healthier, and working out more often as important; over 26% of the people that make resolutions sited these as areas for improvement in the coming year. And yet, even with the best of intensions, fewer than 10% of people that make New Year’s promises are actually successful in achieving them.  We hope to help increase the success rates for our readers in 2017.


While we can’t do the planning, cooking, and training for you, we can and will help arm you with a series of diet, training, and lifestyle tips to enhance your efforts along the way.


Without further ado…


Physique Tip #01: Wake Consistently.

Training hard and eating right, but not seeing the gains you expect? It may be time to pay more attention to your alarm clock.


screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-6-24-36-pmPrevious research has found that people with even mildly irregular sleep habits have bigger waists and higher disease rates, regardless of how they eat or often they exercise.


In an ideal world, you’d be getting at least 7 hours of quality zzzzz’s every night. But we live in the real world, where stress, deadlines, late night television, Tinder, and the internet regularly challenge our ability and willingness to comply.


Thankfully, more recent research suggests that the amount of sleep you get at night may be less important than the regularity of the time that you wake up each morning. Seems an occasional late night bender isn’t so bad as long as you don’t sleep-in the next morning. After a day or two of restricted sleep, you’ll get tired and get to bed at a more respectable hour. The key is that you wake at the same time every day — including weekends!


New Year, New Opportunities

Monday, January 9th, 2017


There’s nothing magical about January.  The days are short. And, depending upon where you reside, the weather is often quite cold and nasty. In fact, if it weren’t the designated start of each new year, most people probably wouldn’t pay the month much mind.


screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-6-09-01-pmThing is, the new year is a big deal to many people. Not because of when it is, but because of what it represents: a clean slate …a chance to start over.


Perhaps this is the year that your body fat percentage will dip into the single digits. … or maybe 2017 will bring new personal bests on the bench, in the rack, or on the playing field. Regardless of what your goals may be, or where you are starting out, a new year = new opportunities.


Let’s take advantage of the momentum of the season to outline clear objectives and develop solid plans to achieve them.



Bigger Muscles for a Bigger (and Better) Brain

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016



“Great ideas originate in the muscles” – Thomas Edison


Thought he may not have meant literally, it turns out this might actually be true.


Increased muscle strength leads to better brain function according to recent findings from the Study of Mental and Resistance Training (S.M.A.R.T.) trial.


Using randomized, double blind study design, researchers were able to definitively demonstrate a causal link between resistance training and better mental function in adults with mild cognitive impairment. Better yet, they found that the stronger the study participants became, the more their brains benefitted.



Mental Muscle

Everyone knows that high intensity strength training leads to thicker pecs, quads, guns, and lats, but did you know that it leads to thicker grey matter in the posterior cingulate cortex? What’s that? You’ve haven’t checked on the density of your PCC lately? No matter, researchers at the University of Sydney have keeping an eye on them for us.


For those of you who aren’t physicians, anatomists, or neurological scientists, the posterior cingulate cortex is a highly active and connected portion of the brain. Though its functions are not fully understood, this area of the brain is known to be affected at the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


To better understand the impact (if any) of resistance and cognitive training on neuroplasticity (changes in brain biology), researchers assigned 100 study participants to one of four different groups. The first group performed resistance and cognitive exercises; the second group, resistance training only; the third group, cognitive training only; and the fourth group performed neither resistance nor cognitive training.


Whereas the placebo group (the participants that did not perform training of either type) lost posterior cingulate grey matter, both cognitive and resistance training led to improved brain function and mass, respectively, suggesting that weight training may be an effective means of preserving memory, and possibly even guarding against dementia.


screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-7-10-46-pmThe take away? Strong body = strong mind.









Build Better with Raspberries

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016


If the results from two recent mammal studies turn out to be applicable to humans, red raspberries could prove very useful in the quest for building a better physique.screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-10-15-10-am


Study #1 – Oregon State University

76 male mice were divided into three groups and fed a low-fat diet (10% calories from fat), a high fat diet (45% calories from fat), or a high-fat diet plus red raspberry concentrates.


Findings: The addition of the raspberry concentrate significantly reduced the weight gain observed in the mice that were fed a high-fat diet. In fact, the level of weight-gain in the high-fat + raspberry concentrate group was equivalent to the low-fat group even though both high-fat groups consumed more energy (calories) than the low-fat group.


