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Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good For You?

When it comes to making gains in the gym, whether that be weight loss or muscle gain, many people often turn to supplements to help them reach their goals. A high number of gym goers use pre -workout supplements to enhance their training experience in hopes of getting a better training session. This “pre-workout” class of supplements are promoted to give you more energy and stamina to get through a tough workout.

Synephrine pre-workout supplement

While there is most certainly a time and place for the right dietary supplements, there are concerns with the majority of these pre-workout supplements, which essentially are stimulants.

Champion Strength Coach Rob Sutton recently posted a guest article on MikeReinold.com that discusses the health concerns of many pre-workout supplements, and for good reason!  Rob shares a very personal experience of how he really hurt his own health from this class of supplements.

Great info for everyone, click below to read the article:

 

 

The Truth Behind Building Six-Pack Abs

Hours of crunches and sit-ups may have you feeling like you’re crushing your abs, but it’s definitely not the best way to build a six-pack. Building functional strength and developing a better body composition is the key to success.

To really get your abs right, you must understand the difference between two things:

  1. Core function and strength versus core endurance
  2. Muscle versus fat

 

Function and Strength

Every muscle in your body is made to function a certain way. Your core is a series of muscles used to stabilize your trunk, lower body, and upper body. These muscles work together to help you function through your day-to-day routine.

Without a strong core your spine makes up for any instability in your lumbar spine and pelvis. This can lead to lower back pain and injuries. Over-time a weak core can lead to postural problems and develop many more health risks.

Therefore, doing crunches all day with a weak core will put more stress on other areas of your body. Build strength first, then you can add more bodybuilding techniques to focus on core development.

To train our core for strength we train it to brace or hold against movements, such as rotation. The fitness world is starting to focus more on “anti-” core exercises opposed to traditional crunches and sit-ups. These exercises help to teach your core how to stabilize your trunk.  There are three types of “anti-“ core exercises that we focus on to work in all different planes of movement.

 

Anti-Extension Core Exercises

Common exercises like planks and rollouts teach your core to hold against linear extension of your lower back. These exercises are an integral part of core training.

A physioball rollout is a great exercise starter point for any type of rollout. A regression of an anti-extension exercise would be a plank. Perform 3 sets of 8 or plank for 60 seconds.  

Anti-Side Bend Core Exercises

Another common exercise like the Side Plank holds your body from moving laterally. Unilateral (one-sided) carries like single arm farmer’s walks help the body account for uneven loading building oblique and abdominal strength.

Walk with one dumbbell by your side for about 40 yards. The goal is to the bring the weight away from your body and walk in a straight line. The weight will pull you in one direction. Brace your core to gain strength against this lateral force. Repeat for 3 sets.

Anti-Rotation Core Exercises

Anti-rotation exercises may be the most important and uncommon category of “anti-“ core exercises. These exercises create the highest abdominal musculature load of any of these other groups.

Most core muscles function cross-sectionally (diagonally) to brace the core against rotating. Exercises like a band anti-rotation press teach the core to brace against a rotational load.

Tie a band to a stable anchor or piece of equipment in the gym. Bring the band to your chest. Inhale through your nose and exhale hard through your mouth. This will brace your core tight. Press the band straight and hold for three seconds. Squeeze your belly as hard as you can to hold from the rotational force. Repeat for 8 times on each side.

 

Endurance and Hypertrophy

Bodybuilders understand that to build muscle, you must train to build strength AND size. Strength is generally performed by a few strong contractions of a muscle. Think of bench-pressing 225lbs 5 times. Size, also known as hypertrophy, is developed by the amount of time a muscle is under stress. Think about doing 100 continuous push-ups. The more time the muscle is under tension the more muscle growth.

Focus on these anti-rotational movements before you focus on core endurance. Your core must be able to function correctly first before adding long duration stress.

Think to get your core strong to stabilize your trunk from exercises like weighted planks or high resistance anti-rotation presses. Then add more advanced endurance based exercises like high rep sit-ups or long duration planks.

Examples of these endurance or hypertrophy (size based) exercises would be planks for time and sit-ups and crunches. Although sit-ups and crunches are not the most ideal abdominal exercises for your lower back, they can be great to build the size and endurance for your abs. Can you do 20 sit-ups then rest a minute and repeat for 5 rounds?

