Nutrition for an Athletic Edge

Brendan Brazier is a world class endurance athlete. He is also a vegan. While there is little chance of me ever becoming a vegan, his TED Talk on nutrition and recovery is very interesting and worth watching no matter what your current diet is. Using a whole nutrition approach, you can decrease recovery time, decrease hormonal stress, and allow you to be healthier and train more often. Check it out.

SmartShake

Many supplement companies give out shaker cups to help advertise their products or entice you to buy those products. I know I’ve bought a certain flavor of one supplement or another because the promise of free stuff and I’m sure many of you have too. I’ve ended up with several shaker cups for free and they all do pretty much the same thing, shake things. So why should you buy a shaker when you probably already have one already? The versatility, color choices, and durability are great reasons to buy a SmartShake product.

Not all shakers are created equal. SmartShake shakers come with a couple of very cool features. In addition to the snap on mixer that attaches to the lid, SmartShake allows you to stack on compartments to keep snacks, vitamins, supplements, and powders. These stay contained, out of the way, and dry in the bottom of the cup. This makes for a lot less things you need to carry to the gym or work. No more containers of supplements rolling around in your gym bag or bottles of pills rattling away, simply load the compartments and away you go. Plus they are dishwasher and microwave safe.

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The color choices that SmartShake provides are great, too. There are about a dozen colors to choose from, but you can also mix the colors if you like. Gunsmoke cup with Neon Red lid and Yellow cap? If that is what you like, you can have it. The color choices may sound frivolous but it gives the cups a personal touch and might keep someone else from grabbing your shaker by accident.

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I can personally attest to how durable these are. In the last two weeks I have dropped my 27oz Gunsmoke shaker about 10 times. On pavement. Every time I think it will be the last, but my SmartShake has held up great. Another shaker I had before cracked after one slip. Plus these seem to be leak proof. Whether bouncing around in my truck or getting knocked off the table by my son, my SmartShake has never leaked.

SmartShake is available on Amazon.com and other retailers and is a great value at around the $10-12 mark.

Treadmill Intervals to Break Up the Boredom

Almost no one I talk to enjoys running on a treadmill. I love running trails because of the scenery, challenging terrain, and the softer footing is easier on my body, but there are days when running outdoors isn’t a great option. Treadmills feel a bit like running on a hamster wheel and that makes a lot of people avoid running during the colder months. This week’s #WeightChallenge is to do some interval training on the treadmill if you’re stuck inside. Interval training will help break up the boredom of running in place and High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, creates a greater oxygen debt, faster cardio results, and burns more calories than long slow distance running.

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After a warm up, start running at a tough but manageable pace. I like to hold right around my 5k race pace or a little slower. Run hard for one minute and then back off the pace to a walk or slow jog for two minutes. After the two minutes dive back into your fast pace and hold for another minute. Keep alternating back and forth for 20 to 30 minutes.

This should give you a great cardio workout. If you are a little more fit try doing a 1 to 1 ratio between hard pace and slow pace or even 2 to 1. The goal is to get your heart rate up to the 70-85% of max range during the work period but recover to or below 65% of max during the rest period.

Send me a picture of what you do to stay sane during your treadmill workouts for a chance to win one of our giveaways. Tweet or post the picture to instagram and tag #WeightChallenge.

Happy running and remember Spring is coming!

Say No to Soda!

Your first #PlateChallenge is to swap out a can of soda per day for a glass or bottle of water. Sounds easy right? Well it is. This little change can make a big difference on your waistline. By drinking water instead of a high calorie beverage like soda, you can cut 140-170 calories from your daily intake. That means you could lose 14 pounds in a year just by drinking more water and less sugary soft drinks. Plus everyone can benefit from an extra glass of water per day.

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Try this for a month and I bet you will be surprised by the difference you notice. Send me pictures of what you are swapping out for more water. Tag #PlateChallenge on Twitter and instagram.

WeightChallenge and PlateChallenge

Every week I will try to post a #WeightChallenge and a #PlateChallenge. These will be something you can do to help become more fit and healthy. The WeightChallenge will be a workout or other physical challenge designed to improve performance and make you faster and stronger. Send me a picture or video of you doing the challenge with your results and you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of our giveaways. Tweet the results to @WnPtraining or tag me on instagram @the_heier_power. I’m looking forward to seeing your submissions! Make sure to tag #WeightChallenge

Since six pack abs are made in the kitchen, the PlateChallenge will be something you can do on the nutritional side to help improve your diet and become healthier and leaner. Check back often and try to implement these changes and live a healthier and more active lifestyle. Many will be simple changes and challenges but these little things can lead to a big difference in your life. I want to see you doing these challenges too, so tweet them to me and post them on instagram. Make sure to tag #PlateChallenge.

Have fun with it and remember small changes will make a big difference.

Box Jumps for Explosiveness: How plyometrics can improve performance.

Squats and deadlifts will make you stronger without a doubt, but if you want to build speed and explosiveness try adding box jumps to your leg routine. Box jumps and other plyometric exercises train fast twitch muscle fibers and these will help with sprint speed and jumping ability. Dmitry Klokov advocates using weighted jump squats to build speed and explosiveness for Olympic weightlifting. In fact, plyos help with all sports, from football, basketball, rugby, or wrestling. Any movement that requires an explosive burst can be improved with Plyometrics,  like simple box jumps.

Box jumps, when done correctly will help train those fast twitch muscle fibers.

Always start with a manageable height when doing box jumps. Trying to land on a platform that is too high can cause you to have poor form at the best and can cause serious injury in the worst case scenario. While standing in front of your box dip into a quarter to half squat and drive off both feet simultaneously while swinging your arms upward. Keep your eyes focused on where you plan to land. Try to land in the same position that you started in.  Again, make sure to start small to avoid injury. Use small sets of 3-7 reps and give yourself enough time to recover between sets. This exercise will really target your hamstrings and glutes so make sure to adequately warm up and stretch before and after. Also recommend myofascial release.

 

Here is a brief video of me doing some box jumps at about 40″ in height. I did my working sets at 30″ and then added the extra height since my legs still felt pretty fresh.

Supernova AKA “Lil Blue Ball of Pain”

Back in May of 2014 I bought a Supernova from Kelly Starrett mobilitywod.com. I had never really used mobility aids in the past but had read about how helpful they were and it was too hard to get someone to rub my sore muscles (girlfriends expect you to rub theirs too, I guess).

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My ‘little blue ball of pain’ has become a staple of my gym bag now. I use it almost daily for rubbing out those nasty knots in my muscles. The supernova works exceptionally well on calves, hamstrings, glutes, and those hard to reach spots in your hips.

The supernova is just larger than a softball and a little heavier, so it is super portable. At around $40 it is a must have for myofascial release and self help for mobility. I cannot recommend the supernova highly enough. Check them out at roguefitness.com and mobiltywod.com