It's a new month already, and time again for our monthly review of the best new health and fitness studies. This month, brilliant research on obesity, preferential activating different muscles during squats and, of course, Pokemon Go all make an appearance!
Co-authored by Pete Burke, Personal Trainer at Hall Training Systems.
1. Vector force is important when you're training for sport performance
One very interesting study primarily looked at training for sprinting, however the principles can be transferred to training for any sport. It examined the effects of using different force vectors (essentially the direction of force) and how that can impact on performance. For example, squats (which have a vertical force vector) did not increase performance as much as hip thrusters (which have a horizontal force vector). Thus, when training for a sport you should always think about what direction the force of your sport is. High jumpers are vertical, sprinters are horizontal.
2. Fat has more of an impact on obesity than sugar
Should we really be as worried about sugar as the media makes out? Well, a new study in the International Journal of Epidemiology would suggest not. The study looked at the contribution of all macronutrients towards total energy intake. The results showed that a higher percentage of total calories in came from fat rather than sugar. In short, there is no point in reducing sugar if the number of calories you consume is still higher than the calories you expend, as this will still cause weight gain.
3. You can't preferentially activate the vastus medialis during a squat
There have been numerous theories about foot and hip positioning and how different joint angle and ranges of motion can be manipulated to emphasize the use of the vastus medialis over the vastus lateralis during a squat. However, this study showed that this was not the case, and although it is possible to increase quadriceps activation in the squat, each of the quad muscles increase at the same rate.
4. Yes, you should 'Catch Them All'!
Now, this is the topic that everyone is talking about . . . Pokemon Go! I have never seen so many people out and about in Oxford as I have in the past few weeks. Nobody can dispute that Pokemon Go is getting people out of the house and walking around. This is particularly helpful when we consider a recent study, which highlights the need for regular exercise to break up long sedentary periods, and suggests that people should do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. With an estimated 75 million downloads (gym memberships worldwide are estimated at 150 million) should we appreciate Pokemon Go more as a health app than a game? We think so!
5. Not all types of training require pre-workout
With pre-workout formulas becoming more and more popular among gym goers, it's good to know whether they actually help or not. One study this month has shown us that acute pre-workout supplementation (containing caffeine) does improve anaerobic peak and mean power. However, there was no improvement on upper and lower body power or upper body strength. So the take home lesson is that you don't always need a pre-workout, depending on what type of training you are doing at the time.