Avoiding Surgery, Green Tea for Performance, and Lifting Weights Improves Endurance

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training

Many of you have probably heard the phrase “When you all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This is often used in reference to orthopedic surgeons. When people with knee or other joint problems seek them out for counsel on their pain, more often than not, they get surgery as the answer. Makes sense, surgery is what surgeons do, even if it is not the best course of action.

Recent research actually found even more damning evidence against orthopedic surgeons – If you see an orthopedic surgeon who also owns (or co-owns) a surgical facility, you are even more likely to get surgery. Awesome. While orthopedic surgeons most definitely have their place, see a good physical therapist first. They will let you know if physical therapy alone can solve the issue, or if surgery is the next step. Its worth a shot. Surgery should be the worst-case scenario, not the immediate solution.

In other interesting news, among the growing amount of research done on green tea it was found that EGCG, green tea’s major antioxidant, can actually raise your VO2 max. Your VO2 max essentially tells us how well your body uses oxygen – ie your cardiovascular fitness. We aren’t talking hugely dramatic increases (about 4%), but since we already know that green tea improves endothelial function and increases blood flow, it makes perfect sense. The study used EGCG pills, which were equivalent to about 3 cups of green (or white) tea per day.

On top of that a diet rich in flavanols (of which EGCG is one) found in tea, wine and dark chocolate improved blood vessel dilation up to 47%. This separate research only makes the above study make even more sense, and lend further credence to the idea that what you eat is just as important as how much.

Lastly a recent 12 week study looked at Norwegian cross-country skiers. They had half of them lift weight and do cardio, and compared them to the other half who did cardio only. Unsurprising to those who actually lift weights, but probably very surprising to those who want to believe that cardio is god, the group who lifted and did cardio were able to perform at a higher level for a longer period of time than the cardio-only group. Just one more reason to do cardio, and lift weights for your best performance.

Have a great weekend everybody!

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Posted on January 14th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. Chris Says:

    Hi Brian…How do you feel about using green tea pills or extract instead of drinking it? Is there any difference?

  2. Chris Says:

    Hey Brian great blog. I have been doing Eric Cressey’s Show and Go program and have had tremendous results, in all of my endurance road races and am currently training for the Boston Marathon As a 155 lbs runner I am able to DL 2x’s my body weight for multiple reps! One question I have is I have extremely difficulty dorisflexing both ankles. What are some mobility exercises that I could add to the Show and Go Program?

  3. Rhys I Says:


    Have you got a reference for the study on X-Country Skiers? Always good to add some ammunition when defending the use of weighttraining in sports!

  4. Ed Anderson Says:

    Good news on the weights/cardio balance Brian.

    As some one who lifts 3x a weeks, does BJJ and likes to do some sprints/circuit work I have found that as I have got stronger I can jump higher, run faster and train harder, for longer (not exactly news to you as a CSCS but still haha!)


  5. Jon S. Says:


    Playing devil’s advocate here but couldn’t one argue the same thing above physical therapists? Anyone who has a stake in a business is going to want to see that business take on new clients (and presumably increased revenue), even if they aren’t the most qualified client.

    A good professional in either discipline should have a strong referral system and send clients where their needs are best met, but like you said, this doesn’t always happen. A downfall of privatized healthcare I’d say..

  6. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    You could certainly make the same argument, as their are snakes in all industries. However, at least physical therapy provides a non-invasive technique that can clear up the symptoms and underlying problems in many of the cases. Surgery should almost always be the last option, not the first (clearly there are exceptions).

    I agree, a strong referral system is key.

  7. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    Well that would depend on what the problem is. If it is something as simple as restricted calves, you could do some soft-tissue work on the achilles/calf as well as several different ankle mobilizations. Z-health has some good stuff in that department.

    If you have an actual problem at the ankle joint itself, then this is a much tougher problem. Your best bet would be to get assess by a qualified professional and let them tell you the best course of action for your situation.

  8. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    While I do always prefer the real food, the actual study used extracts in pill form that was equivalent to 3 cups per day.

  9. tv amr Says:

    You talk about that UBot has saved you a large number of your energy do you think you will lay aside funds in time?

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