5 Tips to Up-The-Ante on Your Sleep and Recovery Game

5 Tips to Up-The-Ante on Your Sleep and Recovery Game

Tired of training hard with little to no results to show for it? Perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach to sleep!

When it comes to rest, it’s no secret that most of us simply aren’t getting the quality of sleep our bodies require to grow, repair and function at their best. So, what’s the big issue? From work-related stress to caffeine loaded diets, sleep – or rather, the lack thereof – is a leading contributor to adverse mental health problems and a lack of progression in the gym. Believe it or not, a lack of quality sleep not only stunts your body’s ability to recover and subsequently to grow after a training session, but it also plays a pretty serious role in impacting energy levels, mental wellbeing, immune health, motivation, cognitive function, weight loss, digestive health, libido and fertility…just to name a few!

If you’re keen to up-the-ante on your sleep and recovery game, check out Australian Sports Nutrition’s top five strategies to improve your quality of sleep in order to optimise your recovery and productivity, in and out of the gym.

 

  1. Cut down on caffeine

We just heard a thousand hearts shatter as they read the words “cut down on caffeine”. However, like all things in life, moderation is key…particularly when it comes to caffeine. While caffeine is a hugely beneficial ingredient for enhancing energy levels, cognitive function and ultimately, workout performance, it can have a negative effect when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

As a general rule, we recommend cutting your caffeine intake at least 4-6 hours before bedtime. Wondering why? Caffeine has a half-life of roughly five to six hours, which means it will continue to circulate in your body long after you feel the immediate effects. Simply put, a half-life refers to the time required for the amount of any specified property to decrease by half.

But, what does this actually mean?

Let’s say you take a pre-workout supplement loaded with 300mg of caffeine at 5:30 pm to get you feeling mentally alert and ready to take on an intense workout. Believe it or not, by 10:30 pm, as you’re winding down or already in bed, you will still have approximately 150mg of caffeine in your system. While you may not necessarily feel the energy-boosting and focus-enhancing benefits, the caffeine is likely to prevent you from having the highest quality sleep that’s required for optimal recovery. To put this into perspective, you can expect around 95 mg of caffeine in your average cup of coffee!

Trying to cut out caffeine but struggling to keep motivated and focussed in the gym? Try Evolve’s stimulant-free pre-workout formula designed to assist with weight loss and performance, while simultaneously boosting cognitive function. Introducing: Carnitine Rx!

  1. Control your exposure to light

Did you know that your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, as opposed to when it’s light?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone influenced by light exposure that plays an important role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Simply put, your brain produces more melatonin when it’s dark, which makes you feel more tired, and less melatonin when it’s light, which makes you feel more alert. While this seems like a flawless system, the reality is that many aspects of modern day life can easily alter the body’s production of melatonin, which ultimately impacts how our body regulates our natural waking and sleeping times.

The solution? Minimise your exposure to artificial lights at least one hour prior to bed. You may have heard about the benefits of switching off all electronics in your room while you sleep, and there is certainly some truth behind it. In this day and age, the artificial light emitted from our smartphones, TVs, laptops, light bulbs and iPads is disrupting our body’s natural cyclical release of melatonin, which impacts our ability to switch off, unwind and relax (three core requirements for a good night’s sleep). If, for whatever reason, you are required to use electronics at nighttime, try the following tips for minimising your exposure to artificial light:

  • Opt for a device with a smaller screen
  • Turn down the brightness on your devices
  • Try not to read with backlit devices
  • Avoid late-night television

 

  1. Get your carbs in at night

Consuming carbohydrates prior to bed helps to increase the production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. The result? High levels of serotonin at night helps to soothe your brain into a calm, tranquil and relaxed state, which in turn helps you to enjoy a restful night’s sleep.  All in all, the higher the amount of serotonin in your bloodstream at night time, the better quality sleep you’re likely to experience.

We know what you’re thinking…”won’t carbs at night make me fat!?”

Short answer: Nope!

Carbohydrates alone will not make you fat, just like any other food group. However, consuming an excessive amount of calories that exceeds your body’s daily requirements over an extended period of time certainly will. Just like we said earlier, it’s all about moderation!

Let’s elaborate on this point further…

With regards to your carbohydrate consumption, the best way to ensure it fits into your dietary requirements is to plan your intake across the day in accordance with your personal needs. As a rule of thumb, aim to consume 40-50% of your daily carbohydrate intake in the last meal you eat before bed to maximise the benefits of elevated serotonin levels.

 

  1. Find your routine

Thought set bedtimes were only for kids? Think again!

