Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function

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Adaptogens are phytonutrients that have the ability to help your body adapt under physiological stress. These phytonutrients are herbs that contain phytochemicals. Adaptogens can also be defined as a pharmacotherapeutic group of herbal preparations used to increase attention and endurance during fatigue. Furthermore they can help to prevent, mitigate or reduce stress induced impairments and disorders related to neuroendocrine and immune systems (Bagchi, et. al., 2013)

Stress, especially chronic stress, is associated with increased inflammation, and other body responses, all of which are adversely related to cellular aging. Mushrooms have been studied numerous times for their adaptogenic abilities during times of stress and immune system stimulation. Mushrooms have a long history of treatment for a number of ailments. The benefits are endless but as adaptogens, they help the body maintain proper balance. This may help those who are in a high stress environment or facing other complications such as sleep deprivation or fatigue. Mushrooms come in many forms but some of the most beneficial ones are: Reishi, Shitake, Moral, Maca and Cordyceps.

  1. Reishi, Shitake

Reishi is known for its immune stimulating properties by way of increasing production of leukocytes (white blood cells), thus strengthening the immune system. Reishi is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which promote longevity and resilience. In addition to that, other benefits include reducing viral infections and anxiety. Shitake have some similar benefits to reishi that enhance immunity and slow aging; it is also an excellent source of Vitamin D2 and has capabilities to adapt to stress form work or other daily life activities.

  1. Maca

Maca is one of the most powerful mushroom types because of its proven health benefits. This adaptogen contains phytochemical power to help relieve anxiety and tension. Maca is also a great source of calcium, vitamin C, amino acids, and healthy fats. It is typically sold in powder form, and can be easily added as a topping to yogurt and smoothies. Maca greatly benefits those who are lacking sleep and is very accessible for those looking to add into their diet.

  1. Cordyceps

Cordyceps are considered one of the best herbs for their ability to regulate homeostasis. This herb dates back to old Chinese history, where it was commonly eaten with soups. It’s most known for its antioxidant effects, reducing infections, fighting off stress, and increasing energy levels. Some studies have shown that it can prevent the growth of tumors in addition to reducing fatigue. (Zhen-yuan, et. al., 2012)

  1. Morel

Morel is widely hunted for because of its excellent taste. Similar to reishi, morels have a significant content of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which support the immune system. Moreover, morels have been shown to benefit respiratory function and promote a healthy GI tract. Additionally, they also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Those are in a high stress environment should consider adding morel to reduce cortisol levels (stress) and increase overall health benefits.

With the addition of proper sleep, exercise, stress-reducing techniques, and a balanced diet, we can optimize the quality of our life. Cordyceps as mentioned earlier can be advantageous for athletes. Supplement forms of different types of mushrooms are available. Furthermore, Laird Superfood has a mushroom blend in capsules and other forms of mushroom supplements for easy access.

In sports performance, athletes deal with physiological and physiological stress every day. Minimizing this can help improve performance.  A recent study has shown that adaptogens taken 1 hour prior to endurance exercise may increase lipolysis (breakdown of fat), reduce heart rate, reduce lactate concentration while maintaining good health (Wong, Bandyopadhyay, & Chen, 2011). These powerful phytonutrients are able capable of helping your body adapt to increased stress and reduce mental and physical fatigue. According to the University of Michigan Health Library, Cordyceps dosage of 3 to 9 grams taken twice daily as a liquid extract, as food, or as powdered extract, may support sports performance.