Conclusion: Raspberries may influence the metabolic consequences of eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet (at least in mice).



Study #2 – Tufts University

10-week study involving older rats fed either a standard diet versus those fed a diet supplemented with freeze-dried red raspberry extract.


Findings: The rats that were fed the raspberry supplemented diet performed better in psychomotor coordination and balance tests; they also had better muscle strength, stamina, and tone.


Conclusion: Raspberries may have positive effects on learning, memory, and motor function, particularly as we get older.



While more work is needed to ascertain their effectiveness as a weight-loss and performance aid, it might not be a bad idea to eat more raspberries. They’re packed with antioxidant phytochemicals, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Plus, a 1-cup serving only provides 80 low glycemic calories. A berry good deal indeed.









Betaine battles insulin resistance

Sunday, September 25th, 2016



Individuals with insulin resistance (IR) do not regulate blood sugar (glucose) as effectively as those in the general population. Healthy people are able to tightly control sugar levels by using insulin to shuttle excess from the bloodstream into the muscles, liver, and brain, where it is used for fuel. When insulin resistance is present, glucose remains trapped in the bloodstream longer than it should. Aside from hindering intra-workout energy levels and post-workout glycogen resynthesis, IR is also believed to cause type II diabetes over time.


If you’re concerned about IR, you may want to consider consuming more betaine and choline. After monitoring the diets of nearly 2,400 individuals, researchers found an inverse correlation between consumption of these nutrients and the prevalence of IR. Put another way, individuals with the lowest intakes of betaine and choline had the highest frequency of insulin resistance.


Choline is a member of the b-vitamin family and assists with fat metabolism in the liver and cognitive performance and memory in the brain. Betaine helps maintain cellular hydration and is involved in the biosynthesis of creatine, which may partly account for its apparent ability to increase muscle power and endurance.



Although this study is observational, meaning direct cause and effect was not compared versus a control, it is interesting. There also appears to be little downside to adding a little more betaine and choline to your diet. In fact, most people probably don’t get enough. The FDA recently established a Reference Dietary Intake of 550 mg for choline from food and supplement sources of this nutrient.


Lift Heavy. Lift Light. Just Lift!

Sunday, September 18th, 2016


screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-9-15-45-amWhen it comes to building muscle strength and size, the amount of weight used during training appears to have little effect.


Researchers previously observed that higher load (lower reps with heavier weight) and lower load (higher repetitions with less weight) workouts resulted in similar muscle improvements in inexperienced lifters. However, trained individuals exhibit different muscle adaptations than their untrained counterparts, so the aim of this study was to determine if comparable findings would be observed in an experienced lifting population.




Study Design

  • Three month study period
  • Forty-nine men with > 2 years weight training experience.
  • Participants randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group used heavier weights 60-90% of their one rep max (1RM) for 8-12 reps per set. The second group used lighter weights (30-50% 1RM) for 20-25 reps per set.
  • Both groups trained 4 times per week and performed 3 sets of 5 different exercises. All exercises to failure with 1-minute rest between sets.
  • Dietary intake was monitored to help rule out the possibility that macronutrient or total energy intake might influence the results.
  • Body composition was analyzed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) – a noninvasive way to measure bone density, body fat, and lean muscle mass.


Key Finding: Both low and high load resistance-training programs were comparably effective at stimulating muscle hypertrophy (size) and improving 1RM (strength).


screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-9-19-48-amWhile it is unclear how training load affects muscle power, it does not seem to have much impact on size or strength. If your primary goal is to build bigger muscles, using more modest weights for higher repetitions may be a better approach for preserving long-term joint health. As this study suggests, the key to greater hypertrophy appears to be training to failure; not how much weight you use.





Time to Get Serious About Sleep

Thursday, August 11th, 2016


Most lifters are diligent about monitoring their macros and tracking their reps and sets, yet many of us (O2TL staff included) often fall short when it comes to getting the recommended number of ZZZ’s each night.Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 11.58.41 PM


Seems harmless enough, right? What’s the big deal if we stay up a little later catching up on Walking Dead reruns or seeing who’s doing car karaoke on the Late Late Show with James Cordin this week? Turns out some “winks” might not be the only thing that you’re missing out on when you cut short your nightly sleep.



