Strength & Speed


"If you want something you never had, you have to be willing to do something you have never done."

S&S Articles

Moving Past The Gripper: Part I

Posted by Strength & Speed on December 7, 2016 at 10:50 AM



How many grip strength articles have you read that tell you to buy one of those grippers? Probably all of them. Well I am tired of reading those too, so here are some options to move you past the gripper for improving grip strength. Grippers are good if:

1. It is used properly (i.e. focusing on training and not just squeezing it mindlessly while you perform other tasks)

2. It provides a amount of resistance to cause muscle adaptation (i.e. the ones you buy in a sporting goods store are probably too weak, if you are gripper obsessed try Heavy Duty or Captains of Crush)


       One of my principles for obstacle course strength training is “Turn every exercise into a grip strength exercise”. While curls or tricep extensions can improve the arm muscles associated with pulling yourself up and over obstacles, they can be enhances through special attachments. Here are some product options if you are looking to adhere to the principal of “every exercise should stress your grip”:

1. Fat Gripz: While Fat Gripz were designed focusing on anyone who wants to build stronger arms. They are a rubber sleeve that goes over your dumbbells making the bar thicker and harder to hold.



 

2. Fat Gripz Extreme: If you like Fat Gripz you will love Fat Gripz Extreme. It is Fat Gripz taken up one notch by providing an extra thick bar. In fact, it is too thick for many people (that’s what she said), which is why I recommend purchasing Fat Gripz first so you can work your way up as opposed to going right to the hardest level.

 

3. Sinery Sports Grips: You may have hear of Shale Hill and the “Robstacles” built by owner Rob Butler. He was the guy that brought that ridiculous band cutter contraption to the 2015 Obstacle Course Racing World Championship. He also makes some great grip strength training tools. While most people use these solely for building rigs (which they are great for), they can also be used daily at the gym. By taking rig attachments and using them on pulley machines it allows you to simulate awkward grips without the full weight of your body. This creates a mechanism for slowly increasing resistance. Just because you can’t hang from a nunchaku now, does not mean you can’t incorporate that grip and movement into your training.



 

Check back soon for part II in the article, which is focused on some of the great products offered by Ironmind (one of the sponsors of World’s Strongest Man). If you like their products makes sure you pick up a free catalog along with their June issue of MILO, which features our article “Enhancing OCR Training”. If there is any company to take lessons from regarding strength improvement, then Ironmind has the solution.


 

Pick Up Heavy Stuff

Posted by Strength & Speed on November 28, 2016 at 8:10 AM



It is no secret that many runners for years have avoided the weight room. Many people have stated different reasons, “I don’t want to get bulky” “I don’t want weights to slow me down” yadda yadda and many more. However, in today’s OCR competitive world weights are a must.

Gone are the days that you could just be a fast runner and turn that into a win or at least a podium finish at an OCR. With more and more races and series moving toward obstacle completion the elite racer now must have some level of strength to go along with their speed. Granted you can make the argument that outside of heavy carries and walls that all someone might need is the ability to hold their own weight while hanging. With new races popping up all over the place and the existing races thinking up new obstacles to present new challenges to their racers it is imperative that you be ready for whatever may be thrown at you this coming season.


If you look at the OCR season as a full year and break it down into sections of post season, off season, pre-season, and in-season, (micro seasons) each section should have a different training goal and purpose than the other. All of which building toward the final in season goals, whatever accomplishments those may be.

So how do you get ready for all of this? Well that depends on where in your training regimen. Since, for most racers, the season has ended I will assume we have all taken a few weeks to rest, and start with the offseason. During the off season lifting heavy is the way to go. Like really heavy, 4-6 reps maximum for 4-6 sets. “Why”, many of you may ask; “that sounds like the opposite of my goal”. Take into account you should still be on a light well rounded running program as well, but your goal in the off season is not to finish first at every race, the point of the off season is to improve and prepare for the pre-season. Lifting heavy weights, with safe and properly executed form, will build your overall strength. Increase strength will lead to increased power; this is my next transition. After 8-10 weeks of building strength it is a good idea to switch to power based exercises, think Olympic lifts. Your hang clean, jerk and snatch type exercises are excellent ways to create large bursts of power using your entire body starting with the legs and moving up the body. You do not have to look too far into a race to see where being able to generate large amounts of power can be helpful; sprinting up a warped wall, getting your body over an 8ft wall or simply jumping over the fire for that awesome profile pic.