Believe it or not, having a set sleep schedule in place may be the difference between you tossing and turning all night long or you feeling well rested and recovered in the morning.

Can it really make that much of a difference? The answer is YES!

Going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day sets your body’s ‘internal clock’, which essentially alerts your brain when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to rise. Sticking to the same sleep schedule every night allows your body to find its natural rhythm and to settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle. It’s as simple as this – If you have an inconsistent sleep schedule that throws off your internal clock, you won’t feel or function your best. In fact, an inconsistent bedtime routine is known to cause irritability, drowsiness, mood swings, memory loss, headaches, and a decline in cognitive ability. Additionally, people with irregular sleeping patterns are more susceptible to experiencing a restless night’s sleep, which means your body isn’t able to enter the deep REM sleep required to restore and repair your brain and body. This poses a very real threat to those who work out regularly, but aren’t getting the consistent sleep they need to repair their muscles overnight!

Top tips for scheduling in a set bedtime:

  • Plan out your week ahead and incorporate a set bedtime each night
  • Set daily and weekly goals i.e. how many hours of sleep would you like to achieve each week?
  • Switch off the TV and turn your phone to flight mode at least 1-2 hours prior to jumping into bed
  • Limit your social media time – Scrolling through Instagram can be a serious time waster and an ineffective way to wind down at night
  1. Supplement with Hyper Sleep

 

Tired of waking up feeling tired?

Struggling to have a restful night’s sleep?

Sick of seeing your gym results fade away?

Hyper Sleep may be just what you need!

Whether you’re short on time, struggle to change your schedule to incorporate more effective sleeping patterns, or are simply tired of watching the hard work you put in at the gym fade away due to a lack of sleep, Hyper Sleep is a potent sleep aid designed to induce a deep anabolic sleep to enhance muscular recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.

Why is sleep so important for muscle recovery? A lack of sleep makes it much harder for your muscles to recover, repair and grow post-workout as it slows down the production of growth hormone. Additionally, it also impacts your body and brains ability to function optimally to get the most out of your workouts!

Are Cheat Meals The Key?

Are Cheat Meals The Key?

Cheat meals are often thought of as the dark and evil temptation in a dieting phase, that are sure to ruin all the progress you’ve made. But are they really? If you find yourself unable to stick to your diet, constantly falling off due to cravings and temptations ending in a cheat meal and finding yourself back at square one, then incorporating strategic cheat meals into your diet might just be the thing you’re missing.

 

But won’t a cheat meal ruin all my progress? Not if it’s scheduled into your diet and you know how to incorporate it! What most people fail to understand is that it all comes down to balance – not just the cliché saying but actual calorie balance. For example, if you know that you get cravings on weekends or you want to enjoy a pizza with some friends, you simply need to work out what your weekly calorie balance needs to be in order for you to drop weight. Then roughly equate how many calories your cheat meal will be and eat a little bit less either the day before, the day after or even the entire week leading up to the meal to meet your weekly calorie target – be flexible!

 

If you’re one prone to falling off your diet, doing this and actually incorporating cheat meals into your diet will ensure that you stay on it and continue making sustainable progress. It’ll give you something to work towards and look forward to throughout the week, making the dieting phase a lot easier and enjoyable. You won’t have to shut yourself off at social events by declining to eat out and won’t miss out on anything. Best of all, it won’t leave you with any regrets after – it’s easy when you know how!

The key to a consistent training schedule is… inconsistency?

The key to a consistent training schedule is… inconsistency?

Most people stress about finding what the optimal weight training schedule is or the ideal routine to keep them consistent and let them achieve they’re goals. For most, it might actually be the last thing they think of – inconsistency! Sounds counterintuitive right? But inconsistency and variety might just be the thing you’re missing, and Dukes is here to show you why.

 

First, we should outline what WILL actually get you results and what needs to be in place in ANY training schedule. It’s progress. You should always be striving for progress inside and outside the gym. That means weights used in the gym should be increasing and your scale weight should be progressing in the direction you want it to – whether that’s weight gain or weight loss.

 

Now that we’ve cleared up what’s needed to achieve your goals, we should go through how to best make consistent progress and not fall off. You might’ve guessed it, it’s inconsistency and variety! You cannot go into the gym doing the exact same things, exact same exercises, exact same weights day in day out. You need to add a variety of exercises into your training regime.

