Pre Workout Nutrition

Protein and fat consumption is important in a well balanced diet, but when it comes to working out, carbohydrates are the most important macronutrient to keep in mind.

In order for you to have enough energy to workout, you need to have enough glycogen on reserve. I wrote about what glycogen is here. If you are running low on glycogen, you will feel low on energy throughout your workout.

Glycogen is just stored glucose. There are two primary ways your body accesses glucose...

1. By eating carbohydrate rich foods (the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose).

2. Through the process of Gluconeogenesis, which is the body's ability to generate glucose from non-carbohydrate sources.

Your body would much rather be fed glucose than to have to create it on its own (through Gluconeogenesis). So this means, be sure to eat enough carbs to fuel your workout.

Everyone will have their own preference as to how they carb up and prepare for a workout. People have differing preferences of carb sources. People will also time their carbs different from others. As I usually say, find what works best for you.

Overall, I like to consume whole carb sources (such as fruits, rice, potatoes, oats, and vegetables,) and stay away from carbs that have been refined and processed (such as pasta, bread, cereal, protein and energy bars, and sugary foods/juices.)  

Keep in mind that I'm not a proponent or practitioner of eating 6+ small meals per day. On average, I eat 3 meals per day, and some days I eat as few as 1 meal per day.

I like to have a pretty emptied stomach when I work out. What I mean by this, is that I like to work out at least 2 hours after my last meal. 

This is what I consume for carbs on a typical training day...

Breakfast Carbs

Oats and a banana

Lunch Carbs

Sprouted bread, and a serving of a fruit and a vegetable (which varies from week to week).

Pre Workout

No carbs immediately pre workout. I rely on the glycogen stored up from the previous day's post workout eating, and from the current day's breakfast and lunch. What I do like to have immediately pre work out is some caffeine.

Post Workout Carbs

Chocolate milk and a banana

Evening Carbs

Potatoes, vegetables and fruit

As I wrote in "Post Workout Nutrition," most of my carbs are consumed after my workout for the day. After a work out is when your body is primed to absorb and store carbohydrates to be used for the next day.

If I were to suggest anything to you it would be this...

1. Eat clean, wholesome, and light foods most of the time, but especially before you work out for the day. Eating a huge and highly processed meal will put you right on the couch. 

2. Have a starchier carb source (potatoes, oats, rice) earlier in the day. This will satiate you and help get glycogen stored up and topped off.

3. The closer to working out, consume more fruit. It's easily digestible so you won't feel full or bloated when it's time to workout. It also provides a fast acting source of energy to your body. 

Cardio: Part 1

You're obsessed with doing "cardio". 

You think that cardio must be done to get into, and remain in shape.

I think your infatuation with cardio is overrated.

And I think using the word cardio is your first mistake. 

When you use the word cardio, you actually refer to cardiovascular exercise. By definition, any activity that elevates the heart rate qualifies it as cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercise trains the heart.

Pull ups raise your heart rate. Squatting raises your heart rate. Even standing up out of bed, and walking to the coffee maker in the morning makes your heart rate go up. All of these activities require the heart to function. Therefore, you are doing cardio pretty much all day long.

But still, you attach "cardio" exclusively to the elliptical machine, recumbent bike, treadmill, etc.

If you enjoy using these types of machines at low intensities, that's fine. But you aren't doing cardio.

Your training tip for today is to understand that machines like ellipticals, bikes, treadmills, etc., are (mainly) used for: aerobic exercise, not cardio, if being technical. 

Coming up....

  • why am I being a snob about the confusion of cardio and aerobic exercise?
  • what is aerobic exercise?
  • what is anaerobic exercise?
  • which of these is most beneficial?

Sleep Well With This Product

I won't get scientific as to what this product actually does, because I don't even know what makes it work. Something to do with the Epsom salt, I guess...

I have been using this for the last month or so, and have noticed that I fall asleep easier than I did before using it. I also feel well rested and ready to go when I wake up the next day. I think it helps me recover from my workouts too. 

Give it a try and let me know how you like it! (Make sure to get this exact bottle, I think they have different kinds).

Dr. Teal's Body Wash

Dr. Teal's Body Wash

Jumping Rope: Add Velocity With Each Rope Turn

The key to jumping rope well is to successfully coordinate your jump speed with the speed of the rope. If one is faster than the other, the rope will eventually get tripped up. Something that is easy to overlook, is the need to continue to turn the rope once you get it going.

I often see beginning jumpers establish a consistent jump rhythm, but try to pair it with a "casual" rope turn. This isn't going to work for long. If you want to keep the rope going, you need to be "deliberate" with the turn of the rope. 

