Monday, August 27, 2012

9 Ingredients to Add to Your Super Shakes!

Nutritionist Chris Mohr submitted the following list.  I use 7 of them regularly.  Let me know what you put in your Super Shakes!

  1.  Raw cocoa powder.  There is no sugar added, just a rich, dark chocolate taste that is loaded with antioxidants.  Try 1 – 2 TBS in your next smoothie.
  2. Spinach.  Yes, spinach — in its leafy green goodness form.  No, it won’t give your smoothie a gross flavor (but adding blueberries, too, will make the color more appealing).  We often add 2-3 large handfuls of raw spinach to our shake and blend to oblivion.  It’s loaded with fiber, iron, and other powerful vitamins and minerals and what a simple way to add more leafy greens to your diet.  Give it a whirl! 
  3. Walnuts.  We love nuts and have touted the benefits of these and other nuts.  But these guys in particular add a nice flavor (and nutrient boost) to the shakes.  Walnuts will help fill you up, with all their quality fat, protein and fiber.  Of course they’re also high in a vitamins and minerals, to boot, and give the shake just a different flavor than traditional nut butters.
  4. Pomegranate seeds.  While it’s a tedious job to extract each seed one by one, several stores now carry these seeds in a small container — no messy work at all — nothing but the beneficial seeds.
  5. Chia seeds.  While we’re on the ‘seed theme’ — let’s continue with these little sesame seed looking little guys that pack a powerful punch.  High in fiber.  High in protein.  Hight in omega-3 fats. Just be careful — blend and drink soon after, as these little guys make any liquid pretty gelatinous in just a short time.
  6. Kefir.  Ever hear of it? If you haven’t tried it, you should.  It’s a drinkable yogurt that’s high in calcium and healthy probiotics (food for your gut) that have been shown to boost immunity. 
  7. Green tea.  You can make a cup than use that as the liquid (blended with ice, it will cool it down immediately).  But the antioxidants in tea are well worth it and may have powerful effects like protecting your skin from sun damage, reducing your risk of heart disease and maybe even burning a little belly fat. 
  8. Black coffee.  It’s high in antioxidants.  You’ll get a little caffeine boost.  And if you like the flavor, it could be a nice shake that is loaded with nutrients.  I wouldn’t necessary mix it with green tea, but here’s another alternative as a liquid base.  Use a chocolate protein powder and, voila, you’ve got a mocha shake.  Awesome!
  9. Fresh ginger. You’ll find ginger root in the produce aisle of your grocery store.  Grate about 1 TBS (it has some heat, so don’t go overboard) for a nice kick to your dish.  But the antimicrobial and immune boosting properties make this one well worth it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stick to the Basics

I'm constantly the "K.I.S.S." Principle to my clients.  The simple stuff will ALWAYS win in the end.  My colleague, Tony Gentilcore, recently wrote a post on this very topic.  He summarized keeping it simple better than I could, so I wanted to share his sentiments:

- Focus on compound movements that force you to integrate the entire body: squat, deadlift, chin-ups, bench press, military press, lunge variation, row, etc.
- For the love of god, step away from the Smith machine.
- And would it kill you to wash your gyms shorts on occasion?
- Stress QUALITY over quantity. I’d rather someone go to the gym and perform 5×5 deadlifts (making sure technique is solid on each rep) than spend an hour doing god-knows-what.
- 3x per week, full-body, is a solid approach for most people.
- Throw in a day (or two) of interval based training and you’re golden.
- Please don’t skip your soft tissue or mobility work.
- Walking shouldn’t be considered exercise.  It’s called life.
- How much weight should you use?  If you can easily hit all your reps, bump the weight up 5-10 lbs.  It’s not rocket science.  And no, you won’t get big a bulky.  Stop thinking you’re going to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger in a week.
- Just to mix it up a bit, save “bench day” for any day other than Monday. Trust me, the world won’t end.
- Training sessions should be no longer than 45-60 minutes (75 minutes, tops if you include SportsCenter highlight breaks).
- The bulk of your exercises should be barbell and dumbbell based.
- If you can’t perform at least five bodyweight chin-ups (man or woman), you have no business performing 46 sets of bicep curls.
- Do some push-ups (or TRX rows) instead.
- Find a good training partner.  It makes all the difference in the world.
- Less is more.  Try to limit yourself to 3-5 exercises per session.
- Don’t be intimidated to ask for help or to be coached.  Even the best in the business ask for help from time to time.

Another Successful Boot Camp

I just wrapped up another awesome Boot Camp tonight.  We had a full turnout and finished with a great effort from all those involved.  Nice mix of bodyweight strength training, resistance bands, Agility Ladder movements, conditioning drills, etc... Great stuff!  I'm lucky to have my camp next to a park where we utilize the equipment ("Neutral Grip Inverted Rows" for back and arm strengthening pictured above).  Hope to see everyone back in the future for more hard work!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Want to Stink This Winter?"

The following comes from an article written by Str & Cond Coach Mike Boyle:

Catchy title? This article is for all you parents who are trying to help your kid get in shape for a winter sport. I spoke with a mom the other day who inspired me to write this. There is a saying I use often in my talks. It is in fact the title of this article.
If you want your child to perform poorly this winter I have the answer. The answer is cross country. I have had countless parents over the years tell me that they can’t figure out why little Janie or Johnny had such a bad winter sports season. They worked so hard in the fall, running all those miles.
Lets get some facts straight. There are no team sports where you run for miles at a time. Even if you actually “run” miles in a game, those miles are actually a series of sprints interspersed with a series of walks or jogs. In the case of a rare sport like ice hockey, you actually sprint and then sit down. Running long distances does not prepare you to run short distances. There is a concept in sport called sport specific training. The concept basically means that from a conditioning perspective the best way to condition for a sport is to mimic the energy systems of that sport. If the sport is sprint, jog , walk, than the training is sprint, jog , walk. Makes perfect sense.
There is another very large concept to grasp here. It is simple. Train slow, get slow. The reality is it is very difficult to make someone fast and very easy to make someone slow. If you want to get an athlete slow, simply ask them to run slower, longer. Simple. They may be in shape, but it is the wrong shape.
Another problem with a steady state sport like cross country? Injuries. Did you know that something like sixty percent of the people who take up running get injured? Those are really crappy odds.
Last and certainly not least, who dominates in sports? The fastest athlete! The athlete with the highest vertical! Yes, conditioning matters but, train for the sport.  Lift weights, jump, sprint. Gain power. It takes years to gain strength and power. You can get in shape in a matter of weeks. Most kids are playing their sport at least a few times a week in the off season so strength and power are much bigger concerns than conditioning.
So this year, don’t give the gift of slowness, If you are not a cross country runner, don’t run cross country. If you like a nice outdoor run and don’t care about speed, be my guest. If you want to get faster and get in great sport condition than train the way the best athletes train. Use a combination of strength training and interval training to prepare properly.