Does Vitamin D Affect Strength?

SST

Last week I wrote a blog highlighting the importance of strength training for young soccer players, using results from a study conducted on an English Premiere League teams 1st, 21-U, and 18-U clubs. (If you missed it, click here).

This week, I want to share an interesting finding involving Vitamin D deficiency in elite Danish swimmers.

Most people with a basic understanding of nutrition know that Vitamin D is very important for bone health and metabolism. However, the discovery of Vitamin D receptors in muscle cells may indicate that it may also play a role in muscle contraction and athletic performance.

Recently, a study conducted on elite Danish swimmers reported an association between Vitamin D status and muscular strength. The main finding was that muscular strength as assessed by hand grip, was significantly higher in swimmers with sufficient Vitamin D status.

Now the most common way to get Vitamin D is through direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, the rest having to come through diet and supplementation. Now I find this interesting, because it’s not uncommon for the sun to take a vacation for a while during Canadian winters. In addition, with swimmers training indoors for hours a day, they might find it especially difficult to meet their daily requirements during the winter months.

 

I hope you found this read intriguing and thought provoking. If you would like to know more about sport specific training or exercise nutrition, stop into SST and try out our excellent Butts & Guts Boot camp.

Chris Anderi

Head Strength Coach, SST Burlington

MSc candidate, Physiology & Nutrition

CSEP-CEP

chico7@sstcanada.com

 

The ONE Supplement I Recommend to ALL My Clients

SST

As somebody who has spent many years studying exercise nutrition and human physiology, there are only a handful of supplements I would actually recommend to my clients, regardless of whether they’re elite athletes or not.

Recently, I covered how intermittent fasting can be a very healthy and safe method to accelerate your fat loss, and how BCAA’s can be taken while training in a fasted state to limit muscle protein breakdown. To read, click here.

In my personal opinion, I believe that Omega-3 fatty acids should be a staple in everybody’s diet. In fact, Omega-3’s are among the only supplements endorsed by the American Heart Association because of their ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack!

Omega-3’s, or α-linoleic acid, are a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are largely present in fish oils. The body is unable to synthesize it on its own, so it must be consumed from the diet. Now unless you are eating 6-8oz of fish every day, you are likely not meeting your daily requirements. The 2 fatty acids of interest within Omega-3’s are EPA and DHA, which are the driving force behind many of the health benefits of Omega-3’s.

Why do I vouch for Omega-3’s 100% of the time?

Omega-3’s are among the strongest dietary sources of anti-inflammatory’s, which if you recall from my previous blog inflammation comes from a variety of daily sources and can impair performance. Perhaps even more importantly, strong evidence indicates that Omega-3 plays a vital role in improving cognition, and may prevent the accumulation of Beta-Amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s Disease! This shouldn’t be surprising considering a large part of our brain matter contains fatty fish oils.

Those two benefits alone should be reason enough to prioritize Omega-3’s into your daily diet. However, it’s the anabolic properties that really seal the deal for me as my “go-to” supplement of choice (I strongly dislike seafood so my dietary intake is minimal).

Studies show that Omega-3 supplementation combined with protein post workout increases the anabolic response (protein synthesis rates) in both middle and older age adults.

In addition, Omega-3 can aid in the post-workout recovery process by directly limiting the amount of inflammation that occurs after a hard training session.

Lastly, Omega-3 also has fat burning properties which can help improve body composition. By regulating hormones like insulin and leptin, Omega-3’s will keep your metabolism highly efficient, promoting fat use versus fat storage.

Stop by SST today and give our Nutrition + Butts & Guts boot camp package a try! 

Chris Anderi

Head Strength Coach, SST Burlington

MSc candidate, Physiology & Nutrition

CSEP-CEP

chico7@sstcanada.com

A MUST READ for Young Soccer Players!

SST

A Must Read for Young Soccer Players!

One of our fundamental values at SST is increasing strength and power. A stronger athlete will be able to produce more force than their weaker opponent. Also, strength training along with proper nutrition are vital for improving body composition by increasing lean mass and reducing fat mass. In the case of a soccer player, the result is a faster and  stronger player on the ball with a more powerful kick.

Don’t believe me?

