Category Archives: Exercise

How Synergy Works for Me

Adam O’Meara has a unique perspective on natural supplements. He is not only a professional triathlete, but part of the PURICA team. The PURICA Ambassador explains why PURICA Recovery®, Provascin® and Cordyceps – our PURICA Sport Synergy Line – serve as the foundation of his regime of nutritional supplements.

BY ADAM O’MEARA

Our bodies respond well to new stimuli.  That’s why, when it comes to fitness and exercise, it is imperative to increase the workload (stimulus) in order to see improvements.  General fitness is best achieved by combining two or more modalities and a combination of strength and aerobic work.  Even a properly-structured program for a single sport focus — such as training for a 10k road race — will incorporate various types of workouts including recovery, interval and long runs.

Whatever the fitness goal, it is best to approach it by providing a variety of stimuli.  This is also true when it comes to dietary supplements.  As a professional level triathlete, I perform swim, bike and run training, plus I include core strength work.  When it comes to food, I choose a well-balanced diet that favours vegetables and other whole foods. I am also sure to include good variety in all three macro-nutrient categories.  Furthermore, I top off my diet with a targeted supplement regime that has the PURICA Sport Synergy Line as the foundation.

Soft tissue and cartilage healing

PURICA Recovery® was one of the products that perked my interest in PURICA many years ago.  After much research and hearing countless anecdotal success stories, I was certain Recovery® would help me as a high level endurance athlete.  Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects combined with its ability to encourage soft tissue and cartilage healing and rebuilding make it a primary supplement for me.

Improving my exercise performance

Many athletes are familiar with the benefits of the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps sinensis (CS). CS is one of the most widely-examined medicinal mushrooms and has shown promising results in many double-blind and placebo-controlled studies; including a 10.5% and 8.5% increase in metabolic and ventilatory thresholds, respectively, which equals an improvement in exercise performance (Chen S. Z., 2010).  Studies showing those types of improvements coupled with countless anecdotal accounts from athletes and my own experience is why I continue to take PURICA Cordyceps almost daily.

Supporting my cardiovascular system to perform at its fullest potential

As a high level endurance athlete, my primary goal is to train my cardiovascular system to perform at its fullest potential.  When we exercise we increase oxidative (a.k.a. free radical) stress through the production of damaging ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) molecules.  ROS are unstable molecules that have potential to do damage to our bodies.  Even the most sedentary person is producing ROS as the body continues its perpetual cycles of cell turnover, but as activity levels increase the body may struggle to provide enough anti-oxidants to neutralize the free radicals being produced.  So it is then our job to provide our bodies with ample amounts of anti-oxidants which we do by eating healthy whole foods and taking high quality supplements.  My food choices are primarily based on nutrient density and anti-oxidant potency, and this is quite simple since the healthiest foods usually contain high levels of nutrients and anti-oxidants.  And my preferred supplement for combating free radical damage to my cardiovascular system is Provascin.

Provascin® is one of the broadest spectrum cardiovascular products available.  The combination of ingredients offers a multi-faceted approach to protecting the entire cardiovascular system, including the heart.  One of my favourite ingredients in the formula is Chaga (Inonotus obliquus). It is a powerful medicinal mushroom that offers very impressive ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) levels and SODs (Superoxide dismutase) values.  With an ORAC score of ~50 times greater than that of blueberries, Chaga is an incredible free radical scavenger.  SODs serve as the front-line defense against ROS in living cells (Fukai, 2011).  Furthermore, mitochondrial function is regulated by SOD (Fukai, 2011) and our overall health and performance is only as good as how healthy and efficient our mitochondria are.  My reasons for using Provascin® extend beyond its fantastic day to day support, I also rely on it as a preventative measure for avoiding cardiovascular disease later in life – I have a family and I want to do all I can to maintain great health through my senior years.

I am perhaps the number one fan of the PURICA Sport Synergy line and use PURICA Recovery®, Cordyceps and Provascin® on an almost daily basis.

