Some Random Thoughts

I hope everyone is having a great week so far. The bulk of it is over so the weekend is just around the corner. With that being said, I’ve decided to put together a few random thoughts I’ve had throughout the week (the few that I have atleast) and topics that come up frequently in the gym. Don’t be surprised if they’re not all related.

 

1) Carb Back-loading– Yes, I have jumped on the carb back-loading band wagon, but with a twist. John Kiefer has released a couple of books (CBL 1.0 and The Carb Night Solution) on dieting that go against anything anybody has told you about dieting, basically eat no carbs in the morning and a bunch of crappy carbs at night (pie, pizza, cheeseburgers, etc.). Now, don’t go eating a bunch of crap at night for the next couple of weeks and come back telling me that you’ve put on weight. If you’re interested, read the book, understand the science and reasoning, then do it. Anyway, I’ve been doing a paleo version of the diet. It’s different in that my night carbs are all fruits and white potatoes (and peanut butter and jelly…..yum!) instead of the junk Kiefer says to eat. Why? Well, I can’t bring myself to say that it is OK to eat junk knowing the effects it will have on my digestive system, arteries and any other internal organ junk food will effect. I’ve certainly gotten rid of some unwanted body fat, now I’m trying to figure out what I need to adjust to start putting on lean mass. Never ending cycle.

 

2) Peaking– This is something I learned from Sergeant Major Ron Grenier a long time ago when I first stepped into the world of weight lifting. Peaking refers to the placement of your hands during a dumbbell pressing movement. For instance, generally, if you tell somebody to do a dumbbell shoulder press they will press the weight straight to the sky and bring the dumbbells together with the dumbbells completely parallel throughout the movement. When you peak your dumbbells, you push your pinkies to the sky, creating a “V” at the top of the movement. Now, you don’t want it to be too drastic, just enough of an angle to put more pressure on the delts if your doing shoulder presses or chest if you’re doing chest pressing variations. Why do I like pressing dumbbells like this? It’s harder….simple enough. It changes the weight distribution just enough to put more emphasis on the part being trained.

 

3) Fantasy Football- Why does it seem like every time one of my players gets hurt, they all do? Now granted, I’m no hardcore fantasy footballer by any stretch, but I like to at least be competitive. My team is projected to win this week so hopefully they can turn this 0-3 season I’ve started. At least I usually get first dibs in the waiver wire.

 

Well, that’s all I have time for right now….or maybe that’s all the thoughts I’ve had this week. Either way, I hope everyone has a great weekend. Next week I will putting up a guest post by North Carolina Central University’s strength & conditioning GA Brandon Lee. He has some good insights on going about getting a GA position and what to prepare for when you get there. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I plan to.

Early Specialization in Sports

 

We’ve all seen it or been through it ourselves. Maybe you listen to other parents talk about it, or maybe you do it yourself. Many kids these days have gotten away from understanding how to enjoy the endeavor of sports and sportsmanship and are being taught at an early, early age that winning is EVERYTHING! Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, but 9 times out of 10 those kids will get burnt out and peak before high school all because there parents want them to be the next Tiger Woods. I’m here to tell you, don’t do it.

 

What is early specialization anyway? Let’s take the case of Tiger Woods. From the time Tiger could stand on his own 2 feet, his father, Earl Woods, had him playing golf. Even when he was a baby, Earl would have Tiger sit and watch him put in there garage. Tiger played golf, and only golf, all through grade school, middle school, high school. Yes, Tiger is a GREAT golfer (or was anyway….ouch!), but understand this, for every Tiger Woods that

played one sport their whole lives and excelled at it there are thousands of other kids that tried the same exact thing and failed. What Superstars played multiple sports you ask? How about Lebron James. His first love was football, which he played through his junior year. New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham played basketball for the Miami Hurricanes. Bo Jackson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first overall but decided to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. I can keep going. Why is early specialization bad? Well, as far as physical development goes, early specialization has proven to slow development rather than speed it up. But what about Tiger? It’s called genetics. High levels of repetitive movement can lead to overuse which brings injuries and fatigue. Outside of that there are psychological and sociological reasons. Kids want to be kids. They want to run, jump, throw, swing, tackle and enjoy doing it. Once it becomes a job it’s no fun.

