The Importance of Pre-Workout Supplementation

Almost everybody who is active knows how important it is to supplement with a fast-uptake protein immediately after working out. This is probably the most well-know supplementation advice there is out there, in fact. But did you know that what you take before and even DURING your workout is just as important — maybe even more so?

The whole idea of supplementing around your workout is to not only help your body recover as quickly as possible — rebuilding muscle fibers stronger as they’re torn down — but to help it perform at its best. This applies to strength, endurance, power and even fat loss. What you eat (or don’t eat) before a workout plays a huge role in just how much success you will see. There are a million options out there, with a ton of different theories on what works and what doesn’t. Most are bunk. Luckily, we’ve made it easy and put together the ultimate pre-, interim- and post-workout plan for you. We’ll explain why certain supplements are best at certain times, and show you how you can use that knowledge to your benefit.

PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTATION

Your workout performance doesn’t start when you walk in the gym door — it starts in your kitchen, up to 2 hours before you ever lift a single weight or run a single step. As you exercise, you burn massive amounts of calories compared to what you might expend throughout the course of the day — and a giant spike in calorie-burning requires those calories to come from somewhere. The ultimate goal is to get your body to use fat to do this, but fat is option No. 3 on the body’s natural preference list when it comes to energy sources. Nos. 1 and 2: Blood sugar and proteins (in the form of muscle tissue!).

The less available those are, the more your body will turn to fat. You can see, then, that it’s not a good idea to have any carbohydrates pre-workout: Carbs are quickly converted to blood sugar (glycogen) for energy, and what’s left over is stored as fat. The result is a workout that doesn’t burn any body fat, because the body had sufficient blood sugar to use.

And don’t worry, we didn’t forget option No. 2. Muscle is what we call “calorically expensive” in the body, meaning that it takes a great deal of energy to maintain muscle tissue. The body wants to run a bare-bones operation, being as efficient as possible, and large excesses of muscle mass are incredibly demanding of energy (this is why anybody trying to add mass must eat a surplus of calories). The system responds to muscle surplus in a very efficient way: It catabolizes, converting muscle tissue and the amino acids that form it into blood sugar for energy consumption. Without proper supplementation, THIS WILL HAPPEN.

The answer: Load up on extra amino acids — BCAAs — to supply your body with an alternative energy source while maintaining and building muscle tissue at the same time. In turn, your muscles will be saved and the body will have to turn to visceral fat. BCAAs are actually becoming one of the most popular and well-researched supplements available. One landmark study by the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that BCAAs are responsible for myriad benefits:

Ingestion of a supplement containing BCAAs while following an 8-week resistance training program resulted in a greater decrease in percent body fat, an increase in lean mass, and 10-RM strength gains on the bench press and squat vs. ingestion of a whey supplement or a sports drink. — JISSN, 2009

Our best BCAAs: ForzaOne’s BCAA SPORT, Katalyst’s Instantized BCAA, Vitasport’s BCAA GT-AKG.

But pre-workout supplementation doesn’t stop there. A sophisticated, non-stimulant-based pre-workout drink can also bring huge benefits. The best ones you can get will usually include a blend of arginine, beta-alanine and citrulline (malate or nitrate). Each is known to have great properties, including increased ATP production for more cellular energy and thus more strength and power, improved muscular endurance thanks to conversion of lactic acid to energy, and vasodilation — the expansion of the blood vessels to deliver nutrients and oxygen.

Studies have shown that beta-alanine directly affects intramuscular levels of carnosine, another amino acid that serves to provide a pH “buffer” in the muscle against lactic acid, which forms as a result of low oxygen. This keeps the muscle stronger for longer, with the end result being better endurance of strength.

Our best non-stimulant-based pre-workout: ForzaOne’s NOX-P3.

And, as we mentioned, blood flow is critical to athletes during their workouts. Nutrient and oxygen delivery are of utmost importance for strength and endurance, as well as immediate repair of muscle breakdown. Blood flow has a direct correlation to just about every facet of the workout: Nutrients in the blood help grow and repair the muscles, while oxygen and amino acids in the bloodstream provide energy and endurance. On top of all that, better blood flow means a quicker recovery time for muscle tissue, which we know is torn down with microscopic tears during intense resistance exercise. This helps reduce soreness, while increasing the phenomenon known as “the pump.”

