Master the Mundane

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

 

“Master the Mundane” is a phrase that I’m using from Jeff Olson’s best seller, The Slight Edge.

If you haven’t read the book or don’t know much about it, let me boil it down in a less-than-ideal super quick summary – Success is achieved one day at a time, one action at a time.  Plain and simple.

Mastering the Mundane is a daily mantra.  Words to live by.  A constant reminder that success isn’t achieved over night.  Financial, personal, spiritual, emotional, or physical – success is something that must be cultivated over time.  Time frames obviously vary from person to person and from situation to situation, but like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But what is it about the “mundane” that is so important to being successful?  Mundane, by definition, means “lacking interest or excitement, dull.”  tThat doesn’t sound very motivating!)

So being unexciting and dull is the key to success?

Yup…..

Sorta.

I feel that mastering the unexciting aspects of your life is where true growth happens.  Everyone has periods of high motivation when we’re willing to run through a brick wall for what we want.  And just as soon as we become motivated, we can also become unmotivated.  But those are the ends of the spectrum.  So what happens in the middle?

The MUNDANE happens in the middle!

Every decision that we make, no matter how insignificant it seems, will either take us closer to our goal or drag us further away from it.  The rub lies in the countless mundane decisions we make every single day.

These decisions – good, bad, or indifferent – will eventually shape our habits.  How does that quote go?  We are what we repeatedly do.  Therefore, greatness is not an act, but a habit.  So our MUNDANE habits that seem inconsequential are constantly shaping how we think, what we do, and more importantly, who we become.

Mundane things are SIMPLE and EASY and anyone can do them.  And I honestly feel that these mundane habits are a true secret to success.  But, if they’re so easy, why doesn’t everyone do them?

According to The Slight Edge, not everyone can master (let alone consistently do the mundane) for three reasons:

  • They’re Easy to Do
  • The Results are Invisible
  • They Seem Insignificant

These everyday, mundane habits are SO easy to do, that they’re also just as easy NOT TO DO!

Reading a few pages of a book every day?  SO simple and easy to do.  Or not do.

Taking 5 minutes to practice diaphragmatic breathing every day?  SO simple and easy to do.  Or not do.

We all have the same amount of time in a day, and we all fill up that time with something.  Usually our days are full of little, mundane actions and tasks.  The difference lies in developing good habits and mastering the mundane, every day tasks and disciplines that will eventually pay dividends in our success and accomplishments.

And just as mundane tasks are easy to do, the results are also invisible, and therefore seem insignificant.

That being said, society today has developed everyone into a “Now Monster.”  We want what we want and we want it NOW!  Amazon Prime has free 2 day shipping?  NOPE!  I need Amazon Prime Now so I can get that crap I ordered in 2 hours instead.  We want instant gratification, instant feedback, and instant results.

We tend to forget that a lot of little things, done over a long period of time, equal out to a really big thing.  We forget that some things take time.  Some things don’t happen instantly.  That beach body you’ve always wanted isn’t going to just show up in the mirror after one day on the treadmill.  And that frustrates us!!  Making the correct, mundane choice doesn’t result in instant success.  But making those correct choices day-in and day-out?  THAT is what is going to make the difference.

That insignificant decision to not go to the gym or not practice your Spanish won’t have a major effect on who we become or our success.  But not going to the gym for 10 years straight?  Yup, probably not going to achieve our fitness goals.  And not practicing Spanish for 10 years straight?  Yup, no hablo Espanol.  They seem insignificant TODAY…but these decisions, added up over time – good, bad, or indifferent – THAT is what makes the difference.

In the end, it’s so simple to do.  Or not do.  The choice is yours.  That’s why we need to understand that the mundane tasks are the ones that are eventually going to shape who we are.

Master these.

 

13 Methods To Increase Your Conditioning

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

 

This is the 4th part of what is an overview of Joel Jamieson’s Certified Conditioning Coach Course.  In this segment, we will discuss a variety of training methods that you can use to increase your conditioning levels.  If you need a refresher, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

When designing a training program, we obviously need an end goal.  What are we trying to achieve with this particular program?  Endurance?  Speed?  Regardless of the goal, our program is nothing more than organization.  It is our road map.  We figure out where we want to be, and then we determine the methods best suited for getting us there.

