Archive for Lean Mass

Challenges

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , on April 13, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Fitness is important, this website exists because of this fact. We all know it’s important but we still have trouble at times; whether it be goal setting, programming, nutrition or actually getting to the gym. For me, it’s been the first and last of that list. Since moving back to Ottawa, I’ve been very busy with two jobs and I’ve been coaching/speed training quite a bit. Because of this, I found that getting to the gym for my own workouts is much more difficult. Most weeks I was only getting into the gym on the weekends, making my goal setting and direction a bit of a struggle. Well, as of late this has changed for the better. I’ve been able to get into the gym a few more times per week and I’ve been trying to complete a few challenges to give me direction. Much like Cory (@REPerformance1), Kane (@timbahwolf) and Jose,  I’ve been trying out the 100 pullup challenge, with an ideal goal of 10 min. So far, I’ve done it twice and have cut down my time significantly (14:40 down to 11:58) but the goal is still unreached. Tomorrow I’m leaving for Jamaica with my girlfriend so that may push back my completion date but it’s a trade off I’m more than happy to live with. Here is a video of my first attempt, the video for the second will be coming soon.

The other challenge I’m trying to reach is the bodyweight Snatch. For those who don’t know what it is, the snatch is an olympic lift where you have to bring a weighted bar from your hips (or the floor for a full snatch) and bring it over your head in one motion. It’s definitely not an easy movement and I’m nowhere near my goal yet, but it feels good to be doing them again. Training an explosive movement like that regularly is helping me stay athletic. Here is a video of myself doing a few snatches this week, more or less setting a baseline for the challenge.  Please ask for a trainer to help you if you’ve never done them as they are highly technical.

So that’s what I’m up to, what about you?? Are there any fitness challenges or goals that you’re currently undertaking? Do you have ideas about what you’d like us to try for the future? Are you looking for ideas for your challenge? Let’s get some comments going and see what everyone is up to!! When I get back from Jamaica I want to see lots of posts. For this week, my only challenge will be getting up off of the lounge chairs!

image

 

Advertisements

Carb Timing for a Leaner Body! Part 2

Posted in Health with tags , , , , on October 4, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

First off, I want to thank everyone who read Part 1, it got a huge number of readers over the first 3 days. As I mentioned, I think it’s a post that is applicable to pretty much everyone so I suggest you give it a go if you haven’t already. This second part should clear up some questions for some of you since everyone will have different goals in mind.

If you didn’t get the purpose of the article, the main goal is to reduce or limit body fat. The “Dymamic Diet” – I hope it hasn’t been trademarked – is meant primarily to either fight obesity, help against high blood sugar levels, and maximize workout recovery. To put it simply, you’re focusing your (non-vegetable) carbohydrate intake during your post workout period. This time period forces all glucose to be pushed into the muscle (instead of fat stores) to help recover muscle glycogen; resulting in faster muscle recovery and decreased fat storage. Since nearly everyone would benefit from less body fat, I figure this is something pretty much everyone wants to follow. If you’re the exception, meaning you enjoy gaining body fat, I suppose that’s your prerogative. Here’s where we take two different approaches; the builder and the burner.

THE BUILDER

If you’re trying to get bigger by gaining muscle mass, then you’re a builder. Remember, we’re trying to gain muscle mass not fat mass. Fat mass won’t make you stronger, faster or healthier; it pretty much just sucks. Now, since we’re building and growing, we can afford a few more carbs than the burners. The main difference comes in the immediate post workout period. According to the text book, “Nutrient Timing“, the ideal post workout recovery shake consists of 60g of simple carbs and 15g of fast digesting protein. The best thing would be amino acids (EAA or BCAA) but whey or whey isolate would also be a good idea. Since everyone is different in size, the most important part is the 4:1 ratio. If you feel like you want to go up to 80g or even 100g of carbs and you’re not putting on unwanted body fat then go for it, just keep the protein in proportion. Getting a 4:1 ratio will maximize glycogen storage and will be protein sparing so it can contribute to muscle growth. After your post workout shake (or immediate meal for some), the builders will still have a moderate amount of carbs in their next meal. I would suggest a 2:1:1 ratio (carbs:protein:fat). After that, unless it’s bed time, you’ll revert back to pre training meals of mainly protein and fats with vegetables.

THE BURNER

This group is for anyone who is only interested in losing fat and does not care about putting on more lean mass. So we basically want to keep all the muscle you already have and strip away body fat. Where a builder can err on the side of high carbs, the burner cannot. The burner only wants to take in as many carbs as is absolutely necessary for glycogen restoration. For this purpose, their post workout shake will be altered to have a 2:1 ratio of simple carbs to protein.  The next meal after this will also be different from the builders. This time it will be 2:1:1 with protein being the large portion instead of carbs (protein:carbs:fats). All other meals following this would revert to pre-training meals of protein, fats and vegetables.

