The exercise ball helps athletes develop their explosive power skills.

Staying in shape is extremely important to many competitive athletes and casual athletes as well. Many exercises and exercise equipment have been created for the purpose of toning and maintaining the muscles used by athletes. One particular type of exercise equipment that many athletes find very important is the medicine ball. The medicine ball is sold in five to fifteen pound balls that are usually used during plyometric training.

The exercise ball helps athletes develop their explosive power skills and are commonly used by track and field athletes, boxers, baseball pitchers, basketball players, and football players. The medicine ball, also sometimes called the fitness ball or exercise ball, is round and usually the size of a basketball or volleyball. Athletes use a medicine ball for many different exercise routines. For example, boxers often use the medicine ball as a way to strengthen their abdomen which basketball players usually use the medicine ball to strengthen their arms or their chest.

Many athletes prefer the medicine ball because it is relatively small and does not take up a large amount of space. By staying is shape and using great athletic equipment such as the medicine ball, many athletes is able to perform at peek performance all year round.

Have You Abandoned the Pushup?

Have You Abandoned the Pushup?

I hope your answer is no. Because I've spent a lot of time training athletes, I far prefer the pushup to the bench press. After all, athletes don't typically spend a lot of time lying on their backs pushing up, unless they aren't very good at their sport.

So why train them that way? And besides working your pecs and triceps, the pushup engages your core, your lats, and just about every other muscle in your upper body. That makes it one of the most useful and efficient movements in any guy's exercise arsenal.

Think you're too strong for the pushup? Try the challenge I give to like-minded athletes: Assume a pushup position, but place your feet on a bench. Then have a partner place a 25-pound weight plate on your back, at the level of your shoulder blades. Now try to do 20 pushups with perfect form. Until you can pass this test, there's no reason to bother with the bench press.

How to do it: Keep your body rigid, in a straight line from your ankles to your head, and lower it as a single unit until your nose touches the floor. Then press back up until your arms are completely straight. Want an even greater challenge? I have my athletes perform the exercise with their hands on a BOSU ball (dome down), which adds an element of instability, forcing the core and shoulder muscles to work even harder.

Artificial sweeteners: A safe alternative to sugar?

Artificial sweeteners: A safe alternative to sugar?
What are sugar substitutes and how much is safe to eat?

More than ever, people are consuming large amounts of sugar as part of their daily diet. But in excess, sugar can take its toll. Eating large amounts of sugar adds extra calories, which can cause weight gain. So many people opt for artificial sweeteners—also referred to as sugar substitutes or low-calorie sweeteners—as a way to enjoy their favorite foods without as many calories.

What are artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are chemicals or natural compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without as many calories. Because the substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a much smaller quantity to create the same sweetness. Products made with artificial sweeteners have a much lower calorie count than do those made with sugar. Artificial sweeteners are often used as part of a weight-loss plan or as a means to control weight gain.

People with diabetes may use artificial sweeteners because they make food taste sweet without raising blood sugar levels. But keep in mind that if you do have diabetes, some foods containing artificial sweeteners, such as sugar-free yogurt, can still affect your blood sugar level due to other carbohydrates or proteins in the food. Some foods labeled "sugar-free"—such as sugar-free cookies and chocolates—may contain sweeteners, such as sorbitol or mannitol, which contain calories and can affect your blood sugar level. Some sugar-free products may also contain flour, which will raise blood sugar levels. Also, remember that foods containing sugar substitutes may also contain calories that may undermine your ability to lose weight and control blood sugar.

Sweet choices

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following low-calorie sweeteners for use in a variety of foods. The FDA has established an "acceptable daily intake" (ADI) for each sweetener. This is the maximum amount considered safe to eat each day during your lifetime. ADIs are intended to be about 100 times less than the smallest amount that might cause health concerns.

