The Truth About Protein Shakes

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Won’t protein shakes get me jacked?!!”

“I need to take protein shakes to gain muscle, speed, strength and athleticism right?”

“How many protein shakes should I take a day?”

These are some questions I here on a near weekly basis from my athletes…at least the newer guys. But still, some of the athletes who have been with me for a while still can’t quite figure out the protein shake puzzle.

The simple answer to all of the questions above…it depends! I know, you hate it when your questions are answered this way, but you’re going to have to deal with it as most of life’s questions come down to this simple answer.

For protein shakes, it depends because there are many factors that determine whether or not you need protein shakes, if they will actually help enhance performance and how many you should be consuming. And here they are:

1)      Are you training? If you are not training, and training at a high intensity, it is likely your body does not enter a state of high catabolism (breakdown) as long as you are eating throughout your day. If you are training, the demands from training create a metabolic response within the body that when left unaddressed will result in muscle breakdown…not good! You need to take in protein, carbohydrates and fat to ensure recovery and muscle growth! A shake is a convenient method.

2)      Are you eating a whole food meal within the hour before and after training? If you are eating a complete meal that contains adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats within an hour (at most 90 minutes) before and after training, protein shakes are not necessary.

3)      Would you skip a meal if it wasn’t a shake? All too often I am told by one of my athletes that they skipped breakfast or their pre-training meal because they didn’t have time or the food. It takes about 2 minutes to prep a protein shake that you can take with you on your way to work or school, eat on a break at work or school or consume before training. Shakes are an easy, convenient and nutritious method to ensure that you are eating regularly…not a replacement, but a substitute when the schedule does not allow for a chicken breast, broccoli and sweet potato!

You can’t run on empty…a protein shake is a convenient source of fuel!

There it is, protein shakes will help you get jacked and more athletic but only if you are training, as you need a training stimulus on the body and the nutrients to recover and grow. You should be aiming for as many grams of protein per day as you want to weigh; want to weigh 185lbs…try to make sure you consume 185 grams of protein daily.

You can consume 0,1,2 or more shakes daily depending on your schedule and convenience, but try to consume whole foods first and foremost.  But the most important point is to eat!…and this is where protein shakes are convenient. Even if you are not training, protein shakes make for an easy and healthy snack (and it’s low calorie). Whey protein itself has many additional health benefits besides providing key nutrients for recovery and growth….but that’s a whole other post.

Lastly, you can either make a blended shake with ice, liquid (milk, water, tea, coffee), fruit, nuts and/or seeds, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) and protein powder for a meal substitute or you can simply put a scoop or two of protein in a shaker bottle and add liquid later for an easy snack.

To wrap things up, protein shakes are a convenient addition to your whole food diet. They will provide you with some key nutrients to stimulate growth and recovery and they are an awesome option when you are sprinting out the door or on a quick break. But don’t be fooled into thinking they are necessary for performance enhancement and without them your muscles will whittle away to nothing…what is necessary is some old fashioned smart, hard training and all around quality nutrition!

**For a decent economy class whey protein check out Dymatize Nutrition Whey Protein Isolate (All Natural) and if you have the funds, the best whey protein to investigate is Jay Robb’s.

Athlete of the Week is Back…And This Time There is a Prize!

Athlete of the week is back, and this time there is a reward! When you win athlete of the week you will have earned yourself a Momentum PT2 T-Shirt. So who won Athlete of the Week?…

 

 

Well, it has been a little while since Momentum named our last Athlete of the Week, so to kick things off again we would like to name a few…

Claire Delaney: A hard working mother turned athlete…Claire has dedicated herself to not only improving her individual health and performance, but the health and performance of her children. The Delaney Crew continues to get after it. Keep it up!

Cole DeDonato: A Hopedale basketball player who has been driven to make time with his busy school and basketball schedule and continues to enhance his performance even during the season. Hard work always pays off!

Connor Hebert: One of our many young gunz from Matt Anderson’s Northeast Longhorns baseball organization. This kid knows how to work and does his thing every time he steps foot in Momentum. With Coach Anderson’s specific skill work, Momentum’s Individualized Performance Training and Connor’s get after it attitude, Connor has been steadily increasing performance week in and week out. Watch out for this guy!

And the former Athlete’s of the Week, Zack Sisitzky and Denise Greenwood who could have easily been selected once again, your Momentum PT2 T-Shirt is waiting for you…

 

 

Who will be Athlete of the Week next? Keep up the hard work, dedication to your training at Momentum and your nutrition at home, get your family and friends involved in life changing performance training and you will hold the title next!

How Much Weight Should You Be Using?

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

A question I am constantly asked, especially when implementing an updated program or starting a program with a new athlete, is how much weight they should be using for the selected exercise. This is a great question, and a question with a very simple yet complex answer. The answer being, they should use the greatest amount of weight possible in order to complete the designated repetitions (number of times you perform the exercise/movement at one time) with perfect form and still have one to two reps left in the tank for every set (the number of times you are going to perform the designated number of reps). Sounds simple, but there is a little more to it. Let’s look at an example to help demonstrate the point.

 

 

If I program an athlete to complete 4 sets of squats at 6 repetitions per set, that athlete should use enough weight so he/she can complete all 4 sets for 6 repetitions with perfect form. But they have to keep in mind that they should not be able to complete more than 8 repetitions before form starts to breakdown during any one set. If they can, the weight/resistance (bodyweight, resistance band, barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell,  etc) was too light. With this approach, if the athlete selects the appropriate weight for the first two sets, it is likely that they will have to reduce the amount of weight in the later sets (3rd and 4th sets). This is due to the accumulated neuromuscular (nervous system and muscular system) fatigue from the first two sets. Let’s take a look at what this may look like…

Athlete A is programmed for 4 sets of squats at 6 repetitions per set. After performing a few warm up sets of lighter weight, let’s say 8 reps at 135 pounds, 4 reps at 185 pounds and 2 reps at 205 pounds, the athlete completes his first set of 6 repetitions at 225 pounds and would have been able to do 1 more rep before form is compromised. On the second set the athlete is still able to manage 6 reps at 225 but realizes that the third set would be hard to complete 6 reps with perfect form at 225. So the athlete drops to 215 pounds for the third set and then 210 for the fourth set. This allows the athlete to complete all four sets with perfect form for 6 reps. The athlete used as much weight as possible that allowed for perfect form and completion of all reps for each set.

 

This little guys got it right...perfect form every time!

This approach allows for the greatest stimulus and subsequent performance adaptations (power, strength, endurance, stability) and still provides significant measures of safety. You don’t want to waste a set by performing the exercise with a resistance so light you can complete double the designated reps (except for warm-up sets), but you also do not want form to be compromised. Applying this approach to every working set provides the athlete greatest chance for gains and performance success…that is the goal, and therefore the answer to, “How much weight should I should use?”

**I wasn’t trying to go all cute on this one, the baby pics just said it all!

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