Protein powders, proteins, and performance aids are the most popular products in the supplement industry. Too little attention is given to recovery and health based supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements are becoming increasingly important as the quality of our food diminishes concomitant to ever increasing life stressors. One such mineral is magnesium.
What is Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the four micronutrients (along with sodium, potassium, and calcium) essential to all life. Magnesium is necessary for bone formation as well as calcium metabolism, and converting Vitamin D into an active form in the body.
Magnesium can be found in abundance in a variety of natural foods such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, Brazil nuts, almonds, rice and sesame seeds. While magnesium deficiency is primarily the result of poor diet and food choices, your magnesium levels could still be low even if you follow a healthy diet AND you lead an active lifestyle
How do you know if you are magnesium deficient? Different forms of stress, including exercise, increase magnesium consumption in the body. Adequate magnesium absorption may also be adversely affected by consuming disproportionate amounts of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates (another good reason to calculate your macros), and excessive alcohol consumption. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Significant decrease in energy levels
- Reduced immunity
- Poor memory
- Training plateaus
- Retrograde performance.
Magnesium and Training
Individuals who train frequently at high intensity need more nutrients because of the increased demand on the body. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to be beneficial for athletes. Studies have found that athletes that supplemented with magnesium were able to perform at higher (relative) intensities for a longer period of time and increased their VO2max (maximum oxygen consumption) during exercise. This effect may have to do with the role magnesium plays in muscle contractions.
Magnesium supplementation has also been shown to combat fatigue. That may be the result of reportedly better sleep with magnesium supplementation, or it could be due to the role magnesium plays in energy production. Regardless, it improves restful sleep and reduces fatigue, and everyone could do with some of that!
Other Benefits of Magnesium Supplementation
- It contributes to a healthy metabolism
- Magnesium contributes to maintenance of healthy teeth and gums (it is necessary for calcium metabolism.). It also contributes to the maintenance of healthy bones. When we exercise we place a large amount of stress on the skeletal system and magnesium has been shown to assist in the repair and maintenance process.
- It contributes to electrolyte balance, which in turn plays a critical role in hydration.
- Magnesium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and has been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system.
- It aids protein synthesis.
Even if your magnesium levels are normal and your diet provides optimal levels of the mineral, a magnesium supplement will be beneficial to your health and performance. When looking for a magnesium supplement, get one that has no additives.
Aahhh, the old volume and intensity topic. It’s always worth revisiting to remind existing athletes and inform newer athletes of the relationship between the two variables.
Volume in training refers to the total amount of repetitions completed in a session and throughout the day. Intensity, to put it simply, is the amount of work you do relative to the time it takes to do the work. Therefore, intensity has little to do with how hard you think you’re working. You might think that having the RXd load on the bar is harder and therefore more intense, but the maths shows poor power output (intensity) due to less reps completed in the allotted time.
Contrary to much belief, volume is not necessary if the goal is to get fitter. Remember, we define increased fitness as increased work capacity across broad time AND modal domains. That is, improving the capacity of all energy systems, enhancing each of the ten recognised physical traits you see painted up on the gym walls, and being capable of performing well at any imaginable physical task. More volume won’t get you there.
So how do we achieve that sort of fitness? By a healthy daily dose of constantly varied, functional movements applied at high intensity. To state the obvious, volume doesn’t feature anywhere there. Doing more isn’t going to make you fitter.
Volume and subtle variations thereof have their place in programming, especially in the realm of athletes who are training specifically for multi-event, multi-day competitions. But even for these individuals, the extra volume is only going to work if intensity remains high. Intensity is the independent variable most closely associated with favourable adaptations to exercise. Without intensity, therefore, you have poor results. Adding volume, be it within a session or throughout the day, inevitably comes at the cost of intensity.