A recent study examined regional & whole body fat & lean mass distribution on an unnamed English Premier League Soccer team, including all players on the 1st team, 21U, and 18U squads. Researchers found that players on the 1st team had significantly lower body fat percentage than the other squads, despite no significant differences in total fat mass between the squads! Interesting!                                            

The differences in body fat % were attributed to less overall lean mass in the 18U squad!

From a practical standpoint, this means that young soccer players who want to play at an elite level should be focusing on increasing their lean muscle mass by strength training and eating more protein, rather than training for fat loss by endurance exercise and calorie restricted diets.  

Come into SST today and find out how combining an individualized training program with proper nutrition can help you achieve your goals of playing at higher levels, regardless of the sport!

For more information or any general inquires, feel free to contact me at chico7@sstcanada.com

Chris Anderi

Head Strength Performance Coach, SST Burlington

MSc candidate Physiology & Nutrition

CSEP-CEP

 

The Many Benefits of Intermittent Fasting (Part 2)

SST

The Many Benefits of Intermittent Fasting (Part 2)

Intermittent Fasting is a great way to improve your body composition, as it’s proven to safely and effectively promote fat loss while providing additional major health benefits.

For a reminder on the health benefits associated with intermittent fasting, please click here for part 1

IF to increase fat loss is also enhanced by adding training into the mix!

TRAINING WHILE FASTING ACCELERATES FAT LOSS!

After a typical 8-10 hour overnight fast, our glycogen stores become depleted and we are better able to mobilize and burn body fat for energy.

Combine this with an intense early morning training session before breakfast and you can really tap into those fat stores!

After scanning the literature, I’ve derived two possible explanations as to why combining exercise and IF may be more beneficial than either on their own.

  1. Increased lipolysis (breakdown of fats) and fat oxidation (using fatty acids for energy).

Male participants consuming 0.8g/kg bodyweight of carbohydrate an hour before cycling had significantly less fat oxidation during the session. Researchers attributed this to the blunting of lipolysis that was caused by the insulin release. From a practical standpoint, this could mean having breakfast after your morning workout.

  1. Increased blood flow to abdominal region during fasting.

In a 2007 study, participants had a 50% increase in abdominal blood flow after a 72 hour fast. This blood flow was suggestive of increased lipolysis of abdominal adipose tissue (belly fat)!

However, if you’re looking to achieve optimal fat loss from training while intermittent fasting, you are more susceptible to muscle loss. This is because training itself is catabolic, meaning that rep after rep set after set you are continuously tearing away at your muscles. If not careful, you can actually start breaking down muscle to be used as an energy source!

This problem can be avoided by supplementing with BCAA’s during/ right before your workout. Leucine (the most widely studied BCAA) is well known to stimulate protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown.

Because BCAA’s are already in their simplest amino acid form, they bypass the liver and enter the bloodstream directly. This means they can be utilized within minutes after ingestion, unlike other forms of protein like whey and casein.

For this reason, BCAA’s offer muscle sparing and protein synthesis benefits before, during, and after training!

If you are looking for an opportunity to put this theory to the test, stop by SST for any one of our many weekly Butts & Gutt’s boot camps (several early morning options!)

 

Chris Anderi

Head Strength Performance Coach, SST Burlington

MSc Candidate, Physiology & Nutrition

CSEP-CEP

chico7@sstcanada.com

 

Better pre-workout… coffee or beetroot juice? – Part 3 (of 4)

SST

Better pre-workout… coffee or beetroot juice? Part 3

Over the past couple weeks, coffee has been smack in the middle of my blog spotlight. Deservedly so, I mean it stands alone as the only non-supplement capable of providing an ergogenic aid…right?

Click here too see the effects of coffee as a pre-workout: Part 1 Part 2

NOT SO FAST! The emergence of beetroot juice (that’s right, beetroot juice) may offer a viable competitor for coffee as the best dietary pre-workout!

Part 3: Beetroot juice enhances exercise performance!

