Category Archives: Fitness

Returning To Hybrid Training

With each flip of the calendar, ideas for training that once worked become less successful. It is the growing mind that constantly looks for new ideas to try. Some ideas are great. Others are left behind. Read any stereotypical body building magazine and the routines contained in them have you doing 12 and 15 rep sets and low rest periods. Read a strength training manual and the sets have much lower rep counts and longer rest periods. Why can’t both be used?

Without going into too much detail about fast and slow twitch muscles, the idea of doing a mixed training routine is not a new one nor is it without some merit. The pursuer of any such routine must be aware of two major compromises:

  • There will not be enough volume to fully inflate the muscle bellies
  • The weights will not be heavy enough to build full strength

Often such compromises are fine for those not going to compete on stage in a pose off nor a power lifting event. The idea with hybrid training is to take the best of strength training and high volume and put them together. Training routines are made to last 45 minutes to an hour. Strength is done first, hypertrophy volume next. Do not neglect the negative portion of a rep on any set. The negative portion is very important for building strength and hypertrophy.

Enough hand waving. What about a routine? Sure, soon enough. The split for a week is two days training, one day rest, then two more days training and another day of rest. If you are too worn out or want align it better for a week, take two days rest at the end of a cycle. Such a schedule make be as so: train Monday and Tuesday, rest of Wednesday, train Thursday and Friday, rest over the weekend.

First Day Session – Legs

Training of legs starts with squats in a 5×5 format, with pyramiding weights for each set. The idea is to finish each set and you should be quite tired by the end of the last rep. Fail to hit 5 reps on any set, reduce the weight and finish out. Use that weight for the subsequent sets.

High rep walking lunges and standing calf raises finish out the routine. It may seem simple and easy, but it isn’t. Do not be surprised when your quads are screaming for the next couple of days.

The Routine

Squats – Warm Up – 45 seconds rest

  • Bar only – 5 reps
  • 30% 5 rep max – 5 reps
  • 40% 5 rep max – 3 reps
  • 60% 5 rep max – 2 reps

Squats – Work Sets – start with 75% of 5 rep max – add enough weight after each set to reach 5 rep max on last set. When all reps are done for all sets, add weight for each set the next time until a new 5 rep max is reached.

  • 75% 5 rep max – 5 reps
  • 85% 5 rep max – 5 reps
  • 90% 5 rep max – 5 reps
  • 95% 5 rep max – 5 reps
  • 100% 5 rep max – 5 reps

Dumbbell Walking Lunge – use a weight heavy enough to tax for the whole set, but not too much you get off balance

  • 20 reps – 4 sets – 90 seconds rest

Standing Calf Raises – same weight for each set. Vary the foot placement for inside, middle, and outside portions of the calf. Hit each part with 2 sets.

  • 20 reps – 6 sets – 2 sets each for inside, middle, outside

Up next, chest and upper back. It will be time for push/pull super-sets. Be ready.

Breaking Frustration

The shortened and delayed ski season we experienced this year did much to create havoc for my fitness. A few months before the season started, I switched from a strength based 5×5 varient (Mad Cow) to one more oriented to endurance. The plan was quite simple. Build strength and mass during the off season, then get the muscles ready to spend 8 hours on skis during a weekend shift. It seemed like a good idea, but it didn’t work.

Going into the switch, I had the momentum in my favor. My body fat percentage was hovering around 15% and showed signs of dropping lower. My abs were starting to make an appearance and my waist looked to stay under 34 inches. My one rep max on dead lift of 250 became my 3 rep. My squat wanted to stay above body weight and even 225s were recorded. Only my bench suffered a bit due to my left shoulder weakness. Goals were reached. Looked good.

Pushing heavy weights around is very different from pushing snow for hours. Sure, strength does help, but so does balance and finesse. Mark Rippetoe speaks on how it is easier to build endurance from strength than it is the other way around. Looking at the calendar and the goals I had reached, I decided it was time to switch. Workouts became more 4x oriented. I knew some strength would drop, the amount was one I did not realize.

