Does Vitamin D Affect Strength?

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.

Want to know more about what SST teaches athletes about nutrition? Click here to visit out website or book an online nutrition consultation today!

 

Better pre-workout… Coffee or Beetroot juice? – Part 2 (of 2)

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?

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!

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 coffee or beetroot juice? Well it eventually come down to personal preference. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and others can’t handle the taste of beetroot juice.  At the end of the day (or beginning of your workout) The choice that will give you the best advantage is the one you can do consistently.  

Click here to get your free copy of your at home Quaran lean e-book for 14 days of workouts you can do to get ready to head back to the gym!

Better pre-workout… Coffee or Beetroot juice? – Part 1 (of 2)

Coffee Improves Endurance Performance.

Wake up, rush through your daily morning routine, and hurry out the door to make it to work on time. While waiting in the Timmy’s drive-thru line you can’t help but get an eerie feeling you forgot something. You continue on with full determination, knowing your morning “boost” is just a couple cars away. Does this sound like you?

Coffee is one of the most regularly consumed beverages, because it provides the energy and focus needed to get through our hectic days. Coffee’s main ingredient, caffeine, acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulator making us feel more alert and focused. In addition, coffee contains anti-oxidants, polyphenols, and tannins… all good for the body. For this reason, coffee has become a popular pre- workout choice of many athletes. But does it actually work?

Part 1 of this 2 part series will focus on coffee and its effects on endurance performance. Runners, cyclists, rowers, I have good news. COFFEE CAN IMPROVE PERFORMANCE!

In A 2016 review (1), coffee was reported to improve time to exhaustion trials by an average of 24% and time to completion trials by 3%… in a 2 hour race that’s over 3.5mins faster… can you say, new PR?!

These positive effects are largely due to caffeine blunting the inhibitory effects of adenosine. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that “inhibits” the CNS. What you are left with are feelings of reduced perceived exertion, pain, and improved vigour during training. At the muscular level, caffeine aids in the excitation-contraction process by increasing Calcium flux. So far so good, right? Well it gets better… there does not seem to be a diuretic response or any other fluid level concerns that could hinder your performance… amazing!

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.

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.

  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…

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Take a coffee nap?

We all know when we are feeling sluggish or tired we like to reach for our favorite Java or take a nap.  What if I told you that research shows if you do both the results are much better than one or the other?

Here is the catch – YOU DRINK the coffee first and then take a 15-20 minute nap right away!

How does this work?

Adenosine is a byproduct of brain activity, and when it accumulates at high enough levels, it plugs into these receptors and makes you feel tired. But with the caffeine blocking the receptors Adenosine is blocked.  How and why…Adenosine and caffeine compete for similar receptor sites.

Whenever you sleep- adenosine is cleared from the brain. Short naps of up to 20 minutes does not put you into deep sleep and allows the caffeine around 20 minutes to get through your gastrointestinal tract and bloodstream anyway.

What to do- drink a coffee as quick as possible – and one with more caffeine and immediately go to sleep- even if it takes you long time- try- the catch make sure to set your alarm for 20 minutes!

Give it a try!

Come in for a FREE demo with our MaxFit class!

To book please email us at sst@sstcanada.com and we’ll get you scheduled for your demo.

Why Strength Training Is Vital For Basketball Players

The argument can be made that improvement in basketball requires a more diverse set of workouts than most any other sport. Successful players work regularly on agility, endurance, strength, flexibility, and coordination – to say nothing of specific skills and team practices. While endurance and skill work tend to win out as the biggest focal points for players looking to improve their games in totality though, we would contend that strength training should also be a major point of emphasis.

This is something we talk about with regard to football more often, with strength work representing an understood aspect of in-season training. This is only natural given the intense physicality of the sport. However, while a single basketball practice or game may not involve quite as much physicality as football, it can still be a grueling sport over the long term. A season, a summer of workouts, or even a full career can lead to enough wear and tear that, if you’ll forgive the cliché, only the strong survive.

This isn’t merely a suggestion from someone who values strength training though, nor is it the perspective of one coach. Rather, it’s an idea that’s regularly backed and exhibited by people at the top of the basketball world.

One example of this actually came very recently, in the form of an interview former All-Star Kevin Garnett gave with sportswriter and podcaster Bill Simmons. The main focus of the interview wound up being on some comments Garnett had about LeBron James but he offered some fascinating perspective on fitness as well. Garnett was never the bulkiest player in the game, but was known for toughness and endurance above all else. His lithe but rock-solid frame allowed him to impose his will upon heavier and more muscular opponents, making him an excellent person to advocate for strength training. In his interview, however, Garnett was actually speaking more to the strength of NBA legend and physical behemoth Shaquille O’Neal.

Confronting the common narrative that O’Neal occasionally payed out of shape, Garnett argued that his longtime opponent was actually bulking up intentionally earlier in seasons so that his body could withstand the gradual beating it would take over the course of half a year’s worth of games. Garnett was speaking specifically to the notion that basketball players need strength for the long term.