 

If you constantly try to progress at the exact same exercises, you’ll quickly stall, become demotivated and fall off. You shouldn’t expect to progress an exercise or body part, when you’re constantly hacking away at the exact same movement pattern, tendons, ligaments and muscle fibres. Throughout the week or even fortnight, you should have a variety of main exercises you’re looking to progress at and rotate through. By having this rotation, you’ll ensure that you’re always getting better, progressing, achieving your goals and staying motivated. Keeping track of numbers and logbooking is the key here. If you can physically see the numbers increase, it’s sure to motivate you like nothing else will.

 

The same concept can be applied in the kitchen of course, have a variety of meals that you enjoy and can rotate through to keep cravings and temptations at bay.

 

So, to sum it all up, if you’re looking to not fall off your training schedule and keep at it, you might just need to add some inconsistency to your training and diet. If you’re struggling to progress, give this a shot and see how you go!

Dirty Bulks Are A Waste Of Your Time – Here’s Why

Dirty Bulks Are A Waste Of Your Time – Here’s Why

What is a dirty bulk?

Dirty bulking has seen a constant rise and decline in popularity within the weight training scene over
the years. A traditional dirty bulk refers to going all out in terms of putting on weight when trying to
gain muscle. No mind is payed to where the calories come from – the general rule of as much as
possible applies. Typically, the bulker will opt for very calorically dense foods such as fast food,
lollies, ice cream and neglect any vegetables to fit in more. The dirty bulk bro won’t pay attention
whether it’s fat or muscle, as long as the scale increases from day to day, week to week, it’s a win in
his eyes! But is it really a win?

 

Why do people do it??

Sure, speedy weight gain and always being in an overfed state have their perks in the weight room.
Who doesn’t mind strength gains and massive pumps? The bulking bro will inevitably make gains
when focusing on progressive overload and being consistent with his routine, but there are a couple
of caveats to consider when opting for this method of muscle building.

 

The Problem!

At some point, the trainee will get to a point where he’s reached a level of bodyfat that leaves him
feeling uncomfortable, lethargic, with no appetite and some nasty consequences typical for high
levels of bodyfat. Constant sweating, feeling nauseous during training sessions and bad skin, just to
name a few – yum!

Now comes the bulking bro’s time to shine. It’s time to finally shed all the accumulated fat and
reveal the muscle he’s worked so hard for. This is where the problem starts. To get back down to a
decent level of bodyfat again, he’ll have to either cut very aggressively for an extended period of
time, or diet for at least twice as long as he’s been gaining for – it’s not uncommon to have to diet
for an 8-10 month period after making this mistake. This means that no matter how diligent you are
with your diet, you are bound to lose muscle.

 

What you should do 🙂

In conclusion, you are way better off at trying to make progress in the gym by only running a slight
calorie surplus of ~300cals above maintenance and focusing on progressively upping your lifts in the
weight room instead of going all out in the kitchen. This way you’ll ensure minimum fat gain with
near max potential muscle gain and you won’t have to diet for very long once it’s time to shred
down – meaning there is exponentially more time for you to be in a surplus and make gains instead
of being in a deficit, losing them and spinning your wheels by constantly fluctuating up and down in
weight. So stop wasting your time and opt for patient, consistent progress!

 

If you want a more in depth review of a dirty bulk, click here:
https://www.strongerbyscience.com/being-strong-is-not-an-excuse-to-be-fat-and-being-fat-is-
probably-holding-you-back/

 

Training for Gains

Training for Gains

Winter is fast approaching, and we all know what that means right? No more Suns out guns out. It’s that time of year where we can no longer show off our lean gains in a singlet or T-shirt and are forced to cover up. But never fear, bulking season is here! To make this a memorable bulk, Dukes is here to give you some pointers and teach you how to get strong and jacked this winter – not fat!

 

Firstly, your training and programming will have to be in order. To ensure you’re not spinning your wheels and look the same next time it’s time to get out the guns, solid programming is a must. Focus on training each body part at least twice a week, with as much volume as you can recover from and progress with.

 

Progress is the key here. If you progress all your lifts with equal or better form in a calorie surplus, you WILL gain new muscle tissue, there’s no way around it. You should ensure that all your lifts in the gym are increasing as the weeks go by. If you’re not doing so already, logbooking is a must! If you’re not keeping track of your numbers session to session, week to week, you won’t be able to look back and see if you’re making any progress even if you think you can remember the numbers. Let your logbook be your guide for programming if your lifts stall for longer than 3 weeks or even regress, you need to re-evaluate if you’re doing too much or too little to ensure muscle gain.

