MET-Rx Protein Shake Review

MET-Rx Protein Shake

MET-Rx Protein Shake

If you don’t consume any protein shakes to supplement your training, I suggest you skip this post. I write it mainly because I think it can help some readers of this blog save some money and also get a good product :).

Over the past decade+ I ‘ve consumed many types of protein powders from different brands to supplement my post-workout meals. Some were okay, some were meh and some were horrible. To be frank, I never really found the right formula that left me with a”wow” feeling. All brands were pretty consistent with how they tasted, as if they were all made by the same factory ( hmm, that’s an interesting point…).

Today, while I was grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, I came across a brand that pioneered the MRP industry, MET-Rx.  I was short on protein shake and decided to give it a chance. I picked the chocolate flavor container and hoped for the best. To be honest, I didn’t really have high hopes but since I needed a protein shake, and this one was right there, I decided to purchase it . And I am glad I did!

The chocolate shake tasted like ice cream, and it was thick and very tasty. Delicious actually! In fact, my first reaction was to pick up the container and re-read the ingredients/nutrition facts label. I was sure I made a mistake and accidentally selected a MRP (a powder loaded with fat, carbs and protein) instead of a protein powder. I didn’t. It was a regular protein powder, which was low on carbs and fat, and high on protein.

This is how I prepared my shake:

  • 8oz of 1/% milk
  • 8oz of cold water
  • 1 scoop of MET-Rx chocolate protein powder
  • shake
  • drink

I highly recommend this powder! It is by far the best protein powder I have ever tried. 

 

Strength Comes in All Shapes & Sizes

When I am not ‘playing’ with numbers and doing other maketing goodies, I enjoy coaching people in the gym. I say coaching because my training philosophy revolves around teaching trainees the proper technique and form of each exercise, and since most of the exercises my trainees follow (e.g. Deadlifts, squats, C&J, etc) involve simultaneously moving many muscle groups, technique and form are on top of my list.

I am big believer that if you focus on the technique and form of the exercise, strength will follow. It is very easy to increase weight on your squat with poor form and technique, but you need to remember that there will be a point where the heavy weight will take over and squatting 405lb will be something you will only watch on YouTube videos.

Technique & Form

I was fortunate to have a great coach who also happened to be an olympic weightlifter back in the old Soviet Union. He started training at the age of 10, competed for the first time at the age of 12, and eventually was training with the Soviet Union Olympic Weightlifting team. He moved to Israel around the late 90′s, and when I was there from 2006-2007 he took me under his wing and taught me everything I know about technique and form. More importantly, he taught and instilled in me the skills of analyzing different body types.

What does it mean?

Some people are taller than others. Some have shorter arms, and some have wider backs. All these body-types need to be taken into consideration when you are teaching exercises such as Deadlifts, Squats, and the most complex one, C&J. For instance, a trainee with longer legs will postion his feet differently than a trainee with shorter legs when training Deadlifts or Squats. This gets more complicated in the C&J movement, which combines power-movements such as the Deadlifts, the jump, the ‘pull’, the ‘catch’, the front-squat, and the ‘jerk’.

If this isn’t enough, our bodies are divided into three types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. You can have a combination of types, such 1/2 ectomorph 1/2 mesomorph, but for the purpose of this post let’s keep it at three.

An ectomorph is a typical skinny guy, lightly built with small joints and lean muscles. Usually ectomorphs have long thin limbs with stringy muscles. Their shoulders tend to be thin with little width, and they find it very hard to gain weight.

Mesomorphs, on the other hand,  have a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs are the best body type for weightlifting (specifically bodybuilding) since they find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are also naturally strong, which is the perfect platform for building muscle (I happened to be a mesomorph).

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Endomorphs. The endomorph body type is generally soft and they tend to gain fat very easily. Endomorphs are usually of a shorter build with thick arms and legs. The bright side of being an endomorph is that their muscles are strong, especially the lower part of their body, and thus they tend to possess the look and strength of a powerlifing athlete.

I tend to train all three types. Why? Because all three offer a different level of challenge. What is important to remember is that regardless of the type of body you train, form and technique should be the cornerstone of your training philosophy. Without it, your trainee will never get stronger and eventually injure herself.

What led me to write this?