By now, most of you are probably thinking what the heck is beetroot juice and how can I use it as a pre-workout? Beets, carrots, rhubarb, spinach, bok choy (basically any dark green leafy veggie) contain a nutrient called inorganic nitrate. When we begin exercising, muscle contraction stimulates the production and release of nitric oxide (NO), which serves to dilate our blood vessels, thus allowing for increased blood flow to the working muscles.  However, during times of low oxygen availability or acidic environments (both occur during exercise), the production of NO becomes impaired. Cue in beetroot juice. During times of need (hypoxia, low pH), dietary nitrate is converted into nitrite and then finally into NO.

Ok, lets move on to the important stuff… does it actually improve performance?

The main benefit discovered thus far is reduced oxygen cost during submaximal exercise. This means that for any submaximal effort, your body does not need to consume as much oxygen. Your body becomes more efficient and you can work harder with less. This can improve your overall exercise capacity by allowing you to train longer.

In addition, exercise performance has also been enhanced by drinking beetroot juice prior to training. Participants that consumed 0.5L beetroot juice before completing 4 & 16km cycling time trials experienced an increase in power output compared to placebo controls for the same VO2. Also, their time to completion was significantly faster! Improvements in high intensity intermittent activities resembling sports have also been noted.

Unlike coffee which targets the CNS, the effects of beetroot juice seem to be targeted in the periphery. Enhanced blood flow and oxygen availability have several important functions that help improve exercise performance. The strongest evidence resides in the sparing of intramuscular phosphocreatine (provide energy for immediate, short duration bursts) stores and blunting the increases in ADP and Pi, which are metabolic bi-products of exercise that result in fatigue.

So it works, but can it actually be more effective than coffee? Which do I chose??

Next week ill finish off this 4 part series with a direct side by side comparison of the two, and declare my winner. In the meantime, do not hesitate to pop into SST for a chat and stay for our famous Butts and Guts bootcamp!

Email us at sst@sstcanada.com for more information and exciting promotion for Butts and Guts!

Core Training for Hockey Players

SST

Core and Instability Training – Circus Act, or Performance Fact?

It is becoming impossible to talk about strength and conditioning without someone mentioning “CORE” training. The notion that in order to have functional sports training you must train the core specifically is not only wrong, but is leading to many problems and imbalances in today’s poorly trained athletes.  Before we delve into this, let’s first examine the classical thinking behind “core” training. To many, the core consists of the muscles in the abdomen, lower back, some even include muscles of the pelvis, ribcage, and spine into the equation. You can begin to see where the problem with “core” training begins as it means many different things to different people. Some believe sit-ups and leg raises to be core training, others argue the core is trained with every movement.  So which is it? Well, although sit-ups and leg raises will isolate and train the muscles of the abdomen, they likely will not improve performance.  In fact they can lead to tight hip flexor muscles and decrease mobility; a hockey player’s worst nightmare.  In order for improved performance we must improve the body’s ability to transfer force between tissues.  In order to achieve the greatest amount of force transfer the body must develop the ability to remain stiff. This is where the core comes into play; for improved performance we must train the core’s ability to remain rigid in order to allow for force transfer between the upper and lower extremity. This is especially important in hockey during changing direction, taking a slap shot, and many other basic skills performed numerous times each game.

How do we train Stiffness?                 

To train the body to be able to stay stiff under different conditions we must put it in different situations and force it to remain stiff. Sounds simple? The devil is in the details – using single leg exercises, the body is forced to stabilize itself; also single arm weighted carries may be some of the best core exercises you can use.  In both cases, the body is given an uneven load that it is forced to balance in order to perform the exercise.  Other variations that are great for improving stability: plank variations and loaded squats; both encourage stiffness throughout the mid section in order to transfer force between the lower and upper body. Therefore, if training the body to balance is best then wouldn’t using unstable surface equipment be the most effective?

Although these types of training techniques are often utilized in an attempt to improve stability within the core during exercise, you may not be achieving these benefits from them.  Studies have shown that unstable surface training in trained athletes does not provide adequate stimulus in order to promote a training effect. As a result although it may look impressive to stand on a physio ball with a barbell over your head, or to balance a dumbbell on your head while squatting on a Bosu, in actual fact you are not receiving much more than a cool story to tell at the dinner table that night, and certainly not an increase in performance.  In reality, sports are played on stable surfaces and should be trained on stable surfaces. The inclusion of unstable surfaces during training can also potentially increase the risk of injury due to falling, rolled ankles etc. If the goal of training is to reduce injury and increase performance, then training in a fashion that best mimics the demands of the sport is your best option.