All of these things can be achieved by increasing the body’s nitric oxide (NO) production. The system will release this compound as a means to better provide the muscles with the nutrients they need. This is why an arginine-based nitric oxide booster is important. You might be wondering why Arginine Nitrate is important, or what it does. First, we’ll start off with pure L-Arginine, an essential amino acid that plays a big part in many important bodily functions, including immune function and muscle building. But it’s also an immediate precursor to nitric oxide, and as a peer-reviewed article in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy points out, this makes it crucial when vasodilation — the expansion of blood vessels for better blood flow — is needed. Bonded with a nitrate, this provides improved blood flow to and from the heart, maximizing that sought-after pump and vascularity.

Our best NO booster: ForzaOne’s ANX-P3.

And last but not least, the most-researched nitrogenous acid out there: Creatine (don’t worry about what “nitrogenous” means. It won’t be on the quiz). Well-known for its ability to help add muscle mass, its benefits don’t stop there. Creatine has a direct effect on ATP synthesis, the creation of cellular energy that helps boost strength and muscle cell volume. However, for years, many incorrectly assumed that creatine was best taken post-workout ONLY. Creatine IS great for muscle recovery and development via protein synthesis, but more results can be found by splitting creatine intake around the workout — before and after. Because of the significant gains that can be seen in strength, as well as the pump effect, creatine really is a great pre-workout product as well.

Our best creatine: CellShock’s N’FUZE.

Stay tuned throughout the week, as we detail the best supplements to take during and after your workout!

Workout of the Week: Allie’s Fitness Test

Do you know where your fitness level stands? Whether its performance or health related fitness you seek, a physical fitness assessment can benefit your training and help you reach your goals. Test results can be used to indicate physical strengths and weaknesses, identify injury risk, increase motivation, measure improvement throughout training, and develop a successful exercise program to meet your goals.

A fitness assessment is a variety of tests which measure individual health and performance related fitness. There are 5 components to any full fitness assessment including: body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. The results of each test help provide a baseline from which each recommendation can be used to develop a specific training
program that will fit your needs and help you to reach your goals and succeed.

Test yourself at home or at the gym with this mini fitness challenge. Perform this workout involving some performance components of an assessment. Remember to warm up lightly before performing the workout.

  1. 12 min walk/run Test: Time yourself either on a track or treadmill. Push yourself as hard as you can and record how much distance you were able to cover in 12 minutes.
  2. Sit-up test: Timed for 1 minute, complete as many sit-ups as possible. Start position is lying on the ground, hands on thighs, and feet flat on the floor. Come to upright position of the abdomen, then lower back down and repeat.
  3. Push-up test: Men perform military style push-ups, women optional to be modified on knees. Complete as many push-ups as you can do in a row until exhaustion.
  4. Squat Test: Count how many squats you can do to exhaustion. Hands on hips, squat down until legs are at 90 degrees then come back all of the way before performing another.
  5. Sit and Reach Test: You’ll need a partner for this last one. Sit down on the floor with feet against wall or stable object. Legs extended with back of knees touching floor, reach as far out to your toes as possible and have partner measure distance between fingers and toes.

There are many benefits to knowing and understanding your health and fitness levels. Performing a full fitness assessment by a fitness professional can help get you started in reaching your goals. If you are interested in testing your fitness performance, get started by contacting me.

Healthy Living!

Allie Campagna

Check Out Chico Sports Club FREE for 2 Weeks!

Starting today, if you mention NUTRISHOP Chico at Chico Sports Club, you get a 2-week pass! We have a ton of customers and even employees who have made CSC their favorite club, not to mention that we get help from trainer Allie Campagna with our workouts now and then.

Come see what all the hype is about — ask for Laura or Kaley, mention that you heard about the club from NUTRISHOP Chico, and you’ll get a 2-week pass. If you’re already a CSC member, you can get a friend to come join you, or if you’re at a different club, come see what you’re missing!

The NUTRISHOP Fitness Glossary

We don’t believe in buzz words — we believe in results. Too often, supplement companies or even gyms throw around phrases like “feel the burn” and “no pain, no gain” just because they sound good. We’re not sure where this phenomenon started, but great results come from the proper diet, supplementation and exercise, not from silly words that don’t actually mean anything.

Here on our website, we use a lot of different terminology to describe just what the products we sell do — and to show we’re not just blowing hot air, we’ve come up with our Fitness Glossary — an ever-growing, comprehensive breakdown of what we’re talking about. Why? Because real results don’t come from fake words.

The NUTRISHOP Fitness Glossary

Amino Acids: Chemically speaking, the building blocks of protein. There are 22 well-known different amino acids, all of which play a vital role in protein synthesis and energy production.

