Why You Should use Weights to Stretch

We know that stretching has long been a fundamental component of fitness routines. With it you can improve your flexibility overall and can work wonders.

Traditionally, stretching exercises are done using body weight, relying on the natural resistance of one’s muscles and joints.

However, stretching with weight can have many added benefits that stretching alone can’t achieve.

In this article, let’s dive into how stretching with weight can benefit you and why you should incorporate it into your routine.

Why Stretching with Weights is More Effective Than Stretching Alone

Introducing weights into your stretching routine can significantly enhance your flexibility.

I know, the idea of adding weights to a stretch may seem a little out there, but it’s not.

When you stretch with weights, you’re adding an extra layer of resistance.

This resistance helps in intensifying the stretch, allowing your muscles to extend further than they would under normal circumstances.

This method can lead to increased muscle strength, greater flexibility, and a more substantial range of motion.

Additionally, weighted stretching can help in overcoming the natural resistance of your body more effectively than traditional stretching.

How to Incorporate Weights into Your Stretching Routine

Incorporating weights into your stretching routine is relatively straightforward, but it requires careful attention to form and safety.

Start with light weights, and focus on stretches that target major muscle groups.

For example, holding a small dumbbell in your hand during a side stretch can deepen the stretch along your waist and arm.

One common exercise that can easily increase flexibility due to it’s nature is the stiff leg deadlift.

The stiff leg deadlift in general lengthens the hamstrings under load.

Holding that bottom position for a couple of seconds for reps can get you unbelievable flexible hamstrings at a much faster rate.

Recommended Duration for Holding Stretches with Weights

The duration for which you should hold a stretch with weights depends on your fitness level and experience with stretching.

Generally, holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds is beneficial.

However, with added weights, you can do much shorter durations.

In some cases, a few seconds in the lengthen position can be beneficial with a heavy weight like with the stiff leg deadlift.

You can also do lighter weight and hold for about 20-30 seconds, to gauge your body’s response.

As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase the time.

It’s crucial to listen to your body and avoid overstretching, as this can lead to injuries.

Recommended Frequency for Weighted Stretching

Weighted stretching should be tailored to your individual fitness level and goals.

The frequency of incorporating weighted stretches into your routine depends on several factors including your current fitness level, flexibility goals, and overall workout schedule.

If you’re new to weighted stretching, start with once or twice a week or use it when you are already doing certain exercises like stiff leg deadlift.

This allows your body to adapt to the new form of stretching.

Over time, as you become more comfortable and your flexibility improves, you can gradually increase the frequency.

For Intermediate and Advanced Individuals:

For those who are already active and have a regular stretching routine, incorporating weighted stretches 2-3 times a week can be beneficial.

This frequency is enough to see significant improvements in flexibility and muscle strength without overdoing it.

Example of Exercises to use Weight to Stretch

There are plenty of exercises that you can use weights to stretch.

Some of my favorite exercises to do with weights are the following:

Final Thoughts

Incorporating weights into your stretching routine can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your stretches.

By doing so, you not only improve flexibility and range of motion but also add an element of strength training to your routine.

As always, prioritize form and safety to prevent injuries.

With these tips in mind, weighted stretching can be a valuable addition to your fitness regimen.

How to Properly Stretch to Achieve Flexibility

Stretching is a great component to incorporate into your routine to achieve flexibility.

Often enough though, people don’t stretch properly to achieve flexibility.

They either stretch too long, too short, without enough intensity or simply are not consistent enough.

This article will cover all of that and go into covering how to properly achieve flexibility.

What is Stretching?

Stretching involves lengthening the muscles and tendons to improve muscle elasticity and flexibility.

It’s divided into two primary types: static and dynamic.

Static stretching is holding a stretch without movement, while dynamic stretching involves active movements that stretch the muscles.

If you want to read more about what is stretching and the physiology behind stretching, check out this article.

What is Flexibility?

Flexibility refers to the range of motion around a joint.

It’s essential for general fitness, reduces the risk of injuries, and enhances physical performance.

Flexibility varies from person to person and can be improved through regular stretching.

Flexibility vs. Mobility: Understanding the Difference

Flexibility and mobility are often confused and used interchangeably. 

While flexibility is the ability of a muscle to stretch, mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion.

Both are important for overall movement health but focus on different aspects of the body’s capabilities.

Although mobility is important, we are going to specifically talking about flexibility in this article.

How Stretching Increases Flexibility

Muscle and Tendon Lengthening, and Increased Blood Flow

Regular stretching leads to the lengthening of muscles and tendons, which is essential in increasing the range of motion and flexibility.

This process is accompanied by improved blood circulation to these tissues.

Enhanced blood flow not only brings essential nutrients but also helps in the removal of metabolic waste, aiding in quicker recovery and flexibility enhancement.

Over time, these tissues adapt to their lengthened state, contributing significantly to overall flexibility.

Neurological and Connective Tissue Changes

Stretching consistently results in neurological adaptations where the body becomes more accustomed to stretching, reducing the natural reflex to contract muscles.

This adaptation allows for a greater range of motion. Additionally, connective tissues such as ligaments and fascia become more pliable and elastic with regular stretching.

These changes not only contribute to increased flexibility but also improve proprioception – the body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location, leading to better balance and coordination.

How Long to Hold a Stretch For

Stretching for too long or too short won’t reap you any benefits. So, it’s important to find the right duration to stretch for.

Research suggests holding a stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds is optimal for most individuals.

This timeframe is long enough to allow the muscle to relax and elongate but short enough to avoid triggering any protective mechanisms that cause the muscle to contract in response to overstretching.

How Many Sets Per Body Part

For each body part, aim for at least 2-4 sets per body part. You should be totaling around 2-3 minutes per body part.

This ensures a comprehensive approach to flexibility across various muscle groups.

What Intensity Should I Stretch With

The key to effective stretching lies in finding a balance in intensity.