Suggested dosing for athletic performance

I typically take 2-3 caps of Cordyceps upon rising and another 2-3 in the afternoon.  Recovery is taken in 5 cap or 1 teaspoon doses 2-3 times per day, 20 minutes prior to a meal or as part of a post workout smoothie or snack. When it comes to Provascin®, I simply take it three times daily with food.  In order to make the most of my supplement regime, I treat it just like training and ensure consistency, but I don’t fret if I miss a dose or two.

Remember, supplementation is just like exercise and training – it is best to support your well-being with a good variety of healthy and smart choices.


References

Chen, S. Z. (2010, May 16). Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Retrieved from Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110835/

Fukai, T. a.-F. (2011, September 15). Superoxide Dismutases: Role in Redox Signaling, Vascular Function, and Diseases. Retrieved from Antioxidants & Redox Signaling: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151424/

Break of Dawn: Calisthenics before Breakfast

Have you ever intended to work out in the afternoon or evening but wound up getting bummed out because you didn’t get the chance to exercise?

Or do you have a tough time getting started in the morning and feel sluggish throughout your day?

If the answer is yes and you want to promote brain function, improve focus, creativity and, above all, boost energy and your metabolism to help you burn more body fat throughout the rest of your day, I highly recommend you make time for a quick 15-30 minute calisthenic session first thing every morning.

If you already do your main workout in the morning, substitute this series of calisthenics on days when you don’t have time to go to the gym or boost your fitness by simply adding it in after work or while you’re on the road and in a hotel.

Making a short bodyweight workout part of your morning routine will have you feeling great. Moreover, it guarantees that you’ve done something active to build your health each day.

One of the greatest advantages of body-weight training is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, and there are a lot of exercises you can choose from to strengthen your entire body.

The three most essential movements for building strength and muscle with bodyweight training are push-ups, pull-ups, and squats.

Here are some basic calisthenics exercises to start with 3 to 5 rounds of 5-10 reps:

  • Negative Chins / Pull-ups –essential to strengthen your back and arms.
  • Pushups /Bar Push-ups – to build strong chest and triceps muscles and condition your core and shoulders.
  • Deep Squats & Lunges – to strengthen your legs and glutes.
  • Various dips – slow negatives will strengthen your whole upper-body.
  • Tucked L-sit & Leg raises will strengthen essential core muscles.
  • Rest: Plank 30-60 seconds between rounds.

Perform the workout upon rising, before you have anything solid to eat. Without a food energy source your body will look to your stored body fat for energy. If you are already quite lean, you can add a coffee and pre-workout BCAA’s with some lemon water to support lean muscle. After your morning workout, be sure to refuel with a healthy breakfast!

Get Fit for Less

Three Budget-friendly Home Fitness Tools!

It doesn’t take much to get in shape; as long as you commit to doing it.

It also doesn’t have to cost too much to make a positive contribution to your fitness routine.

Here are three pieces of equipment that you can find at most hardware stores across the country for less than $40 to get you started on your own home workout plan (for illustrative purposes, I’m using examples and pricing from items available at Home Depot).

Dowel
$2 to $7

dowelA 4-ft (122 cm) long, 1-in (2.5 cm) diameter wooden or PVC dowel.*A broomstick without the brush will also work. You can use a dowel for:

Overhead squats: hold the dowel overhead as you squat to work legs and buttocks, and scapular and core stabilization.

For standing twists: hold the dowel behind your head below your neck on your trapezius muscle with arms extended holding wider than shoulder width and twist your waist side to side to work obliques.

For side bends: hold it overhead and bend at the sides to work oblique.

You can also use it vertically for balance when doing lunges, dead lifts and squats.

Gliding disks
$11.95 each

gliderFour-inch gliders allow a homeowner to slide furniture and objects around with ease. Gliders can be used under household furniture, book cases, sofas, appliances, large beds, and cabinets. For your fitness program these are seriously fun and seriously heart pumping, gliding disks can really make you sweat. With these round plastic discs that slide easily on a smooth floor surface, you can do:

Lunges: including side and reverse lunges, allowing your feet to glide as you bring your body up and down which really isolates your front leg glute and hamstring.

