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The Razor’s Edge – A no BS guide into some thoughts around our training!

“The brave man, if he be compared with the coward, seems foolhardy; and, if with the foolhardy man, seems a coward.” – Aristotle

The benefits of fitness go far beyond the scope of what we currently understand. Most people know they need to workout and be healthier, but they don’t really understand what the right recipe is for them, or what even works and what doesn’t.

Yes personal training is expensive, and there are other easily accessible alternatives out there. But that’s where Strength Shaman is different. We are not just another trainer, we are coaches who have extensive experience in working with clients to help them achieve their goals. And what’s more is that we realize that your health and wellness is a means to live a more fulfilling life. That being said you shouldn’t have to plug in hours at the gym everyday just so you can look and feel good. You want to maximize your time, energy, and focus, and therefore you’ll need the right recipe to create the outcome you want for a more happy and fulfilling life!

Let me talk about how we do this, and debunk a couple of things right off the bat that might separate us from the competition;

*1. Foam rolling*

If you noticed there’s a fad out there called foam rolling, it’s where folks come into the gym and roll things out for a while before they get started any activity (sometimes over an hour). I like to think critically about these sorts of things and don’t really see a tangible reason for this. The cliche line about cheetahs stretching comes to mind … They don’t. They just live. And when we are in the gym we simply live as well. We perform exercises that closely mimic the natural pabulum your body requires to function optimally, and create the necessary stimulus for change.  That’s progress, and that’s results!

The bottom line is that we have an hour to maximize your results, and we definitely get after it!

*2. BIG Movements*

Yes a lot of gyms do compound lifts and other movements. But we take it to the next level. We incorporate movements that are going to offset the balance of a westernized lifestyle. The exercises will be healing and necessary for the body to stay healthy and powerful. Think of a quarterback who throws 1,000 footballs a day. The front part of his arm may be really tight and overworked, and it’s our job as Strength Coaches to prescribe exercises that aren’t going to tire out his arm further, but rather work the antagonistic or opposing muscle groups to ensure that he maintains some form of symmetry and stays healthy as he develops. The same goes for our clients! If you sit in a desk for most of the day, it’s our job to make sure we counter balance the sitting with activity that ensures the development and function in your hips and upper back, to keep you functioning properly and uninjured!

The bottom line is that we are cognizant of our exercise prescription and customize exercises to your lifestyle and for your own personal demands.

*3. Nutrition & Lifestyle*

I’m not sure how people get great results without support in these components. If you have a trainer, I recommend doing consultations or hiring an auxiliary nutritionist to help support you in seeing the best results possible! Making time for consultations is essential to test and measure your progress, if you’re on the right track that’s great, but if you’re not it’s an optimal situation to make changes in your prescription. Be careful for ultimatums or one size fits all approaches. Some people don’t need to cut out grains or dairy, and macros can work for the right person. It all depends on YOU! The coach is just there as your guide to help test and measure and troubleshoot to come up with an effective solution to your goal or obstacle!

The bottom line is that you’ll need support outside of the gym if you really want to see results. You’ll need a coach who is going to work WITH you in that manner, and quite frankly hold you and themselves accountable to the results you are after. If your training doesn’t include consultations, you’re probably missing out!

That’s It!

3 big things to consider when you’re training, and potential red flags when you’re looking to sign on with someone. There’s more where that came from obviously! If you like the content please sign up for our newsletter to get weekly tips, tricks, exercises, and recipes! And stay tuned, there’s more coming!

Enjoy!

Beets by D 

Beets are cool, and our moms somehow always knew that …  After doing my research, I can honestly say, I should have listened.

In recent years beets have started to get the attention they deserve however.  Their newfound prominence comes from high profile athletes touting their caliber; most notably David Weir attributes his four gold medal success at the 2012 Paralympic Games to drinking beet juice.  “I immediately noticed a significant improvement in my performance” said Weir.  Beet juice helps improve athletic performance via a number of mechanisms as we will see.  Let’s dive further into the details and see how beets can improve your life.  

THE HIGH ROAD

Before we get started there’s two ways to produce nitric oxide in our body, the first is the l-arginine pathway.  This pathway is incredibly slow, like a long bombastic road that takes us through a windy corridor.  Someday we will have giant blue-blockers on and be grandparents, but until then let’s look elsewhere.  The nitrate pathway is an adjunct to the l-arginine pathway, but it is filled with sex appeal and ergogenic promise, needless to say this is the pathway we will choose.

