5 Post-Workout Drinks to Recover Faster and Build More Muscle

After your intense workout, you have a small window of opportunity to effectively refuel your body. Studies have shown that there is a 45-minute timeframe when your body can effectively absorb nutrients like carbohydrates and proteins.

You could use this time to get a high protein meal, or try and cook up a delicious dish of the carbohydrates and sugars that your body is craving.

A better solution would be to grab a power-packed post-workout drink that gives your body a quick intake of those nutrients. A post-workout drink could be the key to getting past the next plateau of your workout schedule.

Try one of these delicious post-workout drinks to revitalize your body.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Right after your workout, your body is looking for fuel to break down into the building blocks it needs to build up tissue. Try this powerful smoothie with a burst of flavor and a punch of protein.

Add 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, 1 cup of water or unsweetened almond milk, ice, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Throw in ½ cup of cottage cheese and blend together until smooth.

This drink gives you 40 grams of protein and 20 grams of carbohydrates in one gulp.

Banana Nut Blend

Bananas are a great source of potassium that keeps your muscles from cramping and helps your sensory system communicate better. Use a banana in this recipe for those benefits plus a flavor-enhancer.

Add 1 banana, 1 teaspoon of organic honey, 1/4 cup rolled oats, ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ice. Blend until smooth.

This drink will give your body a hit of 15 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs. Your body needs the carbs to build up energy reserves and so that it doesn’t break down muscle tissue for that energy.

Nutty Nectar

Nuts are your best friend after a workout because of how much protein and good natural fats they contain. They are rich in the sorts of nutrients you need for quick recovery.

1 scoop of a protein powder of your choice (chocolate, vanilla…etc.)

To this, add a handful of walnuts, a handful of raw almonds, 1/3 cup of cottage cheese, water and ice. You could even add a couple spoonsful of ground flaxseed for an added protein boost. Blend until smooth.

Berry Blast Protein Smoothie

Berries are a super food that tastes great and are easy to add to anything you’re already eating. Throwing in berries just makes sense for an after-exercise drink that will swiftly restore your energy levels. The berries also add glycogen to your blood which is an added bonus.

Add 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 cup of almond or low-fat milk, ½ a frozen banana and 1 cup of frozen berries. Blend until smooth and add water if needed.

The frozen banana and berries give this a rich and thick texture that feels great after a hard session at the gym.

Chocolate Milk

You shouldn’t use chocolate milk as your go-to drink every time, but as a reward for a particularly grueling session, it’s an excellent post-workout drink. It also gives you the bonus of restoring your glycogen levels and hitting you with fast-absorbing whey proteins. It will rehydrate you as well as any other drink, but it’s best used in moderation, and not as a daily recovery system.

So, there you have it. There are some quick and simple drinks that help boost your immune system, build up your muscle, drive up your energy levels, and push you on the way to a speedy recovery. Plan your diet regime after doing post workout and you’ll see faster results every time.

7 Rowing Machine Workouts for a Shredded Body

Rowing is rapidly becoming the latest craze for cardio workouts. Here’s good reason for it as well. Traditionalists like to tout running as the best thing since sliced bread for building up a sweat and burning calories. Running, while effective, isn’t for everybody.

The treadmill can be hard on your bones and muscles with the impact of every step. These hard runs can have a jarring effect on your muscles, and cause joint pain all the way up to your back. So, to counter this workout, people have turned to rowing.

fit-body

It’s a low-impact workout that actually engages different muscle groups as well as raising your heart rate. It strengthens legs, arms, back, and your core, all while giving you a great heart-pumping blast of cardio exercise.

They key is create new and exciting workouts to help you get that ripped body. Here are 7 rowing workouts that can help you achieve your goals.

HIIT It Up

By using rowing as the key ingredient of a quick workout, you can get a great result even in short times. This one is perfect for those who can’t commit to a long workout every day.

Start with 10 minutes of easy rowing. Then do 5 x 30 seconds of maximum effort rowing sprints followed by 30 seconds rest. Do 2 minutes of air squats off the rowing machine.

Again do 5 x 30 seconds of maximum effort rowing sprints with 30 seconds rest in between. Follow with 2 minutes of push-ups.

Lastly, do 5 x 30 seconds of maximum effort rowing sprints with 30 seconds of rest. Follow with 2 minutes of air squats.

Rowing Ladder

Work your way up and down the ladder with this simple ladder routine. Try to keep your rowing during the workout at a 75% effort level consistently.

Start with 10 minutes of easy rowing. Then, follow this structure. 1 minute of rowing, 1 minute of rest. Do 2 minutes rowing – 2 minutes rest, 3 minutes – 3 minutes rest, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, and then 1 minute, following that pattern.

