Letter to My 18 Year Old Self

It’s surreal, but just over ten years ago I graduated high school.  The summer afterwards was a blast – I was playing baseball for the last time with the group of guys I grew up with, had the freedom of being 18 years old and done school, and was preparing to move to Southern California to play college baseball in a couple of months time.

I think it’s important to reflect, and with graduating high school a decade ago I have found myself reflecting on that particular summer often lately.  As someone who works with a large amount of high school athletes, I thought it may be worthwhile to pen a letter with some tenets of advice to the 18 year old me.

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The Senior class with our Coach at Nationals in August 2008

 

Dear Taylor,

First off, college baseball will be the greatest time of your life.  And it’s going to go fast – I know everyone keeps telling you that but you need to listen to them – it’ll go by even faster than they say.  

For quite a while in your early adulthood you’re going to be angry and use it as fuel for motivation.  Poor performances will eat you up and you’ll berate yourself.  Any perceived slight from coaches, teammates, or friends will serve to motivate you.  While channeling negative events into motivation is a positive quality, you’ll live in this mood 24/7.  You probably won’t be the most fun to be around.  And you won’t be very happy.

As Mark Twain wrote, “anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”  Use your anger productively, but be in control of it, not the other way around.

“Only the end of the world is the end of the world.”  You’re going to be thrown some major adversity with regards to your goals and you WILL find a way to overcome it but it’ll take longer than it should because you’ll live in the negative.  Once you put the onus on yourself and take complete responsibility for everything that happens to you big things will start to happen.  Life is happening FOR YOU, not TO YOU.

Coaching will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.  It’ll take you a few years to figure out how to pick your spots though.  Be tough on your players, but pick your spots to get on guys and the group a little less frequently and you’ll find your message will resonate better.  Same thing with umpires – don’t give them a reason to not give you a call.  With that said, players need to know you have their backs – just pick your spots.

When it comes to relationships: if you have doubts early on they will not go away and in fact will just grow into larger issues over time.  You need to become 100% ok and happy on your own so that you can end up with the person you’re supposed to be with.  Too many people rush into relationships because they’re scared of being alone and end up settling.  Make a commitment to yourself you’ll only date someone if they check off all the boxes and they’re going to make you a better person.  Make sure you’re actually really good friends with this person because initial lust only lasts so long.  There needs to be multiple levels of connection.

Don’t give a fuck what people think.  You’ll see the looks on their faces when they ask you what you do at 25 and you say you’re a baseball coach.  People will think you’re crazy and weird for a certain life altering decision at 26.  Trust your gut and make decisions based off of what you’ll think when you’re 80.  You don’t want to have to live with the pain of regret because of the chances you didn’t take.

Some practical advice.  When you start making ‘real money’ save at least a third of every single paycheque.  You won’t do this for quite a while and it’ll cost you.

Lastly, the universe will answer.  You just have to put out there what you want and work tirelessly to make it a reality. 

It’ll be a crazy decade with a ton of winding turns and you’ll live all over the place and make some incredible friendships.  Try to live in the now, and don’t look back wishing you were still there; or ahead because you just want to get to that point in your life.  When you’re 28 you’re going to look back on all the different phases of your life fondly so be where your feet are and when you feel lost trust that things will work out how they’re supposed to if you work hard enough. 

Taylor

If You Don’t Like it, Pitch Better

I’ve been a fan of David Price for a long time, since his Vanderbilt days.  I loved watching him throw out of the pen for the Rays in the 2008 playoffs, and so when the Jays got him in 2015 I was fired up (mostly because it meant we were actually going all in to make the playoffs, but also to get to watch him pitch every five days).

MLB: ALDS-Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays

Price’s mantra is, “If you don’t like it, pitch better.”

These are incredibly powerful words to live by, not just on the baseball field, but in every aspect life.

Coach isn’t playing you enough?  Play better with opportunities you are given.