Speed-skaters: Bend over like a speed skater and propel your body from side to side with your arms and legs to get a totally body cardio burn.

Core pushups:  Slide your hands together and apart, using your abs to keep you up.

Hip Thruster Ab Tucks: Place your feet on the discs while in a high plank position, use your core to tuck your knees toward your elbows and back out to starting position to strengthen your entire core strength.

Bungee Cord with Super Duty Carabiner
$6

carabinerAny exercise you can do with free weights you can do with tubing. A bungee cord is lightweight and perfect to take when traveling since it won’t weigh down your suitcase. The carabiner ends allow you to attach handles for $7 to triple its versatility.

How to use it:

Tubing squats: Stand on the tubing with feet shoulder width apart, while holding the handles. Keep your back straight, look forward, and lower your body as if you’re about to sit into a chair. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, squeeze your glutes to stand back up.  The tubing will add resistance to target the legs and glutes.

handleRows: wrap the tubing around a pillar or banister or another fixed object. Stand facing the tubing and grip the handles so your palms face in. Keep your back straight and retract your shoulder blades as you pull the tubing to your hips. This will target your back, shoulders and arms. You can intensify this exercise by sitting in a squatted position to target quads, glutes and core to the upper body burn.

Presses: Attach two handles to the end carabiners and wrap the tubing around a pillar or banister or another fixed object. With your back to the tubing, palms facing down, have your elbows out and press the tubing forward like a chest press. You can parallel the palms for an open armed chest fly variation.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to get in shape, as long as you commit to doing it. So head to your local hardware store and get started today!

 

Overload Your Progress

There are many different programs and methods of training out there that promise muscle growth. To continually make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance you must continually lift more and make your muscles work harder than they are used to. If you don’t, your muscles will not become any stronger or bigger than they currently are. One of the most effective ways to stimulate muscle hypertrophy is through Progressive Tension Overload

5 Ways To Create Progressive Overload

1. Increase Resistance

Progressively increase the weight you lift, as you become stronger the weight will become easier. Be sure to increase the resistance when you are able to perform more than your target reps.

2. Increase Sets

Increase the number of sets you perform for a given exercise. For example, if you normally do two or three sets of your set amount of reps increase to four to six sets for up to eight weeks to really fatigue the muscle.

3. Increase Repetitions

Increase the number of repetitions you perform and push yourself to do one or two more reps on each set. If you are able to get the extra reps completely by yourself and it is higher than your target rep range then you know it’s time to increase the resistance and use the help of a spotter if necessary.

4. Increase Frequency

The common approach to a body building style-training program is to train a muscle or muscle group once a week while cycling in a rest day. This method may not be effective to make continual gains for someone who recovers quickly.  It’s important to listen to your body to make sure that the muscles have had enough time to recuperate between training sessions before increasing frequency although every once in a while train muscles before they are fully recovered in order to shock them and keep them guessing can help stimulate hypotrophy.

5. Decrease Rest Time

Decreasing the rest time between consecutive sets will force your body to adapt metabolically by removing toxins and other byproducts of anaerobic exercise faster. Over time you will be able to lift more in less time.

The principle of overload is that a greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take place. Once the body has adapted to the first stimulus a different stimulus is required to achieve progressive growth in power, endurance, strength or muscle mass.  If you remove or decrease your exercise intensity a decrease in that particular component of fitness will result.

Make Fitness a Habit with Nano Workouts

When you can’t find the time to do a traditional workout at the gym or group fitness class or CrossFit session you can work in a Nano workout! What is a Nano Workout? A Nano workout is a small amount of exercise multiplied many times throughout the day. Nano workouts are not a fitness program per se, but they are effective methods for achieving a more active lifestyle to complement more intense workout sessions and make staying fit a habit!

