Author Archives: Sarven

Benefits of coffee

Are you a coffee lover? You should be! The myths behind this delicious beverage are finally being debunked so here are 5 great reasons to consume nature’s energy drink:

  1. High in antioxidants: Coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants such as caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. These antioxidants have proven to lower the risk of cancer (specifically liver and colorectal)
  2. Fat burner: By increasing the metabolic rate, coffee can effectively mobilize fat to be used as source of fuel (rather than glucose).
  3. Increases strength, speed and recovery: Studies have shown that caffeine will increase strength and reaction time when consumed before a workout. In addition to this, coffee has been shown to speed recovery and help reduce muscle soreness.
  4. Increases energy levels: after being absorbed through the bloodstream, caffeine makes its way to the brain where it blocks adenosine (an inhibitory neurotransmitter) and increases dopamine and norepinephrine, allowing the neurons to fire more effectively and in turn increase energy levels.
  5. Shown to help protect you from neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common neurodegenerative disorders. The regular consumption of coffee has shown to decrease the risk of both of these diseases by up to 60%


Although there are numerous great benefits linked to the consumption of coffee, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. It is best to avoid coffee after training because caffeine has been shown to increase cortisol levels and delay recovery when consumed postworkout. Also, limit your caffeine intake it your cortisol levels are high.
  2. Do not consume coffee with carbohydrates. Doing so will negate the stimulatory effects of caffeine.
  3. Drink organic coffee. Non-organic coffee is often grown using insecticides, herbicides and fungicides which are carcinogenic.



Lopez-Garcia, E. Long-Term Coffee Consumption Associated with Reduced Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. Evidence-Based Medicine. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Wang, Y., et al. Coffee and Tea Consumption and Risk of Lung Cancer. Lung Cancer. 2012. 78(2), 169-170.

Takami, H., et al. Inverse Correlation Between Coffee Consumption and Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of Epidemiology. 2012. Published Ahead of Print

Cook, C., Beaven, C., et al. Acute Caffeine Ingestion Increases Voluntarily Chosen Resistance Training Load Following Limited Sleep. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.
Bailey, D., Williams, C., et al. Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and Recovery of Muscle Function after Damaging Exercise: Effect of 6-Week Mixed Antioxidant Supplementation. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2011. 111, 925-936.

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Training for fat loss: the anaerobic vs aerobic debate

With spring around the corner, many of us are looking to lean out and shed off some unwanted body fat. If you have stepped into a commercial gym at some point in the past few decades, you have likely noticed that most trainees tend to gravitate towards cardiovascular machines in an attempt to “lose weight”. Generally speaking, people seem to be under the impression that aerobic training (jogging, marathon running or other moderate intensity workouts over long periods of time) is the most effective way of accomplishing their fat loss goals. This is largely due to massive amounts of marketing on the part of cardio equipment manufacturers. Although most beginners will generally see a drop in body fat during the 1-2 months of aerobic training, progress will almost always stagnate. Why?

1. Research shows that cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) is significantly higher in endurance athletes. Chronically high levels of cortisol are linked to gradual muscle loss, fat gain and chronic inflammation.

2. Since aerobic training does not elevate anabolic hormones such as testosterone or growth hormone, the fat loss effect quickly becomes negligible

3. Fat is a supply of slow burning energy. Therefore, longer aerobic training sessions will slow down the metabolism to allow the body to store more fat to be used during long, boring, low-intensity workouts. This is also the reason why marathon runners generally have a higher body fat percentage than sprinters.

Here are two great alternatives to a typical one hour cardio session for beginners and more advanced trainees.

Sprints take less time, are more fun and are more demanding but will ultimately give you the fat loss results you are looking for. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race!



Heydari, M., Freud, J., et al. The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity. 2012. Published Ahead of Print. Boutcher, Stephen. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity. 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Skoluda, N., Dettenborn, L., et al. Elevated Hair Cortisol Concentrations in Endurance Athletes.Psychoneuroendocrinology. September 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Cakir-Atabek, H., Demir, S., Pinarbassili, R., Bunduz, N. Effects of Different Resistance Training Intensity on Indices of Oxidative Stress. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. September 2010. 24(9), 2491-2498.

Trapp, E., Chisholm, D., et al. The Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training on Fat Loss and Fasting Insulin Levels of Young Women. International Journal of Obesity. 2008. 32(4), 684-691.

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Advanced sprint workout

Begin with a 10 minute warm up followed by dynamic stretching.
Perform 3 all out 200 yard sprints (90-120 seconds rest in between each set)
Perform 3 all out 100 yard sprints (90-120 seconds rest in between each set)
Perform 3 all out 50 yard sprints (90-120 seconds rest in between each set)
Perform 1 all out 400 yard sprint.

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Beginner’s sprint workout

Begin with a 10 minute warm up followed by dynamic stretching.

Perform 10 all out 100 yard sprints with 90-120 seconds rest in between.

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Our take on CrossFit

It seems like it is nearly impossible to get through a hard training session at the gym without hearing someone say the word Crossfit. Some people seem to swear by the immensely popular fitness phenomenon while others can’t wait for an opportunity to bash it. One could argue the good and bad side of Crossfit for hours but the fact of the matter is this: it is not a black and white issue.


• Hard work is emphasized: One of the greatest principles of Crossfit is that it stresses the importance of hard work, persistence and effort.
• Team work: Crossfitters motivate each other to improve and constantly better themselves.
• Compound lifts: Crossfit generally discourages the use of exercise machines in favor of bang for your buck, multi-joint movements such as squats, jumps, deadlifts, pulls and presses.
• Olympic weightlifting: Crossfit has popularized the sport of Olympic weightlifting by incorporating lifts such as the snatch and clean & jerk into workouts.
• Healthy eating: Crossfitters are generally conscious of the foods that they eat, often following a paleo style diet.


• Poor program design: Since Crossfit follows a WOD (workout of the day) method, exercise sequence and order is often quite poor.
• Periodization: Once again due to the fact that the whole system is essentially based on a WOD, the body simply isn’t given enough time to adapt. There is no real progression. Trying to do too much at once will impede progress.
• Technique: Often, you will find Crossfitters performing exercises (such as the snatch) for high volume, compensating technique. This is not safe nor is it effective. The lack of emphasis on proper technique puts many people at risk of injury. For example, if you are not even able to clean half of your body weight ONCE, you have no business attempting to perform a full clean & jerk for 10 reps.
• One size fits all: It is blatantly wrong to think that one type of training system (or diet for that matter) is right for everyone, regardless of how well it may have worked for you as an individual.

We need to take a step back and stop being so emotionally invested (or brand loyal in the case of Crossfit) in a specific training system. We should look at training from a subjective and scientific standpoint, be open to trying new things, take preventive measures to avoid injury (emphasis on structural balance and safety), use our logic and most importantly, listen to our bodies. Always ask yourself what you are doing and why you are doing it, no matter what type of training system you are using.

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