The Short Scoop on Supplements – Part I

The Short Scoop on Supplements – Part I

Use of supplements is a huge topic to address, as you can probably guess from taking a glance at the aisles of your local vitamin shop, pharmacy or natural grocer store. Not to mention that the supplement business is over a $20 billion dollar industry in the U.S.! Are you taking a supplement?  My guess is that most of you reading this use some form of supplementation.  Are you aware of the different kinds of supplements? If not, let us briefly review the three main categories: dietary – These are designed to enhance general health and to prevent or treat nutrient deficiencies. Examples of these include:  fish oils, iron, calcium, multivitamins, and probiotics. sport – Your sports nutrition products fall into this category and include gels, chews, bloks, beans, electrolytes, and sports drinks. ergogenic – These supplements claim to provide a performance-enhancing benefit, a few of which may be supported by valid scientific studies while the majority of these supplements may be hype or tested quite minimally. Some of the more popular and well-researched ergogenic aids include caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine. Now that we have established the types of supplements and you are able to identify what types you take, an important question to ask yourself for each one is “Why do I take this?”.  Particularly for dietary supplements, I find most athletes cannot answer this question confidently or we find the supplement may not do what it is purported to do. Additionally, many supplements are not necessary with a high quality daily nutrition plan which is customized to the athlete’s unique needs. Other important questions to ask regarding...

Strength training: exercises that pack a punch

Maintaining strength is important for both runners and triathletes. Off-season training is a great time to focus on increasing total body strength. As the holidays approach, we all get busier, and strength training sometimes gets put on the back burner. Looking ahead to next season can help increase motivation to work on strength. Stronger, balanced muscles decrease injury risk and increase performance. In between training cycles is a great time to zero in on correcting imbalances in the body and building a strong foundation for next race season. There are so many exercises we can do. It can be hard to know which ones are right. You coach can pinpoint specific exercises which will be right for you. As runners and triathletes, we are always thinking about efficiency. And as time gets tight during the holidays, here is a list of exercises which provide a lot of “bang for your buck.” 1) Push-ups. Push-ups are versatile, can be done anywhere, no weights required. Push-ups work the chest, shoulders, arm and core. They are great for any level of fitness. Beginners can start building strength with wall or knee push-ups. Proper form is important. Keep the core engaged. Here’s where the versatility comes in. Work up from the standard position to diamond push-ups, fingertip, plyometric and one-handed (to name a few). Vary how you do them. For example, one day do as many as you can in 60 seconds. Next time try a more difficult position, and do 3 sets of 15 with 30 seconds rest in between. You will be amazed at how quickly you improve. 2) Plank. Plank...