Let’s consider one of our daily workouts – the daily workout being the entire hour including warm-up, cool-down, skills, strength, and/or conditioning. A metcon is only a piece of the session, not the workout. We typically do one metcon if we the goal of the day is conditioning, and sometimes it comes along with skill or strength work. Think about how you’d perform if we layered on more metcons. Do a 7-minute metcon, rest a bit, and then hit a 10-minute piece before finishing of with another 20 minutes worth of conditioning. If you tried to achieve some sort of intensity, you’d manage that in the first metcon and maybe a bit in the second, but as you proceed you’ll begin to do less work than you might have if you were doing that piece alone.
Your applied effort might still be as high as it was at the beginning of the session, but your true intensity (power output) will naturally diminish as that sort of session progresses. Or you’ll deliberately sacrifice intensity by saying “that’s a lot of work so I’m just going to pace all the way.” Either way, it’s less intensity in favour of volume.
Sure, you’d be working lots so your oxidative energy system will be stimulated, but that’s coming at the expense of time in the anaerobic energy pathways – you’re only increasing work capacity in one time domain. With the added work comes along the need for more recovery too, and let’s not kid ourselves, most of us only have the time to get all our fitness work done in one hour a day so you’ll end up sacrificing good recovery practices in favour of getting more done. And when will you get the opportunity to practice and develop new skills?
Worse yet, more and more work will just take you back to where the fitness community came from – long gym sessions at low intensity with poor results. Hang out in that fat burning zone, bro, skinny fat looks good on you!
More volume for the sake of doing more is not only counterproductive but potentially harmful too. You can however add extra work that is productive. Identify a few weaknesses and drill one of them a day in a focused 15 minute session. This is the best way to refine your skills, and if you take a page from the books of the best athletes in any sport, this is where they spend the bulk of their extra time. Dialling in that foot position, fixing their timing, getting familiar in a new position.
Skills and drills are your biggest bang for buck outside of class time. Now you’ve got to have fun too so play around with stuff we don’t get to in class as often. But if you’ve got ankles as flexible as cold chewing gum and shoulders incapable of properly holding an empty barbell overhead you’re better off on stretching and skills and drills than getting your meathead work done.
Not sure what to do? Pay more attention during class, we cover progressions daily. Even better, book a consult with a coach, consider the UpSkill plan and review it every four. Work harder, not longer. It’s more bang for your buck!“Be Impressed with Intensity, Not Volume.” – Greg Glassman
Mark and Joanna Briedenhann
WHY CROSSFIT JOZI EAST?
We decided on CrossFit Jozi East as it ticked a lot of our requirements – close to home, classes that worked with our schedules, a kids programme, and the response time to our initial enquiry. After meeting with Carl for our introduction and seeing how the box is run as well as how the groundwork ensures that you are safe in all your movements sealed the deal for us.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A MEMBER FOR?
We joined in March 2017
WHO INSPIRES YOU AT THE GYM AND IN LIFE?
Andre, Carl, Tersh, Lisa and Tia are totally inspirational, motivational and enthusiastic. Also, everyone who walks through the door, whether it is their first time or their 100th time is an inspiration.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHEN YOU AREN’T AT THE GYM?
When we aren’t at the gym we are generally recovering. Some workouts have left us aching for days afterwards. And we also try and improve our running endurance and might throw in a push up (or ten) and some skipping when we feel the urge.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU ALWAYS KEEP STOCK OF IN YOUR FRIDGE?
TELL US ONE INTERESTING THING THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
We are high school sweethearts and have been together for 22 years
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE INTERESTED IN STARTING CrossFit?
Just do it!
WHAT MOVEMENTS WOULD YOUR PERFECT WORKOUT INCLUDE?
Most movements are enjoyable, and the way that no WOD is the same makes every session enjoyable. But to be perfectly honest, I would be very happy to never have to do a burpee or sled push again (maybe this question should be what would your perfect workout exclude?
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CLASS AT CFJ EAST?
Any of the GI Jozi’s are pretty memorable as they always leave us gasping for air and dripping with sweat. It’s always fun to push yourself that little bit harder, faster and further each week.
WHAT IS THE COOLEST THING THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AT CFJ EAST?