This means stretching to the point where there is a sensation of a mild, comfortable pull in the muscles, but not to the extent of pain.

Pain during stretching is a clear indicator of overstretching, which can lead to injuries like muscle strains.

The intensity should be just enough to feel the stretch, and feel a bit of  discomfort.

It’s essential to listen to your body and respect its limits, as the threshold for a ‘good’ stretch varies from person to person.

Adjusting Intensity for Safe and Effective Stretching

The intensity of stretching should be adjusted according to individual needs, flexibility levels, and specific health considerations.

Beginners or those with limited flexibility might need gentler stretches, while more flexible individuals can handle slightly more intense stretches.

Proper breathing is crucial; inhaling deeply and exhaling during the stretch can help deepen it without forcing the muscle. Over time, as flexibility improves, the intensity of stretches can be increased progressively and mindfully.

It’s also important to consider that dynamic stretches might have different intensity requirements compared to static stretches.

Ultimately, consistent, personalized stretching at the correct intensity will lead to the best results in enhancing flexibility and overall physical well-being.

How Many Days a Week to Stretch

To achieve and maintain optimal flexibility, it’s generally recommended to incorporate stretching into your routine at least 3 to 4 times per week up to 6 times a week.

Consistency is key; regular stretching ensures continuous improvement in flexibility.

While daily stretching is ideal and can provide the best results, especially for those targeting specific flexibility goals or engaging in regular physical activity, the minimum effective frequency is about three times a week.

This regularity allows the muscles to adapt and maintain their increased flexibility, while also balancing the need for rest and recovery.

Best Time to Stretch

The best time to stretch is post-exercise, when muscles are warm and more pliable.

However, gentle stretching can also be beneficial when done in the morning or as a break during long periods of inactivity.

If you are just stretching, ensure to still do a warm up before stretching.

A Quick Full-Body Stretching Routine (10-15 Minutes)

This routine is designed to target all major muscle groups, providing a comprehensive approach to flexibility.

For each stretch, aim to hold for at least 30 seconds, repeating each stretch for 2 sets.

  1. Neck Stretches:

    • Side Tilt: Gently tilt your head towards one shoulder until a stretch is felt on the opposite side of the neck. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
    • Sets: 2 per side.
  2. Shoulder Stretches:

    • Overhead Arm Reach: Extend one arm overhead, bend at the elbow, and use the opposite hand to gently pull the elbow behind the head. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch arms.
    • Sets: 2 per arm.
  3. Arm and Wrist Stretches:

    • Arm Pull: Extend one arm across the body, using the other hand to pull it closer, stretching the shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch arms.
    • Wrist Flex: Extend your arm forward and gently pull back on your fingers with the opposite hand, stretching the wrist and forearm. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch arms.
    • Sets: 2 per arm/wrist.
  4. Hip and Glute Stretches:

    • Seated Butterfly: Sit with the soles of your feet together and gently press your knees down with your elbows. Lean forward for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
    • Pigeon Stretch:
      • Start in a hands-and-knees position (tabletop).
      • Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.
      • Extend your left leg back, keeping your hips square to the floor.
      • Lower your torso down over your right leg, resting on forearms or extending arms forward.
    • Sets: 2.
  5. Leg Stretches:

    • Hamstring Stretch: Sit with one leg extended and the other bent, foot against the inner thigh. Lean forward towards the extended leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs.
    • Quad Stretch: Standing, pull one foot towards your buttocks, keeping knees close together. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs.
    • Sets: 2 per leg.
  1. Back Stretches:
    • Cat-Cow Stretch: On your hands and knees, alternate between arching your back upwards (cat) and dipping it down (cow), synchronizing with your breathing. Each movement should be held for about 5 seconds, repeating the cycle for 30 seconds.
    • Child’s Pose: Sit back on your heels with your arms extended forward on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
    • Sets: 2 for each stretch.

Final Thoughts

Stretching is a vital part of fitness that enhances flexibility, reduces injury risk, and improves overall well-being. 

Stretching optimally to achieve flexibility is important. You can easily overdo it or not be doing enough.

Should You Be Stretching Before Exercising

Stretching before exercising is a very common practice among athletes.

It’s part of the fundamental routine you would probably see.

Stretch (warm-up), work out and stretch again (cooldown).

However, the efficacy of stretching, especially before workouts, has been a topic of debate.

This article delves into the intricacies of stretching, exploring its physiological basis, impact on injury prevention, and potential influence on workout performance.

What is Stretching?

Stretching involves lengthening the muscle-tendon unit (MTU) to a point of tension and then holding it there for a set period.

There are various forms of stretching, including static stretching (SS), where the position is held without movement, and dynamic stretching, which involves active movements that stretch the muscles.

For example, static stretching can be something like holding a hamstring stretch for 30-45 seconds.

Dynamic stretching could be seen as flapping your arms around and twisting your body in different motions.

The Physiology Behind Stretching

Physiologically, stretching affects the muscles and the nervous system.

When muscles are stretched, muscle spindle fibers are activated, sending signals to the spinal cord.

This triggers the stretch reflex, a protective mechanism causing muscle contraction to prevent overstretching and injury.

However, sustained, gentle stretching activates Golgi tendon organs (GTOs), which are located at the muscle-tendon junction and sensitive to tension changes.

When GTOs are activated, they signal the spinal cord to reduce muscle spindle activity, allowing muscles to stretch further and relax.

This process, known as autogenic inhibition, is crucial in increasing flexibility.

Moreover, the nervous system adapts to regular stretching through neuroplasticity, enhancing tolerance and stretching capability over time.

Stretching also induces a relaxation response in the nervous system, reducing bodily stress and tension.

This not only improves flexibility but also contributes to a general state of relaxation and well-being.

It took me time to wrap my head around stretching being related to the nervous system.

Does Stretching Before Exercising Prevent Injury?

So we know how stretching itself works.

Does stretching before exercising though prevent injury?

