Friday, August 26, 2011

Eating right before and after a workout

What you eat before and after your workouts is critical to achieving your goals faster.  Let's face it, we need all the help we can!  The body needs certain nutrients at the right time and in the right form to perform at its best during intense exercise.  You want to make sure you fill up your gas tank properly before your workout and replenish your body with the right stuff post workout.  The best way to accomplish this is to have a meal replacement bar or shake with a 2:1-4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio and very little fat.  That means a shake or bar should be between 150-300 calories, 30-60 grams of carbs, 15-30 grams of protein, and 0-5 grams of fat.  It takes out all the guesswork when you have a pre-mixed bar or shake. Having a high carbohydrate meal replacement is not only important to give you the energy stores for your workout but its critical in your recovery post workout.

Approx. 10-40 minutes before a workout or your sporting event, you'll want to supply the body with the necessary nutrients to support energy.  Again, this is best accomplished by a processed bar or shake so that its in your system fast.  If you eat a "real" food meal instead, there's a chance you may be still digesting it while you're working out. 

Immediately following a workout, your body is most ready to absorb nutrients.  This is called the "metabolic window" which lasts about 2 hours.  To take advantage of this you want to have a processed food such as bar or shake because it absorbs fast.  If you were to have "real" food it might miss this 2hr window by the time it gets broken down and into the bloodstream.

Without getting too technical, the most anabolic hormone in your body is insulin.  When you take in a high carb meal replacement your insulin spikes which increases your natural testosterone and growth hormone production.  When you're training naturally, this is a way to increase your body's natural hormone production post workout that helps build muscle and lose fat.  If you just had some protein powder post workout without the high carbs, none of this would happen and you're really doing yourself a disservice.

I can't think of one workout that I've done in the last 10 years that I haven't had a pre/post meal replacement.  I recover better, build muscle, and lose fat faster as a result.  There are only a few companies out there that follow the science of pre/post workout nutrition.  Please contact me for any questions you may have regarding what products are best.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eat Less Move More

The military gets all kinds of people from every corner of the country, they all go to boot camp and they all lose weight.  Why?  Because you eat 3x's per day as fast as you can which doesn't amount to a heck of a lot of calories.  Then you're running around playing cowboys and indians the rest of the day burning up a ton of calories.  Gaining or losing weight is determined by your total calorie intake for a 24hr period.  If you still don't believe this I'd suggest you go down to your local Armed Forces recruiting office and join up! 

If you're looking for the best weight loss diet, start by eating a certain amount of calories per day.  A good rule of thumb for women is 1200-1500 calories and for men 1800-2200 calories per day.  For the first week I suggest weighing and measuring every single thing that you consume and keep a food log.  If you add creamer to your coffee, measure it.  If you make a PB&J sandwich, measure each ingredient.  If you have a chicken breast, weigh it.  It's the only way to get the precise amount of food that you're eating.  You'd be shocked on how much all the little things add up.

Remember, people lose weight in an overall manner and not in any particular area.  Where you lose weight is determined by genetics.   No matter how many sit ups you do, you'll never reduce the fat in your stomach unless you eat less and move more.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rest and Build Muscle

It's very easy to tell how hard someone is working out, I'll ask "How many times per week do you workout?" they respond, "Oh everyday for 2 hrs".  People confuse working out hard with working out long.  Big difference!  To build muscle fast you have to workout as hard as possible.  In doing this you can't workout often. 

Now that you've stimulated building muscle with your hard workout, you need rest and recovery.  It takes a minimum of 48hrs rest to not only recover but to build muscle from the previous workout.  Take 1 day off between weight training workouts and never workout with weights more than 3 days per week.

Hard Workouts + R and R + Good Nutrition = Building Muscle Fast 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reason To Change

The body is only triggered to build muscles when it's given a reason to.  Doing an exercise and taking it to the point where you're muscles are burning isn't a good enough reason for your body to take note and stimulate muscle building.  Most people never take it to this point and stop the set but to build muscle you have to take it further.

Try this next time you're working out.  Take the set to where you're muscles are burning and aching really bad and do 2-3 more reps!  This way the body takes note of the increase and says to itself, I NEED TO CHANGE.  You can't do more than 2 or 3 sets when you take an exercise to this point so make sure not to do more sets.    

Friday, August 19, 2011

Explosive Power Training for Athletes

There's a problem with athletic explosive training now days, all too often it's too much sizzle and not enough steak when it comes to measurable results.  There's the truck tires (sports trainers and speed coaches love those truck tires), kettlebells, heavy ropes, and plyometrics all promoted to help with explosiveness in sports.  I'm not here to say that those items are bad because they do burn calories but as it relates to building explosiveness, athletic ability, strength, or muscle size they just don't live up to the hype.