The following methods will give us all of the tools we need to help us achieve our desired conditioning goals.  We will break down our 13 Conditioning methods into two categories: General Conditioning, and Local Muscular Endurance.

LOCAL MUSCULAR ENDURANCE

Local Muscular Endurance exercises help train certain muscles or groups of muscles to perform repeated contractions against submaximal resistance.  This type of training allows us to work for longer, become more efficient, and allows for faster recovery.

Methods

TEMPO LIFTING:

  • Develops size and endurance of slow twitch fibers
    • Constant tempo (2-0-2) [This denotes 2 seconds of eccentric movement, 0 seconds of pause at the bottom/top of movement, and 2 seconds concentric movement)
    • 3-5 sets x 10-12 reps
    • 40-60 rest between sets
  • Goal of tempo lifting is fatigue.
  • Not to be used for a full body workout.  Pick 2-3 exercises and use them as ACCESSORY lifts AFTER your max effort/dynamic effort lifts.

EXPLOSIVE REPEAT:

  • Increases endurance of fast twitch fibers by increasing mitochondria and improves elastic energy transfer
    • 8-15 seconds work, 30-60 seconds rest
    • Use cyclical movements, i.e. jump squats
    • Goal is to maintain power throughout each set
    • 10-15 sets per exercise
  • Improves elasticity, which is important for transferring power and energy
  • Start with low level hops/bounds/jumps, and gradually build up volume over time
  • NOT a max fatigue technique

SLED DRAGGING:

  • Increases anaerobic buffering and mitochondria in fast twitch fibers
    • Wide variety of exercises to choose from
    • Concentric only – CAN BE USED FOR REGENERATION
    • 20-50 yards, 60-90 seconds rest
    • 3-4 sets per exercise
  • The mainly concentric muscle action will help prevent any delayed onset muscle soreness.  When used at appropriate loads (25%-45%), can help with recovery

STRONGMAN ENDURANCE:

  • Improves postural endurance, grip strength, and anaerobic muscle buffering
    • Carrying for distance
    • Farmers Walk
    • Axel Clean & Press
    • Yolk Walk
    • 60-120 seconds work, 2-4 minutes rest
    • 2-3 sets per exercise
  • Pairs well with tempo training to help build local muscular endurance
  • 2-3 tempo training exercises + 2-3 strongman endurance exercises

AEROBIC PLYOMETRICS:

  • Improves endurance of fast twitch fibers and elasticity of supporting tissues
    • 8-12 bounds, 10-30 seconds rest, 5-10 minutes per set, 1-3 sets per exercise
    • Minimum ground contact time
    • Best exercises include hurdle hops and low box jumps
  • Start with explosive repeat, then use aerobic plyometrics
  • Goal is to accumulate volume and build elastic work capacity
  • Can also be used as a warm-up or cool-down

 

GENERAL CONDITIONING

The goals of the following general conditioning exercises are specific to the methods themselves.  They range from improving resting heart rate (RHR) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV), to increasing lactic energy production and anaerobic endurance.  The key is to test and determine what specific needs you or your athletes may have, assess areas of deficiency, and then prescribe appropriate conditioning methods.  For most athletes, essentially all of the following methods would be appropriate to use at some point during the annual training cycle.

Methods

CARDIAC OUTPUT:

  • Increases left ventricular size through eccentric hypertrophy (dilation)
  • Increases mitochondria in slow twitch fibers
  • Develops vascular network
    • Heart Rate 130-150
    • 30-90 Minutes
  • Improves efficiency of aerobic system, which drives recovery for the entire system
  • Improves Parasympathetic dominance which allows us to better cope with the stress of training
  • Should be noted that resistance for this training needs to remain low in order to keep blood pressure down.  If blood pressure rises too much, heart becomes less elastic, which negates the benefit of increased left ventricle size

TEMPO INTERVALS:

  • Improves capillary density and oxidative abilities of slow and some fast-twitch fibers
    • 8-10 seconds work, 60 seconds rest
    • 8-16 reps
    • Moderate intensity (<70% of max intensity)
  • Will see some regeneration effects
  • Goal with tempo intervals is to build work capacity

HIGH RESISTANCE INTERVALS:

