August 5, 2020

Mountain climbers build both cardio and strength – here’s how to do them right and More…

In today’s digest we bring you articles on Mountain climbers build both cardio and strength – here’s how to do them right, The 5 Best Plant Protein Sources to Look for in Your Plant Protein Powder, Running to one song at a time helped me lose seven stone and These two best friends ran a marathon in Crocs. Hope you enjoy them…

Mountain climbers build both cardio and strength – here’s how to do them right

One way to become a better runner is by improving your form. To do so, you’ll need to do more than just log miles. Enter: strength training. One move in particular, the mountain climber, can help you build a strong and stable core, which can, in turn, improve your running power, efficiency, and posture. Mountain…

One way to become a better runner is by improving your form. To do so, you’ll need to do more than just log miles. Enter: strength training. One move in particular, the mountain climber, can help you build a strong and stable core, which can, in turn, improve your running power, efficiency, and posture.

Mountain climbers are a hero exercise for a number of reasons: Perform the move as quickly as possible to give your workouts a boost of low-impact cardio. Slowed it down, and you challenge your core stabilisation and hip flexion, which is important for proper running form, explains Kellie Williams, NASM-certified personal trainer and Barry’s Bootcamp Instructor. Loop resistance bands around your feet and you now have a seriously challenging exercise that builds core and hip flexor strength.

Still, many people perform this exercise incorrectly, so knowing how to do a mountain climber properly is important before banging out some quick reps during your next workout.

Improper form can cause unnecessary stress on the low back, make you feel unstable, or make the move ineffective. Common form mistakes Williams sees include:

  • failing to stack your shoulders directly over your wrists
  • hyperextending your backs and not keeping a tight core
  • allowing hips (butt) to rise up instead of keeping core and back engaged
  • kicking heels up rather than driving knees in toward chest
  • just going ballistic: trying to bang out quick reps instead of focusing on form

    How to do a proper mountain climber

    Start in a high plank position with shoulders stacked directly over wrists, hands place shoulder-width apart, and core engaged so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Keep your neck relaxed by looking down between your hands. Engage your glutes, quads, and thighs to keep your legs straight. With a tight core, initiate the movement by driving your left knee in toward your chest, then quickly stepping it back to plank position. Immediately drive the right knee in toward chest, then quickly step it back into plank position. Continue to alternate.

    Perform the move slowly at first, then speed up as you perfect your form.

    Expert tips:

    Make sure your quads are engaged, your knees are off the ground, and your toes are placed right under heels. Always start from a neutral position and make sure your butt is not up in the air, and also that your tailbone is not tucked.

    ‘You don’t want your butt up or your low back bending in,’ Williams says. ‘Both positions put you at risk for injury.’

    Each time you pull your knee toward your chest, make sure the movement is controlled—maintaining a neutral spine. ‘Once you have that control and your movements are not bouncy or ballistic, you can speed up the movement,’ Williams says. ‘Always make sure your knee comes in strong.’

    If you’re brand new to mountain climbers, Williams suggests taking it slow, and mastering your form before speeding up.

    How do you make it easier?

    If you’re still working on your form, Williams suggest starting with a bird dog to build core strength and hip stability.

    Bird dog

    Start on all fours with wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, toes tucked, and back flat. Extend right arm and left leg straight out until they’re parallel to the floor. Maintain a flat back, level hips, and focus on pulling your belly button toward your spine. Return to all fours, then raise left arm and right leg. Continue alternating for 90 seconds.

    What are the benefits of mountain climbers?

    The move can be performed quickly to get your heart rate up during workouts. And, the move can help you work on core stabilisation and hip flexion, which is important as you work on improving your running form.

    ‘[The move is a] great way to engage your core, and train your body to maintain strong form in plank position, similar to the form you want when running,’ Williams says.

    You can also incorporate some slow mountain climbers, which will give your workout more of a Pilates vibe—slowing down the move will really engage your muscles.

    Williams often has her clients alternate between 20 seconds of slow mountain climber intervals and 20 seconds of fast mountain climbers, with rest in between.

    How often should you do mountain climbers?

    You can add mountain climbers to any workout you’re doing, either as a way to end high-intensity interval training, or as part of a core circuit, Williams says.

