By Bryan Opaskar
Preparing for the end of the Strength Cycle
As we near the end of the strength cycle, we would like to take this time to inform you on stress management. Training, like any other aspect of life, is a stressor. Positive or negative, stress has an accumulative effect and needs to be managed in the grand scheme of day-to-day life. Whether you are an accountant, strength coach, banker, or student, stress needs to be managed in an appropriate fashion to avoid burnout and allow you to achieve your short-term and long-term goals.
Becoming Aware of our Stress Levels
Monitoring/controlling stress in training is no different than in life. More than likely, you develop a yearly goal for your job/company. This is the big picture and is adjustable somewhat, but gives you guidance as to where you want to ultimately end up a year from now. You proceed to make a plan in order to achieve your yearly goal by breaking it down into smaller steps, typically quarterly goals. The quarterly goals allow you to focus on a select few aspects that will accumulate and ultimately help you achieve your yearly goal. Each quarterly goal can be broken down into smaller steps, such as monthly and weekly goals. The process helps manage your stress over time by spreading out the workload appropriately into manageable loads. Will there be times where you have to put your head down, eyes up and plow through? Absolutely. It is necessary at times. However, it typically gets balanced out by periods of lighter workloads.
Training is no different. You set up a goal, such as losing 10 lbs, and determine roughly how long it will take to achieve your goal. Set up a target date and work backward, developing a plan to achieve your goal. Throughout the development of your plan, you will have smaller goals to monitor progress and keep you on track. This allows you to get less discouraged by small fluctuations in weight or small deviations from the plan and help you stay consistent with your plan. Additionally, it reduces the stress of trying to lose all 10 lbs at once, spreading it out into manageable steps throughout the process.
The gym should not be a place that negatively affects your life by adding more unnecessary stress. Rather, it should be a place where you improve your health, physical performance, and overall quality of life. You do not need to bury yourself in the ground all the time to achieve greater fitness and health outcomes. Rather, monitoring your stress in the gym takes you to far greater places overall. We as coaches believe in monitoring your workload because we value each and every individual that walks through our doors. Your safety is our top priority. Hence, workload monitoring is one aspect we utilize to help keep you safe.
A look into the future of the gym…..
At The Bar Athletics, we are implementing training cycles to help monitor your stress in the gym. We have broken down the yearly programming into 5 training cycles that focus on further developing every individual’s general physical preparedness (GPP) while simultaneously managing your stress. There will be times where you will be pushed hard and feel “broken down”. However, we will help build you back up so you are stronger and better than before. Especially near the end of each cycle, when we test out, you will experience a deload/”peak” week in which your overall workload will be significantly reduced. The purpose is to help your body (especially your nervous system) fully recover so that on the testing day you can put forth your best performance.
If you have any questions about specifics related to you, please feel free to reach out to one of the coaches.
By Coach Meredith
As always, our safety should take priority in anything we do. This week I’d like to give you a few tips on staying safe and avoiding injuries.
If you’re an active individual, injuries are bound to happen every once in a while. We often prolong or worsen our injury by not resting long enough to allow our body to heal itself. However, there are ways to treat and avoid injury without disrupting our routines. Here are a few tips:
Apply ice & relieve pain. The two most portable injury healers are ice packs and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Applying ice and taking an anti-inflammatory will reduce swelling and pain quickly and effortlessly.
Avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to speed up recovery. Dehydration can also cause injuries by increasing strain to dry muscle mass, so be sure to drink up each hour, as a preventive measure!
Eat plenty of protein. Proteins help your muscles rebuild after an injury or challenging workout. Consume eggs, lean meats, beans, or green veggies to get the right amount of protein!
Stretch often. Take a break once an hour while at work to stretch sore muscles. Simply standing up and sitting down is a great way to massage the body—but you can even stretch your neck and wrists while completing your to-do list. Also make sure to stretch and mobilize before and after class, as this will help to keep muscles limber and allow for proper range of motion.