Tip: Once you have a strong core in all three of these planes of movement, split up core training days by focus of strength and endurance. On day 1 do 3 sets of 3 different “anti-“ core exercises. On day 2 do 3 sets of more core endurance based exercises.

 

Body Composition

So, why exactly is building muscle and strength in our core so important when it comes to looking good? Two words: body composition.

The worst thing a person can do when trying to build six pack abs is cut calories. Very few crash diets work. This is because when you cut calories you are depriving your muscle with the protein and nutrients it needs.

Have you ever heard the phrase “muscle weighs more than fat?” That is not completely true.

A pound of fat is the same weight as a pound of muscle. But, as you can see in the photo below, 5lbs of fat is a lot bigger than 5lbs of muscle.

muscle v fat

When you restrict your body of calories, you are losing much more muscle than fat. This makes your abs much smaller and less visible regardless of the small amount of fat you have cut on the surface. Because of the size and weight of muscle compared to fat, many people that focus on proper nutrition and proper training actually gain weight. Take a look at the pictures below to see what I mean.

Therefore, if you want the most elite six-pack possible you should try to gain as much muscle as possible. This will involve a good balanced diet with a lot of protein. Your goal should be to eat like an elite athlete and body-builder.

Tip: Eat a lot of protein and vegetables. Most people don’t get the daily requirement of protein, vitamins, and nutrients if they are training. I would also recommend a daily multi-vitamin and whey protein shake everyday for everyone.

Remember, no amount of training can beat a bad diet.

 

 

 

Motivational Strategies for Successful Training

Hi everyone! If you are reading this, then you are probably searching for some information to help you stay motivated with your training. No matter who you are, whether you are a beginner just starting out or a seasoned gym veteran, everyone has reached a point where they have hit a wall (metaphorically, that is).

My Story

Greg's Transformation

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Greg Wilson. I’m a former intern, now strength & conditioning coach at Champion Physical Therapy + Performance. When I started out in early January, I was tipping the scales at a whopping 265 lbs.

Needless to say, I was a bit stout.

As time went on and my knowledge of training and nutrition began to develop, I started applying it to myself. My training became a lot smarter and my nutrition was getting better.

To make a long story short (and I mean long), after five months, I lost a total of 50 lbs. Now, as you can imagine, there were many ups and downs along the way and losing those 50lbs wasn’t easy. There were plenty of times when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel, but I managed to keep myself motivated and I kept moving forward.

Here are some strategies that I used to keep myself motivated…

 

Goal Setting

Goal setting is really important to me and should be important to you too! Setting a goal is a great motivator and successfully completing that goal is an even greater measure of success. Here are some important points to think about when setting goals:

  • Small Goals: Setting small goals allows you to generate more success for yourself. When you keep reaching your small goals, step by step, you gain motivation to keep going towards your biggest goal. Always set attainable goals.
  • Be Specific: Identify exactly what your specific goal is. If you want to improve your max bench press, don’t just say “I want to improve my max bench press”, give yourself a specific weight like, “I want to increase my max bench press by 10 lbs”. This will help further measure success.
  • Deadline: Sometimes you need to give yourself an end date to really get you going. If weight loss is a goal, tell yourself, “I am going to lose 10 lbs by October 31”. Make that your deadline and stick with it.
  • Measurable: This point can be related back to the Be Specific example. If you set a goal to improve your max bench press by 10 lbs, and you meet that goal, then that is a measure of success. Another example would be if your goal is to lose 1 lb in 1 week and you are successful, then that is measurable.

 

Other Strategies

Here are some strategies to keep you moving forward if goal setting isn’t working for you, or if you just want a little extra motivation.

  • Positive Attitude: I think the number one problem for most people is that they are always down on themselves. You can’t put yourself down. Always keep a positive attitude and block out the negativity.
  • Collaborate: If you know somebody who has similar goals to you, or if they have already done something that you are trying to accomplish, talk to them. They might be able to give you advice on something you’re having an issue with.
  • Keep an Open Mind: It is always important to try to keep an open mind, especially when beginning a new training program or diet. Always give it a chance, because you never know what could happen.
  • Remove “Can’t” from your vocabulary: People use the word “CAN’T” too often. Instead of  “I can’t”, try saying “I will”.
  • Never Give Up: No matter how hard something gets. Never give up. Keep chipping away at it, because eventually you will break through your wall.

