I have trouble winding down at the end of the day which in turn has a negative impact on sleep quality. Do you have any recommendations?
This is usually a problem for people that take stimulants such as coffee, pre-workout drinks, energy drinks, etc too late in the day. Make sure to avoid taking any stimulants within six hours of bedtime. In addition, individuals with Type A personalities tend to have a hard time shutting off at the end of the day. The following advice will be useful to stimulant addicts and Type A personality folks as well.
One very effective tip is one I picked up from top strength coach Charles Poliquin a few years ago. Charles recommends two grams of the amino acid theanine in the evening to wind down and reduce cortisol.
Theanine is also fantastic post-workout to reduce cortisol and get into restoration mode. Charles states cortisol should be high going into a workout for maximum performance and then reducing cortisol right after training is a must to promote recovery. Thus, a strong cup of coffee thirty minutes before training is an effective method to raise cortisol and then consuming two grams of theanine post-workout is effective to bring down cortisol. On a side note taking cortisol lowering supplements such as Phosphatidylserine pre-workout is a big mistake for the reasons already mentioned. However, it is also another effective option to lower cortisol post-workout or in the evening.
For improving sleep quality, my Aggressive Strength Recovery Oil
is very effective to get into a relaxed state and induce deep sleep. It is loaded with magnesium, zinc, and MSM which in addition to improving sleep quality, will also improve workout recovery.
Magnesium is a critical mineral for optimal DHEA, insulin sensitivity, and free testosterone. Zinc is paramount for ideal testosterone levels and also helps block conversion of testosterone into estrogen. MSM helps with the absorption of both minerals and is also fantastic for reducing inflammation. It can be applied to any pain site for relief as well.
Have you heard of the Coan deadlift program?
Yes, I have and I have used it a few times. It is a great program! However, I recommend that first-time users drop all of the accessory movements and just complete the deadlift portion of the regimen. Doing stiff-legged deadlifts, bent-over rows, and lat pulldowns after completing several sets of deadlift work will be too much for most trainees and will take away from the deadlift results in my opinion.
Another great program for improving the deadlift is one Matt Kroc has at t-nation: https://www.t-nation.com/training/simple-deadlift-program
I completed Matt’s program a few days ago and hit a PR of 545lbs. The rep was smooth and free of sticking points. I feel confident I can complete 555lbs. However, I am going to take a week off and then complete another cycle of Matt’s program and go for 570lbs.
The program also works very well for improving the barbell squat. I do deadlifts once a week and squats once a week using Matt’s program for both exercises and it is very effective and not time-consuming at all.
What kind of music do you listen to while training?
I am a big music fan in general and listen to a wide variety of music. However, when it comes to training, I really enjoy listening to very aggressive music such as Madball, NAILS, Converge, Trapped Under Ice, Take Offense, Merauder, Harm’s Way, Kublai Khan, Soulfly, and Soilwork to name a few.