Results in the gym have stagnated?  How disciplined have you been with your nutrition and sleep?  Do you half ass your warm-ups?  Skip reps and sets when you aren’t quite feeling it? Be better

Haven’t gotten that promotion at work?  Be better.

Has your relationship stagnated?  Be a better husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend.  Feel like they take you for granted?  When’s the last time you went the extra mile for them?

 

It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, but when life isn’t giving you the results you want, look in the mirror FIRST.  I tell my baseball players all the time: control what you can control.  The same holds true for life, and the only thing you can control is you.  So if you’re not where you want to be stop pointing fingers and making excuses.

 

Don’t like it? Pitch better.

3 Easy Nutrition Strategies to Look & Feel Better

Nutrition can be complicated and it’s really easy to be confused about what dietary approach is best.  Should you go keto?  Is intermittent fasting the best option to lose that stubborn fat? What the fuck is paleo and am I saying it right?

This post outlines three simple nutrition strategies you can implement right away that will help you look and feel better.

  1. Instead of Only Focusing on Subtracting Foods You Shouldn’t Eat (Why Can’t Bread Have the Superfood Qualities of Kale?!) Focus on Foods You Can Add to Make Meals Healthier

A personal example of mine is adding a metric ton of spinach into an Italian sausage, potato, onion casserole (topped with fried or poached eggs).  When it comes to your protein options, ground Italian sausage (and other cured meats) are the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality compared to ground turkey, grass fed beef, etc.  However, Italian sausage is simply one of my favourite foods and since I rarely eat pasta anymore (Italian sausage sauce is my favourite) this recipe helps to satisfy that craving.  It’s not the healthiest meal – but by adding a few handfuls of chopped spinach I’m at least getting a few servings of greens in.

 Similarly, spinach is a great add in to smoothies. You can cram quite a bit in to one and it doesn’t change the flavour (only the colour).

spinach-leaves

Spinach is rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, iron, Vitamin B2 & B6, magnesium, and potassium.  It’s also a quality source of protein.

 Another example of this strategy is if you’re trying to cut down on your pop intake.  Don’t quit cold turkey, but gradually try and decrease how much you’re drinking, while focusing on improving your daily water intake.  This is sound advice for any eating habit, or habit in general.  If you try to make too much change too fast you’re very likely to fall off the wagon (or is it on the wagon).

Costanza

If there are any hard-core Seinfeld fans reading this you’ll know that reference.

 

  1. Drink a Protein Shake 15-20 Minutes Before You Eat a Meal

Rivalus Promasil is my preferred protein supplement of choice because it’s essentially just protein (24 g of protein per scoop, with just 1 g of carbs and 1 g of fat).  Unless you’re really looking to add mass – read your protein supplement label carefully –  you want a protein supplement that’s essentially just protein.  There’s lots of good options available that fit the criteria, including some vegan ones.

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Taking a protein shake a little before a meal will help you stop from overeating.  The timing of it is to allow for your brain to realize that it’s taken in some calories once the digestion process has begun.  This is the same reason it’s a good idea to slow down when you’re eating because if you eat too quickly you won’t feel full until it’s too late.

 

  1. Coffee & BCAA’s Can Help You Stick With Your Intermittent Fasting

I’m not going to go in depth on what IF is or the pros and cons of it in this particular post.  I had never really done it consistently until this past January when I adhered to it completely the entire month.  I got great results in leaning out, and honestly only found it difficult the first couple days, and then a few random days over the course of the month. (I stuck to a 2-10 pm eating window throughout)

I also lifted every day in a fasted state (I generally trained between 11 am and noon).  I was surprised to find my ability to build strength was no different.  What really helped curb my hunger beforehand was waiting until about 10 am or a little later to have a black coffee.  My advice would be to try to time it so you have it a little before you feel hungry.  It’s definitely a miserable experience (and an effort in futility) to train when you feel hungry. The caffeine serves great as your pre-workout.