I hope that some of this information helps you to stay motivated and to never stop pursuing your training and nutritional goals, no matter how long they take! I think Arnold Schwarzenegger said it best, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength”.

 

Recipe: Healthy Weight Gain Smoothie

There are so many athletes out there young and old who have a tough time putting on weight. Helping athletes gain size is a common occurrence here at Champion. If you’re trying to build muscle, get stronger, move faster, and put weight on your body, there are multiple variables we need to consider. These include training intensity, volume, recovery, and nutrition.

We are going to focus on a quick nutrition tip today and discuss a recipe for a healthy weight gain smoothie.

 

How to Add Healthy Weight

In some cases, the equation for packing on the pounds is simple – eat more! I hear many athletes say, “I already eat a ton, nothing works.” But the reality is that even though they are thinking they eat a lot, they probably need to eat more to put on weight.

Now that’s not the whole puzzle, but if you eat enough, you will grow. If you aren’t growing, you probably aren’t eating enough. It can be a lot of work for active kids and adults alike that may have similar goals.

One way of helping to push the numbers up on the bar and the scale is by drinking your calories. And in this sense, we are talking about a healthy weight gain smoothie. I want to share a smoothie recipe that I use all time for both my clients and myself!

 

Healthy Weight Gain Smoothie

weigth gain smoothie ingredientsThe smoothie contains a bunch of healthy sources of protein, carbs, and fat.  Here is our ingredient list:

  • 10oz of Whole Milk
  • 1.5 Scoops of Whey Protein
  • 1 Cup of Spinach
  • 1 Cup of Strawberries
  • 1 Large Banana
  • 3/4-1 Cup of Oatmeal
  • 1/2-3/4 Cups of Blueberries
  • healthy smoothie blender2 Tablespoons of Sunflower Butter

To make this awesome tasting smoothie, begin by combining all of those ingredients into a blender and BOOM! We have our smoothie that tastes great and packs a punch at 1023 calories.  When blended, it’s about 24 ounces. So it should fill a shaker cup to the brim. It is a lot of liquid to drink at first but you will adapt to it and it will be easier to finish, the more you stick with it.

 

Check out the whole nutrient profile for the smoothie:

Ingredient Carbohydrate Fat Protein Sugar Calories
10oz of Whole Milk 15g 10g 10g 10g 190
1.5 Scoops of Whey Protein 4.5g 1.5g 36g 1.5g 157.5
1 Cup of Spinach 1.5g 0g 1g 0g 10
1 Cup of Strawberries 13g 0g 1g 8g 56
1 Large Banana 31g 0g 1g 17g 128
3/4-1 Cup of Oatmeal 39g 3.75g 7.5g 0g 219.75
1/2-3/4 Cups of Blueberries 10.5g 0g 0.5g 7.5g 44
2 Tablespoons of Sunflower Butter 7g 16g 7g 7g 200
TOTAL 121.5g 31.25g 64g 51g 1023

health weight gain smoothieTo be fair, there is a high amount of sugar in this smoothie. If there is a time for sugar, it is after a high intensity training session when your body’s glycogen levels have been depleted. Also, note that we see an almost 2:1 ratio of carbs and protein in this smoothie. Studies show that post workout consumption that includes carbohydrates and protein, promote a greater intracellular stimulus for protein synthesis than just protein or carbs alone.

 

[Take note that if you add the calories straight down the list, it equates to 1005. I’ve added the amount of calories per gram of each macronutrient, which gives you 1023. There is usually is a discrepancy like that with many nutrition labels.]

 

Adding this smoothie after your training session is a great time to implement, when your muscles are craving nutrients. Start by drinking after your training sessions. For example, if you train 3 times per week, that’s over 3000 calories that week from the smoothie alone. When combined with a normal healthy meal routine, this can make a big difference in your gains.

 

Give this healthy weight gain smoothie a try as an addition to your diet and let us know what you think!