Normally by mid-December, the ski season is well underway. This year, December closed and being open was not near. The first week in January saw a hand-full of runs open, but nothing upon which we could train. Not until the latter half of January did the hill get opened and ski training could really start. By this time, it had been over 8 weeks since my last heavy sessions. During a busy ski season, this isn’t a problem as long hours in boots and on the hill have made up for it. Not this year. This year, my fitness started to drop far too much. Pants became tighter and the wrong kind of weight showed up.

After the season was over, I tried returning to the Mad Cow 5×5 program, but my heart was not in it. Looking for a change, I decided on some German Volume Training. The first two weeks were good, but as time went on, my ability to meet the required schedule for the training sessions to be of their greatest value waned. GVT without the volume is missing the key component. Though the workouts were good, my charts remained flat and my body fat percentage was still going the wrong way.

Time for a change.

Today I decided to return to the Mad Cow 5×5 with a reset to workout A. The gym was crowded, so I started on the leg press to get warmed up and stretched. Once the rack became available, I started in on the squats. I made my way up to 170 x 5 on the final set and things felt tough, but good. During the rest period between squats and bench press, I decided to make another change: make this an actual leg workout.

Ok, why the double change?

One nice thing about the German Volume training routines is they are not too long. I really want to be out of the gym within 45 minutes most days and want good effectiveness. There is far too much to be done to spend two hours per session. So an idea came across my mind. Five heavy sets of squats. Five heavy sets of leg presses. Then five sets of 12 rep walking lunges. Surely that will work.

Time will tell what the results will be. Here is the routine:

  • Warm up and stretch
  • Squats
    • Warm up: 3 x 5, increasing slightly each set, 30 seconds rest
    • Medium heavy: 1 x 5, 85 seconds rest
    • Work: 5×5, heavy on each set, same weight, 85 seconds rest
  • Presses
    • 1 x 5, heavier than light, consider it a warm up, 75 seconds rest
    • 1 x 5, medium heavy, 75 seconds rest
    • 5 x 5, heavy on each set, same weight, 75 seconds rest
  • Walking Lunge
    • 5 x 12, as much as you can do, same weight every set, 65 seconds rest

Borrowing from the 5×5 and 4x ideals, do not neglect the negative, especially on the leg presses. Go for as much as 6 seconds on each rep. Do not increase the weight until all the sets can be performed with the same weight. Get your ego out of the way. Form counts.

Now to find companion routines for Wednesday and Friday. Time to break out of the rut. Time to break the frustration.

Extra twist: do the weight on the walking lunge unequal. Keeping your torso straight with unbalanced weight will also work your core.

 

Exercise. Workout. Train.

There are three types of mindsets that can be found in the gym. The ones who exercise. The ones who workout. The ones who train. These are not individuals, they are motivation, goals, and style. They are a mindset that drives, controls, contributes to the individual. Some will see these are the same, but they are very different.

Gotta Exercise

Those entering the gym with a mindset to exercise are there against their will. Perhaps a doctor has told them to lose weight or get in shape for health. These individuals walk on the treadmill and talk or read. There is no focus on what they are doing.

Results?

Even when they exercise for years, there is little to no change. They may lose a few pounds, have slight improvements in their blood pressure, or a better endurance system, but overall nothing really happens and they may get fatter. Drugs will become a permanent part of their lives to control the health issues they have. Filled with processed wheat products and sugar, their diets also reflect their lack of commitment. Eventually they stop going to the gym, but keep paying because “one day” they will return.

Wanna Workout

When a bit more commitment and focus is applied to the Exercise Mindset it grows into Workout mode. These individuals come in two varieties: the Fearful and the Crazy.

