Protein: building blocks of muscle

Muscular endurance and strength Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or body builder, you need muscle. Even for those couch potatoes out there who don’t lift, muscle is still needed for everyday basic functions such as walking and sitting upright. Or for those times you have to carry every grocery bag all at once (team one-trip!).…

Protein: building blocks of muscle was originally published on Self Evolve

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Muscular endurance and strength

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or body builder, you need muscle. Even for those couch potatoes out there who don’t lift, muscle is still needed for everyday basic functions such as walking and sitting upright. Or for those times you have to carry every grocery bag all at once (team one-trip!). But outside of skeletal muscle, there’s also the important cardiac and smooth muscle that keeps our organs intact and functioning properly. In order to build all muscle properly, we need to consume protein. And while you may think meat is the only option, I’m here to tell you it’s not.

Veggie protein

proteinMany people instantly think of chicken, beef, or pork when I mention protein sources. While meat has a high amount of protein, the animals we eat get their protein from their diet. And guess what? Cows, chickens, and pigs are all vegetarians. So we are just eating veggies through their carriers. While this may seem like a workaround and a reason for you to stop eating vegetables, it isn’t. Vegetables are still needed thanks to the awesome fiber and complex carbohydrates they provide. So be sure to cook up some veggies to eat with that meat!

Good sources of protein

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Tofu
  • Chia Seeds

And if you’re sitting here wondering where protein shakes and/or bars fall into this list, I’m here to tell you that natural sources/foods are always going to be better than a shake or bar. But when in a pinch, they work. Just be sure to pay attention to how much sugar is included. I recommend going with the 0g of sugar option when available. The less sugar the better, unless you’re looking to get some carbs.

What’s your favorite food to fuel your muscles?

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Protein: building blocks of muscle was originally published on Self Evolve

Taking extra rest days to achieve the next level

Rest to rise above Sometimes it’s necessary to take a few days, a week, or longer off from your workout routine. Things happen, like a vacation where you can’t get your normal workout routine done. Or perhaps an injury that forces you to take it easy. But sometimes you’re just tired, sore, or unmotivated and…

Taking extra rest days to achieve the next level was originally published on Self Evolve

Rest to rise above

Sometimes it’s necessary to take a few days, a week, or longer off from your workout routine. Things happen, like a vacation where you can’t get your normal workout routine done. Or perhaps an injury that forces you to take it easy. But sometimes you’re just tired, sore, or unmotivated and therefore a break is needed. To avoid over-training, many athletes regularly schedule a week off every 8-12 weeks. And while you may think this would set you back, it could actually help you in the long run. Before you skip those rest days, consider these benefits.

Rest day benefits

  • Recover those sore muscles
  • Decrease fatigue
  • Avoid over-training
  • Reset your mindset

Rest days don’t mean stop moving

Just because you’re taking some days off your training doesn’t mean you just sit on the couch. Try to change it up with some of these activities:

  • Take a long walk
  • Try a yoga or pilates class
  • Stretch
  • A long, easy bike ride
  • Tossing a football or frisbee
  • Leisurely working in the yard

Don’t worry about losing your gains

Here are some facts about how a break can affect your fitness:

  • Aerobic power can decline about 5-10% in three weeks.
  • It takes about 2 months of inactivity to completely lose the gains you’ve made.
  • Extremely fit exercisers will experience a rapid drop in fitness during the first three weeks of inactivity before it tapers off.
  • Muscular strength and endurance last longer than aerobic fitness. Muscles retain a memory of exercises for weeks or even months.

Do you ever take a few days off?

Whenever I take a week off, I find myself gaining extra super-powers once I start my exercise routine again. My problem is I rarely take that much time off. I decided to force myself to take this past week off, and I’m looking forward to hitting it hard next week to make up for it.

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Taking extra rest days to achieve the next level was originally published on Self Evolve

Diet hacks: Get your greens

Do you eat enough greens? The original “dark leafy green” delivers an impressive two dozen vitamins and minerals that you need to workout and recover well. Vitamin K and potassium are essential to building bone and healing muscle. Eating spinach doesn’t have to be a boring cold salad though. If you’re like me, you get…

Diet hacks: Get your greens was originally published on Self Evolve

Do you eat enough greens?

greensThe original “dark leafy green” delivers an impressive two dozen vitamins and minerals that you need to workout and recover well. Vitamin K and potassium are essential to building bone and healing muscle. Eating spinach doesn’t have to be a boring cold salad though. If you’re like me, you get bored of eating salad everyday. Today I’m going to share some simple ways to up your greens (source: Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby/Runner’s World).

