Over the next couple of weeks your gym-based training options are going to become a bit limited. The gyms will be closed, you’ll be on holiday and not everywhere you go will have a well equipped gym that is also offering classes. Globo gyms will be open, as always, but there’s only so much ‘back & bi’s and chest & tri’s’ you can do, and limited tolerance for people in gyms looking at their bi’s. So what will you do?
Get out of the gym.
Get on a bike, go for hikes or runs, run on the beach, do hill sprints, swim, kayak, go rock climbing. The options are almost endless, and thanks to all the fitness you now have from training with us, you are capable of doing just about anything. Isn’t that the idea?
What is all that health and fitness worth if you aren’t actually using it? Your training in the gym develops your health and fitness. What (physical activity) you do outside of the gym is an expression of that health and fitness. And you’ll be surprised at just how capable you are now. So use the holiday period as a refreshing opportunity of using your newfound fitness.
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Eat, sleep, switch off, and gear up for a big 2018!
“We encourage and assist our athletes to explore a variety of sports as a vehicle to express and apply their fitness.” –Greg Glassman, Foundations
The dehydration dogma is universal: It’s dangerous so you need to drink a lot of fluids, especially in extreme conditions such as heat and exercising for long periods.
For decades the prevailing advice from sports coaches, the media and most notoriously, the companies who manufacture ‘sports’ drinks and supply bottled water, has been to drink at least eight glasses of water a day and to constantly sip on (hypotonic) sports drinks before and during bouts of exercise. These are myths that just won’t die.
Where do these myths come from?
There is certainly no good research behind either approach. It’s believed that the eight glasses of water a day myth stems from a recommendation by the Food and Nutrition Board in ‘Murica for people to consume at least 2.5 litres of water a day. What everyone neglected to do was continue reading beyond that recommendation. The board followed that recommendation with advice that most of that water would come from food. Whether you call it a misunderstanding or misdirection, it’s unsubstantiated. Much like the advice to drink copious amounts of sports drinks during exercise.
Aside from staying hydrated, the culture of drinking lots of fluids during exercise and sports is founded on beliefs that it will prevent heat stroke and exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC). EAMC are most likely caused by neurological changes brought on by fatigue – NOT due to an undue loss in water and electrolytes. Knocking down gallons of water or sports drinks will not prevent or stop the cramps, and it could kill you.
The body’s innate systems for measuring water and electrolyte concentrations are finely tuned. When you need water, that system tells you so by inducing thirst. The eight glasses a day and sports drink advocates will tell you that it’s too late if you’re already thirsty, but we’ve already called their BS 😉
It is dangerous to become dehydrated, but that is why the body will induce thirst if water levels begin dropping below normal. What most don’t know, however, is that hyperhydration (too much water) is just as dangerous and arguably more prevalent than dehydration.
Hyponatremia occurs when a person drinks so much hypotonic fluid, like water and sports drinks, that blood sodium levels decrease. In bad cases the excess fluid floods the lungs and brain. Much like dehydration, hyponatremia can be fatal.
Therefore, to stay adequately hydrated you should drink when you’re thirsty. The best fluid is of course water, but hot drinks like tea and coffee do contribute to your daily fluid intake. Avoid fizzy drinks, fruit juices and concentrates. Eat vegetables everyday along with some fruit – they provide a lot of water. If you are exposed to extreme environmental conditions such as heat and altitude, or are exercising for long durations, you are still more likely to experience hyponatremia than dehydration so keep drinking to thirst.
It should go without saying that drinking soda during an endurance event is a no-go, but the fact that soda companies support fitness events and are the largest producers of bottled water should indicate that these hydration myths are no coincidence.