Another, more everyday example comes in the form of LeBron James, who may yet go down as the best player in the history of basketball. Right now most would still give that label to Michael Jordan, but the way James is still competing at the age of 34 indicates he still has time to establish the greatest legacy. Right now, people following the NBA have their clearest picture ever of what the data hawks and oddsmakers believe will happen in the league, thanks to the relatively new presence of U.S.-based bookies online. These bookies post odds for NBA action day in and day out, on the basis of information compiled by betting and gambling experts who are not just watching, but conducting thorough analysis of league activity.

Look to these online bookies and their NBA odds right now, and you’ll see the Lakers – led by LeBron James – favored in most of their games. The same bookies also show the Lakers as league-wide favorites (or perhaps co-favorites with their cross-town rival Clippers). How this factors into the strength discussion is simple: Look at LeBron James’s physique. He’s a famed physical specimen who works incredibly hard to maintain muscle and keep his body primed for long seasons, lengthy playoff runs, and all the attrition that goes with them. The online bookies are different from the fans (who widely admire James and generally want him to keep winning). They actually analyze the game to compile betting odds, and they’ve determined that a player who by all rights ought to be worn down and physically exhausted is still dominant enough to lead a title favorite. More than perhaps any other conceivable example, this speaks to the benefits of strength training for basketball players over time.

As a final example though, and perhaps a broader point toward development in younger players, we’d also point out that even the USA Basketball organization appears to openly value strength training. To backtrack somewhat, we’ll note that one reason a lot of basketball players neglect strength training is that they’re concerned it will negatively affect skills. For instance, a lot of players think that strengthening their arms or adding upper-body bulk will alter their shooting form.

USA Basketball included these ideas among its myths about basketball training. The program suggested that there’s no actual evidence for strength impacting shooting form, and argued that players serious about improving can work on shooting and strength training at the same time, and enjoy improvement with both facets.

Based on all of these examples and arguments, we’d support the idea that strength training is vital for developing basketball players. Building muscle may not be the only thing that’s important to work on, but it can help a player withstand a long, physical season or an active career, and it won’t get in the way of other aspects of the game.

Did DK Metcalf stunt his growth?

I am just watching the NFC Wild card game and DK Metcalf’s record day. 

Metcalf is a 6’4 220 lb chiseled wr whose father had him start lifting at the age of 6!!  Yes you read that correctly.  6 years old and lifting weights…did it stunt his growth…NO!  In fact research shows that 77% of people who lift weights at a young age are the tallest in their family

2.  Young athletes who train with weights are hurt much less then kids who don’t lift weights

3. Strength training is safe for kids as long as it is personalized and supervised

4. Strength training wil increase a young athletes mobility

5. Will strength training guarantee you a scholarship or play pro….no but I can assure you if you don’t you will have much less of an opportunity!

Now be like DK Metcalf and squat 100bs at the age of 6!!

If you want to get jacked try my 8 week speed /strength football program

DAWGMODE!

Coach Larry Jusdanis

SST BURLINGTON

To read more on this subject … CLICK HERE!

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Becoming A Better & Well Rounded Athlete!

I’m going to go off on a little bit of a rant here… so bear with me. I’ve been in the sports training world for a few years now and there is one thing that really bugs me. Too many times I talk with young kids (6-12) and they tell me what sport they play either hockey, basketball or soccer are the common ones. I always have the same question for them, “Is that the only sport you play?” 75% of the kids say yes! This is a huge problem for young kids, we are specializing them way to early, and I will explain why!

Sports Are Fun!

When kids are young, sports is about having fun and getting them involved, meeting friends, most of them could really care less about who wins and who losses it’s just a fact. The parents in the stands care way more about that stuff. Young boys and girls should be playing all kinds of sports for two reasons;

  1. It will keep them interested in physical activity and it wont become boring
  2. They will be able to make more friends and interact with more people

Becoming A Better Well Rounded Athlete

I coach football so I see this all the time. When our OL and DL are un-athletic when they are young, one of them best ways to help with their coordination is to make them play Basketball. They are running, jumping sprinting all the while trying not to bump into people. It is literally the complete opposite of what they normally do! In the summer when the pro hockey guys come back to train when they first start doing speed work, it looks like they are running with skates on, at the end of the summer they look more smooth and natural because they have been doing other things than just SKATING! Playing more sports will allow you to become a more well rounded athlete!

Keeping the Competitive Fire Burning

During off season training it is very easy to fall into a rut, doing the same things over and over again. At SST we put such a big emphasis on competition and struggle but sometimes it gets hard to mimic that in the weight room. Every summer during the High Performance Camp when are athletes look like they are starting to get mentally drained we pull out the basketballs and head to the court. Right away you can see the competitiveness come right out of them while they are having fun! This is so important when training high level athletes, there needs to be hard work obviously but you need to keep them engaged!

