Update: Supplements – What to Take, and Why

Supplements are common ways that athletes increase their benefits from exercise. They can make the difference between a fit, lean physique, and a slightly doughy one (for lack of better words). But they can also help improve general nutrition and healthy eating. With this being said, keep in mind that nothing beats a clean diet and exercise. Supplements should be used to assist with goals, not take the place of healthy eating and physical activity.

A common question, is whether to take supplements in liquid form vs. a pill. Your body will absorb 98% of a liquid supplement, while sometimes only absorbing 3-20% of a pill. However, pills can be great if you can’t stomach the liquid, or for a grab and go type lifestyle. If opting for pills, look for those that come in capsules (think those clear plastic pills that are 2 halves joined in the middle, versus the hard pills with no coating).

Multivitamin:multi

A multivitamin should be taken first thing in the morning. I like to take mine after my first couple bites of breakfast, because I get stomach pain if I take it on an empty stomach. Your body needs13 essential vitamins to function, and adding a multivitamin to your daily routine assures that you get everything you need. Remember – it’s always best to get all your nutrients from whole foods, but a multivitamin is a good SUPPLEMENT to aid in your diet.

Fish Oil:fish oil

Taken in the morning, and/or with meals. Fish oil is comprised of essential fats (aka – fats that your body can’t produce on it’s own). Fish oil helps stabilize insulin; so that dietary simple sugars are stored as energy instead of fat. Fish oil can also help preserve muscle (ie – if you don’t work out daily, you will maintain your gains through your off days). The recommended dose of fish oil is 220 mg of EPA and 220 mg of DHA per day. Fish oil is sensitive to sunlight/oxygen, so look for a dark glass bottle, and a smaller bottle if possible (the more you open it for a serving, the more oxygen gets in). Krill oil is less sensitive to oxygen/light so it’s a great option.

bcaaBCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids):

Helps growth of muscle, fatigue, recovery. Last longer. BCAAs are great for helping maintain muscle mass while in a caloric deficit (help lose fat but maintain muscle). They may also help improve mood and increase workout intensity, because they compete with tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the brain. Serotonin can increase the feeling of fatigue (think turkey day naps), so BCAAs can combat that. The current suggested ratio is 2:1:1 (2 parts leucine, 1 part isoleucine, 1 part valine).

glutamineGlutamine:

Key roll in metabolizing protein. Helps body release HGH which helps metabolize body fat, increase muscle growth. For non-weight lifting individuals, glutamine also plays key roll in immune system – used by white blood cells to fight off infection.

 L-Carnitine:l-carnitine

Take in the morning on empty stomach. It acts as natural fat burner, and transfers long-chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides, into cell mitochondria, where they may be oxidized to produce energy. L-Carnitine has also been shown to reduce fatigue and serve as an appetite suppressant as well.

Protein:protein

There are multiple types of protein, the most commonly known being Whey – a fast acting milk-based protein that is best at supporting muscle gain. Other types of protein include casein (longer acting – perfect for that late night protein boost to get you through the night). Try to get protein from food sources, versus a protein shake or bar. Protein shakes are good additions but females should try to stay to 1/day at max. Any more than that may add fat as well. The average recommended daily intake for women is 1g per lb per day.

Creatine:creatine

Creatine monohydrate is converted into creatine phosphate in the body to keep ATP levels up. This increases the muscles energy availability, enhancing the bodies ability to do more high intensity work. Creatine’s chemical properties mean that it carries a hydration shell. This increases the amount of water in muscles. Therefore, it’s recommended that extra water is consumed when taking creatine. If all the creatine isn’t absorbed, it floats around in body (bloat) until it’s removed in urine. Take before you exercise.

CLA:cla

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a fatty acid that has been shown to cause fat loss. It is found in dairy and red meat. CLA can help increase metabolism, and enhance muscle growth. Research does, however, show that the effects of CLA are most pronounced during the first 6 months of supplementation, and slowly plateaus for up to 2 years. CLA should be taken with each meal, and recommended doses range from 3.2 to 6.4g/day.

