TechGenix FitITproNews

Vol. 03, #2 - January 16, 2019 - Issue #0067

FitITproNews: The lats and counting calories

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Editor's Corner

This week we focus on the latissimus dorsi (lat) muscle, a large flat muscle on your back that stretches across to the sides of your body and is responsible for much of the strength you need when you lift, raise, pull or even push weight with your arms. We'll look at one terrific exercise for working your lats and also a simple and effective way to stretch them for additional muscle growth. I'll also share how I count calories which I've found to be key for both weightloss and weight maintenance. And if you have any questions, comments or suggestions after reading this week's newsletter, feel free to email me at [email protected]


Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor

Disclaimer: I am not a certified fitness professional or nutritionist so take any suggestions made here "as is" with a grain of salt and a heaping supply of your own judgment. Please read our full disclaimer at the bottom of this newsletter. 

Fitness Tip

Physiopedia has a good graphic illustrating what the lats look like:

Note that they originate at your backbone while the other end is attached to the bottom of your upper arm (humerus) bone. This means that the primary action of the lats is to pull your arms downward -- or to lift your body upwards, which is why your lats are very involved when you do pullups.

Pullups are in fact a terrific way of strengthening your lat muscles. Unfortunately they're also very hard to do unless you're (a) already very strong or (b) have light bodyweight. I'm neither of these, so when I do pullups I perform them assisted. One way of doing this is by using exercise bands to partially support your bodyweight, which effectively makes you lighter so you are able to perform a pullup. I mentioned this previously in one of the first issues of FitITproNews where I also alerted readers to the possible danger of doing this, so be sure to read what I wrote there if you decide to try that approach. 

Another safer approach to doing assisted pullups is to stretch your legs forward and place your feet upon chair like the one I showed in this issue. Your body will then be bent at the hips as you perform your pullups, and this means you'll mostly be lifting your upper body and not your whole bodyweight. I can easily do a dozen pullups using this approach. Eight years ago when I was younger, stronger, and weight less than I do now, I could actually perform half a dozen unassisted pullups.

But age and more bodyweight (not just more flab but more muscle too!) means that at this point in my fitness journey I find it difficult to do more than one or two unassisted pullups. So I stick with doing assisted ones e.g. 2 or 3 sets of 8-10 reps several times per week. This gives my lats a pretty good workout!

But there's a better way to target your lats. Doug Brignole, a former Mr. America Winner and a specialist in exercise biomechanics explains how to really give your lats a good workout in this article from Iron Man Magazine:

He also explains the rationale behind his approach in the following YouTube video:

I've used Doug's approach from time to time and my lats feel really sore afterwards. But these days I prefer doing (assisted) pullups as it's more challenging and more fun :-)

I almost forgot. Here's a simple stretching exercise you can use for stretching your lats:

Reach with your right hand over your head, grasp the left side of your head, and then bend to the left as far as you can. Hold for 30 seconds, gradually bending further as your lat muscle stretches. Repeat with the other side.

Stretching is important after exercising muscles as it actually helps them grow more. If you don't believe it, look what happened to the wings of this bird:

Nutrition Tip

I've been counting calories for eight years now. Initially I lost more than 50 lbs of pure lard, then I put on about 20 lbs or so of muscle. Then gradually over several years I started putting on flab again here and there. 

Mostly there. You know where.

Calorie counting isn't a perfect solution to losing weight. You also have to control *what* you eat, exercise regularly, and set realistic goals so you can achieve them. You also have to learn how to manage failure, like when you just say "Oh, hell" and gobble down that extra large slice of carrot cake or order a pizza after an especially stressful day of work. 

But calorie counting has helped me maintain my weight. Here is a trick I use to do this more effectively.

First, I don't set a hard target to how many calories I'm allowing myself to consume each day. For example, early on in my fitness journey I discovered that my caloric maintenance level was 2900 cal/day. This meant that if I exercised moderately several times a week and ate 2900 calories per day on the average, my bodyweight would neither increase nor decrease. 

So I thought if I exercised more vigorously and set myself a goal of eating no more than 2900 cal/day, I would slowly lose some of that belly fat. 

Unfortunately there was a psychological problem with this approach.

