Today’s episode is so much fun. I’m chatting with Joanne Lee Cornish, the author of When Calories and Cardio don’t Cut it. We are talking about body composition and what happens to our food when we eat it. Once lypolosis was explained to me, I feel like I can easily shed this extra 10 pounds that…Listen to this episodePlay / pause1x
Ep 37 – Body Composition and Weight Loss with Joanne Lee Cornish
If you’re going to be a personal trainer, there’s no better place to work that Golds Gym in Venice, California. It gets called “The Mecca of Bodybuilding,” and having spent 24 years there as a trainer, I can say that the title is well earned.
I was 27 years old when I entered the Mecca in its heyday. It was 1993, right in the middle of what I maintain was a golden era for the gym and the sport of bodybuilding. I had a few training and nutrition qualifications under my belt, but nobody was particularly interested in seeing them. The real qualifications for the job were:
How buff you looked
How much you lifted
Your ability to play well with others (don’t underestimate how important this one is!)
Back in the 90s there were over 140 independent trainers working at Gold’s. That number is now closer to 40, and many of them have been there as long as me, or even longer. If you visit the Mecca you might not notice them among the chaos, but there are some legends working that 30,000-square-foot floor.
In a place that has lasted for generations, and that thrives on the quest for eternal youth, how do you survive the test of time? Here are my lessons—and you don’t have to be in Gold’s Venice to use them. If the gym is a major part of your income, or just a major part of your day, then take note.
Lesson 1: Stay Away From Center Stage
To train in Gold’s and to work in Gold’s are two very different things. A little like a stage performance, there were a few main characters under the spotlight each and every day. You knew them when you saw them. They were the reasons tourists traveled—and continue to do so—from all over the world to enter those famous glass doors and go back home with a story to tell. They’re what give Gold’s its “wow” factor.
And often, these characters changed with the season. Every year I’d see a few main characters get run out of Gold’s, or a trainer or two get kicked out, often for good reason. The Mecca is not the place to make enemies, but it is an amazing place to meet friends.
That’s all fun if you’re in there for just an hour or so a day. If you’re a trainer, or just someone with truly elite training goals, your day is far longer. If you’re going to play a lead role, it’s going to be exhausting and you’re likely to tread on some toes. The secret to longevity is to stay in the shadows and do your work. Watch the stories unfold without getting dragged into them.
Of course, for some people it is impossible to stay entirely out of the spotlight. Gold’s Venice is brimming with celebrities, and yet it is the only place I know where the famous really can go about their workouts without being overly bothered. You may be training next to 50 Cent, The Rock, Arnold, or Shawn Rhoden, but aside from the odd tourist selfie, they pretty much blend into the crowd. If they can, we all should.
The Lesson for You: Every gym has its own occasional whirlwind of drama going on, and if you’re just passing through it can be fun for a few minutes. But if you plan on staying awhile, know when to step back and watch from a distance. No matter what: Do. The. Work.
Lesson 2: Look For Opportunities, And Grasp Them
We all ended up in Gold’s because of our love of lifting weights, first and foremost. And once in Gold’s, you’re rubbing shoulders with plenty of the best and most famous lifters in the world.
They may look a little intimidating, but generally they are the kindest muscle heads you will ever meet. If you’re willing to put your ego on the back burner, you can draft the energy of your peers to smash any limitations you may have put on yourself at a different gym.
The opposite is true, too. At Gold’s, if you think you’re big, there’s someone bigger. If you think you’re strong, there’s someone stronger. If you think you’re lean, someone walks in and shows you what “peeled” really looks like.
I’d been in Gold’s barely a year when Robby Robinson suggested we train together. I was 27, and he was a legend both for what he had achieved, and what he was still achieving. That year, 1994, he won the Masters Mr. Olympia, and I was able to be part of his preparation. It’s that sort of experience you can only get at Gold’s Venice.
Robby was a very quiet guy, but that didn’t mean he had nothing to teach me. It just meant I needed to pay close attention to learn it! And I picked up so many valuable training tips in that year or so of training.
The following year, I got a lesson in strength. I started training with Billy “Thunder” Smith, a longtime bodybuilder who had recently finished a three-year run on “American Gladiators.” Now, there were quite a few 300-pound men in Gold’s in the 90s—this was the dawn of the age of Dorian and the “mass monsters,” after all—but the weights Billy and his buddy Jim Quinn moved brought the gym to a standstill.
I didn’t really know how strong I thought I was, but when I started training alongside Billy for two years, there was one thing I knew: It was either give it a go with the weights he was using (at least some of the time), or strip all the weights off and put them back on for every set for every workout. So, whenever I could, I stepped up to the plate.
Guess what? I gained more muscle in those two years than I had in the 12 years of lifting that came before.
The Lesson for You: To really excel, don’t train with someone who makes you look good. Train with someone who gives you a few sleepless nights, an anxious drive to the gym, and someone you’re in awe of. It’s better to look up to your training partners than to look straight at them. That desire to live up to your partner’s example can result in gains you didn’t think possible.
Lesson 3: Blatantly Copy, But Give Credit
When I first arrived at the Mecca, I had been training for over 12 years and was already an IFBB pro. But I was still baffled by some of the equipment in the gym.
Going from a 2,000-square-foot gym in the North of England to a 30,000-square-foot gym in SoCal was quite an adjustment, and to make sense of it all, I had to put my pride aside and copy the heck out of the people who knew what they were doing. Seriously, I had no problem watching other people work and trying out their techniques for myself.