It is an interesting consequence of the modern world that the Fearful Workout Mindset is dominated by women. Though it has been demonstrated for decades that it takes incredible genetics and drugs to get bulky, these women believe the myth and fear the free weights. They will do their cardio for a long time and then do some like work with weights. Depending on where they start, they will see some results then hit a plateau and stay there. Why? Because they are afraid of lifting heavy like they should. “Don’t want to be bulky.”

And the Crazy?

These are the men and women who flock into CrossFit and WOD/WOW. They will do cardio to warm up, stretch, and then start slinging weights around like they are toys. Injuries start the arrive when they really push through barriers. Their routines are either always in flux or are long and filled with everything. If 10 sets of curls are good, doing 20 sets must be better. Right broh?

The Workout crowd also have interesting diets. No carb. Low carb. No carbs after 6. All carbs for breakfast. Paleo. Veg. Whatever is popular this week. Read articles in four different magazines and combine them. The over analysis can become addictive. What are the goals? Hard to tell. Each week brings a new idea, challenge, goal, level, etc.

Must Train

The last mindset is the most intense and consuming. Every action is calculated to a particular goal. There is no waste or time for fooling around. Some will measure every meal; others will just listen to their needs. Routines come in a variety of flavors: low rep/long rest/heavy weight, high rep/short rest, 4x, pyramiding, 5×5, German Volume Training, speed reps, partial reps. It matters not what they use, they all get results.

The Training mindset keeps records of every routine, daily measurements of weight and body fat, and self reflection (sometimes quite literally in the mirror). Everything is reviewed to see if it is pushing toward the goal. Doesn’t matter if the goal is one rep max improvement, new personal record, bodybuilding, power lifting, reduced run distance time, jump higher or further, or fitting into a particular clothing size. The goals are as various as the individuals with the Mindset, but the drive is the same. It is not something they have to do. It is something they must do. Nothing else matters but reaching the goal.

One might conclude that the Training mindset would burn an individual out due to the intensity. A few do. A very few. The mindset to Train, to be Better, to reach Goals, to go Further, becomes a lifelong companion. Once a goal is reached, another is set. Some goals have urgency, while others are more long term. The Train mindset is all consuming, but it empowers the Individual to keep Succeeding, to keep Reaching, to keep Going. It is the best Mindset to have. It is the only Mindset to have.

Want to be Better? Want to have More? Want to do More? Want to Reach? Let the Training Mindset in.

Say Hello To Good Mornings

Good Mornings with a barbell
Good Mornings with a barbell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many a casual gym rats have looked at charts of back exercises and made the same remark about Good Mornings, “Those look like they hurt your back.” Wrong. They are great for the back when done properly.

The good morning exercise works the erector spinae muscles in the lower back, as well as, the hamstrings and the gluteus maximus. The exercise helps to strength the lower back and core. Have a weak squat? Hit a limit on your deadlift? The good morning can help strengthen both. Strengthening these muscles also helps with standing and seating posture. I’ve had lower back problems for several years and I do good mornings once a week. This exercise helps my back immensely.

But what about the bending?

When starting to do the good morning, it is important not to grab the Olympic bar, throw some plates on it, lift it off the rack, and bend over. It is best to get used to the movement with limited weight. Grad a light handle and put it on the spin of the scapula. A good place to hold the bar is in the same manner for a low bar squat. This will keep it off the spine when you bend over and from dropping down the back when you stand back upright. It is better to keep the weights light and do more reps than it is to try to move the world.

For safety’s sake, start with the bar in a squat rack with the pins at the same height you would for a low bar squat. Ensure the bar is centered, duck under it, and turn around. Squat down a bit and place the bar on the spine of the scapula. Hand placement is similar to the low bar squat, though it is not total necessary to point your elbows way back. Find a comfortable location.

Now stand up, lifting the bar off the pins, and step forward. There should be enough room in the rack to bend over without banging into any back supports. Keep your back slightly arched while bending and let your butt move backward similar to the squat. Having the knees slightly bent will also help keep the lower back in the proper position.

