Archive for the tag - michael phelps

If You Workout, Can You Eat Whatever You Want?

20080812-phelpsIt’s a new year - and many people are making resolutions to exercise. Great! But many people mistakenly believe that working out is a free pass to eat whatever you want.

A few years back, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps gained a lot of attention for his alleged 10,000 calorie-per-day diet including lots of “pizza and pasta.” Most experts believe that Phelps’ actual diet is likely closer to 6,000 calories as it’s nearly impossible to eat 10,000 calories in a day.

Still… for the rest of us non-Olympians, Phelps’ legendary diet helps fuel the popular misconception that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise. Simply put, this is untrue.

On one end of the equation, each of us burn a set number of calories during the course of the day. If we exercise, we can certainly boost that number. At the other end of the equation, each us consumes a certain number of calories through the foods we eat. At the most basic level, if calories in is greater than calories out, we will store those extra calories as fat.

It’s true that regular exercisers have higher metabolisms and thus need more calories on a daily basis. Many people, for example, are surprised by the amount of food that I consume even though I’m just 155 pounds. But if I ate beyond my body’s daily caloric needs - even despite my rigorous workout routine - there’s no doubt that I’d gain excess fat.

And working out doesn’t prevent an individual from developing nutritional deficiencies. As such, it’s not a free pass to eat a diet of French fries and cheeseburgers. On the contrary, it’s still important to eat with health in mind - and it’s important to give your body the fuel it needs to power through workouts and maintain muscle mass.

Bottom line: The idea that you can eat whatever you want if you workout is a total myth. All of us, regardless of our activity level, must pay attention to the foods we eat.

How to Get Venus / Butt / Lower Back Dimples.

I could do my laundry on Ryan Sheckler's backside. (Photo: Business Wire)

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I get a lot of e-mails asking about Venus dimples - the small indentations on either side of the spine just above the lower back. It’s almost like having a six pack on your rear end. But aside from a good pick-up line (“Hey, love your butt dimples!”), what exactly are these mysterious indentations - and is it possible to get them from exercise?

Venus dimples are created when there is a visible cleft in the topography of the sacroiliac joint. This cleft is considered by many (myself included) to be sexually desirable. Though it’s rare overall, it’s more common in women than it is in men.

But can you get Venus dimples from exercise? Not surprisingly, there’s not a whole lot of research on the subject. It’s widely believed that Venus dimples are genetic - much like a cleft in one’s chin. But I’m not so certain. If you Google the backside of any lean athlete, from David Beckham to Michael Phelps to Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured in white underwear) to Ryan Sheckler (pictured on ESPN cover), you’ll notice that they’ve all got it. In fact, I was unable to find any very lean and fit athlete without said dimples.

I’m going to suggest that the magnitude of Venus dimples may be determined in some part by genetics, but that there are two things that all of us can do to enhance what we’ve got through exercise:

  1. Lower body fat percentages to the 6% - 13% range for men (and 14%-20% for women). These are the body fat percentages for athletes (like the ones we discussed above) - and they’re hard to obtain without a high level of commitment and motivation. Here’s a really basic but decent body fat calculator (though I recommend working with a professional to get an accurate measurement). Lower body fat percentages mean high-level cardiovascular training, like hard sprints. Get ready to sweat!
  2. Build and develop lower back muscles through strength training. A lean and muscular back will help showcase what you’ve got - so be sure not to overlook your lower back region when strength training (it’s actually quite common to overlook this muscle group). There are a number of machines that target this area, but you may also wish to try the equipment-less “Superman Exercise” at home or anywhere else.

To perform the Superman Exercise:

  1. Lie face-down on the floor with your arms straight out in front of you on the floor. Feet should be together.
  2. Keeping your limbs straight and torso steady, simultaneously lift you legs and arms up to ceiling. Your belly should be the only part of your body touching the floor. Remember to breath!
  3. Hold this for 30 seconds. Release, then repeat a few times.

And it’s not entirely superficial - lower back exercises come with great benefits like increased spinal support/posture and pain relief down the road. And I’d suggest that these benefits may improve your life more than a few extra glances on the beach. 🙂

So there you have it! More than you ever wanted to know about Venus dimples. Are you a big fan of Venus dimples and are they a fitness goal for you? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. I created this Davey Wavey Fitness video with a great venus / lower back dimple workout. Give it a try.