There were two people I hounded, especially in my younger years: Charles Glass and Jerry Brainum. And why wouldn’t I? Charles is known as “The Godfather of Bodybuilding,” and Jerry is “The Muscle Guru,” and both nicknames are well earned. Even 20-plus years ago, these guys knew it all, and had seen it all.
In the 90s there were always at least 10-12 people getting ready for the Olympia—including me on a couple of occasions. But whoever they were and wherever they were from, Charles Glass seemed to train all of them! Over the decades I have quizzed Charles whenever I could about his training principles and contest prep techniques. Wouldn’t you?
Jerry’s experience and research with regard to nutrition and training spans over 40 years, he has written for every publication you can name, and is a straight shooter who has no tolerance for “bro science.” I’m a morning person and preferred to train at 4 or 5 a.m., but Jerry was a night owl and could only be found in Gold’s at 10 p.m. or later. If there was something I was studying or wasn’t sure about, I would go back to Gold’s at night just to track him down. Then I would pester him with question after question.
Both Charles and Jerry tolerated me at first, and soon enough, we became dear friends.
The Lesson for You: If you have a Charles or a Jerry in your gym, you can save yourself a lot of time by (politely) bugging the hell out of them. Seeking the advice of others does not reduce your value as a trainer or competitor in any way. I would actually argue the opposite! As long as you’re honest and open about what you’re doing, what you learn, and who you learned it from, it’s to your credit.
Lesson 4: Find Your Niche
In Los Angeles, it seems like everyone is either an actor, a realtor, or a trainer. To succeed in such a saturated environment, it’s necessary to find a niche—an area of expertise you can excel in and be known for.
When I arrived at Gold’s, everyone was a bodybuilder. Half the guys walked around north of 300 pounds and the girls were already on every cover of the fitness magazines. So being a professional in the sport wasn’t going to do me much good. I believe there are two things that over time served me well.
First, I devoted myself to learning about nutrition. Back in the days before apps and online nutrition programs, clients were more reliant on their trainers—and very few trainers could handle anything beyond a basic bodybuilding diet. In a gym like Gold’s, the best marketing you could do was through the transformation of your clients. My clients changed, and people noticed that.
No, your clients don’t have to get onstage. But when they get stronger and leaner, or when their posture or confidence improves, it is a reflection of your work. People notice that.
The second thing that served me well: Once I retired from competition in 1996, I decided I wouldn’t be “stage ready” twice a year anymore and would instead simply focus on maintaining an attainable year-round physique.
Of course I wondered if it would affect my business, and it did: Almost instantaneously, my workload doubled! I had thought my work hinged on my being a competitor, but it was exactly the opposite. My clients couldn’t care a hoot if I stepped onstage! My weight no longer fluctuated 20 pounds, and I built a reputation as the trainer who was in shape all year. It was this year-round consistency that people admired more than my bi-annual striated ass.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have been approached by strangers in the gym who have told me that they have been visiting Gold’s for years, and that I always look the same.
The Lesson for You: What you take for granted, people pay attention to. It used to drive me crazy that outside of the gym people would always assume I was a trainer. In hindsight, that was not a bad thing. Build your expertise, and don’t shy away from it.
Lesson 5: It’s Not A Job, It’s Your Career!
It’s great to not have to put on a suit and half an inch of makeup to go to work, but that doesn’t mean that you can take your role as a trainer casually.
You can have more qualifications than any other trainer in your gym, but if you don’t shower, turn up late, take a personal call, or cancel last minute on your client, you will not last long. Like begets like: If your training gig is not your priority, your clients won’t make you a priority.
The Lesson for You: This may sound like it just applies to trainers, but it can be applied to any job. If you carry Tupperware and eat on your client’s dime, you are diminishing their value. If you answer a call when they’re doing a set, the same is true. If your CPA was having lunch or taking calls during your appointment, it would be insulting.
No matter how big or small your job, treat it with the same professionalism. Do this, and you will stand out. Don’t do it, and you will stand out for the wrong reasons.
Lesson 6: Don’t Let Fame Blind You
Gold’s had—and still has—no shortage of celebrities. It was tempting to focus my efforts primarily on them. Honestly, if you’re a trainer in Los Angeles and haven’t trained a celebrity, it’s probably a strategic move on your part because they are literally everywhere!
It’s always great to have these names and physiques to add to your resume (or today, your website or Instagram feed). They can increase your visibility, and their names sometimes bring more short-term value than any continuing education credits you’ve done. They are also generally very fun to work with and take their training seriously.
However, having trained quite a few celebrities over my 24 years at Gold’s, I can say that there are some big downsides. They leave town for months at a time and have erratic schedules that you have to work with. If you’re training them for a movie, they can take up a huge amount of your time, then when they disappear, you have enormous gaps in your day that you now have to fill.
In that time, you will have probably turned away—or just not noticed—plenty of potential “bread and butter” clients. Sure, you can usually charge a high-profile client for the inconvenience they pose, but the ultimate math often doesn’t make sense.
The Lesson for You: Your gym may not have “celebrities” per se, but wherever you’re a trainer—or wherever you work—there will always be those big fish you want to hook. They can undoubtedly create a buzz about your work, but be sure to balance your portfolio with your regular day-to-day rock stars.
No matter your calling, think in broad terms, not just big terms. That’s advice you can build a career by whether you’re training clients in the Mecca of Bodybuilding, out of your garage, or any point in between.