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 46

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

138 | Dane Miller | Country Boys Can Survive Hosted by Zach Even Esh

Everything You Need To Know To Write Incredible Programs By Nancy Newell

Assess And Correct Leg Dominance  By Jennifer Pilotti via Breaking Muscle

Should Your Personal Trainer Be Licensed? By Jeremy Lau via Halevy Life

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Himalayan Salt Lamps: Benefits and Myths By Helen West via Healthline

If it Fits With Your Micros: The Overlooked Key to Sports Performance By Zach Long

Restore Your Breathing and Improve Your Conditioning – Part 2 By Jim Smith

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

5 Advanced Squat Variations You Haven’t Tried By Meghan Callaway via Girls Gone Strong

Will Cardio Give Your Weight Training An Advantage?  By Dean Somerset

The Best Exercises You’re Not Doing for Shoulders – Cross Cable Flyes with “Y” Press  By Jim Smith

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

Freedom, fairness and equality By Seth Godin

The Salt Shaker Theory: 3 Principles of Effective Management By Mark Fisher via Business for Unicorns

 How to Set Boundaries with Clients By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

How to Fix Rounded Shoulders  By Annette Verpillot via Strength Sensei

The Science Behind Cryotherapy, Ice Baths, Fat-Loss and Recovery  By Kevin Masson via John Rusin

 

Research

The No Barbell Experiment On Squat And Deadlift And Hip Thrust Strength: The Results  By Bret Contreras

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Lecture Takeaways: Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function By John Matulevich

 

Lecture Takeaways: Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function

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Its easy to imagine how a lecture scheduled for 30 minutes, on a topic as encompassing as optimizing performance, could end up being an hour and 6-minute open-ended discussion. This is precisely what happened this past week at Bloomsburg University during our guest presentation on how Ruthless Performance trains individuals to achieve high performance.

The content of this lecture ranged from specific exercises to an exploration of the Central Nervous System; similarly, questions ranged from the efficacy of BCAA’s to proper running gait—all of which led to an extremely informative and productive talk, filled with content and subsequent questions.

Below is a summary of some of the most important takeaways from this lecture. Remember, human performance is a broad topic, but the information below meets some objective criteria for significance within the theories and practices we endorse at Ruthless Performance.

 

First, a Definition of Terms

Because there is not one set definition of ‘high performance’ across sports and fitness endeavors, let’s assume the definition is as follows: high performance is the ability to perform within the top 10% of your own ability within any fitness doctrine.

For a 5K runner, this means being able to run a 5K within a margin of 10% of your best time at your current state of training. Similarly, for a weightlifter, this means being able to Clean & Jerk or Snatch within 10% of your current capacity for a 1RM. This is not to dismiss linear periodization (though Ruthless Performance typically does shy away from this style) nor is this a sleight on tapering for a significant bout or competition.

During a high-mileage segment of a marathon runner’s training regimen, she may be outside of this 10% margin from a previous race or time. The 10% margin of performance as defined here is referring to a precise training state. In the case of the marathon runner, her ability to complete a half-marathon trial within 10% of her previous season’s high-mileage training cycle is what we are referring to. The closer the training variables are, the more applicable this rule becomes.

 

The Motivational Training Montage is Just the Icing on the Cake

The significance of training to perform is predicated on fundamental health and wellness practices. A 6-hour a day training program would get world-class athletes no where were it not for a broad base of fundamental behaviors.Basics of Health & Function

These behaviors are known universally at some intuitive level, but not always acted upon. What could be viewed as boring and frivolous can make the difference between 6 more weeks of training and 6 weeks of sitting out with the flu while your competition trains because you didn’t get a flu vaccination from your primary care provider.

A similar situation could be ignoring the necessity for injury care work and corrective exercise during the early onset stages of shoulder pain or movement dysfunction as presented in a movement screen. The examples here are limitless, suffice it to say that all of the traditional variables of wellness like sleep quality, nutrition, lifestyle stress, and on, are all predecessors to your ability to train and compete within our newly defined parameters of ‘high performance’.

 

More to Come…

This just grazes the surface of the lecture but provides valuable insights into some fundamentals of high performance. First, high performance must be defined; when a term is open-ended, its implications are only speculative and unattainable. Second, high performance is the sum of the boring but necessary components of life that makes an athlete healthy enough to train and compete within their specific doctrine.

As we continue to review the Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function lecture, we’ll cover nutrition for high performance, ‘anti-specificity training’, universally essential exercises, and the role of the central nervous system in high performance.