    To end a high-energy set, Williams suggests a short circuit of jumping jacks, squats, inchworms, and mountain climbers. She suggests any time you do mountain climbers to perform the move in short bursts, about 30 to 40 seconds at a time, taking a rest break between sets.

    ‘Any longer than that and your shoulders will be just burnt out, and it will no longer be beneficial,’ she says.

    What mountain climber variations can you do?

    Cross-body mountain climber

    Start in a high plank position, wrists under shoulders, core engaged so body forms a straight line from heels to ankles. Bring right knee in toward left elbow, then return to starting position. Bring left knee in toward right elbow, then return to starting position. Continue to alternate.


    Mountain climber with exercise ball

    With the exercise ball in front of you, start in plank position with your elbows resting on top of the ball and core engaged so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Draw right knee in toward chest, then return to starting position. Bring left knee in toward chest, then return to starting position. Continue to alternate legs as fast as possible for 30 to 40 seconds.


    Plank jack to alternating mountain climber

    Start in high plank position and perform one plank jack by jumping both feet apart and back together—like a jumping jack on the floor. Next, bring left knee into chest (like one half of a mountain climber), then return to high plank position. Then perform another plank jack, come back to high plank position, then bring right knee into chest (like the other half of a mountain climber). Repeat.


    Sprawl

    Start in high plank position, wrists under shoulders, core engaged so body forms a straight line from heels to ankles. Jump both legs in between hands, pause, then jump back to starting position. Repeat. To make the move more challenging, jump both legs toward hands, landing with feet outside hands.

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    The 5 Best Plant Protein Sources to Look for in Your Plant Protein Powder

    The biggest challenge when looking for a great source of plant-based protein is knowing which ones contain a full amino-acid profile to help deliver the protein you need on a plant-based diet. Compared to animal protein, plant protein sources are unique, with each containing different essential nutrients. The first step is to find a supplement…

    The biggest challenge when looking for a great source of plant-based protein is knowing which ones contain a full amino-acid profile to help deliver the protein you need on a plant-based diet. Compared to animal protein, plant protein sources are unique, with each containing different essential nutrients.

    The first step is to find a supplement with a label that reveals exactly how much of each ingredient is in the product. Some plant-based protein powders lump any number of ingredients into what’s called a “proprietary blend.” Unfortunately, without knowing the exact amount of each ingredient, you won’t really know exactly how much of each you’re ingesting.



    With that caveat in mind, here are the five best protein sources to look for in a high-quality plant-based protein to get the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.

    1. Pea Protein

    Pea protein is perhaps the best plant protein source. Supplementing with a plant protein that has a full essential amino acid (EAA) profile is critical to initiating the muscle-building process known as muscle protein synthesis. Compared to other plant-based protein sources, pea protein has the highest essential amino acid mix, nearly rivaling whey protein in that regard.[1]

    In a double-blind randomized controlled study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, participants enrolled in a 12-week resistance-training program were given either pea protein, whey protein, or a placebo. The results showed a significantly greater effect on muscle composition in the pea protein group, with no clinical difference in strength between groups.[2]

    A more recent study conducted at Lipscomb University in Tennessee that compared whey and pea protein supplementation, taken during eight weeks of high-intensity functional training, showed comparable benefits in strength, body composition, muscle thickness, and other factors.[3]

    Pea pods.

    2. Hemp Protein

    Hemp is another complete plant protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It also gets high marks for its fiber content, digestibility, and healthy fats, even though the oil is removed from the hemp seeds when they’re processed.[4] Hemp’s 3-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may support heart, joint, and brain health. Additionally, hemp protein is rich in minerals and antioxidants, including phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper.

    3. Pumpkin Seed Protein

    Like hemp, pumpkin seeds contain nearly 60 percent protein and 30 percent fat, along with an abundance of essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and copper.[5] In fact, pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium on the planet. Maintaining healthy levels of this mineral may be particularly helpful for athletes who sweat more often.

    Additionally, pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, which supports digestive health. When looking for a high-quality plant protein powder, try to find one that includes pumpkin seed protein.