The relationship between stretching and injury prevention is complex and somewhat inconclusive.

While some studies suggest that certain types of stretching (like dynamic stretching) may reduce musculotendinous injuries, especially in sports requiring explosive movements, others indicate no significant correlation between stretching and injury prevention.

The effectiveness of stretching for injury prevention may also depend on the type of sport and the nature of the activity involved.

Does Stretching Before Exercising Have a Purpose?

So if stretching before exercising doesn’t truly prevent injury, does it serve a purpose? 

One of the benefits of stretching is that it can increase the range of motion. With this, it can help improve your mobility and get a better range of motion during your exercise.

For example, stretching your calves before squatting can help you get into a deeper squat.

How Stretching Could Limit Performance

It’s imperative to note though that even though stretching can increase your range of motion which can lead to a better range of motion in your exercise, it can overall limit your performance.

Research has indicated that prolonged static stretching (>60 seconds per muscle group) could impair performance, such as reducing force production. 

If you prefer mobility over power, stretching is fine. However, if you need the most power and strength for your workout, it may be best to not do static stretching before your exercise.

When to Stretch

The optimal timing for stretching depends on the individual’s goals and the nature of the activity.

Dynamic stretching may be more beneficial as part of a warmup, while static stretching could be more suitable for cooling down or separate flexibility sessions.

The stretching goal should be to overall improve the range of motion. If you are assuming it will prevent injury or help with recovery, then you are going into it for the wrong reasons.

Final Thoughts

Stretching overall should be used to help improve mobility and range of motion overall.

It can in a sense reduce injury because you can perform exercises better, but stretching muscles in and of itself won’t prevent an injury.

It also may not help with recovery too much.

I would suggest dynamic stretching before working out or in between sets and doing static stretching either afterward or on its own.

Should You Get Massages to Aid Recovery?

Recovering from workouts is an essential part of muscular growth and performance.

Massaging / myofascial release is one of the most popular ways of recovery nowadays.

You see athletes do it. People use massage guns all the time to try to help them recover or loosen up.

But could incorporating regular massages or myofascial release truly affect your recovery? If so, should you be incorporating it into your regimen?

What is a Massage / Myofascial Release?

Massage therapy aka myofascial release therapy involves manipulating the body’s soft tissues to relieve stress, improve circulation, and reduce pain.

Myofascial release, a specific type of massage, targets the connective tissue (fascia) that surrounds and supports muscles, aiming to release tension and improve mobility.

Most people think of massage when someone else is using their thumbs to dive into the muscle and massage it.

This isn’t always the case though.

You can use any surface that’s fairly firm and sturdy, dig it into your muscle, and massage it and you are still doing massage therapy.

Effects on Muscles

Massages exert a multifaceted effect on the muscles.

Primarily, they increase blood flow, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues while aiding in the removal of waste products, such as lactic acid.

This enhanced circulation can help in the faster recovery of muscles from soreness and fatigue. There are many ways to do this like with blood flow restriction training, but let’s continue.

Moreover, massages help in breaking down adhesions aka knots that form in muscle fibers and tissues as a result of overuse or injury.

These knots can restrict movement and cause pain. By applying pressure and movement, massage therapy can help in realigning these muscle fibers and reducing discomfort.

The role of fascia in this context is crucial.

Fascia is a dense, fibrous network of connective tissue that surrounds and includes your muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels.

Under stress or injury, the fascia can become tight and restricted, causing pain and limited mobility.

Myofascial release targets these fascial restrictions.

It involves applying gentle, sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissue to eliminate pain and restore motion.

By easing tension in the fascia, myofascial release enhances muscular function and flexibility, thereby contributing to overall muscle health and recovery.

The combination of improved blood flow, reduced adhesions, and eased fascial tension makes massage a powerful tool in muscle recovery and maintenance.

Does Massage Aid in Recovery?

So we know what massaging is. But does massaging actually help with recovery?

Let’s look at what some studies say.

A study conducted by scientists at the Wyss Institute and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences found that massages can help injured muscles heal faster and stronger.

The study used a custom-designed robotic system to apply consistent compressive forces to mice’s leg muscles, leading to a more pronounced reduction in damaged muscle fibers and larger cross-sectional areas of the fibers in treated muscles compared to untreated ones.

This suggests that massage, by exerting mechanical loading, can significantly improve muscle recovery after injury​.

This is a study in mice though. So let’s look at something else.

Another study, on PubMed, reviewed 27 studies focusing on sports massage’s effect on muscle recovery after strenuous exercise.

While the case series provided inconsistent results, with most suggesting that massage does not significantly improve post-exercise function, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) did provide moderate evidence supporting the efficacy of massage therapy in facilitating recovery from repetitive muscular contractions.

So what does this mean?

Well, we need more data and studies done to see if it does truly help.

In my opinion, it does not hurt to do.

We know that increasing blood flow into an area can help with recovery. Massaging does this in general, and I don’t see why it has a negative impact. 

When Should You Massage?

Considering it’s still up in the air on whether massaging is worth it or not for recovery, when should you massage?

Personally, I do self massages anytime something feels a bit too tight or I am suffering through some injury.

This is all anecdotal, so take it for what is.

An example, one time I was working out and got some shooting sciatic pain. 

It wouldn’t go away no matter which way I moved or stretched.

Eventually, I took a lacrosse ball, rolled it on my glutes for about 3-5 minutes and my sciatic pain was gone.

This was most likely my piriformis muscle being a bit too tight and causing pain.

Another example was when I had knee pain during a squat session.

I stopped what I did, rolled out my quadriceps with a lacrosse ball as well, and my knee pain was alleviated.

This was due to my quads being too tight in general causing the knee pain.

Massaging has its place, and I like to use it when I know things are too tight or a muscle is causing some type of joint pain. 

Alternative Massage Tools

There are plenty of massage tools you can choose from besides going to a massage therapist.