It was a picture I saw (image below) that led me to write this post. All athletes in this picture are the best in what they do, and they all possess different strength, size and shape. Regardless of your body type, strength is something we all have. Train smart.

Strength Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

Strength Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

 

 

 

 

Back Playing Basketball at 35. How to Stay Injury-Free.

Back playing basketball at 35.

Back playing basketball at 35.

So I am back playing basketball after 8 years of not shooting, dribbling, or even attempting to play. I devoted myself to weightlifting so much, that I completely neglected the game I used to spend hours practicing and playing with my friends in Israel/USA. The first thing I realized was how much out of game-shape my body is. If I were to play games again, I thought to myself, I needed a plan that will get me in shape quickly. I came up with the plan below, and thought of sharing with you (who knows, maybe you are in the same position I am in).

This is what I currently do:

I start with warming up my joints, tendons, and muscles. At 35, this is not the time to start getting injuries that will only slow me down. After a good 10 minutes of moving different body parts, it is time to do some sprints and lots of legs work. Running side to side, backward, sprints and repeat. I do it for about 15 minutes nonstop. Next, I am adding some shooting to the routine. I pick 6 spots on the court where I practice my shots. The way I do is this: I need to score 3 times straight before I can move to the next spot. If I miss, two things will happen: First I need to catch the ball before it touches the ground. If I succeed, I get to shoot again from the same spot. If I am not fast enough to catch the ball before it touches the ground, I will need to start my shooting all over again from spot number 1. It is okay if you are just starting, but can be very frustrating if you are at spot number 6, with one shot to go to complete the cycle.

I really like this type of routine because it pushes me to run, and stay focused with my shooting. If I am lucky enough, I get to play 1-on-1 as well, but that doesn’t really happen during the weekdays when I train. The few 1-on-1 games I played thus far were very tiring, and took a lot of oxygen and effort out of me. I am, however, getting better and better by each game, so there is still hope for me :)

I think the takeaway from this post is how important it is to warm up your joints, tendons, and muscles before you are even thinking of shooting the ball. Basketball is not an easy game on your body, and the 10-20 minutes you spend preparing yourself to play can make the difference between watching  the game on TV, or playing it.

 

 

The 25 seconds HIIT Aerobic Program

The 25 Seconds HIIT Program

The 25 Seconds HIIT Program

This workout is intense, long, and very fun to complete (we all have different definitions to the word fun. Mine is sweat, lactic acid, and 160 bpm). The 25 seconds HIIT (High Intensity Intervals Training) program is based on the a “pyramid” of a “rest” time  period followed by a steady “work” time period of 25 seconds.

Created by Strength & Conditioning Coach Tina VanDerMeiren (third person from the top), who is also my colleague, the “25 seconds” HIIT program is a great addition to your aerobic routine if you are looking for results (read: improve your cardiovascular endurance, and “burn” fat). I tried this workout a few weeks ago, and I must admit that I really enjoy my aerobic sessions ever since.

The Program

You will need to follow 9 cycles. Each cycle has a different rest time period (“work” stays the same, 25 seconds), which we can call “sets”. Every time you finish a cycle, you will get a 1 minute rest time period (note: you still need to “work” during rest times, but not as intense).

During “work” time (the 25 seconds part), you will need to “work” as hard as you possibly can for 25 seconds (the “High Intensity” part of the HIIT). For example, if you are using the stationary bike, setting the resistance level to 10, a “rest” set will be around 75RPM followed by a “work” set (25 seconds) of, lets say, 118-125 RPM (or as fast as you can possibly pedal. Different bikes have different resistance adjustments).

This is How it Looks

First Cycle: 25 seconds (“work” set) x 50 seconds (“rest” set) x 6 sets

ONE MINUTE “REST” TIME (you keep pedaling at around 75RPM)

Second Cycle: 25 x 40 x 5 (sets)

ONE MINUTE “REST” time

Third Cycle: 25 x 30 x 4 (sets)

ONE MINUTE “REST” TIME

Fourth Cycle: 25 x 20 x 3

ONE MINUTE “REST” TIME

Fifth Cycle: 25 x 10 x 2

ONE MINUTES “REST” TIME

Sixth Cycle: 25 x 20 x 3 (sets)

ONE MINUTE “REST” TIME

Seventh Cycle: 25 x 30 x 4 (sets)

ONE MINUTE “REST” TIME

Eighth Cycle: 25 x 40 x 5

ONE MINUTE “REST” TIME (keep pedaling)

Ninth Cycle: 25 x 50 x 6

YOU ARE DONE!

