Archive for the ‘Weightlifting’ Category

Upper Body Exercise & Bone Density

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

It has long been thought that exercise is good for bones because the stress stimulates the bones to become stronger. Heavier people generally have higher bone mineral density (BMD), presumably due to the higher stress put on their bones.

Some time ago, I was giving a talk and mentioned that exercise is good for bones. Someone asked if you need to exercise your upper body in order for bones in your upper body to benefit from exercise. I didn’t know the answer; it didn’t seem unreasonable to me that any exercise could stimulate increased BMD via hormones circulating throughout the entire body.

I finally got around to looking into it today. I found a number of abstracts of experiments and meta-analyses looking at whether exercise improves BMD. Most indicated that exercise does improve BMD in certain spots, especially the hip and spine.

I only found one study that compared upper body exercise to lower body exercise:

Winters-Stone KM, Snow CM. Site-specific response of bone to exercise in premenopausal women. Bone. 2006 Dec;39(6):1203-9. Epub 2006 Jul 28.

People who did upper and lower body exercise had more improvement in their lower back BMD compared to people who only did lower body exercise. Unfortunately, it appears that they didn’t measure the spine in the upper back or other upper body areas which would have been interesting information.

This is just one study and I don’t think it’s conclusive, but so far it appears that at least some of your bones will benefit from doing upper body resistance exercise in addition to lower body exercise.

Weight Training and Protein

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Question (from a woman who is not larger than average):

I have been vegan for over a year now and recently started to exercise on a regular basis! My personal trainer has told me that I need to significantly increase my protein intake. She wants me to get to close to 100 g of protein per day! I have been logging what I have been eating and have been finding my protein intake to be between 40 g and 60 g. How much plant-based protein is safe/healthy for me to eat? Is my trainer asking to much of me to get 100g of protein per day?


Unless you are training to be a competitive bodybuilder, 100 g of protein is much more than you need. I would suggest getting a vegetarian protein powder (natural foods stores will have them) and making one drink (smoothie, or just putting it in soymilk and blending it) per day with a couple tablespoons of the powder. That will boost your protein intake by about 20 g which is plenty for someone who is starting a weightlifting program. That way, you can tell your trainer you’re increasing your protein intake, but without going to 100 g. Once your muscles are where you want them, you can probably drop the protein supplement and maintain them at that level with just normal foods.


Friday, February 20th, 2009

I have updated the creatine section of Vegan Weightlifting: What Does the Science Say?

Some background: Right after I wrote that article for VRG’s Vegetarian Journal in 2003, a study on vegetarians and creatine was released. I obtained a copy of the study, glanced at it, and put it in my pile of nutrition papers to read soon. Things got very busy for me at Vegan Outreach for the next few years and the issue of creatine sat there.

But in the last few weeks, I transferred Vegan Weightlifting: What Does the Science Say? to the site (it had previously been only on and started updating the article. Today I finished the creatine section. It turns out that “the lost study” provided some fairly compelling evidence that vegetarian weightlifters can benefit from creatine supplementation.

If you are interested, check it out at