If you are still with me at this point I can tell you are at least curious to see how this all gets back to running miles at a time. Good, I am glad you asked. This again all depends on where in your training season you are. As you move from one micro season to the next your training methods should change with them. As we just talked about off season is for gaining strength and power, and getting closer to actual race season you want to start to harness those new-found abilities into skills that will help you out perform the other racers on race day. During preseason, I start to increase my number of reps per each exercise, and by this time my mileage is starting to creep back up to be ready for the coming races. The rep range I like to keep my preseason exercises to is that magical 10 rep set we all know and love and probably grew up on (if you lifted weights anyway). This will start to help with teaching the muscle endurance under load as well as help build new muscle tissue (hypertrophy).

Moving into the race season I still suggest lifting weights. While the weight being lifted has dropped the intensity should not have. In season, I keep the reps at 15 or above. This is solely focused on muscular endurance at this point, and your mileage should be gauged on how and when you are looking to peak next. Your weights program should also be geared toward specific lifts and movements that are needed on race day. This is usually in the form of pull-ups, muscle-ups, farmers walks etc.



As you can tell, and many of you may have already known, a thorough OCR training program is anything but straight forward. OCR demand a great deal of physical ability from its athletes, and while endurance and physical stamina are a large part of that the strength and power needed should not be over looked.

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Jared Renyer

Jared Has a B.S. in Fitness & Wellness and is a Certified Personal Trainer. Jared was a college athlete competing in both soccer and track. Since beginning OCR in 2014 Jared has competed in numerous races, he qualified for OCR World Championships in 2016. Jared finished in the top 50 in the 30-34 age group on the OCRWC short course, he also completed the 15k standard course completing each obstacle and keeping his band. Jared is a member of Team Strength and Speed as well as the owner of JRen Fitness

Facebook/IG @JRenFitness

 

The Best & Worst Fitness Advice in One Statement

Posted by Strength & Speed on November 21, 2016 at 10:45 AM

I have a piece of fitness advice that is simultaneously the best and worse advice I can give out. I use this principal almost all the time, knowing it is not the correct book answer. I also rarely tell people about it because I do not want to be the source of a debilitating injury. So what is this magically awesome and terrible piece of advice?

Train through everything.

Yeah, that is right. Train through all your injuries, aches and pains. I have been using this advice for about 15 years. Anytime something hurts…I just pretend it does not and keep training. This has resulted in 15 years of being basically injury free. This includes powerlifting, marathons, bodybuilding, ultra-marathons, OCR and backpacking. Sure I occasionally have problems, but I have never had to take more than a couple of unscheduled days off from training in the last decade and a half. Before you close your computer and go running out the door on your broken leg, this advice does come with some caveats. So take an extra two minutes and finish reading the rest of the article.

Caveat 1: If you are seriously injured, do not train through it. As in you are in a cast, you can no longer walk or there is visible swelling/bruising. However, that does not mean you have to stop working out. In 2002 I broke my wrist after falling off a friend’s shoulder and had my arm in a cast. I obviously stopped lifting weights for that arm but I continued to run, backpack, do sit-ups and lots of one armed pushups (Side note: I actually got really good at them after doing so many for several weeks). To this day my patella tendon hurts sometimes. A couple of years ago it was so bad it caused me to limp for the first mile of a run, but it would go away before mile two. One of the generally accepted rules is, “If it causes you to change form, then you are injured and not just aching.” As it turns out, the pain was/is caused by tight muscles surrounding the tendon pulling on it. Had I not trained through it, I would have never known that.

Caveat 2: If something is wrong, you can take a couple of days off to let it heal. This is really just echoing the sentiments in the above paragraph. I have hurt my back deadlifting before my form got much better. I took a couple of days off and let that heal. I have severely bruised my toe trail running and had it swell to the point I could barely walk. I took a couple of days off, did the standard RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation plus a couple of ibuprofen pill) and kept training.

Caveat 3: If a certain exercise is causing you joint pain, find a different one that works the same muscles without the pain. I have had tendinitis in my elbow for months where every time I did free weight curls it caused me pain. I just switched to machines, pulleys and some free weight bicep movements that did not cause pain for a couple of months….it went away. I have had my knee make funny sounds and cause pain on some leg press machines. I stopped using those machines but still did squats. I have had my shoulder joints ache horribly after doing kipping pull-ups as part of a competition…I switched back to regular pull-ups in a controlled manner. No pain. Basically, you can find a work around for most joint or tendon pain.