Have a question on this topic or want to train with Ruthless Performance? Contact us via email at info@RuthlessPerformance.com, RuthlessPerformance.com/contact, and be sure to follow us on social media at @RuthlessPerform on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 45

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

GGS Spotlight: Kim Lloyd via Girls Gone Strong

Often Overlooked Elements to Success in Personal Training By Dean Somerset

What Assessments Work Best?  By Dean Somerset via Mike Robertson

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

If Your Gym Membership Costs More Than Your Mortgage, You Don’t Care About Your Health, and Neither Do They By Lee Boyce

Top 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil via Healthline

Glutamine: Benefits, Uses and Side Effects  By Grant Tinsley via Healthline

Aging Is B.S. – The Myth Of Missed Opportunities By Amanda Allen via Breaking Muscle

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

WHY You MUST Be Able To Figure Things Out On Your OWN By Zach Even Esh

Mass That Works – Build Some Functional Hypertrophy By Charles Poliquin

Push Press Technique – Insights Into Athletic Ability By Zach Long

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

The four elements of entrepreneurship By Seth Godin

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Movement Variability versus Joint Centration By Charlie Weingroff

3 Things Causing Your Swimming Shoulder Pain By Erin Cameron via COR

How to Stop “Text Neck” from Killing You By Bo Babenko via Halevy Life

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Flexion vs. Extension Intolerant Back Pain By John Matulevich

 

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 44

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Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Performance Programming Principles: Installment 2  By Eric Cressey

The 3 Main Goals of an Assessment By Dean Somerset

Step-by-Step Glute Training By Mike Robertson

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Why You Might Not Need to Learn More About Nutrition By Mike Roussell

Carbohydrates – My Take on Carbs By Charles Poliquin

The Greatest Public Health Mistake of the 20th Century By Joseph Mercola

Honey Lemon Water: An Effective Remedy or Urban Myth? By Jillian Kubala via Health Line

7 Science-Based Health Benefits of Selenium By Jillian Kubala via Health Line

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Are You Making These Strength Training Mistakes By G John Mullen via COR

Complete Core Questions By Michael Boyle

Get Tough: A Beginner’s Guide To Impact Training By Walter Dorey via Breaking Muscle

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

The Power of Accepting Personal Responsibility By Jen Comas via Girls Gone Strong

Truth: Half of What We Call ‘Fitness’ Isn’t Fitness at All By Lee Boyce

Before you design a chart or infographic By Seth Godin

Don’t create new content. Repurpose content. By Sol Orwell

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

[VIDEO] Recent Training and Evaluation Insights By Charlie Weingroff

Research

Science Is Self-Correcting – The Case Of The Hip Thrust And Its Effects On Speed By Bret Contreras

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 43

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View the ‘Top Featured Fitness Content of 2017’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

If fitness is your identity, I offer my condolences By Lee Boyce

Squats don’t cure cancer By Martin Bingisser via HMMR Media

10 Keys to Growing as a Performance Coach By Joel Smith via Just Fly Sports

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

How to Read Junk Food Nutrition Labels By Elsbeth Vaino

Losing Bodyfat or Gaining Muscle Mass: Which is More Important? By Mark Rippetoe via Starting Strength

Reality Check: Is Your Workout Plan Designed to Actually Burn Fat? By Harold Gibbons via Mark Fisher Fitness

Detoxing, ReToxing, or Always-Toxing By Keoni Teta via Metabolic Effect

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Tip: The Rack Pull By Eric Bach via T-Nation

Can High Rep Lifting Replace Cardio For Lifters? By Greg Nuckols via Stronger by Science

Fitness Is So Simple It’s Complicated By Zach Even Esh

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

The Fight By Jim Smith

Market Toward One Audience and You’ll Enjoy the Perks of Many By Pete Dupuis

Gym Owner Musings – Installment #8 – Internship Edition By Pete Dupuis

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Thoughts on Kettlebell Swings  By Charlie Weingroff

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Flexion vs. Extension Intolerant Back Pain By John Matulevich via Ruthless Performance

Flexion vs. Extension Intolerant Back Pain

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Of the individuals that participate in either the Ruthless Performance Ex Phys Interventions or our Posture Restoration & Injury Prevention Training, there is no across-the-board origin of pain or movement dysfunction at the hip or low back; in fact, client training histories run the gamut in activity level, training history, limb length, and so on.