Leaping Back and Forth

Leap back and forth between sprinting and resting with a simple combination. If you can, aim to have a stroke rate of 26-28 per minute.

5 reps of 1-minute rowing – 1-minute rest, followed by a 2-minute rest. Repeat this pattern for 3 rounds, trying to maintain a consist level of output.

Go the Distance

For this workout, don’t focus on time, but on the distance, you travel with your rowing. Try and complete this in as short a time as possible. If you can, aim for a rowing session of under a minute each tim`e.

Start with a 250-meter row, followed by a 1-minute rest. Do this for 10 rounds.

Off and On

Your rowing machine can be incorporated into your workout with other exercises included. Try this one to keep your workout varied and interesting.

Do 30 calories of rowing, followed by 30 kettlebell swings, and then 30 crunches on the mat. Rest for one minute. Do this for 4 rounds in as little time as possible.

More and Less

Change up the frequency of your workouts with this fun challenge.

Row 1000 meters, do 20 pushups

Row 750 meters, then do 30 pushups

Row 500 meters, then do 40 pushups

Row 250 meters, then do 50 pushups.

Coming Down the Mountain

By starting off big on this routine, you’re gradually easing off the rounds and working toward a goal of getting ripped while doing it.

50 squats, 45 calorie row, 40 kettlebell swings, 35 calorie row, 30 sit-ups, 25 calorie row, 20 pushups, 15 calorie row, 10 burpees, and you’re finished!

Hopefully, you now have a good selection of rowing techniques in your arsenal to get an awesome workout that will build muscle and conquer fat.

The Minimalist’s Checklist to Building Your Home Gym

For many who want to go to the gym, the cry is the same.

“I don’t have time for all of that”

It’s a common complaint, and it’s not without merit. Although some gyms have begun to open up to the idea of 24-hour access, it’s still a hassle to get to the gym, workout, shower, and then drive home afterward. This is, of course, on top of owning a membership that can end up being quite costly.

Home-Gym-Workout

So, for those who can’t make it to the gym, there are other options. And one of the best options is to create a home gym right where you live. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take over your home with huge and bulky equipment. You can set up a minimalist gym in your home that is both affordable and effective for your workout goals.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Free-weights (Dumbbells)

This is probably one of the most important parts of your workout. You can alternate your workouts, you can create new movements, and you can focus on entirely different muscle groups, all while using a simple set of free weights. You don’t even need more than one. If you get adjustable dumbbells that are around 70-80% of your maximum weight limit, you can do squats, arm rows, bicep curls, and modified push-ups. If you can, a set of three different weights would be good for alternating your movements.

If you get a heavy free-weight that’s around 70-80% of your maximum weight limit, you can do squats, arm rows, bicep curls, and modified push-ups. If you can, a set of three different weights would be good for alternating your movements.

Resistance Bands

The best part about creating your own home gym is that your body only does a small number of movements every day. You sit, squat, hip hinge, lift, lunge, and crawl. And that’s pretty much it.

When you understand that your range of motion can be broken down into very basic movements, you can put resistance on those movements to tone and strengthen your muscles. Resistance bands take your average body movements and transform them to become effective body weight exercises. Train your body, with your body, by using resistance bands.

Resistance bands take your average body movements and transform them to become effective body weight exercises. Train your body, with your body, by using resistance bands.

Kettlebells

If you’re able to expand beyond just the free-weight set, you should be including a kettlebell in your tool kit. The kettlebell is also a versatile piece of equipment that can be used to strengthen and train your core, your glues, your biceps, and your back.

Again, try to aim for a kettlebell that challenges you when you swing it, not one that you can move around with ease.

Stability Ball

By using one of those large blown up stability balls, you’re not just working your core; you’re supercharging it. In your workout, you need an element of balance and flexibility. When you’re adding muscle mass, you need something that will help strengthen the muscles that help stabilize your body.

A stability ball can be used in conjunction with other weight exercises to work on two muscle groups at once.

Skipping Rope

If you’re taking a rest day from the weights, don’t forget your cardio. Get your blood pumping with a good quality skipping rope. It’s an effective way to build up coordination, foot speed, and your heart rate. It gets the circulation going like nothing else.

Foam Roller

We speak at length about foam rollers on another blog, but it’s a crucial tool for you in your home gym. Your advantage of not having anyone else around is also your disadvantage. There’s no one to massage or work your sore and aching muscles, and that’s where the foam roller comes in.

It targets those muscle pains with a deep-tissue massage. It’s a good way to cool down from a particularly heavy workout session as well.