Another good strategy to curb your hunger is to drink green tea. I only did this a couple times, as I’m not a huge fan of the stuff but if you’re not like me and you enjoy it, knock yourself out as it can help satisfy your desire to have something with a little flavour in the morning and this can go along way in keeping hunger pangs away.

Then when it was time to train, I would sip on my BCAA (branch chain amino acids) drink throughout my lift.  The reason you want to do this, is to avoid going in to protein degradation mode. Your body hasn’t had protein in a long time, and so by replenishing the branch chain amino acid pool in the blood during your training session your body won’t go into a catabolic state. (A catabolic state is a fancy way of saying your body is breaking down muscle, while on the contrary, an anabolic state means it is building muscle).

 

 I hope one of, or all of these strategies, can be of use to you if you’re making an effort to eat healthier to reach your goals, whatever those may be!

The Difference Between Mobility and Flexibility (And Why It Matters For Throwers)

Flexibility is defined as “the ability of a muscle to lengthen”.

Mobility is defined as “the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion”

There are many contributing factors that go into a joint’s mobility: muscle tissue, joint health, motor control, and the fascial system.  Additionally, the entire kinetic chain has a significant impact on mobility.  For example, spinal function and scapular function can greatly impact glenohumeral (shoulder) mobility.  Similarly, an ankle injury can impact knee function which in turn impacts the hip joint.  Everything is connected.

When looking at a thrower’s shoulder, one of the movements I look at carefully when assessing them is glenohumeral internal and external rotation.

Brewers v White Sox

Throwing creates crazy layback positions (demonstrated by Chris Sale here) and this impacts the shoulder’s mobility greatly.

It should be noted that this is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to assessing an overhead athlete.  However, in my experience, the two biggest red flags as predictors of pain and/or injury from throwing are a lack of shoulder flexion ROM and glenohumeral internal rotation ROM.  For today’s post, I’m going to strictly talk about internal rotation.

On a broader scale, if you aren’t assessing, you’re just assuming.  Many throwing athletes are injured but just don’t know it yet (dysfunctional but asymptomatic), so a solid assessment can pave the way for subsequent proper exercise prescription.  From there, the training program as a whole, can improve function so that, hopefully, painful symptoms never come to be.  In the context of this post, if an athlete has limited internal rotation during his assessment, it should not be ignored even if he’s never had any issues with throwing up to this point.

 If you think about the biomechanics that happen during throwing, if someone doesn’t have adequate internal rotation mobility they’re on a crash course to getting hurt down the road.  The reality is throwing is the most explosive movement in all of athletics – on a 90 mph fastball, the head of the humerus rotates internally at 7000 degrees/second.  However, proper assessment and exercise prescription can safeguard an athlete from getting hurt, and allow the athlete to perform at a high level for a long time.
If you looked at an athlete who had limited internal rotation ROM and only tried to attack the issue by working on the glenohumeral joint, you’re missing the forest for the trees.  The issue could be neural, joint related, or there could be fascial restrictions.  It could even be impacted by breathing patterns.  Realistically, it would most likely be a combination of all of the above.  That’s why prescribing static stretches (the sleeper stretch in this case) isn’t going to produce the desired result.
In over 200 throwing athletes in the past five years, I’ve never come across one, older than sixteen, who didn’t lack at least a little bit of internal rotation ROM in their initial assessment.  In my next post, I’ll show a few different ways to improve (or at the very least maintain) that mobility.

 

 

 

3 Exercises You Should Do If You Sit All Day

One of the most common postural issues in people is kyphosis, which is just a fancy name for a rounded upper back.  This can cause a host of problems and is created by sitting in front of a computer all day, staring down at your phone, and driving long hours.  It’s safe to say our ancestors didn’t have this postural issue.

osteoporosis

The posture on the left would be ‘normal.’  You’ll notice that a little bit of curvature is normal.