Once your back is parallel to the floor, push back up with the lower back and stand up straight. There is no need to hyper-extend at the top of the movement. Slowly lower back and do another rep. Down and back up is one rep and a good speed is 2 seconds each way. Going quickly on the positive side may make the weight hard to stop at the top. Slow, steady, and higher rep count will work the muscles adequately.

Now that the reps for your set are done, step back until both sides of the bar are firmly against the rack. Squat down slightly to re-rack the bar. If you have a workout partner, they can help guide you back properly. Walk about a bit and rest for 40 seconds.

Time for the next set.

My Simple Challenge To The Supplement Industry

The supplement industry has become a multi-billion dollar affair. From weight loss to body building and everything in between. Their slick advertisements grace the pages of magazines and the pictures of the people in them show gorgeous bodies.

All of it is nonsense. Some might use stronger language. There are two main reasons why it is compete nonsense (or bs, if you prefer) and they are:

  • the supplements are not regularly nor third party tested
  • the models had the bodies BEFORE they became sponsored by the company

What’s in it?

Read the labels of your typical supplements and it seems a world of wonder. Small, great tasting bars have 20 grams of protein and seemingly few net carbs. Pre-workout mixes claim to give you a pump and the ability to push through the most grueling of workouts. Some even quote university of this or that studies that show those taking the supplement put on 185% more lean muscle than the placebo group. Etc. Etc.

But what is really in that bar or tub? Is the protein one that is digestible and useable? When was the last time the tub of protein powder was checked for quality control? Who were the participants in these studies? What was their fitness level before starting? What  genetic factors may have attributed to their gains? What about their diet?

Recently, a few brands started testing more regularly, from a lab they helped to create. Yeah, that’s unbiased, isn’t it? Who paid for the university studies? Well, the supplement company, of course. Again, is that study really unbiased?

Enter a third party

The first challenge for the supplement industry is to create and sponsor a third party the public can trust. This laboratory should be supported by all the companies and be easily audited by anyone. Full disclosure of tests on all supplements should be published and conducted at least twice a year. The tests should be blind with no brand names on the lab form. The label claims and how many servings are in the sample should be all that is given. Only after the test should the results be matched to the brands for publication.

Wait, did you say audited by anyone? Yes. Want to test some brand’s protein powder or creatine blend? Buy a affordable sample kit, put a few servings in, and send it off. In a few days, the results should arrive. The lab should not know what brand it was or what the label claims. Compare the results with the label and be done.

Uhm, consumer fraud?

Sure, there will be some idiots who will try to scam the companies and put product in that isn’t clean or some such. The community should be able to censure against them and the labs results alone will not be able to support a claim of fraud. It would be a waste of a testing fee and legal fees to file a false claim. Doing so could also end with the liar in jail.

Get cut. Win a contest. Get sponsored.

Another area where supplement companies could be more truthful is how their models got to where they are. No matter the type of supplement, the model or athlete chosen to present a brand already had the look the company wanted from the start. They do not take an average, out of shape individual and use their supplements to get them way you see in the magazines. For the fitness model, this is why it is so important to win a contest and get their IFBB pro card. That is one’s ticket to getting sponsored and perhaps making a living on working out and speaking about the products.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Think taking Joe’s Mega Muscle Buster is going to get you the body you see in the magazines? Not very likely. Will they help get you into shape with the proper exercise and diet, sure they can. But it is superior genetics that you see in the pictures. Supplements are that last 5%, not the overwhelming 95%.

The supplement industry knows that and plays on your desire to be fit. They purposely show you the end results and then imply, through clever use of words, that you too can get the same results. They cannot make the claim directly as that will get them sued.