Anabolism/anabolic: You can thank illegal steroids for muddying up what this actually means. Simply, anabolic means “muscle-building.” An anabolic support supplement is one that helps build and maintain muscle tissue.

Body Fat: The adipose tissue that collects both deep within the tissue, and also in the areas you don’t want to see it — the hips, thighs, groin, belly, chest and upper arms. We will always differentiate between Body Fat and dietary fat — they’re very different! (And, for quick reference, the percentage body fat most people need to reveal their abs is about 9 percent.) The average body fat percentage range for a 30-year-old woman, with the low end representing the athletic end of the spectrum, is about 18-27 percent, while a 30-year-old man’s range is about 13-17 percent. Note that elite athletes and bodybuilders often have body fat percentages in single digits.

“Building Muscle”: It sounds simple enough, but this is often taken as a promise from supplement companies to just somehow add muscle to the body. When we say a product helps build muscle, it almost always refers to the ability to promote protein synthesis and/or promote anabolism — assuming you’ve done the workouts! The end result is an increase in skeletal muscle — the ones you rely on for movement.

Bulking: The fitness goal of adding muscle mass by increasing calorie consumption while pairing it with an intense training program. Because muscle is heavier than fat, weight gain always accompanies a bulking phase. There are various degrees of dietary discipline that go into bulking — some may prefer a “clean bulk,” while others experience body fat gains due to the massive jump in calories.

Burning Fat: Exercising and dieting in a way that forces your body to access body fat for energy, instead of the typical sources of blood sugar or muscle tissue. The end result is a decrease in body fat and improved metabolism.

Calorie: Simply put, a unit of energy. You eat a calorie, you take in energy; you DO anything, you expend it (yes, this even includes eating itself and sleeping). An overabundance,  or surplus, of consumed calories results in weight gain due to conversion and storage.

Cardio: Short for cardiovascular exercise, it just means aerobic activity. Cardio training is great for burning calories as a way to lose body fat, but its main effects are seen in the improvement to the heart and lungs. Blood pressure, heart rate and lung capacity are all directly affected by cardio training.

Catabolism/catabolic: The opposite of anabolism, catabolism is where the body will consume or metabolize existing muscle tissue for energy. Because muscle is calorically expensive, it often is among the first sources the body will attempt to convert. Those with faster metabolisms — i.e., “hard gainers” — experience more catabolism than those with slower ones.

Cortisol: A hormone produced by the adrenal glands that is most often associated with stress. While some levels of this natural steroid are beneficial, high levels of stress can cause it to spike and, as a side result, increase body fat storage. A similar effect can be seen with insulin.

Cutting: Dropping body fat percentage. Weight is usually not as big of a target as is body fat for those trying to achieve a leaner physique. Cutting is achieved by creating a calorie deficit, where more calories are expended than are consumed.

Energy: One of the most-promised benefits in the supplement industry, it’s a fairly nebulous term, so we’ll clear it up. Simply put, it’s the mental state of preparation for exercise and physical activity. When we point out that a product might improve energy, we are talking about this. On the cellular level, energy refers to caloric intake or usage — but the end result is usually seen in your desire to get in gear!

Endurance: How long, in time, you can last doing a particular exercise or workout. Directly related to energy, the more endurance you have, the longer you can run, lift, etc., and the benefit of longer exercise sessions is better results. Endurance is mostly a general term that refers to the ability to train until physical fatigue or exhaustion — the moment you can’t go anymore. Not to be confused with Endurance of Strength.

Endurance of Strength: A much more specific type of endurance, this is how long you can maintain a certain power output at a given weight before form gives out and you must lighten the resistance. When we say “increased endurance of strength,” we’re signaling that you could potentially get six reps using a weight at which you can currently only achieve four.

Failure: The only good kind! Failure is the point that you cannot do another rep. There are two forms: technical failure, where you can no longer do a rep with good technique, and absolute failure, where you can’t do another rep PERIOD.

Focus: The ability to stay concentrated on your workout without being distracted,which can improve the odds of risking injury or sacrificing intensity. Products that improve workout focus are usually based on a stimulant, like caffeine.

Form: Your exercise technique. You’ll note in many of our Workouts of the Week that we stress strict form — this is crucial to getting the maximum results from the exercise, targeting the proper muscles and preventing injury.

Insulin: A hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar, shuttling it from the bloodstream to organs and muscle tissue in the form of glycogen. Carbohydrate ingestion causes a spike in this hormone, which, when timed correctly, can have an anabolic effect. However, consistent over-eating of carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars, can cause insulin resistance and eventually lead to diabetes.

