coaching

Ruthless Performer Q&A – Elite Sports Nutrition with Jesse Rodriguez R.D.

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Today’s Q&A guest is our own sports nutritionist Jesse Rodriguez. Jesse has his own prolific history as a national-level swimmer for El Salvador and here in the United States competing in college and post-graduate for the University of Southern California. This all makes Jesse a world-class resource as not many people have competed at this level at any sport. With this background, plus his vast time spent in academia studying nutrition, interning with top sports teams, and the clinical work necessary for his Registered Dietitian status, we’re glad to have him on-board.

1. There are lots of people working with nutrition in some capacity, what sets you apart?

Firstly, I’m a licensed registered dietitian which means I went though extensive schooling and professional training. Secondly, I was an athlete for the majority of my life and I began studying/applying nutrition since I was 16. Lastly, I continue to read and study a lot! Mostly on clinical, biochemistry and sports nutrition research articles. Overall, I’ve been in this game for a long time and still aiming to be well-rounded in all elements of nutrition. (Editor’s Note: You read more about the difference between a Nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian here) 

2. Given your personal and prolific history as a swimmer, you’re uniquely qualified to critique high-level sports nutrition, particularly in swimming. What are athletes doing right with their diet? What are they doing wrong?

Nutrition in sports has gained more popularity over the years and many athletes found the benefits of fueling appropriately. I’ve noticed that more athletes know about nutrient timing, and the importance of including carbs as fuel and protein for recovery. I think that many athletes know how to fuel around training times but during other times (i.e. dinner at home or restaurant), they tend to lack in nutritional knowledge. A lot of athletes still eat junk food throughout the day, maybe because they feel they can get away with it or something, but that’s our job as sports dietitians to correct. Additionally, building the appropriate plate according to their goals (i.e. body composition, better recovery) seems to be a problem along with maintaining hydration. Here’s an article I’ve written on RuthlessPerformance.com on this is. 

3. Supplement must-do’s… What supplements (if any) are generally worth taking? What supplements are a scam?

Supplements for athletes typically aren’t necessary since athletes are eating more than the general population but it all depends on the athlete. Supplements would be necessary if an athlete is deficient in a nutrient like Iron or Vitamin D. Athletes following special diets like the vegan diet may need to supplement as well. As far as supplements for performance, the most studied and useful would be: Caffeine, Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Nitrates, and Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda). It’s hard to say which supplements are a scam because they’re so many in the market and it can vary due to individual responses to them. With that being said, it’s important to make sure if you’re going to take supplements, that they’re 3rd party certified by organizations like the NSF.

4. You’ve gone pretty far in your journey through academia… With the emphasis of studies, objectivity, and research in academia there is still surprisingly lots of room for subjectivity and interpretations of results and outcomes. What are your thoughts on this? What can be done to fix or improve nutrition science?

Correct, I think there is always room for development in the field so it’s my job to follow along and stay up to date with the latest research. This for me is actually fun because I enjoy reading research papers and learning to new things. The science of nutrition can be very complex and as of now, I don’t have any solutions. I think that the correct messages (evidence-based results) need to be sent out to the general public so myths can be debunked. It’s more about nutrition education than anything at the moment.

5. From a more general standpoint, the headlines regarding nutrition are changing on a damn near daily basis. What elements of sports nutrition do you think are firmly established? What rules of nutrition have outlasted the scandalous and salacious headlines?

Hydration, nutrient timing, and recovery nutrition seems to be the foundation. There will always be a new thing that comes out, but those three are firmly established. Individualized nutrition is fundamental in sports nutrition and I think that will outlast any headline or diet (i.e keto diet, intermittent fasting, etc). I also think that sticking to the basics, such as nutrition from food rather than living off smoothies and supplements for example, will always have the edge. Of course, going back to supplements, this will depend on the individual’s status.

6. Where does sports nutrition go from here? What do you think we’ll be seeing in the coming years regarding nutrition? Gut health seems to be a hot topic as of late, what are your opinions on this? What should nutrition scientists place more emphasis on?

The basics of sports nutrition will remain the same and to be honest, I don’t see anything revolutionary coming soon. However, they’re new things coming along such as nutrigenomics and the importance of gut health, antioxidants, and periodizing nutrition which looks promising. Gut health has been popular lately and for good reason.  Because of the gut and brain connection, I feel it’s important to treat your gut right just like most want to treat their blood sugar levels right. I think emphasis should be placed on education and sending the correct messages to athletes and the public. Researchers are doing a great job in nutritional science but there hasn’t been anything lately that can change the whole world of nutrition and its effect on humanity. If we can do this, that will be the next revolutionary thing.

