Not getting results?
The last thing we want is for any of our athletes to not be getting the results they desire. If you aren’t getting the effects you desire from the gym, there are a few things we want you to look at. Everyone should be making progress and if you aren’t, there is a link somewhere in the chain missing. Let’s dive in deeper and find it.
Outline your Goals
What really are your goals? You need to sit down and specifically define your goals. If your goals are clearly laid out, you can then determine how often you should hit the gym, your caloric and macronutrient demands, and create daily goals to hit while you are in the gym. Do you want to lose body fat? Gain muscle? Lift heavier? Increase endurance? Answer these questions and set specific metrics to shoot towards.
Knowing your goals will also create drive to push yourself to train when you don’t want to, give your all in each workout, ensure you are getting the right nutrients, and putting recovery/mobility as a top priority.
Click here to help you set some goals.
Look at your activity levels.
After defining what you want to get out of your training, look back and see how often you are active. This includes attending classes, personal training sessions, yoga/mobility work, or any other active sessions you participate in. Almost all goals require you to do something on most days of the week. Depending on what your goals are, this will determine what kinds of activity you should be doing daily.
Ensuring good sleep patterns.
The mantra “Hard Work Pays Off” works to an extent. In reality, hard work only pays off when we are sleeping
enough to allow the body and mind to recover and get after it again the next day. I’m not going to tell you how much sleep you need, you’ll need to determine what works best for you and your lifestyle, but 5 hours isn’t enough. Experiment with different durations, going to bed and waking up at different times, and see when you feel at your peak.
Eating and drinking to your goals.
Unfortunately for people like me who would rather just out train their diet, this is the most important factor in results. Is your nutrition aligned with your goals? Calories and macronutrients are a tightrope you’ll need to experiment with.
In a nutshell, if you are trying to lose body fat, you’ll likely need to be at a caloric deficit. If trying to gain muscle, you’ll need to be at a caloric surplus. Regardless, you need to ensure you are getting enough calories to support your training and lifestyle. You’ll need enough protein to support and repair muscle tissue, enough fat to keep the body healthy and burn in long aerobic workouts, and the correct quantity of carbs to support your energy output.
Nutrition can be overwhelming, but it takes experimentation and if you are not constantly analyzing what you are fueling your body with, you likely won’t get the results you desire. It’s an unfortunate reality. For faster results, seek a nutritionist to get a head start on what you should be eating.\
Click here to book a session with our Nutritionist!
Establishing recovery habits.
Recovery is vital not only to perform at high levels while training, maintain healthy hormone levels in the body, and prevent injuries. Ensure you are establishing great recovery habits that include eating proper nutrients, getting enough sleep, foam rolling, stretching, other forms of mobility, and taking care of your mental health. Creating a balance that’s aligned with your goals will ensure success.
We want everyone to constantly get results. It takes a delicate lifestyle balance and experimentation to see what works for each individual, their needs, and their desires. However, there is always a reason for plateau or lack of progress. It takes an intricate inspection of our lives to find what we are missing. It’s in there somewhere, I promise.
We all are told to hydrate, but what exactly should we be hydrating with?
It’s probably a fact that most people need to drink more water, but often times we forget a vital component of hydration – electrolytes. There are 6 electrolytes that are essential to our bodies: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate.
Electrolytes affect the amount of water held in your body, blood PH, and muscle function. Without electrolytes you will be peeing out all of the water you take in and quickly pushed to the sidelines cramping with insufficient hydration levels.
Essentially, just drinking water will simply hydrate the blood, often leading to peeing it all back out in clear urine. You think you are hydrating, but in reality that water is just passing through your body. Electrolytes provide the cells the ability to take in the water, hydrating them intracellularly. Pulling the water into the cell demonstrates true hydration and can only occur via electrolytes. Too much water without electrolytes can also cause a problem called hyponatremia, which can be life threatening.
Although proper hydration is vital for all humans, the importance is most prevalently seen in endurance athletes. Fully hydrating the body doesn’t just happen in one sports drink. You should also be taking electrolytes in the days and week prior to athletic events. Even in times without a competition on the horizon, especially in the humid climates of the world, a daily electrolyte supplement can be vital to achieving both peak performance and health.
If you are currently looking for a supplement for electrolytes, we currently recommend Salt Sticks, Base Salts, and Nuun (available for purchase at the gym).
When preparing my athletes and myself for our first Ironman, I had a tough time deciding exactly what the best nutrition strategy was for the race. After really digging into the articles, forums, and research, I finally came up with a strategy that I thought would work best. Luckily, my calculations were correct and these simple steps continue to give my athletes success in endurance races. Before we get started, the most important thing I stress to my athletes after I create their nutrition strategy is that we have to test it. Working out the exact consumption, concentrations, and timing is vital when creating a plan. We all work slightly differently; have different muscle masses, sweat rates, body weights, etc. These variations lead to tweaks in your race day nutrition that can only be determined while experimenting in training.
What and how much of it should you be consuming?