    Pumpkin seeds

    4. Sacha Inchi

    Hailed as a new superfood, sacha inchi is a nut native to the Amazon jungle in South America. It contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It’s also one of the most nutrient-dense nuts out there. Packed with alpha-linoleic acid, sacha inchi is another great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.[6]

    A study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry found that sacha inchi has a surprisingly high content of tryptophan, which, along with serotonin, is involved in regulating appetite.[7] Serotonin also helps control mood, promotes better quality sleep, and improves overall vitality.*

    5. Quinoa Protein

    Quinoa is also a very high-quality plant-based protein source. With a full essential amino acid profile, quinoa may help improve athletic performance measurements, such as increasing strength and muscle mass and optimizing body composition. The leucine content of quinoa equals 7.2 percent of its total protein. Leucine is intimately involved in muscle protein synthesis.*

    *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

    References
    1. Gorissen, Stefan H. M., et al. (2018). Protein content and amino acid composition of commercially available plant-based protein isolates. Amino Acids, 50, 1685-1695.
    2. Babault, Nicolas, et al. (2015). Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. whey protein. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 3.
    3. Banaszek, Amy. et al. (2019). The effects of whey vs. pea protein on physical adaptations following 8-weeks of high-intensity functional training (HIFT): a pilot study. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 7(1), 12.
    4. House, J. D., Neufeld, J., & Leson, G. (2010). Evaluating the quality of protein from hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) products through the use of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score method. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(22), 11801-7.
    5. Glew, R. H., Glew, R. S., Chuang, L. T., et al. (2006). Amino acid, mineral and fatty acid content of pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita spp) and Cyperus esculentus nuts in the Republic of Niger. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 61(2), 51-6.
    6. Gonzales, Gustavo F., et al. (2018). Nitrogen balance after a single oral consumption of sacha inchi (Plukenetia volúbilis L.) protein compared to soy protein: a randomized study in humans. Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods, 28(2), 140-147.
    7. Sathe, S. K., Hamaker, B .R., Sze-tao, K. W., & Venkatachalam, M. (2002). Isolation, purification, and biochemical characterization of a novel water-soluble protein from Inca peanut (Plukenetia Volubilis L.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 50(17), 4906-8.



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    Running to one song at a time helped me lose seven stone

    Name: Sheri ShawAge: 40 Occupation: Assistant Dean for Student Success Start Weight: 298 poundsEnd Weight: 190 poundsTime Running: 11 months Running has always been a component of my life. My older brother, Eugene Shaw, was an avid runner in high school and I emulated him. So I joined the junior high track and field teams…

    Name: Sheri Shaw
    Age: 40
    Occupation: Assistant Dean for Student Success

    Start Weight: 298 pounds
    End Weight: 190 pounds
    Time Running: 11 months


    Running has always been a component of my life. My older brother, Eugene Shaw, was an avid runner in high school and I emulated him. So I joined the junior high track and field teams to stretch myself competitively.

    In my teens and 20s, I could just get up and run, doing 5Ks, 10Ks, and even half marathons with ease. But as I approached my late 20s and 30s, joint pain—which I blamed on old high school volleyball injuries—became a problem for me, and my running habit slowed.

    But really, it was because of my inability to manage my time due to the increased pressures to demonstrate professional success. I had begun to grow in university administration, and I became focused on work and less on managing my workout schedule. After consistent late nights and coffee runs, the weight began to creep up. Mentally, I talked myself out of trying to go for a run.

    My workouts turned into heavy lifting and low impact cardio, but it didn’t fill the void left by running. I loved the feeling of lacing up my shoes, popping on my run-tracking app, turning on my music playlist, and going outside. I missed it, and my weight showed that.

    Before I knew it, I had gotten up to 298 pounds in September 2019. At that time, I was having surgery to remove scar tissue that had developed from donating my kidney in 2001. So once I recovered and was cleared to be active, I knew I wanted to get back out and run.

    Before I could do that though, I needed to ease the joint pain. That month, I started my journey by changing my eating habits.

    As a kidney donor, I have always avoided smoking and drinking, and eaten foods high in fibre. However, I consumed a lot of high-fat foods, fast food, caffeine, and sugar. That, along with the lack of exercise, pushed me to where I was.

    When I started utilising a food-tracking app, I gave up those foods and made more of an effort to put the right things in my body. Adding a little movement to those changes, I lost 40 pounds by the new year.

    To kick off 2020, I joined a friend and her family at Hilton Head Health, a weight loss retreat. This, I thought, would help me jumpstart my journey, and it did.

    It got me excited about the process and to get my running back up, even if I had to start by walking a lot. Every other day, I was going out for two-mile runs coupled with a 30-minute Burn Boot camp workout. Slowly, I saw my endurance go up at the gym where I worked. I would hide the digital screens and focus on running through a song on my playlist.