There are 6 main things that govern our physical ability:  skill, flexibility, body proportions, muscle strength, cardiovascular condition, and neurological ability.  All these items are important but two of them you can't do anything about.  These would be body proportions and neurological ability.  Body proportions which is how your body was put together in terms of length of muscles and tendons, insertion points, leverage factors etc.  Neurological ability in the most simple explanation is the brain telling your body what percentage of muscles are activated and how fast they work or reaction time.  This is an important point because of much of today's explosive training techniques and sports athletic training from high school to the pros is centered around trying to improve the athletes neurological ability.  This is something that you're born with, some people have a high ability and some people don't.  No type of training such as flipping truck tires, heavy ropes or kettlebells that's going to make an athlete into a Dick Butkus or Michael Jordan.  They have the ability to activate a large percentage of their muscles in a very quick and explosive way coupled with perfect body proportions for their respective sports.  There's no training for this.

What CAN be done to improve an athletes explosiveness is to increase their power to weight ratio.  Your time is best spent getting as strong as needed for your particular sport.  Football requires and all around strength as opposed to track which there's not much of a need for a bulky upper body.  That doesn't mean that you wouldn't workout the upper body for track, you'd just put more emphasis on the muscles of the lower body.  How to build the most power to weight ratio is by doing a brief, intense, and infrequent strength training program as described in numerous posts on blog.   This should be #1 priority in any athletes regime as it's the most effective and safest way to build explosiveness. Then go to the practice field and perform sports specific and position specific drills to perfect your skill level at your activity.  I'd put this recipe up against any program in the world that claims to improve explosiveness through parachutes, kettlebells, plyometrics or any other means.

Muscles are the engine of the body, the bigger the engine the more potential for power therefore the more muscle you build the more explosive power you'll have.  If someone is born with a high ability to activate a large % of their muscles and an ability to activate them quickly AND you add a large amount of muscle to them, you'll create a super human.  Improving your explosive power by 1% or 2% could mean the difference between making the team, getting the scholarship, or being a champion.  The key is to do the right way and not too early in your training program to maximize your results safely. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Best Exercise Series: Stiff Legged Dead Lifts

Here's an exercise size that some would argue is more productive in building muscle than the all mighty squats.  You rarely if ever see this exercise being done in any gym you go to.  Its one of, if not the best lower back, hips, and hamstring exercises that can be done.  Not only does it build serious amounts of muscle fast but it also helps you burn a ton of calories because it uses so many muscles.   

Here's how to do them:
  1.  Stand with feet straight and shoulder-width apart, knees bent slightly.
  2. Hold barbell in front of thighs with grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Slowly bent at waist, lowering barbell toward ground; keep back flat. 
  4. Squeeze butt muscles and lift barbell until standing fully upright.
The key is to slowly perform the transitions so that you're not using momentum.  Do 2 sets of 15 reps.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Best Exercise Series: Parallel Dips and Barbell Bicep Curls

Jack Lallane performed 1000 parallel dips in 17 minutes.  Marvin Eder, in 1953 at a body weight of 200lbs was credited with a 435lbs Dip.  That's a total of 635lbs! Parallel Dips are called the upper body squat mainly because they are so productive in building muscle.  They are far superior to bench press for overall chest and upper body development. 

Straight barbell bicep curls are the foundation of building muscle in your biceps fast.  Never use the cambered bar when doing curls because they're biomechanically incorrect.  An easy way to tell if a trainer or trainee doesn't know what they're doing is if they're using a cambered bar.   It should really be illegal to use this bar but our law makers probably have more important things on their plates.  

Straight bar bicep curls should be paired with parallel dips in a super set fashion.  Do one set of dips immediately followed by a set of barbell curls with no rest between them.  2 sets of each are all that are needed.  Use 10 reps as a guideline but  never stop just because you reached 10 reps, continue until muscular failure.

Here's how to do them:

Barbell Bicep Curls

Straight bar bicep curls need to be done in very strict form.  Otherwise you can easily turn this into a lower back and shoulder exercise.  The key is to lock your elbows into your sides and not move them not even 1/4 inch.  If you are able to have a mirror in front and to the side you're able to see if there's any movement.  Grab the bar with a comfortable grip just slightly wider than shoulder width.  Stand with feet shoulder width, back straight with good posture and tighten your abs.  Slowly curl the bar up until your biceps are fully contracted but don't move your elbows at all.  Pause in the top position for a second, then slowly lower taking about 3 secs.  Make sure and go all the way down until your arms are straight then immediately start the second rep.  Never stop and hold the weight between reps in the bottom position, this just lets your muscles rest.  The set to be one continuous motion only pausing briefly in the top position only.  Continue the set until momentary muscular failure.

Parallel Dips

Starting in the top position with your arms straight, slowly lower yourself until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Stop and slowly press yourself returning to the top position just short of locking out your elbows.  Locking out your elbows in any pressing movement only gives your muscles rest and puts stress on your joints.  Repeat as many times as you can. 

If you can already do 10 or more dips, hang a 25lb plate from your waist to increase the intensity.  Build up to 50lbs for 10reps or more.