1. Seated Thoracic Spine Rotation

This drill is great to work on rotation through the upper back.  It’s important to squeeze something between your knees (foam roll or small medicine ball works best).  This ensures that you don’t rotate through your lumbar spine (low back) and the rotation only happens through your thoracic spine.  Make sure you get as tall through your upper back and chest before you rotate.

2. Db Bench Batwings w/3s Iso Hold

All rowing variations are great to work on getting out of a rounded upper back posture but the batwing is probably my favourite.  Doing it with a long hold every rep increases both the difficulty and time under tension where you are in better postural alignment.  I usually prescribe a 3 second hold for these on every rep and generally have people perform 6 to 8 reps per set.

3. Scap Wall Angels 

You want to start these sitting down with your knees bent, and basically try to channel your inner child and do a snow angel – but against the wall. Your entire back and head should be touching the wall.  As it gets easier you can progress the movement by straightening your legs, and then over time move to doing these while standing.

 

 

6 Random Thoughts on In-Season Strength & Conditioning For Baseball Players

With the college baseball season now underway here are some thoughts on in-season training.

1. Starting pitchers should try to get a lift in within 24 hours after their start.  This way you can consolidate the stress from the start and the lift.  Generally, I recommend a lower body lift the day after a start – with some rotator cuff and core work in this training session as well.  I generally only program two ‘lifts’ in between starts, with an upper body lift coming a few days later, with still a couple days before the next start.

2. Everybody is Different, but Regardless Keep the Volume Low.  Some guys enjoy lifting more than others. With some position players (and pitchers too)* you can go to 3-4 lifts per week (I’d even be ok with a position player lifting more frequently they just need to keep the cumulative intensity down), you just want to keep all training sessions fairly short.  Part of the benefit of lifting can be psychological: putting in the work in the weight room can make a player feel strong and therefore more confident.  Other guys will be more than content with just two lifts per week.  Either way, an in-season lift should only take about 45-60 minutes tops.

Keeping the time down also helps because college baseball players are trying to juggle all the travel, competition, and practice that comes with the season with the demands of being a student. When it comes to lifting: get in and get out.

** For a pitcher who is a bit more ‘meatheadish’ you could add a couple of lifts into their weekly routine on top of the lower/upper split. However, an example of this extra ‘lift’ would be low in intensity and may look something like this:

A1) 1-Leg Hip Thruster off Bench 3×8/side

A2) Feet-Elevated TRX Inverted Row 3×8

A3) Yoga Push Ups 3×8

B1) Half-Kneeling Pallof Press: 3×8/side

B2) Goblet Lateral Lunges: 3×6/side

B3) Birddogs: 3×6/side

This would take about 25-30 minutes to complete.  If you completed it without any rest between exercises you would get a solid metabolic effect as well.

MLB: World Series-Kansas City Royals at New York Mets

1) Do No Harm 2) Prevent Injuries 3) Get Stronger — This needs to be the hierarchy for strength coaches no matter the athlete, but when it comes to in-season training for baseball players, it should be at the forefront of your mind at all times.  It doesn’t mean guys can’t get after it and throw weight around, they just need to do so intelligently and need to back off at times.  Noah Syndergaard of the Mets recently changed his training methods to follow this hierarchy and it’ll be interesting to see how his season unfolds.

3. Be Flexible. Performance comes first, and so athletes should train hard when appropriate, but also back off when needed as well.  For example, in a starting pitcher’s routine – how they feel the day after their start will vary greatly from week to week over the course of a long season.  Sometimes they’ll feel great – and can push the envelope a little more with weight.  Other weeks, they’ll be more sore or just have greater general fatigue.  In times like this they need to be more intelligent and just back off the weight.

4. Fit the Exercises to the Athlete.  Over the course of the season, guys get banged up and the training program needs to be able to adapt to fit each individual.  This starts with assessments to begin with (Assess, Don’t Assume!). If an athlete can play through a nagging issue, they can surely still train around it – and the benefits are twofold: 1) The positive psychological impacts outlined earlier 2) Intelligent programming and training can help the issue get better faster.