The entire fitness industry does the same thing. Remember the Buns of Steel spokes woman Tamilee Webb? She was chosen for the product based on her buns BEFORE she ever did any of the workouts. Want to have buns like her? Get the tape, right? Well, yes, if you have the same genetics she does. Want to really get a butt similar? Hit the weight room and do stiff legged dead lifts. Get the glute muscles to grow, that’s how you get it, not endless cardio.

Pick an average person

Here is the second challenge to the supplement industry. Find someone in your target market who is out of shape, but willing to do what it takes to get there. Be open and honest about where they start, how they diet, and what exercises they do. Keep it real. No 4 hours of workouts a day because they don’t have a day job. Show how your supplements actually “supplement” their good diet, not replace it.

Want to appeal to men in their 40’s? Find a lanky hard gainer with a few kids who has to work 9+ hours a day to make ends meet and support a humble house. Find a coach potato who wants to get off the pre-diabetic path he is on and teach him a different way. Show how good food can be purchased on a budget. Make all the information available to whomever wants it. No secrets. Only openness.

Go ahead. I dare you. Find a teenage girl who is 30 pounds overweight and wants to know a different way. Show her. As she reaches various milestones, pay her more, and use her more in the advertising. It will take a few years, but the end results will demonstrate how your product can help. There is no miracle diet pill make it all good overnight. It takes hard work, proper diet, exercies, and sleep. And, of course, your product.

There you go supplement industry. The gauntlet has been tossed. Will you pick it up? Or will you let the lies continue for the sake of profits? See me for ideas on that 40 year old male.

Deadlifting Past Barriers

English: Deadlift pic
English: Deadlift pic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several weeks ago I passed doing body weight for a bent-legged deadlift. For me, body weight varies between 206-210 pounds and the weight I lifted for 3 reps was 225. That was really a max for me and I thought for sure it would stand for a bit of time.

Today, the week C cycle was up for my deadlift in the 5-3-1 workout routine. The final work set weight was 205 pounds and the rep range was 3+. I didn’t just push past the 3 reps, I doubled up to 6. If I could have kept my back a bit more straight, I feel I could have squeaked out a few more. I am nearly religious with correct form, so I stopped with a little more in the tank, but pumped none-the-less. I cannot wait for the max rep cycle next week.

Over the last few months, I’ve been rotating between 5×5 and 5-3-1. I use the former until my knees need more than two days to recover and my weights start to go backward. The latter I usually do for 2 complete cycles and need to change to add muscle confusion. Normally when I switch back to 5×5, I make good progress for a time.

Hitting the body weight amounts has been a limiting factor for months. A year ago, my sticking point was getting to 130 pounds on squats for 10 reps. Now I can push through 3 sets using at least 150 and 160 on a good day. Getting those 20-30 pounds has been a big fight with my 46 year old knees and I have learned much about how my body reacts. A few weeks ago, I was very emotional when I hit 195 pounds on squats for 1 rep. I cannot image how I will be when I hit body weight. The attempt is coming soon.

As much as I like Steve Holman and his 4X/TORQ ideas, it wasn’t until I switched to more strength oriented workouts that I saw results. Perhaps it is due to my lack of strength and his workouts being more modeled on endurance. Perhaps the ideas of Mark Rippetoe are more what I need for now. Perhaps this is why I accidentally let my subscription to Iron Man Magazine to expire. Yes, I will be correcting that soon. I do wonder if I should write to Steve and let him know of my predicament. This would require me to open to the Universe in search of a solution. Ok.

Dear Steve Holman, I’ve been an avid reader of your columns for more than two years. I even bought your program Old School/New Body. You are responsible for me getting back into lifting and into the gym. I cut some body fat and gained some muscle, though I topped out at 27% body fat and 217 pounds before switching to a more strength oriented workout. The biggest complaint I had was the amount of time the workouts in you Train Eat Grow column. Is this due to my lack of strength first? I am confused. How may you help me?