  • Conversion of “Fast Glycolytic” to “Fast Oxidative Glycolytic” muscle fiber type
    • High resistance – use an incline or a load
    • Short work – 5-6 seconds
    • Rest 60 seconds or until HR is ~130 BPM
    • Moderate to High volume
  • Purpose is to activate the highest threshold fibers
  • Would not use this method until moderate fitness levels are achieved
  • Easiest application = Uphill Sprinting

HIGH INTENSITY CONTINUOUS TRAINING (HICT):

  • Increases oxidative abilities of moderate fast twitch fibers.
  • No eccentric component = useful method for recovery
    • 10-20 minutes
    • 1-2 sets
    • Low tempo
    • HR = 150-160 BPM

INTENSIVE INTERVALS:

  • Increases rate/capacity of alactic energy production
  • Use exercises intended for explosive strength and power training
    • 3-6 seconds work
    • 60-120 seconds rest
    • 10-20 sets
  • Used as season gets closer, much more sport specific

EXTENSIVE INTERVALS:

  • Increases lactic energy production and anaerobic endurance
  • Very fatiguing method, used more as a general preparation method (not as sport specific)
    • 30-40 seconds work
    • 1-4 minutes rest
    • 2-5 sets
    • 1-2 series
  • Rest longer for lactic power, shorter for lactic capacity

THRESHOLD TRAINING:

  • Increases oxidative efficiency and power at lactate threshold
  • This method trains just below the level where ANAEROBIC system dominates
    • 5-10 minutes
    • 1-3 sets
    • HR in “threshold range” (160-170 BPM)

CARDIAC POWER INTERVALS:

  • Increases cardiac contractility, anaerobic muscle buffering, and local muscular endurance
  • The goal is getting HR to max and keeping it there
    • Intensity to max HR
    • 90 seconds to 2 minutes
    • Rest 1-3 minutes
    • Best exercise: sprinting
  • Do not use more than 2x per week for 3-4 weeks, as it is very intensive

 

As you can see, the methods to achieving better conditioning go beyond the traditional view of “running to get in shape” or anything like that.  The methods themselves will have very specific effects on your conditioning levels.  For example, if you only do Cardiac Output work, you’ll have a low Resting Heart Rate, but your anaerobic endurance will suffer.  Luckily, we have the ability to monitor and track variables that give us insight to how our body is responding to the stresses placed upon it.

It is also obvious that certain methods of conditioning are used for very specific purposes.  My advice to anyone who wants to improve their overall level of conditioning is this:

  • Determine where you are starting (test)
  • Figure out where you want to be and how long you have to get there (plan)
  • Determine the appropriate methods for attaining results (program)
  • Periodically re-test and monitor variables to ensure improvements are being made (evaluate), and adjust as needed.

 

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach Course: Part 3

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

 

Our previous post dealt primarily with the concept of Energy Systems and how they relate to our training and conditioning.  If you didn’t get a chance, you can check it out here.

And as promised, today’s topic will revolve around Movement Potential and Variability, as well the brain’s role in conditioning.

I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of Movement Potential and Variability is somewhat complicated, so I’ll try my best to clearly explain its role in conditioning.  Our movement potential is what our body is capable of achieving, doing, or becoming in the future.  Obviously certain persons have a larger potential for achieving more complicated movements, but everybody has a certain amount of “human movement potential.”

In the role of conditioning, our movement determines both our energy production as well as our energy expenditure.  For example, inefficient movement results in a lower quality transfer of forces to the environment.  In this situation, we can use the analogy of a car that is out of alignment, or is driving while the emergency brake is on.  This is not the ideal environment for the car.  It still runs, and you can still get to where you need to be, but it requires a greater amount of work (energy) to do so.  Inefficient movement in the human body could be due to poor running mechanics, improper energy system development, sub-optimal power to weight ratio, muscle imbalances, and so on.  On the other hand, very efficient movement expends the least amount of energy.

Our Movement Potential is largely determined by various “movement qualities,” such as:

  • Joint Mobility/Stability
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Lever Length
  • Muscle Fiber Size/Type
  • Fascial Chains

These movement qualities are what determine how well we are able to move dynamically throughout a wide range of different patterns.  Now, some of these traits are genetically inherited, but with proper training certain qualities can be enhanced.  As we all know, some people are blessed with a capacity to run fast, move quickly, run for long periods, etc.  However, the point I am trying to make is that movement is the culmination of many qualities and factors, and by training these qualities in a specific manner, we can influence our Movement Potential in a certain direction (run faster, run longer, be more reactive).