Having your own home gym doesn’t have to be full of complicated equipment. Just choose the basics and you’ll have more than enough to get a solid workout every day.

What Is a Foam Roller and How Do I Use It to Release Muscle Knots?

Foam rollers can now be found in just about every gym. You’re sure to see a stack of rollers in the corner, most likely neglected because they aren’t fully understood.

Foam rollers are actually an effective and precise way to trigger pressure points on your body to release muscle knots and work out pain points. Foam rollers are basically a form of self-massage that can be modified to your levels of health and your stress points on the body.

Foam-Roller

They mimic movements used by professional therapists to loosen and release the trigger points in your muscles that can refer pain to your body.

What Are Muscle Knots?

Your muscles have points that can develop “knots” in them. They are called knots because of how they feel when pressed. A good indication that you have a knot in the muscle tissue is when you press on the affected area and feel pain. That pain also radiates to other areas around the knot.

When you trigger or put pressure on these points, the pain can radiate all the way down a leg, along with an arm or across the back. It can limit your movement and be damaging to your body’s alignment.

How Do Foam Rollers Work?

They work by using your own body weight to pressure deep tissue and stimulate circulation in those areas. As you use the foam roller, your body pushes down on the roller while rolling along the length of the muscle. That works to break up scar tissue, adhesions in your muscles, and speed up the healing and rebuilding process after a large workout.

You can use foam rollers to do a number of things which is why they are so ubiquitous in the gyms. They provide good acupressure, they stimulate core body strength, and they can facilitate stretches for deeper release in the muscles’ tension.

How Do Foam Rollers Relieve Muscle Knots?

The reason you’ll want to use a foam roller is to act as a myofascial release system. That is, to say, a way to work and knead the tissue deep within your muscle mass. You can use those muscle knots as a pinpoint on the areas that you need to release from the pain. It’s an uncomfortable pain, but not unbearable.

Why would you want to do something that hurts? It’s the way your muscle reacts to the pressure that is different to normal stretching patterns. When you stretch the muscle, it doesn’t release that tension that’s built up over some time. That stretching process can sometimes actually tighten the knot, not doing anything to ease the discomfort.

When you use the foam roller, it encourages the muscles to relax and stimulates blood flow throughout the muscle area. The reason foam rollers are so effective at this is because when you are performing your own muscle massage, you’re able to regulate the pressure and what areas you need to attend to most. It’s effective most because you know your own body and what it’s reacting to.

Muscle knots can develop from poor posture, neglecting the balance in your workout patterns, or compensating for injury. Our bodies are exceptionally good at maintaining the status quo or our normal lives, but when the stress gets too much for your body, that’s when muscle knots can form.

Regular foam roller exercises can keep your body in the right alignment, your muscles loose, and your core stable. Don’t neglect this powerful tool during your next workout.

Heavy Weights vs. Higher Reps: What Works Better for a Shredded Body? Backed by Science

If you always wanted to lose weight and gain muscle, there are countless ways to get that toned physique, but there are even more people advising the best way to achieve it.

No matter what you hear, it’s always going to come down to: do you lift heavier weights or do more reps?

Currently, the thought is that more reps of a lower weight will tone your body, giving you that long, lean look that many crave. Women especially love to buy into the hype that 35 reps of a 5 lb. free-weight will tone their arms without building muscle mass.

Women especially love to buy into the hype that 35 reps of a 5 lb. free-weight will tone their arms without building muscle mass.

The other side of the coin is those who want to build muscle mass. They think that fewer reps of an extremely heavy weight will build up greater mass and look bigger on their bodies.

body-builder

So, if the goal is to get that shredded, tight body with well-defined muscles, what approach should you take?

Let’s look at the science.

To start, we need to first understand what it takes to get that shredded body. It’s really a combination of two elements. You need to build up your muscles and have a substantial fat loss program in place.

So, we need to look at how the weights vs. reps battle play out on both of these elements.

Muscle Growth

It’s thought that if your goal is to build muscle mass, the optimal rep ratio is to lift a set of 6-12 reps at 60-80% of your maximum weight level. It seems that the magic number is to keep the reps under 15 per set with at least a 2-minute rest in between.

That thought hasn’t been conclusive by any means. The reality is that a recent study was conducted on athletes who were split into two groups. The first group performed lower reps of a heavy weight while the second worked on higher reps of lower weights.

In both cases, the muscle proteins were used as a way to determine muscle growth. Neither way proved to be more effective than the other.

A major factor in building up muscle mass is diet and calorie consumption. In other words, you could lift heavy weights, and if you’re not eating enough calories, you’ll never put on an ounce of muscle mass.