Bottom line is I think most people feel some joint pain, get worried about it developing into a worse injury and end up not reaching their potential. This is the first time I have ever stated my “Train through everything” philosophy publicly and I don’t want to be responsible for other people’s injury, so approach with caution. The saying of “do as I say, not as I do” may be spot on in this case. So take this piece of advice and do as you will with it. I have my plan laid out.

 

Can You Still Enjoy IFBB Bodybuilding as a Drug Free Athlete?

Posted by Strength & Speed on October 1, 2016 at 11:45 AM

      Now that Mr Olympia weekend has come and gone you may be wondering if all the physique athletes are on drug? The answer is unequivocally yes. Most of the men are on at least one if not a cocktail of drugs. Everything including steroids and HGH to build muscle, then drugs to reduce the negative effects post cycle. It does not end there because there are also drugs to help you retain muscle while burning fat and diuretics to give that dry, shredded look. With athletes taking so many drugs can you still enjoy IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders) Bodybuilding while remaining drug free?



     I think you can. I am a lifetime drug free athlete and I still watch IFBB Bodybuilding. As someone who is strongly opposed to PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs), why would I watch something like this? The answer, not surprising is I like to see the extremes, just like everyone else. I typically only step on the bodybuilding stage every 2-3 years and only in drug tested organizations (like Drug Free Athlete’s Coalition).  I have absolutely no desire to compete in the IFBB…ever, but I still watch. There are plenty of sports I like to watch but have no desire to compete in. Based off the physiques I see watching professional baseball, basketball and football games, I am sure a lot of people can relate to this opinion. 

     It is a similar concept with bodybuilding, I enjoy seeing how far the combination of science and hard training can push the human body. Bodybuilding, just like other sports, we watch for larger than life performances. The reason I like bodybuilding is because they do not hide their drug use. Just pick up a copy of Muscular Development magazine and you will see articles dedicated to drug use. I find the honesty refreshing.

     Views like this is what stops natural bodybuilding from every being a big business, which is fine by me. When I go see a bodybuilding show I want to see someone that is almost 300 lbs at 5% bodyfat (a physical impossibility without drugs). Natural bodybuilding (actual natural not the ones that claim natural but still take low doses of testosterone), will usually top out at 190 lbs. While I don't condone what they do to their bodies I do enjoy seeing the end result of a ton of hard work, incredible dedication and a strong cocktail of drugs.

 

Why CrossFit is good for crossfitters....only

Posted by Strength & Speed on May 11, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Know before writing this I considered just how I wanted this article to come across. I know it is popular to bash CrossFit for a number of things, whether it is the cultish mentality, the constant need to talk about CrossFit, or any other common stereotype. I try to avoid this where I can and present an unbiased opinion as a personal trainer.


Here are a few of the reasons I feel that CrossFit is only meant for crossfitters.

First and foremost, in my book is an apparent disregard for proper lifting form. No I am not referring to the kipping pull up although that would be easy. My biggest problem is the encouragement to continue performing an exercise after the individual has lost form. People will argue “Do you not spot someone doing a bench press if they can’t perform the lift?” the short answer is “Yes”. However the longer answer is “It depends” if I have a client who reaches technical failure, the point at which they can no longer perform the exercise with correct form, in the middle of a set I am going to tell them to stop, rest and then continue the set at a lower weight. In my opinion there is no reason to risk injury for an As Many Reps as Possible (AMRAP) set.

Secondly drawing from my first argument is a lack of injury prevention. The first rule in designing an exercise/workout program for a client is “do no harm”; an injured client can’t work out and if they can’t work out you don’t get paid and they can’t improve, plain and simple. On top of that now that injured client is going to tell their friends about how their trainer had them do these crazy lifts past the point of the body’s ability to perform them correctly. So to compound things you have an injured client who is now telling their friends that you are the one who caused it.