Analyzing The Cycles

Look at the first cycle (25 x 50 x 6). What does it mean? Simply put, you pedal as fast as you possibly can for 25 seconds (resistance level 10-13 at around 118-125rpm), followed by a “rest” time (you reduce the rpm to about 75) of 50 seconds. You repeat this cycle for 6 sets (i.e. you pedal fast for 25, rest 50, pedal fast for 25, rest 50 until you have completed 6 sets). When you are done with the 6 sets, you keep pedaling for 60 seconds at around 75 rpm ( one minute rest time), and then start the second cycle. Note that the resistance never changes during the workout.

In Reality

  1. I must admit that in reality I can only complete the first part of this demanding (but awesome) workout, meaning cycles 1-5.
  2. It is important to have a stopwatch with you when following this workout. It is much easier to keep track on the time (a very important factor in this workout).
  3. I find it better to have a notebook in front of me (with a pen) during the workout. This way I am able to cross out each set and cycle. It looks like this: I I I I I I * I I I I I * I I I I * I I I * I I * I I I * I I I I * I I I I I * I I I I I I
  4. If you are bored with the stationary bikes, you can also use the treadmill to complete the workout. If you decide to do so, you will need to set the treadmill to a “sprint” speed, which you will use during the “work” time. For the “rest” time, stand on the side panels of the treadmill (just be careful not to let your feet catch on the running belt).

In conclusion, this is a very demanding workout that requires a very determined mindset. It keeps the aerobic sessions a very interesting experience, which is why I like it so much ( I often get bored with aerobic, unless I am climbing up the stadium stairs outside, flipping big tires, or doing sprints on the track field).

What do you think? Will you do it?

Chocolate Milk, My New Post Workout Meal

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Milk

In the past week I have been experimenting with a new post workout meal, a combination of 1% chocolate milk and a bottle of 20oz gatorade. It turns out that low-fat chocolate milk happens to have an ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein, making it an ideal post workout meal. Studies have shown that it is equal or superior to higher priced sports drinks and recovery drinks on the market, and as a bonus, it contains nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin D. It is also easier on the wallet, as some of you who have experimented with protein drink can attest.

Until recently I consumed a natural protein shake powder mixed with Dextrose as my post workout meal. This combination yielded 30 grams of protein and about 60 grams of carbohydrates. The idea was to get fast digested protein (Whey), and high glycemic carbohydrates. 90% of the time I would feel lethargic after consuming this combination.

The new combination I experimented in the past week gave my post workout meal a new meaning. I definitely felt more energetic, my muscles recovered much faster (probably due to the large amount of calcium and Vitamin D), and I did not feel the need to take a nap.

I also added a small bottle of Gatorade to it, but I reckon it will be more than what you will need, unless you weigh more than 200lb (man or woman). One bottle of chocolate milk (16OZ) will yield about 16 gram of protein, 48 grams of carbs, and  approximately 2g of fat. This is an ideal post workout meal!

So, there you have it. I highly recommend trying chocolate milk (1%) for your next post workout meal.

What is your current Post Workout Meal? I am curious.

There is an excerpt of what the researchers found:

  • Building Muscle – Post-exercise muscle biopsies in eight moderately trained male runners showed that after drinking 16 ounces of fat free chocolate milk, the runners had enhanced skeletal muscle protein synthesis – a sign that muscles were better able to repair and rebuild – compared to when they drank a carbohydrate only sports beverage with the same amount of calories. The researchers suggest that “athletes can consider fat-free chocolate milk as an economic nutritional alternative to other sports nutrition beverages to support post-endurance exercise skeletal muscle repair.” (1)
  • Replenishing Muscle “Fuel” – Replacing muscle fuel (glycogen) after exercise is essential to an athlete’s future performance and muscle recovery. Researchers found that drinking 16 ounces of fat free chocolate milk with its mix of carbohydrates and protein (compared to a carbohydrate-only sports drink with the same amount of calories) led to greater concentration of glycogen in muscles at 30 and 60 minutes post exercise. (2)
  • Maintaining Lean Muscle – Athletes risk muscle breakdown following exercise when the body’s demands are at their peak. Researchers found that drinking fat free chocolate milk after exercise helped decrease markers of muscle breakdown compared to drinking a carbohydrate sports drink. (3)
  • Subsequent Exercise Performance – Ten trained men and women cyclists rode for an hour and a half, followed by 10 minutes of intervals. They rested for four hours and were provided with one three drinks immediately and two hours into recovery: lowfat chocolate milk, a carbohydrate drink with the same amount of calories or a control drink. When the cyclists then performed a subsequent 40 kilometer ride, their trial time was significantly shorter after drinking the chocolate milk compared to the carbohydrate drink and the control drink. (4)

