Thursday, 25 March 2021

Gym Etiquette

 Whether you are a member of a public gym, CrossFit box or just workout at a home, there are certain guidelines you should follow to keep the place running smoothly. Without these guidelines, gyms are thrown into chaos with workouts taking twice as long.


Here are the guidelines we follow:


1. Play nice with others. The weights and equipment are not there solely for you to use as you please. You may need to share the equipment or work in with someone.


2. Respect the equipment. Don’t drop the dumbbells just because you can. Every time you drop them they need to be recalibrated which is going to affect everyone that want’s to use them. Treat the equipment as if it is yours and your hard-earned money has been used to pay for it.


3. Don’t hog the equipment. You cannot sit on the lat pulldown machine for 40 minutes whilst texting or checking your notifications on your phone. Do you set and get off.


4. Put your phone away. If you have the energy to check your phone during a training session then you are not mentally or physically invested in that session. Your phone is a distraction to you and everyone else around you.


5. Pack away your weights. Do you want to have to un-rack a bar or unload a machine before you use it? No, so do what you would like others to do for you. Put your weight away once you are finished with them.


6. Put your weights back in the right place; don’t just pick the weight tree that is closest to you or throw them in the corner. The heaviest weights will go on the bottom of the weight tree and the lightest will go at the top. Most gyms will have sets of weight plates from 1.25g-25kg. The 25kg plates go all the way down to the bottom, the 20kg will go above them, followed by the 15kg plate and so on. Do not place the 1.25kg plates behind all of the 25kg plates.


7. Respect those lifting around you. If someone is squatting, do not go near that bar. Wait until they have racked the weight before you go near them to grab a weight, etc. You could knock the bar and cause serious injury to the lifter. Move out of the lifters line of sight, you will be a distraction to them.


8. Don’t assume that someone wants a spot, ask them or wait for them to ask you. If you are going to spot someone, clarify how they want you to spot them or how you will be spotting them. Do they want a lift-off? How many reps are they doing? Let’s take a bench press, for example, do not touch the bar until you see the bar go back down towards the lifters chest. Just because they are taking longer than normal to lift the weight does not mean they need your assistance. If you are the lifter in need of a spot you must keep driving the bar, you cannot just stop and expect the spotter to lift the dead weight. A spotter’s job, in this case, is to help you rack the bar, not complete the lift for you.


9. Avoid giving unsolicited advice. Tip people up when you feel like they need/want it, but don’t be the self-proclaimed ‘expert’, no one likes that guy. Someone may be performing a lift that you are unfamiliar with, but that doesn’t make it wrong.


10. You are not going into battle so you do not need to spray chalk all over the floor or yourself. Keep your hands in the chalk bucket and dust them off before removing them. If you spill it on the floor, clean it up.


11. Chances are if you train in a public gym, especially at peak time, you may have to share your equipment with someone else. Ask the person if you can work in with them. If it’s a pin-loaded piece of equipment there should be no issues with working in with someone, you literally just change the pin setting. The same goes for a set of dumbbells. If we are talking about a squat or a deadlift though, sometimes it may not be possible. If the person who was on the bar first is lifting a similar weight to you (and the pin height is at the same setting or a setting you can work with) then you should be able to work in with them. For example, you are squatting 100kg and they are squatting 110kg. However, if they are squatting 50kg and you are going to squat 150kg, it may take too long to change the weight, which could affect each individual's program negatively. In this case, you will have to wait.


12. Use a towel or wipe down the equipment before someone else uses it. Take your sweat with you, no one want’s to be rolling around in it.


13. Use deodorant. Training is going to make you sweat and stink more than usual. You may enjoy the smell of your underarms, but don’t assume others will too.


14. Turn your music down. No one wants to hear your playlist along with the playlist the gym has roaring in the background. Stop dancing too, you’re at the gym, not a club.


In short, put your weights away, respect the equipment and those around you, and use your common sense once in a while.


If you follow these simple guidelines your gym will be running smoothly in no time.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Adenosine, Sleep Pressure, and Caffeine - Matthew Walker

 

Adenosine, Sleep Pressure, and Caffeine - Matthew Walker

Some things I took away from Matthew Walkers great book Why We Sleep, on adenosine, sleep pressure, caffeine.


Adenosine is the chemical that builds up in your brain.