Movement Variability is defined as “the normal variations that occur in motor performance across multiple repetitions of a task.”  Whether you know it or not, no two movements that we do are identical.  There are so many environmental factors that affect how we move.  Simple tasks like getting up from the couch will always be slightly different.  Even with professional athletes (where it appears they LACK variability because they are so consistent performing a certain task, such as swinging a bat, shooting a basketball, throwing a football), they actually have GREATER Movement Variability than the average person.  This greater Movement Variability gives an athlete the flexibility to solve a variety of movement “problems” more effectively.

According to Jamieson, the goal of training “is not to perfect a single movement pattern or patterns, but rather to develop the greatest range of stable movement variability while preparing the body and brain for the specific environment – no such thing as the same movement twice.”  In other words, we need to prepare the body to meet a variety of tasks, and allow it to find the best way to perform those specific tasks.

Of course, this “potential” and “variability” are controlled by the brain.  The brain plays an understated but immensely important role in conditioning.  We commonly assume that conditioning, or being well-conditioned, is all about the heart and the cardiovascular system.  That is part of the picture, but body is much more complex than that.

The body always seeks to maintain homeostasis (stability) through allostasis.  During training, we are introducing the body to a wide array of environments and stimuli, and the body is constantly adjusting for the specific purpose of energy production.  In other words, the brain determines the needs that must be met INSIDE the body in order to meet the demands OUTSIDE the body.  This leads the body to either increase energy production or increase energy storage.

Whenever we discuss training and conditioning, we must also discuss decision-making and motivation.  The brain obviously is the prime player in this process, as well.

In any decision regarding movement and performance, the brain will essentially perform a “cost-benefit analysis.”  How hard we work (motivation) is about predicted utility versus predicted costs, as well as any risk.

Risk vs Reward Matrix - Targeting the Best Quadrant

When training or coaching conditioning specific tasks, it’s important to reinforce the benefits and downplay the cost of the work to be done.  We don’t need to be shady or backhanded about our approach, but designing a program that shows constant progress is important to keep motivation high.

According to Jamieson, “when the brain and body are prepared for the environment and there is motivation, movement performance is high.  When they are not, the result is fatigue and a decrease in movement efficiency and skill execution.”

The brain is obviously a massively complex processing system, and it’s role is to take in as much information as possible about the internal and external environment and make the necessary adjustments to maintain homeostasis.  The job of a coach and training program is to PREPARE the brain and body for the environmental demands.

Just remember that “movement variability is the oil to the central nervous system.”  Sometimes having stiffness in a movement is a good thing, sometimes we need to be free and loose.  We can target and train certain qualities (fiber size/type, joint stiffness/mobility/stability) to help achieve our goals.  But we must also prepare the body to operate under a variety of conditions while performing a variety of tasks.  The body will self organize itself and find the best way.  Allow it to happen.

 

Photo Courtesy of:

http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/management/Ob-Or/Operant-Conditioning.html

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach Course: Part 2

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

 

Yesterday we briefly outlined Joel Jamieson’s Certified Conditioning Coach course.  If you didn’t get a chance to take a peek at it, check it out here.  In essence, the course offers a real world practicality that can be applied by any person, regardless of training age or experience.

Whenever conditioning for athletic performance is discussed, perhaps the most popular discussion topic is “energy systems.”  In a very rough and global sense, energy systems are exactly what they sound like; how we take the food we eat and convert it into usable energy.  In a more specific sense that relates to conditioning,  it’s the pathway or process that our body uses to provide energy, based on the demands of the environment.

We have three energy systems that our body relies upon – Aerobic (Oxidative), Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolytic), and Anaerobic Alactic (ATP-PCr).   It should be noted that the term “aerobic” simply means “involving oxygen” and the term “anerobic” means “absence of oxygen.” To give you an idea of what each system does and when it is on, take a look at the graph below:

Energy Systems

As you can see, the Anaerobic Alactic (ATP-PCr) system works for a short time, but the body relies on it when it must produce a massive amount of energy over a small period of time.  Even if the body wanted to use it for a long period,  the substrates that supply this system cannot be replenished quickly enough for this to be possible.  Its ability to provide energy lasts up to about 10 seconds.  To use this system, just sprint for as fast as you can and as long as you can.  You’ll notice that you start to gas-out shortly after about 10 seconds.  Then our next system kicks in…

The Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolytic) system is our sort of “in-between” system.  This system will last us around 10 seconds up to about 90 seconds.  It still allows us to work at a high intensity, but our body now is now breaking down glucose to produce our energy.  This process will produce lactic acid as a byproduct of energy production (no that’s not why your muscle’s get sore after lifting weights), hence it’s name.