Here are 3 Nano moves to do before you even leave your house:

Calf Raises

Strong fit calves don’t just look great; they are also good for mobility, stability and posture. If you have a job where you spend a lot of time sitting down, it’s important to exercise and stretch your calves with Calf Raises to avoid tense muscles.

To execute this move simply roll out of bed, place your feet on the floor and raise your heals off the floor as high as you can. Stay in the elevated position for a half second before lowering. Repeat the desired numbers of times. Place an acupressure mat under your feet to improve circulation, increase energy level, reduce blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate headaches, relieve tension and muscle aches, reduce cortisol levels, improve skin complexion and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Air Squats

The bathroom might sound like an unorthodox place to workout, but did you know that on average, women spend almost five full days in the bathroom each year, for men it’s slightly less, but both use the bathroom several times throughout the day so if you make it a habit to do just one exercise each time you go, it will add up to some massive workout time. For instance, if you do Air Squats at the sink while brushing your teeth, which takes on average two minutes, twice per day, your toothbrush workouts will add up to more than 24 hours in a year!

Stomach Vacuum

Strong core muscles help with overall mobility and posture and who doesn’t like having a nice flat tummy? A great abs toner that you can do anywhere is the Stomach Vacuum. To execute this move just suck in your stomach to engage your abs. Imagine your belly button touching your spine and keep your abs tensed for about 60 seconds as you are walking before relaxing them. Repeat throughout the day and remember to breathe normally, don’t hold your breath.

Do these 3 Nano moves to help make fitness a habit during everyday activities!

Make Every Second Count with Tempo Training

Tempo training is an awesome way to make every second of your workout count. Different tempo prescriptions provide greater training variety and stimulus, which means fewer plateaus and more strength gains. A tempo prescription is usually listed after the reps and sets of an exercise as a series of four numbers that represent the time it should take to complete the four stages of a lift. 

The First Number refers to the lowering (eccentric) phase of the lift. 

The Second Number refers to the amount of time spent in the bottom position of the lift – the point in which the lift transitions from lowering to ascending. 

The Third Number refers to ascending (concentric) phase of the lift – the amount of time it takes you to get to the top of the lift. 

The Fourth Number refers to how long you should pause at the top of the lift.  

If you are given a 4220-tempo prescription for a set of squats you want to ensure that your 4-second count doesn’t take 2 seconds to count when things get tough. Proper counting technique to practice is verbally counting out one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand…yes it will burn!

Proper tempo prescriptions can help athletes develop a stronger mind muscle connection by giving them an opportunity to “feel” which muscle groups are activating through the four stages of each lift. Tempo training can be beneficial for all types of athletes. CrossFit for example, most often pushes athletes to the limits with maximal effort lifts and workouts, slowing down movements with tempo prescriptions allows for a greater amount of time under tension with less overall stress on the central nervous system, this allows athletes safe strength gains to support their workout of the day. 

If you are looking to increase your training results I encourage you to try implementing tempo training into your program for 4-8 weeks to experience the benefits. If you’re not sure how to create tempo program for your specific needs, please shoot me an email and inquire about online coaching programs. 

Clearing Up the Confusion Around Cardio

Whether you love it or hate it, the truth is most people start their fitness journey with cardio workouts and ponder the question:  “How much and what kind of cardio should I do?”

I can’t tell you how many hours of cardio I have done over the past year, let alone my entire fitness career.  Simply put: Cardio has become a habit for me. I didn’t always enjoy doing hours of it when prepping for competition, but that’s because I didn’t know then what I know now. I have experimented with hundreds of different cardio prescriptions — both in my own training and with clients for almost 20 years — so let me just say, I know a few things about what works and what wears you out!

As with any personalized training program, each person has different needs and therefore different cardio prescriptions that will work best for them. There are, however, some golden rules that work if you want to decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass.

