When I first announced I was re-starting the blog I’d run for two years I polled people for topics they wanted to know about and par for the course, there was an incredibly wide range of things thrown out there which is exactly what you want. Most of them were a bit too specific to write an entire entry about so I decided to throw together a bit of a breakfast scramble of things to talk about today and make it a collection of quick favorites.
Supplement: Fish Oil
A fairly common question in the gym is “what supplements should I be taking?” and I typically have the same response to all of them.
I am not a very big fan of supplements at all. I am not saying that they don’t work I am just saying that I personally don’t think they are worth the investment. Most people develop a Rick Flair type over-reliance on them and forget about actual whole foods that are more effective.
Let me explain.
Whole foods typically have a much higher Biological Value (BV) than their supplement counterparts. Biological value essentially measures the readiness of the protein and nitrogen in a food, meaning how much of the protein the food has to offer. The higher the BV of a food, the more protein and nitrogen your body retains from that food so you want as high a BV as possible. So, while you might get 40g of protein in a serving of protein powder it typically comes with a lower BV than whole food protein sources.
(Just for kicks, guess which food has the highest BV on the planet? If you said eggs then correc-a-mundo! They score a perfect 100. Chalk up another one for my boys.)
If you are using protein powders, creatine, N.O. boosters, etc as actual supplements rather than food replacements then they can certainly be helpful, but I just don’t see the result output to match up to the dollar cost input.
I’ve reached a 215# push press, 55″ box jump and within arm’s reach of a 400# dead lift at a body weight of around 170# without the helpers of anything other than eggs and heavy metal. World record setting? No. But I bet that’s more than Johnny Bench Press of the same weight who takes thirteen different stacks per day and wakes up at 3 am to bomb a shake. I supposed the argument could be I might go up if I drank a whole bunch of shit and turned myself into a human lab rat but I’m good just using whole foods, fish oil and Tim Tebow’s hair doll.
So, why fish oil? I’ve explained the importance of omega balance in the fight against inflammation before but you can read about both here and here. If you don’t feel like reading it the the takeaway is Fish Oil keeps us balanced and prevents inflammation, disease development, diabetes in addition to containing healthy fats that are good for skin, brain and overall joint function. Fish oil is just the tops.
Strength Exercise: Pull-Ups
I could use this section to nauseate you with my hot and steamy affair with deadlifts, but I will go in a different direction to provide some variety with another great exercise. Now, when I say pull-ups I don’t mean a gymnastic move where the majority of your movement is completed by using momentum and not the pull of the working muscles.
(Ahem, kipping pull-ups)
Will you be able to do more reps if you are doing kipping? Sure, and there’s a place for kipping in the fitness world. But strength training is not about stacking reps just to float a fancy number. I am talking about STRENGTH TRAINING and that is accomplished through strict pull-ups where you should not be able to do any more than 20 at a time and most likely in the 5-10 range for men and 0-3 range for women when starting.
One of the only instances that I prefer a machine is the assisted pull-up machine that almost every gym will have. They are great to start out if you have weak upper body strength as you will be able to complete the full range of motion regardless of how weak you are.
Back when I trained at Globo Gym I had almost all of my clients doing pull-ups of some variety on this machine.
A few weeks of that and you’ll be doing these in no time.
(For the record, I do believe deadlifts to be the best strength exercise without much competition.)
Athletic Exercise: Box Jump
A fair amount of our business at Performance360 is training professional and amateur athletes. At any given month in the gym we’ll have a combination of professional baseball players, college soccer, baseball, track and crew athletes and high school lacrosse players of both genders in all sports. So you can see we do not lack diversity in the type of athletes that we train.
I can tell you that every single one of them performs box jumps on the regular due to their benefit on the phosphocreatine energy system. The PC energy system is the very first system that athletes tap into for somewhat sustained burst movement, generally lasting between 3-15 seconds. A quick first step into a sprint, the need to sprint and tackle someone, run at full speed to go smooch a cheerleader or any type of application of full body force is completely dependent on the PC energy system, making it arguably the most important energy system for athletes. Needless to say we train it religiously with our athletes at P360.
