I used to have a love-hate relationship with caffeine but ever since I’ve started using it in a SMART way, its been more of a positive in my life than a negative. This is a drug that’s consumed far far far more than anything else out there. And for good reason – It’s got some fantastic benefits if used the right way but like with everything else that has a lot of positives, it does have its own drawback which I will get to later.
In today’s post we will answer three questions – How does caffeine work, how can it help us achieve our fitness goals, and how do we dose it correctly depending on our own genetics?
How does caffeine work?
To understand how caffeine works in the body – we must understand what adenosine is. Adenosine is a molecule that is responsible for causing drowsiness and signaling to our bodies that its time to sleep. This occurs when the adenosine molecules attach themselves to its own adenosine receptors. Whenever someone consumes caffeine, the caffeine molecule binds to the adenosine receptors – hijacking the adenosine molecules rightful place in the brain causing feelings of alertness, improved focus and faster reflexes.
How can caffeine help us achieve our fitness goals?
The reason we are so interested in caffeine is because the effects are not just cognitive, but physical as well– when consumed before a workout, you will see an increase in endurance and strength enabling you to train harder and longer.
Studies show an average of 12 percent increase in performance with more benefits noticed during endurance exercise than shorter high-intensity exercise. Caffeine also mitigates the effects of perceived pain by about 6 percent giving you that extra push to complete that last rep.
These physical effects occur when individuals consume between 3-6mg caffeine/kg bodyweight or between 1.5mg – 3mg/ lb bodyweight. So for a 150lb person – between 225mg to 450mg caffeine.
Caffeine also suppress appetite which can be a huge advantage when trying to diet for fat loss. It will help to keep your calories on the lower side. Of course just caffeine is not enough to curb your cravings – you should also eat the right foods and perhaps add in some HIIT to your routine if you really want to drop fat.
How do we dose it correctly depending on our own genetics?
Caffeine CAN be very helpful in achieving fitness related goals and getting into the shape we all want if dosed correctly for the individual taking it. Caffeine has a half-life between 4 to 6 hours but can last a lot longer or shorter depending on the individual’s ability to metabolize caffeine. This means that a 200-mg caffeine tablet consumed at 12 PM noon will wither down to about 100mg at 6 PM and 50 mg caffeine at 12 AM. That being said: People generally fall into three camps when we talk about caffeine sensitivity/caffeine tolerance.
Hyposensitive – These people process caffeine very quickly and usually need higher doses to get the same effects as someone who has normal sensitivity to caffeine. You might be Hyposensitive if you can consume large quantities of caffeine close to bedtime and not notice any adverse effects on your sleep quality and quantity.
Normal Sensitivity – These people process caffeine at the normal rate. As long as these people consume caffeine early on in the day, between 200mg – 400mg or 2-4 cups of coffee is generally okay and will not lead to sleep disruptions at night.
Hyper-sensitivity – These people process caffeine very slowly and are extremely sensitive to its effects. A cup of coffee containing between 80-120mg in the morning might be the upper limit of what these people can handle. Even that might lead to sleep disruptions. A good alternative is switching to teas which contain half the amount of caffeine.
Unsure about what levels of caffeine are safe for you? It's something that you must master through trial and error. If you’ve never had it before, its normal to feel a bit anxious and jittery – try 50mg at most – see how you feel and adjust accordingly. Or you can head over to your nearest fitness instructor and ask his input!
This post will help you get smarter about what a full core workout entails. I want to give you the knowledge and not just a “Routine” that you do so you can understand what is important and find something that works for you. It’s easy to just look up core workouts and perhaps get good results, but its even better when you can understand the theory behind a good core workout and design one yourself! Let’s break this down.
The core isn't just the abdominals. We have the upper and lower abdominals, the obliques, along with the lower back. All parts must be trained adequately to have a strong, muscular, dense and downright jaw-dropping core.
The upper abs get targeted mainly when you are bringing your upper body to the lower body. Crunches and situps for example do exactly that. They bring your upper body to your lower body resulting in contractions of your upper abs. On the flip side, the lower abs get targeted when we bring our lower body to meet the upper body. Doing leg lifts, hanging knee raises, futter kicks, and scissor kicks are a few exercises that will heavily target the lower abs.
The obliques are targeted when we bend to the side or are doing twisting motions. Side crunches, sideways leg lifts, bicycle situps, windshield wipers, and Russian twists are some great examples. And then we have the lower back – this gets targeted mainly through moves such as deadlifts and back extensions.
One of our favorites to target all around core are the planks. Planks target your whole abdominal region and your lower back to really build stability throughout your entire core.
Get creative with it and mix them up by doing them for a certain amount of repetitions and then a certain amount of time. Like anything else, with practice you will be able to increase the amount of sets and reps or the amount of time you can perform each movement. We recommend you start off your core workout with just one exercise for each core muscle and then gradually add either more reps or another exercise to increase volume as you get stronger.
