Archive for Recovery

Breaking Down Barriers

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

We talk ad nauseum about different strategies to get the results you need for improved performance. Sometimes you need to spend more time working out, and sometimes you need to cut back on your time but increase your intensity. For a lot of people, both of these strategies become too much. We break down and become exhausted and possibly injured. You know the more often you work hard, the better you become, but your performance reduces drastically as the week goes on. So what to do?

                                                                                                                       

Here are 5 strategies to increase the frequency of high intensity work.

1)  Build Your Stabilizers.

     By this I am simply talking about 3 major areas that control much of your movement. Upper back (scapulae) region, hips, and core are very important areas to build up some strength to keep you healthy. If you cant use these areas properly, you will never have enough stability to maintain proper posture during major lifts. Also, these tend to be the muscles that get overloaded first with a hard workout. If they aren’t strong, they will be sore all week and keep you from repeating some lifts later in the week.

2) Dynamic Warmup.

   A great dynamic warmup helps open up all of the joints that you jam up while sitting at your desk all day. It stretches certain muscles, activates others and teaches you appropriate movement patterns. Add in the benefit of increasing body temperature, and you have a great foundation for a great lift.

3) Post-Workout Shake.

Very few people take advantage of the post-workout nutrition window. If you don’t know what to mix, find a premixed solution like EAS Myoplex, Cytosport Musclemilk, or Dymatize Xpand Post. If you take in the right nutrients post-workout, you improve your rate of rehydration, glycogen replenishment, and muscle synthesis. Add these 3 things together and you’ll improve the way you feel and perform the day after a good workout.

4) Self-Massage.

Whether it is a foam roller, The Stick, a tennis ball, or TriggerPoint Therapy products, self-massage does amazing things for recovery. First, the pressure on your muscles from the different implements provides a relaxation effect to lower the resting tension in the desired area. Second, the act of massage improves blood flow to the area, clearing out the byproducts of exercise and bringing in fresh nutrients and oxygen. Not only is this good to keep the muscles you just used from getting overly tight or sore, it is also a great way to work on some of your postural issues. Think of it as me time, to keep your body primed for action.

5)  Nutrition.

If you want to do quality work, feed your body with quality food. Don’t look at the people who are already 6% bodyfat and eat at mcdonald’s for your nutrition recommendations. They do well DESPITE their diet, not because of it. If their body is burning up fuel like its nobody’s business, then they can even use junk as an energy source with little negative effect. You’d be kidding yourself though if you thought that they wouldnt benefit from nutrient rich, quality foods instead. Don’t waste your time. Eat well.

Do the behind-the-scenes work if you want to train hard ALL WEEK. 4-6 weeks of quality work can bring some absolutely amazing results to anybody!! It’s About Getting Better.

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Razor’s Edge is Representing

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

It’s official: Razor’s Edge Performance is going to bring some awesome to the National Invitational Combine in Toronto this coming friday. I’d like to wish Willie and Mario luck in showing off their athleticism and skills for the attending CFL scouts. Both of these guys have been working their tails off and we’re proud to say they train with Razor’s Edge Performance.

Not only do we have athletes showing themselves off and measuring up to competition this week, in a way we’re also doing the same. This is our first year doing combine prep with CIS players. This is exciting because it’s a whole different type of training. Training an athlete over a long offseason for their sport is much different than a 2 month intensive program for a specific battery of tests. Not only is strength and power essential but the technical aspect of all of the tests cannot be overlooked. These athletes are training for agility, power, top end speed, lateral speed, explosiveness, as well as a significant mental component. That’s a lot of different things to try and focus on in such a short period of time! Due to the strenuous nature of this type of training, recovery is crucial. That’s why it’s important to have our guys eating and drinking well as well as taking care of their soft tissue, mobility and flexibility.

For those of you who don’t follow football or the scouting aspect, you now have an idea of the immense effort needed for such a short time. This is essentially the biggest job interview of their life thus far and depending on their success, may be the only one. The days are winding down and we’re excited to see Willie and Mario show off all their hard work. Look forward to a post next week with their results and other observations from the NIC and CFL E-Camp this coming weekend.

NOTE: Here’s a video of Willie’s results at the NIC.

