Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Maintaining That Athletic Edge

Life isn't fair, you need that edge

A Guide To Self Optimizing

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

Many of us on top of maintaining a demanding work schedule, still need energy to spend with family, and also a rigorous active life. How do we maintain that edge?

Being a martial artist who trains at probably one of the most competitive schools in the world, Cobrinha BJJ, I literally have to be at the top of my game. I try to maintain my conditioning without burning myself out and get proper amounts of sleep. I also have a host of injuries to consider during my training.

Here's everything you'll need to maintain that edge!

Author's Note - Whenever you're taking a supplement, you're ingesting something in its concentrated form. That means not only nutrients but also toxins and chemicals can also become concentrated. Purity, third party testing, and certificates of analysis should be considered mandatory. Don't mess around with your health. Quality and value has been already factored into the products I'm recommending, along with your body's ability to absorb the nutrient. If you can't even absorb it, you paid for nothing.

Coffee and Protein

Kicking Horse Coffee - Don't let the funny name fool you, they know their coffee and they know their sourcing and processing. They're one of the cleanest, most transparent, lowest in mold, most organic, and highest in antioxidants. It's also one of the tastiest. In third party testing, some of the most popular brands have been found to contain mold, or fillers from corn to twigs. Make sure you only ever get whole bean, avoid decaf, and avoid robusta beans from Africa.

Grass-fed Collagen Protein - Collagen for your skin, hair, joint repair, and improved healing. Not just for athletes, but any active person can benefit from this. Older athletes should add this to their normal protein intake. Vital Proteins is one of the only brands to offer it in non-gelatin form. Gelatin is created with heat, which damages the collagen. It's best to avoid heat with most supplements. It's also grass-fed, kosher, and pure. One of the highest rated brands, and if you look at the price per ounce, it's also one of the least costly. I mix this with grass-fed whey when I blend my shakes.

Grass-fed Whey Protein - Cold-pressed undenatured grass-fed whey is like the Rolls Royce of protein. Highest bio-availability, highest amount of essential amino acids, glutathione, naturally occurring immuno-globulins, lactoferrin, CLA's, and growth factors. Hormone free, GMO free, bleach free, soy free, gluten free -- just pure clean protein. And at $1 an ounce with the highest reviews, the brand from ProMix doesn't mess around. I buy the 5lb bulk bag.

Colostrum Powder - Made from the mother's milk of grass fed, Grade A, dairy cows that are certified healthy, BST, BSE and antibiotic-free. It helps heal the lining of the gut as well as improving the immune system. Best to take on an empty stomach, don't eat anything for 30 minutes.


As many of you know, I feel most people don't need to be on many supplements other than fish oils and possibly vitamin D. Diet should be able to take care of the rest. For high performers who have demanding lives as well as a demanding athletic life, you may need more.

Fish Oils - This is the only one I feel nearly everyone should be on (unless they have a medical reason they shouldn't be). The one I recommend is from Nordic Naturals, which is the cleanest and most natural form. You can read more about it in my fish oils article.

Omega Joint Formula - Collagen is what our joints, cartilage, and skin are made of. This formula includes an undenatured type II collagen along with omega-3, shellfish-free glucosamine sulfate, and vitamin D3 to accelerate benefits and effectiveness. Undenatured type II Collagen is the primary form of collagen found in cartilage. Whereas many other available forms of type II collagen are hydrolyzed, which alters the molecular configuration and renders it biologically inactive, the type II collagen in this formula is undenatured to preserve its native form and efficacy. Targeted and accelerated support for joint mobility, flexibility, and comfort. Promotes the repair and rebuilding of connective tissue and healthy joints. Supports the body’s anti-inflammatory healing response.

Ubiquinol Gold - This is a brand of CoQ10 from Nutrigold which features KanekaQH - the purest and most absorbable CoQ10 available. It's bio-identical to what the body naturally produces and it's rapid release. It's naturally found in your heart, liver, pancreas, and kidney. I take this for my longevity, mitochondria, ATP, cells, repair, cardiovascular function, cognitive function, immunity, and oxidative protection. It is the quintessential anti-aging supplement and this is the best version, from one of the best companies -- and as far as price per serving, it's also one of the most cost effective. A lot of the other versions just won't absorb at all.

Vitamin D3 and K2 - This is especially important for those people who don't get consistent sunshine daily. Basically anyone indoors during the day. It affects everything from mood, memory, recovery, muscle growth, testosterone, etc. America always ranks high in vitamin D deficiency. K2 tells vitamin D where to go and how to be used. It should be taken in combination. Protect yourself. Vital for the hormonal health of women. Highly useful also for people with asthma.

BCAA - It helps with recovery, for me it's especially good after a hard session of BJJ sparring, especially at my age. It's also good for weight maintenance, and muscle growth, and testosterone. I use the Muscle Pharm BCAA 3:1:2. It works best if you take it before and after your training. This supplement is especially important for women, to increase muscle building (and to prevent muscle loss).

Zinc - For recovery, healing, immune function, and testosterone. Get the one from NOW foods.

Shroom Tech - I found this to be especially helpful before a tournament, or a really hard sparring session. It's good for intense work outs where you'll be using a lot of ATP. I get the ones made by Onnit Labs. It's popular among BJJ'ers and MMA fighters right now, and is often mentioned by Dave Asprey from Bulletproof Exec and Joe Rogan.

Magnesium and Potassium Aspartate with Taurine - Prevents cramping and muscle soreness. Important in recovering from injury.

Cacao Powder - Helpful to guard against insulin resistance. Protection of nerves, blood pressure, and cardiovascular system. Stabilizes mood. It's packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Useful to fight cravings. Helpful to women during the premenstrual phase of their cycle.