Intensity: Another one that’s tough to describe, but anybody who’s lifted a weight knows what it means. It’s a mind-body feeling that pushes you through a workout and can be summed up this way: How much you are challenging yourself? Is the weight heavy enough? Are you doing enough reps? Are you giving your muscles a reason to grow, or your body a reason to burn fat? Will you be sore tomorrow? If the answer to any of those is “No,” your workout is lacking INTENSITY.

Joints: Connective tissue between bone and muscle that can be worn down over time with increased, repetitive movement. Few people think about their joints until they’re in pain — proper form and nutrition can help protect them down the road.

Lean Muscle Mass: This is basically the holy grail of exercise — strength, leanness and muscularity all in the same package. Achieved with a clean diet, intense resistance exercise and hard work.

Metabolism: In summation, basically how fast your body naturally processes food and nutrients for energy. Those with faster metabolisms often are very lean, as their bodies quickly convert blood sugar to energy instead of stored body fat, but they also typically have less overall muscle mass, as the body quickly turns to a secondary energy source (muscle). Conversely, those with slower metabolisms can gain muscle much quicker, but also have more trouble burning fat. Metabolism CAN be influenced by certain dietary and lifestyle factors.

“Pumps”: An effect achieved from improved nitric oxide production in the body that, in turn, increases blood flow to fatigued muscle tissue. The result is a temporary increase in muscle size, roundness and a feeling of “muscle swelling,” with fuller muscle bellies and an overall denser feeling. Often the pump is an incredible mental motivator as well.

Range of Motion: When doing an exercise, range of motion refers to the proper extension and retraction of the negative and positive  portions of the lift. FULL range of motion is almost always the preferred method, moving the resistance throughout the full spectrum of the movement. Example: On a bench press, range of motion for the bar is from the chest up until just before the elbows are locked out.

Recovery: The body’s ability to heal broken-down tissue — usually muscle tissue — and rebuild it even stronger. Recovery can also refer to immune function or the ability to heal injuries quickly.

Strength: One of the most over-promised results with any product because of its potentially vague meaning, when we say it, we mean one thing — the ability to move an object against resistance. Generally speaking, strength training incorporates heavy resistance work and increased amino acid intake via protein consumption.

Testosterone: The primary male sex hormone responsible for muscle growth and development, leanness, fat loss, sexual vitality and more. Production typically tends to rapidly decline in men starting as early as age 18, but most often around 30. Women do not produce nearly as much testosterone as men — about 1/10th is the generally accepted amount.

Vascularity: Basically ‘veininess,” but there’s more to it than just looking like you have blue cables wrapped around your arms. An increase in vasodilation — the swelling of the veins — goes hand-in-hand with improved nutrient delivery through increased blood flow, and this is crucial to achieving both “the pump” and maximum recovery.

Well-Being: A state of mind that is directly tied to low levels of cortisol-based stress, sufficient sleep and proper hormonal balances, among other factors. Extremely important for self-motivation and overall quality of life.

How ANX-P3 Stacks Up With Other Supplements

We introduced the new pre-workout nitric oxide booster ANX-P3 earlier this week. It’s special for a number of reasons. Not only does FORZAONE’s new product have a formula based off an extremely limited patent, but it works in an entirely different way than the NO products you’re used to.

One more intriguing aspect of ANX-P3, though, is also the timing of it, and how it can be used to maximize your pump entirely. ANX-P3 is designed to use an alternate Arginine pathway than typical NO products, and this pathway takes longer to deliver the increased nitric oxide your body needs during a workout for optimal nutrition delivery through the bloodstream. ANX-P3 is taken 90 minutes before your workout, leaving ample time to let it go into effect.

However, the payoff is a longer, better-sustained effect that won’t wear off until your workout is done, and this is accomplished without stimulants. What it means is that you can stack it with another quality NO product that you would take right before your workout. This allows you to set up a pre-workout routine, starting with ANX-P3 and then adding on NO-XP3 afterward. Why do this? Because, since both products are working in different ways, delivering nitric oxide via different pathways, they can both achieve their full effect AT THE SAME TIME. The result is the best pump and vasodilation possible!

On top of that, you can still keep your regular stack intact and see the benefits enhanced. BCAAs right before and during your workout will have a pronounced muscle preservation effect, and of course protein shakes immediately after your workout will benefit from the increased blood flow too. This stack is designed to create a prime muscle-building and recovery environment during the window around your workout!