Artificial sweetener ADI* Estimated ADI equivalent** OK for cooking?
Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) 50 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) 18 to 19 cans of diet cola No
Saccharin (Sweet'N Low, SugarTwin) 5 mg per kg 9 to 12 packets of sweetener Yes
Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One) 15 mg per kg 30 to 32 cans of diet lemon-lime soda*** Yes
Sucralose (Splenda) 5 mg per kg 6 cans of diet cola*** Yes

*FDA-established acceptable daily intake (ADI) limit per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.

**Product-consumption equivalent for a person weighing 150 pounds (68 kilograms).

***These products usually contain more than one type of sweetener.

Safety of artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are often the subject of stories, presented in the popular press and on the Internet, claiming that they cause a variety of health problems, including cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, however, there's no scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer. And numerous studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are safe for the general population.

Aspartame does carry a cautionary note, however. It isn't safe for people who have the rare hereditary disease phenylketonuria (PKU). Products that contain aspartame must carry a PKU warning on the label.

Still empty calories

Just removing sugar from cookies and chocolates doesn't make them low-calorie, low-fat foods. If you eat too many, you'll still get more calories than you may need, and you may not get enough nutritious foods. Unlike fruits, vegetables and whole grains, sugar-free soft drinks, candy and desserts often provide few—if any—beneficial nutrients.

Use artificial sweeteners sensibly. It's okay to substitute a diet soda for a regular soda, for example, but diet soda shouldn't be the only beverage you drink.

Know More, Grow More, The Keys to Muscle Building

Every month for the past 22 years, I've logged more hours in the gym than most guys do in their lifetimes. And I've probably heard the question "Whaddya bench?" at least once a day.

Enough already. And not just for the sake of my sanity. I can tell you that when it comes to your workout, there are far more important questions. Questions that, combined with the right answers, will help you bust through longtime lifting plateaus and slash your risk of injury. Ready to pack on new muscle, build superstrength, and engineer a high-performance body? Your education starts now.

Can You Row Your Body Weight 10 Times?
There's a saying, If you're not rowing, you're not building muscle. And there's no better way to start doing both than with an exercise called the inverted row, or body-weight row.

Besides being great for muscle building, the inverted row is valuable because it strengthens your rear shoulders and upper back. These oft-neglected muscles directly oppose the muscles used in the bench press--a benefit that can help prevent a slumped posture. Think of it this way: If you bench-press far more than you row, the stronger muscles on the front of your upper body will overpower the weaker ones on the back, pulling your shoulders forward.

If you can't do 10 perfect repetitions of the inverted row, chances are you have a serious imbalance. The fix? Do two sets of the inverted row for every one set of bench presses (or other chest exercise) that you perform. Use this approach until you eliminate your weak spot.

How to do it: At a Smith machine, grab the bar with an overhand grip and place your heels on the floor, with your legs straight. Pull your chest to the bar, pause, and lower yourself until your arms are straight. To count as a rep, your chest must touch the bar.

"Super" Joe Beats "Superman"!

For the second time this year Joe Calzaghe rose from a first round knockdown to beat a contemporary boxing legend. Only this time, instead of a close split decision, there was no doubt as Calzaghe won a comprehensive 12-round unanimous decision against Roy Jones Jr. in the main arena of Madison Square Garden in New York City. In front of over 14,000 in attendance, most of which seemed to be rooting for Calzaghe, the light heavyweight champion won by three scores of 118-109, losing only the opening frame on all three cards.

Calzaghe: US fighters ignorant!

"Americans can't fight as well as they think they can," unbeaten light heavyweight Joe Calzaghe told the London Times in advance of Saturday's fight with Roy Jones Jr. "They've always been ignorant. That's why they don't give me the respect I deserve. Americans only won one boxing medal in the Olympics [a bronze]; they haven't got one heavyweight world champion. People say, 'You have to come to America, you're just a European fighter.' But Europeans are now better than American fighters." Calzaghe (45-0, 32 KOs), who moved to light heavyweight after a brilliant run as WBO super middleweight champion, insists that he will retire after this fight against the 39-year-old Jones. Previously he defeated 43-year-old light heavy Bernard Hopkins. We will see, I predict Jones with the upset!!!