There you are Universe. I am reaching out to Steve for help. I will seek a way to pass it on to him more directly, though I do want him to find my blog and read about my path to fitness. Here he will know more about me, my path and journey, and better understand how he can guide me to a better outcome. I fully anticipate solutions I require and humbly await their arrival. I will show all Graciousness for the offerings.

Adding Endurance To The Legs

Ski season is very quickly approaching and I’ve been hitting strength training for months now. It started with doing 5×5 until my knees needed more time to recover than just a day or two. I tried lowering to 3×5, but that too showed a top out too soon. I then came across 5-3-1 on the MultiYear App on my iPhone. This offered some more variety and gave my joints time to recover.

Alternating 3 to 4 weeks of 5-3-1 with 2 weeks of 5×5 has been working well. I am finally nearing Lightly Trained, though I seem to have plateaued a bit over the last few weeks. My deadlift is now over body weight on the heavy work set. My squat is getting very close to 200 pounds and I look forward to the attempt. My bench press is approaching 150 pounds. As my left shoulder is in need of some rehabilitation, I’ve added strengthening exercises for the shoulders.

The 5-3-1 workout by itself is quite short and has very few exercises. I’ve been adding a few for targeting muscles a bit more, add some more fat burning potential, or to strengthen supporting muscles. The workouts are 20-30 minutes which helps me get back to my life. As much as I like being in the gym, I really have other things to do. Ok, at least a few.

Late last week, a fellow gym goer was complaining about his current leg workout. He has a desire to improve it. He hasn’t been doing full squats long and seems to have hit a bit of a wall. Last October I blogged about Roger Lockridge’s grueling leg workout that was given in the May issue of Iron Man Magazine. I mentioned it to him and he seemed interested.

Since I use the app on my iPhone to also track my rest time, I flipped over to Safari and found the post. While I was doing my next set, I let him read the article, in particular the workout. He had one simple reaction, “Holy cow!”

I’ve been wanting to add more endurance to my training. I’ve tried a little cardio here and there, using an interval style. While it works, it is too boring. Skiing requires a mix of strength and endurance, and this workout gives both due to the volume and low rest periods.

One starts by using the leg extension and leg curl machines to warm up and stretch. No pre-exhaust here. That’s good ’cause my knees no longer care for the high weights for the leg extensions before squats. Next comes a strength via pyramiding the weight and reducing the reps through 10, 5, 3, 1. This pattern is done twice and rest between sets is 90 seconds. This is strength oriented.

The next three sections of the workout are more geared toward endurance. A superset on leg presses with two different foot positions gives a new meaning to “feeling the burn”. There is no rest between the sets in each super, though there is 1 minute of rest between supers. One does three supersets, with the reps for each set inside them being 15, 12, 10. That is, 15 reps with the feet high and then 15 with the feet low. Yeah, endurance.

The finishing sets of leg extensions, curls and then calf raises to really give the legs a push through. I look forward to having a partner for this workout. As we will most likely do different weights for these, I’m doubtful we will be watching the clock for rest. As soon as one finishes, it will be time to change the weights and let the other get the reps in. It will be brutal. I can’t wait.

 

Mutating The Recipe

Over the preceding year I’ve tried numerous protein powders. Some were good and some not so. My post workout shake has changed a bit over that same time, though the differing formulas were mostly due to the lack of ingredients.

This past week I started taking the Mutant Whey protein powder. As I like to mix to get my 2 scoops in the shake, I ordered Triple Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream from Vitacost. One scoop of each goes into the shake. While I’ve heard all manner of claims to the taste of this protein powder or that, I was surprised with the Mutant brand in that although it contains BCAAs and glutamine, it does have a good taste. It also mixes well and combines with other ingredients to form a smooth, frothy shake.

The New Recipe

It is a bit early to fully tell, but Mutant may become my new protein brand. After two days, I can already tell a difference. I’ve also purchased some unflavored creatine powder so that 5 grams may be added to the mix. Time to add everything together into something grand.