So what is the common denominator among individuals with low back pain?

In short, there isn’t one singular origin, but rather there are two.

The more frequent of which is extension intolerance. This is common among what we in the Strength & Conditioning world refer to as ‘desk jockeys’, or any individual who is regularly in a resting position of spinal flexion. This includes desk workers, individuals with extended work commutes, TV watchers, and so on… Given our societal predisposition to these patterns, it should be relatively straightforward as to why this is so common.

In opposition to this is flexion intolerance. This is common among highly active individuals such as weightlifters, american football players, backpackers, manual laborers, and so on.

Assessing which category you fall in can usually be done simply with the above information, however there are some easy to perform physical tests as well. A hip extension machine is a great tool for diagnosing the more common extension intolerant back pain. Simply perform a standard hip extension, from here take notice to your range of motion and comfort levels. To assess flexion-intolerant back pain, perform several repetitions of the traditional sit-up or crunch. From here, reevaluate pain, comfort, and ROM.  If a hip extension machine is unavailable, any exercise in which spinal extension occurs (or spinal flexion for the flexion intolerant assessment) can be used.

These tests in congruity can determine a great deal about the cause and symptoms of any dysfunctions or abnormalities in the spine. Oddly enough the solution for both of these issues starts with the same series of correctives…

To gain more mobility in the requisite spinal segments (for extension and flexion), start with rotational spinal mobility to help ensure that as these capacities develop, the movement is coming from the correct areas of the spine (primarily thoracic rather than lumbar). Some exercises and drills which may assist here are quadruped t-spines, cross-over stretch, russian med ball twists, and so on.

From here you can progress into more specific drills to focus on your specific type of intolerance (i.e. focusing more on adding range to spinal extension drills or vice versa).

Spinal health can be simplified into a system of mathematical averages; to regain extension, flexion, or even to maintain a more neutral spine, adequate steps need to be taken to pull the posture in that direction.

For more information on our Posture Restoration & Injury Prevention Training or the Ruthless Performance Ex Phys Interventions, send us a message at RuthlessPerformance.com/contact.

 

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 42

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

What is DOMS and How Do You Deal With It? via COR

Beyond Mastery: Kettlebell Flow Workout  By Karen Smith via Girls Gone Strong

Restore Your Breathing and Improve Your Conditioning via Diesel Strength

Coaching art & science  By Vern Gambetta via HMMR Media

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Could you be developing an autoimmune disease? By Buddy Touchinsky

The Hidden, Unspoken Dangers About Oral Contraceptives By Justin Janoska via Metabolic Effect

Does “low carb” have an official definition? By Kamal Patel via Examine

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

The Deadlift: 3 Reasons By Mark Rippetoe via Starting Strength

Tip: Movement Prep for Olympic Lifting By Wil Fleming via T-Nation

Tip: How to Bring Up a Weak Body Part By John Meadows T-Nation

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

Why The Easy Life Breeds Weakness In AND Out of The Gym By Zach Even Esh

6 Things Entrepreneurship Can Teach You About Fitness  By Mark Fisher via Mark Fisher Fitness

Discounts vs. Packages in Your Cash Practice By Aaron LeBauer via The OMPT

Seeing and believing By Seth Godin

3 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service, Starting Today  By Michael Keeler

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Life Lessons I Learned from My Physical Therapist  By Stella Kaufman via Mark Fisher Fitness

 

Research

Can supplemental vitamin D improve sleep? By Kamal Patel via Examine

Do high-carbohydrate diets increase the risk of death?  By Kamal Patel via Examine

What I Learned About Injury Rates from Surveying 1,900 Powerlifters By Andrew Patton via Stronger by Science

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Why Ruthless Performance Doesn’t Emphasize Energy System Training for Our Swimmers By John Matulevich via Ruthless Performance

Why Ruthless Performance Doesn’t Emphasize Energy System Training for Our Swimmers

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Outside of a handful of technological advances in competition suits and some isolated factions of coaches and athletes, the sport of swimming is largely stuck in a late 90’s – early 2000’s mentality; which is a generous approximation on my part, as the sport of swimming in the 90’s-00’s wasn’t all that much better from the handful of decades preceding it. This old school training mindset included a great emphasis on high yardage in the pool, followed by a big taper leading up to important and championship swim meets.

