The Importance of Rest Days

Many of us find that quantity over quality or the no days off attitude is the only way to go to get the most out of your workout or training program.  Rest and recovery is an important step that is often not taken seriously in the process of re-building muscle.  If you put constant wear and tear on your body and muscles with no time to recover, you will eventually hit a plateau or decrease in performance – also known as, overtraining.  Overtraining is the excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training that results in extreme fatigue, illness, or injury.

If you have a hard time just giving yourself days of doing absolutely nothing, here are some ideas on how to off-load for a few days or week without feeling guilty:

  • decrease the amount of sets or reps for each exercise
  • use a lighter weight for each exercise
  • increase the rest periods
  • decrease the number of training days/week
  • decrease the time under tension
  • have a fun workout – try something you normally wouldn’t have before
  • get other things done – organize, clean, help a friend out
  • eat, sleep & RECOVER!

Five Ways to Improve Lower Body Strength and Power

Much of the power you generate as an athlete comes from your lower body.  No matter if you are running, jumping, sprinting, tackling or even golfing, your big muscles (quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings) are what fuel that power and energy.  If you want to get faster and stronger — build stronger leg muscles.

Five Ways to Improve Lower Body Strength and Power:

  1. Perform more squats. Squats are one of the most efficient ways to improve lower extremity power.  Utilize the goblet squat using a dumbbell or kettlebell, or a back squat, front squat or overhead squat using a barbell. Be sure when performing squats to keep your chest and chin up. Drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel with the ground.
  2. Remember the deadlift. The deadlift is a great way to strengthen your lower body and can be performed either using a dumbbell, barbell, or trap bar. Just like the squat, keep your chest and chin up, drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. Be careful to not bend at the waist to cause unnecessary pressure on the lower back.
  3. Don’t forget about your hamstrings. When wanting to build lower body strength and power, it is very important to remember not to ignore your posterior chain (hamstrings and lower back).  Having a muscle imbalance from the front to the back can cause a higher risk of injury to the athlete. Performing the glute-ham raise, Romanian deadlift, Physioball hamstring curls, back extensions, or hip extensions.
  4. Get off your feet. To help improve vertical jump and power, follow your knee dominant exercise with an explosive movement that complements the exercise just performed. For example, squat jumps, split squat jumps, and single leg squat jumps.
  5. Find Balance with Single Leg Exercises. Everyone has a dominant side; therefore, performing single leg exercises allows it not to hide. It is also a great way to improve balance and stability. Single-leg, knee dominant exercises are stepups and single leg squats. Single leg hip dominant exercises are single-leg Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, and hip extensions.

Be sure to work within the recommended amounts of sets and reps depending on your training goals.  Most athletes will work within the Muscular Strength and Muscular Hypertrophy range in order to build power and strength.

Muscle Strength: Heavy weight, 4 sets 5 reps

Muscular Hypertrophy:  Moderate to heavy weight, 3 sets 10 reps

Muscular Endurance: Light to moderate weight, 2 sets of 15 reps

What's For Breakfast?

Many people often skip out on breakfast because they don’t have the “time” to eat it, or they aren’t hungry in the morning… Whatever the excuse, it is still not a good enough one to skip out on such an important meal!

Benefits of a Healthy Breakfast:

  • Boosts metabolism
  • Helps maintain energy throughout the day
  • Promotes healthy weight management
  • Improves alertness and concentration

Be sure your breakfast has a balance of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  Keep it simple, here are some easy ideas to get all of the right nutrition to start your day!  

  1. Slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter and sliced banana
  2. Oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder mixed in and topped with fruit
  3. Scrambled eggs with ground turkey and vegetables
  4. Greek yogurt topped with granola and fruit

Plan out what you will have the night before, wake up a few minutes earlier, and start your day off with a healthy breakfast — you will be glad you did!

Find The Balance

Do you have a work-life balance? Are you taking care of yourself to stay healthy? Are you mentally drained or worn down? What needs to change to help find the balance in your life?