My favorites are:

  • Lacrosse Ball
  • Foam Roller
  • Massage gun
  • Barbell
  • Kettlebell

Anything firm and dense will do wonders, even if it hurts. The denser to me, the better.

You can also use your thumb, but it may become a bit exhausting.

Final Thoughts

Massaging is a great tool that can help with many issues. It’s still a question of whether or not it can help with recovery. Although I think it can, I believe you should do it when you feel like it’s needed as I don’t see it having any negative impacts.

You can use plenty of tools to massage yourself instead of going for massage therapy all the time. 

Creatine’s Benefits for Mental Health

Creatine’s benefits for mental health are something that is not talked about enough.

Mental health is an essential component of our overall well-being.

In this day in age, mental health is talked about a lot but we don’t talk about more natural ways of trying to help with mental health.

Supplements like creatine have an overall positive impact on mental health.

This article aims to shed light on the mental health benefits of creatine, debunking common myths and guiding you on its optimal use.

First though:

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a healthcare professional or doctor. The content of this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.  Individual health needs and responses to supplements can vary, so professional guidance is essential for optimal health and safety.

What is Creatine?

People hear creatine and think it’s a drug or something that if they take they’re not considered natural anymore.

I don’t know where this notion came from, to begin with, but it’s nonsense. So let’s get that out of the way.

Creatine is an essential component of our overall well-being and is a vital aspect of our daily lives.

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and synthesized in the human body.

Primarily stored in muscles, it plays a crucial role in energy production, particularly during high-intensity activities.

However, its benefits extend beyond physical performance, encompassing various aspects of cognitive function and brain health.

Common Misconceptions: Is Creatine Bad for You?

There’s a common misconception that creatine is harmful, especially for the kidneys and liver.

However, creatine is one of the most studied supplements out there. The research indicates that creatine is safe for most people when used responsibly.

It’s important to note that while creatine is generally safe, individuals with pre-existing kidney or liver conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before starting supplementation.

If you are a healthy individual, you should be able to take it without issue.

Effects of Creatine Overall

Creatine’s role in the body is multifaceted, impacting various physiological processes, most notably energy production.

To understand the comprehensive effects of creatine, it’s crucial to explore its relationship with ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the primary energy currency of the cell.

Creatine and ATP Production

ATP serves as the main energy source for most cellular functions, including muscle contractions and brain activities.

However, ATP stores are limited and can be rapidly depleted during high-intensity activities.

This is where creatine comes into play.

Creatine phosphate, a form of stored energy in the muscles, donates a phosphate group to ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate), regenerating ATP.

This process is critical during short bursts of intense physical or mental activities, as it provides immediate energy to maintain performance levels.

By facilitating the rapid regeneration of ATP, creatine supplementation improves strength, power, and endurance.

This enhancement is particularly noticeable in activities requiring quick and explosive movements, such as sprinting and weightlifting.

Moreover, creatine reduces muscle fatigue by buffering lactic acid build-up, allowing for longer and more effective training sessions.

Creatine’s Benefits and Impact on Mental Health

Creatine plays a crucial role in maintaining energy reserves in the brain and enhancing cognitive function.

As mentioned before, the brain requires a significant amount of ATP for optimal functioning.

By ensuring a steady supply of ATP, creatine can enhance various cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and speed of processing.

Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can particularly benefit cognitive performance under conditions of sleep deprivation or mental fatigue.

Mood Regulation and Mental Disorders

Research also suggests a role for creatine in mood regulation.

Some studies indicate that creatine may have antidepressant properties. This is thought to be due to its ability to increase energy availability in the brain, which could affect neurotransmitter systems involved in mood regulation, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Neuroprotective Effects

Creatine’s neuroprotective properties are of significant interest in the context of mental health.

By maintaining cellular energy levels and reducing oxidative stress, creatine can help protect neurons from damage.

This aspect is particularly relevant in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, where creatine supplementation has been studied for its potential to slow disease progression and mitigate cognitive decline.

How Often Should You Take Creatine

You should be taking at least 5g of creatine every day.

Regardless if it’s your day off or not, getting creatine every day is important and necessary.

Consuming more than 5g can cause gastro effects though. 

As well, the time of day doesn’t matter. However, I would suggest using it at the same time every day to avoid any gastro effects. 

Brands of Creatine

The main creatine I recommend is creatine monohydrate. It is the most well-researched supplement.

Anyone trying to sell you a special creatine is trying to get you to buy something you don’t need.

Creatine is fairly cheap and you can buy it in bulk.

Brands I use:

Again, anything that’s super expensive is not worth it overall. It’s just creatine and you can find it in many places for cheaper. 

Final Thoughts

Creatine, while widely known for its physical benefits, is a powerhouse supplement for mental health as well.

Taking creatine every day is the best way to get optimal results from it overall. 

Take your creatine!

Supplements to Help With Mental Health

Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, often overshadowed by physical health.

However, maintaining a healthy mind is vital for a fulfilling life.

In recent years, the role of dietary supplements in supporting mental health has gained attention.

We’re going to go over some supplements that can aid with helping your mental health.

Before we dive in though:

Disclaimer This blog provides information for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Now, let’s get into it.

Why Mental Health is Important

Mental health, integral to our overall well-being, profoundly influences our everyday life.

It determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Good mental health is not just the absence of mental disorders; it is a state of overall well-being where individuals recognize their abilities, can cope with normal life stresses, work productively, and contribute to their communities.

Our mental state is a key player in our behaviors, decisions, and interactions.

It allows us to navigate life’s challenges, maintain physical health, and build strong relationships.

Furthermore, mental health issues like depression and anxiety have significant implications, impacting not only individual lives but also societal productivity and economic outcomes.

Maintaining good mental health is essential not only for personal well-being but also for the collective health of our communities and societies.

Why Supplements Can Be Beneficial for Mental Health

While a balanced diet is crucial for mental health, supplements can fill nutritional gaps that affect our brain function.