Before we leave on our journey however, aren’t nitrates are bad?  Maybe beet juice isn’t the ambrosia I’m making it out to be … Nitrates are … or was it nitrites?

THE JOURNEY

Beet juice contains nitrates which are powerful inorganic molecules that stimulates the production of nitric oxide – the holy hand grenade so to speak.  Yes nitrates are converted to nitrites in this pathway, but it is fundamentally nitrate when broken down in the stomach via hydrochloric acid.  I assume this is an important difference.  And as far as I know nitrates are not unhealthy or cancer causing.

Nitrites are scary because of nitrosamines which are attributed with carcinogenic effects, meaning they can potentially cause cancer.  Nitrosamines are made when nitrites combine with digested proteins.  The link between the nitrates/nitrites and cancer is convoluted however.  Nitrites are not well understood and a clear link to cancer has not been established (nitrosamines and cancer are opaque).  In fact it is now mandated that cured meats contain vitamin C & E, which negate the formation of nitrosamines.

So what gives? *Elaborate After prudent probing, it is likely that the hydrocarbons from propane and the charring of meat could be the cancer culprit; neither of which affect the nitrite situation.

THE BEET GOES ON …

Nitric oxide seems familiar to us because it is commonly used to lower blood pressure.  This is done by a process called vasodilation.  Vasodilation causes the relaxation of our blood vessels, and in turn the heart does not have to work as hard because our blood flows easily.  For those dirty old men out there (you know who you are) … Doctors say you are not supposed to take viagra with nitric oxide because it could cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure – this is because both substances cause vasodilation.  In fact nitric oxide might even work better than viagra for this purpose, I’m serious, there’s studies …  Two shots of beet juice anyone?

Increased blood flow carries nutrients to the required area, this is fantastic for recovery and energy, the functions don’t just end there however.  Nitric oxide enhances mitochondrial function, mitochondria are the powerhouses of our body, they are responsible for energy production.  Therefore nitric oxide helps our mitochondria produce more energy with less oxygen!  Sorcery to say the least, and although you won’t quite develop underwater breathing, you could improve your time in a long distance event by as much as 1-2%, which equates to minutes overall!  Try taking a recommended two 70 ml shots of beet juice 2-3 hours before your race, that should be enough do the trick. 

Aside from direct performance benefits, nitric oxide has been shown to play a role in preserving immunity.  Studies have been done on nitric oxide’s impact on pathogenic bacteria with promising results.  Nitric oxide can protect against intracellular pathogens and help maintain a healthy microbial environment.  This makes me think of garlic, which is a potent nitric oxide stimulator.  Garlic also contains the phytochemical allicin which is known as an antimicrobial agent, no wonder Dracula couldn’t stand a chance, this is powerful stuff!

Lastly nitric oxide is a free radical, which has a bad connotation.  The Rebels in “Return of the Jedi” also had a bad reputation, they were seen as scum by the Empire.  The Rebels had no choice but to reform by blowing up the Death Star, I like their style.  Nitric oxide takes similar action, reshaping things by emulating an anti-oxidant.  It uses its anti-oxidant capability to rapidly soak up free radicals in damaged tissues to save the day.  Nitric oxide accomplishes this by rapidly jumping around from membrane to membrane, how about that for Jedi powers?  This means nitric oxide can protect against cellular damage.  And to take things further, 80% of nitric oxide is utilized specifically in the brain; this might make beet juice a requisite for those looking to restore brain health and function – concussions anyone?

CLOSING NOTES

• Two shots of 70 ml, for 140 ml total seemed to offer the most effective dosing, anything above this resulted in substantially diminished returns.

• Beetroot consumption peaks nitric oxide levels 2-3h after ingestion and slowly diminishes over 12h.

• Works best for events that are 5-30 minutes long; I didn’t make that up.

SOURCES

Inorganic nitrates; spinach, cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, collards, leeks, beets, celery

Made via digestion – Hydrochloric acid which is naturally produced in the stomach.

Supplements; NOx Boost by AOR

*Talk about the products and sell them more.  All the trials added extra potassium and beetroot juice.  Supercharge beetroot juice.  Natural consistency and dosage changes with with environmental factors (soil, biodynamics, etc). 

STUDIES

1 Wylie LJ, et al. “Beetroot Juice and Exercise; Pharmacodynamic and Dose-Response Relationships”.   Journal of Applied Physiology. 115.3 (2013) : 325-36. Electronic