The ingredients list:

  • 2 cups of 2% milk
  • some ice cubes (usually 5-7)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 scoop of Triple Chocolate Mutant Whey
  • 1 scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream Mutant Whey
  • 1 round teaspoon of Six Star Nutrition unflavored Creatine
  • 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt with active cultures
  • 1 tablespoon of Chia/Flax mix
  • 1/8 cup almonds
  • 1/8 cup walnuts

Place everything in a blender and mix until desired consistency. Tends to mix to a bit over 1 liter in volume. Depending on how much fruit and nuts you add, the calories will be around 1,000.

 

Product Review: SuperPump 3.0 And Assault

The September Jacked-In-A-Box from Muscle and Fitness magazine contained several pre-workout products and SuperPump 3.0 by Gaspari Nutrution and Assault by MusclePharm are two of them. By due contain some amount of caffeine, so those sensitive to it need to take some note.

SuperPump 3.0

The strawberry kiwi blast flavored pre-workout packet contains 2 servings. The instructions state to first take a single serving in order to test sensitivity. As I’ve been taking pre-workouts for awhile, I figured I should be ok. Well, I wasn’t. This stuff kicked in really soon and kept me up for hours (I workout in the evenings after a day of work). The taste wasn’t too bad and it is not sweet. It almost seems to have an artificial sweetener, but I’m not sure. None seems to be listed.

Overall, SuperPump 3.0 by Gaspari Nutrition dissolves well in a shaker bottle. The taste is good and smooth. I found that it only took about 5 minutes before I good feel tingling and activation. For workouts under an hour, a single dose is more than enough. If you want to workout longer, my suggestion is to take a single dose about 30 minutes before the workout and then a second halfway. Don’t overdo it or you may be up for hours.

Assault

The sample of Assault by MusclePharm comes in a single serving soft tube. The Raspberry Lemonade flavor is a wonderful departure from the typical fruit punch flavorings. It dissolved easily enough and the flavor was quite good; an eight of ten.

Within minutes of finishing the mix, the effects could be felt. Yeah, it doesn’t take 20 or 30 minutes to show up. The tingling in my lips and face started nearly immediately. Off to the gym for a 5/3/1 leg workout. It lasted for an hour or so, then I could feel it start to slip away. For me, this was perfect. No sugar drop and no caffeine keeping me up half the night. Very good. Is definitely one I would buy.

Product Review: Optimum Nutrition and MHP

The September Jacked-In-A-Box has arrived from Muscle and Fitness (see the unboxing video here). Each month, samples of products arrive and trying them is quite the experiment. While it is doubtful that any real results can be gleaned from only a few samples, but knowing how well products taste is a big part of using them. After all, if a product tastes quite terrible to you and yet is affective, how long will you endure? Over the last two days, I’ve tried two of the products in this month’s box.

Optimum Nutrition: Pro Complex

The sample for Pro Complex Creamy Vanilla contains 30 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 140 calories. Don’t let the 60g claim on the front fool you, there is only one serving in the packet. The protein source is a blend of whey and egg. In 6 ounces of cold (straight from the fridge) filtered water to get the full taste, it mixes easily in a shaker. It has a good mouth feel and is not too thin. The taste is ok and is very much vanilla. I was surprised that the taste was not better, after all, the Gold Standard proteins are very good. On a 1 to 10 scale, I give the taste about a 5.

MHP: Power Pak Pudding

The Fight & Lean version of MHP’s Power Pak Pudding was contained in the box. This is the lower calorie version at only 100. According to the website, the higher calorie version contains 190. The amount of protein in this one is half of the regular at 15 grams. The flavor is Delicious Dutch Chocolate. It has a good thickness and is very rich and chocolaty. There is a medium strong artificial sweetener aftertaste. I’m not really into diet products, so this one is not a win for me. I would like to try the regular version as a comparison. I’ll pass on this one though.