A strange thing has happened to men over the past few decades: We’ve become increasingly infertile, so much so that within a generation we may lose the ability to reproduce entirely. What’s causing this mysterious drop in sperm counts—and is there any way to reverse it before it’s too late?
Men are doomed. Everybody knows this. We’re obviously all doomed, the women too, everybody in general, just a waiting game until one or another of the stupid things our stupid species is up to finally gets us. But as it turns out, no surprise: men first. Second instance of no surprise: We’re going to take the women down with us.
There has always been evidence that men, throughout life, are at higher risk of early death—from the beginning, a higher male incidence of Death by Mastodon Stomping, a higher incidence of Spiked Club to the Brainpan, a statistically significant disparity between how many men and how many women die of Accidentally Shooting Themselves in the Face or Getting Really Fat and Having a Heart Attack. The male of the species dies younger than the female—about five years on average. Divide a population into groups by birth year, and by the time each cohort reaches 85, there are two women left for every man alive. In fact, the male wins every age class: Baby boys die more often than baby girls; little boys die more often than little girls; teenage boys; young men; middle-aged men. Death champions across the board.
Now it seems that early death isn’t enough for us—we’re on track instead to void the species entirely. Last summer a group of researchers from Hebrew University and Mount Sinai medical school published a study showing that sperm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by more than 50 percent over the past four decades. (They judged data from the rest of the world to be insufficient to draw conclusions from, but there are studies suggesting that the trend could be worldwide.) That is to say: We are producing half the sperm our grandfathers did. We are half as fertile.
The Hebrew University/Mount Sinai paper was a meta-analysis by a team of epidemiologists, clinicians, and researchers that culled data from 185 studies, which examined semen from almost 43,000 men. It showed that the human race is apparently on a trend line toward becoming unable to reproduce itself. Sperm counts went from 99 million sperm per milliliter of semen in 1973 to 47 million per milliliter in 2011, and the decline has been accelerating. Would 40 more years—or fewer—bring us all the way to zero?
I called Shanna H. Swan, a reproductive epidemiologist at Mount Sinai and one of the lead authors of the study, to ask if there was any good news hiding behind those brutal numbers. Were we really at risk of extinction? She failed to comfort me. “The What Does It Mean question means extrapolating beyond your data,” Swan said, “which is always a tricky thing. But you can ask, ‘What does it take? When is a species in danger? When is a species threatened?’ And we are definitely on that path.” That path, in its darkest reaches, leads to no more naturally conceived babies and potentially to no babies at all—and the final generation of Homo sapiens will roam the earth knowing they will be the last of their kind.
If we are half as fertile as the generation before us, why haven’t we noticed? One answer is that there is a lot of redundancy built into reproduction: You don’t need 200 million sperm to fertilize an egg, but that’s how many the average man might devote to the job. Most men can still conceive a child naturally with a depressed sperm count, and those who can’t have a booming fertility-treatment industry ready to help them. And though lower sperm counts probably have led to a small decrease in the number of children being conceived, that decline has been masked by sociological changes driving birth rates down even faster: People in the developed world are choosing to have fewer children, and they are having them later.
The problem has been debated among fertility scientists for decades now—studies suggesting that sperm counts are declining have been appearing since the ’70s—but until Swan and her colleagues’ meta-analysis, the results have always been judged incomplete or preliminary. Swan herself had conducted smaller studies on declining sperm counts, but in 2015 she decided it was time for a definitive answer. She teamed up with Hagai Levine, an Israeli epidemiologist, and Niels Jørgensen, a Danish endocrinologist, and along with five others, they set about performing a systematic review and meta-regression analysis—that is, a kind of statistical synthesis of the data. “Hagai is a very good scientist, and he also used to be the head of epidemiology for the Israeli armed forces,” Swan told me. “So he’s very good at organizing.” They spent a year working with the data.
“We should hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” said Hagai Levine, a lead author of the study. “And that is the possibility that we will become extinct.”
The results, when they came in, were clear. Not only were sperm counts per milliliter of semen down by more than 50 percent since 1973, but total sperm counts were down by almost 60 percent: We are producing less semen, and that semen has fewer sperm cells in it. This time around, even scientists who had been skeptical of past analyses had to admit that the study was all but unassailable. Jørgensen, in Copenhagen, told me that when he saw the results, he’d said aloud, “No, it cannot be true.” He had expected to see a past decline and then a leveling off. But he couldn’t argue when the team ran the numbers again and again. The downward slope was unwavering.
Almost all the scientists I talked to stressed that not only were low sperm counts alarming for what they said about the reproductive future of the species—they were also a warning of a much larger set of health problems facing men. In this view, sperm production is a canary in the coal mine of male bodies: We know, for instance, that men with poor semen quality have a higher mortality rate and are more likely to have diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease than fertile men.
Testosterone levels have also dropped precipitously, with effects beginning in utero and extending into adulthood. One of the most significant markers of an organism’s sex is something called anogenital distance (AGD)—the measurement between the anus and the genitals. Male AGD is typically twice the length of female, a much more dramatic difference than height or weight or musculature. Lower testosterone leads to a shorter AGD, and a measurement lower than the median correlates to a man being seven times as likely to be subfertile and gives him a greater likelihood of having undescended testicles, testicular tumors, and a smaller penis. “What you are seeing in a number of systems, other developmental systems, is that the sex differences are shrinking,” Swan told me. Men are producing less sperm. They’re also becoming less male.