For more info regarding our summer camps please click here

The Many Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

SST

In order for fat loss to occur, the body has to be in an energy deficit. This means that we must consume less energy everyday then we burn. It’s pretty straight forward, if we burn 2500cals/day and only consume 2000, there are 500 that we burned from a source other than food. In an attempt to preserve muscle, our body turns to fat metabolism to supply energy once blood sugar and glycogen stores have been used up.

However, there is one major problem in this equation. Our Western diet revolves around multiple energy dense meals per day, meaning we are almost always burning glucose from the previous meal by the time we eat again and therefore storing excess as fat.

This is where intermittent fasting comes into play. Intermittent fasting provides a window of time designated for feeding (4-12h), and another window designated for fasting (12-24h+). The most common types used and therefore studied are 16 hour fasts with 8 hours feeding, and alternate day fast/feed.

Prolonged periods without food almost certainly guarantee that our body switches to fat metabolism, since it takes several hours after a meal for the food to be digested and absorbed and insulin levels to return to baseline. Critics of IF will argue that it is too extreme and depriving yourself of nutrients will be harmful to the body, which couldn’t be further from the truth!

Major Benefits of IF

  1. Improves insulin sensitivity. The body becomes more sensitive to the effects of insulin… less insulin secretion per meal… lower blood glucose and insulin levels!
  2. Promotes autophagy. Regular bodily process where damaged, old, and dysfunctional proteins are consumed by the body. Think of renovating your kitchen, you need to tear away all the old culverts before installing new ones!
  3. Elevates Growth Hormone production. GH is very important hormone for body composition, because it releases stored fat and preserves muscle during fasting.
  4. Reduced systemic inflammation. Inflammation occurs in the body after exposure to a variety of stimuli, including viruses, injury, certain foods, and even exercise. Chronic inflammation is a precursor to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and other harmful diseases.

Not sold on IF yet?

Stay tuned because in my next blog I will be discussing how and why training while IF can be especially effective. In the meantime, come check out our Butts & Guts bootcamp just in time for a special June promotion… free body composition assessment! (limited number of spots)
Please contact us at sst@sstcanada.com to set up your appointment at a convenient location to you!

Training for the Vertical Jump

SST

A quick Google search will uncover a seemingly infinite number of articles that promise to increase your vertical jump. They advise everything from jumping in sand or water to using a shoe that has a platform at the ball of the foot and no heel (that may look fantastic on Victoria Beckham but we wouldn’t suggest it as a great way to train vertical jump if you value your ankle health). They will tell you to train all the smaller muscles that contribute in relatively minor ways to the vertical jump, and even some that don’t, while virtually ignoring the major contributors. The long and the short of it all is – who can you trust?

We will discuss the vertical jump and offer some training advice as to how to increase your vertical jump. This series may be of interest to volleyball and basketball players who jump as part of their sport performance as well as football and hockey players who will be asked to perform vertical jump testing at combines and training camps. Testing the vertical jump and maximizing your opportunities for performance in that test are a whole different subject. This article will examine how to train to jump as high as you possibly can.

The first thing we should do is decide what muscles are contributing to our ability to vertical jump. The posterior chain is to the vertical jump as location is to real estate. That is to say the major contributors to an athlete’s ability to get into the air are behind them. The glutes contribute 40% of the force output in a vertical jump and the hamstrings produce another 25%. (Poliquin, 2006) If this is surprising to you, what comes next will completely shock you – the quadriceps contribute a mere 5% of the force output and the calves another measly 5% (those numbers are rounded up!). The shoulder flexors, on the other hand, contribute 15% of the vertical jump force. (Poliquin, 2008) A study by Fukashiro and Komi in 2005 suggests that the rank order of the muscles firing in a vertical jump is “hip greater than knee greater than ankle”. We can hear a collective “Huh?” What this means is that the greatest contribution to the vertical jump is made by the hip extensors, followed by the knee extensors, and then the ankle extensors. Still not very clear? Let’s relate these to muscle groups. Extensors of the hip … glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors; of the knee … quadriceps; and of the ankle … calves. So, we’ve discovered that the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors) is the “prime mover” when it comes to the vertical jump. This knowledge will help us focus our training on the muscles that matter when it comes to increasing our vertical jump and enable us to train with a “most bang for the buck” approach.