5. Take 10-15 Minutes to Do Soft-Tissue Work and Mobility Work in the Hotel & Right When You Return Home.  After playing a weekend of games and then sitting on a bus or plane and getting home late – the only thing anybody wants to do is get into bed and crash.  Spending 10-15 minutes with a foam roll and a lacrosse ball and doing some mobility drills (a yoga flow works great too) before going to bed can make you feel a lot better the next day.

6. Pick Exercises That Don’t Create a Lot of Soreness.  It’s the eccentric portion (the lowering of the weight in a squat, for example) of a lift that creates muscle soreness, not the concentric.  Smart exercise selection then can be crucial to in-season lifting because you don’t want to be really sore when you’ve got to go out and play.  For example, I’ll throw in step up variations in place of lunge variations because they create far less soreness.  I tend to do program more pulling variations than pushing or pressing in-season as well.

If you read this and have any questions about your in-season training feel free to reach out to me. 

Best of luck to all my former players who have started their college seasons, and to the boys at UCM as well! Roll Stable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Archive: My Story

I wrote this one year ago on Bell Let’s Talk Day. I’ve decided to share it again this year in hopes that it may help someone going through a dark time.

 

It was a late winter night in January of 2013.  I sat alone in my car, parked in my parents garage.  I had turned the car off and was about to go inside but something held me in my seat.  It had been a year and a half since I had surgery done on my shoulder to repair a torn labrum.  The surgery took place on May 10, 2011 and I did my best right from the get go to put on a brave face and use positive thinking to keep my fear of never getting to pitch again at bay.  The truth is, I was terrified as soon as I received the news I needed surgery.  I remember reading a quote prior to the surgery from James Andrews (who performs practically every professional pitcher’s elbow and shoulder operation) saying, “if pitchers with torn labrums were racehorses they would be shot.”  Upon reading that I fired my laptop across the room against the wall.

I sat in my car in the garage thinking about everything that had happened the past eighteen odd months.  It was past 2 a.m. and I looked in my rearview mirror, out down the driveway into the cul de sac.  It was snowing and miserably cold – a typical January night in Edmonton.  I questioned if all of this was my fault; perhaps in some sick twist of fate I had lived out a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Was the crippling fear of never pitching again that had been inside of me since the moment I woke up from the operation the very reason I was never going to get to do what I loved most again?  I had tried so hard every day since the surgery to be positive but I just could not shake the ominous feeling I would never pitch again.

So there I sat, pondering how a year earlier I had to leave Arkansas and a group of guys I had forged a lifelong bond with.  We were brothers, but I left to try and rehab with a physiotherapist back home and had to follow their season on the internet.  I thought about how I didn’t get to stand on the field on Senior Day and how I never would get to.  I thought about how when they went on an awesome playoff run I was more angry at the fact I wasn’t there, than happy for them, and what a piece of shit that made me.

I thought about how every day since surgery I did everything I was supposed to do and more.  I thought about once I came home a year earlier I did all my exercises and threw every day with my younger brother but the pain in my shoulder only worsened and how I never got close to returning.  How  day after day I’d ask him if today my arm action was better than the previous time and I could tell in his eyes he was lying to me when he each time he said, “yes” because he was trying to save me from the painful reality I wasn’t making any progress.  I remember watching video of me throwing and watching how my arm worked like a twelve year old who had never played competitive baseball.  I remember desperately attempting to persevere through all of it, and trying to convince myself that I would find a way to work through these obstacles.  The harsh reality was that with each day that passed I wasn’t getting closer to pitching again but I was realizing more and more my only choice was to give up and move on.

I became trapped in misery and drank and drank to escape it but that only made me more enraged and disheartened.  On the surface I’m sure I seemed fine; I had become good at putting up a façade.  However, inside I was I was beyond miserable.  Even when I was having fun with my friends I had no reprieve from my regret of never getting to play my senior year and the fact I had left all my teammates and friends in order to get healthy again, but that didn’t even happen.