Try these creative and easy ways to up your spinach game

  • Mix it into salsa. For some Mexican flair, food-process spinach with onion, green chilies, lime, cilantro, tomatillo, and olive oil.
  • Serve as a crunchy side. Toss spinach with chopped hazelnuts, olive oil, and salt and pepper, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes until the leaves get crispy on the edges.
  • Sear it for a side salad. Flash-fry spinach in a hot pan seared with a drizzle of oil, only half cooking it. Sprinkle with sale and pepper, plus a few drips of sherry vinegar.
  • Make soup. Cook spinach in vegetable broth with chopped garlic, lemon, and olive oil. Drop in cubes of stale bread before serving for a traditional Portuguese bread soup.
  • Punch up pasta. Food-process spinach with basil, lemon, capers, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Add some noodles and you’re good to go!

If you don’t cook, try these restaurant hacks

  • Opt for the side of veggies instead of fries or potato
  • Spinach-artichoke dip. Need I say more?
  • If you’re tired of that side salad, get side soup but be sure it has greens in it.
  • If you find yourself at Wildfire (Chicago area), order their creamed spinach. It’s amazing.

How do you get your greens?

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Stronger arms, more speed

Are you trying to run faster? To be honest, runners aren’t necessarily known for their arms. It’s easy to neglect your top half when it seems like your legs do all the work. Failing to train your upper body, however, can hold you back big time. It may seem strange, but a strong upper body…

Stronger arms, more speed was originally published on Self Evolve

Are you trying to run faster?

To be honest, runners aren’t necessarily known for their arms. It’s easy to neglect your top half when it seems like your legs do all the work. Failing to train your upper body, however, can hold you back big time. It may seem strange, but a strong upper body is just as important as trained legs to run fast and easy. With stronger arms comes a faster running pace.

Stronger arms will pump your way to faster running

stronger arms

“Have you ever tried to run without your arms? It’s weird, inefficient, and hard as hell. Arm drive is a big part of running– when your legs get tired, you use your arms more because of the kinetic chain; you can’t have one without the other.” – Pamela Geisel, exercise physiologist.

Building a strong upper body will help you maintain good form as the miles tick by. Also, that stable, upright posture can increase your endurance by improving your lung capacity. In addition, your oxygen requirement will be reduced, leading to faster runs while using the same amount of energy.

Avoid injury

Not only will you run faster you’ll also prevent injury and create bone density while building muscular strength. And don’t go for the light weights, you have to be willing to lift heavier things if you want to prevent injury, improve your speed and last longer while running. Lifting light weights for a high number of reps achieves the same goal as running- building endurance, not strength.

Most runners skip the weights since they feel like they don’t have time, but it’s easy to break it into 10 minute increments. Taking 10 minutes off the duration of your run and doing a quick strength set provides more benefits than 10 more minutes on the road.

Is your goal to PR?

If so, save the hard-core lifting for cross-training days so you can focus on getting in a quality, high-intensity run. Otherwise, schedule a short circuit of strength training exercises pre-run: A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that doing so can make you more likely to bust out extra reps and help you maintain proper form throughout. And if the weight room is intimidating, body weight can be more than enough. i.e. push-ups and TRX rows. Whatever you do, be sure to warm up with core exercises such as planks and side planks.

Do you workout your arms?

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Snowstorm Workout: When you can’t get to the gym

If you live in the Midwest, you know snow And this snow is snow joke. I was literally trapped the other day, and couldn’t get to the gym for several hours. Since it’s my job to actually be at the gym, I eventually got there and was able to sneak in a workout after my…

Snowstorm Workout: When you can’t get to the gym was originally published on Self Evolve

If you live in the Midwest, you know snow

snowstorm workoutAnd this snow is snow joke. I was literally trapped the other day, and couldn’t get to the gym for several hours. Since it’s my job to actually be at the gym, I eventually got there and was able to sneak in a workout after my shift. But if I didn’t work at the gym, I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the gym that day. And I would’ve either missed my workout (not an option) or had to have created a snowstorm workout. Being a personal trainer, this is easy for me. But for the average Joe, it may be hard to create a workout on a whim.

Of course, you could try to google a home workout, but the results may overwhelm you. With so many to choose from, you may just opt to sit on the couch surfing the internet instead. Well, no fear! Today I will share a great and easy workout that you can do virtually anywhere.

Snowstorm Workout

Tabata workout! Make the most of your time with a simple workout that can be done in as little as 4 minutes. This is all that’s needed to work up a sweat. The idea is to do an exercise for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. You do that 8 times and you’re at 4 minutes. You can stop there, or repeat the entire set to increase the time. Be sure to rest for a minute between sets though! Here are some body weight exercises you can do anywhere:

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Squats
  • Push ups

How do you stay active on snow days?