 

**Editor’s Note: Jesse will also be featured on ‘Healthy Habits with Dr. T’ on Wednesday, Oct. 17th at 7:00 PM EST, we’ll post all of the details for event pre-registration and where to view it on our Twitter and Instagram.**

 

Want to learn more about Jesse or our various nutritional programs and consultations? Fill out the form below to get started!

 

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 48

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

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Does Shaving Improve Swimming Performance? By Allan Phillips via Swimming Science

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

The 12 Most Effective Ways to Spark the Recovery Process By John Rusin

Are Nightshade Vegetables Bad for You? An Evidence-Based Look By Kimberly Yawitz via Diet vs. Disease

How Much Fish Oil Is Too Much? Via Strength Sensei

Carrageenan: Friend or Foe? By Nicole Spear via Strength Sensei

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Breaking Down the Depth Jump By Nancy Newell

7 Exercises Lost to the ’80s By Skip Hill via EliteFTS

Everything Lateral Lunges By Erica Suter

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

A Quick and Dirty System for Goal Setting: A Done-For-You 60 Minute Workshop To Live An Intentional Life By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Posture By Vern Gambetta via HMMR Media

 

Research

Hyperoxia Improves Swimming Performance By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Ruthless Performance Guide to Mineral Supplementation By Jesse Rodriguez via Ruthless Performance

Internal Program Review: Collegiate Swimmer Off-Season Strength & Conditioning Program – Day 1 By John Matulevich via Ruthless Performance

Internal Program Review: Collegiate Swimmer Off-Season Strength & Conditioning Program – Day 1

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The strength and conditioning community is far too fractioned; proprietary training programs and secrecy hide the inner workings of many sports performance coaching theories and facilities. At Ruthless Performance, we find this idea entirely backwards—this mentality is a sign of some fragile egos and insecurity within the industry. To do our part in mitigating this, we’re going to start a new on-going series where we’ll deconstruct some aspect of a selected program from one of our Ruthless Performers. Hopefully this will help coaches and athletes get a better idea of programming and the science of sports performance, regardless of their affiliation with Ruthless Performance.

Our inaugural installment of our Internal Program Review begins with a look at Day 1 of a male, college swimmer’s dryland training program. First, we’ll provide some context…

This swimmer is in between the freshman and sophomore season of his collegiate swimming career. Currently, we’re training him 5x per week. Most workouts have their own day of the week, but occasionally he’ll do doubles if schedule conflicts are present.

As you can see in the figure, his programming is currently changing every 4 weeks and his workout week can most easily be broken down as follows, note that each day is not specifically ‘upper’ or ‘lower’ but rather these ideas denote the dominant exercises for that particular day:Internal Program Review-1

Day 1 – Lower Body

Day 2 – Upper Body

Day 3 – Conditioning

Day 4 – Upper Body

Day 5 – Lower Body

For our Internal Program Review, we’ll examine day 1…

 

1. Box Squat

More than 80% of athletes that we see on a regular basis have some box squat variant somewhere in their training macrocycle, usually this is on a recurring basis as well. The box squat provides a variety of benefits, going into detail here would be too great for the scope of this article. If you’re interested in learning more about how to box squat as well as their benefits, I would recommend performing a quick search for Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell and the Box Squat.Internal-Program-Review-1-2232796486-1528147415624.jpg

In this case, we’re slowly reintegrating the squat into his program after having some time off following his long swim season. Here, we’ve added the box squat as a means to help assist in developing leg strength, posterior weight shift (integral to developing a proficient and technically sound squat) and building muscle to subsequently assist in force production coming off of the blocks and during turns.

 

2. Hanging Straight Leg Raises

A crucial component to any strength and conditioning program developed by Ruthless Performance is a substantial element of force transfer in various planes. In our A2, which is paired with the A1 (Box Squats), we’re emphasizing this force transfer, and we’re doing so specifically in the Sagittal Plane.