 

So when is specialization OK? How about college. If you can play 2 sports in college, go for it. Understand that one sport feeds another. While I was playing football in college, once a week our conditioning during the offseason would be basketball. The coaches understood that those skills acquired through basketball could be translated into abilities on the football field. In high school and want to be a better quarterback? Sure, go to camps, have a QB coach, but play other sports.

 

Have questions or comments? Find all of my contact information on the Scarlato Strength & Conditioning contact page or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading and I hope everybody has a great weekend!

Supine Weighted Hip Bridge

Today I want to show you another hip bridging variation. A couple of weeks ago I put up the single-leg hip bridge variation, which is a great exercise for those of you that have developed a good amount of hip stability. This bilateral version is a good starting point.

 

 

Supine bridging is great for developing the glutes. When used correctly, this variation in particular can teach you how to properly fire the glutes as  most people slowly lose glute function, mostly because of sitting constantly. When first starting off, I wouldn’t recommend going straight to using barbell for weight, it can cause some pain and bruising to your hips if they’re not use to the placement of the barbell. Start off with a kettlebell placed right on your belly button or a plate if that’s not available. For beginners I like to start with the feet and knees together and typically shoulders on the ground. As the weights get heavier I slowly progress them to a wider stance, about hip width, and elevate the shoulders for a better range of motion. Remember to keep your feet flat and drive through your heels.

 

Let me know if you have any questions of comments. And go “like” us on Facebook!

Supplements 101

 

In the world of sports, everyone is looking for the quickest, easiest way to get from point A to point B, whether that be bigger, faster, stronger, leaner, fatter or simply just healthier. In the high speed world we live in today, people want it done yesterday, not today or tomorrow. So when it comes to accomplishing these physiological goals, there’s always one place we turn to…supplements. The first thing I want you to understand is that there is no miracle pill, drink or powder, no what the guy at GNC says. If it looks like BS, walks like BS and smells like BS, it probably is BS. Those supplements that promise massive muscle hypertrophy in 24 hours are probably the least effective.

 

As of today there are literally thousands of supplements we have to choose from, each claiming to produce a desired result (bigger, faster, stronger). How do they work? What are the ingredients? And which one do you choose? Here’s what I recommend and why.

 

THE ULTIMATE RULE

 

When it comes to picking and choosing supplements, I have one rule that is applied to everybody before I will even tell you what my opinion is. No supplement is truely effective without a good, clean diet. With the lack of a healthy diet, supplement effectiveness is limited dramatically.

 

The word supplement is defined as something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole. In this case, added to a complete diet. Without all of the natural vitamins and minerals provided by whole foods your body will not utilize your supplements efficiently.

 

So before you even think about taking a dietary supplement, think about what you’re eating, get that fixed and grow from there.

 

MY TOP PICKS

 

Once you have your diet in line, it’s time to decide which supplements will work best in order for you to achieve your ultimate goal. The advice I give to people is to KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. There are a handful of supplements that have been tested and retested and 9 times out of 10 have proven to work. So let’s take a look, shall we?

 

CREATINE MONOHYDRATE

 

Notice I put creatine monohydrate…..not creatine ethel ester, creatine malate, or creatine alpha-keto-gluterniner (yes, I made that one up). Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied supplement out there, bar none. Given the constant skepticism of creatine, people want to show that it is bad for you in some way, but they keep getting proven wrong. Consider some data found in an article published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research that studied the effects of creatine monohydrate (CM) and creatine phosphate (CP) on lean body mass, weight gain and strength gains over a 6 week period. Those who ingested CM over the 6 week study increased lean body mass by5.87lbs and bench press max by 24.55lbs, while the CP groups numbers were  4.85lbs and 19.44 respectively. Sure this is one study, but you can find hundreds more just like it. Bottom line, creatine monohydrate carries more efficacy than any other supplement.

 

What does creatine do for you? Well, I could sit here and give you this big, scientific dissertation about it’s absorption and effect on the body, but I’ll keep it pretty simple. Creatine is stored in the body as creatine phosphate (CP). As your body produces energy, it uses a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As ATP is broken down it becomes ADP (diphostphate) and AMP (monophosphate). These molecules need to be reloaded once in this form. CP is then used to resynthesize ATP. In other words, CP gives one of its phosphate molecules to ADP to make ATP. You keeping up? OK, so in short, creatine boost anearobic power through energy production….AKA, more reps and more weight. Here’s a small list of other affects creatine has had on the human body:

 

1)  Improve mental powers of healthy and damaged brains

2) Reduce fatigue

3) Make improvements about the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s issue

4) Improve human growth hormone (GH) levels

5) Improve heart function in those with congestive heart problems

 

So how much do you take? Well, here’s where you’ll find mixed results. In the study mentioned above, the subjects took a loading dose of 20g/day for 3 days then 10g/day for the remainder of the study. Loading is done to saturate the muscles quickly in order to start seeing the desired results of creatine more quickly, but is nor required. Other studies suggest, and I am with this group, that a steady dose of 5-8g/day will suffice. I like this method better because it would seem to be easier on the liver and…well, the creatine will last longer. So, to get the results you are looking for take 5-8g/day post workout for fast absorption.

 

BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAA)

 

The BCAAs consist of 3 amino acids: Leacine, Isoleucine and Valine. These amino acids are stored in your muscles in high concentrations, making them important for a number reasons. The Journal of Nutrition tells us that BCAAs account for approximately 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle protein. They are three of 9 essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are important because they cannot be produced by the human body. Therefore, the only way you get them is through ingestion. BCAAs help prevent the breakdown of muscle protein during exercise, preserve glycogen stores and help with overall maintenance of muscle tissue. BCAAs are not a performance enhancer like we talked about with creatine monohydrate. Simply put, these amino acids are used to reduce soreness and grow your muscles. Now, this is obviously still a very important role in sports training and weight training in general, which is why I recommend BCAAs.

 

Dosage is nothing like creatine. BCAAs are used up quickly with exercise so packing in as much around workout time is what we want to do. What I have found that works for me is 5g during my workout and 10g immediately after my workout. If during doesn’t work for you then before will be fine. Try to shoot for 15-20g around your workout for maximal effect.

 

THE NO BRAINERS

 

There are two supplements that I didn’t talk about because in my mind they are no brainers….they should be taken without asking. Number one is protein powder. Protein powder delivers a full amino acid profile, is convenient and can be mixed with a lot of different ingredients. There are two proteins I suggest to people: whey and casein. Whey protein is digested quickly which is optimal for a post-workout shake. Casein, on the other hand, is slow digesting, which is great in the middle of the day or right before bed to get a sustained release of amino acids to your muscles. You can find whey/casein blends for those of you that don’t necessarily want to buy one can of each. If I had to choose one it would be whey. Whey has the greatest bioavailability of any other form of protein, which means your muscles can use it the best.

 

No brainer number two is fish oil. This incredible little supplement has so many great benefits, it’s hard to  explain how important it can be. Here is a very short list of the affects fish oil can have:

 

1) Reduce high blood pressure

2) Lower risk of stroke

3) Improve weight loss

4) Lower cholesterol

5) Reduce risk of heart disease

 

How many of you can say that you don’t see one effect that you would like to improve on? No brainer, right?

As most of you probably know, fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, most importantly EPA and DHA.
When picking a fish oil supplement, always look at the concentration of EPA and DHA. Most fish oil pills have 1000mg of omega-3s with about 300mg of that being EPA and DHA. Like I said, this is a pretty average concentration, but we want that to be higher. To get the most bang for your buck look for supplements containing atleast 50% EPA and DHA concentration.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

As you see we’ve cover a handful of supplements in this article. With thousands of supplements to choose from, you have to be able to sift through the garbage and pick out the ones that have the research to back them up. Remember, Keep It Simple Stupid. Let me know if you have any questions concerning these or any other supplements. Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front Squats w/ Chains

Today I want to share one of my favorite exercises, front squats, done with chains. This is a great exercise to help develop overall leg strength while hitting core strength at the same time.

 

 

Why add the chains you ask? Well, chains add progressive resistance, which means that as you get further away from the ground the weight gets heavier and heavier. I also find that they help develop more leg drive, helping you be able to finish off the squatting movement better. When you first try using chains be aware that you shouldn’t expect to add them to your regular weights and be able to get the same amount of reps….after all, it is more weight.

 

Just like with any squatting movement, make sure to keep your back flat, push your knees out and drive through your heels on the way back up. Like I said in the beginning, if you want to develop your core strength indirectly, try front squats. The first time you do them, you’ll know it the next morning. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me. Support our troops! Have a great day!