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How to Fuel Up for your Workout

How to Fuel Up for your Workout

If the weights ever feel heavy after your warmup sets, or you find yourself coming out of the gate too hard during the WOD, you’re not alone. Rather than crumple into a pile of gasps and sweat, maybe you should consider fueling up DURING your workout. 

We all know how important fuel is to building muscle. The right nutrition can heavily impact your path towards your goals, both negatively or positively. In this article, we’ll talk about the right way to approach your workout nutrition, depending on your fitness goals.

The body needs carbohydrates, proteins and fats in order to function. The body will use whatever fuel is available to keep functioning and get you through your workouts.

As we talk about what to sip on during your workout, your goals on how and what you want your body to use as fuel is important. But before we dive into some ideas to help you towards your goals, be sure you’re getting your nutrition on track overall.  Otherwise, getting into the specifics won’t really help you. Getting your nutrition right around your workouts has to be your first priority. If you’re not already eating well around your workouts, focus on the basics first before incorporating intra workout nutrition.

If performance or building muscle is your priority, this one’s for you.

In order to build muscle, your body needs enough calories for all of its normal daily functions, and then some. For those interested in building muscle, incorporating carbohydrates and protein during your workouts will ensure your body isn’t breaking down your valuable muscle to keep your workouts fueled.

Powders that are easily digestible will be easiest to take during your training sessions. There are many supplements out there with simple carbohydrates and protein.

For protein sources, look for whey protein isolates or hydroslates or even a high quality branched chain amino acids (BCAA) powder. Pair this with an easily digested carbohydrate source such as dextrose, maltodextrin, or glucose. A good rule of thumb is 30 grams of carbs per hour while strength training and 5-10 grams of protein or bcaa’s. Do your homework, stick to clean ingredients and avoid anything you can’t understand. If it sounds like a chemical, it probably is.

If your primary goal is to lose fat, and hopefully maintain the muscle mass you’ve got, your best bet is going to be to sip on BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) during your workout. You want your primary fuel source to come from your fat stores, so adding a simple carbohydrate supplement won’t benefit you until you’ve lost the fat you’re looking to lose.

Taking BCAAs helps your body use those easily digested proteins for fuel before breaking down your muscles. Fat is hard to utilize during your workouts, so your body will have a tendency to try to break down what’s readily available, which in this case are your muscles.

Please don’t try to guzzle a shake before you jump into Fran or another high intensity metcon, either.  That will have you running to the bathroom. Your may become extremely nauseous since the body is trying to push fresh blood flow to your working muscles and can’t effectively digest at the same time.

Instead, sip on your shake during your power lifts and Olympic lifts then finish it off AFTER the metcon. 

Above all, always sip on water throughout your workouts and get real about the kind of work you’re doing. Giving your body what it needs to perform is essential to your goals. Be smart and do what’s right for you!

Top 3 Tips to Maximize Your Deadlifts

Top 3 Tips to Maximize Your Deadlifts

People tend to have polarized feelings about deadlifts. Either they love them or they hate them. If you love deadlifts, this is usually for one of three reasons. 

You already pull heavy weight. You are considered “strong” or “really good at that” so you enjoy doing it more. Yay dopamine!

Maybe you are favorably built for deadlifts with relatively shorter legs, a relatively longer torso, and long arms. (Ape index off the charts!) You seem to set a PR every time you walk into the gym.

It’s also possible you grew up on a farm and have been lugging hay bales and drinking raw milk your whole life. Lifting heavy sh*% is a walk in the park for you.

But if you don’t fall into one of those categories, there is still hope. Let’s explore the top three tips to maximize your deadlifts!

Ditch the Mixed Grip

One of the best ways to start improving your deadlift is to ditch the mixed grip.

Many people worry that grip will be a limiting factor at their maximal percentage lifts, but you can easily overcome this by implementing a hook grip.

This takes some getting used to since you’ve probably never lifted a bar of this weight with a hook grip, and the pressure can seem unreal. Try taping your thumbs the first few sessions to take some of the edge off. The benefits of a double overhand grip is better position on the bar, less torque on the hips and spine, and decreased strain on the bicep.

Build up this strength in your training sessions and if you really need to resort to a mixed grip for a competition or one rep max attempt, then you will be better for waiting.

Dial in Your Setup Position

One of the biggest issues you may be facing with deadlifts is the setup. That first pull off the ground never feels quite right. To overcome this,  practice rolling the bar into position. This may feel more comfortable and your body will naturally find the right position without you fidgeting around.

If you are new to lifting, or know that your mobility is lacking, then you may find it beneficial to practice pulling off of blocks. The higher start position will make it easier for you to engage your posterior chain.

Another good option here is to work from the top down with lighter loads. Take the loaded bar from a rack or higher blocks and start standing tall with hips fully extended. Keep your back and core tight and start pushing your hips toward the wall behind you as the bar descends down your thighs. Keep the bar in contact with your legs and the weight in the middle of your foot and heels. Practice lowering down in a slow control fashion taking 4-5 seconds to lower for each rep.

If you have a hard time finding the right position then you should take some one on one time to work with a coach who can provide the right cues to get you properly set up.

Train Deadlift Variations

Another way to build confidence in your deadlift is to explore different deadlift variations.

Sumo deadlifts, single arm, single leg, trap bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, atlas stones, d-balls and tire flips will all help you. Getting stronger is going to help, even if it is non-specific. There’s no shortage of heavy stuff to pick up off the ground! These variations will train your grip, stabilizers, and strengthen many smaller muscles of the glutes and hamstrings that may not get fully recruited in your normal deadlift style. 

There you go! The top three tips to maximize your deadlifts. Now go find a coach and pull some big numbers!

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