Third, in my limited experience, there appears to be no screening or clearance testing for individuals starting CrossFit. By this I don’t mean they walk in with a doctor’s note saying they are ready to exercise. I am referring to a series of simple yet telling screening movements to tell the trainer that the individual is capable of getting their body into the required positions to properly execute each exercise. The screening I prefer to use is the Functional Movement Screen which uses 7 different movements building from basic to advanced, all designed to tell me what that person can and cannot do with their body under only the force of gravity. For example if the person does not have enough hip mobility to get to 90 degrees in a squat how can I ask them to do so? Also if I didn’t test that and then asked that person to squat and they were injured while attempting to get to 90 degrees that is my fault I did not make sure they had the requisite ability to get into that position. This point can be argued for many joints in a variety of different lifts.

My final reason for thinking CrossFit is only good for crossfitters is exercise selection. While I am a fan of CrossFit avoiding machine exercises, there appears to be no regression of exercises. For example if I can’t perform a proper deadlift the CrossFit mentality is to just practice deadlifts. Rather than breaking the movement down and performing corrective exercise to strengthen the body’s ability to perform the exercise under bodyweight. Then once they have met the requirements to slowly add more load to properly work the body.



All of this being said CrossFit can be a super intense body beating workout for many people. However in today’s fitness world of “I want results yesterday” CrossFit has become a buzzword that people flock to not knowing exactly what they are getting into. For the seasoned athlete and exerciser CrossFit may be a good addition to what they are already doing. For the seasoned crossfitter who wants to do better at CrossFit, by all means do more CrossFit, I know an orthopedist who specializes in shoulders so give me a call in a few years (I couldn’t resist). But for John and Jane Q. Public I advise go to your local gym, talk to the training staff, not just the sales people at the door, ask questions about their philosophy, the programs they design and their overall approach to a client like yourself. Blanket programs and routines were not built for you and your goals may be different. Take your time, find the right gym/trainer then go out and blow your goals out of the water.

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Jared Renyer: Jared has a B.S. in fitness and wellness and is also a certified personal trainer. Jared played soccer in college helping his team to a conference tournament championship as well as being a member of the track team. Jared has recently picked up OCR as a hobby and is beginning to compete in the elite and competitive waves.

 

What if Super Heroes played Strength & Speed based sports? Part 1: Strength

Posted by Strength & Speed on May 11, 2015 at 7:20 AM

To celebrate the release of the new Avengers movie, here is a themed article regarding super heroes in athletics. It is the distant future and super heroes from the Marvel and DC Universe have successfully eradicated major crime to a point where they are no longer needed in their normal crime-fighting role. Looking for a new challenge, the super heroes we grew up with decide to switch to competitive sports. Despite being a part of groups like Avengers and Justice League of America, they each decide to pursue their passion as an individual. Here is what happens with those that pursue careers in Strength sports:


1. The Incredible Hulk- Upon hearing of his entrance into the sporting world, the powerlifting amateurs rejoices at the possibility of records being shattered while the top athletes in the sport dread the oncoming lifts. The Hulk begins a powerlifting training plan using the cube method. However, after taking a good look in the mirror and then looking at the other powerlifting athletes, Hulk decides to go into bodybuilding instead. The lure of more money and his already low body fat makes bodybuilding a better sport for him. He wins his first amateur contest and his first pro contest qualifying him for Mr. Olympia. Once on the biggest stage of them all at the Orleans Arena, The Incredible Hulk goes on to win a record 9 Mr. Olympia titles before retiring. Despite being the greatest bodybuilder of all time, he has trouble losing the nickname “The Green Ronnie Coleman.” He retires after his record breaking win and Bruce Banner spends the rest of his days happily working at BALCO labs under Victor Conte.

 



2. Captain America- After seeing the success of the Hulk, Captain America also decides to enter the world of bodybuilding. However, he takes one look at the size of the physiques in Mr. Olympia and Captain America decides to move towards natural bodybuilding. He enters contests organized by Musclemania and proceeds to break records for most number of wins, longest winning streak and best posing (thanks to them allowing props on stage and some fancy shield work). He becomes great friends with athletes like Simeon Panda and Mike O’Hearn. His wins are surrounded with controversy though as he is accused of doping via a super serum. Despite obvious drug use, he maintains that he is “all natural”. After realizing there is no money in natural bodybuilding, he switches to Crossfit where he picks up a sponsorship with Reebok. Luckily, despite PEDs being banned by Crossfit, no one seems to care that Captain America is juiced up on “super serum”. He continues in Crossfit with a couple of wins at the Crossfit games, but his reign is far from dominant as athletes like Rich Froning and Jason Khalipa alternate with him on the top spot of the podium.