Sources:

  1. Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Karfonta KE, Anderson JM, Pasiakos SM, Ferrando AA, Wolfe RR, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk consumption following endurance exercise affects skeletal muscle protein fractional synthetic rate and intracellular signaling. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S48.
  2. Karfonta KE, Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Anderson JM, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk enhances glycogen replenishment after endurance exercise in moderately trained males. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010;42:S64.
  3. Colletto MR, Lunn W, Karfonta K, Anderson J, Rogriguez N. Effects of chocolate milk consumption on leucine kinetics during recovery from endurance exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010;42:S126.
  4. Ferguson-Stegall L, McCleave E, Doerner PG, Ding Z, Dessard B, Kammer L, Wang B, Liu Y, Ivy J. Effects of chocolate milk supplementation on recovery from cycling exercise and subsequent time trial performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010;42:S536.


High Intensity Interval Training- The Other Aerobic Workout

HIIT Training

HIIT Training

Not many people are familiar with the HIIT system of training (High Intensity Interval Training). Often time when I speak to people in the gym, I will hear them rave about their half marathon run (something that personally I couldn’t do because I find it too mundane), or the conventional 3 mile run on the treadmill. But, rarely do I hear people talk about their 10 minutes HIIT sprints session, or their 15 minutes HIIT stair climb session. Why? The first reason would be because it is too hard to complete, which is not a good excuse. The second reason would be because most people are not even familiar with the HIIT program.

What is HIIT:

A HIIT session consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by six to ten repetitions of high intensity exercise, separated by medium intensity exercise, and ending with a period of cool down exercise. The high intensity exercise should be done at near maximum intensity. The medium exercise should be about 50% intensity. The number of repetitions and length of each depends on the exercise. The goal is to do at least six cycles, and to have the entire HIIT session last at least fifteen minutes and not more than twenty.

Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 9–20 minutes. The original protocol set a 2:1 ratio for work to recovery periods. For example, a runner would alternate 15-20 seconds of hard sprinting with 10 seconds of jogging or walking.

HIIT is considered to be an excellent way to maximize a workout that is limited on time

A few facts about the HIIT program:

  • HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate (RMR) for the following 24 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, and may improve maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) more effectively than doing only traditional, long aerobic workouts.
  • Long aerobic workouts have been promoted as the best method to reduce fat, as fatty acid utilization usually occurs after at least 30 minutes of training. HIIT is somewhat counterintuitive in this regard, but has nonetheless been shown to burn fat more effectively. There may be a number of factors that contribute to this, including an increase in RMR, and possibly other physiological effects.
  • It has been shown that two weeks of HIIT can substantially improve insulin action in young healthy men. HIIT may therefore represent a viable method for prevention of type-2 diabetes.

The beauty about the HIIT aerobic system is that you do not need a gym to complete the program. Also, you are not limited to sprints either.

These are a few examples of how to utilize the HIIT outside your gym:

  • Climb up the stairs in your building as fast as you can for 60 seconds, and rest while stepping down (do not take your time, 30-45 seconds only) to the starting point. Repeat for 15 minutes.
  • Jump rope for 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10-12 minutes (you will build your cardiovascular endurance to up to 20 minutes in time).
  • Find the nearest stadium, climb the stairs as fast as you can, step down slowly to the starting point and repeat for 15-20 minutes.

I can go on and on with examples, but you get the idea. The HIIT program is very short aerobic session with comparison to the other conventional long run (or elliptical, or bike, etc) aerobic methods, but make no mistakes, it will leave you out of breath!

Check out this short video to see the HIIT program in action: