You may have noticed that beetroot juice is becoming more readily available in health shops and supermarkets recently. You may even have seen sports people drinking the Beet It shots before training or competing, in particular the Olympians at last years London olympics, where many were supplementing with the drink.
So why is it suddenly coming into the spotlight? This is all happening due to a special ingredient it contains and all the research thats been carried out on it as a sports supplement recently. So what is it about the foul tasting drink that is making it so desirable to sports people and gym goers all over the world. It’s all down to a key ingredient that makes beet root a potential super fuel and that is its naturally high levels of nitrate.
So why is Nitrate so special and what does it do in our bodies?
It’s been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce the oxidative stress on the body and from a sports perspective its been shown to reduce oxygen consumption during exercise.
According to Exeter University sports science research, it can reduce the energy cost of exercise in sub maximal work by between 5 and 10%. It has also been shown to increase the time to exhaustion by around 15-20%. These results are massive from a sports perspective where every second and every inch counts and can be the difference between winning and losing. This could be massive from a health perspective as well with many possible benefits.
With so many studies on the effects of nitrate in the body its amazing that scientists still don’t know the mechanics of how these amazing effects take place. Its also not yet known if there is a certain dose level where the effects begin to negate themselves. So it would make sense to still approach nitrate with a little caution until more is known. Sticking to supplementing with it from natural sources like beetroot would a sensible route!
Beetroot juice contains 1mg of Nitrate per 100ml. You can also buy concentrated shots of the stuff from Beet It. These 70ml shots contain 3mg of Nitrate and there is also a sports shot that contains 4mg in it’s 70ml shot. I have now personally been taking the Beet It sport shots for about 3 months. I have one shot the day before a game and another shot just over an hour before kick off. Personally I have found there to be a definite positive effect, I’ve noticed that I have more energy later on in games when I would normally start to tire. I have also noticed that the day after games I feel a lot better than I did before I started taking the shots, my legs feel nowhere near as tired as they used to. With the pile up of fixtures I have coming up for the last 2 and a half months of the season I hope this continues to be the case as I’m going to need all the help I can get!
So Xmas is over and the new year has begun, it’s that time again when lots of us make those new years resolutions to get fit, lose weight or just start working out. If you’re looking for a personal trainer to push you and motivate you and help you to achieve your goals quickly this year, then this January I am offering a 10% discount for new clients. This applies to all block bookings of 10 or 5 pt sessions for new clients signing up before the 31st of January. The normal discounted price for a block of 10 individual sessions is £300 so with this extra discount that brings the total price to £270 which is just £27 per session. If you would rather train with a friend then the discount also applies to the block bookings for two people. Check out my packages and don’t be afraid to get in touch with any questions you may have, remember the deal only lasts until the 31st of January so get in touch now and lets get started!
This is a video I made of a few exercises you can do on a suspension trainer to work the whole body in one session. The suspension trainer is a great piece of kit as it can be used practically anywhere and packs away into just a small bag so is convenient to carry with you. The one I am using here is called the Rip 60 but there are many others like the TRX for example. The great thing about suspension training is how almost every exercise you do on it hits your core muscles due to the free moving straps. Simply adjusting your feet position or the length of the straps alters the resistance instantly, so no need for heavy weights! I think this type of training is great for sports people as it is very functional with lots of multi joint and multi muscle exercises that can be done on it.
I made this video from a couple of sessions I took with friends both professional footballers. The session was mainly speed, agility and quickness work (SAQ). There was also some plyometric training done.
Adam or ‘Newts’ to his friends and teammates has given up some of his time to give us a little insight into his footballing career where he has amassed over 300 league appearances. He has also represented England at U21 level and played full international football for Saint Kitts and Nevis. In this brief chat we talked about the different roles that health and fitness have played in his career so far and what motivates him.
So Newts, how long have you been playing football and at what levels?
“I started my career at West Ham Utd when I was just 16 signing a 2 year scholarship. I moved into digs and learnt a lot about the disciplines of football. I then went on to do 3 years as a pro there. I had a great time making appearances in the Premiership and in Europe. From there I moved to Peterborough Utd where I stayed for 6 years and became club captain. I then moved to Brentford for a season before then signing for Luton town for 2 years and now I am at Woking FC”
What do you normally eat on a Friday and Saturday before a game?
“I try to eat pasta based dishes on a Friday like spag bowl and pasta bakes. This has become a routine for me. The morning of a game I usually have porridge and a banana and then a pre match a bit closer to the game which would usually be some form of pasta again.”
Has this changed much since you have been playing football?
“It is a habit now so I have stuck mostly to what I have always done. Although on match days now that I have to leave a little earlier for a game it is sometimes a bit different. I generally only get to eat once so I will have a slightly larger meal with eggs or chicken for some protein and pasta.’
What does your general gym session typically involve?
“A bit of everything, I don’t have a great deal of time to get to the gym so I can’t do split sessions. I do lot’s of core work as this is very important for football. I’ve done more free weights as I’ve got older and learnt more. The majority of work I do though is done using my own bodyweight, stuff like pull ups, press ups and dips. I tend to not do a great deal of leg work as I’m working these quite hard in training anyway.”
How have you seen the game change in your time with regards to nutrition and training?
“I think its changed quite drastically in the last 5-6 years with the majority of clubs particularly in the league bringing in sports scientists and specialised fitness trainers. It’s meant that players at these clubs are educated with the importance of diet, hydration, stretching and specified weight training in order to bring out the best in your performance. They also help with making you aware of what supplements you may need such as recovery drinks after games. In a way I think its going to help many players prolong their careers. Fitness work has also changed a lot, the days of just running continuously round the pitch as many times as you can have gone! It now consists of a lot more short, sharp, agility type work. There’s also a lot more speed and explosive dynamic training now.”
What do you love most about football and what do you hate?
“I’ve always wanted to be a footballer for as long as I can remember. I love the personal challenge I get from it, I like the fitness side of it too. I also like the responsibility I have with the individual role I play in a team. The part I hate most is losing, I play to win as well as enjoying the game!”
How do you keep yourself motivated?
“I stay motivated through the enjoyment of the game and wanting to win. I also don’t like to let my teammates down.”
Do you have any superstitions?
“I used to have to wear under socks but as I’ve got older I’ve grown out of that, I guess now I don’t really have any superstitions!”
Thank you Newts for taking the time to have a chat, hopefully this will be an interesting insight for people into the football world!
Plyometric training has been around for a while and is believed to have originated in the Soviet Union in the 60’s and 70’s. It was around this time that the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries were winning large numbers of medals at the Olympics and coaches from other countries started taking notice of their unusual training methods. Plyometrics are now used in the training for top level athletes in the majority of sports we see today, particularly those explosive sports such as high jump or basketball.
So how does plyometric training benefit you?
- This type of exercise trains your central nervous system to send a signal to the working muscle to contract stronger, faster and more powerfully. This works through training the motor units and the muscle fibres they innervate to act more efficiently.
- It helps develop your fast twitch fibres which are your anaerobic muscle fibres used for short explosive exercise. You can’t change a slow twitch fibre to a fast twitch fibre in a muscle but you can make the fibres grow and occupy a greater percentage of the muscle.
- The combination of the above two help to develop the speed and force of muscle contraction giving you greater explosive power, which is excellent for most sports including football. (Power is a combination of speed and strength) It is also great for speed training. When I do this type of training for a couple of weeks I find it helps increase my standing jump quite considerably.
- It can also help with injury prevention.
It is very important when doing plyometrics to first learn how to land properly. You put a lot of force through your joints and so landing your body weight so that you absorb the impact efficiently is very important, otherwise you could cause yourself an injury. The key is in landing on the balls of your feet softly and then slowly bringing your heel to the floor. Your knees should be bent and your hips should be straight.
You should never just ‘jump!’ straight into doing plyometrics without any previous training. It is vital that you build up your fitness levels and muscle strength first as this type of exercise is very demanding on the muscles involved. You should have a good base of strength conditioning in your muscles first and be able to squat your bodyweight comfortably. A good level of core strength is also important. This sort of exercise can be gradually built into your own training program depending on your own personal fitness goals, which is good to help keep your training interesting.
Tips for performing effective plyometrics
- Minimise the time you are in contact with the ground between jumps.
- Build up gradually, low reps of the simpler exercises first.
