The Geek Biker

Rambles of a geek that rides a bike

Exercise till you puke – NO

Arnie said in an old interview that when you reach the pain barrier and you push past it, those extra few reps are the ones that makes you stronger, bigger and better. I can’t ever remember him saying that a person should get into a gym routine and start exercising till they puke from the start. Or that a trainer that doesn’t push you to point of digestive explosion is not a good trainer.

I’ll start off with the usual bit that any amateur should add on a blog/column/written piece. I’m not a fitness or health expert. I have no supporting credentials to backup the below but logic, common sense and readily available information.

I have a bit of experience in the exercise world. I’ve been going to a form of a gym since start of high school and been climbing the monkey bars before then. I always played a sport until university where my studies did not allow the commitment (though looking at my grades you might differ). During my university ‘career’, I went to a gym at least 3 to 4 times a week. At one point 3 times a week twice a day. I’ve seen my fair share of ‘pukers’ in the gym and field. Those who push themselves or gets pushed to such an extent that they stand bent over and reflect on what they’ve had for breakfast and lunch. On the other hand, I’ve never exercised in such a manner that I had to revisit the past food consumption. Only once did I taste a past sandwich in the back of my throat and I knew I had to stop. The reason is simple, I just knew it could not be good for me.

You might think that my reason is just a simple way of saying I don’t want to puke, but logic told me otherwise. The first reason, before I cared about why people puke when they exercised, was simply that your body needs food as fuel to keep going. So why would I push myself for the food not remain in my body and leave me without fuel? That just didn’t make sense.

After uni when I almost did bring forth the past delicacies, I did a bit of  reading which gave my sense of logic a pat on the back and said ‘That a boy!’. What happens is as follows (no medical terms, explained in Tarzan tongue):

  • You exercise.
  • Muscles need more oxygen
  • Oxygen go to muscles. Carried by blood.
  • Blood all go to muscles
  • Not enough blood left for tummy
  • Not enough blood left for kidneys
  • Not enough blood left for intestines (guts)
  • Not enough blood left to make food go to poop
  • Not enough blood left for whole digestive system
  • Not enough blood…
  • System go reboot

And then comes the nausea and all the gory goodness that goes with it. Including sometimes passing out. Well that can’t be good right? “Yes it can!” I hear you scream from the cough and behind the tablet you got because the computer is too far away to read this little nugget of gold wisdom! Body builders do it all the time. Even in the move Pumping Iron the Governator and his buddies almost shared a puke bucket and they grew like beasts. Well, that would be the exception I contest your argument with. Bodybuilders eat up to 7 times a day and takes ‘vitamins’ to help carry the oxygen in their bodies. Not steroids, some legal over the counter pills taken in copious amounts can do it as well. Their routines are tailored for one reason and mostly only for that particular person. And lastly I will rest this argument which will lead to another, they do not throw themselves in to a new routine because they realised they ate too much the months/years before and are overweight, they start from scratch and work their way up to their balloon state over years! Years I say, not weeks or months.

So, the last argumentative rant I  would like to throw in this soliloquy is about the personal trainer that pushes their clients to over exert themselves…Where do I start? I’ve never had a personal trainer. Even in the 9 months I exercised like a mad man and picked up 20 kgs of muscle, I never had the help of someone who is ‘trained’ to be a personal trainer. I do however have years of experience in watching them thump around and look at their own reflection while their client has their backs arched in a way that will definitely cause nerve and muscle pain for at least three days if not more. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few out there in the wild that do their job proper but the stats I think are against the odd few good men and woman. So when I hear that a personal trainer has pushed a client or is of the opinion that a client needs to be pushed to state of pukiness or to faint, I can only shake my head in disbelief. First off, because a client is paying this person to help them, secondly because this will probably scare the client away, lastly because a personal trainer should know better. They should know that pushing a person to puke is wrong not only because of what I described about oxygen and nausea but also because there is another more deadly evil about.

It is called rhabdomyolysis. (Try saying that 5 times in a row very quickly).

Dr Google defines it as “the destruction of striated muscle cells; (especially in horses) azoturia.”  Basically, when the muscles are overexerted, muscle fibers would start to breakdown. It is bad because it means you loose muscle, and not fat. But even worse is that the muscle fibers’ content gets released into the bloodstream. The highway that runs through all the major organs. Myoglobin is a protein in said muscle fiber which is also released into the bloodstream and is very harmful to the kidneys. To such an extent that it often causes kidney damage and/or failure…ouch.

Some symptoms include:

  • Faintness/confusion (But that is just  being a bit tired I hear you say)
  • muscle soreness (Just a bit stiff I hear you say)
  • general weakness (must be all the exercise)
  • abnormal urine colour (maybe I need to drink some more water).

The symptoms look almost normal for someone use to a lot of hard exercise, but as the reader can now see, it could be way worse. I sometimes wonder that if I could pronounce ‘rhabdomyolysis’ and I ask personal trainers about it, if they would be able to tell me what it is and if they would know how far they should or could push a client before it kicks in. Unfortunately I do think that personal trainers are a necessary evil to help those who know nothing about exercise to get into it or at least make a start. The question then turns to, how do I know which of the personal trainers are any good?

I can only advise to ask questions. Ask the loner in the gym who does not have a personal trainer and it looks like they might know what they are doing if they can point out a trainer they think might be good or if they had to choose one, which one and why. Be informed about the issues with starting a very tough routine. Tell your trainer when things are getting out of control. A good trainer should be able to see when the client is just throwing a hissy fit or if they are on breakpoint and immediate action should be taken to re hydrate and rest the client.

I will end this through stolen words from an author who wrote about pirates:

Individuals and nations owe it to themselves and the world to become informed.
Paul Harris

This rant follows after reading another article about a person who almost died from a personal training session.



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