How Do You Recover?
What do YOU eat or drink post-workout to recover?
This is a question that has long been debated.
Supplements, powders, pills, shakes, bars, vitamins and minerals are a dime a dozen in the fitness market. Not to mention the slew of nutritional and diet philosophies around the ‘right way.’
The truth of the matter is that every BODY is different, and there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to specific nutritional intake.
That being said, however, if you are looking to perform and recover in great stride, there is no question that your nutrition is the key that unlocks your optimal potential.
Over the years, OPEX has given much time and care to researching and testing various products, nutritional philosophies, and recommendations that most align with our own philosophy of being the leader in the fitness world.
We frequently get asked about supplementation, and for those that know me and what OPEX is about, you’ll know that I do not back many things for our athletes, clients and coaches – as I am curious in nature and ask a lot of questions before “hitting the switch” so to speak.
In other words: We don’t just recommend any product because it’s popular or has the most social media ‘Likes’ or ‘tastes the best’ (but is chalk full of garbage).
We stand for quality and results, settling for nothing less.
We’ve been searching for some time, with little success, for post workout nutrition containing both high-quality ingredients and a formulation best suited for fitness athletes.
Well, we found it.
Finally a product has become available that we can put our energy and our name behind, and recommend to all OPEX coaches and clients worldwide.
Revive RX (founded by CrossFit Games competitor and long-time EC client Marcus Filly) has created Recovery – a quality post workout supplement designed with the high-intensity athlete in mind.
After some testing on site with the product amongst ourselves, our coaching team has experienced first-hand enhanced recovery for continued strength and stamina going into our next workouts. Revive Rx’s quality product fits our prescription.
Get prepared to recover.
Additional Considerations for Supplementation & Recovery
On a side note, here are a few (often overlooked) things to keep in mind that are critical to getting the most out of any supplement.
Understand the Process:
- The workout intensity and “dose response” of a training session dictates ‘how much’ of a supplement is needed or will be needed at all (We recommend reading the label carefully for that)
- The dose response of a training session ALSO dictates WHEN, after training, supplementation is appropriate. (This is completely INDIVIDUALIZED, meaning one workout for one person feels and results differently, than one workout for another person. If you are not aware of what that response or affect is, speak to Erin@opexfit.com to meet a coach and get started on understanding that)
- Within that post-workout window (which varies from 2 seconds after the workout to hours afterward), it’s crucial to understand the stages your body is going through and how it’s really using your nutrition support during the recovery phase:
o Stage 1 – (CNS dominant – minutes after; immediately after). Blood flow is in periphery. Lactate could be heightened in resting tissues. Brain and nervous tissue is contracted and close to exhausted in specific tissues or systemically. Heart rate is heightened due to recovery being required and cooling being required. Core temperature is still higher than normal cortisol levels are heightened.
o Stage 2 – (Metabolic dominant – Minutes to 30 min after). Heartrate lowered due to increased cooling. Cortisol levels remain heightened as the body and brain tries to coordinate what just happened and start adaptation process. Blood flow returns back to core. Lactate lowers from peripheral tissues with movement, breathing and blood flow with cool down.
o Stage 3 – (Recovery dominant – minutes to hours after) – Heart rate can remain heightened based on systemic response of training. Lactate scores in tissues back to just above resting – blood flow in all areas. Cortisol levels MAY or MAY NOT be lowering (this is based on resilience, adrenals and adaptation of person).
Practice Good Training Hygiene:
In addition to understanding the process of exercise recovery, some ways to ensure we effectively tap into the recovery-boosting effects of Revive, it is vital to practice:
- Hydration. Water is first and foremost before, during, and after a training session (i.e. throughout the day, good hydration and water hygiene habits). Sipping cooler water is a plus. This “sipping” (NOT gulping) creates a CNS cooling, as well as a calming, process for the person and therefore the digestive tract.
- Movement Recovery. Recovery actually begins during your training session. Look at Stage 2. It is here that the athlete should actively create an increased speed of recovery THEY can control with movement, blood flow and O2 into the muscles again (i.e. not just abruptly jumping from your intense training session back to the daily grind of life, and on to your ‘next thing’).
Once the core temperature has shown signs of lowering, once the breathing and heart rate show signs of almost being normal again, once the simple task coordination is back, THEN and ONLY THEN should the Revive post workout be taken. When taken it must be sipped, swished in mouth to mix with saliva and drank at a slow rate – preferably in a sitting position where digestion can take place.
What about food?:
The return to regular food is a common question we at OPEX and Revive get in this area, and of course the answer is – “it depends”.
The athlete and his or her adaptation, gut ability, oxidation/metabolic rate, resilience, training age, current training dose, sleep, recovery status, goals, lifestyle/schedule, etc.—these factors all go into play for determining when they should eat and what they should eat for that first ‘next meal.’
There are some guidelines though.
Due to the fast transit of the liquid macronutrients, a 60-90 minute timeline after the last sip of a Revive supplement CAN work well for some people to get back to regular foods.
Preferably this meal includes clean and lean(er) protein from a meat source, a mixture of carbohydrate dominant foods in vegetable form with higher (carrots) and lower (asparagus) carbohydrate amounts, as well as a solid dose of monounsaturated fats (food source preferred).
The amounts and exact ‘what’, varies per person, BUT remember to sit down and chew your food well, heated would be better than cold, put your fork down after each bite, don’t hover over your meal, and drink water 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after your meals (NOT during the meal), as best practices in food hygiene allow for increased recovery as well as heighten the opportunity for Revive to do its job.
Please use the code REVIVAL when checking out at our store to get 10% off all Revive RX products!
Sport Specific Functional Movement
I recently had a conversation with a coach who asked me about golf. He brought up functional training and how he liked functional fitness for training athletes and when I asked him why, he seemed a bit puzzled. He looked at me as if I was perhaps behind the curve and with excitement he went off on all the benefits of functional fitness. To keep a long story short, he essentially mentioned that functional fitness only used movements that were functional and that’s what helps athletes perform better. I pressed the question a bit more and asked how. His response was essentially they make people stronger, to which I replied, “What if their sport doesn’t require a lot of strength? Perhaps squatting is not all that necessary for a golfer, and in fact I’ll argue squats are not all that functional in the first place.”
When I coach my athletes, whether their sport is golf, hockey, baseball, football, soccer, or fitness, I always remove my own biases from the program. I went on to explain to this coach that functional fitness is a term that changes client to client. What’s functional for a golfer is not necessarily functional for a power lifter. Squats, in other words, are extremely functional for a power lifter, but perhaps not so much for a soccer player. Let’s think that one through for a second. Power lifters ARE athletes, but not all athletes are power lifters. Let’s take that one step further. If your sport is CrossFit then you’re an athlete, but not every athlete should do CrossFit. Golfers, I’ll argue, fall into that category.
Let’s take a look at the components of golf. It’s a very unique sport for one. Normally in rotational athletics there is follow through. In golf, there is none. Yes you follow through with your swing but you don’t move the feet. In most rotational athletics, you start in what we call an ipsilateral pattern and move into a contralateral pattern. Ipsilateral essentially means your points of balance are on the same side. In golf though, you never move into a contralateral pattern. You’re entire career you spend rotating only one way. This is nothing like CrossFit or what is normally known as “functional fitness”.
So I want to challenge coaches out there. Remember who you are coaching. Are you coaching based on your own biases? When you get an athlete, break their sport down into the components. Looking back at golf, is squatting important for golf? I can make the case that yes it is important. I can also make the case that no, it isn’t. It comes down to the ATHLETE. Functional, in my opinion, really means that the exercise has carry over to a specific function that is tangible to the goal of your client. Bicep curls in the squat rack? Probably not “functional” but what if you’re a physique athlete? Then get out of the squat rack and do your curls so I can squat, but otherwise I’ll say curls are functional. I hope it’s becoming more clear what the term functional should mean, and perhaps where your biases may lie.
Next time you get a new client or athlete, before you start designing their program, look at their sport. Look at the common injuries in that sport. Find out what helps build resiliency in athletes that play that sport, and don’t throw an exercise away because it’s not “functional” or you might just be limiting your growth as a coach and your athletes’ true potential
“Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there.”
Performing The Consult
The client consult is a key component to the assessment process, and any ongoing work you do with your clients.
It’s where the ‘magic’ happens: Life coaching, understanding, agreement, explanation of the transformation process, the establishment of goals.
That being said, it is critical to ensure that you have this process refined in order to deliver a quality product and impeccable client-centered experience for each and with every individual you coach.
I first began to dive into the client consultation process—and the development of my current methods I use—back in my early days as a personal trainer at the YMCA.
I was spending anywhere between 60-70 hours with clients, but in actuality, only about 20-30 of these hours were devoted to personal training…the other 30-40 hours were devoted to my consultations, life coaching and creation of individualized plans.
As the years have gone on, I spend just as much time ratio, if not more, devoted to really understanding my clients, knowing their goals and life coaching than actually training them in the gym.
Because the training process is just one piece to the puzzle of the changes they truly want to see happen in their lives (be it: excelling as an athlete, to changing body composition, gaining more energy, improving their fitness and health, pursuing their dream job, etc.).
As I am better able to understand, from a holistic perspective, the factors, and behaviors, thoughts, beliefs and motivations driving my clients, I am then able to dig deeper and help them make lasting change…which then, in turn, always yields progress and results in the gym.
What does the ideal client consult look like?
Here are a few points I coach other coaches on around this process.
Face to Face
As OPEX works with clients all over, our team’s consults often take place via distance—through technology. We use Skype, Go To Meeting or Facetime as our main sources of communication—rarely if ever a phone.
If I am going to meet with a person, I want to be all in—and likewise, I want my clients to be all in as well. On the phone, there’s no telling if they are picking their nose, eating, brushing their teeth, Googling and working on something else. Being able to see a person face to face is made possible through these newer forms of technology.
After all, if you were to meet in person with your clients (always an ideal), you wouldn’t be texting, sweating and breathing heavy, eating in front of them—would you?
Try to connect as much as possible.
Establish Expectations & Deliverables
From the get-go, I explain the process of consultation and follow-ups—with which clients are typically on board for.
At OPEX, this most commonly looks like a 4-week timeline, with the first month (initial consult + follow up session) being the exception.
Upon the initial consultation, which typically lasts an hour to an hour and a half, we dive in deep to establish a baseline of a person’s current health, goals, reasons they are seeking coaching, etc.
From there, I give them my honest recommendations concerning their personal process, and explain a bit more about the process of change (i.e. it takes time).
Change can be overwhelming for anyone, and I reassure them that, just like Rome was not built in a day, this coaching process is going to take time—and, if they value their health, their goals and the things they really want out of their life, it is worth it.
From there, I send them off with an initial set of action steps to begin taking towards their goals—and self-efficacy in attaining these goals.
We then plan to follow up about two weeks after the initial consult to check-in, see how things are going, answer any questions, etc.
Afterwards, our monthly check-ins ensue—with additional sessions scheduled, as needed, if a client finds they benefit from a bit more guidance and support, particularly in the initial stages.
Keep it Do-able
Don’t give a client a list of 12 things to change, and expect them to have success—even the most motivated of all clients!
Baby steps people.
Allow your clients to feel accomplishment and experience success with 1-3 things they can take action on, week by week…and if they don’t reach that goal that week, either open the door for another week to give it a try, or refine/change the goal at hand.
In addition, you may need to set up some sort of check-in system, so your clients who do struggle with change or accountability, feel support and guidance along the way.
This could look like a Google doc or e-mail they send back to you with a food log or water log, sleep report, mood report, etc.—something that doesn’t allow them to feel left out hanging.
A great example of a client who recently experienced success with change, was a woman, prenatal, who had some concerns around her nutrition: variety in her daily meals, particularly vegetables, for the various nutrients and nourishment she could get for her body. She ate the same things many days, day in and day out.
So we made it a goal of ours that she would prepare and try one new vegetable at dinnertime with her family every day of the week. One day it was roasted carrots, another day green beans chopped with rosemary and thyme, sweet potatoes with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup the next day, cauliflower mash, then steamed broccoli—more color. She did it, she loved it, she experienced success. Her other two goals were for energy balance (not overexerting herself in her days, making time for herself) and to stretch her glutes daily for all around mobility.
Upon our first follow-up meeting a couple weeks later, we checked in about all these goals—I had taken notes for myself to remind myself what we were specifically working on—and she reported feeling pleased with her success.
From there, we were able to continue to build upon both these goals, and then touch on other goals, as I gave her three action steps to work on over the next couple weeks until we met again.
She was on board, and smiling from ear to ear as she walked out.
The client consult is the cornerstone of ‘reaching’ your clients, establishing their goals and understanding that happens—not only upon the first visit with a new prospect, but ongoing throughout your work with your clients.
The consult process is not rocket science, but it does require commitment—not just on the client’s part, but your part as well as a coach.
Be invested. Care. And with each client you work with, make them feel like they are the only client you work with in the world at the moment.
You’re a coach.
You specialize in helping others reach their goals, execute proper form, and stay safe.
You give others hope for improvement and encourage them when they are feeling less optimistic.
You understand just how valuable a coach is to a client’s personal fitness (and life) journey, and you believe others should recognize that value you provide.
So…do YOU have a coach?
It’s easy to talk the talk…but do you walk the walk?
You talk to clients—and potential clients—all day long about the perks coaching can provide. After all, you wouldn’t be in the business of training others if you didn’t believe that now would you?
So conversely…when it comes to your personal development, improvement, and even mentorship…every coach can truly benefit from a coach.
In case you are a list person, here are some more perks:
- Coaches help you take your coaching to the ‘next level’, teaching you with their experience (what works and what doesn’t)
- It can be a look into the future for your career (i.e. having a coach that has been in your shoes or situation before)
- A coach provides a whole new list of resources and references that have already been reviewed (i.e. the classes, seminars, doctors, teachers any references he or she has used)
- A coach will help you stay open minded with their wisdom and information that isn’t written in a text book
- Sometime we intuitively know things will work but don’t fully understand why we know what we know—a coach can help be a sounding board, or outside perspective to fully understand more about training
- A coach helps you with knowing your purpose and understanding your own values, as both an athlete and a coach
When you realize you want to be the best coach you possibly can be then you will realize you also need coaching…and you will be willing to get it.
Think about who your dream coach would be and go for it or find someone that is close (do your research). And it will come—the right fit.
For, when the student is ready the teacher will appear.
You lead others to success…and likewise, you will experience success.
Join Coach Michael Bann on our Facebook page at 8:30AM PST/ 11:30AM EST to ask any questions about training, performance and more!
June 26, 2015
Core Control for Strength and Power in Athletics
A lot of people come to me with rehab questions, and rightfully so. I’ve sort of gained a reputation for being the “rehab” guy. The truth though, is that I’m actually a performance enhancement coach. I just happened to have been lucky enough to have a dozen or so mentors who were all experts in various fields, all of whom except one had at least one doctorate. This gave me a wide variety of philosophies to draw upon in order to become a complete and total coach with a very deep understanding of how to enhance performance. While I do love helping people move better, get out of pain and in general live more healthy functional lives, my biggest passion is building world class athletes, and that’s what I truly do best.
What if tomorrow you had a world-class athlete walk into your facility and ask you to take them to the next level. Let’s say that next level is a potential scholarship for college, or perhaps multi-million dollar potential. Are you comfortable bearing that responsibility? What if that athlete was only 14 and already world class? What if that athlete had NO idea how to move athletically in a controlled environment, and had a history of injury and pain, yet was STILL world class? What would you do? Refer out? Turn away business? Tell them, “Sorry, I’m not good enough as a coach to help you.” What if they were DISCHARGED into your care by a very competent physical therapist and strength coach? What’s your first step? Test their back squat to deadlift ratio? Do you check posture? Do you give an energy systems test on the assault bike? Hopefully this case study and article gives you some insight into what it takes to take an already world-class athlete, and make them better. After all, it’s easy to take someone who knows nothing and build them into something…or is it?
In comes Sangeet Sridhar. Sangeet first came to me in the beginning of 2015 as a discharged patient from Jeff Beran, a physical therapist I work with out of Evolution Physical Therapy. Sangeet had been seeing Jeff for a while regarding some issues/injuries from playing so much tennis. Jeff did an absolutely awesome job getting him back to the condition in which I could work my magic. For those who are familiar with the Functional Movement Screen I’ll give you some background on Sangeet. He scored a 9 on the FMS in his initial assessment. For those not as familiar with the FMS, first and foremost the FMS is NOT an assessment. It’s just a screen, similar to a blood pressure test. Putting someone through the FMS takes 10 minutes at the most, and gives potential red flags for movement issues that can translate to a reduced performance in sport. Much like a high blood pressure just gives a red flag to potential heart conditions yet doesn’t tell us WHY blood pressure is high, the FMS does not tell us WHY an athlete moves the way they do. That’s where individualized assessments MUST come into play if you want to produce the best results for your athlete, regardless of sport.
To help you conceptualize the kind of athlete Sangeet is and is continuing to become, he was ranked among the top in the world when I got him. He ranked around 400th in the world as a 14 year old, and top 5 in the country. Right before I got him he went up against the number one NCAA tennis player who had 6 years experience on him, and while he did lose to him, he wasn’t crushed. He kept up very well and it was a very close match. So what would you do if this kind of athlete came to you asking for help? Injury prone, can’t move well, and not to mention his adrenals were shot based on HRV data we obtained. He was playing tennis 5 hours per day, 5-6 days per week.
Don’t let the industry fool you. There is no such thing as an “injury prevention” specific program. I say this because as coaches it’s OUR job to make sure EVERY program reduces injury potential, while simultaneously improving movement, positions AND performance. This is perhaps why many people have sought me out when they’re hurt. Taking an athlete who moves amazingly well with no injuries or pain to worry about, and creating a better athlete is relatively easy. Taking an athlete with no context towards proper movement, positions, or perhaps an injury requires a deeper understanding of coaching. A deeper understanding of which I hope this article gives you.
First and foremost, do not train into pain. That’s one of my principles that have worked great for me over the years. Pain is tricky, it can come from a variety of stimuli, sometimes movement causes pain, and sometimes it doesn’t. If bad movement caused pain, then lets face it, the majority of people trying to snatch would be screaming in agony. That doesn’t mean they should be snatching though. So next comes understanding how to contraindicate an athlete for specific movements. Sangeet came to me with no capacity to squat, hip hinge, do push ups, or even crawl properly. So instead of just throwing axel bars, barbells and kettlebells we started with things that were going to create a foundation of movement. One thing we used a lot in the beginning of his program was the cable machine and Gray Cook bands. If you don’t have a cable machine then at the very least get some Gray Cook bands.
When I look at developing athletes I look at the areas they fall apart, so first I watched him move in a controlled environment. Then I looked at his video on the court where he was playing. I took into account things like the type of surface he played on, the differences in movement when he played on different surfaces, and I looked at how he reacted to difficult situations. All of these gave me clues regarding what I needed to do with him. First though, if part of our job as coaches is to teach our athletes how to get into better positions, we have to consider a continuum, which helps guide our thoughts. Consider this continuum: subconscious dysfunction → conscious dysfunction → conscious function → subconscious function. The first step is generally you might see, which is akin to an athlete just having no clue that their knees should not cave in when they jump. After you create some context, regardless to whether you use an internal or external cue, the athlete should now be aware that it’s not correct to have the knees cave in during a jump. That’s a conscious dysfunction, but next you have to find a way to give them the tools to own their position. That’s the key, helping athletes OWN their own position.