What you eat/drink isn’t really dependent on what activity you are doing. An Ultra Beast, 50k run, and Half-Ironman all take about the same amount of time, therefore the nutrition strategy will be very similar. The first thing you need to look at is time – how long will you be racing for? That number is going to determine the number of calories you need per hour. Then, you need to look at the climate you will be racing in. Hotter races require more fluid and electrolytes than a colder race. These two factors, race length and race climate, are the major factors in creating your race day nutrition strategy.
Now in terms of what you should be consuming, you need three things to have a successful race: Food, Electrolytes, and Water. Let’s first start off with two things you need to avoid: fructose and maltodextrin. These simple sugars cause too rapid of a spike in blood sugar and a large quantity of them may cause GI issues. In smaller quantities, training sessions, or times when the nerves are steady, this may not be a problem. But, when race day comes, nerves are high, and a 5+ hour endurance race requires you to ingest more than 1500 calories worth of this stuff, it may become a problem. Avoid the risk altogether and opt for nutrition that does not have these ingredients. Look for products that cover all of your bases in terms of macronutrient content and include simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, and amino acids. Because of digestibility, you don’t really need to take in any fat during the race and stay away from products with fiber (no need to go to the bathroom during the race!).
Whether you want to consume all your calories via liquid or a mix of liquid and solid foods that is up to you. I opt for both. Just drinking liquids over a 10+ hour Ironman gets old fast. I like to have a little bit of a mixture of things going into my body. The current products I like to use include EFS Liquid Shots, EFS Sports Drink, and a couple Honey Stingers on the bike and maybe transitions, depending on how I am doing with my calorie goals. These EFS products also provide ample electrolytes, so for cooler events, this may be all your body needs. In warmer events, you will need to supplement with additional electrolytes. Salt Sticks are an awesome electrolyte option as they contain the same electrolyte composition as sweat and are one of the few electrolyte supplements that contain the full panel of electrolytes; Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, and Chloride. (I am not endorsed by any of these products; I wish I was because I spend way too much money on them!).
How many calories, per hour, should you be consuming?
Endurance athletes should consume between 300-400 calories per hour. This number varies based on your weight, physical exertion, climate, and fat metabolism. Running alone will burn 600-800 calories per hour. So how, at only 300 calories an hour, is that enough fuel to get you through a race? Two additional factors heavily play into your body’s energy storage. The body has around 2000 calories worth of glucose available at any given time, plus fat storage will help you to the finish line. Your goal in race fueling is not to provide the body all of its fuel, just a nice helping to decrease the metabolic load on the body and keep glucose levels adequate while it is going through fat metabolism.
Take that 300-400 calories per hour and play with it during long training sessions. Use the same products you have decided to use on race day. Begin fine tuning that number. Once you are happy with your energy levels and digestion during training, you have made your nutrition plan. Stick with it. Thinking about and executing your nutrition strategy is a great thing to think about throughout your race. Don’t let your mind wonder too much, stay focused and make sure you are getting your nutrition in when you need it.
How much water, per hour, should you be consuming?
To find out how much water you need, find your sweat rate. Weigh yourself (in lbs) without clothes or shoes on before a one hour outdoor workout and then weigh yourself without clothes or shoes immediately after your workout. Do not consume any food or fluids during this workout. The weight you lost is your sweat rate. Multiply that number by 16 oz and that is the minimum amount of water you should be consuming per hour. For me, that number is 2 lbs x 16 oz giving me 32 oz of water per hour. During long training sessions, I have realized I like to drink more than that, so my average is about 40 oz of water per hour.
Do you need electrolytes?
Yes. Electrolytes affect the amount of water held in your body, blood PH, and muscle function. Without electrolytes you will be peeing out all of the water you take in and quickly pushed to the sidelines cramping. You should also be taking electrolytes in the days and week prior to the event. Just drinking water can cause issues like hyponatremia, or low sodium in the body, which is arguably more of an issue to endurance athletes than dehydration. Electrolytes prior to race day will also help pull hydration intracellularly, which will hydrate your muscle cells for race day. If your nutrition supplement has adequate electrolyte content in it, you might be alright. For warm races you will need electrolytes on top of your nutrition.
When should you be taking your nutrition?
I have found that ingesting your nutrition every 10-15 minutes works very well with my athletes. In triathlon, this would begin immediately after the swim and continue until the race is over. In running, obstacle course, or cycling races, I would begin the nutrition about 30 minutes into the race. Stick to this timeline for the entire race. It will keep your metabolism moving, glucose rates steady, and give your mind something to stay focused on.
Have additional questions? E-Mail me! I would love to answer your questions and help you out. If you are looking to take the guesswork out of your plan, let me create a customized nutrition plan for you! Get in touch with me via e-mail here.
Sean Spire is the Owner and Head Coach of Aspire. Athletically, he enjoys lifting heavy shit, running in the middle of the day, and tough MetCons. Personally, he likes spending time with his amazing wife, Erika, and dog, Reef.