Monthly Archives: October 2010

Chocolate Almond Eclair Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop Chocolate Flavored Whey Protein Isolate
  • 1 tbls Almond Butter (or peanut butter… whatever floats your boat)
  • 4-5 tbls Whole Milk (or skim milk if you’re into the low fat thing)
  • 1-2 tbls Sliced Almonds

Instructions:

  1. Mix the why protein powder with whole milk.
  2. Mix with fork (like beating an egg) till you get a smooth pancake batter like consistency.
  3. Add in the nut butter. Mix until you get a doughy consistency.
  4. Top with sliced almonds.
  5. Freeze for approximately 30 mins to get a hard pudding that you can cut to pieces.

Note: You can also eat this unfrozen. The consistency will be more pudding like.

Nutrition:

  • Total Calories: 300
  • Protein: 40 grams
  • Fat: 11 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 9 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams

Note: You can increase protein/decrease fat & carb by increasing the whey or decreasing the nut butter.

Enjoy.

Raj, it’s just a workout!

While we still remember the posts about overtraining (part 1 and part 2), I’d like to describe an incident from a few months ago that taught me the importance of training smart.

There is this guy called Ryan Wooley (above). For those who don’t know him, he is a Crossfit trainer at Crossfit Sunnyvale (inside Planet Granite) in California. If you observe him in one of his workout sessions you’ll notice the following.

  • The dude is ripped to shreds.
  • He throw up some awesome strength and conditioning numbers.
  • His form is perfect.
  • He does some crazy gymnastic stuff on the rings.

But only if you talk to him you’ll notice the following.

  • Ryan is completely chilled out. And by that I mean chilled out like no one’s business! Super calm.
  • He doesn’t stress out for any damn thing. He gives his 100% during each lift focusing on form big time.
  • He’s extremely helpful. Not just to the clients he trains but to anyone needing exercise related advice.

I did not the get the pleasure of attending many of his classes due to scheduling conflicts, but I did get the opportunity to workout during the same time as he works out right next to him (just before his crossfit class starts) almost every day. So one day…

I walk into the gym. Row my 1000m meters, do dynamic stretches, warm up and get ready for my Starting Strength workout (squats, deadlifts and cleans that day) and I see the Crossfit Sunnyvale WOD posted on the board. It was a conditioning piece.

For time:

Row 500m

5 rounds of…

Row 500m

I’m thinking…

“Pretty bad ass workout. Most people wont even be able to do the workout as Rx-ed (prescribed). “

Looks like a bunch of people (like 20) had done it and their times were on the board. Approximately 15 of them had modified the deadlift to a weight they can handle and their times were anywhere from 13 mins to 30 mins. The remaining 5 had done the workout as Rx-ed. Their times ranged from 16 mins to 25 mins. Ryan, having completed his strength workouts for the day, decides to give it a shot and gears up.

Now, am not sure how many have you have seen a crossfit style conditioning piece go down, but it is pretty brutal. People stress the fuck out. They fight for every second. They run from station to station like their houses are on fire. They try to squeeze in as many reps as possible before their bodies literally break down. People throwing up after a short workout is very common. Here’s some evidence.

So Ryan starts the timer and jumps on the concept 2 rower. Easy 500m row in about 1:50. He calmly walks to the loaded barbell (315 lbs) and cranks out three solid reps with impeccable form. He ‘places‘ the barbell on the floor and walks to the pullup bars. 30 easy toes to bar followed by 30 unbroken clean double-unders. He walks back to the loaded barbell, takes a 10 second breather and repeats. He completes 4 more rounds with such grace and authority and rows another 500m. Total time for Ryan’s workout – 9:20 or thereabouts. The next best time was 16 min something. Bloody insane!

I’ve seen tonnes of people (myself included) struggle through conditioning workouts fighting for every second, every rep while risking safety in a hundred ways all at once. So I go to Ryan and say…

Me: Dude! You were way too relaxed. If you’d rushed through the workout you could have easily chopped off like 15 seconds. Why didn’t you?

Ryan: Raj, it’s just a workout. (and walks away)

Me (thinking): Whatever that means. Aren’t you supposed to give your 110% every workout? Oh well!

———-+———–

A couple of weeks later.

I complete my strength piece and get ready for my conditioning piece. This was the workout I planned on doing that day.

For time:

5 rounds of…

I was on round 2 and on my 7th box jump, for whatever reason, the box fuckin flips on me and I land on my left palm and butt. Epic fail! (I blogged about this incident here.)