Fat Loss

It’s well-known that weight lifting can achieve the goal of fat loss when combined with good diet control, but does lifting fewer reps have an effect on fat loss? Do heavier weights bulk your body up, as some would lead you to believe?

There’s reason to be uncertain.

In another study, two groups of dieters were given two different exercise programs. In one program, the participants were asked to simply lift heavy weights in cooperation with their diets.

In the other group, they performed lower rep exercise and more cardio work. In both cases, the groups lost weight, although the weight lifters lost fat while the cardio group lost both fat and muscle mass.

Weights vs. Reps: The Conclusion

So, what’s all that have to say about your goal of getting shredded? You’re best to consider a goal of moderating fat loss with muscle gain. The sweet spot of bodybuilders and top athletes focuses on doing 6-12 reps of a weight of 60-70% of their maximum weight.

This way, they can build endurance, develop defined muscles and lose the fat exclusively from their bodies.

There is no hard and fast rule concerning this dilemma, but for optimal results, a combination of two should see you define your muscles and make them pop from your body.

 

7 Post Workout Meal Ideas That you Can Cook in less than 15 Minutes

Straight after a particularly intense workout, your body has depleted its stores of protein and glycogen. This is when your body is especially receptive to absorbing carbohydrates and proteins.

You have a 45-minute window after your workout to eat a meal rich in those types of nutrients. But, just like everybody else, you probably aren’t willing to spend two hours in the kitchen to make something.

Here are 7 ideas of post-workout meals that you can cook in less than 15 minutes to rebuild your body and replenish your fuel stores.

High Protein Pancakes

high-protein-pancakes

If you’re looking to keep your muscle mass and trim that fat from your body, you can still enjoy a healthy meal of pancakes.

Take 4 egg whites, ½ cup of rolled oats, ½ cup of cottage cheese, a pinch of baking powder, and a splash of vanilla, and mix together.

This pancake batter will supply your body with the necessary amino acids to keep that muscle and burn that fat. It’s especially delicious with some berries or slices of banana on top.

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry over Brown Rice

ginger-chicken-stir-fry-over-brown-rice

One of the fastest and healthiest ways to cook is to stir-fry some vegetables with a good lean protein source like chicken breast.

Toss in about 1 cup of sliced bell peppers (green, yellow, and red), chopped zucchini, green beans, and snow peas.

Add about 100g of diced chicken with 1 tsp. of shredded ginger.

Serve over brown rice.

Spinach Salad with Black Beans

spinach-salad-with-black-beans

You can still get your recommended 30g of protein in this meatless salad from beans and egg whites.

In a bowl, mix 2 cups of spinach, 1/3 cup each of black beans and corn, 3 chopped hard-boiled egg whites, and 1 diced tomato. Top with a splash of olive oil for a good source of healthy fat.

This salad is literally thrown together in minutes and is excellent for providing the protein and carbohydrates that your body should get after the workout.

Tuna Surprise

tuna-surprise

The real surprise of this post-workout meal is how easy it is to whip up. Simply take one can of yellowfin tuna and stir in ½ cup of crumbled whole grain crackers for crunch and texture.

The flavor is good on its own, but if you crave some extra punch, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil, mustard, and a chopped pickle or two.

Chicken Sausage over Whole-wheat Pasta

chicken-sausage-over-whole-wheat-pasta

Sausage is your best friend for a post-workout meal because it can fry up so fast. Cook enough pasta for a meal and while it’s cooking, fry up a low-fat chicken sausage or two.

Slice it over the pasta, add some tomatoes and some broccoli, and you have a delicious meal that took no time at all to complete.

Egg white Omelet with Feta and Tomato

egg-white-omelet-with-feta-and-tomato

When you’re looking for a speedy meal that builds up your protein loss, egg whites are hard to beat. Fashion an egg white omelet for yourself topped with 1 oz. of feta and a chopped tomato.

Add a sprinkle of cayenne to the dish for flavor and a boost of your metabolism for up to 3 hours.

Mixed Yogurt with Rolled Oats

mixed-yogurt-with-rolled-oats

If you prefer your workouts in the morning, you’ll need breakfast ideas that can satiate you for long periods of time.

Try mixing in a cup of Greek yogurt into a bowl, add ½ cup of rolled oats and flavor the whole thing with some banana and blueberries.

It provides a punch of carbohydrates and a fuller feeling straight after depleting workout.

Planning your after-exercise meals doesn’t have to be complicated. With just a few ingredients and some flavor enhancers, you can quickly whip up a full meal in less than 15 minutes.