 

Now that we’ve ensured you’ll be gaining all sorts of muscle and strength this Winter, we need to clarify a few things in regard to bulking nutrition to avoid gaining too much excess fat along with your hard-earned gains. A calorie surplus is a must! If you’re not consuming more calories than you’re expending, you will gain next to nothing, as recovery will be your limiting factor. Aim for a calorie surplus of ~300 calories per day, made up of around 2g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 0.5-1g of fat per kg of bodyweight and fill the rest with carbohydrates. Why so many carbs? Aren’t carbs the devil? Nope, carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy and will grant you gnarly pumps and strength during your workouts!

 

Try these pointers during your bulk this winter to ensure you’ll be making your best gains yet and ensure you’ll be getting strong – not fat!

5 Sources Of Plant Based Protein

5 Sources Of Plant Based Protein

As far as being vegan goes, the most frequent questions asked by the common meat eaters are, ‘do you get enough protein in your diet’ and ‘where do you get your protein from.’ Contrary to what is said on online bodybuilding forums, it is actually unnecessary to consume excessive amounts of protein. The body can only absorb a certain amount of protein at once, and by trying to hit such high numbers, you are putting stress on your liver and not to mention that protein is the most expensive macro nutrient; It is important to assess your own goals and activity levels when determining how much protein you need to consume to meet your goals.

Back to the topic of vegan protein, many people may be unaware of the amount of protein they are consuming in their daily meals if you just take away the animal protein. Take oatmeal for instance – a half cup of oats can have as much as 7 grams of protein as is! Pair that with a scoop of vegan protein and your bowl of oats has been transformed into a protein packed meal.

Here is some other great plant based sources of protein that you can add into your diet or substitute in place of animal protein.

 

VEGAN PROTEIN POWDERS (pea protein & rice protein)

There is an abundance of vegan protein powders available in the market if you just have a look. not only is it a more natural, minimally processed form of protein powder, but the protein content in some varieties vary from 20g to 30g per serving which is more than enough for a post workout shake. Although the texture is slightly different (may need a bit of getting used to), it carries a lot of benefits; even if you are not a vegan, it is a great form of protein powder for those who are lactose intolerant or suffer from bloating when drinking whey.

 

TOFU

With as much as 16g of protein per 100g serving, tofu is one of the most popular sources of complete protein in any vegan’s diet. Common in many south east Asian cuisines, it is high in essential minerals such as manganese and has an adequate level of unsaturated fats –  the good fats that help to lower cholesterol levels.

Tofu can be marinated like meat as it has a unique spongy texture that will absorb any sauces or marinates it comes into contact with. It can be used in soups, stir-fries, salads or generally substituted for meat in a meal.

 

TEMPEH

Tempeh is what tofu is before it is tofu. It is pretty much soybeans fermented and formed into a block, packed with more protein, fiber and antioxidants though the fermentation process. It is ore easy to digest because of the fermentation and per 100g can pack as much as 20g of protein, and as a complete protein, it has all 9 essential amino acids

Much like tofu, tempeh can be marinated and is popular in stir-fry’s, boiled in stews or grilled and used in place of sandwich meats

 

BEANS & LEGUMES

A staple in many middle eastern and Indian cuisines, beans and lentils are not only a great source of protein, but packs a punch in fiber ( you know what they say about beans!). When bought dried they are inexpensive and can be stored in the pantry for ln periods of time until they are required. The bean variety with the highest protein content is black beans with 11g per cup – others include chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans.

Once soaked and boiled, beans can be used in soups and stews or even formed into veggie patties and used in place of meat patties in burgers. To make it a complete protein, simply consume with rice so all 9 amino acids are covered.

 

NUTS

Not only are nuts a quick and easy snack, they are packed in protein as well as unsaturated good fats. They are best in their raw state and per small handful can contain as much as 7g of protein. It is important however, to keep in mind the recommended serving size as they are pretty calorie dense, so nothing more than a small handful!

 

LEAFY GREENS

You know what they say about Popeye and his love for spinach! By adding leafy greens such as spinach, peas, kale, collard greens and broccoli, you are unknowingly adding more protein to your meals. In addition leafy greens offer many other health benefits such as being rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron

For instance, by adding one cup of cooked spinach to a stir fry for instance, you are adding at least 5g of protein in that meal

 

SEITAN

Also known as wheat meat, seitan is created by mixing wheat protein with a combination of sauces, spices and liquid to create a product that mimics meat in terms of taste and texture. This is what is used for many ‘mock meats’ around as you can manipulate the taste of the seitan by adding different spices and flavorings to it. It is low in carbs and fat and extremely high in protein – up to 40g per 100g serving! Pair seitan with soya sauce for the added amino acids to transform it into a complete protein

 

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