Fat Burners, pre-workouts, etc.

These are a category all their own, and I will go more in depth in my next post about them. Check out my post on Epiburn Pro, the newest fat-burning, appetite suppressant from USP Labs here.

Here’s A Couple Dumbbell Workouts!

One of the best things I ever invested in for working out at home is a pair of dumbbells. I got them on sale, and they came with 2 “bars” and then 4 x 7.5 weights and 4 x 2.5 weights. The most I lift is about 20 lbs (unless I’m doing sumo squats) so these are perfect, as each dumbbell will be 20lbs.

So I’ve been creating and thinking up full body workouts to do at home. These are great for days when I’m too lazy to drive 20 minutes to the gym, or when I’m short on time (after working a 12 hour shift). Sorry the graphics are kind of lame, I’m still working on that aspect of the blog!

fullbodydumbbelworkoutfullbodydbworkout2

Change Up Your Routine: Glute Workout

Here’s a new, fun glute workout for you guys. It’s a nice change up of the usual exercises, I think! It gets you moving around the gym, using equipment in different ways, and experimenting. Let me know what you think!

rock hard buns workout

Glute Workout:

Superset 1:

Good Mornings

Bulgarian Split Squat (skip ahead about 59 seconds on this video to get to the exercise)

Superset 2:

Single Leg Press Down

Glue Bridges

Superset 3:

Seated 1-legged Leg Press

Plie Squat

Superset 4:

Standing Cable Curl

Abductor Machine (reverse)

Abductor Machine (normal)– make sure you lean FORWARD for this to really work your glutes

I like that these are supersets, but I also know a lot of gyms don’t make it convenient to do so. Either way, I like to organize them into supersets if possible!

And with all of these exercises, make sure you are driving through your heel to get the most glute activation!

Quick, Lazy Workout at the Gym Today

I had time to kill today, so I figured I’d run to the gym and get a little lift in. However, when I got there I was feeling a little unmotivated. So I kind of just wandered and did what exercises I felt like doing.

I ended up doing a mostly back and legs workout. So here’s what I did:

3 x 10 Assisted Pullups – I use approx. 40lbs of assistance.

3 x 10 Lat pull downs

3 x 10 Inverted Rows (Here I use the smith machine like this:Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 11.18.49 AM

I then superset the next 3 exercises:

3 x 10 Sumo Squats

3 x 25 weighted calf squats

3 x Romanian deadlifts

Sorry this is such a short post, it’s my first day off and I’m busy running errands – groceries, free underwear coupons, and a yearning for flannels.

How To: Stretch After A Workout

How many of you have ever felt like this after a workout? Either 5 hours later, or the next day.. The muscle fatigue and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) happens. 

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Here’s how I help lessen/get rid of that pain.

1. Stretch

Any stretching will help with muscle soreness, both immediately after exercising, and the hours/days afterwards. My favorites are the simple stretches you probably learned in gym class, like quadriceps stretches, hamstrings stretches, and arm stretches. I like to stretch large muscles groups, vs. trying to pinpoint smaller muscles as this isn’t as efficient. Typically I will run through a stretching routine, and then foam roll immediately afterwards. Here’s an easy stretching routine to follow:

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2. Foam Roll/Tiger Tail

The benefits of foam rolling: (aka self-myofascial release)

Using a foam roller will help:

  • Correct muscle imbalances
  • Relieve muscle soreness and and joint stress
  • Improve neuromuscular function
  • Maintain normal functional muscle length.

Here are some examples of foam-rolling from the Perform Better website:

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Or, you can watch a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs1tA7rfyak

Tiger Tail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUWUMHeBClU

This is similar to the foam roller, but it is a handheld massage stick which I find works awesome for my legs, or I make M use it on my back. There are lots of different versions of this, Tiger Tail is just one brand. 