Everything! We are pushed beyond our limits during each class and have achieved so much in a short space of time. We look forward to crushing our current limits and surging to new heights of health and fitness.
WHAT CHANGES IN YOUR HEALTH HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE STARTING?
Overall we are leaner, meaner and healthier since starting in March with some pretty impressive range of motion improvements too.
LIST SOME OF YOUR BIG GOALS.
To be able to do the strict movements (pull ups, push ups / HSPU etc) we are still developing our confidence in the various movements.
I come from a South African Indian family and community where poor nutrition and therefore poor health is unfortunately a way of life. My family has fortunately managed to, in general, make progressively better food choices over the years. But the broader community is riddled with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Central to the cardiovascular conditions is elevated cholesterol. And it’s a topic that always comes up, at the dinner table, that has all the high glycemic goodness you can think of!
Cholesterol is also one of the primary concerns raised when suggesting a paleo/primal/whole-food approach due to the greater fat intake. People still don’t seem to understand the connection between diet and cholesterol, and that’s partly because they don’t understand cholesterol.
I wrote the article below for a local online health and fitness mag, Rise To It. The information should hopefully dispel some of the concerns and misconceptions regarding cholesterol and food. Before you read it remember that natural fats (animal, dairy, nut and seed oils), including saturated fats, aren’t the cause of high cholesterol or artherosclerosis. Processed foods, sugar and pro-inflammatory foods are. (Note to the Indian community: It’s not the prawns that “give you high cholesterol,” it’s the bread you’re eating it with along with all the desert that follows.)
If you have any questions about the topic, ask them in the comments section below and I’ll respond within the next day.
Understanding cholesterol is essential, especially with all the misinformation out there. Cholesterol is a waxy steroid of fat found in all cell membranes and in our blood plasma. Among its many jobs, cholesterol is responsible for insulating neurons (nerve cells), building and maintaining cellular membranes (the security walls of cells), metabolising vitamins, producing bile, and initiating the synthesis of many hormones. Cholesterol is vital for life. No cholesterol = death.
Given all the important work that cholesterol is responsible for, its production in the live is self-regulated. That means that the liver will always ensure that there is enough. What’s especially important is that our livers regulate cholesterol production in response to our nutrition. When we eat less, it makes more, and vice-versa.
Contrary to ‘conventional wisdom,’ there is only one “type” of cholesterol, and it’s called just that, cholesterol. However, we don’t just have cholesterol floating about. Cholesterol can only be transported in the blood by lipoproteins. Lipoproteins deliver cholesterol to sites in the body.
When referring to cholesterol nowadays, we mistakenly refer to cholesterol as HDL and LDL. High density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL) do not give us a measure of cholesterol. They are simply vehicles transporting cholesterol.
HDL has the renowned job of getting rid of excess cholesterol. It transfers cholesterol from the body’s tissues back to the liver, and the liver excretes it through bile. LDL, in contrast, transports cholesterol from the liver production line to wherever it’s needed in the body. Remember, cholesterol has a lengthy to-do list!
Naturally, HDL became known as “good” cholesterol and LDL as “bad” cholesterol. LDL became really bad in the fifties when research found an association between early death by heart disease and fat deposits along artery walls. Cholesterol was found in the fat deposits. Therefore, researchers concluded that it was the culprit. However, one of cholesterol’s roles is to act as a plaster. In an inflammatory situation, cholesterol (transported by LDL) forms a temporary cover over lesions in the arterial wall. When the inflammation is resolved, cholesterol is removed (by HDL). Unfortunately in most heart disease cases, the inflammation doesn’t subside.
What causes inflammation? A diet high in simple and processed carbs, including grains and starches, does. However, given that meat, eggs and dairy are the primary sources of dietary cholesterol, the message sent home was to eat less of those and more carbs. All you need to do is look at the general state of health to see where that advice has left us – fat and riddled with cardiovascular and metabolic disease.