Along with creatine and BCAAs, glutamine is one of the most used supplements in the fitness industry. While people seem to have some idea about the benefits of the former supplements, glutamine seems to be less understood. It’s a supplement we sell at the gyms, and we’ll only sell something we truly believe is of benefit to you. So let’s talk about what it is and why it may be of benefit to you.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in dietary protein. It’s also one of six conditionally essential amino acids. That means you typically have enough glutamine but it becomes essential (needs to be consumed) when trauma, illness or stress creates a need that is in excess of its natural availability. Exercise is a form of stress. Therefore, glutamine becomes essential if you are exercising regularly because it is depleted faster than the body is able to produce it. There’s the short answer to the topic question – you should be taking glutamine if you are training regularly. But it does have other benefits too.
Glutamine has a few recovery roles. Research has shown that glutamine levels in overtrained athletes are depleted compared to healthy, well-recovered athletes, and that the amount of glutamine found in muscle is related to the rate of protein synthesis. Therefore, adequate levels of glutamine may promote faster muscle recovery and building post exercise.
Aside from protein needing resynthesis after training, muscle glycogen (glucose) stores need to be repleted too. This is largely accomplished by consuming the right types of carbohydrates after training. But, glutamine has been found to speed up the rate of glycogen repletion. So if you include a glutamine supplement to your post-workout carbohydrates you’ll recover faster!
Some research has shown that poor immune function has a correlation with low levels of glutamine. This is something I’ve seen in many of the array of athletes I’ve worked with over the years. Many of them were more susceptible to colds, flus and other illness during periods of high-volume training and competition. Depleted glutamine may have had a role in that due to physical stress of training and psychological stress of competition.
Glutamine assists in the repair and healing of the gut lining in a similar manner to its influence on muscle repair. While this is not directly related to training, it may have implications for you if you do have a problem with gut health. However, if you do believe that you have leaky gut syndrome it may cause autoimmune disorders so you should consult with a relevant medical professional. You may also need to remove foods from your diet that cause gut irritation.
Reduce Sugar Cravings
I had a small debate with myself about whether or not to include this glutamine benefit because I know many of you are only going to end up remembering this. And off you’ll go to buy a stash of glutamine (which is okay of you get it from us!) with the belief that it will magically cure your sugar cravings. It won’t.
I’m all about educating you and leaving you to make the best decisions, so I decided to include it because it’s interesting and may help you. Up to 10 grams of glutamine consumed before a meal may reduce carbohydrate intake and reduce cravings for something sweet after the meal. This could be related to the glutamine’s ability to improve the rate of glycogen replenishment, but that’s a topic for a Masters or PHd student to examine! Just remember that glutamine may help cravings, but you still need to control them.
How To Take Glutamine
You can safely take up to about 0.65 grams of glutamine per kilogram of bodyweight in a day. Five to 10 grams per serving seems to be the most effective dosage. If you’re using it for recovery from training, include it in your post workout drink along with those BCAAs. If you need it to help with repairing your gut, take it with water on an empty stomach. And if you’re keen to see if it helps with the carb and sugar cravings, have it before or in between meals throughout the day.
Much like creatine and BCAAs, supplement companies will use a variety of marketing ploys to sell different varieties of glutamine. In my opinion, a pure glutamine powder or capsule is all you need.
With the smoothie bar at CFJ HQ having been regularly stocked with a range of supplements I have received a lot of questions about what the products are, especially the BCAAs and glutamine. Today we’ll just talk about BCAAs. BCAAs have been widely used and discussed by athletes, coaches, and sports and fitness professionals. They are frequently used in healthcare too. This post will cover some of the frequently asked questions to give you some guidance on whether or not to include BCAAs in your diet.
What are BCAAs?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 22 amino acids that are necessary for life. Nine of those are essential amino acids. These cannot be manufactured by the body and must therefore be obtained from dietary protein sources – whole food sources. Three of the essential amino acids are known as BCAAs. These are leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are oxidised in muscle tissue, and exercise increases BCAA oxidation.
What Does BCAA Supplementation Do?
- Research has found that BCAA supplementation reduces markers of muscle damage and tissue breakdown. This suggests that BCAAs reduce the amount of exercise induced muscle damage.
