Sunday, January 26, 2014

Training movements rather than muscle groups

When training for sport performance, it's critical to train the body in the gym to act like it will in on the field/court for your sport.  Here is a list of movements and some exercises you can use to get you ready for competition.

Hip Dominant - pulling a load off the ground with hip extension  
     1.  Deadlifts
     2.  1-Leg RDL's
     3.  KB Swings

Knee Dominant - Pushing into the ground (or platform) to extend your knee and hip
     1.  Back/Front Squats
     2.  DB Steps Ups
     3.  Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (aka:  Bulgarian Lunge)

Vertical Push - Pushing a load vertically with shoulder flexion and elbow extension
     1.  DB/Barbell Push Press 
     2.  DB Overhead Press
     3.  Med Ball Press

Vertical Pull - Pulling a load vertically with shoulder extension and elbow flexion
     1.  Pull Ups
     2.  Chin Ups
     3.  TRX Pull Ups

Horizontal Push - Pushing a load horizontally from the shoulder joint through elbow extension
     1.  Bench Press
     2.  Push Ups
     3.  TRX Chest Press

Horizontal Pull - Pulling a load horizontally from the shoulder joint through elbow flexion
     1.  Inverted Rows
     2.  DB Rows
     3.  Bent-Over Barbell Row

Core Stability  - Stabilizing the spine and resisting movement
     1.  Planks
     2.  Pallof Press
     3.  Side Planks

Rotational Core - Movements that work both up and down and side-to-side
     1.  Med Ball Chops
     2.  Cable Pulley Rotations
     3.  TRX Oblique Crunches

Power/Explosive - Rapidly moving a load under control
     1.  Power Cleans
     2.  Split Squat Jumps
     3.  Snatch

Friday, January 24, 2014

Nutrient timing

In my recent post about general nutrition, I discussed the 3 macro-nutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) and roughly a good guideline for each to consume.  I wanted to share a recent article I read that takes this a bit further and talks about the timing of eating these nutrients, and in particular, breakfast.  I've heard numerous times from clients and friends that they still neglect to eat breakfast, for one reason or another.  After reading this article, maybe it will change some of your minds.

This article is written by John L. Ivy, PhD and was recently published in the EAS Academy website.
Read the article "Why Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New website

For those who have not been to my website, time to visit... Elevated Sports Performance

General nutrition for health

Each day, the topic of nutrition always comes up in conversation.  And this is for good reason, as I feel that proper nutrition can not only help athletes (and all general population for that matter) achieve greater success but ultimately live a healthier life.  Greater success can be defined as improved athletic performance, improving overall health; such as reducing chronic diseases, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, or as simple as losing those unwanted extra pounds and having a healthier BMI.

Nutrition is a topic that can be discussed for hours.  Just turn on your tv or read any magazine and there are plenty of ads trying to sell you something that will make you lose weight, lean up, or look like so-and-so.  I feel that we as a society make nutrition more complicated than it really needs to be.  For the sake of keeping this somewhat short, I will not go into too many specifics but instead touch on the basics.

I am not a licensed nutritionist, however, I have worked very hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle by fueling my body with the most optimal (nutrient-dense) foods.  Sure I will have an occasional bowl of ice cream (or two ;-).  I'm not after seeing my 6-pack abs in the mirror, instead, I am only trying to live a life without the use of medications and one in which I can enjoy for as long as possible.

Enough about me, let's discuss what constitutes an adequate "diet".  First of all, there is no one "right" diet. Every athlete has different eating styles; whether it be a vegan diet, Western diet, or any other diet.  What is common among all of these diets though, is an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Whether the diet is to improve athletic performance or reduce chronic diseases, two fundamental components must be present:

     1.  Eating appropriate amounts of calories
     2.  Eating the appropriate amounts of nutrients to prevent deficiency or toxicity

A great resource to help make sure you get enough of each is the Food Guide Pyramid; which displays recommended types and amounts of food to eat daily.  Of course each athlete will be slightly different and will need to adjust accordingly based on exercise levels.  The Food Guide Pyramid is a great starting point for which athletes can evaluate the adequacy of their diets.  According to Kristin Reimers, PhD, "as a good rule of thumb, if a diet provides a variety of each food group, it is likely adequate for vitamins and minerals. However, if the diet excludes an entire food group, specific nutrients may be lacking".

When talking about nutrients there are two types, macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients.  I'll discuss the macro-nutrients which are comprised of Carbs, Proteins and Fats.  The question always comes up, "how much of each should I eat"?  This completely depends on your body type and athletic goals.  For the purpose of this article, I will list the "general requirements" of each.