Workout of the Week: Allie’s Full-Body Fat Burner

Chico Sports Club personal trainer Allie Campagna is back for another guest edition of our Workout of the Week. Today, she offers a full-body workout that uses heavy enough weight to promote growth in both muscle size and strength, while still creating a fat-burning environment. Enjoy!

In order to lose weight, you need to lift more weight! If you are looking to shed pounds while building and maintaining strength and lean muscle you need to add more weight to your strength training routine. Resistance training is important in weight loss because it aids in metabolic drive. As you increase the intensity of your strength training routine (more weight), your body burns more calories post-workout to repair and build. This increases the total amount of energy your body requires in order to maintain, thus an increase in metabolism which allows for greater fat burn.

 

Remembering that intensity also plays a key role in fat loss, strength gains are also greater with a faster lifting tempo. Increasing the eccentric and concentric contractions allows sets to be faster and create a higher intensity, making your body work harder. This mini-full body workout is great for both building strength and fat loss. It involves compound upper and lower body exercises so we recruit more muscle groups in the movement, saving time and increasing intensity and work.

 

Form and technique are critical for creating a safe and effective workout plan. Consulting with a trainer is a great way to enhance your routine for optimal results. For any further questions or advice, feel free to contact me through Chico Sports Club or Nutrishop. You can also find me on Facebook. Healthy Living!

— Allie Campagna, Chico Sports Club

Allie’s Full-Body Fat Burner

Complete 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise. Keep the intensity high by shortening the rest time between sets and challenge your weights to really make your workout count!

1. Push-ups to dumbell row
2. Full dumbbell squat with shoulder press
3. Barbell walking lunges
4. Pull-ups (assisted)
5. Bench Press
7. Weighted Russian Twists
8. Lying leg raise with crunch

A Better Nitric Oxide Booster is Here

It seems that every supplement company out there today is picking up on the fact that nitric oxide products are becoming a quick pre-workout favorite of gym rats everywhere. Increases in pump, vascularity and workout intensity are in high demand, and nitric oxide has been shown to achieve all these things.

The problem: Traditional NO-production products all work the same way, with L-Arginine helping boost the body’s natural production of nitric oxide within the system, and going through a specific route to get it there (the L-Arginine N.O. Synthase pathway). Think of this as the super-highway for nitric oxide production: It’s a route that’s known best, it’s quick and efficient, and just about everybody uses it to get where they’re going.

However, there is a slight drawback to this pathway — nitric oxide has an incredibly short shelf-life in the body, meaning that not long after it’s produced, it’s consumed and gone before your body can get the full benefit from it. Most pre-workout nitric oxide boosters are taken immediately before exercise to achieve the full effect. This is OK. But research has shown a better way, and the best part is that it can be combined with the existing NO products out there for a maximum benefit.

If the L-Arginine NO Synthase pathway is the fastest way, consider what we’d call the “scenic route”: The Nitrate-Nitrite-Nitric Oxide Pathway (or, for our purposes here, the N3O pathway). It takes longer, but you’ll be glad you went this way, too! Arginine Nitrate uses this pathway, and this patented ingredient is only available to three companies. FORZAONE is one of them, and it has created ANX-P3 as an answer to all the short-lived nitric oxide boosters out there.

Arginine Nitrate is the newest approach to nitric oxide boosters, utilizing this secondary pathway for a more sustained, long-lasting effect. You might be wondering the difference between these two pathways, and it’s this: While the first depends on oxygen for its effectiveness, the second does not nearly as much. The takeaway for the consumer is that during intense exercise, in the middle or toward the end of your workout when your body is low on oxygen anyway, the L-Arginine NO Synthase pathway is much less effective, and NO production won’t last as long. You’ll have a great start to the workout, but it may not last. The N3O pathway, accessed by Arginine Nitrate, doesn’t rely on oxygen nearly as much, meaning a longer, sustained effect that will last through your final reps.

You might be wondering why Arginine Nitrate is important, or what it does. First, we’ll start off with pure L-Arginine, an essential amino acid that plays a big part in many important bodily functions, including immune function and muscle building. But it’s also an immediate precursor to nitric oxide, and as a peer-reviewed article in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy points out, this makes it crucial when vasodilation — the expansion of blood vessels for better blood flow — is needed. Bonded with a nitrate, this provides improved blood flow to and from the heart, maximizing that sought-after pump and vascularity.

With improved vasodilation and blood flow over a longer period, the end product for the athlete is the highest possible nutrient delivery during the workout. This is important because of the muscles’ desperate need for vital nutrients to recover, rebuild and sustain strength and endurance.