I assumed that the next thing Swan was going to tell me was that these changes were all a mystery to scientists. If only we could figure out what was causing the drop in sperm counts, I imagined, we could solve all the attendant health problems at once. But it turns out that it’s not a mystery: We know what the culprit is. And it’s hiding in plain sight.
The sixth floor of the Rigshospitalet, a hospital and research institution in Copenhagen, houses the Department of Growth and Reproduction. The babies are all a few floors downstairs—on six, the unit is populated not with new parents but with doctors and researchers hunched over mass spectrometers and gel imagers and the like. I was there to meet Niels E. Skakkebæk, an 82-year-old pediatric endocrinologist, who founded the department in 1990. After walking me through the lab, he showed me to his office, a cramped, closet-like space—modest for someone who is a giant in his field. Male fertility and male reproductive health, Skakkebæk told me, are in full-blown crisis. “Here in Denmark, there is an epidemic of infertility,” he said. “More than 20 percent of Danish men do not father children.”
Skakkebæk first suspected something was going wrong in the late ’70s, when he treated an infertile patient with an abnormality in the cells of the testes that he had never seen before. When he treated a second man with the same abnormality a few years later, he began to investigate a connection. What he found was a new form of precursor cells for testicular cancer, a once rare disease whose incidence had doubled. Moreover, these precursor cells had begun developing before the patient was even born. “He had the insight that testicular cancer, which is a cancer of young men, is something that is actually originated in utero,” Swan told me. And if these testes had somehow been misdeveloping in utero, Skakkebæk asked himself, what else was happening to these babies before they were born?
Eventually, Skakkebæk linked several other previously rare symptoms for a condition he called testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS), a collection of male reproductive problems that include hypospadias (an abnormal location for the end of the urethra), cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle), poor semen quality, and testicular cancer. What Skakkebæk proposed with TDS is that these disorders can have a common fetal origin, a disruption in the development of the male fetus in the womb.
So what was causing this disruption? To say there is only a single answer might be an overstatement—stress, smoking, and obesity, for example, all depress sperm counts—but there are fewer and fewer critics of the following theory: The industrial revolution happened. And the oil industry happened. And 20th-century chemistry happened. In short, humans started ingesting a whole host of compounds that affected our hormones—including, most crucially, estrogen and testosterone.
The scientists I talked to were less cautious about embracing this explanation than I expected. Down the hall from Skakkebæk’s office, I met Anna-Maria Andersson, a biologist whose research has focused on declining testosterone levels. “There has been a chemical revolution going on starting from the beginning of the 19th century, maybe even a bit before,” she told me, “and upwards and exploding after the Second World War, when hundreds of new chemicals came onto the market within a very short time frame.” Suddenly a vast array of chemicals were entering our bloodstream, ones that no human body had ever had to deal with. The chemical revolution gave us some wonderful things: new medicines, new food sources, faster and cheaper mass production of all sorts of necessary products. It also gave us, Andersson pointed out, a living experiment on the human body with absolutely no forethought to the result.
When a chemical affects your hormones, it’s called an endocrine disruptor. And it turns out that many of the compounds used to make plastic soft and flexible (like phthalates) or to make them harder and stronger (like Bisphenol A, or BPA) are consummate endocrine disruptors. Phthalates and BPA, for example, mimic estrogen in the bloodstream. If you’re a man with a lot of phthalates in his system, you’ll produce less testosterone and fewer sperm. If exposed to phthalates in utero, a male fetus’s reproductive system itself will be altered: He will develop to be less male.
Women with raised levels of phthalates in their urine during pregnancy were significantly more likely to have sons with shorter anogenital distance as well as shorter penis length and smaller testes. “When the [fetus’s] testicles start making testosterone, which is about week eight of pregnancy, they make a little less,” Swan said. “That’s the nub of this whole story. So phthalates decrease testosterone. The testicles then do not produce proper testosterone, and the anogenital distance is shorter.”
The problem is that these chemicals are everywhere. BPA can be found in water bottles and food containers and sales receipts. Phthalates are even more common: They are in the coatings of pills and nutritional supplements; they’re used in gelling agents, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents. Not to mention medical devices, detergents and packaging, paint and modeling clay, pharmaceuticals and textiles and sex toys and nail polish and liquid soap and hair spray. They are used in tubing that processes food, so you’ll find them in milk, yogurt, sauces, soups, and even, in small amounts, in eggs, fruits, vegetables, pasta, noodles, rice, and water. The CDC determined that just about everyone in the United States has measurable levels of phthalates in his or her body—they’re unavoidable.
What’s more, there is evidence that the effect of these endocrine disruptors increases over generations, due to something called epigenetic inheritance. Normally, acquired traits—like, say, a sperm count lowered by obesity—aren’t passed down from father to son. But some chemicals, including phthalates and BPA, can change the way genes are expressed without altering the underlying genetic code, and that change is inheritable. Your father passes along his low sperm count to you, and your sperm count goes even lower after you’re exposed to endocrine disruptors. That’s part of the reason there’s been no leveling off even after 40 years of declining sperm counts—the baseline keeps dropping.
With all due respect to Dr. Swan and the problems of extrapolating beyond one’s data, I wanted to get back to What It All Means. The answer, I thought, might be found at the 13th International Symposium on Spermatology, which took place in May, on Lidingö, a small island in the inner Stockholm archipelago. A hundred spermatologists in one place: You’d think (incorrectly) that the jokes would be good. Skakkebæk had told me I’d be able to find some dissenters to the conclusions of Swan’s meta-analysis there, but what I witnessed instead was the final vanquishing of the few remaining doubters.