What sometimes happened was that I would reach my 2900 cal limit around 5 or 6 pm. Then around 8 pm I'd start feeling hungry and I'd think "Well, I'll just have a small snack, it's no big deal." But now I've consumed more than 3000 calories for the day, and having broken the 3000 cal limit I would often say, "Oh rats, I'm missed the goal. What's the point?" And then I'll have another snack, and maybe another. And if I cross that red line of 4000 calories then I may say, "Might as well go all the way tonight, I'll cut way back tomorrow to compensate."


So now what I do is instead of drawing a line at 2900 calories on my cal intake graph (yes I obsessively chart both my body weight and caloric consumption) I draw a band instead that stretches from 2900 to 3300 calories. Then when my intake starts to enter this "orange zone" I recognize it as a warning that I should plan my eating endgame for the day, usually by leaving something on my plate at dinnertime so I can have a small snack later (if I need one).

I should also mention that while I used to weight my food and use calorie charts for determining how many calories I consume, I no longer do this. Having rigorously counted calories for so long, I can now simply look at a plate of food and estimate -- plus or minus a hundred calories or so -- how many calories are sitting there on my plate. I know from long experience roughly how many calories are in that piece of bread, that hamburger patty, that leg and thigh of chicken, or that bowl of muesli. I might be a hundred or so calories off in my estimate, but if I'm consistent in how I make my estimates then it really doesn't matter. I explained this earlier in this issue from two years ago.

Anyways, this approach has now enabled me to get rid of my kitchen scale so I'm free of the tyranny of checking it constantly.

Now if only I could get rid of that other scale :-P


The Toolbox


Veeam is happy to provide you with a study guide for Microsoft Certification Exam 74-409. The guide will take you through the exam objectives, helping you to prepare for and pass the examination.

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This Script allow reset the Windows Update Agent resolving issues with Windows Update:

This VBA sample illustrates how to save attachments from multiple selected items in Outlook:

The SQL Server Maintenance Solution comprises scripts for running backups, integrity checks, and index and statistics maintenance on all editions of Microsoft SQL Server:


Send us feedback

Got feedback about anything in this issue of FitITproNews? Email us at [email protected]

Product of the Week

Three-part webinar series: Active Directory Deep Dive


Free learning courses with Microsoft MVP Sander Berkouwer. Get a firm grasp on your IT environment when you learn Active Directory best practices. Improve your skills. From the basics to virtualization and backup, we got you covered. Register now

About FitITproNews

FitITproNews is the only weekly newsletter in the world that is entirely devoted to helping IT pros get fit, lose weight, and live happily ever after as they face the daily stresses and workload of being in the gristmill of the IT profession. FitITproNews is brought to you by TechGenix and is created each week by the same all-star editorial team that brings you WServerNews, the world's longest running IT pro newsletter focusing on the administration, management and security of the Windows Server platform in particular and cloud solutions in general. Subscribe to FitITproNews today! And while you’re at it be sure to also subscribe to our other TechGenix newsletters such as our Weekly IT Update and Spotlight Articles!

Editorial Team

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of FitITproNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies. He has written numerous articles and whitepapers and has authored or been series editor of more than 50 books for Microsoft Press. Mitch also successfully made the transition from being a typical "fat IT pro" to becoming fit by losing almost 50 lbs through a combination of resistance training, cardio exercises, and proper nutrition. Mitch's passion with FitITproNews is to help other IT pros do what he has been able to accomplish by sharing his personal story and lessons learned.

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of FitITproNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. She is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program. Ingrid is also committed to personal fitness and is a believer in clean eating and proper supplementation for optimal health and longevity.

Mitch and Ingrid are also the editors of WServerNews, a weekly newsletter from TechGenix that focuses on the administration, management and security of the Windows Server platform in particular and cloud solutions in general. For more information about Mitch and Ingrid see their website.


This newsletter is designed for informational purposes only and the health and fitness information presented in it are based solely upon the personal experience of its editors and of any guests or readers who contribute content to it. Nothing in this newsletter is intended to be or should be construed to be professional medical, fitness, or nutritional advice. Always consult a physician or other health care professional before starting an exercise or nutrition program to determine if it is appropriate for your personal needs. Do not follow any of the suggestions in this newsletter if your physician or other health care professional advises against doing so. If you are exercising or dieting or taking supplements and experience any dizziness, faintness, pain, or shortness of breath, you should stop immediately and seek medical help. The use of any information presented in this newsletter is solely at your own risk.

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