NUTRITION: OPERATION REPAIR
I am sure when my time comes I will still be kicking and screaming for the high school athletes and even some of the older ones for that matter to listen to me when I tell them how important nutrition is.
One of the great things about being Coached by John Meadows (the best in the biz) and my knee injury is that I have had to focus even more on what to eat and when to help my body repair itself for optimal performance and health. It makes sense when you think about it in a circular logic, the better you recover, the more you can train (if you want), the harder you can train and not to mention the better tissue quality you develop through protein, collagen and elastin synthesis, the less likely you are to sustain soft tissue injury.
So without further ado, I am going to highlight a few very important things that you can and should be doing to assure optimal recovery in nutritional terms only.
• Hydration- Our muscles are made up of 80% water yet when we do a biopsy we see that only .05% of every pound of muscle is made up of protein, yet we always harp on protein intake. This is a huge mistake as water is both more anabolic and more able to repair damaged tissue than protein. A good place to start is to work your way up to 2/3rds of your bodyweight (pounds) in ounces of water, although I try to make sure all my hard training athletes and clients are taking in at least a gallon per day. Also, a hydrated joint is a healthier joint. Remember since water is such a great anabolic it will ‘build up’ and repair the body.
• BCAAs-The branched chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine are the quickest acting and most anabolic of the essential amino acids that make up a protein molecule. I like my guys to sip on up to 25 grams of this stuff during a workout. This has also been a key component in my recovery as I try to repair the tendons and ligaments in my knee in anticipation of rebuilding the lost muscle in my leg in a few weeks when PT starts. Make sure it is flavored, otherwise it will taste like frog water.
• Mag10- This was recommended to me by John as I was reporting to him that I am losing muscle by the minute with the lack of stress to my body. He said to start sipping on this stuff at night. It is loaded with leucine and casein protein (slow releasing), electrolytes and creatine. Although I have not used it yet (it’s on the way), I trust John enough when he tells me that he has been unable to get ‘sore’ from a workout since using it and he trains hard as hell and he is not benefiting by telling me about the product.
• Carbs around the workout- This has been the biggest change to my own nutrition and the programs that I design this past year. Although this cannot be explained purely by science, it does work and I speculate it is because of the anabolic and nutrient shuttling effect of insulin. However, eating indiscriminate carbs at other times will lead to inflammation, you getting fat and impaired recovery. It is a common site to see guys at Newell Strength downing a few tablespoons of honey immediately post workout.
Although I could add more to this list, I put my top choices for recovery nutrition. Get jacked up son!
I had the great pleasure of presenting at the NJ state strength and conditioning clinic yesterday down in Vineland. It was a great honor but more importantly I got the chance to see some other great speakers and I got the chance to learn. To me, it is a continuous process of learning and growing. The topic that I want to speak about tonight is recovery. One of the presenters was from Virginia and he was one of the top guys for the Navy and their exercise programs. So you know that he had access to the finest equipment and top research in the world, literally. He showed us scans of athletes and men that had been monitored by the OMEGA wave machine which can measure CNS autonomic activity. This machine is used by some NFL and top college football programs. It can basically tell you how much more you can push before illness or injury results. Pretty cool stuff. Dallas, the presenter also showed brain images of a brain that goes on 6 hours of sleep versus a brain that gets 8 hours of sleep. The blood flow difference was dramatic to say the least. A brain that stays awake for 17 hours functions as if it was over the limit intoxicated. I was ready to jump out of my seat because I am constantly awake for 18 or 19 hours. The combination of the two, pushing to hard and not enough rest has led to a back injury for me. If you are going to train hard, you must recover hard! It has to be a part of the program. Adaptation does not take place under the bar. My friend Ryan, another presenter was telling me that when he got to speak to the Nebraska strength coaches, he found out that recovery and nutrition are emphasized even more than the training in their program. Recover, recover, recover!
While I was reading the Charlie Francis Training System book this morning, he said a few very interesting things. For those of you not familiar with Charlie Francis, he was perhaps the greatest track coach in recent decades. He was responsible for the fastest human the world ever saw-Ben Johnson. Now some of my main sports are baseball, basketball, football and volleyball but I realize the importance of reading all of Charlie Francis’ work. I am constantly trying to get my basketball players to keep their hips loose as tight hips will really inhibit performance. In his own words:
“The body must use protective inhibition in the presence of such spasmed tissue in order to survive training and performance without injury.”
He is talking about the need for massage, stretching, soft tissue work and tissue regeneration. If your fascia and muscles are tight and never given the chance to recuperate, your performance will be inhibited-IE-it won’t be nearly as good as it should. So in closing, all you athletes must take time to roll out, stretch, etc. Keep those hips loose!
Friday I had a really intense lower body workout and yesterday I did a big time back workout at Rutgers University with 2 other strength coaches. We really went at it! Today I played a little pick up hoops first thing in the morning. Why I am telling you this? Because I had to take this into consideration when designing today’s upper body workout. For starters, I started outside with a sled doing backwards sled drags. This helps facilitate recovery in the quads by way of the fact that there is no eccentric muscle contraction-the part of the exercise that is known to cause the most muscle damage. I did this to bring more blood and nutrients to the area which will help in the recovery process. I have mentioned before that the bike is a nother good alternative for lower body recovery. Secondly, I did an explosive style pushup instead of dynamic bench and I really focused on traps/upper back and some triceps. The whole point of this post is that sometimes you need to design your workout with what needs to be done in the overall scheme of things. If you asked me on Friday what my Sunday workout will look like, I usually have only a partial idea. Something to think about….