At the welcome dinner (reindeer and rooster), I met Hagai Levine, the Israeli co-author of the Hebrew University/Mount Sinai meta-analysis. Levine, who is 40, told me we had reasons to worry. “I’m saying that we should hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” he said. “And that is the possibility that we will become extinct. That’s a possibility we must seriously consider. I’m not saying it’s going to happen. I’m not saying it’s likely to happen. I’m not saying that’s the prediction. I’m just saying we should be prepared for such a possibility. That’s all. And we are not.”
His session the next morning—“Are Spermatozoa at the Verge of Extinction?”—would be the defining event of the conference: It cast a shadow over all the other talks. At a panel discussion that followed his presentation, Levine continued his argument for addressing the causes of the crisis, saying, “My default, if I don’t know, is that it is up to the manufacturers of chemicals to prove that their chemicals are safe. But I don’t feel like I need any more evidence to take action with chemicals already known to disrupt the endocrine system.”
The organizer of the symposium, Lars Björndahl, a Swedish spermatologist who had presented earlier in the morning, urged caution. “I have great respect for epidemiological studies, but we should remember that mathematical correlations don’t prove that there is a causative relation,” he said. Questions from the audience—often taking the form of statements—were much along the same lines: Be careful of a bias toward the assumption that all these things are connected. Levine nodded with only a hint of chagrin, like a patient professor waiting hopefully for his students to catch up.
David Mortimer, who runs a company that designs and establishes assisted-conception laboratories, was one of the only members of the audience willing to question Levine’s study itself. He pointed out that methods for measuring sperm had changed dramatically over the time period of the study and that the old studies were profoundly unreliable.
Levine was ready with an answer. “So that’s one of the reasons we also conducted a sensitivity analysis,” he said from the stage, “with studies with sample collection only after 1995—and the slope was even steeper. So that could not explain the decline we see after 1995.”
“I’ve never said there was no decline in sperm counts,” Mortimer said, a bit defensively. Levine, who had been so gracious and engaged with his critics, began to look a little tired. He rallied, though, when the group agreed to put out a joint statement about the crisis. The chairs of the symposium called on the world to acknowledge that male reproductive health was essential for the survival of the species, that its decline was alarming and should be studied, and that at present it was being neglected in funding and attention.
Mortimer came around and ended up signing the statement. When I caught up with him later, he wasn’t nearly as dismissive of the study’s conclusions as I expected. He agreed there was little question that sperm counts were dropping, and he even embraced some of the direst predictions of scientists like Levine. “The epigenetics are the scary bit,” he told me, “because what we’re doing now affects the future of the human race.” When even the skeptics are scared, it’s probably time to pay attention.
Can anything be done? Over the past 20 years, there have been occasional attempts to limit the number of endocrine disruptors in circulation, but inevitably the fixes are insubstantial: one chemical removed in favor of another, which eventually turns out to have its own dangers. That was the case with BPA, which was partly replaced by Bisphenol S, which might be even worse for you. The chemical industry, unsurprisingly, has been resistant to the notion that the billions of dollars of revenue these products represent might also represent terrible damage to the human body, and have often followed the model of Big Tobacco and Big Oil—fighting regulation with lobbyists and funding their own studies that suggest their products are harmless. The website for the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association, has a page dedicated to phthalates that mostly consists of calling Shanna Swan’s research “controversial” and asserting that her “use of methodologies that have not been validated and unconventional data analysis have been criticized by the scientific community.” (Cited critics of Swan include Elizabeth Whelan, now deceased, an epidemiologist famous for fighting the regulation of chemicals from her position as president of the American Council on Science and Health, which has received funding from Chevron, DuPont, and other companies in the plastic business.)
Assuming that we’re unable to wean ourselves off plastics and other marvels of modern science, we may be stuck innovating our way out of this mess. How long we’re able to outrun the drop in sperm count may depend, finally, on how good we get at IVF and other fertility treatments. When I spoke with Marc Goldstein, a urologist and surgeon at Weill Cornell medical center in New York City, he said that while there was “no question I’ve seen a big increase in men with male-factor infertility,” he wasn’t worried for the future of the species. Assisted reproduction would keep the babies coming, no matter how sickly men’s sperm become.
It’s true that fertility treatments have already given men with extremely low sperm counts the chance to be fathers. Indeed, by looking at their cases, we can glimpse what our low-sperm-count future might look like. We know that it will be arduous to conceive, and expensive—so expensive that having children may no longer be an option available to all couples. A fertility-treatment-dependent future is also unlikely to produce a birth rate anywhere near current levels.
Not long ago, I spoke with Chris Wohl, a research materials/surface engineer at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, who spent six years trying to conceive a child. Both he and his wife had fertility problems: Wohl’s sperm count was under 2 million per milliliter—the average count we’d expect to reach, at the current rate, by 2034. “We started in the normal way of trying to have kids,” he said, “and after a few years, we said, ‘Okay, let’s talk to some folks.’ ” They went through several rounds of intrauterine insemination. “And then after that sixth time, we said, ‘This isn’t working. We need to kind of up our technology game.’ So we went to a reproductive endocrinologist and went through several rounds of IVF. And then when that failed, we were going to look into adoption. That’s when somebody came forward and said that they would be a surrogate for us.” Finally, with the surrogate, the process worked. He and his wife now have a healthy, strong-willed 4-year-old girl.