Finally, our Aerobic (Oxidative) system allows us to work for extremely long periods of time.  This system utilizes oxygen as well as a host of other substrates in a complicated process to provide energy.  It lacks the ability to provide quick bursts of energy, but it is the energy system we rely on for roughly 99.9% of energy throughout our life.  The aerobic system has many working parts.  This means that it provides us with lots of adaptable areas, which in turn allows us greater flexibility when training this system.

What this course outlined was essentially how to train these three energy systems in preparation for our specific goals.  Because each sport challenges energy production in different ways, we must train accordingly.  As Jamieson stated “Every adaptive response in the body is essentially about maintaining homeostasis so that energy production can be maintained in the specific environment.”

We can break down each “environment” into three components:

  • Rate of energy production
  • Duration of energy production
  • Work to rest ratio

These variables define each unique environment that we may encounter in regards to conditioning.

Rate of energy production is defined by “how rapidly ATP is regenerated during the work period.  High rate = high power output.”  This would be anything that takes a lot of energy in a very short time, such as weightlifting, sprinting or throws in track, and power lifting.  High rate of energy production = Anaerobic dominant.

Duration of energy production is defined by “how long energy must be produced for.  Duration = economy/efficient.” Marathon runners or cyclists certainly have to produce energy for long periods of time, and their training reflects this.  Long duration activities are Aerobic dominant.

Work to rest ratio is defined by “variance between length of work and periods of rest.”  If we have activities that require greater power demands, we need longer rest to recovery ratios between sets.  This would include exercises that are Anaerobic in nature.  Activities that have a greater Aerobic contribution require shorter rest periods OR longer work periods.

It should also be noted that the more repetitions done consecutively, the more Aerobic an exercise becomes.  This comes into play when we need to determine how much aerobic conditioning an athlete needs.

Now that we understand energy systems and how they pertain to conditioning, we can start to see how we will put together our programs.  Tomorrow we will discuss movement potential and variability, as well as the role of conditioning in the brain, all in an effort to better understand how we can train more efficiently and effectively.

 

Photo Courtesy of:

http://www.sprintscience.com/physiology.htm

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach Course: Part 1

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

 

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Joel Jamieson’s “BioForce Certified Conditioning Coach” course in Indianapolis.

Joel is known in the industry as the guru for all things conditioning related.  He is the author of the “Ultimate MMA Conditioning” book, which was written specifically for combat sports, but its breadth of application spreads far beyond just MMA.

In years past, conditioning was viewed simply as “training as hard as you can” and that it was needed to develop mental toughness.  We made sure that we periodized our strength training, but conditioning was almost considered an afterthought.  Besides, all the athlete really needed were some high intensity intervals, and we really didn’t need to do that until right before competition time.  Sound about right?

Jamieson’s course did a fantastic job of getting the attendees to start thinking about the “hows” and “whys” of conditioning.  Like previously stated, we already periodize and think critically about our strength programs, so perhaps we really need to be doing the same with our conditioning programs.

This course also helped answer some common questions, such as “How can we use specific types of training to maximize our athlete’s or client’s conditioning levels”?  Or “how do we “test” for conditioning”?  All these questions were certainly answered, and more.

Conditioning itself can best be measured as the “maximum amount of power output that can be maintained over a given time.”  So athlete’s who are conditioning can run/bike/row for longer without getting tired, i.e., losing power.  However, certain sports and activities require this “max power” to be distributed at different times, different lengths, and in different quantities.  It’s obvious that a marathon runner has seemingly infinite energy, but his power suffers because of how he trains and the very demands of his sport.  Inversely, a football player will have a much greater amount of power, but he can only sustain this for very short periods.  The conditioning programs that we design must take into account the specific demands of each sport so that we can maximize our athlete’s skills to their fullest potential.