*Note- To determine your weight in kg's divide your weight in lbs. by 2.2

*Note- All recommended % below are from the Institute of Medicine


     Protein:  10-15%  of daily caloric intake or .8 g/kg of body weight for the avg. male and female.  For endurance athletes and those in a heavy resistance training program, this nutrient could be as high as 1.5 - 2.0 g/kg of body weight per day.

     Carbohydrates:  45-65% of daily caloric intake, or 5-6 g/kg of body weight.  This nutrient can fluctuate the mot with endurance athletes.  For some ultra-endurance athletes, an appropriate amount could be as high as 10 g/kg of body weight per day.  And conversely, some athletes may have lower Carb requirements.

     Fats:  20-35% of daily caloric intake, with less than 10% from saturated fats.  Elite athletes tend to consume more than 30% during heavy training periods.  Although fats are looked upon as bad, there are plenty of benefits to to fat .  The main being for insulation and protection of the body's organs.  Fat also serves as the carrier for fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K.  Not too mention without fat, there wouldn't be much flavor in foods.
There are three types of fats...The good (monounsaturated), the bad (polyunsaturated) and the ugly (saturated).   Steer clear of most saturated fat, however, here is one saturated fat with good health benefits.

*As you can see there are lots of variables that can affect the proper amount of each nutrient.  For specific requirements to help reach maximal athletic performance, I would recommend talking with a licensed sports nutritionist to determine which levels will be best for you.

     Water:  125oz daily intake for men 19-30, and 91oz daily intake for women 19-30 as referenced by the Food and Nutrition Board.  For athletes while exercising the number of ounces will depend on the person, duration, intensity, and temperature.  Water is the largest component of the body, comprising of nearly 70% of a person's body weight.  Did you know the body can survive up to 30 days without food, but only 4-10 days without water.

                                    Fluid intake guidelines around training:
                                    Before training - approximately 16oz 2 hours prior to exercise
                                    During training - 6-8oz every 15 minutes
                                    After training - approximately 15-20oz for every pound of body weight lost

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Benefits of coconut oil for athletes

Most health care professionals will tell you not to eat saturated fats because they are bad for your health and can cause a number of negative consequences; such as high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and even Alzheimer's disease.  And for good reason, most saturated fats (when used in high amounts) can indeed lead to these health conditions.

It's funny to note, however, that our society today has a much higher rate of obesity, high cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease than our ancestors did (who ate lots of meat) and even those modern day primitive societies using saturated fats as a dietary staple.

Coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) and contains a naturally occurring saturated fat that has some positive health benefits.  Some of these benefits include the following:

     1.  Promotes heart health
     2.  Promotes weight loss
     3.  Supports the immune system
     4.  Supports a healthy metabolism
     5.  Supports proper functioning of the thyroid gland

So how then does coconut oil help to boost an athletes' athletic performance?  As mentioned above coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid.  These, unlike long-chain fatty acids which are difficult for your body to break down, are easily digested.  MCFA's are also sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted to energy rather than being stored as fat.  This makes coconut oil an extremely efficient source of fuel for an athlete.  Coconut oil can make for a great addition to a pre-workout snack to help boost energy levels..

And because it stimulates the metabolism it helps the body more efficiently burn fat; leading to a more lean physique.  Back in the 1940's, farmers  found out about this effect by accident when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten up their livestock.  It didn't work.  Instead, coconut oil made the animals lean, active and hungry. Increased energy and endurance are other benefits to athletes as a result of eating coconut oil, due to it's thermogenesis effect of the medium chain fatty acids

Coconut oil has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and it's lauric acid content promotes a strong immune system - necessities for any performance athlete.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2nd annual TRX Challenge - Week #8

Thus weeks Challenge puts the emphasis on core strength.  There are many dynamic movements that will challenge every aspect of your body.  

In this workout, you will perform each exercise for 30 sec. with 10-15 sec of rest between each exercise. Your goal is to keep track of the total number of reps completed for all exercises and then record that number or post it in the Comments section below.

If you haven't done these exercises before, you may want to practice them before trying the Challenge.  In the video I am only demonstrating 5 reps per exercise, 30 sec will get you much more than that.  As with all of my Challenges, performing each exercise with proper form is essential, don't sacrifice form for more reps.

Perform each exercise in the order shown.  Make sure to warm up 10-15 min before starting the Challenge.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Improve performance by avoiding these training mistakes

Here is a list of mistakes to AVOID when strength training.  By avoiding these mistakes, you will be able to improve your performance and take your fitness to new heights.

