So you made the first step, you got into the gym, you’re ready to make a change. You’re exercising, you’re seeing some results, but you feel lost. You don’t know what direction to take, you feel like you could be making better progress. I get that! […]
Being consistent and developing good habits is one of the toughest challenges when it comes to improving our lifestyles and being successful. Some people just seem to be more driven than others, but is that really the case? Recently I took a little week long […]
Preworkout! What works? What doesn’t? Should you take it?
I’m here to help.
There’s a lot of mixed reviews about pre workouts. Some people swear by it. Some people say it’s just a bunch of chemicals. Some people like the tingling feeling you get from beta alanine, and some like getting amped up for a caffeine-fueled workout.
But do they work?
First we need to look at what makes up most pre-workouts.
All pre-workouts are different but most will contain a combination of caffeine, creatine, beta alanine, BCAA (branched chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine), and a host of other chemicals that claim to benefit exercise endurance and recovery such as L-arganine, Taurine, Tyrosine, and UM WOAH A LOT OF BIG WORDS. Advertising makes them sound good in theory. Lets go over them and see what the research says:
Claim: boost in energy, improve focus, improve mood, increase metabolism for fat burning, appetite suppressant, improved overall performance.
Research: Caffeine is a double edged sword. Research has shown some inconclusive evidence. In some instances it has shown benefit, for example this study showed that caffeine improved performance of elite rowers in a 6 minute test. Many studies have found evidence of increased performance in different areas, however some researchers are speculating that this may simply be a placebo effect of being “hyped up”, as there hasn’t been any research to show conclusively how it affects our body systems in relation to sports performance. On the other side of this, research has shown some of the effects of caffeine on our bodies, such as increased blood pressure, involuntary contraction of internal organs, acid reflux, dehydration, as well as some interesting effects on your brain. Caffeine also increases your stress, which increases your cortisol levels, and we all know cortisol is not great for athletic performance or recovery, and has a tendency to make our bodies put on excess fat.
The jury: Due your due diligence! I myself can attest to feeling more amped up and having better workouts when I’m hopped up on caffeine. But on the other side I don’t feel awesome after I come down from a caffeine high, and I know I get jaw tension and increased stress from too much, so use in moderation!
Claim: Increased strength in the 1-3 rep range, increased muscle mass and power, increased recovery.
Research: Studies have shown time and time again that creatine has numerous benefits to athletic performance and recovery. Creatine increases muscle mass, power in the short rep ranges and increases muscle mass. Check it out! Also, if you’re going to supplement with creatine, drink lots of water!
Claim: Build muscle mass, increase exercise capacity and improve athletic performance.
Research: The research is inconclusive. Not many studies have been done on beta alanine and the ones that do exist show little or no significant effect on muscle performance, muscle mass or power. Check out this experimental review! Just because the research doesn’t show any benefit does not mean that there isn’t one, but it does cast a shadow of doubt. Do your due diligence!
Claim: Reduce fatigue, increase recovery, improves athletic performance.
Research: Research has shown that supplementing with BCAAs does actually result in improving recovery and actually boosts your immune system. However they does not improve athletic performance.
L-arganine, Taurine and Tyrosine
Claim: Boost athletic performance, aid in muscle recovery.
Research: These are three amino acids that have different effects on your body and some of them may aid in muscle recovery, however there really isn’t any research to show that they have a significant effect on performance or recovery. They’re also found in every day foods and don’t really need to be supplemented, for example Taurine is found in red bull… Check out this article from PMC that goes over the different amino acids and their functions!
So what works and what doesn’t? In some cases, the jury is still out. There simply isn’t substantial evidence to show that all ingredients in pre workout has benefits. Creatine definitely has its benefits, and there is some inconclusive evidence about the other ingredients, but just because research hasn’t shown that these substances improve performance doesn’t mean that they don’t, it just means that we don’t know. Want to find out? Time to do some research!
It really comes down to you. Do you feel better when you take pre workout? Do you recover faster and perform better? Whether or not it is a placebo, if it helps you then I would encourage you to keep using it. If it doesn’t, then stop wasting your money. Or just take creatine!
What’s your take?! Let me know!
