Monday, October 13, 2014

How to Eat Protein Pre- and Post-Workout for Muscle Growth

By: Brian St. Pierre, CSCS, CISSN

If there is one nutrient that you need to support your training and recovery, protein would be it! All the exercise in the world won’t help you build muscle or get lean if it is not supported with proper nutrition, which should always include a good dose of some high-quality protein or high quality protein powder.

Many people argue the merits of whether you should have protein before you workout or after, when in reality the best time is both! The purpose of having protein before you exercise is to prevent muscle protein breakdown and to promote muscle protein synthesis. This is fancy talk for preserving the muscle you already have, and helping to promote the growth of new muscle tissue.

In addition to consuming some quality protein before you exercise, you should also consume some after as your muscles are highly receptive to incoming nutrients after a training session. The purpose of protein after training is to simply continue the benefits of pre-training protein, to preserve the muscle you already have and help create new muscle tissue.

That’s the big picture anyway, but let’s dig a little deeper and see more ways in which protein around our training can improve our results!

Protein Before You Train

Recent research has shown that consuming protein before exercise can decrease, or at least prevent the increase of, markers of muscle damage (myoglobin, creatine kinase and myofibrillar protein degradation) more than groups who consumed just carbohydrates or placebo.

This is one of the key reasons to have protein before you train, as reducing the damage to the muscles can improve recovery time and cause better adaptations to training over the long-term.

In addition, protein consumed before training will also flood your blood stream with amino acids as your body needs them, beginning the process of creating new muscle while you are training!

Aim to consume about 15-40 grams of protein within 30-90 minutes before training, depending on your size and needs. This can be consumed either in a shake or a mixed meal, again depending on what best fits your needs.

Protein After You Train

While most people know they should have some protein after they exercise, they often believe that they must have a shake or meal immediately after finishing their last set. The fact is if you consumed an adequate amount of quality protein within 30-90 minutes before you started exercising, then there is no need for immediate consumption. In reality as long as some quality protein is consumed within an hour after cessation of training, you are golden.

On the flip side of that, waiting too long can compromise the beneficial adaptations to training, and decrease your results. So while you don’t have to slam down a shake immediately after training, it wouldn’t be in your best interest to wait for 3 hours either.

A perfect example of the importance of having protein around your training was a recent 10 week trial where the researchers had subjects consume a protein/carbohydrate mixture before and after training, and another group consume that same mixture at the two points in the day furthest from the training.

The group that surrounded their training with the protein/carbohydrate mixture had greater gains in lean mass and strength, while also losing some body fat to boot (the other group actually gained some fat). This clearly indicates that surrounding your training with adequate amounts of high-quality protein (and carbohydrates) will maximize results, even if your total intake for the day is the same.

Aim to consume about 15-40 grams of protein within 60 minutes after training, again depending on your size and needs. Whether this is consumed as a shake or a solid meal is solely dependent on what best fits your needs.

The take home point is that it is a good idea to surround your training, both before and after, with high quality protein to maximize the benefits of exercise. This will minimize protein breakdown, and maximize your ability to build or maintain lean muscle mass.

Download your Free Report, "What to Never Eat After You Workout!" Fuel your body all day to give you better results during and after workouts.

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Sports Fitness Hut

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Top 10 Athlete's Strength and Power Training Techniques

As an athlete, you need certain strength and power training techniques to help you succeed in your sport. It is not enough to train hard. You must train smart also.

One important thing to remember about sports fitness training is that it is not a strongman contest!  Too many times there is too much emphasis placed on "maxing out" with the weights.

To continually get stronger without an increase in speed, power and athleticism will do you no good. An overall athletic training framework for you to follow is.....

1. Train your body in all 3 planes of motion. Many athletic movements happen in the transverse plane (rotations, turning, twisting, etc.) and frontal plane (side-to-side, lateral).

Machine-based training concentrates on the sagittal plane (up- down, forward-backward movements). Do miminal athletic training on machines because they limit your natural movement patterns.

2. Train on your feet because most athletic movements in games are done standing and running.

3. Stabilize and strengthen the core first and limbs (arms and legs) later.

This can be done using exercises like bridges, planks, bird dogs, cobras, supermans and back extensions. You would later progress to full speed core exercises on your feet like medicine ball chops, medicine ball slams, 2-arm and 1-arm medicine ball throws and medicine ball rotational throws.

4. The same holds true for body strength exercises. Start with dumbbells to stabilize your joints.Dumbbells also don't allow you to cheat when 1 arm or 1 leg is weaker than the other.

Also, bodyweight exercises work well to stabilize your body strength. You can get to the heavier weights once your joints and muscles are stabilized and balanced. If you can't do bodyweight squats correctly then you won't do heavyweight squats correctly.

5. Continuing with strength exercises....concentrate on compound (multi-joint) exercises like squats of all types, lunges of all types, bench press, rows, step ups, and deadlifts.

One-legged squats, step ups and lunges improve your running strength and power because about 80% of running is done on one leg. Do less single-joint exercises like bicep curls, calf raises and leg extensions because you get little benefit.

6. And, improve your muscular balance. Quadriceps shouldn't be significantly stronger than hamstrings. Likewise, the frontside of your upper body should have muscular balance with the backside of your upper body.

7. Train your muscles with all contraction types (eccentric, isometric, concentric). All muscles function eccentrically (reduces force or deceleration), isometrically (stabilizes force) and concentrically (produces force).

Eccentric contractions are able to produce the most tension development followed by isometric contractions and lastly, concentric contractions. If eccentric contractions are able to produce the greatest tension development, then more time should be devoted during training for eccentric contractions to reduce the risk of injuries such as knee ACL tears.

Also, strong eccentric contractions are critical for athletes to produce maximal power since all force production (concentric) must be preceded by force reduction (eccentric).

8. Improve your flexibility and correct postural problems in the early stages of your training to avoid injuries when you get to more intense training.

9. Progress to more intense exercises like plyometrics, speed training and full-speed sport specific exercises after you have stabilized and strengthened your core, joints and overall muscle structure.

At this stage, you will train athletic movements in your sport (transfer-of-training effect) and not just muscles.YOU MUST TRAIN FAST AND EXPLOSIVE TO GET FASTER AND MORE EXPLOSIVE.

10. Rate-of-force production (how fast your muscles produce force) and dynamic balance are the two best physical predictors of athletic success. Your training program (strength, power, speed, flexibility, etc.) should be pointed toward improving these 2 physical traits.

Train harder, smarter and safely!

Download your FREE 10-Minute Strength and Power Workouts now!

Other things being equal, a muscular, powerful athlete will outperform a fat, slower or skinny, weaker athlete. Sports Fitness Hut's Fat Blaster Athletic Power Training System will give you your "lean and mean" athletic machine!

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Sports Fitness Hut