The longer you are awake, the more it builds up. This increases your desire to sleep. This is what is known as sleep pressure. After 12 to 16 hours this has built up enough for us to go to sleep.


Caffeine takes up the receptor sites of the adenosine which blocks and inactivates the receptors. This then blocks the sleeping signal normally communicated to the brain by adenosine.


Caffeine has a half life of 5 to 7 hours. So a coffee at 6pm could still have 50% of the caffeine in your system at 11pm to 1am. And that's only halfway of getting the caffeine out of the system, don't forget.


Whilst caffeine is in the system, adenosine is still accumulating. So once the liver clears out the caffeine, you now have the sleepiness you had 2 hours before the coffee plus the additional build up of adenosine whilst on the caffeine. Once the caffeine leaves the receptors, the adenosine rushes in and you feel more sleepy than before.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

My Current Pre-Workout Stack

 

My Current Pre-Workout Stack

I often get asked if / what pre-workout I take. I don’t take a pre-made blend of any type. I just mix a few different ingredients together depending on what I am trying to achieve at any given time.


This is roughly what I had before this morning’s workout:


5g creatine

5-10g glutamine

1-2g beta-alanine

2g acetyl-l-carnitine

2-3g tyrosine

3-5g arginine

5g leucine

10g EAAs

1 Java Stim (caffeine)


Creatine


Creatine is one of the most researched and safest supplements you can get. Creatine has been the subject of more than 100 clinical trials. It is involved in energy metabolism in the muscles, the protein (nitrogen) balance, and cell membrane stability. It can also help increase muscle size, strength, and performance.


“While the exact mechanism of this is not fully understood, studies show that creatine supplementation can decrease muscle protein breakdown during exercise, can increase the expression of IGF-1 in the muscles (an anabolic hormone), and creatine can support the satellite cell cycle, which helps expand the functional size capacity of the muscle cell.”

Creatine monohydrate is the most common and by far the most widely researched out of them all. Creatine monohydrate exhibits almost 100% absorption.


There are many times when creatine can be beneficial, for example, when trying to increase muscle mass, when you are sleep deprived, when you want to increase strength and power, and when you want to buffer lactic acid. For these reasons I take creatine regularly.


Glutamine


Glutamine is one of our favourite amino acids as it is so versatile and can be used in so many different situations. As an example, we like to use it to quell inflammation, repair the gut lining, to put on muscle mass, to help sleep, to reduce food cravings, and to fight of colds and flu’s, to name a few.


“It is involved in a variety of metabolic functions including the support of immunity, gastrointestinal integrity, insulin secretion, neurological activity, and muscle protein synthesis.”


Beta-alanine


Beta-alanine can enhance muscle endurance, improving both aerobic and anaerobic performance, increase muscle mass and strength, and improve body composition.


“Carnosine is found in high concentrations in skeletal muscle. Carnosine has a number of important physiological activities in muscle tissue such as serving as a primary pH buffer, an antioxidant, and increases cellular sensitivity to calcium, which is a trigger in muscle contractions. Carnosine also helps protect muscle proteins from oxidation and glycation. Beta-alanine supplementation can significantly increase the amount of carnosine in muscle tissue. This may improve endurance and performance at high levels of exertion. This is believed to be due to a pH buffering effect.”


“Beta-alanine appears to reliably improve a variety of exercise parameters, but mostly for efforts lasting 60–240 s. Above that range, benefits decrease. Under that range, benefits are not significant.”


It is also a good idea to combine creatine with your beta-alanine. These two together have a synergistic effect. The gains in strength, muscle mass, and endurance seen with this combination are much better than beta-alanine used separately.


Arginine


Arginine is promoted to increase growth hormone levels and nitric oxide production, and support increases in muscle mass, strength, and athletic performance. Arginine increases muscle mass through increased blood flow to the working muscles and nutrient delivery but it also has the benefit of being able to increase (stretch) the cell membranes.


Leucine


Leucine stimulates the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signalling pathway, which is necessary for turning on protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is basically taking amino acids and building muscle out of it.


“Even when an overabundance of amino acids are available to provide the building materials for new muscle, adding extra leucine augments protein synthesis rates further. The bottom line is that adding additional leucine to your diet is an effective strategy to maximize muscle anabolism after resistance exercise.”


Caffeine


Caffeine has many benefits when it comes to increasing performance. The two main benefits I use caffeine for are increased strength and for delaying the onset of fatigue.