When we look at the definition of conditioning and see “maximum amount of power,” there are many factors that determine this power output in regards to conditioning.  It cannot simply be determined by our cardiovascular system or our energy systems.  Rather, it is a combination of factors including our movement qualities, connective tissue, energy systems, sensory feedback, and motor control.  ALL of these factors must be taken into account when developing a conditioning program to develop power.  If we concentrate only one of these factors, we will probably get some crossover to others, but we certainly won’t be maximizing our potential.

Over the next 3 days, I’m going to break down the course and help you to better understand how to program a solid conditioning course to help our athletes maximize their full potential.  We will discuss energy systems, movement potential and variability, the role of the brain in conditioning, and finally training methods.

Build Your House

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

 

Taken from the book “Burn Your Goals: The Counter Cultural Approach to Achieving your Greatest Potential.”

Let me tell you a story about a carpenter from England named John.  He had built hundreds of houses for his company over the last fifteen years, and his work was so good that the company became one of the premiere developers in the country.  John worked extremely hard putting in overtime nearly every day, and paying special attention to detail on every project.

One day John decided he was going to retire.  So he spoke with his boss about it and they decided he would work one last week.  His boss called him in the next morning and asked if he would build just one more house for a very special friend of his.  Half-heartedly, John agreed and began work on his house.

Though he had built excellent houses in the past, this build was different.  Many times in the past John had pushed through days and months where he struggled to find motivation, but he just didn’t feel it on this project.  Knowing this was his last go around, John showed up each day with less focus than usual.  He bought materials and supplies that were second rate.  He delegated a lot of tasks without providing supervision.  He only worked the hours he was “supposed to,” knowing he could build the house up to code on autopilot.  He showed up everyday with little joy and without the drive to be better than he was the day before.

Despite the lack of desire and motivation, the house was built on time and was up to code, although not built to the standard he was used to.  Walking into the office, beaming ear to ear, John meets with his boss to shake hands and say farewell.  After saying thanks, John walks towards the door.  His boss calls to him, “John, one last thing.”  As John turns to face him, his boss hands him a small box with a ribbon around it.  John opens the box and pulls out a set of shiny silver keys.  His boss says, “The house is yours.  You deserve it.”  He gave him the keys to the house John just built.

Immediately, John’s heart sank.  If only he knew that he was building his own house, he would have done it all differently.  He would have worked with the utmost passion and precision.  He would have spent twice the amount of time and would have showed up every day with a clear focus on the job at hand, knowing the he was going to reap what he was sowing.

I’ll be the first to admit that all too often, I have failed to realize that I am constantly “building my own house.”  Every thing that I do, or don’t do for that matter, is part of the building process.

Negative thoughts sow negative consequences that weaken my foundation.  But positive actions will sow positive results and help build my dream home.

Everything that we do MATTERS!  So remember to make use of your time wisely.  Learn more and be more efficient with your time.  Cut out the things that are having a negative impact in your building process.  Determine what is most important to you and set your life’s compass towards that destination.  If you do, you won’t be disappointed with what you’ve built.

Nutrient Timing

Nutrient Timing: When and What to Eat

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

Most people, especially if you’re reading this blog, have probably heard that when you eat can be just as important as what you eat.

An example would be – No Carbs after 7 pm if you’re trying to get lean.

Or make sure you don’t skip breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day.

And an example regarding post workout nutrition – there is an “anabolic window” that lasts 30-45 minutes after we finish intense exercise when we should consume our food.  Regardless of whether there is an anabolic window (studies have shown that there is, but the research is done in regards to short term effects), or if someone should limit their carbohydrate intake after 7 pm, can we say we know for certain that when we eat is critical for reaching our goals?

A lot of how and what and when we eat is completely dependent upon our goals.  Do we want to gain muscle mass, lose fat, have better results on our blood tests, or fit into an old pair of pants?  If you’re like most people, you want to be healthy and you want to look better naked.  It’s the truth.

There are a handful of different “eating” trends floating around, but who is to say which one is definitively better than the other?  In a previous post, I talked about intermittent fasting, its benefits and drawbacks, and whether the fad actually held any water.  It is a powerful eating habit that may be right for some.  Perhaps you choose a low carbohydrate diet , and you may have had a lot of success with this method.