To me, there is no better application of athleticism than taking your body and launching it onto an object five feet off the ground. A truly challenging box jumps requires your entire body to work together athletically to accomplish the goal and it’s an exercise that carries over directly to increased performance on the field, court, track, etc. It will increase speed, quickness, body control and overall athleticism.
Health Condiment: All-Natural Peanut Butter
The obvious answer would be to go with eggs since I honestly cannot tell you the last weekday I went without consuming eggs. I’m positive that my stomach has kept local egg farmers in business over the past few years and if one day I woke up as a chicken, I would not be surprised.
Like the strength exercise above I am going in a different direction in the name of variety, and telling you a little somethin’ somethin’ about peanut butter.
Noooooo, not almond butter. PEA-NUT BUT-TER aka smack, aka crazy horse, aka china white. I’ve been known to wake up not knowing where I am, face down naked in a ditch with just an empty jar of peanut butter in my possession. If I start eating the combination of chocolate and peanut butter then forget about it. Its game, blouses. I stand no chance.
All kidding aside, all-natural sugar-free peanut butter is a perfectly acceptable condiment that can go in shakes, put on fruit or just plain eaten by the spoonful every now and again which I have no shame in doing. I wanted to give them a bit of recognition here mainly because I think the Paleo community has vilified it just a tad too much these days. While I love the basics of Paleo, sometimes it goes way too far into the “paralysis through analysis zone” and this is one of those instances.
“Eat this elephant poo filet. It’s Paleo approved, I promise!”
The knock on peanuts is their lectin content and unfavorable omega-3:6 profile in comparison to almonds. Lectins are public enemy #1 to the Paleo crowd, so I understand the science behind the theory to avoid peanuts if you can. However, call me batshit crazy but I believe every now and again you need to pick foods that you refuse to give up because you know what? Life is to be enjoyed and we’re not talking about deep-fried Twinkies. We’re talking about 100% natural, sugar-free earth grown peanut butter.
Sure, you are going to get a slightly better omega 3:6 profile out of almond butter but if the rest of your diet is dialed in then that discrepancy will have no ill bearing on your overall profile.
High in protein, healthy fats and very satiating, peanut butter makes a perfectly acceptable condiment for your goals.
Favorite Training Music: Punk
My musical selections when training tend to be very um, polarizing. Some people feel it, some people want to dip Q-tips in sulfuric acid. I am okay with that. I am starting to come around a bit more on house music given that’s what all the kids are making me play these days but whenever I train solo it’s a steady dose of Lawrence Arms, Banner Pilot, Rancid, Strung Out, Riverboat Gamblers and The Briggs among others.
Typically speaking, the more the band members hate themselves the better the training music they tend to produce. Alcohol issues with a splash of hate-my-father syndrome makes for some really good deadlifts.
If you don’t have a favorite band or playlist to train to, I highly suggest you find one. There have been numerous studies that show listening to music while training boosts performance and stamina. Listen to something, anything. Just not the guy next to you grunting through his curls in between sets of telling his buddies how fucked up he’s getting that night via loud cell phone conversations.
Drown ’em out.
Fat Loss Exercise: Back Squats
Ugh. Such a boring answer and I almost tried to force something new and weird. Maybe something…something you didn’t even know about. But at the end of the day valuable information comes first and telling you guys that squats are amazing for fat loss was more important than introducing you to Bulgarian Dumbbell Split Squats (which I will soon).
The reason why squats are so effective is very scientific yet very simple. You are working the largest muscles in your body (legs) which elevates our heart rate the most, releases the most anabolic hormones and burns the greatest number of calories when performed in the 12-15 rep range at relatively lighter, more manageable weight.
Just make sure that you are actually going LOW on the squats as the effectiveness is in the last few inches of descent.
‘Parallel or lower’ is a good guideline.
Future Wife: Kate Mara
Ever since ‘Shooter’ I have had that good ole’ fashioned feeling towards Kate Mara., where I’d do anything to…take her out to a nice dinner.
So there you have it. Those are a few of my favorite things. What are yours? Let me know below.