The good news is you want to do less of more and more of less. What I mean by that is, you will lose more fat and build more muscle by doing short burst and intense interval sessions rather than long, slow, boring machine cardio sessions.

I always recommend that you do your cardio after lifting weights or, if you’re able to train twice per day, in a separate session.  This will ensure you get maximum strength gains which will increase your lean muscle mass, which in turn will increase your BMR (Body Mass Ratio). In English, that means you’ll burn more calories, even when you’re not at the gym!

One negative effect of aerobic training — more so than weight lifting — is that it produces high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Too much cortisol post-workout will interfere with lean muscle gain and actually increase body fat.  So unless your goal is to be skinny fat or to increase your fatness, I do not recommend “hamster wheel” cardio for hours on a machine like a drone.

If you get on a treadmill while hanging onto the handle bars or get on an elliptical and go for an hour while watching TV or reading a book and not even break a sweat, you are not getting the most out of your minutes. The only time I would say it’s best to do low intensity cardio is if the person is severely obese and just starting a workout routine. Once you are in the routine of working out, cardiovascular conditioning requires you to challenge the heart and lungs, which makes interval training the way to go!

The truth is that proper nutrition accounts for more than 80% of your weight management results. So when it comes to cardio prescriptions, optimal fat loss can be achieved with a sensible nutritional plan and interval sessions that are 20-40 minutes 3-6 days per week.

The Peak Performance Creed

Peak performance in life isn’t about succeeding all the time or always being happy. It’s truly about doing the best that you can with what you have right now.

Peak performers are not necessarily the most talented. They just are just more committed to be their best every single day. There will be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do. One of the biggest differences between an average athlete and an elite athlete is that the elite “do” what most other athletes “wish” or “hope” for. Continue reading

Cleansing the body through exercise

If you have spent time in a heath food or supplement store — or a grocery store that carries vitamins — then you have likely stopped in front of the shelf featuring “cleanses and detoxes”. Cleansing and detoxing are staples in the campaign towards optimal health and wellness and it is intriguing to think about all the “stuff” that must build up in our bodies due to all the toxins we are exposed to.

Yet it’s important to back up one step and ask “what is a toxin?” Continue reading

Why Suffer When You Don’t Have To?

If you’ve ever busted your butt in the gym, chances are you have woken up the next morning and skipped washing your hair in the shower because your muscles were too sore to lift your arms. This can also happen if you’re new to gym workouts.

I’ll be the first to admit the self-satisfaction I gain from experiencing “good pain” muscle soreness following a great workout, but never should it be to the point where you can’t move for days.

Muscle hypotrophy occurs in the recovery phase, so you want to ensure you prime that time. If your muscle recovery takes more than 48 hours, you may need more water, sleep, quality nutrients or an adjustment to your workout routine. Among those adjustments are decreasing the intensity and increasing the frequency of your sessions to promote quicker muscle recovery.

The popular theory in the fitness world is that soreness is caused by the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. That is partly true, especially during the workout. After the workout, however, it’s more a case of post micro tears in the myofibrils of the worked muscles that cause soreness. The faster you can get past soreness, the sooner you can effectively hit them again with a workout and the faster you’ll grow. Muscle soreness shouldn’t be your badge of honour. Quick recovery should be.

You’re probably thinking: “What’s the best way to overcome muscle soreness?” Well, for starters, staying hydrated is the cheapest, easiest way there is to maximize your performance in the gym and afterwards. In addition to a balanced nutrition plan, I also recommend movement to increase circulation and quality sleep to allow cell restoration.

When it comes to supplementation, PURICA RECOVERY – developed for whole body health and pain relief — provides effective relief to people dealing with sore joints and muscles. It is a great ongoing supplement for athletes who want to inhibit cellular damage, decrease inflammation and increase the cells’ ability to absorb important hormones. My #1 recommendation for topical treatment is Arnica gel or cream.

Train hard. Eat clean. Recover then repeat. By applying these principles, you’ll be well on your way to faster and greater results. Enjoy the new growth!

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