Before we hit the gym to start our vertical jump strength training, we have to know a little bit about ourselves. I had a football coach many years ago whose favorite saying was “Athlete, know thyself!” He was a pretty smart guy and I think that saying applies just as well here. In order to put all of our power into the ground and jump as high as possible, we must start from a stable platform. You wouldn’t jump off a wobbleboard and expect to get a great result so why would you expect a great result if you have muscle or structural imbalances? The human body does a very impressive job of adapting to its environment. If we have a muscle that is weak, our bodies adapt to that weakness and work around it – our bodies will find a way to get the job done! The secret is to identify those weaknesses and correct them in order that we begin from a base of structural balance. SST’s assessment protocols are designed to identify those imbalances and help us to design a program to correct them. Book your assessment at any of SST’s locations today. There is strength in balance.

We intend to discuss more about achieving structural balance with reference to some common trends we see in testing at SST, some fantastic exercises for gaining strength in the posterior chain, as well as some excellent “bang for the buck” Olympic lifting exercises. We will delve into plyometrics and their application to the vertical jump in sport performance for volleyball and basketball players, reiterate some stretching tips for the hip flexors (and maybe even throw in some stuff that might be new to you!), and give away a few tips to increase performance in the vertical jump test on combine day!

BTW…. with this vertical jump training in mind – check out our Volleyball Camp starting shortly HERE

Better pre-workout… coffee or beetroot juice? – Part 2 (of 4)

SST

Better pre-workout… coffee or beetroot juice?

Last week, we received a glimpse into the beneficial effects of drinking coffee before completing an endurance related activity. However, what about those of us who aren’t triathletes, marathon runners, or Olympic rowers??

The truth is, the majority of the more common everyday  sports like hockey, basketball, football, baseball, etc, rely on more anaerobic energy systems, and are characterized by short, high intensity intermittent bouts of effort. Therefore, these sports may not receive the same ergogenic benefits from coffee.

Part 2: Coffee Improves speed-endurance and high intensity intermittent exercise.

Unfortunately, the research on coffee as an ergogenic aid for anaerobic and power activities is not as clear cut. What we do know is that caffeine can aid individuals performing intermittent bouts of high intensity exercise lasting 4-6s long (most of our SST athletes fall under this category!!). In addition, sports requiring speed endurance (1-3min bursts) also seem to be aided by caffeine consumption.

What about resistance training? Can coffee improve my 1RM?

Sorry guys, not this time. Maximal strength seems to be unaffected by caffeine intake.

However… recent studies involving lower body repetitions to failure offer introductory evidence that caffeine improves endurance in the weight room. More reps = more growth = bigger, stronger, and more powerful legs.

Bottom Line:

  1. Coffee consumption enhances endurance performance.
  2. Coffee consumption can enhance some aspects of anaerobic and power performance.

 

What if I told you there may be another natural dietary food product that may be superior to coffee as a pre-workout?

That’s right, the emergence of beetroot juice as an ergogenic aid is receiving lots of attention in today’s sports science nutrition research!

Next week, we will find out exactly what all the “buzz” is about…

How to lose 5lbs in your belly in two weeks!

SST

In part 1 CLICK HERE I discussed the top 3 ways to lower body fat in your belly and thighs.

I have implemented a new type of weight loss program with clients and the results have been outstanding.  A mother and daughter team tried it for two weeks…results- both lost 5lbs  – 2.1% and 1.5% in body fat…what you need to know about these two is that their body fats were below 15% already!

How did they do this- yes they followed my new regimen but they took a few key supplements.  My favorite one: FENUGREEK SEED…what does it do?

  1. Attacks love handle fat
  2. increase testosterone
  3. improves digestion
  4. Reduces inflammation!

If you like to come in for your complimentary NUTRITION consultation during the month of June please email me back “I want in Dawg!”