What I learned at the SWIS Symposium 2015

Over this past weekend, I attended the much-anticipated return of the SWIS Symposium. If you don’t know what the SWIS symposium is, it’s the Society of Weight-Training Injury Specialists. In that conference, head honcho, Dr. Ken Kinakin brings together the world’s leading experts in training, nutrition, rehab and treatment, and there are 4 lectures running at the same time. If you’re in the fitness industry, and you see the list of presenters, it’s like the Oscars of the personal training world (except everyone is much more muscular. And everyone is smart).

Original source: here.

Here are some interesting tidbits I learned from the lectures that I attended:

How Your Brain Works: The Exercise-Neuroplasticity Nexus by Dr. Sheldon Joseph 

  • Weight training can stimulate neurogenesis (that means the creation of new brain cells. And you thought you just lose brain cells throughout life. Not true).
  • HIF1alpha is a chemical known as “hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha.” What is it? When oxygen gets cut off from the brain as a result of exercise, it creates a need for more blood supply following exercise. So your brain is better oxygenated.
  • Aerobic exercise is superior to resistance exercise for the creation of new brain cells, but using them together is superior to either one alone.
  • The takeaway: exercise is good for the brain.

Advanced Muscle and Fat Physiology and Biochemistry by Dr. Jordan Moon 

  • Large fat cells have 16.2% water. The remainder is fat and connective tissue.
    • In small fat cells, it’s reversed. There is more water, and less actual fat and connective tissue.
  • In slow-twitch muscle fibers there is 80% water, and 20% protein.
    • In fast-twitch muscle fibers, there is 67.5% water, and 32.5% protein
  • The more muscle you gain, the less it speeds up the metabolism. So every pound is not equal.
    • In other words, your first pound of muscle may burn about an additional 13.05 calories per day. Your fifth pound of additional muscle may burn an additional 12.90 calories per day.
  • Most body composition devices have an error of 4%. So if it says you’re 20%, you could actually be anywhere from 16-24%.
  • The takeaway: we have no clue how much body fat we actually have. The only way to know for sure is to count your fat cells, but that requires a cadaver. And by the time you’re a cadaver, you’re no longer worried about silly things like body fat.

Super Power by Dr. Fred Hatfield 

Original source: here.

This was a highly-expected lecture by the second man to ever squat 1000 lbs. He is therefore known as “Dr. Squat.” Here are some things I learned (or re-learned) from his lecture:

  • Compensatory Acceleration Technique (CAT): at every point in the range of motion of any exercise, there is one point that’s the weakest. And it’s that point that limits how much weight you can use in any given exercise. The remainder of the range of motion is under-loaded. You can compensate for that by trying to accelerate your weights as fast as possible.
  • 7 ways to increase strength. Here are a few of them:
    • Increase explosive strength
    • Increase starting strength
    • Decrease amortization period
    • Increase limit strength
  • 5-6 days out from a competition, Dr. Squat used to do heavy supports. He would take 120% of the weight that he planned to use in competition, and just hold it. While holding it, he told the audience to say the Lord’s prayer. If you don’t know the Lord’s prayer, just count to 10.

Legendary Strength Training Techniques by Bill Kazmaier and Brad Gillingham 

Original source: here.

Bill Kazmaier is a celebrity in the fitness world. Why? Because he won the title of “World’s Strongest Man” in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

Brad Gillingham is another world champ, in powerlifting. His best lifts were 716-pound raw squat, 518 raw bench press, and 843 raw deadlift. This was in the 125 kg weight class.

In this talk, Bill and Brad talked about their athletic accomplishments, training methods used, setbacks, injuries, etc.

It was cool hearing Bill’s story of how he got started.

When he was in grade 5 (10 or 11 years old), he saw his 26 year old gym teacher trying to lift a 110 pound barbell over his head, and couldn’t do it. Then comes 11 year old Bill, and lifts it 5 times. That was the first time he ever even tried. Not like he was training beforehand.