Mistake #1.  
Only training upper body

Don't get too focused on how you look in the mirror.  Having big arms and a broad chest may impress the girls and look good on the beach, but it won't do anything for your athletic performance.  Your largest muscles are in your legs (including glutes and hamstrings), and the more you strengthen them the more hormones you release to help build strength and size in your entire body.  Your legs are what provides your foundation to any sport-specific movement.  

Mistake #2
Always working on your strengths

It's easy to work on things you are good at, but that won't make you a better athlete.  In order to improve you have to eliminate any weaknesses, and that means probably doing things you aren't familiar with or good at.  Most elite athletes don't have weaknesses, and if they do, I'm sure they are working on them right now. When was the last time you did Deadlifts?  They are one of the best compound moves (targeting several muscle groups) to help build strength. 

Mistake #3
Lifting weights too slowly in the gym 

Do you always lift weights at the same speed?  If so, you are missing a key component to improving your strength gains.  According to Mike Boyle, of Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, "lifting weights with explosive speeds activates more fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have the greatest growth potential".  You don't always have to lift weights with an explosive speed but it should be incorporated in your periodization training.  For instance when lifting heavy weights (85%+ of 1RM) you want to lift slow and controlled.  When performing movements with explosive speeds, do the lifting phase of each exercise as fast as possible.

Mistake #4
Doing too much slow and steady running

Running too many slow miles is a repetitive movement and your body will adapt quickly and stop making progress.  According to Boyle, "running doesn't activate fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are great fat burners and body builders".  Start incorporating some intervals (short bursts of intense activity) in place of your slow runs, or run steep hills instead of always running on flat terrain.  You can sequence your interval work many ways, for instance using a 1:1, 1:2, 1:4 or even a 2:1 ratio.  Using the 1:2 ratio, this means that you would run hard for a length of time (say 30 sec.) and follow that with twice the amount of recovery time (which in this case would be 1 min.).  According to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, interval training leads to gains in aerobic and anaerobic performance that are significantly greater than with steady state cardio.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Staying positive

I want to share with you an article recently posted by Sherri McMillan of Northwest Personal Training.  It's a little similar to my recent post about achieving your goals.  In her article she stresses the importance of staying positive.

Be Positively Positive!

positive 300x225 Achieving Your Goals and Dream Life – Step FiveAchieving your dreams requires a little thought and effort but anything worth achieving is worth working for.  So far we have discussed 4 factors for achieving goals; first, you have to set the goals and create the action steps, secondly, you have to move your body, third, you have to fuel your body correctly and fourth, you want to make sure you don’t set limits on what you can achieve.
Today, we discuss the importance of focusing on the positive.  Life is so much better when you can focus on the joys and daily miracles that surround us every single day that may go unnoticed.  The beauty of birth, a sunset, a rainbow, a mountain, a puppy, a smile, a kind word…we just need to look around to see how amazing life can be even when there are really tough things we have to endure.  We must get into the habit of developing a gratitude mind-set; everyday making a mental or written list of what we love about our lives, who we love, what we appreciate and are so thankful for.
We all probably know someone who is inherently negative.  You may say “Gosh, what a beautiful day today!” and their response immediately is “Yeah, but it’s going to rain tomorrow!”  Wow!  It must suck to always look at the negative or the cup half empty as they say.  Unfortunately, opportunities to live a dream life will never come to someone like this.  Why would anyone give an opportunity to someone who is going to complain about it anyways?!  They will find themselves struggling through life so much more than they need to.
But hey, no one’s perfect and we’ll all find ourselves having a bad day and a little pitty party because things aren’t going our way.  When I find myself having one of those days or moments I try to shake myself out of it by reminding myself it’s all a matter of perspective. If I were to think of my very worst day…maybe I slept through my alarm, I’m having a bad hair day, I get in an argument with my spouse, I’m stuck in traffic, my computer hard drive crashes, my boss yells at me, my kids are driving me crazy…No matter what happens, I have to remind myself that my very worst day to someone else, say living in a third world country, my nightmare day would be their miracle day.  They would look to me and say “Wow, you’ve got a roof over your head, an abundance of food to eat, a car, a job, two healthy kids…I wish I could have your life for just one day!” So sometimes we just need to change our mind and look at things a little differently.
And part of this step is committing to having fun.  Life is meant to be fun so be goofy, laugh at yourself, laugh at life…don’t take things too seriously.  A dream life is meant to be full of laughter.  If you can, be the person who makes others laugh – what a great gift that is! And if not, be the one who laughs a lot! What a great gift to someone else when they can see that they’ve added joy and laughter to your life!