WHAT TO CONSUME

Now that you know how much you’re consuming, the trick is to make sure that you’re getting the right things.  For pre-training meals, it will be important to find vegetables you like and find many options for protein and fat sources. Since protein and fats are your main macronutrients, have a wide variety of fats. Saturated fats in moderation are important for fat soluble vitamins, and polyunsaturated fats have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve brain function. Increasing intake of seeds, nuts, oils, eggs, fish,  and red meat will have many health benefits on top of contributing to a reduction in body fat. Since protein was already discussed HERE, you should already have a good idea of protein sources. For these meals, it is important to consume vegetables along with your protein and fats for the added fibre and phytonutrients. For the sake of burners, I would move certain starches considered vegetables to post training only, i.e. potatoes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, rice, etc.

pre-training food choices

An important note I want to make is about sugar. You’ve probably heard just about everyone say how bad sugar is and how much Canadians have been consuming. However, it’s not black and white; sugar isn’t always bad. Pre-training sugar is a no-no,  avoid sweets, fruit juices, candy, etc. If you remember the science from Part 1, the sugar you consume pre-training will be shuttled directly to muscle AND fat, and if you’re muscles are already full of glycogen that will be mostly fat stores. However, DIRECTLY after training sugar consumption is extremely effective. Sugar, or simple carbs, will quickly spike insulin and therefore get shuttled into the muscle to restore glycogen sooner rather than later.So sugar is NOT the devil, sugar at the wrong time is the devil. If at the end of the day you don’t think it’s a good idea, you can avoid sugar at all costs, but that’s a conservative approach and it’s completely up to you.

I hope this second part will help to figure out how much and what to eat depending on your goals. If you’re having trouble gauging how much carbs, protein or fat you’re currently consuming then check out Fitday a free online diet and exercise tool used to track your foods. It’ll be hard to make adjustments to your diet if you don’t know how much you’re currently consuming. Trust me, most people really don’t know what they consume on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis.  Now everyone should have the tools they need to take on a Dynamic Diet and start building a leaner body!

It’s About Getting Better!

The King of Exercises

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I’d love to start this off by saying how important deadlifts are for increasing strength and power, which translates directly to speed on the field, ice, and track. Here at REP that’s not our style though. What is more important about deadlifting is how crucial it is for EVERYBODY to move better and restore balance to your body. It is crucial to get out of constant hip flexion by introducing the best hip extension exercise. It combines a hip hinge and a squat pattern, two basic moves that everybody should master for physical literacy, yet with most clients, these are missing. If you aren’t comfortable doing a deadlift, or aren’t 100% sure you are GREAT at them, go see a pro and get some work in. If the deadlift is the ‘King of Exercises’ then a poorly executed deadlift just might be the ‘Kingpin of Exercises’, the mob boss responsible for crime and destruction on the streets…or your tissues…

The Basics

You want to set up behind the bar with feet about shoulder width apart. This stance should be more narrow than a squat. The bar should be right up to your shins. Play around with your grip (you can use double overhand or alternating grip… I’d suggest staying with double overhand until it starts to get too heavy) width to find what feels most comfortable.

The Setup

I just gave you the basics of positioning, so now let’s talk approach. From a standing position, make sure your chin is tucked down and core is engaged. Next, sit down a little bit, like a quarter squat, by pushing the hips back. Then you will hinge at the hip and place your hands on the bar. You should be looking at a spot on the ground about 3-4 feet in front of you, not at your feet.

The Lift

When you are executing the lift, there are 3 things that we absolutely don’t want. First, is your hips and shoulders rising separately. This will put a ton of strain on your back if your hips pop up, then your shoulders start to come up. Second is any major lumbar flexion throughout the lift. A lot of times, if your hips pop up first, then you are likely going to go into lumbar flexion, since your spinal erectors are rarely strong enough to lift the weight on their own. Third is an exaggeration at the lockout position of lumbar extension or cervical extension. You do not need to lean back to make sure it’s complete. Your shoulders should not end up behind your bum (looking from the side). We are looking for hip extension, not lumbar extension. Full hip extension should leave you locked out in a straight line, head to toe. With the neck, some people look way up to the sky for this same purpose. Don’t do it. Leave the chin tucked and the neck in neutral.