People would tell me, “it’s just baseball” and “things could be worse, you just need to accept reality and find a new passion.”  The person who was closest to me at the time even told me that there was nothing wrong with my shoulder and it was just all in my head.  As I sat in my car on that cold, January night I thought with hatred at that comment that maybe, just maybe she was right and a bit of hope flickered in my head.  But it was quickly extinguished by how fruitless all of my efforts up until that point had been.

What haunted me the most though was the sad realization I was never going to achieve any of my lofty goals I had dreamt of my whole life.  I was never going to get drafted, never going to play in the MLB.  I felt like I was getting better each year and that if I could just get healthy at least I’d have my senior year to try and get noticed by pro scouts.  It may sound ridiculous to some but I truly believed I could do it.  I wasn’t a very talented player in high school and simply had to outwork everyone.  I had a high school coach who flat out told me I would never play college baseball.  For years I was fuelled by perceived (real or imaginary) slights from anyone and everyone.  The smallest comments of doubt from even a teammate would gnaw at me and make me work harder.  Not making an All Star team would fill me with anger unexplainable.  I burned with a desire to prove every single motherfucker wrong.

The fact that I wasn’t going to prove my doubters wrong was just way too much for me to take.  And so as I thought about all of this at 2:30 a.m. on a miserable winter night in January, 2013, a terrible idea began to take shape.  I started the car again.  I’m ashamed to say that I had driven home after a night of drinking in an effort to escape my reality.  The alcohol hadn’t helped me escape my demons, but brought them out in full force.  As I clicked the button in the car to close the garage door I thought perhaps this could be my escape.

Not a moment goes by now that I’m not incredibly grateful I stopped the car and got out.  It took me another six months to overcome my deep depression but this night in January was certainly the lowest point.  It makes me so sad to think of the 22 year old me who was ashamed to seek help and in turn came very close to causing so much pain to all the people I love so dearly.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  You have people that care about you, and I promise it gets better.  We need to end the stigma around mental illness.  It’s not weak to talk about what is eating at you inside.  I wish I hadn’t been so scared to talk about what I was going through.

Fight the darkness with light
Fight the despair with hope

The 4 Biggest Lessons I Learned in 2017

2017 was a wild rollercoaster of a year, to say the least.  I achieved a long held goal of pitching again, I moved back to Canada, entered into a relationship with a truly wonderful person, observed my mother endure literal hell as she battled through six rounds of chemotherapy, lived back at home for a while as a twenty-seven year old and worked at GoodLife for next to nothing while coaching through the summer, and opened my own business in November.

My hope is that perhaps someone who reads this may be able to heed some of the lessons  I learned the past year.

1. The Stoics had it right.  Stoicism is defined as, “the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.”

While 2017 held some great and long sought after triumphs for me personally, there were greater lows.  My mother’s cancer coming back and sitting up with her at nights in the midst of her treatment needs no further description.

The way the season transpired for our team, and my inability to continue to pitch well and to stay healthy to help us, was the biggest letdown of my life.  Driving back to Canada after things ended up so differently than I had envisioned (literally) and worked for, for both myself, but more importantly for the team was and still is, nearly impossible to swallow.

Dwelling on the past is pointless.  The stoics would tell me what has happened is reality and I may not have been able to control it, but I could certainly control my reaction.  I could wish for the past back or I could get off my ass, establish new goals to strive for, and move on from what happened.  I could either wallow in my own self-misery about the unfairness of what happened to my mother, or I could try my best to make sure, and continue to make sure she knows what she means to me and enjoy all the little moments moving forward.  It really isn’t any different than how we should try to act with everyone we care about, illness or not.  Almost on a daily basis I read this quote from the book ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman.

“Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness – if you had little time left to live – you’d waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you…you do have a terminal illness: it’s called birth.  You don’t have more than a few years left.  No one does.  So be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”

To be clear, I’m not close to perfect at this.  I had, and still have my moments of living in the past or wishing things ended differently, and questioning why this had to happen to my mother.  However, I just try to consistently remind myself that the choice of how to react is mine.

2. Time is fleeting.

I was so painfully aware how quickly the spring was going to go by, but even this heightened awareness and conscious effort to enjoy every little thing about playing college baseball again couldn’t slow it down, and here we are over half a year since the end of it already.  I am constantly trying to get better at being where my feet are and enjoying the present, without yearning for the past or looking too far ahead.

3. Tell those that you care about what they mean to you.  I’ve made a much more conscious effort to both verbalize and put into writing how I feel about those that are close to me.  If you’ve never had a dog this will probably sound silly to you, but the death of Ryder while I was in another country along with my mother’s battle with cancer both impacted me to try and do a much better job of this.  Guys tend to be bad at this with each other but I’m trying to improve in this regard.

4. Lifting is the best medicine.

I truly believe anyone can benefit from the therapy the iron provides.  I’m lucky in that I often get to lift in an empty gym, with whatever music I decide.  Henry Rollins said it best, “The iron is the best anti-depressant I have ever found.  There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength.”

 

Creatine: Everything You Need to Know

There are a lot of rumours about creatine that simply aren’t true.  I hear them often when I recommend an athlete consider supplementing creatine.

This post will dispel some of these rumours and explain why creatine is probably a very beneficial supplement to take.  It is in fact the most popular (legal) sports performance enhancing supplement for a reason.

Unknown

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a high energy molecule that is produced by the body.  It can rapidly produce ATP (energy) that cells need to function.  Phosphocreatine is broken down to release energy when the body is under stress (like during training).

Creatine is found in some meats, eggs, and fish.

Why Supplement With It?

In layman’s terms, by supplementing with creatine prior to exercise, your cells will have more readily available to help produce ATP.  Phosphocreatine is used for ATP production up until 8-10 seconds of high intensity exercise.  Therefore, supplementing with creatine will be highly beneficial for any type of power, speed, and maximal strength work.

Creatine and Water Retention

One of my favourite rumours regarding creatine is that it creates false strength ‘gains’ because your body just retains water.  This is bro science at its finest.  While it’s true that in very high doses, a small amount of water retention can occur, research has shown conclusively that prolonged supplementation results in an increased rate of muscle growth.

Creatine and Kidney Problems

Another common myth around creatine is that it can lead to kidney problems.  This is because creatinine (note the difference) is a waste product of the kidneys after creatine has been processed.  Elevated levels of creatinine in the urine are a marker for assessing kidney damage.  However, levels of creatinine mirror those of creatine, and therefore creatine supplementation will simply create higher levels of its waste product. Interpreting this increase in creatinine in the urine as kidney damage is an observational error.

All research to date has shown that in people with healthy kidneys, creatine supplementation causes ZERO problems to the kidneys.  If someone has a kidney disorder already, they must consult their doctor before supplementing with creatine.

Supplementation

Taking 5g of creatine monohydrate 30 minutes prior to exercise would be my recommendation.  Some individuals believe in loading protocols with it, but the research hasn’t shown that this is a better method.

There are other types of creatine out there as well (such as creatine nitrate), but all current research shows that creatine monohydrate is superior.  Some supplements contain other ingredients in addition to creatine (glutamine, BCAA’s, etc.) which can be beneficial too.

In Conclusion

I must add that there is no magic pill to gaining strength and adding muscle.  Creatine is simply going to make the hard work that you do more beneficial for you.  Lastly, supplements are useless if your diet isn’t on point.  If you aren’t eating enough calories and don’t eat any green vegetables, focus on that and install those habits before you spend $100 or more a month on supplements.  Same thing goes for sleep.  Going to bed earlier is going to give you a far greater ROI than any supplement you buy!

 

 

 

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