By Coach Meredith
This is something that is not only beneficial for our overall wellness, but it can help prevent injury in the work place, the gym, and our day-to-day lives as well. Some of you may already have a specific stretching routine that you prefer to stick to in the morning or before or after your gym sessions.
Tight muscles can lead to imbalances in the body which may contribute to a limited range of motion or possible injury. Stretching regularly can help you maintain mobility that may help improve your performance and well-being.
First, let’s review a few helpful stretching tips to get you started:
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU STRETCH EACH WEEK?
The great news is that as little as 6–10 minutes of static stretching a few times a week can be beneficial, so it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task to include more flexibility-focused work into your already busy schedule.
If you aren’t currently doing any stretching, aiming for 1–2, 10-minute sessions a week is a good place to start. Each week you can add more sessions or increase the duration.
If you know you won’t ever have the time to do a full 20–30 minutes in one session, don’t worry. You can break it up into shorter, more manageable time blocks, or simply do a more focused, 5–10 minute stretch on busy days. The key to success here is to find a way to fit in flexibility time without added stress. The good news? Stretching also helps to decrease stress levels.
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO STRETCH?
Stretching can be done WHENEVER you like, whatever fits your schedule— morning, noon or night. It’s both a great way to begin or also wind down your day. The best time to stretch is the time you’ll actually do it.
At The Bar Athletics, we like to focus on a generalized warm-up before every class that ensures safe movement through the WOD prescribed for the day. We ALWAYS encourage our members to mobilize specific body parts that inhibit their personal range of motion if needed. We also provide a cool-down segment to our daily classes in order to promote further work on mobility as well as monthly mobility clinics.
“Blessed are the flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape.”
By Coach Meredith
Last time I discussed some pre-workout nutrition tips, so this week I would like to cover a few post-workout musts. Here are my top 3 post-exercise tips:
Static stretching is best reserved for after your workouts. Static means you will hold the position. Dynamic stretching involves a gentle flow or movement through a series of positions. When performed immediately after your workouts, static stretching helps to you cool down, increase muscle relaxation and potentially get tight muscles back to their resting length.
Exercise tends to shorten muscles through contraction and it is important to stretch them out afterwards. For example, runners will typically will have tight hamstrings or calves if they don’t consistently stretch after their runs. The tighter the muscles get, the more likely they are to develop injuries and lose their speed or functionality.
Immediately following your workouts, when your muscles are still warm, aim to spend at least 30 seconds to one minute stretching each muscle group that you’ve used or may feel particularly tight. The use of lacrosse balls, foam rollers, and resistance bands comes in handy here.
2. WEIGH YOURSELF and or DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Post-exercise, you shouldn’t lose any more than 2% of your body weight between the beginning and end of your workout. So, for example if you weighed 150 pounds at the start, you shouldn’t weigh any less than 147 pounds at the end. If your weight loss is greater than, it means you are on the road to significant dehydration. Improper water consumption can decrease your exercise performance and put you at risk of heat stroke as well as exacerbate symptoms of muscle soreness and fatigue.
Any drop in weight should be dealt with by drinking at least 8oz of water following your workout. If you’re dehydrated, it is also beneficial to hydrate with an electrolyte-containing drink or coconut water.
3. EAT PROTEIN AND CARBS
Muscle undergoes rapid remodeling and rebuilding, especially during the period following an intense workout. In order to push the muscle protein in a positive direction for growth and recovery, it is important to consume adequate protein, including branched-chain amino acids, after a strenuous workout.
How much do you need? It depends. Exercises like lifting or running tend to lead to more muscle damage versus low-impact exercises such as yoga or walking. It may be necessary to consume higher amounts of protein and BCAAs after intense exercises that cause more muscle damage in order to promote optimal muscle repair and recovery. Aim to get anywhere between 20 and 40 grams, consuming toward the higher end for the greater your exercise intensity or body size.