- Make sure you rest the day after as they are very demanding on your central nervous system and it will be very fatigued.
- Only do low reps with plenty of rest between sets to recover, again your muscles may feel ok but your central nervous system will be fatigued even if you don’t feel it.
- Build your core strength up before jumping into plyometrics.
3 Great Plyometric Exercises (Only attempt if you have a good level of muscle strength and fitness as stated above)
- Depth Jump (Advanced) 3 sets of 6 reps
This is a great exercise that I do quite often and really feel the benefits. It involves starting on a step or box about 1 and a half feet high. You step off the box onto the floor and as you land you immediately as quickly as possible jump straight up vertically as high as you can using your arms for extra spring. Keep your back neutral through the whole exercise do not arch and make sure you land softly through the balls of your feet. Take at least 30 seconds between each jump and 2 minutes between sets to recover.
- Lateral Hops Over Hurdle, 2 sets of 20 reps
Use a hurdle around 6” high. Starting one side hop sideways over the hurdle landing on the balls of your feet and immediately hop back over. Repeat until you have done 20 hops. Rest for 2 minutes between sets.
- Depth Push Ups (upper body Advanced), 3 sets of 6 reps:
Similar to depth jumps and clap push ups. Start in the push up position with your hands on pads or two things of equal height about 3” high is perfect. There should be a space in the middle where you can land your hands. From the pads push up as hard as you can so your hands come off the pads and land in between the pads and immediately do another push up again coming off the ground back onto the pads. Keep your core activated through out and build up to 6 reps if you can’t do 6 straight away. Make sure you rest for at least 2 minutes between sets.
I was always told that if you feel thirsty then you are more than likely already dehydrated. So what can we do to prevent this from happening? A basic understanding should help us take precautions. From the first sentence you will realise that thirst is not a good indicator of hydration and exercise can suppress your thirst further and you may not even think to drink. So why do we need fluid and how is it lost? Our bodies on average consist of 60% water although this can obviously vary from person to person. Lean muscle contains around 70-75% water where as fat tissue contains around 10-15% water. Because of this it is even more important for an athlete to balance his total body water volume through correct fluid intake. Water is lost largely through sweating but it is also lost in very small amounts through breathing and through the skin. Even in cooler weather (10 degrees celsius) footballers can lose up to 2L a game.
So What Should We Be Drinking and When?
During exercise its not just water that is lost, we start to use up our body stores of carbohydrate and we also lose electrolytes through our sweat. This is why we should consider a drink that contains all of these such as a sports drink. Tests show that by consuming a large amount of dilute glucose electrolyte solution, the onset of fatigue can be delayed quite considerably and this will help maintain performance for longer. As well as considering drinking lots to stay hydrated it is also important to be aware of over hydrating. This is very rare and only usually happens in long distance events such as marathons but in case there is any marathon runners reading this here’s a tip for you. As a guideline for athletes of all abilities if completing a marathon distance you don’t need to consume more than 2-4 litres of fluid. It’s slower runners that are mainly at risk as they are able to consume more fluid during a marathon and this can lower the sodium concentration levels in the body. This can lead to nausea, fatigue and confusion.
There are 3 important times to consider your fluid intake
- Pre exercise: You should try to consume around 500ml of water 2 hours prior to exercise so that the kidneys can regulate the total water levels in your body.
- During exercise: This is a very important time to consume fluids and you want to aim to consume roughly around 500ml of fluid every hour. This can obviously vary slightly dependent on the intensity of the exercise and the climate you are working in and its also dependent on the your fitness level. During exercise you should consider the type of fluid you consume as you want it to contain some carbohydrate and electrolytes, to replace what is being lost.
- Post exercise: If you can weigh yourself before and immediately after exercise you can work out exactly how much fluid has been lost and replace this. For every Kilogram of bodyweight you lose you should consume about 1L of fluid. After exercise this is another important time to try to drink a sports drink to replace what has been lost.
3 Tips To Stay Hydrated
- Carry a bottle of water with you every day and aim to drink at least 2L a day sipping it regularly.
- To test to see if you are fully hydrated before exercise or competition a good guide is to make sure your urine is a pale colour!
- A sports drink during exercise is better than just water as it helps replace electrolytes lost through sweat and they contain glucose for replacing your carbs you are using.