With the Hanging Straight Leg Raises (HSLR), we’re also building the anterior chain, specifically the abdominals. Though swimmers are no stranger to ‘core’ exercises, they can be unfamiliar with lower-repetition strength-dominant work in the abdominals like this. Whether its poolside after practice or at-home at the behest of their coaches, swimmers frequently train with high repetition crunches, sit-ups, or poorly performed planks.Internal-Program-Review-1-2.jpg

Exercises like the HSLR are rarely given at Ruthless as these can place too much emphasis on the Rectus Femoris which already receives ample stimulation during regular swim practice. But unlike with Bent Leg Raises, the straight leg variation provides more stimuli to the abdominals, which can partially explain why it is much harder than bent leg variations (also worth searching, but beyond the scope of our review: passive insufficiency).

Something also worth noting with the HSLR is how we manipulate this to maximize efficacy. With most weighted exercises, this is done via an increase in resistance. With a bodyweight exercise like this, we are slightly more confined in our ability to progress this over a 4-week period. Therefore we’re slowly adding more repetitions to each set throughout the program.

 

3. 180 Hip Extension

If you’ve never trained with us, you’ve likely gotten familiar with this exercise being referred to as a ‘back extension’. This is partially a misnomer, specifically at Ruthless Performance as we actively coach a rounded upper back on this exercise to maximize glute input, while minimizing lower back activation.Internal-Program-Review-1-3.jpg

The erector muscles already receive a great deal of stimulation any time the back/hips are being used as a fulcrum (which is close to any time you are doing a non-isolation/machine exercise). Additionally, the capillary network of the low back is rather poor, causing a slow recovery time. Doing low-back work in addition to all of this could be a decrement to performance rather than performance enhancing.

This can be progressed with weights or bands as needed, but a large emphasis should initially be placed on glute activation during this exercise rather than on a large range of motion (ROM). We typically encourage an external femoral rotation when possible, which further activates the glutes on this. When the glutes can’t contract any more on the hip extension, there is no reason to add more ROM.

 

4. Calf Raises

One of the benefits of working with an athlete with such frequency is that we can get into some details holding them back that would otherwise be unachievable on a 2x or 3x /wk program. With this athlete, poor calf hypertrophy is likely a weak link holding back lower body development. From a physics standpoint, mass can’t be added without a broad base of support.  Consider the tyrannosaurus rex, with its massive legs serving as a point of contact and base of support, or in engineering the structure and shape of the world’s largest buildings.

Specifically, to build mass in the calves without taking too much time away from more pertinent programming, we focus on density. Through the course of the program, we’re trying to have this athlete perform more reps with the fewest amount of sets possible. It is very rare to manipulate the volume so drastically from weeks 1 to weeks 4, but this is precisely what is needed in this situation.

Internal Program Review-1

 

5. High Handle Sled Push

We rarely have our swimmers perform energy system training, but in this case, the athlete is out of season and will need to preserve some basic level of cardiovascular conditioning for when he returns to college in the fall. You can learn more about our theories and thoughts on energy system training for swimmers in our article aptly titled “Why Ruthless Performance Doesn’t Emphasize Energy System Training for Our Swimmers”.

The sled provides an opportunity to help generate greater ROM between the legs, build concentric strength, increase hip and ankle mobility, and is just a generally versatile conditioning tool. You’ll also notice that the distance is relatively short. He’s been performing these bouts between 6-10 seconds. This by no means will provide an amount of conditioning conducive to in-pool training and performance, but will help maintain and improve ATP usage at the end of a long workout, which transfers nicely into a strong finish in a mid-distance/distance event.

 

Have any questions about what you see or would you like further clarification? Send us your questions at info@RuthlessPerformance.com. Your question may even turn into inspiration for a blog or social media post.

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 47

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

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Use Olympic Weightlifting To Transform Strength Into Speed By Antonio Squillante via Breaking Muscle

Softball: 3 Things You Didn’t Know That Will Upgrade Your Warm-Ups By Nancy Newell

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea  By Kris Gunnars via H

Brian St. Pierre on the Fundamentals of High-Performance Nutrition With Brian St. Pierre via Mike Robertson

Reversing the Low-Testosterone Lifestyle with Training & Nutrition By Mike Gorski via John Rusin

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Bench Press Mobility By Zach Long

How To Weight The Foot During Deadlifts  By Harold Gibbons

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

How to Define Your Company’s Values and Make Them Stick By Michael Keeler

5 Reasons Why You Should Man Up and Start Taking Cold Showers By Ollie Coombes via Addicted 2 Success

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Swimming Recovery: Why Aren’t You Foam Rolling? By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Research

Histamine Intolerance: Everything You Need To Know Explained in Plain English By Joe Leech

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function By Jesse Rodriguez

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto By Jesse Rodriguez

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 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