I received an email form a young strength coach that I met at this past weekend’s Mid-Atlantic strength and conditioning seminar. He asked me what I do for recovery. The most overlooked factor I told him was sleep and if you aren’t sleeping enough, you are going to fry the CNS with intense training. All the recovery methods in the world won’t do anything if you aren’t gettin deep, REM sleep. I also said it is imperative to get into parasympathetic dominance, especially before bed-a simple walk or meditation or sitting on your porch looking at the stars will usually do the trick. You have to remember that your body will adapt to any stress or demands put on it, meaning you have to cycle your recovery methods as well or they will start to become less useful. Some food for thought.
You will be able to find the video to last night’s workout shortly on my youtube channel. In case you don’t get a chance to check it out, let me know explain. I had a basketball game at 9:30 last night. I have been sticking with my goal of getting 8 hours per night (of sleep) every night so far and my goal was 6/7 nights. I knew that last night would be the one night I didn’t get 8 hours. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and do what I used to do in highschool, workout after my game. There were a few reasons for this, one was to relive the good old days of my high school basketball career. My HS Coach, Paul Parker, died suddenly two nights ago so in a way, this was a tribute. Second, I need to force myself out of my comfort zone every so often, it is good for my mind. Lastly and the one that I am concerned about when it comes to my athletes, is recovery. I wanted to experience how my legs and knees would feel if I got a lower body workout in right after my game. I knew that this knowledge could be used with my teams and clients, so I had to take advantage of it. My legs were already warm from the game and it was not a heavy lower body day, just a speed day. I have read from other strength coaches that in season, it helps recovery to lift right after competition. So I smoked my lower body for about 40 minutes until the clock hit midnight and then called it a night. To my pleasure, my legs felt great this morning and my knees felt even better, a rarity after playing a game. I theorize that the increased blood flow to the lower body helped to flush out the toxins and bring much needed nutrients to aid in recovery. Keep this in mind next time you are sore from an athletic event. I will be sure to continue experimenting and to bring you the results of my underground lab.
While I was reading one of my books this morning, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, the author was writing about how the valgus nerve is responsible for slowing down the heartbeat. When the valgus nerve is activated, it means that the parasympathetic part of the nervous system is working, which is desired most of the time. If you have not been reading my posts lately, the sympathetic nervous system is for fight or flight , stimulated during the 4 F’s-fight, flight, fright and sex (hahaha). The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxtion and recovery. The two systems are a part of the same autonomic nervous system and should work in synergy. However, most of us spend too much time in the sympathetic system dominance, leading to disease and failure to rejuvinate. Getting to the point, the valgus nerve is stimulated by the PNS, which is activated by exhaling. During this time, heart rate should slow. During inhalation, the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, meaning heart rate will rise. This is why yoga and meditation often focus on extended exhalations. This is something to keep in your bag of tricks when trying to calm down and during your stretching. WIN THE DAY!
Check out Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers Here:
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805073698?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwbodyperfor-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0805073698″>Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Third Edition</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwbodyperfor-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0805073698” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”" style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />
I have been the victim of patellar tendinosis before and am happy to say that it is the rare day that is bothers me. Some of you may be wondering what the difference between tendinosis and tendonitis is, so I am going to lay it out for you. The ‘itis’ part of the word means inflammation. Many people mistakenly believe that they are dealing with tendonitis when in fact they have tendinosis. If inflammation were really the cause of the pain in your knee (or elbow or any where else your tendons have been hurting), then taking simple NSAIDs (tylenol, aleve, etc.) would fix the problem and cause the pain to go away. As you know, this is rarely the case. If so, what you have is the latter of the two, tendinosis. This means that the problem is a degenerative one of the soft tissue (tendon) which there are no quick fixes for. I can tell you that working on a lot of single leg movements has greatly helped me. I also make sure that I incorporate a lot of soft tissue work (massage, foam rollers, tennis balls, lax balls) and key stretching around the hip areas. There is no single thing that did the trick, but rather a combination of things. If tissue loading is greater than tissue tolerance (meaning the load that the tissue can handle before becoming symptomatic), then problems will arise. So from this, we can see that reducing the load on the particular tissue will also lead to healing. Just something to think about, let me know if you have questions.
Happy Thanksgiving to you! I try not to take days off from writing the blog besides the days that I write articles. It may not seem that significant to outsiders, but it is building self-discipline. I believe that everyone should have a blog or journal that they write in every day. Anything that is positive and you have the chance to do everyday will only build positive momentum and energy for you. Some people might save their 7 entries for one day and in actuality, they are outputting the same amount. However, they have to expend much more energy trying to get the ball rolling again. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “Do not worry about going slow, just never stop.” The hardest part of a spaceships flight is trying to leave the gravitational pull of the Earth. Once it breaks through, momentum carries it on, same goes for us.
On another few notes… Be sure to enjoy today, do not have an eating plan for this special day or any other special day with your loved ones. It is very important not to deprive ourselves, get back on your plan tomorrow. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, if we deprive during times we shouldn’t, we are only asking for trouble. Yesterday I wanted to get a recuperation workout in since I pushed back my Max Effort upper body workout to today so I could work out with my buddy at Rutgers. I had a hoops game on Tuesday night and my body was feeling quite beat up. So for the recuperation I went with my brother over to the local high school with a few med balls. We did 400 yards of med ball throws, any which way we could think of. This allows us to work muscles in different motions than we other wise would and increase blood flow, which will aid in recovery. For my brother, who has not been quite as regular in his workouts, this was a conditioner to help get him to where he needs to be to have more effective workouts. To finish, we did a 400 yard light jog, again to increase blood flow to the lower body to help with recovery. Hope this helps in any small way possible.