Maca Powder - Increase endurance, hormone balance, mood stabilizer, a rich source of nutrients, and helpful in fertility. This may is also helpful in balancing testosterone in men and estrogen in women.

Methyl B12 - There is actually a serious problem in the US for B12 deficiency. Not only will this affect energy but your neurological health. Since B12 comes from animal sources, vegetarians/ vegans are at risk, but even some non-vegetarians are poor at absorbing B12 and may need supplementation. Along with vitamin D, you should regularly get tested for B12 levels as well.

Skin Defense/Armor

Futuro Infinity Active Knit Knee Stabilizer - Don't waste your money on anything else. Really. You'll just end up buying more and more knee pads, and keep hurting your knees. I've got nearly every training partner on these things. It's breathable and is made with anti-microbial material. It literally will not slip no matter how hard you train. Not bulky and doesn't get in the way. Patella gel ring provides cushioning comfort and targeted compression. Strong side stabilizers provide added support and keep support in place with silicone beads. Good for impact and stability and you lose no range of motion. Your training partners won't even know you're wearing anything.

Posture Shirt - Not only to protect the skin but I use posture shirts to align my shoulders, neck, and back for maximum strength production while training, and also to prevent injury. Especially when doing any combative arts, your shoulders and neck are always getting banged up. A lot of injuries are caused by joint misalignment. Training with these on and training without them is like night and day. The best by far are by Intelliskin. You'll never be able to go back to rash guards again. You can even wear these under your shirt to keep proper posture at work.

For women there's a zip up version. Since it's a posture shirt, it fits really tight. The zip up feature makes it much easier to put on.

Acidophilus - Among fighters, one of the tricks to preventing ring worm is by taking acidophilus. I take it before every class and also shower afterwards with tea tree oil soap. The brand I trust is from NOW. Most of all it's a probiotic and helps with digestion and immunity. Especially good if you had to go on a round of antibiotics.

Dead Sea Salt - Soak in a bathtub with warm water for 20 minutes. Not only improves circulation and recovery and healing, it also kills germs and improves the skin. Especially dry skin and acne from training.

Defense Soap - If you work out, use Defense Soap. If you do martial arts, boxing, cycling, yoga, or anything where you're around other sweaty people, or you touch equipment, wear equipment, or you're barefoot, this is the only soap you should use after training. Each bar contains a unique blend of essential oils known to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Skin flora friendly PH balance. Pharmaceutical quality antimicrobial essential oils. High density lathering formula for deep cleansing.

Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Soap - I use this to clean equipment, wipe down any of my training gear, and I add it to my laundry as a boost to freshen and kill any bacteria and fungus.


Standing Desk - Probably nothing has helped me get over all the dings and aches of training like a standing desk has. Not sitting, slouching, or leaning forward when I use my computer finally gave my body an opportunity to heal. My neck and shoulders have never felt better. Use this and the posture shirt, and your posture will improve tremendously.

Anti-Fatigue Mat - If you do get the standing desk, or you build your own, get one of these mats and stand on it barefoot or in socks. May take a week to get used to but you'll be thanking me.

Foam Rollers - I mostly use The Grid, and The Rumble Roller. With all the injuries from sparring and intense training, its something I use daily and rely on more and more as I get older. This cannot be stressed enough and you should be doing mobility and self massaging at home every day.

Massagers - I use two kinds. The Gurin Massage Roller, and The Massage Cane for hard to reach places. Trust me, especially for calves and back, it'll be worth it.

Massage Balls - Jill Miller's Alpha Ball is by far the best. You can try putting two high bouncy balls in a sock and use that to roll out knots. Kelly Starrett from Mobility Wod/Supple Leopard uses similar devices. You can also use lacrosse balls or tennis balls, especially good for the feet.

Kettlebells - It's a combination of strength and cardio. A real space and time saver. You only need one to start and as you get stronger over time, use the lighter ones for upper body and the heavier ones for swings. Caps makes a very good product for the cost.

Climber - The only cardio I do is on climbers. At my studio I use the VersaClimber but at home I use the Maxi Climber. Grips, pull strength, and the cardio of climbing a mountain. Only the leanest and strongest can scale a wall.

Shoes - I own some Converse, some wrestling shoes, I particularly like my sambo shoes for lifting or training. For general purpose, the ones I use most often are The New Balance Minimus. They also have Minimus for women. That also means you have to change the way you run.

High Tech Nerd Stuff

These are things I do to make sure I'm optimal in every way.

Gamma Ray Computer Glasses - These glasses are complete game changers. I use these whenever I use the computer and it helps with eye strain and preventing macular degeneration. It blocks out some of the most harmful frequencies of light that can harm your eyes and also cause insomnia. Think about it — from our phones, TVs, computers, to even the lights we use — we are bombarded by bright LED lights. If this was occasional, it wouldn't be a problem, but we're in this environment most of the day. Your neck will feel better too because you won't be straining forward as much.

The Fibit - It tracks how much I've moved and how well I've slept. Very important if you need to track your progress before an event or a tournament.

Omron Body Composition Scale - To check your weight, your muscle, your body fat, your biological age, this is the one I trust. For competitors in sports where they have to weigh-in, this is a must have.

Wake Up Light - I use this to reprogram my sleep, and wake up without spiking my stress hormones with a loud alarm. It wakes you naturally, as if it was the sun itself rising. Crucial for recovery and proper hormone balance.

Insidetracker - This company is used by many professional athletes, their trainers, and many sports teams as well. It's to analyze the inner you, to see how optimized you (from stress levels, metabolism, to testosterone) are and it will also analyze ways to help you become more optimal. You can read more here: Value of Biomarkers.

Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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