Remember,
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!

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.

10 Ways to Keep Off Body Fat

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

Seeing as this is turkey weekend, and most people are likely to eat their faces off on Sunday or Monday, I decided it would be a good time for a fat-loss article. Am I saying skip the gravy and the stuffing? Not necessarily. It may be a good idea to jump head first into some new habits as of Tuesday though.

Let’s face it, it’s always goal number one. Lose the fat. It weighs us down, it looks bad in tight clothes, and worst of all it actually leads us down a path of health concerns. So maybe it’s time you started to do all of the little things right in order to get rid of what’s hanging on, and prevent any new accumulation of adipose tissue. In no particular order, here are 10 things you can do to keep the fat away…

Drink Green Tea

                Except for water, green tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. While its health benefits are numerous, here is how it helps with fat loss. Green tea contains both caffeine and Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC), which are both known to increase your metabolic rate. Before you think about going Decaf, consider that these two ingredients work synergistically for maximum results. So while both caffeine and green tea extract (ECGC) can both be beneficial, it works best when they are together. Drink 2-6 cups of green tea per day.

Eat More Cinnamon

                Cinnamon is not only delicious but also plays a huge role in managing blood glucose levels. Most diabetics probably know about cinnamon’s ability to keep blood glucose down, keeping the insulin response in check. Insulin plays a very important role in the formation of new body fat. Using healthy amounts of cinnamon in your food can go a long way in keeping you from becoming insulin resistant.

Take Your Fish Oils

                Fish oils are very high in two important omega 3 fatty acids, DHA AND EPA.  While ingesting fat seems counter intuitive, it’s important to note that these omega 3 fatty acids are some of the most powerful substances in the supplement industry. In fact, ingesting EPA and DHA with your meals helps improve brain health, vein elasticity, inflammation, and the use of body fat as fuel.  Aim for anywhere from 3-10g of fish oils per day.

Cut Refined Sugars

                Refined sugars are the number one reason why obesity has skyrocketed in the past few decades. We tend to ingest way more sugar in our diet than we need for energy. After all, our body can actually create glucose through the conversion of amino acids; a process that is very costly metabolically, meaning you will burn more calories while doing so. Every time we ingest refined sugars, our body releases insulin to transport the glucose from our blood to our tissues. The more insulin we are exposed to, the more our body becomes resistant to its effects. In turn, our body has to release more and more insulin. As mentioned earlier, insulin plays a major role in laying down new body fat.

Eat More Protein

                This is probably one of the biggest pieces missing in the average diet, adequate protein intake. That is just to keep us healthy and on the right track regardless of goals. Now, consider that you are either trying to build muscle, or drastically improve body composition. Protein intake becomes increasingly more important. First, it takes a lot of effort for your body to breakdown and absorb protein, increasing your metabolism significantly after eating. Second, it insures that your body has the fuel necessary to maintain muscle mass, and build new muscle. Regardless of overall calorie intake, if protein intake is high, muscle mass will be maintained. This is crucial when trying to improve body composition. Too many people go on diets, reduce calories (with low levels of protein intake) and spend hours on cardio machines. This results in losses of both body fat and important muscle mass, essentially making you a small version of the same person. Body fat % does not improve, perhaps even getting higher. Aim for 1g/lb. of body weight of lean sources of protein (fish, chicken, turkey, extra lean beef, and protein powders) per day.

Have a Post-Workout Shake

                While many people picture the protein shake for the meathead body builder, anybody doing serious exercise would benefit immensely from consuming a mix of carbohydrates and protein, in liquid form, within 40 minutes of the completion of exercise. Not only does a post-workout shake signal your body to go from muscle wasting to muscle building, but it also signals your body to burn fat as an energy source for recovery. Your body is extremely sensitive to new nutrients within 40 minutes of a bout of exercise. This is the only time of day when it would be appropriate to ingest a serving of fast-absorbing, simple sugars. These sugars behave as an effective transport to bring protein and other nutrients into your body’s cells when they are in need the most. Also, taking in these nutrients in liquid form increases the speed of absorption and delivery. After the 40 minute window has closed, your body’s ability to recover from the exercise bout is reduced greatly. Try Interactive LeanGainer, or mixing a scoop of whey powder with a scoop of Gatorade powder for an effective post workout shake.