I’m obviously fogged in my head and my left arm hurts. I check if everything still works and it looks like everything’s fine except for a little pain. I drink some water (clock still running) and get back to the workout. Box jumps are fine. Pullups are fine (!). Cleans are good. Presses are harrrrrrrd. I struggle through the workout when Ryan stops me and  says…

‘Raj, it’s just a workout!’.

Holy shit! It was just a damn workout. But I was so into it that wouldn’t give up. Even though my left arm was fractured at that point, I let ‘the pump’ drive me and pushed through the pullups and clean and presses. Result: Radial head fracture. I was out of action for weeks and it took me months to get my full range of motion and strength back.

———-+———–

Note the words in bold when I described Ryan’s workout. Easy, calm, walks, grace etc. Ryan basically paced himself so well that he did not have to murder himself repeatedly. As a matter of fact I remember seeing him smile and greet folks walking past him when he was doing the double-unders. He did, however, complete the workout in awesome time and solid style. How? Ryan has clearly been training to produce maximum work output while still maintaining great form and remaining sane. Something a lot of us need to learn to do.

What did I learn? A possibly irreversible injury for a slightly earlier finish and some pride is not worth it! Never again. Not in a million years.

Take home message –  Train smart… compete hard… finish-up strong.

Thank you Ryan. Much respect to you!

PS: I might be a little off on total times on the Crossfit Sunnyvale WOD I described.

Overtraining 102 – Symptoms, Remedies and Prevention

While we are on the topic of overtraining let’s beat that horse to death. For folks who missed yesterday’s post, here it is. Overtraining 101 was an introduction to overtraining since most people probably don’t even know that such a thing exists. Today I’ll talk about symptoms of overtraining to see if you are indeed overtrained or close to it and then about how to prevent and/or remedy it.

Symptoms

The first part of any problem is to understand that you have a problem and overtraining is no exception. You need to realize that you are overtraining and for that you need to listen to your body. Trust me when I say your body is always talking to you. The following are some common symptoms of overreaching* or overtraining in some cases.

  1. A feeling of general tiredness during the day a.k.a. chronic fatigue
  2. Blunt incessant aches/pains in some joints. This happens mostly if you’ve been doing the same activity (running, squatting, biking etc.) over and over again.
  3. Increased heart rate and basal metabolic rate (BMR) during the day.
  4. Gradual drop in performance (strength or endurance) or plateauing.
  5. Fat loss plateauing.
  6. Lack of appetite.
  7. Disturbed sleep
  8. Menstrual disruptions.
  9. Lack of energy and drive immediately after waking even after a good night’s sleep.
  10. Chronic hunger during the day.
  11. Lack of motivation to workout or stay active.
  12. Frequent headaches and gastrointestinal issues.
  13. Not being able to shut off your mind before bed time.

Note: These are also symptoms of another very widespread and dangerous disease. This disease has affected the entire world and science does not seem to have an antidote for this. It’s called laziness. If you suffer from this disease, I suggest you stop looking for excuses and start moving that fat heiney of yours.

Remedies

Keep in mind though that these are pretty common symptoms that can be triggered by non-training related stresses too. Sleep deprivation and a diet composed of nutritionally poor ingredients can produce almost all these symptoms with or without training. That said, let’s look into a couple of scenarios and the respective remedies.

Case 1:

  • Sleep is bad. Nutrition is bad. Training volume is too high.

Remedy:

  • Week off.
  • Fix nutrition.
  • 3 stretching sessions (M-W-F or T-H-S)

Case 2:

  • Sleep is good. Nutrition is bad. Training volume is too high.

Remedy:

  • Maintain training intensity.
  • Drop training volume.
  • Fix nutrition.
  • Additional rest day.
  • Stretch on rest days.

Case 3:

  • Sleep is bad. Nutrition is good. Training volume is too high.

Remedy:

  • Couple of days off. Increase sleep duration by 25-50% during the off days.
  • Maintain training intensity and training volume.

Case 4:

  • Sleep is good. Nutrition is good. Training volume is too high.

Remedy:

  • Maintain training intensity.
  • Drop training volume. Perform static stretching for 10-15mins post workout.
  • Revisit supplementation.
  • Additional rest day.
  • Stretch on rest days.

Case 5:

  • Sleep is good. Nutrition is good. Training volume is just right.

Remedy:

  • Drop training intensity for a week.
  • Maintain training volume. Perform static stretching for 10-15mins post workout.
  • Revisit supplementation.
  • Revisit sleep quality. Sleep in a pitch black room with no disturbances.
  • Additional rest day.
  • Stretch on rest days.

Key:

Week off means…

  • Take the whole week off.
  • Don’t even drive close to your gym/training center.
  • Light activity (walking your dog etc.) can be done everyday.
  • Sleep 9 to 11 hours everyday.

Fix nutrition means…

  • Drop cereal grains, sugars and other foods that contain no nutritional value.
  • Increase intake of vegetables, eggs and meats. Increase starches (yams etc.) and fruit if required.
  • Eating plenty of good food but make sure you are not overeating. Fuel your body based on the level of activity.

Stretch means…

  • Perform a 40-60min session of full body stretching.
  • Yoga can be performed instead.

Drop training volume means…

  • Reduce your total training volume. 6 sets of 6 reps will become either 3 sets of 6 reps or 4 sets of 4-5 reps. 20 miles of running per week will become 10 miles.

Maintain training intensity means…

  • Stick to using the same loads or speed as the case may be.

Drop training intensity means…

  • Drop the weight or speed down as the case may be.

Additional rest day means…

  • In addition to your existing rest day, add one more.
  • If you currently don’t have a rest day, you’re stupid.

Revisit supplements means…

  • If you’re not having fish oil start immediately. If you already are ensure you are taking in enough. If you are taking in enough look behind the bottle to make sure you’re getting enough EPA/DHA and not just ALA.
  • If you’re not taking in a multi-vitamin everyday, start immediately.
  • Vitamin D3 supplementation is super important. Get about 4000-6000 IUs everyday. And no you won’t get enough sunlight to compensate for the supplementation.
  • Get a good magnesium supplement and consume ~ 400mg per day.

Prevention:

For those of you who are already overtrained, the above stated remedies should help. But for those who are not overtrained (yet), obviously prevention is better than sure right? The only way to prevent overtraining (which will result in burn-out and injury) is by smart training. Multiple posts can be written about smart training, but to summarize,

  • Keep training volume high enough to produce result but low enough to prevent CNS overload and/or joint overuse.
  • Oscillate between high intensity days and low intensity days during the week.
  • Work different energy pathways to avoid burn-out.
  • Track your workouts and be aware of performance drop or rise.
  • Eat plenty of nutrient rich foods like vegetables, eggs and meat.
  • If endurance training is your thing be sure to get the required carbs in the form of natural starches like yams and sweet potatoes. Occasional consumption of rice will probably help in this case.
  • Make a conscious effort to get the required amount of Omega-3s.
  • Listen to your body and get plenty of rest between training sessions.
  • Perform static stretches after every training session.

Peace.

* Overreaching: An accumulation of training and/or non-training stress resulting in a short-term decrement in performance capacity with or without related physiological and psychological signs and symptoms of overtraining in which restoration of performance capacity may take from several days to several weeks.

Overtraining 101

Note: This post is for folks who workout/train/exercise regularly.

overtraining

 

Day after day people walk into gyms/training centers and beat the piss out of themselves. Make no mistake, I’m all for pushing till I drop in a conditioning workout because it helps improve endurance and power generation. But at the cost of what?

A lot of people who work out consistently don’t know the difference between training and over-training. I’m talking about you…

  • The stupid athlete who absolutely needs a hardcore conditioning workout every damn day that leaves him flat on the floor.
  • The treadmill freak who has to run the race distance at least a few times before the race.
  • The HIIT maniac who has to push his limits in every session to get the ‘feeling’ of having worked out.
  • The stupid weight lifter who expects to set a personal record (PR) every time he lifts.
  • The bodybuilder who has to pay a visit to the gym every day of the week with little to no rest days for recovery.

So let’s start from scratch.

What is training?

  • To prepare physically, as with a regimen: train athletes for track-and-field competition.
  • To focus on or aim at (a goal, mark, or target).

What is over-training?

  • The physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds his/her recovery capacity.
  • The individual ceases making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness.

What is exercise?

  • Any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health or wellness.
  • Exercise is stress and overdoing it will hurt you.
  • The right thing to do is to control that stress and use it in a way that it is beneficial to you (and in turn your health and longevity).
  • A training program should help you ‘progress’ without compromising health or safety or quality of life.

What is the main cause of over-training?