Now these exercises are great for the individual parts of the core, but these should be supplemented to your full exercise routine, not be the primary focus of your workout routine. Add in these core exercises with your compound movements. Exercises such as the Squat, deadlift, bench press, and shoulder press are considered compound movements as more than one muscle group is being activated and stressed every time you perform a repetition. These are also the most taxing on our central nervous system and will fatigue us the quickest. However, they will also result in some of the best muscle growth and hormonal increase throughout your body, not to mention work out your core in the process!
But remember, abs are still made in the kitchen. And without a proper nutrition protocol, no matter how “strong” your core is, you won’t ever see those washboard abs that you’ve been drooling about! A good diet and some extra HIIT on top of your regular routine will help you lean down and show off your new and improved core! Give Rochester NY Personal Trainer a ring if you're trying to get lean and mean this summer!
A form of training that isn't as common now a days compared to it's popularity in the past is pyramid training. For anyone that wants to build lean mass and have explosive power... this is one of the most effective ways to accomplish that.
Your core 4 lifts ( benchpress, squat, deadlift, overhead press) are perfect compound movements to incorporate the pyramid on. You are going to start off with a light weight with higher reps and each set get progressively heavier while dropping the reps.
I personally like to use a 12,9,6,3 rep scheme to build my pyramids up but you can use any rep scheme you want as long as you are progressing from lighter to heavier weights.
The reason this is so effective is you are not only training pure power but also muscular endurance which is an often over looked aspect of building strength.
When you build endurance, you can handle those heavier weights without getting gassed out over a longer period of time. We all know time under tension at high intensity leads to greater muscle and strength gains. The pyramid is the perfect blend to accomplish both of these goals
Keep in mind that this is just ONE form of training that we recommend. This will build endurance and really grow the slow twitch muscle fibers as you're doing multiple sets with variable weights. Once you're comfortable with this style of training, you should upgrade your training scheme and try REVERSE PYRAMID Training.
The concept is the exact same, except you start with a heavier weight and work your way down to lighter weight. I personally like to warm up with three sets:
Warmup-set 1 : 50% of Working set Weight - 5 Reps
Warmup-set 2 - 70% of Working Set Weight - 3 Reps
Warm-up set 3 - 85% of Working Set Weight - 1 Rep
After this, I'm ready to go into my heaviest set which I will try to get atleast 6 repetitions on. I know that If I can't even get 4 repetitions that the weight is too heavy and I need to dial it back some. The rep scheme I follow for my working weight is usually 6,6,8,10 but it varies. As long as you're pyramiding down, you're utlizing reverse pyramid training to its maximum advantage.
Now, if this all sounds very complicated to you - we understand. But trust us, it's really simple once our trainers at Rochester NY Personal Trainer are working with you face to face.
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It's a very specific form of cardio that calls for "High Intensity Bursts' followed by a more relaxed form of cardio that's a lot less taxing on our bodies.
HIIT also has a HUGE afterburn effect compared to regular forms of cardio. This is the same reason that we see wrestlers, boxers, sprinters be completely shreeded and muscular as well. This is because they are performing HIIT throughout their training and competitions. Let us dive deeper into the details.
As mentioned earlier, HIIT takes place when we perform a cardiovascular exercise with extreme intensity for a short period of time and then drop off the intensity to give ourselves time to recoup and go at it again. A good rule of thumb is to go as hard as you can for 3-5 minutes and then cool down for 5-8 minutes and repeat for as long as you can. It's not long before you feel like you are about to collapse and ofcourse you should probably stop at that point. Feel your body out and challenge yourself to push just a little bit more next time you perform an HIIT workout. This also triggers what we alluded to earlier - THE AFTERBURN!
This afterburn effect occurs because your body increases its metabolism in response to the intense exercise it just underwent. It's still recouping from your HIIT routine and has an increase in metabolism for as long as 48 hours. It's definitely something that will increase your caloric expenditure than regular steady-state cardio.
So how does this occur exactly? Well when we perform HIIT, our muscles are also being worked as opposed to mostly the heart and cardiovascular system during just jogging or walking. Our muscles experience a pump similar to what we might experience during a heavy resistance training workout! This increases lactic acid build up which our bodies fight off by utilizing more oxygen to repair itself which is where the increase in metabolism comes into play.
This is why all sprinters, boxers, and wrestlers seem to have a very shredded and muscular look. They are all performing intense bouts of exercise for a short duration, resting, and repeating - over and over again. Here are some more example of HIIT training that you can perform yourself:
This method of training helps improve our explosiveness strength and help us burn additional calories compared to conventional cardiovascular exercise. It's something that should be a staple to someone looking to cut weight, in moderation of course. 1-2 HIIT sessions programmed into your routine will go a long way in helping you get that shredded look that you want so bad. There are thousands of other HIIT routines that our trainers here at Rochester NY Personal Trainer have built for clients. If you want to get that lean and muscular look, contact us right away and we will hook you up with a free consultation!