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Snowstorm Workout: When you can’t get to the gym was originally published on Self Evolve

Proper gym etiquette: what not to do at the gym

Stay classy, my friend The gym can be intimidating, especially for beginners. Outside of the normal gym rules, there are several unspoken rules that you should follow at every gym. Following these rules will help you have proper gym etiquette. Gym Rules 101 Shower and wear clean clothes to the gym. Don’t be stinky, no…

Proper gym etiquette: what not to do at the gym was originally published on Self Evolve

Stay classy, my friend

The gym can be intimidating, especially for beginners. Outside of the normal gym rules, there are several unspoken rules that you should follow at every gym. Following these rules will help you have proper gym etiquette.

Gym Rules 101

  • Shower and wear clean clothes to the gym. Don’t be stinky, no one likes to work out next to B.O. gym etiquette
  • Wipe down equipment. I wipe before and after using equipment, mostly because I don’t want to sit in someone else’s sweat.
  • Put equipment away! Put away those weights! If you’re using a bar, please put away the weights in some sort of order. Don’t make it hard for the next person.
  • Step away from the dumbbells. Let other people use the dumbbell rack, take a few seconds and move over after grabbing your weights.
  • Give people space. Don’t be creepy, don’t stare, and don’t get in people’s way. They might accidentally hit you with a weight if you get too close.
  • Don’t drop weights. Don’t drop dumbbells after a set, and don’t let the weight machines slam the weight down. If the weight is too heavy, go lighter.
  • Make sure others aren’t using a piece of equipment before using it. Especially if there’s a towel, water bottle, or other piece of training equipment nearby.
  • “Working in” with someone. If you see someone using the same equipment you need, you can see if you can work in with them. Keep in mind that if your weight is way different than what they’re using it may be best to wait until their done with the equipment first.
  • Getting advice from randos: smile and nod, say something like ‘I appreciate your input, but I’ve got to finish my workout now. I’m on a tight schedule.’ and move on.
  • Giving advice to randos: Don’t do it unless they are putting themselves or someone else in immediate danger.
  • Hitting on fellow gym goers. You know that cute girl who usually works out with the same guy all the time? Then she shows up alone one day and you’re all over her? Don’t be that guy. This happens to me all the time, please stop!

Proper Gym Etiquette

Overall, just keep in mind the following three rules and you should be fine: be aware of your surroundings, be cool, and act like it’s your equipment. For the guys and gals out there looking for their swolemate, keep in mind that confidence and independence are some of the sexiest traits you can have. 

What drives you nuts at the gym?

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Proper gym etiquette: what not to do at the gym was originally published on Self Evolve

Best Gym Deals of 2018: Stretching your dollar

Looking for a gym deal? It’s that time of year again. You know, the time when everyone gets a reset button. Many take this opportunity to change up their normal habits. For example, some choose to start eating healthier or working out more often. For many, a new gym membership is on their minds. But,…

Best Gym Deals of 2018: Stretching your dollar was originally published on Self Evolve

Looking for a gym deal?gym deals of 2018

It’s that time of year again. You know, the time when everyone gets a reset button. Many take this opportunity to change up their normal habits. For example, some choose to start eating healthier or working out more often. For many, a new gym membership is on their minds. But, you still want to save up for maybe a new car, house, or vacation. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can do both with the best gym deals of 2018. Continue reading to see where your dollar goes the furthest.

Best Gym Deals of 2018

  • Bottom of the barrel:  Planet Fitness is your best bet. Until Wednesday January 10th, it’s only $1 initiation and $10 a month for a gym membership. Of course, you get the bare minimum with this membership: only one club access and Planet Fitness doesn’t offer any extra stuff other than a few classes, cardio and weight machines.
  • Most bang for your buck: LA Fitness is where it’s at. Membership ranges from $24.99 to $29.99 a month depending on if you want single club or multi-club access. The initiation fee varies, but generally ranges from $49.99 to $99.99. The best part is there’s no contract and LA fitness has locations almost everywhere. Most locations have amazing amenities such as sauna, spa, pools, basketball and racquetball courts. In addition to these, LA Fitness also offers many different classes that are all included in your membership. Classes range from yoga, spin, kickboxing, aqua aerobics, and even slower-paced silver sneakers classes for the elderly. Whatever your fitness level, LA Fitness has a class for you.
  • If you want to splurge: Equinox is the nicest by far, but you’ll definitely be paying for it. They have a great January deal going on where you’ll get your initiation fee back if you workout at least 8 times in your first 30 days, which is about a $300 to $500 value. Equinox has everything that LA Fitness has but even more. More variety of classes, elite equipment, and steam rooms in addition to the pools and saunas. If you want to live a life of luxury, and don’t mind spending upwards of $140 to $250 a month for a gym membership than Equinox is for you.

What gym do you go to? Which gym do you think is the best deal?

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Best Gym Deals of 2018: Stretching your dollar was originally published on Self Evolve