Research suggests that certain nutrients and minerals play a significant role in cognitive function, mood regulation, and stress management.

Supplements to Help Mental Health

Fish Oil / Krill Oil

Fish oil and krill oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients that play a crucial role in brain health.

These oils are primarily valued for their high concentration of two types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

These fatty acids are key components of cell membranes in the brain and are involved in many brain processes.

  1. Brain Cell Structure and Function: DHA, a major structural component of the human brain, is crucial for the maintenance of brain cell structure and function. It contributes to the fluidity of cell membranes, which is essential for the proper functioning of brain cells.

  2. Mood Regulation: EPA and DHA have been shown to influence mood regulation. Studies suggest that these fatty acids can have antidepressant effects. For example, a systematic review found that omega-3 supplements could be beneficial in treating depression.

  3. Reducing Inflammation: Both EPA and DHA possess anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation has been linked to various mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, omega-3 fatty acids can play a role in alleviating these conditions.

  4. Cognitive Function: There is evidence suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids can help in maintaining cognitive function. This is particularly important as we age, with some studies indicating that omega-3s can help in slowing cognitive decline.

  5. Neuroprotective Effects: Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can have neuroprotective effects, which may be beneficial in conditions like ADHD and dementia.

Study here.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” plays a significant role in mental health, particularly in the context of mood regulation and depression. Here’s a more detailed look at how vitamin D can influence mental health:

  1. Mood Regulation and Depression: Vitamin D receptors are found in many parts of the brain, including areas linked to depression. Vitamin D is thought to play a key role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which affects mood regulation. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a higher risk of mood disorders, including depression and seasonal affective disorder.

  2. Brain Health and Function: Vitamin D is crucial for brain health, supporting neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) and protecting neurons from inflammation and neurotoxicity. Adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for maintaining cognitive function and preventing cognitive decline, especially in older adults.

  3. Inflammation and Immune Function: Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, which are important for brain health. Chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation are believed to contribute to the development of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

 Study here.

NAC (N-Acetylcysteine)

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant supplement, has been studied for its potential benefits in treating various psychiatric disorders. Its effectiveness is attributed to several mechanisms:

  1. Antioxidant Properties: NAC helps to replenish glutathione, the most important antioxidant in the brain. This action reduces oxidative stress, which is linked to many psychiatric conditions.

  2. Modulating Neurotransmitter Levels: NAC influences levels of glutamate, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain, which plays a key role in psychiatric disorders. By regulating glutamate, NAC can help stabilize mood and reduce symptoms of disorders like depression and bipolar disorder.

  3. Anti-inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is a factor in many mental health disorders. NAC’s anti-inflammatory properties can mitigate this, providing a potential therapeutic effect.

  4. Influencing Dopamine Pathways: Dopamine is crucial for mood regulation. NAC has been shown to affect dopamine release and uptake, which may help in conditions like addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Study here.


Creatine, commonly known for its role in sports nutrition, also offers significant benefits for mental health.

Its impacts extend beyond physical performance enhancement to cognitive and mental well-being:

  1. Enhances Brain Function: Creatine supplementation is linked to improved brain function. It plays a key role in energy production, crucial for the high energy demands of the brain. This can lead to enhanced cognitive processing, memory, and overall brain performance.

  2. Mood Regulation and Mental Disorders: Studies have shown that creatine may help in the treatment of various mental disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. It’s thought to influence brain chemistry related to mood regulation, potentially providing a therapeutic effect.

  3. Neuroprotective Properties: Creatine exhibits neuroprotective properties, which can be beneficial in neurological conditions and in preserving brain health.

  4. Stress and Fatigue Reduction: By supporting energy metabolism in the brain, creatine can help reduce mental fatigue and protect against stress-related cognitive impairment.

Study here.


Magnesium, an essential mineral, plays a vital role in various physiological functions, including those critical for brain health and mental well-being:

  1. Brain Function and Neurotransmitter Regulation: Magnesium is essential for brain function, as it plays a role in neurotransmitter release and regulation. It helps maintain normal nerve function and is involved in the activation of neurotransmitters that control emotions, thoughts, and reactions.

  2. Stress Reduction and Sleep Improvement: Magnesium has been shown to help reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality. Both of these factors are crucial for maintaining mental health. Good sleep quality, in particular, is strongly linked to better mental health outcomes.

  3. Depression and Anxiety: There is evidence suggesting that magnesium deficiency can lead to depression and anxiety symptoms. Magnesium supplementation has been considered for its potential to alleviate these symptoms.

  4. Cognitive Function: Adequate magnesium levels are important for cognitive function. Deficiencies in magnesium have been associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Study here.


Glycine, a simple yet significant amino acid, plays multiple roles in mental health and brain function. Here’s an overview of its benefits:

  1. Neurotransmitter Function and Mental Health: Glycine serves as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It modulates brain signals and is involved in the processing of motor and sensory information that permits movement, vision, and audition.

  2. Sleep Quality Improvement: Glycine has been found to improve sleep quality, which is crucial for mental health. It can help reduce sleep onset time and enhance overall sleep efficiency.

  3. Cognitive Function and Memory: There is evidence suggesting glycine’s role in cognitive function and memory. It works as a co-agonist along with glutamate at NMDA receptors, which are vital for memory and learning processes.

  4. Stress and Anxiety Reduction: Glycine may also have calming effects on the brain and help reduce anxiety. Its role as an inhibitory neurotransmitter can contribute to a decrease in neuronal hyperactivity, often associated with anxiety and stress.

Study here.

Consulting a Doctor Before Taking Supplements

Before taking any supplements, please consult your doctor about this. Especially for dosages.

I didn’t put dosages in this article because everyone is different. I for the most part take, all the daily recommendations on these supplements, except magnesium. Again, everyone is different and I suggest to consult a doctor before taking supplements.