Here are a few ways that you can help find some balance when things seem to be a little “off”:

  1. Surround yourself with people who constantly support you and want to see you succeed – this is a must!
  2. Exercise. Make time for yourself to perform some type of physical activity you enjoy each day – don’t let yourself skip it!
  3. Get rid of the clutter. Figure out what is draining or bringing you down & have the courage to let it go.
  4. Be patient. Trust yourself and trust your journey! No one else has to walk in your shoes except you.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up. Don’t give up, just restart. Progress is part of the process.

Find the balance in your life & make each day a great one!


Four Healthy Tips For The Fourth Of July

The 4th of July is filled with family, friends, fireworks and of course, food.  As the holiday approaches, set yourself up for success and remember these four healthy tips to stay on track:

  1. Don’t skip your workout.  Plan your time accordingly to get in a short strength training circuit with friends or family interval run, you will feel a lot better having done something rather than nothing.
  2. Extra, extra fruits and vegetables.  You can’t go wrong grabbing an extra serving of fruit salad or vegetables.  Research some healthy recipes and bring your own side dish to share with everyone!
  3. Go for lean meats.  Lean meats are a great source of protein with a lower fat content.  Grilled chicken or lean steak are great options over hot dogs and hamburgers.
  4. Practice moderation.  Grab a smaller plate to help with portion control.  Moderation is key.

Have a safe & happy 4th of July!

Make Your Own Salsa This Summer

Salsa is always a fan favorite at summer barbecues and get togethers -- it is filled with nutrients from all types of vegetables and fruits.  It is a healthy snack or side dish that is simple and easy to make on your own. Rather than opening a can of salsa, make your own this summer for the next friend or family barbecue -- try the recipe below!


Aunt Audrey’s Corn Salad

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix these items together in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, and set aside to cool.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 medium/large tomato
  • Small bunch of cilantro

Chop the above items, then add:

  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained

Pour sauce over the vegetables and mix well.  Great served with salsa chips or as a salad.  Stores well in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Stay Hydrated this Summer!

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of a drop off in daily performance.  Proper hydration and electrolyte balance is necessary for every individual to perform at their highest level.  Electrolyte replaced plays a key role in staying hydrated as well, especially during intense activity and during the hot summer months.  Electrolytes are the various types of salts in our body fluids that play a key role in physiology (function) of performance.  If not properly hydrated, fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness or more serious symptoms can set in very quickly.

Factors to be considered when dealing with dehydration:

  • sweat rate
  • heat
  • humidity
  • exercise intensity
  • duration of activity

The American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for staying hydrated before, during, and after an activity are as follows:

  1. Drink at least 17-20 oz. of water 2-3 hours before activity.
  2. Drink at least 8 oz. of water 20-30 minutes prior to activity or during your warm up.
  3. Drink at least 7-10 oz. of water every 10-20 minutes during activity.
  4. Drink at least 8 oz. no more than 30 minutes following activity.

Although everyone is different and will react a specific way in certain conditions, it is important to always be prepared and properly hydrated.  Drink water before you begin to get thirsty.  For exercise longer than 1 hour, one should begin consuming electrolytes, primarily sodium. This can be in the form of a food or drink with at least 250 mg of sodium per 0.5 liter (or about 100 mg per 8 ounces).  Keep a water bottle filled with you at all times throughout your day and don’t let dehydration be a factor in your upcoming athletic event!


What's in your Protein Shake?

For athletes and all individuals, it is extremely important that you are getting the proper post-workout nutrition in order to aid in the re-building and recovery of your muscles.  The ideal carbohydrates to protein ratio of a post-workout routine is 3:1.  You should aim to get at least 12-24 grams of protein which means the amount of carbohydrates you need ranges from 36-72 grams.  A great way to receive the proper nutrients after a workout is through a protein shake.

Here is a simple recipe to try in order to refuel and recovery after your next workout:

  • Mix the following content in a blender & enjoy!
    • 4-6oz of Almond Milk (can substitute water or other type of milk depending on what you enjoy)
    • 3-4 ice cubes
    • Tbsp of flax-seed (or chia seeds) (added fiber)
    • Tbsp of All-Natural Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
    • 1/2 of a banana
    • one scoop of Protein Powder of your choice (focus on getting a 2:1 or 3:1 carbs to protein ratio immediately following exercise)

Written by: Megan Osysko