    I found, for me, that music helped me find my cadence and get lost in my runs while heavy beats kept me going at a good pace. It also helped with time. When I started, I tried to run for an entire song. One song became two, then three, and then four. Four songs equaled a mile. I hadn’t run a mile without stopping in over four years!

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    For months, I stayed in that two-mile comfort zone, afraid of pains resurfacing from previous injuries (IT band, knee, and Achilles). That all changed during the coronavirus pandemic when a friend introduced me to virtual racing. With that, I turned to running three to five miles outside. I started out at 15-minute miles and am already up to 12-minute pace.

    With the addition of running again, the weight continues to come off. I’m currently at 190 pounds, and I’m still going strong toward my goal of 170, the weight at which my doctors say I would be the healthiest for my kidney function.

    Having lost more than 100 pounds, I feel like myself again. I am the size I was over 20 years ago, when I first started college. I’ve found the runner I want to be again. These changes allow me to move my body with more ease and I’ve noticed a return of my high activity level. I’m even challenging myself to run for entire playlists—I recently made one that lasted for two hours, and I covered eight miles, my longest run in a long time.

    For anyone out there that wants to make a similar change, my advice is to just lace up. I spent so much time talking myself out of running that I wasted precious time toward making myself feel better emotionally, physically, and personally. What I failed to see is that I could create a new runner profile that complemented who I am today rather than trying to be the runner I was in high school.

    Also, don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Run for you. This is your race. Face it with grace at your own pace. There will be valleys, hills, setbacks, and roadblocks. That’s why the goal has to be forward motion; not matter how large or small, it is still forward progression. Yesterday’s ceiling is tomorrow’s floor. Keep challenging yourself and keep growing.


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    These two best friends ran a marathon in Crocs

    Two students have completed a marathon wearing Crocs to raise money for an anti-slavery charity. Best friends Carrie Hallam and Mhairi Russell ran the 26.2-mile distance together in Edinburgh on July 11th in aid of International Justice Mission UK. The global organisation works in more than 20 countries to abolish human trafficking and slavery, and…

    Two students have completed a marathon wearing Crocs to raise money for an anti-slavery charity.

    Best friends Carrie Hallam and Mhairi Russell ran the 26.2-mile distance together in Edinburgh on July 11th in aid of International Justice Mission UK. The global organisation works in more than 20 countries to abolish human trafficking and slavery, and regularly shares rescue stories of survivors.

    Having discovered the prevalence of these abuses, the athletic duo was compelled to do something practical to make a difference.

    ‘Lockdown has brought to light the injustices that exist across the globe. One of the most shocking things to me was learning that there are over 40 million people experiencing modern slavery today,’ Hallam explains.

    Wearing layered pairs of socks inside their sandals, Hallam and Russell crossed the finish line after 4 hours and 32 minutes.

    The choice to run in Crocs was inspired by their united love of the world-famous brand.

    ‘We see Crocs as a wholly misunderstood footwear,’ Hallam tells Runner’s World UK. ‘They’re bright, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. They are also lightweight, breathable and they prevent plantar fasciitis – what more do you want in a pair of running shoes?!’

    Although neither Hallam nor Russell had run a marathon before, they were equally eager to tackle the distance.

    ‘After being locked down for two months, Carrie and I both had an excess of time and energy – we thought that a marathon was a great fitness challenge that would give us something to focus on and train for,’ Russell says.

    In their four-week training period, the pair focused on getting used to the challenge of running in Crocs.

    After much experimentation, they devised a strategy to enhance the comfort of their footwear. ‘We ended up with the perfect set up of prophylactic blister plasters, a pair of running socks and a pair of thicker hill walking socks,’ Russell reveals.

    Aware of the risk of running in less-than-suitable shoes, the women took a number of measures to fend off the threat of injury. Their training included intense strength-building, such as squats and lunges, and their race was run predominately on grass.

    Having successfully completed their first marathon, the duo have set new running goals for themselves. While Russell now hopes to run a sub 1:45 half-marathon (also in Crocs), Hallam is planning to run another full marathon in under four hours.

    ‘Perhaps long term, we’ll claim we are aiming to do an ultra in crocs, but we won’t be held to that one!’ says Hallam.

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