Got suggestions about future posts? Got questions? Don’t hesitate to ask! I promise to respond as quickly as I can. I’m always here to help, and I want to be a resource. Talk soon 🙂
CHALLENGE MONTH! MOBILITY 🙂 Want to improve your squat and reach full depth? I’ve got a new challenge for you, and it’s going to help all of you be able to complete an ideal squat. Its called the 3rd world squat challenge. In […]
“Where do I start?!” This is typically one of the first questions I get, and it’s a good one, because there’s a lot of misleading information out there. There are a lot of different programs and opinions about what’s best for gaining weight, losing weight, […]
We get it, desk jobs suck.
We live in a society today where, for many of us, we end up working a desk job and living a sedentary life. We tell ourselves we’ll make time for the gym, or be more active, but many times it falls to the background because were “busy” or “don’t have time” to be active and healthy. The truth is, you do have time. It may not seem like it, but with a little knowledge on how to make it work, it’s easy to start incorporating a more active lifestyle.
Bike, walk or run to work
This one is situational. If you live close enough, you can easily bike to work or jog, you just need to leave a little earlier. Starting your day out with some exercise will have you prepared for the day, and will leave you more accomplished as well. If you commute, find parking a little further away to jog or brisk walk for part of the distance.
Take the stairs
Yup, from now on I don’t want to even see you look at an elevator. Burn a few extra calories and give your legs a workout. You’ll feel much more awake and alive if you take the stairs instead, especially if you work on the top floor!
Cut out the TV time
The average human being spends about 5 hours watching TV every day. Seriously? Cut out one of those hours every day and go for a jog, swim, or to the gym. You can still spend the other 4 hours watching TV, just give one to your health! Please! The next time someone tells you they don’t have time to work out, send them here. Click here for more stats.
Join a club or pick an active hobby
The key here is to find something you like. If you enjoy it, it won’t be a chore. Find something you like doing and get involved. You’ll meet other people who also enjoy being active and it’ll only motivate you more. Swim, run, yoga, play tennis, go mountain biking, walk your dog, stand on your head, do something!
Get a standup desk
This one is easy, they make stand up desks now that are collapsable. Go buy one and get it installed. Ask your employer if they’ll pay for it. Tell them it will increase your productivity. It will improve your posture, strengthen your core muscles and burn calories. If they don’t believe you send them to me, I’ll convince them 😉
Sit on a stability ball
This goes with the standup desk. Same concept, improve posture, work your core muscles and improve your balance and stability. Also you can do workouts on it in your free time! For example if you’re getting sleepy you can take a break and do some ball sit-ups or push ups on it! Wishful thinking?
Wake up early to go to the gym
Getting up early means going to bed early. This takes a little dedication, but you don’t need that much time to get active! Set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier, jump out of bed, slam some coffee or pre-workout and run around your neighborhood for a bit. You do this every day and you’ll be well on your way to a more healthy, active lifestyle.
Find time to do something active EVERY DAY (even if its only a little!)
Find something that you can do every single day that gets you active, even if it’s only little. Some is better than none. For example, you could plank every day. Just pick a time during your day, and stick to it! Be persistent.
Hang out with active people
Jim Rohn says that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Meaning that we tend to behave similarly to those that we hang around with. This can be difficult, but sometimes you need to reevaluate your social circle and those around you. Are you surrounding yourself with people who share your positive, success oriented mindset and want to be active and healthy? Or are you surrounded by negativity? It might sound a little harsh but it’s the truth. I’m not suggesting that you dump all your friends, but I am suggesting that you seek out healthy relationships with people who want what you want. You could also convince the people in your life to be more positive by showing them a better way as well. This one tip will help you with more than just fitness, think about it!
Working out can be daunting. And with a seemingly endless amount of conflicting information about what is best, it can make it even more intimidating. That being said there are a few things you can start doing today that will make a huge difference in […]
WAKE UP It’s 6am, it’s time to go to the gym. Wait what? That’s so early! I know, it’s hard for everyone. Even I struggle with getting up in the mornings, but then I remember that I have work to do, and I get to […]
What’s up guys?
