Eliminating crutches from your training and understanding energy supplements

spartan race sled pullIt’s time to take a look at how we train and the bare roots of physical training. Over the years exercise science has evolved and so has our core understanding of how to optimize our training to achieve maximum results.

Most of this is beneficial knowledge and allows us to fine-tune our training regiment to walk away with the best possible results. Unfortunately this also brings with it the onslaught of supplements that one “must have to achieve optimal results”. These supplements are often expensive and full of ingredients that would confuse a NASA chemist. At the end of the day, are these really necessary or are they simply “crutches” that we lean on without actually needing them?

With anything in life, we perform tasks to achieve an end result. Physical training is no different and for many readers, PT is our lifeblood. Our level of intensity far surpasses the average 30 minutes a day, three times a week exerciser and we train as though we fight…At least we should. That being said, for every reason you have to PT at a much higher intensity, there are twice as many excuses not to. It’s best to eliminate as many of these excuses and “crutches” as possible to get back to the core of physical exercise.

For many, myself included, we have a training ritual. For some it may be a pre-workout shake, loud music or even certain training attire. For the vast majority, pre-workout drinks designed to boost energy and “pumps” is a growing trend. While these supplements certainly deliver what they advertise, do you really need them or are you leaning on a “crutch” unnecessarily? What happens if you run out and forgot to replenish?

Do you “need” it to hit your training goals that day? For some, the answer is yes and the supplement that was originally designed to boost your workout intensity is now the reason your intensity will decrease. Make sure these supplements, if used, are a secondary or even tertiary aspect of your physical training.

Utilizing your primal urge to be dominant, powerful, fast and lethal in combat should supersede an energy supplement. If the only things you need to achieve a kickass training regiment are drive, goal-oriented results and a consistent diet, your “crutches” are minimal and your ability to achieve your end result increases.

Your body has a pretty intricate central nervous system that contains your autonomic nervous system. This system reacts to your environment, activity and functional needs to either give your system a rest or boost your ability to react in an emergency situation. The autonomic nervous system releases catecholamine in the form of epinephrine and norepinephrine based on your current needs. When you sleep at night, norepinephrine is released to slow your system down and rejuvenate. When you’re physically exerting yourself you release epinephrine, which speeds heart rate, breathing and nervous system reaction time.

This is all done 100% naturally and without your cognizant efforts. All you need to do is show up with a bag of determination and let your body do the rest! Relying on supplements to do what your body is quite good at doing only creates a “crutch”. So remember, if you utilize these supplements, do not be solely dependent on them and use them in addition to instead of as your primary source of energy.

In closing, we need to embrace our “train as you fight” mentality and training. When you’re on a foot patrol and gunfire erupts, you won’t hunker down and take a sip of energy drink, you’ll get an immediate surge of epinephrine and you’ll react to the threat using your training, reactions and hopefully a few rounds of 5.56 justice! Take this same mentality to the gym with you and make sure your primal desire to exceed goals and your body’s natural ability to create energy as a number one source and if you take supplements, let them act as your secondary source.

Here’s some energy-specific dietary advice from a good friend and NASM CPT, Shawna Cain of Drill Fit by Cain. Shawna is taking formal nutrition classes and is, in my opinion, an expert on nutritional fitness as a practice.

“Starting my day off right as well as before a workout. I drink 2 full glasses of water when I wake up before anything else to provide optimal energy and hydration. My pre and post workouts consist of high proteins (good fats) and complex carbs. YES good healthy carbs help weight loss and create lean muscle… These foods give me ultimate boosts of energy Pre or Post. Egg scrambled with whatever veggies in fridge, no milk. A half of an avocado sliced, Paleo toast or whole grain toast with cashew butter, fruit.

And more water.. Post W/O, a banana is a perfect recovery food while waiting to have your meal! It’s very important to feed, not starve, the muscles after strenuous physical activity. One of these, hard boiled eggs, salmon, chicken, beef, meat protein paired with a complex carb, sweet potato (awesome muscle food for the athlete) green beans, carrots, squash and wholesome grains like oats and quinoa all in appropriate portions. I eat like this 3-4 times a day with small snacks to keep my metabolism high and my body strong and happy.”

I hope this helps and thanks for reading!

Doc G out!

BIO: Shawn Goodwin, HM2 Navy Corpsman of 7 years with multiple deployments in both hostile and non-hostile zones. Deployed ISO 5th Group SF & 98th Division “Blacksheep” as medical augment.
Duty stations include:
-II MEF CBIRF (ISO Presidential Operations)
-Guantanamo Bay Cuba ISO HUMINT / Detainee Ops
-Command Fitness Leader

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