- BCAA supplementation has been shown to prevent muscle breakdown by sparing other essential amino acids found in muscle tissue. This simply means recovery time is enhanced by reducing the amount of muscle damage caused during exercise. This results in the ability to more frequently train at good intensities and that means better results.
- One of the BCAAs, leucine, initiates protein synthesis. Exercise reduces protein synthesis, but leucine has been shown to improve protein synthesis post exercise. This enables the user to either maintain or increase muscle mass, even when trying to cut body weight. Increased muscle mass results in strength gains.
Who Should Take BCAAs?
If you are eating a good amount of protein from whole food sources, and are training for general health and fitness you probably don’t need to take BCAAs. If however you are looking to lose body fat while preserving muscle mass, are training more for performance or would like to increase lean muscle mass, then you should definitely consider adding a BCAA supplement to your diet.
Are Powders or Capsules Better?
There isn’t much of a difference here anymore. Nowadays a good quality BCAA product has the same amount of BCAAs per dose as a powder. It really comes down to personal preference and convenience.
When Should You Take It?
Consume the BCAAs around your training time. Either 15-30 minutes before training or immediately after your workout. If you have a strength-based session than a BCAA drink is good to sip on during the workout.
BCAA supplementation is safe and legal too 😉
If you’d like more information on BCAA use, or any other supplements for that matter, get in touch. Next time I’ll talk about glutamine.
So you know that recovery is important for progress and to avoid injury. You also know that active recovery is as important as complete rest days and have an idea of how to schedule your training week. You’d also like to do some form of activity on a daily basis, but want to ensure that what you do doesn’t hinder your overall progress. But what is best to do on those rest and recovery days?
Firstly, always adopt the “do no harm” approach. If you’re thinking about things to do on your off days, think about activities that are different to what you might be exposed to in the gym but will keep you fresh for the next day in the gym (and for what life may throw at you!)
Here are some groups of activities you could be looking at for those training days.
- Steady State Aerobic Activity
Also known as “cardio,” but I’d rather not use that term 😉 This is low intensity, monostructural activity like running, rowing, swimming, cycling. Duration is athlete and activity dependent but can range from 10 to 40 minutes. It should be of an ‘easy’ pace throughout.
While we prefer to spend most of our time in training doing interval training and anaerobic conditioning (because it’s better at developing aerobic conditioning too), steady state aerobic activity has it’s place too!
- Myofascial Release / Trigger Point Therapy
This is where you apply local pressure to areas of muscle and connective tissue that have been exposed to trauma. For example, your glutes after Open workout 16.1! It helps to eliminate pain and restore range of motion.
You can either do this to yourself using tools such as foam rollers, massage balls, and drills that involve barbells and kettlebells. We teach you many of these drills in class, but other great resources are Mobility WOD and ROM WOD.
Or, get to a physio, chiro or sports masseuse. I generally find these latter options better because they have a detailed understanding of anatomy, and are more likely to apply the right types of pressure.
- General Stretching
These are the static stretches you are most familiar with. Mobility WOD and ROM WOD will again be some of the best resources above what we show you in class.
- Work a Weakness
To be specific, work a gymnastics weakness. This should be low volume (low sets and reps), low intensity and efforts should be separated by long rest periods. Pick just one weakness for a day. It could be holding a handstand, developing your ring support, or working on your kip swing. It should always be progressions to a movement as opposed to the full movement.
You should avoid working on a weightlifting weakness. There is more risk of injury there, and a larger chance of developing poor movement habits that will take longer to remove than instilling good habits. Keep it to bodyweight.
Sports are where you express the fitness you develop – the application of fitness. Sports are also where you have the ability to develop skills that can only developed in that environment.
With regards to the weakness and flexibility work, it can often be confusing what to work on. Schedule a private session with a coach to set some objective and tangible goals and to learn about how the UpSkill program can get you there.
- Steady State Aerobic Activity