What compounds the good vs. bad cholesterol frenzy further is that it’s not the cholesterol part of LDL that is bad, but the lipoprotein itself. Some smaller forms of LDL are the ones involved in the process of inflammation in arterial walls. And again, these types of LDL do not increase with the amount of saturated fats you eat, but instead with elevated levels of inflammation caused by simple carbs and hydrogenated fats.
So, a high level of blood cholesterol, low HDL or high LDL does not necessarily indicate a risk of heart disease. While those measurements can tell you that something is not right, the problem is unlikely to be cholesterol itself. Cholesterol might just be the symptom, the decoy, of the larger concern.
Maintaining a healthy heart is achieved by minimising inflammation. That means eating loads of vegies, fruits, good quality meats, and healthy fats and proteins. Top that off with a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish oils.
If a blood test has been recommended, then speak to your doctor about what the numbers mean in the big picture of your health.
Your name? Matthew Seabrook
What drove you to join CrossFit Jozi East?
For most of my adult life I was one of those who belonged to a gym, but always struggled to attend enough times in the year to keep it from being cancelled. I was always interested in fitness and being active, but lacked the proper structures i.e. motivation, community, goals etc. For years I drove past another CrossFit gym and always wondered ‘what’s that all about?’. One day I was just did a search, was hooked by the website, made an enquiry and the rest is history.
How long have you been a member for?
Almost 1 year! June will be 1 year.
Who inspires you?
Obviously I have to mention the 5:30pm crew for just being there, day in and day out. Also, the coaches for keeping me honest when it comes to my technique and ‘rest’ times . I’ve also kept an eye on those who joined around the same time as me. How they have gotten fitter, stronger and faster. How they have stuck it out through the good times, tough times and the really tough times. These guys and deserve a special shout out as I can relate.
What are you doing when you aren’t at the gym?
I have a busy work schedule. However, when I’m at home and not at gym, I usually find some sort of work to do. I can’t sit still for very long. I enjoy the outdoors, socializing with friends, playing with my kids, working in my garage etc.
Tell us one interesting thing that people might not know about you?
Geezzz that’s a tough one. Not sure. Married (22 years), 2 Kids (girls 14 and 12), dunno what else.….?
What was your favorite childhood T.V Programme?
I was kind of a TV addict so restricting it to 1 is like torture. A-team, Knight Rider, Airwolf, Gummy Bears, Ducktales, Looney Tunes and so on and so on….
If you had to have a superpower what would it be and why?
Teleportation. Be anywhere in the world at the blink of an eye.
What would your perfect workout be?
These questions don’t get any easier. Probably one where I don’t sweat and almost pass out :-). I’ve seen, heard and chatted about many workouts, but one that I’ve never done or seen done is the Filthy Fifty. That must be awesomely (if that’s a word) tough, challenging and fulfilling to do and complete. Simple, 10 exercises 50 times…
What has been your most memorable class or session at CFJ East?
Probably the 1st session I didn’t finish, not because of time, but because of energy. And it doesn’t even seem like a tough session. 3 rounds of 500M row for time. I did only 2 then almost passed out, had to accept a glass of sugar water from the coach and sat the rest of the session out. Also, the Open. My first Open and first CrossFit event. Pushing myself every week for 5 weeks to heights I hadn’t reached before. Both a motivating and humbling experience.
What might we find in your fridge at home?
I think the nutritional people should close their eyes at this point. Beer, lots of dairy (full cream of everything), coke and some sort of chilli sauce/relish.
What Is The Coolest Thing That You Have Achieved At CFJ East?
Is making it 1 year cool? I go back to the Open and something like the C2B. Before the Open I would have opted for a scaled option like box C2B. During the Open I was forced to do the C2B. I did it. Since the Open a scaled option, on that movement, doesn’t come into my mind. That’s cool for me. Not achieving the movement itself, but pushing myself, knowing you can do more if you believe it and try it and continue trying it, not giving up.
What Changes In Your Health Have You Noticed Since Starting?
Fitter, faster, stronger…Say no more.
List Some Of Your Big Goals.
Master the basic techniques, not allowing fatigue to break that. Learn how to do DU’s, muscle-ups and HSPU.