At the end of the day, here is my point! Less than 1% of high school athletes will get a FULL Division 1 Scholarship for their respective sport! And 1% of the will go pro and make a living playing the sport that they love. Sure, sports can be the avenue that we scratch our competitive itch, but at the end of the day, young kids need to be having fun. Kids don’t care about all the stuff when they are in grade 3 they just want to have fun! SO, LET THEM!

If you’re looking for more information on preventing overuse injuries and making the weight room something they don’t dread, please Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to schedule a complimentary demo session today!

Are You Explosive Enough In Your Sport?

One of the most important aspects of training an athlete is plyometrics. It is crucial in making an athlete more explosive. Here is the key piece with Plyo’s with young kids. They are great but an athlete needs to be assessed before to correct all of their deficiencies. If an athlete is not strong it is very hard to make them explosive. It’s a very simple equation, you must be strong before you can be explosives. Here are my three favorite plyometric exercises!

Box Jump:

Everyone does this! It’s a great way to train jumping! Here is my biggest tips with regards to box jumps. The landing is the most important part. The landing needs to be soft and you shouldn’t hear it. If you can hear the landing make the box smaller and land soft. One way to spice up box jumps is too jump out of a seated position! My personal favorite way to take this drill to the nest level is to make the athlete jump on que, that’s the way sport is played; very rarely do you get to pick and choose when you want to react!

Depth Jump:

This is an awesome one for young athletes but also older athletes. This is so important on training not only plyometric strength and isometric strength. This exercise allows you not only to learn how to land which is so important, but it teaches your body how to take a load through the ground which is important. One cool way to do a depth jump is to add a box jump too it. Have a player jump off a box take the load thru the ground, then jump up into the air!

4 Dot Drill:

My personal favorite! This drill is basically 4 dots on a mat, and the athletes will jump in different directions from dot to dot. The best way to do this drill is in short bursts, 5-10 seconds. You can make this drill harder by changing the way the athletes faces during the drill, flipping his hips during the drill. My biggest tip for this drill is to make sure the athletes keeps his or her eyes up. You can make them focus on some sort of visual cue!

Plyo’s are so important to creating an all around great athlete. But like I previously stated, young athletes need to be “strong” before we worry about Plyo’s!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to schedule a free demo session or to ask about out vertical jump program or our strength and conditioning programs.

Why Men Need To Strength Train As They Age!

Strength training is not just for the young guys and I would argue that as men age, strength training becomes more and more important to maintain muscle function and quality of life.

Due to the natural loss of testosterone with aging, it becomes more difficult to maintain and build muscle mass. Furthermore, in those who don’t strength train to combat this, we generally see a loss of muscle mass as we age, along with a loss of muscle function and decreased quality of life. Easy tasks of daily living such as getting up from a chair, playing with the grandkids at the park, or working on some of our favourite outdoors hobbies such as woodworking or playing in our recreational hockey league become difficult.

While some men tend to do endless amounts of cardio as exercise as they age, I would argue that strength training is just as important if not more important, as muscle mass helps to maintain and increase our slowing metabolism as we age that helps to combat fat mass gain. Furthermore, strength training also helps to maintain our cardiovascular health and can be as effective as pure cardiovascular exercise to prevent heart attack and stroke. 

When combined with a die that includes adequate dietary protein, resistance training in the older years can still promote muscle gain, so even if you are starting to resistance train later in life it still has tremendous benefits.

Here at SST we have a program designed specifically for men over the age of 44 (MAXFITT FOR MEN 44), come in for a free demo class to see how we train our guys to maximize the benefits of strength training as they age.

Using The Gym To Mentally Prepare For Competition.

One the biggest problems with young athletes today is that they don’t know how to completely focus all the time. You can also see it during their competitions. Athletes get out of place or don’t react fast enough because they didn’t see something or couldn’t see something because it was happening to fast for them. Here are three tips to use to increase an athlete’s focus!

Eliminate Technology In the Gym; Athletes and people are way too reliant on technology. When athletes lift, they should not be on their phones. It should not be used in between sets. They do not have cases to their phones during their competition, so don’t let them use a phone during training. When athletes are resting during sets, I teach them how to breath and give them a skill they can us on the field of competition. This is a learned skill set that can be practiced instead of being on a phone.

Quiz Them In States Of Exhaustion; This could be my favorite of all time. When I work with my Offensive Lineman, I often ask them question right when they finish working. They are tired and this is when their brains sometimes don’t want to work. I try and mimic this so that when they are tired they are used to thinking, and it’s not new to them. Something as simple as asking them what 8×7 is when they are huffing and puffing. It’s really simple yet so darn effective.

Simulate Game Situation In Group Training; Make your athletes work as a team when they train as a group. For example when doing the fictional training with hockey players I like to make one athlete of “off” and have one athlete run “on” to start and finish their set. This simulates a shift change. You can also do to with 5 players at a time if you are working as a big group. Something as simple as that will help them get used to stay mentally focused during their competition.

Come in to SST Burlington to put these and more training tips into your training routine!