Take One Supplement at a Time

It’s also important to take 1 supplement at a time.

Taking all at once, you may not know which one is working best for you.

Take 1 for a week or 2 and see if it has a positive, neutral or negative effect.

From there, see if it’s worth keeping in your stack.


How to Go to the Gym Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Let’s face it it’s hard to go to the gym even when you don’t feel like it.

Like… really don’t want to go. You rather do absolutely anything but go to gym.

It happens to the all of us more frequently than you may think too.

How do you overcome this though?

Sometimes it’s as simple as pushing through and going. 

However, you can also use techniques to easily give yourself the smallest boost of motivation to kick you into going.

Let’s get into it by first understanding that motivation fluctuates. 

Understanding Fluctuating Motivation

It’s a common experience for gym-goers: one day, you’re full of energy, eager to hit the weights, and the next, the very thought of the gym feels daunting.

Thankfully, this fluctuation is normal and isn’t something wrong with you.

Motivation to exercise isn’t constant; it ebbs and flows due to various factors like mood, energy levels, and life’s demands.

The key is not to get discouraged by these natural dips in enthusiasm.

When these fluctuations do occur though and you are not feeling it, how do you get some motivation to hit the gym?

Techniques to Boost Motivation

Listen to Your Favorite Music

This probably goes without saying, but music has the power to transform our mood and energy levels.

A playlist filled with your favorite high-energy tracks can be just the ticket to getting you in the right mindset for a workout.

The right beats can elevate get can you hyped. Maybe get you into a bit of a groove and even break out some moves which can overall help too! (Will get into this later)

Personally, I love music and it always gets me going especially on more down days.

Here is an article of some of my favorite tracks.

Take a Pre-Workout

Pre-workout supplements can give you that much-needed energy boost.

These supplements typically contain caffeine and other ingredients that increase energy levels, improve concentration, and enhance overall workout performance.

Another thing is that when you take the pre-workout, you got to go to the gym. Unless you like to sit around and being jittery, you are going to go to the gym because you took the pre-workout.

My go to pre-workouts are:

Think of How Good You Will Feel Afterwards

Knowing that you finished the workout, especially on a day you didn’t want to do it feels extra good.

Think of that feeling. It’s without a doubt one of the best.

Do Some Quick Exercises

Sometimes, the best way to overcome a lack of motivation is to start moving.

Like mentioned before, sometimes you listen to music and you can start dancing, head banging or doing what ever you want to do that gets you moving.

That movement in general will get you a little pumped and motivated to get going to the gym.

If you are not the dancing type, doing some simple exercises like jumping jacks or push-ups can get your blood flowing and energy up.

These activities can be done at home and might just give you the push you need to head out to the gym.

The Role of Discipline in Overcoming Low Motivation

While motivation is a great starter, discipline is the main course.

Motivation will not always be there and like I mentioned earlier in the article, the times you don’t want to go, you just have to go. Even if motivation is super low.

Building a habit and sticking to a routine, even when you don’t feel like it, is crucial.

Discipline is what keeps you going on those tough days when motivation is low.

You can read more about this here.

Partner Workouts for Accountability

If you find it challenging to stay motivated in general and consistently are missing workouts for this reason, consider finding someone to go to the gym with.

Having someone to go to the gym with can provide a sense of accountability.

It’s harder to skip a workout when you know someone is counting on you to show up.

Make Friends at the Gym

I also find that having friends in the gym will always be a reason to go to the gym at a consistent time every day.

You get to see people you are cool with. These people may be motivating to you and help you keep going.

You Might be an Inspiration for Others

I’m sure you don’t even know it but you might be motivation for people to come in to the gym.

On multiple occasions I’ve had people tell me I’m a motivation to them and it always struck me with surprise.

It also hyped me up hearing that too. 

This doesn’t happen often, but know you might be the reason someone else gets motivated to go to the gym, so keep going.

How Journaling Can Improve Your Mental Health

Journaling is such a small tool that can have a huge impact on improving your mental health.

Mental health, often overshadowed by physical health, plays a crucial role in every aspect of our lives.

It influences how we think, feel, and act, making it essential for our overall well-being.

This blog post explores the transformative power of journaling and how it can lead to a healthier, more mindful life.

How Mental Health Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life

Mental health is not something to take lightly. You may not even know it, but you may be suffering from poor mental health.

Mental health makes up the cornerstone of our daily experiences.

It affects our decision-making process, relationships, productivity at work, and our ability to cope with stress.

Poor mental health can lead to difficulties in managing emotions, and diminished concentration, and can even impact our physical health.

Sometimes, it can be hard to know you are going through some mental struggles. That’s okay and can be one of the reasons why journaling can help. 

What is Journaling?

Journaling, at its core, is the practice of regularly writing down thoughts and feelings.

You may have used to journal when you were a kid or used to see cartoons or shows depicting someone journaling about a crush of some sort.

Journaling is more than that though and is a very useful tool at any age.

It serves as a personal space where one can express emotions, track daily experiences, and reflect on life’s journey.

Unlike other forms of writing, journaling is deeply personal and doesn’t adhere to any structure or rules.

Whether it’s a traditional diary, a digital app, or a bullet journal, the method of journaling can vary, but the essence remains the same – a tool for self-reflection and personal expression.

How Journaling Can Improve Your Mental Health

Journaling offers numerous benefits.

It’s a simple yet effective way to provide clarity and peace of mind.

By regularly writing down your thoughts, you can gain new perspectives on what you’re experiencing. This process of reflection can lead to greater self-awareness, emotional release, and stress reduction.

The Role of Self-Perspective in Journaling

One of the most significant benefits of journaling is the development of self-perspective.

By regularly writing down your thoughts and feelings, you become an observer of your mind.

This practice enables you to identify patterns in your thoughts and behaviors, offering a unique opportunity to understand and change them if necessary.

It’s like having a conversation with yourself, where you can objectively analyze your reactions and decisions, leading to personal growth and increased self-awareness.