Make sure you are in control of the exercise by adding a little bit of speed to the rope with each turn. Take a look at the video below for more.

Why Squat Deep?

It is pretty well accepted by most that proper squat depth should be to slightly below parallel (thighs below parallel to the ground). I personally don't think it's even worth assigning this depth to the squat. I say to simply pull yourself down until your body stops you, then come back up. And if you are a well functioning human, that will set you well below parallel. 

The problem I see with aiming (for anywhere near parallel) is that the lifter will anticipate hitting only that depth so much, that they underestimate how deep they actually are. There should be no decision about wether or not you have to go deeper. Pull yourself down until you cannot go further, then you go back up. Leave no question about it. 

Now, there are certainly trainees who won't be suited to achieve the depth I describe. Certain anatomies, body geometries, and knee/hip injuries may prevent some individuals from being able to squat this deep. 

Even if you (knowingly or not) fall into one of these categories, it's not an invitation to assume that half and quarter squats are the best idea for you. In fact, your situation will introduce the need for specific adjustments. Adjustments that could render your squat to be performed more technically than the squat of a fully healthy individual.

I think it's fair to assume that many people who claim to have bad knees or hips are actually using it as an excuse to be lazy with their squat depths. If you have trouble getting into a rock bottom position, take these considerations before blaming the exercise for your troubles...

  1. Have you ever legitimately tried to squat as deep as you can possibly go?
  2. How often in your daily routines do you find your thighs arranged in the equivalent of below parallel?
  3. Are you sedentary most days of the week?

I'll take the liberty of answering these questions as the majority of the population would...

  1. No, many people have never tried to actually squat to full depth. Out of fear of injury, fear of not being able to get back up, or fear of hard work.
  2. Not often. The most range of motion most people make their legs go through on a normal day is to sit down to a chair, which most of the time puts them a little above parallel.
  3. Many people don't exercise most days of the week. That, by definition, makes them sedentary. If you only exercise 2-3 days per week, you are one of the aforementioned "many people." Being sedentary is sure to bind up your joints (specifically the hips, knees, and ankles). This makes it difficult to perform a full depth squat. 

You may ask, how necessary is it to squat to full depth? Well, if you want to be taken seriously in a gym environment, that makes it absolutely necessary. Other reasons to squat deep include...

  • more strength
  • better mobility 
  • better movement
  • better body control
  • healthier joints
  • carryover to performance in other exercises
  • better overall health

Really, there are countless reasons to squat as deep as you can. I'll detail my 3 top reasons below...

#1: Your Body is Designed to Squat Deep

In the pictures below, you will see a baby in a deep squat position, and an elderly man in a deep squat position. This should be enough said. If you are reading this, I predict you to be somewhere within the age range of these two individuals.

If humans toward the beginning and end of their live's, respectively, have this ability, shouldn't you as well? If you continually train your body to be in a position, there is no reason you should ever not be able to get into that position. The body adapts to the demands it is given...

#2: Being Athletic

If you participate in any sport or competition, it should be obvious that you need to squat deep. During competition, you are sure to find your body in nearly every form of extreme position imaginable. How much better will your performance be if you train full range of motion, strength, and stability in something as important as your legs? The answer is a much higher level of performance.

Even if you don't participate in anything athletic or competitive, look at the training of a deep squat as an insurance policy. In your everyday life, Isn't it be better to have the ability to get in and out of an extreme position and not ever need to use that ability, than it is to find yourself in a position that you don't have the ability to get out of?

#3: Overall Health 

A door hinge that opens and closes every day won't ever get rusty. The same is true of the joints that make up your body. If you use them correctly, they will stay healthy for a long time. You must put your limbs through full range of motion to maintain strength in the musculature and connective tissues that surround and attach them to the rest of your body. 

It is fantastic for hip, knee, and ankle health to squat deeply. That is, if you are squatting correctly. The instruction to squat properly is not the emphasis of this post, so I will refrain from going over that right now.

If at this point you are still unsure if you are squatting deep enough, you probably aren't. You either know you're squatting to full range of motion, or you will question yourself.

If you are going to begin training with more range of motion, remember that this will be the first time you've ever asked your body to venture into the intimidating abyss of a full squat. Don't expect it to feel normal at first. But don't give up on it.

It actually means you should do the opposite - spend a lot of time getting comfortable in a deep squat position. You have exposed a weakness in your body. Something that you need to be capable of doing. Take working on this weakness seriously, and be patient with it.