 

   


3. The Juggernaut- The Juggernaut initially starts training with the Hulk for powerlifting but cannot keep up with the Hulk’s training pace. He enters a deep depression, spends all his money and moves into his van in the parking lot of Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas. When the Hulk announces his switch to bodybuilding, the Juggernaut in a bout of excitement bursts through the wall like the Kool Aid man. The owner for the gym, Brian Dobson, issues him a lifetime ban from Metroflex for damaging the wall instead of just walking through the gigantic open garage door. In a move that shocks the powerlifting world, Juggernaut does not follow then training of Juggernaut Training Systems but instead moves to Columbus, Ohio. Once settled, he starts to train at Westside Barbell under the guidance of Louis Simmons. Juggernaut goes on to break world records for the squat, bench and deadlift becoming a legend in the powerlifting world. After two years of utter dominance, the drugs and heavy lifting cause a heart attack. The Juggernaut dies in his sleep well before he reaches what he is truly capable though.

 



4. She-Hulk- She-Hulk knew she was going to get involved in strength sports from the beginning. Instead of entering bodybuilding or powerlifting, she chose Olympic lifting. Preparing for the next Olympics, there was some push back from the athletes from other countries. After almost daily performance enhancing drug (PED) testing, she keeps coming up clean. The other athletes kept pursuing claims that she has an unfair advantage. They eventually convince the IOC to re-instate gender testing, which has not occurred since 1996. As a result, of the gene test for gender, it was determined She-Hulk is an XY female with androgen insensitivity. She was still allowed to compete, just as XY females in the past have done and She-Hulk won gold medals in every lift she entered. After the Olympics, the amount of publicity surrounding her being XY, caused her to regress from popularity where she quietly retired as a housewife.

 



5. Thor- After seeing that all the major strength training sports were already taken by other athletes, Thor goes to work as a personal trainer in the gym, vowing to jump into bodybuilding, powerlifting or Crossfit once he gets his chance. He spends his personal training days talking about how next year is the year he is going to compete, but never does. He continues to talk big but never actually steps into the competitive arena. However, he does maintain an impressive collection of stuff animals he won from carnivals using his hammer in tests of strength to ring the bell.



Check back next week for the super heroes that decided to use their advantage to compete in Speed based sports including everything from running to obstacle course racing.

 

The Yoga Pants Effect

Posted by Strength & Speed on January 24, 2015 at 8:30 AM

It is Wednesday afternoon and you are in the gym lifting with some male friends. You look around, the place is a sausage-fest, completely devoid of females. Motivation is low and gym rats appear to be just going through the motions of lifting weights. A new female member of the gym enters and the mood instantly changes. Guys start stacking plates on the bar and crushing reps of bench, curls, squats and deadlifts. What is the cause of this? Yoga Pants.

Without a known scientific term, I have dubbed this “The Yoga Pants Effect”. The presence of females, preferably in yoga pants, helps men all across the country lift more weight. Does this actually provide a positive effect? And why?


In “Faster, Higher, Stronger” the author cites a study of men running on a treadmill and a scientist asking them for their rate of perceived exertion (RPE) or how hard they think they are running on a scale of 1-10. Without changing any other variables, the same question is asked to participants but this time with an attractive female in the room. With the females present, the men gave a lower RPE. By simply having an attractive female in the room, men believed they could push themselves harder. The conclusion, which I agree with, that this is probably hardwired into the male genes. The caveman like genetic variant of men wanting to appear strong and protective in front of females can be leveraged in the gyms of today. If you are a male who works out in a gym, I am sure you have felt the power of the Yoga Pants Effect at one time or another. Many men can often squeeze out a couple more reps or use a slightly larger set of dumbbells when females are around.  Just try not to get too distracted.


For runners who have raced in the Boston Marathon, you may want to call this “The Wellesley Effect”. At mile 13 of the Boston Marathon there are hundreds of college girls with signs that say “Kiss me, I’m ____.” The signs are handmade and the ____ says almost everything imaginable. Kiss me I’m Irish, Persian, Greek, a Freshman, a Senior, a runner, a lacrosse player, lonely, sexy, horny, drunk….the signs have so many variations it is hard to recall them all. I would curious to see mile splits for runners going by Wellesley College. I bet they would show negative splits as runners speed by (as long as you do not count the runners who actually stop to kiss the lovely girls of Wellesley).