One of my favourite cues for having a well-coordinated lift off, is to try ‘pre-lifting’ the upper back/shoulders. This tends to give the stiffness in the arms and upper body that you need to ensure your legs do most of the lifting.

Here are a couple of videos that you can look at to help give you an idea of what to do…

(Unfortunately the above video was filmed before I understood the importance of neck packing; the chin should be tucked more than it is in this video for a straighter spine)

RECAP

Some key points about deadlifting…

  • A 2x body weight deadlift is the bare minimum for any elite athlete.
  • Anybody who lifts regularly, no matter the age or athletic status, should be able to deadlift body weight
  • You do not need to go into hard lumbar extension to exaggerate the finish.
  • You can put serious mass on through your legs and upper back with deadlifts
  • If you don’t use straps, your grip strength will fly through the roof!
  • They do contribute greatly to the ability to jump and sprint
  • They are probably the best full-body posture exercise out there

If you don’t deadlift, start now. Get someone to look at your technique. Learn how a good deadlift FEELS then you can start progressing up in weight. Make them a cornerstone of your programming.

It’s About Getting Better!

Where the good stuff happens…

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I’m here to blow your mind.

All that time you’ve spent in the gym was awesome. Job well done. Unfortunately, that’s not where the good stuff comes from. The truth is, all the important results of your hard work are reaped while you’re resting. That’s the biggest secret to training.

Obviously you cannot make positive changes to your body or performance without the hard work. There must be a stimulus in order to change your body. You can’t get big biceps without ever working them, and you can’t reshape your body without doing some killer exercises. The real issue is related to priorities. We all seem to get caught up too much with the stimulus. With a little bit of trial and error, we figure out which exercises are good and which ones aren’t. The ones that are worth your time, and the ones that aren’t. So we put these into a program. All of them. Each workout involves super-setting and tri-setting and all sorts of tricks to cram tons of volume into a 1-hour workout. Afterward, you’re exhausted, but you think “wow, I did a great job today!”.

When I see this happen, I cringe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s such a relief to see people working hard, doing all they can to reach their goals. My problem is about how often we are emptying the tank. This is an analogy I think about often when it comes to programming for my clients. If your body is like a car, everytime you train you are using up fuel, like our sweet sweet gasoline. After the workout, you need to fill that tank all the way up again before your body can start making the adaptations you are looking for (for simplicity, we’ll say muscle building, fat burning, and increased neuromuscular efficiency for strength gains). Now at a gas station, the time to fill up is relatively quick, so it’s not that big of a deal. Yet with oil prices as they are, the cost can be great! You don’t want to have to pay 80$ to fill your tank everytime you drive your car do you? Seems excessive. The same can be said about your body. The truth is, most athletes spend way too much time emptying their tank and way less time filling it back up. So overall, they impair their own ability to build and grow. The same can be said for non-athletes looking to build more muscle or burn more fat.

It requires quality reps at an appropriate intensity to signal your body to improve in a specific capacity. For every exercise, goal, and person this might be different. Generally speaking though, we believe that there is a lot of work being done that is so far above and beyond this threshold, that people are actually putting in a lot of effort to slow down their body’s progress. The bottom line is this: if your results have been minimal or non-existent, increase your focus and time on the time spent outside the gym. Basically, get more food and get more rest!

Quality Rest

An expert is not just somebody that makes you tired, but somebody that makes you better. After all, it’s about getting better!

Sport Specific Training – Are You Doing It?

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Recently, the term ‘sport specific training’ has become a must for every athlete and their parents. Visions of having your kid become a first-round draft pick? Gotta go somewhere for some sports specific training…how else will he improve?
Well, I loved the idea of it too. It seemed to make so much sense, train the way you play and you’ll improve dramatically!

Now though, I think I know better. In fact, I think I figured it out (the concept; not all the details…yet…work in progress). Improving sports performance is about 3 things. Injury prevention, strength training, and skill training. The first two belong in the gym with your strength and conditioning coach, the latter with your sport coaches.
Injury prevention is about taking care of the little things. Self-myofascial Release (SMR) to ensure your tissue is in the proper state to do awesome things. Specific corrective exercises to ensure symmetry. Finally, proper hydration, nutrition and rest to cap it off.
The specific details are individualized but that’s the main structure.