So perhaps that’s the solution: As long as we hover somewhere above Sperm Count Zero, and with an assist from modern medicine, we have a shot. Men will continue to be essential to the survival of the species. The problem with innovation, though, is that it never stops. A new technology known as IVG—in vitro gametogenesis—is showing early promise at turning embryonic stem cells into sperm. In 2016, Japanese scientists created baby mice by fertilizing normal mouse eggs with sperm created via IVG. The stem cells in question were taken from female mice. There was no need for any males.
Adding miles to the clock is exhausting, but is you age also making you a little crazy? Here is a 3 minute video excerpt from my book about midlife weight gain and how to beat it “When Calories and Cardio Dont Cut It”
I hope you find it infomative with a splash of english humo(u)r thrown in.
IS YOUR AGE MAKING YOU A LITTLE CRAZY?
Estrogen also inhibits the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. When estrogen declines cortisol levels rise, this can increase blood sugar, blood pressure and for some unfortunate women it can lead to mild to severe panic attacks. Furthermore, estrogen has a role in regulating the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a mood neurotransmitter, and estrogen helps prevent its reuptake; when estrogen declines unstable moods ensue, causing episodes of anxiety and panic.
If you’d like know more
We all know that lady who, in her younger years, could have taken on the world. She was ambitious, confident, a go-getter, a life shaker, but who, in her later years, became uncertain, anxious, fragile and depressed.
The majority of women (80%) suffer to some degree with:
Men don’t get a pass either. Men get grumpy while women get scared; not the dream scenario for aging with your partner. Guys if your lady is becoming a little annoying, please know that are you too.
We all know that guy that in his younger years was cheerful, full of fun and curiosity but in his later years became grumpy, opinionated, argumentative and fatalistic?
It’s easy to point a critical finger at the ladies, but you guys can become tough to be around. Your need to be right only intensifies as you become more emotional with the passing years. Testosterone is converted into estrogen and as men age this conversion increases. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts androgens (testosterone) to estrogens. This enzyme can be found all over the body, and it becomes more active with age, obesity, insulin and excessive alcohol intake.
MEN HAVE ESTROGEN TOO
Yes, men do have a female side, and it is not just puppies and chick flicks that bring it to the surface. Estradiol is the estrogen in men that mainly comes from the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. As men get older, the production of testosterone decreases yet the conversion of the hormones continues, especially in fatty tissue.
As men get older their male hormone drops while their estradiol levels remain high. This is due to the increased activity of that aromatase enzyme that happily converts testosterone to estrogen, and the process is enhanced by the increase of fat associated with age.
Fat releases and stores hormones, and abdominal fat produces estrogen which then enters a man’s bloodstream.
How do you know if this is happening to you or your man? Their emotional disposition might be the giveaway but also feeling constantly tired, losing muscle, gaining fat on the chest and, of course, that expanding waistline.
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Whether you want to hit the stage, the beach, or turn heads in a t-shirt, creating muscular and defined shoulders should be a priority. The delt-to-waist ratio can create a jaw-dropping visual impact that competitors must focus on—and the rest of us shouldn’t overlook. Read on for shoulder workouts for women.
If you’re a newbie to lifting, targeted shoulder training can give you the quick gains that will transform your physique in record time. Adding mass to your quads or back is going to take time, but the three deltoid muscles of the shoulder are relatively small, and even a tiny amount of muscle can make an enormous difference to any physique.
As a former Ms. Olympia competitor, and a longtime trainer at Gold’s Gym Venice, aka “the mecca,” I’ve seen and performed countless shoulder workouts. These are some of my favorites, starting with a workout for beginners and moving on to a hardcore routine only for advanced ladies.
What Every Woman Needs To Know About The Shoulder. Shoulder workouts for women
Maybe you’re new to the gym, and although you may have come from other sports, lifting weights over your head is new to you. If that’s the case, then starting off from an informed position is essential. Before you lift a single weight, let’s review the most important aspects of shoulder anatomy and function.
The Shoulder Joint
There are numerous bones and muscles in and around the shoulder, but the three crucial bones to understand are the scapula, aka the shoulder blade behind you; the clavicle, aka the collarbone in front of you; and the humerus, aka the bone of the upper arm.
The shoulder joint, also known as the glenohumeral joint, centers around the point where the humerus fits into an indentation on the scapula known as the glenoid cavity. Numerous muscles connect in and around this joint—really, most of the muscles of the upper body—giving the shoulder a wide range of motion that is both a blessing and a curse.
Why a curse? Because your shoulder mobility can sometimes enable you to lift with seriously sketchy form, whether you realize it or not. More than almost every other body part, using the correct form and increasing your weight conservatively is essential for saving wear and tear on this ball and socket joint. Nothing will impair your progress like a shoulder injury.
The Rotator Cuff
As workout junkies, we love to focus on the mirror muscles, but for a moment let’s acknowledge what holds it all together: the rotator cuff. The four rotator cuff muscles are the infraspinatus, the supraspinatus, the teres minor, and the subscapularis. This team works together to stabilize the shoulder and to keep the humerus in the glenoid cavity.
In other words, they keep your arm attached to your body, but also help ensure that the humerus stays centrated in the joint and follows a safe movement path. This is why you’ll find so many articles dedicated to this incredibly talented set of muscles, and how to activate them for safe, strong lifting.