As a male, I am not sure the effect works in reverse. Do females lift more and train harder when attractive males are in the gym? Maybe, but I think the Yoga Pants effect is probably stronger. Plus, if attractive men do have a positive athletic effect on women...I haven’t thought of a catchy name yet, but I am open to suggestions. Ladies?

 

Mouthpiece for Weight Training?

Posted by Strength & Speed on January 10, 2015 at 7:15 AM

 

I consider my approach to training grounded and backed by science. This article from the Wired is one of the many I have read that say having a mouthpiece in and clenching your teeth while lifting reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so lower cortisol will result in better muscle growth.

I decided to buy the Under Armour mouth guard as a test. Initially it felt a little weird breathing through the mouth guard and having something in your mouth while training. However, now I love it. Clenching during heavy movements (squats, leg press and deadlifts especially) just feels right. UA’s is also low profile enough where you do not make a scene with something big and bulky in your mouth. The mouth guard still allows you to speak normally and (based on science) should improve lifting.

When training I follow an approach that I learned from cycling. With cycling, they try to improve every aspect of every part of their bikes and bodies. The idea is if you make enough changes that result in fractions of a percentage of improvement, the combination of all these changes will be a measurable improvement. If you think buying this product will immediately add 50 lbs. to your deadlift, you are wrong. However, I did feel like I could lift a couple of more pounds while wearing the mouth guard. Whether it was a placebo effect or actual improvement, I am not sure. The bottom line is, I feel like I can lift more when clenching my teeth. This does not even take into account the true value of the guard, which is lower cortisol levels, something that requires lab equipment to measure. If you are committed to maximizing your potential, this is a good product for you.

 

Under Armour UA ArmourBite® Mouthpiece

Under Armour UA ArmourBite® Mouthpiece


 

Why Am I Not Gaining Muscle?

Posted by Strength & Speed on January 4, 2015 at 11:45 AM

I get just as many questions about having trouble gaining weight as I do about losing weight. The problems are usually obvious when you look at someone's diet, eating schedule and post workout routine. These are the top 5 reasons that people fail to gain muscle.


#1: Not eating frequently enough

 

Typically guys (and sometimes girls) will ask me how do I gain muscle weight? The statement is often followed up by I am eating a ton but not putting on muscle. My first question is always how many times a day are you eating an actual meal. Junk food and snacks do not count as meals. Usually the answer is three or less. If you are not adding muscle, add more meals. Your body will be able to process the food better along with supplying a consistent stream of energy throughout the day. The spike in protein every 2.5 to 3 hours will help spur muscle growth.

If you are trying to put on muscle and are eating less than five meals a day that is the wrong answer. Five meals a day should be the minimum. If you cannot eat that often because you feel full, try eating healthier food and in smaller portions. This will allow you to eat more often because it is less filling. Once you are used to the constant feeding you can then add in more protein and more carbs.


#2: Eating Too Much Garbage

 

This one is often tied to not eating enough. Often the people who complain are eating Big Macs or some other unhealthy fast food for one or more of their meals. When you consume these super high calorie/fat meals, it fills you up for the rest of the day. This will result in missing the other meals you had planned for the day. Stay away from garbage food except as a final meal for the day (as long as you do not mind putting on some fat with that muscle). This will ensure you hit your goal number of meals and goal macronutrients for the day.


#3: Not eating before bed

 

While you sleep for eight hours a night, your body is still fueling itself but you are not eating anything. This is also the prime time for muscle recovery and growth. If you are going to bed without protein in your stomach, you are shortchanging your gains.

A slow digesting protein is preferable, specifically casein protein. Add in some healthy fats to slow down the digestion process while you sleep. Do not feel like spending money on supplements? Use cottage cheese, it is naturally high in casein. If you do not like cottage cheese then stick to a slow digesting protein that contains fat such as a lean steak or salmon. This should literally be the last thing you do before bed. Eat your steak or casein shake, and then get in bed.