Gratitude Through Journaling

Gratitude journaling, a practice where one regularly notes things they are thankful for, can significantly improve mental health.

This form of journaling shifts focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant in our lives.

Studies have shown that maintaining a gratitude journal can enhance positivity, reduce stress, and even improve sleep quality. It’s a simple practice that reinforces positive thinking and fosters a greater appreciation for life.

For instance, imagine ending each day by writing in your journal.

You might note something as simple as, “Today, I am grateful for the delicious coffee I had this morning, the smooth commute to work, and the productive conversation with a colleague.”

This practice helps in recognizing and appreciating the small joys and victories of everyday life, reinforcing a positive mindset.

For me, this has had a significant impact on my mental health. It’s overall made me happier and appreciate what I have, and the people around me.

Talking/Writing Through Your Emotions

Journaling can be a therapeutic tool, especially when dealing with intense emotions.

Writing about your feelings helps in processing them, providing a safe space to express anger, sadness, joy, or fear without judgment.

This process of ‘talking on paper’ can be incredibly cathartic, helping to release pent-up emotions and reducing the intensity of these feelings over time.

It’s a form of self-therapy that can be particularly beneficial during challenging times.

Understanding Your Feelings Through Journaling

Finally, journaling is an effective way to gain clarity about how you’re feeling.

Often, we go through our days reacting to events without fully understanding our emotional responses.

Journaling helps in dissecting these responses, allowing us to recognize and label our emotions accurately.

This understanding is crucial for emotional regulation and mental well-being, as it empowers us to manage our feelings more effectively.

This alone will have a positive impact on your life and will overall improve your quality of life in general. 

Final Thoughts

Through various journaling techniques, individuals can improve their mental health, gain deeper self-awareness, and enjoy a more fulfilling life.

Whether you’re navigating through tough emotions or simply seeking personal growth, journaling can be a powerful ally on your mental health journey.

As mentioned earlier, you can journal via a physical journal or an application.

I believe a physical journal and writing is best. You can find a journal here.

Another app that I highly recommend is Reflecly.

Why You Should Use Chalk When Lifting

Using chalk when lifting is an underrated way to grow.

To grow in strength training or hypertrophy, you need intensity.

Intensity can be lost in a lift due to many confounding factors.

However, one of the major culprits of limiting intensity is grip strength

Ever do a deadlift and feel like you could have just done an extra rep or 2 if your grip didn’t fail you or the bar didn’t slip away?

Yeah, we’re going to fix that with one of the many great tools.


Let’s go into it.

The Role of Chalk in the Gym

Chalk is widely used in gyms to enhance grip. It’s been around for decades.

It’s not just for professional athletes; even casual lifters can benefit significantly. I believe everyone should use it.

Chalk reduces moisture and slippage, allowing for a firmer and more secure grip on the bar.

If you go into a powerlifting gym / dedicated section, they will sometimes have a chalk bowl. You can easily go into it, chalk yourself up, and get to it.

How Chalk Enhances Grip

So how does chalk actually work?

Chalk (magnesium carbonate) works by absorbing moisture from your hands.

This absorption creates a dry and rough surface, increasing friction and grip on the lifting apparatus.

It’s a simple yet effective chemical reaction that can make a significant difference in your lifting routine.

You Should Use Chalk When Lifting for Muscle Growth

It’s frustrating. You are having a good lift, you know physically you can push out 2-3 more reps. Boom your grip starts failing and you can’t hit it anymore.

You may reset and start again, but that initial tension is now lost.

A strong grip is crucial when lifting.

It’s the primary connection between you and the weight.

When your grip fails, your ability to lift heavier weights and stimulate muscle growth is compromised.

If you can’t get that intensity in your workout because your grip is a factor, it will limit your growth overall.

You can read more about that here.

You Should Use Chalk When Lifting for Better Performance

As mentioned above, having a limited grip strength can easily decrease your lifts overall.

Using chalk when lifting will enhance your performance overall.

It will allow you to have a strong grip over anything.

Here’s the thing though, you don’t need to just use it for barbell lifts. Use it for everything!

Use it for:

Anything that requires you to have a strong grip, use it.

It may “look funny” but that shouldn’t matter. Your performance matters.

Exploring Different Types of Chalk Products

So we understand that chalk in general can increase performance which can increase muscular growth and strength gains overall.

If you want to buy chalk online, you may notice plenty of different types of chalk.

You will usually find these types of chalk products available:

  1. Loose Chalk: Traditional and widespread, great for covering large areas quickly.
  2. Chalk Balls: Less messy, offering controlled application.
  3. Liquid Chalk: Convenient, less dusty, and often more skin-friendly.

Now that we know the types, let’s go over the pros and cons of each.

Choosing the Best Chalk: Pros and Cons

My personal favorite is a chalk ball.

I can bring it with me everywhere easily, it doesn’t leave a mess and it’s long-lasting. I probably go through a chalk ball every 5-6 months and I use a decent amount.

Any chalk is better than no chalk though. If you can get your hands on some, use it.

Other Ways to Improve Grip

Now, chalk isn’t the only tool you can use to improve grip. You can use wrist straps. They are less messy overall and provide even better strength.

However, if you are training for a competition of powerlifting, it may not be the best option because you can’t use them in competition.

I like chalk because it enhances your ability to grip but it also can help progressively improve your grip strength overall. You don’t get that with straps.

Final Thoughts

Chalk is an invaluable tool in the weightlifting arsenal.

It enhances grip, ensures safety, and aids in performance which can help you gain more muscle and strength.

Note: All Amazon Links are affiliated.

How to Optimally Rest Between Sets

Resting between sets isn’t just a break from your workout; it’s a crucial part of your fitness regime.

Understanding the importance of rest intervals and how to utilize them effectively can significantly impact your workout’s effectiveness and your overall fitness goals.

Some people rush back into their working sets. Others take their sweet time and just sit on their phone.