So should we ignore the idea of nutrient timing and eat whatever we want, whenever we want?  Absolutely not.

All I’m saying is that there are multiple strategies regarding what and when to eat that can help us achieve our goals.  Let me give you an example:

Let’s assume that we workout at a fairly intense level (weight lifting, interval training, etc.) on Monday and Thursday.  On Tuesday and Friday, we also workout, but it’s slightly less intense.  Some light weightlifting, maybe a group class, but we definitely break a sweat.  On Wednesday and Saturday, we have an active recovery day.  Light cardiovascular activity, some stretching, see you later.  And of course, we rest on Sunday.

And we’ll clean that up and it’ll look like this:

  • Monday – High Intensity
  • Tuesday – Medium Intensity
  • Wednesday – Low Intensity/Recovery Work
  • Thursday – High Intensity
  • Friday – Medium/Low Intensity
  • Saturday – Low Intensity/Recovery Work
  • Friday – Off

So, now that we have an idea of what we are doing, and we have our goal in mind (better body composition), here is a simple example of how we can time our nutrients (FOOD) on these days to help us achieve said goal.  As a disclaimer, this is a gross generalization meant to act as a guide.  If you would like to discuss nutrition and/or nutrient timing in further detail, please contact me.

  • Monday
    • Post Workout: High Protein, High Carbs.  This is when we should eat the vast majority of our carbohydrates.  Fruits, grains, starches, etc…Our intense workout has given our body an increased glucose tolerance.  Our body wants to replenish glucose and glycogen stores and to start repairing muscle that has been broken down.
    • Rest of Day: High Protein, Low Carbs, Low/Moderate Fat
  • Tuesday
    • Post Workout: High Protein, Moderate Carbs.  For the same reason mentioned above, but our workout was slightly less intense today, so less carbohydrates are required to replenish stores in our muscles and liver.  We keep protein levels high to make sure we have adequate amino acids present to help with protein synthesis.
    • Rest of Day: High Protein, Low Carbs, Moderate Fat.
  • Wednesday
    • Post Workout: Moderate Protein, High Fat, Low Carbs.  Since Wednesday is a light recovery day focused around cardiovascular activity, we simply don’t have a need for a high amount of carbohydrates after our workout.  The body has plenty of energy available in the form of fat stores.  In fact, fat is a better energy source for long term activity than carbs.
    • Rest of Day: Moderate/High Protein, High Fat, Low Carbs.
  • Thursday
    • Post Workout: Same as Monday.
    • Rest of Day: Same as Monday.
  • Friday
    • Post Workout: Same as Tuesday.
    • Rest of Day: Same as Tuesday.
  • Saturday
    • Post Workout: Same as Wednesday.
    • Rest of Day: Same as Wednesday.
  • Sunday
    • Enjoy Yourself in Moderation!

As you can see, we try to eat a majority of our sugary (from fruit) and/or starchy carbs after we have a bout of intense exercise.  Like previously stated, the body has a different metabolic response to glucose after exercise.  Taking in good, quality carbs at this time can allow us to keep our sanity while also helping us with our fitness and health related goals.

On days when we don’t work so hard, it’s still important that we get plenty of vegetables in our diet, but this is a time when we probably don’t have as much wiggle room when it comes to carbohydrates.  I always tell clients or my athletes who are concerned about body composition that “they need to EARN their carbs….” If you bust ass at the gym, you can probably “afford” the extra carbs.

On days when we have lower carbohydrate intake, our fat intake should be higher to counteract the lack of calories coming in from carbs, and our protein should always remain at a moderate to high level.  Just please don’t go high fat, high protein, high carbohydrates.  Protein remains high, and fat and carbs counterbalance each other.

So will timing your nutrients and calories instantly help you achieve your goals?  Probably not.  But I do believe that it’s a start.

And more importantly, if you’re thinking about nutrient timing, then you’re also thinking about what you’re eating.  And that’s where we will see some major changes and some major progress!

Everyone is different and everyone’s physiology will react differently.  Try this template of eating, and maybe it will work for you.  Maybe it won’t.  But what it WILL do is get you thinking more critically about what you put in your mouth.  And that’s the most important thing!

Photo Courtesy of:

http://www.rugbyrenegade.com/nutrient-timing-rugby/