Just like how people prefer fancy food and movies with awesome production values, people prefer doing ‘glamorous exercises’ that have a ‘wow factor’ to it. Don’t get me wrong – this is awesome because it makes the lazy losers move their asses, but for a serious gym rat/fitness freak, this poses huge risks and drawbacks.

What are ‘glamorous exercises‘?

  • High intensity exercises that leave you drowning in a puddle of your own sweat (or puke!).
  • Frequent short and intense exercises which promise greater fat loss.
  • Endorphin releasing long endurance activities that are portrayed as a ‘test of heart and character’.
  • High volume high intensity lifting programs that leave you sore for days after.

Why are these ‘glamorous exercises‘ dangerous?

  • They have so much media attention that you are considered a wimp if you don’t do them.
  • They are super addictive that you feel like shit if you don’t do them a little too often.
  • They make you give a 120% on any given day irrespective of what your body is capable of that day.
  • They trick you into thinking that you are ‘tough’ when all you are is ridiculously stupid.
  • They result in fatigue and unavoidable over-training.
  • Over-training results in sucky performance and inevitable injury.

What is my advice?

  • Chill the f**k out!
  • Progress ≠ Training hard and stupid; Progress = Training smart

What is training hard and stupid?

  • Frequent and long High Intensity Training (HIT) until you burn out.
  • Lifting with max effort everyday which fries up your Central Nervous System (CNS).
  • Training 2-a-days (twice a day) without required rest and nutrition.
  • Excessive endurance training (greater than 60 mins) more than twice a week.
  • Doing the same activity everyday every week every month.

What is training smart?

  • Infrequent and short High Intensity Training (HIT): 5-15min long sessions 1-2 times a week.
  • Limited max effort lifting: Strive for PRs once in 2-4 wks (depending on your status). Lift sub-maximal loads during other sessions.
  • Limited endurance training: Endurance gains can be seen from well planned infrequent sessions. If you’re training for a marathon, be sure to cross-train, do some calisthenics/light weight lifting and elaborate stretching to strengthen the muscles around your joints so they don’t fall apart after the 50,000 steps you will need to complete it.
  • Plenty of rest: Space out your training sessions. All the hard work and clean eating will be instantly undone if recovery is not in place.
  • Adding in variety: Workout at various different intensities, volumes and durations making use of different techniques. This will keep your CNS fresh and your body free chronic injuries due to overuse of any given part.

Always remember – the goal is to grow stronger, leaner, faster and hence healthier with each passing day. And sometimes the magic is in toning it down.

– Peace out

(Photo credit: http://www.ironmagazine.com)

Why your excuses are BS (Part 2)

Here is Part 1. Let’s jump right ahead to the excuses.

1. I don’t know how to cook.

Well, learn to cook. Remember folks, the tastiest and healthiest recipes are also the simplest and easiest ones. You spend hours watching TV and surfing the internet. How about spend a few seconds looking for easy recipes? The keyword here being ‘easy’. You know what, fuck it. I’ll do that too. Just freakin click this!

2. I eat out a lot. It’s impossible to eat clean.

I’ve dedicated an entire blog post about this. Read here.

3. My <insert body part here> hurts!

Let’s say your left ankle hurts. Either you can use that as a stupid excuse to sit on your ass or mayyyyybe you can work another body part! What can you do without aggravating the ankle injury? How about pushups, pullups, snatches, deadlifts, dumbbell/kettlebell swings, planks, twists, L-sits, tire flips, hammer smashdowns, cleans, presses? Shut up and get to work!

4. I fell off the wagon and just never got back.

The fact that you were ‘in the wagon’ at some point means that you know exercising and eating right is good for you. You fell off the wagon… well who didn’t? The point here is to not mess up and stay messed up. The point is to jump right back into the wagon as soon as possible so you’re not left behind smelling smoke!

So let’s say you are on a 12 week program but something comes up and you mess up by the end of week 4. Well, shit happens. Move the fuck on! Stop using the failure as an excuse to fail again. Take that as a lesson and come back stronger!

5. Your diet is extreme. I believe in moderation. I don’t buy these fad diets.

Let me ask you this. How sure are you that this ‘diet’ you are talking about is unnatural and/or a fad? I can make it super clear that you don’t know sqqqquat about nutrition. Can you prove that including grains, sugars and processed cat crap in your diet is beneficial in any bloody way? I’m up for a discussion/argument any day any time. Hit me up if you got the balls to defend you stupid hypothesis.

Like I said, many many more excuses to address. Will do it 5 at a time.

Peace out.

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