I wanted to talk for a second about a very popular, and maybe touchy subject, “making time for the gym”, AKA: making time for what you love.
Working with clients in the past I’ve always been asking this question, “How do I fit my gym time into my busy schedule?”
Common complaints are: “I work full time”, “I have kids”, or simply “I don’t have time”. And I get it, finding time for things can be difficult. Between feeding yourself, working a full time job, going to school, getting to the grocery store, commuting to work, or actually getting enough sleep to be functional, your schedule can feel pretty full. That being said, my answer to the above question is always the same: People find time for what they love. It’s just that simple. If you love it, you will find time for it. And if you don’t love it now, after you start, you will.
Here are 6 tips for getting exercise more consistently:
1. Make it
The most simple, and sometimes most infuriating answer I give people when they say they don’t have time to work out is “make time”. Not the answer you wanted probably. The simple fact is that you do have time, you’re just spending it in places you don’t realize. In your average day there are at least a couple hours that you could shave off by cutting out the extras. TV is the big one, You would be shocked to learn how much TV the average person watches. You have time. You’re just spending it doing other things, when you could be doing what you love. Identify what it is in your day that is eating up your time, and consider replacing it with gym time. You can also being more efficient with your cooking and meal prep, use smoothies to eat on the go so you can save a little time here and there. It adds up!
2. Work out in the morning
This is an obvious one, but it takes a little bit of discipline. Waking up early to put more hours in your day is a good way to fit in a workout, but it does require you get adequate sleep. This means going to bed early. For me, this means really early. If you can’t get 7-8 hours of sleep because you’re waking up early to go to the gym, it’s not worth it. BUT if you can be dedicated, and get to bed early, this can make your life 1000 times better, and not only that, it’ll put you in an amazing mood for the rest of the day, which will carry over into all other aspects of your life as well.
3. Work out during lunch
This may be a tough one for a lot of people, and some may not be able to do it. For me, there was a time when I would have a lunch break in between shifts, and I would head straight to the gym. “But what about lunch?!”. Good question. The way I made this work, was simply eating while on shift, like all the time. I would make a kale smoothie, packed with dense calories, and snack snack snack before lunch time, and by then I wasn’t hungry and could go work out. After lifting I would have a protein shake which I would drink while I was at work. Obviously this strategy won’t work for everyone because some jobs won’t allow it, but hey, were exploring all options! This could also be an option for you if you were intermittent fasting and wanted to exercise during your fasted time, but you would definitely need to do some meal planning so you could eat something quick and nutritious immediately after.
4. Work out with your dog (or cat?)
Getting a dog for the purpose of getting active is one of the first recommendations for weight loss, and for good reason! Dogs need a lot of exercise. If you can’t get to the gym, go running with your dog, they need it and you need it too. There’s even a new trend going on where you take your dog and put him/her on your shoulders and do squats! Just youtube “squat your dog”. Your pup will thank you, and your body will too.
5. Change your workout plan
Keep it simple! If you know your time is limited and have already scheduled out your day to maximize your time in the gym, change your workout plan to be quick and efficient. Work out 3 days a week instead of 5. Examples of this would be doing a full body workout 3 days a week, and maybe a little cardio after. Oddly enough, a lot of my clients have seen amazing results when they simplified their workouts. The key is to have a quickly intense full body workout that uses mainly compound movements, leaving you pretty taxed by the end. Then your body has more time to efficiently recover and the results come faster! This time saver is more efficient and can definitely be a win win for some people.
6. Work out at home
There are plenty of workouts you can do without leaving the house, and many of them require minimal equipment. For example, planking can be an amazing way to get a workout in a short period of time, and with no equipment other than your own body. Other movements, such as bodyweight squats, jump squats, push ups, jumping jacks, sit ups, and more advanced movements as well when you want to progress these. If you have any questions about these email me! I can send you some links to some good bodyweight workout routines or maybe I’ll design one for you 😉
What’s your excuse? 😉 Go to the gym!
If you need anything or have suggestions shoot me an email! I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
Make it green! Smoothies have been a huge part of my life since I can remember. I have a smoothie every. single. day. The benefits are incredible, and today I wanted to share what I put in my smoothies and also lecture at you about […]