Here’s what’s at stake…


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Weaker Workouts – Research recently reported in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that chronic sleep restriction not only hindered athletic performance (decreased maximal power output and time to exhaustion by 2.9% and 10.7%, respectively), it also reduced the amount of energy that the athletes expended during the exercise bout by 3.9%. In other words, the subjects performed significantly worse than their well-rested counterparts and burned fewer calories in the process.




Tumbling Testosterone Just one hour of extra sleep each night boosts testosterone levels by 12%! So says a study of over 530 healthy men conducted at the National University of Singapore. Other research has demonstrated that sufficient sleep is linked to better mood and body composition. Perhaps, the elevation in natural T levels is responsible? It may also be that a well-rested body produces fewer stress hormones like cortisol. Whatever the reason, given the potential upside, an extra hour of shuteye should be doable for just about anyone.


Focus Fades After just a couple nights of less-than-adequate sleep, concentration fades and your ability to function at a high level declines. If the sleep deficit continues, you’ll find that your patience wanes, irritability rises, and reaction time falls off a cliff. In fact, the effect of moderate to severe sleep depravation on cognitive and motor performance are so dramatic; it’s comparable to being legally drunk.


Health Hindrance – A bad night’s sleep here and there won’t have a notable or lasting impact on health. But even partial sleep debt over an extended period of time could greatly affect your wellbeing. This is just a abbreviated list of illnesses associated with an ongoing slumber shortage: obesity, depression, diabetes, heart disease, stress, hypertension, CNS atrophy, and even premature death.

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Now that we have, hopefully, made the case for why adequate sleep is important for fitness, health, and physique let’s take a look at few simple things that we can do to foster the process.


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Prep For Success

Start by cutting off the caffeine a few hours earlier. Even if it does not seem to affect your ability to fall asleep, it may disrupt your ability to actually stay asleep. At least one study has demonstrated that caffeine has the potential to create disruptive effects on sleep for up to 6 hours after consumption. So, if you’re an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type of person, you should limit caffeine and other stimulants to morning and early afternoon occasions.


Train earlier if possible. While physical activity is positively correlated with better sleep, exercising late at night can hinder many athletes’ ability to fall asleep. This is because training (assuming you’re doing more than socializing at the water fountain and checking yourself out in mirror), increases core body temperature. The hotter you get, the longer it takes to cool down and fall asleep.


Lather-up before lying down. While this little trick doesn’t work for everyone, a warm shower before bed often helps encourage relaxation and may accentuate the drop in body temperature that signals it’s time to sleep.


Control Your Environment

Keep your bedroom, dorm room, hotel room… wherever you rest your weary head, cool, quiet, and very dark.

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A cooler room (below 68 F, ideally) helps drop the body’s core temperature, making it easier to doze off.


Shut off televisions, cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Anything that generates more than low-level background noise is probably distracting and likely to have an adverse effect on restfulness.


Even small amounts of light can have a big impact on sleep quality. Light signals the production of the hormone serotonin, which wakes us up. So keep the curtains closed tightly to block out the streetlights and other urban distractions. Also, make sure to shut down those electronic devices before going to bed. They emit blue light that can disrupt melatonin (a sleep promoting hormone) and circadian rhythms.


Make It A Routine Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 12.48.56 AM

Consistency is key to better sleep. Try going to bed around the same time every day. Likewise, make a serious attempt to get up at the same time each morning – even if you stayed up later than usual the night before. Routines are repetitive for a reason. If you sleep in later one morning, you may not be tired at the normal time the following night, causing you to stay up later and repeat the undesirable cycle.


Sweet Dreams. Sweet Gains.







Welcome to The Log

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Welcome to The Log.

The Log is part health & nutrition, part training & fitness, and part performance lifestyle. Basically, a little bit about lots of different things that most Out of the Lab (O2TL) users will be interested in. The Log is intended to be informative, educational, inspiring, and, at times, even a little humorous. (We’re serious about physique and athletic enhancement, but don’t take ourselves too seriously in the process.)

In the beginning, the posts may be a little sporadic. But once we get settled in — and hopefully get feedback from our readers about what types of content that they would like to see more of — we will attempt to post on a more regular basis. If everything works out according to plan, The Log will be a collective experience.

Well, that wraps up our intro. Thanks for reading. Please check back regularly. We hope to make The Log part of your regular routine.

Your Friends @ O2TL

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