The first time Bill ever deadlifted, at age 18, he did 600 pounds. Yeah, freak!

Original source: here.

Dr. David Leaf: Muscle Testing 

  • If someone can squat just one third of the way down, but not all the way, they may have a stiff patella (knee cap)
  • The most commonly weak muscle of the rotator cuff is the infraspinatus
  • Before rehabilitating a rotator cuff, the scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collar bone) must be stabilized. Otherwise, your chances of rehabbing a bad rotator cuff are very slim.
  • If there’s a bad shoulder, you need to also take a look at the opposite-side glute (butt muscle). So if you have a bad left shoulder, you need to check out the right glute. Chances are it’s smaller and weaker than the good-side glute.
  • Muscle testing needs to be done at different angles. A muscle may be strong at one angle, but weak at another.

Treating the Brain for Weight Training Injuries by Dr. Peter Jaillet 

  • The eyes give a lot of insight into the nervous system.
  • If looking at the pupils, they should be identical. But if one pupil is bigger than another, that side of the brain is likely off.
  • There’s a simple, low-tech test called the “convergence test.” You hold a pen at arm’s length from your nose, and bring it toward your nose, while your eyes follow the pen. The eyes should symmetrically converge on the pen, and stay there. In a person whose eyes don’t symmetrically converge, or after convergence, one eye starts to drift, it’s predictive of Parkinson’s. But you need someone else to look at your eyes, because you can’t see your own eyes, or feel if you’re doing something wrong.
  • “The best way to rehabilitate the brain is walking”
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is related to the decreased ability to make dopamine

Performance Nutrition Made Easy by Dr. Robert Rakowski 

I’ve been to a number of Dr. Rakowski’s seminars, and he never fails to bring a ton of new information to the table that’s been tested in his own clinical practice. 

  • In the 1880s, if someone lived to be 80, they had only a 2% risk of dying from cancer. Nowadays, for an 80 year old, the risk of dying from cancer is 1 in 2.
  • Detoxification is a protein-dependent phenomenon. The liver needs protein to run its detoxification procedures.
  • One of the liver detoxification pathways is called “sulfation.” That pathway is dependent on sulfur. If there isn’t enough sulfur coming in through the diet (high-sulfur foods are eggs, garlic, broccoli, asparagus, etc.), the body takes it from the joints. The result: arthritis.
  • For someone with high cortisol, Dr. Rakowski recommends taking 1 mg of melatonin every hour for 7-10 days. Why? Because melatonin is antagonistic to cortisol.

Individualization of Strength Training Through the Neurotransmitter Dominance Profile by Charles Poliquin 

Charles Poliquin is one of my favourite speakers, and has had probably the biggest impact on my methodology with clients, so I never turn down a chance to listen when he speaks.

Here are some cool tidbits I got from his talk:

  • There are 3 types of people:
    • Those that respond to volume (they need a lot of sets and reps to have an effect)
    • Those that respond to intensity (they need a high stimulation for a short period of time to have an effect)
    • Those that respond to variation (they need to change up their routine fairly frequently)
  • There are 4 neurotransmitters, and each person has their own unique neurotransmitter profile.
    • Some people are dopamine-dominant
    • Some people are GABA-dominant
    • Some people are acetylcholine dominant
    • Some people are serotonin-dominant
    • And you may actually be a mixed-type
  • There are no accurate laboratory tests for neurotransmitter profiling, so Charles prefers looking at symptoms. He likes the questionnaire by Eric Braverman in the book “The Edge Effect.”
  • Acupuncture is more effective for adrenal fatigue compared to supplements.

Of course, I had a lot more notes than this, but these are some of the tidbits I thought you’d find interesting.

Overall, the SWIS Symposium was a huge success, and in many cases, you wanted to split yourself in 2 or 3, because there were a lot of lectures running at the same time, and you wanted to attend them all. So a big thank-you goes out to Dr. Ken Kinakin for reviving the SWIS Symposium.

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