#4: Not eating immediately upon waking

 

Similar to the last mistake, many people are shortchanging their gains around sleep time. After 8 hours of sleeping with no food, your body needs protein to start building again. It is important immediately upon waking to eat some fast digesting protein and some carbohydrates. Your body had burned off many of its carbohydrates (glycogen) while you slept and now it needs more so it can use the protein for building instead of for energy. Try eating egg whites immediately, you can cook hard-boiled eggs a week in advance or of you prefer, go with freshly cooked egg whites in the morning.


#5: Middle of the night snack

 

I occasionally do this while bulking for a bodybuilding competition or if I feel my training volume is very high. It is the middle of the night snack. Typically, I need to get up to pee at some point in the night due to my bedtime protein shake. Prior to going to bed, I preposition food in route to the bathroom. This allows me to squeeze in more protein in the middle of the night.

I have done this in the past with precooked and peeled egg whites, which requires a little bit of effort. I have also done this with chewable amino acids or amino acid pills. The amino option is easier and makes it easier to fall back asleep afterwards. I recommend Endurance Aminos. Despite the name, the amino acids these pills contain are good for both endurance exercise and muscle building.

If you do not normally get up in the middle of the night, I would recommend not doing this. I think a continuous sleep cycle is more important for your body to maximize muscle gains then forcing your body out of its natural cycle just to squeeze in more nutrients. After all, you growth hormone spikes when you sleep and sleep is where you build muscles.


 -Evan Perperis

The Most Common Mistake by Runners and Weightlifters

Posted by Strength & Speed on December 28, 2014 at 12:15 AM

I had trouble deciding who the biggest offender of this common mistake is. I originally had it as a running mistake but I have seen an equal number of people at the gym making the same mistake. The biggest mistake most people make is lack of variation.  Everyone is guilty of it, me included. Once you develop a routine, it becomes hard to break from it. However, changing how you exercise, forcing your muscles to adapt is how you get stronger/faster. I will start with runners.

For runners, the issue usually lies with a lack of a training plan. Many runners will follow their "usual" running "schedule" and then not understand why their speed has hit a plateau. If you run 5 miles everyday year round at the same pace your body will eventually be able to handle the stress and stop adapting. In order to get faster or have more endurance you need to change either duration or intensity. This means add speed work or add mileage to your weekly total.

I see it all the time with people..."I can't get faster". Well what have you changed to improve? Nothing? Then why are you expecting a change? I have also heard "I've reached my physical limit". Bullshit. You may have reached your physical limit running 15 or 20 miles a week. A change in training will cause better adaptation. I change my marathon-training plan every year adding speed, distance or both, which is why I am faster every year. I cut a 1hr 30 min from my first marathon (which I didn't train for). My gains get smaller every year but they are still there. I cut 8 min from my marathon time from 3 years ago and cut 2 minutes last year. This is with alternating my focus on running and weightlifting. A pure running approach will lead to better improvements.

Next on the list is weightlifters but this is more common with non-competitive weight lifters. Most serious bodybuilders or power lifters do not make this mistake as often since they are usually following a specified training plan.  Many gym goers will follow the same exercises for the same rep scheme week after week and year after year without much improvement. Your workout routine needs variation to grow. That does not mean change you exercises every week but it should change over the course of months. One technique I found useful in the past is to pull out a several week workout plan from a magazine or book then follow it through to completion. Afterwards I will switch up the plan following a different plan. This ensures I am not just falling into the habit of following the same routine month after month.

As a drug free athlete the part of the year I make the most lifting gains comes from following a power lifter style workout for a couple of months (usually 5x5 for four weeks, then 3x3 for 2 weeks, then 2x2 for a week or two). Even though my main goal is body improvement and not strength gain, after a powerlifting phase I will be able to lift higher weights for 10 reps (resulting in a better body). This is especially important for drug free athletes since strength gains do not come as easy. If you regularly attend the gym and have never followed a powerlifting split for a couple of weeks you need to try it. The strength gains you will receive are significant. These gains will provide benefit regardless of your goal.

So make sure you change up your routine if you want to see gains. This is not just for exercise routine but also diet. More protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats will result in muscle gain. Keep changing things up to avoid stagnation. Everyone is guilty of lack of variation, me included. If I chose a more challenging plan, I could improve more. If you look at your long-term running or lifting schedule and none of it pushes you out of your comfort zone you are wrong. So push yourself if you want to see a change. Remember, if you are not actively trying to improve, chances are you are slowly sliding backwards.