Supplements:

Supplements! At one point or another, most of you have probably wondered or even tried various kinds of supplements to help fuel your workouts, aid in your recovery, or just help you get mad yolked swole. In any event, there’s a few things you should know before you embark on the Wild West that is the supplement industry. Supplement companies promise easy weight loss, a tight round booty, muscle mass gains beyond your wildest dreams, a big chest and arms, and a shredded six-pack – and all of this can be yours for just three easy payments of $19.95! Plus shipping and handling of course…

That moment you realize you forgot your pre-workout…

 

When it comes to supplementation, one thing needs to be understood above all else, and that is that you CAN NOT expect progress if your diet is not on point. Trying to use supplements before getting your diet in order is like trying to snatch before you can deadlift. Not very smart or effective.

Don’t be this guy

 

Enough with the sensible talk, let’s get into some supplements! Rather than try to cover the vast array of supplements available, I’m going to only focus on a few supplements that are actually backed by science, and have true value for you based on your goals.


Whey Protein Powder:

 

Whey protein powder is a protein supplement that is derived from milk. Whey is one part of milk protein, and casein is the other part. The two proteins are separated from milk by using a coagulant which gives us whey, and curds (casein). Now that we’ve got that covered, lets discuss why this stuff may be worth your hard earned dollars.

 

Why take it?

  • Whey is useful in aiding hitting your daily protein goal.
  • Whey is absorbed faster than other types of proteins, and is therefore great for increasing muscle protein synthesis (muscle protein synthesis is the driving force behind adaptive responses to exercise and represents a widely adopted proxy for gauging chronic efficacy of acute interventions).
  • Whey contains a large amount of L-cysteine, which helps aid against developing a deficiency associated with diabetes and aging.
  • Whey protein has been claimed to aid in fat loss, but it is in fact the inintake of protein itself that aids in fat loss, not just the supplement alone.
  • Whey protein does not harm the kidneys, but if you have a damaged liver or kidneys, it may exacerbate the condition. You should speak to your physician not only if you are considering supplementing with whey protein, but are considering increasing your protein intake drastically.

 

How much should I take?

So now you know the benefits of supplementing with Whey protein. Next question, how much do you need to take? Well, the science says that there is no benefit from taking in more than 0.55g of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, a 175Lb athletic male would only truly need 96g PER DAY. The minimum requirement for protein intake is 0.36g per pound of bodyweight for sedentary individuals, or 63g for a 175Lb sedentary male. None of this is set in stone, and taking more than .55g/day won’t hurt you if there is a need for it depending on your needs.


Fish Oil:

 

Ah fish oil, our stinky inflammation fighting friend. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the many benefits associated with taking fish oil. So what’s the deal, and why should you bother looking into this stuff?

 

Fish oil is really just a term used to refer to the two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fats are most typically found in fish, phytoplankton, and other animal products (Vegans, you’re out of luck there). Fish are the most abundant and cheapest source.

 

Enough science! Why would it be good for you to take this? Well, the typical American diet is terribly disproportionate in our omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratio. Basically, we eat a lot of eggs, meat, etc. Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids helps bring the ratio back into balance, which should be 1:1. So why is fish oil worth considering?

 

Why take it?

  • Fish oil can help reduce high levels of triglycerides in people that have elevated levels, but it can also increase cholesterol levels. So if you have cholesterol problems, consult your physician.
  • Fish oil can help decrease the risk of diabetes, and several forms of cancer – including breast cancer.
  • Fish oil has been shown to be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs in combating depression.
  • Fish oil is associated with decreasing muscle soreness (most notably – DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness).

 

How much should I take?

The recommended dose for “general health” is 250mg a day. The American Heart Association recommends 1g a day. For those of you looking to use it to reduce soreness and inflamation, 6g a day (spread out throughout the day) is the recommended dose.


Vitamin D: (Vitamin D3)


Vitamin D. This is another one you’ve probably heard plenty about. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin/nutrient, and is obtained from sunlight and food sources such as fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products. The body produces it from sunlight exposure and cholesterol.

 

Why take it?

  • Increased cognitive function
  • Immunity boosting properties
  • Bone health
  • Reduction of the risk of: Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis
  • Increased testosterone levels


Looks pretty good, right?

How much should I take?

The current RDA for Vitamin D is between 400-800IU/day. For adults, the recommended dosage is 2,000IU/day. The safe higher end dosage is set at 10,000IU/day. Dosage based on Bodyweight is set at 20-80IU/kg of bodyweight per day (1,600-6,300IU/day for a 175Lb male).

It is best taken with meals containing fat to help aid with absorption. It should also be noted that Vitamin D3 is the preferred form of the nutrient due to better effectiveness.

 

Creatine:

 

Creatine is one of the most studied supplements out there, but is also misunderstood by many. Lets put an end to that right now. First off, what is it, and what does it do? Creatine is molecule that is found in foods such as meat, eggs, and fish. It is also produced in the body. That’s right, you make it on your own. The main role of creatine within the body is that it stores high-energy phosphate groups, aka – phosphocreatine. The body uses these phosphate groups to aid in the production of energy during periods of stress (exercise, going HAM, etc). In plain English, it means it supplies energy to your cells and makes you stronger!

 

What is creatine, and what does it do?

Why take it?

  • Creatine increases power output and exercise intensity.
  • Creatine increases lean body mass

Creatine is safe and effective when supplemented properly. If you are going to take it, creatine monohydrate is the most cheap and effective version. Just make sure you are getting plenty of water while supplementing with it.

 

How much should I take?

If you’re going to go through a “loading phase”, the recommendation is to take about 20g/day for the first 5-7 days, and 2-5g per day after that. It should also be noted that taking high doses of creatine can cause nausea, cramping, and “digestive issues”. So, just make sure you stay within the proper dosage levels.

So hopefully now you have a better understanding of some supplements that are actually backed by science. Just remember that in order for you to get any benefit from any of these supplements that you have to begin with a sound diet.


 


References:

 

Atherton PJ, Smith K. Muscle protein synthesis in response to nutrition and exercise. J Physiol (Lond). 2012;590(Pt 5):1049-57.

Adequate Protein Intake

Creatine

Fish Oil

Whey Protein

Advertisements

Alternative Exercises: Choosing the right exercises for your body

Today’s guest post comes from my friend, Matt Immerman. Matt is a recent graduate of The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. Matt has been in the health and fitness industry for ten years. He started out as a trainer helping people to get stronger, and more fit. Like many trainers, Matt had to work around his client’s various limitations. Knowing what exercise is appropriate for you (or your client) is vital to long term progress and injury prevention.


Picking the right exercise for your body

Who this article is for:

Those who are new to weight training or exercise.

Or those who have had a history of problems with their knees, back or shoulders and want to continue strength training without further aggravating old injuries.

So you have decided to pick up weight training! Right on! The benefits of lifting relatively heavy weight are too innumerable to list. However, the other side to this coin is that there are potential risks (like with any physical activity) when you engage in weight training. Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize this risk by picking the right exercise for YOUR body. With a little knowledge you can enjoy the many benefits of strength training while minimizing the potential risks that come with it.

In this article, I will offer alternative exercises to the “staples” of weight training which include barbell squats, deadlifts, and shoulder presses. Now, before you completely tune me out, please know that I am a HUGE fan of these exercises. When done correctly with proper form they can be extremely beneficial in building strength, improving bone density, helping with balance, and the list goes on. However, not everyone is able to perform all of these exercises for a myriad of reasons… whether it’s a previous injury, tight muscles and joints, bony anatomy, or even lack of space or proper equipment available at your gym. And that’s okay! Just because something may be preventing you from doing squats or deadlifts or presses doesn’t mean that you still can`t train hard!

What follows are a few of my favorite alternative exercises which I like to perform which target similar muscle groups and still provide an awesome bang for your buck much like the aforementioned “staples.”

Walking Lunges

These are great for working the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. You can also add plenty of resistance to this exercise simply by holding dumbbells in each hand. Unlike the back squat, your torso is vertical and the weight is down at your sides which means the lower back is not having to work as hard as it does in a back squat which means you can work the legs as hard as you want while `working around the back.` This is a great option for those whose backs don’t tolerate the back squat as well especially as the weight gets heavy.  As an added bonus, the walking lunge can also challenge your balance and ability to decelerate which is key for sports as well as just staying fit and healthy.

Sled Pushes

Sled Pushes

The sled push is an awesome exercise which also is fairly easy on the joints because it is purely concentric in nature. Furthermore, it is very easy to make sure your back remains nice and straight and that you are only using your legs to push the sled. This exercise is great for building lower body strength and as added bonus it gets you breathing pretty hard! Plus there is nothing more satisfying knowing you just pushed a ton of weight across the gym! Be careful on these though…get too good at these and all your friends will start calling you when their cars are stuck in the snow!

Landmine Press

Landmine Press

This exercise is great for hitting the same muscles that you would target with a traditional shoulder press but with the different angle, you are much less likely to impinge some of the smaller muscles in the shoulder. Furthermore, it is much easier to keep your back straight and abs tight with this exercise thereby ensuring you are working the shoulder and not putting undue stress on the back by over -arching.

Those were just a few examples of alternative exercises you can play around with and see what works best for you. Ultimately the best thing is to see a professional trainer who can help you along your path to fitness! Thanks for reading!

Matt Immerman  PT, DPT, CPT

The Hip Hinge:

When it comes to being a “functional badass”, there are many ways to display the various qualities that showcase the body’s ability to perform.  In the world of “functional fitness”, it’s easy to lose sight of the fundamentals.  It may look impressive to see some poor soul pistol squatting on a kettlebell while simultaneously doing a dumbbell curl with one hand, and an overhead press in the other; but that doesn’t have much carryover to the real world.  Unless of course, you work for Cirque du soleil.  As much as Planet Fitness loves to mock strength, (or anything remotely related to strength for that matter), “picking stuff up and putting it down” is in fact, incredibly beneficial!  Man or woman, it doesn’t matter.  Getting stronger is good for you, regardless of what sport or activities you engage in.

image

So much room for activities!

If you are going to engage in picking up heavy stuff regularly, and you should – then you need to do it correctly. Hint – it doesn’t involve standing on a Bosu… As you may have guessed from the title, I’m talking about… THE HIP HINGE!

The hip hinge is the most powerful movement a human can do, it’s the apex movement of an apex hunter– Dan John.

The hip hinge is one of the most beneficial movement patterns that we should be utilizing in everyday life. Everyone should master this movement, for a number of reasons.

–  Hip hinging is a requisite for athletic movement & performance
–  The hip hinge allows for maximal activation and utilization of the posterior chain; and can help bring balance between the anterior & posterior chain
–  It allows for loads to be lifted with the hips, while sparing the knees and the spine (when done correctly)
–  It can increase hamstring flexibility
–  When done quickly and explosively, it’s incredibly effective for burning fat
–  Hip hinging is generally much easier to master and perform than the squat
–  Hip hinging is corrective
–  Learning the hip hinge will allow you to deadlift, and therefore become superhuman, and super sexy.

The list goes on and on…

image

Ovechkin single leg hinging like a boss.

Before you go and grab a barbell or kettlebell, lets take a look at something that’s vital to this movement. Core stability! Your spine will thank you, and chances are that if you work a desk job, you could use the help.

Deadbugs:

Deadbugs are a great core stabilization exercise. You begin by laying on your back, keeping your back flat against the floor. Keep your hips and knees bent. Extend one leg while keeping the static leg from drawing in towards the chest. The objective here it to avoid extension of the spine (excessive arching of the lower back), so make sure your lower back is flat against the floor, and your “ribcage is down”.

Planks:

Planks are about recruitment, not endurance. There is little reason if any to hold a plank for any ridiculous period of time. Make sure to contract the glutes, quads, abdominals, lats, and shoulders maximally.

image

Stir the Pot:

From the brilliant Dr. Stuart McGill.  What we’re going for here is a neutral/stable spine.  Using the swiss ball challenges the core musculature’s ability to stabilize the spine – and you need that!  Placing your elbows on a swiss ball, make small smooth circles while keeping the rest of your body still.  Eventually, try to make the circles larger.

Now lets get into some hinging! There are many progressions, regressions, and ways to learn and coach the hip hinge.

The Dowel Method:

For beginners the dowel method can work well. The dowel method is great because it provides instant kinesthetic feedback. Here are a few pointers for performing it:

–  Start with a symmetrical shoulder width stance
–  Holding the dowel behind you, make sure your body contacts the dowel at three points (the head, upper back, and lower back)
–  One of your hands should be holding the dowel at the small of your neck and the other at the small of the lower back
–  Maintain contact at the three points (head, upper and lower back)
–  Keep abdominals braced (as if you were about to be punched in the stomach)
–  Initiate the movement by bending at the waist and sitting your hips back behind you
–  Keep your shins vertical throughout the movement, allowing the knees to bend only to allow for the hips to sit back
–  Squeeze the glutes to return the torso to the upright position

image

image

Once you’ve mastered the basic hip hinge pattern, you can advance to a loaded version of the movement – the kettlebell Romanian deadlift.

Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift:

The kettlebell RDL (Romanian DeadLift) is a nice progression for a beginner who doesn’t possess any profound limitations in motor control or mobility/stability. If you do have issues getting into a proper deadlifting position, don’t worry; the movement can be easily scaled as you work towards improving your limitations. You can perform the KB RDL on a step, yoga block, or plyo-box to shorten up the range of motion. Simply place the kettlebell on one of these options and perform the lift. If you’re still struggling with the movement after adding these implements, then you’ll need to address those deficiencies first.

Here are some tips:

–  Stand over the kettlebell with a symmetrical hip-width stance
–  Line up the midpoint of the feet with the handle of the KB
–  Brace the core, keep the spine neutral and the back straight throughout the movement
–  Send the hips back, keeping the shins vertical
–  Reach down to grasp the handle of the KB (you should feel the hips & hamstrings “turn on” at this point)
–  Squeeze glutes and push the feet into the floor (emphasis on heels and mid-foot) as you stand up
–  Finish with a strong squeeze of the glutes at the top before lowering the kettlebell

Alright, so now you’ve got the basic hip hinge pattern down. Lets move onto another incredible movement – the Kettlebell Swing!

Kettlebell Swing:

The kettlebell swing is an explosive movement that is capable of building strength and improving conditioning. It does much more than that though.  The recruitment of the posterior chain and the core strength and stability that are needed make this exercise very demanding, but also insanely beneficial.  Not only that, but kettlebell swings are a great alternative to the much more technical Olympic lifts.

In a study conducted by Stuart McGill it was noted that “Some unique loading patterns discovered during the kettlebell swing included the posterior shear of the L4 vertebra on L5, which is opposite in polarity to a traditional lift. Thus, quantitative analysis provides an insight into why many individuals credit kettlebell swings with restoring and enhancing back health and function, although a few find that they irritate tissues.”  If they’re good enough for the king of back health, they’re good enough for me.

Here’s a video by Tony Gentilcore on the kettlebell swing:

TonyGentilcore.com Cleaning Up Kettlebell Swing T…: http://youtu.be/xWgl1rEiCeQ

So there you have it.  These are just a few examples of what learning how to hip hinge can do for you.  More importantly, if you’re someone who is performing this movement incorrectly day in and day out, then low back pain is likely to be a result eventually.  It’s best to understand how to perform basic human movements correctly since most of us do these things fairly often.  Not only that, but correctly learning how to hip hinge will allow you to work with a multitude of wonderful strength tools such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, ect.  Put simply, there is a bunch of valuable carryover that this movement will provide you with.

image

References:

McGill, S. M., & Marshall, L. W. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21997449

Pick up something heavy.