OK, let’s finally talk about what most of us associate with the term “shoulder muscles”—the delts!
The deltoid is a triangular muscle group that covers the shoulder joint. Its round shape stretches from the top of the shoulder to the clavicle at the front and the scapula at the back, and as it drapes over the joint, it attaches to the upper arm bone.
The deltoid works to raise the arm, rotate the arm, assist the pectoral muscles, and protect against dislocation when we carry heavy objects. That’s a lot of functions for such a small muscle.
The deltoid has three portions or “heads” with three distinct functions, although they all chip in to some degree on compound movements like shoulder presses.
Anterior deltoid: The anterior deltoid lifts the arm to the front and rotates the arm medially, or toward the midline of the body. The primary isolation movement for anterior delts are variations of front raises, which you can vary by using different hand positions—palms face in, palms face down, etc.
Lateral deltoid: The middle abducts the arm, or lifts it away from the body. Exercises for the lateral deltoid include any form of side raise, as well as an upright row—particularly with a wide grip.
Rear deltoid: The posterior or rear delt extends the arm behind the body and rotates the arm outward. Exercises for the rear deltoid include face pulls, the reverse pec-deck machine, reverse cable fly, and bent-over lateral raises, among others. Because rotation is one of its functions, hand position can create variations to any standard movement.
A Quick Word On Traps
Another massive component to any shoulder workout worth mentioning is the involvement of the trapezius muscles. The “traps” elevate and rotate the shoulder. The upper trap attaches to the clavicle (front), the scapula (back), and to the back of the skull.
You may or may not want to focus on building your trapezius muscles. Men often love big traps and will train them in isolation. Women may choose to do the same, but often don’t because traps that overpower the delt can make the shoulders look narrower.
More important for this article, though, is acknowledging that poor form on shoulder movements, and too much movement of the scapula, will activate the traps and lead them to “take over” shoulder movements.
I see this all too often when someone uses too much weight on a lateral raise. The arm does indeed raise, but the delt had little to do with it. If you let the traps do the work, they will—at the detriment of other muscles.
To keep the traps from taking over your shoulder workout, keep your shoulders down, away from your ears, and use moderate weight. Nobody cares how heavy you can perform shoulder isolation movements, and, when in doubt, lighter is often better.
Beginner Shoulder-Building Workout
Unless we are involved in sports, day-to-day living rarely requires us to lift things above our head. If you are new to working out, please do not go straight into a heavy overhead press. Do a thorough warm-up, and then hit the shoulders in slightly higher rep ranges. A good shoulder workout should burn!
Suggested Warm-Up for Beginners
Circuit: Perform 3x with little to no rest between rounds
Use seriously light dumbbells for this routine, like 2-3 pounds. Perform all the movements standing with your knees slightly bent, which will take the pressure off the lower back.
Don’t overlook this warm-up! It’s the same one that I do to this day.
Repeat this workout twice a week, with at least 72 hours in between each workout. Your form will start to feel locked in at about week 2 or 3, then you can start to increase the weights and use other variations of the same movements.
When you see the reps decreasing, it indicates an increase in the weight you should use. But remember, reps aren’t a hard-and-fast rule—they’re a guide. If the workout says 12 reps, but you can get 3 more with good form, do the extra 3 reps. Then, increase the weight slightly during the next set. Alternately, if the sets say 12, but you can barely get 8, reduce the weight. Never sacrifice form for weight!
Beginner’s Shoulder Workout for Women
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Using a shoulder machine might give you a little extra initial strength, but in this workout, I focus on the seated dumbbell press. The free weights will force the stabilization you are going to need as the load increases, while performing the movement seated will enforce stricter form than performing it standing.
The dumbbells do not need to touch overhead; if your hands come narrower than your shoulders, you are potentially compromising the shoulder joint.
Standing Front Raise With EZ-Bar
You can also use a low cable for this movement. No matter what implement you choose, keep the knees slightly bent, which will stop you from rocking and will protect your lower back. Also use a false grip, which means thumbs on the same side of the bar as your fingers, as you lift the bar to chin level. Always control the descent. Keep your body still and keep your neck long.
Seated Lateral Raise
I’m having you sit down here to keep your form strict. This is one of the most abused exercises I’ve seen in all my 35 years of lifting weights! Engage your lower back muscles, and you will feel your shoulders getting pulled down into place. Keep this feeling. Imagine that you are sitting between two planes of glass. If the dumbbells go too far in front or too far behind you, you will break the glass.
Then, lift the weight as if the resistance is on the top of your elbows. Your thumbs should be pointing slightly down. If your thumbs and palm start to creep up, you will feel that your whole shoulder has changed position and the lateral delt is no longer doing much of the work.
Practice this exercise with very manageable weights until your form is perfect.
Reverse Machine Fly
Move to a rear delt fly machine. Adjust the seat height so that your shoulders are comfortably depressed into your ribcage. If you sit too low, your traps will get very involved.
Keep a neutral wrist position—it can tend to drop—and be sure that your elbows are pointing behind you, not at the floor. Imagine that you are about to elbow someone behind you. Not a polite thing to do, but that’s where your elbow should be.
Women’s Overall Shoulder-Building Workout
This workout is for someone who isn’t new to lifting, who wants to add quality size to each part of their deltoid, is pain-free, and understands good form. If you’re wanting to add size, it’ll help you do that, but if you’re trying to slim down and just want your shoulders to stand out and look “toned,” it fits the bill there, too.