 

Workout Q&A #1 Music and Must-haves

I thought it’d be fun to share with you a few of my answers to the most popular questions about fitness/workout/motivation.. So here we go! I’m going to make this a series since there are a lot of questions out there and my answers are a little detailed. So here’s part 1. Let me know in the comments what other questions you want me to answer!

1. Top 5 Favorite Workout Songs

I love this song because it has a strong beat, and has both a strong chorus and strong verses. I like to listen to this song when I run intervals (or Sprint-Jogs).. So I sprint during the chorus and then jog during the verse!

Country music is my jam. And this song is upbeat and poppy. It’s one of the songs I have marked a “power song” on my fitness apps that allow that. So, when I’m tired and need motivation, I just hit “power song” and it plays this song, which motivates me to pick it up!

This song is a personal song. It’s a song that M and I like to send each other when we miss each other, or need a pick me up. It reminds me of him and makes me smile. 80s power ballads are awesome to workout to, and M usually has the 80s channel playing so I’ve grown to love them.

Another song with a strong beat. One that makes me want to dance/play the air drums while I run!

This is a guilty pleasure song. The reason I really like it for working out is the change of pace, as well as the “dubstep.” I like listening to “harder” music when I lift, and dubstep is right up my alley. Taylor Swift isn’t necessarily hard music, but this song has an awesome edge.

2. 5 Must-Have Fitness Items

  • Shoes: I love my brooks to run in, or my nike frees to lift in.
    • Brooks PureConnect: These are awesome for my knee problems because they have a very minimal heel-toe drop (meaning the heel isn’t built up to where you’re almost standing on your toes in your shoes). This allows my feet to move more freely, and for me to have a mid-foot strike, vs. a heel strike that tends to happen for me with shoes that have a more cushioned heel.
    • Nike Free: I like these because they have a wide toe-box so my toes can support me when I do lifts. They are very flexible on the bottom which means I have good range of movement no matter what exercise I’m doing. The only reason I don’t run in these is because there’s too much cushion on the heels.
    • Running Leggings. These can really be any brand for me, but I love cropped leggings that are thick enough that I don’t feel like I’m wearing cheap leggings, but are still moisture wicking and soft. My favorites are Reebok, or Under Armor, but I find some awesome deals at TJ Maxx.
    • Headphones/Music. This is pretty self explanatory, but I find that my motivation decreases rapidly when I don’t have music.
    • Pre-Workout/Post Workout. I like to drink some sort of pre-workout. Typically if I run it’s a type of hydration drink such as Nuun (watermelon is my favorite flavor). For lifting I need a little more kick in the butt for motivation so I drink something like C4 by cellucor, or Jack3d when it was available.
    • Foam Roller/Tiger Tail. This is mostly for post workout. I love to roll out my muscles and relax them and start the recovery process/removal of lactic acid right away. I like to use the foam roller for larger muscle groups (ie- back), and then I use the tiger tail for my more problematic areas (IT band, quads).

What are your favorite songs to workout to? What songs do I NEED to listen to?

What are your workout must-haves?

At Home Workout That Really Burns

Today was a day where I didn’t feel like running. It’s cold (65) out, which usually I think of as the perfect time to go for a run when I’m used to 90 degree weather. But, I wasn’t feeling it. So instead I pushed myself to do this workout at home. And let me tell you, I was more tired after this than I would’ve been after my run! Here it is!

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(Workout credit to shed-the-pounds.tumblr)

This workout is only 4 minutes, but it burns, and really gets your lungs and heart working. I admit, I tried to run through it twice, but I only made it through about 2 squat thrusts before giving up! I’m not sure about the claim that it burns as many calories as a 40-60 minute run, but it definitely burns calories and boosts metabolism. Hopefully it’ll burn off those 2 cupcakes I ate earlier 😉

What workouts do you do at home?