 

The high yardage/ big taper approach certainly has its applications, but much like how swimmers took the alleged 10,000+ kCal ‘Phelps Diet’ leading up to the 2008 Olympics as an excuse to overconsume and under-nourish with empty-nutrient and calorie-rich foods, braggadocios swim coaches have hijacked the good intent of high-yardage programs, and now misinformed coaches are globally vying for title of who can put their athletes through the most pain.

 

Since the semi-archaic idea of mega-yardage programs still have some merit, I’d like to focus dryland training, the dated and frequently perpetuated fallacies surrounding this, as well as what Ruthless Performance does with our swimmers and what other high-level programs are engaged in from a strength training perspective.

 

This well-known Ruthless Performance philosophy regarding dryland training for swimmers leads many concerned parents and swim coaches to ask the Ruthless Performance staff about our programs. Since swimming requires so much cardio, shouldn’t that be a main part of dryland training?

 

Simply put, no. But here’s the longer answer…

 

In the past, dryland training has mirrored pool-based training very closely. This would include ideas like distance running and other high intensity-based conditioning routines (and if you’re lucky, some lackadaisically performed, poorly designed rotator cuff band complexes). Not only is this additional energy system training unnecessary (during the in-season), but it can also be burdensome, ineffective, and at worst, harmful to performance.

 

One of the main reasons we don’t program a large amount of energy system training in our swimmers’ training programs is because of the sheer volume of energy system work that swimmers get while in the pool. Most swimmers can get through a large part of the warm-up without realizing that they are engaging in conditioning already. Add the various work sets done through a workout, and then repeated on a nearly daily basis, and you have a recipe for fantastic cardiopulmonary function and sport-specific energy-system development.

The problem is that coaches too frequently confuse the cardiovascular demands of the sport of swimming with the cardiovascular demands of swim practice.

Running is one such frequently assigned dryland activity for swimmers, used as a means of developing cardiovascular function. This is in part, due to the perception that swimming is a sport which requires a lot of cardio—which it does. The problem is that coaches too frequently confuse the cardiovascular demands of the sport of swimming with the cardiovascular demands of swim practice.

 

Adding more conditioning work on top of what is done in practice is simply providing an athletes cardiovascular system with diminishing marginal returns on ability to practice; this is largely ineffective because of how quickly the cardiovascular system responds and adapts to training stimuli. A few weeks of pre-season practice and a base level of cardiovascular function is restored to the point where an athlete can successfully compete at meets and return to more rigorous in-season training. Since most events are over in less than two minutes, this style of dryland training can become redundant and inefficient.

 

Adding running or various other conditioning modalities on top of traditional in-pool training can yield greater performance; just not as great as swimming performance could be if we focused on some other modalities and training tools. This is a conversation for another day entirely, but all of the strength-based training that we have our swimmers perform help in a variety of ways. Our strength training does, in fact, enhance energy system capacities, specifically the phosphocreatine (quick anaerobic energy system pathway). This is the system which leads to faster starts, quick turns, breakouts, and even negative splits in distance events.

 

All this to say that strength training with minimal traditional cardiovascular input is the primary way we train our athletes and for good reason. Rather than simply packing on additional volume of similar work, we are building up muscles which help prevent overuse injuries, minimizing the impact of training stressors, improve reaction time, coordination, catch in the water and so on. This allows athletes the opportunity to train more optimally in the pool, which is the primary vessel for developing skill-specific capacities in swimmers.