Because this is an intense workout, I only recommend performing it once a week. Each time you do, I recommend switching variations of the same movement: dumbbell, machine, cable, barbell, and so on. I’ll give specific examples.
No matter what movement you select, though, you should start with the same warm-up I used in the beginner’s workout. Trust me: It works!
Choose between a seated dumbbell press, a machine press, or a seated barbell press. One week do dumbbell, the next do a machine, and so on. Squeeze your lower lats to depress your scapula, engage your abs with a breath, and press. Bring the weight down to chin height, don’t bring your chin up to the weight!
When you do dropsets, reduce the weight by about a third and go to a controlled failure. So, 30-pound dumbbells would be dropped to 20 pounds.
Take your time between sets. If you like to keep a fast-paced workout, hit an ab move or stretch your shoulders.
As with the presses, change it up each week. Choose between using dumbbells or a machine, and between double or single-arm raises. For muscle-building, I’m not a fan of using cables for lateral raises, but if it works for you, go ahead. Keep your form tight and enjoy the burn of the dropsets.
Dumbbell Rear-Delt Row
This is a heart-pumping superset that doesn’t take strength away from either exercise. You have options, too; any combination of a machine and a cable or free weight will work. For this movement, you could use a bent-over dumbbell row (either seated or standing), a cable reverse fly, or a machine. If your gym is busy, just put a pair of dumbbells next to the machine you’re using for the other movement.
If you use dumbbells, keep your knees bent with shoulders higher than your hips. What you’re looking at will dictate the position of your neck, so keep your eyes about 4 feet in front of you, so that your neck neither has to overextend or flex.
The elbows are bent, and the arm stays in the same position throughout. If the weight is too much, it can look like a lousy triceps extension.
Front Cable Raise
You can use a rope, handle, or bar. I prefer the short EZ-bar. The weight you use on a cable front raise will depend on the machine you’re using. Some machines are great for your ego, and some make this exercise almost impossible. You’re keeping the reps a little higher because otherwise the forearms take a beating, and the elbows can complain afterward. A great alternate choice for this movement is the alternating front dumbbell raise.
Women’s Width-Building Shoulder Workout
Make those shoulders pop by putting the focus on the lateral deltoids! This may be a routine you want to implement for 4-6 weeks, or it may be one that you use every third shoulder workout, alternating it with some of the other workouts here.
Many people’s shoulders can tolerate this. Some definitely can’t. If it hurts you, don’t try to struggle through—use a different movement instead, like a dumbbell press or a Smith machine press in front of the neck.
Be sure to position your seat correctly under the bar and be aware if the Smith is vertical or slightly angled. The weight you use will depend on the machine. Only go as low as feels good for your shoulders, and use a grip wider than shoulder width.
You may choose to have the bench back up for support or to keep it flat, or even to have a training partner put their knee in the center of your back. I learned that one from my old training partner, Robbie Robinson.
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Don’t go any higher than 90 degrees on these, because beyond that point, it’s pretty much all trap. Keep the palms facing the floor, and don’t swing the dumbbells—or your body.
Bent-Over Low Pulley Lateral Raise
Perform these rear-delt scorchers one arm at a time, doing all the reps for a set with one arm, then the other, and then going right into the other half of the superset. No matter which cable you use, this is going to feel heavy, but it gives a unique soreness that you might like. Keep your hips and shoulders square with the floor.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise With “Slide”
For this burner of a move, use half the weight of what you would use for a regular lateral raise.
Raise your arms to the side, and when the weights are at chest height, bring your arms across your body until the dumbbells touch end to end. Return immediately to the extended position and return the weights to your side.
Keep the rep range moderate, as the forearms and elbows can feel the strain if they become too overloaded.
Cable Single-Arm Lateral Raise
The lateral delts will be tired by now, so move on to a single-side movement where you can focus on control.
If the cables in your gym are too heavy for this exercise, use a very light dumbbell instead. When using a dumbbell, you can hold on to the frame of a machine or to the back of a gym bench. By securing your non-working side you can avoid swaying with each rep.
Women’s Advanced High-Volume Shoulder Workout
Shoulder workouts for women. You’re an experienced lifter, looking to shake up your shoulder workout and shock the muscles into some new development. Well, get ready! This a personal favorite workout of mine, but it’s a lot of work. You’ll do eight exercises, totaling 40 sets, with both high and low reps. You can use this workout weekly for 4-6 weeks, or alternate it for every other shoulder workout with any of the other less-intense workouts here.
There are two exercises for each part of the delt, and two pressing movements that involve all three heads. One exercise is on a machine, and one is with free weights. Each exercise is coupled with another. The first exercise is structured in descending reps with increasing weight, and the second exercise keeps the same weight and reps for each set.
If you’re an advanced enough lifter to handle this workout, then you probably don’t need much in terms of technique cues. I’ll just say this: Use the implements that are safest and most comfortable for you, and stay in control of the weight. If you don’t have access to a machine for lateral raises, either a resistance band or a single cable raise will work. And on all moves, don’t be afraid to lift lighter than you would for a workout with less volume.
Joanne Lee Cornish is a British, European, and World Bodybuilding champion. A former IFBB pro, she competed in the Ms. Olympia twice before retiring to concentrate on her personal training… Her recent book “When Calories and Cardio Dont Cut It” discusses and explains mid life weight gain and how to avoid it The book can be found in all formats www.caloriesandcardio.com