How are you supposed to truly rest between sets to maximize performance and get the best gains possible?

Let’s dive into it. 

Why Rest Time Between Sets is Important

Rest periods between sets are essential for several reasons.

They allow your muscles to recover, replenish energy stores, and clear metabolic byproducts.

According to a study published in the ‘Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research’, adequate rest between sets is crucial for maximizing muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.

Knowing this, you allow yourself optimal time to have another intense working set where you can push yourself harder. 

How much time do you need to spend resting though?

The Science Behind Rest Time: Why 3-5+ Minutes Is Ideal

The ideal rest period can vary based on your training goals. For strength and power workouts, resting 5 minutes between sets is ideal.

This duration is crucial for maintaining the intensity and quality of each set, particularly in compound movements like squats and deadlifts.

When it comes to hypertrophy, a minimum of 3 minutes is essential. However, it’s still recommended to rest for up to 5 minutes. 

Why is this the case though?

Longer rest periods are ideal for hypertrophy because they allow for more complete recovery of ATP (energy) stores and phosphocreatine, enabling the maintenance of high-intensity efforts in subsequent sets.

This ensures that muscles can generate maximum force and volume, critical factors for muscle growth.

Additionally, longer rests reduce fatigue and help maintain the quality and intensity of each lift, promoting greater muscle tension and overload, which are key stimuli for hypertrophy.

To note, all of this is assuming your working sets are  high intensity of either failure or 0-2 RIR. 

If you are doing a working set and your RIR (reps in reserve) is around 4-5, you don’t need that much recovery time. You also won’t be getting great results if training for hypertrophy or strength. 

Read this article to learn more.

Intraworkout Drinks and Electrolytes

Hydration and electrolyte balance play a significant role in your workout performance and recovery.

Drinking water is never a bad option, but it can be more optimal.

Water itself isn’t the best method for hydrating during a workout due to it being stripped of all micronutrients and electrolytes. 

Intraworkout drinks containing electrolytes help maintain hydration, replenish lost minerals, and improve endurance.

A study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism highlights the importance of electrolyte balance in athletic performance.

For Intra-workout, here are the main electrolytes you want to intake during your workout:

  1. Sodium: Essential for maintaining fluid balance in the body, sodium plays a critical role in hydration and helps prevent dehydration during intense exercise.

  2. Potassium: Works in conjunction with sodium to maintain fluid balance. It is also vital for muscle contraction and nerve function.

  3. Magnesium: Important for muscle function, magnesium aids in energy metabolism and is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

  4. Calcium: Besides its well-known role in bone health, calcium is crucial for muscle contractions and nerve signaling.

You can find these in many drinks. 

Let’s go over some quick products.

Coconut Water

Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes, particularly potassium and magnesium. It does lack sodium which isn’t great, but you can always throw some salt in there if you wish.

It’s an excellent hydration option, as evidenced by its popularity among athletes for intraworkout consumption.


LMNT, a popular electrolyte drink mix, provides a balanced blend of sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

There is a ton of salt though.

It’s around 1000mg of sodium. So I would recommend it if you are doing some long endurance training. 

What I do is take around 1/3 of a stick and throw it into water. That way I’m not taking an obscene amount of sodium just for hypertrophy training. 

Jocko Hydrate

Jocko Hydrate has a great blend of electrolytes and other B vitamins for a workout session.

It has about 500mg of sodium, so half of what LMNT is.

It also has more potassium in it at around 350mg. 

This is overall another great option.

Walking Between Sets for Recovery

Okay, we nailed down how long to wait between sets, and what to sip on between sets. 

Now what should you do between your sets?

Should you just be on your phone going through the Blob Fitness Discord and blog? 

I mean, it’s not a bad idea, but probably not. Or you can do that while walking around.

Incorporating light walking between sets can be beneficial for recovery.

It promotes blood circulation, aiding in the removal of lactic acid buildup in the muscles.

A study in ‘The Journal of Sports Science & Medicine’ suggests that active recovery, like walking, can enhance overall workout performance by improving blood flow and reducing muscle stiffness.

It will also help you stay “warm” during your sets. Being stiff, especially when doing something like squats for so long may be hard to get back into.

Most likely you will still feel warmed up in general, but walking can help assist with that.

You will also easily hit your walking goal by doing this.  

Why Static Stretching Isn’t Recommended During Rest Periods

Contrary to popular belief, stretching between sets may not be beneficial and could potentially hinder performance.

Research in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports indicates that static stretching can temporarily reduce muscle strength and power.

During rest periods, it’s advisable to avoid stretching, especially static stretching, to maintain optimal muscle performance for subsequent sets.

The only time I would recommend stretching is if you have extremely poor mobility stretching will help you get into a better position. You have to make sure though that you want to risk power for form. In some cases it makes sense, in others, it doesn’t.

For example, let’s take Squats.

Stretching your calves between sets can help you get better ankle mobility and get deeper into the squat.

If your ankle mobility is so bad you can barely get to parallel without feeling limited, then stretching isn’t a bad idea even if it risks you having less power in your set.

However, if you don’t have much of an issue reach depth, there is no reason to stretch. You will only be losing power in your squat. 

The Importance of Deep Breathing Between Sets

Deep breathing techniques can be a powerful tool for recovery during rest periods.

According to a study in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, deep breathing helps in lowering heart rate and promoting relaxation, which can aid in quicker recovery between sets.

This practice not only improves physical recovery but also mental focus, preparing you for the next set.

I recommend doing a 6-second deep breath and a 6-second exhale. 

Final Thoughts

Understanding and implementing effective rest strategies between sets is crucial for maximizing your workout’s effectiveness.

By resting adequately, hydrating properly, engaging in light walking, avoiding stretching, and practicing deep breathing, you can enhance both your performance and recovery.

Remember, the time spent resting is as valuable as the time spent lifting.

You will be able to perform better which will lead to better gains in the future.