The second part is about adding horsepower. This is the strength training component and its importance is immense. You need to get strong if you want to be fast, quick, and powerful! Don’t worry about agility ladder drills for quick feet, worry about how much force you can put into the ground. I don’t care how quick you can pick your feet up, if you can’t put force in the ground you won’t be better at your sport. Let’s take the pro shuttle for example. This is a staple in Combine testing. It involves starting in the middle with a cone on either side of you, each 5 yards away. You turn one way, run 5 yards and touch the ground, turn back and run 10 yards (touch) and return to your original spot. Done at full speed this drill seems all about quickness, and it is. The key though is taking the fewest steps possible, not the most. In order to accomplish this you need each step to have a large amount of force behind it. This comes from being strong!
Sprint work and plyometrics are also an important part of the strength program.

Finally, we have skill training. This is done often and involves drills and games of your sport. This is where you hone your skills, not in the gym on a bosu ball. Your skill work will improve a lot of things, but injury prevention or strength isn’t one of them. A good chunk of your conditioning will also come from the skill training. As an athlete, this should take up the most time. Will it be the most influential part of the process? Depends on where you are in your journey…some need the injury prevention the most, others the physical development, and some the skill work.

When you hear somebody talk about sport specific training make sure they aren’t just making a sales pitch. There is nothing sport specific about making your body more awesome and able to handle ANY sport! It’s about getting better!

Understanding Post-Workout Nutrition

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Post-workout nutrition (PWO) is only one aspect of the whole nutrition plan but can be very important to the results you get from your training. Following specific guidelines can help maximize your time in the weight room or on the track, and set you ahead of the competition.

There are two concepts that are important to PWO and they are anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism refers to the production of muscle (think +) and catabolism is the degradation or destruction of muscle (think -). When your body is fuelled with all of the appropriate nutrients and a training stimulus has occurred, anabolism will occur and new muscle will be built. However, after about 45 minutes of exercise, the hormone cortisol is released and begins breaking down muscle for energy. This is catabolism. This continues until you can reverse it through nutritional intervention. The goal of PWO will be to limit catabolism, and shift quickly into anabolism.

Let’s make a checklist on the things we want to accomplish in PWO in order to stay in a positive balance, and avoid time in the negative.
– Replenish muscle glycogen
– Rehydrate
– Start the synthesis of new muscle

For the record, there are many great foods that have an appropriate nutritional profile for a post-workout snack. However, having your nutrients in liquid form, a post-workout shake, allows your body to absorb and assimilate nutrients much quicker, and ensure that you capitalize on this important 45 minute window.

Your body uses glycogen for higher intensity activities, so it’s important that you replenish this glycogen so that your body is ready for its next challenges. A number of studies have shown that ingesting carbohydrates inside this window of opportunity allows your body to reload its glycogen levels anywhere from 2 to 4 times faster than if you were to ingest the same carbohydrates later in the day. 1-3

Rehydrating is a very simple concept. Part of taking a shake post-workout involves using 500mL or more of water to mix the other nutrients, ensuring you start replenishing the water you lost in sweat and other metabolic processes.

Finally, with the right nutrients in this window of opportunity, we can quickly kick-start the processes that produce new muscle fibres. This is important for everybody, not just bodybuilders and athletes. Synthesizing new muscle is important not only to add to your body, but also to repair what was damaged during the workout, or broken down for energy. In order to achieve optimal body composition, you must always be maintaining the muscle you have, or adding new muscle. In a study by Levenhagen4, the group who consumed a carbohydrate/protein supplement immediately after a workout synthesized new muscle three times faster than a group who waited 3 hours. Also, this group had a significantly higher net protein balance. In fact, the group that waited ended up with a negative protein balance. How does that happen? While you are working out, you will always have a breakdown of muscle tissue for energy and from a build-up of cortisol. Then, once you ingest these important nutrients, your body stops breaking down your own muscle and begins to repair and rebuild. If this is done quickly, you will end up with more muscle then before you chose to workout. If you wait, you will actually have taken a step back for now. In fact, in some studies, the groups who took a carbohydrate/protein mix after their workout even burned more fat then those who took nothing. This goes to show that it’s always better to take in the right nutrients instead of starving yourself.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Everybody who is involved in strength training should be taking a post-workout shake. A shake with a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio works best. While whey protein is a great choice, using branch chain amino acids or essential amino acids as the main protein source can be more effective. If you do not want to bother with mixing your own ingredients, then buy a post-workout product. Dymatize Xpand Post is a great product, as well as things like Endurox, Surge, or meal replacement beverages. Another simple solution is a serving of Gatorade powder, or a bottle of Gatorade and a scoop of whey protein powder.

When you are putting in a lot of time and effort into your training, do yourself a favour and use this important nutritional strategy to gain an advantage! It’s about getting better!

1Ivy, J.L, “Dietary strategies to promote glycogen synthesis after exercise,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26 (Suppl): S236-S245, 2001.
2Ivy, J.L, Katz, A.L, Cutler, C.L, et al., “Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of time on carbohydrate ingestion,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 64: 1480-1485, 1988.
3Ivy, J.L, Goforth, H.W, Jr., Damon, B.M, et al., “Early post exercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 93: 1337-1344, 2002.
4Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Post exercise protein intake enhances whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34: 828-837, 2002.

HIIT it for Fat Loss!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , on December 10, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

Whenever I get a new client who’s looking to lose fat (and who isn’t), the same question often comes up: so how much cardio should I be doing?? Something about the word cardio just turns me right off. It sounds so boring and catabolic. The common practice of hitting the eliptical or treadmill for 40 minutes or more can help to burn calories, but will also have a negative effect on lean body mass. In order to provide the body with energy, you will eventually turn to body fat stores, but muscle will also need to be broken down for amino acids. This is very counterproductive towards Body Fat percentage. The result is that you create a smaller version of the same person! Sure you lost 10lbs, but you’re still 30% BF. Our goal in creating a lean efficient body is to increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat. Let us take a look at track and field to give us a good example of what we’re talking about. The athletes which have the lowest amounts of body fat and the highest amounts of muscle are the sprinters. The athletes running 100m, 200m, and 400m are the epitome of lean machines. It’s no secret how they’ve become this way, weight training and interval training! What about the long distance runners, who run for hours at a time? Do they have the body you’re looking for?

Which would you rather be?

For certain athletes, interval training is not so much a preferrential choice they make, but a standard training protocol for their sport. Any athlete who uses repeated bouts of high intensity exercise can benefit from interval training and should probably already be doing them. That being said, there is a place for interval training in everyone’s workout. You don’t have to be Usain Bolt to try and use the advantages of HIIT.

What is HIIT exactly?

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training, is a training method where an individual does a short period of anaerobic work followed by a  period of rest and then repeats this for anywhere up to 10 or 12 minutes. This can be done with a number of different pieces of equipment or tools; sprinting, spinning, skipping, rowing, swimming and even ballistic type resistance training can all be used for interval training. The important part is to make sure your “sprint” interval is near maximal effort. This is why intervals are difficult to do on your own, most individuals have difficulty pushing themselves that hard with no one watching. IF you can man up and get it done, you’ll be that much better for it, trust me.

Why do HIIT?

My first introduction with the science behind HIIT came from a strength training symposium at the University of Western Ontario. During this symposium I saw a great presentation on a study they were doing using 30 second sprints followed by 4 minutes of rest. They compared their results with a protocol of 40min of steady state cardio. The results were incredible, not only were the interval subjects working out for far less (only 4-6 sprints of 30s each), but they were achieving the same results in conditioning. In fact, some of their subjects reported improvements in a 5km run, a 10km bike and a 40km bike. This goes to show that repeated bouts of anaerobic exercise can increase aerobic performance, but the opposite is not true. Sitting on an elliptical for 40 min WILL NOT improve your sprinting. HIIT utilizes something called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). Essentially, when you’re depleting your body of oxygen using intervals and not allowing it to fully replenish, your body works at absorbing oxygen for hours after your workout. This oxygen is used for a number of bodily functions which increase metabolism. Studies have shown that the increased metabolic rate can exist upwards of 13hrs! It’ll stick with you longer than that greasy hamburger you had at lunch! This also means that when your cardio machine spits out the number of calories burned, it is only telling half the story. The 40 minutes of steady-state cardio will elicit a much larger number of calories burned, but once you get off the machine, your body stops. With HIIT, you are on the machine for a much shorter time frame, so it appears that you don’t burn that many calories. However, since your metabolism is jacked up for the rest of the day, you end up burning way more calories in the end.  

How do I do HIIT?

Doing HIIT can be very simple. For most of my clients I suggest a starting protocol of a 1:3 or 1:4 work to rest ratio and have them starting around 6-8 min total. For example, doing a 20sec sprint followed by 40sec rest, repeated 6 times. If you’ve been able to increase your time and are still looking for more, then start ramping up the speed of the sprint. For advanced practitioners, take a shot at the tabata protocol! Tabata is a protocol which uses 20sec sprint with a 10s rest for a total of 4min. Sure 4 mins doesn’t seem like much now, but if you go hard enough you’ll understand.

With the holidays approaching, many people are going to be looking for a way to counteract unwanted weight gain. Try throwing in 2-3 HIIT sessions per week to really improve your conditioning and your body comp!!

Even during the christmas break,

It’s About Getting Better!

%d bloggers like this: