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

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The Pushup:

Ah the pushup. An exercise that countless women are convinced they’ll never do, and one that most men feel is a God given right to do. I’m tired of seeing women doing these from the knees, and the contortion act many men put on while attempting them. Its got to stop. If any woman has hopes of doing an actual pushup one day, it’s time to start training for them correctly.

The pushup is like a mobile plank. You maintain neutral spine throughout the range of motion. The chest, shoulders, and triceps fire to move the body while the core, legs, serratus, and upper back musculature work to stabilize the body. The elbows stay close to the body to generate external rotation and torque from the shoulder joint & upper body, and the scapulae retract and depress on the way down and on the way up to stabilize the shoulder joint until end range is reached at the top, where they protract a bit.

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Nasty looking push up

So ladies, how are you going to do a pushup if it’s not from the knees? Well, first we can try elevating the surface that you’re pushing from. A bench, step, or even an elevated barbell will do. The idea here being that you eventually work your way down to a more parallel position, i.e – the floor. The idea here is to train in the position that you’re trying to achieve, only modified. You can also use bands to help offset the load of your own bodyweight. Trying to do this from the knees isn’t going to cut it in the long run.

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Band assisted Pushup

Elevating the surface that you’re pushing from is a great way to help scale the exercise, but there are a few key components you’ll need to do them properly.

– Scapular stability (Keeping the shoulder blades in retraction and depression, aka – “down & back” while descending to the floor and on the way back up)
– Adequate core strength and stability
– Glute activation to help further stabilize your core

What’s scapular stability? Simply put, it’s the ability to keep the shoulder blades in a controlled/fixed position while the arms and rest of the body moves. What you often see when people have poor scapular control is a forward head posture as they descend towards the floor in the pushup. This is a common compensation for the individual’s inability to properly retract, depress and stabilize their shoulder blades, among other things. A lack of scapular stability also prevents the chest and shoulders from firing maximally to drive the movement. A lack of upper back strength and scapular stability puts you at a disadvantage, and makes your pushups look like crap.

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Scapular retraction and depression

There’s another thing I’d like to touch on in regards to upper body positioning. The elbows. Keeping the elbows “in” is important for proper recruitment and shoulder mechanics. The more you “flare” the elbows out to the side away from your torso, the more the shoulders become internally rotated. For pressing mechanics, we want an externally rotated shoulder. This allows us to generate more torque through the joint, and keeps the shoulder joint in a safer position to operate within while loaded. Plus, healthy rotator cuffs are kind if important.

Core strength and stability. Ever see people doing pushups with a ridiculously swayed back? Of course you have! Excessive lumbar lordosis (extreme lower back curvature) can be pretty to look at, but it’s not very comfortable in a loaded position. If the anterior core (aaaaaab-dominals) isn’t firing, you’re going to see that lower back arch like Nicki Minaj doing the Anaconda. In this instance it’s not a good thing.

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Yeah...

Glute activation is also extremely important because the glutes have to fire in order to help stabilize the lumbar spine as well. I’ve always said, “Never underestimate the power of the ass”, and this also holds true for the pushup. The combination of a weak anterior core and poor glute activation makes doing a proper push up pretty much impossible. So get that booty fired up!

So to summarize:

• Elevate the surface from which you’re pushing from while maintaining proper position
• Make sure you’re squeezing your shoulder blades down and back to maintain proper stability in the upper back
• Make sure you’re bracing the core musculature while performing the push up
• Keep your elbows close to your torso throughout the range of motion
•  Squeeze your butt!

Pick up something heavy.