This “owning” comes from a different continuum that I use: isolate → innervate → integrate. For some, the knees might cave in during a jump because there might actually be a glute medius weakness. I will argue until I’m blue in the face though that MOST cases this is NOT the issue unless there’s an injury or pain to the region. So the next step is innervation. Isolation should be simple to understand, you isolate a muscle, but innervation is usually more complex for coaches to grasp. Innervation can be squatting, but it could also be side plank clamshells. To determine what innervation is, you must first know what integration is. Integration for an Olympic weightlifter might be squatting, but for a tennis player, squatting is innervation. Integration is essentially getting your athlete to their chosen sport or activity. Innervation for Sangeet was doing some reactive neuromuscular training (RNT) in various positions to help him own his movement on the court. This RNT is a fancy way of saying encouraging a mistake in a safe controlled manner so the athlete can feel and correct it. For some, it might mean putting a band around their knees when they squat, so they can FEEL the collapse, and self correct. For an athlete that spends A LOT of time in a split stance, such as an overhead rotational athlete like tennis or baseball athletes, half kneeling is a great place to start. A half kneeling DB curl to press may seem simple, but to an athlete that can’t lunge very well, which leaves them unable to return hard serves, change directions efficiently, or even split jerk very well, a half kneeling curl to press with one arm can be a GAME CHANGER.
After 30 days of essentially teaching Sangeet to own different positions, I ran him through another FMS and his score went from a 9 to a 13. More importantly though, his feedback was he felt better on the court already, felt more athletic, and was able to make the plays he couldn’t have made a month prior. That’s the important thing to take away from that. In one month, just 4 weeks of training, athleticism went up, performance was going up, and his confidence was higher. That’s what “corrective” exercise is really about. It’s not about boring external rotations with a dumbbell; it’s about getting you back into the best condition possible in the shortest amount of time. In that essence, EVERY aspect of a great program is a corrective exercise. Segmented clean deadlifts are a corrective exercise for positions in the first pull of a clean. I also use segmented clean or snatch deadlifts to help rehab injured shoulders.
While I was pleased that 13 was a better score, it still wasn’t quite where he needed to be based on his goals. So we continued to work on things that he could do well. For starters, he could hip hinge now, so we hammered out RDL’s like they were no one’s business. We also incorporated some half kneeling cable exercises like pallof presses, anti-rotation presses with a Gray Cook bar, chops and lifts. I incorporated a lot of various exercises from the developmental kinesiology school of thought that I learned from a few of the Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization courses I took. We used a few Postural Restoration Institute drills to help him create more acceptable asymmetries, because after all, some asymmetry is normal, but too much can be detrimental to performance. I re-tested his FMS 2 months later, and he was able to score a 15. I knew I was on the right track with him, because the qualitative feedback was that he was getting better on the court, in the gym his numbers were getting better, and his positions were better. Not to mention his ranking jumped up over 100 points by April. He was around 300th in the world and by this time was number 1 in the country. He had less pain, less propensity towards injury, and his confidence was higher.
In June I ran him through the FMS again and he scored a 16. He no longer had any detrimental asymmetries in movement; he was weighing in at 146 pounds (he came to me at 126 pounds) and was controlling himself much better on the court. As a matter of fact, he just got back from Sweden and Africa where he won an International Tennis Federation tournament, which put him at 275th in the world, and still number one in the country. With his eyes on the Junior Wimbledon in 2016 as a 15 year old, we still have a long ways to go, but I’m 100% confident in his abilities as an athlete, and my abilities as a coach to get him to that level.
Core Control for Strength and Power in Athletics, the entire webinar conducted with Michael Bann and Strength Matters can be found here.
EC Spotlight; Andy Wright
OPEX works with clients all over the world through our Remote Coaching program.
Andy Wright of Bristol, UK is one of those clients.
As a Commissioned Officer in the British Army, fitness has always been a part of Andy’s life. He played rugby from childhood through his early twenties, before signing up to serve the military in the Airborne and Special Forces units. (more…)
The Impact of a CCP Coach
On Monday, James, Mike and I spoke to a of a group of coaches outside of the world of “fitness” and what was a repeating theme of the discussion is the opportunity that coaches have to truly make an impact in someone’s life. I mean, think about it, where else can a person go to align their health, fitness, nutrition, energy (life force) and their priorities to maximize their potential as a human being? Stop and really think about that… the impact that a masterful coach can have is huge. In other words… (more…)
Nutrition is 80% of your results in the gym.
You’ve probably heard that loose statistic, coined by body builder Vince Gironda, the ‘Iron Guru’ and former coach to even Arnold Schwarzenager himself back in the 1960’s.
Whatever the exact percentage food coincides with your results, there is no getting around the fact that nutrition and food play a big role in your daily life and all the work you put into the gym. (more…)