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What can I do to improve strength training performance?

One of the most important components of training consistency is of course actually making progress. If you’re not making progress it will be very difficult to stay motivated over the long run or even the short run. Enjoying the process is crucial as well and one of the main reasons why so many aspiring trainees fall off every year is they hate the process and don’t see results fast enough.  While you will definitely enjoy the process more with improved training performance if you don’t enjoy strength training don’t expect to last long enough to realize the numerous benefits. Not just in getting stronger, but physique composition benefits, improved brain health, and more energy to enjoy life.

That said, one area where many fall short is optimal nutrition. Especially pre-workout nutrition which is not just the meal you have a few hours before training. What you eat the night before a workout is also very important and provides fuel for training the next day. Especially if you train in the morning in a fasted state or practice some form of intermittent fasting. if I don’t eat enough nutrition the night before a tough workout, I feel the negative repercussions the next day regardless of what I have before training. I have been plant-based for over twenty-five years so an example of a high-quality dinner I enjoy is two cups of garbanzo beans, mushrooms, zucchini, baby spinach, marinara sauce, and some spices. Once the meal is cooked I add a few tablespoons of pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds. This provides a nice balance of protein, healthy fats, low glycemic carbohydrates, and micronutrients such as zinc and magnesium to support hormone optimization. Sample meals at Plant based power meals

Next, on the day of the actual training session, I always have a protein shake two hours before training. This consists of around 30 grams of plant-based protein powder such as Vega, 14 grams of fat from hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and peanut butter, and around 45 grams of carbohydrates from frozen fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, acai, and mango. To supercharge the power shake I also add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. For optimal digestion, I take my time consuming the power shake over the course of an hour. Many make the mistake of eating way too fast or just downing a protein shake as fast as possible. In addition to very poor food choices, eating too quickly often results in gut issues and may require you to walk around with a Lysol can to avoid offending anyone in your proximity.  Anyway, the power shake has a nice balance of macronutrients and is rich in micronutrients and polyphenols to get the mind and body primed for a productive training session. No crashing halfway through a workout or even worse going into a training session in a fatigued state.

Pre-workout supplementation can also be utilized thirty minutes to an hour before training to enhance performance. I have a pre-workout supplement called Overpower which will be out later this year. It is stimulant free and stacked with high-quality ingredients to improve neurotransmitter production of dopamine and acetylcholine as well as nitric oxide levels. Some of the ingredients include tyrosine, acetyl-carnitine, Alpha GPC, and citrulline. More info will be available when the Overpower is in stock. Overpower stacks very well with ASTB and RED for the ultimate pre-workout supplementation. 

If supplements are not your thing, you can also enjoy a cup of coffee, black tea, or green tea about an hour before training for a boost. Too much caffeine can have a deleterious effect on training performance so don’t overdo it. I am not a fan of any pre-workout supplement that is high in stimulants which is just about all of the options on the market right now. I don’t want my heart rate through the roof going into a workout and the overproduction of adrenaline will only result in a major crash later on the day. Even if you achieve an enhanced training session, your levels of fatigue will be much higher later in the day then they would have been without consuming the stimulants before training.

Joint mobility and ramp-up sets are also a must to prime the body and mind for an intense training session. Both also help with avoiding injuries or strains. I do Joint Mobility work early in the day before heading to the gym so once I am there I only need to do a few ramp-up sets before reaching the intense sets. An example of a ramp-up set progression is the following from a recent deadlift workout: 1x3x135lbs, 1x3x225lbs, 1x3x315lbs, 1x3x405lbs, 3x3x500lbs. Many trainees make the mistake of doing high rep warm-up sets before low rep intense strength training sets. If you’re working up to heavy work in the three rep range no need to waste energy on high reps beforehand. Doing some ballistic work before grinds also helps fire up the nervous system. Heavy double kettlebell swings in the five rep range or box jumps in the three rep range are my go-to moves for this purpose.

Finally, optimal sleep is a must for long-term training progress. Without optimal sleep, your recovery abilities will be severely compromised. Sleep-deprived people almost always look older than they are and you may have the illusion of getting away with it in the short run from the adrenaline boost that comes with sleep deprivation and over-consuming stimulants. However, eventually you’re going to crash hard and it is not going to be a pretty state. It can take a long time to get back to a balanced state after riding the adrenaline wave for an extended period of time. Turn off the TV a few hours before bedtime, turn off your computer, and put your smartphone away. No wasting time on social media looking at selfies all night or engaging in moronic debates with people you will never meet in real life. Instead, read for a while, meditate, or just sit and do nothing for fifteen minutes to quiet the mind so when you go to sleep you’re not tossing and turning all night. Take some magnesium before bedtime along with 5-HTTP and melatonin if needed. Once you have made sleep a priority for a while, expect big dividends in training progress.


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