Lift More Weights

            Don’t think heavy weights only apply to skinny guy trying to bulk up, and athletes trying to improve. Lifting heavy weights activates more muscle fibres, which in turn burns more calories. It also insures that you are at least maintaining your muscle mass, if not building new muscle. Increasing muscle mass improves metabolism, which helps burn off body fat. This is the formula that will give you a fit and lean body, not lifting little pink dumbbells ad nauseum. Try to do some strength training 3 days a week for at least 20-30 minutes.

Do Intervals

            Usually when somebody is unhappy with the way their body looks, their natural reaction is to immerse themselves in copious amounts of cardio. When this fails miserably, a select few hire a trainer and begin to see results. The rest usually find themselves in a plateau, after minimal initial gains, and eventually gain all the weight back. Why? Your body is extremely good at adapting to current levels of stress, and becomes very capable of jogging for an hour on minimal energy consumption. Add in the fact that slow steady-state cardio activates very few muscle fibres and you have an equation that is not conducive to success in fat loss. Enter interval training. This involves any form of training that alternates bouts of very high intensity with periods of low intensity exercise. This could be a running sprint, rowing, biking, or even some forms of resistance training. These bouts of high intensity exercise put your body in a situation of oxygen debt, where you literally don’t have enough time to recover fully from these bursts. This creates a situation after your workout called EPOC; Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. When EPOC occurs, your body’s metabolism stays elevated for up to 48 hours after exercise. Trying a format like 20 seconds of very high intensity cycling, followed by 40 seconds of slow ‘recovery’ cycling, repeated 8 times can create an extremely difficult and rewarding workout. All in a total of 8 minutes, completely demolishing the benefits of a 40 minute jog. Start pushing yourself to higher speeds and you will be rewarded with faster fat loss and greater fitness gains.             

Eat Fibre

                We all know about fibre’s ability to keep us regular, and improve the health of our intestines and digestive tract. However, what most people don’t realize is fibre’s role in improving insulin sensitivity. When fibre is abundant in your meal, it has the effect of slowing down the rate at which your body absorbs the nutrients, thus keeping blood glucose levels low. This in turn prevents a large release in insulin, preventing your from becoming insulin resistant.

Drink Water

            Water is the most important nutrient for the human body. Period. Most people do not drink enough water and it hurts their physical performance at work, at the gym, and at home. Also, drinking more water insures your body is less likely to stay bloated, giving you a much leaner look. Water plays a role in so many of the body’s cellular processes that it’s not even worth it for me to explain any more. Just do it. Drink AT LEAST 2 litres of water every day.

Now that I’ve given you 10 ways to look better, feel better, and move better, you can go pig out on thanksgiving dinner.

Be sure to contact us at info@razorsedgeperformance to find out ways we can help you specifically improve your body composition today!

All About CREATINE!

Posted in Health with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

Creatine is by far the most popular nutritional supplement…EVER. Yet unfortunately, most people don’t really understand the reasons behind its effectiveness, and how it can help improve performance. For the average exerciser Creatine might as well be a distant cousin of the unicorn, a mythical creature of unknown origin and use.

It’s time to breakthrough all of the myths and explain both the mechanisms of action and protocol for usage.

WHAT IS IT?

Creatine is a substance that occurs naturally in our body and that of other animals as well. It is stored in our liver, muscles, and brain, with 95% of it being in skeletal muscle. The biggest sources of creatine in our diet are meat and fish. Unfortunately, with farming and agricultural processes changing over the years, the amount of creatine we get from our food is extremely low. This is why supplementing with creatine has been proven to provide a great effect.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

First and foremost, creatine is an energy substrate. That means it’s involved in the process of creating energy. ATP is the primary energy source for short-term, high-energy activities. Our body can only store a small amount of ATP, so it needs an effective way to replenish its stores after it runs out. This is where creatine comes in. Two thirds of the creatine stored in our muscles is in the form of phosphocreatine. After ATP is used to power a sprint or a set of deadlifts, phosphocreatine combines with the leftover ADP to create ATP, getting your muscles ready to repeat that intense activity. The more creatine (or phosphocreatine) you have stored in your muscles, the more times you can repeat activities at high intensity. It is this increased work capacity in anaerobic, high energy work that brings the greatest advantage. The more times you can go all out in a sprint, lift, jump, or throw, the more stimuli you provide your body. This increased stimulus allows your body to become bigger, stronger, and faster.

The second biggest reason why creatine can help jack up your performance, is by promoting muscle hypertrophy. That means muscle growth. Through a couple of highly complicated processes, creatine seems to help up regulate the genes related to muscle protein synthesis and also increase the activity of satellite cells within skeletal muscle. These satellite cells are unspecialized stem cells that hang around the outside of muscle tissue, and move in to help repair damaged muscle tissue. It is the addition of these satellite cells into the muscle belly that helps increase its size.

WHO DOES IT BENEFIT?

Many people can benefit from supplementing with creatine for a number of different goals. If you are resistance training in hopes of getting bigger or stronger, improve body composition, or increase strength and power, then creatine will surely help you. If you compete in athletics, most notably, anaerobic type sports then creatine will help you too. Some examples are football, hockey, basketball, sprinting, jumping, throwing, and soccer. Vegetarians tend to respond especially well to creatine supplementation since their normal levels of stored creatine is at the very bottom of the acceptable range. This is due to the lower dietary intake of creatine. Women and men both respond well to creatine supplementation as well.

HOW DO I USE IT?

Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied and most available version of creatine for sale. It is a tasteless and odourless powder that dissolves well in most liquids. The most popular dosage protocol for creatine involves a loading phase of 20g/day for 4-5 days followed by a maintenance load of 3g-5g/day after that. Loading allows you to increase your intramuscular creatine levels quickly, but they still level off after the first 5 days. If you skip the loading phase and take a regular maintenance dose from the start, you will still get increases in performance and intramuscular creatine levels will reach a maximum somewhere between 14 and 20 days.

WHAT CREATINE ISN’T…

Creatine is not a steroid, it is not illegal, and it is not banned. It is one of the cheapest nutritional supplements on the market, and arguably the most effective. Creatine does not damage your kidneys or increase the likelihood of cramping or compartment syndrome.  It does not appear that you can overdose on creatine, but there is also no benefit to greater ingestion after muscle saturation has been reached. Finally, creatine has been rumoured to increased water retention, however this is another myth. Research shows that increases in body water are directly related to increases in lean body mass, and overall hydration levels do not change.

If you strength train or play sports, creatine can help you. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.

 

The Art of Self-Massage Part 2

Posted in Health with tags , , on July 29, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

In Part 1, we talked about the importance of self-massage for increased health and performance. Now, we will go over some of the different tools available to use on your own.

Foam Roller

The foam roller is probably the most important of all the tools because it can be used all over your body. Made of dense foam, round foam rollers usually come in a 1 ft. and 3 ft. versions. The 1 ft. version is great if you need to take it with you anywhere, like to the gym or travelling. Use the weight of your own body to put pressure on the area in contact with the roller, and voila, you can roll back and forth over the area you need massaged. The foam roller is especially good for the back, lats, piriformis, and IT band, although almost anything can be released on it.

Massage sticks

There are a few different versions of massage sticks out there, most notably ‘The Stick’ and ‘The Tiger Tail’. They are essentially the same thing, with the texture of the stick being the main difference. These tools are great for more focused attention to certain trigger points or problem areas. Personally, I prefer using a massage stick on my quads, hamstrings and calves.

Balls

The final category of massage tools includes any ball you can find. I have seen use of golf balls, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, softballs, and generic rubber bouncing balls. Using something like a golf ball or softball allows you to get even more focused than the previous two methods. The downfall is that the discomfort becomes greater as the focus gets deeper. There are certain places in the peroneals, feet, rotator cuff, piriformis, and calves that can be hard to reach properly without using one of these balls. You can find these at any sports store.

Those are the most common ways to perform self-massage, and anyone serious about fitness or high-performance sport should have all 3!

You can find all of these at Perform Better!

http://www.performbetter.com/SearchResult.aspx_Q_CategoryID_E_363

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