There is what’s called an “anabolic window” which is the post-workout time period in which the body can most effectively absorb protein and incorporate it into its muscle cells. This time period is typically 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
That being said, you may actually need more carbs than protein post-workout. Post-workout foods and drinks should have a 3:1-to-4:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein for ideal muscle recovery. This means, for every gram of protein you consume following a workout, you likely need three to four times as many grams of carbs.
Why is this so? Insulin, released by the pancreas when you eat carbs, helps amino acids from protein enter muscle cells for repair and recovery. Try choosing whole carbs from natural sources including fruit, whole grains, and dairy.
Provided by Coach Meredith
Peanut/Almond Butter & Banana on Rice Cakes
Smooth your peanut or almond butter onto two brown rice cakes for extra fiber. And while you may usually avoid bananas because they're too full of sugar, eating one after a workout is just fine. It will replenish your energy quickly.
Recommended Serving Size: 1/2 banana, 1 tbsp. peanut/almond butter, and 2 brown rice cakes
Hummus and Pita
Hummus, a dip made from pureed chickpeas, gives you both carbs and protein. Coupled with the slow-release energy from the whole-wheat pita, it makes for a snack that'll keep you fueled for hours
Recommended Serving Size: 1/4 cup hummus with 1 whole wheat pita
Yogurt and Fresh Berries
Low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt can pack nearly 15 grams of protein; then add some berries for carbohydrate-driven energy.
Recommended Serving Size: 1 8-ounce container of plain, low-fat yogurt with 1/2 cup berries
Tuna on Whole Wheat
Tuna drizzled with a little lemon juice and olive oil spread over a slice of whole wheat bread is an ideal protein/carb mini-meal.
Recommended Serving Size: 4 ounces water-packed tuna & 1 slice whole wheat bread
Turkey and Cheese with Apple Slices
If you're not in the mood for a sandwich, skip the bread and eat the fillings on their own! Spread a soft-cheese wedge over two or three slices of lean deli turkey, then roll up for a quick, high-protein, eat-on-the-go snack. Add a sliced apple for some energy-boosting carbs.
Recommended Serving Size: 4 ounces deli turkey, 1 soft cheese wedge, and 1 apple
By Coach Meredith
Hello and Happy New Year!
With the new year, comes new resolutions. Let’s set new standards for ourselves for optimal health and wellness. First and foremost, let’s make rest a priority. Depriving our bodies of sleep is depriving it of recovery and growth that can aid in warding off illness, signs of aging, and obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of Americans aren’t getting regular sleep. Without regular sleep patterns, our bodies find it hard to function and we begin to slack in other areas of our lives including our overall health. One study has found that insufficient sleep can cause change to more than 700 genes in our bodies. Here are some vital organs inadequate sleep will affect:
Monotonous tasks such as driving have an increased risk because our focus is lessened and we can be easily distracted. Our hand-eye coordination is also affected. When this all adds up it can be dangerous not only for ourselves, but for everyone else traveling around us as well.
Leptin naturally rises during the day and peaks at night, but researchers have found that that doesn’t seem happen if you stay awake. There is an 18% decrease in levels of leptin and a 28% increase in levels of ghrelin when we stay awake longer than we should.
Another explanation for our sleep-deprived hunger, may be related to changes in our brain. We tend to make decisions that we would not have made if we were well-rested. You wouldn’t normally eat a Big Mac, large fry, and a Coke for dinner, but at midnight or 1 a.m., it looks awesome, is fast, easy, and sounds like a good idea. Right?… Wrong!
Sleep is the time when our cells regenerate, so when your sleep is disturbed this important process is thrown off. Our blood vessels are most affected because they are constantly being regenerated. Over time this may lead to stiffness in your arteries and less efficient healing, which impacts our heart health.
So let’s start the new year off right with proper rest habits in order to have our happiest, healthiest year yet!
Have a restful week all!